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Half Agony, Half Hope

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It’s a usual dreaded Friday afternoon in Mrs. Williams' senior British Literature class. The last ten minutes or so  of Fridays are always reserved for getting back graded assignments from the current week. Billy watches from his seat behind you as you flip through yet another stack of perfect A's. Well there was one week you got an A- on a pop quiz. He sorts through his own stack of D's and C's biting the inside of his cheek.  

 You stick around after class to discuss possible essay topics with Mrs. Williams. The halls are already empty by the time you leave. Except for Billy, who's leaning against some lockers further down the hall. You pass him without a glance; knowing he can only be hanging around for decidedly nefarious reasons.

 "Hey," he calls as you pass.

 "Yes?" You ask apprehensively, coming to a stop.

 "You make good grades," he says leadingly.


 "I'm not doing so hot myself, was wondering if you'd be willing to, I don't know, help a guy out?" It comes out innocently enough, and he lays on the charm, flashing you a smile.

 "Help you out?" You repeat narrowly, knowing exactly where this is headed.

 "Yeah, you know, just slip me some answers every now and then," he smiles again more slyly.

 You match it with one of your own.

 "Or you could, you know, study and do your homework," you answer sweetly, turning on your heel.

 Billy reaches out to catch you; fingers warm on the inside of your wrist.

 "I can't afford to fail," he says, squaring his jaw and cutting the shit. You think there's a flicker of desperation behind the blue of his eyes.

 "And I can't afford to get caught helping anyone cheat," you reply, matching his tone.

 You study each other carefully. You try not to flush beneath the weight of Billy's gaze, focusing instead on  the feather of his tensed jaw.

 "I could, help you study. Tutor you or whatever," you finally relent in the growing silence.

 Billy scoffs.

 "Don't think I have time for that," he dismisses with a shake of his head. He has time for exactly four things--girls, working out, parties, and good music; all in rotating order.

 "Well take it or leave it--I'm not helping you cheat," you return flatly.

 He rolls his eyes. He was almost sure you would be a pushover.

"You good girls--you know it doesn't hurt to be bad every now and then."

 It's your turn to scoff.

 "And what makes you think I'm so good all the time?"

 "Honey if you were bad, I would know," Billy smirks.

 "You don't know everything Hargrove," you counter easily, "My house, Sunday afternoon, 3pm, if you show up make sure you've done the reading that was assigned today," you continue, not giving him a chance to  pry into your response. He files it away with interest for future reference nonetheless. You withdraw from his grasp, scribbling down your address on a scrap piece of paper.

 "Or you know, you can fail and be stuck in high school forever."

 You hand him the paper; almost confident he won't show anyways. Billy takes it with a defeated sigh and watches you walk away.


3 o clock Sunday afternoon. Well more like 3:15PM, Billy's Camaro rumbles to a stop outside your house. You give him an unimpressed once over.

 "Didn't think you'd show," you say, reluctantly letting him in.

 He takes in the seemingly empty house as you lead him to the kitchen table.

 "Parents home?" He asks, raising a brow.

 "No, my mom is at 'jazzercise'."


 "Not around," you say, taking a seat at the table.

 Billy still stands, looking around.

 "Yes?" You ask.

 "Aren't you going to show me around? Don't I get to see your room?"  Billy teases mildly.

 "No, now sit, what did you think of the reading?"

 Billy sits, leaning back in the chair and flashes you a lazy shit eating grin.

 "So you didn't do the reading, why am I not surprised? You can't pass British literature if you don't read the literature."

 "Sure I can, that's what you're for," Billy smart asses back.

 "Did you even try to do the reading?"

 "Couldn't get into it," he shrugs.

 "I actually thought you might find it interesting since Mr. Darcy is kind of a dick, so I thought you might be able to relate," you offer matter of factly.

 "Wow, I didn't think 'dick' was a word that nice girls used," Billy muses, pretending to be shocked.

 "Quiet and nice don't always go together."

 "So you make perfect grades and have perfect attendance and never show up to any parties because you like breaking the rules so much then?"

 You sigh.

 "You were supposed to do the reading," you say getting back on topic.

 Billy just flashes you another of smile of his perfect, even teeth and how can anyone really say no when he looks so damn good.

 "Fine, I'll give you an overview of the reading this one time, so maybe it will be better or something next time, okay? Here take notes, okay so--" you begin summarizing the first few chapters of Pride and Prejudice, while Billy nods along. His first note: Mr. Darcy is kind of a dick.

 "Well when you put it like that," Billy says once you're finished.


 "We'll see," he replies noncommittally.

 You walk him to the door.

 "You can come back Tuesday night if you do the reading."

 "Whatever you say princess," he replies, giving you a wink as he leaves for his Camaro


Things continue like that for the next few weeks, and Billy's grades start improving but it's getting harder not be distracted whenever he comes over. He's always been distracted during class, but that was different. It was only because you were just there in front of him, with your face turned slightly towards the board while Mrs. Williams droned on monotonously. Your lashes long against your cheek as you took notes in your scrolling cursive. Then there was the day you wore a white shirt, and he could make out the vaguely pink lace of your bra beneath. It had caught him off guard to say the least and before he was really thinking about it, there was the image of his sliding up your back, deftly popping the clasp, wondering how the smooth the skin between your shoulders blades would be. And the days you wore your hair up were spent imagining how you might react if his lips touched your skin.

 And now he's curious--how good exactly are you? Less good than you've managed to convince everyone apparently.

 Honey if you were bad I would know.

 You don't know everything Hargrove.

 Quiet and nice don't always go together.

 Another Sunday afternoon. You've reluctantly allowed him into your room since your mom needs the kitchen table to do the checkbook; it feels less like the invasion of privacy you thought it would be, although Billy looks decidedly out of place among the muted femininity of your room.

 Your mom calls you from the kitchen,  and you hesitate nervously at the thought of Billy being left alone in your room. If you tell him not to touch anything, it will look suspicious, but if don't tell him, then he could say you didn't tell him not to. Your mom calls you again.

 "I'll just be gone a second," you promise.

 Billy doesn't waste any time in taking advantage of this golden opportunity. He starts with the drawers of your desk, peaking in quickly, nothing of interest shows itself. Then the bookcase. He pulls some books out to see if there's anything hidden behind them; opens a few of the bigger ones to see if the middle has been cut out. Nothing. His eyes land on your nightstand--obvious, but still. He opens the top drawer, eyes lighting up like Christmas as he spies the  edge of a box of cigarettes carelessly stashed beneath some papers. He moves the papers aside to find an enviable stash of cassettes from all the best--Metallica, Maiden, Crue. He guesses there are probably more somewhere.

 You return to your room to find Billy sitting on the edge of your bed, with the top drawer of your nightstand open.

 "Billy--" you hiss, quickly shutting the door.

 "You don't actually smoke these right? Must be your boyfriends or something," he says tossing the cigarettes out on the bed.


 "And look what he have here," he says holding up Metallica's Kill 'Em All in one hand and Ride the Lightning in another.

 "Put them back," you say attempting to snatch one out of his hand, which he easily evades.

 "Not until you tell me which one is better," he teases, amused at your obvious frustration.

 "Billy--" Another futile reach for the cassette. You're very close to him now, standing almost between the v of his thighs.

 "Tell me," he insists again, mouth turning up mischievously.

 You glare down at him for a long moment before relenting.

 "Ride the Lightning obviously," you answer putting your hand out.

 "What seriously? It's not nearly as raw as Kill 'Em All," he half scoffs.

 "Umm I'm sorry, the kickdrum lead in to Bells is better than that entire album," you retort.

 "Seek and Destroy is best thing they've written and it's on Kill 'Em All so…" Billy shrugs.

 "This! Is not why we're here, give them back," you demand exasperated, still holding out your hand.

 Billy lowers them slowly to your palm, hovering just above. He looks you over, really looks you over, and you realize now how close you are.

 "And which one in the band are you hot for I wonder?" He taunts lowly.

 You snatch the cassettes back with a huff, ignoring heat accompanied by his words, while Billy laughs to himself.

 He takes the cigarettes next, turning them over his hands, before dropping them into the front pocket of his denim jacket.

 "I'll just keep these, since a nice girl, a straight A student like you can't possibly be a smoker," he continues.

 "They're not even Marlboro's," you argue.

 "How would know what type of cigarettes I smoke, huh?"

 "You literally carry them with you everywhere genius."

 "Finders keepers. 'M not picky, these are mine now."

 If he could manage to look any more pleased with himself, you think you would punch him.

 "Fine, I can always get another pack, not a big deal," you say thinly, wanting this entire situation to be over. God in fact, you actually need a cigarette now.

 "Moving on," you say changing the subject as you retrieve your copy of Jane Eyre and sit a safe distance away from him on the bed.

 "So that means I must be your type," Billy says, clearly not ready to move on then.

 "What?" You ask confused as you keep turning to the correct chapter.

 "If you're into metal and stuff, then I must be your type," he clarifies, leaning in, gaze fixated on you.

 So much for safe distance.

 Since the day you had  first laid eyes on Billy Hargrove, you had been very much trying to ignore the fact that he's exactly your type. Offering to help him study has become a personal hell of sorts as you struggle to keep everything under control, but it's getting harder not to let your gaze linger longer than needed or to ignore the nervous flutter in your chest whenever he's here. And there's the scent of his cologne that lingers in your room long after he's gone that keeps you company at night. Jesus christ, you need a cigarette. He notes the way your hands still, ceasing your search for the correct chapter.

 "I think we should study at the library today," you reply, avoiding the question "come on, you're driving."

 "Sure if that's where you wanna do it," he smarts.

 You roll your eyes, pulling on your jacket and opening your door.


You're barely inside the Camaro before you're placing your hand out palm up.

 Billy looks down at it in confusion.

 "I need a fucking cigarette Hargrove," you say flatly, glancing from him to your upturned palm.

 "Okay princess, let's see  it then," he replies, raising a brow at your use of language and pulling your pack out of his jacket pocket and placing one in your hand.

 He watches you expectantly as you retrieve your lighter, surprised that it flames skillfully on the first go. You let the flame grace the end of the cigarette, forgetting about Billy as you close your eyes and take a long drag, exhaling slow and easy, reopening your eyes to watch the smoke drift out of your open window.

 "Well, well, well," Billy starts, "you're full of surprises aren't you?"

 You raise the cigarette to your mouth to start another drag, but Billy plucks it from your fingers and places it between his lips,  absently noting the faintly pink track on the end before he does so. His shirt is slightly unbuttoned as usual and you watch the swell of his chest as he inhales and then there's an effortless cloud of grey escaping his lips.

 He catches your gaze. His own falls to your mouth. Thinks about kissing you.

 "Library, Hargrove, remember?" You remind him.

 "You sure about that, sweetheart?" He questions passing your cigarette back to you.

 Sweetheart. It hits you in all the right places for all the wrong reasons.

 "You're not getting out of studying that easy."

 You take the cigarette, fingers brushing his. You place the filter against your lower lip; a deliberate second hand kiss.

 "Library, Hargrove," you repeat again, exhaling in his direction.

 The smoke drifts across; he happens to breathe it in as it escapes past him out the window.

 He turns away from you, twisting the key in the ignition of the Camaro.


"--and did you catch the use of imagery here," you lean in close to show him in your book, trailing your finger along the page. You're both sitting on the floor of your room in front of the foot of your bed.

 It's been a week since you shared a cigarette in the silence of his Camaro. Billy's replayed the scenario over and over; can't shake the image of your lips touching through the filter of the cigarette. You act like nothing happened, good girl façade put carefully back in place, and it annoys him now that he's seen a glimpse of you. He's hardly looking at the page anyways, he's looking at the curve of your throat, the crook where your neck and shoulder meet, traveling slowly up to just below your jaw, you're close enough for him to catch the vague floral scent of your bodywash, you're so close--all he has to do turn his head just so, the sound of your voice fading out indistinctly as he presses his lips against your skin, silencing you as his lips linger before pressing another careful kiss below the first.

 "Billy--" you start quietly.

 "Just, put the book down hmm?" He hums against your skin, and the sensation thrills featherlight along the length of your spine.

 You sit frozen against him, desperately trying to process the situation. The book is still in your hand. You let Billy remove it carefully from your grasp, letting your eyes follow it to where he places it on the floor, avoiding his gaze. He places another kiss at the corner your jaw, because there aren't any words for the cluster fuck of whatever this is, but he feels like it would be best explained in kisses.

 You finally turn to face him, inadvertently brushing your lips against his. Your eyes each flicking curiously over the other; apprehension clinging heavily to you. Billy leans in, catching your mouth in his.  The touch of his lips against yours seems to temporarily break your reverie as you press back instinctively against him, trailing your fingers over the hollow of his  throat before resting your hand on his neck. The action spurs him on and his lips move smoothly over yours in a series of hungry lingering kisses that have you aching for more.

 You taste sweet, not like that sticky cherry lip gloss the other girls wear, but sweet like knowing a secret that no one else does, and Billy presses you back into the foot your bed wanting more, breaking the kiss as he moves to straddle your lap. The absence of his mouth leaves just enough room for reality to come rushing in. He moves to capture your mouth again, but you pull away, leaving him hovering against you.

 "Billy, I'm not sure--" Your voice is soft with indecision.

 "Not sure what?" He feels the impending rejection like a breath on the back of his neck. It's been a long time, but he recognizes it nonetheless.

 "I'm not sure I want to be just another notch on your belt," you say guardedly.

 "Who says you have to be?" Billy questions lowly, the implied you don't have to be is the closest thing to a confession he can offer.

 "Almost every other girl in the senior class," you answer quietly, his long list of conquests floating before you.

 The familiar sting of anger rises within him, combined with the dread of knowing he's about to say some real dumbass shit.

 "So that's it then? You're going to judge me based on what everyone else says? If you knew anything about those dumb bitches, you would know the only thing they're good for is being another notch on my belt," he spits, voice laced with disdain.

 And there it is.

 His anger catches you off guard, just when you were beginning to think that maybe the King of Hawkins wasn't as much of asshole as everyone claimed to be.

 "Oh so really I would be just another dumb bitch?" You reply, your own voice getting sharp.

 No. His chest is tight.

 "You wouldn't be just another dumb bitch, guess you already are," Billy finishes bitterly.

 You clench your jaw and level him with a glare.  He hates himself. He moves away from you in a huff, getting up and pulling his jacket straight, before leaving without a second glance. You don't cry until the engine of the Camaro revs away.


Class is horrible. Fucking assigned seats. Of all things why does his seat have to be behind yours.

He looks away, off to the side. You sit down with a sigh.

 Things continue like that for the next month. Mutually ignoring each other's existence. Sometimes Billy skips now. Unable to deal with the reminder of you. You keep waiting to get over not having him around every few days. But it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon. You miss the scent of his cologne in your room.

 But then its December. Time for midterms. And Billy curses inwardly when Mrs. Williams' announces that the British Lit midterm will be 50% of the fucking grade only a week before its scheduled. What a hag.

 He's freezing in the parking lot after class, leaning against the trunk of your car, trying to exhale as much of his anger as he can with every drag on his cigarette. 

 You notice him from a while away, annoyance rising within you. You pass him quickly and go straight for your driver's door.

 "Must be at the wrong dumb bitch's car Hargrove," you remark coolly, unlocking the door.

 He looks up at the grey sky.

 "Midterm next week," he replies, trying to skate through this conversation with as much of his pride intact as possible.

 "Are you fucking serious?" You laugh in disbelief. "You really think I'm going to help you?"

 "Look--" he starts, "I didn't mean it okay?"

 It comes out more defensively than he meant.

 "So if you didn't mean it, then that means you're?"

 You leave the sentence hanging for him.

 He bites the inside of his cheek.

 "Sorry," He exhales smoke through his nose "I'm sorry," he admits begrudgingly.

 You can't resist making him suffer a little more so  you let the silence stretch before responding.

 "I'll be at the library all weekend, show up whenever."

 Then you're getting into your car, and Billy's lighting up another cigarette.


When Billy finally shows up around 4 o clock on Saturday, you sigh inwardly. You had decided and accepted  hours ago that he wasn't going to show and you were comfortable with that, and now here he was, setting your nerves back on edge.

 Billy sits across from you; you look tired.

 You're still there at six when it closes and the librarian primly asks you both to leave.

 "Hey," Billy starts once you're outside.

 You shoot him half a glare.

 "You wanna go to the diner? Grab something to eat?"

 It comes out before he can stop it.

 You bite your lip, looking towards your car.

 "Come on, did you even eat anything today?" He pushes.

 "Don't you have better things to do on a Saturday night?" You push back.

 Rejection on the back of his neck again; he shouldn't have said anything.

 "Maybe I don't," he shrugs, playing it cool.

 You sigh and mumble an okay; convincing yourself the offer of food is the only reason you're going.


You didn't realize how hungry you were until you actually start eating, and the food makes you feel better; temporarily lessens any lingering anger you've been holding onto, and you both fall into easy conversation.

 "Swear to god, you're the only person in this shithole that listens to real music," Billy remarks between bites of his burger, "I tried talking to Tommy about music and that idiot said he listens to Duran Duran."

 You both laugh.

 You leave the diner and Billy starts the Camaro, hesitating before he puts it in reverse.

 "You wanna go to the quarry?" 

 Again its out before he can really think it through, because if he had thought about it he would ask himself what the fuck he thinks he's doing.

 "The quarry?" You ask, suspicion evident in your tone. The quarry is Hawkins' designated unofficial make out spot.

 "I've got a six pack in the trunk. I'll have to drink it all myself if you don’t go with me," he says half-jokingly even though it's what he had planned for tonight anyways; just going somewhere quiet to avoid Neil. No parties tonight since everyone is studying for mid-terms.

 You play along against your better judgement.

 "Well then I guess I can go, if only to protect you from yourself."

 He throws the car into reverse, and drives fast into the night before you can change your mind.


He gets the beer out of the trunk and returns to the driver's seat, setting the beer on the middle console between you, before pulling one out and handing it to you. You both leave the windows rolled down about halfway so you can smoke.

 The cool night air fills your lungs along with the smoke, and you chase it away with every sip of your beer. Its weak, but you finish it off quickly enough to get the beginnings of a buzz.

 "Did you finish that already?" Billy asks incredulously as you crack open a second.

 "What? Can't keep up Hargrove?"

 Billy gracefully chugs the rest of his.

 The second beer is spent talking about California.

 "How'd you end up here anyways?"

 Billy shakes his head.

 "So one beer and we're getting in to the real shit, huh?" He half laughs.

 "At least I asked, unlike some people who just go snooping around other people's bedrooms," you reply archly.

 By the third beer, you're both somewhere in between sober and drunk.

 "You don't have to put so much pressure on yourself," Billy says when you both get quiet, thinking about your probably perfect 4.0 GPA and the tiredness behind your eyes.

 "But I have to be good, I have make good grades, and I have to be a good daughter, my mom would ship me off to a convent if she knew what I was really like," you confess, trying to keep the anxiety out of your voice, "it's just easier to pretend," you finish.

 Billy hums thoughtfully, swigging his beer. 

"Well I like you better like this, when you're not pretending," he admits looking out his window, and then he turns, looking at you through half lowered lashes.

Your pulse quickens and you try to calm yourself with a nice, long drag.

It's just the beer.

Billy takes the cigarette from your fingers, leaning across to flick it out your window. And then he stays, one elbow resting on the center console, the other hand resting on the inside of the passenger door, caging you in.

You flush at the nearness of him; the scent of cologne and leather overwhelming you.  You start to say his name but he silences you with a gentle press of his lips against yours; he doesn't think he's kissed anyone so innocently since he was 14 and somehow its hotter than half the make-out sessions he's had, maybe it’s the way your breath catches.

You release your lips from his after a few, long moments of self-indulgence.

"I can't--"

"Can't what? Be another notch on my belt? It doesn't have to be like that."

"Then how's it going to be? You'll want me whenever you come over, and you'll still fuck the first girl that hits on you at whatever party you happen to be at that week?"

"Mmm no, was actually thinking you could start going with me to these parties."

"You asking me to go steady Hargrove?" You tease quietly.

He shrugs.

"Something like that."

A moment of silence.

"Oh," you reply, realization clicking into place.

"Yeah, 'oh'," Billy exhales, before catching your lips again, more fully this time, and you finally let yourself have him, hands reaching for the front of his leather jacket, pulling him close for heady want filled kisses until you're both panting and breathless, one of his hands tangled in your hair, and the other sliding up your thigh.

 "Come, come here," you murmur between kisses, tugging on his jacket.

 He pulls away with a reluctant groan and shrugs out his jacket--"put the seat back"--his voice is rough against your neck. You put your hand between the seat and the door, fumbling for the lever.  The seat is barely back before Billy is scrambling over the center console to lay over you, slotting a thigh between yours, no pressure yet but the promise of friction to come, and you're pulling him down by his shirt now, letting him lick into your mouth as you moan into him, and Billy feels like he's drowning because he doesn't think anyone has ever kissed him with so much need before.

 He breaks the kiss, moving to the line of your throat. His mouth is hot against your skin, sucking over the flutter of your pulse, he resists the urge to leave marks, oh the marks he could leave, the marks he's thought about leaving. He takes his time, tasting you, making note of every little noise and gasp you make. His tongue licks against the edge of your collarbone and you grind against his thigh. Jesus.

 "Fuck, you're hot, can feel you through your jeans," he sighs against your skin, "you always been this hot for me?"

 "Yeah," you reply lowly.

 A groan.

 "Are you a virgin?" He asks against the shell of your ear. He doesn't think you are, but he wants to be sure.

 "No," you reply grinding against his thigh again.

 Another groan.

 His hands slip up your sides, pushing beneath your bra and thumbing your nipples, drawing your earlobe lightly between his teeth.

 It's your turn to curse.

 He'd like to spend more time exploring your body, but he's already achingly hard in his jeans, so his hands travel down, deftly popping the button of your jeans and pulling down the zipper. Then his hand is beneath your panties to stroke you, finding you impossibly wet, and you arch into the touch with a moan, he presses his thumb against your clit, and slips two fingers easily into you, slow, careful strokes until he finds that place that makes your toes curl, and then it doesn't take much until you're coming undone, nails biting into the skin of the forearm that he has braced against the seat, the other hand raking through his scalp

 You palm him through his jeans and he shudders.

 "Need you to get out of these jeans, sweetheart," he hums against your lips.

 You nod, lifting your hips, Billy hooks his fingers in your panties too, and you both laugh between tugs until you're toeing off your shoes so they can come off your ankles. Then Billy's frantically pulling a condom out his glovebox and unbuckling his belt, and you stop his hands--"no, I want to"-- and you're popping open his jeans before he can argue, sliding them down with his boxers, thumbing appreciatively over the v of his hips as you do so, taking the condom from between his fingers, tearing open the wrapper and rolling it over his hard length--but not before thumbing through the pre-cum gathered at the tip first.

 Once the condom is on, Billy doesn't waste any time in throwing your leg over his shoulder, and entering you in one fluid thrust that has your eyes rolling into the back of your head--so fucking tight for me princess. He pulls out slowly before rolling his hips sharply against yours. He's not going to last long, but he takes what time he can building up a steady rhythm until the heavy drag of his cock has you fluttering--yes sweetheart, want you to come again, you gonna come for me--and then you're saying his name in the most wrecked way, palm pressed hard against the muscle of his chest, clenching so hard around him you see stars and not just the ones that are outside. Billy's hips come to a sudden stop, his own release washing over him, he bites his lip hard enough to draw blood but it does nothing to stifle the broken noise at the back of his throat.

 You stay together like that, catching your breath between kisses and then Billy is pulling out, taking the off the condom, tying it off, and tossing it out the window.

 You both struggle back into your jeans, and you move over, making room for him to lie on his side beside you. Billy doesn't usually cuddle, he's had a reputation to maintain after all, and he likes it more than he would like to admit; it's been a long time. He presses his nose into your hair.

 "I have to get home," you whisper reluctantly after a few minutes.

 He half-heartedly pulls away and eases himself back over the console. His hand rests on your thigh during the drive home.


If anyone is surprised to see you at school on Monday as you walk to British Lit together with his arm slung over your shoulder, they're immediately silenced by a single look from the King of Hawkins High.

 "You think you're ready for this mid-term?" You tease, lingering outside the door.

 "Don't know, I was pretty distracted this weekend," he returns, giving you a look that's entirely too sinful for a school hallway.

 You laugh lightly, and he follows you into class.

 "You know, if you do good, maybe you'll get a reward," you whisper from over your shoulder once you're seated.

 Billy bites his lip and hopes he does good on this fucking test.