It’s exactly one year later.
“Billy?” Steve called.
The dish towel on the taller man's shoulder sat heavy, weighing down despite not even being a pound. He had dreaded the day he’d become a mom archetype who casually wore one around the kitchen like a scarf, but here he was - doing just that.
There’s silence from the other. The hot dogs on their stove pan sizzled, soft meat cooking up nicely. Steve poked his tongs at one, rolling it over while he waited for a response.
The meat was cooking well, already becoming darker.
No response though.
“Billy. ” He tried again.
Only silence and tuning static answered.
Steve huffed and turned himself around to face the other guy, scowl setting over his lips, brows drooping down. Billy stood unmoving, hunched over the opposite counter, ignoring him.
“Hey, Loverboy -”
The dish towel's weight came off his shoulder, flicking quick before it went sailing through the air. The colorful rag only was in the air for mere seconds before it found its home, wacking into the side of the blonde's head. Billy released an ‘ oof’, his hands flying up to get it off his curls.
“Get your ass over here to help with these hot dogs.”
Billy smacked the towel to the ground, looking up from his radio to finally respond with a stuck out tongue.
“Fuck the hot dogs - I’ll give you a hot dog.” A hint of playfulness undercoated his words, a tiny glimmering smirk appearing over his lips. It was something him and Steve shared well - a bitchy tone with an underbelly of genuine affection and teasing.
Steve gagged at him.
“Gross. Like anyone wants to touch that weiner.”
“I dunno, you weren’t complaining when I got home ye-”
Another dishtowel (Steve had them fucking EVERYWHERE) appeared and was promptly thrown at him. A silent ‘hush it’.
Steve and Billy had been living together for almost 9 months now.
Turns out the payment Mr. Military, Lt. Whatever The Hell His Name Was, had been talking about was a hefty government hush money check. $3000 each month, delivered directly to one William D. Hargrove in an official stamped manila folder.
It was enough money to get Billy something he desperately wanted - his own living situation, originally preferred to be somewhere in California until later complications arose, but FAR away from Neil.
It wasn’t like he had much of a choice though on whether he was going to keep living in the Hargrove Mayfield household - he promptly was kicked out of the house the minute he got home from Starcourt (Joyce politely drove them and Steve home, the Camaro towed away by the Cavalry for evidence, and Billy didn’t dare drive that truck home).
There was a lot of screaming, Neil yelling about where the hell the cars were, What Billy was doing with impressionable, young Maxine, Why he looked like he got his ass beat, Why was Maxine a mess, Who in the hell was in his passenger seat, and Who was driving the truck.
Billy provided no answers, just infuriating silence.
Neil would punch and kick the boys ribs all he wanted - nothing came out. Once he gave in, he just kicked his only biological child to the curb.
“If you aren’t going to give answers, I won’t be giving you a place to stay.”
Billy was left on the doorstep like a discarded box, groaning. Neil and Gregori injuries weren’t a good combination.
Steve and Joyce waited outside the entire time. They probably heard the yelling & figured they should stay.
“Want a ride to Steve’s place dear?”
From there they lived in the lavish but hauntingly empty Harrington house for a while, Billy collecting up on his monthly government checks + any money he made from the pool. It added up quickly (after a portion went to repairing the returned but still well damaged camaro) and they put down a deposit 3 months in.
And now they were here.
One year after Starcourt, In the kitchen of their cute pale blue house, on the 4th of July, in their t-shirts and underwear. Cooking hotdogs to prepare to go sit outside on their back porch and watch the neighbor’s fireworks.
A familiar note began to carry over the radio as Billy went back to fiddle with it, his signature cat-like grin bleeding out all over his face.
“Is that…?” Steve started, turning around from the hot dog’s he was cooking on the stove. Steve insisted they tasted better that way - Billy didn’t give a shit. Hot dogs were hot dogs.
“Mhmmm~” Billy nodded, heels planting into the ground as he spun on them to face the other, arms opening wide.
“ I can dim the lights and sing you songs full of sad things, ” He sang out, walking towards his apron wearing boyfriend. Why did hot dogs need an apron? Who the fuck knows.
Steve beamed back, lips puckering up to offer kisses as those strong arms came around him, pulling close. “ We can do the tango just for two~ ” Billy whispered, gladly taking up the others' invitation for affection. Steve’s lips moved as Billy pressed his in, singing out the lyrics into his mouth.
“I can serenade and gently play on your heart strings,
Be your Valentino just for you.”
Hands came together in a practiced motion as the music picked up, arms raising into the air to the point where it left Billy reaching on tiptoes.
“Ooh, love, ” Freddie Mercury canted, the happy couple joining in as Steve twisted, rolling out of his love’s arms but staying connected at a hand.
“What're you doin' tonight, hey, boy! ” Billy called out, an ear to ear smile plastered on in glee.
“Set my alarm- ” Steve sang, taking a step forward.
“-Turn on my charm. ” Billy answered, foot moving to take a step as well.
“That's because I'm a good old-fashioned loverboy~” Steve couldn’t help but give a little shimmy to the piano keys downstepping at the end, Billy laughing as they continued to dance across their tile floor, hotdogs sizzling in the background.
“Ooh, let me feel your heartbeat (Grow faster, faster) ” Mercury called, Billy’s free hand trailing up Steve’s bicep and down his chest to poke at his heart, prodding out the ‘faster, faster’.
Steve knew well where the song was going, his hand reaching out and grabbing the stove’s burner dial to turn it off - just in case they got… caught up.
“Ooh, ooh, can you feel my love heat?” Billy’s hands went down farther and farther, finding themselves at hips before the tone of the singer dropped down.
“Come on and sit on my hot-seat of love” His face must’ve looked stupid, puffed out and pouty as he mouthed the words and grabbed at cloth, pulling Steve by the apron to press into right him.
“And tell me how do you feel right after all.”
Steve gasped, eyebrows striking up into his hairline at the cheeky new addition. Billy had been thinking it up for weeks now, waiting for the song to come back on and the perfect opportunity.
“I'd like for you and I to go romancing,” Billy droned out, leaning forwards into the other's personal bubble.
Steve responded by leaning back, not yet ready to let him have it. Not after a little stunt like that one.
“Say the word, your wish is my command.”
“Ooh, love, ooh, loverboy”
Steve let go entirely now, hands swatting Billy's off and away. The brunette stepped away, back farther and farther across the kitchen, tan walls lit by the tag sale light they found. A calendar with a rooster on a haybale (Claudia Henderson’s….creative housewarming gift) stared down at Steve from the wall as he backed up to it, the pair's fridge magnets (one from Fort Wayne Zoo, a 'Karaoke King' magnet, a Farrah Fawcett magnet, and even one from Lake Michigan) glimmering as the guy passed and pressed himself flush to plaster.
“What're you doin' tonight, hey, boy? ” Steven snatched up a list from the fridge, which was the grocery and chores itinerary for the week.
“Write my letter,” He promptly snatched up a pen from the jar atop the wall adjacent fridge, popping it’s cap off with his mouth and quickly scribbling.
“Feel much better,”
He slid the pen into the crook of his ear, flipping the paper for Billy to see.
“And use my fancy patter on the telephone.”
A big old middle finger.
Sloppy as ever.
A humble, fun loving form of “fuck you, dickwad” for Billy’s shameless moves.
Billy bolted at him for a revenge tackle, but the music's sudden downward pace change to adagio and Steve’s motherly finger that shot up to wag a ‘tsk, tsk, tsk’ made him slow. He glowered and walked over instead, hands filtering into Steve’s with ease. He took up the paper note, crumbling it up before tossing it aside. His fingers secured themselves within Steve’s gloating hands, a firm pout securing his lower lip.
“When I'm not with you
Think of you always
(I miss those long hot summer nights) I miss you
When I'm not with you
Think of me always-” The pair sang, swaying together as they moved through the lyrics, getting ready for the song to become more lively. Billy leaned forward, teeth biting the words out.
“Love you,” He sang like it was a childish challenge through adorable words, trying to see if the other would accept.
Steve was utterly bashful at seeing the other so fussy and getting riled up.
He accepted - he knew damn well what Billy wanted. It was what he always wanted when they danced to this part of the song.
He wanted to lead. Badly. Steve fought him ravenously for it. Mainly just because it was funny to see Billy having to follow after him, huffing and puffing the entire time.
But as per usual, Billy wanted the upper hand, and with the song about to shove it into high gear?
The two would be dueling for dominance.
“Hey, boy, where do you get it from?
Hey, boy, where did you go?”
The movement went from swaying to spinning, the pair shoving their hands together tighter, bodies coming close as they moved in a circle, trying to find a leader.
Billy pressed hard for the next move, and Steve butted his head right back.
“I learned my passion-”
Billy jerked Steve forward, the other stumbling into his chest. The brunette blinked in surprise, glare coming into his eyes.
“In the good old-fashioned-”
Harrington tugged backwards, this time Billy being pulled along, thighs brushing into the others as they fell into one another.
They stayed upwards though, California boy reaminging balanced.
“School of loverboys.”
“Oh, it’s so on, Harrington.” Billy growled, nipping at Steve’s jawline. Steve dodged, sticking his tongue out.
“Come and get it, Hargrove.”
The guitar played out, the pair continuing their little playfight. There were pushes and shoves, biting and even spitting too. All of it was in good fun as they danced around, one tugging on the other before the recipient gave the giver the treatment back.
No victor was clear yet.
“Dining at the Ritz we'll meet at nine precisely (One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine o'clock)
I will pay the bill, you taste the wine.”
Billy found himself matching feet with Steve, pairing his foot with the others opposite, stepping in and out in rhythm. It worked well, a collaborative effort where for a moment they didn’t try to one up their partner.
“Driving back in style in my saloon will do quite nicely
Just take me back to yours that will be fine (Come on and get it).”
The moment didn’t last though. The blonde of course soiled it though by sneaking in a devilish kiss on the throat, the taller man smacking him and pushing him off.
“Ooh, love (There he goes again)”
Steve grabbed his boyfriend's hand with sudden force, hand smacking onto his ass. A sure way to surprise him and win.
“(He's my good old fashioned loverboy) Ooh, loverboy”
What Steve didn’t realize was Billy was planning on doing the same thing.
At the same time.
There was a cohesive slap.
“What're you doin' tonight, hey, boy?”
And a paired shout.
“Everything's all right”
And a loud, loud crashing thud.
“Just hold on tight”
A moment of silence as the couple looked at each other, eyes both wide and stupefied.
“That's because I'm a good old-fashioned (fashioned) loverboy.”
And then laughter.
“Oh my god-” Billy started, Steve snorting. The noise made Billy’s giggles perk right up, spluttering and bending over to laugh.
“We really just-” Steve tried to continue, taking in their position, more laughter bubbling in his throat.
They’d fallen down, still in their underwear, to the kitchen floor. The same time ass grabbing made them both jump and well… with neither of them was there to catch each other, they both went tumbling down.
Billy let out another long series of giggles, Steve’s head tipping down to look at the other who was buried into his knees, finger prodding at him to look back up.
“You’re such an ass Billy.” He grinned, Billy snicker even more. Blue eyes peaked upwards, a sandy blonde mop framing picture perfect teeth.
“Eat my shorts, pretty-loverboy.”
Steve snorted again and fell over in a fit of laughter. Billy joined right in, flopping over to join his good old fashioned lover boy in getting punched by laughter.
One year and some change later after the Byers House fight, their first official fight, Billy and Steve have now fought numerous times.
Just now, they end in laughter and kisses.
It's much better this way.