He doesn't particularly desire it, rather it begins like a creeping feeling that never quite stops creeping. Like the type of thing that fits almost too well with the saying an itch that you can't scratch. It's proverbial and completely exaggerated but oftentimes it just builds to such an extreme that he drifts off and loses himself. He's not exactly sure where he finds himself lost but perhaps that was the whole point of being lost—the fact of the unknown that could not be known. It sucked, terribly, kind of like what he figured fatherhood would feel like.
In a fit of honesty that disgusts him, he wonders about Billy. He could lie and conjure up any type of Billy—Billy from grade school, Billy from middle school with the chipped tooth and rancid breath but no Billy would compare to Billy.
"Fuck," His knee-jerked and body curled in on itself out of pure instinct to the pain.
The librarian hissed at him, it was hardly audible so it wasn't as if his mind was going to allow him to acknowledge it. He'd found it hard to acknowledge much about his life anymore, not since the world had quite literally fallen under his feet, not since he'd grown too familiar with the feeling of sinking without being able to swim.
The worn chair scraps when he stands and nothing is stopping him from getting another scathing look of disgust. It's not something he cares to think about eyes too focused on something farther than he could attempt to reach. He swallows and feels like his head is filled with compressed air. His hand smacks against whatever books he'd thrown along the desk he occupied and luckily enough nothing tumbles to the floor from the sudden action.
He throws himself into the nearest blockade of books, hands steadying himself on the shelves that surround him. It's a section filled with subjects he'd never bothered to look at before but it's away from prying eyes and lets him settle down enough to breathe properly. He drops his hands from the shelves like he's being burned and looks up, it's a mistake, the lights above him are too bright, too damning that it causes his eyes to water and shut rapidly.
Steve gives one strong blink before throwing his eyes open, this time he looks down and makes sure to keep it that way, stuck on a small piece of carpet that fights to tear itself from the library floor. It's at then where he finds it, nestled beside the tear where no one would be able to find it. Kept to itself as if it were waiting for everyone to leave but he notices it—circumstances to finding the book would never be brought up again.
It's plain and no one would ever give it a second glance although he feels like that was the purpose. He crouches down just enough so he could wrap one hand around the spine and cradles it in his hands.
It's called The Butterfly Effect and the author's name has faded so severely that nothing is visible. He feels like Dustin when he breathes in the courage to open the book, the courage to let his eyes skim the text and let his brain absorb the knowledge. There's a statement made, it makes him clam up, makes a lot of turning in his stomach that he'd rather be without.
I knew the power of a single wish, after all. Invisible and inevitable, like a butterfly that beats its wings in one corner of the globe and with that single action changes the weather halfway across the world.
He brutally snaps the book shut and tucks it under his arm, legs moving almost mechanically to the desk he had abandoned. He's quick to pick up his bag, throws it over his shoulder in a rush and leaves whatever books he'd collected in favour of the one single damning text that is placed by his side.
It's not opened until he's sure that he's alone, locked in his abandoned home in the richest part of the town, where loneliness is ignored in favour of wealth. He opens the book quickly but doesn't start reading until a few minutes pass as if the words would have vanished by then.
"What is the possibility for change?" He furrows his brow and then relaxes it when the action becomes a pain to maintain. "A single action like that of the butterfly which can diverge the current path of reality? If possible, may it become a reality?"
There's a theory the book refuses to put to rest, the complicated theory that a single small action when revisited and changed could cause a reaction more severe than a large action. It makes Steve think what would have changed had he decided to ignore eggs for breakfast if he had picked out the red jumper rather than the blue jumper. He lets himself think of Billy again.
Was Billy something that could be saved with a small action?
He thinks about Max, the tears that wouldn't stop no matter how many times Lucas tried to make her feel okay. Remembered the ground feeling unstable under his feet, remembers eyes watching and then fading away in a single snap. It's been far too long since then but what has Steve done with his life other than think?
He'd let his future crumble under his hands years ago, felt it shatter into small pieces because he was too much of a fool to stand on his own two feet without validation from someone else. The book shakes a little and Steve idly understands that he's the one that is shaking. He lets himself look at the pages one more time, presses a finger to the ink like he'd be able to smudge it away.
Would you attempt to make it an actuality? He answers yes subconsciously but it's the truest thing he's ever uttered.
The sun burns his eyes when it properly sets in the sky, he lets it become his wake-up call because it is not like he has anyone to do that for him. There's a thump below him, creaking from the first floor that causes any type of restlessness to escape him so quickly he almost develops whiplash. It's been a year since anyone has stepped foot in his home, a year of silence to where creaking alerted a type of primitive instinct within him.
He sets his feet on the floor has it swung over like he's been trained for years and lets his foot curl carefully against the surface of the ground. He's silent, not a single sound comes from the way he walks and that's the only way he will ever allow himself to move. The bat he normally keeps by his door is gone, it's something that doesn't ring out an alarm in his head until he's a step away from visibly seeing what was on the first floor.
There's a rustle, "Steve?"
"Fuck," He lets out a screech and almost falls down the rest of the steps when it's his mother's doe eyes look back at him.
She splutters at him, face flushed in the slightest from his tone, "Did you just swear at me?"
He presses his lips together, rolls his tongue along the inner portion of his cheeks and holds his breath for far too long, "Sorry, just, what are you doing here?"
There's hardly the number of wrinkles she used to have when her brows furrow at him, "I'm not sure why you're asking that Steve, your father and I usually stop by on Saturdays."
An uncomfortable little laugh falls past his lips before he can stop himself, "You haven't done that since I was eighteen."
His mother gives him a long look, it's not exactly a look of concern but more so one that a scientist would give a rodent that just won't behave properly. He almost feels insulted when she turns around and mutters quietly to herself, words sounding particularly like unfortunate and instability. He resorts to pinching his thigh and lets himself stand just before the steps begin. He studies his home first, the hole in the wall from where Tommy had shoved a pool rod in is not there anymore, his mom is exiting from a door he swears was repainted a dark brown colour and because of that shouldn't be the colour it was now.
He has ten toes and ten fingers, two eyes and two ears, one nose and— where did the photo of him and Robin go?
Things are familiar but wrong like they should exist but not in the particular order he was viewing them in. His hands clam up again, body leaning forward so severely that he may have already fallen on the floor had it not been for the way his body jolted towards the calendar hung on the wall. He chants the year in his head, shuts his eyes and chants it again and again until he makes it a mantra.
He almost throws up.
Slaps a hand over his mouth and swallows down anything that was fighting to make his nausea apparent. Maybe his face was a bit green but he wasn't able to catch his reflection on any surface for more than a second. He'd pushed the need to run at the forefront of his mind, heading back up to his room where maybe he pause and the nightmare would be over.
He takes a second to shut his eyes when the door closes behind him, hands against the door and head banging against the expensive wood. It's like a revelation when his head snaps up and his whole body seems to throw itself towards the worn book on his nightstand.
"Would you attempt to make it a reality?" Stares back and Steve thinks he can hear somebody laughing at him.