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Story of Yesterday

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It's October 27th, 1984 and Steve wants to laugh until laughter turns into uncontrollable heaving, until his lungs fill up with more air than they can take. He's never told anyone but his birthday is four days away and he thinks this must be a morbid type of birthday present, something that he had subconsciously desired but never really understood enough to realize the weight of pros and cons were not in his favour. He's going to be eighteen again and doesn't understand what he can do about that. 

The book is no help, it talks in circles more than it ever gets to a clear point. Steve's not an idiotic teenager at least he wasn't—now he is, a teenager at least. He understands more than he did when teenage fun began to bleed away into teenage nightmares. 

And more than anything else he understands that he's running against a clock that will not stop for him. There are events rushing past his head at a clarity more vivid than he had ever thought possible. It's Saturday, October 27th, 1984 and the world begins to go to shit on Monday, October 29th, 1984. 

He throws open the book that damned him to this hell and writes anything and everything he can, wedges words into margins that are far too small for the number of things he has to note. He ends up taking every last bit of space, notes down things that stood out and by the end of it all he sits against his door and looks out to his room. 

"What am I supposed to do?" No one answers him back but it would be stupid to expect a response. 

Slamming the book open once more, he drags a finger across a page and settles it to a stop when a new paragraph begins, "'Small actions guarantee large results'. Small actions?"

A butterfly beats its wing and across the world, a tsunami touches down; a butterfly lies crushed under the foot of a boot and a child born no longer exists. What was his butterfly? The small entity that would change it all?

His parents are gone and will be like that for the rest of his life after his eighteenth birthday—no more Saturday drop-ins, so he doesn't care if he scatters things around too loudly, or if he huffs his frustrations in a tone that could easily be picked up. The walls in his house are thick and no neighbour bothers anybody in Loch Nora. 

He falls back with the book tucked under the arm that's thrown across his chest, looks up at his ceiling and digs his brain to find anything he can think of. Why October 1984? Why not the year before then?

With eyes screwed shut he cards through the—his body flings upwards before he even knows he's moving at all.

"Billy."

His butterfly—hypothetically of course, because there was no way Billy Hargrove could be likened to a butterfly. He should have noticed it outright but the brunt of being in 1984 had taken far too much of his initial attention. When he'd read the book he'd been in one of his constant states, where he allowed that treacherous part of his mind thinks about Billy-fucking-Hargrove. 

 

 

 

x

 

 

 

He takes what little amount of time left of the weekend to get his shit in order. Takes the discarded college essay and revises it so much that by the end of it his hands are numb and feel a second away from falling off. He makes it meaningful this time, knowing that he had never quite understood himself while writing those few words, had felt that he was trying to be something he himself never knew. He has one hand on the essay page and the other on the book that damned him and thinks that there is no better college essay than one that comes from the soul.

He's not going to ask Nancy to revise it, not going to listen to her large eyes and gentle demeanour rip away his heart like she was trained to do. Rather he tucks it away for safekeeping and decides that he'll submit it to the counsellor come Monday morning. It's like ripping a bandage off and Steve is littered in them. 

So when Monday morning comes he breathes in deeply and takes a single whistful look at the novel by his side, questioning whether or not he would have to go through with his plans. The book is silent, like all things with no mouth to communicate and it makes Steve feel stupid. He takes it in his hand anyways, a little fearful of leaving it alone for too long, wedges it between two textbooks he knows he'd never bothered to bring to school before. 

He makes sure he looks exactly the same to make up for what he knows is a different personality. Tries to hide away the hard expression in familiar clothes and rich fabrics. He feels like shit but it's not too far from what he normally felt like when he was in his final year. His biggest concern had always been how his parents and the world viewed him, the disappointment he knew his father held for him and the inability to amount to anything in Nancy's eyes. Tommy and Carol had never been a concern, not since he was in his third year and sick of hearing them talk about things he realized meant nothing. 

There's something he has to have done as soon as possible before it eats away at him like a parasite. Tommy and Carol are leaning against Tommy's new car and although he knows it's protocol for him to acknowledge him he doesn't do that today. His eyes briefly fall over the familiar car where a redhead jumps out and heads off to the school on the other side. His lips thin and he has to stop himself from chewing the skin raw. 

"Coach?" Steve clears his throat and looks unblinkingly ahead, "I'd like to quit the team."

The man looks at him like he's insane, and maybe that would have been the case for anyone who built the idea that his life was tethered to basketball. To everyone who assumed, basketball was his sport whereas it was just another way to make sure his father knew he could be a man—behave as a man should. 

"Okay..." His coach drawls on and then gives a firm nod, "If you're sure about that, it was a pleasure having you on the team, son."

It really wasn't a pleasure but he keeps up the act anyways. It's a step towards completion, to get rid of the one thing that had driven Billy to have an unhealthy urge to outdo Steve in everything. He thinks it's silly now but that's because he's had far too long to ponder over the situation and had matured far past it before Billy was ever given the opportunity to. 

If Billy wanted to be the king of Hawkings then Steve would let him, idly he thinks he'd let Billy have the world. 

There's a quick sound from behind him and almost instantly he knows who it is. The word falls out of his mouth so easily that he almost winces, "Hey Nance."

In a way that only she could accomplish, she both makes him feel grounded and like he's on the edge of a cliff ready to fall. He knows that it has to end before she gives him those words that still torment him years later but he can't find it in himself to muster the courage. His lips tremble but he knows that she can't tell, she'd never been able to read him when her eyes started following Jonathan instead. 

"Steve," He hates the way she says his name like she was speaking to a wounded child backed into a corner. "You said you wanted to get me to look over your paper what happened? and why are people saying you quit the team?"

She asks too many questions he doesn't want to answer but he can't let the world go to shit by avoiding these kinds of problems, "Don't sweat about it Nance, I had some time over the weekend so I got to that paper and about the whole basketball thing I just figured I need to focus on more important things, it's not like I'm giving it up forever."

That's a lie, he thinks if he ever holds another basketball in his hands all he'd be able to do is flatten it in a fit of rage. It would be therapeutic, he notes. Whereas before she used to openly reach out for his hands she now only settles at his side and gives a firm okay. He knows he catches sight of Billy stomping down the hall and swallows before he does something stupid. 

Billy-fucking-Hargrove, he almost wants to forget it all and end the feud before it could begin. Yet he has plans, ones sketched in margins that can't be overlooked or he thinks that the feud will end up being the least of his worries. He knows Nancy is eyeing the book so he reluctantly tucks it away into his locker and lets her lead him on, chattering about whatever came to her mind while he couldn't help but wonder when Billy perfected hiding his bruises. 

He tunes out those thoughts after a while and conversations are kept clean when it comes to Tommy and Carol. Steve doesn't attempt to change himself immediately, simply adapts and shows what he knows should have been clear from the start. He'd dug himself a mud pit when he had let his ego and a clear case of child neglect rule how he interacted with the world around him. While his ego is dissipated he does still find conflict with emotions, knows how fragile the connection between people can be because he'd experienced it first hand all his life. 

That's what made it so easy for Nancy to open old wounds and leave new ones in her wake. He hates it, but there's no way to avoid hearing those words again. He's double-dipping into emotional trauma and it feels like his head and heart are about to cave right under him. 

Then he stands there again, leaning up against his car and trying not to make it obvious how he watches him move. It had always been easy to follow his eyes along to Billy, subconsciously seeking him out like a moth to a flame. It was the air he illuded, the type that made a paradox far too hard to ignore. 

Billy isn't particularly special and Steve is evidently aware that he himself wasn't much either. Yet he can't help but desire to unravel all the mistakes he had made, to right a wrong he hadn't realized existed until it was far too late.

It was a simple concept, Billy was under the impression that Steve was everything he wasn't. That Steve was well-liked, that Steve was nothing but another spoiled rich kid who lived leeching the wealth off his parents with nothing but a massive ego on his shoulders. It wasn't like Steve necessarily denied that, he'd grown so used to lying that to anyone, that description Billy made was his life.

He's stuck in a daze, fingers clinging to the book while he knows Nancy is off with Jonathan. There's nothing to stop the jolt of genuine shock when a shadow knocks him out of his stupor, when the idea of denim is all he can see. He thinks of Billy's eyes before realizing that they were directed at him and not elsewhere. 

Billy's not particularly close but close enough to where Steve can see the crease on his forehead. Billy favours leaning himself on his left leg and Steve knows all too well why, "Heard they call you King Steve?"

God if there was ever a time to punch Tommy in the face it would be over starting the King Steve annoyance. He holds the book a little looser this time, Billy is the type to lash out but he's also someone ruled by the wanton desire to be free, "Used to, you're Billy right?" Billy doesn't like being reminded of the fact that he's a Hargrove so he omits the last name, "Considering the praise you're getting that's actually King Billy, not Steve."

Flattery, and by the look on Billy's face he doesn't care for it but fighting fire with fire is a sure way to get burned and Steve is far too annoyed to fight flames. Billy looks like he's going to retort back at him but his eyes trail and the line they follow leads down to the book Steve was idly turning in his hand.

The look that curves on his features is odd, unique to something he had never been privy to when he and Billy had met the first time. His face is relaxed but there's a pinch of something in his eyes that betrays that. Steve's not sure, he'd assumed the book was some type of freak creation so why did Billy look so familiar with it?

"Stop twisting the shit like that," Billy finally decided to say and although it was executed in a way that was supposed to be brutish it's not completely that, "You'll ruin it, pretty boy."

His heart murmurs in his chest when those eyes leave him and Billy leaves into his car, feels like a bag of bricks were poured down his pants and weighted him in place. He hadn't really acknowledged the world of Billy and his words back then, but hearing them play out now in a different setting held him in place like an excess force of gravity. 

Maybe Steve was screwed but, he let his eyes fall on the damned book, maybe he had a way in at the same time.