The thing about being the Resident Weirdo of Hawkins is that when Eddie buys Reefer Rick’s place out on the lake with the payoff money from Jason’s parents for the whole lynch mob fiasco, people don’t notice - or at the very least pretend not to notice - when a few extra people move in.
In a twist Eddie doesn’t see coming, it’s Steve who makes Eddie’s home his own first, before the dust has settled from the Upsidedown’s final stand, while the ink on the deed is still wet. The Byers are back in town, with Hopper and El, and Jonathan and Nancy are back in their bubble, insulated in a fog of them-against-the-world that makes Eddie’s insides squirm, and he isn’t the one with skin in the game. So, when Steve starts driving Dustin out to Eddie’s place for DnD nights and decides to let him find his way home with the Sinclairs and crash in Eddie’s spare room instead of going home, Eddie doesn’t push.
In fact, Eddie realizes with only the mildest twinges of disgust that he actually likes Steve Harrington, likes the blank expression he wears whenever Eddie makes a reference that steps a toe outside the mainstream, and the array of hair products that take their place next to his own on his bathroom counter. He likes sitting out by the water, staring up at the stars, passing a joint back and forth, and musing about the enormity of the universe, if there’s a Sideways, or an Insideout. He’s hasn’t touched the hard stuff since that night at the trailer with Chrissy, doesn't know if he can handle that kind of escape from reality anymore with getting dragged under, but he still keeps enough weed on hand to numb the sharp edges on the worse nights, when the memories won’t leave him alone.
That’s another thing he comes to enjoy about quasi-living with Steve, that there’s another person with him in the dark, when he wakes up screaming, to turn on the light. Steve screams, too, so loud it leaves his throat raw. Eddie brings him water, sits him on the couch, heats up the compress he keeps in the cupboard under the microwave to press to the ache in Steve’s sides where the scars from the Demo-bats mangle his skin.
Within a few months of being in his new home, he realizes it’s been weeks since Steve’s spent the night at his own place. He gets another copy of his key made and slides it to Steve one morning over breakfast. He means for it to be casual, but he can’t look Steve in the eye as he explains mi casa es su casa . Steve, for his part, can’t stop looking at Eddie, and it makes Eddie’s chest unbearably tight.
Steve brings his things in boxes the next weekend, and while Eddie hadn’t said move in with me in so many words, he meant it, down to his marrow, and it swallows him whole to grab Steve’s things from his car and bring him home.
With Steve living at Eddie’s full time, it shouldn’t surprise him that Robin’s next. He brings her home one day after work, then keeps bringing her, until Eddie starts putting enough supper on for three by force of habit. Robin doesn’t smoke, but she tucks into the occasional brownie with them on Friday nights, and it’s with weed-loosened lips that Eddie comes to understand her dynamic with Steve, and burn a bit less beneath his breastbone whenever she’s around.
“I’m very much a lesbian,” Robin supplies, when Eddie asks again, for what feels like the millionth time, why there’s nothing going on between her and Steve. She’s on her back on the dock, the hem of her skirt rucked up between her thighs, leaving one leg bare to slip off the edge into the water. She turns her head to stare at Eddie with a frown between her brows.
“I mean,” she starts, like she’s going to take it back, then just blows out a breath and stares back up at the stars. “Fuck it, that can of worms won’t shut again, will it?”
Eddie’s hands are clammy. “That’s cool, anyway,” he says. “Since I’d be a real hypocrite if it wasn’t.”
Robin looks over at him sharply. He watches her close, doesn’t let himself succumb to the draw of Steve’s gaze burning against his skin.
“For real?” Robin asks. It isn’t a judgment, or a doubt, just a soft, open acceptance.
“Who hasn’t experimented?” he says, trying to play it off. He could be putting his foot in it, implying Robin’s experience is a novelty, instead of a core aspect of who she is, but she doesn’t take it that way. She doesn’t say anything at all, just smiles a private little smile, like she’s ten pounds lighter, now that she’s found someone else like her.
Honestly, Eddie can’t say he doesn’t feel the same way. He isn’t lying when he calls it experimenting, because that’s all he’s ever been to the few people he’s fumbled around with, guys backstage at gigs with weed smoke heavy on their breath, girls from the right side of the tracks wanting a brush with danger. Being here with Robin, who sees him, who takes him for who he is, feels weightless.
“Um, I haven’t,” Steve says, raising one hand in the air to punctuate the point. “And I gotta say, I’m starting to feel a bit left out.”
Eddie isn’t sure what possesses him, but he finds himself offering, “I could change that.”
He looks over at Steve with hot, half-lidded eyes. The soft breath that puffs past Steve’s lips, the flutter of his lashes, pools molten in Eddie’s gut.
“Oh,” Steve says, almost dazed. “Like, you would kiss me?”
Eddie shrugs, tries to project an indifference he doesn’t feel. “I could.”
He doesn’t expect Steve to acquiesce, but Eddie doesn’t stop to pick it apart. He scoots across the dock, closes the foot of space between them, cups the side of Steve’s face with his palm, and kisses him.
Steve breathes into his mouth, sighs into him, so sweet it’s nearly a whine, and Eddie's jeans are suddenly uncomfortably tight. Steve doesn’t just let Eddie take, he gives, parts his mouth, and meets his tongue, and swallows him whole. Eddie doesn’t know where his body starts and Steve’s ends. He never wants to stop kissing Steve, wants to hold onto the press of their mouths until he suffocates, until the friction numbs his lips.
But Eddie’s body won’t let him die. He pulls back as smoothly as he moved in, and the foggy look on Steve’s face tugs between his legs like a physical touch.
“I can’t believe you kissed a guy before I kissed a girl,” Robin whines. The sudden sound of her voice nearly scares Eddie out of his skin. It’s not that he forgot about Robin, exactly, but it had been so easy to lose himself in Steve, narrow his whole world to just the feeling of Steve’s mouth on his.
“That’s not fair,” Robin continues, oblivious to the cataclysmic shift in Eddie’s world.
“It’s the Harrington charm,” Eddie says, throwing Steve a saucy wink, compulsively, like pressing fingers into a bruise, or re-inflicting a trauma so it can’t scab over. “I’m helpless against it.”
Robin laughs, a warm, throaty sound Eddie thinks he could listen to forever. She dips her fingers in the water and splashes them, and Eddie follows his blood and tackles her into the lake. Robin reaches up, and when Steve bends to pull her out, she drags him in with them. They paddle around until their lips are blue, still too early in the season for a night swim to be comfortable. Inside, Eddie dresses Robin in one of his band tees that falls to her thighs and piles her onto the couch with a mountain of blankets to spend the night.
He loses sight of Steve in the process, and figures it’s Steve’s way of closing the door on their moment of intimacy. He’s half-asleep when he realizes how wrong of an assumption that was, when Steve opens his bedroom door, when Eddie’s able to trace the silhouette of him, shirtless in the moonlight, as he pads over to the head of his bed.
“Steve?” Eddie whispers into the quiet of the night. He props himself up into a sitting position against the headboard. Steve climbs into his lap.
His lips are hot and desperate and so fucking perfect. Eddie’s whole body lights up, any traces of sleep evaporated as he straightens his spine, pulls Steve in tighter to his chest. They kiss like the world is ending, like it’s their last night on Earth, Steve’s hands in Eddie’s hair, on his jaw, fingers clasped so tight around Eddie’s fingers, it’s a divine kind of hurt. Eddie flips them over, splays Steve out on his back, and blows him until Steve is a mewling, twitching mess. He bites the heel of his hand to keep his cries stifled. Eddie traces his fingers along the ridges of Steve’s abs in fascination as they ripple with every quieted sound.
He lets Steve cum in his mouth, and Steve doesn’t flinch when he pulls Eddie back to meet his mouth, to kiss him deep and hard as his hand finds the length of Eddie’s shaft. The angle is strange, Steve’s motions sloppy with endorphins. Eddie drops his hand between the press of their bodies, and together, they take him over the edge, too, against Steve’s hip.
Steve crashes in Eddie’s bed. In the morning, Eddie wakes up alone, but he follows the sound of voices to the kitchen, and watches with an unbearable warmth in his chest as Steve serves Robin a plate of pancakes and wears the hickeys Eddie sucked into his neck without shame. Eddie’s skin aches where Steve left his own marks, and Robin sees them and smiles a sly, knowing smile.
From that night on, Robin all but lives with them, too. Steve doesn’t fully migrate out of his room, but she stays in it more nights than he does. He keeps Eddie’s bed warm instead, starfishing out across from him, or tangling their limbs together like cephalopods. Everything Eddie owns smells like him, and Steve smells like Eddie, too. Eddie catches the smell of himself behind Steve’s ear when he crowds him up against the counter, leans in to press a gentle kiss against the pounding of his pulse.
If he’d expected Steve to have some great internal struggle being with Eddie in this way, he doesn’t. Steve is so comfortable with Eddie, it keeps him loose-limbed and pliant. This is why Eddie notices, when they’re out at a dive bar at one of Eddie’s gigs and Eddie’s pressed as close to Steve’s side as he can get away with, that Steve’s usual relaxed posture goes suddenly stiff.
Robin must notice it, too, where they’re pressed hip to ankle under that table, because her eyes dart immediately for the door, and Eddie catches the same sight moments later.
Nancy and Jonathan.
Eddie’s feelings about the couple are complicated. On the surface, he hates them. At the very least, he wants to. They’re the only reason he’s ever seen Steve truly miserable, with Nancy’s messy, complicated feelings for both men, and Steve’s blatantly simple undying love for her. He can’t really hate them, though, deep down. Facing the Upsidedown together forges a certain unbreakable bond, and Eddie can hardly blame Nancy for having twisty feelings after half a decade of being in the trenches with them when Eddie has twisty feelings after just a few months.
Still, the distance she put between her and Steve when Jonathan got back to town, the sparks between them she fanned, then smothered, with equal ease, makes Eddie angry on Steve’s behalf. Eddie doesn’t know how to have history with a person the way Nancy and Steve have history, but he can’t imagine there not being a better way, one that doesn’t end with Steve’s heart crushed under her boot.
Steve raises a hand to catch Nancy and Jonathan’s attention, and Nancy raises a hand back. She weaves through the crowd like it’s meant to part for her, and it does. Jonathan follows in the gap carved open behind her. He can’t make space the way she does. The way Steve could. But there’s no resentment in him to follow.
“I didn’t think you’d come,” Steve says when Nancy and Jonathan get to their table. That they were coming at all is news to Eddie. He narrows his eyes but holds his tongue.
Robin does not. “I didn’t realize you were invited,” she says. She’s better at playing protective friend than Eddie is, and Eddie loves her for that.
“Steve asked us,” Nancy replies. Her hand rests uneasily on Jonathan’s bicep, keeping him a whisper behind her. “I hope that’s alright.”
“What?” Steve sputters. “Of course, Nance, it’s alright. We haven’t had the whole Monster Squad together in forever.”
“And who’s fault is that?” Robin mutters, like it’s supposed to be under her breath, except it’s nowhere near quiet enough to not intentionally be heard. She takes the bright red straw of her coke between her teeth and takes a pointed sip.
Nancy’s lips purse. “There’s been a lot going on,” she says, defensive and clipped.
“We still should have reached out,” Jonathan adds, and it doesn’t surprise Eddie he’s taken on the role of mediator. Nancy is too headstrong for apologies when the concept of fault is a messy one, but Jonathan knows how to yield, how to offer his throat with the trust it will stay intact.
“Hey,” Eddie says. “As long as you’re here now.”
And he’s surprised to find he means it. Nancy and Jonathan and the uncertainty of their relationship has caused Steve heartache, undeniably, but something hasn’t been the same without them. Having them both here, nursing their drinks, defrosting Robin’s protective outer shell, and watching Eddie’s band play feels like triumphantly discovering a long-lost puzzle piece under the sofa. Nancy’s haunches finally drop, and she goes limp and boneless against Jonathan’s shoulder, swaying gently to the music. Jonathan watches Eddie with an intensity so strong Eddie can’t feel his fingers against the strings, and considers it a miracle he gets through the rest of the set without the neck of his guitar slipping from his hands.
They invite Nancy and Jonathan back to Eddie’s place – Eddie and Steve’s place? Eddie and Steve and Robin’s place?
Robin taps into her stash of brownies, and Eddie lights up a joint they pass around the living room. The gig ran late, and without the threat of imminent death, none of them really have the stamina to pull all-nighters anymore. They’re tired, and lax, and touch more than they should, but it goes without comment. Nancy places her head in Steve’s lap, and Jonathan drapes the bend of her knees across his thighs. Eddie’s fingers trail through Steve’s hair, lips ghosting against the shell of his ear. Robin curls Nancy’s arm around her chest and cradles it close, head tipping back against the dip of her stomach.
Eddie isn’t sure who starts kissing first, who takes the gentle, wandering touch of hands and extends it to mouths and tongues and teeth. It’s fluid and sticky like honey, with his mouth on Steve’s one second, then on Nancy’s the next. Jonathan sucks hickeys into the sensitive skin at the base of his throat as Steve buries his head between Nancy’s thighs, and Robin captures the soft whimpers that escape past her lips with her own.
They’re all too tired, and pleasantly buzzed, to manage athletics. Nancy climbs into Steve’s lap and rides him, Jonathan watching in rapt fascination from beside them, peppering kisses against Steve’s shoulder as Steve strokes him in time with the rhythm of Nancy’s hips. Robin devours Nancy’s mouth, lets Nancy’s fingers dip between her legs, and rub her until she’s panting. Eddie doesn’t reach for her, wants to stay mindful of her boundaries, since she has no interest in Eddie that way, even if the sight of her, flushed and writhing, breasts heavy and bared, makes Eddie ache for her. She reaches for him, though, not for a sexual touch, but for an intimate one, their fingers lacing together as Nancy hammers into her and brings her over the edge. Eddie cums in his hand watching the tangle of their bodies together, precious and divine, the four people he cares about most in the world caring for each other, on his sofa, in his home.
When they’re sticky and spent, Eddie ushers them into his bedroom. There isn’t room for five adults in a queen-sized bed, but the refusal to move to the spare room is unanimous and unwavering. Nancy sleeps on top of Steve’s sturdy weight, Jonathan and Eddie pressed on either side. Robin curls up at the foot of the bed, with Eddie’s calf wedged under her pillow. She wraps her arms around him like a teddy bear, blunt nails scratching through wiry hair, and Eddie’s chest feels full to bursting.
In the fall, Nancy goes to Emerson, but when she comes home, she doesn’t stay at the Wheeler’s. She stays at Eddie’s, where there are suddenly more residents than bedrooms, but if anyone in Hawkins questions the particulars of their sleeping arrangements, they keep it to themselves. They run up their phone bill with the landline on speaker most evenings, Nancy walking them through her days in Boston, Eddie, Jonathan, Robin, and Steve listening with rapt attention.
They have something together, something magical and unparalleled. If it cements Eddie’s notoriety as Resident Weirdo, he can hardly complain. He’ll take being a pariah any day to keep what they have, this little piece of normalcy the five of them have carved out for themselves, however abnormal it may be. Eddie has his people, all he’s wanted since he can remember, growing up a sad, scared little boy with no money, no place to belong, and no way out.
Jonathan has a pot of spaghetti sauce on the stove. Steve’s humming along to the radio, shuffling across the floor in his socks. Robin has her nose in a textbook, prepping for mid-terms. Nancy is back East, getting everything she deserves, and just a phone call away.
Eddie is painfully, blissfully happy.