Three weeks ago Steve had been battling monsters from the Upside Down. There had been demodogs, demogorgons, psychic horror and a memorable journey into the slimy tunnel-bowels of Hawkins. By comparison, another run-in with Billy Hargrove should be less balls-clenchingly terrifying. His body has other ideas though, and he backs up against his car.
Billy moves in closer.
They’re in the otherwise empty school parking lot, Monday evening after basketball practice. If Steve had known Billy Hargrove was lurking, waiting out here for him, then he wouldn’t have spent so much time on his hair. Hell, he wouldn’t have spent any time on his hair. At least now he’ll die looking well coiffed.
“Max says you were babysitting her or some shit, that night at the Byers’ place.” Billy says.
It’s not the black eye Steve was expecting, so he goes with it. “Uh, yeah.”
“She says you protected her and all her little nerd friends. And you didn’t deserve the beating I gave you.”
Steve shakes his head because he hadn’t deserved the worst beating of his life but switches to nodding when Billy frowns. “No. Yeah, I mean yeah,” Steve tries to clarify. He clears his throat. “What Max said.”
Billy nods solemnly. “So listen up Harrington, this is how it’s gonna be. You get one free hit. Just one.”
Steve must look as blindsided as he feels because Billy raises his eyebrows and huffs impatiently.
“Cause I was wrong?” Billy says slowly, like he’s talking to a stupid person. He looks away, at the ground, and mumbles, “It’s an apology, okay?”
What the Hell kind of blackmail is Max holding over Billy to make him apologise like this? Steve decides he doesn’t want to know. “Oh, no, that’s not-” he begins.
“It is.” Billy says fiercely. “It’s how it’s gonna be.”
So Steve nods in agreement because what else can he do? Billy doesn’t leave though. He just stands there looking weirdly constipated. “Go on then,” he says, “Get it over with already.”
“What, now?” Steve’s palms go sweaty. He bites back a nervous laugh. What he needs to do is get into his car and drive away. He’s definitely not taking an unprovoked swing at Billy Hargrove because that would be insane.
“Yes dunderhead, now.”
“I can’t- can I take a rain check? I couldn’t punch for shit right now anyway, y’know? Coach pushed us really hard today.”
Billy rolls his eyes but relaxes his stance. “Whatever,” he says, taking out a cigarette and lighting it. He rolls his shoulders. “See you around Harrington.”
Steve watches Billy get into his Camero and squeal away, kicking up dust. He tells himself it’s just another drop in the Ocean of Weirdness that his life has become. Half a minute and some calming breaths later, and his pulse rate is almost back to normal.
Steve makes it impossible for Billy to get him on his own. He surrounds himself with people, sits with Nancy and Jonathan at lunch and even persuades them to walk with him to classroom doors.
He times his bathroom breaks with Jonathan’s. A lot of guys would have given him shit for it but Jonathan, bless him, just raises an eyebrow at Steve’s mumbled excuse of, “Hargrove’s trying to pick a fight with me,” and lets him get on with it. By the end of the week, Nancy isn’t the only one smirking when they go to the bathroom together but Steve doesn’t care.
Billy spends the week scowling at him, two tables over at lunch and slouched in the back of classrooms. Monday rolls around again and Steve’s in such a rush after practice that he doesn’t even wet his hair in the showers. He’d been hoping that a weekend would’ve been time enough for Billy to forget this dumb ‘apology’ idea but the crowd of basketball players waiting for Steve, the moment he steps out of the shower, says Billy hasn’t forgotten.
The team are clearly anticipating a fight, with Billy at their centre. He approaches, eyes scanning down Steve’s wet body, all the way to the towel. It doesn’t mean anything, Steve tells himself, fascinated as Billy licks his lips. He’s being sized up for a fight, that’s all. And Billy is always doing something with his tongue.
“We had a deal, Harrington. You gonna chicken out on me again or step up like a man this time?”
It’s a trap. The others may not know the whole story but they know enough, and taking a swing is Steve’s only way of saving face. He curls his fists. The problem is that Billy never said anything about not hitting back. And even if Billy doesn’t intend to hit Steve back, there’s a good chance he’ll just lose control anyway and pummel Steve into the tiles. Punching Billy Hargrove, even when he’s begging for it, would be like kicking a wasps’ nest. Hell, just talking to Billy feels like poking at a wasps’ nest with a stick.
“Hargrove!” The crowd parts and Coach comes through. “Harrington!” he snaps. “You two done flirting with each other?”
Billy pulls a disgusted face and turns away, jostling past Karl to get to his belongings.
“’S what I thought,” Coach says. “You too Harrington. Haven’t you got somewhere else to be?”
Steve nods and adds a silent thank you to Coach, to God, and to all the angels for saving his ass.
Billy is missing from school Tuesday and Wednesday, which means there’s no one at Steve’s back in Biology plotting his murder. Lunch times are stress free and Jonathan gets to use the bathroom alone. By History on Tuesday afternoon, Steve’s day is dragging so much it feels like he slipped into Purgatory without noticing.
The school is buzzing with gossip about Billy on Wednesday morning. Steve sees him before first period, strutting along the corridor, somehow even more aggressive than usual. He has bruises on his neck and his knuckles are bandaged. People turn away quickly after he’s passed and spin their own stories to explain his absence. Carol and Tommy H. flank Billy but Tommy looks nervous. Steve watches them go but Billy doesn’t glance his way, and he ignores Steve for the rest of the day too.
Billy’s back to scowling at Steve by Thursday lunch time though, so Steve trails Jonathan to the Boys’ bathroom with an apologetic look. When they come back out Billy’s waiting, shoving himself off the opposite wall where he’d been slouching. It’s Jonathan he goes for though, not Steve. “The fuck are you doin’ in there with Harrington, Byers? You going down on him?” Billy pokes Jonathan’s shoulder. "Can’t get enough of pretty boy’s dick in your throat, that it?”
“Fuck off Hargrove,” Steve growls and Billy ignores him completely. It’s infuriating.
Billy squares up to Jonathan, “Or you letting him put his dick in you?” he says, voice quieter and laced with faux-sympathy. “Couldn’t help yourself, that it? His pretty boy face turn you into a fag?”
Jonathan just stands there like a statue, letting hair fall into his eyes. Steve has time to admire his self control, even as he inserts his body between Jonathan and Billy. “Leave him the fuck alone,” he hisses at Billy.
“Does the Wheeler bitch know you’re cheating on her?” Billy asks Jonathan over Steve’s shoulder. “Or does she like to watch?”
Steve’s blood boils.
“Or maybe she likes to join in?” Billy says, re-focussing his attention on Steve.
All of Steve’s emotions ratch up a notch in response and coalesce into the urge to punch Billy in the face.
“You double team her, Harrington?” Billy asks quietly. “Which one of you gets to do her dirty?” and Steve’s pulling his fist back, ready to swing when he catches the tiny smile of bitter victory on Billy’s face; the slight submissive tilt of his head, bracing for a blow he has no intention of returning.
“Shit!” Steve yells, instead, dropping his arm and turning to Jonathan. “Let’s get out of here.”
They’re past the School Office and almost out of earshot when Steve hears Billy behind them saying, “Bitch wouldn’t know how to take it anyway,” which makes no sense at all.
Friday after school is a big game for the basketball team; regional quarter finals, and so of course Billy lays off Steve during the day and saves the worst of his intimidation tactics for the game itself.
Four deliberate shoves into the match, and Coach has to warn Billy off Steve at half time. Billy doesn’t take it well. They win by a decent margin largely, if Steve’s honest, thanks to Billy’s amazing skills, but Billy doesn’t stick around for the post game celebrations. He snatches up his jacket and blows out of the locker room without even showering, throwing leering grins to team mates that Steve can tell are fake, and saying something about a hot date, which is probably also so much shit, but what the fuck ever.
Steve’s the last one in the showers. He hears Tommy laughing, telling the others that Steve’s staying behind to jerk off in peace when they’re all gone. The guy is such an asshole. Steve can’t imagine wanting to be friends with him now, and can’t remember why he ever did.
It’s nice to have the showers to himself, after what has been a long and exhausting week. This thing with Billy has made Steve feel... well, he doesn’t know what it’s made him feel but it’s got him all turned around. He punches the shower button on... on... on again... and lets the water pound down on his head, washing all his cares away.
Steve takes his time changing, vaguely aware of the sounds of others leaving around him. He doesn’t spend ages on his hair or anything because there’s no point; he’s hardly going to see anyone else except for maybe when he’s driving home. He gets it pretty good though, glancing around out of habit before using the secret hairspray. By the time he’s done, the rest of the team are long gone. Steve gets his school stuff out of the locker last, and he’s about to swing his jacket around his shoulders when Billy walks back in.
All the tiny hairs on Steve’s arms and neck stand on end.
Billy doesn’t pretend to have another reason for coming back. He just stalks towards Steve, coming to stand in his space and squaring them off. He’s the most aggressive person Steve has ever met in his whole life.
“A free hit, come on Harrington. To the gut, to the head, whatever the fuck you want. A freebie.”
Steve feels the beginnings of something itching in his muscles, his fight or flight response maybe, but he holds his ground.
“C’mon man.” Billy snatches Steve’s wrist, making Steve gasp. He holds it in a vice-like grip. “Where d’you wanna take it? Gonna wipe the smile off my face, huh?” he says, lifting Steve’s hand near his cheek. “Wanna punch me in the guts, see me doubled over, watch me go down?”
Billy moves his hand lower and Steve twists, tearing his himself free. Jesus. Does Steve want to watch Billy go down? So yeah, maybe he really fucking does. He needs to get out of this, and now. “Maybe I just want to kick you in the nuts and be done,” he says. “You still gonna be okay with that, Hargrove?”
Billy barks a laugh and shakes his head. “You are a sick, sick man Harrington, but if it’s my balls you want, well.” He widens his stance. “So be it.” He licks his lips. “Didn’t know you were into kinky shit.”
Steve looks away. “Christ, this is so fucking stupid.”
“Anyone left in here?” Coach calls out, and they freeze.
Steve takes a breath to reply but Billy clamps his hand down over Steve’s mouth before he can get the words out. He backs them up into a block of lockers, and they stay there, frozen by mutual agreement, squeezed together. Steve can feel the heat of Billy’s skin bleeding into his own and the shape of Billy’s muscles against him. Do their bodies need to be pressed quite so close? Billy’s hand is salty where Steve’s lips join and his breath tickles Steve’s neck, and- Oh fuck, Steve thinks, because Billy’s thigh is pressing up against Steve’s junk and Steve’s body is two seconds away from fatally incriminating him. Fuck.
The lights go out and Billy releases him. Steve stumbles back, heart racing, and lives to fight another day.
They listen to the inner doors close, then the outer doors, and then Coach’s footsteps as they fade through the empty school corridors.
“C’mon now pretty boy,” Billy says, low. “Just you and me. Give it your best shot.”
“Billy!” Steve hisses. Billy looks surprised by his first name and Steve corrects himself, “Hargrove. I don’t want to hit you, okay? Can’t we just, I don’t know, say you apologised like a normal human being and let it slide?”
“What the fuck is wrong with you Harrington? You gotta take the shot, that’s how it works. Just do it so we can be straight already.”
Steve wants to laugh, and he kind of wants to cry. Billy has him riled to the nervous edge of something. Steve’s body and mind are confused, in turmoil, and if he’s honest he’s been that way ever since Billy started this shit. “We’re never going to be straight!” Steve roars, too loud in the empty building. He hears the double truth in his words as they resonate.
Maybe Billy hears it too, or maybe he just gives up on his apology. All the fight goes out of him and he turns to leave. “Well fuck you anyway,” he sighs.
“What?” Billy can’t just walk away. Not now, not from whatever this is between them. Where the fuck does Billy think he’s going? “No, hey! I want it,” Steve says, casting his last thread of reason to the wind, and Billy hesitates. “I changed my mind. You gave me a free shot and now I’m calling it.”
Steve watches Billy’s back. He breathes steadily but doesn’t turn.
“You chickening out on me now?” Steve feels wildly out of control. It’s great. All he knows is that Billy did this. Billy got them into this... this situation, whatever the Hell it is, and walking away, turning his back and ignoring Steve; that’s not one of Billy’s options.
“’Bout fuckin’ time.” Billy says, turning around, cockiness slipping back in. He re-situates himself square-on to Steve, satisfactorily within arm’s reach, head tilted a little, offering his jaw again, waiting. “Fuck it, Harrington,” he snarls, “Just fucking do it.”
Steve lunges. He takes Billy’s head in both hands, fingers pushing into Billy’s curls, and kisses him full on the mouth for all he’s worth. The momentum takes them and Steve lets it carry him into Billy’s body and uses it to shove them both up against the lockers. Billy’s thigh slots into place and this time Steve grinds down and lets Billy feel what he’s done to Steve’s control. It’s the most reckless thing Steve has ever done, including the business with the spiked bat, and he doesn’t even care.
The noise that Billy lets out is half groan and half growl. Maybe it’s intended as a warning to Steve because Billy is grasping him, hauling him in close and opening for the kiss. Billy tastes of cigarettes and energy but his kisses aren’t the aggressive, pushy kind that Steve had imagined. Billy’s kisses are greedy but they’re also intimate, and Steve was in no way prepared for it. The shock of Billy’s affection makes a terrifying bubble of awe explode inside of Steve. His body responds for him, no thought process between feeling and action, and it’s heady and breathtaking. Billy pauses and presses their faces together, breathing hard, and Steve clings to him, desperately trying to swallow back the storm raging in his chest. Billy won’t be still though; it’s as though he needs to rub every part of himself against Steve, as though he’s been starving for it.
Steve’s high and winding up out of control; he’s never coming down. Every bit of affection he returns is lapped up. Their kissing becomes truly intense, every kiss more meaningful than the last. Steve answers in kind, trying to tell Billy with his kisses about the storm inside and losing a little of himself every time. Promises are exchanged, and devotions. They shudder together and Billy makes small noises of encouragement, nothing accidental about them, and they send Steve impossibly higher.
The rubbing turns to grinding, denim against denim, and it’s fucking hot to feel Billy’s hardness answering Steve’s own. It makes him feel reckless, wild with abandon that he’s allowed to rut against Billy, and that Billy wants him to. Their jeans catch and clink though, fastenings and belts getting in the way, and Steve wants more. He feels crazy; lust addled enough to fumble with Billy’s button fly, making them both moan at the implication.
Billy squeezes the back of Steve’s neck, his shoulder, thumbs over Steve’s ear, his lips; constantly in motion and it drives Steve on. He gets a hand around Billy’s dick, making Billy hiss as he presses their foreheads together. Billy swears softly as Steve strokes him, marvelling at the familiar-but-different, silk-over-steel feeling of Billy in his hand. He alters his grip in ways calculated to please, grunting in sympathy with every little shudder and groan Billy makes. Steve can smell him, arousal thick in the air, and thinks that he wants to taste. He doesn’t second guess himself, just drops to his knees before common sense can kick in, and takes Billy’s dick in his mouth.
Billy fucking cries out. He tangles his fingers in Steve’s hair and Steve can feel Billy’s thighs trembling beneath his hands. He bobs his head like he’s seen girls doing, drooling before he can help himself at the unexpected intensity of the taste. He twists his head experimentally and loves the gasp it draws out. He gets his tongue involved and it’s probably the sloppiest blow job in history but Billy’s eyes are closed, mouth gone slack in pleasure, and it’s the most power Steve has ever been gifted.
Steve recalls blow jobs he’s received and tries some of the same techniques with his lips and tongue. Fingers tighten in Steve’s hair and Billy hisses when Steve smiles around his dick. It’s interesting to see how deep he can take Billy but he has to swallow again to keep from drooling a mess of spit all over his shirt.
The shaking in Billy’s thighs gets worse, then much worse until he’s trembling like crazy. Steve realises that Billy is about to come a moment before it happens. He feels Billy’s dick go impossibly more rigid against his tongue as the head swells, and Steve hums his satisfaction into Billy’s flesh. Billy’s head thunks back against the metal wall and he shoots and shoots into Steve’s mouth, making hurt little noises as he comes that are almost, almost, enough to get Steve off as well, hands-free.
Steve swallows it all down, tentatively at first and then greedily, pleased to find that Billy tastes better than expected.
“Oh,” Billy says stupidly, when it’s over, and he crumples to sitting. Steve feels smug. Billy had lasted one minute, maybe one and a half. His face, now at eye-level with Steve’s, is impossibly young, wide-eyed and flushed.
It’s Billy who reaches out this time, movements slow, broadcasting intent. Steve moves into it, letting Billy brush his lips with a thumb. It reassures Billy enough that he takes Steve’s face in his hand and kisses him gently. Steve thinks that Billy must be able to taste himself in Steve’s mouth, and the thought makes his dick twitch where it’s still hard, trapped in his jeans. Billy’s kiss deepens, slow but possessive, and Steve returns it whole-heartedly until the sound of the outer gym doors slamming open makes them jump apart. Steve springs to his feet and Billy twists away, catching himself with his hands against the floor.
Tommy H. comes in, startling when he sees Steve still in the locker room. It would be funny if it wasn’t so fucked up. “What the- I left my varsity jacket- ” Tommy’s eyes go wide when he notices Billy on the floor. “Billy! What the fuck?”
Billy doesn’t get up immediately though, just wipes a hand across his mouth and looks thoughtful.
“Get the fuck up man. Let’s get out of here,” Tommy says, visibly agitated at finding Billy looking weak on his knees. Thankfully, Billy must have managed to tuck himself away, and God knows Steve must look like he got punched in the mouth. With any luck Tommy will assume they’ve been fighting. Billy gets to his feet and Steve watches him pull on his metaphorical armour, settling himself back into dickhead mode. It’s fascinating.
“It’s okay Tommy,” Billy says. “Harrington got one freebie, since I promised. From now on the gloves are off.”
Tommy doesn’t look convinced but he plays along. “Hear that Harrington?” he says, tugging Billy towards the door by the shoulder of his jacket. “You got it comin’, real soon.”
They start to walk away but Tommy can’t get Billy to turn around. Billy walks backwards and watches Steve, a grin splitting his face, so sudden and so wide that it makes Steve shiver. “Oh yeah,” Billy says. “You got it comin’ alright, Harrington. Count on it.”