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this endless summer

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Max stretched her leg on the edge of the tub. Wincing, she brought the soaked cotton swab to her knee. It wasn't her day. She'd attempted a pretty run of the mill heel flip but missed the board, flinging it backward and scuffing up her knees raw.

Thankfully, no one had been around to see her eat shit. She wasn't a beginner anymore, but that didn't stop the guys at the park acting like she was. Watching and waiting for her to fall, so she'd prove their stupid assumptions right.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a sound from the other room. A sudden hollow, thump.

Neil was home.

That meant he was probably in Billy's room. Again. She rolled down her jeans to hide her knee. He'd always hated her skateboarding. "Not a good hobby for a young girl." Boys her age would get "bad ideas" about her.

It was all stupid. It seemed everything always circled back to what boys thought about her.

Neil had never met Lucas - thankfully. Or, even knew that she had a boyfriend. She hadn’t even been able to tell her own mom. She couldn't - not when she'd spoken to Neil about everything.

When they were having problems, she'd mention it to him. Giving him yet another reason to pick her apart over dinner. He'd jump on the smallest thing and blow it out of proportion. Like he'd been waiting for a reason to begin listing all her other problems.

Her mom seemed to regret it, then. When it devolved into an argument, as it often did. Yet, still, she kept confiding in him for his terrible advice - like, any advice from him would ever be good.

It was clear to anyone with eyes that he knew nothing about raising children. That he should have never been trusted with a role like that. Max couldn't help but feel a little betrayed by her.

They'd come close to meeting Lucas - only once.

Her mom and Neil had come home earlier than anticipated from visiting her Grandma. Neil had made a bee-line for the door - whilst her mom had gone to tend to the weeds at the side of the house, right below her window.

That day, Billy had been lifting weights downstairs all day, music blaring.

For a while, he'd stood in her doorway as they'd rushed to find Lucas someplace to hide. Billy had watched with a tense, irritable look on his face.

Idiot. She'd thought he'd say. You deserve this.

She'd been surprised to hear him grumble through his teeth. "Jesus, just use my window,"

The two of them said nothing for a moment before he barked. "Move it, shit-head," The three of them had moved through the house to Billy’s room.

When she’d heard Neil jamming his key through the door, Billy had brought his bedroom door to a close, leaving them inside.

Max had hauled open the window, allowing Lucas to sneak through. From the edge of the sill, Lucas met her eyes, nervous.

She’d hated this. She wished that he didn’t have to go through this for her.

It was almost like he'd known, when he smiled at her. In a way that made her chest ache. "Later, Mad-Max,” He said, kissing her lightly.

“What’s the problem?” Outside the door she heard Billy ask, tone steady with practiced composure.

"What did I tell you about that racket?!" There was a sharp, slapping sound.

Lucas pulled his bike from its usual hiding place in the rosebush, glancing up at her window once last time.

"Tomorrow," She'd mouthed to him, before he’d sped off down the street out of sight.

That day had been a close call. Nowadays, he'd picked up all the more on where she was, and who she was with.

Max crept down the hall. She peered around the edge of the door-way, into Billy's old room.

Every now and again, the rustle of the trash-bag would pelt the air as he threw something inside. He marched over to the records. One by one, he broke each of them, using both hands to snap them in half.

Then, he moved to Billy's vanity table. Hauling all of his cologne, hair products and jewelry into the trash bag. Then, he ripped a small photograph from the edge of the mirror.

It was the picture of his Mom.

"Are you...throwing all his stuff away?" Max interrupted, coming out from the edge of the door-frame.

"It's not his stuff." Neil turned on her. The sides of his hair were wet with sweat, vein protruding on the side of his temple. "It's under my roof. It belongs to me."

"But...this house isn't just yours." The words came out before she could stop them. With a slow, unsettling turn, he met her eyes.

"I earn the money in this house,” He spat, furious. "And, I will not be spoken to that way. Not by my own children. Not in my own house."

“Here,” With a sudden viciousness, he whipped the packet of trash-bags at her face. She clumsily caught it, before it could catch her in the eye. It caught her cheek. "Make yourself useful,"

Max flushed red hot, rubbing at the space on her cheek, below her eye. "I'm not your child." She said, irritablty.

There was a sudden change in the air. Before she lifted her head to meet his eyes, she’d felt it. Neil shifted his weight from foot to foot before he went still, eyes fixed and jaw tight.

“What was that?”

“Nothing,” She mumbled, flushing hot.

Maxine,” He repeated, warning. Shifting his weight from one foot to the other, like he was getting ready to charge.

Max bolted from the room.

As soon as she was down the hall, she felt the weight of him loom behind her. "Get back here-" He pulled her backwards by her wrist. Max's eyes went wide - he'd never grabbed her before.

"Look at me, Maxine." He hissed. "You will drop that attitude of yours. And, you will show me some respect. For all the things I do for this family," He yanked her closer. "Do you even know what I go through every day to keep all of you? To clothe you and house you?! The least you could do is-"

"Stop-" She cringed in pain, trying to pry his thick fingers off. Only, he only held tighter.

"Look at me," He spat, nostrils flaring. He jerked her closer. "I said, respect,"

"Let me go!" Max screamed at the top of her lungs.

It happened quick. Sharp and sudden, his hand struck her cheekbone and knocked her head to one side. Her vision cut out for a moment, flashing white. It started to throb, red-hot and thudding with her heartbeat.

Neil let out a strange sigh. Then, the grip on her hand suddenly released. Max toppled against the wall, hand going straight to her cheek.

"Susan," Neil said.

At the head of the hall, was her Mom. Wide eyed and frozen still, like a deer caught in the headlights.

"Susan, I-"

That's when she turned to her. "Max." She said abruptly, voice cracking. "Max, come here," She reached out her hand to her and Max took it. "Come with me,” She told her, ushering her away.

"Susan, we can talk about this," Neil's voice followed after them.

She could hear her mom shake off his grip, the whip of her coat cutting through the air as she slipped through his clutches. They both rushed to her car, leaving Neil on the porch, fuming and heaving with breath.

In the doorway, he stood. He watched them both leave with a stony, tight expression.

 

 

They didn’t speak a word until they were on the edge of town, pulling up to a flashy Diner. Her mom’s hands shook on the steering wheel, her thin fingers gripping tight.

"Mom," Max's murmured, before she reached for her hand - in an attempt to steady her shaking. Her mom unbuckled her seat-belt and brought Max in. The hug was desperate. She could feel her shaking.

“I’m sorry,” She whispered, hand brushing down the back of her hair. “I’m so sorry," Max’s eyes welled up with tears.

She hadn’t hugged her like this - not for a long time. Max eased into it, taking in the comforting scent of her perfume and hairspray. The feel of her holding her tight again, safe.

 


1, 2, 3, 4

Billy swung his fists, knuckles slapping against the skin of the punching bag. He swung until he was coated with sweat, falling against it as he gasped for breath.

Until, his whole body was aching, skin thrumming with his racing heart-beat. The daily workout had once helped to lift his mood. It was a suggestion from the Doc that actually helped.

Now, he used it to keep his mind off things.

For the past few days, it was all he could do to keep his mind off Steve. When he wasn’t working, sleeping or eating, his mind went there. To the way he'd looked that night. The way he'd felt against him. Steve Harrington was trouble. He'd known it. And yet, he'd let himself do that again.

Stupid.

He couldn't give himself a quiet moment to think. To dwell on any of that shit. He stripped down and went for a shower, scrubbing his skin raw. Thankful that there was no one around to bang on the door or shout at him for taking so long. He was free to jerk off whenever he wanted to, to think about whatever he wanted. Take his sweet-ass time, if he wanted.

At home, he'd had to be creative and secretive. At fifteen, he’d stolen an old sports magazine from the store, for one wrestler on the cover.

It wasn't weird, he'd told himself - at the time. It was a cool cover, after all. A sports magazine. Although, he couldn't completely lie to himself when it got him hard.

But, to be safe, he’d hidden in the yard, when Neil did his irregular room inspections. Back then, it didn’t take much to get him heated. Just the shirtless, muscular brunette on the cover, covered in a thin sheen of sweat, smirking.

He let himself picture it again as he wrapped a hand around himself. The thrill he'd gotten the first time he'd pulled it out at night. Only, the face kept changing, until it was his again, smirking. Laughing at him.

Get out of my fucking head.

 

At around eleven the door rang.

Max stood on the other side, pouting. Arms full with a shoe-box and a few clothes.

"What's this?"

She stormed past by him, hair hanging flat down the sides of her face. "Brought you these from the house,"

Billy picked it up from the counter, where she'd left it. "Neil cleared out your room,"  She was acting off, weirder than her usual weird self. He figured it was probably another dumb fight with her boyfriend.

"Took him that long to throw away my shit," Billy said, as he started to look through them.

She'd brought his red-shirt, jean-jacket, pair of old jeans. He lifted the lid of the shoe box and started to look through. There was one of his old Crue tapes, a few of his rings and earrings. Sea-shells he'd kept from Cali, an old scarf which was soaked in his Mom's perfume - only it had lost the scent years ago. Billy lifted it carefully, his throat swelling up.

Lastly an old worn photograph that he'd kept on his mirror, he unfolded the picture with care. The sun-damage on the photograph had long blocked out her face, white and gold.

For a while, he'd almost forgotten what she'd looked like, her smile, the color of her eyes. El had shown him again - in perfect clarity.

Max had done the rest, retrieving the only possessions he’d kept in her memory - ones he had given up trying to get back. Looking at it now, he could piece together her face, her smile.

With difficulty, he tried to swallow. He put the box down on the counter slowly and turned to face Max.

"I got what I could," She said all in one breath - like she was already apologizing for something. Pulling at the edges of her sleeves before she folded her arms. "There wasn't enough time,"

Billy curled one arm around her shoulder and brought her into his chest. He felt his chest swell, surge and span outwards before he spoke a quick, quiet. "Thank you," against her hair.

For a beat, she didn't move.

At her sides, her arms hung loose. Slowly, she brought her own arms up, resting on his sides, where his scars were. He felt his eyes prickle and sting with heat. He lingered there for a beat longer, then pulled away. Clearing his throat.

Max lifted her eyes up to the ceiling - trying not to cry. And, that's when he saw it.

On the side of her face, a strange bumpy, grey mark caught his eye. He knew it well - with his Mom. A welt covered in powder.

An ice, cold fell over him. His eyes went wide, scoping in on the marks.

When she rose her hand to prop her finger beneath her lash line, he noticed another. Circling the skin of her wrist.

"What?" She noticed his stare.

Billy’s teeth set on edge. It built in his chest, swelling. He was getting hot, his head boiling and prickling.

“What...is that?" He said slow.

Max's eyes went wide. She pulled on the end of her sleeve, hiding the finger marks on her wrist. Her face paled. “It…It’s from skateboarding,” The words tumbled out. A clear fucking lie.

He didn't need to hear another word.

Billy shot past. He snatched his keys from the counter.

"Billy-!"

He ripped open the door. Max went to grab his arm, but she missed, his arm slipped like an eel through her touch.

"Billy, wait-!"

 


 

When Steve had gotten the call from Max, it had been hard to get any sense out of her. Words choked and caught between gasps of breath and tears.

As soon as he'd ended the call, he'd grabbed his keys and set off for their house.

He’d get there before she could - before anything could happen. He had to.

As he pulled up to the house, he felt panic swell in his chest when he saw two figures on the lawn.

Billy sat atop his father's chest. He pinned his father down so the punches could connect, the whip sound of his fists filling the air. The blood on his face obscured his features.

He swung again, jerking his Dad's head to one side. Steve got out of his car and sprinted up the lawn. When he reached them, he hooked Billy by his underarms, heaving him backwards.

"Billy, stop-!"

He was locked up tight and heavy like a dead-weight. Wild with rage. Even as he heaved him back, he screamed and thrashed. Legs kicked and swung wildly, trying to make contact with his heels on his Dad's body.

Steve jostled him upright, fighting against his strength. "That's enough-" He said, his hands turning his head to face him. "Billy, look at me."

“It's enough,” He told him again.

Billy started to soften, pupils dilating. Like he was slowly listening. Hearing him. The heave of his chest began to slow.

Neil rolled onto his side on the grass, spluttering and coughing. Still moving, at least. He spat on the ground, his mouth and face a bloody mess. Then, he let out a choked, wet laugh.

"My son,” He wheezed. “Rescued by his fuckin' fag boyfriend,"

Billy went tense before he lurched forward to his defense. Steve held him firm, arms locking around the solid, heat of his body. He was rigid in his arms.

"He's not worth it," He told him, mouth against his ear. "Come back with me,” He said, arms locked tight around him. "Please, Billy. Come back with me, alright?"

Slowly, the tension in his grip relaxed. Steve pulled back to meet his face, eyes locked onto his. "You with me?" He asked. Billy's face grew softer, breaths heaving with exhaustion. He gave a short, sombre nod in reply.

Steve held him firmly, arm going around his shoulder to lead him to the car and away.

 

 

Steve wrung out the cloth and brought it to the cut on his forehead. Billy didn't wince when he touched it. He was silent as he let him clean it, eyes low and unblinking.

Billy was quiet when he'd brought him home to the dark, dim light of his apartment. He didn't say a word in the car. Or, when Steve sat him down on the wooden chair by the breakfast counter, after removing the pile of laundry that had been heaped on there.

"Tell me if it hurts," He cleared away the blood on his philtrum, thumb running over the top of his lip through the cloth.

He rinsed the cloth again and moved to his forehead. To the cut leading from his forehead into his hair-line. He pressed a little harder on it, to scrape away some of the mud.

The heat of Billy's breath fanned over his wrist. Steve lingered on his downcast expression, eyes distant and heavy.

“Billy?” He asked softly. “You still with me?”

"..I lost it." He mumbled.

"What?"

"I lost it." Finally, he lifted his eyes, filling with clarity. "I couldn't stop,"

“Don’t be hard on yourself,” Steve frowned. "An ass-beat was the least that guy deserv-"

Billy shot up from the chair suddenly, surprising him.

He paced to the other side of the room. He ran his hands down his face, face caged behind his bloody hands, the skin of his knuckles still printed red.

"I know what I'm capable of when I lose it like that," He said. "I wanted to do more than kick his ass. I wanted to-" He grit his teeth, hissing through them sharply. “Even after everything that I....Everything that happened this Summer," He said, eyes falling closed. "I still...,”

“What are you talking about?” Steve frowned at the connection. “None of that was your fault,”

Billy lifted his eyes a little, not quite meeting his face. He gave a tired shrug. “Maybe,”

“No, not maybe." Steve cut him off. “You didn't do that to those people,” He wished he would look at him, but his eyes were still low, trained on the floor.

Billy turned away from him again. Rested his hands flat on the kitchen counter, broad shoulders heaving with another sigh.

Steve’s eyes fell down his back. The material of his white shirt was covered in mud and grass. The sides of his bare arms flushed and red from being scraped on the floor. Bruised and grazed. He wondered how long they had fought, before he arrived?

Steve’s hand came up to touch his shoulder. "Come on, man," He said. "Let's just get you patched up,"

When his hand made contact with his shoulder, Billy flinched. Slowly, he turned over his shoulder, eyes filling with a strange fearful reluctance. Then, irritation.

"Why?" He sounded the word, suspicious and sharp.

Steve froze. "Why, what?"

"Why are you doing this, Harrington?" He asked. 

"What, helping you?"

"Is that what all this is?" Billy advanced on him. He snatched the cloth from his hand and threw it across the room. "We just helpin' each other out?"

The words were lost in Steve's throat, tongue swelling in his mouth. When he didn’t answer, Billy shoved at his shoulder.

"Next to me, you must feel fuckin' great, huh." He spat, bitter and sharp. "Is that why you hang around here? Because I make you feel better about your own shitty life?"

"What? No!"

"Then, why are you here?!"

"Because, you're my..." He struggled. Friend, he wanted to say. Tried to force the words out. Yet, the words dried up in his throat. They didn't fit. Friends weren’t supposed to do what they’d done. Weren't supposed to think about each other the way he'd thought about him.

Steve knew that. But, what was the alternative?

Billy's jaw clenched as he looked him over, like he had more to add. More to spit at him. For a moment, he thought Billy might mention the kiss. That he would throw it back in his face. It hung over them, crushing, pinning them down.

Only, he just marched past him.

He dropped back down into the chair with a thump. Shaking his head, he turned his gaze away before he spoke. "You really don't know what's good for you…”

Steve retrieved the cloth. He gave it a quick rinse under the faucet before he returned to his side.

"Yeah, well...Neither do you," He grumbled, as he dabbed at the cut at the top of his forehead.

"You're right," Billy said, quiet. "I don't."

A few moments passed, and Billy’s head fell forward, a little, head resting at his stomach.

"Billy?" Steve asked. For a moment, he panicked. Wondering if he'd fallen unconscious. Then, he felt a hand at the small of his back, pulling him closer.

Steve stumbled slightly on his feet, his hands going to Billy's broad shoulders to steady himself.

"What..what is it?"

Billy sighed against his lower-belly, as his other hand came up to rest on his flank. The top of his head nestled at the space below his navel. His fingers grasped at his hips, with a sudden need.

Steve's cock stirred in his jeans. He gripped tighter on Billy's shoulders, suddenly nervous. He was going to notice. He was going to feel it.

"Billy-"

It was until Billy's fingers squeezed tighter that Steve figured out that he knew. He felt his breath hitch.

A small moan escaped him, as his fingers curled in the fabric of his shirt, pulling them from where they were tucked in his jeans. "Tell me to stop." He said.

Finally, he lifted his head, eyes meeting his. One of Billy's hands dragged across his skin and around his hipbone, to rest on the button of his jeans. Holding him in his gaze as he moved, like he was waiting for him to flinch, to move or speak.

"Say it, Steve."

Steve said nothing. He didn’t want to. Between his thighs, his cock throbbed, straining tight against the fabric his jeans. All of his thoughts had lifted from him as he kept his gaze. He moved one of his hands from Billy's shoulders to his hair, curling around the strands.

Billy finally lowered his hand to rub hard against him and Steve let out a thick groan, knees buckling. Arching his hip upwards to find relief in the weight of his hand.

Then, Billy's fingers were moving. Steve's breath grew urgent as he frantically starting to undo his button and fly.

There was a sudden loud bang on the door.

"Billy!" Max's voice shouted from the other side.

Billy's hands whipped from his body and Steve leapt backwards, stumbling a little on his feet.

"Fuck," Billy cursed before he shot up from the chair and went to answer it.

"What were you trying to do?!” Max's voice pierced the air before the door slammed loudly.

"I wasn't trying anything-"

When Billy returned down the hall, Max marched in after, her face red and blotchy with tears. 

"You were," She followed, close on Billy's tail. “My mom finally left him. It was all over and-” She gasped when she took note of Steve, stood awkwardly on the other side of the room.

With shame, she lowered her head in an attempt to hide her tear-streaked face. She looked like she might cry again, still fighting the wobble and curl of her bottom lip.

Steve suddenly felt very wrong. He knew he shouldn't be here for this. It wasn't right.

He peered down briefly at the front of his jeans, flushing when he notice that the top button was undone. Man, he worked quick.

"I'm gonna head home," He said. Grabbing his coat from the chair to hold in front of him, feeling painfully awkward as he moved. Thankfully, Max's eyes were still on Billy - waiting for him to answer.

Billy, on the other hand, lifted his eyes from the floor. He gave him a brief nod of his head - Steve figured that was his cue.

"Give me a call, if you need anything," He said, talking to the both of them.

When he brought the door to the apartment to a close, he sighed with relief, cheeks flushed hot. Immediately, he set the button right on his jeans.

 

 

Rainfall pattered on the window of the video-store like little stones. Steve lost focus in the glare of the window reflection. On the hazy blur of red tail-lights of passing-cars through the glass.

"Dingus," Robin's voice pulled him from his thoughts. She piled four cassettes on top of one another, thumped them loudly.

"Am I alone here?" She asked, tilting his head to find his eye-line. "It's Friday night. Rental night. And, you’re leaving me to deal with the swarm?"

Steve rolled his eyes. "Swarm's a little dramatic, Robin."

She put her hand on her hip, eyes squinting. "Was it because I mentioned date night?"

"It wasn't a date," He snapped, before he could stop himself.

Robin shot him a strange look, eyes narrowing smaller.

"I'll take these back." He collected the tapes and shot by her. Ducking his head low to avoid the question in her eyes. He'd almost finished re-stocking when Robin had reappeared, beside the small Terminator poster on the wall.

"Look,” She sighed. “I get that you're moody and having a dry-spell. But there is, in fact, more to life than dating,"

Steve lifted his head, lingering on the word. "A dry spell…" He considered, slow and thoughtful.

"...Yeah," She said, eyes going wide like he was going crazy.

“Right,” He pondered on the word. Maybe that's all it was. It had been a pretty long time.

Maybe.

"You know what, I'll take the register. You can finish up here,” He rushed back to the cashier desk, with a newfound jump in his step, almost tripping over a cut-out for Teen-Wolf.

Okay. So, it had been a pretty long dry spell.

He’d had only one hook-up after Nancy. A drunken night at a party with Jenny Sanders. Even that, he could barely remember. And, it's not like the job at Scoops was doing wonders for his self-esteem. Or, his game.

Before Billy, he'd never thought about guys. Other than the occasional, random dream about the odd male celebrity. And, they didn't really count in his mind. Celebrities were all at peak attractiveness - guy or girl, he rationalized. Plus, some of them blurred the lines, a little. Dressing the way they did - Hollywood was a little out there sometimes.

But, in real life?

It had never really happened to him before. This level of attraction. It was all new and a little unnerving. Okay, very unnerving. The other night, he’d gotten hard just at the memory when he was brushing his teeth. Remembering the way Billy had looked up at him, tugging open the front of his jeans.

"Hey!" Robin shouted suddenly.

Steve froze. Thinking for one strange, paranoid moment that she’d suddenly developed the ability to read his thoughts.

She marched over to the Candy Isle. "You know you have to pay for those,"

"Relax."

That voice. 

Instinctively, Steve ducked behind the desk. He peered over the edge to find Billy. He'd opened a packet of Red-Vines, passing one to El before he snapped off the end of one with a sharp bite.

"I intend to pay for 'em,"

"How uncharacteristically nice of you." Robin replied irritably.

"What can I say, I can be real nice...when it's called for." He told her, candy caught between his teeth.

Fuck. Why? Why now?

A sudden noise made him jump. Max had dumped three tapes on the counter, fingering through the popcorn bags on the rack. El stood by her side, brows furrowing as she looked Steve over.

"Why are you hiding?" She asked. Loudly. For all to hear.

Steve stood up suddenly. Tried to look casual as he pawed at the covers of the tapes: a few gruesome and tacky horror flicks from the 70s.

"You guys really want to watch a scary movie, of all things?"

"They’re good." Max shrugged, before she threw a packet of M&M's on the side.

“Max says they’re classics,” El added.

"I guess," He shrugged. They were plenty of classic rom-coms or dramas or comedies, too. Anything, really.

"She's watched them all before," Billy’s voice made him go tense. The metal zip of his jacket clacked against the surface as he leaned on it. "By-pass the rating, Harrington. They can handle it."

"That's not how they work," Steve kept his head low, his breath going thin. He input the prices on the register loudly, like it would drown them all out. Him, specifically.

"Billy says you're coming on the trip with us next week," Max said. The beach-trip. He remembered Billy mentioning it in his room, laid out on the floor.

"No, I didn't." Billy snapped.

"Uh. Yeah, you did," Max continued. "You said he agreed,"

Steve lifted his head to catch his reaction, but Billy didn’t notice. Instead, he was far too preoccupied glaring daggers at Max's head. If looks could kill.

"I heard about it," Steve told her, finally.

"Well, maybe Robin could come too?" Max offered.

Billy’s eyes finally met his, lingering with knowing. They darted between him and Robin, as he moved the Red-Vine around in his cheek.

"That'll be 6.20." He said, keen to get them to move on.  Billy passed a folded ten over and Steve quickly took it from him, avoiding his gaze.

"Well, if you wanna come. We're heading out from the Byers house at 8:00am on Friday," Max said, passing around the bags of candy and popcorn to El.

"Get a move on," Billy budged Max away from the counter.

"What is your problem?" She snapped, ripping the M&Ms from his hand.

"You're my problem, shit-head-" Billy grumbled.

"What, why?"

Their voices trailed out as the glass doors closed behind them. Steve watched them go through the rain beaded-glass, still arguing as they both got in the Camaro.

"Billy the Bully Hargrove," Robin drawled as she stopped by him. Outside, the Camaro revved before they pulled out of the lot. "You’ve hung out with him a lot recently, right?”

Steve’s head shot up. “What? Why?”

“It was just a question,” She laughed, before she returned to her task. Continued to unwrap the box of new stock. “Seems he’s mellowed out a little,”

Steve's eyes fell to the counter in thought.

"Robin," He said, suddenly. She whirled on her heels, brows raising.

"So, how about that trip?"

 

 

That next week, the two of them rolled up in Steve’s car to find all of them waiting on the front lawn of the Byers. Will, Lucas and Dustin parked outside on the lawn with D&D. Next to a gathering of furniture that Joyce was selling before the move.

Mike and El were standing on the lawn and holding hands, with their foreheads pressed together. Muttering something low to one another. Steve caught a flash of red as Max ducked behind the back of the Camaro, pink water-gun in hand.

Then, there was Billy. Shirtless and tanned, he’d propped his arms on the driver door, glance obscured by his dark sunglasses. Steve’s breath caught when Billy’s head turned to find him, his tongue pressed against his cheek. A slow grin lifting his mouth.

The look made him flush hot, made him shift a little in his seat. Maybe, this wasn't such a good idea, after all.

“Hey!” Mike's shout cut through his air as Max took her shot, soaking the side of his cheek and his hair. He took the water-gun from El’s back pocket and bolted after her, chasing Max around the car.

Billy reared after them. “Either of you scratch my car and your ass is grass,” He snapped, slamming the driver door to a close.

“Steve,” Steve turned to find Robin looking at him expectantly. She raised an eyebrow, curiously. “What are you waiting for?”

“Nothing,” Steve replied, innocently. He pushed the car door open. “We’re good,”