Billy has been an official Party member for awhile now.
At 20 years old, his life had changed dramatically.
He's basically been adopted by Joyce Byers. Hopper offered him a job at the police station, making him an officer. Eleven had become like a second little sister to him after their shared trauma at the hands of the Upside Down. Max became the sister he'd never allowed her to be before, repairing their relationship little by litter. The boys all agreed that his taste in music and his car were proof enough that he was worthy to be in their Party, not to mention his previously unknown knowledge of RPG. Nancy and Jonathan both agreed that anything bad between the three of them should be shoved in the past after the chaos they'd survived, starting over. He'd finally moved out from under Neil's thumb and got his own place, escaping the Hell that had been his home.
And then there was Harrington.
Steve 'The Hair' Harrington.
Previous King of Hawkins High.
Full time babysitter of the brat brigade.
Wielder of the dreaded nail-bat and part-time monster hunter.
And, unexpected love interest of one Billy Hargrove.
Boy, did that bombshell go over well...
The Party had all been surprised when they learned Steve and Billy had a thing going on between them. It wasn't anything really negative, more like unrestrained incredulity. Questions had been thrown around at warp speed from everyone, mostly Dustin, demanding to know when this relationship development happened and why they hadn't told anyone sooner. It had been an interesting evening trying to explain something like sexuality in elementary terms to a bunch of kids.
Hopper had been no help! He and Joyce had just laughed the whole time as Steve flustered over his words trying to explain that some people like both girls and boys.
Yeah...what a fun night that was...
Long story short, Billy and Steve had a good thing between them. It wasn't complicated or stressful. They hung out all the time, enjoyed each others company, felt comfortable around each other enough to let the walls down. Billy had never claimed to be relationship material, god knows he'd been through so many beds it was ridiculous, but he felt he could be with Steve. A chance for something more. A step he'd never had the guts to take with anyone else.
Steve was a different person around Billy too. He let loose, laughed more, felt comfortable being himself, all in ways he never really could with the kids. It was amazing to share a connection with someone, a real connection, and know that they don't expect anything from you in return. He'd believed Nancy and him had shared one, but looking back Steve knew he'd never felt the same link with her as he did with Billy.
They enjoyed the same music. Shared inside jokes no one else would ever understand. Spent wondrous night together on the hood of the camero, looking up at the starry night sky. They had deep, meaningful talks about everything. There was never any pressure to be anything other than themselves. Sure, they still argued sometimes and had minor tiffs, but Billy never pushed Steve about anything.
Except maybe one thing.
Billy had never met Steve's parents.
In fact, no one had ever really met the Harrington's.
Nancy had briefly met Mrs. Harrington one time back before she and Steve were together and the interaction was so minor that Nancy could hardly remember what the woman even looked like. There were very few pictures around the Harrington household, the ones that were around were mostly of Steve. The only one anyone had seen of his parents was an old photo of them when they had first met, standing on some beach back in their early 20's. Other than that, Mr. and Mrs. Harrington had remained a mystery to the Party.
Now, it really shouldn't have mattered to Billy but it did. For some reason he wanted to actually meet Steve's parents in person. Yet, every time he brought it up, Steve would ignore it or change the subject. It was clear Steve was not interested in introducing Billy to his parents and a small part of Billy was continuously upset by that. They had talked about why Billy never wanted to let Steve near his old man, or Susan for that matter, and Steve understood, but Billy had never been given a good excuse as to why Steve refused to let him meet his mom and dad.
Until finally, he pushed the issue.
"You said they would be home tomorrow and weren't leaving for a couple days, right?" Billy prodded, stealing another fry from Steve's plate.
They were at the local diner eating lunch together when Steve accidentally let it slip that his parents were returning the next day and had an unexpected travel plan change on them, meaning they would be home for a few days before heading out.
Of course, Billy had caught it and jumped at the opportunity.
"Yeah?" Steve questioned hesitantly, afraid of where the conversation was going. This was one they had had many times before. "They're having a small dinner party with our neighbors, the Colemans."
"We could have dinner with them too," Billy shrugged, already seeing the reluctant look cross Steve's face, but this time Billy was prepared.
"One night. Just one time. I can play up the charm, you know that. Work my way through any small talk. Just a chance to see them and I'll never bring it up again," he pleaded, silently begging Steve to agree this time. All Billy really wanted was to see why Steve had issues with his family, and if he had to beg to have dinner with Steve's parents to be able to find out, then he would. He could turn on the charm and appeal to just about anyone when he wanted to. If Steve was worried Billy would embarrass him or something, well, his charisma spoke for itself.
Steve stared at him a few moments, swirling a few fries around as he thought it over. He knew it was a bad idea but Billy seemed dead set on it. He really didn't want to let Billy see the immorality that was the Harrington family, unwilling even, but he also knew it would end the argument for good.
And honestly, that's all he wanted.
What he didn't want was for Billy's feeling to change, for any reason, after meeting his family. The thought alone made him sick with anxiety. He wasn't sure he could keep his cool if something went horribly wrong, and his parents were experts when it came to making him a high strung, nervous wreck.
But, at the same time, he couldn't deny Billy anything in the world.
"I can't promise you it'll be a pleasant evening," he mumbled, picking at his food now. Just the thought of what he'd set himself up for had cost him his appetite. His sudden unease must have been obvious because Billy reached across to grab his fidgety hands.
"How do you wanna do this?"
God, how did he wanna do this?
Thinking it over for a minute, Steve figured it would just be easier to stay with Billy like he planned anyway. They could drive over to Steve's later on in the day when he knew his parents would be having their little dinner party.
"Since I'm crashing with you tonight anyway, we'll just go over tomorrow evening. I guess..."
"You got what you want at my place?"
"Yeah," Steve mumbled, thinking he would just wear his blue sweater and nice jeans. No point in dressing up too much. His mother would most likely reprimand him for not dressing appropriately, by her standards, but he really didn't want to go back home and dig out his dress slacks when he knew Billy didn't even own such things. There was no reason for Billy to own really nice clothes, and Steve didn't want his parents to single him out.
Billy could see that the whole thing was causing Steve's mood to become dispirited. It made him feel guilty knowing he was the reason, maybe this wasn't a good idea. Squeezing Steve's hand gently he knew he needed to make sure Steve was genuinely alright with all this.
"You sure you're okay with this?"
Steve tried to smile, even he could tell it looked strained, but Billy didn't call him out on it. Instead he just reached across the table and snagged the rest of Steve's fries with a wicked grin. Steve really did smile then, pushing the remainder of his burger over too, "All yours."
The following day, Steve had been overstrung since waking up.
Billy had tried to calm Steve's nerves but it was simply no use. He was tense, mildly agitated and extremely stressed. He'd hardly been able to even eat breakfast that morning. The closer it got to evening, the worse Steve felt.
He'd re-done his hair three times. Applied an ungodly amount of cologne. Nicked himself shaving. Changed his pants over and over until Billy forced him to stay in the same ones, making a joke that if Steve didn't stop stripping they'd never leave. Along with his dark jeans, he had on his cashmere blue sweater and tan leather shoes.
"We don't have to do this," Billy claimed one last time, strapping on his navy blue watch Steve had gifted him for his birthday, pairing it with his rings and medallion. He was wearing his pressed black button down and his best fitting jeans, borrowing a pair of Steve's brown shoes instead of his classic black boots. He'd even removed his earring for the night just to complete the look.
"I'm okay with it," Steve nodded shakily, faking a smile for the umpteenth time that day. He was so fucking nervous his insides felt like they would make an appearance, but he would hold it together.
The drive over to the Harrington residence was quiet. The radio was on low, playing Steve's favorite mix tape to calm him down even though he was basically vibrating in his seat.
Billy remained passive while driving, going over his best charming lines in his head just in case. He was great at being quick witted and fast to answer tough questions, a strength of his. He'd been told many times by his teachers that he would excel at politics, having a knack for debate and engaging people's interest, but he had never been one for the spotlight. Sure, he talked a pretty good game but really he just enjoyed flabbergasting others.
Call it a hobby.
The closer they got to Steve's house, the more fretful Steve became. He couldn't stop tapping his leg on the floorboard, his whole body alight with unfocused energy.
Before he knew it, they were pulling up to his house via the street side.
Billy shut off the engine and looked into the driveway, seeing another two cars parked beside each other, high end models. One was a BMW like Steve's, that must have been his parents car.
"Ready?" he asked softly, watching Steve psyche himself up. It concerned him just how nervous Steve seemed about all this, but he didn't want to upset him by asking. Better to just get this over with.
Steve nodded and opened his door, stepping out onto the sidewalk. Billy came around the car and let Steve lead the way up to the front door.
And he just stopped.
Billy watched Steve stare at the closed door with an unreadable expression. There was the faint sound of voices from inside, a woman's laughter ringing out and the soft melody of music. Billy was about to tell Steve that they didn't need to do this, that it was clearly causing him too much distress, when Steve abruptly rang the doorbell.
Briefly wondering why Steve hadn't simply gone inside, it was his home after all, Billy didn't get the chance to ask because the door suddenly opened to reveal an older woman with a wine glass in her hand. Her entire presence screamed high-class, from the fitted dress suit to her perfectly styled hair. If he stared long enough, Billy could clearly see that this is where Steve received most of his looks.
This must be Mrs. Harrington.
"Steven? What on earth are you doing here?" Mrs. Harrington asked, looking from her son to Billy, giving them both bewildered looks. She didn't step aside to let them in either.
"Mom, I thought I would come have dinner with you and Dad. You mentioned you had a dinner party planned for tonight, and I wanted to introduce you to someone," Steve said softly, hoping his mother wasn't drinking too heavily yet. His mom stared at him for a moment before stating, condescendingly, "You weren't invited."
Billy's brain stuttered to a grinding halt.
I'm sorry, what did this woman just say?
Steve seemed to be at a sudden loss for words as well. His face had fallen momentarily but Billy caught it none the less. Thinking quickly, Billy stepped slightly in front of Steve and plastered on his best fake smile.
"I sincerely apologize Mrs. Harrington, you'll have to forgive Steve. When he told me you and your husband would be in town I insisted on finally meeting you in person. I simply didn't know when we would get another chance, I understand how hard-pressed your time is."
That seemed to do the trick.
Mrs. Harrington went from scornful to enchanted within a second.
"Well aren't you the charmer. And who might you be?"
"Hargrove. William Hargrove," Billy ended his awe inspiring moment by placing a soft kiss along Mrs. Harrington's knuckles, just for the added bonus of watching her cheeks flush.
Of course, that could just be the wine she's guzzling.
"A pleasure to meet you William, please call me Helen."
"The pleasure is all mine, I assure you. Now I can see where Steve gets his stunning looks."
Steve watched the whole exchange and didn't know whether to fall to his knees and thank Billy for the save or chuck his mother's wine glass across the yard. It was clear to him that his mom had most likely been hitting the bottle early. That also meant his dad was probably drinking as well.
Billy continued to sweet talk Helen while Steve stood there silently watching. It was disconcerting how timid he had suddenly become around the older woman, but Billy could already tell that Steve's mother was more than likely a hardened business woman. He knew the type. If he wasn't sure before, the next words she spoke to Steve proved it.
"I had hoped your social etiquette would have improved, Steven. Though, I supposed since you are already here you may join us for dinner, but do try not to be a bother tonight. A courtesy you should show after arriving unannounced," she admonished firmly, sending her son a mild glare before allowing them inside the house.
Billy knew immediately that this had all been a huge mistake.
Following Steve inside, Billy could hear more voices coming from the dining room. Helen entered ahead of them and announced their arrival.
"Dear, our son and his friend will be joining us for dinner tonight. William, allow me to introduce you," Helen motioned him close and presented him to the others in the room.
"Darling, this is William Hargrove. William, this is my husband, Christopher Harrington."
The man before him oozed alpha male macho-ism. Billy wanted to roll his eyes at the guy, it was like looking at his own father all over again. Mr. Harrington held himself high, acting as the intimidating business figure Billy knew him to be. Sticking his hand out, Billy gripped the mans hand and may or may not have applied a tad too much pressure.
"An absolute pleasure to meet you, Mr. Harrington." Billy forced all the pleasantness into his voice he could, already feeling his emotions beginning to run high.
"A strong handshake, an admirable trait in a man." Mr. Harrington took a drink of whatever amber colored liquid was in his crystal glass, giving Billy a quick once over. Billy didn't look away or back down, knowing that's exactly what the guy was looking for. Whatever test Mr. Harrington was giving him he seemed to pass because Helen quickly whisked him over to the couple seated at the table.
"William, this is Eleanor and Andrew Coleman. Andrew works alongside Christopher," Helen stated, giving Billy room to shake Andrew's hand and give Eleanor the same charming introduction he'd given Helen at the door.
"And of course, you remember our son, Steven." It seemed Helen tacked that on like it was an afterthought, only adding to Billy's slowly growing ire. The Colemans both nodded briefly to Steve who was standing off to the side hesitantly.
"It's lovely to see you both again," Steve said kindly. He stepped forward to stand next to Billy so as not to look so out of place. It was insane how much he felt like a stranger in his own home.
Didn't exactly feel like a home so much anymore, though.
"Can I help you with any of the food, mom?" Steve asked simply to be polite, but he already knew what the answer would be. His mom turned to him and gave him a look that silently berated him, a look he was familiar with.
"The food is all out, Steven. I suppose if you would like to make yourself useful you can fetch another set of dining wear from the kitchen."
"Of course," Steve mumbled heading off to the kitchen. He quickly grabbed another set of dinner plates and silverware, glasses and a wine glass for himself. Earlier, Billy had stated that he wouldn't drink during dinner so that Steve could if he wanted.
They had literally been there less than ten minutes and Steve already felt his walls breaking. Being around his parents was always stressful for him but when you added other people to the mix it was so much worse. The Colemans had never liked him, not really, always bragging about their son who was older than Steve, comparing children like it was a fucking sport.
Shuffling back into the dining room, Steve set up their place settings directly across from each other, knowing if he put Billy next to him he would end up trying to hold his hand at some point.
They really didn't need his parents seeing that.
Billy took his seat beside Mr. Coleman and Mr. Harrington, who was at the head of the table, while Steve sat to his dad's left side with Mrs. Coleman next to him, Helen sitting at the other head of the table. The centerpiece of flowers was godly and a little overzealous for a dinning room table, but Steve knew his mother had a flare for the extreme. As for the food, it was classic roast with finer side dishes, nothing but the best for a Harrington dinner.
"Would you like a glass of wine, William?" Helen asked in a sultry tone, motioning to the open bottle. Billy politely declined, joking that it just goes right to his head. Steve knew it took an insane amount of alcohol to get Billy drunk. Thankfully his mom bought the lie with a laugh.
"Steve? Would you be so kind as to refill my glass, I know you'll indulge with me."
Steve grabbed the bottle and filled his glass as well as his mothers, passing it to her. The bottle was well over half empty and he'd seen an empty bottle in the kitchen. He wondered just how much his mom had drank by herself.
Once the food had been passed around and Steve had to listen to his father complain about the amount due to unexpected guests, the conversation bounced around for a few minutes.
"Tell us how you and Steve know each other?" Mrs. Coleman piped up, looking from Steve to Billy.
They shared a look before Steve answered.
"We went to high school together."
"Really? Why haven't you brought this charming young man home before?" Helen asked, aiming the question directly at her son.
Steve wanted to say something along the lines of 'because you and dad are both cruel assholes' or maybe he could be truthful and say 'because we were constantly at each other's throats!'
Yeah, that probably wouldn't go over well.
"Steve and I didn't talk much during school, that didn't happen until much later."
"I'm not surprised. Steven spent far too much time around those children rather than people his own age."
Steve couldn't ignore the scolding tone of his mothers voice. It was an argument they'd had many times. She even out right asked him if he was interested in young boys...that had just ended in a screaming match. He didn't expect them to understand, he didn't want them to, he wanted to be free of his parents as soon as possible.
Someone please take the conversation off of him!
"If you don't mind me asking, Mr. Harrington, would you mind telling me about your business?" Billy asked, taking a bite of roast.
Thank you, Billy!
"Not at all," Mr. Harrington wiped his mouth continuing, "I work in freelance financing. For years, Andrew and I were business partners, but we agreed it would only maximize profits if we became freelancers, capitalizing our investments, you see."
"High stakes. Admirable."
Billy seemed to impress the man so he turned his attention to Mrs. Harrington. "Might I ask what field is graced by your presence, Miss Helen?"
"I work for Christopher's company as a legal practitioner. It's why we travel together," she explained taking a sip of wine. Billy could already see the affect it was having on her too.
"Now that is commendable. I can respect that type of position from my own line of work."
Steve was grateful for Billy, and a little jealous, watching him hold his own against the two people he hardly ever wanted to see. There was a reason he'd never introduced Nancy to his parents. He'd been afraid of his father making snide comments about things like is she pregnant or his mom questioning Nancy about her future. However, he knew he wouldn't have that problem with Billy there because his parents wouldn't see Billy as his lover, just a friend.
Just as Steve went to ask his mother how their latest trip went, his father piped up with the last thing Steve hoped he would.
"We had hoped Steven would join the family business soon, but those dreams seem to be a bit far fetched," Mr. Harrington muttered, stealing a disapproving glance at his son.
Steve bit the inside of his cheek and swiftly took another drink of wine, hoping the talk wouldn't fall unto him. He didn't need Billy to see first hand just what his father thought of him.
"Dad, please," he begged softly, keeping his gaze down.
"I'm only stating facts, son. It's best you acknowledge your intellectual limitations rather than ignore them. I've told you countless times that had you set your mentality towards your academics rather than bouncing a ball around, you would have become a prodigy to the company."
Here we go...
Billy looked across at Steve and tried to push down the urge to swing his fists. He'd gotten control over his anger, only experiencing short bursts of rage which he worked into his job, but boy did he want to knock a few teeth out of Steve's old man right now.
Mr. Harrington sipped his drink, watching Steve shrink under his gaze. This was an old talk, and Steve knew that his dad was bringing it up because Billy was there. The man never turned down the opportunity to degrade Steve in front of others, specifically those closest to him. Picking up his glass, he waited for the final blow.
"I will say that I am disillusioned with you, Steven. You never did quite meet our expectations, but, I suppose we can't all transcend to significance."
And there it was...
A fancy way of telling him he was of no significance, or in other words, worthless.
Again, nothing he hadn't heard before.
Pressing the wine glass to his temple, Steve did his best to hide his wet eyes, catching a stray tear. He looked up to see Billy staring at him intently, his eyes filled with worry and guilt, silently asking Steve for forgiveness.
This was exactly what he wanted to keep Billy away from.
He tried to smile, he really did, but it was no use. His stomach was rolling with all the self-condemnation his father never failed to fill him with. All he could do was focus on the feeling of cool glass against his face and keep the tears at bay.
Billy wanted nothing more than to condemn them all for hurting Steve. He blamed himself for putting Steve through this nightmare, and he'd be damned if he let either of the Harrington's' berate their son anymore. Cutting into his food just a little to roughly, he was already preparing to focus the talk on himself when Helen beat him to the punch.
"So, William, tell us what it is that you do?" Helen asked smiling, blinking owlishly from the booze in her system.
Billy looked up from taking another bite while violently cutting another piece of roast off, chewing thoughtfully before stating calmly, "I'm a police officer."
Steve watched both his parent's expressions change then. His dad looked somewhat impressed while his mom just raised her eyebrow in wonderment. He knew they both wouldn't have pegged Billy as the officer type.
Mr. Harrington took a sip of his drink while giving Billy a calculating look, "An interesting, if not devout, career choice. Wouldn't you agree?"
"Devout, yes. Interesting? Hardly," Billy argued lightly, wiping his mouth.
"What made you choose such a path in life?"
Billy's eyes met Steve's across the table.
They both seemed to be thinking the same thing. Dealing with terrors from the Upside Down, protecting the kids, keeping the rest of Hawkins safe from monsters...it changed you. Billy thought of Max, how he'd been so focused on himself back in high school and only took care of her when he had to, even then he didn't do a very good job. He hadn't believed at the time that he even cared about her, but after being possessed by an ancient being, saving a little girl from monsters, learning about all the things that go bump in the night, it brought out a side of him that he hadn't known existed. Learning the truth about what the kids had been up to, what Max had been doing without his knowledge, it had scared the shit out of him.
It was then that he began to understand that he did love his sister, he just hadn't known how to show it. Protecting her, protecting Eleven, the boys, Steve, it gave him a purpose in life.
A reason to live.
"When you spend so many years shielding the ones you love from becoming victims of monsters every single day, you begin to acquire a desire to do more. You hunger for it. A fierce passion to defend innocent lives," he swallowed thickly. "Even if it means you become the sacrifice play."
Steve knew Billy was mostly talking to him, thinking about all the horrors they had shared with the others dealing with monsters. It was no secret that Billy had been prepared to die that night at Starcourt Mall, facing down the Mind Flayer, ready to defend Eleven to the very end.
"Praiseworthy, honorable man," Mr. Harrington raised his glass as a toast, notable respect shining in his eyes for Billy. Everyone followed suit and toasted to Billy's bravery, or something like that, but Billy's eyes never left Steve's. They shared an understanding, a bond formed from spilled blood and nightmarish battles, things no one else could understand.
It was how Steve knew just how much Billy meant when he explained his passion for police work. It was a feeling Steve still got when it came to the kids, that unbridled urge to protect the little shits from what lurked in the darkness.
"You know, I'm afraid I don't work first hand with any policemen. Is it truly all doughnuts and paperwork?" Helen laughed, quite obnoxiously, resulting in the other adults chuckling as well, joking about the whole thing.
Ignorance is bliss.
"You'll forgive me, I'm sure, if I don't divulge the daily life of a cop. I'd hate to alter your perception of the police force, especially over a meal."
Billy really didn't want to get into some of the shit he'd seen as of late. He'd told Steve some things, but only the shit that stuck with him. Things he needed to talk about just so he wouldn't dream about it later. He hated talking about the horrors he dealt with, but he knew Steve understood.
But, it seemed Helen just couldn't take a fucking hint...
"Darling, I'm a lawyer, I sincerely doubt you could." She was daring him, challenging him, to prove her wrong.
Billy Hargrove was never one to back down from a challenge, and he wanted to beat the woman down a notch to get rid of her snobbish attitude. A glance at Steve told him he wanted the same thing.
Taking a large drink, Billy turned his body towards Helen and gave her a small smirk, a condescending one.
She asked for it.
"True as that may be, from what you have told me you are assigned to business transactions which requires a different jurisdiction. Meaning where you look at numbers and legal terms to avoid lawsuits while having leisure lunches, rubbing elbows with big name corporations, I'm skipping meals to look over crime scene photos so I can put a rapist in prison."
Helen sputtered as she took a drink of wine, wiping her mouth as Billy continued on calm as rain. If this woman thought she was a better person than him, simply because she had money and a fancy title, he'd prove her wrong.
Giving them gory details of his job should do just fine.
"You travel across an ocean for a business deal, I'm pulling a bloated body out of the lake that's been partially eaten by fish. Looking over each individual entry to determine if it was foul play or not."
Mrs. Coleman looked uncomfortable now, taking a drink of wine and turning her eyes down. Mr. Coleman didn't seem much better either. Billy went on even when he began to see Helen's cheeks blemish. He was starting to make her uncomfortable, or better yet, sick.
"You deal with hardcore investors trying to steal contracts, while I have to document injuries of a wife who was beaten half death by her husband, persuading her to press charges, knowing that next time I'd be photographing her corpse."
Mr. Harrington coughed uncomfortably. Billy ignored him and decided to drive the point home with one horrifying image he'd dealt with just last week, one that was still haunting him.
"You create legal agreements to avoid things like fraud while obtaining million dollar contracts," he began, looking over to Steve this time.
He could still feel the weight of that tiny body dangling lifeless in his arms.
"I have to tell the hopeful parents of the little boy, who's mangled corpse I pulled from a sewer drain, that their baby isn't coming home..."
The rest of the table went very quiet. Billy continued to look at Steve and once again they shared a meaningful look.
"That, Mrs. Harrington, is what I deal with every day," he whispered cruelly, watching the woman's face pale with mortification. Billy wanted to laugh at her. She had underestimated him and for that doubt he humiliated her, all while remaining humble. Tossing his napkin to the table, Billy slowly stood up and gave them all an unpleasant, reproachful look.
"Now that I've seen just how repulsive you both act towards your own child, I believe Steve and I will take our leave. Dinner was atrocious, Mrs. Harrington, glad to know you drink your dinner rather than eat it. Sorry we can't stay for dessert, Mr. Harrington, though I assume it's going to be more brandy for you anyway. Let's never do this again, shall we? Have a horrendous evening."
Steve stood up and took Billy's offered hand, following him to the front door without a second glance back at the stunned silent dinning room.
In the car, Billy must have smoked the remainder of his pack because by the time they reach his house he was out.
Steve had remained silent the whole ride, keeping his gaze out the window to watch the street lights pass by. Neither of them bothered with the radio. It was quiet except for the roar of the engine, but it wasn't an uncomfortable silence, just them evaluating the nights events.
As they sat in the driveway, Steve eventually looked over and softly muttered, "You didn't have to do that."
They both knew what he meant.
Billy took a final drag of his cigarette before throwing it out, turning to Steve with a soft gaze. He wasn't angry anymore, he'd gotten what he'd wanted to say off his chest back at the Harrington household. What he wanted to say now was much different.
"Move in with me."
Steve looked away and bit his lip hard, shaking his head. "Don't ask me that," he whispered, his eyes shinning once more with unshed tears. He wouldn't accept Billy pitying him just because he knows about the issues he shares with his family.
"No one get's away with treating you that way. Steve, I won't sit by and watch someone I care about get verbally abused by their own parent..." Billy chided gently. He already knew where Steve's mind had gone, thinking Billy was showing him unwanted sympathy.
"You saw what that shit did to me when we were teens. You watched me become a heartless bastard just like him. It almost killed me."
And that was true.
His anger, the rage inside him, the pain. It made him heart-sick. It made him the perfect host for the Mind Flayer, taking control of a person that had begun to lose the will to live. It had only been when Eleven entered his mind and reminded him of what it felt like to be happy, only then had he been strong enough to fight back.
He knew what that kind of pain did to a person.
He knew what it had done to him.
"I can't let that happen to you, babe."
Sniffling quietly, Steve let his tears fall. He'd been so afraid of loosing Billy and yet here they were, the asshole asking him to move in. It defiantly wasn't how he pictured their night ending. Wiping his eyes, he fought to contain the swelling emotions bursting inside him, all of them focused on the blond next to him.
The stupid, blond California dream boy he couldn't help but love.
"So, are we gonna tell the others or wait and see how long it takes them to figure it out?" he asked teasingly, already picturing the look on Dustin's face.
Billy smirked while shrugging, "Well, it took them over a year to figure out we were dating, let's see how long it takes them to notice this new development."
"You're terrible, Hargrove."
"You love me, Harrington."