Steve kept his eyes closed when he woke up.
The sunlight was hitting him directly in the face and his back hurt from the way he fell asleep last night but he stayed right where he was. He was calm, comfortable and he could hear the sounds of Robin puttering around his kitchen downstairs.
Eventually he'd have to get up and stretch and start the day but he was so relaxed and happy.
It felt good, a warm pleasant glow in his chest that he wanted to bask in for the rest of his life. He saw Nancy and Jonathan yesterday and it didn't hurt, he hung out with his kids and that never failed to put Steve in a good mood.
When Steve opened his eyes, it was with excitement. This glow could carry him though the whole day, maybe the rest of his life. Who fucking knows? Maybe he'd work up the courage to ask Nancy and Jonathan to hang out without Robin as a buffer.
Luck has hardly ever been on his side before and now was as good a day as any for it to start.
So he hurried down the stairs, expecting to smell French toast or pancakes or crepes. Steve knew that Robin had been experimenting with breakfast foods because, as she put it: it was kinda almost like baking.
He paused on the bottom step when he heard low voices.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
His parents were home.
Steve's throat closed and his chest seized. He backed up a couple steps before shaking himself.
He couldn't avoid them forever so he took a deep breath, straightened his back and walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. His mother was digging through the refrigerator and his father was watching her with an irritated look on his face.
His father turned to him, an angry sneer on his face. "What the hell is all this shit in our fridge?"
Steve sighed. "Hello to you too dad. Good to see you after-" He glanced down at his bare wrist, feigning nonchalance. "-three months of being away."
His father stood and took a step towards Steve. "Am I hearing disrespect Steven?"
Steve flinched backwards, lowering his head and bit down the words he wanted to say. "No sir."
Henry grunted. "Answer my question."
Steve kept his eyes on the cool tile. "I don't know what you are talking about." He said through gritted teeth.
His mom pulled something out of the fridge and walked over to Steve, her heels clicking sharply on the cool tile. She looked tired and miffed and it definitely wasn't the look of a mother who hasn't seen her child in three months.
She thrust a plate into Steve's hands.
"This Steven." She snapped. "What the hell are these?"
Steve blinked and his throat closed.
It was just some cookes that were seran wrapped to a plate. The chocolate chip ones that Robin baked last night. The ones that Dustin was supposed to have taken home. The ones that Steve strictly remembered checking for to make sure they were gone.
Steve fingered the small post-it note that had Dustin's messy handwriting on it.
Hey Steve, I know you were feeling down so I left you the plate of cookies that were supposed to be mine. You're so lucky I'm around otherwise your life would suck. I expect to be payed back in pasta soon.
(p.s. you're amazing. just in case you forgot or something)
"Steven." His mother prompted. "Where did these come from? And who the hell is Dustin?"
That shouldn't have made Steve as angry as it did. He should've shrugged, brushed it off, said that he had no idea and thrown the cookies away. His mother would prompt him a little more and his dad might slap him if he didn't lie convincingly enough but Steve could live with that.
And yet, he couldn't do any of those things.
The fact that his parents didn't know Dustin, who was undoubtedly one of the most important people in Steve's life made him want to scream and sob at the same time.
So instead of doing what Steve knew would save his skin, he went with his gut and pulled the plate of cookies out of his mother's hands.
"My friend Robin made them." He snapped. His parent's eyebrows practically went up to their hairlines. "And you'd probably know her if you were ever here. Dustin too. He's here more than you guys and you two own this house."
"Steven, you better watch your tone." His father growled. "I think that we're allowed to be in our house as much as we want to be."
Steve's eyes widened, his chest tightening. "So you leave me here on purpose?"
Steve's mom looked away, her cheeks bright red but his father only stepped closer.
"What's the issue here?" He asked, his voice low. "Are you not independent enough to handle it?"
"Not independ-" Steve repeated incredulously. "I am more independent than some thirty year olds. I knew how to balance a checkbook at eleven."
And for some strange reason, Henry Harrington smiled. "Then your mother has taught you well." Then the smile dropped. "But you're obviously not responsible enough to keep away from things that aren't good for you. If you eat this junk, how are you going to be in shape for baseball? And if you aren't on the baseball team, how will you go anywhere with you life?"
Steve jerked backwards because damn, there were so many things wrong with that sentence.
"Dad," Steve's voice was hurt. "I quit baseball three years ago."
Nevermind the fact that he just implied that his son would be nothing without baseball and the fact that Steve didn't even eat a cookie. It was a fear so deeply instilled in him from childhood that it took a while before Steve felt comfortable stocking his cabinets with flour and sugar so Robin could stress bake.
His father merely sneered and moved to rip the plate out if his hands but Steve moved away.
"Steven!" He barked. "Hand them over."
And because Steve was stupid, because he was reckless, because he apparently actively looked for death, he squared his shoulders, puffed his chest and said, "Make me."
Henry only took a half a second to be shocked before he backhand slapped Steve so hard that he was sure he'd need reconstructive face surgery. Steve yelped as he felt his father's ring cut across his cheekbone and soon Steve was on the ground, warm liquid running down his face.
His mother was watching with sad yet cold eyes and his father leaned down, ripping the plate away and smashing it onto the ground. Steve flinched away, scooting back across the ground to the stairs but his father grabbed his arm and hoisted him up.
"You will learn respect boy." He hissed, his grip tightening. Steve whimpered but didn't try to fight him. "Even if I have to use force to teach it to you."
"Ye-yes sir." Steve whispered, his fists clenching and unclenching uselessly.
"Now, you will clean up this mess and you will not have this girl over here anymore. She's a terrible influence on you and your future. Understand me?"
Steve glared up at his dad, eyes stinging with tears, cheek burning with pain and shame. "Yes sir."
Then Henry's face smoothed out and he let go of Steve's arm. He stumbled slightly but was able to stay on his feet.
"And what do you say?" Henry asked and at Steve's blank look, he sighed. "I just got you back on track. You might even be ready for preseason."
Steve inhaled sharply and glared down at his father's polished shoes. "Thank you."
And Henry's following smile made Steve's stomach churn. "You are very welcome boy."
Nancy was pretty proud of her mother.
She seemed to be getting more and more lax about Nancy having people over and in her room- specifically Jonathan. Maybe it was because the first time Jonathan met her mom he brought a pan of lasagna that he had spent two hours cooking, or it might've been the fact that Jonathan insisted on doing the dishes everytime he had dinner with them.
Nancy sighed as she realized that Steve never really had the chance to try and charm her mother. She had the upmost confidence that he'd be able to, it only took him a night to charm Barb's parents and she's seen the way Joyce fusses over him.
Nancy'd love to see Steve laughing with her mom or commenting on various baseball games with her dad. He'd be amazing, soothing the normal Wheeler family tensions that followed them to the dinner table.
But, slow progress was still progress so Nancy tried not to push it when her mom let Jonathan up into her room without supervision.
She didn't even try to crack the door.
"So," Jonathan started, the beginnings of a laugh in his voice. "What's going on?"
"Well," Nancy sat down across from him, folding her legs underneath her. "We should invite Steve to yours today."
Jonathan hummed. "Okay. Do you have a game plan?"
"A game plan?"
"Yeah, like what we're doing when we get in there-"
"No." Nancy snorted. "I know what a game plan is dummy. Since when have you called it a game plan?"
Jonathan ducked his head sheepishly. "Since I've been ready to impress your dad. And Steve. Baseball is a complicated sport."
Nancy rolled her eyes fondly. "Don't let my dad hear you say that. He'll think you're crazy."
"I mean, why does baseball have nine innings? Like, who thought that was okay? Why not eight? Why not ten? It drives me insane."
Nancy laughed. "Alright, alright. Put your guns away Jonathan, there's no baseball talk here."
Jonathan smiled and leaned in. "You're right."
"As always." She smirked before closing the gap.
Nancy was just debating whether she should get up and push her door closed or stay content kissing Jonathan when there was a thump outside her window. The couple immediately flew apart, Jonathan reaching for his jacket pocket to grab his lighter and Nancy hurrying for her dresser drawer to grab her gun.
"I swear to God if a demogorgon is outside my window, I'm burning Hawkins to the ground." She hissed, creeping to the window, her gun at the ready.
"Right behind you." Jonathan huffed. Nancy suppressed a smile, because he currently was at her back, ready if she needed help.
Nancy carefully opened her window and jerked back when Steve fell into her room.
"Steve?" She gasped. "What the-"
"Are you okay?" Jonathan asked, pocketing his lighter and moving to help Steve up.
That's when Nancy saw the bruise and fresh cut on Steve's face. His eyes were red, his hair wild and his hands were shaking something fierce.
She grit her teeth and hurried to shut her window and her door.
"Am I interrupting?" Steve blurted, shuffling away from Jonathan's steadying hands. "I can- I can go, I just-"
His hands clenched then unclenched and he moved further away from the couple. Nancy immediately reached for him, curling a hand around his wrist, feeling his pulse racing.
"Don't go." She said, keeping her voice as steady as she could. "Stay. Please."
Jonathan hurried to nod along with her, reaching for Steve's other hand. "Yeah, we- we want you here."
Steve's eyes widened and Nancy blinked.
Well shit. There goes the game plan.
"You...you want me here?" Steve repeated, eyes locked on Jonathan, who was steadily turning a dark shade of red. "With you two?"
And Nancy wanted to nudge Jonathan on, because this was the moment.
The moment that would change everything. The moment that they could stop wishing, hoping, pining after him. The moment that they could stop worrying about him while he's away and start worrying about him while he's here. The moment that Jonathan and Nancy could finally finally become Jonathan and Nancy and Steve.
But this had to be all Jonathan, so Nancy forced herself to stay still.
Jonathan moved slowly, giving Steve enough time to pull away or step back. He raised an arm, cupped the bruised cheek and ran a gentle thumb against Steve's cut.
Nancy's chest squeezed. It was something she's seen Will do with Mike time and time again. Mike would be shaking, sobbing, ranting, raving and Will would simply cup his cheek. Almost instantly, Mike would relax and push further into the touch.
Watching it with Jonathan and Steve made Nancy's heart swell and seize at the same time.
Steve's eyes fluttered closed and even though it must've hurt, he moved into the touch like he was craving it.
"Steve, of course we want you here. We want you with us, safe, happy. You-" Jonathan's eyes watered. "You deserve to be happy."
Steve's eyes snapped open, his breath stuttered and his gaze flickered over to Nancy, so she took that as her cue to take Jonathan's other hand and tighten her hold on Steve's wrist.
"We want you here." She said softly. "With us. We want you here with us."
Steve's eyes locked on hers, tears building, and Nancy thought fuck the game plan before she reached up, tangled a hand in the back of Steve's hair and pulled him close.
Kissing Steve Harrington felt like getting into a hot bath after a long day. It was a full embrace, something to melt into to, something warm and comforting. Getting back on beat with him was like taking a test that she already knew all the answers to. When he leaned in, Nancy automatically let him, when she pushed up on her toes, he instantly wrapped an arm around his back.
Steve was the first to pull away and Nancy wasn't ashamed to say that she almost chased after him. She wanted to kiss him stupid, make him forget about the months that he had to watch Nancy and Jonathan, make him realize that she missed him.
That she loved him.
But Steve's eyes were cutting to Jonathan like he expected to get punched and from the way his shoulders were hunched, it didn't look like he'd fight back if he was.
The thought pained Nancy and when she looked at Jonathan and saw tears in his eyes, she knew it pained him too.
Jonathan leaned in slowly and gingerly traced Steve's jawline before pressing his lips to his. Steve didn't melt into it like he did with Nancy. In fact, Steve stiffened, eyes wide open, his hands flailing like he didn't know what to do with them.
Nancy inhaled sharply, thinking Shit, we fucked up, we fucked up, until Jonathan, seemingly unsatisfied with Steve's lack of participation, leaned in. He followed Nancy's lead and also tangled his hand into Steve's hair, tugging slightly and Steve's eyes rolled into the back of his head and he moaned.
Jonathan pulled away at the noise, gently brushing over Steve's bruise. "Did I hurt-"
"Jon, Jon." Steve whined, knocking Jonathan's hand away from his face. "Shut the fuck up and kiss me."
Jonathan's eyes widened but he nodded and leaned in again.
Nancy watched them proudly, relief making her sink down onto her bed. Then Jonathan actually bumped Steve's bruise, making him wince and Nancy was abruptly reminded that everything wasn't settled just yet.
"I hate to break this up because you guys are hot as hell." Nancy said, clearing her throat. "But, we should talk."
Jonathan pulled away, pressing another brief kiss to Steve's lips like he couldn't help himself before following Nancy to her bed, pulling Steve along, their hands tangled together.
Steve's face was flushed, his lips swollen and red but he looked a little panicked so Nancy grabbed his other hand. It took a moment but they all found space on Nancy's bed; Jonathan sat back against the headboard, Nancy tucked her legs under her butt next to him and Steve sat with his legs folded Indian style, facing them both.
"Where- where did this come from?" Nancy asked softly, scooting closer so her knees were pressed against Steve's thigh. She gently reached out, tilting Steve's head so she could see it better.
Steve's eyes fluttered close at her touch and his breath stuttered in his chest. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Steve," This time Jonathan moved closer. "We just want to help. You came here for a reason right? Let us in, we can help."
Steve was quiet, staring at the two of them with dark eyes- scared eyes. Nancy tensed, worried that he wouldn't tell them and let then help but he sighed.
"My dad." He whispered. "He hit me cause I had cookies in the fridge. Robin made them yesterday and I could've sworn that Dustin took them home but-"
He dug into his pocket, pulling out the post it note and passing it to Nancy. Jonathan leaned over, his eyes stricken and read the note over her shoulder.
"Steve-" Nancy's voice was tight with anger. "All of this happened over cookies?"
Steve shrugged. He'd normally still be simmering with anger but now he was just exhausted. He wanted to curl up with Jonathan and Nancy and sleep until next year.
"Mom's a health nut. And dad just hates me." Steve chuckled without humor and Jonathan flinched.
"Steve, why didn't you-"
"Tell someone?" Steve finished tiredly, raising an eyebrow at him. "Who? What would they do? Throw him in jail? Mom'll just bail him out. He's never even home. Soon they'll both be gone and I won't have to worry about it."
"You should still tell Hopper." Nancy huffed, still pissed. "I'm sure El wouldn't mind scaring him shitless."
Steve snorted. "That's funny. El, pretending to be a ghost and making the curtains open and close."
"Just like in Matilda!" Jonathan gasped excitedly and Steve and Nancy exchanged a look before dissolving into giggles.
Their laughter slowly faded and Nancy turned shining eyes onto Jonathan and Steve. Jonathan was watching Steve with a look so warm that Nancy felt giddy and Steve leaned closer to the two of them as if he couldn't stop himself.
And Nancy was ready, ready to lean closer to, ready to fall into what she's been missing for months but then Steve stopped, suddenly look insecure.
Mike's words hit her now- Steve's an idiot and doesn't think he's good enough for you. That he's not good enough for Jonathan. That he doesn't deserve you two. You better tell him otherwise because he's the best babysitter I've ever had.
"Steve?" She asked, cautious.
"You guys are sure about this?" He whispered. Looking down at their hands. "About us?"
Nancy and Jonathan exchanged a look, something determined and firm.
"Of course we do Steve." Jonathan nodded. Then he smiled, tilting his head a little. "Do you think I kiss people I don't want to date?"
Steve smiled and ducked his head, the tips of his ears going red. "Right. That's- that was great. I loved that."
Jonathan grinned. "Okay, well. I kinda want to do it again but you need to be with us for that to happen."
"Hey!" Nancy exclaimed, causing the two boys to blink at her. "Wasn't my kiss good enough to date me? You can't have him all to yourself Jonathan."
Jonathan chuckled, curling an arm around Steve's shoulders. "Mhm, I don't know, I made him moan."
"Oh, I can definitely top that." Nancy promised, smirking at a bright red Steve. She pushed closer, kissing his neck. "I'm so sure about this babe. I love you."
Steve paused. "You mean that?"
Nancy pulled back so she was looking straight in his eyes. "Of course I do."
Steve swallowed thickly and nodded. "Okay, okay. Yes. I want to date you two. How could I not? You two are-" He sighed, sounding lovesick, "everything."
There was a pause.
"Nancy, can I kiss him now?" Jonathan asked, watching Steve with wide eyes.
"Not if I beat you to it."