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You're my good thing

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Billy feels nothing but guilt when he sees Max leaning over him, tears streaming down her face as she screams for him. His chest hurts, and his lungs hurt, and everywhere hurts, and he can feel his blood pooling under him against the cold hard floor of the mall, and Max is crying over him and he doesn’t deserve that. He was nothing but an asshole to her, and he doesn’t deserve her tears. He tried to protect her, tried so hard, and he’s hoping she’ll be okay without him. He can feel her hands gripping his shoulders, and he swallows blood to get out the words he desperately needs to say.

 

“I’m sorry.” He spits out, more blood filling his mouth as tears fall from his eyes, and she starts sobbing louder, yelling his name. It’s the first time in years that he’s heard her say his name without hatred or anger or fear of him, and he desperately wants her to know he regrets it. Regrets being a dick; Regrets being like his father. As he feels the pain all over his body, overtaking him, he just looks into Max’s eyes, praying she gets it. Gets how sorry he is. He’s vaguely aware of other people walking over; he knows the girl he saved is near him now, and the wheeler boy is with her, and there’s other people here too, but Billy is focused on Max. She’s the one thing he would try and survive this for. But there’s nothing like bittersweet death to fill you with regret and question the what if’s and the could-have-been's, and Billy thinks, as he drifts off, eyes falling shut, that maybe Max is better off without him anyway.

Chapter Text

The first thing Billy notices when he wakes up, besides the ache all over his body, is the hand in his. He can feel something soft under him, a vast contrast to the cold, hard, blood soaked floor of the mall, and he shifts slightly, wondering where he is. The hand in his squeezes tighter as soon as he moves.

“Billy?” Billy knows that voice. And he’s guessing it belongs to the same person holding his hand. He tries to reply, but his mouth is dry and he doesn’t have the energy to form words, so he squeezes her hand. He aches everywhere, so it’s the best he can do.

“Billy?” Max asks again and Billy opens his eyes. One look at Max’s face and he wishes he never looked. He’s seen her look scared of him before, scared of what he’ll do, but now she looks scared for him. Her eyes fill with tears as soon as he meets her gaze, and he tries to smile because he doesn’t like her looking this sad. Not when he’s the reason. He suddenly remembers the look on her face as she cried for him in starcourt, but tries his best to shake that memory.

“Hi.” He croaks, voice gone from lack of use, and Max jumps up, wrapping her arms around Billy carefully. Billy’s too weak to do much other than leaning into the hug.

“You scared me, you asshole.” Max whispers, her face pressed into his shoulder. Billy feels the hospital gown grow damp from her tears. “I thought you were dead.”

“Sorry.” Billy whispers, because he was an asshole to her and yet she was still screaming for him, crying for him, and it seems like it doesn’t matter that he’s never apologised before, apart from in the mall, because Max knows he isn’t just apologising for almost dying.

“You’re an asshole, Billy. But you’re my asshole and you don’t get to- you’re not allowed to leave me.” Max whispers before adding, “I forgive you.”



The second thing Billy realises is the other people in the room. He wasn’t expecting anyone to be here. Honestly he wasn’t expecting to survive, either. Today is full of surprises. Actually, what day is it? Max is wearing different clothes, and it’s light out when he was sure it was night time at the mall; he saw stars through the mall’s skylight. He sees the girl first, the one who spoke about his mother, the one he saved, over Max’s shoulder. He remembers Max mentioning an ‘El’ and assumes that’s who she is. Then he sees the Byers boy standing next to her and, most surprising of all, he sees Harrington, sat in a chair by the door. Harrington sits up straighter when he realises Billy is looking at him, and Billy shifts his gaze back to Max and gives her a questioning look. Max pulls away from the hug and returns to her chair, gripping Billy’s hand again.

“You’ve been out for four and a half weeks, Billy.” Billy’s eyes widen slightly. Fuck, his dad is going to kill him. Wait. Billy’s eyes widen more and he looks over Max, searching for any sign of a bruise. He wants to ask her, make sure he hasn’t hurt her, but she doesn’t know about what Neil does to him and he doesn’t want her to find out, especially not like this, not here, not in front of the others.

“You okay?” He whispers. Billy’s certain the only reason Neil never touches Max or Susan is because Billy is there to be his punch bag. If he’s been gone four weeks, god knows what’s happened. Max hesitates and Billy’s jaw clenches.

“Dad?” He whispers and Max shakes her head. She’s guessing what he’s asking and knows this is a conversation that should happen when they're alone.

“Not now Billy.” She pleads quietly and Billy nods. She’s right, as long as he’s not hurt her this can wait. He glances briefly over at the other people in the room, hoping Max gets it, and Max glances over her shoulder before looking back at Billy.

“El wanted to thank you. Will wanted to make sure you’re okay. Steve was our ride.” She says before shuffling closer and lowering her voice. “He’s been worried about you, too.” Billy nods slowly before frowning. Why would anyone be worried about him?

 

El walks over when she sees the confused look on Billy’s face and stands next to Max.

“You saved me.” She says with a small smile.

“You saved us.” Max adds and Billy shakes his head. He threw her against a wall. He tried to kill her and her friends. He hit her.

“Hurt you.” Billy forces the words out despite the burning in his throat. He needs to make her realise that he shouldn’t be forgiven so easily. He hasn’t earned it yet.

“But you didn’t, cause that wasn’t you.” Will says as if he’s simply stating a fact, and Billy sighs, sinking back against the bed. He knows he had no control over anything, could see and feel everything he was doing but he wasn’t in control of his body, the thing was. He tried to fight against it, especially when he was hurting Max, but he couldn’t do anything but watch as he slapped and punched her. As he killed those innocent people. He had no control then. But before, when he hurt Max and her friends, that was all him.



“Guys I think we should let Billy rest.” Steve speaks for the first time since getting here, and Billy looks over at him again. El and Will sigh but agree, whereas Max looks like she really doesn’t want to leave. Max has spent at least an hour and a half with Billy every day since he was brought to hospital, but now that he’s awake Steve knows she wont want to leave him.

“Can I not skate home later?” She asks Steve, a pleading look on her face, and Steve sighs, running a hand through his hair.

“It’ll take you an hour Max. I can’t let you skate home on your own.” He says and Max pouts, turning back to Billy as if hoping he’ll take her side.

“S’late.” He whispers.

“But-” Max wants to say that she’s scared to leave Billy alone, and she’s scared at home without him. Somehow Billy understands without her saying a word. He looks her in the eyes and gives her hand a squeeze in a way that he’s hoping tells her he’ll be fine and so will she.

“C’mon.” Steve walks over and puts a hand on Max’s shoulder, and Billy sees his face properly for the first time. He looks tired. More tired than usual, and Billy wonders if he has nightmares too. “We should tell a nurse he’s awake anyway.” Max squeezes Billy’s hand again with a sigh before standing up and leaving the room with El and Will to go and find a nurse. Steve looks at Billy for a moment, hesitating.

“She’ll be back tomorrow. Hasn’t missed a day yet.” Billy looks up at Steve, a small frown on his face. He wants to say something, Steve can tell, he just isn't sure what and it makes him kind of nervous because he's not sure he has the answer to whatever Billy is thinking. Steve runs his fingers through his hair with a sigh.

“I better get going.” He says, and he hesitates again, and Billy wants to talk to him, ask him why he's here, if it's more than dropping Max off, if he was really worried about him. Billy can't bring himself to ask any of these questions, so he just watches as Steve leaves the room before sinking against his pillow with a frustrated huff.

Chapter Text

Max is frowning the whole way home. Steve noticed it almost immediately, how she was slow to leave the hospital, reluctant to get in the car, the way her eyes stay on the hospital until it was out of view, the small crease in her brow. He doesn’t mention it until after they’ve dropped El and Will at home, because he doubt's she'll say anything with them there. Before he pulls out of the Byers drive he turns to her, concern in his eyes.

“What’s up?” Max is spinning the wheel of her board slowly, and she jumps slightly when he talks.

“Nothing.” She's far too jumpy and quiet for it to be nothing.

“Max?” Max sighs.

“He’s awake.” She mutters after a minute, and Steve nods.

“That’s good though, right?”

“He hasn’t healed fully yet. But he’s awake.”

“He can still heal while he’s awake, Max.”

“Yeah, but this means they can send him home soon.”

“You don’t want him to go home?” Max huffs, shifting in her seat.

“You don’t get it.” She mutters, looking out the window. Steve frowns and turns to her fully.

“Then help me get it.”

“You won’t understand.” Steve’s frown deepens.

“What’s going on Max?” Max glances at Steve before looking down at her hands, still fiddling with the wheel of her board.

“His dad hurts him. Neil hits him and hurts him and if Billy isn’t fully healed then Neil will make it all worse and he will reopen the wounds or make Billy sick or he could ki-.” Max cuts off, refusing to think about Billy dying, still terrified it will happen, still traumatised after the mall. Steve is staring at her in shock. How has she never mentioned this before? How has he never realised? Billy always said his dad was an asshole but Steve just assumed he didn’t like him how a lot of teenagers don’t like their dads. When he’d show up to school bruised he’d just laugh it off and say he was in another fight, it never occurred to Steve that Billy was getting them from his dad.

“What?” Steve manages to choke out, voice strained, and Max turns back to look at him, eyes wide and watery.

“Billy doesn’t know I know. Neil only does it when me and mum aren’t around.”

“Then how-”

“I went home early, after an argument with Lucas, a few months ago. Neil had him in a corner and was punching him and he kept banging his head back against the wall and he kneed him in the stomach and then-" Max cuts off, taking a shaky breath. "I ran before either of them saw me but it happens all the time Steve. I haven’t seen it since, but I know. I’ll be in my room and hear a bang and Neil will say he dropped something but then I’ll see Billy with a cut on his forehead. Or I'll get home and it'll be tense and Billy will be blasting music from his room and I know he's sat in there with a bloody and bruised chest or something. It happens every day.” Max is practically sobbing now, and Steve sighs.

 

Now that he thinks about it, it all makes perfect sense. Why Billy is always so strict with Max, why he gives her lifts even when he supposedly hates her, why he’s always home by a certain time, why he winces when he moves a certain way. Steve reaches out and pats Max’s shoulder, because there's no words he can say to calm her down or help her because knowing that, dealing with that, is messed up. He can’t let Billy go home to that.

“He’ll be okay. I promise.” Steve says, and when Max nods he starts driving her home, not really sure he wants to leave her alone in that house.

"Does..." Steve starts as he pulls up to her house. "He doesn't hurt you, does he?" Max shakes her head.

"No." She says quietly as she opens the door, and Steve believes her but he still doesn't want to leave her there.

"Go and ask your mum if you can stay at El's." Steve says, and Max knows he's worried about her. She bites her lip before nodding, getting out the car and returning a minute later with a bag thrown over her shoulder, and Steve feels relief wash through him.

Chapter Text

There’s a nurse in Billy's room when Steve and Max get there the next day.

Billy is sat up in bed and the Nurse is changing the bandages around his torso, his hospital gown untied and round his waist. He looks tired, but somewhat better than yesterday. He glances over when the door opens and Max smiles at him, pretending she isn’t terrified now that he's awake. Billy gestures with his head, telling her she can walk over to him, and Max all but runs over and grips his hand.

“Good sister you got here, Billy.” The nurse smiles at Max as she wraps a bandage around Billy’s upper arm. “Her and your boyfriend have been in every day.” She smiles and Billy’s eyes widen whilst Max laughs.

“I’m not-” Steve starts, and Billy glances over at him to see a pretty blush spread across his cheeks. If he felt like his old self, Billy would smirk and make jokes and call Steve out for blushing which would make him blush more and Billy would smile because he’s pretty when he’s blushing. But he doesn't feel like his old self.

“Max’s babysitter.” Billy whispers instead, not having the energy to explain further. The nurse gives him a look but smiles and continues with his bandages.

“My apologies, Billy.”

 

When the nurse is done with the bandages, has tied Billy’s gown and left the room Max looks at Billy carefully.

“Are you okay?” She asks and Billy shrugs, gesturing for her to sit down on the chair next to the bed. Steve, still looking awkward, sits in his usual chair by the door, leaving the siblings to it.

“You?” Max nods.

“I stayed at El’s last night and Hopper rented a movie and we ate pizza. I ordered a vegetable one.” Max smiles when Billy pulls a face. He prefers simple pepperoni, he’s not a fan of loads of different toppings. “I was reading that book you gave me this morning. Oh! That reminds me!” Max reaches into her backpack and pulls out Billy’s copy of ‘The picture of Dorian Gray’ before handing it to him. Billy accepts it with a smile.

“Thanks.” He croaks, squeezing Max’s hand.

“Thought you’d be bored in here and that’s one of the only books you own that you haven’t finished.” Billy was half way through the book, Max knew it was the one he’s currently reading because it was under his pillow and there’s a bookmark in it. “Anyway you were right, Persuasion is sappy as hell but I like it.” Billy smiles. He gives books he’s read to Max if he thinks she’ll like them; it started as a way to try and bond with his new sister, which his dad requested he try and do, but he likes doing it now. He likes how it makes him feel like a proper brother, he likes how it gives them things to talk about, and he likes how it makes them have things in common.

“Knew you would.”

 

 

Steve watches as Billy and Max talk. Well, Max mainly talks, Billy gives her looks and single words in response, as he can’t manage more than that. Steve is just sat in the chair by the door watching. He can’t help but think about the faded bruises and scars that were scattered across Billy’s body he saw when the nurse was here. Or the bumps of his abs and muscles. He’s ripped, and Steve has to divert his eyes to stop himself staring at Billy before his thoughts go to inappropriate places. He stands up after about half an hour, intending on slipping outside undetected for a few minutes to give Billy and Max some alone time, but as soon as he stands up Billy and Max look over at him. Billy frowns slightly and Steve guesses he’s wondering where he’s going.

“Just going to the shop downstairs. You want anything?” Billy shakes his head at the same time Max nods.

“Can you get me m&m’s?” Steve nods, smiling slightly.

“Sure. Won't be long.”



“Sooooo…” Max grins once Steve has left the room, moving to sit on the bed with Billy, facing him and still holding his hand.

“So?”

“So you like Steve!” Billy’s eyes widen.

“What?” Billy chokes but it’s not because of his sore throat or lack of speaking. He knew Max was observant but how can she possibly know that.

“You like Steve. Like, you like like him.” Billy rolls his eyes in a way that Max interprets as ‘you’ve gone mad’ and she sighs.

“It’s not a bad thing! Besides, he totally like likes you too.” Billy frowns at this and Max shakes her head with a sigh.

“Billy, he's come with me every single day to see you. And it’s not because I need a ride, because I was happy to ride here myself.”

“Cares ‘bout you.” Billy says quietly and Max shrugs.

“Maybe. But he also sits in that chair and does nothing but watch you the whole time he’s here. He was worried about you, Billy. You should have seen the look on his face at the ma-” Max cuts herself off and Billy raises a hand to stop a tear just as it falls as he shushes her. Max sniffs and blinks a few times before carrying on.

“Point is, he likes you and you like him.” Billy sighs and sinks back against the pillow.

“We both know I can’t-” Billy stops to swallow and take a breath, unable to speak more than a few words, and Max frowns.

“Why not?”

“Dad.” Billy says, and he looks pained as he says it and Max’s eyes widen. Of course.

“That’s why you threatened Lucas.” She asks and Billy nods.

“If he found out you were-” Billy swallows again, takes a deep breath, “Were with a boy like Lucas-” He stops but Max knows where he’s going. Neil would not only probably kill Lucas, but he’d also beat the shit out of Billy for allowing Max to be with Lucas in the first place. Max has realised he always beats Billy when it’s Max’s fault.

“But- does he know your gay?” Billy laughs, but it’s bitter and painful.

“Tried to beat it out of me years ago.” His dad found out accidentally. Walked in on 13 year old Billy and his friend Jason kissing and went ape shit. Kicked Jason out and started beating the shit out of Billy. Billy quickly learnt to hide those feelings, pretended he was straight to avoid getting beat. It was easy enough to pretend, because he's technically bisexual, he just had to ignore the half that likes guys. This was before Neil met Susan. Before Billy met Max. Max who doesn’t know Neil beats him. Billy immediately looks at her with wide eyes. He didn’t want her to find out about Neil beating him. Max looks into his eyes for a moment before sighing guiltily.

“I know.” Max says, looking down at the bed.

“Know what?”

“What Neil does to you.” Max is all but whispering now. It goes silent, and when Max looks back up at Billy he’s frozen, looking at her in shock.

"Has he hit you?" He asks, anger seeping through his entire being.

"No." Max says quickly, and Billy frowns.

“Then how-”

“A few months ago. Came home early and he was hitting you. I know he does it when we’re not home.” Max has made it a point to be home when she knows Billy is home, and he didn’t even notice until she says that.

“You were home on purpose?” Max nods.

“Thought he’d leave you alone if I was home.” Billy takes a deep breath and squeezes Max’s hand.

“You don’t have to worry ‘bout that.”

“But I do!” Another tear falls from Max’s eye and Billy sighs, wiping it away.

“Max, it’s okay.” He says just as Steve walks in, and they both fall silent.

Chapter Text

Steve pauses outside the door when he hears talking. If it was Max he wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but it’s Billy’s voice, strained and hoarse, that stops him in his tracks. He’s talking about someone finding out about Lucas and Max, and Steve strains his ears to hear every word. His heart races when he hears that Billy is gay, and after a moment, when he can hear Max sniffing and Billy sigh he decides to make his presence known, feeling uncomfortable spying on them.

“Here you go.” He walks over, handing a pack of m&m’s to Max, before holding a second packet out for Billy. Billy frowns slightly before accepting the packet, trying to suppress his smile when Steve blushes as their fingers touch.

“Thanks Steve!” Max grins, opening the packet at the same time Billy does. Billy pours the whole bag into his hand before holding his hand out for Max, who pours hers into his palm too. Steve frowns, watching from his usual chair, as Max separates them between hers and Billy’s hands..

“Why…?” Steve trails off, curious as Max picks up specific ones.

“I like the Green, Yellow and Tan ones. Billy likes the Brown and Orange ones.” Max explains, and Steve realises she’s dividing them by colour. Steve is fairly certain they’re all the same, but this is clearly some sort of sibling thing they do so he just nods and lets them carry on, trying not to stare at Billy too much.

 

They stay a little bit longer today, considering Billy is awake and somewhat talking. He only ever says a few words at a time, and sometimes he’ll just reply with a look, but Max seems happy and Steve is just glad he’s alive. When it’s time to go Max insists on talking to a nurse for a minute because she wants to know exactly what’s wrong with Billy and how long it will take to fix him, so Max leaves Steve alone with Billy, and Steve doesn’t miss the look the siblings give each other.

 

“I…” Steve wants to break the slightly awkward silence, he just hasn’t got a clue how he’s going to do that. God It’s only been about 3 minutes since Max left them alone. “I’m glad you’re okay.” He settles on, because the way Billy is looking at him makes his heart race and his legs feel like jelly and he needs to say something. Billy raises an eyebrow and Steve’s chest aches.

“Worried ‘bout me, Harrington?” Billy sounds more curious than teasing and Steve wants to wrap him in a blanket and tell him that people do care about him. Steve isn’t sure how he should respond to that question, so he settles on honesty.

“Yeah.” He says, shrugging slightly, and he sees confusion flash across Billy’s face.

“Really?” He frowns, and Steve nods.

“I mean… yeah.” Steve looks so genuine, and Billy is so confused, because why would King Steve Harrington be worried about him.

 

“Okay.” Max walks back into the room with a sigh.

“W’as wrong?” Billy asks, his attention now entirely on his sister.

“Nothing, just don’t wanna leave you here.” She says, walking over and grabbing his hand.

“You’ll be fine.” Max rolls her eyes.

“It’s not me I’m worried about, dumbass.”

“I’ll be fine too, shitbird.” Billy’s voice is still raspy and broken but it’s the most he’s sounded like his old self and Max can’t help but smile.

“I’ll be back tomorrow.” She promises, squeezing Billy’s hand, and he nods as he squeezes back, and Steve thinks they maybe have a silent conversation in those few seconds because Max smiles sadly as she lets go and Billy looks at her as if he doesn’t actually want her to leave.

“See you tomorrow.” Steve says, because he’ll be the one to bring Max, like he does every day, and Billy shifts his gaze from Max to Steve. 

“See you tomorrow, Harrington.” He says and Steve thinks his voice is softer than when he talks to anyone other than his sister, but he also might have imagined it, so he just smiles and follows Max out of the room.



Steve frowns when Max climbs into the car silently, and he knows something must have happened, Billy said something she didn't like, or the nurse must have told her bad news.

“What’s wrong, kid?” Steve asks, sparing her a glance before focusing on the road. She’s frowning out the window, and her eyes flick over to Steve when he talks before settling out the window again.

“The nurse said he’s getting better quickly.” She mumbles.

“How quick is quickly?”

“Should be good to go home in the next few days.” Steve suddenly understands her change in behaviour.

“How- When- What are…”

“He’s gonna have to come home.” Max whispers, her eyes staying firmly out the window and Steve can tell she’s trying not to cry. He sighs and pats her shoulder before returning his hand to the steering wheel.

“I know.” He says softly, “But he only gets hurt when he’s home alone, right?” Max shakes her head.

“I tried staying home when Billy was home. Neil just tells me to go and do homework or hang out in my room, and Billy gives me that look that tells me to listen, cause he’s scared Neil will hurt me too if I don’t. Me being there stopped him at first, but not anymore.” Max finishes, glancing down at her lap, and Steve sighs. There’s nothing he can do.

“Okay… Well he’ll have to come out with us during the day.”

“And at night?” Max asks, turning to look at him with desperation in her eyes.

“I don’t know, Max.” Steve sighs again, running his hand through his hair. He doesn’t want to send Billy back to his dad either, but there’s nothing he can do. “We just need to be there for him when he gets home. Ice his bruises and bandage his cuts.” Steve says, and he knows it’s not what Max wants to hear but it’s all he has to offer. They pull up at Max’s a minute later and she sighs before getting out of the car.

Chapter Text

“You’re looking better, Billy.” The nurse says as she walks into his room. Billy sits up slightly and puts his book down.

“Hi May.”

“Sounding better too.” The nurse smiles at him. “I’m just going to change your dressings, is that okay?” Billy nods, letting her untie his hospital gown so she can get to his wounds. They’re healing well, and according to the Nurse he’ll be able to go home soon. Billy tries to hide his fear when she tells him that, instead pretends he can’t wait to get out.

“I’m sure your sister is looking forward to having you back at home.” She says and Billy shrugs.

“Not been that great to her.” He says, throat hurting so it comes out quiet and rough.

“If that was true she wouldn’t come to see you everyday.” The nurse says and Billy glances at the book on the table next to his bed.

“Was a bit of an asshole to her. To everyone, really.” Billy says and the Nurse smiles slightly.

“Yet that boy comes with her everyday too. Can’t have been that bad.” Billy shrugs.

“Pretty sure he’s just her ride.”

“Billy, I don’t know what you went through, or how you got those wounds, or why your parents don’t visit, but I’ve been a nurse for 25 years, and people don’t visit people in hospital every single day just because they are that person's sister’s ride.” She says with a knowing smile, and Billy frowns.

“What are you saying?” He asks and the Nurse chuckles.

“I think you know what I’m saying, dear.” She says just as Max and Steve walk into the room. They stop by the door whilst the nurse ties up Billy’s gown again.

“All done. I’ll leave you to it.” She throws him a wink before picking up the bandages and leaving the room, Max immediately walking over to Billy and Steve sitting in his usual chair.

 

Billy can’t help but notice the way Steve looks at him throughout their visit. He pretends he’s not looking, when Billy looks over and Steve’s eyes dart away, but Billy can feel him watching him, see concern flash through his eyes when Billy winces or coughs, and Billy doesn’t know why Steve seems to worry about him. He figures it’s because Max cares, and Steve cares about Max.

“You okay?” Max asks as Billy lies back a little more.

“Just tired.”

“The nurse…” Max looks down at her lap, “She said you can come home soon.” Billy nods and squeezes her hand so she focuses her gaze on him again. He sees fear flash through her eyes.

“Don’t worry ‘bout it.” He says and she frowns.

“But-”

“Max. I’m serious.” He says sternly and she presses her lips together.

“I don’t want him to hurt you.” She whispers and Billy’s stern face turns soft. He reaches up and cups her cheek, catching a tear as it falls.

“Maxine, it’s gonna be okay.” He whispers back, knowing he’s wrong but also knowing he can’t let her know that. He’s terrified about going back home, and he knows it’s going to be hell, but he can’t escape it, because he can’t leave, not without Max. So he’s just got to suck it up. At least until he can leave and take Max with him. Right now though, that’s just a pipe dream. Max looks at him for a second before sighing.

“I’m gonna go talk to the nurse.” She says, squeezing Billy’s hand before slipping off the bed and leaving the room.

 

There’s a silence for a few moments before Billy looks over at Steve to see him already watching him closely. Steve blinks and darts his eyes around the room when Billy meets his gaze, but eventually looks back over at Billy to see him still watching him.

“You alright there Harrington?” Billy asks, a slight smirk on his lips, and Steve blushes.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that, Hargrove?”

“Touché.” They fall back into silence, not as awkward but still definitely not comfortable.

 

“You don’t have to go back home.” Steve blurts out, shocking himself and Billy. He doesn’t want Billy to go home, and he knows Max doesn’t either, but he has no right to say something like that. Billy raises an eyebrow before sighing and sinking back into the pillow, eyes aimed at the ceiling.

“There’s no reason for you to worry your pretty little head about it, Harrington.” He breaths, not sarcastic or rude or snappy, just sounding tired. Steve blushes at the fact that Billy called him pretty but carries on, refusing to be distracted.

“Max thinks there is.”

“Max is going to be fine.”

“Are you?”

“Does it matter?”

“Yes.” Billy isn’t sure Steve meant to say that out loud. He looks over at him briefly before going back to looking at the ceiling.

“I’ll be fine, Princess.”

“Billy-”

 

“2 days.” Max says as she walks back into the room, interrupting Steve. Billy looks over at her and frowns when her eyes are red and tearful.

“What?” Steve asks, but Billy knows what she means. He has 2 days until they think they can discharge him.

“That’s too soon.” Max whimpers, walking over and grabbing his hand, Billy shakes his head. His wounds are practically healed and he’s not as weak as he was a few days ago.

“If it was too soon they wouldn’t say that.” Billy says, trying to calm her down, but she shakes her head. “She could have said 3 weeks and you’d still say it was too soon.” He adds and Max shrugs.

“Yeah well…”

“It’s gonna be okay, shitbird.” Billy offers, ruffling her hair, and Max raises an eyebrow, “Alright fine, it might not be. But you can’t worry ‘bout that.”

“I can’t help it, asshole.”

“Max.”

“I know.” She sighs before looking at the clock on the wall and frowning. Billy follows her line of sight and frowns too.

“Curfew?” Max nods.

“Curfew.” She repeats. “I’ll see you tomorrow, though.” Billy nods and shrinks back against the bed, exhausted, watching as they leave.

Chapter Text

“So, Mr. Hargrove…” The Nurse raises an eyebrow as she walks into the room. Billy drags his eyes over to her, having previously been staring out the window, and frowns at the look on her face.

“What?”

“Your wounds are healed.” She starts, and Billy nods, knowing where this is going.

“You’re discharging me?” The nurse nods.

“Afraid so.” She has a small smile on her face. “Now I know you don’t want to go home, and from the scars and faded bruises I can guess why…” She says, “But I kept you here as long as I could. Do you have somewhere you can go?” Billy nods, biting his lip.

“I’ll go home.” He says and when the nurse looks shocked Billy shrugs. “I have Max, and my step-mother. I need to go home.”

“Well be careful. You could still rip open the stitches. Most have dissolved but you need to be wary.”

“I know. So… when do I leave?”

“Well I’m sure your sister and… her babysitter,” She smirks and Billy rolls his eyes, “Wouldn’t appreciate it if you left without them, so wait until they get here, and they can take you home.” Billy nods and the nurse smiles before leaving the room, leaving Billy to lie in silence and dread going home.

 

 

Max enters the room first today, walking straight over to her regular seat, staying quiet because Billy is asleep when she gets there. She takes his hand and waits for him to wake up. Steve is sorting out Billy’s car, which he got fixed up and is going to surprise Billy with when they leave, so Max is alone for now.

 

She’s only waiting for 15 minutes before Billy turns to look at her, a tired smile on his face.

“Hey.” Billy says quietly, frowning slightly when he sees the empty chair by the door before looking back at Max, who smiles slightly.

“Steve had to sort something quickly. He’ll be here in a minute.” Max has a knowing look in her eyes and Billy feels uneasy. “The nurse called and said you’re being discharged today.” She adds, frowning.

“Yeah. She told me, too.” Billy says, sighing slightly.

“You have to come home? You can’t stay with someone?”

“No, Max.” Billy sighs again. “I need to go home at some point, there’s no point prolonging it any more.”

“But you’re not fully healed yet!” Max insists. “Can’t you stay at Steves for tonight or something?” Max looks worried and Billy reaches out and places his thumb between her eyebrows before dragging it up, effectively stopping her from frowning.

“I can’t stay at Steve’s, Max.” Billy says, sighing as he lies back against the bed. It’s then that Steve walks into the room. Speak of the devil.

 

 

“Hey.” He says, seeming nervous as he sits in his usual chair. Billy looks over, catching his gaze.

“Harrington.” Steve smiles slightly.

“Hargrove.” Max rolls her eyes at the two of them.

“So-”

“I should probably let the nurse know you’re here. She said I can go when you get here.” He says, interrupting Max, and he’s telling her but they all know it was Steve they really had to wait for, because he’s their ride. Max glares at him for interrupting before she sighs.

“Still don’t think it’s a good idea.” She mutters, and Billy agrees. It is a bad idea, him going home with barely healed stitches, but he has no choice.

“I know. Could you just go get the nurse.” Billy pleads, and Steve is standing before Max has a chance.

“I’ll go.” He says, leaving before anyone can stop him.

 

 

“Good afternoon, Steve.” The nurse grins, and Steve smiles slightly.

“Hi, Billy said to come get you.”

“Ah.” The nurse nods, putting down the folder she was holding and following Steve to Billy's room.

“Mister Hargrove.” She says as she enters the room. Billy turns to look at her and she smiles sadly. “So you’re leaving us.”

“Looks like it.” He says quietly. She already knows he doesn’t want to leave, but Billy doesn’t want Max and Steve to see how much he wishes he didn’t have to go home.

“Well I’m going to give you some bandages and cleaning wipes, in case your wounds bleed,” The nurse gives him a look and Billy knows she means she’s giving them to him in case his dad hurts him, “But other than that you’re good to go. Although I would recommend getting dressed first.” She smiles, and Billy nods, looking over at Max, who stands up and places her backpack on the chair. He guesses it has clothes in it.

“I’ll go and get those bandages.” The nurse leaves and Billy slowly stands up, Max turning around so he can change. Billy glances over at Steve, raising an eyebrow when he’s still looking at him. Steve blushes and immediately turns around and Billy smirks to himself as he pulls on the joggers Max brought him. He tries to untie the gown but winces was he reaches back. He tries a few times before giving up. He really doesn’t want to ask for help, but there’s no way he can do this alone.

“Can one of you untie me?” He mumbles, and they both turn around. Max immediately walks over and unties the gown, and Steve tries his best not to stare at his chest as the gown falls off him.

“You want help with the hoodie?” Max asks quietly and Billy shakes his head. He picks it up and tries to put it on before huffing. It hurts to raise his arms too much. Max silently takes the hoodie off of him and reaches up, pulling it over his head and helping him shove his arms into it. She frowns when she looks up at Billy, knowing how much he hates not being able to do stuff on his own.

“Sorry.” Billy mutters and Max smiles.

“Not your fault.” She knows there's nothing she can do to stop him getting beat, but she'll be damned if she doesn't help him in any and every way she can.

Chapter Text

They leave the hospital, Max walking right by Billy’s side, insisting on carrying his bag for him, and make their way over to Steve’s car. Billy tries not to roll his eyes when Max opens the passenger side door for him, knowing she’s just trying to help, instead offering a small smile which she returns before she climbs into the car, sitting in the middle of the back seat. Steve starts driving, sparing glances at Billy every once in a while. He’s getting nervous about surprising Billy with his car, not too sure how he’s going to react. Max said Billy will love it, but Steve knows Billy is tired and in pain and probably isn’t having an easy time dealing with emotion right now. Max is running her hands through Billy’s hair, trying to keep him calm, and Steve wonders how close they would be if it wasn’t for Billy’s dad.

 

“You call your friend?” Billy asks quietly, head resting back against the seat.

“No.” Billy sits up and turns to look at her, eyes narrowing.

“Max.” He says and Steve wonders what is going on.

“Billy-”

“Max I told you to stay with a friend.” Billy sighs, turning back and leaning back against the seat.

“But I don’t wanna leave you alone.”

“And I don’t want you to be there when-” Billy cuts himself off with another sigh. He hears Max sigh behind him and he knows she meant well and he doesn’t want her to be upset.

“I just-” Max cuts herself off, and Billy reaches back, wincing slightly, and takes her hand.

“I know.” He says softly, and when Max squeezes his hand he knows she gets it.

 

Billy frowns when they pull into Steve’s road, wondering if Max had arranged for them to stay at Steve’s without him knowing. This seems even more likely when they pull up outside Steve’s and he cuts off the engine.

“What are we doing here?” Billy asks, mainly to Max.

“We, er…”

“Steve has a surprise for you.” Max says, getting out of the car and opening Billy’s door for him. Billy frowns at her.

“What do you mean?” Max is grinning as she nods over at Steve. Billy turns to look at Steve, who has a nervous smile on his face, and Steve walks over, stopping in front of Billy.

“You’re gonna have to trust me for a second, Hargrove.”

“Wouldn’t let you near Max if I didn’t, Harrington.” Billy says, ignoring the way his heart jumps when Steve’s hand covers his eyes. He feels Max take his other hand and they lead him somewhere.

 

“Okay.” Steve whispers and he’s nervous, Billy can tell. Steve drops his hand from Billy’s eyes and Billy opens them to see his Camaro, good as new. Billy’s eyes widen. There’s no smashed windscreen, no scratched bonnet, no burst tires, no dents. Billy thought for sure he'd have to buy a new cheap shitty car because the repairs would cost way too much.

“Surprise.” Steve says quietly, nervous because Billy hasn’t said a word, but he’s squeezing Max’s hand way too tight to be upset or unsure, and his eyes are shining. Billy still can’t find words though. He’s shocked speechless.

“Never thought I’d be the one to render you speechless, Hargrove.” Steve jokes, voice quiet and soft, and Billy can’t help but huff a laugh at that, tearing his eyes away from his beautiful car to look at Steve, who is watching Billy with an unfamiliar look on his face.

“Thank you, Harrington.” Billy manages to choke out, looking back at the car, “You really shou-” Steve holds up a hand to shut him up and Max laughs from Billy’s other side.

“Told you he’d say that.” She says and Steve smiles.

“I just- “ Wanted to do something that might give you a hint about how I feel about you, is what Steve was about to say. “Figured you would want a car and Max mentioned how much you love this one so I just fixed this up instead of getting you a new one.” Steve rambles, and Billy forces himself not to grin at how cute Steve is, not to blurt out that Steve is adorable and that he kind of loves him.

 

Instead he turns to Max.

 

“We should go.” He says, and they all know that he’s only saying that because he’s probably overwhelmed, but they also know that he doesn’t really want to go home.

“Okay.” Max sighs, and Billy shakes his head.

“I’m taking you to that girls house. You’re not coming with me, Max.” He says and she sighs again. Steve busies himself with moving Billy’s bag from his car to Billy’s to give the siblings a second to talk.

“I know.” Max climbs into the car, and Billy turns to Steve. He’s nervous, and feels awkward, because Steve fixed up his car. He fixed up his car and he said he would have got him a new one and Billy knows Steve is rich but buying someone a car is not something people do casually. You don't just buy someone a car. And you don't just spend thousands of dollars fixing up their car. Not someone you only tolerate because you drive their sister around.

 

Steve holds out the keys to the Camaro and Billy smiles slightly as he holds out his hand, letting Steve place them in his palm. Billy closes his fingers around the keys and Steve’s hand to stop him pulling away. He needs him to know he’s thankful and appreciates it.

“Thank you, Harrington.”

“You’ve already thanked me, Hargrove.” Billy shakes his head.

“You’ve been looking out for Max since we got here. Thank you.” Steve shrugs.

“You look out for her too.”

“I have to.” Steve smiles slightly.

“She cares about you.” Steve says, and he’s hoping Billy gets the unspoken ‘so do I’.

“She cares about you too, you know.” Steve smiles.

“I know.”

“Can’t imagine why.” Billy jokes and Steve rolls his eyes, but Billy is still kind of holding his hand and his eyes are shining.

“Asshole.” Steve says, because he doesn’t know what else to say, and Billy huffs a laugh.

“I appreciate it, Princess.” Billy says softly, releasing Steve's hand and dropping his hand to his side. “All of it.” Steve is blushing at the nickname, smiling slightly as he watches Billy climb into his car, continuing to watch as they drive away, his stomach dropping when he remembers what Billy is driving home to.

Chapter Text

Max reluctantly tells Billy where El and Hopper live, and Billy can hear that she really doesn’t want to stay there. He holds out for half of the journey, but eventually her upset and angry silence causes Billy to snap.

“Maxine.” He sighs. “Max, I know you’re mad.”

“I’m worried , Billy.” Max mutters, glaring out the window.

“I know!” Billy stresses, “Now you know how I feel every second you are in that house.” He says, and Max’s head snaps to look at him. Billy takes a deep breath. He doesn’t mention these things to her. Or anybody.

“I am constantly worried that he’s gonna hurt you, Max. I know this is gonna be bad. I know he’s gonna be pissed and he’s gonna go hard today, and it’s gonna really hurt, and I don’t know how long I’ll be able to take it. But if you’re home and I pass out or he goes too far, he might hurt you too. I can’t-” Billy cuts himself off, angrily wiping his eye. “You can not be there tonight, Max.” Billy whispers, keeping his eyes on the road. They’re nearly at the cabin. Max is quiet, and when Billy looks over at her she’s shaking. He sighs, stopping in front of the cabin and cutting the engine.

 

Max gets out of the car and walks over to the cabin and Billy rushes after her. He grabs her shoulders and looks her in the eyes pleadingly.

“Max, I know you’re worried. I know. And I know why. But it’s only for tonight.” A tear escapes her eye and Billy wipes it away. “I just need to know you’re safe and far away from him. Do you understand?” Max nods and Billy takes a deep breath, resting his forehead against the top of Max’s head. “Thank you.” He whispers before standing up straight and knocking on the door. It’s only 5pm, so he knows Hopper and El are awake.

“Max?” Hopper asks as he opens the door, eyes snapping to Billy as soon as he realises Max is crying. “What’s going on?” Hopper asks sternly. He didn’t know Billy was out of hospital.

“Can Max stay here tonight? I-” Billy takes a deep breath. “I need her to stay here tonight.” Billy says, his voice cracks and his voice is shaking and Max lets out a sob before swallowing them back; She can hear how scared Billy is and she doesn’t want him to go home. Hopper examines both Billy and Max before stepping aside and letting Max in. Billy watches as Max walks over to El and he sighs when she doesn’t look at him. He nods at Hopper before taking a deep breath and turning around, letting a tear fall as he walks to his car.

 

A heavy hand falls on his shoulder and he spins around, ready to defend himself. He relaxes when he sees the concerned look on Hoppers face.

“What’s going on, kid?” His voice is ruff and stern but there’s a concern in his eyes that Billy hasn’t seen an adult direct at him in years.

“Nothing,” Billy says automatically, eyes widening slightly before he quickly adds, “Sir.” Hopper frowns.

“Max doesn’t cry over nothing, kid. And neither do you. Fact, I’ve only seen her cry once.” Hopper trails off, looking at Billy curiously.

“Why does she have to stay here?” Billy sighs.

“It’s my first night home. I was discharged today.” Hopper’s frown deepens.

“And she can’t spend your first night home with you?”

“No.” Billy says immediately before sighing. “I know what you want, but I can’t tell you. And don’t ask Max either, cause she’s- she just- just don’t ask her.” Billy sighs, glancing at the cabin once more before looking at Hopper. “She hates me right now. Hates that I’m making her stay here. But she gets why. She just doesn’t like it. But she’ll be fine.” Billy says and Hopper nods.

“Will you?” Billy nods, knowing it’s not true, and he turns around and continues walking to his car before Hopper can say anything else.




Billy pulls up outside his house with a sigh. He knows, when he goes in, that Neil is going to be mad at him. Max said she told Neil that Billy was doing a ‘trial month’ at a college because she went home without him and he demanded to know where he was and she blurted the first thing she could think of in her tired, emotional state. Billy knows that Neil is going to be mad that he didn’t tell him anything, that he just ‘up and left’, and that he made Max ride home on her own, and that he wasn’t around to drive her places. He knows this, which is why he told Max to stay at someone’s house tonight, tell Susan and Neil she was having a sleepover, to keep her out the way. To keep her safe. Billy has never been more right. He walks through the front door, trying to look confident, and Neil is in front of him immediately.

“What the fuck!” He growls, getting in Billy’s face, and Billy presses himself against the door. Susan isn't home, he quickly realises, so this is going to hurt. A lot.

“They had a drop out last minute and offered me a place on the test month.” Billy says quickly, trying to sound respectful.

“And you didn’t think to tell me?” Neil growls and Billy shrinks back against the door.

“It was really last minute.” Billy says and Neil nods.

“Okay so you thought you’d abandon Maxine, make her come home on her own at god knows what time in the morning, and make her tell me, because you didn’t have time.” Neil asks, and his voice sounds too nice. Fake nice. The sort of fake nice he uses that makes Billy know he fucked up and is going to pay.

“I’m sorry.” Billy tries for a last-ditch attempt at getting off scot-free.

“I bet you weren’t even at a college thing. You were off being a faggot somewhere weren’t you.” Neil spits and Billy flinches.

“No.” He tries to sound strong but it comes out as a whimper and Neils gaze hardens.

“What was that?”

“No sir.” Billy tries again, but Neil has apparently made up his mind and a second later there’s a fist embedding itself in Billy’s stomach.

Chapter Text

Billy whimpers as he blinks his eyes open. He’s lying on the floor right next to the front door, and Neil is nowhere to be seen. He has no idea what time it is, or how long he’s been unconscious, but it’s dark outside and the blood covering Billy’s face and shirt is dry, so he guesses he’s been there a while. He carefully pushes himself up into a slumped seated position, leaning against the door. Every part of him hurts, and he knows his dad went harder than he ever has. Billy was able to stay up for 8 minutes, and when he fell to the floor he was only able to stay conscious for another 3 minutes until he couldn’t stay awake any more. His arm hurts from when he fell, and his stomach and back hurt so bad, and there’s a pounding in his head and- wait. That's banging. Or knocking. Who’s knocking? Is that knocking? Now he thinks about it, it sounds more like footsteps. And they’re getting closer to the door. Billy knows whoever it is, Max or Susan, they can’t see him like this, so he pulls himself up, running on fear and adrenaline, and staggers to his room, locking his door before collapsing on his bed, letting the tears fall. He knew coming home would mean coming back to regular beatings, and he thought he’d prepared himself for them, but nothing can prepare him for this. Not years of dealing with it, not a month of psyching himself up, not knowing he’s doing it so Neil doesn’t turn to Max. Nothing. He would have run away years ago, got himself out of this shit situation, but he knows there’s no way to get Max out with him, and he’ll be damned if he leaves her here alone.

 

He lies in silence until he falls asleep, nightmares of the monster inside of him, of his dad, of things that would have happened if he wasn’t stopped, who he hurt and who he killed. Who he might have killed. Billy wakes up at 4am shaking and sweating, tears streaming down his face, and he sits up slowly before making his way to the bathroom. He hasn’t been able to have a proper shower, no nurse supervision or bars to hold onto, in over a month, and he’s sweaty and bloody and gross and he just wants to be clean. He stays as quiet as he can whilst he showers, desperate not to wake his dad, and though he struggles raising his arms to wash his hair he still manages to do it. Once he’s clean he wraps a towel around his waist and quickly makes his way to his room and sits on his windowsill, cracking it open slightly, lighting a cigarette. The sky is still dark and he can see the stars, so he starts trying to find constellations. His grandmother on his mom's side used to point them out to him, and he learnt quite a few.

 

He stares at the sky long after the sun has risen, going through countless cigarettes, and when he looks over at the clock on his shelf he sees it’s 9am. Billy sighs, knowing his dad will complain if he stays in his room all day, so he walks over to his wardrobe, pulling on jeans and a shirt, nothing that requires raising his arms too much, before making his way to the kitchen. Neil is watching TV and Susan is collecting plates from the table. She smiles when she sees Billy, her eyes skimming over his black eye.

“Billy! Nice to have you back.” She’s nice. Too nice to be with Neil. Billy smiles back.

“Good morning Susan.” He walks over, taking the plates from her. “I’ll wash up.”

“Oh, thank you, Billy.” Susan pats his arm before making her way to the front room, missing his wince when she accidentally pats over a bruise Neil left on his arm.

 

As Billy is drying the dishes he hears the front door open and Max saying hello to Susan. They chat for a few minutes, Neil not joining in, before Max excuses herself. She sees Billy in the kitchen as she passes and quickly walks towards him.

“Billy?” She asks quietly, and Billy sighs as he dries the last plate. He knows she was worried about him coming home, and seeing him with a black eye is going to worry her more.

“How was your friend?” Billy asks, his back still to her, and Max frowns.

“She’s fine. Billy, turn around.” She says quietly, and when Billy turns around her eyes widen. “I told you!” She whisper-yells at him, walking over to the freezer to grab some ice, and Billy sighs, knowing Neil can’t see her acting like this. Once Max has got ice wrapped in a towel Billy grabs her wrist gently and pulls her down the hall to his room, shutting the door behind them. Max sits on the bed, Billy sitting next to her, and Max frowns as she presses the ice to his face.

“You should have stayed at Steves. Or with me and El.”

“I would have had to come home eventually, Maxine.” Max glares at him.

“But you would have been more healed.”

“It was better to get it over and done with.” Max sighs. She knows, deep down, that the longer Billy waited the worse it would have been, but she still doesn’t like seeing him beat up and bruised.

Chapter Text

Max doesn’t sleep well. The image of Billy dying, being impaled by that thing, runs through her mind on repeat until she’s forced out of her nightmares with a whimper or a cry, tears rolling down her cheeks. She knows Billy is okay. She knows he’s alive. She saw him in hospital everyday just to make sure, and now he’s back home and she knows he’s in his room, hopefully sleeping. He’s been home for 2 weeks. She knows this and yet she needs to make sure. She needs the reassurance that Billy is here and he is alive and she’s not just imagining it. She walks over to his room, tears streaming, and pushes the door open to see Billy sat up, hands shaking and silent tears rolling down his cheeks. Billy looks up at Max, their eyes meeting, and when he sees a matching broken look in her eyes he gestures for her to walk over. Billy pulls back the duvet and Max climbs in next to him, sitting close to his side when he throws the duvet over her, and resting her head on his shoulder.

“You okay?” Billy whispers, and when Max shakes her head, he rests his on top of hers. It’s the most non violent physical contact the two have ever had, and Billy can’t help but feel guilty for every time he gripped her arm or yanked her wrist. He’s been feeling guilty a lot recently, ever since he woke up in hospital to Max gripping his hand.

“Are you?” Max whispers and Billy sighs.

“No.”

“Can’t sleep?” Billy shakes his head. “Me neither.”

“Wanna talk about it?” Max shakes her head and Billy nods slightly. “Me neither.” They fall into a silence, and when Max yawns Billy lifts his head and nudges her off his shoulder. “C’mon. You wanna sleep in here?” Max nods, sliding down the bed so she’s lying down, and Billy lies next to her, allowing her to bury herself in his side.

“Thank you, Billy.” Max mumbles against him and Billy smiles, shutting his eyes.

 

 

“Why don’t you stop him?” Max whispers. Billy thought she’d fallen asleep, and he almost jumps when she talks.

“Hmm?”

“Neil. Why don’t you stop him?”

“I can’t.”

“You can. I know you can. You’re strong. You could stick up for yourself. But you just… you let him hurt you and shout at you and you don’t stop him.” Billy’s eyes sting with tears as he stares at the top of her head, resting on his chest, carefully avoiding bruises. That’s not what he meant. When he hasn’t said anything Max turns her head to look up at him. She’s confused, because Billy is looking at her like he knows something she doesn’t, and she frowns when a tear falls from Billy’s eye.

“I can’t do much to protect you, Max.” Billy whispers, eyes on the ceiling, thinking about how much shit he’s done to her, how she hated him, how she thought he hated her, all because he tried to protect her. “I try, but there’s only so much I can do. He doesn’t hate you like he hates me.” Billy takes a deep breath; Max feels it shift her body. “I don’t know what he’d do if I fought back. He’d probably just hit me harder. But I know there’s a chance, probably small but still there, that he’d start hurting you instead.” Billy looks down at her, another tear escaping, and Max finally gets it. She understands. It’s not that Billy can’t physically protect himself, it’s that he can’t protect himself because of Max. Suddenly she gets why Billy blames her.

“So it is my fault.” Max whispers, eyes wide and watery, and Billy shakes his head, squeezing her in a tight hug.

“I never should have blamed you, Max.”

“But- if I wasn’t here you could have run away, or fought back.”

“Max if you weren’t here he probably would have killed me long ago.” Billy whispers before sighing. “Don’t worry about it, go to sleep.”

“But-”

“Please, Max.” Billy pleads, and maybe it’s because he’s never pleaded with her before, never begged, or maybe it’s because he hasn’t left the house apart from to take Max places, and she’s the only one he’s spoken to in weeks, or maybe it’s because he just looks so damn tired, Billy isn’t sure but whatever it is makes Max nod and lie back down.

“Goodnight Billy.” She says, and Billy lets out a breath of relief.

“Goodnight Max.” There’s a moment of hesitation, then,

“I love you.” Max whispers, and Billy instantly feels like sobbing. It’s been a while since he’s heard those words directed at him.

“I love you too.” He whispers, and it’s the first time since before his mother left that he’s said those words, and it’s the first time in a long time that he’s really truly meant them, and Max feels her eyes fill with tears because she knows that. Neither of them mention the fact that Billy sniffs and wipes his eyes, or that he holds Max tighter, like an unspoken promise that he’ll always protect her. Neither of them mention it but they both know.

Chapter Text

Max has decided Billy needs to get out. It’s a Saturday, so she doesn’t have school, and she figures maybe a trip to the arcade will cheer him up.

“Billy?” Max calls, loud enough to be heard over the music but not loud enough for Neil to hear her. The music gets quieter and Max hears Billy call for her to come in. He’s sat on his bed reading when she pushes the door open, and he looks up at her with a frown.

“You okay?” Max nods.

“Can we go to the arcade?” Billy looks at her for a second before nodding and getting up, following her down the hall. Max doesn’t mention the fact that Billy stiffens as they walk past the front room and Neil asks them where they’re going.

“Max wants to go to the arcade.” Billy says, voice harder than it was when he spoke to Max earlier, and Neil nods, walking over and gripping Billy’s shoulder.

“As long as you stay with her and make sure she’s okay.” He says sternly, and Max can see Neils fingertips go white with how hard he’s gripping Billy’s shoulder.

“Yes, Sir.” Billy says, and Neil lets go.

“Good. Don’t be late home.” He growls, and Billy nods, quickly walking out of the house with himself in between Neil and Max, and he doesn’t relax until they’re sitting in the car.

 

“Your friends meeting you there?” Billy asks as they drive, the sound of Queen’s ‘save me’ filling the car.

“I don’t know.” Billy raises an eyebrow, did they have an argument?

“Oh?” Max smiles slightly.

“Thought maybe you’d come in with me.” She says and Billy’s lips twitch up into a small smile, he usually stays in the car, or sits on the hood and smokes or reads, so her wanting him to come in means she’s worried about him.

“Ahh. Wanted to get me out of the house?” Max nods and Billy rolls his eyes with a smile.

“Told you not to worry ‘bout me, shitbird.” He says, voice fond rather than angry, and Max glares at him, no menace behind it, acting far more like Billy than he’s ever realised.

“Can’t help it, asshole.” She says, and she doesn’t sound angry either, and Billy thinks maybe this is what having a little sister is meant to be like.

“Yeah. I’ll come in with you.” He says and Max smiles at him.

 

They pull up outside the arcade and Max leads Billy straight over to digdug.

“Look! I’m high score!” Max grins, pointing at the screen proudly, and Billy smirks.

“Must be an easy game.” He teases and Max pouts.

“Like to see you try and beat my score.” She challenges and Billy looks at her with determination.

“Easy.” He says, slotting a coin in the machine and gripping the trigger. Max stands next to him, goading him but smiling because Billy is getting into it the higher his score gets and he’s having fun and Max hasn’t seen him have genuine fun since they were in California. Billy dies at 400,000 points and he pouts at the arcade machine.

“Told you!” Max smirks and Billy glares at her playfully.

“That was your fault you little shit.” He says and Max laughs. Billy’s been softer since the ‘I love you’ thing a few days ago. Max likes soft Billy more than angry Billy.

“Blame who you want but it’s my turn!” She grins, pushing Billy aside, careful to not touch his bruises or scars. Billy steps aside and slips a coin in the machine for Max, and watches as she plays. He knew she was into video games, but he never realised how good she was. He’s noticed he doesn’t really know much about her at all, not anymore.

“How about we go get pancakes or something after?” Billy asks and Max frowns, keeping her eyes on the game.

“Is this a distraction technique?” Max sounds unsure and Billy rolls his eyes.

“No, shitbird.” Billy says, and he’s being sincere, Max can tell, so she nods.

“Okay.” She smiles at the screen and Billy presses his lips together to hide his smile.

Chapter Text

They take it in turns playing dig dug, and after an hour or so at the arcade Billy declares he only died that last time because he’s too hungry to focus. As they’re leaving the arcade Billy sees Max’s friends walking towards the arcade, Steve sitting in his car further away, and they meet just outside the door. Billy automatically feels tense, and Max must sense it because she taps the back of her fingers against his leg.

“Hi.” Lucas greets Max, obviously still not happy about Billy, and Max smiles slightly.

“Hey.”

“You leaving? Or do you wanna hang with us?” Lucas asks, and Billy knows what he really means. He’s asking if Max wants to stay with Billy or not.

“We’re leaving. Already been here an hour.” She says shortly, and Billy looks down at her curiously. Did they have an argument?

“If we’d known you were here we would have come earlier.” Dustin says with a smile, and Max shrugs. Billy can feel Steve watching him and tries not to look over at him. The wheeler boy is looking at him too, like he’s gum stuck to his shoe, and Billy kind of wants to hit him.

“Me and Billy spent the whole time playing dig dug.”

“Steve would have brought you.” Mike says and Max frowns.

“I came with Billy.”

“But you didn’t have to.” Mike insists and Max glares at him.

“But I wanted to.” She says, matter of factly.

“Have you forgotten what he did?” Lucas mutters, side eyeing Billy, and Max turns her glare to him.

“Have you?” She growls just as Steve walks over.

“Okay, stop.” Steve says loudly, looking at Billy carefully because he looks so guilty and sad. Billy is just looking at Max. Her hands are clenched into fists and her eyes are filled with unshed tears and she looks angry. Really angry. He reaches over and places a hand on her back “Sinclair, Wheeler, stop it. Go inside.” He says, and Lucas and Mike turn to him, shock on their faces. Apparently they thought he’d be taking their side.

“What?!” They ask in unison, and Steve gives them a look that Max calls his ‘listen to your mother’ look.

“You heard.” He says and they stare at each other for a second before Mike huffs and grabs Lucas’s arm, dragging him into the arcade. Dustin follows shortly after, leaving Steve and Will outside.

 

“You okay?” Steve asks, and Billy looks at him for a second before putting on his ‘don’t give a fuck’ persona.

“Fine, Harrington. We’re just leaving.” Billy says with an easy smile. His fake smile. 

“You can stay. We can play dig dug?” Will speaks for the first time, and Billy doesn’t know why but he feels the need to protect this kid. Feels some weird sort of connection with him. Maybe it's because he visited him in hospital. Maybe it's because he's being nice, and talking to him like he's a human, not like he's scum. Billy can't help but think this kid deserves better friends than the three boys in the arcade.

“It’s okay. We’re getting pancakes.” Max says, smiling at Will, and he nods, smiling at them both before joining the others in the arcade. Steve stays for a second longer, smiling slightly.

“Getting pancakes?” He asks and Billy rolls his eyes.

“It’s not uncommon, princess.” He says before putting his hand on Max’s shoulder gently, “C’mon, shitbird, lets go.” His words hold no venom, and Max realises that what he used to use as an insult is now a term of endearment. Max smiles, an evil glint in her eye, before she turns back to Steve.

“You should come with us.” She says and Billy looks at her with a clenched jaw and stern eyes.

“Oh, I er, I actually have work today. Just dropping that lot off first.” Steve says, before glancing at Billy. “Would’ve loved to come though.” He says and he’s smiling and Billy is flat out refusing to meet his gaze.

“Maybe next time, then.” He says, still looking at Max, before letting go of her shoulder and walking over to his car. He hears Max huff behind him, can practically hear her roll her eyes, and a second later she’s walking next to him.

 

“You know, you’re never gonna get him if you don’t talk to or look at him.” She says as they climb into the car. Billy glances over to see Steve sitting on the hood of his car, a lit cigarette in his mouth and his eyes locked on Billy.

“I know, shitbird.” Billy sighs before turning to her. “You and the Sinclair kid having problems?” Max shrugs and looks out the window and Billy frowns.

“Hey.” He says, hooking his index finger under her chin and turning her to face him. “You can tell me.”

“Since when.” She’s teasing, but Billy wants her to know that he’s going to be a proper big brother now, one she can go to when there’s something wrong.

“Max.” He says, Max looks up at him, “I know I've been beyond shitty to you, but we're family. You're my little sister, and if something is wrong you can tell me.” He says, and it’s the first time he’s properly called her his sister and she looks shocked and happy all at once.

“He just doesn’t get it. None of them do.”

“Get what?”

“That you’re my brother.” She says as if it will explain everything. Billy must be missing something.

“What do you mean?”

“I forgave you, and I didn’t want it to be you that the mind flayer had taken over, and I was worried about you, still am, all the time, and I visited you every day and sometimes I’d have to blow them off to see you, and they didn’t get it, because of how you were before. They don’t know what Neil is like, that you only was how you was to protect me. They don’t get why I didn’t want you to die.” She’s crying now, and Billy wipes a tear that falls down her cheek. He can feel Steve’s eyes on him, but he doesn’t care.

“I don’t get it either.” Max huffs.

“That’s cause you’re stupid.” She mutters and Billy frowns. “You’re still my big brother, Billy. You may have been a total asshole but you’re still my big brother and I could see that you didn’t want to do what you did. When we locked you in the sauna and you were begging me to help, that was all you. You cried, Billy. You cried when the thing hurt me, and you cried when it almost killed El, and you stopped it. You saved El, and you said sorry. You said sorry and you cried and you’re still my big brother and I didn’t want you to die.” Max sobs and Billy gives in. He reaches out and pulls her into a hug, her head burying in his chest, and he doesn’t care if people see him being ‘soft’, or that she’s covering his chest and shirt in tears and snot. He doesn’t care, because she cried for him. She’s crying for him. And she picked him over the friends who were nicer to her than he was. And she’s his little sister.

 

He sees Steve watching them, and he sees Lucas and the others in the arcade, watching them through the window, and he gives the little shits a stone-cold look before turning back to Max.

“C’mon, I’m hungry.” He says softly, rubbing her back, and she sits up and rubs her eyes. Billy turns the engine on and starts driving, not looking back because he saw that smile on Steve’s face that does things to his heart that he’s not sure he’s brave enough to admit.



Billy and Max walk into a cafe and sit down, ordering pancakes and a drink each.

“So, why does that girl never hang out with you? You fall out with her too?” Billy asks and Max shakes her head.

“El isn’t really... she’s not allowed out. Too dangerous right now.”

“But that thing died.” Billy says before his eyes widen, “It did die, right?”

“Yeah, it died.” Max reassures, “But El, she has these powers. Can move things with her mind, stuff like that.”

“Can tell what you're thinking.” Billy says, because he remembers when she spoke about his mother, or when she was in his head somehow, and he thinks he remembers her throwing him through a wall, and Max nods.

“Yeah, anyway the people that did that to her, ran tests and stuff on her, some of them are still out there, so Hopper tries to keep her safe.”

“And what happened to the Byers boy? He’s different from the others.”

“He was stuck in the upside down for a while. Got possessed by the mind flayer like how you were…” Max stops whilst the waitress puts their food on the table, Billy notices she’s undone a few buttons and is smiling at Billy, and before everything he would have flirted with her and asked her out or ended up screwing her, but now he’s not interested. He can’t lose his rep though, so he’s nice to the point of flirting but he never makes a move. When the waitress leaves Billy turns back to Max to see her staring at him, unimpressed.

“What?”

“Steve?”

“Max, it took a lot to build my reputation. I can’t let it fall.”

“Why?”

“Because me being respected and feared means people leave us alone.” Billy says and Max frowns.

“Us?”

“No one will mess with you if they’re scared of your big brother.”

“Oh. So literally everything you’ve done was to look after me.”

“Well yeah. I still shouldn’t have been an asshole though.”

“But after everything you had to deal with alone I’m surprised you’re not more of an asshole.” Max says and Billy laughs, proper laughs. He hasn't proper laughed in ages. Not since Cali at least. Max fills with pride, glad she can make him happy.

“Thanks, shitbird.”

Chapter Text

The two of them eat their pancakes and chat for a few hours before they decide they should head home. Max is nervous about it, Billy can tell. She kept trying to find ways to prolong their stay at the cafe, and on the drive home she wants Billy to take the longer route.
As soon as they enter the house Neil walks into the hallway. He looks at Billy, eyes hard and jaw clenched, before his gaze shifts to Max and his face softens and he turns into the step-father Max used to think he was, before she found out the truth.

“Maxine do you have homework to do?” Max looks from Neil to Billy before looking back again.

“No.”

“Ah good. Your mother wants to take you shopping.” He says, nodding into the front room, and Max’s eyes widen.

“Oh. Okay. Are you coming?” She asks, praying he is so Billy isn’t left home with him. Neil chuckles.

“No, I have far too much work to do. But you girls have fun.” He smiles, patting Max’s shoulder. Billy visibly flinches when he touches Max. Max is hesitant to leave them, but she also knows she has no reason not to go out, and she doesn’t want to disappoint her mother.

 

As soon as the door shuts behind Max and Susan Billy knows he’s fucked. Neil turns on him and starts spouting his usual bullshit about them being half an hour late and how irresponsible and disrespectful it is to leave Susan waiting, throwing punches to emphasise his disgust. Billy saw this coming. He felt uneasy when they pulled up outside, and when they walked in his stomach dropped. He saw it coming and he knew there was no getting out of it, so he just takes the beating as best as he can and tries to stay conscious until Neil gets bored.

“This is your fault, Billy.” Neil spits, holding Billy up by his hair. “You’re the reason your mother left, and you're the reason I have to do this. It’s all your fault.” He growls, pure hatred in his voice, and Billy lets a tear fall. Neil smirks, letting go of Billy. “Faggot.” He spits before going into the living room. Billy stumbles to his room, definitely sporting a black eye and maybe a broken rib, and only once his door is shut does he take a shaky breath and start sobbing, leaning back against his closed door. He’s in pain, and he’s angry, and he fucking hates this. He wishes he could hit back, he wishes he could run away, he wishes he could go back to California. Sometimes he wishes he'd die just so he can escape. He can’t, though. Couldn’t do that to Max. Couldn’t risk Neil turning on her or Susan if he was to leave. He has to put up with it until either Neil dies, or Susan decides to leave him. He doesn’t see either of those things happening any time soon.

 

Billy stays leaning against his door until he finds the strength to move over to his bed, where he sits down and lights a cigarette, taking a long drag. He hates this too. The after. Not knowing if Neil will change his mind about being done and come back. Knowing even when Max and Susan get back he won't be safe. He’s never safe from Neil.

Billy finishes his cigarette, keeping the last puff of smoke in until his lungs burn and his eyes sting before releasing it, putting the butt in the ashtray before he picks up a book, hoping by reading he can avoid reality long enough for the bruises to heal.



Max can tell when she gets home it was bad this time. Neil is sitting on the sofa watching tv, and he smiles when Max and Susan walk in, acts normal, but Max can see his busted knuckles and the vase that used to be by the door is gone.

“How was shopping?” He smiles, standing up and pressing a kiss to Susan’s cheek.

“It was lovely, wasn’t it Maxine.” Max nods, forcing a smile.

“I got new trainers.” She says, holding up the bag. Neil nods.

“You get anything nice, Susan?” Max doesn’t really want to be around Neil anymore, so she excuses herself as her mum starts showing him the new dress she bought. She puts her bag in her room before crossing the hall to listen at Billy’s door. She knocks lightly, straining her ears for any sign of life. There’s no music playing, and all Max can hear is the occasional page turning. He’s reading. Max doesn’t really want to interrupt him but she wants to make sure he’s okay.

 

“Billy?” Max calls quietly through the door, but she quickly darts back into her own room when she hears Neil coming down the hall. Max needs to find a way to talk to Billy without Neil knowing.

“Max?” A crackly voice comes from under her bed and she frowns before realisation crosses her face. She grabs the walkie and sits on her bed.

“Will?”

“Are you okay? I’ve been trying to get hold of you since I got home.”

“Yeah, fine, sorry, went shopping with my mum. Erm… Odd question but do you have a spare walkie?” There’s a few seconds of silence before Will speaks again.

“We had two. Steve has one but I think the other is at Mikes.” Well great.

“He’s not going to give it to me, is he?”

“I can get it for you?” Will offers and Max smiles. Will is an actual angel.

“Really?”

“Yeah… It’s for Billy, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.” There's a pause, and Max briefly wonders if Will's still there or not.

“I’ll bring it to you.”

"You will?"

"Yeah. I'll be there in, like, half an hour."

"Thank you, Will."

Chapter Text

“Maxine?” Neil calls down the hall and Max shoots out of bed.

“Yes?”

“There’s a boy here for you.” He says and Max runs down the hall.

“Hi Will.” Max says before turning to her mum and Neil, saying the first excuse she can think of as to why a boy is at her house at 7pm on a Saturday when she was out all day anyway. “We have a science project we’re working on, Will had an idea we didn’t want to forget.” She explains, and once Susan has nodded, greeted Will, and wished them luck with their project, Max gestures for Will to follow her down the hall. Once they get to Max’s room and sit on the bed Will reaches into his backpack and takes out the walkie, placing it on the bed in between them.

“Thanks, Will.” Will offers her a weak smile.

“It’s okay. How is he?” Will doesn’t know about Neil; none of them do.

“He’s- He tries to…”

“Tries to be okay for you?” Will asks and Max nods, sighing. “I did the same. For mum, and Jonathan.”

“But he’s not okay. I know that, and he knows that, and I want to help him.”

“So why’d you need this?” Will asks, nodding at the walkie.

“So I can talk to him. Without Neil knowing. Check up on him...” She trails off, and Will nods. “How’d you get Mike to give it to you anyway?”

“Oh I just told him I needed it. He didn’t really ask any questions. Too busy talking to El.” Max nods slowly. “Can I see him?” Will asks and Max presses her lips together. Will knows what Billy went through more than anyone, so he might be able to help. She nods and leads Will over to Billy’s room, grabbing the walkie as she goes.



“Billy?” She calls through the door, and she hears a gruff sound that she interprets as come in, so she opens the door slowly, letting herself and Will in, before shutting the door behind them. Billy is sitting on his bed sporting a black eye, and Max swears as she walks over to him.

“I shouldn’t have gone out.” She mutters, taking his face carefully in her hands as she examines his eye, and Billy smiles slightly.

“‘S okay. You got a friend over?” He asks, nodding at Will before wincing, and Max nods.

“He got you this.” Max places the Walkie in his hand, and Billy looks down at it.

“What for?”

“So I can talk to you without Neil knowing.” She says, and Billy nods. Neil locks him in his room sometimes, and Max worries about him when that happens. “Will wanted to see how you were. I’m gonna go get some ice.” Max says, leaving the room.



Will hesitates, Billy’s eyes locked on him, and he wonders if this is a bad idea, but then Billy nods to the end of his bed and Will sits down, crossing his legs and playing with his fingers nervously.

“I er…” He’s not sure what to say. He didn’t really interact with the ‘evil’ Billy that Lucas and Mike and Dustin tell him about, because he was busy being possessed by a mind controlling evil thing, and then Billy was the one possessed. The Billy he’s looking at now doesn’t seem half as bad as the guys make him out to be.

“You had that thing inside you too?” Billy asks even though he knows. Will nods.

“It wasn't as bad when it was in me. But I didn’t know what it was at first.” He says, “Thought I was going crazy.”

“Me too. I would- it felt like I’d black out. When it first started taking control. But then-” Billy pauses when Max comes back in. She sits next to him and holds the ice against his eye carefully, and Billy continues. “I started to have flashbacks, I guess, to the things it was doing. Eventually I didn’t even black out, I’d be trapped in my body and I could see and hear it and I was doing the things it wanted me to but there was no way of stopping it-” Billy cuts himself off and swallows. Will nods.

“When he was using me to spy on everyone I knew he was doing it. I just couldn’t stop him.”

“That’s how you were talking to us with morse code?” Max asks and Will nods.

“I took control for a second, but only slightly so he wouldn’t know.”

“I could never take control of him.” Billy says, and both kids turn to look at him. “Not when he was making me take him people, not when he was hurting people,” Billy looks at Max, “I couldn’t stop him hurting you.” He says, a tear escaping that Max wipes away quickly.

“Yours was bigger and stronger than mine. You had like, the whole thing, in you, I only had like this tiny part of it in me. That's why I could kind of fight back. And you did stop him.” Will says, and Billy looks at him. He’s so young, and innocent, and Billy can’t imagine him being forced to do anything bad. “You saved El, and me, and Max. All of us.” He says, and Billy sighs, leaning back against the headboard, Max’s hand falls away from his eye.

“Doesn’t forgive what I did.” He whispers, and Will frowns.

“Yes it does.” Billy raises an eyebrow.

“It doesn’t, kid.” He winces at the cold when Max reapplies the ice to his already settling black eye.

“It does.” Will has this determined look in his eye, like he’s not going to give up, and Billy thinks he’s too tired to argue with him. He just sighs and rests his head back, looking up at the ceiling. Max seems to get the hint, and turns to Will.

“Come on.” She says with a sad smile, and Will gets it. Max takes the walkie and tucks it under Billy’s bed before placing the ice in his hand, then she and Will leave his room, shutting the door behind them.



Will and Max return to her room, sitting on the floor leaning against her bed, and Max sighs.

“He’s a good person.” Will says, and Max nods.

“I know.”

“What happened to him? How’d he get that black eye?” Will asks, like he already knows the answer, and when Max stays silent he knows he is right. “I have an asshole dad too.” He whispers. “Not like- he never hit us. He was just a dick. But that’s what it is, isn’t it? Your dad?” Max takes a deep breath.

“He's not my dad." She says before sighing. "He- I only found out a month ago, ish, but it all kind of…” Max sighs, “It’s been going on forever. I didn’t notice. Just thought Billy was being a dick cause he hated me or whatever, but he was doing it cause he didn’t want Neil to start hurting me instead.”

“So… why does everyone else hate him? I don’t get it.” Max sighs.

“Billy- He tries to keep up this tough reputation. Says no one will mess with me if they’re scared of him. But his dad- he’s not-” Max struggles to find the right words, “If he found out I was with someone like Lucas he’d go mental, beat the shit out of Lucas and then beat the shit out of Billy for letting it happen, so Billy told me to stay away, but I didn’t get why he was acting like that, thought he was just, you know… And then he found us at your house last year and was going to beat the shit out of Lucas just to get the point across. He didn’t hit him, and he wasn’t really going to, just wanted to scare him off. He did beat up Steve though, but that’s just cause he didn’t trust him, or why he was at yours with a bunch of kids. He’s kind of secretly protective.”

“Don’t think it’s a secret anymore.” Will smiles and Max smiles too.

“He’s a good person. But because they don’t know the truth, don’t know why he did what he did, why he acts the way he does, they don’t believe he is. They think he’s an asshole, because he makes everyone believe he is, so they leave me alone.” Max finishes and Will nods.

“Well it’s working. Everyone in town knows not to mess with you or him.” Max chuckles.

“He’s not stupid. He knew it would work.”

Chapter Text

Will says he needs to go, it now being 8pm, and Billy offers to drop him off, cause deep down he cares about the weird small innocent child and he doesn’t want him to ride home at 8pm on his own. Max wants to come with them, cause she might as well, so they quickly tell Susan and Neil where they’re going before they leave the house. Will calls shotgun, so he climbs into the front with Billy, and Max pouts, because she always sits shotgun, mainly because it’s mostly just her and Billy in the car, and Billy looks at her through the mirror before laughing quietly.

“Maxine it’s a 10 minute car ride, stop poutin’.” He says and Will turns to look at her before laughing too.

“I called it first.” Max rolls her eyes.

“I like sitting shotgun.”

“Then call it faster, shitbird.” Billy smiles at her and Max can’t help but smile back.

“Asshole.” She mutters, looking out the window to hide her smile. Will rests his head back against the chair, switching between watching Billy and looking out the windscreen. Billy catches Will looking at him and smirks slightly when Will blushes and darts his gaze out the window. He’s not one to out a kid before they’re ready, so he won’t say anything with Max in the car, but he knows what that look means. It’s the same look Billy had on his face when he had his bisexual awakening when he was 9 years old.



“Your mum not home?” Billy asks with a frown as he pulls up outside Wills house, noticing the empty driveway. Will shrugs. She took that job with Hopper so she’s been coming home later than she used to.

“Must still be at work.” Billy stares at the house for a second before looking at Will.

“You eaten?” Will shakes his head.

“Jonathan is out too so I’ll have cereal or something.” Billy frowns, thinking for a second, before cutting the engine.

“Alright, everyone out.” He says, climbing out of the car. Max smiles slightly as she gets out and Will frowns.

“It’s really okay. I do it all the time.” Billy freezes mid step before turning to look at Will.

“No wonder you’re so small.” He mumbles before turning back and walking to the house. He stops at the front door, waiting for Will to unlock it, before he makes his way to the kitchen. He tries not to shake at the thought of what happened the last time he was here as he walks over to the cupboards to see what he can make Will for dinner.

Billy finds all the ingredients for fajitas and starts to make them as Will and Max sit at the table talking, both watching Billy as he cooks.

 

Billy smiles slightly as he places plates in front of Max and Will and they immediately start eating, scarfing it down quicker than is probably good for them. Billy gave them both 2 fajitas but he made 8, in case Will’s mum or brother want some when they get home, so he puts them in the oven to keep them warm and writes a note that he sticks to the fridge so they know they’re there.

“These are great, thank you!” Will says through a mouthful of food, and Billy turns to look at the two teens.

“Billy’s a great cook.” Max confirms and Billy shrugs.

“Just shoving ingredients together, really.”

“But you do it really well!” Max insists as she takes another bite. “You should try his pie. Billy makes a wicked pie.” Max says to Will, and Billy chuckles.

“Alright shitbird, give it a rest.” Billy says as he sits opposite them, wincing slightly when his rib sends a shooting pain through his body. Max sits up straighter, frowning at him.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Pulled a muscle.” Billy says, picking up one of the drawings on the table and looking at it to give him something to do. “This ain’t bad, kid.” It’s Will and the rest of their friends, dressed as their d&d characters, he’s guessing. Max told him they all play d&d so he assumes that’s what this is.

“Thank you.” Will says, blushing slightly, and Billy smiles as he puts the picture back on the pile, turning to Max who has now finished her food.

“We can’t stay too long, Maxine.” She nods with a sigh.

“I know.”

“Are you going to the arcade again tomorrow?” Will asks, eyes darting between Max and Billy, and Billy looks at Max. It’s her call. He goes wherever she wants to go.

“We should go to the movies.” Max says and Billy raises an eyebrow.

“The movies?”

“Yeah.”

“Is there anything you wanna watch?” Max shrugs and Billy rolls his eyes. “Why don’t we just rent a movie then. One you know you like.” Max thinks for a second before grinning. Steve is working tomorrow. This could be good. Billy will have to talk to him.

“Ghostbusters?”

“Sure.” Billy says as he picks up the empty plates and takes them over to the sink.

“You wanna watch it here?” Will asks and Max smiles, looking over at Billy.

“Yeah! We can get snacks, maybe another movie, and we can have a movie day!”

“We should ask El if she wants to come, too.”

“I’ll call her first thing tomorrow.” Max grins, and Billy, with his back to the teens, allows himself to smile wide. He quite likes this whole big brother thing.

Chapter Text

“So Ghostbusters. What else?” Billy asks as he pulls up outside the video store. Max shrugs.

“We can just have a look when we go into the store?” She asks and Billy nods, cutting the engine and getting out the car. He waits for Max to get to his side and then they enter the store together. Max runs off to find a second film whilst Billy walks over to where he thinks Ghostbusters is.

“Billy?” He hears just as he reaches the shelf and he spins around to see Robin. They were unlikely friends at school, and she’s probably the person he bonded most with. They have a lot in common.

“Robin?” Robin grins, walking over to him.

“You’re out! How are you?” She frowns when she spots his black eye. She knows only a little about what his dad does to him, like how he shouts and is strict. She doesn’t know about the violence though, she just think he just gets into a lot of fights like most people in Hawkins do, but she does know there's something not quite right about Billy's home life. She knows his dad is an asshole, cause Billy has said so many many times, but she suspects he’s the reason behind his constant bruises.

“Fine. How are you? Didn’t know you worked here.”

“Oh yeah, been here just over a month. Haven’t seen you around though. You been hiding?” Billy shrugs.

“Just been driving Max round, to be honest.”

“She’s been worried about you.” Then she smirks, “Couple of people have been worried about you.” Billy rolls his eyes.

“Don’t you start.” Robin raises an eyebrow. “Max has been going on about it since I woke up.” Robin chuckles.

“Well you couldn’t ask for a better wing-woman.” She says just as Max appears at Billy’s side.

“Hi.” She smiles and Robin greets her before Billy turns to his sister.

“Get anything good?” Max holds out Raiders of the lost Ark and Billy smiles when Robin immediately compliments her choice.

“You guys having a movie day?”

“Yeah. We’re going to Will’s. El’s coming too.” Max says and Robin nods.

“Gonna need more than one film then, no?”

“We’re getting Ghostbusters, too.” Billy says and Robin nods.

“Good call.” Robin takes the video off the shelf on her left and hands it to Max, who hands them both to Billy and shoves him gently in the direction of the counter, knowing Steve must be near there. 

 

“Billy tells me you’re trying to set him and Steve up?” Robin asks as they watch Billy disappear behind some shelves. Max nods.

“Well it’s so frustrating! They clearly love each other and yet they refuse to admit it.”

“I know! I have to listen to Steve every day talking on and on about Billy as if we don’t have work to do.” They both laugh.

“I just want Billy to have a good thing.” Max sighs after a minute. “He doesn’t have anything good. Steve can be his good thing.” Robin smiles sadly at her.

“You know, you’re his good thing.” She says and when Max frowns at her she rolls her eyes. “Max you are his good thing. It would be nice for him to have more than one, and, I mean he has me too, but you are currently and have always been his good thing. The thing he keeps going for.” Max is looking at Robin with emotion filled eyes and Robin smiles slightly. “He tells me things, Max.” Max nods, almost certain she wouldn’t be able to make a comprehensive sentence. Billy told her he didn’t hate her, and he told her that everything he does he does for her, but it never really occurred to her what that meant. She assumed he’d still leave if he had the chance. If it wouldn’t put Max in danger. She never thought for a second that if Neil left Billy would stay because he wants to.



Billy walks over to the counter, hesitating for a brief moment when he sees Steve behind it. Steve looks just as shocked to see Billy.

“H- Hargrove?” Steve stutters and Billy raises an eyebrow at him as he puts the videos on the countertop.

“Alright there, Harrington? Look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Billy smirks, trying to hide his nerves, and Steve blushes as he snaps out of whatever daze he was in and picks up the videos.

“Movie day?” Billy nods, mind immediately going to Max. She must have known Steve was working today. That’s probably why she made Billy come check the videos out on his own. Cheeky little shit.

“Yeah, er, Max and Will’s request.” Steve gets this adorable smile on his face that Billy wants to punch off.

“Nancy told me what you did for Will last night.” Billy shrugs, handing over the money.

“Just made him dinner, Harrington.”

“And you stayed with him til he was done.” Steve’s looking at him like he knows a secret.

“Will and Max were talking. It’s not a big deal, pretty boy.” Steve blushes at the nickname but carries on anyway.

“Will thought it was. He appreciated it. So did Jonathan, and Mrs. Byers.” Billy shrugs as he takes the videos from Steve.

“He’s a good kid. Not like those other shits you babysit.” Billy says as Max approaches, a look of knowing appreciation on her face, and Billy smiles at her, slightly confused. Robin is with her and she has a small grin on her face and Billy figures they’re up to something.

“What’s going on?” Max asks with a smile and Billy rolls his eyes.

“Nothing. Good to go, shitbird?” Max gives him a very pointed look before nodding and Billy smiles. “See you later, Princess.” Billy winks at him, and smirks when Steve blushes again, and he can feel Steve watching him as he walks over to Max.

“See you later, Robin.”

“Bye, Billy.”

Robin and Steve watch the siblings leave the video store and once the door has shut behind them Robin turns to Steve.

“So… You admit you love him yet?” Robin asks and when Steve glares at her she rolls her eyes. “Dingus.” She mutters as they continue watching Billy and Max out the window.

 

“You didn’t tell him?” Max asks as soon as they’re out of the video store. Billy shakes his head.

“You knew he was working though.” Max smiles guiltily. Billy rolls his eyes, shoving her shoulder playfully. “What did you and Robin talk about that's made you all funny?” Max grins at the floor nervously.

“I said I wanted you to have a good thing, and I think Steve could be that.” Max hesitates and Billy frowns down at her, stopping her from walking by gently grabbing her shoulder. He can’t tell if she’s upset or not. “She said I was your good thing.” Max says, looking up at Billy, and Billy breathes out in relief. She’s not hurt or upset, she's happy, like she finally gets how much Billy cares about her. Like she never realised it until now.

“You are my good thing, Max.”

Chapter Text

Hopper looks at Billy carefully when he picks up El, examines his black eye with a frown and looks at him with that ‘what’s going on’ expression.

“El’s just getting her shoes on. How you been?” Hopper asks Billy, sounding casual but genuinely concerned.

“Not bad.” Billy says, knowing he can’t be honest. Hopper nods slowly.

“How’d you get that bruise?”

“Fight with some guy.” Hopper raises an eyebrow.

“Some guy?”

“Yeah.”

“Which guy?” Billy shrugs just as El appears next to Hopper.

“Billy!” She smiles before frowning at him, reaching up to carefully touch the bruise on his eye. Billy gently grabs her hand and lowers it, offering her a small smile.

“Hey, El.” He nods to his car, Max sitting shotgun waiting, and El smiles slightly before walking over and climbing in the back seat.

“You tell me if there’s something wrong.” Hopper says, and it’s an order, not a request, and Billy presses his lips together. “I mean it, kid. Max was a wreck the other week, and there must have been a reason. And now you’re showing up here bruised.” Hopper pats his shoulder gently. “I’m a cop. I fix things.” Billy nods, knowing he can never take him up on that. This is the one thing Hopper can't fix.

“Thank you.” He says anyway because he should be polite. Hopper glances behind Billy before looking back at him.

“Don’t have her home too late.” He jokes and Billy salutes him.

“Yes sir.” He smiles slightly before turning and walking back over to his car.

 

Will is quite excited for Billy, Max and El to arrive. Billy’s cool, and nice, and Max loves him and he loves Max, like siblings should. Jonathan said he isn’t sure about Billy, but that he must be okay because he drove Will home and cooked him dinner. He looked after his little brother, so he must be at least a little bit decent. Will's mum seems to love Billy already, because anyone that stays with a kid and cooks for him and makes sure he’s okay is a good person in her books. Will practically jumps when there’s a knock at the door and Jonathan rolls his eyes.

“Calm down, Will.”

“We haven’t had a movie day in ages!” Jonathan hesitates, looks at Will's excited face with a small frown.

“I’m still not sure I’m okay with leaving you with Billy Hargrove.” Jonathan says and Will rolls his eyes.

“He’s a good person, Jonathan. And you can stay here. You don’t have to go out.”

“Yeah I do. I’m working.”

“Oh. I thought you just didn’t want to be near Billy.” Jonathan presses his lips together.

“Well there’s that too.”

“Which I don’t get. You’re around Steve all the time and you’ve fought him and you’re going out with his ex. What’s Billy done to you?”

“Well... Nothing.” Will looks at him pointedly and Jonathan sighs, rolling his eyes just as there’s a knock on the door. Will lights up, and Jonathan figures as long as Will trusts him he’ll be okay.

 

Billy is surprised when Jonathan opens the door, assuming it would just be him, the girls, and Will.

“I’m just heading out.” Jonathan explains when he sees the confusion on Billy's face, and Billy nods.

“Oh, okay.” Max and El walk past Jonathan, briefly saying hello as they go to find Will, and Billy looks at Jonathan to find him watching him carefully, examining his black eye.

“Thank you, but the way.” When Billy frowns Jonathan explains, “Will told us what you did last night.”

“It was nothing, don’t sweat it.” Billy says, gripping the handle of the bag he’s holding slightly tighter. He’s not good at nice words directed at him. Not used to them.

“Well Will appreciated it. We all did.” Jonathan says, and Billy shrugs awkwardly.

“It’s no problem. He’s a good kid.” Billy says just as Max calls for him. “That’s my cue.” He says quietly, and Jonathan nods, offering Billy a smile as he walks past out of the doorway and past Billy.

 

 

“Okay, what do you wanna watch first?” Billy asks as he walks into the living room. El, Max and Will are set up on the floor, empty bowls in front of them waiting to distribute the snacks Billy has in the bag he’s holding. He drops the bag in front of Max before walking over to the TV that is already set up.

“Ghostbusters!” Will and Max say in sync, and Billy rolls his eyes as he puts the video in the player, pressing play before sitting on the sofa behind the teens. It’s nice, he thinks, as he goes between watching the film and watching the teens, that Max found a few good friends here. She had some nice ones in California, but not Will and El nice.

 

Billy watches El as she watches the film for the first time, laughing at the jokes she’s never heard before, cheering when they defeat another ghost and grimacing in amusement and slight disgust when Venkman gets slimed.

Billy watches Will as he watches the film for probably the hundredth time, as he says the lines along with the actors, hums the song when it plays, and laughs before a joke is said because he knows it’s coming.

Billy watches Max. Watches as she keeps passing snack bowls back to Billy to make sure he gets some. As she turns around every so often to check he’s okay. Watches as she leans back against his legs, resting her head back against his knee. How she laughs quietly, and keeps glancing at El as if to make sure she’s enjoying the film, and says the lines along with Will. Watches as she genuinely cares for her friends. Wonders if anyone will genuinely care about him like that.

Billy watches them and he wonders if this is what he was missing when he was busy being a dick. How many movie days did Max and her friends have? How many hang out days did he miss out on? How many things that he should have been there for did Max have to do alone? Or with someone that wasn’t Billy. Someone that wasn’t her big brother. He feels awful. He knew he was a terrible brother, but he didn’t realise just how shit he had been. He sits back, watching Max care for her friends, and lets guilt consume him.

Chapter Text

Billy stays silent throughout the rest of Ghostbusters and through all of Indiana Jones, and when the film ends and the teens start talking about their favourite bits and asking El if she liked them Billy just sits and listens with a small smile.

El mentions Mike during their conversation, and Billy can tell it made Max uncomfortable, probably because she thinks it will make Billy uncomfortable, but she tries not to let it show.

“I haven’t spoken to him in a few days.” Will says quietly.

“He lies.” El says and Billy raises an eyebrow.

“He lies?” El nods.

“Boyfriends lie.” Billy huffs a laugh.

“Yeah.” He says before realising what she said and frowning. “Boyfriend?” Max rolls her eyes.

“Mike is El’s boyfriend. Keep up, Billy.” She jokes, and Billy chuckles and gently flicks her head, but he notices the look on Will’s face and immediately his smile falters.

“Alright, well, boyfriend or not, we should probably clean this mess up.” He gestures to the empty bowls and wrappers. “Me and Will can wash up. You girls pick up the rubbish and throw it away.” Billy says, patting Max’s head so she stops leaning against him, before standing up. Will hesitates before following Billy into the kitchen. They start cleaning, Billy washing before handing the bowl he’s cleaned to Will to dry.

 

“So… Who is it?” Billy asks quietly. He can hear the girls laughing and singing in the living room so he knows they can’t hear him.

“Who is what?” Will asks nervously, face flushing. Billy smiles softly at him.

“I’ve seen that look before, kid. Seen it on my own face countless times.” Will bites his lip.

“So you do know.” Billy smiles a bit more. He’s gonna tell him.

“Know what?”

“About me.” Billy nods slowly.

“I know a lot about a lot, kid. But I’m not putting words in your mouth. If you feel like you can say, then I’m here to listen. Don’t say anything you’re not ready to say.” Billy looks into his eyes, needing him to get it. He’s not rushing him into anything.

“You know I’m not normal.” Billy wasn’t expecting that. He drops the bowl into the sink and turns fully to will, placing his wet soapy hands on his shoulders and leaning down to be eye level.

“Will, no one is normal. Look at me, Will.” He says softly, and Will’s eyes meet his. “I know what you are, because I am too. But it doesn’t make you any less normal. In fact, normal is boring. Look at El. She’s definitely not normal, but she’s kind of awesome, right?” Will nods and Billy smiles. “Don’t let anyone make you feel wrong about it, okay?” Will nods.

“So you’re gay too?” He asks and Billy chuckles.

“Kid, you not paying attention.” Will shrugs and Billy smiles. “I’m bi.”

"Bi?"

"I like guys and girls." Will nods.

“And now you know I’m gay.”

“I do. But, you know, I’m not about to announce it to the world. That’s for you to do when you decide you’re ready.”

“Really?”

“Will I have told a handful of people that I’m bi. I only tell people I trust."

"I haven't told anyone." Billy nods.

"You don’t need to tell anyone if you don’t want to.”

“Thank you.” Will smiles, and Billy ruffles his hair with still damp hands so it sticks up weird.

 

“So it’s the Wheeler kid.” Billy says knowingly and Will blushes, shrugging, as they continue the dishes. “He’s your best friend, yeah?” Will nods before sighing.

“Used to be.”

“And then you went upside down and he got a new obsession.” Will nods.

“He’s different now. Doesn’t want to hang out with me, or talk to me at all really. Think Lucas is his new best friend cause they’ve both got girlfriends. It’s all they talk about.” Billy tries to stay calm and supportive, despite the fact that his sister and El are the topic of their conversations. He takes a deep breath and pretends Mike and Lucas are dating strangers.

“Guys change when they get a girlfriend, kid. They discover what kissing is and suddenly that's all they wanna do. Won’t last long. Happens to the best of us.”

“Don’t think it’ll happen to me.” Will mutters.

“That’s cause you haven’t found the right guy.”

“You think there’s any gay people in Hawkins?” Will asks incredulously and Billy laughs.

“Definitely. But kids your age are mean, and confused, and misinformed. They’ll have their gay awakening at some point.” Will smiles, and Billy smiles back.

Chapter Text

Will seems to calm down after their conversation, and he relaxes next to Billy as they finish the dishes. But then they hear a knock at the front door and Max calls into the kitchen.

“It’s Mike, Lucas and Dustin.” Will looks panicked, having just admitted he’s got a crush on Mike, and Billy pats his shoulder, glancing out the window to see Steve in his car just behind Billy’s, before walking over to the front door.

He puts his guard up, easily slipping into his intimidating, scary facade, and then he swings the door open.

“Can we help you?” Billy asks, narrowing his eyes at the three teenage boys at the door. They obviously weren’t expecting him to be here, probably didn’t notice his car further down the driveway. Too busy talking about his little sister and El to notice and- Billy takes a deep breath to calm himself down.

“Where’s Will?” Mike asks, his tone slightly accusatory making it seem like he thinks Billy's killed him or something. and Billy raises an eyebrow. He takes pleasure in the fact that they look slightly scared of him.

“What’s it to you?” Billy asks, voice hard and jaw set. He’s suddenly feeling very protective of the kids in the house behind him.

“He’s our friend.” Mike spits and Billy straightens.

“Listen kid, you can come in here and hang out with Will and El and Max, but I’m going nowhere and if you so much as look at any of them in a way I don’t like I will not hesitate to-”

“Billy.” Max says, appearing at the door next to him, pressing her side gently against his to try and calm him down.

“Hi Max.” Lucas says, giving Billy a look that he’s certain is meant to imply something Billy does not like. Max ignores him, and Billy can't help but fill with pride.

“Billy, El’s wondering if we can watch another film.” Max says, trying to get Billy away from the boys as fast as possible.

“Can we watch too?” Dustin asks, and Billy tenses again, looking down at Max. He sees Steve getting out of his car out the corner of his eye and tries to ignore him. Max looks at Dustin before looking up at Billy and back at them.

“No.”

“Why?” Lucas asks and Max raises an eyebrow.

“Why would you want to spend time with us?”

“Cause we’re friends.” Mike says.

“Oh are we?” Max snaps.

“Yes!” Lucas says and Max glares at him before looking up at Billy.

“Your call.” Billy raises an eyebrow.

Your call.” Max turns to Will and El behind them.

“Will’s call.” Will shakes his head.

“El’s call.” El looks between all of them for a second before shaking her head too.

“Billy’s call.”

“Max’s call.” Max glares at Billy before sighing.

“Group decision.” She grabs Billy’s hand and drags him back into the house, over to El and Will.

 

“Listen shitbird, I’m not involved in this decision.” Billy says to Max, and he can see Steve talking to the boys at the door, watching Billy, so he focuses on the kids in front of him.

“But you are, cause I don’t want them being rude or giving you dirty looks or making you feel like you don't belong here.” Max whisper-yells at him.

“I don’t care about that stuff, Max. I don’t want them being rude to you.” Billy looks at Will, eyes soft, “I don’t want them making you feel uncomfortable.” Will’s hair is still sticking up because of Billy’s damp hands, and Billy smiles at him, flattening it back down.

“Well as long as they’re nice to you I don’t mind.” Will says.

“Agreed.” El adds, and Billy breathes a laugh.

“Didn’t realise you were so fond of me.” He says, meeting Max’s eyes.

“You’re my good thing.” She says with a genuine smile, and Billy is sure the guys at the door heard her and they’re definitely watching but he doesn’t care.

“You guys are ruining my rep.” Billy sighs, pretending his eyes didn’t fill with tears at what Max said as he wraps his left arm around her shoulders, Max reaches up to hold his hand, locking his arm around her. “So you’re all agreed? Is this jury adjourned?” He teases, and El frowns.

"What's adjourned?" El asks and Billy smiles sadly at her. Things like that remind him what happened to her.

"I'll tell you later kid." He promises; it's not the time or place for an English lesson. "Do you all agree?" He asks instead, and the three of them nod. Billy sighs again before looking over at the teens and Steve stood in the doorway, watching them intently. “I’m not telling them.” He says, walking into the kitchen, arm still around Max so she walks with him.

 

“Are you sure you’re okay with this?” Max asks once they're in the kitchen, and Billy chuckles.

“I can handle three asshole 14 year olds, shitbird.”

“Yeah but they know how to get to you.”

“And I will kill any of them that try.” Billy says but they both know he’s terrified of hurting anyone else. Max rests her head against Billy’s chest carefully, reaches up and presses her hand gently against his side.

“Think your rib’s broken.” She mutters, frowning, and Billy chuckles.

“Probably. Come on, shitbird.” He says, taking a deep breath before leading her into the front room.

Chapter Text

Billy is more than surprised to see Steve sitting on the sofa behind Dustin, and he frowns slightly before falling onto the sofa, right in the corner, Max falling next to him. Lucas smirks at Billy before standing up from his spot on the floor and moving next to Max, and everyone holds their breath when Billy holds up his hand.

“I swear to God, Sinclair, I will shove your head through the wall.” Billy growls, and he won't, but the kid doesn’t need to know that. Max doesn’t want to sit next to him, Billy can tell, and Lucas only did it to piss Billy off. He will not let the kid use his sister like that. Max shuffles over so she’s right next to Steve, bringing Billy with her, and Will quickly fills the gap between Billy and the arm of the sofa as Mike starts the film. Turns out they picked Star Wars - A New Hope.

 

Billy pays attention to Will more than he does the movie. Will has his eyes pretty much glued to Mike, and when Mike shifts closer to El Will all but shrinks into Billy’s side. Billy knows what it’s like, to watch the person you like be with someone else. He draws the line when Mike leans in for a kiss and El turns away, trying to focus on the movie.

“Wheeler get your hands off her.” He says, keeping his eyes on the screen.

“Like you’re one to talk. You’ve fucked everyone.”

“Yeah, your mum wasn't bad, you know. Quite vanilla at the start but after a few hours she was doing whatever I wanted.” Billy responds immediately, smirking, and though it isn’t true it shuts Mike up and Will chuckles beside him. Billy sees a frown on Steve's face but ignores it to reply to Will.

“Is that true?” He whispers and Billy leans close.

“No. But you’re in a better mood now, right? So what does it matter?” Billy winks at him playfully and Will smiles, relaxing again.

 

Max notices Steve's behaviour when Billy talks about Mike's mum, and she smiles slightly at him because that’s definitely jealousy written across his face. She waits for Billy to finish talking to Will before leaning up to whisper to him.

“Did you really sleep with Mrs. Wheeler?” Billy breathes a laugh, leaning down to whisper in her ear.

“No.” Max raises an eyebrow at him and Billy rolls his eyes. “Give me some credit, shitbird.” He's almost glad he crashed his car and was stopped from doing that, it wouldn't have been smart.

“Well why’d you say it.”

“To shut the kid up.” Max nods.

“Fair enough. Might wanna tell Steve that. Think he’s getting jealous.” Max whispers and Billy glances at Steve to see him frowning at the TV, purposely not looking anywhere but at the screen.

“I don’t think so, kid.” Max rolls her eyes, not bothering to argue with him as she turns back to the film. It’s only around half way through, and Billy hears Will’s stomach rumble during a quiet part of the film. He looks over at the clock and sees it’s 6pm, so he should probably feed the kid something other than crisps and chocolate.

“You want dinner?” Will shrugs.

“You don’t have to cook again.” Will mumbles and Billy chuckles quietly.

“Max made me get the stuff to make a pie whilst we were getting snacks. She would never forgive me if I promised her pie and didn’t deliver.” Max, having overheard their hushed conversation, leans across Billy so Will can hear her whisper.

“It’s true. I would never forgive him.” She grins and Will smiles.

“Okay. Do you need help making it?” Billy shakes his head.

“You guys stay here, finish the film. I’ll go start it. Need to call Hopper anyway.” Billy says before standing up, making the guys on the floor jump, and he doesn’t miss how Steve watches him leave the room as he walks into the kitchen.

 

He turns the oven on to preheat it before he walks over to the phone, dialing Hoppers number.

“Hello?”

“Hopper? It’s Billy.”

“Oh, hi Billy, is something wrong?”

“No, no everything’s fine, just a quick thing, the kids are watching Star Wars but I’m about to cook them dinner, so El won't be home until around 7:30, maybe 8pm. Is that okay? I can always bring her home before dinner if she needs to be home before then.”

“No, that’s fine. How is she?”

“She’s okay. I think she’s enjoying the movies. Although I do think she’ll be quoting Ghostbusters for the next few months so I’m sorry about that.” Hopper chuckles.

“It’s fine. And how are you doing?”

“Me? I’m fine.”

“Kid.” Hopper sighs and Billy presses his lips together.

“All good, Chief. I need to go, gotta start dinner.” He says and Hopper sighs, reluctantly hanging up after saying goodbye.

Chapter Text

Billy sighs, staring out the window absentmindedly as he takes the ingredients out of the bag before pausing. He has enough stuff for 1 pie, which could feed 6 people, and he was intending on feeding Max, Will, El and himself and saving the rest for Will’s family. There’s more than 6 people here. Is he meant to feed Lucas, Mike and Dustin too? And Steve? God he’s not sure he can cope with sitting through a meal with those kids. He needs to check. He could ask Max, but is she going to know? Probably not. Billy walks back into the front room and over to the sofa, leaning against the back of it just behind Steve. He leans down, mouth by his ear, making sure to keep quiet so he doesn’t interrupt the film.

“Harrington?” Steve jumps slightly, breathing shakily, and Billy smirks. He loves the reactions he can get from him. “Relax princess, I just have a question.” Steve doesn’t relax.

“What?” He breathes, trying to keep the noise down too.

“Am I meant to be feeding your little fuckers or are they going home after this?” Billy asks, breath ghosting across Steve’s ear, and Billy doesn’t really need to be this close but there’s a blush spreading up Steve’s neck and there’s goosebumps on his arms and he’s sitting far too still, like he’s trying very hard not to move.

“Going home.” Steve whispers, voice strained, and he turns to look at Billy and now they’re far too close for Billy’s heart to handle.

“Thanks, princess.” Billy winks before pushing off the back of the sofa, walking back into the kitchen. He’s well aware Max and Will were paying attention to what just happened, and he knows they’ll ask him about it later, but he just smiles to himself as he starts dinner.

 

Billy puts the pie in the oven before peeling and boiling the potatoes, intending on making mash. Max loves pie and mash. Whilst the potatoes are boiling he leans against the door frame, watching the film from the kitchen. Max and Will have spread out, taking over the space that was his, and Mike is keeping his distance from El, which makes Billy smile. It’s nice, he realises for the thousandth time, being a proper big brother. Billy finds himself watching Max. He feels guilty. He always feels guilty. And he knows she’s forgiven him but he doesn’t know why or how. He sees Steve out the corner of his eye turn to look at him, and when Billy keeps his eyes on the back of Max’s head Steve stands up, walking over to him. He’s nervous about something, Billy can tell without needing to look at him, and he hesitates when he gets next to Billy.

 

“Hi.” He says, and Billy finally drags his eyes from Max to Steve.

“Harrington.” Billy greets quietly. They haven’t spoken much since the hospital and Billy has very much been trying to avoid him and any and all feelings and thoughts relating to Steve Harrington. “Not enjoying the movie?” Billy asks, because he’s not sure what else to say, and Steve laughs slightly. Steve’s too pretty when he laughs, so Billy turns his eyes back to Max and Will who are whispering about something. Billy can guess at the topic of their conversation.

“You’re not either?” Billy shakes his head.

“Will’s getting hungry.” Billy says before turning back to the kitchen. He needs to mash the potatoes.

“They hire you as their chef?” Steve jokes and Billy rolls his eyes as he drains the potatoes and grabs the masher. Steve seems transfixed as he watches Billy pour milk and butter into the saucepan before mashing the potatoes.

 

“You’re doing an awful lot for those kids.” Steve says when he gets no verbal reply, and Billy shrugs.

“‘S my sister. What am I meant to do, make her walk everywhere?” Billy tries to play it off, but Steve isn’t buying it.

“El and Will aren’t your siblings though, and you do a lot for them too.”

“They’re good kids.” Billy says, resisting the urge to bring up the assholes Steve seems to hang out with all the time.

“They are.” Steve agrees, smiling slightly at the look on Billy’s face, and there’s a silence that falls in the kitchen, and it’s not awkward which is what makes it weird.

“You staying for dinner, pretty boy?” Billy asks after a few moments, the potatoes are fully mashed so he reaches past Steve and puts the masher in the sink before turning to look at him, leaning his hip against the counter. Steve stares for a minute, seeming unable to take his eyes off Billy, before he blinks and meets his gaze properly.

“No. Need to take the little shits home.” Billy smirks slightly.

“Thought you liked them?”

“I like you more.” Steve says before blushing, eyes widening slightly and looking a little scared, like he didn’t mean to say that out loud. “I didn't- I mean, they’re fine- they just- they’re kind of being dicks about everything.” Steve stutters and Billy chuckles.

“I won’t hold it against you, princess.” He says softly as he grabs plates from the cupboard next to him, placing them on the table. Steve follows suit, grabbing cutlery and setting it out, and Billy can’t help but realise how damn domestic this feels and how he would like to do this all the time. Billy takes the pie out of the oven and can practically hear Steve drooling.

“How’d you learn to cook like that?” He asks from behind Billy, and Billy chuckles as he places the pie on the table.

“We can’t all have private chefs, princess.”

“I didn’t mean it like-”

“I know.” Billy interrupts, smiling slightly. “I’m joking, Harrington. Calm down.” Billy says as he hears a shout from the front room. He immediately rushes out of the kitchen, followed by Steve, to see Max arguing with Mike.

Chapter Text

“OI!” Billy shouts, walking over to the teens and standing in front of Max, facing Mike. “What’s going on?” He asks, glaring at Mike, holding Max’s arm gently behind his back.

“Nothing.” Max says immediately, voice cracking, and Billy frowns, spinning around to face her because she doesn’t do this. She tells him why they’ve upset her. Once he sees her face he softens. She’s crying. How and why the fuck did they make her cry.

“Maxine what’s going on?” Billy asks softly.

“Nothing Billy.” Everyone else in the room is silent, and Billy’s blood is boiling. “Please.” Max whispers and Billy shakes his head, taking her hand and leading her into the kitchen, sitting her on a chair and crouching to eye-level.

“Max talk to me.”

“We were arguing, cause they still don’t know why I forgive you, and they don’t get it, and then Mike was getting angry, saying you’re ruining everything just cause you told him to leave El alone and El said she wanted to focus on the film anyway and Lucas was getting involved and then Mike- Mike said everything would be better if you died.” Max cuts herself off with a sob and Billy is shaking with anger and he knows he doesn’t want to hurt anyone but Mike hurt his sister, so he stands up, kisses Max’s head, and storms into the front room, eyes focusing on Mike who is arguing with El now. Billy is in front of him in a second, grabbing the front of his shirt.

“How fucking dare you!” He growls, leaning close to Mike.

“It’s true!” Mike argues, trying to get out of his grasp, and Billy sneers.

“I know!” He snaps, because he believes that too. It’s the last thing he thought as he was dying. “But she doesn’t. And now you’ve upset her and no one upsets my little sister, you hear me? No one makes her cry.” Billy spits before letting go of Mike’s shirt, Lucas and Dustin immediately grab Mike and pull him away. “You want to say that shit, you say it to me. Cause if you upset her again,” Billy points at them, “I will kill you.”

 

Billy walks back into the kitchen, not meeting anyones gaze, and he’s immediately pulled into a hug by Max.

“It’s not true.” She whimpers, and Billy strokes her hair. He feels bad, because they still think he’s the same asshole he was last year and he’s kind of just proven them right, but his only goal in life is to protect Max.

“You’re my good thing, Billy.” She chokes, squeezing him tight and despite the pain he’s in he allows it, squeezing her just as tight. He hears the front door open and close and assumes the assholes are going home.

 

“Billy?” Will says quietly and Billy turns to see him and El walk into the kitchen. They don’t look scared of him, so maybe he didn’t fuck up as much as he thought he did.

“Hey Will. Can y’all do me a favour and dish up dinner?” He knows Will was about to say something, but he needs to calm Max down before that happens. Will nods, and he and El start piling food onto the plates whilst Billy strokes Max’s back. He notices Steve’s car is still in the driveway and frowns. Steve isn’t in it.

“Dinner is served.” Will announces and Billy smiles, letting go of Max so she can eat.

 

“Hargrove?” Billy turns around and frowns when he sees Steve.

“Still here, pretty boy?” He asks, sounding more tired than sassy, and Steve blushes involuntarily before nodding into the hall. Billy glances at the kids, who are watching them carefully, before following Steve into the hall. “What’s up, Harrington?”

“Look I’m sorry about Mike.” Steve starts, and Billy leans against the wall next to him, crossing one leg in front of the other. “If I’d known they were gonna say that I wouldn’t have brought them here.” Billy sighs.

“Listen, Harrington, I know they think that. I know everyone thinks that. But for some reason Max doesn’t think that. I know I proved them right, and I know I was a dick to them, but they upset her.” Billy says, and Steve leans against the wall in front of him, looking sadly at him.

“Hargrove, I’m not their parent, I’m not gonna yell at you for threatening them. Honestly they deserved that, they’re being out of order. It’s uncalled for. I’m just- I’m sorry they think that, and I’m sorry you think that-” Steve clears his throat, eyes flickering away from Billy’s. “Not everyone wanted you to die, Hargrove. We’re glad you’re still here.” Steve says, biting his lip and returning his eyes to Billy’s, frowning at his black eye. “You-” He’s cut off by his car horn blasting and he sighs. “Guess that’s my cue.”

“See you around, pretty boy.” Billy says softly, looking at him for a second before pushing off the wall, returning to the kitchen, forcing himself not to look back, because he can feel Steve watching him as he walks away.

Chapter Text

Will passes Billy a plate when he enters the kitchen, looking at him like he has something he wants to say, but Billy didn't out him so he won't out Billy. Billy listens to the kids talk through dinner, chatting about school and homework and d&d and the arcade. Billy knows Will knows about his thing for Steve, and he guesses that's what he wants to talk about. Max and El offer to wash up after dinner since Billy and Will washed up earlier, and Billy takes the opportunity to talk to Will and answer any questions he has.

 

"Will, can I talk to you for a second?" Max and El assume he wants to talk about being possessed or something, so they don't take it personally when the two leave the kitchen and go to Will's room. They both sit on his bed, facing each other with their legs crossed.

"Alright, kid. What's going on in that brain of yours?" Will smiles slightly, knowingly.

"You like Steve?" He says it straight, and Billy's kind of surprised because Will is usually quiet and nervous.

"Yeah." Billy admits, and Will smiles.

"I thought so." Billy chuckles. "So, are you gonna ask him out? Is that how it works?" Will asks, and Billy can't help but smile because he's so sweet and innocent, bless him.

"I don't think so, kid."

"Why not?"

"Cause first of all, he's almost definitely straight. Secondly it's Steve Harrington." Will shrugs.

"He's not as cool as he would like people to think. He's kind of a nerd."

"Well yeah, his best friends are 14 years old." Billy says, "But, like, he's kind of beautiful." Billy adds, and Will smiles, making Billy frown. "What?"

"I like talking to you." That caught him off guard.

"You do?"

"Yeah. Cause you don't talk to me how everyone else does. Like I'm still broken, or like I'm a kid that shouldn't know certain things." Will says, before adding, "Also you're the only person that knows I'm gay, so I can tell you things I can't tell anyone else. And you're the only non straight person I know." Billy chuckles.

"Just call me Bi Jesus." He jokes, and Will laughs.

"So you're not gonna tell Steve?" Billy shakes his head.

"Don't think so."

"But you like him! A lot! I can tell." Billy smiles sadly.

"Unfortunately, kid, when you're like us, sometimes you can like someone, can like them so much it hurts, and sometimes it's great and they like you too. But sometimes it's not so great, because the wrong person will find out, or the person wont like you back."

"Steve isn't the wrong person."

"You know about my dad, yeah?" Will nods, and Billy takes a deep breath. "Some people don't think guys can love guys, or girls can love girls. My dad is one of those people. My dad is the wrong person, Will. And if he found out I liked Harrington then he- It wouldn't end well, lets just put it like that. And unfortunately there's a lot of people like him." Will frowns.

"So... If I tell someone they'll beat me up?" He asks, and he looks scared, and that was never Billy's intention, he was just being honest, warning him because no one warned Billy.

"I don't know." Billy sighs, "And I know that's scary, and it kind of sucks, but that's why you only tell people you trust. And you don't have to tell anyone if you don't want to. I told a few friends in Cali, and Max and Robin know, and you, obviously, but that's it. If you're worried about how someone will react, or you don't trust them, then you don't need to tell them." Will nods, falling silent for a minute.

"Do you think Jonathan will hurt me?" He asks quietly, and Billy puts his hand on Will's shoulder.

"I think he loves you. I think he loves you a lot. And I think he wants you to be happy, and safe. And I think someone who loves you that much wont care if your gay." Billy says softly, "And I know keeping something like this to yourself sucks, and you feel guilty, or like you're lying to people, but sometimes you lie to keep safe, and if you don't want to tell him, you don't have to." Will nods.

"But if I did want to tell him... Would you come with me?" He asks, and Billy knows it's for support, and just in case Jonathan turns out to be one of those 'wrong people', and he can't believe this kid trusts him to do something like that, so he nods.

"Course, kid." Will grins in relief.

"Thanks. So you're really not gonna tell Steve?" Billy shakes his head.

"I've been an asshole, Will, and we're at the point where we can be in the same room as each other, or have light conversation, and I think telling him something like that would mess it up. He'd feel awkward, or uncomfortable, and it would ruin it." Billy says, and when Will frowns Billy sighs. "Sometimes you have to make the choice. I can tell Harrington and it would be terrifying and awkward, and at that point our 'friendship' will be over. Because he could turn around and say he likes me too and that would be great, that's the ideal outcome, and then suddenly we're more than friends. Or, and this is the realistic shitty outcome, I can tell him, and he'll say 'I'm straight, I don't like you back, please never look at me or speak to me again'. And that will hurt, so much, and sometimes the pain isn't worth it."

"But aren't you in pain now? The same pain I get when I see Mike and El." Billy nods.

"Yeah, but this pain, it's so much easier to deal with, 'cause we have the relief that we don't know how they feel. It's like we're in limbo, right? 'Cause we can fantasize about the good outcome, pretend it's what's gonna happen. But when you actual get that rejection, that pain is like being stabbed in the chest."

"You would know." Will says, and Billy chuckles.

"Sometimes you need to look after yourself, by not doing the thing that could make you happy, because it's also the thing that could break you beyond recovery." Billy says, and Will nods, and before Billy can do or say anything else Will is reaching forward and hugging him tight, and Billy almost cries because he really hopes Will doesn't experience any of the shit things he warned him about, but he knows he probably will, and he is far too innocent and sweet to deal with that. "If you ever want to tell anyone, or talk to anyone, about anything, give me a buzz on the walkie, okay? I can be over here in 5 minutes if I have to be." Billy whispers and Will nods just as Max calls down the hall to them.

 

Billy drops El home at 8pm, like he told Hopper, and he and Max are home by half past. Neil is already in bed when they get home because he’s working early tomorrow, and Billy and Max both relax when they realise Billy is safe for the night. Max goes to talk to Susan for a while whilst Billy goes straight to his room, feeling exhausted. As he lies in bed, preying he won't have nightmares tonight, he thinks about Will, and how he hopes nothing bad ever happens to him.

Chapter Text

Billy doesn’t talk to Steve again until Friday night. It’s been a rough week. Neil’s been busy and stressed at work, so every little thing Billy does or doesn’t do seems to anger him more than usual. He’s getting beatings every night, sometimes not too bad but sometimes he bleeds. It’s Friday night and Neil got angry because  Billy was taking too long washing up the dishes. Susan took Max to the movies, so they’re not home, which means Neil didn’t hold back. He was beating and shouting and yanking and Billy was focusing entirely on trying not to cry and trying to stay conscious as long as possible.

It lasts for about 30 minutes, this particular beating, and Billy’s nose is bleeding and he has a black eye again and his ribs hurt and he thinks he has a split lip and he can’t breathe properly. Neil spits an insult or two as he delivers the last blow before making his way to the living room, leaving Billy on the kitchen floor.

Billy tries to remain silent as he pulls himself up, using the counter as leverage, and he leans against the wall as he staggers to his room. He shuts the door quietly, locking it, pulls off his blood-soaked shirt, and collapses on his bed, unable to stay conscious any longer.

 

 

Max can tell something is wrong when she gets home, and she immediately makes her way to Billy's room, knocking quietly on the door. She tries to open it but it’s locked, and she curses quietly before going into her room. She lies in bed staring at the ceiling for a while before remembering the walkie talkie. Rolling onto her stomach Max pulls the talkie out from under her bed.

“Billy?” She whispers, and she frowns when she gets no reply. “Billy?” She asks again, louder. Still no reply. “Billy?” She pleads, hoping he’s okay. Neil seemed weird, and Max and her mum were out for hours and who knows what happened whilst they were gone.

“Max?” Max jumps, but it’s not Billy.

“Will?”

“Yeah it’s me, are you okay?” Max starts crying involuntarily.

“Will, I don’t know what to do.” She’s panicking now. “Billy won’t answer and his door is locked and I think it was bad today. Really bad.”

"Call Hopper."

"No." Max says immediately. "No. I can't get him involved. Billy doesn't want him to know." Will pauses, thinking.

“Tell Steve.” Will says and Max shakes her head. She can’t do that.

“What’s he gonna do?”

“He can come and get him.” Will says and Max sighs. She’s sure she heard Dustin talk about spending the night at Steve's. But Will’s right. Steve can come and get him and take him somewhere else.

“Okay.” Max says before changing frequency.

 

“Steve?”

“Max?” Steve answers almost instantly, and Max can hear voices in the background and wonders who else is with Dustin.

“Steve I need your help.” Max whimpers quietly.

“What’s going on?” Steve asks, sounding serious and slightly scared.

“Billy’s not answering.”

“What do you mean?” Max huffs. She doesn't really have time to explain now, and she's too worried to think straight.

“Just come and get him, Steve. Please?” She pleads.

 

Steve looks over at Dustin, Lucas and Mike, who were listening to his conversation. They shake their head and Steve sighs.

“Guys come on, you like Max don’t you?”

“She’s our friend. Billy is not.” Dustin says.

“Billy is obviously in need of help, Henderson.”

“Why would he need help?” Mike asks and Steve sighs, running his hand through his hair.

“I’m gonna be right back, don’t burn my house down.” He leaves before they can argue with him.

 

Steve speeds to Max and Billy’s house. He’s not sure what’s wrong, but he knows it’s bad, and he's guessing there's no time to try and follow the speed limit. Max doesn’t ask for help unless she really needs it.

“Max?” Steve says into the talkie.

“Steve?”

“Yeah, I’m here. What’s going on?”

“His door’s locked. Can you sneak round and see if his window is open?” Steve agrees before getting out of his car. He grabs the walkie and makes his way down the side of the house, crouching so he’s not visible from any other window. He finds what he assumes is Billy’s room and stands up, looking through the window and immediately spotting him. Steve starts panicking as soon as he sees the state of Billy. The window is open a crack, so Steve pushes it open fully and climbs into the room, rushing over to Billy, dropping the walkie next to him on the bed.

“Hargrove?” Steve whispers, shaking his shoulders, and his eyes widen when he gets no response. "Billy?" He asks, slightly louder, slapping his cheek gently.

“Steve?” Max’s voice cracks through the walkie and Steve rushes over to unlock the door before returning to Billy. Max is there in seconds, jumping onto the bed and grabbing Billy, tears streaming down her face as she looks over his bruised and bloody everything.

“Billy?” She whimpers when he doesn’t respond and Steve sighs.

“We need to get him to mine. How are we gonna do this?”

“Mum and Neil are in their room so we can sneak him out the front?” Max whispers and Steve nods, looking down at Billy.

“You’re gonna need to help me.” He says to Max, and they both grab Billy’s hands and pull him into a sitting position, careful of his cuts and bruises. Steve wraps an arm around Billy’s waist, pulling his arm around his shoulder. Max grabs his other arm and does the same and they both lead him quietly out of the house and over to Steve's car.

They lay Billy down in the back and Max climbs in next to him, resting his head on her lap, and she strokes his hair as Steve drives. Steve keeps looking back at them whilst he drives, but neither of them say anything, just staying in a worried silence as Max strokes Billy’s hair and preys he wakes up soon.

Chapter Text

Steve and Max carefully lift Billy out of the car, carrying him the same way they did to get him to the car, and as soon as Steve opens the front door the house fills with the complaints and arguing from Mike, Lucas and Dustin. That is until Steve and Max enter the living room and the boys see Billy and the state he’s in, when they fall silent. Max and Steve lie him on the sofa, and Steve goes to get a washcloth to clean the blood off him whilst Max sits next to him, running her fingers through his hair.

“What happened?” Lucas asks, voice timid and quiet, and Max doesn’t really want to talk to him, or anyone really, not until Billy is awake.

“Go back to your game.” Steve says as he enters the room, a washcloth and bowl in one hand, ice in the other. He hands the bowl to Max, who starts cleaning up his mouth and chest, whilst Steve holds the ice to Billy’s eye. The boys don’t go back to their game. They sit silently and watch Max and Steve.

“What happened?” Mike asks as a tear falls from Max’s eye. “Did he get in a fight?” Max shakes her head.

“Did he hurt you?” Dustin asks and Max’s head whips around to glare at him before turning back to Billy.

“Dustin leave ‘em alone, would you.” Steve mutters, eyes staying on Billy.

“Well if you told us what happened we could help.” Mike says and Max shakes her head.

“What can you do, Mike?” She snaps because she’s stressed and worried and tired and she’s had enough. Of everything.

“Max go lie down and get some sleep.” Steve says softly and she shakes her head.

“I’m fine.”

“You’re not fine.”

“I’m fine.” She snaps, and Steve knows she’s not leaving until Billy wakes up, so he lets it go. They fall into silence for a while, the boys watching as Max and Steve clean Billy up, all of them wondering what the hell happened, when the hell Billy will wake up, and how the hell he'll react to being where he is.

 

Max is pressing the washcloth against Billy’s torso, which is still covered in scars from his past, when his eyes flutter open. She doesn’t notice, 'cause she’s focused on a cut under his ribs, but Steve notices immediately.

“Max?” Billy frowns. Last he remembers he was collapsing on his bed and was very much alone. Max’s head shoots up, relief flooding her face.

“The hell you lock your door for?” Max whimpers, gripping his hand tight. She knows why he did, and she’s kind of glad he did, but it made it far too hard to care for him.

“Sorry, kid.” Billy breathes before frowning, glancing up at Steve. “Harrington?” His eyes flick to the ceiling, realising he’s not in his room. “The fuck am I doing here?” He breathes and Max rolls her eyes.

“Thought you were dead, asshole.” She snaps and Billy squeezes her hand.

“Not the first time.”

“Better be the last.” Steve mutters under his breath, but Billy heard him, and it makes his heart beat a little faster.

 

“So… what happened?” Billy asks Max.

“Got home. Your door was locked and you didn’t answer the walkie, so…” Max trails off.

“So you called pretty boy here to come rescue me.” Billy mutters, deadpan, and Max narrows her eyes at him.

“Well I was gonna call Hopper, but Will said to call Steve instead. I figured I shouldn’t tell Hopper anyway.”

“Why not?” Lucas asks and Billy’s head shoots to the side, wincing when it forces the ice away from his eye; he obviously didn’t realise the boys were there.

“They were here when I called Steve.” Max explains, and Billy shoots them a glare before turning back to Max, frowning. She looks exhausted.

“You need to sleep.” He says softly, softer than the others have heard him talk, and Max shrugs.

“Probably.”

“I tried to tell her that.” Steve adds, putting the ice against his eye again, and Billy glances at Steve before looking back at Max.

“Should listen to Harrington.”

“Well you were still unconscious.” Max mutters and Billy nods.

“But I’m awake now, so go and sleep.” Max bites her lip and Billy sighs, shifting up so he's sitting more upright and shuffling over, holding his arms open in an offer. Max doesn't say a word as she lies next to him, head resting on his chest.

“You got a blanket, princess?” Billy asks, and Steve nods, getting up from his perch on the arm of the sofa and moving past the boys, who are still silently observing, and grabbing a blanket, throwing it over Max.

“You should be going to sleep too.” Steve says to the boys, shooting them a look when they start to protest. It’s midnight now, so they’re tired anyway. They reluctantly agree and make their way to the living room they usually sleep in, leaving Billy and Steve alone.

 

Steve sits on the arm of the sofa again, pressing ice against Billy’s eye, frowning at him sadly.

“Max told me.” Steve says softly after a few minutes and Billy sighs.

“That’s why you’re looking at me like I’m a stray puppy with a broken leg.” Billy mutters, looking away from Steve. He kind of figured Steve knew, but he doesn't like being looked at with pity. Especially not by Steve Harrington.

“You-” Steve sighs. “You can get away from it, you know.” Billy huffs a laugh. How many times is he going to have this conversation?

“No, Harrington, I can’t.” Steve frowns.

“You can. You can leave, go back to California…” Steve hesitates. “You can stay here.” Billy sighs. He would love to, but he can't.

“You don’t get it, Harrington.” Billy says quietly, sitting up a little bit more, making sure Max is still comfortable. Steve gets off the arm of the sofa and walks round, sitting on the other end of the sofa Billy’s sat on so he can face him.

“No, I don’t. So explain it to me.” Steve says and Billy sighs, arms tightening around Max.

“I can’t leave-”

“I kno-”

“Max.” Billy finishes and Steve frowns.

“What?”

“I can’t leave her.” Billy says, watching as realisation spreads through Steve’s eyes.

“What?” He repeats weakly.

“I can’t leave her. And I can’t take her with me. So I have to stay.” Billy’s eyes are watering and Steve feels his heart shatter.

“Why?”

“Cause he hits me, Harrington." Billy's getting annoyed now. Harrington needs to stop asking questions and just accept what he's saying. "He beats me, he shouts and he hurts and it's shit. It's really fucking shit. But if I leave, and leave her there, he might start doing it to her instead. I’ve been dealing with him hitting me forever, and I’ve been dealing with his beatings since I was 8 years old. I know how it feels, and I know what to expect, and I know how to take it and how to stay conscious and I know when I have a broken rib and I know what to do to fix it and it’s messed up and it sucks, it really fucking sucks, but I also know that I will do everything I can to make sure she never has to know that stuff. If I leave, he might hurt her. If I leave and take her with me he might hurt Susan. So I stay, and I take it. I take it so she doesn’t have to.” Billy is crying, and Steve doesn’t know what to say because what can you say when someone admits all that stuff to you, and he’s fairly certain he’s crying too.

“So you let him hurt you…” Steve trails off and Billy nods.

“So he doesn’t hurt her.” Billy looks down at Max, looking peaceful resting against his chest, and he doesn’t know that she’s pretending to be asleep and she’s just snooping in on their conversation.

 

“I used to think you didn’t like her.” Steve admits, a few minutes later, and Billy nods.

“I’ve never hated her. Never. I used to hate that she’s the reason I can’t leave. I used to be mad at the fact that if she wasn’t here I could have run away already. But I doubt I would have run away even if she wasn’t there, and Neil probably would have beat me to death or something years ago. And I love her, enough to care that she never goes through anything like what Neil does to me. Enough to not want to leave her.” Steve and Billy stare into each other's eyes for a moment before Steve talks.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say you love anyone.” He says it quietly, like he’s talking more to himself than to Billy, but Billy hears him loud and clear and he smiles sadly.

“I don’t. Not really. Just Max.” Billy says looking down at her, thinking he'd quite like to love Steve, thinking he's pretty damn close to it already. “Used to love my mum, I guess. But she left me, and she knew what she was doing and she knew it was hurting me and yet she did it anyway.” Billy takes a shaky breath, and Steve is looking at him with such emotion and Billy just can’t stop talking.

“But Max, she’s my sister. My little sister, and I'm meant to look out for her and look after her. And I treated her so bad and yet she still cried over me when I was dying in starcourt. And she visited every day I was in hospital, and she forgave me. For some reason she forgave me, and she keeps telling me she’s glad I didn’t die.” Billy rubs his eye before another tear falls.

“She somehow understands and she forgave me for my thousands of mistakes and my fucked up behaviour and my broken everything and I don’t fucking understand how she does it.” Max has made him something like whole again, and Billy doesn’t think he’ll ever understand how she can forgive what he did. Billy lets the next tear fall, and Max hugs him tighter and he’s sure she’s probably awake cause they’re not exactly being quiet, and Billy’s hands are shaking, and he looks down at her and sighs, and when he looks back up at Steve he’s got tears in his eyes.

“Cause she loves you too, Billy.” He says softly, and Steve never calls him by his first name and Billy’s heart hurts.

“I know.” He says softly, softer than Steve is used to him speaking, and Steve thinks he kind of loves him.

Chapter Text

Max moves into one of the guest rooms after she’s done listening to Billy and Steve because the sofa is kind of uncomfortable to sleep on, and Billy wishes her goodnight and promises he’ll be okay, and then Steve and Billy are left alone in the living room and it’s somehow 3am and Billy’s tired but he doesn’t want to sleep, and Steve is too worried about Billy to sleep.

“You got any cigarettes?” Billy asks, and Steve nods, standing up and handing him one. They make their way outside, sitting on the bench by the pool, and Steve lights their cigarettes, trying not to stare at Billy as he smokes it.

 

They sit in silence for a while, 15 minutes at least, before Steve’s nerves get the better of him and he starts talking.

“Aren’t you cold?” Billy is wearing joggers but no shirt and it’s Fall, and Steve is in jeans and a hoodie and is freezing. Billy shrugs.

“I guess.” Steve gets up, goes inside, and returns a minute later with a couple of blankets. He hands the softer one to Billy, who smiles slightly as he wraps it around himself, and Steve sits back down next to him, his own blanket around him.

“Bet you miss California, huh?” Billy is staring into the pool thoughtfully, and he nods.

“Yeah. Bits of it. The beach, mostly.”

“Didn’t leave any friends behind?” Steve asks hesitantly.

"Yeah."

"Can't you visit them? Can't they come visit you?" Billy chuckles, but it's not humorous, it's sort of sad and bitter.

“Neil made sure of that.”

“What?” Steve frowns, confused.

“Cali is a bit more-” Billy waves his hand around, looking for the right word, smoke following his hand from the cigarette between his fingers, “accepting." Is the word he lands on. "My father is not.” Steve still looks confused and Billy smirks. “I was friends with a lot of pretty people, Harrington. And I do dumb shit with pretty people.” He says. “I made choices my father didn’t agree with, and he made sure I couldn’t make them again. He made it very clear what would happen to me if I saw them.” Billy says, because he hasn’t come out to many people, and he’s not sure coming out to Steve is a good idea.

“What choices?” Steve asks, a knowing look in his eye because he knows because he overheard Billy and Max in the hospital, and Billy sighs. He’s gonna have to say it.

“Neil-” Billy sighs, “He’s an asshole. He doesn’t agree with women having equal rights, and he thinks kids should be seen and not heard. He's racist.” Billy hesitates. “He’s homophobic.” He adds, and Steve looks at him for a second before nodding.

“Well he's an asshole.” Billy huffs a laugh.

“What about you, pretty boy. Parent’s don’t mind you inviting a bunch of 14 year olds over?” Steve just shrugs, not saying anything, and Billy glances over at him. “Let me guess, Daddy’s gonna buy you a dream to cling to, mama’s gonna love you as much as she can?” Billy smirks and Steve laughs.

“Not even close, Hargrove.” Billy raises his eyebrow and Steve sighs, resting his head back against the bench.

“Dad wants me to work with him, which isn’t going to happen ‘cause I failed school and I’m too dumb for any college and I’m resigned to a life of working at Family Video.” Steve sighs again. “My mum wants me to get married and have the perfect picket fence house with the perfect cereal box family.” Steve is frowning as he stares at the pool, and Billy frowns at him.

“You don’t want that?” Steve laughs quietly.

“The family thing? Sure. Working with my dad forever? No.”

“Not a fan?” Billy tries not to frown too much. Of course Steve wants to find a girl and settle down with her.

“I mean he’s nowhere near as shit as your dad.” Steve says, “He’s just a bit…”

“Typical middle class dickhead?”

“Yeah.” Steve says through a yawn.

“Past your bedtime, princess?” Billy teases and Steve blushes but nods because yeah, he's so tired.

“You want a spare room?” Billy shakes his head.

“I’ll check on Max.” Billy and Max have been sleeping in the same bed most nights for a while now. They both sleep easier when they’re together and can easily make sure the other is there, and they still have a beating heart, and they're okay.

 

Billy and Steve make their way upstairs, and Steve stops outside the door as Billy walks over to Max.

“Shitbird, you awake?” Max opens her eyes and nods.

“You okay?” She asks, lifting the duvet, and Billy kicks his trainers off before carefully climbing into the bed next to her.

“I’m fine, kid. Go to sleep.” He says, and Max buries herself in his arms.

"You're cold." Max complains, and Billy rolls his eyes, shoves her away gently and crosses his arms against his chest with a pout.

"Go find a different brother to hug then." Max pouts, forcing her way back into Billy's arms.

"Don't want to." She mutters, and Billy rolls his eyes again but wraps her in a secure hug, and Steve can’t help but smile at the two of them.

“What do you want, Harrington.”

“You’re sweet.” Steve admits, and Billy seems caught off guard because he looks at him in mild shock before rolling his eyes.

“Go to sleep, pretty boy.” Billy mutters and Steve grins.

“Good night, Hargrove.” Billy can’t help but smile slightly at the look on Steve's face.

“Night, Harrington.”

Chapter Text

Max is already awake when Billy wakes up, and she's looking down at Billy's chest, carefully pressing her fingertips along his ribs, as if checking to see if they're broken.

"Morning." Billy says quietly, and Max looks up at him.

"Morning."

"Any damage?" Max shrugs, a small frown on her face. Billy presses his thumb against the space between her brows and drags up to erase the frown.

"Can't tell." Max mumbles, settling back down next to him. "So what did you and Steve talk about last night?" She asks, a small grin on her face. Billy rolls his eyes.

"Don't pretend you weren't listening."

"I mean after I came up here." She huffs, as if Billy should have known what she meant, and Billy chuckles quietly.

"Nothing really. How we both have asshole dads. I think I kind of told him I'm not straight too."

"You think?"

"Well I said Neil is homophobic and he's smart enough to put 2 and 2 together." Max rolls her eyes.

"But you were all smiley when you came up here, and he was all love eyes." Billy raises an eyebrow.

"I think you were delusionally tired."

"And I think you like him more than you admit." She says and Billy glares at her.

"I think you need to keep your voice down." He mutters, and Max laughs, shaking her head.

"Nope. We need to go have breakfast anyway." She says, getting up and carefully pulling Billy up and out of bed. Billy frowns down at his chest, bruised and scarred and cut, and Max nods over at a pile of clothes on a chair in the corner.

"Steve dropped those off earlier for you." She says with a small smile, and Billy rolls his eyes, walking over to the pile. "He said you can use the en suit if you wanna shower." She adds, nodding to a door in the corner of the room, and Billy nods, kind of surprised Steve thought of that. Max smiles slightly. "I'll go let him know you're awake." And with that Max is leaving the room and shutting the door behind her.

 

Billy is still in mild shock as he walks into the en suit and over to the mirror. He hasn't looked in a mirror in a while, because all he sees is a monster looking back at him. He brushes his index and middle finger across his slightly swollen lip, wincing when he reaches the cut, before pressing his fingers against his bruised cheek bone and under his eye. Billy sighs, turning away from the mirror as he strips out of his joggers and boxers, stepping into the shower.

The hot water runs down his back as he tilts his head down, sighing, before looking at the bottles on the shelf in front of him. He wonders if this is the shampoo and conditioner that Steve uses. They look expensive and he feels slightly bad using them but they smell good so he makes sure he only uses a little bit as to not waste any. Once he's clean and has spent around 10 minutes standing under the water doing nothing but thinking, he decides to get dressed. He steps out of the shower, grabbing a towel that was on the counter and wrapping it round his waist before making his way into the bedroom and over to the chair.

 

There's a hoodie, joggers, and boxers in the pile, and Billy frowns. He's not sure he's going to be able to put the hoodie on by himself. Not with his ribs as painful as they are. Billy dries off before putting on the boxers and joggers, briefly wondering if they're Steve's before forcing that thought out of his head. He attempts to put the hoodie on before huffing, his ribs hurt too much and he can't lift his arms that high, so he leaves the room and goes downstairs, finding Max in the kitchen sat at the table with everyone else. They all turn to look at him when he enters the room, and Max smiles sadly at him, standing up to walk over. 

"You okay?" She asks, and Billy nods, handing her the hoodie so she gets the message. Max takes it, leading Billy over to a chair and sitting him down so she can reach, before pulling the hoodie over his head and helping him put his arms through the sleeves. The boys watch in silence, and Steve is having a hard time keeping his eyes off Billy's chest.

"Thanks." Billy mutters, wincing as he places a hand on his ribs, and Max smiles as she sits next to him.

"You're welcome."

 

The boys are still watching Billy as Max slides a plate over to him, and he keeps his gaze down, not really feeling hungry. His hair is dripping onto the hoodie and he feels uncomfortable with people watching him and he's in a lot of pain and he's fairly certain he's mildly concussed so he's really not in the mood. When Billy glances up and notices the asshole kids still watching him he shoots them a glare; he really does not like these kids. Max tries to calm him down, standing behind him and gently playing with his wet hair, pulling it into a bun that she ties off with her scrunchie. She knows he likes his hair like this, and she figured it might cheer him up a little bit.

"Guys why don't you go and play d&d or something." Steve says, glancing at Billy worriedly, and Mike finally tears his eyes away from Billy.

"Cause we wanna know what's going on." He says, and Billy tenses, causing his ribs to shoot pain through his body.

"It's none of your business, Wheeler." Billy snaps, and Max sighs as she sits back down next to him.

"Leave him alone, Mike." She mutters, sounding tired.

"Why does he keep showing up with bruises and cuts though?" Lucas speaks up, looking between Steve, Billy and Max.

"It's got nothing to do with you." Billy mutters quietly, and before anyone can say anything he's standing up and leaving the kitchen. He doesn't have the energy to deal with their questions, and he needs some air.

Chapter Text

Steve turns to Mike and Lucas as soon as Billy is out of the room, a glare on his face.

"You two need to learn how to keep your mouth shut." He snaps, pointing at them, and they both look at him with shocked wide eyes.

"What?!" Mike exclaims and Steve narrows his eyes.

"You have no right to ask questions like that. It's none of your business. We told you, before he came down here, to leave him alone."

"Surely if we don't have a right to know then neither do you." Lucas mutters, and Steve swears he hears Max growl. He turns to look at her and sees a look that remind him of Billy.

"Steve knows because I told him. Because I needed his help. Billy needed his help. You can't help, so you don't know." She snaps, and her hands are clenched into fists and Steve gets the impression if either of them say anything to piss her off she'll start swinging.

"We're just curious." Dustin says and Max closes her eyes and sighs.

"Don't be." She says, and Steve decides to go and check on Billy when Lucas starts talking again because he doesn't want to get involved and Max can definitely hold her own.

 

Billy is sat on the bench in the garden and he's staring into the forest with such intensity that Steve stops and stares for a few minutes to admire him, and also to build up the courage to talk to him. Billy's wearing Steve's clothes, which alone makes Steve's heart flutter, but he has a bright yellow scrunchie keeping his hair in a small bun and there's a cigarette hanging lazily from his lips and he looks kind of ethereal. Steve needs to remind himself how to breath.

He had some sort of revelation last night, after talking to Billy, watching him with Max, seeing how soft he was, how nice he was, and it lead to him calling Robin's house at 4am, which her parent's didn't appreciate, and ranting down the phone to her for an hour.

He likes Billy.

Now, he's not stupid, not that stupid, anyway. He's always known Billy was hot, he had enough dreams about him and shower wanks to the thought of him to know he's always found him attractive, but he never used to like him. Sure he's had a thing for him, call it a crush if you want, but at least when Billy was an asshole he could ignore it, his dislike for him overtook it. Now though. Now Billy is a sweet, caring big brother that's funny and strong who does things for his little sister because he cares about her. Now he admits he wouldn't leave her on her own. Now he openly says he loves Max, and that he'd do anything to look after her, and that he cares about Will and El, and makes sure they're safe and fed, and Steve wants to wrap him up in a blanket and never let Neil near him again. He wants to hug him close and kiss his bruises and scars and show him how much he's cared for and how much he's loved.

He wants to love Billy.

He thinks he maybe already does.

 

 

Steve's heart is racing as he walks over and sits next to Billy on the bench, hoping Billy can't hear his heart or his shaky breathing. He doesn't say anything at first, just tries to calm down, but sitting in silence with Billy is actually quiet nice, and it seems Billy agree's with him.

"You okay?" Steve asks quietly, and Billy's eyes flick from the forest to Steve then back again.

"Way to ruin the peace, pretty boy." His voice is soft and quiet, muffled slightly from the cigarette between his lips, and Steve wishes he would stop fucking blushing at the nickname.

"Sorry." He murmurs, voice as quiet as he can make it without full on whispering. Billy's lips twitch upwards slightly at the corners.

"It's okay. I'm fine." He takes the cigarette between his fingers and breathes out smoke, still looking into the forest, and Steve turns to look at him.

"Are you?" Billy shrugs.

"Max doesn't think I've got any broken ribs." Steve's eyes widen and Billy chuckles quietly. "I'm joking." His tongue pokes out to lick along his bottom lip, and Steve is entranced by it. Billy hides his smirk by putting the cigarette back between his lips. "She couldn't tell if they're broken or not." Billy adds, and Steve goes back to being shocked.

"Should... Do you need to go to the hospital?"

"No. They're not broken. I can tell. Don't worry 'bout it, princess."

"Can't help but worry, Hargrove." Steve admits, and Billy frowns, keeping his eyes locked on the forest.

"You've been spendin' too much time with Max." His voice is quiet again, and Steve smiles slightly.

"It's okay to let people worry, you know. Means they care."

"You care about me, Harrington?" Billy asks, finally turning to look at Steve, a twinkle in his eye. Steve could lie, say no, deny it, keep his face. But he could also be honest and say yes and let his guard down and be maybe a little bit closer to loving Billy.

"I do." He says, and he blushes as he says it, and he thinks maybe it was a mistake but then a faint blush spreads up Billy's neck and he looks surprised, like he wasn't expecting that answer.

"You do?" He sounds confused yet sincere, like he doesn't believe him but he desperately wants to, and Steve smiles. Genuine.

"Yeah." Billy's frown deepens before realisation flashes across his face.

"Oh, like, cause of Max." He says, sounding off. Steve isn't sure why he sounds a bit down about that.

"No. Well, yeah, I don't like her, or any of the kids, being upset, but also, like, you're- I just, don't want you to get hurt. Anymore. You don't deserve that." Steve stutters through his sentence, diverts his gaze to the forest, and Billy is just staring at him, mouth open slightly so his cigarette is hanging out, probably about to fall.

"I deserve worse than that, Harrington." Billy mutters, turning back to the forest, and when Steve turns to look at him there's tears in Billy's eyes that he's refusing to let fall. Steve turns his body to look at him, hoping to all hell that Billy believes what he's about to tell him.

"You may be asshole, Hargrove. But you're a good person." Billy huffs a laugh, disbelieving, and Steve is reaching out and grabbing his hand before he can stop himself. "You care, about Max, about El, about Will. Billy, you care about the people the flayer hurt, and you make sure no one hurts Max, or the other kids, and you made sure Will had dinner, and you made sure Hopper was okay with El getting home later." Steve takes a deep breath, squeezes Billy's hand, "You're a good person, Billy Hargrove." He says quietly, whispers it into the space between them, like a promise. Billy thinks he might start crying. Thinks he probably already is. He's really not sure what to say, because Steve sounds like he genuinely believes what he's saying, and Billy wants to believe it too, desperately wants to believe it, but he can't. He doesn't. So Billy just takes a shaky breath in and squeezes Steve's hand before letting it go and standing up, putting his cigarette out and walking back into the house.

Chapter Text

Billy's sat on his windowsill, wincing with every breath as he smokes and counts the stars through a black eye. It's been another bad day. After he and Max got home Neil insisted on asking them where they'd been. Billy came up with a lie about Max's friend needing help, and Neil seemed to accept it, but he still gave Billy a beating when Susan took Max grocery shopping with her. Billy's struggling to breath, having been shoved against his wardrobe so hard he's still winded. His bedroom door is locked from the outside, and he knows Max is in her room and Neil and Susan are in theirs.

He's safe from his dad for the night.

He's, like, 99% sure he is, anyway.

 

That is until he hears the sound of a loud engine drive past his house followed by Neil's loud voice announcing 'fucking kids think they can do whatever they want'. Billy's sure he's going to take his anger out on him, and he tenses when he hears Neil's bedroom door open. He quickly puts his cigarette out and climbs into bed, hoping if he pretends to be asleep Neil will leave him alone.

Apparently he has no such luck.

Billy's door swings open before closing again a second before a hand closes around Billy's throat, pulling him out of bed and shoving him against the wall. Billy doesn't say anything as his dad hits him. He knows he didn't do anything wrong, knows his dad is just pissed, so he can't say anything to help his cause, he just needs to take the beating even though he's already covered in bruises and cuts and his lip hasn't healed yet.

Neil avoids his face this time, focusing mostly on his torso, and Billy figures that's a small mercy. At least he hasn't fucked up his lip or his eye any more. Neil is hitting him hard, and Billy is trying to stay silent so he doesn't wake Susan or Max up, but he can't help but groan when Neil forces him back against his wardrobe door and the doorknob buries right into his spine. It throws Billy off, makes his head spin with pain, and he cries out, tears falling down his cheeks.

"Real men don't cry. Fag." Neil spits, pulling Billy towards him and forcing him back against the door. "Tomorrow you are going to clean this house from top to bottom. If you're going to be a pansy you're gonna be treated like one." He sneers, and Billy nods quickly, ignoring how dizzy he feels.

"Yes sir." He says quickly, feeling sick, and Neil smirks, evil and menacing.

"Good." He shoves Billy back against the wardrobe once more before leaving his room, locking the door from the outside.

 

Billy shifts over so the doorknob is no longer pressed into his spine and leans back against the door, trying to catch his breath as tears roll down his cheeks. His breathing is shaky, and his spine hurts so bad, and he leans his head back and cries. He knows he has no choice, but he's not sure he can survive much longer. He's not sure he wants to. He climbs out his window and lies on the ground, going back to counting the stars. He knows he has to stay and deal with this, but his ribs hurt with every breath and his eye is definitely swollen from earlier today, and he can't help but let his mind drift. He could end it all now. Could end it and Max would probably be fine, because Susan isn't stupid. She knows Neil's violent, and she wont stay with him if Max is in danger. They'd leave, maybe go back to California, Max would see her dad again, and they'd be happier. The party would miss Max, but they'd be so happy Billy was gone, and Steve wouldn't have to pretend he cares anymore. Could get on with his life, meet that perfect girl and have that perfect picket fence life. Billy's crying as he stands up, climbs back into his room only to pull on shoes and grab his car keys, and then he's driving. 

 

He isn't sure where he's going. Find's himself stopped outside Steve's house. The lights are on in one of the downstairs rooms, and Billy wonders if he has trouble sleeping after what happened. Billy stares at the house for a while before sighing and driving away. He drives past the school, the cafe, the closed pool, thinks about going to where the mall was but decides against it. He thinks about all the time he spent in this town and how none of the people here would care if the fucked up aggressive kid from California was suddenly gone.

 

He ends up at the quarry.

Billy gets out of the car, lights a cigarette, and sits on the hood of his car, looking over the edge. It's a big drop. Big enough to kill him. And no one would know if it wasn't for his car. Then again he could solve that problem by driving the car into the water, where no one would look for it, because they'd probably assume he skipped town in the dead of night. Billy gets off the hood and walks over to the edge, sitting down with his legs dangling over the edge. He takes a puff, picks up a stone and holds it out in front of him, lets it slip through his fingers and watches as it falls, hits the water, and disappears. He takes another puff, lets it stay in his lungs until they're stinging, then breaths out the smoke.

Suddenly his mind goes to Will. He promised he'd be there for him when he came out to his family. Promised he'd be there to protect him from the 'wrong' people. Told him he could come to him if he had any questions, or wanted to talk. And then he's thinking about Max again. She told him not to leave her. She told him she's glad he survived. She told him he's her good thing. Does that mean, even if Neil wasn't in the picture, she'd want him around? He never really thought about that. He knows he'd still want to stay with Max if Neil wasn't a factor, but he didn't consider her wanting him to stay.

Billy finishes the cigarette, flicks the butt over the edge of the quarry, and sighs. The temptation to lean forward and fall over the edge is strong. But he knows how it feels to be abandoned, and he's not sure he can just abandon Max. No matter how tired he is, and how much pain he's in, he can't leave her.

He stands up, looks down at the water for a few moments, and steps away from the edge.

Chapter Text

Billy does as he's told. He knows Neil said it to belittle him and make him feel like shit, but Billy also knows that if he doesn't clean the house he'll get a beating. He drags himself out of bed at 10am, exhausted and in pain and feeling guilty about last night, and makes his way straight to the kitchen. Neil, Susan and Max are already gone. He vaguely remembers Susan talking about going shopping and assumes thats where they all are. Billy doesn't try and hide his winces or his gasps as he makes his way to the kitchen, deciding to start there. He all but staggers into the kitchen, his back still hurting, and he starts with the washing up.

It only takes him an hour to fully clean the kitchen, and another hour and a half to clean the living room and bathroom, and by the time he's done he's exhausted, lightheaded from the fumes of the bleach, and desperate for a lie down after getting no sleep last night. He doesn't clean the bedrooms, because he knows no one will like him messing with their stuff, so he just makes sure every other part of the house is clean and tidy before making his way to his room. He opens the window wide to try and ease the smell of bleach before collapsing on his bed. He aches everywhere, from the beatings and the hard work today, and he's so very tired and he longs for sleep, knowing whatever sleep comes to him will be filled with nightmares and fear.

Billy huffs when he can't sleep and instead decides to read whilst he can, but then he remembers his book is in the kitchen, so he quickly goes to get it. Neil will probably be home soon, and he really doesn't want to get stopped by him.

Billy grabs his book before making his way back to his room, freezing when he's met with Steve.

 

"Harrington?" Billy asks, shocked and slightly panicked. He hasn't spoken to anyone since yesterday, hasn't told anyone about last night. Also, and more importantly, If Neil comes home and finds Billy with a boy in his room he's definitely going to kill him. Steve, however, doesn't seem to pick up on the panic, just looks at Billy with concern and mild confusion.

"Max asked me to check on you. Are you okay?" He asks, stepping forwards.

"You can't be here, Harrington." Steve sees panic in Billy's wide eyes, and they only widen more at the sound of a car pulling up outside.

"Why? Are you okay?" Steve reaches forwards, carefully touching the bruise on Billy's cheek, and Billy flinches when he hears the front door open.

"Harrington you need to leave." Billy pleads quietly, putting his hand on Steve's shoulder and trying to force him away, but then heavy footsteps start coming down the hall and Billy's eyes widen more. Steve sees fear flash through them. There's no way Billy can get Steve out of his room in time.

"Billy?" Steve asks and Billy covers his mouth with one hand, grabs Steve's hand with his other, and carefully drags him over to his wardrobe.

"Stay here. Don't say a word. I mean it, Harrington." And there's something about the way Billy is talking, sounding so serious and so scared, that makes Steve nod just as Billy shuts the wardrobe door. Steve watches through the slats as a second later his bedroom door swings open and Neil is standing behind him. Billy flinches, and then Neil is grabbing his shoulder, spinning him round, and shoving him back against the wardrobe door. Steve flinches when the door rattles, and a gasp gets stuck in his throat.

Steve watches as Neil hits Billy, over and over again, spouting bullshit about him being worthless and unwanted and a waste of space, saying things that show Steve just how homophobic he is. He watches as Billy does nothing, says nothing apart from 'yes sir' and 'I'm sorry, sir' and 'I'll do better, sir'. Steve's heart breaks when Neil forces Billy against a different wall, and he sees Billy's face, bruised and bleeding. Neil is only a few inches taller than Billy, and Billy could definitely do something, defend himself somehow, but he doesn't even raise an arm in defence. Steve watches, tears streaming down his cheeks as he watches Billy get beat. He knows this happens all the time, sees the aftermath of it, listened to Billy talk about it, but watching it happen, seeing the pain in Billy's eyes, how numb he is, it's breaking his heart, and he wants to help him. He wants to open the wardrobe door and beat the shit out of Neil, but his fights never end well for him and he knows he'd lose, and then Billy would have to explain why he was here in the first place and then he'd get beat again. So Steve just stands there, frozen in place, hands shaking as he cries silently because Billy is in so much pain, and Neil is saying words that make him flinch more than the punches do, and it's breaking his heart.

Chapter Text

Finally, after what feels like hours, Neil spits some final bullshit words and slams Billy back against the wall, smirking when Billy whimpers, before leaving the room. Steve is frozen in shock, because Billy just stays there, leaning back against the wall with his arms wrapped around himself looking so broken, so vulnerable. Billy's never looked vulnerable before. Not when he was being stabbed by the mind flayer, not when he was lying in the hospital bed, not even when Steve found him unconscious. Tears fall down his cheeks and Steve has seen him cry before, but never like this, not pained, sad, broken tears, and Billy should never cry. It's not right. Seeing him hurt is one thing, but seeing him cry is so much worse. Steve pulls himself together, because Billy needs him, and he pushes the wardrobe door open and walks over to him, cupping his face gently. Billy forgot he was here, it seems, because he jumps when the door opens, and when Steve cups his cheeks he just cries harder, staying silent because he's taught himself to cry so Neil can't hear him. Steve's heart breaks all over again, and he wipes Billy's tears away with his thumb as they fall until they're falling too fast for him to catch them. Steve can't bare to see Billy like this, so broken and vulnerable, and he briefly wonders how Max copes with it. Steve shifts, wrapping his arms around Billy's neck and pulling him into a careful hug, and he's half expecting Billy to shove him away and tell him to fuck off, maybe threaten him, or hit him, but he just melts into the hug, burying his face in Steve's neck.

 

"You need to go, pretty boy." Billy whispers after a while, even as his arms rise from his sides to wraps around Steve's waist, contradicting his words.

"Can't leave now, can I?" Steve breathes, hoping Billy will let him stay and look after him.

"He'll come back, Harrington. You can't be here when he does." He can feel Billy's breath against his skin, his tears falling onto his shirt, and he knows Billy's right but he also knows he'd never forgive himself if he left Billy like this.

"I can't leave you Billy."

"You don't have a choice, Pretty boy. If he catches you in here you're dead." Billy says, and he would be too but he cares a lot less about that. He pulls away only so he can look Steve in the eyes, keeping his arms around him.

"Why? You can't tell him we're just, like, I don't know, doing college applications?" Billy rolls his eyes. It's not like he doesn't appreciate the effort, but it's not going to work.

"You think he'd believe that?" Billy asks, "Come on, Harrington."

"Then you can come with me." Billy shakes his head.

"He's in a bad mood. If Max comes home and I'm not here and he's still in that mood then he might do that to her." He says, and Steve frowns.

"Then I'm staying here." Billy huffs.

"You're a pain in the ass, Harrington."

"Cause I won't leave you alone?"

"Because he can come back in here any second, and there might not be time to hide you next time."

"Then I'll fight him." Steve says even though he knows he wouldn't stand a chance, and Billy huffs a small laugh.

"You'd get your ass beat."

"If it stops you getting yours beat then I'd say that's a job well done." Steve says, voice determined, and Billy sighs, looking away from Steve, over his shoulder at the wall behind him.

 

"You're impossible, Princess." He says, and Steve thinks it was meant to sound mean or frustrated, but Billy said it softly. "You really can't stay here any longer though." Their arms are still wrapped around each other, and Billy's heart is beating so fast that he's sure Steve can feel it.

"Why?" Billy's hands are shaking, and he grips them together behind Steve's back. He knows now isn't the time, but he also doesn't care enough to hide anymore; not when Steve just watched him get beat, watched him cry, wiped his tears and held him and comforted him. Not when Steve's here.

Not when he refuses to leave.

Cause things like this give him hope, and hope is dangerous when you're emotional and broken and have nothing to lose.

"Cause I do dumb shit when I'm with pretty people, Harrington." Billy says, not meeting Steve's gaze because he's afraid of what he'll find there. Steve is frowning slightly, watching Billy, wondering where this is going and hoping it's going where he wants it to. "And you're the prettiest person I know." Billy finishes, and there's a light blush spreading across his cheeks, mixing with the bruises to create the worst and best kind of art, a beautiful tragic watercolour, and Steve blushes brightly, his lips twitching up into a smile. He assumed Billy called him pretty boy just to wind him up. He didn't think Billy actually believed Steve was pretty.

He moves his hands to cup Billy's face again, and Billy meets his gaze. Steve is kind of speechless, because that was definitely a confession that he was not expecting but has been longing to hear. He has a million things he wants to say, a thousand ways he can tell Billy that he thinks he's pretty too, that he's so damn pretty it hurts, and that he wants to love him and hold him and protect him and make sure he's okay forever. For some reason none of these words want to leave his brain.

"You're pretty too." He says, blushing like crazy and mad at himself cause he sounds so dumb, but Billy's eyes light up and he looks some kind of beautiful, and a bright smile spreads across Steve's face that makes Billy's heart race for a whole different reason.

"Can I kiss you, Harrington?" He whispers, asking for permission because there's the chance he read this all very wrong, and Steve's heart is racing in anticipation as he nods, leaning forward slightly, and Billy meets him half way and connects their lips, and it's like something neither of them have ever felt before, and it's weird and amazing and new and different, and it's not enough but it's too much all at once, and Steve buries his hands in Billy's hair and Billy grips Steve's waist so tight, trying to be as close as they can possibly be.

It's a kiss over a year in the making, and it's definitely worth the wait. Their lips move together as if they've done this a million times, moving in perfect sync. And Steve runs his hands through Billy's golden curls and Billy's hugging him tight like he might disappear if he lets go and it's kind of messy but oh so perfect and neither of them want it to end.

Chapter Text

Billy pulls away, breathing laboured, and takes a deep breath, his lips twitching up at the corners, and Steve is grinning at him, smile blinding and brilliant, and he leans forward and kisses Billy again because he can do that now. Billy smiles a bit brighter, but then he's pulling away again.

"You still can't stay here, Harrington." He breathes, forehead pressed against Steve's and breath ghosting over Steve's lips, and Steve sighs.

"If he hurts you again-"

"He probably will, but I'm used to it, princess."

"What kind of person would I be if I left knowing he was going to beat you?"

"What kind of person would I be if I let you stay here knowing he'd beat the fuck out of you if he found out?"

"Billy," Steve whispers, pleads, just as the front door opens and Susan's voice is heard.

"Susan and Max are home, Harrington. I'll be fine." Billy says, like a promise, and Steve frowns, but he knows he's right. Max is here so Neil won't hurt Billy. "C'mon, Harrington, I can't have him damaging this pretty face of yours." Billy says, low and breathy, and Steve blushes and Billy knows he's won him over.

"You sure you'll be okay?" Billy nods, moving his arms from around Steve's waist to rest them on his hips, slowly starting to walk him over to the window.

"I'm more than okay, Harrington." Steve blushes again, hands falling to rest on Billy's shoulders, and his smile is just too beautiful.

"Fine." Steve sighs, and Billy watches as he climbs out the window before turning back to Billy, kneeling on the box outside his window.

"I'll see you tomorrow?" Steve asks, and Billy smiles slightly, cupping Steve's chin and leaning forward to peck Steve one more time.

"See you later, pretty boy." He says softly, brushing his thumb over Steve's lips before standing straight, watching as Steve disappears just as his bedroom door opens behind him.

 

"Billy?" Max asks softly, and Billy spins around to look at her, the small smile still on his face disappears as guilt fills him. He can't believe he thought about leaving her, he's mad at himself for even considering it. He knows one thing for certain, though. She can never find out.

"You alright, shitbird?" Billy asks, sitting on his bed, and Max sits opposite him, shutting his door as she fully enters his room.

"He hurt you." She says sadly, pressing her finger gently against his jaw.

"I know." Billy says, reaching up, grabbing her hand gently and lowering it. "I'll be fine." Max frowns, cause she doesn't believe him and he knows it's not true.

"I saw Steve's car down the road..." She says, changing the subject, and Billy nods,

"You sent him to check on me?" Max frowns, shaking her head.

"I mentioned we were out, but I didn't tell him to come check on you. Figured you'd be okay since Neil was coming with us." Max sounds sad, guilty almost, and Billy frowns. It's not Max's fault. Also this means he came unprompted, and he knew Billy would be alone? So... What exactly did he want when he came here? He didn't have time to speak before Neil came home. And they didn't really speak much after Neil left.

"Oh?" Billy asks, and Max nods.

"Means he just wanted to see you." Max says with a knowing smirk and Billy can't help but smile slightly at the memory of what happened. He can still feel Steve's soft lips pressed against his own. "What?" Max asks, raising an eyebrow, and Billy rolls his eyes, trying to get rid of the lovesick look on his face.

"Nothing." Max frowns, before her eyes widen.

"Did something happen?" Billy can't help the smile that appears on his lips. Max mirrors it.

"Shitbird I am not telling you about my love life." He says, looking away from her big blue eyes, and she grins.

"Something did happen!" She's excited, and it makes Billy smile slightly wider, meeting her eyes and trying to look stern. "Come on! I always complain about Lucas to you!" She smiles, and Billy breaks.

"Alright fine!" Billy sighs, trying not to smile as he explains to Max exactly what happened, with finding Steve in his room, and then Neil coming in, and then Steve being there after, and then the kiss. Max is grinning so hard by the end of it she's sure her cheeks will hurt for the next few weeks, but she doesn't care. Billy has another good thing.

 

"Why do you care anyway?" Billy asks, still smiling.

"Cause you're my brother and I love you and I want you to be happy." She says, and Billy's heart melts.

"I love you too shitbird. And I want you to be happy too." Max rolls her eyes, and Billy chuckles. "Max if you like Lucas then you shouldn't piss it all away just because he hates me." Billy says softly and Max bites her bottom lip. She wants to tell him something. Billy can tell. "What's wrong?" When Max doesn't reply Billy gets nervous. "Max?"

"I don't..." She trails off. "I don't think I do like him." She says and Billy watches her carefully as she continues. "I mean, yeah as a friend I do. But not like... more than that." She finishes, looking down at her hands, and Billy nods.

"Okay..." He doesn't get why she looks so nervous about it. "Is there anything else?"

"I think- Maybe I don't really like anyone." Billy chuckles, making Max frown at him.

"Sorry I was just expecting you to say you were pregnant or something." Billy sighs in relief, before looking at her with narrowed eyes. "You haven't-"

"No!" Max exclaims, hitting Billy's arm, avoiding the bruises. "Billy that's gross!" Billy laughs, wrapping his arms around her.

"Oh thank god. Don't. Boy's are horrible and disgusting and evil."

"You're not." Max points out and Billy sighs.

"Max the things I've done are unspeakable. I've been shit to a lot of people. Also it's a known fact that boys are gross."

"I know. One time me and El were spying on people and we heard Mike and Lucas talking and it was gross." Billy chuckles before pulling out of the hug.

"You didn't spy on me did you?"

"Only once. We saw you with Heather. That's why we went to her house." Billy nods.

"I like El. She's a good kid. Kind of terrifying." Max smiles.

"She's awesome." And after she says it there's this look in her eyes and Billy gets the feeling there's something she's not telling him.

"Is there anything else you wanna talk about?" Billy asks, and Max shrugs before nodding.

"I think I know something about someone, and I want to tell them that I know and that I still love and support them, but I also don't want them to freak out, or panic, and I don't want to make them say it before they're ready." She says, and Billy frowns. Does she somehow know about where he went last night? What he almost did? Or does she know something about one of her friends?

"Well... I think you should wait until they tell you, just because then they're doing it on their own terms. I know you want to tell your friend you support them and that they shouldn't worry about it, but you're right, it might scare them a bit." Max nods, seemingly happy with that answer, and Billy smiles slightly because that was some actual big brother advice and he's kind of proud of himself.

Chapter Text

Billy is nervous as he drops Max off at school, not sure what he should say to Steve, or what Steve will say to him. Luckily, or maybe unluckily, he doesn't see Steve, and he's too busy to stay around and wait for him. Billy goes straight from the school to the mechanics. It's the first day of his new job, as the pool is only open during the summer, and Neil would rather kill Billy than have him be home during the day. Because he had to go straight to work, Billy doesn't have the chance to run into or see Steve at all until he's picking up Max after school.

He pulls up outside the school, making sure to park close to the entrance because it's raining and he doesn't want Max to get too wet. He sees her leaving the school, the boys a few feet behind her, and she scans the parking lot before spotting Billy, smiling as she walks over and opens the passenger door.

"Hey." Max says as she climbs into the car, dropping her bag onto the floor by her feet.

"Hey, y'alright?" Billy asks, sparring a glance at the boys before realising they're walking over to a car instead of the bike rack. He quickly looks back at Max.

"Yeah. How was work?"

"Oh, er, not bad. How was school?" Max shrugs, looking over at the boys before smiling.

"You should go and talk to Steve!" Max is looking at Billy, slightly hopeful, and Billy looks at the steering wheel in front of him, shakes his head slightly. "He wants to talk to you." Max says and Billy chuckles.

"You psychic too, shitbird?" Billy breathes, and he risks glancing over at Steve. His car is a few spaces away from them, but Billy can see the look in his eyes from where he's sat, and it makes his stomach twist and his heart race. "What would I say to him?" Max sighs, because her brother is clueless, but she gets it. He's never had anyone really love him, apart from her but she doesn't count, she's his sister. And he's never loved anyone, never had to tell anyone he loves them. Not how it matters. Not how he loves Steve.

"Ask him if he's free tonight. Take him somewhere." Billy would love that. He'd love to pick up Steve and give him flowers or some romantic shit and take him for dinner and then maybe a movie or they can park by the quarry and they can stare at the stars and talk or smoke or do something a little less pg, and then he'd drive Steve home and maybe kiss him goodnight before he closes the front door or maybe Steve would invite him and they'd spend the night together and then wake up together the next morning and Billy could make him breakfast and be all romantic and shit. He would love to. He would love to walk over to Steve right now and kiss him and tell him he really likes him. But he can't, because he can't risk Neil finding out. He just can't risk it. And it sucks.

"I would love to, Max." Billy sighs, looking away from Steve because he's so damn pretty and he makes Billy want to do all kinds of stupid shit. "But if anyone catches us, they will tell Neil. And them I'm as good as dead." Billy says, turning on the car engine. It's not just that though. Billy almost talked himself into suicide the other day. That's not a person you should be in a relationship with. That's not something he can make Steve deal with. "Put your belt on." He mumbles, and Max rolls her eyes as she puts her seat-belt on.

"Billy no one will catch you if you don't go anywhere public." Billy frowns, glancing sideways at her as he pulls out of the parking space.

"What do you mean?" Max huffs a laugh.

"Steve isn't one of those girls you used to take out. You can't just flash a smile and he'll get on his knees. I mean, you probably could cause he's super into you, but you shouldn't cause you love him and that's not how you should treat someone you love."

"What's your point, shitbird?"

"My point it, you don't have to take him to a fancy restaurant or a club. He wont mind if your first date is a movie night at the Byers, or a walk through the woods, or dinner at his. He wont care if your second date is taking me and they rest of the party to the arcade or going to the junkyard and just sitting there. And you would love that too, don't deny it." It does sound nice. It would be a lot less stress and pressure, and he wouldn't have to worry.

"I'll think about it." Billy says, a tiny hint of a smile on his face, and Max smiles at him as they pull out of the school parking lot. "So where we heading?"

"Erm, straight home. I have English homework I need to work on." Max says, and Billy knows she only admitted that because Neil is still at work. If he was home she would have come up with a million reasons why they couldn't go home.

"What's it on?" Billy loves English. He loved school in general, because it was 6 blissful hours away from Neil, and he just happened to find it easy. He was good at school, and his teachers told him he could apply to and get into any college he wanted. That was before he was possessed by the mind flayer and wound up in hospital, missing the application deadlines for this year. Although he guesses he could apply next year. Not that he'd want to move away. He needs to stay here, for Max.

"We have to write about the themes in books or something. I don't know." Max shrugs. School is fine, but it doesn't come as easy to her as it did for Billy.

"You need help with it?"

"Yeah please." Max smiles, because before Billy would have never offered to help, and she likes this Billy so much better than the before Billy, and she just really hopes he'll be happy soon.

Chapter Text

It's raining heavy when they get home, so Billy covers Max's head with his arms as much as he can and they run from the car to their front door to try and avoid getting too wet. As soon as they're in the house they kick of their shoes and shrug off their jackets before they make their way to the kitchen. Billy makes them both a sandwich whilst Max sets up her work on the kitchen table, and he grabs his book so he can read until Max needs help with her homework.

They eat, work, and read in silence, just the occasional question from Max and the sound of the rain outside filling the quiet room, and it's quite nice, Billy thinks. It's nice, being here with Max listening to the rain as he reads, but it would be a lot nicer if there was a particular guy sat at the table with them. Billy sighs, and Max looks up from her nearly finished work.

"You okay?"

"Yeah." Billy replies automatically, but Max sees through it.

"Is this about Neil?" Billy shakes his head. For once, Neil is not the problem. Except he kind of is, because if it wasn't for him Steve could be sat here with them. If it wasn't for Neil, Billy would be out with Steve having their first date. If it wasn't for Neil, Billy and Steve could have got together months ago. Then again, if it wasn't for Neil, Steve wouldn't have worried about Billy, and he wouldn't have paid him any attention, and Billy would probably just be some idiot that fell in love with someone that doesn't know he exists.

"Everything is always about Neil." Billy sighs. "Indirectly or otherwise."

"So this is a Steve thing?" Max asks, and Billy is looking out the window, watching the rain.

"I don't wanna talk about it, Max." Billy says, and he looks sad, so Max lets it go.

"Well I'm done with my homework." She says, changing the subject, and Billy smiles slightly.

"Well I kind of want to lie in the rain." Billy misses California, but he loves the rain almost as much as he loves the sun, and he feels he should take advantage of it. Max grins, standing up.

 

"Race you to the backyard?" She's off before she finishes her sentence, and Billy runs after her, and they shove each other out the way and end up wedged in the door when they reach it at the same time, laughing as they both force themselves through the door at the same time.

They're not wearing shoes or jackets, both of them in jeans and a t-shirt, and they walk to the middle of their yard before lying down on their backs, immediately getting soaked as they look up at the sky. Billy lies with his arms at his side, hair splayed on the grass below him, and he smiles slightly as he closes his eyes, feeling the rain pounding onto every part of his body.

 

They stay outside for well over an hour, lying in silence until they're shaking slightly from the cold, clothes soaked through and hair sopping wet, and they figure they should probably go and get dry before they both get sick. Billy gets up first, holding out a hand for Max, who grips his hand with both of hers because they're slippery, and he pulls her up off the grass. They make their way inside, careful not to drip all over the floor as they go to the bathroom to get towels. They dry off as much as they can before they go to their rooms to get dry and changed properly, both of them finishing up just as Neil comes home.

 

"Billy!" Neil calls, and Billy flinches, putting down the towel he was using to pat his hair dry and leaving his room, giving Max a look that tells her to stay in her room.

"Yes, sir?" Billy tries to look calm, but Neil looks angry and Billy can't help but flinch when Neil takes a step towards him.

"Why are you wet?"

"We got caught in the rain."

"We? Where is your sister now?"

"In her room. I think she's doing homework." Neil nods slowly, as if evaluating the situation, trying to see if he can get away with hitting Billy whilst Max is home and just down the hall way. He steps closer to Billy, grips his face hard, forcing him to look at him, and leans close.

"Lucky for you." He spits, before releasing Billy and going into the living room. Billy lets a tear fall down his cheek and he reaches up and gently rubs his jaw, knowing he'll get a bruise from how hard Neil was gripping him. Billy turns around to go back to his room and sees Max stood at her bedroom door, looking at him with wide scared eyes. Billy lets go of his jaw and walks straight to his room, muttering that he's fine as he passes Max before shutting his door behind him. He knows he's going to get a lot worse than that later, probably when Susan and Max are asleep. This is the worst part though. When he knows it's coming later, he's just not sure when. He always knows there'll be another beating. Even when he's just had one, there'll be another in a few hours, or tomorrow, there'll always be another one, so he lives in constant fear, but usually he'll see Neil, get a beating, and be left alone, usually for the rest of the day. He doesn't like the waiting.

 

He doesn't have to wait very long, as it turns out. Susan comes home and takes Max shopping with her, and as soon as they've left the house Neil is in Billy's room, dragging him off his bed by his hair and slamming his head into the wall. Billy cries out, and Neil drags him up so he's looking him in the eye.

"I head a rumour, William." Billy's heart sinks. Who could know? Who told Neil? Billy frowns, genuinely confused.

"About what, sir?" Billy asks, and Neil glares at him, throwing a punch at his jaw.

"Imagine, I'm sat in my office, when I'm told my son has been a fag." Billy feels a lump in his throat. "Now, William, I thought I made it very clear that I will not allow a faggot in my house." Neil spits, and Billy flinches.

"I'm not. Sir, I haven't done anything. I've been seeing this girl. For a few months."

"Oh you've been seeing a girl?" Neil asks, and he's seething angry, and Billy nods despite the hand in his hair making it hard.

"Her names Robin. She works at family video. She went to my school." Billy gets out the words as fast as he can, and Neil glares at him before letting him go, and evil smile on his face.

"Bring her here, then. If you're seeing someone I should meet her." Neil spits, and Billy nods, quickly moving towards the door, barely having time to pull on shoes before he's leaving the house and in his car, speeding to Robins and not attempting to stop the tears streaming down his face.

Chapter Text

Robin is sat on her sofa with Steve, listening to him talk about Billy, a fond smile on her face as he rambles on about how hot he is. It's nothing she hasn't heard before; he's always talking about Billy, at work or when they're hanging out, even before Steve realised he liked him, when they worked at Scoops, he would talk about him. She can't complain though, because Steve listens to her talk about whatever girl she thinks is hot.

”Did you seen him today? He was wearing that red shirt, you know the shirt, Robin I would give anything to rip that fucking shirt off of him.” Robin rolls her eyes, tries to feign annoyance.

”Wasn't he in his car when you saw him?”

”Yeah? So? I know how hot he looks in that shirt, I don’t need to see all of him to know!” Robin chuckles. “And he’s so hot when he’s smoking. Have you ever realised? I would give anything to replace that cigarette-”

”Eww.” Robin interrupts.

”And I swear he needs to fuck me in the back seat of his car at some point because damn-“ the doorbell rings and Robin smirks.

”Saved by the bell.” She jokes before frowning. “Who is that?”

”I don’t know,” Steve shrugs, “I’m here with you. Can’t see through walls.” Robin rolls her eyes as she climbs off the couch before walking to the front door and pulling it open, immediately becoming concerned when she sees Billy. He's been crying, and there's bruises on his cheek and his chin, and his hair's messy and he's wet. Very wet, and getting wetter because he's still in the rain. Robin pulls him inside, but Billy doesn't go any further than the foyer.

"What's going on? What happened?" She asks, because Billy looks scared.

"You need to come with me. Please, Robin, I'll explain it on the way." Robin frowns, and Billy grabs her hand, looking more desperate than she's ever seen him.

"What's wrong?"

"Someone- Rob, someone told Neil. I don't know who, and I don't know what they know or what they said to him, but Rob he looks so fucking angry, and I'm fucked if you don't come with me." Robins eyes are wide, and she quickly pulls Billy into a hug.

"Told him what?" But her voice is nervous and she knows. She knows why Billy is so scared and why Neil is so angry.

"He just said I've been a fag. I don't know what he knows." Billy sobs into her shoulder. Robin can feel his heart racing. "Robin I told him we're seeing each other and he want's to meet you. Probably to make sure I'm not lying. Robin please I'm begging you."

"Of course." Robin whispers, rubbing his back before pulling away, holding his face in her hands carefully. "Give me a second, okay? Steve's here." She whispers, a knowing look in her eyes, and Billy shakes his head.

"Don't- I'll wait in the car. Please, Robin, don't tell him I was here. Or what's going on. Please, he'll worry." Robin smiles slightly, because even in his state, when he knows his dad might actually kill him and he's terrified, he still cares about Steve.

"Okay. I'll be out soon." And then, because Billy is one of her best friends, "I love you, Bill." Billy smiles slightly, pained and forced, before turning around and leaving.

 

"Did I hear Billy?!" Steve asks, before frowning at the look on Robins face. "What happened?" Robin's eyes are watering. She's worried about him, scared for him.

"His dad found out, somehow. Something about him being a fag." She flinches at the word, and Steve's eyes widen.

"How? Max would never tell."

"Steve did you tell anyone?"

"No one! Just you. It was too risky, telling someone else." Robin nods before sighing.

"I need to go be his fake girlfriend, you gonna stay here?" Steve nods before reaching out and grabbing her hand.

"Sell it, Robin. If he gets hurt because of me I'll never forgive myself." Robin promises him she will before she leaves, and Steve listens as Billy's Camaro gets further away.

 

Steve's been lying on Robins sofa, worried sick, for about 10 minutes when he hears his walkie from in his bag.

"Steve?"

"Dustin?"

"Hey! Where are you?"

"I'm at Robins, Henderson, what's up?"

"I thought you were coming to d&d night?" Steve sighs. He completely forgot about that. Dustin complained that Steve wasn't hanging out with them as much anymore, so he promised he'd go to their game night.

"I'm sorry, Dustin. I'm in the middle of something. Maybe next time." Steve sighs before he shoots up, frowning. "Hang on, Mr Wheeler works with Mr Hargrove, doesn't he?" There's silence on the other line, and Steve's frown deepens. "Henderson?"

"Er, you know, we don't really pay attention to who our parents work with." Dustin sounds nervous, and Steve is getting angry now.

"Henderson tell me you didn't tell Mr Wheeler to tell Billy's dad he's-" Steve cuts himself off, unable to say it. God he hopes he's wrong.

"We needed him to leave us alone." Lucas's voice comes through the walkie, and Steve's stomach drops. How did they even find out? Or do they not know about him and Billy and just said it to get him in trouble?

"You have fucked up, Sinclair." Steve mutters. They don't know about the abuse, but they should have known saying something like that will fuck him up.

"We didn't tell Mr Wheeler anything!" Lucas says and before Steve can say anything Mike's voice is coming through the walkie.

"I told Mr Hargrove." He says, and Steve has never felt so betrayed.

"Told him what?"

"I stopped by dads work and mentioned to Mr Hargrove that I'd seen Billy with a guy. He won't leave us alone, he's turned Max against us, and he turned you against us too!" Mike says, and Steve's blood is boiling.

"You don't know how bad you've fucked up, Wheeler." Steve turns his walkie off before they can respond, and Steve doesn't know what to do. He just hopes Robin can convince Neil that it's not true.

Chapter Text

Billy is shaking, and when he sees Robin walking over to the car he squeezes the steering wheel tight to try and stop it. She's put on proper clothes, rather than the pj's she was in, and she's tried to look like the sort of girl Neil would approve of. Clean and proper. Billy doesn't think he's loved her more.

They drive in silence, Robin trying to think of answers to every question Neil could ask, and Billy trying not to have a breakdown.

"Thank you." Billy whispers, nearing the end of their car ride, and Robin grabs his hand.

"Billy, I'd do anything for you. You're my best friend." She says, smiling sadly at him, and Billy takes a deep breath.

"Not for the next few hours, I'm not." Billy says as he pulls up outside of his house. "Welcome to Straightville, population, us." Billy whispers as he gets out of the car, walking round and opening the door for Robin. "I'm sorry in advance for what's about to happen." Billy says, and Robin smiles because she can see Neil standing in the window.

"Don't apologise, I'm gonna sell this like our lives depend on it." She says as she gets out of the car. She doesn't mention the fact that they probably do. Billy closes the door for her and places his hand on her back, leading her into the house. Neil is in front of them before either of them can do or say anything, and Robin smiles at him despite wanting to kick him in the dick.

"You must be Robin." Neil says, all charming like he is with everyone apart from Billy, and Robin smiles as Billy talks.

"Dad this is my girlfriend Robin. Robin this is my father, Neil." Billy introduces them, like he knows he should, and his hands are shaking so Robin grabs the one closest to her.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Hargrove." Robin says, trying to sound as polite as possible. Neil looks between them a few times before smiling.

"Nice to meet you too, Miss..."

"Buckley."

"Miss Buckley. I must say, I do wonder why my son never mentioned you to me before."

"Oh that's my fault. My parents are quite protective, don't like me to date, so we've been keeping it quiet." Neil smiles, looking like he doesn't quite believe it, before nodding.

"Well come in! We can chat in the living room." He says, turning to walk out of the hall, and Billy kisses the side of Robins head, wrapping his arm around her shoulders.

"Thank you." He breathes.

 

Robin smiles at him before they walk into the living room, sitting on the sofa Neil isn't sat on.

"You have a lovely home." Robin says, sitting next to Billy. He keeps his arm around her more as a safety blanket than anything else.

"Thank you. I would like to take credit but my wife, Susan, is the one who keeps it looking so nice. So tell me, how long have you been together." Neil asks, like he's trying to catch them off guard. Jokes on him though, Robins a theatre kid and brilliant at improv.

"4 and a half months." She says immediately, and Neil raises an eyebrow.

"So just before he disappeared for that college thing." Billy tenses slightly. He knew Neil hadn't forgotten that.

"Yeah." Robin doesn't know about the lie Max told Neil, Billy assumes, anyway, but she goes along with it.

"And how did you meet?"

"We went to school together. And I work at Family video, but I used to work in the ice-cream parlour in the mall."

"I used to take Max in there." Billy adds, and Neil smiles, and seeing him smile makes Billy feel uneasy.

"How sweet." He says just as the front door opens and Susan and Max appear at the door.

 

"Susan, this is Billy's girlfriend, Robin." Neil introduces and Max looks at Billy and Robin, confused.

"It's lovely to meet you." Susan says, walking over and kissing Robins cheek in that greeting way people do, and Max smiles at them as Robin greets Susan back, going along with it because there's obviously a reason this is happening.

"Hi Robin!" Max grins, and Robin smiles at her.

"Hi Max."

"I'll take those into the kitchen for you, Susan." Billy says, standing up and taking the bags off of Susan, needing to let Max know what's going on. Max follows him into the kitchen with the bags she's holding.

 

"What's happening?" She asks, and Billy shushes her as he puts the bags on the table.

"I'll explain fully later but basically Robin is pretending to be my girlfriend because someone told Neil I'm gay or something and he nearly killed me so I told him Robin and I are dating." He whispers as they start to unpack the bags.

"Do you know who?" Max asks, ready to kill whoever did it. Billy shrugs.

"No idea. A lot of people don't like me, could be anyone." Max frowns, walking over and nudging her side against Billy's.

"A lot of people do like you." She corrects, and Billy huffs a laugh just as Robin walks in, immediately walking over to them and resting her forehead on Billy's shoulder.

 

"It's a good thing I love you." She huffs and Billy frowns.

"What did he do?"

"Nothing he's just grilling me. I think he's finally starting to believe me though." She says with a tired smile, "Although I do see how everyone likes him. If I didn't know how much of a prick he is I'd think he's a decent person." She mutters, and Billy wraps his arm around her.

"Thank you."

"Is he like this every time you bring someone home?" Robin asks and Billy shakes his head.

"I don't bring people home, Rob. He doesn't care. Pretty sure the only reason he asked to meet you is because he wanted to make sure I wasn't lying." Billy whispers as Neil and Susan enter the kitchen.

"Will you be staying for dinner, Robin?" Susan asks and Robin looks up at Billy before looking back at Susan.

"I would love to but I told my family I'd cook for them tonight." Robin smiles, and Billy takes that as his cue.

"I'll drive you home." Billy says, feeling slightly awkward because everyone is watching him and Robin. He moves his arm from around Robins shoulders to place a hand on her back, leading her out of the kitchen.

 

Neil stops them at the front door, gripping Billy's arm slightly too tight for it to be calm.

"Billy, a word." Neil says, telling him rather than asking him, and Billy nods, turning to Robin and handing her his car keys.

"Go wait in the car, darlin'." He says, and Robin accepts the keys, pecks Billy's cheek and smiles at Neil before leaving them to it.

"I believe you are dating miss Buckley." Neil says, and Billy wasn't expecting that. Like, AT ALL. "I don't get why that kid told me you're a faggot." Billy frowns. A kid did it?

"What kid?"

"Mike Wheeler." Billy's eyes widen in realisation. Those fucking kids need to die.

"I've been warning that kid for months. He has a thing for Max. I told him to stay the hell away from her. Keep making sure he's not bothering her and all that. He's obviously trying to get back at me by spreading rumours about me being a fag." It hurts Billy to say it. He hates that word and he hates people that use it, but he hates getting beat more. Neil lets go of his wrist and nods, letting Billy know he can leave, and Billy is out of the door quicker than lightning.

Chapter Text

There are tears falling as soon as the front door shuts behind Billy, and he climbs into his car and starts driving in silence, pulling over once they're a few blocks away from the house. As soon as he parks at the side of the road he's pulled straight into Robins arms.

"That was super shitty." Robin whispers, and Billy nods, hugging her back.

"I don't know what I'm gonna do." He whimpers, and he hates people seeing him cry but right now he doesn't care.

"You're not gonna do anything. I'm gonna kill Neil and dump the body, and you're gonna deny all knowledge." Robin says and Billy chuckles before he remembers what Neil said.

"It was fucking- that Wheeler kid."

"What!" Robin screeches, and Billy winces, pulling out of the hug.

"Neil asked why the kid told him I was a-" He can't say the word again, "Why I'm gay, and I said something about the kid being into Max and me telling to fuck off I don't remember but it was the Wheeler kid." Billy is gripping the steering wheel tight, and Robin reaches over and takes his hand in hers.

"Billy, stay at mine tonight. Please." She whispers, and Billy's tears are falling and his hands are shaking, and he knows he shouldn't but he doesn't want to give Neil the chance to change his mind.

"But Steve's there." Robin raises an eyebrow.

"And..."

"Robin I can't see him right now. Not after what happened. If Neil finds out then-" Billy cuts himself off with a whimper, and Robin sighs.

"Bill, you've had a shit afternoon. Please, and I'm begging you, please, talk to him. Just talk to him. He's your good thing, Billy."

"Max is my good thing." Billy says.

"You can have more than one."

"I know. You're my good thing too." Billy says, pressing a kiss to the back of Robins hand because she's too good to him.

"Bill you know I love you. But I hate seeing you like this. We both know talking to Steve will make you feel better. Even if it's just for a little bit." Billy leans over and rests his head on her shoulder, and Robin knows she's making progress.

"Okay."

 

They get to Robins and it's pissing it down and Steve's car isn't in the drive. Robin frowns, leading Billy inside, and finds a note from Steve telling her he's 'gone to kill that little fucker' and that he'll probably go home after. Billy smiles slightly at the paper, and Robin rolls her eyes.

"Go find him, Billy." Billy looks at the paper again, reading it once more.

"It's too risky, Robin. He's gonna get hurt." Robin wipes the tear off of Billy's cheek and wraps her arms around him.

"You get hurt." Robin says, "And you'll be careful. Make sure Neil doesn't find out."

"Neil always finds out." Billy sighs and Robin leans up so she can whisper in his ear.

"Not when it matters. Your careful when you need to be. He hasn't found out Max sleeps in your room most nights has he?" She has a point, and that's happening in their own house. He can be more careful in someone else's.

"Thank you for being fake straight for me." He whispers into her hair, and Robin grins.

"Any time, Bill."

"Good night."

"Good night. I love you, dufus."

"See you later, Rob." Robin pulls out of the hug to grin at him, and Billy rolls his eyes, kissing her forehead in that older brother way he does to Max before he leaves the house.

 

Billy drives by the Wheeler's to see if Steve's car is there, and when it's not he drives by Sinclair's just in case, before making his way to Steve's. He knows if anyone sees his car in Steve's drive they're gonna talk, so he parks a few blocks away, despite the pouring rain, and walks to Steve's from there. It's cold, and he gets quite wet quite quick, so he speeds his walk up. That is, until he's in Steve's drive way. He's avoided him all day, he knows Steve knows he has, too, so he has no idea what to say. He still has no idea what to say when he's stood in front of the door, and he figures he'll probably still have no idea even if he waited years, so he holds his breath and knocks on the door, almost hoping Steve doesn't hear him.

 

Steve drives straight to the Wheelers place, fuming, and practically runs straight to the basement door, banging on it until it's opened by a nervous looking Dustin.

"You!" Steve growls, pointing at Mike, who stands up quickly. "You don't know what you've done, Wheeler." Steve is angrier than any of them have ever seen, and Mike looks slightly scared but he stands up straight as he argues back.

"He needed to be taught a lesson, Steve! He's stopping us from hanging out with Max. He's stopped Lucas from seeing Max. He's turning El against Us!" Steve walks over to him and looks him square in the eye.

"Wheeler if you think telling Neil that Billy is gay is going to make Max want to talk to you then you've severely misjudged the situation." Steve growls, "He is her brother, Mike. She loves her brother more than she likes you, and you fucking up his life is going to make her hate you more than she already does. She picks him over you guys for a reason. And shit like this just proves that she has a good reason to." Steve is seething, practically spitting his words, and he knows he can't tell the boys what's really going on but he needs to let them know how much they've fucked up with this one.

"What do you mean?" Mike asks and Steve sighs.

"You have no idea what goes on in that house, and you really have no idea how much what you said is going to fuck them up." Steve growls, pointing his finger in Mikes chest to really drive the point home.

"So why are you sticking up for him then?" Steve hesitates only for a second before he turns stern again.

"Because, unlike you, I care about people."

"Even Billy Hargrove?!" Mike asks and Steve nods.

"Especially Billy Hargrove." Steve spits. "Now you keep your fucking mouth shut, keep out of other peoples business, and maybe, just maybe, I won't kill you." Steve growls, pushing Mike back slightly before leaving the house and walking back to his car.

Chapter Text

Steve takes a deep breath before driving back to his house. He's hoping beyond hope that Robin helps Billy, and that Billy stays safe. He has no idea what's going on, and he has no idea if he can help or not, and he has no idea what to do, and he's just hoping Billy is okay. He's also really hoping this doesn't make Billy stop seeing him. God, he's going to isn't he. Billy is going to convince himself that seeing Steve is too dangerous, and that by staying away he'd be protecting him, and Steve knows Billy thinks he's doing what's best, but he also isn't going to pretend it would probably kill him, to know he was so close to having Billy, and it's been taken away from him because of those stupid kids he should never have got involved with in the first place.

Steve is practically shaking when he enters his house. It's empty and feels too big, like it always does, and he would give anything to have Billy here. The amount of times he's daydreamed about Billy just being here with him; they could cook, or watch a movie, or just sit in silence, just anything domestic that shows they're in love. Steve sighs, rolling his eyes at himself. He highly doubts Billy loves him. He doubts he ever will now.

Steve walks into the cosy living room and collapses on the sofa, staring at the ceiling, trying and failing to ignore his brain telling him every reason why he'll never see Billy again.

He's pulled out of his thoughts by a knock at the door, so quiet he's sure he imagined it. But then he realises it's probably Robin, so he sighs as he drags himself off the sofa, slowly making his way to the front door. He mentally prepares himself for Robin telling him how terrible it went, and then he pulls the door open, eyes widening when he sees Billy stood in front of him.

"Billy," Steve whispers, because he was really not expecting him to show up, and Billy looks scared and nervous and Steve doesn't know why.

 

Billy was really hoping he'd figure out what to say. But then Steve opens the door and looks at him in shock, like he wasn't expecting him, and he says his name so softly, and Billy's mind goes blank apart from one thought that's running through his head. He just wants to kiss Steve again. He opens his mouth, hoping to find some words, something to say.

"Harrington, I, uh..." Billy has no idea what's going on. "Harrington..." He was hoping words would follow, but for maybe the first time, Billy has no words. He sighs again. "I wanna talk to you." He admits, and Steve looks at him for a second before smiling slightly, grabbing his hand and pulling him into the house, closing the door behind him.

"About what?" Billy shrugs, and he keeps looking at Steve's lips and having to force his eyes back up to meet Steve's.

"Not sure." He breathes, pulling Steve closer by tugging the hand that he's holding, and Steve stops when they're chest to chest.

"You're not?" Steve can see in Billy's eyes that there's something on his mind, and he wishes he would just talk to him.

"Not really." Billy is talking so softly, and Steve wants to hug him and kiss him and tell him it will be okay. There's a bruise on his jaw, and Steve frowns at it. "Robin told me to come talk to you. Said I've had a shit day and you'll make me feel better." He murmurs, and when Steve smiles Billy knows she was right. Billy takes a deep breath, because God he's so damn pretty. "You're gonna be the death of me, Pretty boy." Billy whispers, moving his free hand to rest on Steve's hip, and Steve smiles a bit brighter.

"You're pretty too." Steve says dumbly, and Billy can't help but smile back at him.

"I don't know what I'm gonna do." Billy says honestly, and Steve drops his hand, wraps his arms around Billy's shoulders, holds him close like he knows Billy wants him to.

"What do you mean?" Billy looks past Steve, like he does when he's about to say something he's scared to say, and he takes a shaky breath.

"I fucking hate this." He mutters, before realising how that sounds and snapping his eyes back to Steve's, raising his hand so they're both wrapped around his waist. "I mean- not this. But like, just-" Billy huffs, looking past Steve again. "I really like you, Harrington. And it's shitty of me, cause, like, I wanna take you on dates, I wanna take you out for dinner and to the movies and I wanna do dumb shit with you." Steve's heart is bursting, and he would like that. A lot. He'd fucking love that. And yet there's something so bittersweet about the way Billy said it that makes him fill with nerves. Billy's eyes meet Steve's again, and Steve thinks he might pass out with how beautiful Billy is, how intently he's looking at him. "I wanna kiss you, Harrington." Billy whispers, and Steve doesn't hesitate in leaning up and pressing their lips together, and Billy pulls him impossibly closer, licks along Steve's lip and smiles when he parts his lips for him. Billy pulls back slightly before it can get too heated, and his heart tugs when Steve tries to chase his lips.

"Harrington I want to do all those thing." Billy whispers, "I want to kiss you. I want to hold your hand. I want to cuddle you and say I hate it but we both know I really don't. I want to fall asleep on the couch half way through a movie marathon with you. I wanna do sappy shit that Max will call disgusting and pretend to gag at with you. I wanna argue over something stupid and have ridiculously amazing makeup sex with you. I wanna have stupid deep conversations at 4am about the future and self worth and fears and hopes and dreams with you. I wanna do dumb shit with you." Billy says, so caught up in spilling his guts that he barely has time to admire Steve's beautiful dark blush when he mentions sex, "But you know if anyone found out then you'll get hurt. And I really don't want to put you in danger." Steve realises what's happening, and he's not going to let it.

"Hargrove I want to do all those things too." Steve says, threading a hand into the back of Billy's hair, and Billy closes his eyes, enjoys the feeling of Steve's hand in his hair. "You get hurt every day, Billy." Steve whispers, "And I can't stop it. But I can be there for you after. And I can make sure you're okay. And show you how wrong he is. How much what he tells you isn't true." Steve says, and Billy opens his eyes again and they're watering but so are Steve's.

"Harrington..." Billy whispers, arms tightening around his waist, and Steve leans closer, their lips brushing against each other.

"Billy, I really like you too." He murmurs, and Billy presses his lips against Steve's.

"Harrington it's not fair that we have to hide. You shouldn't have to hide."

"I don't care about that, dumbass. If it keeps you safe I'll hide it forever."

"Forever's a long time." Billy says, pulling back so he can see Steve, who is smiling at him.

"I know." He says simply, and it's like an unspoken promise and Billy's heart swells but he shakes his head.

"I'm broken, Harrington. I'm broken and no good and so fucked up."

"You're a good, honest person, Billy." Billy shakes his head, and he knows he needs to tell Steve what he thought. What he nearly did.

"You wouldn't be saying that if you knew what I did, Pretty boy." Billy whispers, and he can't look at Steve when he says this.

 

"Billy?" A tear falls down Billy's cheek, and now Steve's getting worried. "What happened?"

"I- You know when you came round to mine yesterday?" Steve nods, wincing at the memory of what he saw. "That wasn't- the night before he hurt me bad. Like, worse than what you saw." Steve cups his cheek.

"That wasn't your fault." He whispers softly and Billy shakes his head.

"Harrington, I'm not done." Billy takes a deep breath, his hands are shaking and he's flat out refusing to meet Steve's eyes . "I- I was so tired, and in so much pain, and I was so desperate for it to stop." Billy says, voice shaking. Steve is looking at him, scared and worried, and Billy takes a deep breath. "I drove around for a bit. Came here. Went by the school. Just, you know, places." Billy's crying, and Steve frowns when Billy mentions coming to his. "I ended up at the quarry." Billy whispers, and Steve looks at him like he knows what he's going to say.

"Billy," Steve breathes, and his eyes are watering, and Billy meets his eyes.

"Sat on the edge of the quarry. Smoked. Thought a lot." Billy says, "I thought about jumping. Not sure if I was actually ever going to, but I think I thought I would, Harrington." Billy admits, and he squeezes his eyes shut, Dark eyelashes drenched with tears. Steve immediately pulls him into a proper hug, because his heart stopped at the words, and he's so fucking glad Billy didn't.

"Have- Have you- You done this before? Thought about this before?" Steve sounds scared, and Billy shakes his head.

"I've wondered if it would be better for everyone if I wasn't here. Thought it would be easier if I wasn't. Wondered if my dad would care. Wondered if he'd mourn. Wondered if he'd tell my mum, if she'd care, if she'd go to my funeral. Never actually considered going through with anything. Never been that close to doing it." He's not 'suicidal'. He knows that. He just thinks about it sometimes, in the way a lot of people think about death and dying. Only, he thinks about how no one will miss him, and how they're better off without him. He's never almost done it before.

"What made you change your mind?" Steve asks after a moment.

"I thought about Max. She told me I wasn't allowed to leave her. Told me she's glad I survived, and that I was her good thing. I couldn't- I can't abandon her. Couldn't leave her on her own. Promised I'd protect her. Can't do that if I'm lying at the bottom of the quarry." Billy's proper crying now, face buried into Steve's neck, and Steve's stroking his hair and squeezing him close.

"You- I'm so fucking glad you're alive, Billy." Steve whispers, and Billy's arms are tight around his waist. "I- We thought we'd lost you once, Billy. We're really not ready to lose you again. You- You deal with so much shit, Billy. You're the strongest person I know, and I am so fucking glad you're here." He says, and Billy pulls back slightly, looks Steve in the eyes.

"Told you I'm more fucked up than you know, Harrington." He's not joking, or being sarcastic. He's just telling him, being honest, and it breaks Steve's heart. Steve reaches up, wipes his eyes because they're red and watery and look far too sad for Steve's liking.

"I still stand by what I said, Billy." Steve cups his face, leans close. "I really like you." He whispers, "And I know what you're gonna say. But just so you know, I am ready to ignore everything you're about to say. I have counterpoints to all your points. I'm gonna argue with you about us until you give up and let me win." Steve smiles slightly, and Billy feels the weight on his shoulders get a little bit lighter.

"What are you saying, Pretty boy?" He asks, voice timid, and Steve blushes.

"You know what I'm saying, Hargrove." He says quietly, all soft like, and he's so sincere, and genuine, and he's looking at Billy with this look in his eyes and Billy smiles.

"You sure?" Steve nods. "It's a lot. I'm a lot."

"I know, Hargrove." Steve smiles, plays with Billy's hair, "You're also worth it." Billy smiles a little wider.

”It’s shit work.”

”Not to me. Not if it’s you.” Steve smiles, still playing with his hair, and Billy gives in.

"Harrington, will you be my boyfriend?" He asks, and Steve grins at him, a beautiful, ethereal smile.

"Yes, Hargrove. I'd love to be." Billy captures Steve in a kiss, gripping his hoodie tight, and Steve runs his fingers through Billy's hair again, just now noticing it's wet. Steve pulls back, frowning, before looking down and realising Billy's jacket is wet too. "Shit, you get caught in the rain?" Billy chuckles.

"Parked a few blocks away."

"See, you're already being careful." Steve says with a small smile. "You're gonna catch a cold. You wanna take a shower or something?" Billy rolls his eyes, a fond smile on his lips.

"Max was right, you are a mother." Steve pouts at him, Billy laughs. "Just messing, Princess, yeah I'll take a shower." Billy says and Steve smiles at him, blushing slightly as he leads Billy to his room so he can use his en suit. Billy tries not to think, as he follow Steve up the stairs, about how this is kind of what he's wanted since they first arrived in Hawkins.

Chapter Text

"Where you takin' me, Harrington?" Billy asks with a smirk when they reach the top of the stairs and Steve starts leading him down the hall. Steve blushes but shrugs, walking through a door.

"Pretty sure my bathroom is the only one stocked with soap and shampoo, so..." He trails off, leading Billy into his bedroom and over to his en suite, and Billy smiles at the blush on Steve's cheeks.

"Relax, pretty boy, I'm joking." He breathes before dropping Steve's hand.

"You can help yourself to any of the clothes in my wardrobe."

"Thanks, Harrington." He says, genuinely, and Steve smiles.

"Any time, Hargrove." Steve looks at Billy for a second more before disappearing out of the room, leaving Billy alone.

 

Billy strips and gets in the shower, taking his time washing and just standing under the water and looking around the bathroom, Steve's bathroom. There's hairsprays and products all over the counter top, and Billy can imagine it takes him an hour to get his hair ready. He steps out of the shower and dries himself off before going into Steve's room and over to his closet. It's huge, and Billy doesn't know why one person needs so many clothes but he figures having rich parents means you get a lot of stuff. He grabs a pair of joggers and a t-shirt and pulls them on before making his way out of the room. He goes downstairs and tries to find Steve, halting when he walks into the 'cosy' living room to see the fire lit and a blanket on the sofa. He smiles slightly, because Steve is too cute, and he's being so damn sweet. Steve isn't in the room though, so Billy makes his way to the kitchen, stopping in the doorway and leaning against the frame because Steve is humming a song to himself and dancing slightly as he makes something and god he's too damn sweet that Billy can't help but smile at him.

"Having fun?" Steve spins around, not realising Billy was there, and when he looks at him, looking all soft in Steve's clothes, a small smile settling on his lips.

"I uh, I made you a hot chocolate." Steve says, gesturing to the two mugs on the counter next to him, and Billy looks over to see them both steaming and covered in whipped cream and small marshmallows. He smiles, eyes flicking back up to Steve who suddenly looks nervous.

"Thanks, Harrington." He walks over and accepts one of the mugs, and Steve beams when Billy takes a sip, eyes closing in satisfaction.

"You like it?" Honestly Billy doesn't drink hot chocolate often. He usually has coffee. But he'd drink them with Max after getting too cold surfing back in Cali, or after getting caught in the rain. Maybe it's just because Steve made it for him, but this is the best hot chocolate he's ever had.

"Yeah. Thank you." Steve smiles wider as he picks up his mug.

"I lit the fire, cause I figured you'd be cold." Steve says and Billy nods.

"I saw." He says and when he sees the nervous look on Steve's face he adds "It's cute. You're cute." Steve blushes but smiles and Billy rolls his eyes, grabbing Steve's free hand. "Come on, Pretty boy."

 

Steve follows Billy into the living room and they sit side by side on the sofa, the blanket thrown over their laps and the fire keeping them warm.

"So how'd it go with Robin?" Steve asks, voice warm and quiet, and Billy glances at him.

"Not sure, honestly. I mean, he said he believed me, but I don't know." Steve sighs and rests his head on Billy's shoulder, and Billy lies his head on top of Steve's.

"You think, if he does believe you, you think he'll stop hurting you?" Billy knows what Steve wants to hear, but he also doesn't want to lie to him, so he pauses for a second, hesitates before answering.

"No." Another pause. Steve grips his hand tight.

"Do you think he'll ever stop hurting you?"

"I don't know. Maybe." He says it because he wants to believe there'll be a day he doesn't get beat by Neil anymore. He's not sure he does believe it though. "How'd it go with the Wheeler kid?" Steve sighs before frowning.

"How'd you know it was him?"

"Neil told me. How'd you know?"

"Henderson called me and they just kind of admitted to it."

"Did you actually go round there though?" Steve nods, jostling Billy's head slightly.

"Yeah."

"What d'you do?"

"I just shouted at them a bunch. I think I threatened them. Told them Max not wanting to hang out with them is of her own accord, you had nothing to do with it. Think I told them I'd kill them. I was so angry. Don't think I've ever been so angry. At anyone, let alone them." Steve says, and Billy kisses his head.

"You didn't have to do that." Steve sits up straight and looks Billy in the eye, determined and certain.

"Yes I did. Billy he could have killed you." Steve says, voice breaking half way through, and Billy sighs, putting his near empty mug on the coffee table and wrapping his arms around Steve. He knows he means well.

"Harrington..." Billy sighs, and Steve cuddles into his chest. "You can't be worryin' about that. And I know what you're gonna say-" Billy cuts Steve off just as he's about to protest, "but, please, Harrington. Please don't." Steve frowns, because he can't help it.

"Billy I'm not gonna stop worrying. I'm gonna worry about you forever." Billy loves how Steve talks about forever. Makes him want to survive long enough to experience it.

"I appreciate that, Pretty boy." Billy pulls Steve closer, their legs tangling together, and Steve blushes again. "You gonna blush every time I call you pretty?"

"Probably." Steve mumbles, like he's embarrassed, and Billy grins. Presses his face into Steve's ridiculously pretty hair and chuckles.

"But you are pretty, Harrington." Steve's blush darkens and Billy just grins harder.

"Yeah well you're pretty too." Steve grumbles and Billy laughs, loud and open. Steve swears he can feel his heart explode.

"You're prettier." Steve grins as his blush darkens, burying his face in Billy's chest.

"Who would have thought you're such a dork." Billy laughs again, genuine, before pulling back, feigning offence.

"Says you, Nerd." Steve giggles, pulling Billy back towards him.

"It's a good thing, asshole!" He bites back a grin when Billy gives in and settles back on the sofa, huffing about how he doesn't need to take this bullshit, but really he sinks into Steve's arms gladly, pulls him against his chest and happily breathes in the smell of Steve's shampoo mixed with hairspray, cigarettes, and the briefest hint of cologne that he probably put on this morning.

Chapter Text

Billy and Steve lie on the sofa next to each other, legs tangled and holding hands, for a few hours. Talking about nothing in particular and just enjoying each others company. Billy knows he should go home, because it's late and he has to take Max to school tomorrow and Neil will get mad if he wakes up and Billy isn't home. Only problem is, he doesn't want to leave. He's comfy here, with Steve playing with his fingers and his head resting on Billy's shoulder, and he doesn't want to ruin this.

"I need to go soon, pretty boy." Billy whispers, and Steve frowns.

"You sure?" Billy laughs, quiet and breathy.

"Pretty sure."

"But, like, hear me out, you could just stay here."

"You know I can't do that, Harrington." Billy smiles slightly at his determination, holding Steve's hand properly.

"I know." Steve sighs, "Don't mean I can't try though." Steve buries his face in Billy's neck, pressing a kiss under his ear, and Billy moves his head slightly to give Steve better access.

"Not gonna work, Harrington." Billy whispers in Steve's ear as Steve wraps his arms around Billy's waist, hugging him close. Billy wraps his arms around Steve, indulging him for a minute.

"Stay here." Steve murmurs.

"Wish I could, baby." Billy feels Steve grin against his neck, his blushing cheeks pressing against Billy's skin.

"Baby?"

"Trying something. Shut up about it." Billy mutters and Steve pulls back to grin at him.

"Didn't mind it." Billy can feel a blush spreading up his chest and the way Steve is looking at him is making his stomach feel funny, so he just leans forward and presses his lips against Steve's so he doesn't have to deal with that right now. When they pull back Billy looks over at the clock to see it's nearly midnight. His dad is going to go mad if he's not home soon, says Billy wakes him up when he gets home, even when Billy is as silent as possible.

"It's late."

"So I can't in good consciousness let you go home at this hour." Billy rolls his eyes, shuffling back so he can stand up and smiling when Steve tries to grab him and pull him back towards him. Billy just gets up and grabs his empty mug, taking it to the kitchen and smiling to himself when he hears Steve grumble but follow him.

 

Billy washes up their mugs before turning to see Steve leaning against the counter behind him. He turns off the tap and turns, leaning back against the counter and meeting Steve's eyes.

"I know you're worried, Princess. But you don't gotta stare at me like that." Billy says softly. Steve's looking at him with such concern, and it makes his chest tighten and his stomach knot.

"Feel like I'm sending you to your death or something." Steve admits, and Billy's heart aches. He sighs, walks over to Steve and grabs his hand, standing mere inches away from him.

"Harrington, this is why I didn't wanna do this. Cause you're gonna feel this every day, and that's not fair."

"I feel this everyday anyway." Billy closes his eyes and takes a deep breath before looking at Steve again.

"He's not gonna kill me, Harrington."

"Yeah. But he's gonna hurt you."

"Not anymore today. That's tomorrows problem."

"Hargrove..." Steve whispers, and Billy squeezes his hand and cups his cheek with his free hand.

"I'm gonna be okay, Harrington." They both know it's not true, but they also don't want to fight about this, not now, so Steve nods, worry still obvious in his eyes, and Billy smiles slightly, presses a kiss to Steve's forehead. "I'll see you tomorrow, pretty boy."

"See you tomorrow, Billy." Billy looks into Steve's eyes for a second more, deep brown and beautiful, before raising their hands, pressing a kiss to Steve's knuckles, and letting go, leaving Steve standing in the kitchen as he puts his shoes on and leaves.

Steve hears the front door shut, and his heart aches. He pulls off his hoodie as he walks over to the laundry room, pulls Billy's shirt out of the dryer, and puts it on. It's soft, and it smells like Billy, and he pulls the collar up over his nose as he makes his way up to his room, falling asleep with the smell of Billy Hargrove consuming him.

Chapter Text

Max stays up until Billy gets home, listening out, straining her ears for any sign that he's home. She hears the front door open quietly, and doesn't hear Billy at all but a few seconds later he appears in her doorway, knowing she was going to be waiting for him.

"You should be asleep." Billy whispers, and Max gestures to her bed. Billy walks over and sits in front of her on the edge of her bed. Max sits up straighter and looks at Billy expectantly, and Billy rolls his eyes. "Yes?"

"Oh come on! What happened?"

"Well I told Neil that I'm dating Robin because that little shit Wheeler told him I'm gay which, I mean that's not even true."

"Yeah, no I get that, but what happened after? Like, I'm sure you didn't spent the last 5 hours with Robin." Max is looking at Billy like she already knows what happened, but then realisation dawns on her and her face hardens. "Wait. Mike did it?!" Billy watches as anger flashes through her eyes and she balls her hands up in fists. "Oh, I swear I'm gonna kill him! How dare he-" Billy cuts her off, shushing her because she's getting louder.

"Kid, quiet." Max shakes her head.

"He could have killed you!" Max whisper yells at him. "Neil was going to kill you and it was all Mike's fault! Is he completely stupid? I know he's clueless about everything but even he must know telling someone their son is gay could end super badly for them?" Max is ranting, and Billy feels kind of warm at the knowledge that she's sticking up for him. "Billy I swear I'm going to kill him. Like, fully kill him." Billy sighs, pulls her into a hug.

"I know kid, I know. But you need to calm down. Please?" Max huffs, but nods.

"Fine." She mutters, before pulling out of the hug. "So you gonna tell me what happened?"

"Really? You sure?"

"I tell you about my life!" Billy chuckles, because yeah, that's fair.

"Alright, fine." Billy pulls his legs up, sitting cross legged. "So I did go to Robins, but Steve wasn't there, and he'd left her a note saying he was gonna go to the Wheeler's, and that he wouldn't go back to Robins after. Robin told me to go find him, said I'd feel better if I spoke to him."

"Which you did?"

"Which I did. I went to his, and spoke to him." Billy hesitates for a second, not too sure how much he should tell her, but he figures she trusts him with her secret stuff so he should trust her. They are siblings after all. "I told him I like him. Told him how I feel and shit. He said he feels the same. I kissed him. Then I had a shower and we kind of just sat of the couch and talked. And I asked him if he wanted to be my boyfriend and he said yes. And he didn't want me to leave, but I had to come home." Max smiles, because Billy sounds casual about it all, but he's practically glowing, and he's obviously happy, and he was so worried for no reason and Max is happy for him.

"I told you."

"Alright smart-ass." Billy rolls his eyes, shoving her shoulder gently but smiling, "Come on. Sleep now." Billy says, standing up, and Max nods, shifting so she's lying down. Billy leans down to kiss her forehead, and as he's standing up again Max grabs his hand.

"I'm happy for you, Billy." Billy smiles down at Max, pulls the duvet up under her chin and tucks her in.

"Thanks, shitbird." He says, squeezing her hand before leaving the room, shutting the door behind him.

 

Billy lies on his bed, staring at the ceiling, and lets his mind run wild. He can smell Steve because of the t-shirt he borrowed, and he pulls the collar of the top over his nose, taking a deep breath in. He thinks about the way it felt to have Steve's hands on him, gentle and supporting and soft. He thinks about what it felt like to bury his face in Steve's hair and just breath. He thinks about how damn cute Steve is, how he was humming to himself, how he made Billy hot chocolate, and how he cares about him. He thinks about how it felt to press his lips against Steve's, and he wishes Steve was here now.

He thinks about what Max and Robin said. He knows Max is his good thing, but Robin is right, he can have more than one, and Steve is definitely his good thing. And he really likes him, more than he's ever liked anyone before. Thinks he could love him. Thinks he probably already does. Thinks he's almost definitely so damn in love with him and his perfect hair and his perfect eyes and his perfect everything. This scares him, because Billy looses what he loves. He sits up, sighs, and gets out of bed, crossing the hall to Max's room.

"Billy?" Max whispers, groggy so she must have dosed off, and Billy slides into bed next to her, lying on his back. "Are you okay?" Billy looks scared, and Max is worried Neil did something.

"I think I might love him." Billy whispers back, and Max goes from worried to confused.

"Yeah?" She asks, even though to her it's obvious he does, and Billy's hands are shaking so he squeezes them into fists.

"Yeah." Billy breathes, feeling kind of sick now he's admitted it out loud to an actual human that heard him. "Not sure what to do now." Billy admits, and Max smiles at him.

"Now you sleep, and we deal with the rest tomorrow." She says, voice sleepy, and Billy looks at her because damn she reminds him of himself so much, but she's right.

"Okay." Billy whispers, and he goes to get up, but she grabs his shoulder to stop him.

"Stay in here please." And Billy doesn't ask questions. He just lies back down and lets Max use him as a pillow.

"You smell like Steve." She mutters, turning her nose up slightly because she likes when Billy smells like himself. Like safety and comfort and protection. Steve is none of those things; like yeah, he protected her and the others from the monsters, but it's not sibling protection. He's not the same comfort or safety you get from a brother. He's not like how Billy is.

"I know." Billy says, voice all soft and in love, and he has a small smile on his face, and Max lets it go because she figures she'll just have to get used to this.

Chapter Text

Max is fine until they pull up outside school and she sees Mike by the bike rack. She sees red, and before Billy can calm her down she's out of the car and storming over to him. Billy gets out of the car too, because he knows Max has his temper and she will not hesitate to punch Mike's lights out. Billy sees Steve in his car, Henderson getting out of the passenger side, and when they see Max storming towards Mike they both rush over too.

"How dare you!" Max shouts, stomping towards him, and just before she gets within reaching distance Billy catches her round the waist, pulls her away as she struggles to get free. "You have no fucking idea how much I want to kill you!" She shouts, trying to push Billy's hands out of their locked grip. "Billy let me go!" She shouts, and she's bright red with fury, and Mike looks scared. Billy can't help but fill with pride.

"I'll let you go when you calm down." Billy says, trying to keep his voice calm even though he also wants to kill Mike. Max huffs, stops struggling but still fuming, and Billy knows better than to believe she's calm.

"Why'd you do something so fucking stupid!" She growls at Mike, and he glances at Lucas, then Dustin.

"He's the reason you don't hang out with us anymore. You haven't been out with Lucas in weeks!"

"I haven't been out with Lucas because I dumped him!" Max snaps, "And I don't hang out with you because you chat shit about my brother all the time!" Billy didn't know Max had dumped Lucas, just that she didn't like him anymore. He looks down at her, must have relaxed his hands slightly because Max slips out of his grip and storms towards Mike. "How would you like it if I blabbed to the fucking press that El has superpowers?" She growls, and Billy doesn't bother grabbing her again, just stays close.

"You wouldn't." Mike says, and Max glares at him.

"No. I wouldn't. Because I know how dangerous that would be." Max growls, stepping closer dangerously, "You know how dangerous it can be telling people what you told Neil." Max grabs Mike's shirt, shakes him a little bit, "I fucking hate you, Mike." She spits, and Billy decides he should step in again, reaches out and grabs Max gently, pulls her away from Mike.

"Max, you need to get to class." Max shakes her head, glares at Mike, then at Lucas and Dustin.

"Leave me alone." She growls. "I swear if you come near me I'll kill you." She adds "All of you." And then she stop struggling against Billy, lets him pull her away from them. She turns to face him, and Billy sighs when he sees her tearful red eyes. He wraps his arms around her shoulders and walks her away from the boys, smiling slightly when Will calls their names and walks over to them.

 

"Good morning! Are you okay?" Billy squeezes Max's shoulder, and she nods.

"Hi Will." She says, before smiling. "We're fine." Will frowns, looks over Max's shoulder at Mike and the others before looking back at Max.

"You sure?" Max nods but says nothing else, and Billy takes a deep breath.

"We're okay. Get to class, yeah?" Will nods, and looks at Max who glances at Billy before looking back at Will.

"I'll meet you there. Need to talk to Billy."  Will nods again, smiles, and walks into the school. Max turns to face Billy who meets her eyes and sighs.

"You can't hit them. You know that, right?" Max frowns.

"Why not?"

"Cause, shitbird, if you're fighting then the school will call Susan. Or Neil." He says, knowing she'll get it. If they're told Max is fighting Neil will wonder why, or he'll just beat the fuck out of Billy. Max sighs.

"I wont. But I'm not gonna pretend it didn't happen. I'm not gonna be nice to them." Billy smiles slightly.

"You don't have to be nice to them, kid. Just don't do anything that will get you in trouble." Max nods.

"Promise." She holds up her pinky and Billy links his with it.

"Good girl." He grins when she finally cracks a smile and releases her finger, "Get to class."

"I love you." Max says, and Billy rolls his eyes but pulls her into a hug.

"Love you too." He says, "And listen, if you do do something that gets you in trouble, tell them to call me at work, yeah? Say Susan and Neil aren't home so they have to call me."

"How'd you know I'm gonna get in trouble?"

"I don't. But you're my sister, and we're too alike for your own good." Max grins at him.

"Not a bad thing." Billy chuckles, but Max looks at him all serious. "I mean it, Billy. I'm proud you're my brother." Billy thinks his heart might explode. He always wanted Max to be proud of him, but he never thought she would be. He takes a deep breath, places his hand on the back of her head and presses a kiss to her forehead.

"You can't be making me cry in the middle of a school parking lot, kid." He whispers, but she knows the sentiment behind the way he's talking and the forehead kiss.

"Don't worry. Pretty sure everyone is still scared of you." Max grins, stepping back from him. "Need to get to class though." Billy rolls his eyes.

"I'll pick you up later. Have a good day."

"You too." Billy watches Max walk into the school building before returning to his car, and the warm feeling of knowing Max is proud stays with him the whole day.

Chapter Text

Billy doesn't see Steve again until he's picking Max up from the Byers that night, having been caught up at work and being late for pick up. He parks outside, seeing Steve's car already there, and takes a deep breath. The other little shits are still here too then, and he knows he cant say or do anything with Steve without them seeing or hearing, so rather than going in the house and making things weird, he just honks his horn so Max knows he's there. She wasn't happy about coming, but Will and El wanted her to come, so she reluctantly agreed with the promise that if Mike so much as looked at her she'd rip out his intestines and strangle him with it. Billy knows he should probably have told her off for that, but he couldn't help but be proud. He's dropping El home too, he's fairly sure, so he waits until they both appear at the front door. Max looks a little stressed, and Billy feels guilty for being late. He isn't expecting to see Will too, and is even more surprised when he starts walking over.

"Billy, can I, er, can I talk to you quick?" Will asks as Max and El start climbing into the car. Billy nods immediately.

"Give me a sec, ladies." Billy leaves the keys in the car as he climbs out. "Wanna talk here or is this a private matter?"

"Private. But, I don't really trust them not to listen in." Will says, nodding towards the house, and Billy nods, looking around for a second. The car windows are shut, so the girls can't hear them. Billy hops up onto the hood of his car, and Will gets the hint, jumping up to sit next to him.

"What's up, kid?"

"I think I want to tell mum. And Jonathan." Will says, and Billy's taken aback for a moment.

"You sure?" Will frowns.

"You think it's a bad idea?"

"No. No, if you're ready I think it's a great idea." Billy immediately switches his tone from surprised to supportive, puts his hand on Wills shoulder to emphasise his point.

"You do?"

"Kid, every time someone comes out and says who they are, tells their truth, the world becomes a brighter, more interesting place."

"Will you still be with me when I do?" Billy smiles, nods and pretends he isn't about to cry.

"Course I will, kid." Will beams at him, and Billy thinks maybe he'd do anything for this fucking kid and the two in his car.

"Thank you! I still don't know when, and I'm kind of terrified and I actually feel a bit sick whenever I think about it and-"

"Kid." Billy cuts him off. "There's no rush." Will nods, smiles a bit more before frowning.

"I'm sorry about what Mike did." He says, and Billy takes a deep breath, squeezing Wills shoulder gently.

"Don't need to apologise."

"But didn't he go mad?"

"A bit. I got out of a beating by telling him I'm straight and dating Robin." Will's eyes widen.

"Really?"

"Yeah. Had to introduce her to him to prove it."

"Bet that went well."

"He bought it, so it could have gone worse. But listen, kid, don't worry 'bout that. Okay?"

"Okay." Will says before smirking. "Steve seems happy today." It catches Billy off guard, and he feels a blush spread up his chest.

"Does he?" Billy tries to sound casual, but Will obviously sees right through him.

"So do you." Billy rolls his eyes, shoves Will's shoulder.

"Whatever kid. Go back inside." Billy slides off the hood, and once Will is standing up too he quickly hugs Billy, catching him by surprise. Billy glances into the car to see Max watching him with a small smile, and Billy thinks the way his sister looks at him makes him feel like he can be a good person. He hugs Will back, because he wasn't hugged, by Neil or anyone, as a kid, and god does it show, and then Will is thanking him again and running back into his house, and Billy is frozen for a second, watching Will walk. He sees Steve through the window and takes a moment to appreciate the way he's watching him, eyes full of adoration, and Billy wonders how Steve can look at him like that before he gets back in his car, smiling slightly to himself.

"You're happier, Billy." El says, and Billy glances at her through the mirror before starting the car.

"Got reasons to be, kid." He can see Max smiling at him out of the corner of his eye, and he reaches over and grabs her hand as he starts to drive.

 

They drive to Hoppers first, El and Max chatting whilst Billy listens, not really taking anything they say in but enjoying how happy they sound. Billy makes sure El is in the house before he pulls away, returning Hoppers greeting and accepting his thanks about getting El home safe. When they start the drive home Max turns to him.

"I didn't kill him." Billy can't help but smile.

"I'm sorry I was late, kid. Didn't want to leave you there that long but Bobby needed me to do something."

"It's fine. I just sat with El."

"Okay kid. And hey, how come you didn't tell me about you and Lucas?" Max shrugs.

"Don't know. Didn't want to talk about it." Billy reaches over and grabs her hand.

"You know you can talk to me about anything though, right?"

"Yeah. And I did tell you I didn't like him."

"I know. So are you okay?" Max nods.

"I told him I wanted to break up, and I said it's nothing he did, I just think it's better if we're friends. Not that I want to be his friend anymore, after what they did."

"You know, it's okay if you still want to be their friend. You don't have to hate them. You don't have to take sides."

"See this is where you're wrong. Firstly, I do hate them. And secondly, if it was the other way round they would want me to pick sides, they'd say I had to choose them or you. Just proves you're better than they are." Billy chuckles, and Max grins. "You know, Steve asked about you a lot today." Billy raises an eyebrow.

"Yeah?"

"Yep. I mean, he always asks about you, but he asked a few more times than necessary today." Billy's curious, and he knows Max will tell him, but he also doesn't want to come across as pathetic. Oh well.

"At the risk of sounding like a 9 year old girl... What did he say?" Max grins, and is about to talk when Billy holds up his hand. "Hang on." He parks the car at the side of the road and turns to her. "Okay go." He says, and Max grins harder, turning to face him properly.

"So firstly he was super smiley and nicer than usual, apart from to Mike but he can literally go to hell. He came up to me as soon as he got to Will's and asked how you were cause he didn't see you at the school today for pick up and didn't get to talk to you this morning, and he wanted to know how you were last night, and he kept, like, smiling every once in a while and when we asked why he would blush super bad and say nothing, but, like, I mean, he was thinking 'bout you. He's super in love, Billy." Max is smiling because Billy is smiling, and they've never had a proper, for lack of a better word, 'girl talk' before, not like this, and Max loves it and so does Billy.

"Really?"

"Yeah! And Dustin asked him if he wanted to go to the Wheeler's tonight cause they're gonna play d&d and he said no cause he 'had some stuff to do' but we all know that means he's hoping you go round there again." Billy bites his lip, and Max rolls her eyes. "You are going round there again, right?"

"Er, well I wasn't going to..." He's nervous, cause he doesn't wanna tell Steve he loves him because it's way too soon, and he's scared he'll blurt it out.

"Billy!" Max sighs, and Billy glances out the window.

"I know. I'm a terrible person."

"No Billy. You're great. You're just stupid." Max smiles sadly as Billy starts driving them home.

 

They have an awkward family dinner, Neil actually talks to Billy rather than ignoring him, only to ask how Robin is though, and probably to catch him off guard and expose the lie. After dinner Billy cleans his teeth and goes straight to bed. He knows he's being a dick, but he's scared. He's never loved anyone before, not like this. He's never felt like this about anyone, not even close. And he knows Steve is expecting him to go round, and he knows letting him down when they've been together for less than 24 hours is a terrible relationship choice, but he's so damn scared. He lies in bed, watching the clock somehow turn from 19:00 to 20:30, all the while thinking about how much he just wants to be with Steve. To kiss him and hold him and just be with him. It's not until the clock reads 21:43 that he huffs and sits up, shoving shoes on. He's had enough.

"Are you going to Steve's?" Max whispers as he passes her room, and he nods.

"Yeah. Be back later. Don't wait up."

"Have fun." Max whispers, smiling when Billy leaves.

Chapter Text

Billy's hands are shaking the entire drive to Steve's, and when he gets out the car and walks the few blocks from where he parked he shoves his hands in his pockets to try and stop them. He hesitates slightly when he reaches the front door, staring at it for a second as if hoping it will tell him this was a good idea or not, before taking a deep breath, pulling his hands out of his pockets and knocking on the door. It takes a few minute for Steve to open the door, and when the door finally swings Billy can't help but appreciate the view. Steve is wearing short shorts and the t-shirt Billy wore yesterday which is slightly too big, and his hair is fluffy as hell, and he looks fucking adorable.

"Hey." Billy breathes, and Steve smiles.

"Hey. Didn't think you were coming." Steve says softly, like he really means it, and Billy shrugs, a little guilty, but steps into the house and shuts the door in case someone sees.

"Sorry, pretty boy." He says and Steve rolls his eyes as Billy grabs his hand and pulls him close.

"N- It's fine." Steve stutters, blushing, and Billy kisses Steve's knuckles before starting to walk into the living room, pulling Steve with him. They settle on the sofa, still holding hands, and Steve looks over at Billy. "I saw you with Will earlier." Steve says, like he knows a secret, and Billy meets his eyes.

"Yeah?" Steve nods.

"Seemed a big conversation."

"He needed my help with something. It's not a big deal." He doesn't want to out the kid, and the way Steve is looking at him does all kinds of things to his heart.

"You're sweet with him." Steve smiles, squeezing Billy's hand, and Billy squeezes back almost instinctively.

"He's a good kid."

"What ever you said really helped him. He was so happy when he came back in. Had the other kids confused as hell though." Billy breathes a laugh.

"Wouldn't wanna cause any of them distress." Billy mutters, and Steve leans over and presses a kiss to Billy's cheek.

"Let's not talk about them right now." Billy smiles slightly.

"What do you wanna talk about then, Bambi?" Billy's leaning close to Steve, and Steve grins, eyes sparkling.

"Bambi?"

"You might as well be who they based Bambi's look off of, Harrington, what with you're hair and your big brown eyes." Steve grins wider, wants desperately to close the gap between them.

"You're too cute." Steve gushes.

"Nah that's you, Bambi." Steve chuckles, presses another kiss to Billy's cheek.

 

"Tell me about you." Billy frowns.

"Me?"

"Yeah. I don't know anything about you really." Billy rolls his eyes.

"You know everything about me, Harrington."

"Not really. Come on, Hargrove." Steve pleads, eyes wide and doe like, and Billy can't say no. He rolls his eyes, sits up straighter and turns to face Steve properly.

"What do you wanna know?"

"What was your childhood like?" Billy lets out an ooof before he talks.

"I mean, Neil's always been an abusive asshole, used to hit me and my mum, which I guess is why she left when I was 10. Don't blame her for leaving, just kind of wish she'd taken me with her." Billy sighs, and Steve grips his hand tight but lets him continue. "Neil met Susan. Married her. Max- she wasn't happy about it. Did something that got me beat real bad. Then we moved here." Steve frowns at that. He didn't know why they moved here.

"What did she do?"

"It wasn't her fault." Billy starts, playing with Steve's fingers, "She just- she was only 7 when they met, and it was a lot of change, and he didn't want her to see her dad, and she kind of resented him. Which I get. Neil mentioned moving here, and I guess she kind of just snapped, cause he stopped her seeing her dad but she still could, cause she would sneak out and ride to his, or he'd meet her at the beach when we went surfing, but moving here meant she'd never be able to see him. She ran away. She just- She ran, and I was meant to be watching her, and she ran. Police found her at a bus station and brought her home, and we moved here a few days later."

"She ran away?" Billy nods.

"She just didn't wanna deal with it, I guess. I don't blame her. I wanted to stay in Cali too." Billy says, voice quiet and honest.

"You miss it?" Steve's asked this question before, but he thinks he might get a different answer now.

"Yeah." Billy says, and he has the hint of a melancholy smile gracing his lips, his gaze becoming unfocused.

"Tell me about Cali." Steve says softly, and Billy's gaze focuses again.

"We lived right near the beach. I loved to surf, and mum took me surfing most days. One of the things that pissed Neil off. When Neil met Susan I spent all my time at the beach. Neil would make me take Max, said it would help us bond or something but he just wanted us out the way. We'd spend all day at the beach. Go on runs in the morning, go surfing after school, go swimming in the ocean. It was kind of like a safe place. Only place I could be where I would forget about Neil for a bit. Only place me and Max got on. We had to trust each other, especially when surfing. Still hated me when we weren't at the beach though. I kind of think she hated me at the beach but because I was getting her away from Neil, cause I was helping her surf, she put up with me. I guess we did bond."

"You wanna go back?" Billy shrugs.

"I mean, yeah." He does miss it a lot. He wouldn't want to move back there now though, not unless Steve came with him. "Even if it's like, just for a day or something." Steve smiles slightly, cause Billy is still playing with his fingers and he's talking so openly and Steve kind of definitely loves him.

 

Billy takes a deep breath, focusing on Steve again. "Alright, Bambi, your turn."

"My turn?" Billy nods.

"Come on, pretty boy, tell me your life story." Steve blushes.

"Alright, er, lived in Hawkins my whole life. My parents are never really home, travel a lot for work, used to leave me with my nanny when I was younger, but they kind of stopped bothering with that when I turned 14. Usually here alone. You know, until they need their perfect son to make them look good at a party or something or to prove to people they have that perfect family." Steve mutters the last bit, and Billy nods.

"Fancy business parties and stuff?"

"Yeah, or family events. Got to live up to that perfect son thing. All my cousins got perfect grades or they're married or the CEO of some big company. They weren't pleased when I fucked up in high school and didn't get into college. Apparently me being stupid wasn't part of their plan." Steve mutters, and Billy frowns.

"You're not stupid." He says, squeezing Steve's hand, and Steve meets his eyes.

"Yeah, I kind of am."

"Hey." Billy sounds serious, "You're not stupid, Harrington." His voice is somehow both stern and soft, and Steve's heart aches.

"Billy I didn't get into college. I work at family video." Billy lets go of Steve's hand and moves his hands to cup Steve's face.

"Harrington, you're not stupid. You're not. You're one of the smartest people I know." He's taking like he means it, and Steve wants to believe him.

"Billy..."

"I mean it, Pretty boy." Steve nods, and Billy presses the softest, sweetest kiss against Steve's lips.

Chapter Text

"What's your favourite colour?" Steve asks. They're in the kitchen now, because Steve said he didn't eat dinner and Billy can't let him go hungry, so he's making mac and cheese, despite it being 10:30pm. Billy shrugs, his mind immediately going to the ocean.

"Dunno. Blue maybe." Billy smiles slightly, glancing at Steve who is sat on the counter behind him, "You trying to get to know me, pretty boy?"

"Maybe."

"Dork." Billy chuckles when Steve glares at him and he walks over from where he was at the stove, standing in between his legs as he wraps his arms around Steve's waist loosely. "What's your favourite colour?"

"Not sure." Steve knows his favourite colour is the colour of Billy's eyes, but thinks maybe thats too mushy for Billy. "Maybe blue too. What's your favourite film?" Steve rests his arms around Billy's shoulders, ankles hooking round his legs, keeping him where he is. Billy pauses for a second, thinking.

"Maybe Alien. Or Bugsy Malone. Ghostbusters was pretty good. What 'bout you?"

"Ghostbusters was a good film. Star wars is probably my favourite though." Billy smiles.

"You are a dork."

"Your dork." Steve mutters and Billy's smile spreads into the cutest grin.

"Yeah." He agrees, and Steve looks at him, eyes so damn loving and beautiful, and he can't help but press a kiss against Billy's cheek.

"You're a dork too." Billy shrugs and lets go of Steve, walking back over to stir the mac and cheese

 

 

"What's your favourite song?"

"Oh you can't do that to me." Steve chuckles.

"Favourite band then?" Billy pouts at him, and Steve laughs harder. "Alright, favourite genre?"

"Rock music." Billy says, as if it's obvious, and Steve figures it was an obvious answer. "You?"

"Oh, er, probably pop. Was raised with classical though so I'm kind of all over the place." Billy raises an eyebrow.

"Classical?" He has a teasing smile on his face, and Steve shrugs.

"Parents like to seem fancy." Billy turns to him.

"Come on then, pretty boy, you prefer Mozart or Ludovico?" Steve's eyes widen.

"You know classical music?" He asks in shock, and Billy chuckles.

"Not as uncultured as I look, huh?" He asks, going back to stir the mac and cheese.

"So do you like it?" Billy nods.

"Can play it, Harrington."

"You can play classical music?"

"Only on piano. Not violin or any of that shit. Neil signed me up for after school piano classes so he didn't have to deal with me after school. Jokes on him though cause I had my bisexual awakening in those classes." Steve smiles slightly.

"Really?"

"Yeah, teacher was hot as fuck." Steve's eyes narrow and Billy laughs, letting go of the spoon and walking over to him, taking his hand gently and pressing a kiss against his knuckles. "Obviously not as hot as you, Pretty boy." A blush immediately spreads across Steve's face and Billy smirks, pecking his lips before returning to the stove.

"So, are you any good?" Billy shrugs.

"I used to be. Not sure if I've retained any of that though." He takes the saucepan off the stove and pours the mac and cheese onto two plates.

"I have a piano here." Steve says as he grabs some forks, and Billy raises an eyebrow.

"Of course you do."

"Will you play for me?" Billy hesitates. He's never played for anyone. No ones ever asked him to play before. But the way Steve is looking at him, hopeful and a bit in awe, it makes Billy's heart pound in his chest.

"Yeah. After we eat."

 

They sit at the table to eat, and as soon as Steve takes a bite he looks at Billy in mild shock,

"So you can play piano and you can cook? What else can you do, Hargrove?" Billy smirks, looking up from his food and winking at him.

"I'm sure you'll find out." He throws Steve a wicked grin, and Steve blushes dark.

"I..." He suddenly can't breath, feeling all of his blood rush south, and all he wants to do is take Billy upstairs and let him do whatever the fuck he wants. Billy chuckles, admiring a blushing Steve, before going back to his food.

"Eat your dinner, Harrington." He says, grinning to himself, and Steve takes a few seconds to calm down before continuing with his food. It's the best mac and cheese he's ever had, and he's not sure if it's actually that good or if it's just because Billy made it.

 

Once they've both finished their food Billy washes up whilst Steve watches and then he leads Billy to his dads study where the piano is. It's a typical rich man's study, with a wall lined with books he's probably never read and a big fancy desk, everything made out of dark wood. Billy's gaze falls on the piano and he walks over to it, opening it and running his finger gently across the keys. It's probably never been played, maybe just once or twice, but damn is it beautiful.

Billy sits on the bench, taking Steve's hand and making him sit next to him, before taking a deep breath.

"What do you want me to play?" He asks, nervous and quiet, and Steve shrugs, a minute action.

"Anything." He whispers, and it's like they're in this bubble, this soft, cosy bubble, that neither of them ever want to burst. Billy nods slightly, fingers hovering over the keys, before he starts playing Beethoven, Für Elise. It's such a delicate song, so beautiful and intricate, and Steve falls in love with Billy in a brand new way.

 

Steve watches him, as his fingers fly gracefully over the keys, his face focused yet relaxed, and he looks so beautiful. So damn ethereal. Steve can't help but realise for the thousandth time that he's definitely in love with Billy Hargrove. There's something about all of this. The two of them sitting on the piano bench, the darkness of the room, the moonlight shining through the window behind them, Steve wearing Billy's shirt, the beauty of the music. He's not sure what it is, maybe a mixture of all of it, but Steve feels like he could cry. He lets Billy finish the song, and Billy takes a deep breath, turning to look at Steve, and his heart stops at the look of pure love and adoration on his face.

"How was that?" Billy whispers, so quiet Steve barely hears him.

"Beautiful." Steve whispers, awestruck and so in love, and Billy looks at him in a similar way as he leans forward, cupping Steve's face and pressing his lips to Steve's in the most tender, loving kiss. Steve grips his shirt in his fists, pulling him closer, and Billy runs his tongue along Steve's lip, smiling against his lips when Steve opens his mouth and lets Billy slide his tongue in. His hands move from Steve's cheeks to his neck, tilting his head so he can deepen the kiss, and Steve wraps his arms around Billy, pressing his palms against his back. Billy pulls away only so he can kiss along Steve's jaw and down his neck, tilting his head a bit more as he kisses and sucks and licks, and Steve moans loud and melodic when Billy's teeth scrape his skin. Billy grins, moves up to nip Steve's ear.

"Fuck, Harrington." Billy's voice is rough, and he's so turned on, and Steve is blushing like mad, and Billy doesn't think he's ever seen anything so beautiful. Steve blushes darker, buries his face in Billy's neck, and Billy threads his hand into Steve's hair and pulls his head back so he can see him. "You're so pretty, Harrington." He whispers, kissing Steve again, and it seems Steve is over his embarrassment because he quickly melts back into the kiss, his hands sliding up Billy's shirt, fingers tracing his spine and his muscles. Billy moves his other hand onto Steve's thigh, thanking god that Steve decided to wear short shorts. "I tell you how good you look in my shirt yet?" Billy asks against his lips, and Steve smiles.

"You haven't, no." Steve murmurs, and Billy grins.

"You look so good, Harrington." Billy squeezes his thigh, moving his hand a little bit higher, fingertips brushing under the hem of this shorts, and he hears Steve's breath catch.

"I ever tell you how good you look in general?" Steve asks, and Billy chuckles.

"You may have mentioned it once or twice."

"You're hot, Hargrove." Steve says, and Billy grins, pushing his hand deeper into Steve's hair.

"You're sexy, Harrington."

"You just trying to see how red I can go?"

"It's a definite bonus." Billy winks at him, "But there's no denying I'm saying straight up facts." Steve smiles slightly, rests his forehead on Billy's shoulder.

"You're the worst." Steve gasps when Billy moves his hand up his thigh a little more, and Billy laughs quietly.

"Am I, baby?" Steve decides he fucking loves Billy calling him pet names. He shakes his head, sitting up so he can look Billy in the eye, shuffling impossibly closer to his side, forcing Billy's hand higher in the process. He leans up, mouth next to Billy's ear.

"I think we both know you could do literally anything right now and I would not have the strength to stop you." He admits, and he usually hates being this vulnerable, but this is Billy. Billy who just played fucking classical music for him, Billy who cooked him dinner, Billy that keeps telling him how pretty he is, Billy who's hand is so high up Steve's thigh right now, Billy who has Steve at his complete and utter mercy, and Steve wouldn't want it any other way. Steve is rock hard, and his breathing is laboured and shaky, and Billy is tugging on his hair gently and massaging his thigh like he's trying to make Steve cream his pants, which he definitely might do.

"Anything?" Billy smirks, and Steve nods, wondering if Billy is actually going to do something. Billy, on the other hand, doesn't want to go far. He didn't even intend on getting this far. He wanted to take things slow with Steve, wanted to have a proper relationship. That plan seems to have been thrown out the window though, because Billy is hard as fuck and so is Steve. "Harrington I don't wanna rush into anything." He admits, hoping Steve wont think he's leaving him high and dry.

"Me neither." Steve says, hands resting on Billy's hips, and his brown eyes meet Billy's blue ones.

"I just-" Billy trails off, eyes flicking over every part of Steve's face, "Shit, Harrington, you're so pretty." Steve smiles slightly.

"So you've said." He whispers, and Billy rolls his eyes, pressing a kiss against Steve's cheek. "So you wanna take it slow?" Steve asks, and Billy nods.

"I-" He takes a deep breath, "I care about you, Harrington. And I lo-I like you, a lot." He flushes, glancing past Steve, staring at the wall behind him. "I really fucking like you, Pretty boy." Steve is beaming at him, and his heart is pounding.

"I really like you too." Steve says, voice soft and sleepy, and Billy notices the clock behind him reads almost midnight.

"Shit, pretty boy, you make it hard for me to leave." Steve frowns before turning to look at the clock, quickly turning back to Billy, hands gripping his hips tight.

"Then stay. For 5 more minutes?" He asks, knowing there's no point asking him to stay the night because he can't. Billy glances at the clock again before smiling at Steve, leaning forward and pressing his lips to Steve's.

"5 more minutes." He agrees, wrapping his arms around Steve's waist and pulling him easily onto his lap. Steve shifts so he's straddling Billy, and Billy hugs him close, their lips never parting.

Chapter Text

Billy leaves Steve's at midnight, and he gets home 15 minutes later, still riding the high Steve gives him. Max is asleep when he passes her room, so he walks in, kisses her forehead and pulls the duvet up before going to his room and locking the door. He's still turned on from Steve, and as he lies in silence and his mind runs over everything that happened with him, he quickly finds himself with a hard on. Billy shrugs out of his clothes and lies on his bed, closes his eyes as he reaches down, thinking of Steve. His hand starts to work his dick, moving in slow strokes, thumbing his slit when he reaches the head. He imagines Steve's lips wrapped around him and his hand strokes his length, his other hand move to his balls and he tries to stifle his moans as much as he possibly can. His hand moves faster on his dick and he moves his other hand up to his nipples, twisting and pinching and tugging and Billy is shaking and his hips are raising to meet his hand and he bits his lip and thinks of Steve as he spurts ropes all over his hand and chest. Billy opens his eyes and takes a deep breath before reaching over and grabbing some tissue, cleaning himself up. He falls asleep shortly after, thinking about Steve Harrington.

 

Billy wakes up caked in sweat with tears streaming down his face. He dreamt his dad found out. Dreamt he hurt Steve, beat him black and blue, and then beat Billy too. He's shaking when he wakes up, slowly sitting up and tries to calm his racing heart.

"Billy?" Max's voice comes through the door, and Billy takes a shaky breath in, blinks a few times.

"Yeah?" Max tries the door, but Billy locked it last night.

"Billy it's half 7." She says and Billy groans, dragging himself out of bed. He grabs his clothes and opens his door.

"I need to shower but I'll be ready in time." He promises, making his way to the bathroom. He has what is probably one of the fastest showers of his life and gets dressed in jeans and a t-shirt before leaving the bathroom.

 

Max is eating breakfast, Susan and Neil already having left for the day, and Billy pulls on shoes before sitting at the table with her, accepting the bowl of cereal she slides him gratefully.

"Thanks, kid." Max smiles.

"So what happened?" She asks, mouth full of cereal. Billy rolls his eyes.

"You want me to give you the play by play every time I go and see Harrington?" Max nods and Billy rolls his eyes. "We talked."

"You talked?" Billy nods. "About what?" Billy gives her an exasperated look.

"I don't know, what we like, what we don't like, just, you know, got to know each other." Max raises an eyebrow.

"What you like?" She has a slight look of grimace on her face, and Billy chuckles.

"Not like that, shitbird. Favourite colour and type of music. That sort of stuff." Max looks mildly relieved.

"Is that it? You were there for hours and you just talked?"

"Well, I played piano for him. But mostly yeah."

"Do you think I was born yesterday?" Billy laughs.

"I know you weren't, kid. Just don't think it's appropriate for you to know what I get up to."

"So something did happen?" Max grins smugly, and Billy picks up a cheerio and flicks it at her. Max glares and picks it out of her hair. "Tell me?" She asks, blue eyes big and pleading, and Billy rolls his eyes.

"We made out. You happy now?"

"Are you?" Billy wasn't expecting that. He looks at her, considers the question. He would be. He would be so damn happy right now. If it wasn't for Neil, and having to hide, and being beat daily. If Neil wasn't in his life he would probably be happy. Maybe if he was in Cali with Steve and Max and El and Will and, hell, even Susan can come, he would be happy. Right now he thinks he's just okay. Definitely better than he was before, when, if asked that question, he would have laughed and said he was constantly mere seconds away from jumping in the quarry and ending it all. Now though, he has things he wants to live for. Things like saving Max and Susan from Neil, getting away from him. Things like seeing this picture of forever that Steve talks about, paints such a beautiful picture of it that Billy desperately wants to live long enough to see the finished masterpiece. Things like helping Will with his sexuality and coming out to people he trusts and being there to beat anyone who tries to hurt him. Things like watching Max grow up, graduate school, become some CEO, or live by the beach and spend her life in the ocean, or get married and have kids, and he’ll be the cool uncle that teaches her kids to surf just how he taught Max. Things like moving out, probably back to California, with Steve by his side, and maybe in his lifetime people will become accepting, maybe they'll let him be with Steve without having to hide, maybe they'll let him marry Steve, and maybe they can adopt a kid together, and live together forever, and be happy, and Billy can be the dad he always wished he had.

He wants to survive long enough to live.

"I'm getting there." He settles on, because he's not sure how to explain all those thoughts to Max. Not sure he wants to share them yet, not after explaining the other night to Steve. Max smiles at him, because she's always known Billy deserves happiness, and she thinks he's starting to see that too. "Come on, lets get going."

Chapter Text

Billy doesn't see Steve at all on Wednesday; their work shifts don't line up, so when Billy gets off work Steve starts. He's obviously not happy about it. Max notices as soon as she gets in the car after school that he's down, and she knows why, because she saw Steve this morning and he was down about the same thing. Steve's doing the late shift today, so he won't get home until late, and Billy wont be able to sneak out of the house to go see him without Neil noticing and inevitably beating the shit out of him.

"You know, Will asked if we can have another movie day this weekend."

"Yeah?" Max nods.

"He said he likes when you hang out with us, and he knows if we have a movie day you'll be there." Billy smiles slightly, feeling slightly better. "We should go pick out some films." She adds, and Billy knows where she's going with this.

"Or we could go at the weekend. Bring Will and El and let them pick a film." He says as they drive, and Max frowns.

"You don't want to?" Billy glances over at her, sighs at the look on her face.

"You worried about me again?"

"Always." Billy takes a deep breath, reaches over and grabs Max's arm, gently squeezing in a way he's hoping is comforting.

"Don't need to." He says, moving his hand back to the steering wheel.

"You don't wanna go see Steve?" Max asks, and Billy laughs through his nose.

"Don't need to see him every day, Max."

"Just cause you don't need to doesn't mean you can't." She says, and Billy pauses, glances at Max to see a small smile, like she knows he's listening to what she's saying and he agrees. Billy looks back at the road, tries to ignore the smug look Max has on her face when he turns left instead of right.

"Shut up, Max." He mutters before glancing at her again, "Does Will actually want to have a movie day or was this just a ploy?"

"No, he does. And he does like when you hang out with us. Just figured, you know, I'd use it to my advantage." She says and Billy smiles slightly, focusing on the road again.

"You need to stop getting involved in my life, shitbird."

"You need to admit you've been down cause you weren't gonna see Steve today and you didn't even consider going to see him at work." Max says, and she's right. It never occurred to Billy that he can just go and see Steve at work. It wouldn't be weird, especially since Billy can always say he was visiting Robin if anyone mentions anything to Neil.

"Shut up, Max." He mutters again, and she smiles at him.

"I just like you more when you're like this. You're nicer now." She admits, and Billy can't help but smile.

"Me too."

 

They pull into a parking space right outside family video and Max practically drags Billy into the shop. Robin is at the counter, and she smiles when she sees the two.

"Hey!" She greets cheerily, and Billy smiles, leaning over the counter to press a kiss against her cheek. "What brings you here?" She has a knowing smirk on her lips, looking at Billy in a way that tells him she knows exactly why he's there, and Max grins.

"I wanted to see what movies we could get for the weekend." She says, leaning against the counter top. "Billy had other intentions." Billy rolls his eyes, shoves her shoulder gently.

"Fuck off." He mutters, trying to be subtle as he looks around to find Steve.

"Well, William Hargrove, your 'other intentions' are on their break in the back. Invite me to the movie day and I'll let you through." Billy smiles at her, blue eyes practically shining.

"Max, you gonna be okay out here?" Max nods, smiling.

"I need to talk to Robin." Billy raises his eyebrow at her as Robin leads him to the back room.

"What does she want to talk to you about?"

"Probably you." Robin says as she punches in the code for the door, "He's got about 5 minutes left." She adds, raising an eyebrow suggestively as she pushes the door open. Steve looks up at the sound of the door opening, a smile breaking across his face when he sees Billy.

"5 minutes!" Robin calls again before the door shuts, and Billy smiles, looking slightly awkward.

 

"I interrupting?" He asks, and Steve looks down at the book in his hands before closing it and shaking his head.

"Definitely not." He grins, standing up and walking over to Billy, who wraps his arms around his waist as soon as he's within reach. "Didn't think I was gonna see you today." Steve says, wrapping his arms around Billy's neck, immediately playing with his hair. Billy doesn't care enough to complain that he's messing it up.

"Yeah. I er, thought I'd stop by." Billy says, "Max's idea really." Steve smiles at him, brown doe eyes wide and loving.

"Max?"

"Yeah she's outside chatting to Robin." Steve giggles, a cute little sound that makes Billy's heart jump. "You readin' something?" Steve frowns before remembering the book on the table, a steady blush creeping across his cheeks.

"Oh. Yeah, er..." He looks down at Billy's chest, slightly too embarrassed to meet his gaze. "Alice's adventures in wonderland. Max told me it was one of your favourite books, so..." Billy is grinning at him, and Steve looks up when Billy hasn't said anything and his heart leaps at the look on his face.

"You're cute, Bambi." Billy says, wrapping his arms tighter around Steve. "What do you think of it?" Steve shrugs.

"Honestly?" Billy nods, "It's good. I like it so far. But it's hard. It's hard to read it." He admits, and Billy nods. It's his favourite mainly because his mother used to read it to him, but also because he'd also like to disappear to a different world, and wonderland sounded ideal to his young mind.

"You don't have to read it just cause it's my favourite book, you know."

"I want to!" Steve insists. "It's just a lot of words and they don't always stay on the page." Billy presses a kiss against Steve's forehead, soft and gentle.

"I can..." Billy hesitates, "I can read it to you." He offers, and Steve grins.

"Really?"

"Yeah. If you want?" Steve nods.

"I'd love that!" Billy rolls his eyes at how damn cute Steve is.

"You're such a dork, Harrington." Billy breathes, the smile on his face a complete contradiction to his statement, and Steve is about to call him an asshole or something but there are lips on his before he has the chance to. Steve suddenly remembers where they are, and that Keith or Robin could open that door any minute. It's kind of exhilarating, and when Billy runs his tongue along Steve's lip asking for entrance Steve eagerly allows it. Billy tastes like cigarettes and coffee. Steve tastes like the strawberry milkshake he had during his break. Steve tries to deepen the kiss further, pressing his body flush against Billy, fingers tangling into his hair, and Billy pulls back slightly, chuckles against Steve's lips, and that just drives him crazier.

"Calm down, Pretty boy, someone could walk in." He whispers, moving his mouth next to Steve's ear and running his tongue along the shell. Steve shivers in his arms, lets out a quiet whimper.

"Billy." He whines quietly as Billy starts kissing down his neck. Steve is surrounded by Billy, can smell the cologne he put on this morning, the smell of cigarettes, the faint hint of oil from fixing cars all day. It's intoxicating.

"Yeah, baby?" Billy whispers, voice so low it sends shivers down Steve's spine. Billy knows it's mean to tease Steve when he's only got a minute or two left of his break, but it's so fun, seeing him writhe and shiver and come undone just from his words and a few kisses.

"Billy." Steve whines again, tilting his head to give Billy better access to his neck.

"You know, it's a shame you don't work at Scoops anymore. You looked so damn hot in that uniform." Billy says against his neck, smirks when Steve tries to stifle a moan and fails slightly.

"Billy," Steve whispers, and he would be embarrassed if he wasn't so desperate for some sort of relief.

"What is it, Pretty boy?"

"Billy this isn't fair." Billy smirks, pulls back to meet his eyes. Steve looks amazing. Pupils blown wide with lust and hair wrecked, lips swollen slightly and a beautiful blush covering his face.

"What isn't fair, Pretty boy?" Steve pouts, cause Billy knows exactly what he's talking about.

"You're being mean to me." He says and Billy chuckles.

"I'm sorry Pretty boy." Billy isn't sorry at all, and Steve decides to get back at him. He blinks his big brown eyes and smiles sweetly.

"You know, I still have that uniform." He says, and Billy's hands slide down to grip his arse tight, pulling him impossibly closer.

"Don't tease me, Harrington." Steve smirks, and Billy leans in to kiss him again, satisfied when Steve once again melts against him.

Chapter Text

There's a bang on the door, and Billy knows that's Robin telling them their time is up. He pulls away from Steve, keeping his hands around him.

"Time's up, Pretty boy." He whispers, and Steve frowns, keeping hold of him.

"You sure? I think we've still got about an hour." He says, and Billy smiles, laughs a bit.

"I think Robin would disagree." He says, voice soft, "Besides, I need to get Max home."

"You working late tomorrow?" Steve asks and Billy nods.

"Not late late. Oh, that reminds me. Can you pick Max up and drop her off at the shop tomorrow?" Steve nods, anything to see Billy at work.

"Yeah sure. Can you come over tomorrow?" Billy throws him an apologetic smile.

"Doubt it. We have to go to some work thing for Neil Friday night and as soon as we get home tomorrow he's gonna tell us exactly how we need to act and behave and pretend we're those perfect kids he tells everyone he has." Steve pouts.

"So I won't see you Friday either?" Billy smiles slightly.

"I'll try and stop by before we have to go?" He offers and Steve looks at him, considering.

"You have to dress up all fancy?" Billy nods. "You gonna wear a suit?" Billy nods again, and Steve grins.

"You want me to stop by once I'm ready?"

"Hell yeah." Billy rolls his eyes, pulls Steve in for a kiss.

"Alright, Princess. It's a deal." He says, stepping away from him just as there's another impatient knock on the door. Billy throws Steve a wink before leaving the office, rolling his eyes at the looks on Robin's and Max's face.

 

"What?" He asks, walking round the counter to stop beside Max. Robin's giving him a look that tells him she knows exactly what he was doing.

"Oh nothing." She smirks as the door opens and Steve walks out, looking more than a little bit dishevelled, his usually perfect hair is messy, but like he tried to fix it, and he still has a quite prominent blush on his cheeks. Billy looks more than please with himself at the sight, and Robin laughs at him. "Damn you're a mess, dingus." Steve glares at her as he walks over.

"Not my fault." He turns his glare to Billy, who laughs along with Robin.

"Hi Steve." Max says, a knowing smile on her face, and Steve smiles at her, figuring she won't say anything.

"Hey Max."

"You have a good break?" She asks and Steve groans, his head falling into his arms on the counter.

"You're all assholes." He grumbles, cheeks blazing, and Billy goes to reach out and run his fingers through his hair, stopping himself when he remembers they're in public.

"Oh come on dingus. It's funny."

"It is a little funny, Harrington."

"I think it's sweet." Max says, "But your hair is kind of a mess." She adds and Steve huffs into his arms.

"I have no friends." He announces, and Robin shoves him so he stumbles before turning to Billy.

"So I take it I'm allowed to come to the movie day this weekend."

"Robin you're always invited." Billy says, rolling his eyes. She didn't have to bribe an invite out of him.

"Steve you can come too." Max says, and Steve shrugs, trying to seem casual.

"Yeah, I mean, whatever." He says and Billy smirks.

"You're foolin' no one, Harrington." Steve can't help but smile at him, and Billy needs to leave before he does something dumb. "We best get going. Come on, shitbird." Billy says, patting Max's arm gently before starting to walk out of the shop, and Max rolls her eyes at him.

"Bye Robin, bye Steve." Max says, rushing to catch up with Billy, who is almost at his car.

 

"We could have stayed a little longer." She says as she reaches him. Billy pauses as he opens the car door, looks up at her, nods slightly.

"Yeah. But I can't have people talking, Max."

"But Robin was there."

"Yeah." Billy says, "But anyone who has working eyes can tell the difference between the way I look at Robin and the way I look at Harrington." He says, and Max pulls her mouth back, considering this.

"He looks at you like that too." She says, and Billy takes a deep breath before climbing into the car, Max copying his actions.

"That's part of the problem, Max." He says as he starts the engine.

"I don't see how that's a problem."

"Max, if someone walks into family video and sees me and Harrington staring at each other what do you think they're gonna think? What do you think they'll tell Neil?" Billy sighs. He needs to calm down. "I'm sorry. I just don't want to risk it." Max nods.

"I know. I'm sorry."

"Not your fault, kid." Billy reaches over and pats her arm before starting the engine. "So what did you and Robin talk about?"

"Nothing." She says, and Billy raises an eyebrow at her. "I just- wanted to talk about you and Steve to someone, and she's the only one that knows."

"You know you can talk to me, right?"

"Not about how cute you and Steve are." She says, a cheeky smile on her face, and Billy chuckles.

"Yeah, I'd rather you do that with Robin. Oh, Harrington's picking you up tomorrow, that okay?" Max grins.

"More than. He gonna drop me at home?"

"No, told him to bring you to the mechanics. I don't finish super late, around 4, maybe 4:30. I'd just rather you weren't home alone with him for that long." Max nods, but Billy doesn't miss the frown on her face.

Chapter Text

Steve still has Dustin, Lucas and Mike in the car when he pulls up at the mechanics to drop Max off. She's sat next to him, in the passenger seat, and she's been quiet and awkward the whole ride. The boys are desperate to ask her what's going on with Billy, why she won't talk to them, all that stuff, and as soon as the car stops she's opening the door and walking off. Steve sighs.

"Stay here. Don't touch anything." He says to the boys, getting out of the car and rushing after Max just as she rounds the corner. "Max, what's up?" Honestly she's not sure why she's in a particularly bad mood today, she's just tired and worried about Billy. He got quite a beating last night and she doesn't even know why. Neil was normal seeming, and Billy did everything that was asked of him. Not that Neil needs a reason to beat him. He hurts him for no reason all the time.

"Just tired." Steve frowns at her.

"You sure?" Max shrugs.

"Worried about him." She says as they round the corner and enter the shop.

 

Billy is leaning into the hood of a car, wrench in his hand. His back is to Max and Steve, and Steve can't help but stare at his ass in his tight jeans.

"Billy?" Billy glances over his shoulder at the sound of Max's voice, smiles at her as he stands up properly, leaving the wrench resting on the engine. Steve's eyes immediately zone in on the bruise on his jaw, his heart aching for his boyfriend.

"Hey." He grabs a cloth as he turns to face them properly. His t-shirt and arms are covered in grime and grease from the car, and he has a smudge of oil on his cheek. "You alright, shitbird?" Max nods, and Billy frowns, wiping his hands on the cloth and nodding her over. "What's up?" Max walks over to him, leaving Steve gawking in the doorway, and she takes the cloth, wiping the oil off his face.

"Nothing. Honest." She smiles, and Billy figures whatever's wrong she'll tell him later.

"If you go find Bobby he'll give you some chocolate or some thing." Billy says, and Max grins, running over to the office in the back. Billy watches her leave before turning to Steve, who is still staring at him. Billy's shirt is tight, leaving nothing to the imagination, and the way he's leaning against the car behind him, looking like a fucking god, makes Steve feel all kinds of horny. "You alright there, Harrington?" Billy asks, a smirk on his lips. He's the only mechanic working today, apart from Bobby, his boss, who is in the office, meaning the workshop is empty save for Billy and Steve.

"You're hot." Steve says, immediately blushing because he did not mean to say that out loud. Billy chuckles.

"Thank you, Harrington." He winks at him. "You gonna come over here or you gonna make me get up?" Steve immediately walks over, standing right in front of Billy who, as he's leaning against the car, is at least half a foot shorter than him. Billy rests his hands on Steve's hips, pulling him closer. "You're hot too, Pretty boy."

"But you're really hot." Billy smirks.

"You want something, Harrington?"

"I want a lot of things, Hargrove." Steve says softly before his eyes find the bruise again. "You put ice on it?" He asks, brushing his finger against it softly. Billy reaches up, grabs his hand and lowers it.

"Yeah. It's fine, Harrington."

"Doesn't look fine." Billy raises Steve's hand, which is still in his, and presses a kiss to the knuckles.

"Harrington." He whispers. Steve sighs, wrapping his arms around Billy's shoulders and resting his chin on his head.

"I know. Can't help it." Billy presses a kiss against Steve's chest, squeezes his hips a bit.

"I know, Harrington." Billy hears voices and pulls away from Steve, pushing him back slightly so anyone that walks in will think they're simply talking.

"Steve?" Dustin calls from the doorway, and Billy's face hardens as soon as he hears his voice, and Steve smiles apologetically at him before turning round.

"I told you to stay in the car." He says, and Dustin shrugs.

"You were taking a while. Thought I'd come see why." Steve knows what he means. He wanted to make sure Billy wasn't doing anything.

"I'm coming, Dustin." Dustin looks between the two of them for a second before sighing and turning around, leaving them to it.

"I should go." Steve mutters, and Billy nods.

"I'll see you later, Harrington."

 

Max waits whilst Billy showers before they make their way home, immediately being called into the living room by Neil. Billy takes a deep breath, Max pretends not to notice him flinch when Neil greets them. They sit and listen as Neil tells them what will happen tomorrow and asks them to behave, in a nice way because Max and Susan are there. Billy knows it's coming though. When Neil dismisses them but follows Billy to his room, shutting the door behind him.

"Now, Billy, tomorrow is important." Neil says, and Billy nods.

"I know, Sir."

"I can't have you behaving how you always do." Billy frowns before forcing himself to keep a straight face.

"I'll behave, Sir."

"I know you will." Neil steps closer, a look of malice on his face, "Because if you don't, if you misbehave, are disrespectful, you know what will happen." Neil lands a punch in Billy's side, as if to emphasise his point.

"I understand, Sir." Billy says, trying to sound strong.

"Good. And you'll be nice to your sister, and Susan, and you'll talk only if someone talks to you first." Billy nods.

"Yes, Sir." Neil nods.

"And you'll look presentable, wear something that doesn't make you look like a fag." Neil spits the last word, and Billy can do nothing but nod.

"Yes, Sir." He forces the words out, like they're poison, and Neil smiles, forced and menacing.

"Good." He says, landing another punch in Billy's ribs before leaving the room. Billy takes a shaky breath in, slightly relieved because yes his ribs hurt but that could have been a lot worse. He stands and waits, listening to Neil's footsteps, until he's down the hall and in the living room, before moving to his mirror. He lifts his shirt, checking his ribs. His body is covered in bruises, mixing disgustingly with the weird shaped scars he has from what happened at the mall. He presses his fingers gently against where Neil just hit him and winces, the already bruised skin now more tender, and the bruises will probably darken with brand new marks. Billy sighs, dropping his shirt, and he turns around to see Max stood in his doorway.

"You okay?"

"Yeah. You?"

"Yeah. Did he hurt you?" She all but whispers, because she doesn't want Neil to hear.

"No. Just told me to behave tomorrow." Max frowns.

"Why were you checking your ribs?"

"Just checking. That's all." Max still frowns, so Billy walks over, puts his hands on her shoulders and looks her in the eye. "Honest, Max." He knows it's a lie, knows he shouldn't be lying to her, knows it'll upset her if she found out he lied, but he also knows it'll upset her more if he tells her the truth.

"Okay." She says, before smiling slightly. "You got any books?" Ah. She must have finished the last book he gave her.

"Always." He walks over to his shelf, looks at the books he's read. He has a section where he keeps the books he thinks she'll like. He doesn't tell her that though. Pretends to peruse the whole shelf before picking up a book from the 'Max' section.

"The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy?" Max asks, reading the title as Billy hands it to her.

"A classic. You'll love it." Max smiles, accepts the book with a thank you before returning to her room. What she fails to tell Billy is that she has a section on her shelf full of the books she knows Billy loves that she needs to tell Steve. Either she'll lend them to him, or he'll grab them from his fathers study. He's not great with reading, can't focus for that long and sometimes the words refuse to stay on the page, but he knows Billy loves reading, and he wants to be able to talk about that with him. Wants to read the books he loves and learn about him, think about what the book made Billy think and feel.

Chapter Text

Billy does as he promised.

He gets ready as soon as he gets home from work on Friday, and whilst Susan is helping Max with her hair and Neil is finishing getting ready, he heads to Steve's, telling Neil he needs to run back to the shop as he forgot something and promising he'll be back in time. He speeds to Steve's, because he only has about half an hour, and gets there in record time. Steve answers the door almost immediately, smiling, but as soon as he looks at Billy his eyes widen and a blush spreads up his neck. Billy's wearing a black suit, white shirt, and thin black tie. It fits perfectly, showing off his beautiful body. He looks incredible, and Steve thinks he might pass out. Billy watches Steve stare at him, eyes shifting up and down his body, before he meets his eyes and Steve takes a shaky breath in.

"Hey." He breathes, and Billy laughs, stepping into the house and closing the door behind him.

"You alright, pretty boy?" Steve nods, swallows audibly, and Billy steps closer, getting into his space. "You sure, baby?" Billy knows what he's doing to Steve, and he knows it's working.

"You-" Steve cuts himself off, swallows again, "You- look great." He forces out, sounding more than a little bit breathless, and Billy smirks, wrapping his arms around him, pulling him flush against him.

"You think so?" He's teasing him, Steve knows, but he looks so good, and he doesn't care. He wastes no time wrapping his arms around Billy and pulling him into a desperate kiss. He runs his tongue along Billy's lip, begging for entrance, and usually Billy is the one in control, but he figures he can indulge Steve's needs, so he parts his lips, letting Steve's tongue slide into his mouth, and starts massaging Steve's tongue with his own.

"Fuck, Billy." Steve moans into his mouth, and Billy slides his hands down to grip Steve's ass, pulling him even closer. Steve whines at the contact, threading a hand into Billy's hair, and Billy wants to stay here and kiss him forever, but he knows he only has 20 minutes until they need to leave for Neil's work thing, and it's a 15 minute drive home if Billy breaks the speed limit. He pulls back, rests his forehead against Steve's, both of them breathing heavy.

"Haven't got long, baby."

"Can you come back after?" Billy shakes his head, closing his eyes.

"Probably not. Maybe. It depends how it goes really, if Neil's in a bad mood or not." Billy opens his eyes again. "Definitely see you tomorrow though. At the Byers."

"Not gonna be in a suit tomorrow." Billy chuckles.

"You like it that much, Harrington?" Steve blushes, and Billy grins at him. "If you let me go now I'll sneak back later."

"Don't want you to get in trouble." Billy kisses him again, soft and sweet.

"I'll be careful." He promises, before stepping back. "I'll see you later."

 

Billy drives him and Max to the hotel the party thing is being held at, meeting Susan and Neil there. Billy smiles at Max when he sees her. Neil and Susan are dressed up to the nines, all fancy and respectable. Max is wearing a dress, and Susan's put a bit of makeup on her, and she looks cute, if a bit too grown up for Billy's liking. Max climbs into his car, and Billy starts driving, following Neil's car from a safe distance.

"You look pretty." Billy says after a few minutes of quietly listening to the music. Max looks at him, a small smile on her face.

"Thank you." She says before adding, "You look pretty too." Billy rolls his eyes.

"Thanks, shitbird." Max shoves his arm gently, smiling.

"You go and see Steve?" She doesn't need to ask. She knows, cause he's got that glow that he only has when he's seen Steve. Billy nods.

"Promised I'd stop by."

"He tell you you look nice?" Billy smiles to himself.

"Yeah."

"Mhmm." Max hums, like she knows what happened, and Billy rolls his eyes.

"Keep it PG, Maxine." Max laughs, because he's such a hypocrite, but decides to change the subject.

"He's coming tomorrow, right? To Will's."

"Yeah. Yeah, he's coming to Will's."

"You gonna be okay?" Billy frowns at her. "I mean, obviously I know and Robin knows, but with El and Will."

"Will knows too." Billy says, and Max frowns.

"What? How?"

"When I was talking to him the other day. He figured it out."

"Oh. You gonna tell El then?" Billy shrugs, pulling into a parking space.

"Might as well. I'll ask Harrington. Anyway, lets get this over with."

 

They stay together during the party, following silently behind Neil and Susan, only speaking when being spoken to, keeping the 'perfect family' appearance. It's been about 2 hours, and Billy and Max are stood close together on the side lines, watching Neil smooth talk everyone, make jokes people laugh at, seeming like a nice person. It makes Billy's blood boil.

A girl walks over to them, around Billy's age, and Max and Billy glance at each other when she says hello. She's the daughter of one of Neil's colleagues they met earlier. She's posh, and prissy, and someone Billy can never get along with.

"Hi, William, right?" Billy nods, smiles because he needs to be nice to the people here.

"Yeah, er, Anna?" The girl nods, smiling all proud cause Billy remembered her name. He made a point of remembering the names of everyone, in order to not be caught off guard and give Neil a reason to hurt him.

"It's nice to meet you." She's looking at him in that way most girls do. Hungry. Needy. Desperate.

"You too." Billy clears his throat, "So, how's it going?" He's not sure what to say to these people. Not sure what they talk about.

"I'm good." She glances at Max, stood right next to Billy, before looking back to him. "Is there somewhere we can talk in private?" She has that look in her eyes, and Billy knows what she means by that.

"Oh, I have to stay with Max. Sorry." He can feels Neil's eyes on him, knows to let her down easy cause her Daddy's important. He turns on the charm. "But, you know, it's a shame, cause that dress looks great on you." He leans closer, away from Max slightly. "Would look better off, I'm sure." He says, voice low in that way that drives people crazy. She blushes bright, giggles, and Billy winks before taking Max's hand and leading her over to the bar, ordering a soda for her.

"I didn't like her." Max mutters, and Billy chuckles.

"Me neither."

"You were nice to her though."

"Didn't have a choice, kid. She's got an important daddy." They keep to themselves for the rest of the party. Staying out of the way until Neil needs them to make him look good. They stay until midnight, when Neil finally says goodbye to people and they can make their way home. Billy knows Steve is probably asleep, but he's going to go over there anyway, because he told him he would. They get home after Neil and Susan, who are already in their room, and Billy realises he might actually be able to sneak out. Max looks at him as they enter their rooms, grabbing his hand before they split.

"You gonna go see Steve?" She whispers, and Billy nods. "Be careful."

"I'll lock my door. Sneak out the window. Be back before sunrise." Billy says, and Max nods.

"Have fun."

Chapter Text

Billy locks his door and climbs out of his window, silently making his way to his car. He turns on the engine and starts driving, speeding up when he gets far enough away from his house, racing to Steve's. He parks outside the drive, figuring he'll only be here a few hours and it's dark so no one will see his car here. He walks over to the front door and knocks, hoping he doesn't wake Steve up. It takes a minute for Steve to get to the door, and once he opens it he smiles bright, pulling Billy into the house.

"Did I wake you up?" Steve shakes his head, leading Billy into the cosy living room.

"No." He turns to Billy, "How was the party?" Billy turns his nose up slightly.

"Awful. Room full of prissy snobs." Billy complains, and Steve smiles slightly.

"You had a bad time?"

"I sat in the corner talking to Max for most of it. Had to suffer through small talk with a bunch of assholes though. Some prissy bitch wanted to sneak off. Neil was nice to people. Fucking hate seeing him be nice to people, and watching them believe he's like that." Steve pulls him into a hug before frowning.

"Sneak off where?" Billy chuckles.

"Of course that's what you focus on." He presses a kiss to Steve's temple, "She started talking to me, I had to be nice, cause her daddy's important, but I told her I had to stay with Max and she left us alone."

"Well it's kind of your fault. If you didn't look like that she wouldn't have wanted you."

"Oh well I'm sorry." Billy's smirking as he grabs the drawstring on the front of Steve's joggers, pulling him close. "You weren't complaining earlier." He says, voice low, and Steve shivers.

"Not complaining now." Steve leans forward, and Billy meets him half way, connecting their lips. Things soon become heated, Billy sliding his tongue into Steve's mouth, Steve tugs on Billy's hair, and he moans, a sound that send blood straight to Steve's dick, and Billy can feel the quickly growing bulge in Steve's joggers. He slots his thigh between Steve's, only hesitating for a brief second before rolling against him, causing delicious friction that has Steve moaning into his mouth, and Billy loves that noise, is desperate to hear it again, so he rolls his thigh again, and Steve moans again, a beautiful melodic sound. Billy grins, pulling away so he can lick and kiss across Steve's cheek to his ear, licking the shell.

"You like that, baby?" Steve whimpers, tilting his head back slightly, and Billy takes the opportunity to kiss down his neck, teeth grazing his skin causing Steve to shudder in his arms, his hands tangling in Billy's hair, tugging when he starts sucking a mark onto his collarbone, somewhere Steve can easily hide it, only pausing to pull Steve's t-shirt over his head. Billy's rolling his thigh at a steady pace, and he wasn't really intending on doing this, going this far, but damn is he enjoying it. Steve is writhing in his arms, shivering and moaning, and Billy grins, moving back up his neck and pecking his lips.

"You're so pretty, Steve." Billy whispers against his lips, and he doesn't call him Steve, always Harrington or Pretty boy, some sort of nickname. Steve's heart jumps when he calls him by his first name, and he leaps forwards, crushing their lips together.

"Billy." He whines, sliding his hands down Billy's front, easily removing his tie and undoing his shirt buttons, pushing his suit jacket and shirt off of his shoulders, letting them fall to the floor as he runs his fingers along Billy's muscled body.

"Yeah, baby?" Billy stops his thigh movements and Steve whimpers. "Tell me what you want, Stevie." He whispers, and Steve's looking into his eyes, pupils blown wide.

"Billy..." Steve whines before deciding fuck this. He moves his hands to Billy's shoulders and presses him against the closest wall, kissing him, hard and passionate, and Billy wasn't expecting that but damn was that hot.

"There's that fire, Harrington." Billy says, grabbing his hips and turning them so Steve's against the wall. He still isn't sure how far Steve wants to go, but he knows they're both hard as fuck and now isn't the time for that talk. One thing he does know, though, is that he wants to ruin Steve. Wants to make him feel so good, better than he's ever felt before. Wants to ruin him so that if he ever tries to be with anyone else it will never be as good as being with Billy. He wont be able to get a hand job or blow job from anyone else, wont be able to fuck anyone else, without thinking about how Billy was so much better. He moves his mouth to Steve's ear, giving them both a chance to breath. "What do you want, Harrington? I can wank you off?" He pauses when Steve takes a shuddering breath, "I can blow you." Steve moans, and Billy grins. "Come on, Pretty boy. Tell me what you want."

"Billy, you can do whatever the fuck you want as long as you do something." Steve says, breathless and needy with desire and want, and this time, instead of stopping, Billy just presses a kiss against his lips before trailing them down his neck. He kisses down Steve's chest and stomach, grazing his teeth across skin then licking it to sooth it as he makes his way to a nipple, licking and biting gently, flicking his nipple with his tongue as he pinches the other with his fingers. Steve gasps, and Billy smiles, moving to the other nipple and giving it the same treatment before continuing his way down. Steve has no where near as much muscle as Billy, but he's still lean and thin and outright beautiful.

As Billy kisses down Steve's stomach his fingers hook in the waistband of his joggers, slowly pulling them down, and Steve is shaking in anticipation. Billy glances down, looking at the growing wet patch on Steve's boxers, and leans forward, mouthing along his dick, licking along the length over the fabric, causing Steve's boxers to get wetter. He carefully pulls his boxers down, looking appreciatively at the size of Steve's dick. He knew it was big, saw it in the showers enough to know that; dreamt about how it would feel enough to know exactly how big it was. He takes Steve's dick in his hand, licks the precum off the tip with a small kitten lick, looking up when Steve lets out a loud moan. His hands find Billy's hair and they lock eyes and Steve hasn't been with a guy before, only had blow jobs from girls that didn't know what they were doing where he had to force himself to ignore the occasional scrape of teeth or the long nails and try to enjoy it, but God Billy's only just touched him and he's already shaking and he's definitely not going to last long.

Billy sucks the head to milk the rest of the precum before taking as much of Steve as he can, managing well over half, before pulling off almost entirely and taking him deep again, forcing himself not to gag when Steve hits the back of his throat. He moans, sending vibrations along Steve's dick, and Steve is moaning and muttering and whining above him, hands running through Billy's hair, tangled in the curls, gripping and tugging. Billy presses his tongue along the throbbing veins on the underside of Steve's dick, cups Steve's balls with one hand, the other gripping his hip, and he squeezes them gently and massages them, and Steve is shaking above him and Billy knows Steve's almost there. He pulls off, licks the tip, and then looks Steve dead in the eye.

"Come for me, baby." Billy says, soft but demanding, and Steve groans, fists tugging Billy's hair tight, and Billy puts the tip of Steve's dick in his mouth as he cums with a trail of 'fuck, Billy, fucking hell, Billy.". Billy swallows every drop, and Steve rests his head back against the wall, and when Billy is done sucking every ounce of jizz out of him he stands up, arms wrapping around Steve's waist, and he kisses Steve hard. Steve forces his tongue into Billy's mouth, tasting himself on his tongue, and Billy smiles when he sighs in content.

"That was fucking amazing." Steve says, voice cracking half way through. "Fuck Billy, that was so fucking incredible. Fucking hell."

"Damn Stevie." Billy murmurs in his ear, licking along the shell of his ear, and Steve shudders, rests his head against Billy's shoulder because he's feeling super sensitive. But then he realises Billy is still rock hard, and he lifts his hand, undoes his pants, pushes them down along with his boxers, and takes hold of billy's cock, starting to pump. Billy groans, obviously not expecting the contact, and he leans down to bite Steve's shoulder when he flicks his wrist just right.

"You don't-" Billy cuts himself off with a gasp. "You don't gotta do this, Harrington." He whispers, and Steve kisses his shoulder, sucks a mark into the skin, a place he can easily hide it.

"Yeah." Steve whispers, moving his hand and rubbing Billy's slit in a way that has Billy shaking. "I want to." He murmurs. "You made me feel so good, Billy." Steve brings his other and up between them to play with Billy's nipples, making note that they're very sensitive. "Wanna make you feel good too." Steve whispers right in Billy's ear. He feels Billy's dick twitch in his hand, and Billy is gasping and moaning in his ear.

"Fuck Stevie." He groans, and a minute later he's coming over Steve's hand and both of their stomachs. They both raise their heads off the others shoulder, and Steve looks Billy dead in the eyes when Billy grabs his hand and slowly raises it, licking his own jizz off of Steve's hand. Steve watches, transfixed, and when Billy's done Steve pulls him into a kiss.

Chapter Text

They both clean themselves up before pulling their boxers back on and collapsing on the sofa, a mess of limbs tangled together. They're tired, and riding the high of their orgasms, and Billy is stroking Steve's hair as Steve traces his scars.

"I like your hair." Billy says, voice soft and sleepy, and Steve smiles, leans up and presses a kiss against Billy's neck.

"I like your everything." He says, and Billy chuckles. "You're kind of amazing, you know." Steve adds, determined to make Billy believe him.

"I already blew you, Harrington. What do you want now?" Steve blushes, but he leans up and looks Billy in the eye.

"Want you to realise how incredible you are." Billy looks at him, not sure what to say, because he doesn't react well to positive interaction. Never really gets praise, or compliments, and he doesn't know how to respond. Mainly because he doesn't believe them. He shakes his head, looks into Steve's eyes.

"Don't know what you're on about, Harrington." He says quietly, and Steve frowns.

"Billy. You're amazing."

"Stevie, you're delusional."

"Why don't you believe me?" Billy shrugs.

"Harrington, I'm kind of an asshole. You know that. And yeah, I was possessed by that thing and forced to kill people, but I was an asshole long before that thing was controlling me." Billy says, and Steve frowns.

"You're not an asshole, Billy. Not really. You're sweet, and you care, and you look after people." Steve sits up, pulls Billy up with him, and looks him in the eye. "You are nothing like your father." He says, one hundred percent honest. Billy thinks he might cry. He grabs Steve and pulls him into a hug, lying back down.

"Sometimes-" Billy takes a deep breath. "Sometimes I think I am. Think I'm like him. When- When I would shout at Max, cause I couldn't tell her why but I needed her to listen to me, or when I'd threaten her, or I'd scare her... When I was doing that, even though I was doing it to look out for her, I was acting exactly like him. My intentions may have been different, but how am I any different to him, really? If I made her feel the way he makes me feel." Billy's crying. Doesn't know when he started, just knows that there are tears running down his cheeks, and then Steve is kissing his cheeks, kissing the tears away, and he's holding his hand tight and looking into his eyes like he means something.

"You're nothing like him. Billy, you did what you had to do to protect her, and Susan, and everyone else, from him. You care, you clearly, openly care, about Max, and her friends. Hell you probably care about Lucas and Mike and they've been assholes to you. You're so different from him, Billy. Because you're crying. You're upset at the thought of upsetting people, and you're upset at the thought of hurting people."

"How... You're so good, Harrington." Billy whispers. "How do you forgive so easily?" Steve smiles slightly, has to fight the urge to tell Billy he loves him.

"I can see through your asshole persona, Billy. I see how it affects you. And I know why you behave the way you do. In fact I'm surprised you're not a complete and utter prick. But I see the way you look out for your sister, and you never really picked on anyone. I saw your face in the mall, and when you woke up in hospital. It's easy to forgive if there's nothing to forgive, Billy."

"That didn't make sense." Billy whispers, but he pulls Steve closer and presses a kiss to his forehead.

"But you know what I mean." Steve whispers, and Billy nods.

"Always do." Steve pecks Billy's lips quickly before lying down, head on his chest.

 

"You have to leave soon, don't you?" Steve murmurs. They've been lying down for an hour, and it's 3am, and Billy definitely needs to leave soon.

"Yeah." Billy buries his face in Steve's hair, takes a deep breath. Would rather stay here. "See you at the Byers though." He says, and Steve nods.

"Can't really kiss you at the Byers though."

"Why not?" Steve sits up slightly, looks up at Billy.

"Cause of Will and El." Billy frowns.

"What about them?" Steve frowns back at him.

"You think we should tell them?" Billy chuckles, pulls Steve back into the hug.

"Baby, Will already knows."

"He does? How?" Steve practically gasps, and Billy grins at how dramatic he is.

"He figured it out. Mentioned it to me the other day. Has no problem with it." Steve smiles slightly, confused but happy.

"Really? Okay well, how about El?"

"I'm sure she won't care if I kiss you or not." Steve smiles brighter.

"You think?"

"Babe she was raised in a lab, she's seen weirder things than a boy kissing a boy." Billy says, drawing patterns in his back, "Besides, I'm sure when they were fucking with her brain they didn't bother teaching her that being gay is bad." Steve smiles, leans up and kisses Billy.

"So what your saying is, I can sit next to you and touch you and kiss you as much as I want and we don't have to worry?" Steve's teasing him, and Billy smirks.

"Well that depends on where you touch me, Pretty boy. Wouldn't want to traumatise them." Billy says against his lips, and Steve giggles. "Cause I'm sure they wouldn't be too happy about it if they saw us fucking on the kitchen table or something."  Steve blushes bright, and Billy smiles, presses a kiss to Steve's cheek, then his temple, then the tip of his nose, then his jaw. Steve is giggling above him, and Billy grins against his skin, pressing a kiss just under his jaw.

"Billy your hair tickles." Steve whines, trying and failing to pull back. Billy pulls away so he can look Steve in the eye, his eyes full of mischief and an evil grin on his face.

"You ticklish, Harrington?" Steve's eyes widen, and he immediately starts shaking his head.

"No." He denies, but Billy knows he's lying. He moves his hand, slowly dragging it from Steve's back to his side, before digging into his side, just under his ribs. Steve immediately folds over, in the small space between Billy and the back of the couch, and his hand shoots down, grabbing Billy's hand and trying to push his hand away. "Billy, Please. Please Billy. I can't breath Billy." He pleads between his laughter, and Billy laughs but doesn't let up. Steve grabs his hand with both of his and pushes it down, trapping his hand against his own stomach, and he breathes heavily as he calms down. Billy watches him, feeling incredibly proud of himself, and trying to ignore how turned on he got from hearing Steve plead.

"You're an ass." Steve breathes, resting his forehead on Billy's shoulder, and Billy chuckles, leaning down to kiss Steve's neck, nibbling the skin to create a mark.

"And you're beautiful."

Chapter Text

Billy and Max are the first to Will's house on Saturday. Hopper is dropping El off on his way to work with the promise from Billy that he'll drop her home later, and Steve is bringing Robin with him. Max is stropping because Billy didn't tell her what happened last night. Told her he had a good time but he would spare her the details, and when she questioned him he said he didn't want to traumatise her. She glares at him, and Billy laughs.

"I'm not gonna tell you what happened. You're too young."

"But I told you what happened with me and Lucas!"

"Okay firstly, you broke up with him and haven't spoken to him in weeks. Secondly, if you and Lucas did anything other than kissing then I will go and beat the shit out of him." Max grimaces.

"Okay gross."

"Good. It is gross. Always think that." Billy says as they climb out of his car, smiling at Max.

 

They enter the house, bags of snacks in their arms, and Will grins.

"Hey!" He greets, helping them put the bags in the kitchen, and Billy ruffles his hair in greeting, grabbing the videos and taking them into the front room whilst the kids sort out snacks. He sets up the video player and gets the first film ready before walking back into the kitchen.

"Billy!" Will grins, and Billy smiles at him.

"How you doing, kid?" Max decides to give them privacy, busying herself with taking the snacks into the living room.

"Good. Er, are you... are you working tomorrow?" Will sounds nervous, and Billy gets the feeling he knows where this is going.

"No."

"Are you busy?"

"Not even slightly." Will nods, takes a shaky breath, and Billy puts his hand on Will's shoulder. "You need help with something?"

"Can you- I want to tell mum, and Jonathan."

"You sure?" Will nods.

"It's hard to lie to them. When we see Jonathan with Nancy mum keeps saying I'll understand when I get a girlfriend, and it's tiring, lying to her about it." Billy nods, cause he totally gets it. Having to pretend he's straight sucks. Having to hide the fact that he's completely in love with Steve Harrington sucks.

"I understand kid. I get it. I'll be here." Will smiles, slightly relieved, but there's still a nervous look in his eyes. "It'll be fine, Will."

"I'm scared." Will admits, sounding so small and scared, and Billy sighs, pulling Will into a hug.

"I know. It's gonna be okay. I'm gonna be here the whole time." Will hugs him tight around the waist, feels like he could cry, and Billy hugs him back tight because he knows this kid needs it.

 

"You after my boyfriend, Byers?" Steve asks, and they didn't hear Steve and Robin arrive, and Will blushes at Steve's words but Billy just turns and smirks at him.

"Jealous of a 14 year old, Harrington?" He teases, keeping his arms around Will because he obviously needs the support and he will not be the first one to let go.

"No." The blush that spreads across his face contradicts him, and Billy laughs.

"Liar." He teases, and Will pulls out of the hug, so Billy walks over to Steve and wraps him up in a bear hug. "Better?" Steve knows he's doing it to take the piss, but he doesn't care because Billy is a great hugger, so he just grins and nods.

"Much." Billy rolls his eyes but can't help the loving smile that spreads across his face.

"Nerd." He mutters just as Max walks in.

"Okay we really do not need to see this." She mutters, but she gives Billy a look that tells him she doesn't mean it. Billy, however, decides to be an asshole big brother for a second, and pulls Steve into a kiss. He chuckles against Steve's lips when Max glares at him, and he pulls away.

"You've seen me do a lot worse with a lot uglier, shitbird." Max automatically shudders, the memory of accidentally walking in on Billy fucking a random girl playing in her mind. Luckily she didn't see anything, ran before she could, but the memory still makes her feel nauseous.

"That was disturbing." She says, and Will frowns.

"What did you see?"

"Nothing." Billy and Max say immediately in sync, and Steve frowns at Billy.

"What were you doing?" Max grabs Will's hand, dragging him into the living room with a 'oooh Billy's in trouble', and Billy chuckles as he turns back to Steve, gripping his hips and pulling him close.

"Stevie you jealous again?"

"Yeah." He admits, and Billy chuckles.

"Baby this was years ago. Besides, you know I've fucked a lot of people." Billy says, voice low in that way he knows makes Steve give in. Steve pouts, and Billy kisses him until the pout disappears.

"Guys, can we watch a movie now please?" Robin calls from the living room, and Billy rolls his eyes, letting go of Steve and joining the others.

"We have to wait for El." He says, glancing at Will to see him frowning to himself, seeming in deep thought. Billy frowns slightly, wondering what's going on in his head. Is he having second thoughts about telling his family? "Will, give me a hand a sec?" He says, gesturing to the kitchen, and Will nods, following him into the room.

 

 

"What are they talking about?" Steve asks the girls in the living room, sitting on the sofa next to Robin. Max shrugs.

"They talk in private a lot. I thought it was probably about the mind flayer, you know, cause they were both possessed by it. But then, Billy doesn't talk to El about it and she knows a lot too, and he doesn't mention it to me. Doesn't talk about what happened." Max says, frowning.

"So... What do you think it is?" Robin asks.

"Billy said he helped Will with a problem the other day."

"When they sat on the hood of his car?" Steve nods.

"Said Will needed his help with something. And, I mean, he does always seem better after talking to Billy, so maybe it is just that?"

 

 

"What's going on, kid?" Billy asks, and Will shrugs, looks down. Billy frowns, raises Will's head with his index finger and makes him meet his gaze. "Kid?" Will sighs.

"You said- In my room you said you weren't going to tell Steve. Said it hurt less to not know."

"I did."

"What made you change your mind?" Will's not being accusatory, he just sounds confused, and Billy figures that's fair enough. He does look a bit hypocritical. He sighs, sitting on the table so he's eye level with Will, can talk to him properly.

"I wasn't lying kid. I mean, yeah it worked out great for me, I got the ideal outcome, but I meant what I said. About the wrong person, not knowing being better, safer, in a lot of situations. I meant all of that. Was gonna stick to the not knowing thing."

"So... Why did you change your mind?"

"I didn't." Billy takes a deep breath. "You know what my dad is like, yeah?" Will nods, eyes flicking to the fading bruise on Billy's jaw. "Well, Harrington snuck in my house, and I told him to leave, cause my dad was coming home, but he wouldn't, obviously, cause he's a dickhead." Will laughs at that, and Billy smiles at him. "Well, my dad came home, beat the fuck out of me, all that fun stuff. Harrington had to hide, cause otherwise my dad would have killed me, and he kind of just, looked after me, I guess." Will nods.

"So you told him?" Billy nods.

"Told him he had to leave before I did something stupid. He didn't leave."

"And you changed your mind about the pain thing?" Billy nods again.

"He gave me hope, Cause he stayed, and he wouldn't leave, and he was being impossibly irritating, and hope is dangerous when you're emotional and broken, so I figured, fuck it. Told him I thought he was pretty."

"You always call him pretty." Will says, and Billy chuckles.

"Yeah."

"What happened next?"

"Asked if I could kiss him, and he let me."

"So... The pain thing?"

"I think, when someone cares enough to stay, after witnessing what my dad did to me, when they refuse to leave until they know you're safe, and when they drive to your house and take you to theirs just because your little sister says you're not answering her, and when they look after you, even when you've been an asshole, I think then I kind of had to make an exception. Cause I was too tired to pretend anymore, and I was willing to risk all the pain in the world just so I could stop pretending."

"But, did you know how he'd react? Were you not scared?"

"I was terrified. I though for sure he'd fuck off..."

"But?"

"But I've been treated like shit since I was born. Treated like I'm just some inconvenience, or looked at like I'm some disgusting useless piece of shit. Like I don't matter, and like no one gives a shit about me. When you've been told that, looked at like that, all your life, and then suddenly there's this person, this incredible person, this beautiful person who is good, and kind, and everything you're not, and they're there, looking at you like they really care about you, like seeing you hurt hurts them. When they look at you like you hung the stars in the sky, like you matter, it kind of makes you think maybe they love you too." Billy didn't realise he was crying until Will was reaching forward and wiping the tear off his cheek.

"So you told him." Billy nods, wiping a tear away before it falls.

"So I told him. Because someone like him doesn't look at someone like me like that. People like me don't deserve looks like that." Will frowns.

"You're a good person, Billy." And he means it. Billy can tell he's being 100% genuine, and Billy smiles slightly.

"Thanks, Will."

Chapter Text

Billy and Will both make their way into the living room, saying they were sorting snacks out even though they were in the kitchen far longer than necessary for 'just getting snacks' and everyone can see Billy's eyes are red like he's been crying. None of them say anything though, and Billy smiles when he sees El has now joined them.

"How long you been here?" He asks, and El smiles bright at him.

"Just got here." She says before adding "Hopper wants to talk to you. He's outside." Billy frowns.

"Okay..." He says, turning towards the door, wondering what Hopper wants. He finds him on the porch smoking a cigarette, and when he sees Billy he holds out his packet, offering him one. Billy accepts, putting the cigarette between his lips and pulling out his zippo.

"What's up, Chief?" Hopper takes a drag before looking at Billy carefully. He smiles, and he doesn't miss the way Billy flinches when he raises his hand to pat his shoulder.

"Haven't seen you in a while." Hopper says, pausing just long enough to make Billy worry, "Just wanted to see how you were."

"Oh. I'm fine." Billy frowns. "Why?" Hopper pauses again, wondering how far he can push it.

"Cause you have a bruise on your neck. A bruise you only get if someone holds you by your throat. And every time I see you your sporting a black eye or a bruised jaw."

"I'm an asshole, Hopper. Get into a lot of fights." Billy says, but he's staring into the distance, not meeting his gaze.

"You're a good kid, Billy."

"Still get into a lot of fights." He mumbles, and Hopper sighs.

"Billy." He says, and Billy looks at him. "Billy I know abuse when I see it." He says softly, and Billy shakes his head. He knows where this is going, and he doesn't want to.

"I'm fine." He insists, and he can feel everyone looking at him through the window, probably just curious, and Hopper is looking at him with pity in his eyes, and Billy's angry now. He hates being pitied. He's fine. People need to believe him when he says he's fine.

"Billy it's not okay. Let me help you." All of Billy's restraints snap, he turns to Hopper with rage in his eyes.

"You don't know a thing about me. You don't know what you're talking about. I don't need help. Leave me alone." Billy growls, and there's tears in his eyes, and he flicks the cigarette onto the grass before turning around, and instead of returning back to the house he walks down the steps and turns right, walking into the woods, because he needs to calm down before he sees anyone, just in case. Hopper watches him, sighs, and finishes his cigarette.

 

"This doesn't look good." Robin whispers. They're watching in silence, and they don't know what Hopper is saying but Billy is getting mad. Max can see him trying to stay calm, how his hands are flexing at his side, and she sees the second he snaps, turns on Hopper with an evil look on his face, a look she hasn't seen in months, and then he's walking away, and Max stands up at the same time Steve does, but where Steve seems frozen in place Max is rushing out of the house, straight to Hopper.

"Where's he going?" Hopper is still looking after where Billy disappeared into the trees, and he looks sad.

"I don't know."

"What?"

"I pushed him a bit too far, Max. He needs to cool off."

"How?"

"I just want him to let me help him." He's talking more to himself than to Max, and Max smiles sadly.

"Me too." Max admits, and Hopper frowns at her.

"You know about what happens to him? Who he fights with."

"Is it really a fight if he doesn't hit back?" Max mutters, and she didn't mean to say it, but it's out now.

"He doesn't?"

"I don't want to talk about him behind his back. Sorry, Hopper." Max looks guilty, and Hopper sighs, patting her shoulder the same way he patted Billy's. Hopper notices that she doesn't flinch like Billy did. Hopper nods.

"I need to get to work. Stay safe, kid." Max nods, knowing what he meant, and she watches Hopper leave before looking over to where Billy went and waiting a while, sighing when he doesn't come back.

 

Max goes back into the front room and sinks into the corner of the sofa. No one says anything for a few moments.

"What happened?" Steve asks, and Max shrugs, eyes focused on something out the window.

"Hop said he wants to help him. I think he knows about Neil, and I think he mentioned it to Billy. Billy doesn't want to tell anyone. Well, no one that can do something about it, anyway. So I'm guessing when Hopper mentioned it he freaked. Left before Hopper could say something official." Max is talking quiet, but they all hear her.

"Why wont he tell Hopper?" El asks, and Max shakes her head.

"I can't talk about him like this." She mutters, because he's her brother, and it feels wrong. "He'll come back. He'll be fine. Can we just change the subject."

"Will, why don't you put the film on." Steve says, and Will presses play and they fall into silence, all of them watching the film but not really paying attention, just waiting for Billy to get back.

 

It takes 2 hours.

 

They've put on a new film, and they're lounging on the various sofa's and chairs, snack bowls spread out between them, and they're only 10 minutes in to Grease, as per Robins request, when the front door opens. Everyone's focus stays on the film, knowing the last thing he needs right now is to be stared at, apart from Max, who snaps her head to look at him, relief flooding across her face. Billy feels a bit guilty, disappearing like that, especially with how worried Max looks. He walks over to where she's sat in the corner of the sofa and sits next to her, letting her bury herself in his side, keeping her gaze on the screen.

"You worried me." She whispers, and Billy wraps his arm around her.

"I know." He whispers back. "I'm sorry."

"Are you okay?" She asks, and everyone can hear them, because they're at a quiet moment in the film, but they try not to make it obvious.

"Not quite." He says honestly, and he catches Steve's eye, and Steve looks so damn relieved that Billy is back, and Billy half smiles at him, and no one says anything when Steve gets up and moves to beside Billy. No one says anything when Steve grabs his hand, or when Billy raises their joint hands and presses a kiss against the back of Steve's.

They fall into a comfortable quiet, now Billy is back and safe, and they laugh when Robin and Max sing along to the music, and when Will joins in, and El doesn't know the words but she tries to join in anyway, and Billy smiles and thinks maybe this is what happy is, at least, as close to happy as he'll get. With his favourite people singing terribly to a bad song in an alright movie, and with Steve's hand in his. Thinks he wants to live in this moment forever.

Chapter Text

The film finishes, after a frankly disturbing dance routine from Max, Will and El, and they insist on having a dance party immediately after. Will grabs his tape player and a bunch of tapes, and Billy goes to get a drink from the kitchen before he's roped into dancing to Blondie by Max.

He pours a glass of water and stares out the window drinking it, thinking. He knows what Neil does is wrong. He's not stupid, he knows child abuse is bad, and wrong, and he should want someone to stop him. And he knows, deep down, that Hopper is right. He knows he should tell him everything, and hopefully Neil will get arrested. The thing is though, Neil might not be arrested. Or Billy will go into care, or he'll just be left to fend for himself because he's nearly 18. He might be arrested, but then Susan would have no link to him, and he'd have to leave Max. And even though if Neil was in prison he'd have nothing to protect Max from, he still wouldn't want to leave her. She's his sister. And it may have taken being possessed by some other dimensional being and almost dying, but they've bonded. He doesn't want to leave her. She's his good thing. He loves her. And then there's the option where he reports Neil and they do nothing because there's no proof and then Neil beats him even worse than before. Billy finishes his glass of water just as a voice pulls him back to reality.

"Billy?" Steve is standing in the doorway, and Billy wonders how long he's been there.

"Hey, pretty boy." Billy says, voice all soft and solemn. Steve blushes, because of course he does, as he walks over to Billy, wipes the tear away that Billy didn't even know was falling.

"You okay?"

"Course." Billy says, putting the glass in the sink behind him.

"Had us worried, you know."

"I know." Billy looks into Steve's eyes, those brown fucking eyes that look at him like he's important, like he has a purpose other than being Neil's personal punchbag, and Steve reaches forward and presses a quick soft kiss to Billy's lips.

"You wanna talk about it?" Billy shakes his head.

"Not right now." Steve nods, and Billy looks at him for a second, brushing Steve's hair out of his face gently.

"You're real pretty, Stevie." He whispers, hooking his index finger under his chin and pressing a kiss against his lips before letting go and joining the rest in the living room.

 

'Every breath you take' is playing, just started, and Max is teaching El how to waltz, both of them laughing, and Will and Robin are dancing as if an upbeat pop song is playing, jumping around out of time, and Billy grins, turns to see Steve standing in the doorway watching, and holds out his hand to him.

"Oh, hell no." Steve protests, stepping closer anyway, and Billy's grin widens.

"Come on, Harrington. Scared I'm a better dancer?"

"You're definitely a better dancer considering I cannot dance." Steve mutters, but he slides his hand into Billy's and steps closer. Billy closes the gap between them.

"I'll teach you, pretty boy." Billy smirks, pulling Steve so he's flush against his body, "Put your hand on my shoulder." He says, wrapping his free arm around Steve's waist, and Steve does as he's told, gripping Billy's shoulder. "Relax, Stevie." Billy whispers in his ear, and Steve can't help but melt in his arms. Billy starts moving in a square for a typical waltz, talking Steve through the steps, and Steve follows his lead, but he can barely focus because Billy is just too damn amazing.

"Harrington."

"Yeah?"

"Left foot."

"Oh." Steve says, looking down so he can focus, and Billy chuckles, lifting his chin so their eyes meet.

"You're not meant to look down, Harrington." Billy's speaking so softly, talking just to Steve and the small gap between their lip, and Steve smiles slightly.

"Trying to focus." He mutters, eyes flickering back down, and Billy chuckles.

"Look at me, Harrington." Steve looks into brilliant blue eyes, bright and sparkling, and Billy starts moving them again, whispering the foot Steve needs to move, or the direction they need to go, and once they've done a few full rotations Billy attempts a spin, raising their joint hands and pushing Steve through with the hand on his back. Steve laughs, stumbling through the spin, and all but falls against Billy's chest.

"I wasn't expecting that." He laughs, and his mouth is right next to Billy's ear and he shivers, but he can't help but smile.

"Yeah, it wasn't great." Billy laughs, and they continue dancing normally until the song ends. Billy knows Max is watching them, will bet his bottom dollar that the others are too, but when the song ends he just stays looking into Steve's eyes, and Steve stares right back.

"Didn't know you could dance, Billy." Robin says, voice on the verge of teasing, and Billy smirks as he turns to look at her, arm still around Steve.

"Didn't know you couldn't." He jokes, and Robin laughs.

"Show us your moves, Hargrove." She says as another slow song starts playing, and Billy rolls his eyes but walks over to Robin after kissing Steve's hand.

 

He stops in front of her, bows and offers his hand, and Robin chuckles as she curtsy's and accepts his hand, being pulled into the proper hold. Billy holds her close, but not as close as he held Steve, and he starts leading her in a square. She picks it up quite quick, at least, quicker than Steve did, and when Billy tries to spin her she only nearly falls into him but manages to catch herself by gripping his shirt.

"You did that on purpose." She pouts as Billy pulls her back into hold, and Billy laughs.

"I did no such thing." He grins, he definitely spun her faster than necessary.

"Asshole." She mutters, continuing to follow Billy's lead. Billy steps left when Robin thought they were going the other way, and she stumbles slightly, accidentally stepping on his foot, and Billy narrows his eyes at her.

"You did that on purpose!" Robin laughs, and Billy rolls his eyes as the song ends, stepping away from Robin.

"So who was the better dance partner?" Will asks, and Billy looks between Steve and Robin, pretending to ponder his answer.

"Considering Rob tried to break my ankle I'm gonna go for Harrington." Steve beams, and Robin huffs.

"As if you weren't gonna pick him anyway." She says.

"You questioning my judgement?"

"Yes."

"Fair enough." Billy smiles, winking at Steve who blushes.

Chapter Text

"Can we have a sleepover?" El asks. They're all sitting on the sofas, Steve tucked into Billy's side in the armchair, Max, Will and El spread out on one sofa, and Robin lying across the other, and they've been chatting for the past hour. Max and El immediately look to Billy, who shrugs.

"Uh, you know Susan won't like you sleeping over with a boy. Neil would go mad." Max would argue that first comment, say she wouldn't mind cause El will be there. That second comment shuts her up though, because he won't tell Max off, but Billy would get a beating. She bites her lip.

"You could tell her you'll stay too as a chaperone?" Billy contemplates this. It would work. She knows nothing will happen if Billy is there too.

"That might work."

"We won't all fit here though." Will says.

"Stay at mine." Steve offers, because his living rooms are more than big enough for the three kids and Robin, if she wants to stay too, or they could have a spare room each, and Billy can stay with him in his room. Besides, his house is too big, too lonely when he's the only one there. At least with a full house he won't be lonely and scared. And then he can be involved in the sleepover too. And he can fall asleep with Billy rather than just his shirt.

"Perfect!" Max grins, like she knows what Steve is thinking "Then we can go swimming!" Billy rolls his eyes, cause it's probably too cold for that, but nothing he says can stop her, and honestly, swimming sounds great. They're definitely water lovers.

"Alright, go call the parents and ask. Tell them I'll drop you all home tomorrow." El, Will and Max walk over to the phone, and Billy looks at Robin.

"You staying too?" Robin shakes her head.

"Family dinner." She says, "Besides, I don't wanna third wheel you all night." She's teasing, and Billy chuckles.

 

"Billy!" Max calls from the hall, and Billy frowns.

"Yeah?" He calls back.

"Mum wants to talk to you." Billy sighs, walking into the hallway and taking the phone from Max.

"Hi Susan."

"Billy? Max said she's having a sleepover with a boy?" Billy rolls his eyes. She's always so obsessive about Max hanging out with guys.

"Yeah, Will, you met him last week. You know, that kid that came round to do a school project."

"Yes. Yes he was a nice boy. But I don't want them being alone."

"El is going to be there too."

"Okay. Who's house are they staying at?"

"El's. El and Max are sleeping in her room, Will's gonna sleep in the living room. And I'll stay with them too."

"You will?"

"Yeah."

"Oh- That's- Thank you." She says, and Billy is about to reply when he hears Neil take the phone from Susan, saying something about wanting to speak to his son.

"Billy." His stern voice comes through the phone, and Billy visibly flinches. Max frowns at him, but Billy ignores her to answer his dad.

"Yeah, dad?" As soon as he says the word 'dad' Max looks at him, eyes wide, and Billy can feel the others watching him too.

"You will stay with Max."

"Yes, sir."

"And you will look after her and her friends."

"Yes, sir."

"And if I find out you left her and her friends alone to go to a party, or to go and be a faggot, I will make you regret it. You hear me?" Billy swallows audibly, can feel his hands shaking. Susan must have left the room. Neil doesn't talk to him like that in front of Susan or Max.

"Yes, sir."

"I assume you will be bringing her home early tomorrow?" Billy pulls his hand into a fist to stop it shaking.

"I'm taking her friends home so some time in the afternoon."

"Can you be more specific?"

"Well, not really." Billy mutters, and it's true, it depends when they wake up, and he can practically feel Neil's anger.

"Susan and I are going out for dinner tomorrow. We will not wait around to let you in."

"I have keys."

"William what did we talk about." Neil all but spits down the phone and Billy knows he's going to regret saying that.

"Respect." He says.

"It would do you good to remember that." Neil hangs up before Billy can reply, and Billy takes a deep breath in before putting the phone back on the cradle.

 

"Billy?" Max asks, nervous, and Billy closes his eyes for a second before turning to Max with a forced smile.

"Susan said it's okay." He says, ignoring the way everyone is looking at him. None of them have witnessed the way Neil treats Billy and the way Billy reacts. Not apart from Steve that one time and Max a few times. They didn't know how Billy reacts to him, even over the phone. Don't know that the mere thought of Neil makes a shiver run down Billy's spine and the feeling of dread settle in his stomach.

"And Neil?" She asks quietly, and Billy takes a deep breath, tries to smile genuinely at her. He fails.

"It's fine. Don't worry." He walks over, pats her shoulder.

"Billy?" Billy ignores Max and turns to El and Will.

"You tell your parents?" They both nod, and Billy nods. "Okay. Will go grab some clothes and stuff for tomorrow, yeah?"

"Billy?" Max asks again, desperate for Billy to talk to her, and Billy looks at Max.

"We'll stop off at home to grab your stuff. Same for you, El."

"Billy!" Max snaps, and Billy sighs, seeing the desperate, sad, fearful look in her eyes, and he looks her dead in the eye, places his hands on her shoulders.

"It's fine, Max."

"But-"

"It's fine." He says again, and Max knows to drop it. She knows it's not fine, and so does Billy. But there's nothing they can do about it.

"Are you gonna stay in the car when I go home to get stuff?" She's not really asking him, more begging him to, but Neil's pissed off and there's no way he's sending her in that house alone. Billy gives her a look, silently telling her this. "Please stay in the car." She whispers, and Billy shakes his head slowly.

"Max I'm not gonna send you in there alone."

"He doesn't hit me." She snaps.

"I'm not gonna risk it." Billy snaps back, and Max glares at him and he glares at her, neither of them backing down. Billy glances over at the others, who quickly busy themselves with tidying the snacks away, Will making his way to his bedroom, before turning to Max again. "He's angry cause of me, Max. I knew what would happen when I was rude to him, I fucked up. I need to take responsibility for it." He whispers, and Max's hard, cold stare breaks as she looks at the concern on her brothers face.

"He's an asshole."

"I know." Billy pulls her into a hug, and Max eagerly squeezes him tight, still being careful in case he has bruises she isn't aware of.

Chapter Text

Steve drops Robin off before heading home, whilst Billy takes the three kids in his car so they can pick up their stuff. He drives to Hopper's cabin first, waiting in the car whilst Max and El go and gather pyjamas and clothes for tomorrow, and then he heads home so he and Max can grab some stuff. As soon as he pulls up he knows he's screwed, and Max reaches over, squeezes his hand before they get out of the car.

"Billy I'd like a word with you." Neil says as soon as they're in the house, voice forcing Billy and Max to stop walking in fear and anticipation.

"I'll, er, go and pack." Max says, hesitating before making her way down the hall. Billy watches her walk away, looking back at Neil as soon as she's gone.

"You were disrespectful, Billy." He growls.

"I'm sorry, Sir." Billy says immediately, and a second later Neil's raising a fist, punching him in the face, his fist landing on Billy's cheek. Billy's eyes fill with tears but he stands firm, not moving apart from his face swinging to the side with the force of the punch.

"Look after your sister." Billy nods, and when Neil doesn't say anything else he quickly rushes to his room, grabbing some clothes for tomorrow before heading to Max's room.

"Are you okay?" She asks immediately, doing up her backpack and flinging it over her shoulder.

"Course. Ready to go?" She nods, and they waste no time in rushing out of the house and over to Billy's car.

 

"Ice." El says once they're seated and putting their belts on. Billy pauses, frowning back at her.

"What, kid?" El reaches forward, places her hand over where Neil punched. Billy wonders how she knows when the bruise has barely started forming.

"You need ice." El says, and Max is frowning at Billy, because he said he was fine. Billy turns back around in his seat, turning on the engine.

"I'm fine, El." He says, starting the drive to Steve's, but Max is still frowning at him.

"Billy." She sighs, and Billy reaches over and grabs her hand.

"I'm sorry." He sighs, keeping his eyes on the road. Max squeezes his hand to let him know it's okay.

"You said you were okay." She says softly, quiet because they don't talk about this sort of stuff in front of other people.

"I know."

"What did he do?"

"Hit me once to get the point across. Nothing else." Billy says, and when Max frowns at him he adds "Honestly."

"You know El can tell if you're lying." She mutters, and Billy rolls his eyes, glancing at El through the mirror.

"El can you tell Max I'm not lying please?" El glances between the two of them before reaching forward, gripping Billy's arm gently and closing her eyes. Billy can feel El go through his memories of the last few minutes, and she winces when Neil hits him as if she was the one being hit. She lets go, opens her eyes, and looks at Billy with such sympathy.

"He's not lying." She says, and Billy can see pure concern in her eyes so he reaches back, keeping one hand on the wheel, and grabs her hand.

"Don't you start worrying, kid. It's okay. I'm okay." El nods, squeezes Billy's hand before letting him go back to focusing on the road.

 

Billy lets Max play Blondie on the drive to Steve's, and it drives him mad but she's happy, singing along to the terrible music with Will and El, and when they finally pull up and Billy parks in Steve's driveway Billy happily gets out of the car as fast as he can to escape the hell that is three 14 year olds singing along loudly to 'the tide is high'. Billy grabs their bags as they dance their way over to the door, and are still singing when Steve opens it to let them in. He smiles when he hears them singing, and looks over at Billy, who rolls his eyes at the kids, making Steve laugh as he walks over to help Billy with the bags.

"You let them listen to that?" Steve asks, eyes sparkling, and Billy shrugs.

"Thought it would cheer them up a bit. Turns out it just made me want to swerve the car into a tree." Billy says as he closes the car door, following Steve into the house.

 

They drop the bags off in the cosy living room and then there's something cold pressed against his face. It takes Billy a second to realise what it is, but then he sees Steve's confused sad eyes and he glances to see Max holding ice against his cheek.

"Max..."

"You need to ice it." She mutters, and Steve frowns.

"What happened?"

"Billy didn't listen to me." Billy rolls his eyes, looks at Max.

"You wouldn't listen to me." He mutters, and Max rolls her eyes, and it's the picture of siblings arguing, and Billy would smile if he wasn't so annoyed.

"What happened?" Steve asks again, and Billy sighs.

"Max wanted me to wait in the car-"

"I wanted you to be safe." She snaps.

"And I didn't." Billy carries on as if she'd never interrupted him. "And so she's mad at me." Billy finishes, taking the ice pack out of her hand and holding it against his own cheek.

"I'm mad cause you didn't tell me he hit you." She says, and Billy sighs.

"I'm sorry."

"I know." Max mutters, turning around and walking back over to El and Mike, who are setting up blankets on the floor.

"You guys do know you can sleep in the spare bedrooms, right?" Steve says to them as he takes the ice from Billy and holds it against his face.

"That's less fun." Will says, and Billy gets a mischievous glint in his eyes.

"Oh, I don't know. I think me and Harrington are gonna have plenty of fun." Billy enjoys the way Steve blushes, and he smirks when the kids react in disgust.

"William Hargrove, you are disgusting." Steve says, but the blush on his cheeks and the gleam in his eyes say otherwise.

"Anyway..." El says, smiling as she grabs her bag, "Let's go swimming!" She grins, and Will and Max grin too, all of them grabbing their swimming stuff and racing to get changed. Billy turns back to Steve and smiles.

"Wanna go swimming, pretty boy?" Steve knows seeing Billy soaking wet and half naked is going to drive him mad.

"This is going to end in us scaring those kids for life." Steve says, and Billy chuckles, pulling Steve into another kiss.

Chapter Text

Billy walks into the garden to see Max and Will already in the pool, Steve sitting on the edge dipping his feet in the water, sat next to El who has her legs crossed at the side of the pool. Steve turns to smile at him and he nearly chokes on air. Billy's wearing his swim shorts from California, and inch or two shorter than his lifeguard shorts, and his hair is beautiful as always and his chest is bare, bruises and scars littered across him like a beautifully depressing picture, but he still has insane muscles and he's built like a god and Steve's mouth salivates.

"Come on, Billy!" Max calls from the shallower end of the pool, and Billy smiles at her, takes a few steps before diving into the pool, appearing out of the water right in front of Max. "7/10." She says, and Billy glares at her.

"Only 7?!"

"I'd give him a definite 10." Steve says, and Billy turns to wink at him as Max tuts.

"I'm rating the dive, Steve!" She says, exasperated, and Billy smirks.

"I'd give you a 10 too, Pretty boy."

"Okay gross." Max mutters, and Billy rolls his eyes, grabbing Max's sides and lifting her out of the water, sitting her on the edge of the pool.

"Go on then, shitbird. Show us how it's done." Max accepts the challenge, stands up and takes a few steps back before taking a run up and diving. It's not bad, but Billy knows his was better. When she emerges from the water she looks at Billy expectantly and he nods appreciatively.

"6." They used to do this is California. They'd go to a local pool if the ocean wasn't surfing appropriate, and Billy taught Max how to dive. They quickly became competitive, but it's always friendly.

"Really?" Billy nods.

"You bent your back too much. Try and get a bit straighter."

"You're one to talk." Steve goads, and Billy laughs as Max rolls her eyes but nods, pulling herself out of the pool and trying again.

"Better." Billy says when she emerges from the water. "8."

"Your turn." Billy smiles slightly, pulls himself out of the pool, knows Steve is watching him as he does it, and he flicks his hair out of his face before standing at the edge of the pool. He dives in, and when he emerges Max grins.

"No splash."

"None?" Max nods.

"None. 10/10."

"Wicked."

 

"El, you gonna get in?" Will asks, and El looks at the water hesitantly. Billy can tell she's either scared of the water or doesn't know how to swim. She looks at Will then shakes her head. Will and Max accept her answer, probably can tell shes wary, and they decide to have a breath holding competition. Billy swims over to Steve, stopping just in front of him, looking up at Steve.

"You getting in, pretty boy?" Steve shakes his head. With Billy where he is, looking like a fucking god, Steve's already half hard. Getting wet is definitely going to make it more obvious. "Come on, Bambi." Billy whispers, looking up at him through his thick dark lashes, and he takes Steve's hand, tugs him gently.

"Billy." Steve complains, but Billy just smirks, hooks his hands on the back of Steve's knee's and pulls him further off the edge of the pool. "I don't wanna get my hair wet." Steve lies, and Billy chuckles, pulling Steve fully off the edge, forcing his legs round Billy's waist as he does, so Steve's head and shoulders stay above water.

"Problem solved." Billy is grinning at Steve, who is mere inches away from him, and Steve pouts, wrapping his arms around Billy's shoulders and wondering how the hell he's keeping his head above the water when they're in the deepest part of the pool.

"Billy." Steve whines, because his crotch is pressed against Billy's stomach, and Billy has his hands resting on Steve's back, keeping him there.

"Come on, baby. You gotta join in. Can't disappoint your children." Billy smirks, pushing off the wall and floating them towards the middle of the pool, away from where El can hear them, and he can feel Steve's 'problem' pressed against him.

"You're an asshole." He mutters, and Billy smirks.

"I'll make you a deal, Bambi." Billy says, catching Steve's interest.

"Go on." Billy smirks, leaning close and pressing a kiss to Steve's shoulder before brushing his lips against the shell of his ear.

"You stop pouting those pretty lips of yours," Billy breathes, "and we can shower together after." Billy says, voice low, and Steve shivers in his arms, his legs tightening around Billy's waist.

"Billy I swear to god, stop it." Steve pleads in his ear, and Billy leans back to meet his gaze.

"You're so pretty, Harrington." Billy whispers, and he never did soft before Steve, but the way Steve melts at his words make's Billy's heart explode.

"As are you, Hargrove." Steve cups Billy's face, hands on both cheeks, and kisses him. Billy grins, kisses his back just as hungrily, and then they're being doused with water and Billy pulls back and looks over to where Max and Will are watching, both looking guilty.

"You little shits." Billy reprimands, but there's not malice in his voice, and he's actually trying very hard not to laugh because Steve is still fully in shock because he's now soaked from head to toe and damn is he cute. Steve blinks a few time, pushes his soaking wet hair out of his face, and Billy can't help it. He bursts into a fit of laughter, and the kids join in.

Chapter Text

 They stay in the garden until it gets cold, around 11:30pm, the moon and a light left on in the house causing a soft glow across the garden, making the water sparkle and look kind of magical. Max, El and Will are sitting, relaxed, at the edge of the pool chatting, Max with her leg over the side of the pool. Billy and Steve are sat on the other side of the pool, both of them with their legs in the water and leaning back on their elbows, talking quietly and looking up at the stars. Billy looks at Steve, studies his side profile like its the first and last time he's ever seen him. His hair is dry now, fluffy and a bit messier than usual, and his eyes are fucking sparkling. Billy doesn't think he'll ever get over how damn beautiful Steve is. Steve glances at him, obviously not expecting Billy to be looking at him already, and he smiles slightly.

"You okay?" Steve whispers, and instead of answering immediately he decides to think about it. There's a dull ache in his ribs, like there always is, but there's this feeling in his chest, this warm feeling he hasn't felt since he was back in California, and he looks over at Max, El and Will, watches as they talk and laugh, and Max looks over, meets his gaze, smiles at him, and Billy automatically smiles back, and then he looks back at Steve, and he knows he'd do absolutely anything to stay here in this moment forever.

"Yeah." He whispers, honest and open and so damn in love, and Steve is looking at him in that way. That way that makes Billy feel important, and wanted, and loved. Billy doesn't hesitate, just leans forward and presses his lips against Steve's, trying to tell him without saying it that he's so fucking in love with him, and Steve kisses back with just as much passion, and Billy wonders if Steve loves him too. Really hopes he does. Billy pulls back, presses a quick sweet kiss to Steve's lips, because he really doesn't care about being soft anymore, before lying back properly, looking up at the stars. Steve smiles, sweet and pretty, and lies back next to him.

"You're really something, Billy." Steve whispers, finding Billy's hand and gripping it tight, and Billy takes a deep breath.

"That a good thing, Harrington?"

"It's an amazing thing, Billy." Steve says, so calm and loving.

"You're amazing, Steve." Billy whispers, just as there's a call from the other side of the pool.

"Billy, we're going inside now." Max says, not wanting to interrupt whatever's going on between Steve and Billy, but needing to tell them they're going in. Billy looks over at her, nods to let her know he heard her, and turns back to Steve.

"We should go in too, Pretty boy." Billy says, pushing himself up and holding out a hand for Steve, who lets Billy pull him up. As soon as he's standing he grins.

"I believe you promised me a shower?" Steve asks, running his free hand up Billy's arm, and Billy grins, gripping his hand tight and leading him into the house.

"Let me just say good night to Max." Billy whispers outside the living room, and he walks over to where Max is sitting on the sofa. He's not stupid, he knows they're not going to sleep yet, but he needs to talk to her.

 

"Kid." Billy says, leaning close to her. "Listen, if you need me, for anything, you come get me, okay?" Billy says, genuine, and Max nods.

"I will."

"I mean it Max. You have a nightmare, or need to make sure I'm alive, or anything like that, come get me. Please." Max nods, pulls Billy into a hug.

"I promise. You come and get me if you need me too." She says into his shoulder, and Billy hugs her tight.

"Promise." He whispers into her hair, "Now you guys behave." He says louder, so Will and El hear him, and they smile at him.

"We will." Will says, and Max smirks at him.

"We will if you do." She says, and her eyes flash with mischief, and Billy chuckles, ruffles her hair.

"You know I wont." Billy smirks before walking over to Steve, winking at him. Steve grins, grabs Billy's hand and starts leading him down the hall, shouting goodnight to the kids.

Chapter Text

As soon as they're in Steve's room Billy wraps his arms around his waist and pulls him into a kiss, passionate and hungry, and Steve walks them over to the en suit. Billy reaches behind Steve, turns the shower on, and then returns his hand to Steve's waist. Steve's hands are already pushing his shorts down, teasingly slow, and Billy chuckles against Steve's lips, pushing his shorts down quickly. They both step out of their shorts before stepping into the shower, arms still locked around each other, and they move under the water, letting it fall over them. Billy pulls back so they can breath, and Steve reaches behind Billy to grab the shampoo, squeezing some into his hands before lathering it into Billy's hair, gently massaging his scalp.

Billy closes his eyes, feels a bit like he's floating because what Steve's doing feels so good. And then Steve is moving him back under the water, spends about 5 minutes just rinsing his hair and kissing him softly, and Billy feels loved for the first time in forever. Thinks he might start crying. He's being so gentle. When he's done washing Billy's hair he takes the soap and rubs it over Billy's chest, pressing kisses against the bruises and the scars before he rubs soap carefully over them, and he runs his hands softly over his body as he washed the soap off, and Billy feels kind of overwhelmed.

Steve meets Billy's eyes when he's finished washing the soap off his torso, and he's taken aback by the look of pure adoration and love on his face. Steve's frozen, just looking into Billy's eyes. Billy reaches up, runs a hand through Steve's hair, and pulls him into a kiss, and Steve just fucking melts against him. Billy pulls Steve forward so he's under the water, running his fingers through his hair until it's completely wet, and then he washes his hair and body for him. Billy's hands are rougher than Steve's, but they're soft and gentle as he washes the soap off his body.

Once they're both clean they just stand under the water, kissing each other with teasing touches, Billy whispering dirty things in Steve's ear. Billy turns off the shower and reaches for the big towel, wrapping it around both of them, and Steve kisses him again.

"Billy," He whispers against his lips, and Billy smiles, pulling him flush against his body.

"Yeah, Stevie?"

"Billy." Steve whines. Billy rolls his hips against Steve's, kisses over to his ear.

"Tell me what you want, baby."

"I want you." Billy's heart stops.

"You've got me." He promises, and Steve's arms wind around Billy's neck, pulling him into a deep kiss.

"Billy please do something." Steve knows what he wants, knows he wants to go further with Billy than they have before, but he's never been with a guy before, so he's not sure how it works, what he'd want to do, what position he'd want to be in. He's kind of nervous. Billy pulls back to look him in the eyes, can see the nerves, hidden behind his lust, and he slides a hand up to the back of his head, pulls him in for a passionate kiss before looking into his eyes again.

"Pretty boy, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do." He whispers, and Steve nods.

"Just nervous. Never done this before." Steve admits, looking down at Billy's chest to avoid his eyes, and Billy hooks his finger under Steve's chin, raises his head to meet his eyes.

"Stevie," Billy pecks his lips, "You don't need to be nervous, baby." Billy whispers, pecks his lips again, "Come here." Billy drops the towel, wraps his arms around Steve's waist and leads him into the bedroom.

 

He keeps his eyes locked on Steve's as he walks them over to his bed, gently lowering Steve onto the bed, letting him shuffle up so his head is resting on the pillow, and Billy hovers over him. Steve reaches up, cups Billy's cheeks, and pulls him down for a kiss. Billy is leaning on his forearm, which is above Steve's head, and he threads his other hand into Steve's hair. It's still damp but it's so soft and he's so beautiful. "How far do you wanna go, baby?" Billy asks, because he's done everything before, back in California, all he needs to do is find out Steve's limits.

"I don't know what I'm doing here, Billy." Steve says, and Billy nods.

"I know, babe, but what are your limits?" Billy asks, then realises if Steve has only slept with girls then he's probably not sure what their options are. "I could give you a rim job."  Billy says, deciding it would be beneficial to tell Steve what they could do, and Steve blushes bright red. He doesn't know what that is but he makes a mental note to ask Billy what it is later. "Can give you a blow job. I could wank you off, I could wank us off at the same time." Billy feels Steve's dick harden against his, and Billy smiles slightly. "You could fuck me. I could fuck you." Billy whispers, and Steve shudders underneath him, his dick pulsing. "I could finger you?" Billy says, voice low, "Just tell me what you want, baby." Steve is shaking, incredibly turned on from just hearing Billy talk about what they could do, and God he'd love to fuck Billy, or have Billy fuck him, but he's scared it's going to hurt, and he's not sure what to do. He's not sure he's quite ready for that.

"Billy I want- Damn, want all of that. I don't know if I want to fuck you or I want you to fuck me." He says quietly, and Billy leans down, kisses his jaw.

"Your choice, darling."

"I think I want you to fuck me, Billy. But I'm scared it's going to hurt." Steve murmurs into his ear, and Billy shakes his head.

"Baby I'm not gonna hurt you." He says, kissing his neck. "But if you really want that, then we work up to it, and if it hurts, or if you change your mind, we stop." Steve nods, and Billy looks him in the eyes. "Baby, you sure?"

"Billy, I'm sure." Steve leans up, his mouth next to Billy's, "I want you to fuck me." Billy shivers as Steve purrs the words in his ear, moves his hands down Steve's side and grips his hip gently.

"You got lube, Harrington?" Steve blushes, and Billy thinks he's fucking beautiful.

"In the drawer." Billy winks at him, which makes him blush brighter, before reaching over and opening the bedside table drawer, grabbing the bottle of lube and hovering over Steve again, meeting his gaze.

"You sure?" Steve nods.

"Yeah just, what do I need to do?" Steve asks, and Billy presses a kiss to his lips.

"Spread your legs a bit more." Billy says, lifting himself off of Steve so he can do as he says, and Billy settles between his legs. "You need to tell me if it hurts, okay?" Billy says as he uncaps the lube and rubs some into his right hand, making sure his fingers are as slick as possible.

"Okay." Steve says, hands in Billy's hair, and he sounds nervous, maybe a little bit scared, and Billy kisses him again, long and passionate.

"Stevie, I promise it's gonna be okay. Just relax." Billy reaches down as he talks, and as soon as his index finger touches Steve's rim Steve gasps, hands tightening in Billy's damp curls. He's never been touched there, never even considered it, and he's nervous but also excited. Billy circles the rim, kissing and sucking Steve's neck.

"Billy," Steve sounds breathless already, and it makes Billy's dick twitch and his chest flutter.

"You ready?" Billy grabs Steve's thigh, wrapping his leg around his waist to give Billy a better angle.

"Yeah." Billy pecks his lips before moving to his neck again as he presses his finger against his rim, slowly, carefully, pushing the tip of his finger in. Steve gasps, his body tensing at the unfamiliar intrusion, and Billy freezes.

"You okay?" Steve nods, meets Billy's gaze with his lustful eyes, and pulls him in for a kiss.

"Yeah. Yeah keep going." Billy frowns, doesn't move his hand.

"You sure baby?"

"Billy, please." Steve pleads, and Billy pushes his finger in slowly, pausing at each knuckle to let Steve adjust before he eventually bottoms out. Steve is shaking, moaning into Billy's mouth when his finger is fully in, back arching to try and force Billy's finger deeper. It's weird and unfamiliar, but it feels so good. It's too much but definitely not enough, and he whines when Billy twists his finger.

"Relax, baby." Billy whispers, pulling his finger all the way out, then pushing it back in again. Steve gasps hotly into Billy's ear, grips Billy's shoulders tight and arches into him, chest meeting chest. Billy pushes his finger in and out a few times before adding a second finger. He presses into Steve with his index and middle finger, pausing with just the tips in him to let Steve adjust.

"Billy-" Steve moans, burying his face in Billy's neck and biting the skin.

"You okay?" Steve nods.

"More." He whispers, curling his legs tighter around Billy's waist. Billy complies, pressing the two fingers further into Steve, giving him time at each knuckle to adjust before pushing in further. When both fingers are fully inside Steve Billy starts scissoring them slowly, making sure not to hurt Steve, and he enjoys the moans and whimpers coming from Steve as he looses control, moans Billy's name breathlessly in his ear. Billy curls his fingers, trying to find Steve's sweet spot, and when Steve shouts out, shaking under him, Billy knows he's found it.

"Wha' was that?" Steve breathes, pushing down on Billy's hand and arching his back further. Billy smirks, brushing against the prostate again.

"That?" He asks when Steve moans again, and Steve nods. "That's your prostate, Stevie." He brushes against it again, and Steve pulls him into a kiss, moaning into his mouth when Billy brushes against it again. Billy can tell Steve's not in pain. There's a layer of sweat covering his entire body and his damp hair is sticking to his forehead, and Billy can't help but take a minute to appreciate how damn beautiful he is. He pulls his fingers out, and this time when he pushes them back in he adds a third. Steve gasps, head falling back against the pillow, neck stretched, and Billy can't resist. He leans down and sinks his teeth into Steve's neck, above his Adams apple, and when Steve moans loudly he can feel the vibrations. He starts pumping his fingers in and out, hitting Steve's prostate every time, and Steve is close, eyes locked on Billy, almost black with his pupils blown wide, and his hair is spread out on the pillow like a halo. Billy reaches down with his other hand, taking both his and Steve's dick in his palm and jerking them both off. The friction from his hand as well as from Steve is almost overwhelming, and there's a non stop stream of moans and gasps and 'Billy' coming from Steve's lips, and Billy leans down, presses a kiss to Steve's lips, trailing kisses across his cheek and over to his ear.

"Come for me, baby." Billy says, voice low in that way that makes Steve shiver, and Steve's hands tighten in Billy's hair and he moans his name as he shoots cum all over his stomach, and with the feeling of Steve tightening around his fingers Billy arrives seconds after, both of them panting.

"Fuck, Billy." Steve gasps, pulling him into a deep kiss, and Billy bites at his bottom lip before soothing it with his tongue.

"Damn. You're so pretty, Stevie." Steve whines when Billy pulls his fingers out of him, wiping them on the duvet, before glancing down. There's a mix of his and Steve's spunk covering Steve's stomach and chest, some on Billy's stomach too, and Billy's hand is covered, and Billy makes a show of raising his hand to lick it clean. Steve watches, transfixed, as Billy licks every drop of cum off his hand before moving down the bed, licking it all off of Steve, starting with his stomach and working his way up. He savours the taste of him and Steve and sweat, memorises the feeling of Steve's skin under his tongue.

"Billy-" Steve moans, and he lets out an embarrassingly loud whine when Billy has licked all of the cum off and kisses Steve, pushing some of the jizz into his mouth. Steve has never thought about what it would taste like, and he thinks he should probably find it gross, but it tastes like him and Billy mixed together, and it's so incredibly sexy, especially when he swallows it and Billy winks at him, so he grabs Billy's shoulders and rolls them over so he's on top, kissing Billy hard before leaning down and licking the jizz off of him. Billy grins wickedly, waiting for Steve to finish, and when he's done Billy pulls him into a kiss, licking the inside of Steve's mouth until there's no trace of cum left, when he pulls back to look Steve in the eye.

"You okay?" Steve nods, smiling bright, and collapsing onto Billy's chest.

"You're amazing." Steve whispers, burying his face into Billy's neck, and Billy chuckles, wraps his arms tight around Steve.

"As are you, Pretty boy." Billy whispers back, running his fingers up and down Steve's spine.

"But you're like, actually amazing." Billy laughs, and Steve grins. "How'd you get so good?" Steve asks, nervous and quiet, and Billy smirks, presses his mouth against Steve's ear.

"Practice. Experimenting." Steve blushes bright, and Billy chuckles. "Don't worry, Pretty boy, I'll teach you everything I know." He giggles when Steve shivers at his words.

"Billy-" Steve whines, and Billy grins.

"Yeah?"

"You're an ass." He mutters, and Billy laughs, loud and open.

"I know, Harrington." Billy chuckles, pressing a kiss to Steve's head.

 

"Billy...?" Steve asks after a while. They've been lying, cuddling each other close, for about 20 minutes, and curiosity has finally got the better of him. He sounds nervous, though, and Billy frowns.

"Yeah?" Steve hesitates, wonders if this is really something you can just ask someone.

"What's a rim job?" He asks, face pressed into Billy's shoulder, and Billy grins.

"Oh Stevie you're so innocent." Billy chuckles into his neck, rolling them over so he's hovering above Steve. Steve is blushing, and Billy smirks, nips at his earlobe. "You want me to show you?" Billy purrs, and Steve hesitates before he nods. Billy pecks his lips before working his way down Steve's body, kissing and biting and sucking marks into his skin. He takes his time leaving marks on Steve's hips and thighs when he reaches them, before looking up at Steve. "Roll over." Steve complies, rolls onto his stomach, and he feels a little exposed, but he know's it's just Billy, and he trusts Billy, and he loves Billy.

Billy sucks a few more love bites into the back of Steve's thighs and his back, adds a few more on his ass cheeks, and then he leans up, presses his chest flush against Steve's back.

"You ready, baby?"

"Yeah." Billy turns Steve's head with his finger, presses a gentle kiss to his lips, before moving down. He spreads Steve's cheeks slightly with his hands, admires the view of Steve, layed out in front of him and panting, covered in love bites, hole still slightly open from Billy finger fucking him earlier, and shivering in anticipation. Billy leans down and swipes his tongue over Steve's hole, and Steve lets out a gasp.

"Fuck." He mutters, and Billy smiles slightly, leaning down to swipe his tongue over Steve's hole again before slowly pressing into him. 

Chapter Text

Billy wakes up before Steve, used to getting up early as to not piss Neil off, and he stays in bed with him for a while, watching him sleep, so beautiful and peaceful, until he needs to pee. He gets up carefully, uses the bathroom, and pulls on some joggers before making his way downstairs. The kids are still asleep, so Billy makes his way to the kitchen and starts on breakfast. He's making pancakes, and whilst the first one is in the pan he makes himself a mug of coffee.

"I smell pancakes!" Max shouts about 10 minutes later, and Billy can't help but laugh as she barrels into the kitchen, El and Will in tow. Billy watches as their eyes seem to triple in size when they see the mound of pancakes on the table and rush over to it.

"Morning." He chuckles as he sits next to Max, who smiles at him.

"Morning!" She grins, and El and Will greet him too, and Billy can see nerves in Will's eyes so he passes him an extra pancake with a wink to try and make him smile.

"Where's Steve?" Will asks, and Max glances at Billy's neck, where a sizeable love bite is on show due to his hair being in a bun.

"I killed him. Was that wrong?" Billy jokes, and Max chuckles before frowning.

"Did you actually?"

"No, dipshit. He's asleep." Billy says just as Steve's voice travels down the hall.

"No he's not." Steve says through a yawn, hair a mess and looking more than a little bit dishevelled. He's managed to pull on shorts and a t-shirt, but there's a lot of skin on show, and Max laughs when she sees the amount of love bites on him. Billy just smirks proudly as Steve stumbles over to him and sits in his lap sideways, taking his coffee off of him.

"You get attacked by an octopus, Steve?" Max jokes, and Steve blushes whilst Billy laughs.

"Blame your fucking brother." Steve grumbles, drinking Billy's coffee, grimacing at how strong it is, but he wraps his arm around Billy's shoulders anyway, and Billy wraps his arms around Steve's waist.

"Didn't hear you complain last night." Billy murmurs, and Steve melts into his arms.

"Still an asshole." Billy laughs.

"You want pancakes, Pretty boy?" There's that delicious blush that Billy loves so much, and Steve nods, finishing Billy's coffee.

"Yeah." Billy rolls his eyes, pats Steve's side to tell him to move, and Steve lets Billy stand up before stealing his chair.

 

"You seem tired, Steve." El says, curious and maybe a little bit worried. The embodiment of innocence. Max grimaces, Will avoids everyone's eyes, and Steve blushes.

"Oh. I er, went to bed late."

"Harrington that would only work if they didn't see us go upstairs at midnight." Billy chuckles as he pours himself another mug of coffee.

"And if you weren't covered in hickeys." Max adds, and Billy tries to hold his laughter in.

"What are hickeys?" El asks, and Steve stutters, and Max laughs, and Billy can't hold in his laughter anymore.

"Hickeys are what you get when-"

"Max!" Billy says, figuring they probably shouldn't be the ones to explain that to her. Billy walks over, places a plate of pancakes in front of Steve, and sits next to him, throwing his arm over the back of Steve's chair. El is frowning still, looking worried, and Billy sighs. He'd rather El hear it from him then some random guy trying to get it on with her when she's 18. "El, see these marks?" He asks, brushing his finger over the bruises on Steve's neck and collarbone, smiling slightly when he shivers. El nods. "These are hickeys."

"Where did they come from?" Billy hesitates, and Steve smirks at him.

"Yeah, Billy. Where did they come from?"

"Why don't you tell her, princess. You're the one covered in them." Billy smiles evilly, and Steve glares at him. Neither of them back down, and eventually Steve turns to El.

"Billy did them."

"He hurt you?"

"No!" Steve says quickly, because he doesn't want her thinking that. "No, we were... We were..."

"They were kissing. They're not bad bruises." Max says, and El looks at her, frowns a little bit.

"That happens when you kiss?" Max shakes her head.

"When you're older and you kiss, sometimes you get those marks." Max says, and El nods.

"Is that when you good scream?" Billy spits out his coffee and starts choking, Steve rubs his back, eyes wide and shocked. Max just laughs.

"Yeah. That's when you good scream." She says, and El nods, seemingly happy with the response, and goes back to her pancakes. Billy calms down, looks at Max.

"What do you know about good screams?" He asks, stern and looking about ready to throw punches, and she laughs.

"Only what I've learnt living with you." She says, and Billy rolls his eyes, relaxing slightly.

"Good."

"What does that mean?" Steve asks.

"It means I had the misfortune of sharing a wall with Billy in California and he had some... vocal... partners." Max says, grimacing, and Billy chuckles.

"Yeah... That was unfortunate."

"But how does El know what good screams are?" Will asks, and everyone turns to El.

"Max said when you're with a girl there can be good screams." El tells Billy, and he raises an eyebrow.

"Why?"

"We were spying on you. And El saw you with Heather. I assumed you were-" Max cuts herself off, and Billy nods.

"Yeah okay. We get it." Billy says, and Steve is pouting so Billy leans over and presses a kiss against Steve's temple. "Anyway... Everyone done with breakfast?" Billy asks, and they all nod so he collects their plates, Will helping him, and they stand side by side at the sink, Billy washing and Will drying.

 

"You ready?" Billy asks him quietly, and Will shrugs before shaking his head.

"Scared." Billy nods.

"You're gonna be absolutely fine, kid."

"How do you know?" Will asks, and Billy smiles.

"Cause I'm clever." He says, bumps his hip into Will's side. Will giggles.

"Still scared." He admits, and Billy wraps his arm around his shoulders, soapy hand resting on his head.

"I'm gonna be there the whole time, kiddo." He leans down to whisper to him, and Will nods. Billy smiles, ruffles his hair, and goes back to washing the dishes.

 

A few minutes later a pair of arms wrap around his waist, and Steve rests his head on his shoulder.

"Hey, handsome." Steve mutters, and Billy chuckles.

"Harrington." Billy greets, glancing at Will before rolling his eyes. Will giggles, and Steve pouts.

"What're you two talking about?"

"You." Billy says, and Steve smiles slightly.

"Really?"

"Yeah. Talking about how you're an asshole. Shit music taste. My car is definitely better than yours." Billy says, and Will laughs as Steve pouts again.

"You don't actually think that do you?" Billy spins around, wraps his arms around Steve's neck.

"You do have shit music taste, Harrington. And my car is better." Billy says, and he pecks Steve's lips. "But you're cute and I like you." Steve smiles, seemingly happy, and he walks away to join the girls in the living room. Billy turns back to the sink, finishes washing the last plate.

"Thank you."

"Always, kid."

 

They spend the morning lounging in the living room. Billy is lying on the sofa, Steve tucked into his side, and Billy is reading aloud to him, whilst Max, Will, and El spread out on the floor and the other chair, chatting. Steve's head is resting on Billy's chest, arms wrapped around him, and he tries to follow along as Billy reads, tries to read in his head with Billy, tries to keep up, but Billy reads faster that Steve can, and the letters sort of float off the page at him. Steve can hear in Billy's voice how much he loves the book, and he barely has to look at the pages to know what they say, he's read it so many times. They're both content, lying wrapped up in each other, encased in love.

 

That is until it's time to go. Steve has curled himself fully around Billy, legs wrapped around Billy's waist and his arms around his neck, who grumbled but everyone knows he doesn't mind, and the others are lounging over various pieces of furniture. They chat aimlessly, about nothing in particular, and when it's time to leave they're all a bit bummed about it, the kids packing their stuff away as they continue to chat. Steve flat out refuses to let go of Billy.

"I need to go home." Billy complains, and Steve shakes his head.

"No you don't."

"Harrington." Billy sighs, and Steve pouts.

"I'm not letting go." Billy rolls his eyes, stands up with Steve clinging onto his chest, and Steve laughs. "Damn you're strong."

"Well you're not exactly heavy, pretty boy." Billy whispers, wrapping his arms around Steve's waist. "You gonna let go?" Steve buries his face in Billy's neck and shakes his head.

"Don't want you to leave."

"I know."

"He was angry with you yesterday." Steve whispers, and Billy slides his hand under Steve's t-shirt, drawing small patterns on his back. "Don't want you to get hurt."

"I know, baby." Billy sighs, "But I'll be fine. Max will be there."

"But-" Steve shuts up when Billy moves one hand down, squeezing his ass gently. The kids are preoccupied and paying them no attention, so he doesn't feel weird about flirting with Steve.

"I'll come round tomorrow after work?" Billy offers, and Steve nods, raising his head so he can press a kiss to Billy's lips, and he unwraps his legs and stands up.

Steve kisses Billy goodbye far more than is necessary. To the point the kids go and wait in the car because they don't want to see it anymore, and Billy is holding Steve flush against him, not really wanting to leave but knowing he needs to.

Chapter Text

Billy decides he'll drop El off first, which he regrets as soon as Hopper opens the door.

"Hey kiddo! You have fun?" Hopper asks El, pulling her into a hug.

"Yeah! We had a pool party, and we told stories, and Billy made pancakes, and they told me what a hickey is!" El says, and Billy's eyes widen at that last one. Hopper raises an eyebrow at Billy, finds the obvious bruise on his neck, and then his confused look turns to amusement.

"Really?" He asks, and Billy rubs the back of his neck, looks down.

"Yeah, er, I figured it was better she hear it from me than some dickhead at school or something." Billy says, not meeting Hoppers gaze.

"Mhmm, and why did the topic of Hickeys come up?" Hoppers eyes are shining with amusement, but before Billy can respond El is talking.

"Steve had Hickeys. I didn't know what they were. Steve said Billy gave them to him, but it's okay because he didn't hurt him. Max said they're good bruises that you get when you're older and you kiss people." El says, completely oblivious to what she actually just told Hopper, who is now looking at Billy with realisation clear in his eyes.

"Oh..." He says, and Billy is still not meeting his eyes, looking rather like he wants a meteor to strike the earth and kill him.

"Er..." Billy mutters, and Hopper chuckles.

"Kid, you think I'm gonna arrest you for giving someone a love bite?" Billy shakes his head.

"Maybe because that someone is a guy, though." Hopper sighs, lets go of El and grabs Billy's shoulder.

"Kid. I know the world is full of shitty people. I know your dad is one of them. But that stuff doesn't matter to me. If El told me she liked girls, or liked everyone, or didn't like anyone, she'd still be my daughter and I'd still love her. You can love who you want kid. As long as you don't do it in front of my kid." Billy knows he's teasing him, but he also knows the Hopper must trust him with El, and he doesn't want him to think Billy's an inappropriate role model.

"I would never-"

"He kisses Steve sometimes. It's cute." El says, now sitting on the sofa and apparently still very much listening to them.

"I'm just gonna go." Billy sighs, face a bright red, and Hopper laughs.

"You do that." Hopper smiles, "I'm happy for you, Billy." Billy hesitates, nods, and then returns to the car.

 

Billy drops Max off at the arcade before heading to Will's. Will is nervous, and Billy glances over at him.

"Talk to me, kid." Billy says as he pulls out of the arcade parking lot.

"I don't know what to say."

"Just tell me what you're thinking."

"No, I mean, like, I don't know what to say to them." Will mumbles, looking down, and Billy glances over.

"Hey." Billy says softly, "Will, you don't need to know. Just say whatever you feel comfortable telling them. Just say what you feel. I'm gonna be there the whole time." Billy reaches over and grabs Will's shoulder, squeezing supportively.

 

They pull up outside the Byers, and Billy walks with Will up to the front door. Mrs Byers is home, and so is Jonathan, and Billy is just now realising he has never met Will's mum, and hasn't really had a full on conversation with Jonathan.

"Mum?" Will calls as he opens the front door. His voice wavers slightly, and Billy pats his arm again.

"In here!" A voice calls from the kitchen, and Will takes a deep breath before walking into the house. "Hey!" Joyce pulls Will into a hug as soon as he's in the kitchen, and she frowns when she sees a boy she's never met behind him.

"Mum this is Billy." Will says, and Joyce grins, immediately pulling Billy into a hug too.

"It's great to finally meet you! Thank you so much for looking after my boy." She whispers, and Billy's a bit taken aback.

"Oh. It's- It was nothing."

"Hi, Billy." Jonathan says from his place at the kitchen table, and Billy nods at him.

"Jonathan."

"What brings you here?"

"Oh..." Billy says, glancing at Will. "I was dropping Will off." Joyce turns to Will, smiles at him.

"How was your sleepover?" Will shrugs, a small smile on his face.

"It was fun. I er, can I talk to you?" Will asks, and Joyce frowns.

"Of course. What's going on?"

"I actually need to talk to both of you." Will adds, and Jonathan frowns too.

"Everything okay?" Joyce goes to sit next to Jonathan, and they both glance at Billy, who is stood just behind Will.

"Yeah. Er, I don't really know... I don't know what to say." Billy can see Will's hands shaking, and he frowns slightly, hoping the kid will be okay.

"Are you okay, baby?" Joyce asks, and Will nods, squeezes his hands into fists at his side.

"Yeah I just-" Will takes a deep breath, and Billy can see Jonathans concerned frown, and Joyce has worry written all over her face, and Billy knows they'll be fine with it. Will glances back at Billy, who nods, throws him a supportive smile. Will takes another deep breath, and then he looks up at Joyce and Jonathan. "I'm- I- I'm gay." He says, and Billy sees the complete fear in his eyes, and it all melts away when Joyce stands up, rushes over and pulls him into a hug.

"Oh, Will, I love you so much." She whispers, and Will starts crying, and then Joyce starts crying, and Jonathan joins in the hug, telling Will he's always going to love him. Billy watches from the kitchen doorway, smiling slightly because he knew Will would be fine, and wondering why he can't have a family like this. Jonathan looks at Billy for a second more, and then he walks over, eyes questioning.

"And where do you fit into this equation?" Oh he really didn't expect to be dragged into this, although now he thinks about it, Will coming out to his family and wanting Billy to be there is very suspicious.

"Oh, I don't. Just here for moral support." Jonathan frowns a bit more before realisation crosses his face.

"So... You're gay too?" He asks, and this isn't really the reaction he thought he would have.

"I mean..." Billy hadn't really intended on coming out to anyone else, but he figures fuck it, the kid was brave enough to. "No. Not gay. Bi."

"I told Billy a few weeks ago. Wanted him here when I told you." Will says, pulling himself out of Joyce's arms and walking over, realising what Jonathan had thought.

"Well, I figured it out. Takes one to know one. But, you know, that thing you thought, that's not a thing." Billy says, wanting to make it very clear that he is not in a relationship with a 14 year old.

"Definitely not." Will adds, "But, you know, I just was scared to tell you, and Billy said he'd help."

"You were scared to tell us?" Joyce asks, sounding hurt, and Will shrugs.

"I- Some people don't think a boy should like a boy." He says, and Joyce glances between him and Billy a few times before her eyes soften.

"None of those people are in this house. Nor are they welcome here." She says, and she's talking to Billy, and Billy thinks he might cry. He nods slightly, and she smiles at him. "Are you staying for lunch, Billy?" Will looks up at him, as if hoping he says yes, but Billy knows he has to go home.

"No, I need to take Max home." He says, "But thank you."

Chapter Text

Billy pulls up outside the arcade and sits on the hood of his car, lighting a cigarette whilst he waits for Max. He's in no rush to get home, so he figures he'll just wait until she sees him and wants to leave. It takes 15 minutes and 2 cigarettes until Max is leaving the arcade and walking over to him.

"Hi!" She grins, and Billy smiles, throwing his butt on the floor.

"Alright, shitbird?" Max rolls her eyes, and instead of walking round to the passenger side door she joins him on the hood of the car.

"You seem happy?" She asks, and Billy shrugs.

"I guess." Max smiles, nudging him with her shoulder.

"Good." Billy wraps his arm around her shoulders, pulls her into his side.

"You're getting mushy, kid." He mutters, ruffling her hair, and Max giggles, pulling away.

"Just- I feel like you're finally realising people love you." Max says, genuine and honest, and Billy thinks he might cry. He takes a deep breath, puts his hand on Max's head.

"You-" He cuts himself off, not sure what to say. "I think I'm finally realising there's people worth loving. People that might not leave."

"Like Steve?"

"Like you." Max frowns.

"You used to think I'd leave?" Billy shrugs.

"I used to think your mum would realise Neil was an asshole and leave him. I'm not technically her kid, so she'd take you back to Cali or something, and I'd lose you." Billy's eyes are filling with tears.

"I wasn't gonna leave you." Max whispers, "I always thought you were gonna leave me. Figured you'd leave the second you were able to." Billy shakes his head.

"Couldn't leave you with him."

"But, like, if he wasn't in the picture?"

"Kiddo, I'm not gonna leave you. You're my sister. Even if he wasn't an asshole, even if he left Susan, you will still be my little sister."

"So you're not gonna leave as soon as you can?" Billy chuckles, wipes his eye.

"I'll make you a deal, shitbird. I won't leave you if you don't leave me." Max holds out her hand, pinky finger up.

"Sounds like a good deal." Billy smiles, links his little finger with hers.

"I agree." He says, voice soft, as he presses his thumb against Max's; locking their promise.

 

Neil is in a bad mood when they get home. Rounds on Billy as soon as he's through the door.

"A word." Is all Neil says before he's walking down the hall to Billy's room.

"You were disrespectful yesterday, Billy." He says as soon as Billy reaches his room.

"I'm sorry, Sir." Billy says immediately, and he frowns slightly when Neil's eyes land on his neck.

"You stayed with Max and her friends?" He asks, and Billy nods.

"Yes, Sir."

"All night?"

"Yes, Sir." Neil sneers at him.

"Then why" Neil takes a step forwards and grabs him by the neck, his thumb digging in to an already tender spot, "Do you have a fresh hickey?" Billy sucks in a breath. Fuck.

"I saw my girlfriend yesterday. Before Max had her sleepover." He rasps, "Sir." He quickly adds. Neil glares at him, looks at the mark a few seconds more.

"You let her do this to you when you were with your little sister." Neil spits, and Billy shakes his head.

"Max and her friends went into the arcade. I went to see Robin at work. Max wasn't there." Billy's struggling to breath now, and it's hard to get the words out.

"Good." Neil relaxes his grip on Billy's neck. Billy takes a gasp of air, collapsing slightly against the wall. "That's good." He repeats, getting in Billy's space. "Because you know what happens when you're disrespectful." Neil reaches up and grabs a handful of Billy's hair, slams his head back against the wall. Billy's vision goes blurry and his eyes fill with tears, and he knows that can't be good for him, but he just forces himself not to cry.

"I'm sorry, Sir."

"You say you're sorry, Billy. Yet you continue to be a disrespectful fag." Neil spits, emphasising the last word with another slam against the wall.

"It wont happen again, Sir."

"You're right, Billy. Because if it does," Neil leans close, grabs Billy's neck and squeezes until Billy can't breath, "You'll get a lot worse than this." Neil growls, waiting until Billy is gasping for air before letting go, dropping Billy to the floor and leaving the room.

 

Billy chokes, gasping for air, as he tries to push himself up. He hates this. He hates his dad, and he hates that he's stuck with him, and he hates that his mother left him. He hates it. He forces himself up onto his bed and curls into a ball, squeezing his eyes shut. He thinks about California, his mother, tries to think of moments his dad was actually nice, or loving, or supportive, or behaved like a dad. He can't think of a single moment, and his heart aches. He thinks of the people in his life. He has Max. He knows he has her. Knows she'll not leave him. He has Steve. Is like 80 percent sure he's not going to leave him. But that's it. He just has Max and Steve.

His mind goes to Will and El. He wonders if he has them too. If they're in his corner. If they're there for him. He thinks about Hopper. Hopper who is constantly checking he's okay. Hopper who is desperate for Billy to admit what he deals with, and who is desperate to do something that will help. Billy wonders if he has Susan. He knows she knows Neil hurts him, and he gets that she's probably scared of Neil, but if Neil wasn't there, would she let Billy stay? Billy hopes so. He's not sure where he would go if she didn't want him here. Probably back to California. But then he'd have to leave Max and Steve. As much as he loves California, he loves Steve tenfold. And Max is his sister. Nothing can make him leave her.

Billy thinks about his mother. Surely she thought of him the way he thinks of Max? She loves him the way he loves his sister? So how could she leave him? How could she see her son in pain, and leave him with the man that causes it? How could she walk out on her abusive husband and not take her son with her? Did she not love him? Did she just not care? Did he mean nothing to her? Billy starts crying again, curling in on himself as he sobs into his pillow. No one loves him. He's always left on his own. When his parents, the people that are meant to love him unconditionally, hate him, think he's a waste of space, think he's useless, and no good, and shouldn't be there, Billy starts to wonder if maybe they're right.

Chapter Text

"Billy!" Billy jumps, nearly hits his head on the car he's under, and takes a few breaths before rolling out to see his boss looking down at him.

"Yeah?"

"Been calling you for 5 minutes kid." Bobby says, frowning. "You okay?" Billy sighs, sits up, and shrugs.

"Bad night." Bobby's frown deepens, and he leans back against the tool bench behind him.

"What happened?" Billy shrugs again, rubs the back of his neck awkwardly.

"Nothing. What did you need?"

"Huh? Oh, er, the chief is here for you." Bobby gives him a look, and Billy frowns.

"For me?" Bobby nods, holds out a hand which Billy accepts, and he lets Bobby pull him up and lead him to where Hopper is, over near the entrance.

"Here he is, Chief. Not in any trouble, is he?" Bobby asks, clapping a hand on Billy's shoulder.

"Nah. He's not in trouble. Just need to talk to him. Won't be long." Bobby looks between them, looks at Billy a little longer cause Billy looks uncertain, before clapping his shoulder again and leaving them to it.

 

"I in trouble, chief?" Billy asks, not really believing him when he told Bobby he wasn't. Hopper shakes his head.

"People are worried about you." He says, plain and simple. Billy didn't really talk this morning, and he skipped dinner last night claiming he was unwell, when really he was too tired from Neil beating him, and his thoughts wouldn't shut up, and this morning when Max tried and start a conversation Billy put no effort into keeping it going. So he knows she's worried and he knows why. What he doesn't know is how Hopper found out. Billy quickly glances at the clock on the wall behind Hopper to see it's 2:48pm. Max hasn't finished school yet, she finishes at 10 to 3, so she couldn't have seen Hopper.

"How'd you know?" He asks quietly, and Hopper sighs.

"Max told me. Well, she told El. Asked El to ask me if I can check on you since she's going straight to the arcade after school and wont see you until later." Billy sighs, runs his hand through his hair.

"Didn't have to do that. I'm fine." Hopper frowns, eyes travel down to his neck where there is bruising you only get from being grabbed round the throat. It's faint, and with his tanned skin and the hickey it's hard to see if you're not looking for it, but Hopper is looking for it.

"You sure?" Billy nods, and Hopper shakes his head slightly, a sad look in his eyes. "Kid you got bruises on your neck. And I'm not talking about the hickey."

"Yeah, I got in a fight last night."

"No you didn't." Hopper asks, and Billy huffs.

"If you already know why'd you ask?"

"Kid,-" Billy knows this is going somewhere he doesn't like, so he shakes his head.

"I have to get back to work." He says, and Hopper sighs, looks at Billy for a second.

"We're still going to care about you, kid. Doesn't matter how much you refuse to talk to us. We're always gonna care about you." Billy shakes his head slightly, feels tears well in his eyes that he refuses to let fall.

"You won't. You really won't. How can people care about someone who's never been wanted?" Billy asks, and he turns around and walks away before Hopper has the chance to respond.

 

Hopper runs into Steve outside the mechanics. Almost literally. He was so busy trying to think of how the hell he can help Billy Hargrove that he didn't notice him walking towards him.

"Hopper?"

"Steve. What you doing here?" Steve opens his mouth to respond before realisation flashes across his face.

"Oh..." He blushes slightly, "I was just, er, you know..." Hopper watches in amusement before deciding to put the poor kid out of his misery.

"Don't worry kid, if you wanna have a mid day date don't let me stop you. Not sure his boss is gonna be too happy about it though." Steve is a blushing mess, opening and closing his mouth, speechless.

"I...." Steve looks like he's short circuiting, and Hopper chuckles.

"Billy had pretty much the same reaction when I found out." He muses, "It's fine kid."

"I don't know what's happening." Steve says quietly, face still bright red, and Hopper rolls his eyes when Steve frowns. "How did you find out?"

"Yesterday when Billy brought El home she mentioned that Billy told her what a hickey is cause you had some that he gave you," Steve blushes darker when Hoppers eyes fall to his neck before returning to his eyes, "El kind of outed you both, but it's fine. As long as you're both happy."

"I, er, thanks. I kind of want to die right now." Steve mutters, and Hopper laughs.

"Just go see Billy." He chuckles, before turning serious. "He's not doing so good." Steve's face immediately turns serious.

"How do you mean?" He asks, and Hopper smiles slightly. It's nice that Billy has a few good people in his corner.

"I think his dad did or said something. It got to him pretty bad. He really doesn't like me at the moment. But you can at least give him comfort or something." Hopper says, and Steve nods, thanking Hopper before entering the mechanics.

 

Billy is already back under the car when Steve enters the shop. He walks over, and decides to just wait until Billy is done rather than distracting him. He sits down on a chair a few meters away and watches Billy work. He considers what Hopper said. Billy's not doing good. He kind of knew, cause Max looked off this morning and Billy didn't smile at her and wish her a good day like he usually does. So he knew Billy was having a bad day, hence why he came to see him during his work break.

"Harrington?" Billy asks, getting up off the floor. Steve was in such deep thought he hadn't realised Billy was done.

"Hey." Steve smiles, and Billy can't help but smile back.

"What brings you here?" Steve stands up, walks over to him, and reaches up to wipe some grease off his cheek.

"Thought I'd come see you." Steve says, and Billy nods, wanting nothing more than to reach forward, grab Steve, and pull him into a kiss. He settles for holding his hand, so he can let go quick if someone walks in.

"You not working?"

"Lunch break." Steve says, taking a step closer, mere inches away from Billy now, and this would be harder to explain but neither of them care.

"You know, you're meant to eat on your lunch break." Steve chuckles quietly, looks so deep into Billy's eyes he can see his soul.

"Thought this was a better use of my time."

"Need to sort out your priorities." Billy whispers, and Steve shakes his head slightly, making a stray piece of hair fall into his face.

"Nothing wrong with my priorities." He smiles, and Billy reaches up with the hand not holding Steve's to brush the piece of hair out of his face.

"You're all kinds of pretty, Stevie." Billy whispers, and Steve grins, reaches up and wraps his arms around Billy's shoulders, pulling him into a kiss.

"I think you've inhaled too many car fumes." Steve murmurs and Billy rolls his eyes, presses another kiss to his lips before pulling back slightly so he can see Steve properly.

"You know you're beautiful." He says, and Steve smiles.

"I hope you do too."

"Course I know you're beautiful. I look at you every day." Steve rolls his eyes because Billy knows that's not what he meant.

"Billy!" He whines. "You're not allowed to make stupid jokes when I'm trying to make you understand how amazing you are." He pouts, and Billy laughs quietly, wraps his arms tight around Steve's waist.

"You're not allowed to call my funny jokes stupid." He grins, and Steve smiles.

"Deal." He seals the deal with a kiss before pulling back again. "Ran into Hop outside." He says hesitantly, and Billy takes a deep breath.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. So El outed us, huh?" Billy blushes slightly as he laughs, hiding his face in Steve's neck.

"God it was so awkward." He mutters, and Steve chuckles.

"Well it was your fault! If you didn't cover me in them El wouldn't have asked!" Billy laughs, pokes his tongue out and licks Steve's neck where he can reach.

"You didn't do much to stop me." He says, nipping at the skin gently, and Steve shivers.

"Didn't want to." Billy grins, stands up properly to look Steve in the eye.

"So what did Hopper say?" Steve shrugs, looks into Billy's eyes.

"Not much." Steve hesitates, looking at Billy with sympathetic eyes, "He's worried about you." Steve glances down at Billy's neck, frowns when he sees the marks from his dad blending with the ones Steve gave him. 

"Yeah." Billy says, sounding slightly annoyed about the fact, and Steve frowns deeper.

"What's up?" Billy pulls Steve closer, hands slipping into the back pockets of Steve's jeans, hoping to distract Steve.

"Nothing, bambi." He says, and Steve shakes his head.

"Somethings wrong." Steve says, "Tell me?" He asks, all sincere and worried, and Billy sighs, looks into Steve's eyes.

"Hopper wants to talk about my father. Keeps asking me about him. Keeps mentioning him when he sees me with a bruise." Steve moves his hands, holds Billy's face gently in his hands.

"He cares about you, Billy."

"He shouldn't." Steve frowns.

"A lot of people care about you." He says softly, brushing Billy's cheek with his thumb, "Hopper just wants you to be safe." He says, and when Billy looks reluctantly at him Steve leans forward, rests his forehead against Billy's, "You need to realise people care about you, and you need to let us." He whispers, and Billy closes his eyes, takes a deep breath.

"Not used to it." Billy admits.

"What?"

"People caring. Not used to it. Never had people care before." Steve looks at him with such a pained expression that Billy wonders if somethings genuinely wrong.

"Billy-" He breathes, and then he's pulling Billy into a kiss, and Billy's mind goes blank and all he can focus on his Steve and his lips and his hands and his everything, and he just fucking melts against Steve.

 

"Stevie." Billy whispers, pulling back, "Need to get back to work." He says, and Steve shakes his head.

"Don't think you do. Think Bobby would let you leave early or something." Steve whispers. Billy chuckles.

"Not sure he would." Billy smiles, "But I can come by tonight?" Billy offers, and Steve nods, practically beams at him.

"Yeah!" He grins, presses a quick kiss to Billy's lips before starting to slowly walk away.

"See you later, pretty boy."

"See you later, Billy." Steve throws him one last smile before he disappears, and Billy smiles slightly as he gets back to work.

Chapter Text

It's obvious to Billy, no matter how much Steve denies it, that he woke him up. Billy headed straight to Steve's after dropping Max, El and Will off at the Wheelers, and it took Steve a few minutes to open the door. When he finally did he had messy hair and sleepy eyes, and he looks so fucking adorable but so tired.

"I wake you up, pretty boy?" Billy asks, voice soft, and Steve shakes his head despite the yawn that escapes his lips, and he pulls Billy into the house, shuts the door behind him, and promptly buries himself in Billy's arms. Billy frowns, because this is definitely not usual Steve behaviour, and now he's concerned. "Harrington?" He asks, wrapping his arms around him. "You okay?"

"Yeah." Steve murmurs, and he sounds sleepy too, and Billy frowns deeper. Why is Steve so tired at 6pm on a Monday.

"Stevie what's up?"

"Nothing." Steve yawns, and Billy pulls out of the hug to look him in the eyes. Now that he's really looking at him he can see that Steve looks kind of exhausted.

"Steve?" He whispers, voice soft, "What's going on?" He asks, and Steve shrugs.

"Just tired."

"You didn't sleep last night?" Steve looks down, shakes his head.

"Don't really sleep much at all." He looks ashamed, maybe a little bit scared, and Billy takes a deep breath, grabs Steve's hand, and leads him into the living room. He sits on the sofa, pulling Steve into his lap, and Steve buries himself in Billy's arms.

"Talk to me, pretty boy." Billy says, voice gentle as he threads his fingers through Steve's hair.

"I just- since the first mind flayer thing with Will and the demidogs and all that, I've just not really been able to sleep. I-" Steve hesitates before sighing, "I'm scared." He admits, and Billy takes a deep breath, presses a kiss against Steve's temple.

"You don't sleep at all?"

"Not usually. Not when I'm home alone. Which is most of the time." He sighs, shifting so he's lying down with his head resting on the arm of the sofa, and Billy lies with him, wrapping him up in his arms again.

"You're worried they're gonna come back?" Billy asks and Steve nods.

"That. And just- I mean, Barbara died in my back yard, and it's just- when I'm with people, like the kids, or you, I can kind of pretend it didn't happen. I can distract myself, but when I'm alone I can't. It just gets too real, and then I remember everything that happened, I convince myself it didn't really die, like I dreamt that and it's not real." Steve takes a shaky breath in, "And when I do sleep, I dream about it. I have nightmares that it got the kids, and it hurt them, that I couldn't save them. I-" Steve cuts himself off, and Billy frowns.

"Yeah?"

"I dream that you died, and there was nothing I could do about it, and sometimes when that happens I wake up and I'm convinced that even though you're real and you're here and I've seen you and spoken to you and touched you and- Sometimes I'm just convinced I made it all up. Some weird coping thing. And then I have to look at the marks on me or see you dropping Max off and I can let myself believe you are here." There's tears in Steve's eyes, and Billy reaches up to cup his cheek, brushing his thumb gently across his cheek bone and across his lips.

"Stevie-" Billy whispers, "Why didn't you tell me before?"

"I don't know..."

"You know I would stay here every night if it helps you sleep."

"Billy, it's not safe for you to be here every night." Billy sighs, hugs Steve closer.

"I know." He sighs. "But- You know, Max has that same problem." Steve frowns, "She wakes up, and she's convinced I'm dead, or I've left her. She cries. Sometimes she sobs until she's shaking. And the only way she can calm down is if she comes into my room and sleeps with me. She needs to check I'm alive, make sure I'm there, make sure my heart is still beating." He says, and Steve takes a deep breath.

"See. You can't be here, you need to be there."

"Then she'll have to stay here too." Billy says, "Or you can come to ours and we'll just have to hope Neil never finds out." Steve smiles.

"You know, for someone who looks as hardcore and badass as you do, you're super sweet." Steve grins, and Billy glares at him.

"And I will kill you if you tell anyone." He growls, but they both know they don't mean it, and his mean exterior fucking melts away when Steve tucks a curl behind Billy's ear.

"You wouldn't dare." He grins, like he knows, and it kind of pisses Billy off because it's true, and Steve does know.

"I wouldn't." Billy agree's. "But you do need to sleep though." Steve huffs, buries his face in Billy's neck. Billy can feel the pout, and he chuckles as he wraps his arms tighter around Steve. "Sleep now, Harrington."

"You'll stay here?" Steve leans back so he can look him in the eyes, and he quickly adds "As long as you can."

"I will." Billy promises, and it's like there's this unspoken thing, this thing that's more than just a simple promise to lie with him so he can nap. Billy feels it in his heart, like he's promised he'll stay with Steve forever. Steve feels it in his gut, like he knows Billy will stay as long as Steve wants him to.

Chapter Text

Billy stays with Steve for as long as he can. He lies next to him while he sleeps, strokes his hair and studies his beautiful face until his stomach rumbles. He presses a kiss to Steve's head before unwrapping himself from around Steve, making his way to the kitchen. He's sure Steve is probably hungry, considering it's 8pm. He decides to make soup because it's quick and easy, and whilst it's on the stove he runs upstairs to find a hoodie or something soft and cosy he can give Steve to put on when he wakes up. He grabs a soft jumper for Steve and grabs one of his hoodies for himself, pulling it on before going back downstairs. He finishes dinner, pours the soup into 2 bowls, and sets up the table before going back out to the living room. Steve is still fast asleep on the sofa, and Billy feels mean waking him up, but he knows he should get him to eat something. He crouches down next to the sofa, runs his fingers through Steve's hair gently.

"Bambi?" He whispers, pressing a kiss to his forehead, and Steve's eyes flutter open. "Morning, sunshine." Billy whispers, and Steve frowns.

"It's morning?" He murmurs. Billy chuckles.

"No princess, it's not."

"Oh. Why'd you wake me? Was having a good dream." Steve slurs.

"Oh really? What about?" Steve suddenly blushes, averting his eyes, and Billy rolls his eyes.

"I made food, pretty boy. Figured you'd be hungry." Steve smiles, sitting up and immediately wrapping his arms around Billy's shoulders.

"Too tired. Carry me?" Billy laughs quietly because he had no idea Steve could be so clingy, but he's not complaining, and he kind of loves it, so he grips Steve's hips and lifts him so Steve can wrap his legs around his waist. Steve buries his face in Billy's neck, and Billy grins.

"You're real cute, you know that?" Steve yawns in response, presses a lazy kiss to Billy's collar bone, and Billy rolls his eyes, walking them into the kitchen.

 

Billy watches Steve finish his soup, rambling about some asshole customer they had today, and Billy can't help the small smile playing on his lips.

"Harrington?" Billy asks once Steve has finished his story, and Steve smiles slightly.

"Yeah?"

"You working this weekend?" Steve thinks for a second before shaking his head.

"No. Why?" There's a sparkle in his eye like he knows what Billy's about to say.

"Because, Steve Harrington, I wanna take you on a date." Steve grins.

"Really?" Billy laughs.

"Well, yeah."

"Really!" Steve asks again, sounding more excited, and Billy rolls his eyes, a fond smile on his lips.

"You think I was just never gonna take you out?" Steve shrugs.

"I just know it's hard. Didn't think it would be worth the stress."

"It is hard. Just means our dates are going to be a little unconventional." Billy says, and Steve grins wide.

"So what are we doing?" Billy lifts his hand, taps his temple twice.

"None of your business." Really, Billy isn't sure yet, wants to plan the best date he can imagine, really show Steve how much he loves him.

"You're not gonna tell me?" Steve pouts, and Billy winks at him.

"Nope."

"But how am I gonna know what to wear?!" Steve whines. Billy can't help but smile at him.

"I'll tell you the gist of it Saturday morning, but I'm gonna keep it a surprise." Steve smiles, stands up and walks round the table to sit in Billy's lap.

"Thank you." Billy presses a kiss against Steve's jaw, and grins when Steve giggles.

 

 

Max and Will are talking as soon as they get in Billy's car, both of them going on about the campaign Will wrote and how cool it was. Max was reluctant to go, but Will told her she had to because she was part of the campaign, so she went after promising Billy she would try and be nice. Max has, apparently, been converted to a d&d nerd, and Billy has no idea what they're talking about but he nods along, tries to follow as best as he can. They say goodbye to Will, make sure he's in his house safe, and then Billy starts driving again.

"Right, kid, I need a favour from you and your rugrat friends." Max frowns

"Are you okay?" Billy smiles, reaches over and pats her hand.

"Fine, just need a hand."

"Okay, shoot."

"Okay, so I'm taking Steve on a date this weekend-"

"Oh my god really! That's so exciting!" Max exclaims, grabbing Billy's arm and shaking him slightly to emphasise her excitement.

"Max, breath." Billy says, but he's smiling, and Max is beaming at him.

"I'm just happy for you!" Billy rolls his eyes but reaches over and pulls her into a quick hug before returning his hands to the steering wheel. "So what are you thinking?"

"Not too sure. He's into all that romantic shit." Billy's thinking out loud, hoping Max will pitch in. "I was thinking I'll make him dinner or some shit, that's what I need you for, need you to stay at El's. Problem is I always make him dinner so how is that, like, a date?" Max rolls her eyes.

"Cooking a quick meal while you're there because he's hungry and cooking him dinner are two different things, Billy."

"Not really."

"Yeah it is!"

"Alright, calm down, jhees." Billy mumbles, "So you think I should make him dinner?" Max nods.

"It's not up to me though."

"I just- It's our first date, and I wanna do something a little more than just dinner."

"Like what?" Billy shrugs.

"Like, I mean dinner and a movie is so cliche but I think Steve is too so maybe he'd like that? Maybe I can do dinner and then we can go for a drive? I don't know."

"You know, you don't have to worry about it. Steve will love whatever you pick." Max is smiling at him, encouraging, and Billy smiles back.

"Yeah. Still want it to be a good date though."

"Because you love him." Max grins knowingly, and Billy rolls his eyes, smiles to himself.

"Because I love him."

Chapter Text

Billy's nervous. He showers and get's ready, and tells Steve to wear something comfortable, reassures him that no, he doesn't need to dress up all fancy, and then he's off.

"You ready?" Max asks, and Billy shrugs. He's good at dating, he's done it enough times. He's just never been in love with someone, never really wanted them to actually enjoy their date.

"Sure." Billy takes a deep breath before looking over at Max. "You're staying at El's, yeah?" Max nods.

"Me and Will are both staying there, and Hopper is going to drop us off at the Byers tomorrow afternoon."

"Okay, good."

Billy pulls up outside the Byers and smiles when Will runs over and climbs in the backseat.

"I tidied up for you!" Billy is borrowing their house this evening, considering they can't have dinner at his and it wouldn't have been a surprise if he did it at Steve's. Besides, Jonathan is with Nancy and Joyce is working so they definitely wont be disturbed.

"Thanks, kiddo." Billy rolls his eyes, but he throws him a smile so he knows he appreciates it. He listens to Max and Will sing as he drives them to Hoppers cabin.

"You have to tell me what happens." Max says, turning to Billy, and he raises an eyebrow.

"Everything?" She immediately grimaces and shakes her head.

"Not everything, just... most things." She says, and Billy smiles.

"I will."

"Promise?" She holds out her little finger and Billy links his with it.

"Promise." He says as he pulls up outside Hoppers cabin. "Now get out." He says, and Max opens the door but turns back to Billy, pulling him into a hug.

"Have fun."

"You too."

"Love you." Billy smiles.

"Love you too."

 

Billy speeds back to the Byers so he can start getting ready before Steve arrives. He sets the table, making sure it's all perfect, and he sets out candles ready for him to light when Steve gets here, and then he starts on dinner. He's cooking lasagna because Steve once mentioned it's his favourite, and whilst it's in the oven he checks himself in the mirror. He knows he looks good, with his curls falling perfectly, and he's wearing his favourite jeans, and yet he's nervous. He's nervous because this is their first date, and he wants Steve to enjoy it, want's Steve to think he looks good. The lasagna is ready, so Billy quickly plates it up and finishes setting the table just as he hears Steve's car pull up. He lights the candles quickly before walking over to the front door, opening it just as Steve is about to knock.

"Hey." Steve breathes, and Billy can't help but grin. Steve looks beautiful, with his hair all fluffy and his tight jeans on that hug his ass perfectly and his baby blue sweater that makes him look fucking gorgeous.

"Hey." Billy finally says after a few moments of staring at Steve, "You look amazing, Harrington." He adds, and Steve blushes, steps forward so he's in Billy's space.

"You do too." He grins, and Billy grabs his hips, feels the incredibly soft material from the sweater, and pulls Steve into a kiss. "So what are we doing?" Steve asks, pulling back to breathe. Billy doesn't reply, just takes Steve's hand and leads him into the kitchen. Steve gasps as soon as they're through the door. There's candles on the table, paired with the setting sun coming through the window being the only sources of light, and there's a single rose in a small vase on the table too, and Billy made lasagna, and Steve thinks he might cry.

"Wow." He whispers, and Billy smiles nervously, leads Steve by the hand over to the table and pulls out the chair for him. Steve loves it when Billy's filthy and animalistic, but he thinks he might love it more when he's soft and gentlemanly and romantic. Billy moves round the table and sits opposite Steve, meets his eyes, and Steve can see he's nervous.

"What do you think?" Billy asks quietly, and Steve is looking at him with such love and adoration that he's afraid his heart might stop beating right here and now.

"I think you're incredible." Steve says immediately, and when Billy still looks nervous he reaches across the table and grabs his hand. "I think you look incredible, and I think you're the sweetest person I've ever met." He wants to say 'and I love you', but he's not sure he's ready yet. Billy feels his chest flush, and he can't stop the smile on his face.

"You are every kind of beautiful, Stevie." Billy says, all soft and gooey. "Eat your dinner." He grins, and Steve smiles.

"Who told you I like lasagna?"

"You did, dumbass." Billy rolls his eyes, smile playing on his lips, and Steve frowns.

"Didn't think you'd remember." Steve admits quietly, looking down, and Billy reaches up and strokes Steve's cheek.

"Pretty boy, I remember everything you tell me." Billy says, looking into his eyes, "Now eat your dinner. It'll get cold." He adds, because he's not sure how to cope with being mushy and cute for too long. Steve chuckles and lets go of Billy's hand in favour of picking up his fork. They both start eating, and Billy smiles when Steve lets out a moan.

"This is the best lasagna I've ever had." He praises through the mouthful, and Billy grins.

"Damn, sweet thing, you need a room?" He teases as he eats his own food. Steve blushes.

"It's so good, Billy!" Steve praises again, and Billy rolls his eyes.

"Thanks, Harrington."

 

They chat during dinner, about nothing and everything, about plans and ideas and anything they can think of.

"So you're not planning on moving back to California?" Steve asks, and Billy shrugs.

"I, er-" Billy thinks for a second, "California is my home. I want to move back. Think I probably will." Billy sees sadness flash through Steve's eyes and quickly grabs his hand. "But, I promised Max I wouldn't leave her." Billy says.

"Gotta stay for Max." Steve mumbles, looking down at the table, and Billy smiles.

"You know, there's another person I want to stay for." Steve looks up, eyes wide with hope.

"Really?" Billy nods.

"I'm not going unless you go with me." Billy finishes, and Steve grins.

"You'd want me to go with you?" Billy frowns, like it's obvious.

"Well, yeah."

"You sure?" Billy throws him a deadpan look.

"Stevie," Billy sighs, "you don't believe me?" Steve shrugs, looks down.

"I just- I've always been under the impression that you're leaving as soon as you can." Billy smiles slightly.

"You been spendin' too much time with Max. She said the same thing a few weeks ago." Billy says before brushing Steve's hair back. "But I... I hated it here, still don't really like it. But there's people here worth staying for. Obviously I would rather go back home and bring you all with me, but I know that can't happen, so I just have to stay here. 'Cause staying here with you is better than being there without you."

"So, you really do like me, huh?" Steve grins, and Billy chuckles.

"You, Steve Harrington, are infuriating."

"And I know you, Billy Hargrove, don't mean that at all." Steve grins cheekily and Billy can't help but smile. He huffs, gets up and walks round so he's standing next to Steve.

"Yes, pretty boy, I really do like you." He whispers in his ear before pressing a kiss against Steve's lips, firm but gentle, and Steve melts against him.

 

Billy cleans up the plates as Steve watches, and when the kitchen is tidy Billy turns to Steve and wraps his arms around his waist. Steve grins, wraps his arms around Billy's neck in return, and presses a kiss to his lips.

"This was the best date ever." He murmurs against his lips and Billy grins.

"It's not over yet, baby." Steve pulls back so he can look at Billy properly, frowns.

"There's more?" He looks apprehensive but excited and Billy grins, kisses him again gently.

"There's more."

Chapter Text

Billy pulls away from Steve and grabs his hand, pressing a kiss against it.

"You ready?" Steve nods, letting Billy lead him out of the house and over to his car. Billy opens the passenger side door for Steve, and Steve grins.

"Who knew you could be a gentleman." He teases as Billy closes his door and rounds the car, and once he's in he smirks, leans close to Steve, gets in his space.

"Oh, Stevie, you've never been so wrong." He growls, voice low, and Steve shivers, melts against Billy.

"I really hope this isn't a long winded plan you have to kill me and hide my body." Steve whispers, voice shaking, and Billy grins.

"I would never. You're too beautiful, it would be such a waste." He breathes before nipping at Steve's ear lobe. "But damn, Stevie, if you knew what was going on in my head you would never call me a gentleman ever again." He grins when Steve whimpers.

"Billy," He groans, gripping Billy's arm as his head tips to the side, giving Billy access to his neck. Billy presses a kiss against Steve's neck before pulling back, pecking his lips.

"Not yet, doll." Billy smirks, sitting back in his seat and turning to the steering wheel, turning on the engine. Steve pouts.

"Don't be mean to me, baby." He whines as Billy starts driving, and Billy has to grip the steering wheel to stop himself from reaching over and grabbing Steve right here right now and doing unspeakable things. Steve has never called him by a pet name before and damn that did things to him. Steve grins when Billy's hands tighten on the steering wheel, sees his jaw clench. Billy doesn't look at Steve, keeps his eyes on the road, because if he sees the look on Steve's face right now he's not sure he's going to be able to resist.

"Stevie, be patient, darling." He breathes, reaching over and gripping Steve's upper thigh, smirking when he gasps.

"Why?" Steve whines, shifting in his seat so Billy's hand shifts higher. Billy chuckles, gives Steve's thigh a squeeze.

"Cause I'm not done yet." Billy grins, stroking Steve's thigh with his thumb as he drives.

 

They pull up outside Steve's house and he frowns over at Billy, who just smiles slightly and gets out of the car, walking round and opening Steve's door for him, dramatically bowing and holding his arm out for him. Steve laughs, gets out of the car and curtseys.

"Why thank you." He grins, and Billy laughs, holding his hand out for Steve to take.

"My pleasure." He squeezes Steve's hand before leading him over to the front door, letting Steve open the door before leading him in. He takes him straight to the living room and Steve freezes in the doorway.

"Billy," He gasps, and his eyes are sparkling. Billy had Robin sneak in whilst they were having dinner and set up the living room with blankets on the sofa and snacks on the table, candles set around the room causing a low glow, and the tv is ready for Billy to shove on a film.

"What'd you think?" Billy asks, nervous and slightly insecure, and Steve turns to him with wide eyes and a wider smile, looking at him in complete awe.

"It's beautiful. You're amazing. I- You didn't have to do this much." Billy grins, pulls Steve further into the room and sits him on the sofa.

"I don't usually care about dates. Know I can do pretty much anything and will still get some." Billy says, honest and open, "It's different with you." Steve is smiling, looking at Billy in that way that makes him feel important.

"How so?" Steve asks, all quiet like he's unsure.

"You're you. I care about you. A lot. Actually want you to have fun, and know that I care, and you matter. How you feel matters. Don't want you to think you're just one of those girls I can flash a smile at and know I'll get head or something." Steve wraps his arms around Billy and pulls him into a kiss, passionate and loving. Billy melts into him, lets Steve take control of the kiss.

"I care about you a lot too, Billy." Steve whispers as he pulls back. "So fucking much." He adds. "And I know you care, Billy. Can see it, can feel it." Steve kisses him again. "I just wish you would see that you're amazing, and beautiful, and just all kinds of incredible." Billy thinks he might cry, when Steve talks about him like that.

"You're all kinds of incredible too, Stevie." Billy whispers, and with the way Steve is looking at him, Billy feels invincible.

 

Steve picks E.T so Billy puts the video in the player before sitting next to Steve on the sofa. Steve moves the blanket he was under so it covers Billy too before bringing his knees up, cuddling into Billy's side. Billy throws his arm across Steve's legs, hugs him close, and Steve grins as the film starts. Billy's been so sweet, and Steve can't help but notice all the little details, all the effort Billy has gone to. There's candles spread out through the room, ones Billy must have bought because Steve doesn't recognise them, and there's bowls full of Steve's favourite snacks, and bottles of his favourite beer and sodas, and the film selection is just his favourites. Steve knows he's told Billy these things, but he didn't think Billy would remember them.

"You want a drink, darlin'?" Billy whispers, and Steve nods. On the screen Michael and Gertie are meeting ET, and Steve gratefully accepts the glass Billy hands him with a peck on the lips before they settle back on the sofa and he rests his head on Billy's shoulder.

"Thank you." Billy smiles and presses a kiss into Steve's hair.

 

Steve cries at the end of ET, and Billy is near tears too, but he still chuckles at Steve and teases him as he hugs him close.

"Forgot how sad that was." Steve mutters, and Billy smiles. Steve is so sensitive, bless him.

"Next time I'll pick the movie." He whispers, pressing a kiss to Steve's lips before standing up.

"Where you going?" Steve pouts, and Billy laughs quietly as he walks over to the tape player, pressing play. Steve's face lights up when he hears The Police 'Every breath you take' come through the speakers.

"One last thing, pretty boy." He holds out his hand, and Steve shakes his head.

"Not sure that's a good idea, Billy." He says, "You remember what happened last time?" Billy grins, steps forward and grabs Steve's hand anyway.

"C'mon, pretty boy, dance with me." He tugs gently on Steve's hand, and Steve rolls his eyes, a soft loving smile on his face as he stands up and gets into the hold Billy taught him last time.

"S'long as you realise this is going to end badly." Steve whispers, and Billy shakes his head, pressing a kiss to Steve's lips as he starts moving them around the living room. Steve stumbles a couple of times, and once he stands on Billy's foot he pouts. "Sorry." Billy laughs quietly.

"Here." He says, taking Steve's hands and wrapping them around his neck before running his own hands down Steve's sides, wrapping them around his waist, slowly swaying them side to side. "This easier?" He whispers, resting his temple against Steve's.

"Yeah." Steve whispers back, and he rests his head on Billy's shoulder as he moves them to the music. "Billy?"

"Yeah, Stevie?" Billy's voice is low in Steve's ear, and Steve shivers involuntarily.

"This is the best date ever." He grins, and Billy grins too, leaning back and catching Steve in a long and passionate kiss.

Chapter Text

Billy wakes up with Steve's head resting on his chest, gently tracing the scars on his stomach. Billy smiles, stays quiet and watches Steve run his finger over his body, fresh hickeys mixing with old bruises and scars. They didn't do much last night, didn't go far, but Steve wanted to try some stuff out, wanted to finger Billy, so he let him do whatever he wanted, which felt incredible, and then Billy blew him. They fell asleep naked and wrapped up in each other, both in love and feeling pure bliss. Billy moves his hand up Steve's side, across some love bites on his hip and ribs, and threads his fingers through his hair. Steve grins, tilts his head up to look at Billy and presses a kiss under his jaw.

"Morning Tiger." He murmurs, and Billy grins because Steve hasn't called him that before but he definitely isn't complaining, and he leans down to bury his face in Steve's shoulder.

"Morning darlin'." He grins, pressing a kiss to the Steve's shoulder.

"I had the best day yesterday." Steve is grinning, and Billy can't help but smile.

"Me too." He wraps his arms around Steve and rolls them so he's hovering over him. "I'm glad you had fun." He says, voice soft and gooey in that way it only is when he's talking to Steve, and Steve grins.

"It was perfect." Steve presses a kiss to Billy's cheek, then his other cheek, then his forehead, then the tip of his nose, before finally kissing his lips, a grin on his face the whole time. Billy is smiling at him all sappy and in love, and he wants nothing more than to stay here in Steve's bed, wrapped together in a mess of limbs, the sun shining through the window and feeling so damn in love.

"You're perfect." Billy says.

"You're beautiful."

"You're incredible."

"You're wonderful."

"You're never going to win this argument." Billy grins, burying his face in Steve's neck again and biting gently on his skin. "You're way more amazing than I am."

"Nope." Steve grins, "I'm gonna win. You're more amazing." Billy pouts.

"Not even a little bit true." Billy argues. "But, you know, you make me want to be better." Billy says, turning serious. "Sometimes, when you look at me in that way that makes my heart feel weird, or when Max looks at me like she's proud I'm her brother, it makes me feel like I can actually be a good person. Makes me want to be a good person." Billy says, and Steve is looking at him in that way, like he wasn't expecting Billy to be so serious. He rolls them back over so he's hovering above Billy, reaches up to cup Billy's cheek.

"Billy-" He breathes, all soft and sincere, "Billy Hargrove you are a good person. You're supportive, and beautiful, and you're the best big brother, and you're amazing to Max's friends, and you are a really fucking incredible boyfriend." He says, hoping beyond hope that Billy believes him. Billy is looking at him with the most beautiful look on his face.

"You talk about me like I'm important." Billy whispers, and Steve closes his eyes, rests his forehead against Billy's.

"You are important." He whispers against Billy's lips. "You are so important." Billy takes a deep breath, leans up slightly and catches Steve's lips in a kiss.

 

They lie in bed until their stomachs rumble, when they agree to drag themselves out of bed. They both pull on boxers before making their way down to the kitchen, and Billy puts the coffee pot on whist Steve goes over to a cupboard.

"Damn, I need to get some food in." He mutters to himself, and Billy walks over to him and wraps his arms around his waist.

"It's a good thing I planned for this then, isn't it." He grins, pressing a kiss against Steve's cheek before walking over to the fridge. "What do you fancy?" He asks and Steve walks up behind him and rests his chin on Billy's shoulder.

"What did you get?"

"Yoghurt and fruit, bacon and eggs, pancakes?"

"All of the above?" Steve grins, leaning round to kiss Billy on the cheek. Billy chuckles, wraps his arms backwards around Steve, who's chest is now pressed flush against his back.

"You sure?" Steve nods.

"Yes! I want all of the things!"

"Alright," Billy chuckles, turns around and pecks Steve, "Anything for you, baby doll." Billy smiles, gently slapping Steve's ass as he walks over to the stove and turns on the hob.

 

 

Billy sets the plates of food on the table as Steve puts down two glasses of juice. The eat quietly, talking occasionally but just relishing in this bubble of comfort and bliss, and then they go and shower together before getting dressed because they promised Will, Max and El they could watch a movie together today.

"Billy," Steve complains from his place on the bed, watching Billy pull on his t-shirt. Billy turns to look at him and chuckles.

"You're meant to be getting dressed, Stevie." He teases, and Steve pouts, holding a hand out to Billy. He managed to put jeans on before the bed looked too tempting and he collapsed back into it, wanting to have a longer lie in.

"Come here?" He asks, and Billy rolls his eyes, walking over to Steve and taking his hand. Steve immediately pulls Billy onto the bed next to him and buries himself in Billy's arms.

"Stevie we told them 11am." Billy reminds him, glancing at the clock to see it's 10:35.

"Yeah, but you're so good at hugs, sweetheart." Steve whines. Billy gets the hint and wraps his arms tighter around Steve, and Steve grins like a child that was allowed ice-cream for dinner.

"Sweetheart?"

"You are a sweetheart, can't try and deny it." Steve mutters, burying his face in Billy's neck.

"Five minutes." Billy warns and Steve hums.

"I guess that's fine."

"It has to be, darling. We're already gonna be late."

"I'm sure they wont mind."

"The later we are the longer Max has to wait to find out how our date was so I think she very much will." Billy jokes, burying his face in Steve's hair and taking a deep breath in. He loves lying with him like this. Like they haven't got anywhere to be. Like they're the only people in the world that exist. "You're good at hugs too." Billy whispers, and Steve responds by pressing a kiss against Billy's neck. "But, you know, we can hug at the Byers and not be late." Steve huffs.

"No we can't because if we hug at the Byers the children will be traumatised."

"Stevie seeing us hug is not traumatising."

"It will be when I get a hard on." Billy laughs out loud, pulling back as he does, and Steve chuckles, pulling him back into the hug.

"You get hard from hugging, Stevie?" Steve blushes, but looks incredulously at Billy.

"You don't?"

"No, Stevie, cause I'm not 12 years old."

"It's not the hug, it's the fact that you're very very hot and right there and my mind wanders." Billy laughs quietly.

"You're hot too." He says, pressing a kiss to Steve's lips. "But we have to go, so either you need to try not to get hard, or we scar the kids." Billy winks at him, standing up and pulling Steve off the bed with him. Steve is a blushing mess, and he tries to hide it by busying himself with pulling a t-shirt on, but Billy sees, and it makes his heart flutter.

Chapter Text

Billy is definitely not teasing Steve on the drive to the Byers. If he licks his lips more than usual it's just because they're dry, and if he rests his hand on Steve's thigh it's just because he wants to. And if his hand travels higher during the journey and he occasionally squeezes Steve's thigh then it's just because he's focused on driving and hasn't noticed. Steve isn't buying it though, and with every swipe of Billy's tounge, or movement of his hand, he shivers or shifts or does anything to try and get Billy's hand off of him.

"You're being a dick." Steve whines, and Billy grins, keeping his eyes on the road.

"Don't know what you're talking about." He says all nonchalant but his fingers brush gently against Steve's thigh and Steve shivers.

"Billy-" Steve mutters before sighing. Nothing he says will stop Billy teasing him, he might as well try and enjoy the attention. He shifts in his seat before moving so he's resting his head on Billy's shoulder, and Billy smiles slightly, moving the hand on Steve's thigh to run it through Steve's hair, playing absentmindedly with it for a few minutes before moving his hand back to his thigh. Steve rolls his eyes and reaches down, linking his hand with Billy's, who chuckles but lets him hold his hand.

"Fair play." He says softly. Steve grins and raises their hands, pressing a kiss to Billy's.

 

Max is opening the front door for them before they've even parked, and she runs over and collides with Billy's chest as soon as he's out of the car. Usually he'd say she's excited to see him, to hear how it went, or that she missed him. But this is different. The way she's clinging to him desperately. This is something she does at night when she thinks he's dead.

"What's wrong?" Billy wraps his arms around her tight, and Max is shaking.

"Thought you-" She cuts off, and Billy sighs. He knows the end of that sentence.

"Well I'm not." He says, and Max nods, keeps her face buried in his chest for a few more moments before pulling back. She looks between Steve and Billy before grinning, grabbing Billy's hand and dragging him towards the house. Billy barely has time to throw his car keys to Steve so he can lock the car before he's being dragged into the living room and over to the sofa.

"How'd it go?" Max asks, hopping onto the sofa next to Billy and sitting cross legged facing him. El and Will are sitting on the other sofa watching him too, seemingly interested in the answer.

"I'm not answering that." Billy smirks when Max pouts at him. He'll tell her. He'd tell her anything. He doesn't really want to talk about his dating life in front of Will and El.

"Billy!" Max whines, and Billy laughs, stands up and grabs Max's hand, dragging her into the kitchen.

"It was amazing." He says as soon as they're alone and Max grins at him.

"Really?" Billy nods.

"He loved it. It was incredible. We had such a great time. It was..." Billy trails off, trying to think of a way to explain how great the date was, "I don't know. It was definitely the best date I've ever been on." Max smiles, bright and happy.

"Yay! I'm so happy!" She grins, and Billy chuckles and pulls her into a hug.

"Me too." Billy whispers, burying his face in her hair and taking a deep breath. "I'm- I'm really glad we're okay, you know. Glad you forgave me." Max grins wider, looks up so her chin is resting against Billy's chest and she can see his face.

"I'm really glad you're alive, and I'm super super glad you're my brother." Max whispers back, and Billy presses a gentle kiss against her forehead just as someone clears their throat. Billy looks over at the doorway and sees Steve, who smiles all soft and loving, as he walks over and hands Billy his keys as he presses a kiss to his cheek.

"What're you two talking about?" He asks, like he doesn't know already, and Max grins.

"Nothing..." She says, and Billy laughs quietly, wraps his arm around Steve's shoulders and pulls him into his side.

"You know exactly what we're talking about." Billy says, pressing a kiss against Steve's temple. He wants to live in this moment forever, with his arms around his two favourite people. "So what movie are we watching?"

"Saturday night fever!" Max grins, unwrapping her arms from Billy's waist and turning to go back to the living room.

Chapter Text

Billy is waiting for Max in his car outside the school on Monday, Steve’s car parked next to his, and he sits up when he sees Max’s friends start to leave the school but quickly frowns when he realises Max isn’t with them, neither is Sinclair, and they all look a little concerned. Will walks over to his car, which isn’t unusual. What is weird is that the other kids follow him. He didn't think Max was friends with them again, and it's fine if she is, but where is she?

“Billy!” Will says, panicked, and Billy immediately gets out of his car. He sees Steve doing the same, a frown on his face.

“What’s up? Where’s Max?”

“She’s not well.” Will says, and Billy locks his car, steps closer to Will.

“Show me.” He’s not really expecting Steve to follow them, and he’s really not expecting the other rugrats to come. It seems the nerds are too busy being worried about Max to hate Billy.

“What’s wrong?” Billy asks as they walk and Will shrugs. He wasn't with her when it happened.

“She just said she’s not well. Then she kind of passed out.” Mike says, and Billy sighs, runs his hands through his hair as they walk through the halls. Billy spots Max sitting on the floor, back pressed against the lockers, looking a little pale, with Lucas kneeling in front of her, and he immediately rushes over to her and drops to his knees.

“Hey, shitbird.” Billy takes her hand and presses his free hand against her forehead. She’s warm. A bit too warm. “What’s going on, kid?”

“Don’t feel well.” She whimpers, and Billy sighs. He needs to get her temperature down.

“Alright come here,” he starts, sitting her up so she’s not leaning back against the lockers, “gonna take off your hoodie, okay?” Max nods and Billy lets go of her hand, pulls her hoodie over her head. Steve walks over and pats Billy’s shoulder before taking the hoodie off of him. “D’you have any water?” Max shakes her head. “Okay, I’m gonna move you, okay?” Billy asks, and Max nods so Billy shifts, picks Max up easily so he’s carrying her, her legs wrapped around his waist and her head resting on his shoulder. Billy looks at the kids.

“Got a bathroom somewhere?” Lucas is the one to nod, leads Billy over to the bathrooms. Billy walks into the male toilets, glad they’re empty, and sits Max down on the sink. He quickly grabs some paper towels and wets them before returning to Max, pressing them against her forehead.

 

“When’d you start feeling sick?”

“Don’t know. After lunch?” She says, voice quieter than normal.

“What’d you eat?” Max shrugs before frowning.

“Don’t think I did.” Billy pauses his actions of patting the cold towel against her head to stare at her.

“You didn’t eat?”

“No. Was practicing a new trick and forgot to eat.”

“So you were outside in the sun without eating?” Max nods. “Did you drink water?” Max hesitates before shaking her head. “Dumbass.” Billy sighs, knowing she probably has heatstroke.

"Does it feel like your brain's melted? You have a headache and feel dizzy?"

"Yeah." Billy nods thoughtfully.

"What's that mean?" Steve asks.

"Heatstroke." Billy says to him before focusing on Max. “Wheeler said you passed out?” Max nods.

“Just now.”

“You hit your head?” Max doesn’t answer, just shrugs, glances at the boys. Lucas nods.

“It looked like you hit your head on the lockers.” Billy sighs again.

"Follow my finger." Billy says, holding his finger in front of her and moving it in a square. She follows it, and Billy watches her eyes to make sure they don't go out of focus. "Where about's did you hit your head?" Max shrugs again, and Billy looks at Lucas.

"Around here." He points to the back of his head, and Billy turns back to Max, touching gently across the back of her head, stopping when she winces.

"Sorry." Billy whispers, turning her head so he can see the back where it hurts, moving her hair carefully out the way. "Got a little bump." Billy says, turning her head to look at him again. "Your neck hurt?"

"No." Billy nods.

"How about when I do this?" Billy carefully presses his fingers to the back of her neck, then slowly down her spine.

"No." Billy nods.

"How about now?" He asks, digging his fingers into her sides, and Max giggles, squirming to get away from the tickling.

"Billy!" She whines through laughter.

"Just checking your reflexes."

"Hurts my head." She mutters, and Billy frowns.

"Sorry kid." He says before he turns to look at Steve. “It alright if I hijack your place for a while, pretty boy?” Steve blushes, nods, and Billy throws him a grateful smile before turning back to Max.

“Gonna go to Harrington’s, get your temperature down, you’re gonna eat something, and we're gonna put some ice on that bump, that okay?” Max nods, leans forward to rest her forehead against his shoulder.

“It’s funny.” She whispers, and Billy frowns.

“What is?”

“One of us always seems to need looking after.” She says, and Billy rolls his eyes.

“Wouldn’t be the case if you’d had lunch.” Billy says, grabbing Max and lifting her again. “Can one of you grab her bag and stuff?” He adds over his shoulder as he leaves the bathroom, the kids and Steve following him. Steve walks next to him, looking at Max in concern.

“Thanks Steve.” Max murmurs, and Steve smiles.

“Anytime, Max.” Billy grins, wants to grab Steve and kiss him, but the other little shits are here.

“Are you taking them home first?” Billy asks and he’s met with protesting from the kids behind him.

“We want to help.”

“We want to come!”

“We’re coming!”

“Can I come with you?” Billy sighs, looks at Steve because it’s his house, and Steve shrugs.

“It’s up to you.” He says softly, and Billy frowns, but he can feel Max’s forehead burning against his neck and he knows he needs to get her there quickly.

“Fine. Get in the cars.” Billy says, walking round to his passenger seat and placing Max in it. She shuts her eyes, curls into a ball in the seat, a small pained frown on her face, and Billy pushes her hair out of her face before shutting the door. He walks to the drivers side and pauses when Steve smiles at him. The other kids are in the cars already, Will in Billy’s and the others in Steve’s, so Billy doesn’t have to worry about them hearing.

“She’ll be fine, Billy.” He says softly, and Billy nods.

“I know.” He says before adding “Thanks, Harrington, I appreciate it.” He throws him a wink before climbing into his car as Steve climbs into his own and they make their way to Steve's. Billy gets there first because he breaks the speed limit way more than he should have.

“Steve isn’t here yet.” Will says, and Billy nods, getting out of the car.

“I know.” Billy says softly, going round to the passenger side and opening the door. “How’re you doing, kiddo?”

“I’m hot.” Max whines, and Billy helps her out of the car, smiles slightly when she stumbles into his arms, and wraps his arms tight around her.

“I know, kid.” Billy whispers, rubbing her back, “Harrington will be here soon, okay? Then we’ll get some food in you and then you’re gonna try and sleep this off, yeah?” Max nods just as Steve pulls up. Everyone piles out of his car and Steve quickly unlocks the door and lets them all in.

Chapter Text

Billy leads Max into the living room and tells her to sit on the sofa before he goes to the kitchen. The kids stay in the living room with Max as Steve follows Billy into the kitchen. He walks over, wraps his arms around Billy’s waist as he gets a glass of water.

“Hey gorgeous.” Steve whispers, and Billy grins, rests his head back against Steve.

“Hey, doll.” Steve blushes, leans down and presses a kiss to Billy’s neck.

“Kind of wish the little fuckers didn’t come. Wanna kiss you.” He murmurs, and Billy chuckles as he turns off the tap and turns around, gripping his shirt and pulling him into a kiss.

“You wanna tell them?” Steve shrugs.

“I want to be able to kiss you whenever I want. But after what Mike did, I don’t want to risk you getting hurt.” Billy catches him in a kiss again.

“You threatened them with death, Stevie, I think you got through to them.” Steve shrugs.

“Still not sure how they’d react. Not even told them I’m gay.” Steve says, and Billy pulls Steve as close as possible.

“Stevie, if you don’t want to tell them, it’s fine. You can just kiss me when they’re not here.” He winks, pecking Steve again before letting go of him. “I’ll kiss you all you want when Max is feeling better.” Steve blushes, kisses Billy again before letting him go and Billy grabs an ice pack before he walks back into the front room.

 

Max is sitting on one of the sofa’s, head resting back against it, eyes shut. Lucas is sat at the other end of the sofa she’s on, Mike and Dustin are sat on the other sofa, and Will is sat on the armchair.

“Here, kid.” Billy says softly, walking over to Max and handing her the glass of water. Max takes it gratefully, downing half in one go. “Hey, slowly.” Billy says, patting her shoulder before carefully touching her head. She's still got a small bump there, but it's nothing of concern. "Hold this against the bump," Billy hands her the ice pack, “I’m gonna make you some food, what d'you fancy?” Max shrugs.

“Don’t know.” Max mutters, slowly pressing the pack to the back of her head, and Billy rolls his eyes.

“Fat lot of good you are.” Billy jokes, ruffles her hair, frowns because she still feels really warm, and then steps away. “Sip your water.” He turns to Will. “Can you please get her a wet washcloth? Just run it under some cold water and ring it out.” Will nods.

“D’you know where they are?” Billy shrugs, thinks for a second.

“Er... Yeah, Harrington has some in his bathroom. Upstairs, last door on the left, bathroom door should be open.” Will nods, and just as Billy is about to go back to the kitchen Dustin speaks up.

“Why do you know where Steve’s bathroom is? And what’s in it?” Billy just rolls his eyes.

“Bit busy for 21 questions, Henderson.” He says as he leaves the room, hoping that was enough to stop him asking questions.

 

“How is she?” Steve asks as Billy walks back into the kitchen. Steve is taking some toast out of the toaster, and Billy walks over and leans back against the counter next to him.

“Drinking water, still too hot. Will’s gone to get her a washcloth. I told him to take one from your room, hope that’s okay.” Steve nods before glancing at Billy.

“I thought I’d make Max toast, you know, in case she’s not feeling well enough for proper food.” He says.

“Yeah. Good idea, thanks darlin’.” Billy presses a kiss to Steve’s cheek, and Steve frowns. Billy seems distracted.

“Are you okay?” Billy nods.

“Yeah.” He sighs, “Think your little friend is starting to question things though.”

“How come?”

“Apparently me knowing where your bathroom is and its contents is not considered normal.”

“It’s contents?”

“I told Will there’s a washcloth in it.” Steve frowns and Billy rolls his eyes. “You gotta look at it from their point of view, Harrington. Last they knew we were swinging fists at each other, remember?”

“But that was like a year ago!”

“And they haven’t seen us interact since, not really. They didn’t know we got civil, or became friends.” Billy leans close, smirks to himself. “They don’t know what we get up to.” Steve giggles, leans into Billy’s chest.

“Okay, I get it. They haven’t seen us be friendly. So maybe we should change that.”

“What do you wanna do, hold hands and skip around the yard.” Billy teases, and Steve laughs at that, louder and more open than the giggle he let out a minute ago.

“I’d love to see that.” Billy rolls his eyes and shakes his head fondly, taking the plate of toast from Steve.

“Come on then, pretty boy.” Steve grins and follows Billy into the living room.

 

“Here, shitbird.” Billy lands on the sofa next to Max and hands her the plate, “Bambi made you toast.” Max smiles, glancing at Steve.

“Thanks, Steve.” Steve throws her a smile before collapsing on the sofa on the other side of Billy, far closer than two people that ‘hate each other’ would sit. Lucas, Dustin and Mike watch Billy carefully, as if expecting him to explode, and they all look shocked when he doesn't say a word. Billy throws his arm around Max, who buries herself in his side, and then Will appears with a washcloth in his hand.

“Here you go.” He smiles, handing it to Billy.

“Thank’s kid.” Billy folds it in half before pressing it against Max’s forehead. “Okay?” He asks her and she nods, snuggling close and closing her eyes.

Chapter Text

They sit in a mostly awkward silence for a few minutes. The kids chat quietly, Max eats her toast and talks to Steve, and Billy pulls his book out and reads. Everyone finds it weird how comfortable Billy and Steve are, sitting next to each other, Billy occasionally adding to Steve and Max’s conversation or making an innuendo that makes Steve blush, and eventually Mike snaps.

“So what’s going on?” He asks, accusatory, and everyone looks over at him, confused.

“What?” Steve asks, and Mike raises an eyebrow. It’s now that Billy realises that because he’s sat in between Steve and Max they’re both pretty much leaning across him to talk to each other, and Steve has moved so his body is facing Billy entirely, his arm resting on Billy’s shoulder. Neither of them noticed. “We’re talking Mike, I don’t know what you mean?” Steve asks, and to be fair, this position isn’t exactly compromising. Steve is resting his arm on Billy and his leg is pressed slightly against Billy’s, but that’s it.

“You were beating the shit out of each other a few months ago, and now you’re practically sat on his lap.” Dustin says, and Steve frowns. It hasn’t dawned on him, it seems, how close they are currently sitting. Billy sees the moment Steve notices.

“Henderson, you are literally using Lucas as a footrest right now.”

“Yeah but I’ve never had my face punched in by Lucas.” Billy flinches at the words, and Steve frowns deeper.

“And I’ve never had a crush on the girl Billy is dating, yet here we are.” Steve snaps, and he knows he’s being defensive, knows it’s mean and he shouldn’t say stuff like that because they’re past it, but Billy flinched, and he looks so sad, and he’s being so quiet.

“Well I’ve never picked an asshole over my friends.” Dustin snaps back, and Steve glares at him.

“You’re being more of an asshole right now, Dustin.”

“He has a point though, Steve.” Mike adds.

“Who says Billy isn’t my friend?”

“You did.”

“That was over a year ago, Henderson, a lot has happened since then.”

“Yeah, we know.” Mike mutters, “Doesn’t change the fact that he beat you up.”

“You know, Jonathan beat me up too, but you don’t complain that I hang out with him.”

"You don't hang out with Jonathan."  Mike says.

"You've been spending a hell of a lot of time with him though." Dustin adds, nodding at Billy.

“Also Jonathan is Will’s brother.” Lucas finishes.

“Well Billy is Max’s brother.”

“Max’s asshole brother.”

“Hey!” Max snaps, and everyone turns their attention to Max, who is now lying with her head on Billy’s lap and has Billy holding the damp flannel to her head with one hand and is rubbing her am gently with the other. “Can you stop talking about Billy like he isn’t here!” She shouts, and Billy shushes her, because she still has a headache. Billy hasn’t said a word in his defence, because he knows he’ll just make it worse.

“Why even is he here.”

"Why are you here?" Max asks.

"Cause you're our friend."

“Max is my sister.” Billy says simply, and Dustin shrugs.

“So why didn’t you take her home?”

“Because it’s safer here!” Max snaps, and Billy freezes, eyes widening in fear. They don’t need to know. They shouldn’t know. Everyone is looking at Billy. Max with wide eyes because she’s said something she shouldn’t have, Will with sympathetic eyes, and Steve with a look telling him he’s there, that he’s not leaving.

“What do you mean?” Mike asks, voice nervous. “Is it back?” Billy gets how that’s where their minds go, and they’re lucky that when they think of danger they think of monsters from another world, lucky that danger isn’t their family.

“No. No it’s not back.” Billy says, because they’re assholes but they’ve been through a lot and he doesn’t want to panic them.

“Then why isn’t it safe?” Mike asks and Billy sighs, pats Max’s arm.

“Come on, you need to lie down.” He says, because even if he does tell them about Neil, he doesn’t want her to be there when he does. Max sits up, gets off the sofa, and Billy stands up, leads her up stairs.

 

He takes her to the guest room next to Steve’s bedroom and she climbs into the bed, letting Billy tuck her in.

“You feel any better?” Max shakes her head.

“Not really.”

“Have a nap, kid.” Billy lays the washcloth on her forehead again, and Max grabs his hand.

“You gonna tell them?” She asks, and Billy shrugs.

“I don’t know. Depends if they believe whichever lie I make up.” Max bites her lip.

“I’m sorry. It just slipped out. They made me so angry.” Billy sighs, squeezes her hand.

“It’ll be fine, kid.” He says softly, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “Get some sleep.”

“Love you.”

“Love you too.” Billy leaves the room, shuts the door behind him, and takes a deep breath, leaning back against the wall and shutting his eyes. He doesn’t want to tell the kids about his dad, doesn’t want to tell anyone. He doesn’t want anyone to know, because he’ll get that sympathetic look every time they see him, or their gaze will linger on any bruise, or they’ll be like Hopper, and try and convince him to talk to the police.

 

Billy must have been gone too long, because he hears footsteps and when he opens his eyes Steve is standing in front of him.

“Hey.” He whispers, all soft in that way that makes Billy feel warm, “Max okay?” Billy kind of loves how much Steve cares about Max.

“Still not feeling great. She’s having a nap.” Steve nods, steps closer and reaches up, fiddles with the charm on Billy’s chain, as if unconsciously.

“You okay?” Billy nods as he grabs Steve’s hips, pulling him closer.

“Yeah.” He says, quiet, “The kids asking questions?”

“Yeah.” Steve sighs, kisses the tip of Billy’s nose, “Haven’t told them anything though.”

“Trying to think of an excuse.” Billy admits.

“Maybe tell them the truth, and then immediately after I’ll tell them I’m gay and that you’re my boyfriend, and then they’ll immediately forget what you said because they’ll be too busy shouting at me.” Steve says, and Billy huffs a laugh, shakes his head and pulls Steve closer.

“Not sure that’s a good idea, pretty boy.”

“It would work.”

“Yeah, but then we’re going to have to deal with a bunch of teenage boys trying to beat the shit out of us.”

“Or they would be very accepting and happy for us…” Steve says, trails off, and they both laugh quietly.

“In a different lifetime, Stevie.” Billy sighs, presses a soft kiss against Steve’s lips, and Steve melts against him.

“Wish people weren’t such assholes.” He mutters, lips brushing Billy’s, and Billy nods.

“Me too.” He presses another kiss to Steve’s lips before sighing. “Come on, let's get this over with.”

Chapter Text

Billy is tired. He just spent the past 15 minutes trying to convince the party that their home is safe, it's just easier to care for Max here because Steve lives on a quieter street. He's not sure they bought it, but after so long Billy lost the will to live and walked out of the living room, leaving Steve with the brats as he got himself a glass of water, trying to calm himself down. He's looking out the window into the back yard, watching the breeze ripple the water in the pool, imagining it's the waves back in California.

It's a few minutes until Steve is joining him, walking over and wrapping his arms around Billy's waist, resting his chin on his shoulder.

"Hey, Gorgeous." He whispers.

"Hey."

"Gotta take the kids home."

"Good luck." Billy breathes, and Steve chuckles.

"Are you gonna stay here?" Billy shrugs, turns around in Steve's arm.

"Don't think I can."

"Can you not call Max's mum? Tell her Max is staying with a friend or something?" Billy thinks for a moment. He'd rather not make Max get up if she's already asleep, especially since she's not well.

"Okay pretty boy, I'll call her whilst you're dropping those assholes home." Steve chuckles and presses a kiss to Billy's cheek.

"They'll come around, you know."

"Oh, I doubt that, Harrington."

"They will. They'll realise you're not the dickhead they think you are. With me, Max, Will and El telling them not to be assholes they'll believe us eventually." Billy chuckles, runs his hands up Steve's arms and cupping his face softly.

"They hate me, Harrington."

"They just don't know you." Billy thinks for a minute before sighing. The kids mean a lot to Steve, and they're Max's friends, and he should probably try and make an effort to get to know them or something.

"Should I- I mean, I should probably make an effort too." Steve smiles slightly.

"You're not the one being an ass."

"But I was up until like 2 months ago." Billy moves his hands into Steve's hair, "And I don't really want to be glared at for the rest of my life, so I should try and make them not hate me."

"Rest of your life?" Steve grins softly, and Billy nods, tries to act confident but Steve sees nervousness flash through his eyes.

"Told you I'll stay as long as you want me to."

"What if I told you I wanted you to stay forever?"

"Then I'll stay forever." Billy promises, sealing the deal with a soft kiss. Steve grins against his lips, holds Billy tight.

"Good."

"STEVE!" Dustin shouts, and Steve huffs, pulls away from Billy.

"Alright!" He shouts back before focusing on Billy, "Call her mum while I'm gone?"

"I will."

"If I get back and you're not here-"

"I will be, Stevie. Promise." Billy presses a kiss to Steve's cheek before letting him go.

 

Steve rounds up the kids and leaves his house, the kids climbing into his car. They talk quietly on the way home, Steve just listening to them talk and not contributing. As soon as Mike has exited the car Dustin falls silent. Steve sighs, pulls out of the Wheeler's road, and takes a deep breath.

"Silent treatment?" Dustin just stares out the window. He's the only one left in the car, and usually he takes this opportunity to fill Steve in on his life, but it seems Steve's friendship with Billy has pissed him off. "Really, Henderson?" Dustin doesn't answer him, and Steve sighs. "You're mad at me." He gets no response, so he continues talking, "You know you're being childish." Dustin glares out the window and Steve knows he's going to break soon. "I'm still me, Henderson. Nothing has changed. Still your adopted big brother."

"Except you're different." Dustin mutters and Steve frowns.

"No I'm not."

"You blew us off. Said you'd go to d&d night a few weeks ago but you didn't. Were you hanging out with him?" Steve frowns.

"I'm allowed to have friends that are my age, you know, Dustin." He says softly.

"Yeah. But not ones that beat you up. Not ones that are assholes. And it's not fair for you to say you're going to hang out with us and then change your mind." Dustin huffs.

"He beat me up once, Dustin. And I know it was shit of me to blow you guys off like that. But do you really want me hanging around? I can't even play."

"We like having you there."

"And I like hanging out with you too. But I also like hanging out with Billy."

"He's an asshole."

"He was an asshole. He's changed, Dustin."

"Find that hard to believe."

"That's cause you haven't given him a chance." Steve says, and Dustin looks over at him. "He said he's gonna make an effort."

"Why?" Steve rolls his eyes.

"Cause you're Max's friends, and he doesn't want her friends to hate him because it's going to effect his relationship with his sister."

"What about you?"

"Me?"

"You're a factor too."

"Well, he knows I care about you guys. But, I don't want to have to choose between you guys and Billy, cause I can't. So I'm asking you, Dustin, as your adopted brother and friend, please try." Steve asks, "Cause I'm not going to stop hanging out with him, but if you hate him I'm going to feel guilty every time I do. And if you get along then we can all hang out together and I won't have to choose." Dustin is looking at him curiously.

"Why'd you care so much about him?" It catches Steve off guard.

"Cause he's my friend."

"Yeah, but Robin is your friend and you're not constantly with her."

"I work with her."

"But you're different with Billy."

"Different?" Dustin nods.

"You look at him how you used to look at Nancy."

"I-"

"Steve," Dustin interrupts, hesitates for a second, looking apprehensive, scared maybe, "Are... Are you gay?"

Steve can't breath.

He did want to come out, but not like this. Not in the car on the way home in the middle of a conversation about Billy just after his and Dustin's first ever 'argument'.

"Dustin," Steve sighs. "Would it matter if I was?"

"No." Dustin says immediately, "And I'm sorry. Like, if you weren't ready to come out I'm sorry I kind of made you." He adds, "I've thought you were for a while, figured you'd tell me." He says, looking down.

"I was going to. Just wasn't sure how." Steve says, and Dustin nods, looking back up.

"I'm sorry. I get it's probably not easy to do." He says, smiles at him, "But that's why, isn't it. That's why you want us to get along? Cause you're into him." Steve resits the urge to tell Dustin, not sure he's fully ready for that.

"If I said yes would you try and forgive him?" Dustin looks at him for a moment, reading him, before nodding.

"If it means that much to you, then yes."

"Really?!" Steve smiles, sits up straighter, looks at Dustin with hopeful eyes.

"Yeah."

"I'm not gay, by the way, I'm bi. But thanks, Henderson." Steve pulls up outside his house, and Dustin pauses with his hand on the door-handle.

"If he's still an asshole I'm not going to be nice to him."

"He's not." Dustin rolls his eyes.

"Does he know you're super into him?" Steve blushes and shoots Dustin a glare.

"Get out of my car, Henderson." Dustin laughs but does as he's told and climbs out of the car, shouting that he'll see him tomorrow.

 

Steve finds Billy sitting on the edge of Max's bed, and they're talking animatedly and they haven't noticed Steve listening. He walks over and wraps his arms around Billy's shoulders, resting his chin on Billy's head.

"Hey." Steve smiles when Billy reaches up and holds his hands. "Feeling better?" Max nods.

"Tired. Still have a headache but don't feel sick."

"Good."

"All the nerds survive the journey?" Billy asks and Steve laughs.

"They did. Also Dustin found out I'm bi and he knows I'm into you." Steve says, and Billy grins.

"Aww you're into me, that's so embarrassing."

"You're literally my boyfriend." Steve mutters, but he blushes anyway.

"I know. How tragic." Billy squeezes his hand so he knows he's joking and Max laughs at them.

"You didn't tell Dustin you're together?" Max asks, frowning slightly, and Steve shakes his head.

"Thought it would be fun to see how long it takes him to realise. But, he has promised he'd make an effort."

"Oh- Well, okay. Good. That's a good thing." Billy says sounding like he's trying to convince himself, and Max laughs at him.

"It is a good thing, because you've already got us and Will on side. Now Dustin's going to try and make an effort all that's left is Mike and Lucas who, lets be honest, will follow now that it's just those two that don't like you."

"He doesn't like me yet, Max."

"But he will because you're great." She says through a yawn. Billy smiles slightly, leans forward and presses a kiss to her forehead.

"Go to sleep, kid."

"Okay." Max yawns again, settles into the pillow.

"If you need me-"

"I'll come find you." Max finishes, and Billy nods and stands up. "Night Billy."

"Night Max."

"I love you." Billy smiles, feels Steve squeeze his hand.

"I love you too, Max."

Chapter Text

They're lying in Steve’s bed, Steve tucked into Billy's side with his head resting on Billy’s shoulder. They’re talking quietly, mumbled words mixing with the darkness of the room, both of them just existing together. Billy thinks he could stay here forever, wonders if that's possible, wonders if Steve would want that too. Steve is rambling about something or another, a film Robin told him to watch or a customer they had the other day, and Billy is just content to listen to him. That is until he hears something from outside the room.

“I just don’t know why-”

“Shh.” Billy cuts him off, and Steve frowns.

“What?” Steve stays silent when Billy shushes him again, both of them listening carefully. Steve hears it. A quiet whimper coming from outside the room, followed by a shaky breath.

“Max?” Billy asks, and when there’s no answer he sighs. “You can come in.” The door opens slowly, letting in a streak of light from the hall, and Max looks over at Billy, tears streaming down her face. Billy’s eyes soften and he rolls onto his side, unhooking his arm from around Steve and opening his arms for Max.

“Don’t want to interrupt.” Max mumbles, and Billy breathes a laugh, shuffles back so his back is pressed against Steve’s chest.  Steve gets the hint, and he can’t help but grin as he wraps his arm around Billy and tangles their legs together.

“C’mere.” Billy says softly, lifting the duvet up, and Max immediately walks over and climbs into the bed. She's wrapped up in Billy’s arms in seconds. She buries her head in his chest and tries to match her breathing to his as Billy hugs her tight, strokes her hair. “What happened?” Billy asks softly.

“‘M scared.” She whispers, “It was back, and it was coming cause it knew where we were.”

“Hey,” Billy says softly, “It’s not coming back, okay? And even if it did, I’m not gonna let anything happen to you, you hear me?” Max nods. “I’m right here, and I’m gonna protect you.” He adds before smiling slightly. “And Steve’s here, and between you and me I quite like having him around, but if anything happens I will not hesitate in using him as a human shield to protect you.”

“OI!” Steve snaps halfheartedly, a smile on his face at how damn sweet Billy is, and Max giggles.

“He’s not that useless.” She mumbles, smiling.

“Not saying he’s useless, saying he’d be a fucking good shield.” Steve chuckles, breath ghosting across Billy’s neck. “But the point is…” Billy grabs Steve’s hand, “We’re not gonna let anything happen to you. So you don’t need to be scared.”

“Promise?” Max asks, pulling back to look up at Billy, who nods.

"Promise." Max smiles.

"Okay." She pulls back a bit more but Billy doesn't loosen his grip.

"You can stay here, kid." Max shakes her head before sighing, sinking into Billy's arm.

"Maybe for just a minute." She mutters, and Billy tucks her under his chin, smiling slightly.

 

"You're real cute." Steve whispers once Max has fallen asleep, and Billy squeezes Steve's hand, tangles their fingers together.

"She keeps having nightmares. I don't know how to stop them." He whispers in reply, and Steve squeezes his hand. Max is still lying with them, buried in Billy's chest, and Steve in still spooning him, and Billy is so content to stay here with them forever.

"Hey," He presses a kiss to Billy's neck, "You can't stop them. But you can be there to tell her they weren't real."

"Doesn't feel like enough." Billy admits.

"Which is why you're the sweetest brother ever." He kisses Billy's neck again, "You could stop her nightmares, make sure she's happy every day, hell you could give her the stars in the sky, and you would still feel like you're not doing enough." Steve is talking so softly, voice full of love and adoration, and Billy smiles slightly, feels like he could cry.

"I-" He wants to say he loves him, but he doesn't think now is the time, and he's scared Steve might not love him in return, and he's kind of terrified of losing him. "Thank you," He whispers, turns his head so he can press a kiss to Steve's cheek, and hopes that's enough for Steve to know what he really means.

Chapter Text

Steve wakes up first, for the first time ever. Billy's moved in his sleep and is now lying on his back with Max on his left and Steve on his right, and Billy has an arm around each of them. Max's head is on Billy's shoulder and Billy is resting his head on top of hers. It's fucking adorable, and Steve is sure his heart melted at the sight. He smiles and settles back against the bed, content with Billy's arm tight around him, before closing his eyes, deciding to get a few more minutes of sleep.

Billy blinks his eyes open and stretches his back, as much as he can with two people using him as a pillow. Both Max and Steve are asleep, and Billy glances at the clock to see it's 7am. Max doesn't start school until 8:30 but they need to go home so she can get changed. Billy looks down at her and smiles slightly. She looks so peaceful, and he doesn't really want to wake her up.

"Max?" Billy whispers, and after a few attempts she opens her eyes with a yawn.

"What?" She mumbles.

"Gotta get up, kid." Billy whispers, and Max shakes her head, keeping her face pressed into Billy's shoulder.

"No."

"Second that." Steve mumbles, and Billy breathes a laugh.

"You awake too, Stevie?" He asks quietly.

"No." Billy rolls his eyes.

"Well I'm getting up." Billy tries to sit up but Max and Steve keep their grip on him, and he lies back with a huff. "You can't team up against me." He pouts, and Max laughs.

"We can." Steve argues, pulling Billy close and burying his face in his neck.

"Especially when it comes to lie-ins." Max agrees, and Billy sighs.

"This isn't fair." He pouts.

"Please? 5 more minutes?" Max whines.

"Yeah, Please Billy?" Steve joins in and Billy rolls his eyes before shaking his head.

"No. I'm getting up." Billy starts tickling both of them, and whilst they're laughing he slips out of the bed.

"No!"

"You've got 5 minutes or I'm leaving without you, Max." Billy says as he leaves the room, and Max huffs.

 

"You feeling better, Max?" Steve asks, sitting up, and Max shrugs.

"I feel bad, cause I keep having nightmares, and I know he hates it. Like, he feels like it's his fault or something." Steve frowns.

"It's not your fault you know. And he just wants you to be okay. He just doesn't like seeing you upset or hurting." Max smiles slightly.

"I don't like seeing him hurt either."

"I know."

"You best not hurt him." Max says, serious. "I mean it. If you hurt my big brother I'll kill you." Steve knows she isn't joking.

"Max, I promise you I will do everything in my power to make sure that doesn't happen. I can't stop him getting hurt, because I can't stop his dad, but as long as I am breathing I will love him, and every day after." Max smiles.

"Good." She says before sighing, "I want to do something nice for him. Maybe for his birthday."

"Birthday?" Max nods.

"His birthday was July 16th." Steve frowns.

"But... How did I not know that?"

"He doesn't like celebrating his birthday. Neil didn't make a big deal out of it, and I guess he stopped thinking people cared enough to make it special. Me and mum try, but he's never really been into it. I thought it might be different this year but he was unconscious in the hospital."

"So... do you want to celebrate his birthday?" Max nods.

"I still think he doesn't believe people care about him. I wanted to throw him a party or something, but we missed it. I kind of want to do something, and I know it's like 2 months late but I still want to celebrate his birthday."

"I think that's a great idea." Max smiles.

"Really?"

"Yeah! And I'll help you if you want?" Max nods.

"When should we do it?"

"We need time to plan... Maybe next weekend?"

"Okay, so what's today, Tuesday? So we have 10 days to plan?"

"Sounds good to me." Steve smiles at how excited Max is.

"We need to make it the best birthday ever!" Max grins, reaches over and pulls Steve into a hug. "Thank you."

"Anytime, Max."

 

Billy's made pancakes, and Max grins when she gets to the kitchen and sees him setting a plate full of pancakes onto the table.

"C'mon kid, scarf 'em down." Billy sits down, and Max sits opposite him.

"Thanks."

"Where's Harrington?" Max shrugs, shoving a forkful of pancakes in her mouth.

"Somethin' 'bout a shower." She says, voice muffled from the food, and Billy rolls his eyes. "Are you picking me up from school today?" Billy nods.

"You're going to the arcade, right?"

"Yeah." Billy nods as he takes a bite of his breakfast, and Max smiles at him.

They sit and chat, Steve joining them after 10 minutes with wet hair and a towel wrapped around his waist, and when it's time to leave Steve pulls Billy into a kiss so tender and loving that Billy all but melts against him.

"I'll see you later, pretty boy." Steve nods, pecks him again because he doesn't want him to leave.

"See you later Billy."

Chapter Text

Billy is ridiculously nervous. He's going to try and 'bond' with Henderson because he promised Steve he would. He pulls up outside Max's school and hesitates when he sees her walking towards him, relaxing only slightly when he realises she's alone.

"Hey!" She grins, climbing into the passenger side.

"Hey, kiddo." Max glances at him before rolling her eyes, a small smile on her face.

"It's gonna be fine, Billy." Max says supportively, "All you're doing is taking us to Steve's."

"And then spending the next few hours with him." Billy mutters.

"With me and Will and Steve."

"Yeah but you're my sister and Steve is my Steve. And Will is so small and innocent." Max smiles.

"And Dustin is going to try because he knows Steve loves you and he promised him." Billy nods, takes a deep breath before wrapping his arm around her and kissing his head.

"You're my favourite person, you know." He breathes, spots Max's friends leaving the school and tries to ignore the way Wheeler is looking at him.

"You're mine too." Max whispers as Will opens the door behind the driver seat and climbs in.

"Hey kid," Billy says as Dustin gets in the car too, "How was school?"

"Mr Clarke said he's going to try and get some new equipment for the AV club." Will grins excitedly. Billy can't help but smile in return.

"That's great bud." Billy glances at Max, who nods, "How 'bout you, Henderson?"

"Huh?" Dustin blinks, looks nervous as he answers, "Oh, er, fine. The new AV stuff sounds good." He says, and Billy can tell Dustin must feel as awkward as he does, so he just nods, doesn't force him to continue talking.

 

The drive is slightly awkward, and Billy listens to the kids as they chat, Dustin taking a while to join in with the conversation but started to loosen up half way through the drive. They spill out of the car when they get to Steve's, who is waiting for them with the front door open, looking slightly nervous. Billy takes his time getting out of the car, and he doesn't reach the house until the kids have already said hello to Steve and are making their way into the living room. Steve grabs his hand as soon as he's close enough.

"How's it going so far?" He asks quietly, and Billy shrugs, raising their linked hands so he can press a gentle kiss against Steve's knuckles.

"Not sure yet, I er, we spoke to each other briefly, like when he got in the car I asked how school was. Other than that..." Billy trails off, shrugs again, and Steve smiles.

"You don't have to worry about it." Steve says and Billy rolls his eyes.

"You're nervous too." He mutters, and Steve chuckles quietly.

"I know." He admits, "But you both survived a 20 minute car ride, which I'm counting as a win." Steve grins at him and Billy rolls his eyes fondly, pressing a kiss to Steve's cheek.

"Alright then, pretty boy, lets get this over with." Steve grabs Billy's arm when he tries to walk past, stopping him from moving any further, and when Billy stops, confused, Steve presses a kiss to his lips, soft and loving. He pulls away after a few moments, the grin on his face bright.

"Now we can go." Billy laughs fondly, steals another quick kiss before dropping Steve's hand and following him into the living room.

 

"So what's the plan for today?" Steve asks the kids, settling on the couch and not hiding the smile that spreads across his face when Billy sits next to him, arms thrown casually over the back of the couch so his right arm is resting just behind Steve. The kids are currently sat around the coffee table with their homework spread out, and they look up at them when Steve speaks.

"Homework." Will says before turning back to work, and Steve rolls his eyes.

"You come to my house, disturb my peace, only to do homework the whole time?" He pouts, and Billy chuckles.

"We only have math homework to do and then we can play a game." Dustin explains, glancing at Billy before focusing on Steve.

"Why don't you make us a snack." Max suggests, knowing Billy will help him so they can have some alone time.

"What did your last servant die of?" Steve mutters.

"Oh I'm still alive." Billy adds, because he's not her servant but he still makes her most meals and does her laundry and helps her clean her room. Max rolls her eyes at him.

"Don't be so dramatic, William." Billy rolls his eyes as he drags himself off the sofa, grabbing Steve's arm and pulling him up too.

"Come on, princess, quit poutin'." He smirks at him, and Steve glares as he lets Billy pull him off the sofa and towards the kitchen.

 

Steve smiles as he watches Billy make the kids a sandwich each. He's sitting on the counter opposite, and Billy is seemingly lost in thought, humming a rock song quietly. Steve is watching him, his heart full and knowing he's so fucking in love with him. He wonders what Billy's thinking, wonders what kind of emotions he's feeling right now. He thinks about it for a few moments before realising he could just ask, so he hops off the counter and walks over to him.

"Billy?" He asks quietly, not wanting to scare him.

"Yeah, darlin?" Billy leans over and presses a kiss to Steve's cheek, and he immediately blushes bright red. He's lost his train of thought, not sure what he wanted to say, and he doesn't want to open his mouth, afraid he might just blurt out that he loves him. "Stevie?" Billy asks again. Steve just blinks at him. "You gonna pass out or somethin'?" Billy's teasing him, but his eyes are worried. Steve snaps out of his daze, blushing brighter because he was just staring at Billy.

"Sorry, no, just... Forgot what I was gonna say." Billy lets out a breath, presses another kiss to Steve's cheek.

"Had me worried there, Harrington." He says as he turns back to the sandwiches, and Steve grins.

"You were worried 'bout me?" He's expecting Billy to deny it or argue or make a sarcastic comment.

"Always." He admits, and Steve wasn't expecting it, and he gets that look on his face that makes Billy's heart feel full. "Don't get sappy on me, Harrington." He says softly, and Steve smiles.

"You started it." He cups Billy's cheek, presses a loving kiss to Billy's lips.

"You keep doing shit like that and those kids are never getting their snack." Billy murmurs against his lips, and Steve smirks.

"Wouldn't want them to starve." He grins, stepping away from Billy, who glares at him.

"Two can play at this game, Pretty boy." Billy gets that evil look in his eyes as he turns and grabs the plates. "Grab 'em some drinks would ya?" He calls over his shoulder as he walks out of the kitchen.

 

"Here, your highness." Billy teases as he places Max's sandwich in front of her, and Max grins at him.

"Love you." Billy rolls his eyes, but he ruffles her hair as a sign of affection.

"Love you too." Billy places they boy's sandwiches in front of them, responds to their thank you's with an 'any time' before he returns to his place on the couch. Steve walks in a minute later with 5 cans of soda, hands one to each kid before collapsing on the couch next to Billy, handing him a can. Billy accepts it and is about to pop it open before hesitating.

"You shook it, didn't you?" Steve smirks, hesitates, and Billy rolls his eyes.

"If you wanted me to take my shirt off you could have just asked." Billy smirks, and Steve blushes bright.

"Wasn't my intention."

"Sure, Pretty boy." Billy opens the can anyway, figures enough time had passed that it wouldn't explode, and Steve pouts when it opens normally.

"Damn." Billy laughs, the kids laughing with him, and Steve can't be mad because Dustin seems so much more relaxed, and Billy laughing is his favourite thing, so he pretends to be annoyed that they're laughing at him, but they can all tell he's happy.

Chapter Text

They're watching a movie, because of course they are, and the kids are spread across one sofa whilst Billy and Steve claim the other, both at either end but their legs crossing each-others at the shins in the middle, Steve's resting on top of Billy's. There's a bowl of popcorn between the two of them, and every time their hands touch Steve smiles. Billy thinks it's cute, tries to make it happen more often, and spends more time watching Steve than watching the movie. Steve yawns, and damn if Billy didn't just fucking melt.

"Tired, pretty boy?" Steve nods, yawns again. "Sleep then, dumb-ass." He says softly, and Steve moves the bowl between them so he can lie down with his head on Billy's stomach. Billy tenses slightly, because Dustin is here and this is not something that 'just friends' do, but then Dustin glances over and goes straight back to looking at the screen, and Billy relaxes, resting his arm around Steve, trying to look casual. Steve melts into him, and his breathing evens out after a few minutes showing Billy he's asleep. The film ends, and Billy looks at his watch to see it's only 5pm. They could probably watch one more, and then Steve would get to sleep a little longer. He'll be staying here until the early hours of the morning anyway, but he has to drive the kids home so would have to move Steve.

"You can put another one on." Billy lets the kids know they're not leaving yet, and Max grins, going over to pick another film. Will stands up too, goes into the kitchen to get another drink, leaving Billy and Dustin in the front room. Dustin is looking at Steve with a frown on his face, and Billy prepares for the questions, but none come.

"You alright, kid?" Billy tries not to sound aggressive or rude, and Dustin seems to appreciate that, because he nods.

"You know, he never sleeps." He says, almost in wonder, and Billy nods.

"Yeah I know." He couldn't keep the sadness out of his voice.

"But he's asleep." Dustin frowns before looking at Billy. "You a wizard or something?" Billy chuckles.

"Not a wizard. I just... I dunno, I told him he should sleep last week, and he did." Dustin smirks slightly, and Billy frowns. "What?"

"Nothing." He says, looking away, "Just glad he's sleeping. Glad you're helping him."

"Me too." Billy says just as Max and Will reappear, and Dustin gives him a look, like he knows something, and Billy is left a little bit speechless. He knows Dustin knows Steve is bi, and that he's 'into Billy' but he didn't think he was obvious about how he feels about Steve. He needs to be careful about that. If he's being so obvious that Dustin has noticed then he needs to tone it down or Neil might find out.

"Billy," Steve mutters quietly, clearly still half asleep, and Billy snaps out of his thoughts and looks down at him.

"Hmm?"

"You're tense, what's wrong?" Billy realises his entire body has tensed, and he relaxes his grip on Steve and tries to calm down.

"Nothin', Harrington. Go back to sleep." He says, starting to stroke his back softly, and Steve glances up at him and frowns.

"You sure?" Billy nods and Steve frowns. "Billy?" His voice is soft, laced with concern, and Billy rolls his eyes, leans down so he can whisper to him without the others hearing, his mouth right next to his ear.

"Just worried about my dad finding out." Steve's eyes soften and his heart aches. He moves his mouth next to Billy's ear.

"He's not going to, Billy. We're careful." He presses a subtle kiss to Billy's cheek, and Billy melts into the sofa.

"Go to sleep, Harrington." He says softly, and Steve rolls his eyes but can't help the smile as he settles back against Billy's chest.

Chapter Text

Steve wakes up, looks up at Billy with bleary eyes to see him fast asleep, and smiles slightly before glancing around. The kids are no where to be seen, and Steve feels panic rise in his chest. He carefully gets up, making sure not to wake Billy up as he climbs over him, and when he's standing he looks around. Where the fuck did they go? Did something happen? Oh God he hopes not. His panic disappears when he hears hushed voices coming from the kitchen. Steve wanders towards them and lets out a breath of relief.

"You little shits scared the crap out of me!" He whispers, and Max rolls her eyes.

"We didn't wanna wake you up." She says, "And we got hungry." Steve notices the bowls in front of them and raises an eyebrow.

"You cooked?" Dustin bursts out laughing.

"No! We made cereal. You have no other food here."

"You should go shopping." Will adds, and Steve rolls his eyes.

"I have food!" He says defensively, "There's pasta, and soup, and eggs, and I think I have lettuce."

"What are we meant to make with that?" Max laughs, and Steve laughs.

"Okay, well you could have ordered a pizza then." Steve says before realising how dark it is. "What time is it?"

"Around 8." Steve's eyes widen. They're usually home by now!

"Why didn't you wake me up?!"

"You were sleeping." Dustin says, a knowing looks in his eye, and Steve tries not to blush.

"Alright well I should get you all home. Go get your stuff."

"What about Billy?"

"He's still asleep. I'll leave him where he is. leave him a note so he doesn't freak out if he wakes up." Steve says, walking over to the kitchen drawer to grab a piece of paper and a pen whilst the kids get their stuff together.

 

Steve takes Will home first, then Max, and then Dustin, because he wants to talk to him about Billy and he gets the feeling Dustin wants to talk to him too. Max climbs out of the car after saying goodbye, and once Steve has seen her safely enter her house he pulls away. It takes a few minutes before either of them say anything, because Steve thinks it went well but he can't be sure.

"So...?" He asks nervously, keeping his eyes on the road. Dustin doesn't answer immediately, leaves it just long enough for Steve to start panicking.

"I like him." Steve almost swerves off the road in shock, because he wasn't expecting that. He pulls over so he can actually talk to Dustin properly, turns in his seat to look at him.

"You do?" Steve asks, and Dustin nods.

"It was awkward, but he was nice, and he actually, like... He was trying. He didn't glare at me once." Dustin says, and Steve smiles. "And he was nice to you." Steve immediately blushes, turns so he's facing forward again, and continuing to Drive to Dustin's.

"He's a good person, Dustin." He says quietly, and Dustin takes a deep breath.

"I think it's more complicated than that." He says after a while, and Steve frowns, looks over at him.

"What do you mean?" Dustin hesitates.

"He's like three different people." He starts, "Cause there's versions of him. There's the Billy that he shows the world, where he's this cool, scary, bad-ass. And then there's Billy that's Max's older brother and he's scary and protective but he's nicer. Then there's the Billy I met today that's nice, and funny, and he looks out for his friends, and that Billy is not scary at all." He says, "I hate the first one, but that's not really him, is it?" Steve shakes his head.

"You are wise beyond your years, Henderson."

"You fell in love with the third one, right?"

"I love all of them, Dustin." He says, before his eyes widen, because he didn't mean to admit to that. Dustin just smiles at him.

"He must feel the same way though, cause otherwise he wouldn't have let you get past Billy 1."

"You're talking like he's the boss level of a video game."

"But it makes sense. Billy 1 would never have let you sleep on him. He never would have agreed to be nice to me." Steve laughs before sighing, looking at Steve seriously.

"You said it yourself, Dustin. Billy 2 protects his sister. Billy 3 protects his friends. But, Dustin, Billy 1 needs to protect himself." He says, and Dustin frowns.

"From what?"

"I can't tell you that, kid." Steve says, and Dustin frowns.

"Is he in trouble?"

"Not in the way you're thinking he is. He's gonna be fine." Dustin looks at him before nodding.

"Well, I like the Billy I met today." Steve smiles.

"Thank you." Dustin rolls his eyes.

"You don't have to thank me."

"I do, cause I know you didn't want to, that you only agreed to it because of me."

"I agreed to it because you're like my brother, and he means a lot to you, and he agreed to it too..." Dustin hesitates, "I think you should tell him how you feel." Steve's gaze snaps to Dustin, a crease in his brow.

"What?" 

"Billy. I think you should tell him how you feel." Steve raises an eyebrow.

"How come?"

"Cause I think he feels the same." Steve fights a smile.

"You do?" Dustin nods.

"He's not how he used to be, cause he let me see the not mean side of him. He's less angry now. I don't know why for sure, but I think it's because of you." Steve doesn't try to hide the smile.

"I think it might be more that he and Max are getting along now."

"Maybe. But it's also because of you."

"How'd you know?"

"Max said you two get along. Said you're really close now. She said Billy's happier and that you're the reason. I thought she was lying to get me to like him, but he was nice to you, and he told you to sleep, and I saw that she was telling the truth." Steve's heart is bursting with happiness, because if she said that it must be true.

"Dustin-" Steve sighs. "It's not that simple." He says, because he doesn't want to tell him the truth, it feels like something he should discuss with Billy first. He pulls up outside of Dustin's house and rolls to a stop, turning to look at him. "You want a lift tomorrow?" Dustin nods.

"Thank you. G'night." He says, and once Steve has returned the sentiment he gets out of the car.

Chapter Text

Steve gets home and goes straight to the living room he left Billy in, expecting Billy to be asleep on the couch, but he's not there, and Steve frowns.

"Billy?" He calls, and he smiles when he hears Billy call from the kitchen.

"In here." Steve walks into the kitchen and grins when he sees Billy cooking dinner. "You hungry?" Billy asks, and Steve nods, walking over and wrapping his arms around Billy's waist, resting his chin on his shoulder so he can see what he's cooking.

"You found pesto?"

"It's amazing what you find when you open a cupboard."

"Thank you." He mumbles, presses a kiss to Billy's cheek, and Billy smiles, grabs Steve and pulls him round so he's in front of him, kissing him softly.

"Can't let you starve, can I?" Steve shakes his head fondly, presses a sweet kiss to Billy's lips.

"Thank you for today."

"Do anything for you, Harrington. You know that."

"I really appreciate it." Billy kisses him softly before holding Steve close to his chest whilst he stirs the pasta.

"Did he say anything?" He asks, and Steve nods, a shy smile on his lips.

"He said he likes you." He chuckles at the surprise on Billy's face.

"Really?" Steve nods.

"He said there are versions of you, like you're three people, and that Billy 1 is scary and cool, Billy 2 is a protective big brother that is still scary, and Billy 3 is nice and not scary at all, and apparently he likes Billy 3, and that Billy 1 isn't really you." Billy raises an eyebrow.

"Why did he explain it like a boss battle?" Steve laughs.

"That's what I said! Apparently it made sense to him. Anyway I may have accidentally told him I lo- I like you," Steve blushes at his slip up, but Billy doesn't mention it, "And he said you must feel the same or you wouldn't have let me past version 1."

"He's not wrong." Billy says matter-of-factly, and Steve grins at him.

"He said you're less angry now..." Steve hesitates, not sure he wants to out what Max told Dustin and deciding that he doesn't. "He said I should tell you I like you." Billy chuckles.

"You do? You should have said." He teases, and Steve blushes.

"Asshole." Billy just laughs harder.

"I like you too Harrington."

"Aww, really?" Billy rolls his eyes fondly.

"So do you wanna tell him the truth?" Steve shrugs.

"He'll be okay with it. And it will be one less person to hide from." Billy can see that Steve wants to tell him, that hiding it from Dustin is hard.

"Sounds like you want to tell him." He says softly, and Steve looks him in the eye nervously.

"Do you want to tell him?" Billy shrugs.

"It makes no difference to me, pretty boy, but he's practically your brother."

"He likes you. And he was, like, trying to convince me to tell you so I know he's not opposed to the idea."

"Then we should tell him."

"Really?" Billy shakes his head fondly.

"Yeah really, now come on, foods ready." Steve grins, pecks Billy's lips softly before sliding out of his grip to get bowls.

 

They sit at the kitchen table to eat their pasta, and Steve grabs a candle to put between them whilst Billy grabs the food, and Billy teased him for it but he kissed him as he set the food down and he holds Steve's hand on the table, and Steve just smiles to himself because he's so in love with this boy.

"You know, I've been meaning to ask you..." Billy says and Steve looks over at him, nervous. They finished their food a while ago and are now cuddled up on the sofa. 

"Yeah?"

"When you came round, that night I kissed you," Steve blushes at the memory, a small smile on his lips, "What did you want? Like, you turned up, but my dad got home before you could say anything. What did you come round for?" Billy asks, and Steve blushes brighter.

"I, er, I said Max asked me to check on you." Billy smirks.

"But we both know that isn't true." He teases, and Steve knew Billy would find out, but he didn't realise he'd actually ask him about it.

"I, well... I didn't really have a plan, to be honest. I'd spent like 2 hours on the phone to Robin cause you messed up my head, like, you should ask her I was a full on disaster," Billy chuckles and Steve smiles fondly, "But I just wanted to see you. Figured I'd come up with some excuse when I got there. I just, I dunno, I guess I was hoping I'd suddenly grow some balls and tell you I think you're hot." Billy chuckles, grabs Steve's face and kisses him hard on the lips.

"You're hot too, darlin'."

"Well yeah but you're like, ridiculously hot, like, fucking, sculpted by Gods hot, like, crazy out of my league hot, and that's scary, like how do you expect people to just be able to tell you how hot you are without fearing for their life? Also I didn't know you were bi, like for all I knew you were homophobic and would have beat the shit out of me." Billy's eyes are shining like he didn't expect that response, and he knows he's hot, but people hit on him all the time, so he didn't think it would be that scary. But he gets the homophobia fear, knows all too well how people treat you if they so much as suspect you as gay.

"I get the homophobia thing, but damn Harrington if you think I'm out of your league you must be out of your mind."

"I mean have you seen you!?" Billy laughs, buries his face in Steve's neck, nips at the skin just because, before leaning back and looking him in the eye.

"You're some kind of beautiful, Harrington." He says, all sincere and full of love, and Steve cups his face and pulls him into a deep kiss.

Chapter Text

Billy is sat on his bed reading, rock music playing quietly from his speakers, and the rain outside causing calming pink noise as it hits his window, which is cracked open slightly to let in fresh air. He's in pain, his ribs aching from his father punching him repeatedly in them earlier, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been, as it has been before, so he's thankful for small mercies. Max is in her room with El, needing time away from the boys, and their parents are in the living room talking about something or another, so Billy is trying to avoid leaving his room today. Steve promised Dustin he'd go to their D&D night to make up for the one he missed, so Billy had planned to stay in his room and read uninterrupted all day. He's already finished one book and is about to start another when his door opens slowly, Max standing in the doorway with El behind her looking nervous.

"Yes?" He asks when neither of them say anything, and Max presses her lips together.

"Are you busy?" Billy shakes his head. "Can we go to the diner?" Billy throws his book gently onto his desk and sits up straight.

"What's up?" He asks, because El doesn't hate him like the boys do, but she looks either scared or nervous, or sad, Billy can't really tell. Just knows something is wrong. Max shrugs.

"El's sad." She says simply. Billy frowns, looks at El again for a second before standing up, walking over to his wardrobe and shoving his converse on.

"Let's go." He says, grabbing his keys and wallet before leading the girls down the hall. Their parents don't stop them, just ask Max where they're going, and accept it when she says "arcade" as they pass the living room, and when they get outside Max smiles at Billy.

"Thank you." Billy rolls his eyes, opens the car door for Max and El.

"Any time." He says as he climbs into the drivers seat. Max immediately opens his glove box, filing through the tapes in there before selecting one, shoving it into the tape player, and Billy rolls his eyes when Madonna starts playing, but he spots El smiling and dancing along, copying Max's terrible dance moves, and he smiles slightly, lets them have fun.

 

They pull up outside the diner, and once the car is parked they all enter. It's quiet, considering it's only 2pm, so Max and El claim a booth in the corner whilst Billy orders them all milkshakes. He watches them talk as he waits, El still looking sad and Max trying to cheer her up, and Billy wonders for the millionth time how Max turned out so great when she spent the last a majority of her life with Billy and Neil as role models. Billy thanks the woman as she hands him the shakes, ignores her teasing wink, and walks over to the girls, sitting opposite them as he places the drinks down in front of them.

"So," He starts as he slides into the booth opposite them, "what's got you all sad?" He asks, looking between El and Max.

"Had an argument." El sighs, sipping her shake, and Billy glances at Max, who nods.

"With who?"

"Mike." She mutters bitterly, and Billy knows El and Mike are 'together', but they're kids. He assumed it was a playground relationship. He doesn't really know how to give relationship advice, but he figures they're only 14, how hard can it be.

"Ohhh."

"He said he'd come. But he didn't." Billy frowns.

"When?"

"Yesterday."

"He didn't call?" El shakes her head.

"I called. He said he had to go to the store with his mum." Billy frowns, confused, glancing at Max.

"He never goes to the store with his mum."

"Oh. Well, did he say anything else?"

"That he'd call later. But he didn't call later."

"And nothing happened? That would have made him not want to go?" El shakes her head, pouting as she takes another sip of her milkshake. "Yeah that's weird."

"I told her boys suck." Billy nods.

"Yeah, we do." El shakes her head.

"You don't." Billy raises an eyebrow.

"No?" El shakes her head. "You don't know much about me, huh?" Max glares at him.

"I've told El about you. I told her that you're a good big brother, and you're nice, and you help me." Max sits up, and Billy rolls her eyes.

"Yeah, but I'm also a dick."

"No you're not." Billy can't be bothered to argue with her so he just shakes his head.

"Whatever."

"We like you." El says, trying to convince him, "And Will does. And Steve does." Billy tries to hide his smile by taking a sip of his milkshake.

"Okay, I yield." He holds his hands up in surrender, and Max smiles, satisfied. "Listen, kid, there must be a reason he lied. Maybe he forgot, or he had to help his parents, or he had homework or something. Have you asked him about it?" El hesitates, shakes her head. "You're going there tonight, right?" El looks at Max who shrugs.

"We can if you want." Max says to her, and El nods.

"Okay."

"What time were they going to start?"

"Mike said 5."

"Oh, so that's why Dustin and Steve are here." Max says, looking at something over Billy's shoulder, and Billy tenses, refusing to turn around.

 

Max smiles at them when she catches Dustin's eye, waves them over, and Billy only looks up when they're standing next to their booth, Steve looking incredibly confused. The girls shuffle over so Dustin can sit next to them, and Billy shuffles over so Steve can sit next to him, and he's nervous because what if someone sees him and tells his dad, or what if Dustin realises they're together. His brain shuts up when Steve's leg presses against his under the table, focused on nothing but the feeling of Steve's knee pressed into his.

"What are you guys doing here?" Dustin asks, and Max glances at El before looking at Dustin.

"We wanted milkshakes." She says, "What about you? Aren't you going to Mikes?" Dustin nods.

"Steve said we could get food first."

"We can eat and then go together." El suggests, looking at Billy to make sure it's okay, and Billy nods.

"Sounds good." He catches the small smile that graces Steve's lips out of the corner of his eye, distracts himself by taking a sip of his milkshake and focusing on El's story.

 

The kids are eating burgers, talking about what campaign they think Will is going to do tonight, and Steve shuffles closer to Billy, his right arm pressed right up against Billy's left.

"Hey." He whispers whilst the kids are distracted, and Billy rolls his eyes.

"Alright, Harrington?" Steve nods with a small grin.

"You going to stay during their game tonight?" Billy shakes his head.

"Why would I stay?" Steve shrugs.

"I'm staying."

"Yeah but you're a nerd." Steve pouts at him and Billy chuckles quietly, "Quit poutin' pretty boy."

"But if you come with then I can hang out with you while they play."

"You know they're gonna want you involved somehow." Steve rolls his eyes.

"Yeah okay fine." He mumbles, grabbing Billy's milkshake and taking a sip. "But you'll come to mine after?" He asks with pleading eyes, and Billy wasn't planning on it, was planning on finishing his book and then going to hang out with Robin, because he figured Henderson would stay at Steve's tonight, but Steve looks hopeful, his eyes shining, and Billy just can't say no to him.

"Yeah. Yeah, I'll come by after." He says softly, and Steve grins, drinks more of Billy's milkshake. Billy just rolls his eyes, taking the glass off of him and turning back to the kids, still in the middle of their own conversation.