"You know, the only useful thing my father taught me was how to gut a fish."
Will says conversationally. Billy raises an eyebrow, blowing smoke out above his head.
Billy's sitting back on the hood of the Camaro, one knee bent to rest his elbow on, leaning slightly against the windscreen. The wiper is jabbing into his lower back.
"Do I look interested?" He sighs around his cigarette. Will shrugs, leaning back on one arm, legs crisscross- applesauce to Billy's right. Will's ratty toe of his trainer is barely pressed against Billy's knee. He has the sleeves of Billy's jean jacket rolled up to his elbows, skinny arms pale under the denim. The shoulders sag off Will's narrow frame but Billy figures it's keeping the wind from skating through Will's thin jumper.
"No, but I'm going to tell you anyway."
Will has gotten more comfortable, more confident around Billy now that Max has her apology skateboard, 'MadMax' stretching between the wheels in jagged blue and red lettering, and Billy apologised to Sinclair, Harrington, and the other shitbirds.
Will reaches over and plucks the aviators from the top of Billy's head. He slips them up his own nose. Unwrapping a lollipop, Will jams the green candy between his teeth and passes a cherry one to Billy.
"He always said it was about responsibility. That to be a man I have to know how to hurt something. How to catch, kill and clean my prey ." Will sneers his nose at the last word and puts his candy wrapper in the pocket of Billy's jacket.
"That record sounds familiar." Billy sighs. He flicks the butt of his smoke away. It falls a few feet short of the arcade's glass doors. He screws up the red wrapper of his candy and wedges it behind the lens of his aviators, making Will splutter. He punches out at Billy, half-blind and giggling. "Keep talkin' before I get sick of ya, Rocky."
Billy catches his skinny fist and shoves him away, grinning around the cherry sucker. Will rolls his eyes, tucking the wrapper away with the other one.
"He used to yell at me when I messed up. If I couldn't stick the knife into the belly of a fish. It would wriggle in my hand and he would slap me if I dropped it." Will leans against the windscreen beside Billy, his sharp elbow bumping the older boy's. "He would make me like, jam my fingers into the cut and pull out all its guts. Still all warm and bloody."
Billy tries not to think of Neil doing the same sort of thing. He tries not to get angry over anybody touching the kid like that.
"I got real good at it, y'know?" Will muses, nudging the sunglasses further up his nose. "Jonathan threw up when he watched the fish die in my hand. It's tail would flap and it's eyes would bug out of it's head. Sometimes the worm I used to catch it would still be wiggling in it's mouth." He lets out a shy laugh.
Billy hums in acknowledgement.
Will's elbow prods against his and Billy tilts his head to catch the kid's eye.
"If you hurt my friend, I will slit you from your stomach to your throat and pull your organs out one by one for him to judge." Will crunches down on his lollipop.
Billy doesn't blink as Will chews the candy. He holds the kid's stare until the rumble of Harrington's Beamer approaches and parks up beside the Camaro.
Will smiles over Billy's shoulder as the doors open and the rest of the shitbirds spill out into the parking lot.
"Will, for the love of God - tell this lunatic that Ghostbusters would have been completely different if we had Communism!" Henderson screeches.
It must have shown on his face, because Will rolls his eyes and flicks his lollipop stick at Billy before frowning at Henderson.
"But the whole idea of the movie is that ghosts are real? And hunting becomes nothing more than a job." Wheeler rounds the Camaro to stand closer to Will, nodding his head in agreement.
"Exactly!" Wheeler gestures to Will, his lemon-face scrunched up in annoyance. "They literally threaten to release all the ghosts if they didn't get paid!"
"They're heroes but at the end of the day, they had a job to do." Harrington slings his arm around Billy's shoulders, pulling the sucker from between his lips with a 'pop' . Billy wishes he could find it in himself to care.
Harrington licks around the lollipop, tucking it in his cheek when Henderson screws his face up, preparing to start yelling. "No!" Harrington points at him. "Mike is right. Capitalism is a plague."
Billy hums in agreement, glancing at the way Harrington's cheeks hollow around the sucker.
"Fine, Mom." Henderson grumbles.
"Hey, is that any tone to take with your mother?" Billy calls, not turning to look at him. Harrington laughs when the shitbird predictably pulls a face behind Billy's back.
"Fuck you, dad."
Billy sighs, letting his chin drop to his chest.
"You've started something now, honey." Harrington coos supportingly. He squeezes Billy's shoulder and offers him the cherry lollipop back. It's shiny with saliva and Billy would be embarrassed about how fast his mouth opens if Harrington wasn't slipping the sucker on his tongue. His fingertips barely touch Billy's lips but he half closes his eyes at the thought.
"Thanks, sweetheart." Billy grins up at him, teeth clenched around the stick so his tongue can lap at the wet candy.
Harrington's face flushes and he cuffs Billy over the back of the head.
"Come on, then. Let's get our asses kicked at some Galaga."
"Max and Sinclair are already in there." Billy says, doing his best at 'unimpressed dad.' Steve rolls his eyes, dragging his hand over Billy's shoulders before pushing off the side of the Camaro, as if he was reluctant to let go.
The shitbirds head off to the glass doors, Henderson wrenching them open and screaming Sinclair's name.
Billy winks at Steve, looking up at him from where he's reclined against the windscreen. He pulls the sucker out of his mouth, a thin trail of spit clinging to it from his bottom lip.
Steve's Adam's apple bobs in his throat as he takes the candy from Billy, trapping it between his teeth as he smiles, soft and wide.
"Get up, fatass." He tugs at Billy's arm.
"Nag, nag, nag." Billy shakes his head, getting to his feet. "Never even had our honeymoon period."
"Oh, shut up!" Steve shoves his shoulder but keeps his fingers tight on Billy's bicep. He holds his arm, their hips bumping as they head into the arcade.
He catches Will's gaze over the hunched figure of Max as they gather around Dig Dug. Max whoops as she beats Sinclair's score, pumping her fist in the air.
Steve pokes Billy's jaw, prodding his lips with the sticky candy when he glances at him. Accepting the sucker, Steve rubs his thumb at the smear of candy on Billy's jaw.
Will gives Billy one last look as the shitbirds move on to a different machine. He purses his lips around the plastic stick and mouths "I'd let you."