“Shit, Billy are you alright?!” Steve is pale, Billy notices, he always goes pale. Purses his lips and stares, a thousand things hiding behind that expression that Billy can even begin to name. He looks oddly human like that. Worried.
Fussing, like Billy’s one of his damn kids.
He snorts, and adjusts his grip on his side. The drying blood on his knuckles itches, and he tries to focus on that rather than the searing pain lancing through him every time he inhales. “Yeah. Clearly,” he grunts. “You gonna let me in, or what?”
He sways, shoulder knocking against the doorframe, and Steve’s hand shoots out to steady him.
“Yeah. Shit. Yeah, sorry, I—come—come here.”
“That’s the plan, baby.”
Steve rolls his eyes, flushing. He’s had his tongue up Billy’s asshole but he still blushes like a goddamn virgin when Billy runs his mouth outside of the bedroom.
He pulls Billy inside. The movement jostles torn skin, but before he can complain Steve’s lips are on his, hot and insistent.
Billy kicks the door closed behind them as Steve leads him further into his apartment, a hand on the back of his neck, never breaking their liplock for more than a moment to breathe.
And, god, Billy’s kissed a lot of people, but Steve is by far his favourite. He takes his time, even now, when his poorly-concealed anxiety makes his hands shake, fumbling with the buttons on Billy’s shirt, and Billy smells like acrid, greasy smoke and monster guts. He kisses Billy like there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.
It’s a lie, of course, but one Billy is happy to let himself fall for, over and over again.
Steve’s mouth drops to Billy’s neck, goes right for the spot behind his ear that makes his knees go weak, pulls a groan from deep in his chest. The jolt of pleasure washes away small aches, the bruises on his knuckles, shallow scrapes up his shins.
He grabs the front of Steve’s shirt, and pushes him back onto the nearest surface. Which turns out to be his bed, thankfully. He falls with a soft thump, and Billy is in his lap the second his ass hits fancy cotton.
“You’re going to ruin my sheets again,” Steve complains, squirming under him, but not pushing him off, instead grabbing his hips and leaning up to seal their mouths together again.
Heat coils in his gut, the familiar syrupy feeling of arousal warming him through. Steve tastes like honey and open air, sweet, clean. Billy’s had pixies before, and they always taste a little earthy, but Steve is...different. Better. The first time Billy tasted him he nearly drained him dry. It’s a miracle Steve still fucking talks to him, let alone lets him feed.
Billy pulls back a hair, just enough to respond. “Buy better sheets then, rich boy.” Steve stares up at him silently, eyes still hazy from their liplock. He blinks. Furrows his brow.
“Pretty sure blood and monster guts would ruin any sheets,” he responds after a second, and his gaze flickers down, to Billy’s bare torso, the gashes and smears of ichor. “What were you even fighting this time? Shit.”
Billy buries his fingers in Steve’s hair, and tugs his head back, looking him in the eye. Steve goes hazy again, and he whines when Billy tightens his grip. “Do you want to talk,” he leans in, til his lips brush Steve’s, their breath mingling, “or do you want to fuck me?”
His ribs ache, even the short break was enough for his pain to resurface. He needs more, and he needs it now.
“Shit, yeah, sorry.” Steve’s fingers skim the least battered part of his torso, gently, as he reaches up to slip Billy’s shirt off.
The touch makes him shiver. “Hurry up, before I die in your lap.”
Steve sighs. It’s a quiet thing that Billy doesn’t have time to analyze because Steve’s fingers drop to his belt buckle, and his lips brush Billy’s jaw, and suddenly Billy has better things to focus on.
Like Steve’s nimble fingers, making quick work of his zipper, dipping below his waistband to push his jeans down, pressing into his shoulder-blades when he flips their positions, guiding Billy onto his back so Steve can pull his pants off the rest of the way. They hit the floor somewhere near the doorway, flung across the room once Billy’s finally free of them.
“Quicker than last time,” Billy laughs breathlessly.
Steve huffs, “You’d think someone whose life depends on people getting into his pants would wear ones that are easier to get into.”
“Now where’s the fun in that.”
He looks good in those jeans. And Steve looks adorable when he’s struggling to peel them off, tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth, brow furrowed with intense concentration as he grapples with the wrinkled denim bunched up around Billy’s knees. It’s a win/win situation.
For Billy, anyways. Steve always acts like these jeans are the bane of his existence. Like Billy doesn’t know exactly how often Steve stares at his denim-clad thighs.
Steve rolls his eyes, leaning over to grab lube from his nightstand. “Getting to this part quicker, numbnuts.” He waves the near-empty bottle pointedly.
“Pff, whatever,” he scoffs as Steve coats his fingers, taking his goddamn time about it. “Are you gonna get to it or not.” Billy squirms, his bruises throbbing, sheets catching on half-scabbed cuts on his back. He spreads his knees and raises his eyebrows.
A spike of arousal washes over Billy. Steve’s arousal. It was a low simmer before, like sitting next to a space heater, but this hits like the heat coming off a forest fire. Billy closes his eyes and breathes it in. Relishes it. How it smells. Like the salty musk of Steve’s sweat-slicked skin, but sweeter. How it tingles under his skin. Washes away the ache in his muscles. A warm bath has nothing on this.
He inhales it slowly, relaxes back against Steve’s soft cotton sheets.
“Yeah,” Steve says after a beat, voice low and rough. He clears his throat.
And he gets to it.
In the beginning Billy kept track of how many times Steve let him feed. Kept a tally in his head. He’s not sure when he stopped counting, but he couldn’t tell you now, how many times they’ve done this.
More times that Billy expected. Less than he wants.
Enough that Steve’s fingers are as familiar as his own.
He’s sure and capable, massaging Billy open with practiced ease. It’s not long before Billy’s sweating and panting, fisting the sheets at his side and feeling stronger for it. Every time Steve brushes his prostate, every time his arousal spikes when Billy moans, every thrust of dexterous fingers, it all feeds the heat building in his belly. The warmth washing over him, spreading to his limbs, tingling in his fingers, mending his body.
The bruises are fading, he knows, he can feel the pain melting away, every time he tenses, jerks, breathes deep, it hurts a little less.
“Steve,” he groans, feeling out blindly with one trembling leg. His foot lands on Steve’s shoulder. “Steve. Fuckin—fuck—get your dick in me—god—right now.”
He vaguely registers mumbled cursing and fabric rustling, Steve moving up, warm between his thighs. His fingers slide out. The tip of his cock brushes Billy’s lube-slicked hole, slowly. Always so slowly. Always careful.
Billy lifts his head a fraction to glance up at Steve, kneeling between his legs. He’s got his hand around his cock, guiding it, and he’s watching Billy’s asshole like it contains all the secrets in the universe. His lips parted, brow furrowed under the bangs flopping across his forehead, and his gaze so focused.
He takes Billy’s breath away.
And then he does it again, with a gentle thrust of his hips.
Billy’s head falls limply against the sheets, his whole back arches. The stretch hurts just a little, Steve inside him, the wrent skin along his ribs tugging as he writhes, faint, throbbing pain, but it’s nothing compared to the pleasure.
Steve’s palm caresses his side, skimming the cuts still slow to heal. “Okay?” he asks.
Suddenly very aware of the rise and fall of his chest, the shallow breaths he takes while Steve’s warm hand moves with him, Billy exhales through his nose, deep, slow, eyes shut, and he nods.
“Billy, I need you to say it.”
The soft tone makes him shiver. “Yeah,” he sighs. “C’mon, pretty boy,” he taps Steve’s ass with his foot. “Fuck me.”
Steve snorts. “Alright.” He leans down, carefully rearranging their legs, and propping himself up on his palms. Their chests brush, and Steve kisses his collarbone. “C’mere,” he murmurs.
Heart racing, flipping, tripping over itself, Billy tilts his head up, and seals their mouths together. He tangles his fingers in Steve’s hair, cupping the back of his head, keeping him close as he starts to move his hips.
“Billy,” he moans against Billy’s lips, “You need to—ah—take more.”
The realization is like an ice cube slipping down Billy’s throat. Steve’s right, he hasn’t directly fed enough. Just fucking isn’t going to cut it, but…
God, part of him just wanted Steve to kiss him because he wanted to.
He takes more. Breathes Steve in. Honey and sweet grass and syrupy summer heat.
His side knits together, skin closing up, and he gasps, groaning into their kiss. It’s always a weird feeling, but the aftermath is pure fucking bliss. The pain is gone. There’s nothing but the slow drag of Steve’s cock in him, the press of his chest, thick hair scraping Billy’s newly healed skin, his hands, his mouth.
Billy’s dizzy with it all, the rush. The heat.
He whines, as Steve’s hips snap, over and over, into him, skin against the back of his thighs, it builds, and it builds, and then the fizzing, sparking heat comes to a head. He arches, mouth open in a silent scream, his vision whiting out.
Through the haze, he feels Steve start to pull out. He wraps his trembling legs around Steve’s waist, holding him in place, heels digging into the soft curve of his ass. “Keep going,” he growls, still panting, boneless, barely able to keep his legs up.
Steve stares down at him, his mouth slack.
He keeps going.
There isn’t a single scratch on Billy anymore. He’s taken as much as he needs to. But he still wants. Wants more. Wants Steve. The way his cock drags over that sweet spot over and over, sending sparks tingling up Billy’s spine, feeling the heat of him everywhere.
He keens, loudly, head thrown back when Steve pushes in to the hilt, grinding his hips slowly, purposefully. The sparks catch, burn, Billy lights up with it, feels it in his throat.
A soft touch to his chin makes him jerk, whine, and he blinks up at Steve through a blur of tears. Steve’s fingers caress up his cheek, palm cupping his jaw, brushing away damp curls stuck to his face.
The touch is fleeting, but he feels it etched into his skin even as Steve fists the sheets, hands bracketing Billy’s head, not touching him anymore but close enough to tease with the warmth radiating from him.
Steve picks up the pace, shallow thrusts drawing trembling, punched-out groans from Billy’s lips. His head is swimming, vision going spotty, tears rolling down his temples as he arches, squirms, whines under Steve’s touch.
‘Til his hips stutter, breath hot in Billy’s ear, one long, gasping moan vibrating between them as he spills into Billy and collapses, boneless on top of him.
His softening cock slips out of Billy, leaving him with an absurd pang of loneliness and come dripping down his asscheek.
The room goes quiet but for their ragged breathing. Steve wiggles a little, his forehead sticking to Billy’s shoulder, hair tickling as he moves.
“Mm,” Steve hums, “I kissed it better?”
Billy chuckles quietly, and his hand moves of its own accord, fingertips tracing up and down Steve’s spine. “Yeah. Good as new, baby.”
Better than, in fact. He’s buzzing with borrowed life, glowing with it. Feels like he could run a marathon and still have energy to spare.
Steve nuzzles into his neck, breath ghosting over Billy’s rapidly jumping pulsepoint. “Glad I’m better than a bandaid,” he murmurs.
And...it’s time to go. This is about as much as his heart can take. Feeling good and having Steve draped across his chest and whispering adorable nonsense in his ear is not a good combo. Puts him at risk of saying something really stupid.
He slips out from under Steve.
Sex always makes Steve tired, but especially when Billy’s had to feed on him like this. Which is a blessing, really, this way Billy doesn’t have to see the puppy-dog eyes follow him out the door. And Steve doesn’t get to see how much he hesitates. How fucking hard it is to tell himself it’s better this way.
As he shuffles to the edge of the bed Steve’s hand waves vaguely in his direction, grasping at air as he grumbles, half-asleep already. It’s cute. And breaks Billy’s heart a little.
He brushes his fingers through Steve’s hair, pushing stray locks off his forehead. A moment of weakness, but Steve probably won’t remember, so...it’s fine.
“Thanks, pretty boy,” he murmurs, before he pulls away completely.
He really should shower before he leaves. He does sometimes, and this was a particularly messy job—Steve’s sheets are definitely ruined again. But he can’t stand hanging around Steve’s apartment another goddamn second, surrounded by pictures of him and the people he actually cares about, soaking up even more of his scent...it’s already going to linger because of the stupid little stunt he pulled while they were fucking, he doesn’t need to wash with Steve’s products too.
So, he pulls the crusted remains of his clothes back on and slips out the door, thanking the damn gods that it’s dark out and he lives nearby.
He’s hanging out at Hop’s grimy dive bar the next day when shit hits the fan.
Really, his life has just been a series of shitstorms, bu this is different.
It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, too early to be drinking, Hop said, but he gave him a beer anyways. There are a few other people milling around, there usually are. This place is never actually empty. Perks of being the only bar in the area that caters specifically to fae.
Billy’s about halfway through his beer when something collides with his side, slopping his drink all over the counter.
“Hey, what the fu—Steve?”
He’s clinging to Billy, his face smushed up against the bare skin of his chest. For once Billy kind of regrets how few buttons he does up, Steve can definitely hear his heartbeat right now, and...well, he’s feeling exposed suddenly.
When he looks up though, that’s when Billy realizes something is definitely wrong. When he looks up with blown pupils, and rosy cheeks, and that dumb lovestruck look that used to make Billy break shit when he saw Steve aiming it at Nancy.
“Steve, are you—”
Their teeth clack together, and Billy jumps back, wide-eyed, skittish.
“Billy,” Steve whines, “Lemme…” His hands are clumsy when he cups Billy’s cheeks and tries to kiss him again.
Billy pushes Steve away, plants his palms on Steve’s shoulders and shoves. “Harrington, are you fucking drunk? What the fuck,” he snaps, spooked, voice cracking.
Big, pretty brown eyes go all gooey, sad, red-rimmed like he’s going to fucking cry. Billy’s never seen Steve cry.
Not like this anyways, he’s seen him gag on dick and tear up but this is different. Way different. This is very much not something Billy knows how to handle.
“Billy, why don’t you love me?”
Neither is that.
He can’t even begin to answer that question. For so many reasons. So, so many.
He knows Steve is a clingy drunk sometimes, but this is...not him. Can’t be him. It has to be some kind of spell. Potion. Any number of weird curses could’ve fucked with his head.
Steve’s bottom lip trembles, and his hands go to his elbows, hugging himself.
And suddenly Billy’s too distracted to do his damn job and think of a solution, because watching a tear dribble from the corner of one of Steve’s ridiculously beautiful doe-eyes is gutting him in ways he didn’t expect. He’s literally held his own guts in his hands before, and it turns out he’d rather do that again than go through this.
“Hargrove, what the hell did you do?”
Billy damn near jumps out of his skin. For a big dude Hop is sneaky. Or Billy’s just very distracted right now.
“Nothing!” he snaps, only sparing a glance for Hop, to glare at him, before his gaze is dragged back to Steve. Who’s also glaring at Hop.
“Don’t yell at him,” Steve squawks, still sniffling, apparently unbothered by Hopper and Billy gaping at him. “He doesn’t like it. And I don’t like when he’s sad.”
It shouldn’t make his heart flutter but it does. And he mentally slaps himself. Turns to Hop. “Has he had anything to drink today?”
“I’m not drunk.”
“S’far as I know, he just got here, kid.”
Billy rubs his forehead. “Okay, well, someone needs to call Buckley.”
A few hours later, Billy is poring over dusty old books in the back room, Steve plastered to his back. Besides the fact that Steve’s hair tickling his ear is very uncomfortable, it’s...nice. The heat of him, the strong hands slipped under his shirt and pressed to his belly, the way being bracketed by his thighs makes Billy feel…
He can’t get anything done like this. His heart in his throat. His pulse stuttering every time Steve hums or rubs little circles into his skin, or smells like home, and—fuck. But he can’t tell him to get off, because every time he pulls away, or asks Steve to sit somewhere else, Steve gets all weepy, which is equally fucking distracting.
“Dingus, what the hell did you get yourself into now?” Robin yells before she’s even in the room, barging in a moment later looking like a grumpy freckled storm cloud, her eyes widen when she spots Steve.
“Hey, Robin!” Steve crows in Billy’s ear. “Wait, why are you mad? Did I do something wrong?”
Billy doesn’t have to see the sad little pout to know it’s happening. He feels it in his soul. Without thinking, Billy skims his fingers across Steve’s knuckles, covering one of his hands with his own. “No, you didn’t. She’s not mad at you.” He glares at Robin pointedly. She raises her eyebrows.
Steve sighs, melting against Billy, nuzzling his shoulder, and Robin’s eyebrows climb even higher. “Mm...I love you,” he murmurs into Billy’s shirt.
It’s the fourth time he’s said that. Always so casually, gentle and earnest, and it lances right through Billy every goddamn time. Reaches in and grabs ahold, a warm grip around his heart, only to crush it a second later.
He grinds his teeth.
“So, uhh,” Robin’s staring at the ceiling, chewing the inside of her cheek. Her face is doing something weird. “What seems to be the problem, then?”
“Are you fucking kidding me,” Billy grits out, and gestures vigorously, to himself, to Steve’s arms around him. “He must’ve gotten hit with...some kind of fuckin’, love spell—” he spits the word like a curse, “—or whatever the fuck. And detection spells are your area of expertise, so get on with it.”
Robin blinks at him. Opens her mouth. Closes it. “Would it kill you to say please.”
It takes her far too long to get the spell ready. Especially considering Hop has everything she needed right here in the bar. Paranoid bastard calls the trunk in his office an emergency stash, but there’s enough shit in there to run a whole other damn business.
Point is, Billy sits around for far too long waiting on Robin to mash some herbs together and do an infusion ritual that takes five goddamn minutes. He’s pretty sure she’s dragging her heels on purpose.
Maybe he should have said please, this is torture.
An eternity later, Billy manages to pry Steve off of him without making him cry, and gently pushes him towards Robin. “Steve, c’mon,” he murmurs when he pulls away and gets a wide-eyed pout aimed at him. He aches. Everywhere. But the only thing worse than having to deal with Steve’s disappointment is dealing with Steve’s affection and knowing it isn’t real. “Just. Go. Let her do her thing, please.”
Steve furrows his brow. “Fine. You know I can’t say no to you,” he sighs.
Billy did not know that. And that brings up some terrifying and uncomfortable questions, actually.
He watches Steve cross the room. The dejected slump of his shoulders, and the way he fiddles with his hair. When he sidles up to Robin she shoots Billy a look he can’t read. She leans in to have a hushed conversation with Steve, before she presses a steaming mug into his hands.
The whole thing doesn’t sit right.
He stands, suddenly, restless and feeling suffocated in the cluttered room. He doesn’t say anything, or even look at Robin and Steve before he walks out.
“Hop,” he calls, collapsing into a rickety chair at the bar. “Hop, I need to be drunk right now.”
Unfortunately, he is not drunk. And the longer it takes Robin to explain what she found out, the more he wishes he was.
What he’s getting so far is that Steve is, in fact, experiencing some kind of magical influence, but it…feels too organic to be something a person cast. Doesn’t have the structured web of energy and intention that a curse or a spell would have. Which means no guidelines on how to break it, since it’s something naturally occurring he stumbled into. No quest to fulfil, objects of significance to provide, just...waiting it out.
But if they figure out where and why it happened they might be able to figure out a way to speed up the process.
And Robin is being very unhelpful on that front.
Apparently her detection spell only told her that there was magic present, not what kind. Which smells like bullshit to Billy. He has no idea why she’d lie and it’s pissing him off.
He rolls his eyes skyward as she circles her fifth attempt to waffle an explanation. “Isn’t this the exact detection spell you used last week?” he snaps, hands flying outward in annoyance. “The one that let me track down that grimy little imp selling counterfeit luck charms? Because your stupid little cup of tea told you everything I needed to know. So why isn’t it this time?”
Her mouth snaps shut, and her gaze flickers to Steve, who’s sprawled in a seat at the bar, elbows propping him up. He’s nodding vigorously and chatting about something with Hop, who looks like he’s three seconds away from an aneurysm.
She pinches the bridge of her nose. “Hargrove...listen,” she pauses, pursing her lips, and collapses into a nearby chair with an aggrieved breath. “You’re terrible at handling emotions.”
“What.” He blinks at her, and then crosses his arms. “What’s your fucking point?”
“See, this, right here is what I’m talking about. I’m trying to protect my best friend, okay?”
“From what exactly?”
And that, like a punch in the damn gut, stops him in his tracks. Knocks the air from his lungs. He thought they’d moved past this. Thought he’d paid his dues, earned a little trust.
“Robin, I wouldn’t…” he whispers, voice breaking. “I—”
She waves a hand, cuts him off, shaking her head. “Hargrove...shit, I didn’t mean it like that. You’ve been feeding off him for months and haven’t hurt him.”
“You know about that?”
“Everyone knows about that. Besides, I’m his best friend, remember? I always know who he’s sleeping with. He’s not exactly a vault of secrets.”
Billy glances at his boots, hiding a smile. “True.” When he looks back up she’s got her eyes narrowed, and he doesn’t like the thoughtful little wrinkle between her brows. “Do I have something on my face?”
She drums her fingers on the table. Stares at him a little longer in silence. “Hm...You know what. Promise me something.”
“Promise me you’ll let him down gently.”
“You obviously care about him, I just...he’s had his heart broken enough, okay? The magic, the shit muddling his brain right now, it’s...compelling him to tell truths. Basically, he has no filter right now.”
That can’t be right.
It was supposed to be something like...he had cupid blood spilled on him and it made him all affectionate and clingy, and he latched on to Billy because they had sex last night. And it was all just some fucked up lust-clouded mix-up. And it would wear off in the next 48 hours and Billy could go back to pretending he was just fucking Steve for practical reasons and Steve could go back to having good sex with no feelings involved.
“He...Robin, I don’t understand,” Billy says faintly. He feels lightheaded. Like he’s not getting enough oxygen. Like the room is suddenly too small. He’s not looking at Robin anymore. The only thing he can see is Steve’s back, Steve’s profile, his lazy grin and exaggerated hand gestures. He’s still talking to Hop, none the fucking wiser, and…
Billy’s knees give out and he falls into the nearest chair.
“What’s so hard to understand,” Robin replies scathingly, seemingly unaware of Billy’s internal crisis. “He gets attached way too easy. It’s not his damn fault, alright, so be nice. Maybe wait until this shit wears off, it’ll probably be an easier conversation when he’s not, y’know, all impulse no control.”
“But,” Billy’s breathing is starting to come in choppy bursts, his eyes stinging. “He can’t love me.”
“Wha—holy shit, Hargrove, are you alright?”
“No,” he grits out, pressing the heels of his hands against his eyes, hard enough that he sees stars. He turns away from Robin, trying to get his breathing under control, trying to stop the embarrassing flood of tears threatening to fall.
A hand lands on his shoulder and he jolts, head snapping up, some defensive, biting comment on the tip of his tongue, ready to tell Robin off, and—
It’s Steve. Staring down at him with soft brown eyes, a concerned tilt to his mouth, his brows, the goddamn expressiveness of his face hits Billy in the gut when he remembers that this is all Steve. Steve with no filter. Steve letting himself care, letting himself show it.
A whine escapes Billy, unbidden.
“Oh, shit,” he hears Robin whisper. “Shit. I’ll just...I’m gonna go.”
Neither of them look at her, or acknowledge that she’d spoken. He hears the faint rustling of her standing, footsteps as she walks away. Continues to look up at Steve, transfixed.
“Billy?” Steve takes a hesitant step towards him, his voice gentle.
“I didn’t know,” Billy says quietly, still blinking back tears.
Steve pulls up a chair, drops right next to Billy’s and sits down. Their knees are touching. “What didn’t you know?” He puts a hand on Billy’s thigh.
“Have I...Steve, have I been…” He exhales slowly, staring down at Steve’s hand. “I’ve been hurting you, haven’t I?”
“What? No! You wouldn’t—”
Billy shakes his head, “No, I mean…” He turns to face Steve, puts a hand on his chest, over his heart. Steve blinks at him, mouth slack. “I’ve been fucking with your head. This whole...arrangement. It’s been shitty for you, hasn’t it.”
“I…” Steve’s bottom lip trembles, and he catches it between his teeth. “I hate waking up alone afterwards. And there are times when it feels like it’s real for you too, when you call me baby, and—and sometimes, when I’m inside you, the way you look at me...It makes it harder to remember that it’s just an arrangement to you. Makes it harder when you walk away after, ‘cause I started to hope, and then...”
“And then I go and throw that back in your face, yeah. Fuck, pretty boy, I’m so fucking sorry.” His fingers tighten into a fist, bunching the front of Steve’s shirt. “I didn’t mean to.”
“I know,” Steve assures him, hurriedly, covering Billy’s hand with his own. “It’s not your fault. I fall in love too easy.” Billy’s hand twitches at the casual acknowledgement, his heart stuttering.
“But…” Billy chews his lip, deliberating. There’s a twinge of guilt when he considers taking advantage of the truth spell, but he’s burning up inside, he has to know, “Why me? I hurt you. I’m not...good. I still don’t get why you even let me into your bed let alone your heart.”
Because maybe Steve’s just kidding himself. Maybe the things he’s saying are things he just...thinks are true. Maybe talking it out will show both of them that it wasn’t real after all.
“You are, though, Billy. Good.” Steve shuffles closer, his expression open and earnest, brows pinched a little with sadness. “You care, so much. You don’t want people to know because it scares you, but you do. You’re always trying to push people away because you think being close to you is some kind of horrible thing, but it isn’t. You’re protective and loyal and strong, and I love you, because you make me feel safe, and I...should I keep going? Billy?” His hands come up to cup Billy’s face, gently, wiping away the tears streaming down his cheeks. “Are you okay?”
Billy opens his mouth to respond but a hiccuping little sob is the only sound that comes out.
“I’m sorry! I don’t...I don’t know how to fix it. Billy—”
He cuts Steve off with a kiss. A brief, chaste press to his lips, wet with tears. Steve freezes. Blinks at him, eyelashes fluttering a little.
“What...what was that for?” he asks quietly.
Breathing ragged and shaky, Billy exhales slowly, trying to calm himself enough to speak. “Steve—” His voice breaks. He swallows. Tries again. “I thought you would never feel the same, and I was trying to settle for what I could get,” it all comes out in a rush, jumbled together and an octave to high.
Steve’s jaw drops.
But the floodgates are open now. Voice strained and thick with tears, he continues, “I’m so—so fucking sorry, I didn’t—I couldn’t—I always left afterwards because it would hurt too much to stay. Thinking it didn’t mean anything to you. ‘Cause I was—I always—I always fuckin’, wanted more, and—”
The air is knocked out of him when Steve collides with his chest. Arms circle his waist, and Steve tucks his nose into the crook of his neck. His breath stutters, catches, and Steve’s hold tightens.
And when he speaks he’s muffled by Billy’s shirt, quiet and tentative, wavering, “Billy please tell me this means you—”
“Yeah,” Billy responds immediately, burying his face in Steve’s hair, squeezing his eyes shut. He wraps his arms around Steve, pulling him close, as close as he can. “Yeah. I do.”
Steve’s sigh is warm, humid against his skin, as he melts in Billy’s embrace. “Can you…” he sniffles. “Can—can you, like, say it, um. Please?”
Heart in his mouth, Billy presses his lips to the top of Steve’s head. He feels like he’s about to vibrate out of his skin, like his pulse is going to break his ribs, like a thousand different things are crashing around in his head as he scrambles, still trying to wrap his brain around the fact that this is actually happening.
“I love you,” he says softly. Whispers into Steve’s locks of chestnut hair. Puts it out there where he can’t take it back. Can’t pretend it away. Feels like ripping his whole damn heart out and letting the world gawk. A lot scarier than three words should be.
But it’s worth it for the way Steve looks up at him, jostling a little in his haste to lift his head. The shine in his eyes, surprise parting his lips, but elation overshadowing it by far.
“I didn’t—Billy, you—I wasn’t sure if you’d say it, I—Billy,” he stammers, a disbelieving grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. “You do? Like. Really, for real?”
“Yeah, pretty boy.” He bites his lip, a smile inching its way across his face. “So fucking much.”
“Oh my god,” Steve blurts, laughing a little, and he dives forward to kiss Billy. Their teeth clack together. Again. But this time Billy chuckles wetly and doesn’t pull away.
The second try goes much smoother.
And the third.
Steve is sliding into his lap, tongue slipping past the seam of Billy’s lips, when Hopper yells from across the room, “Hey! Not in my bar!”
They spring apart.
Billy forgot they weren’t alone, and judging from Steve’s deer-in-the-headlights stare, so did he. They both dissolve into slightly hysterical giggles.
“Are you two done working your shit out now, or…?” Robin sidles up while they’re wiping away the wetness from their faces, eyebrows raised at the both of them.
“I, uh,” Billy glances at Steve. The way his eyes crinkle when he laughs makes his heart flip, and he grins. “Yeah. I guess so?”
“Can we work on Steve’s weird magic issue now, then,” she asks flatly, unimpressed.
Steve shakes his head. “Nah, I want Billy to take me home and fuck me.”
Billy chokes on his own spit, however the strangled noise that escapes him is drowned out by Robin’s horrified yelp. “Eeugh! Hargrove, take your damn boyfriend and get out of here, I’ll figure this out myself!” she cries, throwing her hands in the air and turning on her heel.
“Heh…” Steve chuckles softly, looking down at his hands. “Boyfriend.” He glances up at Billy. “Are we boyfriends now? I wanna be. And we’re in love, so. We should be.”
It’s going to take Billy a while to get used to that. All of it.
He hooks an arm around Steve’s shoulders and pulls him close, pressing a loud, smacking kiss to his forehead. “Makes sense to me, baby. Now,” he ducks his head, looking Steve in the eye, his own dancing with mirth, “You heard Robin, we gotta get outta here and see about gettin’ you everything you wanted from me.”
Billy’s phone is ringing.
He groans, and reaches across Steve’s back to grab blindly for the offending device. Takes him a few tries, but he manages it without having to sit up.
“Yeah?” he mumbles into the receiver, rolling onto his back and rubbing his eyes.
“It’s Robin. Is Steve still all truth-whammied?”
“Uh,” Billy glances to his left. “No idea. He’s asleep.”
“What about—you know what, actually, I don’t want to know what the last thing he said was. Nevermind.” Billy grins at the ceiling. If she’d asked he would’ve told her, but she’s right, she would have regretted it. “I just wanted you to know I figured it out.”
“...Congrats?” Billy scratches his stomach. Waits.
“Damn right. I’m a goddamn genius,” she somehow sounds both annoyed and smug. Which Billy respects, honestly. “He’s a pixie, Hargrove. Y’know all those legends about faeries not being able to lie?”
“Yeah, they’re all bullshit, aren’t they?”
“Yes, dingus, obviously, but they had to come from somewhere, right.”
“Would you cut to the chase, Buckley.”
An irritated huff crackles through the phone. “Chimera blood. It makes pixies loopy if they roll around in it. I don’t know where he would’ve come into contact with it, but—”
“Uh.” Billy rubs his forehead. “I do.”
There’s a pause. “Explain,” she says icily.
“Don’t be like that, it’s not like it hurt him.” Doesn’t stop Billy from feeling guilty anyways, but he doesn’t need this crap from her too. “I killed a chimera the other night. But I got all busted up, so I had to...visit Steve. And there was a lot of fluid exchange, so—”
“Gross, dude, alright, I get it.”
“Do you? You don’t want me to go on? Because I can—”
“Are you sure? I could tell you exactly how much—aaand, she hung up.”
He puts his phone back, and jumps when Steve moves under him, his hand coming up to wrap around Billy’s waist.
“Robin called?” he slurs, still half-asleep.
Billy relaxes, letting himself drape across Steve’s chest in an inelegant sprawl. “Mhm.”
“She figure it out?” He blinks a couple times, still squinting, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
“Yeah...about that. Uh. Chimera blood?”
Steve furrows his brow. And then Billy watches the realization dawn on his face. “Ohh. Oh. Okay.”
“It was my fault,” Billy grimaces, eyeing Steve carefully.
His fingers trace aimless patterns in Billy’s skin, and his demeanour doesn’t change.
“It wore off, didn’t it.”
“Think so, yeah.”
“Guess I gotta ask if you’re mad at me then.”
Steve’s eyebrows shoot upward. “What? No.” He pushes a few stray curls back into place, eyes roaming Billy’s face. “Were you ever going to tell me you loved me?”
“I—” He stares, trying to read Steve’s weirdly mild expression and having very little luck finding anything useful. “Probably not?” he says eventually, hesitant.
“Yeah, I probably wasn’t gonna either.” He smiles small, his eyebrows pinched. “But then I got all,” he wiggles his fingers at his own head, “And now here we are. And I’m happy to be here. So. I’m not mad.”
“Oh.” Billy blinks. “Yeah, that’s a fair point.”
Steve grins. “Just don’t poison me again, please.”
“Asshole. I love you.”
“Just my asshole?”
“No, your mouth too.”
Billy rolls his eyes, grinning ear-to-ear. “I love you too, weirdo,” he snickers.
His heart warms, basking in the sunshine of Steve’s responding smile as he leans in for a kiss.