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1.

Eddie was never the jealous type. He couldn’t afford to be. After the third or forth unrequited crush on a jock or a band nerd who found a cute high school girlfriend who they loved to pieces you learn that jealousy isn’t a good look. Too many heart breaks over jocks who were so straight it was painful taught him that it wasn’t an option. No point in getting jealous of every girl who had a shot just because they were born with boobs.

Even so, watching Steve talk to Nancy in the upside-down was upsetting. It’s stupid really. Eddie knows better. Eddie knows that liking straight jock men who have their life together is wrong. They are from a whole other world and he has no right to feel the prickle of anger at Nancy leaning in or feel his blood boil when Steve goes along with it.

They share inside jokes like they are the only two people in the world and that's fine. Expected even. They were sickeningly in love only a few years prior, everyone at school knew that. It doesn’t just go away. They know each other like the back of their own hands and that's allowed. Eddie has no right to wish that he knew Steve that way or Vise Versa. Thoughts like that were reserved for when he was alone at night and there was the blanket of night to soften the guilt of his own thoughts.

Still, for some reason he found himself with the urge to break up the little moments they were having. How do you even turn having guns into a flirting moment?

“Yeah you almost shot me with that one.” Steve says, like it’s its a mundane every day normal thing that Nancy fucking Wheeler has guns. Perfect, prissy Nancy.

And then Nancy has the audacity to say “You almost deserved it.” In a sickenly teasing tone. Honestly it was vomit inducing in Eddie’s humble opinion. Realistically Eddie knew he was probably being a bit harsh, Nancy so far was nothing but lovely. That didn’t stop that green itch of jealousy from rearing its ugly head and before Eddie knew it he was ripping his jean jacket off and throwing it at Steve.

“For your modesty dude.”

Steve looked bewildered, hands fisting the vest like he suddenly realized there were other people besides him and Nancy. It sent a sick sense of satisfaction through Eddie as he broke the moment instantly. Good. Now maybe Eddie wouldn’t be the third wheel. They could get stuff done, like find the guns and get out safely. They had stuff to do. Like not dying for instance.

It turns out that maybe Being the third wheel was a better option however, because seeing Steve in his jacket was so much worse for his gay panic. It was embarrassing really, that while they were a hellish version of Hawkins and probably about to die he even had the space in his brain to panic about hot men, but alas here he was.
It also didn’t help that Steve didn’t take the vest off until way later, even out of the upside down and safe in their world. He stood, strategizing with Dustin, metal band patches on full display.

 

2.

It was weird to be done with the whole end of the world thing. Going back to normal seemed so wrong. How do you just… go back? How do you buy groceries, take showers, brush your teeth after saving the world? Eddie had no idea what to do next except go back to school and try to graduate. That was the next logical step he supposed. There was no guidebook called “What to do after you’ve saved the world from an evil creature from Dungeons and Dragons.”

After they had defeated Vecna Eddie was proven innocent by the police and they did their very best to cover up the supernatural shit the town of Hakwins had been through. This meant Eddie was free to do as he pleased. It should've meant freedom at last, back to when he only cared about his guitar and his tabletop role playing games. This was his exit back to what he used to have, his nerd friends and his band.

But it was hard to adjust. Every time he would turn out the lights and try to go to sleep he would see the gate to hell on his trailer ceiling, see vecna snarling his skinless face at everyone, or the bats coming at him in swarmes with only bloodthirsty murder in there little bat eyes.

That's how he found himself dialing up the Harrison residence at 1 am on a Tuesday night. The nightmares had been particularly bad that night. Images of Chrissy writhing in pain while he did nothing but panic in horror were tattooed on his eyelids permanently. An image he could never shake. She had died right in front of him. He had watched her bones break and eyes cave in on themselves and couldn’t do anything about it.

He needed to talk to somebody, to know that he wasn’t insane. That everything happened and everything was okay now. He felt bad going to the kids with any of this. They didn’t need anymore emotional baggage at the ripe age of 14, so Steve was his best bet. Hopefully Steve considered them close enough friends that this wasn’t weird. Oh god, this was weird wasn’t it? It was 1 am and he was probably sleeping and not panicking and he didn’t need to deal with Eddie's problems right now. He has a life and he shouldn’t be burdening-

“‘Lo? Harrison residence.” Steve’s tinny voice came through the speaker. It was thick and raspy. Eddie imagined him bleary eyed and sleep rumpled.

“Do you always answer the phone so formally? It’s one am.” Smooth Eddie. As if Steve probably isn't annoyed with you already.

“Munson? Hey, how's it going? Everything good?” He sounded much more alert now. And confused.

“Yeah, hey. I just…” Eddie didn’t even know what to say. Why was he even calling Steve in the middle of the night? There was no way to even explain the sickening churning in his gut he couldn’t get rid of. He didn’t even know where to start, “Does it ever get any better?” came out of his mouth before he could even stop it.

He heard Steve sigh, then it was quiet. A second passed, and then another. The silence was thickening by the second and Eddie could almost hear Steve trying to think of the words to say. Then Steve made a little hum, and there was shuffling on his end of the phone line.

“Alright I’ll be over in about 15 minutes. Find a good movie or some cool music to listen to and I'll bring beer.”

“Oh you don’t have to-” but the line went dead. He left no room for argument.

Fifteen minutes later, as promised Eddie heard the familiar sound of a BMW pull into the trailer park. Steve hopped out with a six pack in one hand and a grimace on his face. One of the six pack was already missing and when he got closer Eddie could see where it had gone. The whole front of his shirt was soaked with it.

“I may have rushed to get here and spilled one of the beers on my shirt. Do you mind if I borrow a new one?” He started rambling as he got to the front door. Eddie nodded slowly and stepped out of the way to let him in and take him to the bedroom to get a wardrobe change. He should have made a funny quip or something but he was too drained. Being Eddie the freak sounded like too much work right now. Quietly he grabbed an old worn metallica shirt and handed it to Steve. He smiled gratefully and took it.

“So. Do you wanna talk about it or just jump straight into feeling good vibes of beer and a shitty movie? Personally I vote for a shitty movie, but if you need to talk to somebody I am here man.” Steve peeled his fast drying shirt off and for a second Eddie forgot how to breathe. God, this man was going to be the death of him. He was so gay. His view didn’t last long before it was replaced by the worn out metallica logo.

Eddie’s brain short circuited. This was the world punishing him for everything he had ever done. Steve looking soft and sleepy in Eddie’s clothes was too much. Lord take him now. This is how he was gonna die. Death by Steve harrington in metalhead clothing. Oh my god.

“Eddie?” Steve waved his hand near Eddie’s face and- Oh yeah. Eddie needed to reply to Steve. A conversation is a two way street and all that.

“Oh yeah. Movie sounds great, Steve.” He gave a signature big grin and jumped up to go to the living room. Stave followed behind, beer in hand.

“Did you pick out a movie?”

“Uhh…” Eddie did not in fact pick out a movie. He was to busy having a gay panic on top of his regular panic at the thought of Steve dropping everything to come over and help solve his crisis.

“No worries, I’ll find something. I’m sure you have plenty of movies you haven’t returned to family video yet.” Steve started shuffling through the shelves of movies Eddie kept.

“Hey. I would Never steal from a family video establishment.” Eddie scoffed. Steve only snorted and continued his search, bent down. Eddie’s shirt rode up a little bit exposing his back and Eddie had to look away. He was still processing that Steve was here, in the middle of the night to hang out.

Before he could connect to his mouth filter he said, “Why are you here?” which was honestly very harsh and not very nice to the guest who brought beer. Steve glanced up at him with a curious expression. “I mean, okay, that was rude. I just mean… it’s the middle of the night and you probably have stuff to do tomorrow and I don’t understand why you chose to, I don’t know. Help me out? Like you don’t really have to. I’ll be okay.” The word vomit just kept tumbling out.

Steve got up from looking at the lower movie shelves and popped a movie into the VHS before walking over to the couch. He looked sadder than Eddie had ever seen him. His eyes were dull and for the first time Eddie really noticed how tired they looked. This was a man who was barely out of high school and had saved the world from vile creatures and monsters more than once. He had fought far gorier battles than he should have, and somehow came out the other side still a good and happy person.

“I really wish I could say things get easier.” He whispered, almost as if afraid to break the quiet middle of the night atmosphere. “I don’t think it will, but having people there for you, who care for you, want you to stay alive and happy, that helps. I just want you to know that you have me. I’m not going anywhere. Robin is here for you, and all the kids. Dustin is like, worships you man. I don’t think we can fix things but if you ever need someone to be there with you we’ve got you. Who else is there that understands other than us? I guess I came over because you really seem like you needed somebody tonight.” He shrugged and then gently flung himself on the couch next to Eddie. Their thighs were touching.

“After the first time I saw a demogorgon I had nightmares about it for weeks. I thought it would never end. I would close my eyes and all I would see was its stupid bloody flower looking head coming for me, ready to tear me to shreds as soon as possible.” And yeah, Eddie gets it. Chrissy’s mangled body is also burned into his retinas in the exact same way. “The only way I got through it was talking to the other people who went through it. I don’t know, if you're facing something alone it can be so hard. You feel isolated. I- I don’t know man, but I do know that it's more fun to watch a shitty movie with a friend than to dwell on it by yourself.”

Eddie was dangerously close to crying. Everything was too much, but he understood. He had someone who was here for him, and while every survival instinct in him was saying that Steve wouldn’t stay and this kind of kindness wasn’t real, he found himself believing Steve’s words. He didn't say anything, didn’t think he could. There were no words to fully express the way he felt like his insides were being ripped out because no one had ever said they cared this much and sounded like they meant it. So he pressed his thigh closer, a peace offering, and turned on the T.V. Steve gave him one last small sad smile before cracking open two beers and turning his attention to the movie in front of them.

 

3.

Steve and Eddie were like friends now. Eddie did not see that coming. Steve wanted to be his friend. Steve would call and try to hang out, and smile at him while they talked, and invite him to parties (he almost always declined), and genuinely seemed to like his presence. It was so odd, and it shouldn’t work, but somehow it did and Eddie was genuinely happy. He would ramble to Steve about his new campaign ideas and Steve would complain about Robin flirting with Vickie on the work phone instead of her job. They would often watch movies at Eddie’s with beer and weed. Things were overall just… nice. So nice in fact, that Eddie didn’t even feel like a burden when he would pester them at the video store to make their slow days more interesting.

“God it’s hot outside. Please tell me you have a working AC.” He groaned into the counter he had just smashed his face into after flouncing into the family Video store unannounced. It was like 90 degrees out and Eddie did not have a proper aesthetic for this kind of heat. Black skinny jeans and layered vests were a death sentence in the summer. Even his own hair betrayed him, sweat making the back stick to his skin uncomfortably.

He heard Steve snort from the other side of the counter and then his head in what could be a comforting (or possibly mocking) gesture. Eddie chose to believe it was comforting. The hand stayed there for a moment before starting to gently pull apart the knots in his hair.

That was the other thing though. The touching! Now that Steve and Eddie were friends ™ Steve was more touchy. A pat on the shoulder for comfort or leaning on his side when they watched movies. It was all very confusing for a poor gay Eddie Muson. Were straight guys normally this physical? Eddie knew that Jocks tended to be almost border line homoerotic in the locker room but sometimes he couldn’t tell with Steve. The touches were soft and gentle like he was just happy to have that physical connection.

It was awful and confusing. Straight men were the worst. He had confided in Robin about it one evening when he absolutely couldn’t handle the way Steve had fallen asleep on his shoulder while watching a movie the night before. She had laughed at him for a whole two minutes, which was less than helpful. However when she explained her similar struggles with Vickie he felt much better knowing gay panic was not a symptom only he had.

“God, you need to take better care of your hair, Munson.” Steve tutted before the hand stopped its soothing gesture and left. Eddie only let out a pitiful whine into the counter, the heat making him incoherent at best.

He heard shuffling and then a muffled “Aha!” before the hand was back in his hair. Steve gathered up the mess of curls and Eddie felt his hair being pulled into a pony. He felt like a cat wanting to lean into the touch and purr.

“Much better Munson, now you won’t have gross neck sweat.” Eddie just looked up for the first time since arriving to see Steve’s self satisfied smile. It was adorable. “They don’t call me Steve ‘The Hair’ Harrington for nothing!” He gave a thumbs up. That's when Eddie noticed the glint of metal on his thumb.

“Is that my ring? I’ve been looking for that everywhere!” Eddie snatched Steve’s hand to see the familiar shape of his skull ring sitting on Steve’s thumb.

“Oh. uh yeah. You left it at my place the other night and uh… I didn’t want to forget to give it to you so I wanted to… wear it so I don't forget.” Steve’s smile looked a little shy now and his cheeks were tinted a light shade of pink. “Here, it’s all yours though.” He scrambled to get the ring off. Eddie grabbed his hand to stop him.

“No!” He blurted before he could stop himself. Steve froze at his rather loud response, eyes going wide. Eddie coughed lightly and tried to school his features into something less lovesick, “Keep it! It looks good on you. Very metal.”

Steve stared at him for a second, and then a big grin plastered itself onto his face, “Thanks Munson. Did you hear that Robin? Eddie thinks I’m metal. Fuck yeah!” The blush still painted his cheeks, but that could have been the heat.

Behind Steve Robin just wiggled her eyebrows and made obscene gestures with her hands. Now they both had matching blushes and Eddie wanted to strangle her.

 

4.

“You seriously want to play Dungeons and Dragons? Did you hit your head or something? Are you cursed? Have you been replaced with an alien? Steve, are you in there?” Eddie went to knock on Steve’s forehead but was playfully batted away with a grin.

“I mean not if you’re gonna make fun of me the whole time. I just think that if you and all the gremlin children like it maybe I should, like, see what all the hype is. Broaden my horizons and all that.” He leaned against the door frame of Eddie’s trailer front door trying to look nonchalant. Eddie could see the quirk of his lips that meant he was nervous. Not that Eddie spent a lot of time looking at Steve’s lips or anything.

“King Steve wants to dain the peasants with his presence. How noble and honorable.” Eddie made sure to keep his big grin so Steve wouldn’t take him too seriously. A chance to play D&D with Steve was too great an opportunity to pass, “I thought this day would never come. Oh how the mighty have fallen.” He flung his hand on his heart and fake swooned into Steve’s arms. Steve only snorted softly in response before lightly shoving him off to walk inside the trailer and towards Eddie’s room.

“Funny you should come over today. I was headed to the Wheelers basement tonight actually for a one shot with the kids. You are welcome to join I suppose, I can perhaps squeeze you in.”

“I knew you would let me join! I just won ten bucks from Dustin. Fuck yeah.” Steve yelled from the hallway to Eddie’s bedroom. He could hear ruffling around and the sound of drawers opening. Honestly, where was Steve’s manners, rooting through his stuff. He’s lucky he was so hot and Eddie would let him get away with anything.

“What the hell are you doing in there Harrington? Honestly, hasn't your mother told you to stay out of other people’s stuff?” Eddie huffed, walking into the room after him. He was not ready to walk in however because in the middle of the room stood Steve. In his hellfire shirt. It was a little bit small on him but that only made it better, tight around his biceps and showing off his muscles in the perfect way. Eddie was so fucked.

“Ta Da!” He threw his hands out and spun around to show Eddie the new look, “Am I sufficiently nerdy yet?” The grin he sported was so genuinely happy Eddie thought he was going to die. How was he even real? Eddie did not deserve the sight in front of him.

“Did I render you speechless? All it took was one nerd shirt. Damn. Should’ve done this a lot sooner.” Eddie thought his heart might have stopped. Steve really needed to stop wearing his shit. It was like the Gods were personally punishing him for every bad thing he had ever done.

“Calm down big boy. You haven’t even played yet. Let’s see if you can keep this confidence when actually playing.” Eddie grinned back, “If you’re serious though we should probably head out then. Don’t wanna keep the kids waiting.”

 

5.

“I can’t believe Steve convinced us to come to this.” Eddie grimaced, looking at the house in front of him. Steve had finally gotten him to come to a dumb party he heard about hosted by some band kids him and Robin knew. They had both ganged up on him and he had quickly learned that Steve could get away with almost anything when he put on his dumb puppy dog eyes and pouted, so really it didn’t take much. However, now looking at the trashed house and hearing the faint yells and music of a large party Eddie was ready to turn around and pretend he hadn’t shown up. The only thing stopping him was Robin at his side.

“Come on. It can’t be that bad. Vickie is there, and lots of other super nice band kids. I say we give it a try. If we get overwhelmed we can always leave.” She snatched his hand and pulled him through the front door. It was too late to go back now.

The second they walked through the door, Eddie was slammed with the smell of cheap beer and weed. For a bunch of band geeks this party seemed pretty wild. Loud music was coming from the living room and he could hear yelling and splashing from the pool outside. There were two people making out in the hallway as they belined for the kitchen.

“I need a drink” Eddie grumbled, pushing past the horny people in his way. He vaguely heard the guy say something along the lines of “cockblock” but Eddie just flipped him the bird on his way out.

“You are really not in a good mood today.” Robin snorted. Eddie rolled his eyes but smiled a little to let her know it was good natured.

“I just feel like I was conned into this party where I don’t know anyone.”

“Suuuure. Conned into it '' Robin put air quotes around the word conned, “More like you can’t say no to Steve when he bats his eyelashes at you because you’re in lo-” Eddie slapped a hand over her evil grin she was sporting.

“Jesus Buckly.” But he couldn’t say he was really that mad at her. She was the only person that even knew about his little crush and he liked that she could tease him about it like it was normal. It made him feel like it was okay and he wasn’t a freak because he had feelings for a friend. She didn’t think he was gonna burn in hell or need to exercise his inner demons. It was nice.

She licked his hand.

“Haha what the fuck” He wiped his spit slicked hand on her shirt, making her gag and jump back.

“I bet you wish that was Steve’s spi-” Eddie punched her this time. Not hard because she was a girl but like, she had to atone for her sins.

“Hey! Why are you punching Robin? That’s like, my other half.” Suddenly Eddie felt an arm slung around his shoulders and Steve was there. His senses were overwhelmed with steve. He smelled like beer and cigarettes, “You came!”

Eddie turned to the side to face him and smiled. Then promptly lost all brain function because Steve was in his jacket. His shitty jean jacket with metal band patches and a stain on the bottom left that didn’t come out no matter what. He looked so hot.

“Are you wearing my jacket?” he choked out, managing to at least make his voice somewhat steady. Steve had the audacity to fucking Giggle in response. This was it for Eddie. Death by hot unobtainable jock wearing his clothes. What a way to go.

“Why? You like it?” Steve’s grin was dopey. He looked pretty drunk.

“I think you have a thing for wearing my clothes man. No complaints over here though.” Eddie smiled back. He noticed the red on Steve’s cheeks as he leaned into the arm on his shoulder until they were pressed together against the kitchen counter. It was nice to leech off of Steve’s warmth while the party raged around them.

“Oh, would you look at that? I think I see Vickie over there. See you later.” Robin pointed behind herself before scurrying off. Eddie snorted. The one thing Robin never mastered was subtlety and he didn’t think she was gonna learn anytime soon. If Steve didn’t say anything he wouldn’t though.

Eddie felt Steve nudge him before a cold beer was placed in his hand. He smiled in thanks and clinked his can against Steves matching one. Cheers. It was a party after all, why not get a little fucked up. They stood side by side nursing their beers and smiling at each other between hushed conversations. Eddie almost forgot there was a party happening, it felt like Steve and him were the only people in the world.

“Do you maybe wanna go for a smoke?” Steve asked when there was a lul in the conversation and they were just staring out into the party’s crowd. Eddie nodded and threw an arm out in a lead the way gesture. Steve grinned and led him outside to the patio. It was much quieter and almost peaceful when he shut the door. There was a girl passed out on the lawn but other than that it was abandoned. It was nice to lean against the railing and get fresh air.

The lighter clicked to life next to him and he smelled the smoke before he looked over at Steve and saw it. When he did though Steve almost looked nervous. His hand was shaking a little bit and he looked a bit jittery. Something had shifted in his mood, Eddie could tell.

“Hey what’s up hot stuff? You doin’ okay over there?” Eddie knocked their shoulders together lightly and Steve turned to look at him. He was smiling but it didn’t reach his eyes. He opened his mouth like he was going to say something but then stopped himself and closed it again.

“Spit it out man, you're making me nervous.”

“Eddie are you gay?”

Jesus fucking christ. Eddie felt his heart sink through his whole chest. Everything came to a crashing halt. There was not enough beer in the world for this conversation. He felt the world tilting on his axis. Everything was going so well too. That should have been the clue this was coming. Nice things that went well didn’t happen to Eddie. It was over. Another friendship was massacred because he couldn’t keep his desires to himself. He had gotten too comfortable with Steve. Forgot where he was and who he was with. Sure Steve was nice, and sweet, and cared about everyone he was loyal to, but now he knew. He knew the truth of what Eddie was. Oh god. It was getting hard to breathe. He had to say something, had to let Steve know.

“Please, I - I don’t. You shouldn’t have found out this way. It’s not important. We can still be friends. I don’t- I’m not. Please don’t-” The words were coming out too fast. He could feel himself curling in. He wanted to crawl into a hole and die. The beer in his stomach was dangerously close to coming out and he really didn’t want to lose Steve over this.

“Oh jesus. I fucked that up so bad.” He heard Steve mumble before two hands grabbed his shoulders and forced him to look Steve in the eye, “I didn’t mean to just blurt that out without any warning. That was so much worse than I meant it to be. Oh my god. I’m a dick. I didn’t mean- like. How do people do this? Oh my god.”

Looking Steve in the eye, he could see how he wasn’t angry. He wasn’t about to punch him in the face or call him a slur. If anything he just looked concerned and sad.

“Robin wouldn’t tell me for sure because like, you aren’t supposed to out people before they're ready. Which I totally understand and get but like I really wanted to know because I know you’re a naturally flirty person and I really hope you flirting back was intentional but you can never be sure. Normally if you were a girl I would have just gone for it by now, but like you’re not. You’re Eddie, and that is so much more confusing.”

For the second time that night, the world stopped. What the fuck was happening? So many questions and so few answers. Steve was rambling and more nervous than Eddie had ever seen him. I really hope you flirting back was intentional. Steve said that he wanted Eddie to flirt with him. His eyes were big and scared, as if he was the one panicking out of his mind.

That’s when Eddie realized. Steve was looking at him the way he used to look at Nancy all those years ago. It made sense now. It was like a lens coming into focus and clarity washed over Eddie. Steve wanted Eddie to flirt and was flirting back. He Liked Eddie. Eddie really fucking liked him. So, before he could back out of it he grabbed the back of Steve’s neck and threaded his fingers through the famous hair that made every girl swoon.

Steve tasted like beer and cigarettes. He tasted like sweat and raging parties and boy. It was the best thing Eddie had ever tasted and, when after a second, Steve kissed back he knew nothing would ever replace it.

 

+1

Sunlight streamed through the windows of Steve’s bedroom. Eddie yawned and stretched, his joints popping satisfyingly. He looked over and saw the bed was empty but still warm from Steve’s side and crumpled in a steve shaped pattern. Eddie grinned and rolled out of bed onto the floor.

It took a lot of willpower to leave the comfort of the bed and get up for the day, but he could smell bacon from the kitchen so it wasn’t too difficult of a decision. Before he left the bedroom though, he rifled through the dresser drawers to find something soft and comfy to wear.

Towards the bottom of the drawer he saw Steve’s soft yellow crew neck folded neatly. He pulled it out slowly and was flooded with memories of him at skull rock. He was so scared back then. On the run from the police and fresh off of Chrissy's death. Even then, at the absolute worst point in his life, they were there for him. It seemed like so long ago that he thought his life was over. Now here he was, genuinely happy with a boyfriend who loved him. If Eddie could see him now he would know all that shit was worth it. He made it out and is here now, in the best place he’d ever been. He had people that cared about him and wanted him to be the best person he could.

Eddie threw the sweater on without a second thought and trudged into the kitchen with only that and his boxers. Steve was humming a little tune to himself, back turned to Eddie staring at the bacon and eggs he was frying. Eddie was so lucky. He crept up behind him and wrapped his arms around him slowly, resting his forehead between Steve’s shoulder blades.

“Good morning baby. Sleep well?” And oh how that made Eddie’s heart burst. Baby. He was the luckiest man alive. He nodded into Steve’s back and smiled softly, hugged him tighter.

Steve whirled around so he was facing Eddie. When he saw that the metal head was wearing his crew neck he froze.

“You like it? Thought it was my turn to try wearing something of yours.”

Before he could get another word out he felt Steve’s lips against his own. It was perfect. He giggled lightly and wrapped his arms around Steve’s neck because he could. Because Steve let him and wanted him to and was enjoying this as much as Eddie. Steve was kissing him in the kitchen while he was wearing his clothes.

Life couldn’t be better.