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And With The Hounds At Bay (I'll Call Your Bluff)

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Eddie climbs into Steve Harrington’s car parked next to Lovers Lake a little past eight, three pre-wrapped blunts snug in his pocket, a lighter already in hand. It's exhilarating. 

They’ve done this – gotten high together – twice before, both times at Steve’s house, out by the pool. The first time taught Eddie how utterly fucked he is. He can't remember how it escalated, but it had been warm enough to throw caution to the wind and go for a post-smoke-sesh swim, which turned into more of a wrestling match than anything else, a game of push and pull, tug of war but with limbs. They'd yelled and laughed until they couldn't breathe. Eddie still lies awake and thinks about it sometimes (all the time).

The second time had only reinforced what he'd learned the first time. It had been chilly enough that only Eddie dipped his legs into the water, all the while Steve shook his head at him, eyes red, telling him he was being, "Like, so dumb. You'll catch a cold, man." But Eddie figured, whatever kept Steve looking at him, he'd keep on doing. He'd hopped in with his clothes on a second later. 

This time, though, Steve had asked to meet him somewhere discreet. It didn’t take a genius to figure out Steve’s parents were back in town. Eddie's trailer was out of the question, despite having so few alternatives. The portal to hell in his living room may have been well and truly dealt with, but it still feels like it's there. So, for lack of better options, Lovers Lake it was. A neutral ground. For all but Eddie's heart, maybe. 

Eddie's full of nervous energy as he slams the car door shut behind him, legs already bouncing, breath clouding in front of him. He always gets like this when he’s on route to meet Steve. It’s like his body wants to give him away.

"You better have the heater on, Harrington, I'm freezing important bits off here." 

"It's on, it's on," Steve assures him. He's wearing a yellow sweater - Eddie thinks he's seen it before - and jeans. He looks comfortable. Relaxed.

A bout of shivers runs through Eddie, and he rubs his arms, exhaling shakily. He should've grabbed a warmer jacket, but- well. He thinks Steve kind of likes his jeans jacket. 

"God, I hate December," he whines. "December wants me dead." 

Steve frowns at him. "Are you-"

He reaches over and takes Eddie's hand before he can flinch away. But Steve is gentle, just makes a soft noise as he rubs his thumb over his knuckles, unaware of Eddie's plight. He looks at him with these worried eyes, and Eddie has to look away.

"Jesus, man. You're freezing." Steve lets go of his hand suddenly, like he's been burned. Turns to crank the heater up to full power as he says, "You should’ve let me come get you." 

Eddie releases a breath. Plays it off like he's sighing. "What, you want all of Hawkins to know you're picking up the local ex-murderer? I think I'd rather make the trek." 

He kind of wants to laugh, or cry, maybe. Having a - crush, or whatever - on Steve 'the ladykiller' Harrington is so not metal, and is also probably the leading cause for broken hearts in all of Hawkins, Indiana. But Eddie's never been able to resist what makes him ache in all the best ways.

The hand Steve had taken twitches. 

Steve looks a bit pained. "You're not- how many times do I have to tell you I don't care? My reputation died, like, the day I graduated." 

"Your Scoops Ahoy uniform resurrected it," Eddie replies confidently. 

Steve groans at that, then looks at him with this small, disbelieving smile. Like Eddie’s a conundrum. Like he's struggling to reconcile his exterior with the slivers of truth Eddie lets slip in the wake of Steve Harrington. Like he's something to figure out. If only he knew Eddie wears his heart on his sleeve. 

Shaking his head, Steve changes the subject. “So. You been doing okay?”  

“Yeah. I've been- yeah." Eddie sucks in a breath. “Kind of sucks trying to find a job, when everyone thinks you're solely responsible for the downfall of Hawkins, but. I'm branching out. There's this garage, next town over. Not to jinx it, but, uh. Seems kind of promising.” 

“I can't believe-" Steve pulls a hand through his hair, frustrated. "God, this fucking town. But that's- great, about the garage. If they give you a hard time, let me know.” 

Eddie's eyebrows shoot up. He's always just as surprised when Steve jumps to his defense so readily. It still baffles him, how loyal Steve is to the kids, and by extension, him.

"Hey, man. As long as I'm not being burned at the stake, right?" Eddie looks away then, and pulls out a blunt, giving it a little twirl. Shoots him a playful smile. “Anyway, enough about all that shit. Where are we doing this, Harrington?” 

Steve tilts his head, pouting just so, and oh, Eddie could just die. “Here?” 

“I mean." Eddie pats the seat with a little flourish. "We could, if you’re fine with your car smelling like grass for a week, but, uh. I don't know if that's your style.” 

Steve shrugs. Looks out of the window. "It's too cold out, right?" He bites the inside of his cheek. "It's not like my parents use my car.” 

“‘Kay. Up to you.” Eddie's not going to question Steve, not when it grants him permission to share this space with him a little while longer (Christ, he's pathetic). He puts the blunt in his mouth to light it, but Steve makes a noise, stopping him. He looks up at him. “What?” 

Steve looks almost sheepish, as he gestures behind him, saying, "Maybe we could...?" Eddie follows where he’s pointing. 

“What, you want to do this in the backseat?” Eddie tries not to sound as delighted as he is. He knows Steve doesn’t mean anything by it. “You spoil me.” 

“Shut up,” says Steve, but there’s a smile in his voice. “There's less, like, visibility back there, okay? If anyone comes up from the front we can’t hide, man.” 

Eddie grabs onto the handle to keep from pinching Steve’s face. “Adorable.”

“Just get in the backseat.” Steve’s still smiling. 

The two of them clamber out of the car and then back in again, slotting themselves on their respective sides of the car. Steve leans over and plucks the blunt right out of Eddie’s fingers, still unlit, and puts it in his own mouth, challenge bright in his eyes. Eddie just stares for a second, trying to get his bearings, because Steve teasing him shouldn’t flip his stomach upside down every time. He should be used to this by now, being this close to Steve, having him pull shit like that, but he finds, when he thinks about it, that he just isn’t, and probably won't ever be. 

“Light me up,” Steve says around the blunt, lips pink despite the dark. And so Eddie does, hopping forward and leaning into his space, covering the blunt despite there being no breeze to blow the fire out, habit maybe, or maybe just an excuse to almost touch his face, and lights it. Steve’s eyes glow golden in the small light, gaze dark and focused entirely on Eddie. He looks youthful, soft hair catching the light, jaw cast in shadow. The air feels suddenly electric. 

Steve takes a pull as Eddie falls out of his orbit again, as he presses back against the car door, a seat and a mile away from Steve. He can breathe again. 

“Thanks,” Steve says. 

"No problem."

Eddie wants to talk. Knows if he doesn’t, eventually the words will come tumbling out of him anyway. What do they usually talk about when they smoke? They’re always laughing and falling all over each other by the end of it. Eddie likes that they can talk without being high. Wants to do it more often. So, he opens his big fat mouth. 

“You never, uh. You never told me,” he says. He picks at his fraying jeans. 

Steve’s eyebrows quirk. “Told you what?” 

Steve hands him the blunt. Eddie takes a deep pull. Blowing the smoke upwards, he says, “Who you used to smoke with?” 

“Oh,” Steve says. Pulls a hand through his hair, and lets a second tick by. “Tommy. Tommy H, and, um. This guy called Freddie? We used to sneak behind that like, empty space behind the gym?” 

Eddie nods. 

“Yeah,” Steve says, eyes far away and unfocused. “It was– honestly, it was kind of shit? But like. It passed the time.” 

Eddie snorts. Tommy H never bought Eddie’s shit. No wonder it sucked. "Yeah, I'll bet." 

Steve clears his throat. Asks tentatively, like he knows he’s toeing a dangerous line, “Who was… who taught you how to smoke?” 

Eddie takes a pull. Presses his heel into the floor, tries to keep from vibrating out of his skin. “Self-taught. Fell in with the right - or wrong, depending on who you ask - crowd back in eighth grade, and the rest," he sighs, "is history.” 

Steve’s quiet for a moment, a small frown tugging at his lips. “You started smoking when you were like, what, thirteen?” 

Eddie tilts his head. Steve sounds– genuinely concerned? That can’t be right. But– he’s got a bleeding heart, so maybe he’s carved out a little room for Eddie too? It feels like wishful thinking. 

Eddie passes the blunt back to Steve, and sits back heavily. Wraps his hands around one of his legs, resting his chin on the top of his knee. “Nah, man,” he says. “But I was a little shit back then, sweet-talked myself into scoring a few times. Just never, uh. Never stopped, I guess.” 

“Like. Just weed?” he presses. 

Eddie doesn’t know why Steve’s so caught up on what Eddie got up to when he was like, what, thirteen, but he waves him off anyway. “Mostly? It’s– whatever. Honestly, I'm pretty sure I’ve shoved my issues so far up my ass they’ll never see the light of day again, so.” 

It startles a laugh out of Steve, which is much better. He’d hate to have to see that kicked-puppy look on Steve’s face morph into pity. He really likes his face. It sucks when it’s sad. 

And so, because he can, and because the weed is getting to his head, quickly and wonderfully, fogging up his brain, making the world go soft around the edges, Eddie lifts his head and drums his fingers on the seat, and says, “Hey. You ever shotgun before?” 

Steve’s eyebrows climb his forehead, almost in slow-motion, like he needs a moment to process the words. “...No?” 

“Shit. Really?” King Steve. And the poor guy’s never shotgunned. Eddie grins. “Want me to teach you?” 

Steve wets his lips. Seems to mull it over. Slowly, he says, “Yeah. Yeah, okay.” 

Eddie doesn’t dare touch Steve quite as freely as Steve touches him, even now. So he leans forward slowly. “Shotgun virgin,” Eddie drawls. Thrills at it. “My lucky day.” 

Steve flushes a pretty pink. Eddie thinks he must be imagining it. 

He takes a long drag of the blunt and holds it in his lungs. Daringly, he reaches up and runs his thumb along Steve’s bottom lip, urging him to open up. Steve lets his mouth fall open without hesitation, and Eddie swipes his hand away, letting it land on Steve’s shoulder instead. Leaning in, just a little more, pushing it, Eddie starts to exhale. Steve tilts his head, hand coming to find Eddie’s waist as he inhales, making something hot and heavy twist in Eddie’s lower belly. Steve’s hand tightens, and Eddie can feel his thumb on his hipbone. 

It's a lifetime and it's a moment and it's everything and it's not enough. 

Eddie draws back. A blush has stained Steve’s neck. His eyes are heavy. 

Holding the blunt up a little, Eddie says leadingly, “Only got one more pull in it.” 

Steve nods slowly, swallows hard. Voice rough, he says, “Again?” 

Eddie grins wickedly, head spinning. “Again.”  

Eddie takes the final pull, and Steve takes what’s left of the blunt and puts it out on the car floor. This time, to steady himself Eddie holds onto Steve’s thigh. He pushes him back with a hand splayed in the middle of Steve’s chest until his back hits the door again, relishes the close contact, before he leans in. And because Eddie’s got a death wish or something, he hesitantly wraps his fingers around the back of Steve’s neck. Rubs a small circle into Steve's warm skin as he exhales, and Steve’s making a small keening noise, a breathy sound, in the back of his throat. Eddie freezes. 

Opening his eyes, he takes in the debauched look on Steve’s face. His tongue darts out. Eddie looks at his lips. 

Steve’s breath stutters, and then it’s like someone’s cut his strings. He falls forward, mouth meeting clumsily with Eddie’s, and it’s not a kiss, but it isn’t not a kiss either, and Eddie thinks he might die, so he yanks himself backwards, back onto his side of the car. Can’t do anything but stare, breathing hard. He feels a little like he’s on fire. 

Steve’s lips are red and shiny, eyes wide. He’s panting, hair standing a little on end. Then he breathes out, hard. He runs a hand down his face. “Fuck.” 

Eddie wavers, ignoring his own thundering heart. He doesn't know what to say, but there's a tidal wave of words stuck behind his teeth. He can only watch raptly as Steve reaches up a hand to touch his own lips.  

Then, Steve looks up at him with something like alarm in his eyes. His breathing picks up a notch. 

“Hey.” Eddie tries to keep the tremor out of his voice, tries to push away the feeling Steve on his lips. Not panicking. “You, uh... you okay?” 

“I didn’t–” Steve starts. He frowns at himself, putting a hand over his face. “I, I mean, I did, but– that— I—“

“It’s- you put your mouth on my mouth, man,” Eddie says, voice rising. Okay, maybe panicking a little. 

"I- I'm sorry, I didn't think- I wasn't-" Steve stutters, still covering his face. 

"I mean, it's fine?" Eddie babbles quickly. " It’s- yeah, it's fine, I promise. Just, unexpected." Christ, he's an idiot. "Hey, can I see your face, man?" 

Steve lets his hand fall away from his face slowly. He's regarding Eddie with this look on his face now, like the world's stopped making sense. Or maybe just like the world's stopped. Eddie certainly feels suspended. 

"So," Eddie says. He can't think through the fog in his head. "That was... yeah."

Steve blinks rapidly, almost like he's about to- cry? Shit. Shit shit shit. "Yeah. Sorry."

"No, don't- don't say sorry, it's fine, I- fuck, it just... just caught me off guard, man." He sighs, dragging a hand down his face. Biting the bullet, he adds, "I just... try not to kiss boys I can't have.” 

Steve sucks in a shuddering breath. He's looking at Eddie with big wet eyes, yellow jacket still on. The car hums, heat still blowing from the fans. He looks so soft as he asks quietly, "But you do?" His hands spasm. "You- you kiss boys?" 

Eddie tries to smile but it comes out wobbly, tries not let it show how tight his shoulders have gone, holding himself still to keep from trembling. He can't find his voice, so he just nods. 

Steve gives him a jerky nod back, then looks down, biting his lip. Unsurely, he asks, “Should I not have?" He takes a breath. The words leave him in a whisper. "Kissed you?” 

Eddie tries to calm his racing heart. His throat burns. “Did you mean to?” 

Steve’s eyes shutter. He wets his lips. Nods. 

“Oh,” Eddie breathes, light-headed, and it feels kind of like a heavy weight has slid off his back. And oh is not enough, really, to summarise how his world’s tilted on its axis, but it’s going to have to do, because the last thing he wants to do right now is scare Steve away. 

“Are we– are we cool?” Steve asks, voice jumping, and shit, he sounds scared, hesitant, like he really doesn’t know that Eddie’s head over heels for him, that Eddie would give his right arm for a chance with him. That he'll remember this night for the rest of his life. 

Eddie nods quickly. “Shit, yeah. Of course, Steve." He likes calling him by his first name better. 

"Yeah?" Steve looks relieved. 

"Yeah," Eddie smiles carefully, then steels himself. It’s now or never. “Can I, uh. Can I try something?” 

Steve studies him for a moment, then quirks his mouth upwards. "Yeah. Sure, Eddie." 

Eddie swallows. This time, he makes his way over to Steve slowly, giving him ample time to shove him away if he wants to. But he doesn’t. And suddenly Eddie’s hovering over him again, this time without the blunt, without a reason, without an excuse. He holds his breath. 

Steve’s mouth is parted, eyelashes fanning over his cheeks as he blinks at him. He looks almost mesmerised, caught up in the moment, like Eddie is. Like Eddie always is, when it comes to Steve. 

Voice hushed and breathy, Eddie asks, “Can I?” 

Meeting Eddie’s gaze head-on, breath catching, Steve nods. 

Eddie leans in, ghosting his lips over Steve’s, before he catches his mouth entirely. It’s careful, just a gentle pressure, and Steve’s lips are soft and pliable, and Eddie just wants. 

He jumps when Steve’s hands comes up, framing his face, thumbs on his cheeks. And the gesture's so– romantic, careful, so Steve, it kicks Eddie's heart into overtime. 

“Eddie–” Steve breathes, breaking the kiss. He gives Eddie another small indulgent kiss.

"Yeah?"

"Hi." Steve grins. 

Catching Steve’s eyes, his pupils blown, Eddie grins back. "Hi." 

Steve rucks a hand up underneath Eddie's jacket and shirt slowly, and asks, "Can- can we, like, get rid of this? Want to see you." 

Eddie melts. “I’m all yours.” It's easy to admit. An easy truth. Steve looks a bit awestruck. 

Eddie sits back, shucks the jacket and tugs his shirt over his head. Watches Steve’s eyes trail all over him. Thrills when he notices they seem to get stuck on the trail of hair leading down past his jeans. 

“Hey,” he says. Grins, despite how vulnerable he feels. “All yours.” 

Steve shivers and removes his own jacket. He sits up to tug Eddie closer by his wrist. He runs his hands up the planes of Eddie’s chest, leaving goosebumps in his wake. He thumbs over Eddie's collarbones, the jut of his shoulders, until finally, they come to a stop on Eddie’s neck, tangling in his hair. Steve pulls him down, catching his mouth in a searing kiss. 

Making out with Steve Harrington is kind of mind-blowing. He's gentle to begin with, only tongues gently over Eddie's lower lip like he's asking for permission. The second he's granted it, though, it's like he needs to go all the way, needs to fill the space between them any way he can. He touches Eddie like he needs to memorise him, like he'll slip away if he doesn't. Eddie closes his eyes and allows himself melt into the embrace. 

When Steve pushes his hips up a little, almost subconciously, Eddie breaks the frantic kiss. 

“It’ll– look, it’ll feel so fucking good if you–” Eddie adjusts his hips, so they fall flush together. Eddie can feel Steve against him, and he rocks himself forward. The moment’s heady, and he feels strung up, like a livewire, so he gives another little rock. Steve sucks in a breath of air sharply, eyes fluttering shut. 

"Shit, Eddie." 

They move together, exchanging messy kisses, and the liquid pleasure in Eddie's gut builds. 

Eddie slows down after a minute though - too fast, his brain screams at him - and leans forward instead, until he’s nose to nose with him. Steve’s pupils are blown wide, his breathing shallow. 

“I need–” Steve says. Breathes out deliberately slow. Laughs. “I think I need a minute.” 

Eddie huffs out a laugh. “Yeah. Yeah- Jesus. Same.” 

He plants featherlight kisses down the side of Steve’s face, keeping the bottom half of his body still. Steve shivers at the small kisses, breathing out shakily. Eddie inches backwards, until he’s kissing at Steve’s chest, mouthing over a nipple, eliciting a breathy groan, before he moves further down still, and stops to suck a lovebite over Steve’s ribs. 

It occurs to Eddie, foggy brain and all, that he's got Steve Harrington pinned to the backseat of his BMW. And they say dreams don’t come true. 

Steve squirms as Eddie works, biting over the bruise, before he moves to a new, unmarked spot, and starts again. Steve’s hands land in Eddie’s hair, and he can’t seem to stay still as he rocks up against him as Eddie sucks, a dark bruise blooming in his wake. 

“Jesus, Eddie,” Steve pants, chest heaving.

But again - too fast - so Eddie goes back to running his hands over Steve, because - Eddie tells himself - they've got time. As horrible as his track record is for jumping headfirst into things to reap the benefits before they slip out of his reach, he doesn't want to mess this up. This is important. 

So, he sits up a little, slides his hand into Steve's, and squeezes. 

Steve's got wide eyes, panting hard. 

“Hey,” Eddie smiles. “You with me?” 

Steve nods, looking dazed. 

Eddie runs a hand over Steve’s lower thigh soothingly. “You know we don’t have to do anything, right?” 

Steve opens his mouth as if to argue, then seems to deflate a little. He leans into Eddie's touch. “Yeah. I’m– fuck. Sorry.” 

Eddie furrows his eyebrows. “Why are you sorry?” 

Steve shrugs, embarrassed. “I didn’t mean to, like, lead you on? I mean, I did, because I wanna– I wanna do this, I just– I don’t know if I’m ready? And that’s kinda shitty of me, so I’m sorry–” 

“What?” Eddie cuts him off. “Steve, listen to me.” He slots himself more securely between Steve’s legs, puts his unoccupied hand on Steve’s shoulders. Steve looks up at him with big eyes. “This is– I mean, assuming you want to do this again, this is, uh. Our first time?” He tries to keep his eyes from straying from Steve’s overwhelming gaze. “And I don’t know about you, but taking things slow doesn’t sound so bad. Right?” 

Steve starts to smile. “You want to take things slow with me, Eddie?” 

Eddie pauses. Tries to shrug off the trepidation. “Already told you, Ozzy. I’m all yours.” 

Steve smiles, slow and real. He kisses Eddie again. "You are something else," he says quietly, like it's just for him. 

"That's one way to put it," Eddie says, and tackles him in a hug. 

Steve yelps, and then he's wrapping his arms around Eddie, tightly, like he needs it. Eddie feels Steve breathe him in, nuzzling his nose into his hair. 

"Thanks," Steve says against his neck. 

"For not being a dick?" 

Steve shakes his head. "For sticking around. Even if it's just, you know. 'Cause you have to." 

Eddie snorts. "You're, uh. You're really underestimating how much I like you, Steve." 

Steve hugs him closer. "Think you've been doing the same." 

And isn't that something?