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this is what i want (make it happen for me)

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“I think I have a crush on Eddie Munson!”

 

Robin’s jaw drops, eyes widening and an absolutely manic smile spreads across her face. Steve waves his hands frantically.

 

“Rob—wait—no—” but she doesn’t listen. He doesn’t even have time to take two steps back before she’s launching herself at him and tackles him to the ground, arms squeezing tightly as she coos a high-pitched stream of incoherent happy chatter.

 

TWO MONTHS EARLIER: STEVE

 

Steve hasn’t slept for more than two hours at a time in months. He can’t sleep without his baseball bat by his bed and music playing. Some nights he can’t turn his lights off. It’s the height of summer when Robin calls him on it after weeks of dodging her questions.

 

“You need a break, Steve,” she says one afternoon while they’re hanging behind the counter at Family Video. He’s arranging and rearranging and rearranging a stack of candy bars. He hums noncommittally, hoping that she’ll drop it like she has previously. 

 

Steve,” she says, setting a hand on his to still his movement. “I’m worried about you.” 

 

He works all the time to keep himself distracted and when he’s not working he’s with Robin or the kids doing…something. He couldn’t really tell you what. Mostly just driving from place to place.

 

“Don’t worry about me, Robbie. I’m okay.” 

 

“Except you’re really not.” Something in her voice makes Steve look at her—properly. He hasn’t seen her this serious in a long time, including when they were held hostage by Russians. “I just…will you let me help you? Please?”

 

He wants to say no. His protective instincts bristle, but—god. He’s so tired.

 

“Yeah okay. What do you have in mind, Buckley?”

 

***

 

Turns out Robin’s idea of a break is a kickback. She invites Nancy, Jonathan and Argyle—who is spending the summer in Hawkins with the Byers. They’re opening pizza boxes and debating which toppings are the most unforgivable when another knock sounds.

 

“Oh! That’ll be the others,” Robin disappears down the hall to answer the door and returns with Vickie in tow and following her is none other than Eddie Munson. 

 

Steve is genuinely pleased to see him. They’ve spent a little time around one another since Vecna, but not much. He drops a kiss on Vickie’s cheek in greeting and turns to Eddie to pull him into a hug. “Munson, it’s good to see you.” Eddie laughs and pats his back good naturedly.

 

After they’ve finished eating and moved outside, Eddie fishes out a box from his backpack. He’s brought extracurriculars . Jonathan and Argyle high-five and Nancy rolls her eyes but she’s smiling. Steve hasn’t smoked in a while—or partied at all really. He’s been…busy. Steve finds himself by the pool, pants rolled up and legs dangling in the water. Eddie comes to sit down next to him, close enough to bump shoulders. He nudges Steve’s knee with his own.

 

“How do you feel about a little therapy?”

 

“What.

 

Eddie holds up a joint and he smiles that cocky half smile that dimples his cheek. 

 

Herbal medicine” he continues with a wink.

 

***

 

It’s much, much later. Steve smoked Eddie’s weed and drank beer and laughed and let himself feel like the 19 year old that he is without regard. He’s stumbling to bed, a warm hand gently guiding him. The world is soft and fuzzy and he feels wonderfully drowsy; his sides don’t hurt with the achy pinching pain that his scars sometimes get. The hands guide him down—oh it’s his bed. He’s too tired and too high to care to open his eyes to see who is helping him, but it doesn’t matter. He trusts everyone in his house with his life. He briefly registers a hand carding through his hair and hears a soft “Night, Harrington,” before he lets go and finally sleeps.

 

***

 

Steve jolts awake.

 

Blearily, he looks at his clocks and sees that it is 5:21am. By his estimation he’s slept nearly five hours—which is a record at this point. He squints at the lumps next to him—Robin and Vickie are curled up together. They must have put him to bed before coming back later. There are two guest rooms and several comfortable couches for people to crash on, but honestly he’s thankful the girls crashed with him. He hates waking up alone.

As he wakes up a little more he realizes that the Beatles are playing quietly from his stereo. He had to raid his parents’ sparse—and outdated—tape collection when he realized he wouldn’t be able to sleep without the sound. It makes him feel a little wobbly inside that Robin remembered to put something on. 

 

Padding down the stairs he sees movement near the back door. Eddie is stepping inside, tucking a pack of cigarettes into his pocket. He smiles when he sees Steve.

 

“Morning smoke before I head out. Thanks for letting me crash, Harrington.”

 

“Of course—thanks for letting me smoke your weed. I haven’t, uh…” he rubs his neck self consciously. “I haven’t slept that easily in a while.” Eddie nods understandingly.

 

“Well, if you ever need another therapy session,” he says as he shrugs on his leather jacket, “you know where to find me.”

 

EDDIE

 

Eddie is flipping mindlessly through the staticky channels on his TV when he hears a car door close and then the crunch of footsteps approaching his trailer. He turns off the TV and his hands shake as his ears strain for sound. The soft knock on his door makes him jump. He peers through the window as subtly as he can and—wait he knows that car. 

 

Steve? ” he says, swinging the door open.

 

The sarcastic quip dies on his tongue when he gets a good look at the haunted expression on his face. 

 

“Jesus, Harrington. Get in here.”

 

Steve steps inside and looks around, seeming a little lost and much smaller than the old persona of King Steve. He turns and wrings his hands. “I, ah, I’m sorry for just showing up but…I. I can’t sleep.”

 

Eddie’s heart clenches. He knows that feeling—fuck he knows exactly the feeling. He can’t even stand to close his bedroom door, much less sleep properly. He basically sits on the couch watching TV until he passes out and startles awake thinking he hears a clock chiming—he actually had to throw away all the analog clocks in his home. Uncle Wayne was confused but didn’t say anything about it, understanding that when Eddie showed back up, bloody and frightened, he had experienced some kind of trauma that he could not explain. 

 

Sitting side by side on the floor in Eddie’s room, they pass a joint back and forth and listen to a Led Zeppelin album Eddie put on. Slowly Steve’s hands stop shaking, his posture relaxes and he breathes a little slower. 

 

“I feel like I should be used to it by now—we’ve been fighting weird shit for years in Hawkins but…I don’t think I’ll ever be used to it,” Steve says quietly. 

 

“You realize that’s like, completely normal right?” 

 

Steve laughs. “I guess you’re right, Munson. Thanks for letting me come over. My house is so empty and it’s. I don’t know. It’s just too quiet.”

 

Eddie bumps his shoulder. “I meant what I said the other night. You can come over anytime. Wayne works nights and honestly I don’t like being alone either. I don’t really have much of a social life anymore. Being wanted for murder kind of screwed that up.”

 

“But you were cleared of the charges, right?”

 

“Well yeah but while they don’t necessarily think I’m literally a murderer, people do think I’m a devil worshipper and in Hawkins that’s basically the same thing.” He waves his hands around, like he’s casting a spell. “I’ve been working on a new campaign for the kids. Henderson has been hounding me for weeks to run a campaign this summer.” Steve smiles at him, nodding because he knows the feeling that comes with being run around by demanding fifteen year olds. Especially Dustin.

 

They finish off the joint and Steve leans back, looking at the posters and other bric-a-brac that adorn Eddie’s room. His eyes land on the crates that contain a VHS collection. 

 

“You ever seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind? ” 

 

And for the first time in weeks, Steve grins.

 

STEVE

 

The two fall asleep on Eddie’s couch. One moment they’re sitting up and the next they sort of simultaneously slump over and doze off braced up against one another. It’s very early in the morning when they’re woken up by Wayne coming home from work. Despite the crick in his neck, Steve feels refreshed.

 

This is the beginning of what becomes a routine for them. Eddie will come to Steve’s place or Steve will go to Eddie’s and they’ll smoke a little and talk—Steve is getting a musical education in spades. He learns about D&D and Metallica and niche horror movies. He also learns a lot about Eddie Munson. He discovers that Eddie ritually needs coffee and a cigarette every morning before he can be considered functional. He likes to burn little incense cones, which he says is to cover the weed dank but Steve suspects it’s also because he likes to smell of patchouli and sage. He’s a heavy metal, rock-n-roll elitist, but he’s got a soft spot for Elton John and Joy Division. He doesn’t ever wear matching socks, his favorite movie is The Evil Dead, his favorite guitar pick is purple and his lucky D20 is red. 

 

Steve collects the minutiae that makes up Eddie Munson and folds it into his mind, pleased to have been allowed to see past the badass rebel without a cause exterior that Eddie gives off to most people. He is a badass rebel without a cause—but he’s also a huge dork. He’s perceptive and thoughtful and witty and Steve finds himself wishing he’d gotten to know Eddie sooner and under less horrific circumstances. 

 

On one such evening they’re stoned and hanging out on Steve’s couch. His parents are out of town again—business trip? The Hamptons? Visiting family in Maine? (It doesn’t fucking matter, they’re gone and that’s just fine with Steve.) 

 

Eddie has his feet thrown over Steve’s lap and they’re watching an episode of the Twilight Zone. Steve’s sort of creeped out by it but Eddie loves it and honestly after some of the shit Steve has seen these last few years—it’s not really that weird. 

 

“Okay but would you want to be hot—like hot by regular standards and everyone thinks you’re ugly or would you want to be ugly and everyone thinks it’s hot?” 

 

“Uh…I mean I don’t know isn’t that the whole point…beauty is in the eye of the beholder?”

 

“I should’ve known you’d say something dumb like that, Harrington. Only a hot person would be vague instead of just saying ‘I want people to think I’m hot’.”

 

Steve laughs and even though Eddie is joking he feels himself blush.

 

“You think I’m hot?”

 

That’s what you got out of that sentence? I basically called you a moron!” Steve grins.

 

“Yeah I’m used to people calling me stupid, but you’ve never called me hot.” Eddie leans forward and smushes his hand against Steve’s face, like he’s trying to wipe the shit-eating grin off his face.

 

“Don’t let it go to your head, Harrington. I have eyes. Everyone knows you’re hot.”

 

“Thank you, Eddie. I think you’re pretty too.” 

 

“Oh I’m pretty, huh? You’re a sap when you’re high, dude.” Steve shrugs, he should probably be a little embarrassed by the admission but honestly he doesn’t care and it doesn’t look like Eddie does either. Besides, he’s right. Eddie is pretty. Steve resituates himself, bringing his legs up to tuck along Eddie’s sides so that they’re in mirrored positions on opposite ends of the couch. At some point they dozed off and Eddie twitches in sleep, kicking Steve in the chest. He oofs and looks down to where he’s basically cuddling Eddie’s mismatched-socked feet. He thinks about getting up and going to his bed, but then realizes that he doesn’t want to be that far from Eddie. They haven’t really talked about it, but it’s obvious that they sleep a lot longer when they’re close. So he does what anyone logical would do in this situation: he moves to snuggle the top half of his friend. He slots himself between the back of the couch and Eddie’s side. He’s already got one arm tucked behind his head so Steve just takes the opportunity to lay his head in the crook of his shoulder. He’s halfway back asleep when he feels Eddie’s arm loop around him, pulling him closer and then he’s back under once more.

 

When Steve wakes up the next morning, he’s plastered to Eddie’s side. Their legs are tangled together and Steve has his face pressed against Eddie’s neck. He also has a massive boner. Immediately he feels embarrassed and a little confused but someone unsurprised? He’s laying there having a little panicked moment to himself when Eddie shifts in his sleep and Steve’s whole body is on fire. He’s got to get up before Eddie wakes and this becomes really awkward really fast. He manages to detangle himself without disturbing the man beneath him. Eddie whines a little in his sleep at the loss of warmth as he curls himself up, which allows Steve to scoot back enough to wedge himself into the corner of the couch. He is pleading with this dick to chill the fuck out when he makes the mistake of glancing over at his sleeping friend and his eyes immediately lock onto the evident hard-on in his borrowed sweats. Any chance of losing his erection flies out the window along with every critical thought he’s ever had. It’s a totally normal reaction, he tells himself. All guys get morning wood, it's totally normal. However, this obvious logic from his brain does not remotely reach his dick. He climbs off the couch and hightails it to the bathroom. A cold shower will solve this. Maybe.

 

After a miserably cold shower that does indeed succeed in killing his boner, he comes downstairs to see Eddie sleepily sitting up on the couch, looking half awake and sleep-soft in a way that makes Steve’s stomach tumble.

 

“Your couch is more comfortable than my bed, Harrington.” Steve snorts and makes himself look away when Eddie goes to stretch and a strip of his stomach is revealed when the hem of his shirt lifts.

 

“Coffee?” he asks as he’s already turning towards the kitchen.

 

“You’re a real saint, my friend.” 

 

Steve tries not to sound hysterical when he laughs.

 

EDDIE

 

It’s Friday, which amongst their friends means there’s a party. It’s not really a blowout, but they’ve got music and dancing and an empty house. The usual suspects are present—minors excluded. They’ve all settled down in Steve’s back yard, huddled into a circle and are passing a joint around. Steve is leaning against Eddie, seemingly buzzed enough from the shots they took earlier not to care about what appearances they’re making by being in each others’ space. Argyle and Jonathan are also half slumped on either side of Nancy, who is mindlessly braiding pieces of Argyle’s hair that falls over her shoulder. She smiles softly at Steve—something in her expression makes Eddie think she suspects something. Though there’s nothing to suspect, not really. (And ain’t that the pits). 

 

“We should play truth or dare,” Vickie says as she takes the joint from Argyle and passes it to Robin. Vickie doesn’t smoke, but she loves how cuddly Robin gets when she’s high. They’ve recently shared with the rest of the group about their relationship. Robin felt comfortable enough after nearly dying with Nancy to tell her that she’s into girls, who took it with the unflappable stride that only Nancy Wheeler could have. Jonathan hardly batted an eye either—Eddie wonders if he knows about Will. He’s only met the kid a couple of times, but as a kid who figured out that he was queer in his early teens himself he knows the look of someone who’s in love with his best friend when he sees it. 

 

There’s a chorus of yeses and they start off small with dumb truth questions—most embarrassing moment, guilty pleasure movie, would you rather smell like a fart to other people or only be able to smell other peoples’ farts? And then it starts to get interesting. Eddie dares Vickie to jump in the pool and then she dares Argyle to take a body shot off Jonathan, who dares Robin to interpretive dance to a Bowie song of her choice. They’re clutching their sides laughing as Robin finishes what looks like the dance version of a chicken having a heart attack. She bows deeply and sits back down. She looks at Steve with a mischievous grin.

 

“Alright Harrington, I dare you to shotgun with Eddie.” Eddie chokes on his own tongue for a second and Steve pats his back. Oh lord.

 

“Like a beer? How do you make that a two person dare?”

 

“No, dingus. Not a beer—with smoke.” She points to the joint in Eddie’s hands. Vickie snickers behind her hand and Steve looks around the circle in confusion. “Oh my god, Steve. Have you never shotgunned before?” She leans forward, “I thought you were the party king in high school!”

 

“I don’t know, Rob—we smoked but like it never got very adventurous! We mostly just drank shitty beers and wasted time like regular teenagers!”

 

“Alright, the dare still stands, dude.” She waves her hand at Eddie, who feels like he’s having an out of body experience. Robin most definitely knows what she’s doing, she has to. For some reason he feels compelled to glance at Nancy, who gives him a subtle thumbs up. Then he meets Steve’s eyes and he shrugs. 

 

“Alright, Munson. Lay it on me.” Eddie knew for sure that he was going to implode. He was going to die a slow death if Steve Harrington kept looking at him like a challenge that he wanted to win. God, did he even know he was doing that? Probably not, but Eddie sure as fuck wasn’t going to point it out. 

 

Eddie takes a slow drag of the joint he’s still holding. He sees Steve’s eyes dip to his mouth and he hopes to god his hands don’t tremble when he reaches out and grabs the back of Steve’s neck to pull him forward. Steve’s eyes widen in surprise but he doesn’t resist, just leans forward until Eddie stops tugging. Their noses brush and Eddie can Steve going cross-eyed trying to keep eye contact. Eddie’s lips just barely ghost Steve’s as he opens his mouth to exhale. Steve inhales on instinct, almost gasping and Eddie has to pull back before he tries to lean forward and steal the smoke back from Steve’s mouth with his own. He lets his fingers trail slowly from Steve’s neck and he’s bowled over with how badly he wants.

 

“Like a champ, Stevie,” he murmurs before he thinks better of it. Steve looks dazed—his eyes are hooded and he cracks a little smile as he takes the joint from Eddie’s numb fingers. He watches Steve take another hit and Eddie feels himself getting hot under his collar.

 

Oh, he’s fucked.

 

*** 

 

The party slowly mellows out, everyone finding a place in Steve’s house to bed down for the night. Eddie and Steve are laying on their backs on the bed, absolutely floating on cloud nine and finding patterns in the popcorn ceiling of his room. Eddie can feel himself talking, not really sure what words are coming out of his mouth—a stream of consciousness babble about the guitar riff that’s playing on the stereo at the moment. He’s wildly gesticulating, he always talks with his hands when he’s excited, when he looks over at Steve. He stops talking, immediately taken with the absolutely moony expression on his face. 

 

“What?” he asks with a smile, buoyed by his own contentment.

 

“I’m really glad we’re friends.”

 

Eddie absolutely melts—he melts right through the mattress, through the floorboards and into the concrete of the house’s foundation. Steve reaches out and brushes a finger down the tip of his nose and it feels like sunshine. After a few minute’s his friend’s breathing evens out and he drifts off to sleep. 

 

Eddie rolls onto his side and whispers, “Me too.” He sighs and closes his eyes.

 

“I like being your friend too, Steve Harrington.”

 

STEVE

 

Steve goes from drowning in a puddle of his own blood in the Upside Down to waking up in a cold sweat, side aching with the phantom pain of sharp serrated teeth ripping into his skin. He gasps but he can’t breathe. He can’t breathe he can’t breathe he can’t

 

“Steve—Stevie, c'mon open your eyes for me. That’s it, that’s it, sweetheart. Open your eyes. You’re safe—”

 

He finally gasps enough to unlock his lungs and he shifts forward into Eddie’s embrace. He takes in great, heaving lungfuls of air, pressing his face into a warm neck and gulping down the scent of his friend; feeling the softness of his sheets and hearing the soft sound of Joy Division playing in his room and letting it anchor him to reality.

 

“Stevie?” Eddie asks in a small voice. “Are you with me?”

 

“Yeah—yeah. I’m–I’m here.” His voice sounds raw, he hopes he didn’t scream. He didn’t want everyone staying over to know. He pushes his face further against the junction between Eddie’s neck and collarbone, where his shirt has slipped down a little and he breathes open-mouthed. Vanilla and smoke and patchouli. 

 

Eddie lets Steve cling to him, carding a hand idly through his sweaty hair and smoothing another up and down his back. Only once his heart is no longer pounding through his chest and the feeling returns to his hands and feet does he unclench his fists from his friend’s shirt. 

 

He scrubs a hand across his face to wipe away the stray tears. “I’m sorry, man. I don’t—”

 

“Cut the shit, Harrington,” Eddie says not unkindly. “You’re allowed to be fucked up.” Steve says nothing, just looks at him. “Does Robin know?”

 

Steve shrugs. “Kind of? She knows I have trouble sleeping, but she doesn’t know exactly how bad it is sometimes. We don’t really talk about it much…it’s…too much.” Though he can’t make himself say it, he’s silently begging Eddie not to ask more questions, not to push. Grief and emptiness are hollowing out a pit in his chest and it takes everything he has most nights after he wakes up from a night terror to make himself believe that he’s here and that they all survived and that it’s over.

 

“You don’t have to talk to me about it…but if you ever need to—I’m here.” Steve nodded. “Until then,” Eddie leans over and rifles through his jacket pockets. He leans back up—a joint and his lighter in hand. He wiggles them at Steve.

 

“Therapy?”

 

And the relief that Steve feels in that moment makes him lightheaded.

 

***

 

After that night, they give up the pretense of even trying to sleep separately. Instead of awkwardly rolling away, they’ll linger in the mornings now. Eddie will flick Steve’s nose before he gets up to go smoke and Steve will make coffee and there’s something achingly domestic about it all. When Steve’s parents are gone (which is a lot) they’ll stay at Steve’s. Robin will join them for movies or board games or to swim and on Fridays the whole gang will show up. When Steve’s parents are in town they’ll hole up in Eddie’s trailer, squished together on the couch and watch the Twilight Zone or one of the dozens of VHS tapes that Eddie has in his collection before they head to Eddie’s room to sleep for the night. Eddie’s uncle Wayne hasn’t said anything about their friendship. He just gives Steve a smile and a wave and a nice to see you again, Steve on his way in or out.

 

Tonight, they’re going to hang at Steve’s. He rented a few new tapes from work when he left after his shift this afternoon and he knows Eddie is going to flip because he happened to snag a copy of Blade Runner which Eddie has not stopped talking about since he watched it a month ago. Steve hadn’t seen it yet, but he likes Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones so he’s willing to give it a try. When he opens his front door after hearing a knock he finds Eddie, arms wrapped around himself and a busted lip, blood still trickling a little down his chin. 

 

“Holy shit, Eddie—” Steve yanks him inside, kicking the door shut and gingerly cupping his chin to tilt his face into the light. “What the hell happened? ”Eddie starts to open his mouth and grimaces when the skin splits further. “Shit no wait don’t answer, fuck you look like your teeth almost went through your lip.”

 

Steve tugs Eddie down the hallway and herds him into the bathroom. He sits him down on the toilet and rummages around under the sink for the first aid kit he keeps in there. When he looks down at his friend, he takes in his hunched form, his eyes are puffy and red—he’s been crying. Wetting a washcloth, Steve gently guides Eddie’s face up and starts to dab his mouth off. When he goes to sweep the hair out of Eddie’s eyes he notices it’s crusty with something; looking closer, worrying there’s a cut he doesn’t see, he then realizes that Eddie’s skin down the side of his face and neck are sticky and his shirt is wet. It smells chemically and sweet. Eddie sighs.

 

“Orange soda,” he whispers. 

 

Steve’s heart breaks and rage wells up in his chest and he wants to grab his bat and bust out the car windows of whoever is responsible for this. He reigns it in right now, though and focuses on cleaning Eddie’s lip; swiping peroxide across the split and humming an apology when Eddie winces. Finally he dabs some neosporin and sets the kit aside. While Eddie remains on the toilet, Steve turns on the shower and pulls a fresh towel from the linen closet. 

 

“I’ll bring you something to sleep in—go ahead and get cleaned up. Just dump your clothes by the door. I’ll throw them in the wash.” Eddie’s chin wobbles a little and Steve pulls him into a hug. 

 

“Thank you, Steve.” 

 

“You don’t need to thank me. I’m just glad that you’re safe. Believe me in a heartbeat I would go hunt down whichever bastard did this and smash in their kneecaps.” Eddie laughs shakily.

 

“They’re not worth the trouble, Harrington.”

 

“Yeah, but you are.”

 

Something passes between them. Steve doesn’t know if he’s being too intense or whatever, but he’s too mentally exhausted to try to pretend otherwise. That’s been happening a lot, but this time it is electric. However, it’s been a long, terrible night and knowing better, he makes himself back away, not questioning the look on Eddie’s face which is almost…disappointed? He mentally slaps himself. Focus.

 

“Hungry?” Eddie shakes his head.

 

“Alright—shower off and then we can go lay down. Max made me a new mixtape. You can listen to it with me and help me decode whatever mean teenage girl message she’s trying to bully me with.” 




EDDIE

 

It’s the next day, Steve isn’t working but he promised to take Dustin to the movies and he invited Eddie but he couldn’t work up the desire to be out in public for long. Plus Henderson asks way too many questions and Eddie still feels a little too raw to try to play it off cool. 

 

They part ways—Are you sure you don’t want me to stay? I can raincheck with Dustin. No Steve, don’t worry about me I’ll see you later on okay? I’m going to stop by and talk to Robin for a while. I'll be fine—and Eddie has his clean shirt and jacket under one arm. He put his jeans back on and instead of changing back into his shirt he left on the crewneck that Steve lent him. The sweatshirt was worn and soft from dozens of wears and washes. He’s seen Steve wear it often and Eddie immediately felt a dizzy sort of buzzing in his stomach when he found it on the counter waiting for him with a pair of sweatpants the night before. While he and Steve were the same height, Steve was a little broader in the shoulders, so the sweatshirt hung a little loose on him. He liked the way Steve’s eyes went a little glazed when he saw Eddie in his clothes. 

 

That was one of the things he wanted to talk to Robin about. He needed to know if she had any idea if Steve was this flirty with everyone or if he maybe, possibly, potentially was actually flirting with Eddie. He didn’t want to jinx himself, honestly couldn’t believe he was even entertaining the idea, but he couldn’t help but wonder.

 

***

 

Balancing a bag of Chinese takeout on the stack of movies he’s returning for Steve, he pushes the door to Family Video open. The store is empty and Robin glances up from the magazine she was flipping through behind the counter.

 

“Is that Steve’s sweatshirt?” Of course that would be the first thing that Buckley honed in on. Not Eddie’s split lip or black eye or the food.

 

“Hi to you too,” he says dryly. “You’re welcome for bringing you lunch. I’m doing well, thanks for asking.” She looks back up and does a double take this time as her eyes catch on his face and they widen. 

 

“What happened?

 

“One of Hawkins’ delightfully righteous vigilantes didn’t like the way I was breathing. It’s not as bad as it looks.” Ish. “I got jumped while stopping for cigarettes at the gas station. I went to Steve’s after and he cleaned me up. He let me borrow a shirt—mine was covered in orange soda.” He plucks at the sweatshirt he’s wearing for emphasis.

 

“Well that was nice of him,” she says cryptically.

 

“Don’t read into it, Buckley. He was just being a good friend.”

 

“You know that’s his favorite sweatshirt right?” And yeah, Eddie did know that but god what the fuck was he supposed to do with that information?

 

“What’s your point?”

 

“I’m just saying,” she says as she starts to open a container of chow mein, “maybe you should read into it.”

 

“I really prefer not to put myself intentionally in a position to get my heart broken, Rob.” Though it might be too late for that. “Or my ass kicked.”

 

“Steve isn’t like those guys—”

 

“I know. Jesus I know he’s not. He’s—god he’s so amazing—” Robin smirks at him with a mouth full of food. “That’s the problem. I can’t let myself get attached like that…to someone so good only to have it blow up in my face like everything always does.” He sets his head in his hands. He’s got a headache and he kind of feels like he wants to cry and it’s all so fucking pathetic.

 

He feels hands on his arms and he looks up at Robin. She looks at him gently, holding his hands and staring at him right in the eyes. She is quiet for a moment, her expression says this is important, listen to me.

 

“It’s okay to want things, Eddie. You deserve to be happy.”  

 

***

 

A few days after the incident, they’re laying outside on the concrete passing a cigarette back and forth. The summer evening is shockingly mild, not the typically nasty muggy humid nights that hang over July and August in the midwest. 

 

Steve nudges his boot with his sneaker and then he knocks Steve’s foot back in return. Eddie glances over and Steve’s got that look again. That moony, dopey, you-might-be-my-whole-world look and Eddie could cry because it’s everything he’s ever wanted and he’s not even sure if it’s real . They’ve not smoked anything but cigarettes tonight, the weed is usually what Eddie would attribute Steve’s gushy behavior to—but the foolish part of his brain plays his conversation with Robin over and over again. 

 

It’s okay to want things, Eddie.

 

Steve’s hand brushes against his own and his heart is in his mouth and he wants so badly his throat aches. He reaches for a shred of the bravery he had in the Upside Down. This is Steve. Steve is his friend and he won’t push him away. 

 

“My mom wasn’t around when I was a kid so it was just me and my dad growing up. Dad and I never got along quite right and he kicked me out right before high school, you know.” 

 

Eddie sits up and stares up at the sky and he feels Steve sit up as well. He feels like he’s going to start shaking and he takes another cigarette out and lights it to calm his nerves. He does not like talking about this, but it gives context that he wants Steve to have.

 

He’s working up another bout of courage when he feels Steve reach out and take his hand, thumb rubbing over his knuckles and that gives Eddie the push he needs to keep going. 

 

“Guess having a queer son didn’t look too great to his golfing buddies.” He says it like a joke because it feels like one. It feels like the biggest joke in the world that his own dad didn’t want him. Steve’s thumb pauses briefly and Eddie’s heart stutters, but then he continues his motions, waiting for Eddie to keep going. 

 

“Wayne is great though. He’s been a better parent to me than my dad ever was. He doesn’t care that I’m—ya know—gay or whatever.” 

 

He finds the courage to finally look over at Steve, who is looking at him with the most heart-wrenchingly soft expression. His heart squeezes as something warm and honey like pools in his stomach. 

 

“I’m glad you’ve got your uncle,” Steve says softly. “He seems like a good man.” Eddie nods. “And for the record. You’re not going to be alone again. Not as long as I’m around. You’re stuck with us—me and Robin and the kids. We don’t scare easily.” There’s a brief moment of silence and Eddie can’t help but throw his arms around his friend. He nearly bowls him over but Steve catches him and they melt into the embrace. Eddie feels Steve press his face into his hair in a way that just feels so much more—in the way it always feels with Steve. They pull apart. Steve smiles and bumps his fist to Eddie’s shoulder. 

“C’mon. Let’s go inside. I rented Blade Runner the other night for us to watch.”

 

Eddie grins and something loosens in him. 

 

Maybe it really is okay to want things.  

 

PRESENT: STEVE

 

A couple of days later and Steve is at work, bored out of his mind. He’s leaning against the counter with his head propped up on his fist, staring into space and his mind starts to wander. He starts thinking about the other evening, after Eddie told him about his family and the incredible trust that he showed in Steve. He thinks about how that night they cuddled on the couch—because that’s what it was, it was cuddling, there’s no other word for it—and how his mouth dried out when he caught a glimpse of Eddie’s bare chest when he stepped out of the bathroom after taking a shower…

 

“Earth to Steve!!!” Robin snaps her fingers in front of his eyes and he jumps. “Where’d you go, dingus?”

 

“I have a crush on Eddie—”

 

***

 

They’ve collected themselves from the floor, picked up the stack of returned tapes Robin knocked over and Steve is brushing off his jeans thinking about how he needs to vacuum behind the counter ASAP.

 

“So…Eddie, huh?” she says in what Steve thinks is supposed to be a nonchalant tone—but because Robin is, well… Robin, it’s not.

 

“Yeah…Eddie.”

 

“Oh come on, Harrington. Don’t be shy! Spill.

 

“I’m not being shy! There’s literally nothing to tell.” She stares at him flatly. “Don’t look at me like that. I’m serious.” She tilts her head and squints at him, assessing the kicked puppy face he knows he’s got.

 

“You got it bad, huh?”

 

“Would it be weird if I did?” 

 

“Why do you think that?”

 

“I don’t know, Rob. I’ve only ever liked girls. Somehow I’ve realized that I’ve come to like Eddie too. I still like girls—at least I think so…I’m just. I can’t stop thinking about him and when he looks at me I just go insane.”

 

“Honey…you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can like both. Obviously you do like both, so that’s how it is.” She explains a little to him about bisexuality and something just…clicks. He doesn’t fully understand it, but it feels like finding a piece to a puzzle that fits perfectly.

 

“Okay so yeah I’m,” he lowers his voice and looks around, “bisexual. But I still don’t know. Eddie is great—” Robin squeals a little and nods like an overexcited child “but I don’t even know if I’m his type and—”

 

“You totally are—”

 

And also I don’t know if he romantically likes me.”

 

“Okay now you’re being dense. He looks at you like he wants to eat you.” 

 

“Then why hasn’t he made a move?!”

 

Robin bites her lip. “Steve look—I know you’ve just come into your queerness and I love that for you—but do you really think that a gay guy in Hawkins is going to just outright hit on his previously assumed totally straight friend? It’s not that easy, babe.” And okay yeah she has a point there.

 

“But it’s me. He knows I know about you and Vickie—hell he came out to me the other night and it was totally fine. I am pretty sure I have been flirting with him for weeks—”

 

And you’re just now telling me you like him?!” Robin shrieks and Steve hurriedly shushes her with a hand over her mouth, even though the store is still empty. 

 

“I know I’m a literal mess, Rob.”

 

“Yeah, you kind of are,” she says, pulling his hand away from her mouth and yanking him in for a hug. “But if you want to get your man, you’re going to have to make the first move. He is so into you. Trust me.”

 

***

 

The realization hits him like a ton of bricks. He likes Eddie. He likes Eddie. The swoopy, fluttering butterflies he feels every time he’s near, the sound of his laugh—Eddie has become one of his best friends and an integral part of his life. Holy shit. Steve really, really likes him.

 

It takes a week for Steve to pluck up the courage to make a move. Steve is pretty certain Robin is right and Eddie is into him. She wouldn’t tell him why, but she was adamant when they talked about it. Steve keeps replaying the party where he shotgunned with Eddie over and over again. He hadn’t stopped thinking about how insanely hot it was. That’s when he gets the idea. 

 

As per usual, they’re on Eddie’s couch—Wayne is still working nights and he won’t be home for hours—they’ve got snacks and Eddie is packing a little glass blown pipe with some weed he traded Argyle for. It’s got a ridiculous name—purple something—and when Steve asks Eddie why he got some from Argyle when he has his own supply he just says it’s to broaden our horizons.

 

Steve’s heart is in his throat when he asks, as casually as he can.

 

“Could you show me how to shotgun again?” Eddie’s eyes widen and he almost drops his lighter. He recovers quickly, face going strangely blank. 

 

“Why, you wanna impress a babe, Harrington?” There’s something off about his voice and Steve feels a little more confident because he’s pretty sure Eddie is jealous

 

He smirks. “Something like that.”

 

Eddie eyes him and nods before he takes a hit off the pipe. This time when he reaches out to bring Steve closer, instead of grabbing his neck he hooks his fingers under Steve’s chin. The motion makes Steve flush down to his toes and they’re close enough that Eddie definitely notices. He quirks a brow and applies just enough pressure to indicate that Steve should open his mouth. Steve lets his lips part and he inhales, never looking away from Eddie. 

 

Steve is good at this. He’s good at the seduction and the teasing and the flirting…at least he used to be. He’s good at kissing too. He sees Eddie glance down at his mouth and he knows, down deep in his bones with glorious triumph, that he’s right


Before the other man can pull away, Steve slides his hands up to cup Eddie’s neck and keeps him in place before tilting his head and finally, finally pressing his lips to Eddie’s. 

 

It’s soft and sweet—a chaste kiss that’s closer to an invitation for more than a real kiss. Eddie’s hand drops away from his chin to rest against his chest and the pipe clatters to the floor. Steve pulls back marginally, smiling as Eddie’s eyes blink owlishly and his brain catches up. He hears the other man mutter Thank fuck, I fucking knew it—before fisting his hands into Steve’s shirt and yanking Steve forward, crashing their mouths together.

 

This kiss is everything. It’s biting and hungry and on the edge of desperation but it’s so, so good. Steve pulls Eddie forward urging him to straddle him as he bites his bottom lip before soothing it with his tongue. The moment Eddie swings himself into his lap he rolls his hips down and Jesus Christ Steve realizes he’s hardjust from a little tongue action but he’s so incredibly into Eddie and it feels like every touch is going to light him on fire. And oh shit Eddie is too—he’s not going to survive this with his pride intact. (He doesn’t care).

Steve moans into Eddie’s mouth and he hears the other man chuckle darkly before Steve is pulling his mouth away to kiss and lick at Eddie’s neck. 

 

“I like you so goddamn much, Eddie,” he whispers into his ear before biting down on the lobe.

 

“Steve—Stevie. Oh my god. I like you too—fuck if that’s not incredibly obvious yet.” It’s Steve’s turn to laugh. 

 

They lose some time together, though they don’t do more than kiss and tease—hands roaming for whatever patches of skin they can find, clutching at one another as if they’ll disappear. Eventually they pull back, breathless and smiling and they meet each other's eyes and simultaneously start to laugh. 

 

“Goddamn, Stevie. Who knew you could be so smooth?” Eddie says as he leans down to kiss Steve again. “That work on all the babes?”

 

“You tell me, babe.” 

 

The corny joke was absolutely worth the look on Eddie’s face. His mouth pops open to form a perfect O and he blushes up to the tips of his ears. Steve can’t help but kiss him again. 

 

“How are you even fucking real, Steve Harrington?”

 

Steve just grins. 

 

“So are you gonna be my boyfriend or what?” Eddie is still blushing and smiling like he can’t believe his own luck.

 

“I’ll be whatever the fuck you want me to be, sweetheart. As long as you keep kissing me like that.” He’s soaring, floating and happy and he’s never going to get tired of this feeling.

 

“This,” Steve murmurs as he pulls Eddie’s mouth back to his own. “This is what I want.”