Chapter 1: Judge
Twelve minutes past midnight, the whole street is dark, save for the stubborn flickering at 4819 Cherry Lane.
Someone was alive in that house—someone who shouldn’t be.
Waiting in the guise of night and foliage, his end was coming.
Tonight, Death would take the last Hargrove in her arms, once her dutiful servant sealed his fate. All she needed was a nudge.
Steve Harrington always thought himself a creature of habit. Since Nancy ripped his heart out and rolled around on it with Byers, he found himself on shaky ground.
For all the chaos Billy Hargrove brought along, Steve had never felt more at peace. Feelings bloomed, blood pumping through his veins once again, and he came alive. Shades of grey were replaced with splotches of color.
And then on the fourth of July, the sun was snuffed out. The selfish bastard that he was, Steve always referred to Billy as his sun, which was… it was bullshit . Billy was never his.
The world came to a halt that fateful night. It was as though he too, ceased to exist. But for everyone else, the world kept on spinning. Billy’s memory was only alive in El and Max. Max …
Fuck, she was dead, too. Susan died the same day, from a broken heart.
Steve grips his steering wheel, knuckles white, as he watches the slouched figure’s shoulders shake with laughter.
Steve had the pleasure of meeting Neil Hargrove only once, at Billy’s funeral service. Susan had somehow convinced him to go up and say a few words.
“He’s a snake oil salesman, my old man, “ Billy had said, grimacing. “Could sell you a trash can and convince you it was a car.”
Witnessing Neil’s act, and his crocodile tears, Steve could not see any sign of Billy present. Their eyes were both blue, sure, but that was where the similarities ended. Billy’s eyes were wide, soft, and vibrant, a window to an aching soul. Neil’s were narrow like a snake’s, toxins oozing from every pore of his leathery skin.
And yet…. he was still here. Billy wasn’t.
Steve’s trembling hand abandons the wheel and goes to the Saint Christopher necklace, the metal cool in his palm.
Tick tick tick .
Death wasn’t due at Neil Hargrove’s door, not for quite some time.
She made mistakes.
Tonight, Steve would make amends. For Max. For Susan.
When the lights finally go off, he slips in through Billy’s window, taking care to move as noiselessly as possible, bat in hand, a syringe in his front pocket.
He waits for a beat before exiting the tiny room. He swears it was bigger the last time he snuck in. Or maybe Billy wiggling his ass while styling his curls and spraying his dick somehow gave off the illusion of being larger than life.
Just like him.
He tiptoes down the hallway, tempted to shatter every photo he passes. Those big smiles plastered onto the three prisoners of this loveless jailhouse, especially those of Billy… are so blatantly forced, and Steve tries not to think about what Neil did to get him to comply.
He can’t afford to derail from his objective. Rough the prick up a bit, is all, right ?
He maintains his silent gait to the living room, where he comes across a passed-out Neil, covered in puke, his fly open. He almost looks human. Pitiful.
Then Steve catches a glimpse of his hands. The hands that beat his son into submission, ensuring he would never fight back. There’s a bulky ring on his index finger, a jagged stone in the center.
Billy had a distinct scar above his hairline. Steve remembers tracing it, kissing it, and the pit in his stomach grows branching out into loathing, polluting his bloodstream.
A beer bottle shatters, and Steve holds his bat aloft.
Neil squints at him, and Steve lets him get up before slapping him in the face. It’s enough for him to stagger a bit, but Steve isn’t done. Neil needs to be awake when he kicks the shit out of him.
Steve slaps him again when the drunkard sluggishly stalks toward him. He turns the faucet on, dodging meaty fists as he waits for the temperature to reach scalding. He dances around the counter, gripping a fistful of Neil’s close-cropped hair, yanking until he hears a yowl, and he drags him in front of the sink.
“Where did these come from?” Steve inquired, inspecting angry red blotches on Billy’s right hand.
“Burned me with the tap,” Billy replied, voice cracking .
Steve shoves Neil’s face under the water, and the man’s bloodshot eyes bulge out of his puffy face, bubbles coming out of his nose and mouth.
Steve yanks him up, pressing his fingers into the blisters, digging his nails in for good measure. “Do I have your attention now?”
“What do you want?” Neil rasps.
“For you to fight back, pussy,” Steve taunts.
Neil lands a solid punch, hitting him square in the nose, but Steve tilts his head back, laughing maniacally. “Looks like you got some fire in you, after all, Hargrove.” He taps his chin in mock thought, adding, “I’m a little disappointed, though. I’ve seen some of your handy work. Is it because I’m not your son- I’m so sorry- punching bag?”
Neil scoffs, “You’re the fairy who corrupted my faggot son, then?”
Steve smiles cruelly, bringing his bat down on the hand sporting that fucking ring, taking relish in driving the nails through flesh, not stopping until he’s convinced he’s reached bone. Neil turns pasty white, tears welling up.
Steve smirks, spitting in his face. “Ya know, I’m shocked you can actually cry. I didn’t know devils could feel.”
“Least I’m not going to hell.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure. Tell me… how many times did you do it?”
“Do what ?”
“Hit your son ,” Steve says vehemently.
Neil chuckles mirthlessly. “Not enough-”
“Say it. Say you understand.”
“Go to hell, f-”
“SAY IT!” Steve bellows, grabbing the smaller man by the collar and pushing him against the cabinets.
Neil cries out as Steve keeps shaking him like a rag doll, head lolling from side to side.
“Every day,” Neil slurs, blood seeping from his skull. “You happy now?”
“I’m gonna kill him! I swear to God, one of these days, I’m gonna look him in the eye, and I’m gonna teach him a lesson or two about respect!” Billy’s strained voice rings in Steve’s ears, crystal clear, as if he’s there and he’s yelling at him to get the job done .
“No,” Steve says, eerily calm despite being anything but.
“ What did you say ?”
“I said no.”
Steve has faced threats far greater than this sad excuse for a human. This is a fight he can win, because he’s not fighting for himself, but for the dead boy at the cemetery. The boy he loved.
He has Neil cornered now. The asshole’s got nowhere to run, and he grabs a plate, aiming for Steve’s head, but Steve jabs the needle into Neil’s neck, and proceeds to do a little dance as Neil’s body goes stiff and he collapses on the tile.
Billy would get a kick out of this .
Steve swallows, wiping his eyes. There’s only so much Hopper can cover up, maybe-
Neil shouldn’t get the luxury of dying in his own home while Billy rots six feet underground, his sacrifice forgotten.
He needs to pay for his sins, and his sins alone.
It’s about time someone around here got what they deserved.
He cannot hide behind his son anymore.
God’s will be damned, Neil Hargrove dies tonight.
Chapter 2: If You Give A Boy A Gun
Things that go bump in the night: cars over potholes, blind strays, and you know, the body in Steve Harrington’s trunk. He wants me to assure the reader that he doesn’t plan on making this a habit. He’s only done it once.
Where were we? Oh, yes!
He had just gotten the backseat cleaned (with a heavy heart he vacuumed each crumb the kids left), so there was no way in hell he was putting Neil there. Certainly didn’t have anything to do with Steve nearly throwing out his back trying to drag the pig in a blanket out of his front door and ended up heaving it into his poor BMW’s tailgate.
Muffling is heard from the blanket, and Steve turns up the stereo a bit, making sure to drive over every speed hump.
He’s got a full tank of gas, there are barely any cars on the road, the wind’s fantastic, and since he’s almost at his destination, his baby hasn’t started stinking up quite yet. So far, so good-
Ah, shit, Stevie boy. Spoke too soon.
He’s never been so annoyed to see two cop cars in his rearview mirror. He pulls over, attempting to look as unsuspecting as possible while attempting to hide the bat under the seat without getting a nail through his foot.
An officer exits his vehicle and lumbers over to him, knocking on his window.
The coffee-deprived officer ignores his nervous grin, crossing his arms. “You were going five miles over the speed limit.”
“I’ll be sure to go slower, then, Officer… Lawrence.”
Said cop narrows his eyes at him and shines his flashlight on the passenger seat.
Thump thump. The drugs must be wearing off already. Steve gulps, fighting the urge to chew the loose strand dangling in front of his face. He’s a bundle of nerves, and he needs to let out a fraction of it, or he may just explode. Lawrence couldn’t possibly hear the faint moaning, not over…
“Mind if you come out and pop the trunk, kid?”
Shit shit shit shit shit. He can’t go to jail, he can’t-
As his mind unhelpfully supplies what could go wrong instead of conjuring up a way out, a solid excuse, his leg begins to bounce up and down in sync with the creature’s frantic assault of the hood.
“Son? Are you alright?”
He opens his dry mouth and upchucks his potato salad all over the poor rookie. Better that than the truth.
In the midst of his internal crisis, Billy Joel has the fucking audacity to sing, “Come out, Virginia, don’t let me wait,” and the devil on his shoulder, strangely enough resembling a bobblehead Billy, curls and all, titters loudly. Steve swallows down the urge to ask the cop if he sees him too, and to flick the little guy off because he can’t hear him over Little! Billy’s chortling, which is getting progressively louder as Steve digs a grave deeper for himself. Asshole. Fond, forlorn even in his troubling predicament, reminding him of why he’s here. That at least slows his heart to a slightly normal pace. I’ve made it this far.
No turning back.
“Do you have your driver’s license?” To Lawrence’s credit, he’s still remaining remarkably professional, even as a glop of mayo drips from his brow onto his police badge.
Another officer lumbers over to him; Hopper. “I’ll take care of him, Jake. Don’t worry about paperwork.” He shoos Lawrence back into his patrol car, and then turns back to Steve, who slumps back into his seat, a mixture of relief and renewed paranoia taking over.
Hopper holds a finger to his lips, before making crackling sounds with his mouth into his radio and crushing it in his hands, throwing it into a nearby field at a decent distance. “You. Are you done playing judge, jury, and executioner, or...?"
“I had to, Hop, he doesn’t deserve to be the only one standing! He was gonna skip out and get away with what he did! It wasn’t right! I had to-”
“Kid, I’m on your side here. Why do you think you’re not on your way to the station in cuffs right now?”
Steve doesn’t reply.
“Do you have a gun?” Steve shakes his head sheepishly, and Hopper huffs, handing him an unmarked pistol, “There are three bullets from a dead man in the barrel. Whatever you’re planning to do, be quick, or both of our asses are grass, you understand me?”
“Yes, sir.” Hopper pounds on the hood a few times before waving Steve off.
His lungs don’t fully work until he steps on the gas. He turns the radio up, letting Billy Joel fill the scratchy silence. Steve allows himself to hum along, and the devil perched on his shoulder does, too. He’s about to kill someone, and he’s giggling, the weight of the piece light in his pocket.
And they say there’s a heaven for those who will wait. Some say it’s better, but I say it ain’t. I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. The sinners are much more fun…
By the time he arrives at the cemetery, his mood sours, chuckles dead in his throat. That was to be expected. No one came here for a good laugh. He scopes the area for potential witnesses, and then he opens the trunk. Neil rolls out onto the grass, and Steve tugs on the end of the rope that isn’t binding It. Thank fuck for muscle memory, otherwise he'd be lost.
The atmosphere is still and quiet, almost peaceful, save for Neil spitting dirt out of his mouth. He would be greeted soon with open arms, and Steve wonders if It was ever hugged as a child. The pang of sympathy is shot quickly as he nears Billy's headstone, a shovel swung over his free shoulder.
Wilma, Wallace, William. Steve drops the rope, bowing his head in reverence. Billy never got a moment of peace when he was alive. But he surely could never rest easy.
Steve won’t cry. He can’t bring himself to disturb what Billy Hargrove was owed.
“Where the fuck are we?” Neil whines.
Steve's jaw sets, seeing red as he drags It in front of the stone and waits for a reaction. He’s not sure what he’s expecting from this slug, but one usually doesn’t look at their deceased child’s grave marker and smile.
“What’re you so fucking happy about?” Steve demands, only just managing to keep his voice down to a harsh hiss.
“Never seen it, till now. Even in death, the faggot still takes up space.” It spits on the flowers Steve left recently. He delivers a swift punt to Its face, and Neil falls onto Its back, bound arms unable to hold Its broken nose. “Why’d you bring me here?”
“Because you’re taking up space,” Steve growls. Ignore Its goading. Shoot It, shoot It now -
“He hated the name William. Bitch named him after her father. I told her it was a name for a man, not a boy-”
“SHUT UP! SHUT UP!” Metal comes in contact with flesh as Steve repeatedly strikes the devil, whose woeful screams are drowned out by Death’s right hand and his makeshift rod. “LOOK AT HIM! FUCKING LOOK AT YOUR SON, YOU FUCKING SLIME.”
The moon shies away when Steve deals the final blow- shovel blade straight through Its heart. Fatigue reaches him at last, and his knees give out. Breathing heavily, bile baiting at the tip of his tongue, he raises his head and starts to punch the soil feebly.
Neil’s blood splatters Billy’s resting place, a scarlet handprint over his name. “No no no,” Steve whimpers, rubbing the stains furiously. “FUCK! Why did you h-have to die? Y-you and Max, you-you left me! I’m a mess, Curly, I c-can’t even plant my feet!” He hugs the slab, sobbing. “I miss y-you, you and your s-stupid hair-”
“You better take that shit back right fucking now, Harrington.”
Steve sobs harder, tugging his hair. Crazy. I’ve lost my goddamn mind .“You’re not here, you’re not here-”
A warm, sturdy pair of arms embrace him. He doesn't look up until the owner tucks a finger under Steve's trembling chin, takes his hand, places it on a beating heart, cooing softly, "I'm here, I'm here, Pretty Boy."
In the darkness, a light flickers on again, brighter than ever.
Hell isn't empty anymore, and neither are Steve's arms. His little firefly, his lantern aglow amidst the sea of stone, is home.