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Steve had decided to try and get pregnant. The notion came to him shortly after El’s birthday, when Steve realized that all his kids were over twenty-one. The abrupt ache of an empty nest got the ball rolling, and after more researching and reading than he’d done during any one year of school, he made his decision.

Most of the people in his life were well meaning when he told them, but also rudely disbelieving. After all, Steve was a single omega in his mid-twenties, mostly living off a trust fund from his parents and a hefty inheritance from his great aunt. Money he was very grateful for, considering he’d never be able to afford owning a house in the new development near downtown with his sporadic part time jobs. 

(Good ol’ Aunt Phyllis would have been stoked to find out that he choosing to be a single parent.) 

The issue with the public perception of his personality was the fact that it was largely based off the person he was in his sophomore and junior year of high school. Steve had grown and changed from the flakey teenager. One could almost say he was literally an adult. 

At least Dustin supported him. Mostly. 

“Steve, you can’t be serious.” 

Dustin sat at the island in Steve’s kitchen, eating a bowl of cut up strawberries that Steve had put out for him. Old habits die hard, and Steve had been one of the few people who could get a young Dustin to eat his fruits and vegetables. “I mean of all the people in Hawkins, in the world, why him?” 

Earl grey tea was kind of gross, but Steve was trying to stop drinking coffee for his caffeine fix. He took his time stirring in a packet of stevia while he considered his answer. 

Billy Hargrove had come along in Steve’s senior year of high school and had promptly become a massive pain in the ass. Although, one thing that set him apart from all the other alpha meatheads was the fact that his taunts and jabs were purely personal for Steve, and never once did he resort to misogyny. 

God, the bar had been so low at that time. 

Over the past ten years, Billy had mellowed out slightly but noticeably. He worked at the mechanic Steve frequented for oil changes and tune ups, and lived in the periphery of Steve’s life because of his association with Max. And he still seized every opportunity to try and rile Steve up by getting in his personal space and commenting on his ‘ugly’ shirts. 

(Steve didn’t know when Billy developed a hatred of polo shirts, but it was apparently long lasting.)  

In the grand scheme of things though, none of it mattered more than one thing: Billy’s genes. He was a dick of the massive variety but goddamn if he hadn’t spent the past ten years being the most gorgeous person Steve had ever seen in his entire life. 

He smoked like a chimney and often had a beer in hand, but his skin was clear, his hair was soft, and his abs were extremely enviable. 

“I don’t want to go through a clinic,” Steve started. He quickly held up his hand before Dustin could start ranting. “I’m not going to ask someone I babysat to donate. I’m not really close with any other alphas in town, and an alpha is my best bet.” 

Dustin knew all of that. As a male omega, Steve would have fertility issues with a beta for scientific reasons he didn’t actually understand. Mike and Lucas had both been presented as options in Dustin’s argument, but the idea was too wrong. 

“Billy is...close enough, but far enough. You know?” Steve set his mug down; he honestly didn’t want to drink his tea. “If he says yes, working on inception will be pretty easy. If he says no, it’s not really a big deal. We’re not friends, so it won’t have to be awkward.” 

Privately, Steve assured himself that it had nothing to do with the crush he used to have on Billy. Therefore, it wasn’t inappropriate to ask. 

“But he’s such a tool,” Dustin said around a mouthful of strawberries. “Do you think he won’t be a tool about it?” 

“God. I know he’s going to be a tool about it. But,” Steve shrugged. “Just think of how cute my baby would be.” 

Dustin raised an eyebrow. 

“I would have a really cute baby, Dustin. And you would have a really cute little baby pseudo-sibling.” 

Poor Dustin, the only child, twenty-three and still wanting that younger sibling. He perked up, still looking skeptical but finally chewing quietly. 

“Plus, it’s all going to be in a contract. No parental or financial obligation,” Steve added to sweeten the deal. “I’ll get a positive test, pay him, and he’ll fuck off to wherever he spends his time.” 

Dustin hummed, drumming his fingers on the table. “I’m still godfather?” 

“Obviously.” 

“Okay,” Dustin bounced, smiling broadly. He was excited for a baby, and when he smiled, he looked like a cheetah cub. “Well, Max said she’d text you his number so...good luck?” 

“Thanks.” 

-

Sending the text was nerve-wracking, even though all he sent was ‘can we get lunch?’ Steve had put his phone face down and tried to distract himself with scrolling through reddit and Tumblr, but waiting for a response was even worse than sending the message. 

He’d followed up with several messages explaining who he was, once it occurred to him that Billy probably had no idea who was texting him. Eventually, Billy finally responded telling Steve to stop blowing up his fucking phone. 

Despite Steve’s fears of Billy’s attitude after that response, he was invited to a Starbucks in between their homes. Steve distantly recalled Max mentioning that she was envious of the studio apartment that Billy was renting over a storefront. How privileged was he that he couldn’t imagine having the same room functioning as the bedroom/living room/public space? 

Billy was already there when Steve arrived. He was sipping a green frappucino and staring down at his phone. 

The last time Steve had seen Billy even in passing was the month before during the Hopper family’s Fourth of July party. He was even more gorgeous than Steve remembered even looking a little grimey like he’d come straight from work. 

“Hey,” he approached the table, trying to smile when Billy’s blue eyes snapped up. “Thanks for meeting me. Mind if I grab a drink real quick?” 

“Depends, pretty boy,” Billy leaned back, smiling in that special way that gave Steve a major sexuality crisis in high school. “Why did you ask me out?” 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Steve whipped his head around as if anyone else cared about the two of them meeting up. No one was looking. He sat down heavily and sighed. “I’m...I have a favor to ask. But I kind of wanted to ease into asking.” 

“Interesting,” Billy drawled. “What could ‘King Steve’ possibly want from little ol’ me.” 

“I’m almost thirty, Billy. Please don’t call me that.” Steve looked down at his hands, maybe this was a bad idea. There was no way Billy would agree to being a donor. 

“Look Harrington, I’m leaving in five minutes so spit it out.” 

“Oh come on,” Steve whined, bouncing his leg. “It’s not the sort of thing you just spit out!” 

Billy slurped loudly at his drink. “You want me to murder someone?” 

“Obviously not. Kind of...the opposite?” Steve winced when his voice went squeaky toward the end. He cleared his throat, deciding to continue because Billy had wrinkled his nose. “Okay, so, I used to babysit a lot and I know how to take care of kids. I miss taking care of kids. And, well, I have money and time, right?” 

“Right,” Billy said blankly. 

“Right,” Steve nodded and took a deep steadying breath. “So I’ve decided that I want to start a family. With a baby. And me. Single.” 

Bringing up starting a family generally brought up the question of Steve finding someone to settle down with. The issue was that he didn’t want a partner or a romantic relationship; he didn’t feel that having a child should presuppose finding a mate.

“But I need a sperm donor and, uh, well,” Steve’s nerves were completely frayed at that point. Which was probably why he ended doing the saddest jazz hands. 

The blank look was gone and Billy’s eyes were practically sparkling, which Steve translated as trouble. He bit his lip, knee still bouncing noisily under the table. 

“A donor,” Billy practically purred. “You want me to get you pregnant.” 

When he phrased it like that, Steve couldn’t help but blush. He cleared his throat, wishing he’d just gotten a drink before bothering to speak to Billy so that he could sip it and buy some time. “Basically. You don’t have to sleep with me, the cup method works fine.” 

“And other than not-sleeping with you,” Billy sounded a little snotty. “What’s in it for me?” 

Only a little mocking was infinitely better than outright refusal. And he was getting to the part Steve was actually comfortable with. “$600 for each attempt,” he said. It was a lowball, but considering it was under the table, the supplemental income wasn’t half bad. “I’m tracking my cycle, so we’d only need to try about two days each month.” 

“And after?” 

Steve paused. “After inception I’ll give you an extra thousand.” 

“No, I mean once you’re pregnant, how does it work?” The serious look on Billy’s face was unnerving. Steve was briefly worried that he was about to say he wanted to stay in the picture. “You know how to take care of kids that don’t go home at the end of the day?” 

“Does anyone?” 

Billy’s face hardened. “You don’t just have a kid on a whim, Harrington,” he said lowly. “Can you actually take care of one for the rest of your life?” 

Living in a town like Hawkins and having a direct relationship with Max meant Steve was familiar with the Hargrove family history. How Billy’s mother abandoned him, how his father abused him, how long he’d lived in that toxic place before finally escaping and taking Max with him when it seemed Neil was turning on her as well. 

Despite how horrible that was, Steve couldn’t help the warm feeling in his chest. 

“I don’t yell, I don’t believe in corporal punishment, and I’m on book four of twenty on my parenting book reading list.” He didn’t add that they were all audiobooks because he had such a hard time reading. “I wouldn’t try to have a baby if I wasn’t ready to do everything I could to give them a good life.” 

Steve hoped his face was as open as he wanted it to be as Billy searched him. Of all the reactions he expected, this hadn’t been one. It made him feel better about Billy as a candidate. 

Finally, Billy slurped his frappucino again and grinned wolfishly. “When do we start?” 

-

Only Dustin knew that Billy was Steve’s donor, and that they were trying to conceive. Steve shuddered to think what Mike, Max, or even Nancy’s reaction would be to finding out. As a result, he banned all visitors from his house the following month during his fertile cycle. 

“Hell of a heat nest, Harrington,” Billy whistled as he strolled through Steve’s house. 

That was such an outdated term, calling it a ‘heat’ for an omega. He wondered how Billy would feel if Steve referred to his cycle as a ‘rut’. Weirdo would probably like it. 

“I’m not in heat,” Steve said loudly so that Billy could hear him from the bathroom. At least the jerk waited until he’d signed the donor contract before snooping. The hormone test strip finally reacted, confirming his ovulation. He tossed it and went out to meet Billy. “I mean, it’s not called a heat.” 

“My bad, Princess,” Billy was rooting through the fridge like he owned the place. “PMS, whatever.” 

“Don’t be an ass-Billy, don’t drink from the jug!” Steve stomped his foot. That orange juice was five dollars a quart. 

Billy rolled his eyes and put the juice back. 

Steve sat at the island. There was a package on it, already opened because he’d been expecting the kit. “Okay, so there’s two cups,” he said as he dug through the contents. He blinked at the syringes, they were bigger than he realized they’d be. “I think you’re only supposed to do one to start. Do you think you’ll need two?” 

“No,” Billy said with a smirk. “I think I’ll just fill the one.” 

Despite recognizing that Billy was laughing at him, Steve handed the cup over. “Cool. You can use my room if you want. Uhhh, and my laptop?” Steve looked around as though he could spot it from his seat. “It’s on my desk.” 

“I’ll use my phone,” Billy leaned over the island. His shirt was barely buttoned as it was, and it opened even more when he invaded Steve’s space. He smelled spicy, clean, not even a hint of the usual smell of cigarettes that was usually there. “Unless you want to lend a hand.” 

Steve gulped. He’d never acted on his attraction to Billy, and Billy never gave any indication that he was attracted to Steve. Moments like this always tested Steve; at least they weren’t in the showers after gym anymore. 

He took a deep breath through his mouth and threw Billy his most unimpressed look. 

Billy winked before he strolled off down the hall. The scent of him lingered, and while he wasn’t ‘in heat’ Steve was definitely more susceptible to smell of an aroused, virile alpha. 

He turned on the TV to try and distract his hormones. HGTV was running a house flipping marathon and Steve always enjoyed those because it was information he could remember. Grey walls, white shaker cabinets, open concept, and boom, Steve was an interior designer. 

The acoustics in the house didn’t carry sound from the bedroom very well. Steve knew that. But he still imagined he could hear something from Billy, so he turned up the TV even as commercials started to blast. 

Back in school, Steve never would have imagined that he’d be paying Billy Hargrove to come to his house and jack off into a cup. He might have fantasized about something in the same vein in his hornier moments, but that wasn’t important. It was also something he should not be thinking about unless he wanted Billy to walk out of the room and into a cloud of awkward pheromones. 

Steve jumped when his phone buzzed. 

[Received] Turn that shit down.  

He obeyed with a huff. It wasn’t that loud. 

Two episodes passed when the bedroom door finally opened. Steve turned the TV down but left it on for background noise when he went to meet Billy. “Well?” 

Billy held up the cup. It was half full, which now that Steve was looking at the volume, was quite a lot. “Get it while it’s hot,” Billy grinned. 

“Why?” Steve covered his face. “Why are you like this?” 

Billy laughed loudly and pushed the cup against Steve’s hands until Steve took it. God, he actually could feel the temperature. Well, better hot than cold, he supposed. 

Steve held onto the cup while he followed Billy to the door. He handed over an envelope with cash inside. “So, I’ll text you in about two weeks,” he said. “Either it’ll be good news or...rescheduling news.” 

“Right.”

“And Billy,” Steve stopped him before Billy stepped off the porch. “Thank you.” 

Billy gave him an unreadable look. “Don’t thank me yet, Princess.” 

Steve took the rest of the kit to his bedroom, and as he expected, it smelled strongly of Billy. His pillows were moved, and Steve couldn’t help the flutter of pleasure at the thought of Billy lying back on his bed. 

He’d studied up on the insemination process, and hurriedly stripped to get started. The sensation was strange, but if all went well, it would be worth it. 

-

Sixteen days later, Steve texted Billy that he took three tests over two days, and they were all negative. Dustin was with him when he sent the message. 

“It was only your first try,” Dustin said gently as Steve sniffled over his phone. “Lots of people have to try more than once, Steve.” 

“I know, but,” Steve dropped his phone on the cushion next to him and leaned back against the couch. He stared at the ceiling, perfectly aware that it was normal to make multiple attempts, but still feeling like he was a failure somehow. He was an omega, he was supposed to be able to carry a child, so why wasn’t he? “It just sucks.” 

Dustin hummed. He reached for Steve’s phone when it buzzed and blinked. “Well, at least Billy’s being nice to you.” 

“Is he?” Steve laughed and reached for the phone. 

[Received] Sorry Steve.

[Received] Ready again when you are.

It was definitely nice for Billy. Steve smiled softly, “yeah. It’s weird, he’s practically an adult now.” 

“Weird,” Dustin said with his baby cheetah smile. “Are you going to try again with him?” 

“Yeah. I wonder if I could get him on a fertility diet,” Steve pondered. He wondered what Billy’s usual diet consisted of, and if he’d be open to pomegranate juice. 

“Maybe you should consider trying to infect him with baby fever as Plan B.” 

Steve pouted and had to unlock his phone again before he could respond. 

[Sent] next cycle is in about ten days 

Then, with a sly grin at Dustin he added: 

[Sent] drink pomgran-juice

“Steve!” 

Then Billy responded with a link to a recipe for wild salmon and lentil salad. Steve raised his eyebrows and showed it to Dustin. “Should I try and make that?” 

“Ooh,” Dustin scrolled through the ingredients. “Yes. Make enough for me too.” 

-

Steve spent a lot of extra time watching TTC videos on youtube over the next couple weeks. It was equal parts encouraging and worrying, because lots of the vloggers reported they didn’t conceive until after at least six months. 

One thing that kept him strangely sane was the fact that Billy started texting every other day. Mostly links to fertility recipes, but the messages could evolve depending on what Steve’s response was. 

[Received] So what are you cooking for me on Friday?

That was Billy’s response when Steve sent him a picture of the latest recipe that he tried for a mushroom and goat cheese frittata. In truth, his cooking was hit or miss, and the eggs had turned out a little rubbery, but it wasn’t inedible. 

[Sent] I’ll have the finest bag of baby spinach

Steve took another bite and chewed slowly. It wasn’t too bad, nothing to be ashamed about if he did want to cook for someone other than Dustin. Whenever the rest of the party wandered through, Steve stuck to take out. 

He was staring at his pending list of recipes to try, trying to figure out how to use up the rest of his gruyere when Billy’s response came in. 

[Received] Meat.

Steve snorted, Billy was stupid. His cheeks hurt from smiling, but he opened his list again to look for something savory. 

Then the reality of what he was doing set in and Steve dropped his phone. He was not about to invite an alpha into his nest house, and was looking forward to cooking for him. He couldn’t cook for Billy. 

That wasn’t the sort of relationship they had. 

[Sent] I’ll order pizza

[Sent] what time will you be here?  

His text speech had gotten better since he started talking to Billy. Steve sort of hated it. He put his phone down and went to check on his bedding. It would be weird to wash them the morning before Billy showed up, but if he washed them now then it was like he didn’t care. 

His phone buzzed and Steve tripped over the couch in his haste to get to it. 

[Received] Get off work at 4 on Friday, be there 20 after. 

[Sent] cant wait 

Steve groaned and buried his face in one of his sofa pillows. With any luck, the second time would take and he wouldn’t have to keep confronting this part of his brain.  

-

Friday came fast, and Steve was running through his house like a tornado trying to clean but make it look like he hadn’t just cleaned. Ovulation was the worst; all he wanted was to rub his scent all over his territory and ensnare the fertile alpha the moment he arrived. 

His only solace was the fact that the desire would pass once he masturbated a few times. 

The pizza on the island was pepperoni and bacon, though Steve drew a line at pineapple. Less because of any personal taste, but more because Mike always demanded it as a topping. Not even Billy would get pineapple on a pizza that Steve Harrington ordered. 

Steve tilted his head to the side; was it unsanitary to have the insemination kit next to the hot pizza? 

He moved it to the coffee table to be safe before he heard a knock on the door. It was only 4:15, Billy was early. 

“Why are you out of breath?” he asked when Steve opened the door. 

“Uh,” Steve stepped back to make room for him. “No reason.” 

Billy licked his teeth and looked Steve up and down as he sauntered in. “Sure smells like a reason.” 

“Don’t be gross!” 

Steve had tested his cycle before Billy arrived that time, so they settled on the island to eat. Billy looked particularly clean, considering he’d supposedly come directly from work. His hair looked particularly fluffy and Steve itched to touch. 

“Light day?” he asked casually. 

Billy shrugged, his mouth full from cramming half a slice into it in one go. 

“I had a light day. Finished another one of my books, made a shopping list, you know, domestic stuff,” Steve waved his uneaten crust around, gesturing to random spots where he killed time. “Wanna be in practice.” 

“Are you nervous?” Billy asked, eyeing him as he babbled. 

“A little, I guess.” Steve tried to settle back into his seat, but the adrenaline was starting to kick in. It was almost crazy, he was about to try and get pregnant again, but somehow he was just sitting there eating. “Been watching a lot of TTC videos and I can’t help but worry that I’m going to find out something is wrong with me.” 

“Well,” Billy drawled in a dangerous sort of way that told Steve he was about to be lewd again. “If this doesn’t work, we can always try the old fashioned way.” 

“If that’s your angle then it should be you buying me dinner,” Steve huffed. “Otherwise, shut your trap.” 

“Shut my trap,” Billy snickered. “Are you going to be one of those parents that fake swears?” 

“You think I have the ability to stop swearing?” 

“I think you might be stubborn enough.” Billy reached for a second slice. 

“Careful, that almost sounds like a compliment.” 

Billy gave him a look. “I compliment you all the time.” 

“Derisively calling me ‘pretty’ and ‘princess’ isn’t complimenting me.” Not that Steve didn’t sort of enjoy it. 

“Ooh, ‘derisively’,” Billy grinned. 

“Okay, pizza time’s over,” Steve shut the box and pushed it away. “Go jack off in my bedroom.” 

Billy laughed until he choked. 

-

They texted more over the next two weeks before Steve had to let him know that they were going to need to try again. It was a 180 from the reddit threads and memes they’d been sending each other, and Steve felt guilty when he got radio silence for a few hours. 

He decided to kill time with El and Max. Thus far, only Billy and Dustin knew that Steve was trying to conceive, but the girls were aware that he was interested. They dragged him through a couple stores to coo over baby clothes and cribs. 

“Small,” El marveled, holding up a pair of soft infant booties. 

“God,” Max leaned over her shoulder, looking slightly horrified. “That’s tiny. Too tiny. I’d be worried about crushing it.” 

Steve had similar fears when he first started babysitting. No one in the party was baby-sized, but they still seemed so much smaller than him. “Just make sure you don’t sit on them and you’ll be fine with your own.” 

Max wrinkled her nose. “Yeah, no thanks.” 

“No?” El asked, gently putting the booties back and picking up another pair. 

“Not now. Maybe in ten years or something,” Max shrugged. “No offense, Steve.” 

“None taken. If anything you should give it another twenty.” 

Max flipped him off, but before Steve responded with something snarky about adulthood his phone started buzzing. 

Steve held the phone to his chest when he saw Billy’s name on the screen. Why was Billy calling? Since when did Billy use the phone that way? 

“Hey, I gotta take this,” he said, edging back. “I’ll be right back.” 

“Who answers calls?” Max yelled after Steve as he headed for the exit. 

The call ended before he could answer, but then it promptly started buzzing again. So not just a call, but a double-call. Steve answered before his brain could produce any terrifying scenarios for that could be so important. “Ahoy?” 

“Really.” 

“Hey Billy,” Steve grinned and leaned against the railing that ran alongside access ramp. He could hear noises in the background and deduced that Billy was calling from work. “What’s up, is everything okay?” 

“I’m fine, I just got your message.” The noises started getting fainter so Billy’s voice got easier to hear. “So we have to try again?” 

“Third times the charm,” Steve said as casually as he could. It was one thing if he could test it immediately, but the two week wait before actually testing was too much. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t help but start to get his hopes up, thinking of all the things he wanted to get ready. The negatives hurt. 

“Let’s say it’s not, and we’re on attempt four,” Billy started. He barked at Steve to shut up when he started to argue. “If it gets to that then I think we should explore another option.” 

“What do you mean?” 

There were several seconds on the other line before Billy exhaled harshly. “You might have a better chance if we tried something else.” 

Steve was tempted to try and make Billy say plainly what he meant. He knew what Billy meant, it wasn’t hard to piece together. What confused him was the fact that Billy was dancing around it, as if he hadn’t been making jokes since the very beginning. 

“During my heat or your rut?” he asked, trying to cut the tension with terms that annoyed him. But Billy didn’t laugh. 

“Both,” he said. “Our cycles are close.”

For a minute, all he could do was stare blankly out at the parking lot with his face burning. Him and Billy, together, like that . His senior year self would have jumped for joy at the prospect of two, or more, bare sexy times with Billy Hargrove. 

Would it be dishonest of him to say yes? 

Steve was a lot of things, some good and some bad, but he wasn’t someone who would sleep with another person under false pretences. If Billy was offering under the assumption that Steve’s reasons were purely procreational, then it wouldn’t be right. 

“I mean,” he heard Billy’s breath catch. “I’m open to that. You’re very hot and you smell good.” 

Billy laughed. 

“When does your cycle start?” Steve asked, smiling softly to himself. Billy’s quiet laughs sounded so private, and through the phone, it almost felt like Billy was whispering in his ear.  

“Next week. Think you’ll be fertile?” 

“Christ,” Steve rolled his eyes. “Stranger things have happened. Want to come over after work?” 

“Next week or tomorrow?” 

“You’re hilarious.” 

“Am I nothing but a hundred million sperm to you?” 

Steve cackled. 

The door opened and Steve glanced over to see Max and El coming out of the store. 

“I’ll text you,” he whispered before hanging up. He smiled at the girls. “Bored of baby stuff?” 

“Getting hungry,” El said, looking at the phone in his hand. She was polite about her interest. Max was not. 

“Who was that?” she asked. 

“Old friend,” Steve sent off a text before he took the girls to an ice cream parlor. Max wasn’t so nosey that she’d turn down a free waffle cone in exchange for answers. 

-

That evening Billy showed up with the chicken nuggets that Steve demanded he bring in the text. “I don’t recall seeing these in any fertility recipes.” 

Despite having shoved three nugs into his mouth already, Steve answered, “am I nothing but a sack of fertile eggs to you?” 

“Fertile eggs and chicken nuggets,” Billy corrected. “Very dynamic.”

“Damn right.” 

Billy stole a beer from the fridge; Steve was trying to quit drinking but he liked to have something to offer visitors. They argued over what to watch before Steve agreed to Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The humor, now that he was watching it with him, was very on brand for Billy. 

“I’m still hungry,” Steve whined, kicking over the empty paper bag. He’d said the same thing several times, but decided to make more of a production out of it because Charlie and Dee were making out and it made him feel incredibly self conscious about who he was hanging out with. 

“You have a kitchen full of food,” Billy kicked at his leg, starting a sideway kicking war. 

“How am I supposed to build a person if I’m starving to death?” Steve demanded. He rolled onto his back so he could focus the full force of his wrath on Billy’s thigh. 

However, despite his battle prowess after years of rough housing with teenagers, Billy had his legs pinned quickly. He grinned when Steve whined and shoved them apart so he could bodily pin Steve to the cushions. 

“You lose, pretty boy.” 

His long eyelashes were so distracting when he stared down at Steve like that. “I feel like a winner,” he murmured. “You’re heavy.” 

Billy smiled slow and sharp. “You’ll be heavier when I’m done with you.” 

Of all the cheesy, stupied lines for him to throw out, that was top of the cringe list, but the low growl in his voice made Steve shiver. “Promise?” he breathed. 

“I promise, sweetheart.” Billy leaned down, dragging his lips over Steve’s cheek, inhaling softly like he was drinking Steve in. Then he pulled back just enough to look him in the eye. “Still open to it?” 

Steve gulped. “We should at least break the ice.” 

Everything he knew about Billy Hargrove prepared him for how he used his tongue. Steve barely made it a full thirty seconds before he was moaning against Billy’s mouth and clinging to his shoulders. 

The heat and weight of another person was strange but because it was Billy, wonderful. Steve had been serially single since high school; never eager to get back out there while he was living his life in other ways. He’d almost forgotten how much he enjoyed a good kiss. 

And a good kiss, it definitely was. Especially when Billy rolled his hips like he was ready to mount Steve then and there. 

“Christ,” Billy buried his face against Steve’s neck. 

“Yeah,” Steve hummed, petting Billy’s hair. “Ice is broken.” 

Billy snorted and nipped at Steve’s neck. 

“How long does your cycle last?”

“Usually about four days,” Billy sat up, resting his hands on Steve’s thighs. “Might as well put all of them to good use.” 

A whole four days of Billy Hargrove coming over and fucking him. Yeah, that seemed like something Steve could live with. He bit his lip, pretending to think it over. 

“Well,” he drawled. His ruse was ruined when Billy started tickling him. “No! I changed my mind, fuck off!” 

“Too late,” Billy grabbed Steve’s wrists and pinned his hands down. “I’ll text you when it starts.” 

“Good.” 

-

Billy texted when he got home that night after Steve insisted for several minutes before he left. Then Billy kept texting throughout the week, continuing their previous conversation about water births. 

It wasn’t a sexy conversation, but it still excited Steve because Billy mentioned that he’d bring swim trunks so he could get in and hold Steve’s hand. They hadn’t talked about going their separate ways after the conception, much less the birth. 

He didn’t bring it up. 

[Received] I’m getting off work early.  

[Received] Getting a bag from my place.  

[Received] You ready?  

Steve was sitting on his couch, halfway through a bag of cheetos and in desperate need of a shower when he read the messages. He responded with a simple ‘yes’ before he threw the bag away and practically ran to the bathroom. 

His entire place was a little bit cluttered, but Steve focused on his bedroom for tidying. The sheets should be fine, but the comforter was switched out with the semi-dusty one from the linen closet. “Okay,” he looked around. The floor was clear, his bedding was fine, and even if it wasn’t, Billy was plenty accustomed to how Steve lived. 

Which meant that Steve definitely shouldn’t be as nervous as he was. 

Dammit, he was nervous. Because it was Billy. 

Steve checked his phone and sent a message to Dustin. 

[Sent] busy next 4 days keep every1 away  

[Received] lol gross

Rude, but at least Dustin was always good for any favors Steve needed. He sniffed a little, Dustin was a such a great kid. 

He looked down and blinked. 

[Received] open the door

Steve licked his lips. It was going to be fine. It was still a business transaction. On his way to the door, the thought belatedly came to Steve that he didn’t know if Billy was expecting payment per night, cycle, or maybe even load. 

“Hey,” Billy shoved inside the moment Steve opened the door. He had a messenger bag that was overstuffed, and the scent of him wafted when he moved. Steve’s swooned, shutting the door and trying to gather his wits. 

“Jeez,” he muttered. “You were out in public like that?” 

“Yeah,” Billy closed in, pressing his front to Steve’s back. He was already hard. “Jealous?” 

Steve shook his head because jealousy was an ugly emotion and Steve was an adult who was suddenly way too aroused to bother with it. Billy slid an arm around Steve’s middle and tugged him back. 

“Come to bed, princess.” 

Billy had him naked before they made it back down the hall. Then he was naked before he shoved Steve back onto the bed. The worry in the back of Steve’s mind that it was going to be awkward was completely gone. 

There was no hesitation from Billy when he pressed Steve down into the sheets. “Tell me when you need a break,” he growled before mouthing at Steve’s neck. 

“Think I’ll need one first?” Steve was already feeling breathless but he wasn’t going to admit it. 

The smile Billy gave him was terrifying and beautiful. Then he moved down and began his assault on Steve’s chest and stomach, biting and licking like he couldn’t stay in one spot but needed to taste every inch of available skin. 

Steve arched into it, dragging his nails up Billy’s shoulders and reveling in the answering growl. 

Then Billy shoved at Steve’s thighs, spread them with his hands on Steve’s knees. “Christ,” he muttered, staring down so intently that Steve wanted to cover himself. 

He shut his eyes instead, ignoring the urge to hide. Then next thing he felt was Billy’s breath on his cock. 

“Billy!” Steve grabbed his hair but it didn’t stop Billy’s mouth from engulfing him, and it didn’t stop Billy’s fingers from stroking at his slick hole. 

“First time,” Billy pulled back and dragged his tongue up the underside of Steve’s cock. He pushed two fingers in and groaned against Steve’s belly. “First time is gonna be fast. Second, I’ll take my time.”

Steve gulped. “Okay.”

Billy sat back again, stroking his cock. He paused, catching Steve’s eye before he laughed. “Almost forgot, no condom.” 

Steve lifted his legs to pull Billy closer by the hips. “Would defeat the point a little bit.” 

“Not little,” Billy said, following the pull and pushing into Steve. “That feel little?” 

Steve was laughing too hard to answer, but it cut off into a long groan as Billy continued sinking in. Before then, he never would have considered himself out of practice considering how often he took care of himself, but the stretch of Billy was scratching itches he didn’t know he had. 

Billy leaned over, pressing a kiss to Steve’s forehead. “You’re so fucking wet,” he whispered. “Excited?” 

“I’m having a good time,” Steve shifted, shuddering at the wave of stimulation. “Could get better.” 

“Just don’t come crying to me when you’re sore from me fucking a baby into you.” 

Steve’s answering laugh was cut off again because Billy reared back and slammed into him. He hadn’t been kidding when he said he’d be fast that first time. 

He rammed into to Steve with abandon, erratic and desperate like he couldn’t help himself while Steve hung on for dear life. All the while, he kept growling in Steve’s ear how pretty he was, how nice he took it, how good he was going to look when he was fat and expecting and--- 

“Fuck!” Steve nearly jackknifed when Billy’s knot caught on his rim. Billy shushed him, shoving back in once more before they locked.  

For several minutes they lay there, no sounds but their ragged breathing. Steve stared up at the ceiling, feeling drunk on the scent of Billy, and stuffed incredibly full. 

“Shit,” he panted, running his hand up and down Billy’s back. “I forget to get my water bottle out of the fridge.” 

Billy laughed, Steve felt it in several places and he fought to keep from tightening. “Another few minutes and you can go get it.”  

-

Four days exactly of Billy following him around while Steve tried to keep his house in order. He didn’t have a formal job, but he did get out and about a lot. He got antsy having to stay in, and cleaning helped. 

Billy was decently well behaved, aside from the time he bent Steve over a freshly cleaned counter. Steve was almost disappointed to wake up and find Billy packing his backpack. 

“Taking off?” he asked, rolling over to check the time on his phone. It was almost 11 at night. 

“Thought I’d get out of your hair,” Billy muttered, moving around the side of the bed. “Rut’s over.” 

Steve wrinkled his nose at the term but he patted the pillow next to him. “It’s late, just sleep over.” 

Billy raised an eyebrow, but he did stop moving, which Steve took as a good sign. He shifted, stretching out so he could grab at Billy’s shirt. 

“Come back to bed,” he pressed. 

“I guess.” Billy dropped his backpack and started hopping out of the jeans. 

-

After Billy left the next morning, Steve took a long shower, started a load of laundry, and went grocery shopping. It took up a lot of the day because he kept getting sidetracked over random knick knacks. Did he need a giant golden shell to stick fruit in? 

When he got home he changed the laundry over before putting away his food (and the giant golden shell). 

The house felt quiet, so he turned on Always Sunny while he made dinner. 

He sat down to eat and was slowly chewing his plate of nachos when he realized why his entire house felt cavernous and silent. He missed Billy. 

Shit. 

Steve sighed loudly and dug around the cushions for his phone. 

[Sent] so is mac gay or  

[Received] Keep watching.  

Then his screen blinked with an incoming call. Steve forced away his giddy smile and answered. 

“Are you that excited for me to get past season 7?” he asked, turning down the TV. 

“I think I left one of my shirts over there,” Billy said. 

“Uh huh,” Steve hadn’t found it when he was cleaning up but he wasn’t looking for it. “Do you only have the three?” 

“Not all of us have trust funds, princess.” 

“Fuck you.” 

Billy laughed. “I was thinking I’d come over tomorrow to get it.” 

Steve’s stomach fluttered. “Bring dinner?” 

“Sure.” 

-

Steve went out to lunch with Dustin to fill up his day, and got yelled at for drinking coffee. 

“I’m not pregnant yet,” Steve whined, curling protectively over his cup. “Also, you’re allowed to have, like, one cup now.” 

“Why would you possibly need caffeine right now?” Dustin demanded as he made annoying grabby hands. “You slept in until 10.” 

“How does it feel,” Steve held the cup further out of reach. “You’re giving me more shit than Billy Hargrove?” 

"Well, you're banging him right now," Dustin said with a weird look. "If there's ever a time for him to be nice."

It was Dustin's first time verbally acknowledging it. Steve cringed. "Don't say it like that."

"One of these days you're going to get used to the fact that I'm not twelve anymore."

"No."

Dustin finally leaned back, dropping his hands to his own drink. He was on a tea kick thanks to a new girlfriend. "Also, how is that going? It's hard to picture him without the Camaro and mullet."

"Still has the car, but he cut his hair," Steve ran his fingers through his hair. It had been the same style for so long. "You haven't seen him recently?" 

"Only in random pictures that Max posts."

"Well, he's pretty cool even when he's being an asshole." 

"Plus you're banging him," Dustin added. 

"Stop saying that!"

"I'm never calling him 'dad'!"

"Excuse me," their waiter approached the table looking pained. "If you could please stop yelling…"

Steve and Dustin apologized, sinking down in their seats. 

"I can't take you anywhere," Steve sighed, taking out his phone. "Also I'm telling Billy that you're misbehaving."

When he looked back up, Dustin was staring at him. 

"You two are really getting along, huh?"

Steve shrugged. They really were.

-

"Why did you text me about one of your nerd kids?" 

Billy slung his arm around Steve’s shoulders the moment he sat down. Steve leaned into the touch and stole Billy’s ginger ale for a sip. “Dustin was being a little shit so I told on him.” 

“I’m positive it’s been at least nine years since I was in the same room as him,” Billy snatched the bottle back. Steve had never met someone who bought actual glass bottles of ginger ale, but it was pretty delicious. “Should I kick his ass?” 

“No,” Steve chuckled. “Maybe text him and tell him that you’re not angry, just disappointed.” 

“I do not care for the implications of that.” 

“He’s the one who brought up calling you dad,” Steve pouted at Billy, and was ignored. “He’s weird.” 

“You plan on calling me daddy next time?” Billy asked, leaning in and batting his eyelashes. 

“Would that match your breeding kink?” Steve batted his eyelashes right back. 

Billy snorted and Steve pulled him in for a kiss. His pheromones had calmed down, but he still smelled so amazing. Billy pulled back after a few moments and bit softly at Steve’s jaw. “I don’t have a breeding kink.” 

Steve had to laugh at that. Who did Billy think he was fooling after that week?

-

Steve managed to keep busy for three days before the need to spend physical time because too much. 

He went out, telling himself that it was because he needed to run a couple errands. And it was obviously a coincidence that those errands took him to the side of down where Billy’s garage was. And finally, Steve was a thoughtful guy, and it wouldn’t be right if he was near Billy’s and didn’t drop in with a sandwich from a nearby shop. 

All of this, Steve explained to Billy’s boss, Benny, in the front office. 

Benny, who was visibly trying not to laugh, nodded slowly. “He hasn’t taken his lunch yet. Want me to send him out when he finishes changing some oil?” 

“I mean,” Steve toed the linoleum. “It’s fine if he’s busy. Is there a breakroom or anywhere that this can be kept?” He held up the paper to-go bag. 

“I’ll get it to him.” 

“Thank you,” Steve handed off the bag and stuck his hands in his pockets. “So I’ll just let myself out.” 

“And you’re sure you don’t want me to go get him?” Benny asked. 

“No, it’s fine.” He was feeling more and more ridiculous the longer he stood there. Why had ambushing Billy while he was at work seemed like a good idea? 

Steve offered a weak goodbye before he made his escape. He was halfway to his car when he heard Billy calling after him. Damn Benny. 

“Thanks for the food,” Billy said when Steve turned back to him. The shit eating grin on his face was not promising. “If you missed me that much, all you had to do was say so.” 

“I was in the area,” Steve sniffed. 

“Liar.” 

“Shut up.” 

“So what are you doing tonight?” 

Steve blinked, and floundered mentally over his plans. “Not much. Wanna come over?” 

“I was actually wondering if you wanted to come to my place.” Billy licked his lips, and miraculously didn’t tease Steve for staring while he did. “New season of Always Sunny is starting.” 

They could watch it at Steve’s house too. However, Steve wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to snoop on Billy’s living space. Especially considering how much time Billy spent poking around at Steve’s belongings. 

“That sounds great.” 

“I’ll text you when I’m off,” Billy smiled a little more at that and it made Steve feel warm. 

Before he lost his nerve, Steve stepped closer for a short kiss. 

“See you tonight.” 

-

Later that evening, Steve followed the directions from his GPS to street full of storefronts with apartments above them. The text included the note to park in Billy’s reserved spot, which was close by and away from traffic. 

Billy met him on the sidewalk and led Steve up to a small, but interestingly decorated studio apartment. Aside from a futon and entertainment unit, there were a couple framed vintage car posters. In the kitchen area, Steve also spotted several Santa Cruz magnets, one of which held up a picture of Max and Billy. 

“I’m impressed,” Steve said, loudly sniffing the air. “I expected it to smell like cigarettes.” 

“Not losing the fuckin’ deposit over smoking,” Billy snorted. He wandered into the kitchen and opened the oven. 

Steve peeked over his shoulder and laughed when he saw a pizza. “We should expand our palates.” Billy straightened up with a glare that Steve quickly kissed away. “I’m not complaining,” he clarified. “Thank you for dinner, snookums.” 

Billy rolled his eyes and shoved him away. “Don’t ever call me that again.” 

“You call me nicknames all the time.” 

“Yeah, but it’s cute when I do it, princess.” 

That time, Steve rolled his eyes. He didn’t dislike the nicknames, but he wouldn’t undermine his point. 

They ate pizza and drank fancy ginger ale during the show. Steve still wasn’t caught up, but he didn’t bother reminding Billy until after Mac openly talked about being gay.

“I knew it!” Steve crowed. 

“No, fuck, close your eyes,” Billy tried to cover his eyes but kept having to move his hand amidst Steve’s struggles.

Steve couldn’t help but laugh at how seriously Billy was taking the continuity of a show where Danny Devito routinely appeared naked. He kept shoving away to try and watch simply so Billy would keep reacting. 

“I’m serious, Harrington,” Billy was practically climbing on top of him the more Steve struggled and laughed. “You’re ruining the continuity!” 

“What continuity?” Steve cried as he was pinned to the couch. He was practically out of breath, but managed a loud shriek when Billy’s fingers dug into his sides. “No! Stop it, you bitch, I swear I’ll piss!” 

Billy stopped, practically doubled over Steve, laughing as well. “If you piss on my couch, you’re buying me a new one.” 

“I remember that episode.” Steve lifted his face when Billy kissed his cheek. “Remember Tommy H? He got weird about me having other friends in high school like Dennis did.” 

Billy snorted against the side of his face. “Pretty sure Hayden had a big fucking hard on for you.” 

“No, I think the teenage population in Hawkins was just way too small back then.” Steve realized that Billy had successfully paused the show and he sighed: foiled again. “He forgot all about me when you showed up.” 

“Definitely had a hard on for me,” Billy muttered. 

Steve shoved at his shoulders. “Not everyone is as obsessed with sex as you are.” That earned him a dirty smile from Billy. Steve faltered, he probably didn’t have  much of a leg to stand on in that regard, considering the nature of their relationship. “Besides,” he cleared his throat. “He and Carol got married, so, y’know.” 

“Didn’t know that, actually.” Billy finally sat back, and Steve followed so they were sitting side by side. “You still in touch with them?” 

“Only on Facebook. I mostly only keep up with the kids.” 

“I don’t talk to anyone from high school,” Billy said with his nose wrinkled. “Except you. Most of the cool people only started showing up the last few years.” 

Steve was tempted to point out that Billy could have gone back to California for the past ten years. Instead he leaned his head on Billy’s shoulder and sighed when Billy’s arm settled around him. “Whole new crew, whole new you?” 

“Christ, you put that on Facebook with a Minions picture?” 

“Fuck you,” Steve pinched Billy’s side and he laughed. 

“I get beers with my coworkers sometimes, and a couple of my neighbors are alright. Have you seen the mural of the mountain range over the parking lot?” 

“I think so,” Steve said, although he did recall the mural and had found it impressive. For some reason, that made his stomach feel heavy. 

“Guy across the hall did it. The city hired him to paint some to make the neighborhood more artsy.” Billy gestured toward one of the walls. “Trini upstairs has a yoga studio around the corner. He did a mural in the alley over there.” 

“Cool.” His face felt warm because Billy nuzzled his hair in response, but his chest felt cold. Steve was sure that if Billy was steadily dating someone, he’d know by that point. But he’d never asked if Billy was actually interested in anyone. 

Compared to Billy, Steve had actually become somewhat reclusive as the years went on. After he left, later that evening, Steve sent a text to his old friend and coworker, Robin. 

Robin texted back and called him a dingus, and then they took their chatting to Discord. It felt good to talk to her regularly again. They’d been close when they worked at the same ice cream shop and then video store before Steve came into his windfall of cash and stopped working. By the time Robin left Indiana for school, their communication had dried up to exchanging pleasantries on holidays. 

Robin and Dustin helped Steve stay distracted so that he wasn’t quite so clingy at Billy. After all, if Billy had friends to go out for beers with, Steve could have his. Not that he could go out for beer. 

In fact, Steve kept it to strictly texts with Billy; including when it was time for his next pregnancy test. 

Billy responded with a horse emoji that Steve read as a good luck wish after staring at it quizzically for several minutes. 

It was the middle of the day, and Steve had picked up a new brand for his test while he was grabbing potato chips. When he’d first started trying to conceive, the idea that it would take so long to work was more of a fear than an expectation. 

All the times it had come back negative meant his stomach fluttered with apprehension instead of anticipation. But maybe a different brand would be a good luck charm after all.

Steve set the test down and started pacing. 

Three minutes. 

He was already mapping out the next day, going to the bank. Billy preferred getting paid in cash instead of Venmo. Then again, maybe it would come back positive. He’d text Billy, pay him one last time, and then Billy would… 

Was Billy going to disappear once this was over? They’d been getting along really well. Back in high school, Steve never would have guessed that he and Billy could actually be friends. But that’s what they were. 

Steve glanced at his phone and realized his thoughts distracted for longer than was needed. He went back to the counter and looked at the test. His heart sank when he saw that it was negative. 

Would Billy want to be friends with a defective omega who couldn’t even get pregnant. 

“Jesus Christ,” Steve muttered out loud at the intrusive thought. 

He texted Billy the results and left his phone in the bathroom so that he couldn’t see Billy’s response. It wasn’t a big deal, they would just try again, and Steve had all the time in the world. 

That should have made him feel better, but it didn’t. 

Steve allowed himself a couple episodes of Great British Bake Off before he finally got off the couch and checked his phone. Billy’s immediate response asked how he was doing. About twenty minutes ago, he’d sent a follow up.

[Received] That bad, huh?

Steve couldn’t help but smile, because he could practically hear Billy saying that.

[Sent] Yeah 

[Received] We’ll try again.  

It really was that simple. Coming from Billy, it was frustrating and comforting at the same time. Instead of responding to that, Steve sent a link to an infant onesie with a whale on the front. He’d been eyeing it for a while, even if he couldn’t find where to buy it.  

Their conversations mostly consisted of increasingly terrible baby clothes for a while. Steve saved most of his venting for Robin, only the second person in his life (Billy didn’t count) to know that Steve was trying to conceive. 

But then it was time for Steve’s cycle to start. For the first time in months, he wondered if he should even bother trying. Then Steve texted Billy, and he felt a soothing sense of relief when Billy answered that he’d be there. 

They had sex every morning and night for four days. Billy stayed over the entire time, leaving only to do short shifts at the garage. It kick started their routine again, and Steve was happy. 

He hadn’t realized how much he had missed Billy. He was a comforting presence, even during the next nerve wracking pregnancy test. And when he came back negative, Billy was there to put an arm around Steve’s shoulders.

-

Steve didn’t remember how the topic came about. Billy was always sleeping over, sometimes a couple days in a row, and usually had to go home before work so he could change. One of them decided that it would make more sense for Billy to have a drawer full of clothes at Steve’s house so he could sleep in. 

That was the only answer he had when his horrible friend Dustin was snooping through Steve’s shit and found Billy’s clothes. 

“I thought you didn’t want to date anyone,” Dustin said as they sat in a kitschy diner that Steve had been meaning to try. 

“I don’t,” Steve said simply, fiddling with his fork. “Although I was thinking of volunteering somewhere or something. It feels like I’ve got too much time these days.” 

“You are kind of a homebody,” Dustin agreed. “When when you’re not just staying in to bone your high school bully.” 

“He wasn’t my bully!” 

“He definitely was.” Dustin patted Steve’s hand with a pitying look. “And now you’re trying to have his baby.” 

“It’s gonna be my baby.” 

“Which begs the question, should you be making any more commitments if you’re trying to get pregnant?” 

Steve shrugged. Maybe something long term would be too much, but he had determined that he should try filling up his days a little more. Okay fine, Robin told him he had too much time on his hands, but Steve agreed with her. 

“Maybe try ride sharing or TaskRabbit,” Dustin suggested. “More case by case basis, you know?” 

“Good idea-” 

“Plus you have an alpha to defend your honor.” 

Steve pressed his lips together as he glared at Dustin. “If you keep this shit up, I am doing to start sharing the details of our sex life.” 

Dustin looked like he might be sick.

-

In the end, Steve took more dog walking jobs than anything else, because he really liked dogs. When he showed Billy pictures of a particularly adorable pitbull, Billy demanded they find a job right then and there. 

All of that was just to say that it was entirely Billy’s fault that they ran into Will and Lucas in the park. 

“Steve?” 

Steve had a warm smile on his face practically on muscle memory when he heard Lucas’ voice. He only realized that he definitely didn’t want to run into Lucas at that moment when he heard Billy answer back. 

“Well, well, Lucas Sinclair.” 

“Billy,” Steve touched his arm in warning. Billy only smiled back, licking his teeth like a douche. Steve huffed and turned around, having a second mini heart attack when he realized Lucas and Will were approaching them. “Hey guys, how’s it going?” 

“Not bad,” Will said, looking between him and Billy. He was a little drowned out by Lucas’ exclamation. 

“Did you get a dog?” 

“Just walking him,” Steve said, leading the dog, who was very interested in Lucas’ cooing, closer to them. “Got on TaskRabbit for something to do.” 

Billy made a sound next to him and Steve elbowed him. “Don’t be gross,” he hissed. 

“Get your mind out of the gutter.” 

Steve could see Will trying to hide a smile, and he groaned internally. The idea of being caught with Billy wasn’t bad in itself, even though everyone mostly still remembered him from school. But Steve could already hear the obnoxious questions that would come next. 

“So,” Lucas said, still kneeling and petting the dog. “Are you guys are hanging out now?”

“Yeah, met up, hanging out, you know,” Steve gestured to widely that Billy had to dodge to the side. “All of that.” 

Will’s attempts to hide his smile were getting worse. Steve did not like when Will’s face did that. It was too...knowing.

“Anyway!” Steve’s voice definitely came out too high pitched because the poor puppy dog flinched. “We gotta get Clancy here back home.” 

“His name is Clancy?” Lucas asked, sounding charmed.  

Steve honestly couldn’t even remember what the dog’s name was, he was just really ready to go back home and hide in his bed. “It was good to see you guys, though. Sorry I haven’t gotten out much.” 

“You’re out with Billy,” Will pointed out. 

“I’m his favorite,” Billy leered. 

“Anyway!” Steve repeated again, louder. He dug his elbow into Billy’s side and started backing up. “I’ll catch you later!” 

“Okay,” Lucas said slowly. He looked quizzically at Will, who had finally started to laugh quietly. “See you later, Steve. Billy.” 

“Bye,” Billy sang, walking backwards until Steve tugged on his arm to turn him around. He stayed silent on the way to the parking lot, but after they got Clancy back in the car, he said, “if I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were embarrassed of me.”

Steve snorted as they got into the car but then he looked over and saw that Billy looked carefully blank. He shook his head. 

“I’m obviously smug,” he said, since he did tend to hold his head a little higher when he was out with Billy. “I’m just already exhausted because those kids are going to tell the rest of the kids, and they’re going to overreact and bother me. Because that’s what they do.” 

“You love it.” 

“I hate it!” 

“Liar,” Billy dropped his hand on Steve’s thigh and gave him a squeeze. “You love the attention.” 

Steve covered his hand but shot him a dirty look. “You’re gonna hear all about it after they ambush me in my own home.” 

-

Steve dawdled at Billy’s place for about an hour before he went home to face the music. He couldn’t help but think that the kids must be getting older, since he didn’t end up with a house full of brats until after six. 

“We’re in our twenties!” Dustin shouted when Steve said as much. “And what about you, young man? Sneaking around, cavorting.” 

“Ca-what?” Steve asked. 

“Cavorting I says!” 

“Don’t ‘says’,” said Mike, scrunching his face up at Steve. “Since when do you hang out with Billy Hargrove?” 

“Billy has seemed less tense lately,” Max said thoughtfully. “I figured he was just getting laid.” 

“Oh god,” Lucas cried. “Steve, he’s not getting laid is he?” 

Steve blinked, “what?” 

“Are you laying him, Steve?” Will asked, looking like he was having the time of his life. 

“Okay,” Steve was offended. Officially offended. “First of all, I’m a grown ass adult-”

“Why aren’t you saying no?” Mike demanded. But then, to Steve’s surprise, jabbed his finger at Dustin. “Where were you through all this?” 

“What am I, the keeper of his chastity?” Dustin swiped at Mike’s hand. “Where have you been?” 

“So not that I think any of you are being any kind of reasonable,” Steve started before Mike and Dustin could start arguing, particularly because it looked like Lucas was about to jump in. “But Billy isn’t exactly the same guy he was in school.”

“So he’s not bullying you anymore-”

“He wasn’t my bully, Dustin!” All five of them made a doubtful noise. “I texted him, we started hanging out, he’s a cool guy. Also, Max is the one who gave me his number.” 

“Max!” They all turned on her, but she immediately puffed up to face them. 

“Steve told me he needed to get his oil changed!” 

“And I did!” Steve threw his hands up. It was like overreacting to anything and everything was their natural state. “So do you guys want to calm down, or do you want to get out?” 

“We just care about you,” Will said, finally seeming to take Steve’s distress seriously. 

“Billy’s better now, but that doesn’t mean I’d trust him to be nice to you,” Max leaned against Lucas. Her sad face always made her look so young to Steve, made it hard to stay annoyed. 

“Come on, guys,” Dustin interjected. “He’s still too WASP for earnest displays of affection.” 

“But not for displays of violence,” Steve grabbed Dustin, giving him a hard noogie while Dustin whined at him. 

Fortunately, it was enough that they were distracted by El finally returning what had apparently been a phone call from every member of the party. Mike took the call, although it was Max’s phone, outside. Lucas and Max followed him to fight for the call, Will hesitated at the door, looking back at Dustin and Steve. 

Once he stepped outside and shut the door, Dustin turned to Steve. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t need to. 

“We started hanging out beyond the, uh, donations.” Steve shrugged sheepishly. “It just sort of happened after we started trying during the entire cycle.” 

“Why are you weird about calling them heats?” 

“Because that’s not what they’re called. God, you’re as bad as Billy.” Steve affected a cartoonishly deep voice and said, “rut this, heat that.” 

“You tried during both?” Dustin asked incredulously. “That’s so much going into the landfill.” 

Steve rolled his eyes. “I was trying to get pregnant, nerd. We didn’t use condoms.” 

"I don't need details!" Dustin practically squeaked. 

“This is what you get for playing dumb earlier.” 

Steve!”

“And yes, we're hanging out in between. If anything that makes this more healthy!” Steve looked toward the backdoor, but thankfully Max and Lucas had actually chased Mike into the yard. “Seriously, he's not seventeen anymore.” 

Dustin hummed, face pinching like he still couldn't picture it even months into Steve's not-relationship. “He’s definitely not shitty to you?” 

The first thought in Steve’s mind was the fact that Billy would always bring whatever snack Steve asked for, sometimes even anticipating what he was craving before Steve texted. He smiled fondly at the thought of Billy’s offense when Steve tried to pay him back. “He's kind of great, to be honest.”

“Okay.” Steve raised his eyebrows, waiting for a tirade, but Dustin just chuckled. “You’re a grown ass adult, right?” 

-

Steve maintained radio silence with Billy after the meeting. Less because of the Party, moreso because Steve was starting to examine his feelings a little closer. Dustin didn’t say the word, but it almost felt like someone found out about his secret boyfriend. 

The notion was ridiculous. The purpose of the whole arrangement was that Steve didn’t want to look for a boyfriend. And if he did want one, Billy Hargrove wasn’t the first person one would think of. 

Saturday morning, Steve was sitting in his sweats and munching on Cheerios straight out of the box. His phone buzzed. 

[Received] I’m outside.

Of course he was. Steve couldn’t help his giddy smile when he answered the door. 

“So what, nerd squad caught you and suddenly you don’t know me anymore?” Billy’s glare was severely undercut by the breakfast burrito he handed over. 

“Nerd squad caught me and has been up my ass all week,” Steve lied. He kissed Billy, refusing to step back and let Billy in until he kissed back. 

-

Fall came, and it was chilly and beautiful, and everywhere had pumpkin syrup. Steve had a mouthful of scone when the timer on his phone went off. Steve turned it off and paused the video he was watching to check the pregnancy test. It was pretty much habit to test weekly by that point.  

He almost threw it away before he noticed the difference. Then Steve was choking on the scone. 

Holy shit. Holy shit. 

Steve frantically gulped water from the sink until he stopped coughing. He checked the test again to be safe. 

Then he called Dustin. 

“Holy shit.”

-

“I thought you wanted this,” Dustin said, sitting on the couch.

“I did! I mean, I do,” Steve whined, pacing faster and gently touching his belly. “I want this, it’s just...” He trailed off. He didn’t want to say out loud that he didn’t feel sure enough about where he stood with Billy. 

They had never talked about what was going on between them. Billy came over often, fucked Steve, slept with Steve. Sometimes they ate too much pizza and just lounged on the couch together. 

Sometimes they went out, or Steve went to Billy’s. Although, it felt like half of Billy’s belongings lived in the guest bedroom. 

Putting it all together in a list was damning. It was way more intimate than they should have been without talking about it. 

“And the whole point of a donor was because you didn’t want to date someone,” Dustin said slowly. 

“Dating is a pain in the ass,” Steve dropped onto the couch with his head in his hands. “I didn’t want to do all that work. But it’s not work with Billy.” 

“So, you want to be with Billy?” 

“I like how we are right now. Would it change? I mean obviously a baby changes things, but would it change him? I mean, yeah, but not like-would he want to be with me if I had a baby? His baby?” Steve looked at Dustin with a pleading expression. 

Dustin took a deep breath. “Steve, I’m going to tell you something you don’t want to hear.” 

Steve gulped. 

“This is a conversation you need to have with Billy.” 

“Oh god,” Steve gave up and his body flopped back against the couch. “This is one of the things I didn’t want to have to do!” 

“To be fair, you should work on handling emotional situations if you’re having a kid.” 

When he put it that way, talking to Billy seemed like even more of an imperative. Then he looked down at his stomach and the knowledge sank it. This had happened a couple of times when waiting for Dustin to come over. It was the sudden realization that it was all real; it was happening, he was having a baby. 

“I guess I should call him,” he said in defeat. 

Dustin patted his shoulder. “You want me to be here when you do it?” 

“It’s okay. Maybe call Robin though, catch her up so I can have you both on stand by if it goes horribly?” 

“Got it.” 

Dustin spent the next half hour talking Steve down from a mild panic attack before he left. “Call me if you need to,” he said, halfway out the door. “Remember, you got this.”

“Yep, yep,” Steve’s hair was sticking up from how much he was running his hands through it. “I got this. I’m adult.” 

“Yeah.” 

“Yep.” 

Dustin paused, staring at him with visible concern. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stick around?” 

Honestly, Steve did. But he also knew that he didn’t want Dustin around if Billy decided to be an asshole about it. Steve didn’t need an audience. “I’ll be fine.” 

Still looking dubious, Dustin finally left. Steve sat quietly on the couch, checking the time and then taking a deep breath. 

When he called, Billy answered on the first ring. 

“Hey,” Steve said, “are you off work?” 

“Just got off, yeah.” Steve could hear a couple voices in the background. He wondered who it was. He swallowed back his nerves. “Can you come over?” 

“On my way now.” There was a pause. “Are you okay?” 

“I’m uh,” Steve meant to say that he was fine. “I’m pregnant.”