Billy already hated his last name. It reminded him so much of his dad, of his mom. It made him want to puke every time he heard it. A teacher would refer to him as ‘mister Hargrove’ and would ruin his whole mood. But, of course, the universe just had to fuck him over even more. That fuck-over came in the form of the pretty boy known as Steve Harrington, long legged beauty of Hawkins.
It wasn’t just the boy that fucked him over; sure, Billy was completely and utterly infatuated, daydreaming about the boy in every second of free time that he had. Sure, Harrington had the most kissable lips, the gentlest and most caring nature, the laugh that sounded like honey. Sure, the rumors of King Steve made Billy weak at the knees and imagine all sorts of things while staring at him during English class. But none of those things fucked Billy over as much as Steve’s fucking name.
Steve Harrington. H-A-R. Their last names were alphabetically similar and that meant they were almost always paired together in classes. Thank god Billy only had gym and English with him.
It seemed like he wouldn’t have to worry about this fuck-over much longer as his senior year was nearing its end, but there was one thing that Billy had forgotten about; the basketball trip. The week-long retreat to some college to perfect their skill that most of them were probably just going to use to smoke weed in their hotel rooms and swim in the pool.
Hawkins didn’t have a lot of money, as the coach advised them while loading all the suitcases onto the bus. That meant that most of the players would have to be sharing beds. The coach read down his list, listing off everyone that would be paired up for this trip.
Billy wasn’t paying much attention, his bag slung over his shoulder as he went to light a cigarette.
“Hargove!” The coach barked at him. “You’re with Harrington. I don’t want any trouble from you boys now-”
Billy rolled his eyes and put away the cigarette he never did get to light. “Don’t worry coach. We’ll be just fine.”
The coach gave him the stank eye as he pointed to the door of the bus, gesturing for them to sit in the next available seat.
Well, fuck. Billy would have to stay right beside Steve this whole trip. Steve already looked unhappy, not saying a word as he got on the bus and sat by the window. Which was fine, that meant Billy could talk with the others and not pay attention to the literal beauty beside him.
This trip would be interesting to say the least.
They arrived at the hotel a couple hours later, everyone unloading and grabbing their keys to head to their rooms. As the coach had promised, the room Billy and Steve were given only had one bed.
The boys hadn’t said one word to each other this whole time, both of them setting their bags on the bed. Billy paused and said, “I’ll sleep on the floor if you want. Doubt you wanna sleep in the same bed as me.” He said it like it was a fact, like it wasn’t normal for guys to share beds with other guys.
Steve furrowed his brows and looked over at Billy. “I don’t care how uncomfortable it is. Sleeping on the floor isn’t good for you. You don’t get much sleep as it is-” Steve blushed and paused, leaving Billy gaping in confusion. “Well,” he said after a moment, “that’s what Max says, at least.”
Billy threw his head back and groaned. “God, that little shit.” He shook his head and grabbed the remote to the TV, plopping down onto the bed as he began flipping through channels.
There was a long string of silence before Billy gave up on television and asked, “what else has she told you about me?”
Steve seemed hesitant to answer, which Billy definitely picked up on, but the brunette soon regained his composure and shrugged. “Not much. Says if you’re home, you’re a recluse and blast your music too loud.”
Billy scoffed. “No such thing as too loud,” he grumbled under his breath.
“It is when you’re a kid trying to do homework.” Steve crossed his arms and spoke like a typical dad scolding his metalhead son.
Billy just rolled his eyes and tried to ignore that horrible stinging feeling he got in his chest. “Okay, dad,” he said sarcastically.
Steve sighed and checked his watch. “It’s late, I’m gonna get a shower.” He grabbed a towel and headed off to the bathroom, shutting the door and leaving Billy alone in the room.
Billy sat upright and looked around the room, getting a feel for where everything was. The bathroom was close to the door. There was little room between the bed and the small entertainment center that held the television and a small fridge. There was a window on the wall opposite the door and a small chair beside the bed.
Like every other time in a new environment, Billy analyzed the whole area. They were on the fourth floor, so the window wasn’t an option. The only way in or out was the door. After that realization, he began to feel a little trapped, but turned the TV back on to ignore that feeling.
He had trained himself to do that. Locate all the exit points. Then, if someone tries to hurt him, he can get away quickly. When it came to fight or flight, he was a flier, but of course Neil had to fuck him over and make him a fighter.
Billy snapped out of his thoughts when the door to the bathroom opened and Steve stepped out in nothing but a towel. The moment his blue eyes landed on Steve was the moment Billy knew this trip- no, this boy- was going to fuck him over.
Steve’s hair was messy, barely dried from him using his towel to dry it like most guys do and stuck to his head or sticking up in some places. The water still on his skin made him look sleek and accented all the lines on his body. He was more lanky than fit, but he did have some muscle definition from playing basketball. His posture was completely relaxed, like Billy seeing him like this was a completely normal thing.
Which, technically, it was. Because of their stupid fuck-over last names, they had to shower right beside one another. Billy has to look at it five times a week, totally not taking a sneak peek at Steve’s package- which was bigger than Billy’s, he noted- and that already took a number on him. He’d have to ignore all the images his mind conjured up, all the fantasies that made his heart race-
“Uh, Hargrove?” Steve asked, distracting Billy from his thoughts. “The hell are you looking at?”
Steve’s crotch, apparently.
“Oh, fuck, sorry. Thinking.” Billy had to make up a lie on the spot.
Fuck. “Uh… Metallica. Heard they’re going on tour. But I can’t tell if it’s true or not ‘cause everyone in your hick town is so out of the loop.”
Now it was Steve’s turn to roll his eyes.
The time passed agonizingly slow, and soon the coach walked around and announced lights-out and duct taped their door shut. Billy felt his whole chest constrict when he heard the coach seal them in, horrible memories resurfacing. He choked them down and shook his head, trying to forget. He sighed and turned off the hairdryer he brought- he was not going to go a whole week without a proper dry. He laid all the way to one side of the bed and pulled only a small part of the covers over himself, facing away from Steve.
He heard Steve sigh but brushed it off. The bed dipped beside him and he felt the warmth of Steve’s body only inches away. It just now hit Billy how annoyingly small this bed was.
“You don’t have to be tense,” Steve mumbled. “I don’t have the plague.” Was he hurt? Is that the tone that he was using? Damn Billy and his inability to understand voice cues. Rather, damn Neil, he’s the one that made Billy this way.
“Sorry.” Billy cringed, knowing that his tone was probably harsh. “Thought being close would make you feel weird.”
Steve grumbled something incoherent and seemed to curl up in the blankets, and that was the last thing Billy remembered before he fell asleep.
Billy couldn’t remember everything from his dream, but he remembered a few things.
The first thing was Neil, as always. Neil towering over him, laying into him, giving him more bruises to say you are the most vile thing I’ve ever met, and the world needs to know it.
The second thing was the cabinet. When Billy was younger, Neil would lock him inside the kitchen cabinet above the sink for a couple hours to make him think about what he’d done. It stopped when Billy got too big for the cabinet, but it still haunts him, both from nightmares and the lock on the outside of Billy’s bedroom door.
The last thing was Steve. This was a new addition to his nightmares; yeah, he’d had a few wet dreams with him, but this was the first of him in a bad one. The only thing Billy would remember was Steve’s disgusted face after he somehow learned of Billy’s infatuation with him.
So, needless to say, this was his worst nightmare yet.
Which must explain the tears as he shot up in the bed, heaving air in and out as he tried to get a grip on reality. Two more sobs left his mouth as he settled down which meant one; he was sobbing in his sleep, not uncommon, and two; he was sobbing in his sleep beside Steve.
“Fuck,” he gasped, looking around and running a hand through his hair. He must have moved over in his sleep because he was like, right up against Steve. He scooted back to where he was before and looked at the brunette, his heart dropping when he looked into those worried doe eyes.
“Billy,” Steve began, seemingly lost for words, “what the fuck was that?”
“A nightmare,” Billy growled and turned away from him, getting up and rubbing his face. He went to go take a walk but paused and remembered the duct tape on the door. His chest tightened again and something a bit short of a whimper fell from his lips before he would stop it.
Steve watched him closely. “Dude, you were… you were crying-”
“I fucking know!” Billy snapped, looking at Steve with a fire in his eyes and storming over, grabbing him by the front of his shirt. “And if you breathe a fucking word of this to anyone, your ass is grass. Do you hear me, Harrington?”
Steve’s eyes held an unreadable emotion. The brunette simply nodded, relaxing when Billy let go of his shirt. He glanced at the clock and sighed. “It’s like three in the morning. We need to get back to bed.”
Billy grumbled, “I’m not gonna sleep again,” and climbed back into bed anyway, staying as far from Steve as possible just like before.
“Well I need sleep then, so goodnight.” Pause. “I hope you do get to sleep again.”
The last statement was quiet and unsure, but it made Billy’s heart warm and gave him the urge to bawl his eyes out.
Unsurprisingly, Billy didn’t get another wink of sleep. He was so relieved to hear the sound of duct tape being peeled off, jumping up and immediately getting into his basketball uniform. Only when he was done did he shake Steve and say, “up and at ‘em, Harrington. Let’s go,” as if nothing happened the previous night.
The first day was by far the worst. The team did more sitting around than actual playing because there were so many teams playing. So, for hours on end, Billy had to sit beside Steve. He felt those beautiful eyes boring into his soul the whole time.
In the end, they only played two matches and weren’t even able to get any of the guidance the college offered. The bored boys went back to the hotel, all of them unanimously deciding to go swimming, which Billy was definitely down for.
Nothing interesting happened at the pool, nothing except the fact that Steve’s eyes were trained on Billy the whole time from where the brunette was lounging in the hot tub. Steve looked like the rich and powerful king he was from a certain angle, and Billy had to take a good glance at that because he was definitely jacking off to that image when he got home.
They all went back to their rooms sopping wet, and Billy took his shower first that night. When he stepped out, Steve was somehow still bitching about how the chlorine was going to ruin his hair. Billy just chuckled and rolled his eyes. “Buy better soap then. You have the money, King Steve.”
Steve rolled his eyes and went in to take his shower. Billy took that time to dry his hair, dreading going to sleep even more after what happened.
When Steve stepped out, Billy was already in bed, all the way over to one side. Steve sighed and dried his hair with a towel before getting into his pajamas. “You gonna be alright tonight?”
“I’ll be fine, Harrington,” Billy growled. He didn’t budge, letting Steve lay in bed beside him.
Steve groaned a bit and mumbled, “I’m here if you need me.” After that, Billy fell asleep.
This nightmare wasn’t as bad as the other one. It was just his father bruising him up again. No Steve, no cabinet. The usual.
And this time, Billy didn’t sit straight up when he woke up.
It took a few moments for Billy to even register that his face was pressed against another human being, but it was so fucking warm and he felt so safe and- was that a voice? Maybe. Billy grunted at it and, not even thinking, nestled closer only for the warm thing to move back.
“Billy, what the hell?” Steve’s voice snapped Billy from his haze, blue eyes searching and landing on Steve’s. The blonde jerked back and sat up, nearly falling off the bed when it hit him.
He’d had his nose in Steve’s fucking chest.
“Shit, I-” Billy got up and rubbed his face, pacing a bit before facing Steve. “Fuck, I’m so sorry, that was probably really weird and-”
“Shut up, Billy.” Steve glared at him. “I don’t care. That was the second night in a row that you cried in your sleep and you just sorta rolled into my arms so I figured it would be fine to just hold you for a little-”
They both stood there in shock, looking at one another with red faces. Billy was the first one to look away, crossing his arms.
“Just shut up, Steve,” Billy spat. “Shut the fuck up. Okay? I just… I need to breathe. Go back to sleep.”
So he did.
This happened every night of the trip. Billy would fall asleep as far from Steve as he could, and somehow wake up from a nightmare either pressed against Steve or bolting straight up from somewhere at least close to Steve. It was downright humiliating for Billy, and he made it clear that if Steve breathed a word of it to anyone, then he wouldn’t live to see the next day. On Friday, two days before they were going to leave, Steve suggested that maybe Billy should sleep differently.
“The fuck do you mean?” Billy asked, turning the hair dryer off to listen to Steve speak.
“You always sleep like, right on the edge of the bed, but you always sort of migrate over to me. Usually that calms you down.” Steve spoke confidently, but his cheeks were a blazing red.
Billy just scoffed. “Keep talking like that and I’d think you went faggot for me, Harrington.” He had that annoying, over-confident smile on his face.
Steve glared. “Says the one that whimpers my fucking name in his sleep.”
Billy’s whole world stopped and his eyes went wide. He was whimpering Steve’s name in his sleep. He was saying Steve’s name in his sleep. Steve’s words replayed in his head for a few moments until he snapped out of it. “I do not,” he growled and retained his usual scowl.
“Yes, you do. And your dad’s. Sometimes it’s ‘mom’. You’re mostly just begging and pleading for something.” Steve paused and studied Billy’s shocked face, noticing the fear. He kept going. “I heard things like ‘I’ll change’, and ‘I can be good’. A lot of ‘let me out’. Like you were trapped.”
“Shut up, Steve.” Billy looked away, crossing his arms.
“No.” Steve spoke sternly and frowned when he saw Billy flinch from the tone. “Billy, I don’t care what you think of me. Call me a faggot or a fairy or whatver you want. I don’t care. I want to help you.”
Billy paused, considering his words. “But… you hate me. Why would you help me?”
Steve furrowed his brows. “I’ve never hated you. You’re a prick, and kinda full of yourself, but I don’t hate you. And all that…” He gestured towards the bed. “That just proved what I was thinking.”
Billy’s stomach dropped. “What… what were you thinking?”
“There’s more to you than meets the eye. Something is deeply wrong behind closed doors and you don’t have a single healthy coping mechanism.”
Billy didn’t know what to say. He was quiet for a moment before muttering, “I’ll try and sleep closer. It might help.”
Steve smiled like a triumphant parent. “Good. Finish drying your hair and get into bed,” he said as he climbed under the covers, sitting up to read a book he brought.
Billy narrowed his eyes at him. “But coach didn’t even tape the doors yet!”
“I don’t care.” Steve said in a firm, caring voice, not the stern and upset one he used earlier. “We both need the extra sleep. So finish up and get your ass in bed.”
Billy huffed but couldn’t hide a smile. Steve cared. He wanted Billy to get more sleep. So, of course, Billy hurried and got his hair dried so he would lay in bed. He laid flat on his back, just barely closer.
Steve chuckled and sighed. “You can touch me. Like I said, I don’t have the plague.”
“I know. I’m just not used to this.” Billy scooted a bit closer and blushed when he felt his side press up against Steve’s. His face turned an even deeper shade of red when he felt Steve wrap an arm around his shoulders. “Oh… u-uh…”
“What? Don’t you like this?” Steve looked over at him, rubbing his arm tenderly. “Want me to let go?”
Billy shook his head quickly. “No, no, I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. Just keep reading.” He nervously laid his head just above Steve’s chest.
Steve chuckled and nodded, continuing to read with a content, triumphant smile. That smile was the last thing Billy saw as he fell asleep.
“Hargrove! Harrington! Get your faggot asses up and dressed, we’ve got shit to do!” The coach’s bark woke the boys up, making both of them jolt away from one another immediately.
Billy scrambled to get dressed, his face a deep red as he pulled his uniform om. At least he didn’t have a nightmare, but now he not only overslept, but was woken up by his coach who found him all cuddled up to Steve fucking Harrington. He knew, he just fucking knew this boy was going to fuck him over. He had one good night and now it was all ruined. His mood went back to his usual grouch, a scowl settling in all the creases of his face as he stormed out of the room, leaving a confused and worried Steve behind him.
The short trip to the college gymnasium was agonizing. Like they had done the whole trip, Billy and Steve sat together, both of them enduring the wrath of their peers that had heard of how they were found.
“You guys must totally be into each other. Do any butt stuff? This been going a while? Probably. Put on the whole hate shit to hide that you’re fags. Which one of you takes? Probably Steve, he looks like a fucking twink. Too spindly to take charge-”
Surprisingly, it was Steve that exploded first. “Will you all just shut the fuck up?!” He looked at everyone with a newfound rage in his eyes. “We are not together, he just rolled over in his sleep. And even if we were together, I don’t see how it’s any of your fucking business whether we fuck or who tops or what the fuck ever.” No one said anything. “We’re here to win a fucking tournament, not discuss theories about our goddamned sex lives.”
And after that, the others weren’t silent, but rather kept their gossipping down to a whisper. Steve sighed and leaned back into the stiff bus seat. He glanced at Billy out of the corner of his eye and noticed that he still had that damn scowl on. The blonde’s expression resembled that of a seasoned war hero in a way, at least to the brunette. Steve thought for a moment- not really, he just had the idea and began to execute it- before slowly and discreetly sliding his hand down to link it with Billy’s. Unfortunately, the moment their skin rubbed together, Billy jerked his hand away and crossed his arms.
Well. That went smoothly.
Billy was rough. Mean. Pushy. Steve had never seen the boy play like that before in his whole high school career, even on the days when he came to school with a shiner. The coach even had to tell him to reel it in, to “quit stealing the show and let some real men make some baskets.” But after that little comment, Billy only became fiercer.
Two months, Billy thought. Two more months he’d have to deal with this stupid straight boy charade. Two more months till he would take a trip for the summer and be himself before the next school year, and now Steve had to come in and fuck him over. He knew he was getting pissed; he was leaving all his teammates in the dust, groaning as they fell to the ground and Billy made all the baskets. The other team watched in confusion, playing their hardest and still losing to one boy.
He even plowed through Steve in an attempt to make a basket, succeeding. The grin on his face was animalistic, one of utter pleasure and satisfaction over a simple basket. It was almost hot, but Steve knew where this energy was coming from, and the brunette didn’t like it.
Needless to say, the Hawkins team won, but the coach was pissed off at Billy. The scolding took a good ten minutes in the locker room after all of the celebration, the coach’s booming voice echoing off of the walls of the locker room.
“The hell was that out there?!” He yelled, getting right up in Billy’s face. “I have had it up to here with you young man! You’ve always taken the show away from all the real talent on this team. Do you ever, for a fucking moment, think about anyone but your damn self?! Why did a queer like you have to come along and just act like he runs the place? Guess what? You don’t! I’m the one in charge, I’m the one that should be holding that trophy when we win, not your diseased hands.” He sneered. To everyone’s surprise, Billy kept the same stone cold expression and didn’t say a peep until it seemed like the coach had finished.
“Can I go get my shower now?” Billy said in a dull, disinterested voice. “I feel gross.”
“Fuck no,” the coach spat. “I don’t want you infecting the stalls. You or Harrington, for that matter. All my boys will get showered, and then you can get a shower. That way none of my boys catch whatever you two have.”
Billy narrowed his eyes at him. “You know, neither of us outright said that we were gay. We’re both straight. You’re saying all this and we’re perfectly normal.”
“If you were normal, you wouldn’t sleep that close together. You can’t hide from me, faggot,” the coach raised a hand to hit him.
“You touch me and you’ll get diseased,” Billy spat, deciding to give in and play along. “I’ll wait.” He sat on the bench in front of the locker he was using, crossing his arms as he watched everyone filter into the showers. The coach looked pleased with that answer and walked out.
Billy was silent as he waited with Steve. The brunette stood behind Billy with his back against the lockers, looming over like a shadow. Billy gritted his teeth and kept his gaze ahead, ignoring the pricking of tears in his eyes. He was dreading the return home on Sunday. Just two more sleeps.
“I’m sorry,” Steve muttered.
“Not here, Steve,” Billy spat like the words were venom on his tongue. “Wait till we get back to the room. Then you can say shit.”
Steve gulped, watching Billy warily.
The rest of the day was tense and filled with nothing but ridicule from the coach and the rest of the team. Billy should have been relieved when he got back to the room, but he wasn’t. Steve still had things to say.
The blonde walked in and shut the door behind the both of them, looking at Steve. “You had something to say?”
Steve looked at him. “I’m sorry, Billy. I didn’t know that this would be such a big deal to everyone-”
Billy laughed, a hollow, depressed sound. “You’re sorry? How did you not fucking know?” He was letting his anger out, clenching his fists. “They all think I’m a faggot now, all thanks to you.”
“I was trying to help-”
“Well stop fucking trying!” Billy threw his hand out to the sides in emphasis. “Stop trying to help someone you don’t know or even care about! I can’t be helped, that’s just how it is, okay? I am how I am, and you’re never going to change that.”
“I did what I intended, you did sleep better, I just didn’t think that-”
“What? What did you not fucking think of? That someone would find out? That maybe, just fucking maybe, we weren’t safe?” Billy almost had tears in his eyes by now. “Start thinking more, Harrington. I’ve…” He paused. “I’ve come this fucking far and they haven’t found out, but now that you decided to help me, they all know. All of them fucking know.”
Steve looked him in the eyes, and finally had a profound realization. They were all right.
“What? Nothing to say now?” Billy scoffed. “I’ll sleep in the chair tonight, thanks.”
“Billy please, I…” Steve swallowed thickly. “I didn’t know. If I had known, I would have been more careful. You know that.”
“No I don’t, Steve. I can’t guarantee that…” Shit, there were real tears in his eyes now. “I can’t guarantee that you aren’t like everyone else.”
Steve frowned and stepped closer. “Billy, please believe me when I say that I’m sorry. Don’t…” Too late. “Don’t cry…” He moved closer and shakily reached out to touch his cheek. Billy flinched back, but Steve just moved closer and cupped his cheek. “I’m sorry. What can I do to help you? How can I help?”
Billy paused. He was quiet, subconsciously leaning into his hand. It was so warm, so soft, so firm… The touch alone was what pushed him over, what made him begin to break down. The tears came out faster, and he began to sob, his whole frame shaking. He barely noticed he was falling, only realizing when he landed and was embraced in Steve’s chest.
“You’re okay… you’re safe. No one’s going to hurt you.” Steve whispered comforting things to him, resisting the urge to kiss his head. He just rubbed his back and held him close, just letting him cry it all out.
Billy sobbed into his chest, clinging to him. He was guided to the bed, sitting with Steve as he cried. A minute passed, and two, three, four. Billy kept trying to speak but it came out garbled and sputtered, and Steve just hushed him and told him to wait until he calmed down to say anything.
Finally, the sobs died down and Billy pulled his face from Steve’s shirt. He sniffled a bit and wiped the crust from his eyes, avoiding eye contact. “I’m sorry, Steve…”
Steve simply shook his head. “Don’t be sorry.”
“Well, I am,” Billy snapped, but his voice had no bite. “I’m just… I’m scared.” He paused, thinking over his next words carefully. He seemed to battle himself, but finally spoke again. “Can… can you keep a secret?”
Steve nodded. “Of course. Not like I have many people to tell it to anyway,” he said with a soft chuckle.
“This secret isn’t a joke, Steve!” Billy said, his voice becoming more serious. “This… This got one of my friends back home… it got him killed, Steve.”
The brunette frowned. “Holy… what is it? You can trust me, I promise you can.” He hadn’t released Billy from his arms and he definitely wasn’t going to do that now. “Tell me, Billy.”
Billy swallowed thickly and took a moment. He’d open his mouth like he was going to say something, let a squeak fall out, before closing it again. That repeated a few times before the squeak turned into words. “I-I’m gay…”
Steve gently rubbed the boy’s back, keeping an eye on him. He’d had an inkling, but this was just confirmation, and it was clearly important for Billy to get this out in words. “Thank you for trusting me, Billy. And don’t worry, I, uh… I’m actually bi, so I can understand how hard it is to say this.” That seemed to help the blonde relax. “But… you mentioned that someone died because of this. Do you want to talk about it or…?”
Billy looked at him. “Can I?”
“Of course,” Steve answered him.
With a soft exhale, Billy looked away and softly began to speak. “So, I had this boyfriend back home. Real sweet. Never did have real sex, but we mostly just messed around when we could, as horny gay teenagers exploring their sexuality do. Anyway, we’d stay out super late at this club, a gay club. I guess I had slipped up and mentioned his name or something to Max, because she told my dad, and one night, we were heading to the Camaro to go home and Neil was waiting. He, uh… he beat us pretty bad. Not sure when, but it was my dad that called the ambulance. I had to get surgery for broken ribs, a punctured lung, internal bleeding… it was bad. At least I survived.”
Steve was honestly speechless. This wasn’t just some random stranger that had done this, it was this boy’s own father. Steve understood having shitty parents, but this, this was a new low. “H-Holy shit… Did you go-”
“Yes,” Billy said, “I went to the police. But I was what, fifteen? Sixteen? No one would believe me.” He sighed. “I was in the hospital for a month at least. When I was coherent enough, I asked about my boyfriend and…” he was tearing up. “He died on the table. They couldn’t save him.”
The room was silent for a moment, silent for the boy that lost his life because he liked boys. The energy in the room was heavy and thick with sadness and fear. Neither of them spoke, and the only movements were Steve pulling Billy back to his chest when he began to cry again. Even Steve himself began to softly cry, knowing that Billy had to live through that, to see his own father beat a boy to death.
“I promise you,” Steve whispered in a shaky voice, breaking the silence, “that when we get back, you are welcome at my house anytime. I’d prefer you there.” There was a noise from Billy that sounded like a protest, but Steve cut him off. “I don’t care how strong you are or how much you can protect yourself.”
“It’s normal,” Billy whimpered. “I’m used to it. I can last another year.” He dreaded that year- he was still a year under Steve after all- because of many reasons. No more Steve walking around for Billy to admire in Stolen glances, another year of living at home, another year in this dreaded town, another year of being this fake thing that he never wanted to be in the first place.
“You shouldn’t be used to it, Billy. This isn’t something that’s normal. Fathers don’t hurt their children.” Steve sighed, knowing Billy was going to be stubborn about this. “I’m not going to go away to college anytime soon. I’ll be here for you. Please at least consider it.”
Billy was silent except for soft sniffles. He tried to process it but after a while he meekly declares, “this is too much for one night. I’m gonna get my shower.” Reluctantly, he pulls away, heading off to the bathroom to get a shower.
The boys slept the same way that night that they did the night before, but this time, Steve set an alarm on the clock so they would be awake before the coach came around to wake them up.
Billy had a dream.
He didn’t remember much, just three things.
It was warm. God, it was so warm. Probably the warmest he’s ever been in his life. But it wasn’t an overwhelming warm, just comfortable. The kind of warm that makes you feel loved and wanted. Billy hadn’t felt this kind of warmth in years, not since his mother left. Hell, even then, he doubted that she ever did love him in the first place.
He was home. That explains the warmth, he thought. It felt so good to be back home, on the beach, laying on the sand with his hair laid behind his head like a golden halo. California was never so sunny, so happy, so much like home than it was in this limbo between sleep and life.
Steve was there. Pretty boy Harrington was laying in the sand right beside Billy, their hands clasped together as they laid there on the warm sand. Steve said something that made something bloom right in the center of his chest. Billy knew what he said, but he wasn’t going to admit it.
Thankfully, it was the alarm that Steve had set that brought Billy out of his sleep. He grumbled and pulled his face from Steve’s chest- he was honestly not surprised that that was where he ended up in his sleep- to roll over and turn the alarm off. “Stevie,” he whined as he rolled to face Steve again and gently shake him awake. “Wake up, we gotta get ready.
Steve groaned as he woke from his slumber, sitting up and actually smiling as he looked at the blonde that was still laying down. “You know, your hair kinda looks like a halo around your head.”
Billy could only chuckle, remembering it being described that way in his dream.
They rose and got dressed in their uniforms, Billy smiling sadly. It was the last day of the trip, they were going to be driven home that evening. Billy wouldn’t be able to sleep with Steve again. All he had were memories, glimpses of times past.
They left when they were told to, they played their last game. They won and went to celebrate at a Burger King. Billy didn’t mind being outcasted from the team, even if he was the one that got them that shiny trophy. He walked his happy ass over to Steve and sat with him, happily chatting with him. He even let Steve know that he planned on becoming friends.
“Friends?” Steve snorted, eating a fry. “I thought Mr. Hargrove didn’t do friends.”
Billy rolled his eyes. “First, don’t call me that. Makes me think of my old man. Second, I don’t have any real friends because…” He sighed. “I push people away. I try to be strong and do everything myself so I’m almost always alone.” He paused and smiled. “But you seem like you’d be fun to hang around.”
Steve relaxed and smiled back. He took a moment to respond. “Are… are you still mad at me for the other night?”
Billy let out a breath. “No. You were in the dark, you meant the best… I just have to be more careful now. I’ll be fine another year.”
“Year?” Steve frowned, just now remembering that Billy was still only a Junior. “God… I’m sorry, Billy. Really.” He chuckled emptily. “I probably just fucked your life over, didn’t I?”
Billy just smiled. “You’re the best fuck-over I’ve ever had, Steve.” A beat of silence passed. “I may take you up on that offer of staying with you. I could… sleep with you, if that’s okay. Just for better sleep.”
Steve snorted and took his hand under the table. “If you want to cuddle, angel, then just tell me.”
Billy’s cheeks glowed red, squeezing his hand. “A-Angel?” he whispered.
“Cause of that golden halo of yours. Even better like this,” Steve gestured to the rays of sunset with his free hand.
A smile settled on Billy’s face. He meant what he said.
Steve was the best fuck-over Billy’s ever had.