Boltedfruit Archive

First to Burn

Chapter 3: part iii: wince, flinch

Published: 2020-11-07

Completed: 2023-03-20

Category: M/M

Rating: E

Chapters: 16/16

Words: 76,009

Fandom: Stranger Things

Ship: Billy Hargrove/Steve Harrington


Steve Harrington, Billy Hargrove. Tommy Hagan, Nancy Wheeler, Jonathan Byers, Neil Hargrove. Maxine “Max” Mayfield, Robin Buckley, Susan Hargrove, Jim “Chief” Hopper

Tags:Slow Burn, Childhood Friends, Friends to Enemies to Lovers, Prompt Fill, First Kiss, First Love, Panic Attacks, Emotional Hurt/Comfort, Billy Hargrove Being an Asshole and a mess, Canon-Typical Violence, Mutual Pining, Alternate Universe – No Upside Down, Oral Sex, Internalized Homophobia, Angst with a Happy Ending, Hurt/Comfort, Mutual Masturbation,Protective Robin Buckley, Mental Health Issues


Billy moves in next door on Steve’s tenth birthday. They grow up thick as thieves, sharing everything. When they become old enough to date…they turn to one another for practice.


“Since it’s us. Since I’m not Tina, and you’re not—you’re just you. It doesn’t count if we—if we practice.” Billy turns to face him, even though Steve can’t really make out his face yet in the dark. “Right?


Steve’s heart rate picks up. “Right. Yeah, that’s right.”

Author's Note

I hope you enjoy! And consider leaving a comment at the end of the fic to let me know what you thought.

Steve has been fifteen for a month.


He rubs at his cheeks but can’t stop grinning.


“What are you so happy about?” Billy asks him when he comes back downstairs.


The party is getting loud. Maybe a little too loud. But his house is tucked near the edge of the woods, and Hawkins has always been a quiet town, secluded. His parents are in Indianapolis for the week for counselling, so he knows he’s in the clear. Still, there’s a part of him that wonders what the breaking point will be.


Billy’s wearing his new leather jacket. It’s black, squeaks loudly when he moves. He twirls his keys around his index finger, showing off the fact he can now not only drive, but officially has wheels. The Camaro was secondhand, but nice, and nobody had to know as far as Billy was concerned.


Steve helped him paint his new car just last week. They did it at Steve’s place, because Billy doesn’t like staying too long at his dad’s.


Hard to shake Max, Billy always adds. The kid is like a cancer, he sometimes tacks on at the end. Maybe when he’s especially pissed off.


Steve holds up his hands, gives up hiding how much his cheeks hurt from stretching. “Get this.”


“Oh boy,” Billy says, totally unexcited.


“I just got laid.”


Billy’s keys fly off his finger and hit Steve in the neck. Steve winces and catches them before they fall to the floor. Billy snatches them back.


“Pretty boy just had sex?” Billy states, narrowing his eyes. “Seriously?”


After rubbing the sting from his neck, Steve puts his hands in his pockets and leans in, nodding quickly.


“You popped her cherry?”


Steve nods again.


“You popped your cherry?” Billy says, lowering his voice. Steve shoves him. Only then does Billy grin. “You fucking king. How many times did you go?”


Just the once, Steve thinks. “Like three times. It was so—Billy it was, nice.”


“Nice. Yeah, sure.” He waggles his eyebrows. “How long you last?”


He finished halfway through the first thrust, but Billy doesn’t need to know that. Ever. “Twenty minutes.”


“No fucking way.” Billy’s eyes go wide. “Really?”




Tommy chooses that moment to push between them, drunk and dribbling beer down his chin. “My dudes,” he slurs. “My buddies, my pals—come on, come do the kie—the key—the—”


“Keg stand,” Steve offers.


Tommy nods, shuts his eyes. “Bingo.”


Tommy loops an arm around Steve’s shoulders and leads him to the back yard.


Steve looks over his shoulder, to where Billy stays put, keys gripped in a fist.


“I’ll see you—”


“Later,” Billy finishes. He smiles, but it’s short lived. He turns and disappears into the crowd.


Steve breaks his keg stand record.


He’s on top of the world tonight.



“I’m gonna throw up,” Steve mumbles later once everyone is gone. He begins heaving into the air.


Billy goes, “Fuckin’ gross, at least aim for the garbage.” Holds up the basket for him.


It’s wire. With holes. Steve thinks Billy’s trying to be funny. He gets up and tails it to the bathroom. He greets the keg he swallowed down in the tub. Says “I hate me,” and falls back on his ass on the tile.


Billy finds him a few minutes later. “Again, fucking. Gross.” It doesn’t stop him from cleaning Steve—and his mess—up.


As Billy is shepherding him from the edge of the tub to the bed, Steve hangs his head, presses his nose against Billy’s warm neck.


“Tina was nice,” he mumbles. “So nice to me.”


“Nice is one way to put it,” Billy says. Starts tucking him in.


“I’m not that drunk.”


“Oh, yes you are.”


“Come here. Stay over. You said you would.”


“I didn’t.”


“Stay over anyway.” Then, “Your dad doesn’t care.”


Billy gets angry. He gets angry fast. He gets angry a lot faster than he used to these days.


Steve pouts. “You know what I mean. I want you here tonight. What if I drown in my own vomit?”


“Then you’d deserve it. I’m at least getting you some fucking water.” And Billy leaves to do just that.


Steve busies himself with changing into sweats and sobering up. He slaps and pinches at his cheeks. Thinks of Tina turning away when he went to kiss her and how he got her cheek instead. How she giggled when he finished early and he felt so—so humiliated. He couldn’t even be a good first time for her and make her have a good time too. He had to go and do…that. Peeling off the condom and trying to tie it after that had been a fumble. He ended up digging into the trash when she was in the bathroom after and checking he did it right.


Some king.




“Sounds about right.” Billy reappears with two white pills and a glass of ice water. Steve swallows them without asking what they are. He can trust Billy. “Drink it all.” Then he disappears again.


Steve drinks it all and lies back and tries to think about anything other than how awful he was. He’s not good at sex. He probably won’t ever be good at sex. Tina definitely won’t ever let him near her again. She laughed. Laughed. He’s an idiot. He couldn’t even figure out how to do it right at first. It was a weird kind of push and roll happening and it was so good, and fun, and then it didn’t seem to be really doing anything for her—seemed like maybe it kind of hurt for a while. He didn’t ask. But then he did—did that, and she laughed, and he couldn’t even tie the damn condom right and—


“Steve,” Billy mutters from nearby. Steve sighs. “What’s up? You’re not a sad drunk. This isn’t you. Tommy hurt your feelings or some shit?”


The bed dips, his stomach dips with it for a dangerous moment, and then it’s Billy and his stuffy cologne, missing his new jacket, lying next to him.


“You’ve had sex, right?” Steve asks the ceiling.


Billy hums. “Yeah.”


“You never really told me about it.”


He feels Billy shrug. “Nothing to tell, really.”


“But it was your first time, wasn’t it?” Steve swallows, swallows again. Blinks rapidly. “It’s supposed to mean something, right?” Steve blinks again. Shuts his eyes. “Because I don’t think my first time was as great as I thought it’d be.”


Steve takes a deep, steadying breath. Billy shrugs and this time when he’s settled, he’s pressed closer than before. His shoulder is a wall holding Steve up. He relies on it.


“My first time was some girl from church camp last summer.”


“I still can’t believe your dad made you do that.”


“It’s three weeks I pretend never happened. Anyway.” Billy shrugs again. “She had a thing for me. Found me outside the bunks one night and we just…did it.”


“Just like that? Outside?”


“Well, yeah, kind of. She pushed me against the wall and undid my pants, and just—hell, Harrington, do I really have to explain everything?”


Steve sniffs. “No…I guess not.” He sniffs again before turning on his side to face his friend. Billy is staring off somewhere by Steve’s desk.


“I lied earlier.”


“No shit.”


“It lasted like less than a minute and I messed up the condom and—”


“Don’t tell me it broke. You about to have a little Harrington running around, that why you’re blubbering like a fucking dolphin over there?”


Steve punches Billy in the arm. Billy grins, but the edges are still soft. Teasing.


No. I just—I’m not good at it.”


“Not good at sex?”


Steve shuts his eyes again. Turns over onto his stomach to hide his face in his pillow. He hears Billy’s quiet laughter, feels it bounce the bed faintly.


“Oh, hold on. Don’t tell me you had sex right here and didn’t change the sheets?”


Steve lifts his head. “It was in the guest room.”


Billy hums. “I would have guessed your parents’ room.”


“No. Just…no. What the hell, Billy?”


Steve flops back down and groans.


He can feel Billy shifting around. A hand lands on his back. Squeezes the muscles of his neck. All at once, the tension begins draining from his shoulders.


“First times always suck. It doesn’t always have to mean something. Mine didn’t mean shit. So what, you’re not supposed to marry Tina. Who cares? Unless that’s what you were aiming for?”


Steve reaches up and digs his hands under the pillow, sighs as Billy keeps squeezing the base of his neck. Digs his knuckles into the top of Steve’s spine.


“Why’re you so good at that?”


“I’m good at everything.” Then, “What’re you talking about now?”


“The neck thing you’re doing. That.”


Billy stalls. Then he starts up again.


“You never rub your own legs after basketball or running or whatever? It keeps cramps from happening but it just helps you relax, too. I can stop if you want.”


“No!” Steve flattens out. “No way. Keep going.”


Billy starts a word but cuts himself off. Steve wonders what he was about to say.


“You’ll meet another girl. Hell, I know Tina will do it again in a heartbeat.”


Steve turns his head away from the pillow and asks, “You really think?”


“I know.” After a pause, he adds, “She’s always watching you. Always trying to get your attention on her. Always trying to get you to touch her. Be around her.” Billy removes his hands. Steve turns the other way to meet Billy’s eyes, and finds him shrugging down, sinking against Steve’s headboard with his shoulders hunched. “I just mean she’ll jump at a chance to meet up again.”


“You really think?”


“You sound like a parrot.” Billy sighs. Looks at his hands in his lap. “You’re you, man. What do you want me to say?”


“What’s that supposed to mean?”


Billy scoffs. “You’re Steve Harrington, in case you haven’t noticed.”




Billy scoffs again, adds a disbelieving little laugh.


Steve braces himself on his elbows. Says sternly, “Billy.”


“Half the school wants you. The other half wants to be you.” Billy shrugs. “That’s what I meant. You won’t have any problems getting plenty of practice in before you land your very own Jeannie.”


He watches Billy put his hands behind his head and sink further down into the bed.


“So you’re saying I’m so popular I’ll need to find a genie bottle to get a wife?”


Billy rolls his eyes. “You would latch onto that.”


“It doesn’t make any sense, Billy—”


“Christ, Harrington! Just take my word for once, will you? It’s not like it’s hard getting around in a town this small. Everybody’s bored. Trust the system.”


Steve frowns. “Wait. You’ve had sex more than once?”


Billy stares at Steve’s desk. His jaw leaps. “Yeah.”


Steve supports his chin on a palm. “How many times?” Steve quiets. “And with who?”


Another roll of his eyes and Billy’s reaching over to turn out the light.


“Don’t—don’t, hey!” Steve cries. “Sorry, okay? I just—she didn’t want to even kiss me. I don’t see how she’ll give me a second chance. And once that gets around school, I don’t see how anybody will.”


“Steve,” Billy sighs. He rubs his hands down his face. “Just watch, on Monday everybody—wait. She didn’t want to kiss you?”


Steve shakes his head, no. Billy looks insulted.


“Why not?”


“I don’t know?”


“Well, fucking walk me through it. What happened?”


“I…seriously?” Billy nods. “Okay…well. I like, was on top of—her, right?”




“And I…was like…inside—”


Billy waves that away. “Skip to the kiss.”


“I leaned down and went to kiss her and she turned away and I got her…cheek, okay? I kissed her cheek. Then she laughed.”


“She laughed at you?”


“Well, not at me but…” At Billy’s dark expression, Steve amended, “Yeah. At me.”


“Bitch. That was not her first time.”




“Bet you ten dollars that was not her first time.” He holds a hand up when Steve tries to argue. “We’ll find out and when we do, you better have a ten on you.”


“I…just don’t think…”


“Good. Don’t want you to hurt that pretty little brain of yours thinking too much.”


Steve turns onto his back again. “You know I can’t—You know I hate it when people call me stupid.”


It gets Billy sighing, heavy. “I didn’t say you were stupid. I do know you get your feelings hurt too easy, though. Don’t waste it on her. She’s not worth it.”


Steve vaguely remembers something Billy told him before. About love not being worth it. He wonders if Billy thinks the same now, or if that changed somewhere along the way.


“It’s not about her…not really.”


“Then what is it, Steve?”


Steve wonders how it was for Billy, on his own at church camp. The guy could barely pick up a bible, so imagining him there had been the butt of endless jokes over that summer. But Billy had met that girl. Had had sex with her. Had probably—


“Did you kiss that girl from camp?”


Billy’s bicep twitches. He lowers one hand to scratch at his cheek. “No. Wasn’t really a kissing situation.”




“She went down on me for like two seconds. I didn’t want to kiss her after that. Anyway—Why are you so concerned with it?”




“Does it matter?”


Steve bristles. “I guess it doesn’t. Just…remember when we said practice would help? I like kissing, and I guess I’m just bummed that I didn’t get to…do that earlier. I must be drunk still, or maybe not, maybe I’m just tired. Yeah, I’m beat. I’m gonna turn in now. Night.”


Steve flips over, facing away from Billy. Then he realizes the lamp is on his side and the light will only turn off, will hide Steve from his embarrassment, if Billy decides to pull the chain himself.


“You’re acting like a real fucking bitch, you know that?”


“No I’m not.”


“Acting like one and pouting like one too.” Billy’s hand finds his arm. Shakes him back and forth. “You’re acting like a chick who didn’t finish her first time and didn’t have rose petals everywhere like she wanted.”




“You’re being a pussy, Harrington. Man up.”




Steve turns over and sits up so fast, his head spins. Billy’s grinning sharky and mean and amused. Steve takes his pillow and hits Billy in the face with it. Billy grabs it and throws it to the floor.


Then he’s tackling Steve until he’s flat on his back on the bed. Billy’s curls halo his face. He’s grinning still, still just as mean as ever. Billy loves to rile him up and Steve sometimes can’t stand it. Not even a little.


“Get the hell off me, Hargrove.”


“Oh, baby Stevie’s mad I called him a pussy.” Billy slaps at his cheek lightly. “Pussy.”






Steve bats his slapping hand away. It finds his cheek again like a magnet.




“Fuck you! Fuck off if you think it’s fucking lame I wanted to have a special first time, okay? I’ve thought about it a lot, and I wanted it to be perfect for the both of us, and now I went and fucked it up, and if that makes me a goddamn pussy, then I’m a goddamn pussy, okay? Okay! Good night!”


Billy lowers his hand. It braces on the bed by Steve’s ear. Catches and pulls on his hair a little. He winces, and pulls himself free. Billy’s expression has cleared to the friend he knows. Maybe a little sadder than usual.


“I…I had a little too much to drink,” Billy finally says. “I—sorry. I’m sorry, Steve. Really. For all of it. But really, first times suck. Ask anybody.”


“Just go.”


Billy looks wounded for all of an instant. He doesn’t move. “Mine was awkward and weird. We didn’t even have a condom. I was a fucking idiot about it, and it still wasn’t great.”






“Did the other times get better?”


“What do you think?”


“They did?”


Billy sighs. Nods a little. Hair falls over his cheek. He pulls a strand from his lips. “Sure they did.”




“Okay. So, will you suck it up and let me stay over, or what?”


He blinks and gives in, because when it’s Billy he always does. “Don’t you always?”


“‘Course I do.”


Billy lets up and strips his shirt off. He stands to shrug out of his jeans. Catches his briefs before they slip too far down his ass. Steve catches the edge of a dark bruise around his side before the light is turned off.


Steve feels queasy still. When he turns back over, he focuses on Billy’s weight behind him, the slow pace of his breathing. Tries to keep his sniffles quiet, because Billy’s right there and will probably make fun of him again.


He never does.



“Steve,” comes Billy’s voice sometime later. “Steve, you up?”


Steve exhales. Pinches the sleep from his eyes. “Now I am.”


“Oh. I had an idea.”


“What time is it?”


Steve squints, tries to see his alarm clock as he turns and looks over Billy’s head.


Billy says, “Four. I have to go soon, but I was thinking.”


Steve sighs. Falls back in bed. “Yeah? About how much I have to clean up after you leave before my parents get back?”


“I was thinking it doesn’t count.”




“Since it’s us. Since I’m not Tina, and you’re not—you’re just you. It doesn’t count if we—if we practice.” Billy turns to face him, even though Steve can’t really make out his face yet in the dark. “Right?”


His heart rate picks up. “Right. Yeah, that’s right.”


“Right.” Billy’s looking a little more clear, a lot more defined as he chews on his lower lip, Steve sees his brows pull up, furrow before he says, “So why not practice now.”




“For next time. So when you kiss whatever girl’s lucky enough to be getting picked by King Steve Harrington, she can tell the whole school he knows what he’s doing. It’ll build your reputation. Tina won’t be able to say shit.”


His pulse thumps. “That…makes a lot of sense, actually.”


“I know.”


“Tina won’t be able to say shit.”


Billy’s lips turn up. “Nobody will.”


Steve huffs. Billy inches closer. His breath is hot as it puffs against his face.


Steve feels less queasy then he had, but his hands sweat. He twists his fingers in the sheet underneath them for leverage, to hide it, for some way to ground himself. This feels apart from what he did earlier that night. With Tina.


Feels weird. Different. Because it’s Billy.


“Sure,” Steve murmurs. “Why not?”


Billy lunges forward and smacks their mouths together. Their teeth click hard and Steve reels back, going, “Ow! Christ, Billy! Are you trying to headbutt me?”


Billy giggles, maybe nervously. “Harrington, that was not all me.” But when he next leans in, it’s a slower approach. A steady incline instead of a damn rocket launch.


Steve still flinches when their lips first brush. Billy breathes out hotly, their lips tickling from such scant distance. Steve closes it, presses into the touch firmly, seeking more, wanting more. Billy obliging.


Steve embarrasses himself. He makes a quiet little sound. It feels good. Better. But it doesn’t count, so that’s okay. That makes it okay.


Billy doesn’t pull away. Doesn’t seem to mind much. Actually decides to cup Steve’s cheek and pull him back in, and this time his lips are open and Steve sucks in the smallest amount of air before Billy’s tongue is touching along his lips, opening them, pushing inside. It’s wet, maybe too wet. Steve pulls away and wipes his mouth. Not far enough that Billy’s hand ever leaves his face.


A thumb strokes near his ear. “Okay?”


Steve nods. “Yeah,” he says. He’s breathless. He can’t catch his breath. Why’s everything feel so hot? “Yeah, just peachy.”


Another brush of his cheek, a sweep down his chin. Billy smiles and pats his neck before settling back in for bed.


“Thanks,” Steve says, because he doesn’t really know what else to say.


“Any time,” Billy says, and his pulse might thump thump leap out of his skin. “And by the way, Tina doesn’t know what she’s missing.”


“You think?”


A laugh drifts over, soft and airy, a touch too breathy. “Go to sleep, Steve.”


Steve tries. He’s too focused on the fact he’s kind of hard and Billy made him hard and he’s in bed behind Steve and it doesn’t count. He squeezes his eyes shut and counts sheep trying to will it away. Eventually it works.


He at least pretends to be asleep when Billy finally has to get up and sneak back home.