you made me hate this city
summary: It was just a stupid bet. A way to prove Jason and his asshole friends wrong, to finally get under the blonde's skin. It was never supposed to end with Eddie falling in love, nor with him laying on your doorstep with bruised knees, begging for your forgiveness.
tags: Eddie x fem!reader, slow burn, enemies to friends to lovers, ice queen/social outcast reader, Hopper!reader (goddaughter), reader is 18+ (impli. twenties), fluff, humor, angst, happy ending tho ofc
☆ word count: 17K+ (i stg it's worth it) ☆
⚠️ 𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠: 𝐈 𝐝𝐨 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐠𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐜𝐨𝐩𝐲, 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐲 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐟𝐢𝐫𝐬𝐭 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐞.⚠️
Winters in Hawkins were unbearable.
Eddie's fingers - dry skin cracking by his knuckles, pink lines marred by green veins poking out of his skin - shakily held up the lit joint to his chapped lips, allowing him to inhale deeply and let out a slow drag of smoke. Much like his muted breaths, the white whisps of air curled upwards in lazy swirls before dissipating into the night air, providing a momentary release from the cold.
The freezing temperatures embraced Eddie just as quickly afterwards, making him grumble in discomfort, swearing under his breath for how long Jason and his group of friends were taking to finish the damn basketball game. The heat provided from his van was rather weak - the heater having blown a fuse a week ago which he had yet to fix - and his jean jacket did little to provide any additional warmth as he grasped the lapels of the jacket and pulled it closer towards his body.
God, where were those assholes?
As if fate had been listening to his internal monologue, Eddie soon heard the crunching of snow beneath several pairs of feet accompanied by the recognizable rowdy chatter between the basketball players. Leading the group as usual was Jason Carver - the blonde's signature smug expression replaced by one of annoyance - followed by his two best friends, a brunette and a redhead who were practical carbon copies of each other (muscular airheads with big egos and loud voices). Not that Eddie could really distinguish between the basketball players at Hawkins High. They all tended to come from the same pool of people.
Tall, fit, conventionally attractive, white males from cushy upper class backgrounds.
Unfortunately, that also meant jocks were one of his most profitable clients. Hence why Eddie had dragged his van and stash of goods half-way across town during winter break in the freezing cold. Having waited a staggering twenty minutes with nothing more than a jean jacket to keep him company, he was simply looking forward to finalizing the deal and to be able to drive back home to fall underneath the covers.
"You got the goods, freak?" Nate, the tall brunette, yelled out in advance, clapping his meaty hands together. Eddie had to actively suppress an eyeroll - no matter how many times he regularly dealt with them, they'd never even gone so far as to call him by his real name. Wordlessly kicking open the back of his van, he pulled off the green tarp overlaying the interior to reveal a hefty amount of weed, neatly packaged in plastic containers and paper bags.
"What'd you want?" the metalhead asked, voice monotone and face straight - completely immune to their presence at this point. The transaction was, after all, a regular routine at this point so as to make Eddie's reactions automatic and reflexive. He just wanted to get this over with as quickly as he could.
The basketball player standing next to Nate, a slim redhead named Oliver, cut into the conversation whilst brushing falling snowflakes off of his varsity jacket with a frown.
"Give us everything, son of satan."
"Everything?" Eddie raised his eyebrows, unable to hide his surprise. Jason only clicked his tongue at that, left hand coming up to swiftly comb through his hair - the blonde was on edge, that was as clear as daylight to see.
"Yeah, jackass, just give us what you got. I'm throwing a massive party and my parents are in California for another two weeks so I need all you got."
"That'll be $1,500." Eddie slowly said, eyeing the blonde up and down, expecting the man to pull out of the deal at any moment. Instead, the jock only let out an exasperated sigh, dropping his duffel bag to the floor before digging out a wad of cash.
"That's a shit ton of money you're blowing on weed, Carver." Oliver commented, slapping his friend's shoulder.
"Not enough money to impress (Y/n) though, apparently." Nate added from the side, causing both him and Oliver to crack up at the expense of a fuming Jason, the blonde's fists clenching tightly by his sides.
"Fuck off, would you?" the blonde shrugged his friend's arm off of his shoulders quickly, eyes burning with annoyance and betrayal. Eddie knew he wasn't supposed to be listening in on their conversation, his brown eyes still focused on the stack of notes in his hands as his fingers combed through each bill one by one. But his ears perked up at the mention of your name and he couldn't help but listen in closer as Jason's teammates laughed even harder at their leader's expression of fury.
"I'm telling you. Your daddy's money and status may get you everything you want, but not even you can win over the ice queen of Hawkins High." Nate drawled, with Oliver nodding eagerly behind him.
Jason only rolled his shoulders forward at that, unclenching his jaw with a frustrated sigh.
"Well how the fuck was I supposed to know that she was going to throw her drink on me and call me a 'blonde bimbo in ugly basketball shorts' just cause I asked her out?"
The chuckle that escaped from Eddie's lips was dangerous, but he couldn't help but let out a short laugh at the recollection of your comment, subjecting himself immediately to the harsh gazes of the three jocks. Jason in particular looked offended at that, cracking his knuckles and flashing the metalhead a stinging glare.
"You think that's funny, Munson?"
Counting up to the last thousand - damn, Jason really had handed him $1,500 on the dot - Eddie looked up at Jason with a sly smile, shaking his head lightly side to side.
"Meh, just a little. Doesn't matter though. You got the cash, I got the weed." he replied before stepping to the side, signaling for Nate and Oliver to begin shoving the packets of weed into their duffel bags. Whilst they did so, Jason slowly walked forward towards Eddie, an egotistical swagger to his steps.
"What? You think you can do better, freak?
"Asking girls out? Eh, maybe." Eddie decided to goad the blonde further, enjoying the delicious cruelty of being able to toy with the fragile ego of the star basketball player. Watching how Jason's neck strained at that comment, adam's apple bopping up and down.
Suddenly, the angry expression on Jason's face melted away into a wide grin, a new delightful idea seemingly having popped into his mind.
"Tell you what, freak. Let's wager a bet." Jason's tongue dragged across his lower lips slowly, his eyes were glinting with a certain kind of danger Eddie couldn't quite place. "You think you're such tough shit, that you're so much better than me - why don't you go after (Y/n)? If you can somehow get the infamous ice queen to say yes to a date, you win."
"And what exactly would I win?"
"I'll pay double the usual for all our dealings. Heard through the grapevine your shitty trailer home's overdue for a fix, no?"
Oliver and Nate cackled behind Jason at that comment, igniting fiery hatred in the metalhead's veins. Jaw feeling stiff, he forced himself to sit up straight, staring right back at the jocks.
"... That, and you leave me and my friends alone for the rest of the year."
"For that price, you'll have to have her say yes to prom too!" Oliver yelled out from the side, to which Jason nodded.
"Get her to say yes to dates and then prom, and then we'll say you win. I pay double, you can fix your shitty dump you call a house, and we'll stop bothering you and your band of freaks. Deal?"
It was no different to staring the devil in the face, devious and cruel smirk matched with voice dripping with venom as the blonde extended one hand forward. Eddie stared at it for a few seconds, contemplating his decisions: his uncle had tried to be sly about money problems but winter was only getting colder, and now that he had Dustin, Lucas and Mike in the group, he did want the bullying to stop against his group.
Swallowing his doubts, Eddie quickly shook Jason's hand, never once breaking eye contact.
First week back from winter break.
Eddie has been agonizing over how to even approach you. He's only spoken to you once before.
Actually, that may be an overstatement, he thinks, now looking back.
Eddie was being blocked from accessing his locker as a group of cheerleaders gossiped in the hallways, each of them blatantly ignoring Eddie's quiet pleas for them to move. When he coughed loudly and tried to wiggle through the crowd, the two head cheerleaders by the front shot him a nasty glare, the blonde one even going so far as to look him up and down and smirk.
"Thought I smelled trailer trash. Piss off, freak."
"I'm just trying to get to my locker, Joanne." he'd deadpanned - normally, he would've just walked away by now but he really needed to get to his fucking locker for that damn history textbook.
"Well we're too busy catching up about the rager Dianne went to last week in Idaho, so you can wait, okay?" the other head cheerleader, a petite raven haired girl named Sandra, snapped. That elicited a crowd of giggles to erupt amongst the group, and Eddie sighed again, running a hand down his face in exasperation.
"Didn't know this was the hangout spot for superficial barbies skipping their geometry classes." you sneered, coy smirk dancing on your glossy lips. The group of girls instantly froze at the sound of your voice, causing even the two head cheerleaders by Eddie to straighten up in fear.
"What'd you want, (L/n)?" Joanne stuttered out, the low pink flush in her cheeks clearly marking her embarrassment and fear. Eddie watched in awe as you simply stared the cheerleader down, dissecting the girl's layers with one glare and a low chuckle under your breath.
"For you and your fake friends to leave, obviously. What, too dumb to even figure that out?"
"Y-you can't make us leave! You have no authority to command so." Sandra blurted out, eyes darting away to the floor when you redirected your fiery gaze at her. Eddie had to admit, you were kind of terrifying - sharp eyes drawn forward, head held high, fingers gripping tightly onto the straps of your backpack.
"Is that so?" you questioned, stepping one step closer to the crowd of cheerleaders, all of whom instinctively backed up against the wall. Pink tongue tracing your lower lips, you cocked your head to the side in feigned interest. "I guess you only ever listen to the authority of Joanne's boyfriend, huh, Sandra? When he's leaving hickies on your neck and blowing off dinners with Joanne for you?"
"You did what?!" Joanne screamed out in anger at her best friend, causing Sandra to begin running in the opposite direction. Sensing a battle brewing between their two leaders, the rest of the cheerleaders deserted the hallway, leaving you and Eddie alone in the aftermath. You rolled your eyes, shoving away the last cheerleader evacuating the scene before Eddie's left hand reached out to grab your wrist.
"W-wait." he stuttered out, hesitant. You looked down at his hand with a cold glare, before staring back up at him in annoyance.
"Thank you for standing up for me. I mean, no one's ever talked back to the popular kids for me before. It's really cool of you." he rambled, hands fidgeting by his neck, not being able to quite meet your gaze upon feeling chills run down his spine at your icy demeanor. Your only response to his comment was to aggressively shake off his hand, recoiling from his touch as if you'd been burnt.
"I wasn't doing any of that for you, Munson. They were in the way to my Chemistry class."
Turning on your heel, you disappeared into the foreground before Eddie could muster up a response.
The rumors were true, he realized. You were exceptionally beautiful - it was no wonder that you were rumored to be scouted by the cheerleaders by third period on your first day (had you not literally dumped an iced coffee over their leader when she'd approached you during lunch). Even when you were snarling at him, arms crossed in a defensive posture and chilling orbs glaring daggers into his eyes, he couldn't help but feel warmth rise to his cheeks from being able to gaze at your face up close.
But Eddie wasn't able to focus on your features much - the dip of your neck leading down to the valley of your breasts, your glossy lips and bright eyes, jaw and cheeks carved by the harsh sunlight - when you'd snapped at him and turned the other way.
Staring down at his now empty hands, he shrugged. You were indeed, an ice queen.
Cut to the present, Eddie's hiding behind the door of his own locker, peeking out at the hallway every few seconds to watch you shuffle through your own belongings. Headphones around your ears, Walkman tape bouncing alongside your side as you pull down a stack of books from the top shelf, your skirt rides up ever so slightly to bunch at your waist.
To any passing stranger, you may even look sweet at the moment - soft body hugged by the green fabric, knee high socks, lipstick cautiously being applied by the small mirror taped to your locker door.
But Eddie knows better. The whole school knows better, with the way everyone makes a point to avoid you. Cheerleaders stop walking and turn the other way, the jocks avoid your gaze and keep as long of a distance from you, and even the nerds and band geeks make sure to walk with their head down and mind their steps to not bump into you.
"What are you looking at?" Dustin suddenly jumps in, face few inches from Eddie, causing the older boy to straighten up in surprise and hit his head against the wall. Clutching his head where it's beginning to bruise, he makes it a point to glare at the curly haired freshman, who only flashes him an innocent smile.
"Ouch, what the hell, Henderson?" Eddie grumbles.
"You got that 'I'm lost in my thoughts' look on your face. And I was just curious as to what could be so interesting to have you staring off into space."
"It's nothing." Eddie quickly blurts out, practically slamming his locker shut and leaning against it with a faux grin, cool relaxed posture with his arms crossed. Dustin doesn't buy that, only frowning in disbelief, before leaning to the side to peek towards where Eddie was staring.
The only person really visible is you, thumbing through your notebooks, eyebrows furrowed in concentration.
"Holy shit, were you... staring at (Y/n) (L/n)?" Dustin semi-shouts out of shock, forcing Eddie to practically grab the younger boy by the front of his t-shirt and yank him backwards, narrowly avoiding the curious look you throw behind your back upon hearing your name be shouted out.
"Keep your damn voice down, geez." Eddie swears, heart thrumming with anxiety. Dustin's face only quirks up in semi-annoyance, his left hand coming up to slap across the senior's chest.
"Why were you staring at her?"
"I was not staring at her." Eddie weakly responds. It's a total lie and they both know it, with Eddie unable to even look Dustin straight in the face.
"Listen, I know you're crazy and your whole thing is going against the grain - which I think is awesome, don't get me wrong. But getting involved with her? That's a death wish, man. She's fucking scary." Dustin shudders, shaking off faux chills as you slam your locker shut and shove past a group of cowering teens, not even sparing them a second glance.
Cursing internally, the metalhead swallows his comments and forces out a grin.
"Relax, man. I'm not getting involved with anyone."
Eddie finally gets the courage to talk to you on a rainy Friday afternoon. The parking lot's deserted and the sky's a murky gray, harsh showers slapping against dulled windows fogged up from the cold.
Tucking his roleplaying notebook underneath his left arm, carefree smile on his face from the fantastic D&D session he's just had, he almost walks past where you're leaning against the wall without acknowledging that you're alone.
You're so good at that, Eddie realizes: blending into the background, simultaneously being so eye-catching and beautiful to catch his attention, whilst also exuding an uninviting aura that makes his brain immediately divert his gaze elsewhere.
Tapping your converse shoes against the cement floor, your head is drawn downwards with your eyes narrowly focused in on a hardcover book Eddie can't read the name of. The entire hallway's deserted and Eddie realizes that now's the best time - more than ever - to make his first move.
"Hey. (Y/n), right?" he starts out, waving for your attention and flashing you his most charming smile. It doesn't even leave a dent on your face: lips still in a straight line, your head not even picking up to stare at him.
"What do you want?" you drawl out, flipping a page with your thumb. He fumbles on what to say next, not used to having to speak to someone who won't even look at him - at the very least, he thinks, when jocks are jeering at him or cheerleaders are insulting him, they flash him a dirty glance.
"Tutoring." is the first thing that leaves his lips and that does the job of causing you to still and look up at him with your eyebrows raised, mocking grin on your face.
"Tutoring? You do know that I'm barely passing all my classes, right?" you spit out, unimpressed. Stranded, Eddie's hands fly up in mock surrender, voice edged with nerves as he forces out a laugh.
"Yeah uh, no, I meant like... I could tutor you."
You chuckle at that - a dry, bitter sound that makes him cringe - perfectly manicured fingers curling to point accusingly at his figure.
"You, Eddie Munson, repeat senior - tutoring me? Yeah right. Fuck off, won't you?"
Licking his lips, Eddie takes in a deep breath, ready to try and persuade you again when the loud honking of a car cuts in. Looking over your shoulder, he can see the faint outline of a truck and a man sitting by the front of the driver's seat, shouting your name. He can't make out much about the man's features - the glass windows fogged up and obscured by the pouring rain - and you brush past Eddie with ease, shoulders colliding with his.
"Well that went well." Eddie sarcastically comments under his breath.
Maybe this bet isn't going to work out, he bitterly thinks, kicking a small pebble in his way.
Then it's Monday. And thank god for Ms. Rogers of his American History class - because she announces a new group project, and the pairings just so work out to pair you and him together. Eddie has to conceal the rush of joy and relief when he sees his name hastily scrawled next to yours on the whiteboard, keeping his face straight and outwardly disinterested when he sits down next to you.
"Hey there, partner." he jokes, sliding his chair closer to the table. Your gaze remains fixated on your nails, your only acknowledgment of his presence being the rolling of your eyes. "How's life?"
"Life is life, Munson." you spit, harsh gaze shifting a fraction to cast him a dirty glance. It makes him feel small, goosebumps rising across his skin from the way your lip snarls and your voice tightens.
"Right, well, now that we're project partners we'll probably be seeing a lot of each other. Do you wanna meet up after school to discuss the basics?" Eddie trails off slowly, cautiously trying to survey your reactions.
He's silently bracing for another cruel remark - or maybe a disinterested eyeroll, coupled with a middle finger to his face - but to his surprise, you huff out a quick sigh and unclench your jaw.
"Fine. The library at 3.30."
"Oh actually, I was wondering if we could do later because technically we're supposed to have a Hellfire campaign tonight-"
You hold one hand up to his face, forcing him to shut up, before throwing him an annoyed glance.
"Do I look like I care? Reschedule."
All other arguments die in his mouth when the teacher begins to talk, signaling for everyone in the class to fall silent and redirect their attention to the front of the classroom. Eddie shifts to look forward, but he can't help but quickly glance at you from the corner of his eyes.
You look agitated, teeth biting down on the end of a yellow pencil, grinding down onto hard wood. Shoulder tensed, body braced forward as you lean onto your propped up arms. Eddie realizes then that he's never seen you relaxed. Or seen you smile, or hell, be anything other than aggressive and tense.
The thoughts of the bet with Jason re-enter his mind, which he's quick to scrub away in an attempt to pay attention. Above all, he supposes, he'd like to at least pass this fucking class so he's not a fourth time repeat senior.
The end of the school day arrives in a flash, it seems, with him anxiously jumping up and down on the balls of his feet outside the library whilst waiting for you to appear. He nearly jumps out of his skin when he then feels a warm hand on his back, twisting around clumsily to see your non-amused expression staring back at him.
"Come on, Munson. I don't have all day."
The first half an hour is painfully awkward. Eddie keeps on throwing jokes - "if I have to read another passage about a dead white man, I think I'm going to die myself" - and thoughtful compliments - "that's a really good idea, (Y/n), thank god we were paired together or else I would've failed" - but you don't seem the least bit deterred. Sitting at least five inches away from him, shoulders hunched over as your gaze remains fixated on the stack of papers strewn over the table surface. There's a permanent frown on your face, pulling down and wrinkling your features, coupled with an unwavering silence.
Eddie wonders what it'd be like if you smiled instead.
"So what do you think? I reckon pretty much everyone's going to do the easy topics - the ratification of the constitution or the fight for independence. So maybe it'd be better if we did something different, like maybe how the two party system emerged?" Eddie suggests lightly, leaning back on his seat, flashing you a hopeful smile.
You don't even look up at him, shrugging your shoulders.
"If you think there's something else we could do, I'd love to hear it." He's practically begging you to speak at this point, considering he's been the one filling the silence in the room for the past half hour.
"Don't have any ideas."
"YES! Jesus christ, Munson, are you deaf?" you snap, looking up at him angrily.
"Alright, god, I'm sorry that I'm trying to include you in OUR project." he retorts, feeling his patience run dry. "You know-" He lets out a dry laugh, running a hand through his hair. "I've been nothing but nice to you the past few weeks-"
"Why is that?" you press, voice suddenly quiet.
His breath catches in his throat when you make full eye contact with him, yellow embers reflecting in your orbs from the light bulbs hanging overhead.
"I'm confused as to why you've been so nice to me lately, Munson. What's your end game?" you question, slamming your book shut. Eddie blinks at you silently like a fish out of water - what the hell is he supposed to say to that? It must look awfully odd from your point of view, he realizes, for you two to go from strangers to him trying to talk to you all the time.
But what's he supposed to say? "Jason Carver and I fought and we got into a bet that I could seduce you and bring you to prom because you're this notorious ice queen."
Exhaling quickly, he just cocks his head to the side and feigns calmness.
"Maybe I just wanted to get to know you better."
"Me, seriously?" you scoff, clearly not believing him.
"Yeah! Look, I... I know what it's like for people at this shitty high school to not take you seriously or to make you feel like a complete outcast. I figured you could use a friend! Because no offense, I have the Hellfire Club, but I've never seen you with anyone but yourself."
He's being pretty sincere with that statement, and it seems to come through as you raise your eyebrows slowly in response, unreadable expression on your face.
"You've been... watching me?"
"Not in a creepy way! Just consider it, like, one outcast looking out for another."
It's the slightest change, a reflex that lasts for less than a second, but he catches the end of your lips twitch ever so slightly to indicate a grin. It disappears just as quickly it appears, but he catches it nonetheless, and it makes hope blossom in his lower abdomen.
"... Alright." you surrender, gaze slightly softer, voice no longer aggressive and defensive. It's impossible for him to conceal his joy at that.
"Yeah, Munson. I suppose I could be a bit nicer to you. But-" you poke him on the side with a spare pencil. "No promises. No pushing me into anything. We're hardly acquaintances, let alone friends. But I suppose if we need to work together on this stupid project together, we might as well get along. Okay?"
Eddie nearly pulls a muscle with how fast he nods in affirmation.
Tuesdays and Thursday evenings are from then on reserved for after school meet ups to work on the project. You're still characteristically you - full of mean comments, sassy eyerolls, judgmental gazes and all. But he does notice that as time goes on, you're snarling at him less and loosening up ever so slightly.
He's yet to seen you smile, however, though he's gotten close a couple of times. Like when he slipped on a banana peel whilst walking out the library with you last week or when yesterday, he made a dumb joke about a horrendous illustration of Thomas Jefferson in the textbook.
On a windy February afternoon, you two end up staying a bit later than expected. Eddie leaning against the wall, sitting on the carpeted floor with his legs crossed as he pours through five heavy leather bound books, you're hunched over a shitty desk lamp and a cup of coffee as you highlight passages from a textbook. Neither of you have cared to check the clock or have registered the fact that it's been a full two hours since the librarians notified you two that they're heading out.
"I think my brain's melting." he complains, slipping down the wall slowly in a dramatic fashion. You shoot him an amused glance, tongue clicking against the roof of your mouth.
"Tough luck, devil boy. We've still got a lot more to read."
Eddie groans, rubbing his eyes with his metal ring clad fingers.
"I know, but it feels like we've been reading boring books in this stuffy room FOREVER now!"
The two of you pause at that, it suddenly dawning on both of you that the rest of the library seems oddly... dark. And quiet.
"Shit. What time is it?" you ask aloud, standing up so quickly that you topple your chair over. The nearest clock - hanging behind a row of oak bookshelves - indicates that it's nearly six thirty pm.
Far, far, later than anyone would be at school.
It's a scramble to dog-ear pages, organize the books in their relevant places and to shove all your belongings in to your respective bags before racing down the hallway to the front doors, which of course, are locked.
"Well, I guess we're gonna die here." Eddie remarks, dropping his hands from the front doors with a sigh. You slap him across the shoulder at that, though this time the action's more playful, more tongue in cheek.
"Relax, Munson. All we need is a phone, do you think the front office's phones still work?"
"Yeah. I would know, because they made a call to my uncle this morning to complain that I came in an hour late to first period."
"Classic Eddie." you comment, to which he visibly stiffens and stares down at you with awe. "What?" you press, confused at why he's suddenly looking at you like that.
"You said my name. Not Munson, not devil boy, not an insult."
To his quiet surprise, you seem to get embarrassed at that, eyes dropping to the floor as you shift nervously on your feet.
"I mean, that's your name, right? But if you prefer I call you like Munson instead I ca-"
"No, no." he lets out a gentle laugh, and a thought passes by your head like a bullet train that you really like it. It's soft, it's melodic, it's sweet: taste of sweet potatoes coated in cloud sugar on your tongue. "I really like hearing you say my name. Say it more."
Your lips quirk up again, signaling a potential smile, but it's not fully realized. But your shoulders do drop in a more relaxed manner, and you flash him an ambivalent glance.
After using a spare hairpin in Eddie's pocket to pick the lock to the front office, you jump over the counter to slide over the surface and reach the phone behind the desk. Eddie makes a joke about how you'd make an excellent spy - to which you throw him a dirty glare and signal for him to shut up - before you make a phone call. To whom, he doesn't know. But it's clear that you care for this person, as your voice becomes lower and less agitated.
"Hey. Yeah, sorry for worrying you. I was staying late with my project partner for American History and then... we lost track of the time and now we're locked in. Do you think you could come over and get us?" you pause, Eddie supposes it's to allow the person on the other line to respond. "Alright. Sounds good. See you soon."
"Who'd you call?" he quizzes, curious as he helps you slide off the desk, allowing you to grasp at his shoulders to jump off securely. He chooses to ignore the way his skin tingles with electricity when your soft hands grip at his skin, heat wrapping around his upper body.
"My godfather. But it'll probably take another half an hour for him to arrive so we should probably camp out by the front doors till then."
There's a good five minutes of uninhibited silence after that as you two sit by the front entrance. You're sitting across from him leaning against the lockers: one leg straight, the other propped up by your chest as you rest your arms on your knee and twist your body to look out the window. Eddie's sitting a few inches away from you, legs crossed, toying with the rings on his fingers.
It's not a tense silence, but it is boring.
"I didn't know you had a godfather." Eddie decides to say, looking up at you cautiously. "That's cool."
"Cool, huh?" you quip, tearing your gaze away from the window. "Not many people think that. Most people think it's fucking weird that I live with my godfather instead of my biological parents."
"Well most people are assholes and idiots. Don't listen to them." he argues, lacing his fingers together.
"That's true." you agree, nodding ambivalently. "What about you? You and your uncle? You two live by the trailer park, right?"
Neither of you delve into too much personal information - the conversation's restrained to surface level things, before somehow melting into a heated discussion over music. It turns out that you're a huge music fan, front pocket of your bag overflowing with cassettes, notebooks crumpled by the weight of your walkman and headphones.
"Listen, I can appreciate a good Billy Joel song and all, but Black Sabbath is god." Eddie insists, uncrossing his legs and gesturing frantically with his hands.
"Oh, please, Eddie! You're just saying that because your exposure to Billy Joel has primarily been Uptown Girl. He has some serious deep cuts, like you can't tell me that you're able to listen to Vienna without getting emotional."
"Hey, you can get PLENTY emotional to Black Sabbath."
"Really?" you quip, poking him in the shoulder, forcing him to fall back down on his heels. You're fully smiling at this point, eyes light and wide, lips outstretched into an actual grin. He really likes this sight, he thinks. The light even seems to hit you differently when you smile - carving shadows down your jaw, glittering light kissing your hairline, halo around your hair.
"Really. Pinky promise." Eddie argues, poking his pinkie finger out at you. You stare down at him, fully amused, shaking your head sideways at his antics.
"I'm not gonna pinky promise you shit." you mock, crossing your arm.
"Aw, come on." he leans in teasingly, backing you up against the lockers. He doesn't realize it, but your breath hitches in your throat at the action, as it hits you that he's so close that you can count the individual freckles adorning his cheeks and smell the mixed scents of pine, fresh rain and weed emanating from his jacket.
You both break away from your respective positions at the sound of the front doors unlocking, with a very unimpressed look on Hopper's face as he links back the keys to his belt and raises his eyebrows at you.
"Are you sure it was the project that made you late and not being with your boyfriend?" he drawls, forefinger outstretched to gesture between the two of you. You stand up so quickly you practically stumble forward, stuttering your words - you're so mortified, you can't even look at Eddie.
"Jesus, dad, NO! He's just a friend."
"Friend, huh?" Eddie teases, elbowing you on the side, to which you elbow him back harder (making him groan out in slight pain). He watches as the police chief's blue eyes narrow in on his figure, dissecting him with a single glance, before returning to stare at you. It registers in his mind that Hopper's eyes soften when they land on you, a small grin appearing on his aged face.
"Alright then. Good to see you've made friends, (Y/n)." he comments. You roll your eyes, slinging your bag over your shoulder.
"Speaking of which, Eddie needs to get going. Right?" you rush out, practically shoving Eddie forward. Eddie nods awkwardly, shooting the older man a (what he hopes is) charming smile before winking at you.
"Right. Thank you, sir, for saving us. (Y/n), I'll see you next Tuesday for the final bits of the project?"
"Yeah, see you."
The moment you hop into the front seat of Hopper's truck, you can practically feel the intensity of the the rush of thoughts in your godfather's mind, his heavy gaze alternating between the road and your anxious figure shifting against the leather seats.
"So... this Eddie. Your friend, huh?" he starts out, quiet.
"Just drive, Hop, jesus." you say out loud, leaning your head against the window, rubbing your temples in a soothing manner as if to cure a headache.
"Not commenting on it, sweetheart. Just saying it's nice to see you open up and make friends."
"A friend, dad. One. Singular." you correct, to which he just waves off your comment with a blow through his lips.
"Still. Maybe this'll help you adjust a bit better. You have been adjusting alright, right?"
He pulls over into the driveway of his house, hands lingering over the steering wheel as he glances over at you worryingly. Hopper's always been a protective godfather, never intrusive but often keeping a close watch on you from the background. You don't blame him for worrying, considering the whiplash of a turn your life's taken in the past few months.
Leaving your parents in New York, packing two bags of clothes before hitchhiking across the country to come all the way down to Hawkins to live with your godfather. Your 'real' parents are practically dead to you, hence why you've chosen to call Hopper 'dad', and you consider El to be your real life little sister.
You figure you're already asking so much of him: to take you in as his non-biological daughter, to provide you a place to sleep and eat, to pay for your schooling as you catch up on two years of high school you took off in New York. All of this, combined, has led you to be less than transparent about how you've been adjusting at your new school.
In fact, Hopper wouldn't even know anything about how you don't really have friends if it hadn't been for Mike and his big mouth, and El's sweet concerns being expressed to Hopper.
"I'm doing okay, dad. Seriously." you assure him, patting down on his hand, squeezing it comfortingly.
When your bedroom door finally closes behind you that night, it dawns on you as you're staring up at the ceiling - you've made a friend.
For the first time in a while, you fall asleep filled with joy and giddiness.
"Do you wanna come see my band play tonight?"
Eddie asks you on the final day of your project, closing your locker door for you, peering up at you with his doe like eyes. Your mind's been swimming with anxious thoughts all day - you're afraid that the only thing keeping your friendship afloat with Eddie is the project, which is due to be turned in today, and you're not sure what's going to happen once it's done.
So it's actually kind of a relief to have him beg you to see his band perform tonight, relief that you can't help but spill out into a small grin reflected on your lips.
"Corroded Coffin's playing tonight?"
"Yeah! And it's gonna be radical. Some of my other friends are gonna be attending too, so you won't have to show up alone."
"Aren't minors not allowed in seedy bars?" you tease. "Your friends are like, all freshman boys."
"Hey, I have friends that aren't Henderson or the other kids! Seriously, Steve and Robin are cool adults in their twenties and they will be there too."
"I don't think imaginary friends count." you continuously tease, walking away from him, as he follows right behind you.
"They're NOT imaginary! I swear, they're real people with real jobs and hobbies." Eddie pouts, looking like a kicked puppy. It's adorable, really, and you can't help but chuckle at his sad expression.
"Alright, alright, I'm joking! Sure, sounds good. When and where is it?"
"The downtown bar by the bookstore off the 45. Door's open at 7, but realistically we won't be playing till like 8.30 so feel free to come by then. I'll tell Steve and Robin to wait for you outside. They're cool, I promise."
You can't help but bite your bottom lip at that, anxiety gnawing at your chest.
"Are you sure? I just... I don't know if I'll get along with your friends, that's all. I mean, it took us like forever to be friends ourselves." you comment dryly.
"Pfft, you'll get along with them super well, don't worry! You're cool, they're cool, that's all you need."
All protests die in your mouth when he smiles at you like that, so you sigh and surrender to his demands.
The bar's packed and loud, you think, flashes of yellow and red light emitting from the dingy entrance as you cross the road towards the establishment. There's already a line of people outside but there's two people in particular who stick out like a sore thumb amongst the crowd of black and edgy looks - a girl and a boy around your age, mid-playful argument.
The guy meets your gaze and then waves you over, soft smile on his lips. He's quite cute, you think - not your type, but there's an undeniable charm to him, wavy chestnut brown hair, soft features and slight muscle definition to his thighs and arms. The girl's grinning at you and she's also pretty, short brunette bob framing her lively face quite nicely.
They're also dressed more for the park than a metal concert, but you suppose you haven't done much better (throwing on just a t-shirt and jeans over a pair of sneakers).
"Hey! (Y/n), right?" Steve asks, as you nod in response, slightly intimidated at the presence of these new people.
You do vaguely remember Hopper mentioning a guy named Steve once over a phone call with Joyce, but other than that you don't know too much about him. But Steve seems really nice, welcoming you into the group instantly, gently pulling you towards the two of them and away from the rest of the hectic crowds.
"I'm Steve. Nice to meet you. And this is Robin, my best friend and eternal pain in the ass."
"Cap your ego, Harrington. Don't listen to him, besides, us girls have to stick together, right?" Robin quips, pulling you against her and winking at you. You can't help but giggle at that, what with the way Steve's face then scrunches up into a haughty frown.
It turns out that they're a delightful pair to be around. Robin's sarcastic, witty and funny, and her no-bullshit attitude and dry sense of humor pairs nicely with Steve's slightly egotistical, flirty and outgoing nature. And with a bit of alcohol dancing on the tip of your tongue, you find yourself loosening and completely comfortable by the time the band comes out to play.
The music is loud - so loud that it reverberates through your body, so loud that it feels like the whole building shakes with the booming of the speakers - but it's also delirious and addicting, jumping up and down in a sea of people to the ear-splitting music.
The three of you stay long past after the show's wrapped up, leaning against the counter of the open bar with dopey smiles on each of your faces.
"Holy shit, my dad's gonna be so mad that I'm this tipsy." you comment, leaning onto Robin's shoulders for support.
"Really?" she teases, amused.
"Seriously. And the fact that he's the police chief probably isn't going to do me much favours."
"Hopper's your father?" Steve asks, surprised. He remembers in the back of his mind Hopper mentioning that he's taken in another kid a while ago, but he hadn't pressed the older man for details.
"Godfather, actually, but he might as well be my dad. Considering I left my shitty biological parents in New York."
"To shitty parents." Robin announces, raising her glass of whiskey into the air. Steve and you clink your glasses with hers in agreement.
"To shitty parents."
"Looks like someone's had a lot of fun." Eddie comments from behind you the moment you down the shot, your head slow to catch up with his presence before it hits you all at once.
"Eddie!" you squeal out, dropping the glass onto the counter and spinning around to envelope him in a fierce hug. He's wholly unprepared to catch your embrace with the speed and force with which you wrap your arms around his waist, causing him to stumble backwards.
"You were amazing! Like seriously, your guitar solo was the best part of the whole night." you gush and Eddie's glad that the harsh lighting of the bar is able to mask the slight blush creeping up his cheeks.
"Aw, thanks. Did Steve and Robin treat you alright?" he asks, looking up at his friends.
"More than alright, we nearly stole your girl." Steve teases, to which Eddie only scowls, waving away his friend's suggestive teasing.
"Alright, Harrington, keep it in your pants."
Robin and Steve continue to smirk at Eddie, making exaggerated lovesick expressions and throwing kisses at the two of you, none of which you're catching because your head is still buried against Eddie's chest. Eddie has to subtly - but fiercely - tell his friends to cut it out, gesturing with his hands and throwing nasty glares their way.
"Fuck, I really need to sober up though." you mumble, straightening up, stumbling ever so slightly on your feet.
"Yeah, and I'm beat. Wanna split a cab, Buckley?"
"Sure do, Steve. See you two kids around." Robin slyly adds, quickly exiting right after Steve to leave you alone with Eddie. It's clear what they're trying to do, but Eddie can't really bring it to himself to care when you tug at his sleeves, still tipsy and tired.
"Can we drive out somewhere cold and empty? If I go home now, Hopper's gonna be real mad about my alcohol consumption. Even if I'm over 18, that man is... protective."
Eddie chuckles, nodding, brushing away a stray strand of hair from your eyes.
"Alright then. Guess we're driving to the park."
On the way out to his car, his left hand resting on your back as he guides you into the front seat, Eddie meets Jason's eyes from across the road. The jock is leaning against his car, nursing a beer bottle in his right hand, whilst his group of friends rustle and joke around with each other by the gas tanks.
An unshakable feeling of disgust rises up in Eddie's throat, heart clenching at the way the blonde's eyes shift down at you, then on to Eddie's hand on your back, and how then a semi-impressed grin spreads on Jason's lips. The blonde ever so slightly nods at Eddie, as if confirming their bet, before returning to his conversation with his friends.
"Eddie?" you call out his name, breaking him out of his trance. "Everything alright?"
He's being paranoid, he tells himself. He hasn't even done anything yet, if anything, he's nowhere near "winning" the bet - you're just friends, that's all this is, leading you back to the car and helping you sober up by a park.
"Yeah. All good." Eddie forces out, faux grin and all. There's an odd bitter taste filling his lungs, but he breathes out slowly, reminding himself that he's not doing anything bad.
He's just a friend, taking another friend, to the park.
Sitting on the swing set, his fingers trail down the linked metal chains, small smile on his face as you childishly swing back at forth with your legs kicking out in front of you. It's your way of sobering up, you insist, and he can't complain - it's clearly making you very happy, the smile on your face permanent. It's a nice sight, a rare sight, one that he's keeping tucked in to the crevices of his mind for later.
"Be careful." Eddie chastises, watching you soar higher and higher towards the night sky. "I don't want you to break a bone or something. Think Hopper would be even more if you break a bone than if you show up a bit drunk."
Slowing down your movements, you scoff, but there's still a lazy smile on your face indicating that you're not really mad.
"I hate it when you're right." you mumble, drawing a loud laugh from Eddie's lips, head thrown back and all.
"I'm always right, (L/n)." he challenges, knocking his swing into yours.
"Sure, Munson. Except the times you're not. Which is almost every time."
Silence settles over the two of you again, the creaking of metal as you both lazily swing back and forth being the only sounds in the night, pale moon marking the shift into midnight. Eddie's fiddling with his rings absentmindedly, not really sure what to say or why he suddenly feels nervous sitting next to you, until you pick your head back up and speak.
"For what?" he's confused and surprised.
"For inviting me. For letting me meet Steve and Robin, you're right, they're really cool. And like, I don't know. Thanks for being my friend, I guess." you look down immediately after finishing your sentence, hot embarrassment coursing through your veins, Eddie's soft stare too much to bare all at once on top of your heartfelt confession. The confession that tugs at Eddie's heartstrings, guilt pouring over him in waves.
"It's just crazy to me, you know?" you interrupt. "That you'd want to be friends with me. That anyone would want to be friends with me. I know I was a bitch when we first spoke. And uh, maybe I still kind of am. But you just... you're different, Eddie."
You pause for a tender moment, legs spreading as you shift your swing closer towards his, so that your knees are brushing against his and you can place a warm hand down onto his lap.
"I feel like you really see me. Not this whole 'ice queen' bullshit or whatever people are saying at school. The real me, the person behind all the walls and defences raised up. You kept on trying to get to know me even when I was pushing you away and being cruel to you. And it was thanks to that that we ended up becoming friends. So... yeah. Thank you, Eddie. Sincerely."
It's hard to shake off the shame now coating his lips, his skin burning and feeling sticky underneath your pure, innocent gaze and soft touch. He forces a smile, fingers uncurling from the metal chains of the swing to pat down on your warm hand, trying his best to maintain the neutrality of his voice.
"Y-yeah. No problem, I guess."
Things shift after that night by the swing set.
Despite the history project having ended, he ends up seeing you even more regularly than before. It's because you end up taking a part-time job at Family Video after befriending Steve and Robin, and also because you start intermittently dropping by to watch his band pratcitce after school or swing by randomly to Hellfire Club sessions, at the insistence of El wanting to see Mike.
At this point, all of Eddie's friends know who you are. It was comedic at first, to see how Gareth nearly choked on his tongue and refused to make eye contact with you in your presence, and how all the freshman boys - Dustin, Mike and Lucas - pretended to be interested in a bunch of random sheet music thrown around the room to avoid having to look at you.
"Relax, kids, you can stare at her." Eddie had to say, laughing as he placed an arm around your shoulder. "Stop scaring them, (L/n)."
You just scowled at that, shrugging off his arm and sighing dramatically.
"I'm not trying to do that! It's just my reputation preceding me. I'm not as mean as I seem, I promise." you emphasized, turning to address the boys face to face. "I'm just here because Eddie promised to let me play for a 'taster' session of sorts."
"You're... joining Hellfire?" Dustin meekly asked, being the first out of the three to gain enough courage to look up at you. To his surprise, you didn't scowl or flip him off, if anything, you looked quite approachable and friendly standing next to Eddie, who was smiling at you with so much pride.
"Not sure if I'm necessarily joining, but... this meathead won't stop talking about this damn game so I wanted to see what all the hype was about."
The other boys loosened up after seeing how relaxed Eddie seemed to be around you, mock hurt on his face as he dramatically clutched his chest, stumbling backwards as if he'd been shot.
"You wound me with such harsh words! Now I can't promise that I'll go easy on you when we start playing."
"Why would that matter?"
"Duh, I'm the dungeon master, so everything you can do in the game is basically up to me. Or what you roll on the dice, but mainly up to me."
"That hardly seems fair." you commented, flashing the young boys a look of disbelief. "Is that really how this works?"
"Yeah, which is why we basically always have to gang up against him." Lucas replied, drawing a genuine laugh from your lips. It was the final straw to break the tension in the room, everyone loosening up and welcoming your new presence in the group.
"Sounds good, freshies. Us against Eddie, we can definitely take him." you winked at Eddie, rolling your shoulders forward. "Watch out, Eds."
It's late spring now, verging on summer. Eddie's lost count of the amount of time you two have spent together, be that in between periods at school (skipping classes together by the bleachers) or sneaking into the cinemas without paying on a tipsy game of truth or dare.
Eddie catches himself fully lost in your presence - watching your hair flip in the wind behind you whilst he drives with his window down, surveying how your delicate fingers toy with the fabric of your jacket when you're deep in concentration, counting your slow breaths as you lean against him in a darkened parking lot out of exhaustion - until the illusion is shattered for him by way of remembrance.
It's a bet.
But it doesn't matter, not really, he'd always tell himself. You two are still friends. And Eddie's not forcing it, being friends with you is natural, spending time with you is something he genuinely wants.
It's a hollow way of consoling himself, but it's the only way he's able to justify continuning to hang out with you and to slyly avoid Jason or his stupid best friends' constant pestering about how the bet is going.
"We're still just friends, Carver." Eddie gritted through his teeth, skillfully stepping past the blonde to get to his van. Jason didn't seem to like that response, one hand reaching out to grab at his wrist and yank him backwards.
"Listen, freak. I'm impressed, not gonna lie, that you even managed to become friends with her. But the bet was over dating her and getting her to go to prom. It's now, what, end of April?" the jock chuckled, tapping his two front fingers against the expensive watch around his wrist. "Time's running out. That said, I lose absolutely nothing if you lose the bet so actually-"
The blonde pulled away, victorious grin on his pink lips. He looked like a coy predator playing with his prey, smug cruelty rolling off of him in waves.
"Yeah, don't make a move. I'd love to win this bet."
Looking down at where Jason's filthy hand was wrapped around his wrist, Eddie roughly shook off the basketball player's grasp, glare fuelled by the heat of a thousand suns.
"I'm going to win the bet, Carver. Don't get too cocky."
"Did you see what Nate did yesterday?" you question him in the present. Eddie's lying down on the carpeted floor of your bedroom next to you, legs bent in a 45 degree angle, hands supporting the back of his head. You're lying down with your feet propped up on your bed, your eyes meeting his in a sly manner.
"Not really, why? What'd he do this time?"
"He tried doing a backflip during the lunch period and broke his left wrist. Cried like a little bitch about it, too."
The image of the tall, overconfident jock wailing like a child makes Eddie snort.
"It's what he deserves too. He's a total creep." you shudder, remembering how he tried to hit on you on your first day of school. "Though, he did cry a bit more when I sprained his fingers because he tried to grab my ass on my first day."
"He did what?"
"Yeah, I know. Real fucking creep. Don't know why he bothered, either, the jeans I was wearing that day were super ugly."
"I highly doubt that." the comment slips out of Eddie's mouth unconsciously, piquing your curiosity enough for you to shift your body to the side to stare at him with confusion.
"What'd you mean?"
"Oh! Just like..." Eddie scratches his neck, avoiding your gaze. "I highly doubt that the jeans you were wearing were ugly. Just like, I don't think anything you could wear could be ugly."
You sit up at that, legs crossing underneath.
"You calling me pretty?"
"Well, uh-" he stumbles over his words, cheeks flushing vibrant pink as he begins to rattle off in an incoherent manner. "Yeah, I mean I always thought that but yeah you are. Objectively speaking. But also like I think you're pretty, is it hot in here suddenly or-" his hands fly up to the collar of his hellfire club shirt, pulling at the sides as if to let in cool air.
"Are you serious?" you sound shocked, in disbelief, which only confuses Eddie in return.
"Of course I am. Why... would I lie about that?"
You shrug, bringing a juice box to your lips.
"Figured if you thought I was pretty we wouldn't still be friends. That's a compliment you give to someone who's attracted to you, not someone who's just your friend."
"Oh." Eddie then comments, pausing ever so slightly. "Who says I'm not attracted to you?"
His daring question lingers in the air for a few baited breaths, the atmosphere in the room shifting in the microseconds it takes for that sentence to leave his lips and for him to suddenly shift closer to you.
"... I'm attracted to you too." you choke on your words, it barely being a whisper, but Eddie catches it nonetheless. His left hand comes to rest on your cheek, eyes staring right into yours that you think he must be able to see through your soul.
"Can I kiss you?"
You don't think you can speak. You're left to nod quietly, hoping that it's enough. And it is. The force with which he kisses you - he blames it on the months and months of pent up adoration - backs you up against your bed, your legs falling backwards as your back meets the soft mattress. He practically crawls on top of your lap, kiss messy and deep, strands of curly hair clouding your hazy vision.
When it's done, fresh air filling your lungs instead of the intoxicating scent of Eddie, muted taste of beer and mint chapstick dancing on your lips, you two stare at each other with wide eyes before bursting into a fit of nervous laughter.
"So... what now?" you question lightly, hands still gripping his forearms.
"Let's go on a date? Arcade after school on Friday?" he suggests.
"We already do that every week, doofus."
"I know, but this time it'll be different. I'll hold your hand and buy you dinner afterwards."
You pretend to think about it, humming quietly before nodding with a wide smile.
You fall asleep in his embrace that night, face squished against his upper chest, body rising and falling alongside your slow breaths. But Eddie can't sleep. The euphoria he's feeling is underlined with sickening guilt, a gnawing clawing sensation in his stomach, a harsh whisper in the back of his mind that none of this is real.
He's lying to you.
But what he feels for you isn't a lie, he reasons, so it's fine. He's driving himself insane with these internal arguments, subconsciously pulling your sleeping figure closer towards himself as his fingers clutch onto your waist tighter.
Burying his head into your hair, inhaling deeply, he attempts to quiet his thoughts. It'll all be over soon. Graduation is looming. He's just got one more part of the bargain to hold up - asking you to prom. It'll be over soon, it won't get worse....
"I'm really glad she's dating you."
Hopper comments two months later, looking over from the driver seat of his truck as Eddie jumps up straight upon being addressed by your godfather. The two men have spent countless times together - whether it be Eddie lounging on the couch in the living room whilst waiting for you or Hopper knocking on Eddie's trailer door to ask why you still haven't come home - but it never stops Eddie from getting a bit nervous around him.
He wants to make a good impression on the police chief for numerous reasons, but above all, because he's your father. Your only parent at this point. So even if it's something as casual as hitching a ride from Hopper the day Gareth had to borrow his van, Eddie's still a bit on edge when he's sitting in the passenger seat next to Hopper.
Upon seeing the younger man's eyes widen in surprise, Hopper chuckles, the sound a low rich baritone.
"Have to admit, the day I picked her up from school that day you two kids got yourselves locked inside and she called you her new friend... I felt that there was something more to that word. Friend. And despite your, um, questionable activities-"
Eddie flushes with embarrassment at that.
"You've always been good to her. And it's doing her wonders, I can tell. She went from this isolated, broken shell of a person to... Someone with friends her age. A job. Someone who smiles and laughs and says yes to spontaneous plans. I know it's not all you but you've been a big part of that so thank you." Hopper grumbles out, coughing awkwardly, not used to such heartfelt confessions. It makes Eddie feel even worse, almost making him want to sink into his seat.
"It's no big deal." Eddie forces out, voice strained and almost breaking because he's choking on recurrent waves of shame, guilt twisting like sharp veins around his chest and squeezing his heart. His mind is still foggy and reeling from the guilt when the truck finally pulls up by his trailer, and you come barreling from the inside of his trailer to hug Eddie.
"Didn't know you'd be here." Hopper comments, crossing his arms. You roll your eyes.
"I think I'm allowed to come over to visit my boyfriend, dad."
"Mmhmm, just make sure you're home by eleven."
Hopper pretends to be annoyed, sighing deeply, but he still smiles and ruffles your hair before leaving.
"Fine. See you then, kiddo."
Your legs thrown over his lap half-hazardously, Eddie can't really focus on the VHS tape you've generously 'rented' from your workplace - "Please, as if I'll get in trouble. The only employees are me, Robin and Steve and our boss basically never comes by." - as another character gets gruesomely killed on the screen.
"You're not watching the movie." you complain half-way through the movie, putting down the popcorn bowl to stare incredulously at your boyfriend. He only smiles in response, shaking his head sideways, symmetrical face framed by his long curls.
"Can't focus. You're too pretty." he offers, and you chuckle at that, his whining tone and pleading eyes melting your heart. You clamber on top of him, legs caging his body in between your thighs, as your hands come up to cup his cheeks.
"Aw.... Thanks, babe. But you really don't have to tell me that every day."
"I'd tell you that you're pretty every day just to see you smile like that." he admits softly, boyish grin on his lips and mischievous glint in his eyes. You open your mouth to respond with a sassy comment when someone knocks on the door loudly, accompanied by a furious set of even louder knocks.
It's your sister, El, jumping up and down anxiously before her eyes fall upon your familiar figure.
"El, what's wrong?" you question immediately, climbing off of the couch and rushing to cradle your younger sister's face in your hands. She doesn't look physically harmed nor does she look particularly upset, just anxious to see you.
"I'm bored and Mike canceled on me last minute." she complains, stretching her arms out over her head. "I heard from dad that you were here and I wondered if we could like... hang out. We don't have to, if I'm intruding I can-"
You look at Eddie with a pleading gaze, but you honestly don't even need to convince him, as he's already fluffing up the pillows and shaking off the popcorn crumbs from the blanket strewn over the sofa.
"Nonsense, nonsense! You're totally welcome to join us. Just be careful with your sister - sometimes she screams really loudly at the jump scares." your boyfriend teases, winking at you. El giggles at that and you send the metalhead a harsh glare.
"I do not."
"You totally do, babe. But it's okay, I still find you hot."
"Is there popcorn left?" your younger sister then questions, wiggling out of your grasp to stare at the television with eyes full of wonder.
"I'll make more, why don't you two get comfortable." you quickly suggest, knowing Eddie's kitchen like the back of your hand. You take the quiet moments which follow to admire how Eddie interacts with El, your vision only slightly obscured from behind the counter.
El's rattling off about something you don't really understand but Eddie seems totally entraced by her, delighted smile and eager nodding, gently encouraging your younger sister to continue her story whenever she gets nervous that she's talking too much. Your sister looks wholly relaxed in his presence, shoulders lax and fingers thrumming gently against a cushion she's holding against her stomach.
When he makes a dumb joke and El laughs, the warmth blossoming in your chest worsens. You feel lightheaded, stomach filled with love, eyes glazed over in pink hue. You almost drop the popcorn packets on the floor when you realize what this is.
You love Eddie.
You're not surprised, concealing the smile on your face as you turn away and pop the paper packet into the microwave. Eddie's your first real boyfriend. First friend turned lover, first friend in Hawkins, the person who introduced you to your new group of friends - Steve, Robin, and now Nancy and Jonathan as they swing by Family Video ever so often.
It was inevitable then that you'd fall in love with Eddie.
It's all you can think about for the rest of the night, in between stupid jokes thrown in by Eddie and comments of awe and shock muttered by El in between mouthfuls of popcorn, until she's practically falling asleep on your lap. Checking your watch, you realize that it's nearly 11:30 anyways, so you'd better get home.
"Do you think you could drive us back?" you question quietly, whispering as you gesture to El's sleeping figure. Eddie nods, turning off the television and gently pocketing his car keys as you lightly shake your sister awake and strap her into the backseat. She mumbles incoherently, asking sleepily where you two are going, to which you only shush her and assure her that Eddie's just driving you two home.
The conversation in the car is light and spare - it's late at night, El's still sleeping in the backseat, and unbeknownst to each other, you both have a lot on your minds.
Eddie's fixated on how much he likes you, how much he's scared of losing you and how it's almost been two months of dating you. You're transfixed on the realization that you love Eddie, the tall metalhead who loves his guitar and D&D, the boy with copious jean jackets and an oddly obnoxious charm that broke down your walls brick by brick. The constant wondering if he feels the same, the worries that you're overthinking it, layered with the euphoric rush of adoration and infatuation makes you almost sick with joy.
When the familiar outline of your house comes into view, Eddie piggybacks El into your house as you open up the front door for him, allowing him to gently tuck your sister into bed before you close the door. You accompany Eddie back out to the driveway, fingers anxiously twitching by your sides as the confession sits on the tip of your tongue. It's burning your mouth to keep it in, heart beating at a million miles per minute.
"What's on your mind, princess?" he gently asks you, the sour expression on your face giving you away in a moment's notice that you're clearly deep in thought. But nothing could've prepared him for what you said next.
"I love you." you blurt out. "I actually, wholly, undoubtedly love you."
Eddie freezes at that, grin falling ever so slightly, eyes wide and unblinking. You take it as a bad sign, fumbling over your words desperately as you try to salvage the situation.
"I-I know that might be kind of quick because we've only been dating for two months, but if you think about it we've been friends for almost like three quarters of a year, so it's not-"
"No, no." your boyfriend quickly reassures you, hand cupping your chin to stop your talking and to focus your attention on him. You realize that up close, you can better make out his features in the dark: he's smiling brightly, eyes fawning and voice gentle. "It's not quick. I realized I loved you many weeks ago. Was just waiting for you to catch up." Eddie adds, winking at you.
You laugh at that, nodding eagerly, tension dissipating from the night air in an instant. The boy then kisses you gently under the pale moonlight, his tongue slipping in to trace your bottom lip when you moan out in surprise, the strength and passion with which he presses into your mouth catching you off guard.
Eddie's kissed you a million times at this point, but this time it feels different to you. It feels like a million unsaid "i love you"s wrapped into one, delicate touch burning golden tattoos alongside your skin as his hand dances up your waist, pleasant melodies ringing in your ears even when you pull away to catch your breath.
"So... you love me and I love you, I guess." you breathe out into the cold air, affirming reality for yourself by speaking out loud.
"Yeah." Eddie replies, licking his lips to chase the aftertaste of your cherry lipgloss.
"Two people in love. How romantic." you joke, smiling.
Eddie doesn't respond to that, only pressing another shaky kiss to your lips before bidding you goodnight, his knuckles turning white with the strength with which he grips the steering wheel on his drive back. His anxiety has snowballed past its tipping point, his head a toxic warzone of jumbled thoughts, nauseous feeling causing bile to rise up to his throat that Eddie needs to pull over to the side mid-drive.
His heart feels like it's being crushed.
He can't stand it anymore - the lying, the secrets, the way you look at him like he's the only thing that matters in this cruel world. And now, it's undeniable. The truth is staring him right in the face.
You said you loved him.
And fuck, he loves you.
It's gone too far. He's fallen too deep. He's sinking into a bottomless pit and he's dragging you down with him.
And for what? Eddie bitterly ponders, smashing his hands down onto the steering wheel with anger. A stupid bet with a jock?
He needs to call it off.
He makes a beeline to the locker room the next morning, frantically tearing through the school hallways in search of Jason. Unfortunately, the best he can do is to run into Oliver and Nate post-shower, flicking each other with wet towels before Eddie coughs and demands their attention.
"Pissed off the coach so he's doing another lap. Why, backing out of your bet like a pussy?" Nate teases, drawing a howling laugh from Oliver. Not that Eddie cares. It just frustrates him because first period starts in a few minutes and if he's late one more time for chemistry, he knows it's another detention slip being put into his hands.
"Just tell Carver to meet me by the bleachers during lunch. It's important. And yes, it's about the bet."
Eddie thanks god that you don't share any classes with him today. He doesn't think he could stomach it, looking into your innocent eyes and letting you kiss and hold him softly when he doesn't deserve your love.
He feels as if he's in a trance the whole day, going through the motions of life, eyes empty and mind buzzing with static as he nods along to one lecture after another.
The only thing to jolt him awake is when, in between his second and third period, he hears a familiar set of voices whispering from inside the janitor's closet. It's Dustin, Mike and Lucas, with Dustin clearly pained and tired whilst the other two boys whisper frantically amongst themselves.
Privacy be damned, Eddie opens the door and flicks on the light, jaw clenching with anger the moment the small space is enveloped in bright light and he sees the shiny black bruise blossoming on Dustin's forehead.
"What the hell happened?" Eddie quickly questions, closing the door quietly behind him. He's far too tall for the enclosed space, head awkwardly brushing up against the ceiling, his limbs stretching into mops and cleaning supplies, but he can't give a shit. His veins are coursing with anger, worry tightening his chest as he surveys the extent of Dustin's injuries - the curly haired boy only sighing and refusing to meet the senior's gaze.
"Jason Carver happened to him." Lucas cuts in, voice also tense and angry.
"We were hanging out by the entrance and Dustin decided to stand up to Jason and his teammates for bullying us and, well.. he didn't like Dustin's smart mouth." Mike comments quietly.
"So what, that bastard punched you?!" Eddie exclaims, hysterical.
"He didn't punch me, relax. He just knocked me up against the wall and I happened to slam my head against a brick out of place."
"A BRICK?" Eddie screams, causing all of them to cringe at the sudden loud noise. "Shit, Henderson, I'm so sorry."
"It's fine, seriously! I mean, just another Monday, right?" Dustin tries to joke, flashing the older boy a reassuring grin. But it does little to quiet Eddie's fury and guilt, not being able to protect his fellow Hellfire Club members in their time of need.
Lunch time rolls around achingly slow, Eddie munching on his homemade sandwich quickly whilst waiting for Jason to show up by the bleachers. The blonde makes his appearance a full ten minutes into lunch, striding across the green fields in large steps with a scowl on his face.
"What's so important you had to cut into my lunch time, huh?" he growls, clearly annoyed.
"I'm calling the bet off."
"The bet. I'm fucking over it. I don't care about the money. You win, okay? Now let me out."
Eddie attempts to shove past the blonde but it's like walking into a brick wall, Jason's left hand flying up to Eddie's chest to stop him from walking away before shoving him backwards.
"You're backing out now? When prom's just around the corner and you've already got that bitch riding your dick? I'm surprised, freak." he cruelly comments, cocking his head to the side in fake interest.
"Yeah, I'm out. Now let me go."
"I'm just surprised, that's all. Thought you'd stick by the bet, especially with what happened to that twerp this morning. What's his name, Justin?"
"It's Dustin." Eddie grits, fists clenching by his sides.
"Yeah, whatever. You want to give up the money we bet on, cool, whatever. But a part of our deal was that I'd - along with my friends - lay off of your band of freaks. If you want to call off the bet, that offer is also taken off the table."
Jason's words hang in the air, metaphorical black smoke filling Eddie's lungs and restricting his airways. He feels like he can't breathe, hands clawing at his skin, heart beating at a million miles per minute whilst he mulls over the blonde's words.
All he can focus on is the panicked and scared looks on Lucas and Mike's faces, and the shiny bruise on Dustin's forehead. And Eddie's being given the choice for them to not be bullied for the rest of the whole year, to finally not be terrorized every time they walk into school.
"Still want to call off the bet?" Jason mocks, extending a hand forward. "Shake my hand and it's over."
Eddie stares at the blonde's outstretched hand in silence.
He doesn't shake it.
You can barely sit still, the low humming of Billy Joel flowing from your record player barely settling your nerves as you shift back and forth between your bed and the full length mirror in your room, criticizing every stray hem of your dress. There's a quiet set of knocks against your door and you yell out that you're not ready yet, expecting it to be Hopper.
"It's me!" El announces. "I can help you get dressed, if that's okay?"
Dropping your dress onto your bed, you open the door with a large smile, the excited and eager expression on your younger sister's face too sweet to reject. She sits on your bed with her legs dangling off, watching as you hold up different fabrics up to your chest and ask for her approval. After a several tries and pleas for you to "spin around", you two settle on a nice baby blue doll dress with a sweetheart neckline.
"Can I try doing your mascara?" El then asks quietly, pointing to the mess of makeup littered on your vanity. You laugh, nodding, closing your eyes quietly as her shaky hands attempt to carefully brush through your lashes with the wand. To your delighted surprise, she's a master at it, even going so far as to blend out your eyeshadow perfectly when you hand over your brushes to her.
"What shoes are you wearing?" she asks immediately after that, practically bouncing with excitement.
"I'm starting to think you're more excited about me going to prom than I am, El." you tease, opening your closet and pulling out a pair of sparkly white heels.
"Oh, I can't help it!" she gushes. "It's like all the romantic movies I watched, they always end with the girl and the boy going to prom. It's so romantic." she dreamily sighs, landing on your bed with her back on the mattress.
"Does that make me the protagonist?" you joke, strapping on your heels as you lean down towards your feet.
"Duh. And it makes Eddie your love interest."
"Very handsome, very charming, love interest, I'd like to add." Eddie suddenly cuts in, standing behind your door with a smug smile on his face. It fades into a soft, adoring grin when he sees you in your dress, dolled up and pretty yet still so naturally you. He hopes you can't tell that he loses his cool at the sight, voice slightly strained and tips of his ears flushing pink. "You look absolutely gorgeous, princess."
"Thanks. You don't look so bad yourself." you comment, throwing him a flirtatious wink. It's no lie, he cleans up well - the suit is a little awkward on him in some places, but the clean cut look makes his jaw stand out more, lean muscle straining the fabric perfectly.
"Shall we get going, my dear love interest?" you joke, offering one arm forward. El scrambles off your bed to hold open the door for you as Eddie wraps one of his arms around yours, nodding.
"We shall." he puts on a horrible posh accent, making you laugh at his antics. Hopper asks - no, practically demands - to sneak in a couple polaroids of you two together before you're burning with embarrassment and desperately shoving Eddie out the door, calling out to your father that you'd be back by midnight.
By the time the two of you pull up to the gymnasium, the party's already started. You're buzzing with anticipation and nerves when Eddie gently helps you hop off of his van, eyes burning with so much adoration that you can't even meet his gaze without melting.
"Bet you that the punch is gonna suck." he whispers into your ear, the flashing lights overhead blinding your eyes ever so slightly.
"Meh, that's why I did this."
You hike up the skirt of your dress to reveal a bottle of vodka strapped to your thigh, Eddie watching in awe as you twist off the red metal cap and pour him a shot into a red solo cup.
"God, I fucking love you." he moans, practically whining it against your lips. You smirk.
Eddie's not thinking of anything but how beautiful you look - so carefree, hands thrown up in the air, bubbly laughter erupting from your throat when he dips you or tugs you towards the food stand - that he doesn't even register Jason and his boys' persistent gazes throughout the night. It's only when you declare that you need some fresh air that he's broken out of his lovesick trance, his jacket finding home on your shoulders as you two lean against the wall of the school building.
"Having too much fun?" Eddie teases, knocking his shoulders against yours.
"Definitely. That, and the three shots of vodka and all the pizza grease is melting my brain."
Eddie's shoulders tense when he hears sets of footsteps approach, accompanied by the drunken yellings of Jason and his friends. Hands flying to your waist, he pulls you upwards, unreadable expression on his face.
"Let's go back inside." Eddie suddenly hurries out, clearly panicked. You frown, confused.
"We literally just came outside."
"I-I know, but uh, let's go-"
"MUNSON!!!!! There's the man of the hour." Oliver screams, cupping his hands together to amplify his voice across the parking lot. Eddie freezes in place, trapped, as you scowl and cross your arms over your chest.
"Piss off, asshole." you bark back, stepping in front of Eddie protectively.
"Oh, got your little bitch fighting your fights now, impressive. You trained her well, freak." Nate drawls, practically tripping over his words with how drunk he is. Eddie can hear his heartbeat ringing in his ears, panic settling in.
"Don't talk about her like that." he manages to choke out, standing up on shaky legs. But he falters under Jason's gaze, green with envy and red hot with anger, as the blonde steps forward in front of his friends.
"Come on, freak, you can drop the act now. You've won the bet, fair and square."
"What bet?" you stumble backwards in shock, frantic eyes flying to Eddie, who is now suddenly refusing to meet your gaze. "Eddie, what's going on?"
"Ah right, of course little miss ice queen would be confused! Let me break it down for you, sweetheart." Jason practically shouts, clapping his hands together with a gleeful smile. "Back in December, your little boyfriend and I waged a bet. This loser thought he could do a better job asking out girls than me, so I said that if he could get your prissy ass to say yes to a date and to prom, he'd win."
Eddie doesn't have the courage to look at you. He's sparing himself the trouble of having to see the crestfallen look on your face, of having to actually see for himself the way your hopes come crashing down into a pile of rubble, to be standing in the aftermath of his destruction.
"We're all impressed that he managed to succeed." the blonde jokes, his two friends eagerly nodding from the back. "Guess we underestimated your abilities, freak." Jason reaches forward and punches Eddie in the shoulder, knocking him back against the wall.
"(Y/n), I can explain-" Eddie starts out lowly, but you're not willing to hear any of it. He can see it in your eyes: in a moment's notice, you've pulled back up all your defences, warmth and kindness disappearing behind your walls as your voice drips with venom.
"Fuck off, Munson."
The laughter of the basketball players continuously rings in Eddie's ears as he chases after you, desperately trying to catch up to you as you run across the parking lot.
"Please, just hear me out-"
"NO." you announce firmly, spinning on your heels and staring up at him with burning hatred. You've never stared at him with anything other than fondness and warmth the past few months. It's then gut wrenching that the fury with which you're glaring at him now - the lack of any kind of kindness or playfulness in your eyes - is unprecedented.
"You know, I knew this was too good to be true." you start, voice shaky. "God, you have no idea how many fucking times I found myself thinking throughout the course of our relationship - no, even when we were just fucking friends - that I didn't deserve this. That there was a reason no one wanted to be my friend. But I was a fucking idiot, because-"
You choke on your words, a sob hanging by the edge of your lips, but you bitterly swallow it down. You'd be damned if Eddie gets your tears on top of everything else.
"Because I thought this was my reward. I was thinking, finally, after all these years of suffering, I could get something nice. New friends, new family, a boy who liked me for who I was... But I realize now that I was nothing more than a joke to you. A sleazy bet with the sleaziest douchebags in school."
"(Y/n)-" Eddie tries again, he can feel you slipping through his fingers and it's breaking him, heart aching to just have you in his arms again. But all you do is shake your head sideways, gritting your teeth as you shrug off his jacket and throw the fabric against his chest.
"Don't fucking talk to me again. If you even so much as look at me, I'll ask Hopper to step in."
"At least let me drive you home." he quietly mutters. "You don't even have a car."
"Save it. I'll take the bus."
Eddie stands there staring at his jacket in his hands, your perfume still lingering in the fabric as he watches hopelessly you walk away into the dark woods.
"Fuck." he breathes out, tears stinging his eyes.
He's fucked up. Really, really badly.
Steve and Robin both glare daggers into Eddie's back as he shuffles through the aisles of Family Video, both of them pretending to be busy when he'd first entered the store and muttered a quiet "hello." They're pissed at him, for good reason, of course, but it's awkward to know that his friends (who are also your friends) have all turned on him.
It's even more awkward having to make excuses as to why you're no longer showing up to band practice or to D&D sessions to the oblivious freshman and his other friends like Jeff and Gareth, who always looked forward to your sarcastic comments and humorous quips to pass the time.
"Just this, please." Eddie says, throwing a VHS tape of Evil Dead onto the counter. Both Steve and Robin stare down at the tape, then at Eddie, before resuming their conversation behind the counter as if they've never seen him. Eddie rolls his eyes, suppressing a deep sigh.
"Come on guys, this is childish. This isn't even for me, this is for Gareth."
"Then why didn't he come here and rent it himself?" Robin interrogates, tone harsh and dry.
"Got held up doing house chores by his mom. Just scan this damn thing, I'll pay, and I'll be right out of your eyesight, okay?" Eddie's practically pleading at this point and Robin sends Steve a knowing look, forcing the other boy to jump off of his seat and begin to mindlessly scan the tape.
"That'll be $2.50."
In between the painfully awkward and silent transaction, Eddie's looking at everywhere but his friends' faces. Their silent frustration, disapproval and disappointment is too heavy to bear, alongside the heavy guilt and crushing depression he's been experiencing the past two weeks since prom.
"Why'd you do it?" Steve blurts out mid-handing off the tape to Eddie, causing Robin to slap her best friend across the shoulder for his outburst.
"I just, I don't get it. It doesn't make sense. I saw - we both saw -" Steve gestures to Robin, sending her a warning glare. "How you looked at (Y/n). How you spoke about her. How much you loved her. What'd you even bet for?"
Pocketing the tape into his back pocket, Eddie sighs slowly, contemplating whether or not to tell them the truth. But hell, he's got nothing to lose at this point, he figures.
"Happened over a weed dealing. I was just talking shit, really, because Jason's ego was bruised after being rejected by (Y/n). We bet over me being able to successfully ask her out to a date and then to prom. If I won, the conditions were that Jason would buy for double - and I knew that Wayne was tight on money, and the trailer's been long overdue for a fix. And he also, uh... said if I won the bet, he'd stop bothering me and my friends."
Eddie doesn't notice it, because he's staring down at his hands whilst rambling, but Steve and Robin exchange a sympathetic glance as Eddie continues to pour his heart out.
"I tried pulling out a million times. But for one reason or another, I could never do it. I was a coward, don't get me wrong, but... when she told me she loved me, I knew it'd gone too far. I was so intently committed to breaking the bet off, consequences and money be damned, but then I saw Henderson had a bruise on his face from Jason roughing him up." Eddie swallows nervously, throat feeling prickly and dry. "I couldn't back out of it then. I didn't want any of the kids to get more hurt when I could prevent it."
"Oh, Eddie..." Robin says quietly, placing a warm hand on his arm. He only shakes her off though, forced grin pulling his lips apart.
"It's whatever. Point is, regardless of good intentions or bad circumstances, I was a fucking coward. And a liar. And an asshole. I broke her heart and I deserve all the bad things in the world for that."
"Does she know any of this?" Steve presses, eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
"No. I haven't spoken to her since prom. Never even so much as drove past her home. Pretty sure Hopper would shoot my tires flat if I tried, anyways." Eddie weakly jokes.
"You should tell her. If not for you, than for her. She deserves to know the truth."
The metalhead only sighs at that, shaking his head lightly in denial.
"She already knows the truth, Steve."
"Not the bet, but the reasons behind the bet. Your feelings through out the whole thing. How you tried to pull out but you couldn't. I mean the whole truth, Eddie." Steve insists, unwavering.
"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with this loser." Robin dryly comments, flicking Steve's forehead. Steve scowls at that, sending the brunette girl a playful glare before turning around to stare at Eddie.
"Seriously. Let her know the truth. It'll both do you good."
"If I were you though, I'd bring chocolates as a peace offering or something, because I did hear that Hopper got a new rifle last week." Robin adds, swinging her legs off the counter as Eddie rolls his eyes.
"Gee, thanks, Buckley."
"Don't sweat it, Munson."
"....Thanks." Eddie quietly whispers, genuinely touched by his friends' advice. Their words continue to replay in his mind like a broken record on his drive back home and out of the corner of his eyes, Eddie continues to see a phantom outline of you. Sitting next to him, singing from the driver's seat, hair being ruffled from the open window.
You're still haunting him, he still can't stop thinking about you. Mulling it over, he realizes that the least he can do is to try. Try and talk to you, to iron things out.
He just hopes you're willing to listen.
Eddie doesn't think he's ever felt this nervous before.
Standing by your front porch, throwing small pebbles at your bedroom window late at night, hoping that you notice the odd sounds and look outside. It's weird - a part of him is screaming at him to run away, that this was a mistake and that he should run into his van and drive home right now. But there's another part of him, one which is stronger and louder, reminding him that he has to explain himself to you.
He sees you lean out your window with a confused expression on your face, eyes scanning the night sky and trees before landing on his figure. You roll your eyes and slam your window shut, forcing him to escalate his plan.
The next time Eddie's knocking on your window he's precariously balancing on the slippery roof tiles, gripping onto your windowsill for dear life and hoping you have enough mercy in your heart to let him in. You're still scowling when you open your window back up, but this time there's a hint of care and worry in your eyes.
"What the fuck are you doing? You got a death wish, Munson?" you hiss, careful to not wake anyone else in the house.
"Well you weren't going to let me in the normal way, so I had to do the next best thing." he weakly offers, fingers turning white. "Are you going to let me in so I don't die, then?"
You click your tongue, swearing under your breath.
"Just because I don't want to attend your fucking funeral." you warn, stepping back and letting him climb in through your window. He practically falls onto the floor face first, limbs awkwardly tumbling forward, his left arm catching his fall ever so slightly in an effort to save the bouquet of flowers and chocolate from getting crushed.
"H-here." he shakily offers them by thrusting the items into your hands, which you cautiously take before throwing it behind you on the bed.
"Thanks. You can leave now."
"Wait, wait, wait-" he rushes to block off your access to the door before you can push him out the bedroom, making you stomp your feet in frustration.
"What, Eddie? I'm fucking tired, it's a Wednesday night, for fuck's sake."
"I know you don't want to talk to me. But it's fucking killing me that you don't even know the whole story. Please, hear me, out. Just five minutes, and if you still want me to leave, I... I will."
You should be laughing at his face. You should be your usual coldhearted self, uncaring smirk lacing your lips as you shove him out the front door and throw the flowers and chocolate back onto his chest. But you can't find it in yourself to do so.
Damn Eddie Munson and his handsome face, you think. You also can't deny the lingering affection you hold for him, and fuck... you have missed him. Greatly. The amount of times you've cried in the past two weeks is a testament to that.
The worst harm's already been done, you think. Might as well hear him out.
"Fine. You've got five minutes." you say, and you can see his face light up visibly with joy and relief.
"Thank you. The bet, listen, it... it happened during a drug deal. Jason was pissed that you'd rejected him and I was just trying to push his bottoms and toy with his fragile ego by boasting that I could probably be better with girls than him. He knew that I was having money issues and the trailer needed to be fixed, so he cut me a deal. If I got you to say yes to a date, then he'd start paying double for our weed dealings." Eddie rushes out, speaking so fast that he has to catch a deep breath in between.
"Then I added I wanted him to stop bothering me and my friends at school. Especially now that I got the freshman kids to look out for, I just wanted his word that he'd stop bothering them all. In return for that, however, it was additionally agreed that I'd also have to get you to say yes to prom."
"That's... oddly sweet of you. Kind of." you mutter, thoughts running a million miles per hour at the revelation. You figured that the bet was just a joke to exploit you. Not something Eddie agreed to in an effort to protect his uncle and his friends.
"It's really not, because I hurt you. I knew from the beginning that this was wrong. I had this persistent, sick, stabbing sensation in my stomach all throughout our friendship that this was wrong. I tried to lie to myself that I hadn't done anything bad yet, because we hadn't even started dating, but I knew it was only a matter of time before we became real. And once that happened, I..." he chuckles sadly, gaze lowering to the floor.
"I liked the illusion of us together too much to pull back. The bet was always lingering in the back of my mind, sure. But I liked you too much. I love you too much. So I ignored it. Even if it was fake, it felt real whenever I got to hold you and kiss you."
He runs a quick hand through his hair before resuming.
"And then the night that you told me you loved me, I panicked. It was like I was finally awake, like icy cold water had been dumped over my head and I saw what a fucked up mess I'd gotten us into. I told Jason the next day that the bet was off, but... he held the end deal of our bargain over my head. The part about no longer bullying my friends. And Dustin had gotten a black eye that morning from a rough altercation with Jason and I... I didn't end up backing out of the deal because of that. But I tried to get out. God, I tried many, many times. Maybe not as strongly as I should've, but there were numerous times where I tried to get out of the deal." Eddie affirms, pleading.
"So... all of that. All the lying, all the secrets, all the play pretend... was it worth it?" you whisper out loud, hands clutching at your sides as you hug yourself and look up at him.
"Yes." Eddie responds automatically, confident. "Because it meant I got to have you. And I never faked my feelings for you. Not even once. That was all, always, genuine."
You're left to stare at him in silence, teeth tugging at your bottom lip as you reflect over his words, Eddie taking in shallow breaths as he carefully surveys your reaction. He can't read your mind right now, he so badly wishes he could see what you're thinking because your expression is kept tight and neutral through it all.
"Do you... still want me to leave?" he whispers quietly. You don't speak, you don't nod nor deny him, you just continue to stare at him with a blank expression.
It's enough of an answer for him.
"You do, huh?" he chuckles, the sound as hollow as his heart. "It's fine, I uh, knew you wouldn't want me again after this. But you... you deserved to know the truth. Again, I'm so sorry for hurting you. I love you though. And I never lied about that."
He's hoping that you're going to stop him from leaving. That this is going to be the breakthrough moment in those romantic films, where you cut him off from speaking with a fierce kiss and whisper forgiveness against his lips, pinning him against the door.
But you don't even twitch. You just silently nod, unreadable expression on your face, and let him brush past you and walk down the stairs silently.
Eddie's heart stills feels heavy, grieving the loss of you and your love. But his shoulders feel ever so lighter, knowing that he's done the right thing by apologizing and explaining himself. He still feels like shit, he still thoroughly plans on smoking at least two packs when he gets back to his trailer, but he feels like he can breathe a tiny bit easier now.
Your voice suddenly rings out from behind him, your front door hanging open behind you as you've clearly ran through the house in a rush. Eddie jumps up in surprise, bewildered that you've chased him down the stairs.
"Y-yeah?" he stumbles out, pulling away from his van door.
"I forgive you. Sort of, I mean, it'll take a while for me to get over it and to fully trust you again but I... I still love you. Do you still love me too?" you whisper, doubtful.
Eddie almost wants to laugh at that question: that you'd even think for a second that he's spent any moment of the past two weeks being anything but in love with you.
"Of course I do, princess. Never stopped."
"Then that's all that matters."
This kiss tastes and feels totally new. Salty tears, mint toothpaste, your shaky fingers grabbing his as Eddie pulls you in impossibly close.
He's trying to memorize every aspect of you, having been starved of your presence for too long, committing every single aspect of you to memory. How you taste against his lips. How your body fits right against his when he places an arm around your waist. How your hair tickles his neck from this angle, moonlight shining a halo around the crown of your head.
You try to pull away a few times to catch your breath, but he doesn't let you, your giggles being swallowed by another needy kiss.
Eddie doesn't ever want to lose you again. Not even for a second.
a/n: if anybody actually read to the end of this story... thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart. This story has been a true labor of love, sweat and tears and countless hours of work. Whilst I was re-editing this I realized I kind of don't like how it turned out but I worked so hard on it and I already announced I was gonna post it so here it goes, I guess.
I've had this concept of a social outcast x Eddie reader with a enemies to lovers trope thrown in for a while so I'm just glad that I got it out my system. Totally nervous and completely unsure of how this will be received (my longest fic to date) but it's out now. Thank you for reading ❣️