the unmapped places [steve/eddie]
Eddie confesses. Steve, amazed, confesses back.
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“Okay, Harrington,” Eddie says suddenly, pushing himself up from his slouch against the couch cushions, “what are we doing?”
“Uh,” says Steve, glancing at Eddie, then at the TV across from them, then back to Eddie, “we—are—uhh, watching… a movie?” They are, right? The movie’s playing right there on the TV, right now, but the look on Eddie’s face is really making Steve doubt himself. “I mean, I am,” he corrects, and looks pointedly down at the book held in Eddie’s hand. “You’re reading a book like a total nerd.”
Eddie sits up further and turns fully toward Steve. His knee, bared by the rip in his jeans, presses into the side of Steve’s thigh, and his shoulder brushes against the arm Steve’s had flung across the back of the couch. Steve makes himself keep still. “Oh,” Eddie says haughtily, “excuse me, my fucking liege, for seeking a little entertainment outside of whatever—” he flaps a dismissive hand toward the TV “—this is.”
“What? It’s National Lampoon! It’s hilarious, come on!”
Eddie scrunches a sarcastic smile at him. “Uh-huh,” he says, not buying it at all. “You could stand to intake a little more literature, my friend.”
“Excuse me, my fucking liege,” Steve mimics, making Eddie snort, “did I not read The goddamn Hobbit for you?” It had taken him a goddamn age—seriously, how did Eddie sit down and just turn pages for hours on end, for fun—but he’d done it. And, to his own surprise and Eddie’s extreme delight, he’d enjoyed it. Enough to push into the bigger books? Yeah, no—though, admittedly, Eddie’s earnest excitement about the whole thing had made Steve waver for a brief second. So maybe he would, someday. Maybe. But come on: credit where credit was due.
Eddie leans back a little, his expression losing its mocking edge. “Yeah, alright,” he concedes. He smiles. “Fine. I’ll give you that.”
“Well, thanks for the charity,” Steve replies dryly, but smiles back, poking Eddie’s shoulder. He lets his fingers hang loose, close, skimming lightly against the soft fabric of Eddie’s shirt.
Eddie just looks at him like that for a second, all quiet. Then that familiar glint catches in his eye, and Steve braces himself. “But—”
And here it comes. “No.”
“Come on, you said it was good, so why not—”
“—just keep the story going! It’s an epic, sprawling world of adventure and magic, The Hobbit was but a mere taste, a tease of—” He presses forward into Steve’s space as he keeps talking, gesturing wildly. Steve catches his wrists to avoid getting smacked in the face with Eddie’s book, or his rings, or just his big hands. Those things can do some real damage, Steve knows. Nerd that he is, Eddie has a lot of power in his hands. A lot of strength. Ridiculous reach, too, his knobby fingers long and tough, calloused from his guitar’s strings. But they’re better suited for—just about anything other than fighting demon alien creatures. Playing guitar and rolling die, rolling joints, holding books, holding Ste—
Steve quickly tunes back in, lifting his focus back to Eddie’s face. “—journey of multigenerational fucking implications, man! It would expand your worldview like crazy." Eddie’s hands flex and dance in Steve’s grip, clearly wanting to make broad, dramatic sweeps. "And also you’d get, like, way more of my references.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s what it’s really about; multi-whatever be damned, you just want me to catch all your dorkass trivia when you drop it into conversations.”
Eddie scoffs. “Uh, oh-kay, I mean it’d be a definite bonus!”
“It’s not happening, Munson!” Steve says, laughing as he pushes Eddie back and releases his wrists. “Call me when the movie comes out.
Eddie slants a coy look at Steve, tapping his book against his mouth. Then he points the book at Steve. “I’ll hold you to that,” he says.
Steve shrugs and says, “Fine. It’s a date.”
Like a light switching off, all of the humor drains from Eddie’s face. He stares at Steve for a long moment, his dark eyes unwavering. It’s like he’s looking for something, but Steve couldn’t possibly guess what. Even after all this time they’ve been spending together, he could still be so, like—fathomless, or whatever. Insanely hard to read.
Then Eddie sighs, deep and loud, thunking his head back against the top of the couch. He drops his book open on top of his face and holds it there.
“What is it?” Steve asks, instantly on alert. “What’s wrong?”
"What are we doing, Harrington?” Eddie says again, his voice muffled by the book.
“Wh—huh? Eddie, are you okay? Seriously, man, look at me. Come on.” Steve reaches over and gently pulls at the book until Eddie lets it go. Steve puts it on the coffee table. When he turns back, Eddie is just staring up at the ceiling. “Hey. Eddie, come on, talk to me.”
Eddie finally sits up again. Something about his expression makes Steve straighten, giving Eddie his full attention. And for the third time, Eddie says, now in a voice that sounds almost desperate: “What are we doing, Steve?” His eyes are huge, imploring.
“I— I don’t—” Shit, his heart is hammering hard all of a sudden. He shakes his head, trying to clear it. “I’m, I don’t understand what you mean, can you…?”
Eddie groans roughly, irritated. “Y’know, usually I find your whole ‘lost puppy’ thing very…” He trails off, eyes floating all around the room for a moment. “But right now, it’s really—” He laughs a little, but it doesn’t sound amused. He cuts his gaze back to Steve. “Look, man.” He sighs. Steve frowns, wondering how to get back Eddie’s easy, bright smile from moments ago. “I am frankly losing what’s left of my goddamn mind here,” Eddie says, “so I’m just gonna shoot you straight,” and then after a slight pause, a loud laugh startles out of him, making Steve jump. “Sorry, uh, wow, terrible choice of words.”
Steve wants to say something, probably ask if he’s okay again, but he just sits there silently and waits and watches. Watches Eddie take in this huge breath and shut his eyes, like he’s about to belt out the opening notes of a ballad. Watches him release that breath slow. Watches him opening his eyes again, landing his gaze square on Steve.
And he opens his mouth and says in a rush: “I like you.”
And Steve keeps sitting there, waiting. Because there has to be more. –but we should probably stop hanging out, maybe, or at least, –but isn’t hanging out almost every day, like, kind of overkill? which it probably is, but Eddie hasn’t said anything about it and Steve keeps hoping he won’t say anything about it because he really doesn’t want to stop. But Eddie’s just looking at him now—also waiting. And Steve thinks, hold on, is that really it? Because that can’t be it. Because if it is— But it can’t be.
“What?” is all he manages to choke out, voice strangled thin.
Another long, tense silence. Steve is hyperaware of how close they are: Eddie’s bare knee digging into the side of his leg, their hands resting scant inches apart. What is happening here, he thinks, couldn’t possibly be what appears to be happening—because, in Steve’s experience these past few chaotic years, it never is.
But, jesus christ, the longer Eddie sits there, just looking at him, letting his warm proximity wash over Steve, his words settling so solidly in the air between them—the longer this moment unfurls into the space, the more this incredible lightness grows in Steve’s chest. It’s a lightness that Steve only just recently realized Eddie always puts there. And one that, even more recently, Steve has been making a concerted effort to shove down into a secret box inside himself. It doesn’t really work. But he’s been trying, for both their sakes, for the sake of the easy friendship they have that Steve has come to rely on.
But now, it feels like, maybe—
Eddie abruptly jumps to his feet. He loudly smacks both palms over his face and grumbles, “Ho-ly shit, man. I really— This is— Why did I— Haha! Oh, god.” He starts walking loops beside the couch, then expands his track to include the coffee table, muttering to himself. Steve gets the impression that he’d be climbing on top of the table if he felt like he was allowed to. Steve almost wishes that he would, if only because it would mean Eddie felt comfortable enough in Steve’s house to be his usual audacious self, and then Steve could scold him for it, and maybe that would calm them both down a little.
Eddie pauses his nonsensical mumbling, pivoting to cast an accusatory finger at Steve. “And you know that Robin— Robin said—” He cuts off, raggedly shaking his head as he starts to pace again.
“Wh— Robin?” Steve asks, bewildered, heart racing. “What did Robin say?” But Eddie either ignores him or doesn’t hear him, already lost in some other internal tangent. He’d been talking to Robin—about Steve?
With a sudden jolt of alarm, Steve realizes that Eddie’s widening orbit has gradually brought him close to the threshold leading out to the hall, and if the frazzled look in his eye is anything to go by, he’s just about ready to bolt. Steve is standing up and crossing the room before he even processes the thought fully, reaching out to grab at Eddie—before pulling back at the last second, not wanting to spook him with an unwanted touch.
Eddie freezes, knowing he’s been caught. He presses himself back against the wall, crossing his arms over his chest, eyes stuck to the floor.
Steve stands before him, hands spread wide, watching. When it seems like Eddie has no intention to make a break for it, Steve takes a slow step forward. “Hey,” he says, taking another step. “It's okay. You're okay." Another step. He gently lays a hand on Eddie's arm, just above his elbow. "It’s just me, right?”
Eddie's laugh is brittle and shaky. He leans his head back against the wall, turning his face away. “It’s because it’s you,” he says dully.
It eats at Steve to see him like this, shrinking into himself. Especially since it's because of Steve. Eddie has proven himself to be wildly courageous and inconceivably brave time and again—brave enough to fight Vecna, sure, but what impresses Steve the most is his bravery in everyday ways. The courage it took to finally graduate high school, and to be himself loudly and without apology, and to say all of this, now, to Steve. He's ashamed to have, literally, pushed Eddie into a corner
Now Steve can see why Eddie had to take in that huge breath. The words are rattling around inside his stomach, but they're going to need to be pushed out. On his exhale, Steve says, “Me too."
And Eddie replies, “Huh?”
“I—" Another jittery breath in. Another exhilarating breath out. "Eddie. I like you, too.”
Eddie stares at him, expressionless. Then he narrows his eyes. “Bullshit.”
An icy shock pools in Steve's stomach at that word. Bullshit. This, again—but no, no, it's not. This isn't like then at all. Eddie isn't Nancy, and Steve isn't the Steve from back then. He isn't hopelessly trying to convince someone to love him; he just needs to convince someone who, apparently, already likes him that the feeling is very, very mutual.
"I'm being serious," he insists.
But Eddie just shakes his head. “I don't think you're understanding me, Steve. I like you,” he repeats, harried. “As in, like-like. As in, long strolls under the moonlight holding hands-like. Doodling your name in my notebook-like. I am into you, okay? For fuck’s sake?”
Steve knows Eddie is really fucking stressed out right now, but the ligthness in Steve's chest grows warmer and brighter and fuller with every word Eddie says. "Yeah— Eddie. Me too." He moves closer, shifting his hand up to Eddie’s shoulder. "I like you exactly like that." He puts his palm to Eddie's cheek.
Steve watches Eddie's dark eyes slowly come to life with realization. “Steve,” he says. His tone is the same fragile and vulnerable thing Steve had once heard, so long ago now, sitting on the sticky tile of a mall bathroom floor.
“Yeah,” he replies, keeping his voice just as soft. He will try to be worthy of the trust being placed in him now, the same as it was back then. He gently pushes his fingers into Eddie’s hair, curls catching at his nails as he tucks the strands behind Eddie’s ear, exposing the two little silver hoops he has in. Steve remembers the first time he caught sight of Eddie’s ear piercings, normally hidden by his hair. They’d been talking about movies; Steve recalls that specifically because at some point Eddie had said, I’m a goddamn film connoisseur, and swept one side of his hair back over his shoulder, like some lofty high-society madame. And Steve, for the briefest moment, had seen the glint of his earrings. He’d felt consumed by the desire to see them again, this part of Eddie that was usually out of sight. For days afterward he would find himself staring at the side of Eddie’s face, hoping. He’d only stopped when Eddie called him out on his “frankly kinda creepy stare”—but no, he hadn’t actually stopped. He’d just managed to be a little more discreet about it, which was how he found out that it wasn’t just the one ear that was pierced but both
Now, Steve touches his thumb to the hoops, that questing beast of desire finally satisfied after all this time. He savors the feeling of the delicate skin of Eddie’s neck under his fingertips. These secret and soft parts of him. Steve wants, so badly, to take care of him.
Eddie’s eyelids slip closed. “Don’t…”
Steve immediately freezes. “Don’t?”
Eddie breathes out a slow breath. When he opens his eyes, he whispers, “Don’t do something that you’ll regret."
Again, for a moment, they watch each other. Eddie’s dark eyes are depthless. Steve could fall into them, probably, which is a stupid and absurd thing to think. It’s an even stupider thing to hear. You’ve got eyes a girl could sink into, Steve Harrington, a girl he’d been seeing once told him. He remembers wondering what the fuck that meant, and why someone would even want to do that. But now, suddenly—Steve understands that old cliché phrase, “to get lost in someone’s eyes.” Maybe not lost, though. Maybe, in Eddie’s wide, brown eyes, it’s just the opposite.
So Steve says, “Okay,” and leans in and kisses him.
When he pulls away, Eddie looks so shocked that Steve can’t help but laugh. He feels impossibly light. “You kissed me,” Eddie says blankly.
He sure had. Finally. And, damn, does he want to do it again. “Yeah, well, uh. You—you said not to do something I’d regret,” Steve tells him. “And I would’ve really, really regretted not kissing you.”
Eddie just gapes at him. It’s so rare that he’s at a loss for words; Steve is absolutely, unashamedly making notes. “King Steve,” he says eventually, his voice awed. A slow grin grows over his face, his cheeks so beautifully pink. “Smooth as fuckin’ glass.”
Steve is glad he’s making that impression because he's just bumbling his way through this whole thing. Steve Harrington, the king of cool, known for his casual come-ons and easy charm, thrown completely off-kilter by Eddie 'the Freak' Munson's big brown eyes and teasing grins.
Well, in for a penny, in for a dollar, or however the hell that phrase goes. He pulls Eddie back in. Eddie sighs softly against Steve's mouth, his kiss gentle, almost hesitant, but still so warm and wanting.
When they part, Eddie presses his face into the slope of Steve's neck. "Is this for real?" he whispers. Steve can hear the question under the question, the genuine, gut-deep fear beneath the regular doubt. It pains Steve that they — that all of them — have had simple trust burned out of them. Like anything too good might be a trick or a trap or some kind of illusion.
Steve puts both arms around Eddie and holds him close. "Yeah, Eddie. It's real; I'm here, and you're here, and this is real." Eddie says nothing, only twists his hands into the back of Steve's shirt. Steve rubs a slow hand along Eddie's shoulder blades, soothing and grounding them both. This is real, this is real.
Eddie lifts his head, his hands sliding up along Steve's back to his shoulders, then coming to cup his face. There are no other colors in Eddie's eyes, Steve notices. Just the same deep brown throughout, framed by his long dark lashes. He has faint freckles and old acne scars, crinkles by his mouth and eyes. He's magnetic without even trying. Eddie leans in and closes his pretty eyes and kisses Steve, and Steve melts against him. He can tell he's already getting hooked on kissing Eddie, hooked on the rub of his stubble, the tickle of his long hair, how he tastes like the beer they'd been drinking, smells like the joint they'd smoked together earlier, the undeniable strength in his shoulders and his hands, how wide he is, how solid, how warm, how real.
The parting of this third kiss is slower. They linger close, foreheads pressed together. "You okay?" Steve asks quietly.
"Yeah." Eddie breathes out. "Yeah, I'm good." He leans away so they can see each other fully again. "You?"
Better than good. He's never felt so lit up. "Yeah." He drops his hands down to hook his fingers in Eddie's beltloops. "But, um. Do you want to, like. I don't know. Go home, or…?
Eddie's face collapses. "What? Why— Do you… Do you want me to go?"
"No! I don't. Sorry, I meant, like, if you maybe needed some space or something. Like, to—I don't know—process, or whatever. I don't know." Christ, why is it so hard for him sometimes? "I just don't want you to feel, y'know. Overwhelmed or trapped or anything.
"Oh," Eddie says, the distress gradually melting away. "That's really thoughtful, but with all due respect, uh, fuck no. You're gonna need a crowbar to get rid of me now, Harrington."
Steve scoffs a laugh, trying to hide his relief. "Good to know," he says. "Then, do you—" He rocks back on his heels, pulling at Eddie's beltloops. "Should we…
Eddie smiles, bemused. "Steve, if you're oh-so-smoothly asking if I'd like to sit back down with you, then please." He takes one of Steve's hands in his. "Lead the way."
He shakes his head, but leads the way. Steve Harrington has been on, like, a million goddamn dates, all involving varying degrees of handsy-ness, but somehow loosely holding Eddie Munson's hand as they make the short walk back to the couch together is the most nerve-wracking thing he's experienced.
They sit. Eddie brings one leg up onto the couch, once again pressing his bare knee into Steve's thigh. It feels suggestive in a way it didn't before. The air between them is heavy with expectation. What should they do now? Steve is, admittedly, still reeling from the fact that his feelings are now not only out there but are actually reciprocated.
He suddenly bursts into loud laughter.
"Whoa! What is it?"
“‘As in, like-like,’” Steve intones seriously, then laughs some more. "Holy shit."
“Wh— Dude! Shut the fuck up!” Eddie starts jostling him. Steve just keeps laughing, letting himself get pushed around.
He's about to ask if Eddie really has been doodling Steve's name in notebook margins when another part of the conversation comes back to him with a jolt. He grabs Eddie’s arms, stilling him. “Wait, were you gonna— were you gonna say you find my ‘lost puppy thing’ cute?”
Eddie cuts him an unamused look. “Alright, don’t get a big head.”
Steve laughs, stupidly pleased. "How could I not? Eddie Munson thinks I'm cute. Stop the presses."
"Oh, fuck you, Harrington, it's not news if it's just, like, a commonly known fact of life."
"So you do think so."
Eddie squints at him. "I can see where Dustin learned his egomania from."
Steve laughs again as he brings his hand back up to Eddie's face, lightly running a thumb under his eye. "Yeah, okay, well. How 'bout this? I think you're cute, too." With his doe eyes and his laugh lines, his curly bangs, his barely-there freckles—how could he not be? But, man, no. It's more than that: "Actually, I think you're beautiful. And I've kinda been dying to tell you that," Steve adds, breathless from how long that thought had been living inside of him, how he finally gets to say it out loud. "Like really, incredibly beautiful."
Eddie seems to be literally stunned into silence. His cheeks are all pinked up. Eventually, he says, "Oh, jesus, I forgot about this."
"King Steve's infamous alter ego, Boyfriend Steve," Eddie announces, like he's presenting a new villain to his D&D campaign, "whose powers include: truly offensive amounts of PDA; constantly talking about his partner, to the absolute detriment of those around him; donning matching costumes at Halloween parties—yes, I did hear about that—; and, most noteworthy, being ridiculously over-complimentary." Eddie sighs dramatically. "Bodes extremely ill for someone who is pathetically weak to compliments."
Okay. Breathtakingly gorgeous he may be, but Eddie Munson sure does know how to take the mood in a whole new direction. There are a metric fuck-ton of things needing to be discussed there, like. Seriously. But Steve's mind snags on one word in particular: "Boyfriend?"
Eddie's eyes fly wide, his affable smile dropping away. "Uh— N-not that— I mean, uh—"
"Is that what you want?" Steve asks evenly, doing his best to affect calm, despite how his heart is, once again, galloping in his chest. "For me to be your… your boyfriend?"
"We— You—" Eddie stammers. "You don't, I mean, it's like, we just—"
"Because I—" Steve cuts in. "I think— I want that." There's no way Eddie isn't hearing how loud Steve's heart is beating right now. He takes a steadying breath. Then he takes Eddie's hand in his, which steadies him further. "I want that," he says firmly. "I want to be your boyfriend."
"Oh," says Eddie. He starts blinking rapidly, and Steve is momentarily afraid that he's about to cry. Tenderness wells up inside of him, making Steve afraid that he's about to cry himself. "Yes. Fuck. I want that, too. Like, so badly, Steve. Fuck."
Steve has barely started leaning in when Eddie's eyes fall closed, his face tipping up. A warm affection rushes through Steve at how Eddie has already come to expect being kissed, and he smiles against Eddie's mouth. He doesn't seem that offended by Boyfriend Steve's supposedly infamous PDA.
Eddie's expression is serious when he draws back. He chews on his lip, hesitating before speaking. “Why didn’t you—say anything? And, like, how… how long…”
“I…" Steve sighs. Two very good questions. He looks down at their hands, tangled together, Eddie's blocky rings fitted against Steve's knuckles. "Honestly, man, at first I didn’t, like—know. Like, I’d never had a close guy friend like you before – christ, that sounds so lame, but it’s true – so I didn’t really, like, it didn’t click for me that something was… That my feelings maybe weren’t entirely…" He glances back up at Eddie. "Capital-P platonic.”
Eddie’s biting his bottom lip, obviously fighting to keep down a smile. He loses the battle pretty quickly, a goofy grin lighting up his face. Steve watches the way his lip changes color as the blood rushes back in; they’re close enough that he can make out the faint indentations made from Eddie’s teeth. “Oh, you never had dude friends who you cuddled with on the couch before me?” Eddie teases. “Honored.”
“Stop, god, I know, okay. In hindsight it’s so obvious.” He rubs his free hand over his forehead, feeling pretty stupid. “But then, when I realized that I, y’know… really, really like you, in a super not platonic way—” Eddie’s teasing smile turns down into something softer, more tender, and Steve has to touch a hand to his cheek “—I almost said something, but… I didn’t want… I didn’t wanna risk losing the, uh, one good thing that happened to me because of Vecna. Or, like. One of the best things. That’s happened…” One of the best things that’s happened, if he’s being totally honest with himself, since the demogorgan. There have been a lot of best things that came of that—the kids, especially Dustin; getting to be close to Nancy in a more profound way; the unexpected best friend he found in Robin. But Eddie is a different sort of best thing completely.
“Did you, um.” Eddie’s voice is so quiet. Not whispered, or mumbled, but quiet like the words are barely able to make it out of his mouth at all. He swallows. “Did you just say that I, um. Am one of the best things that’s… happened to… you?”
Steve smooths his hand over Eddie’s unruly, incredible hair. “Yeah,” he says, his throat thick. “‘Cause you are.”
Eddie pulls the ends of his hair in front of his mouth, ducking his head. “Oh, shit,” he mutters.
He looks at Steve from under his lashes. He drops his hair, revealing a huge smile. “I’m, like, stupid fucking happy right now.”
Steve cups Eddie's face in both his palms. “I’m really sorry it took me so long.” He thinks about the kickstart of this conversation, Eddie asking what are we doing?, and feels sick with having made Eddie confused because of his own inaction. Steve is always seen as the one to jump in feet first, regardless of the risk, but in this… when the stakes were losing Eddie, he couldn't. He wishes he had, though that's pointless now. Eddie, as usual, impresses Steve with his courage. "And I'm, like, really fucking grateful that you said something."
"I mean, I am not exaggerating when I say that I, like, physically could not keep it in anymore," Eddie says, "but I'll take the praise regardless."
Steve is moved by the thought that Eddie's feelings were too intense to hold inside. Oh, shit—this guy is his boyfriend now. Holy shit. He swallows past the emotion tightening his throat.
Eddie asks, “So what did make you realize?”
“Oh—ugh. God, it’s so embarrassing.”
“Dude, I just fuckin’ straight up, like, full-on eighth grade schoolgirl confessed my feelings for you. Basically handed you a note that says ‘Do you like me? Mark YES or NO.’ So, come on, spill it.”
YES, Steve thinks, stomach doing flips. YES YES YES.
He says, "Fine, okay. It was… I don't even remember, like, a couple months ago maybe? We had all been hanging out here—you, me, Robin, the shrimps. I had to go drive Robin home, and when I got back, you were, like, coaching the kids on how to headbang. You guys looked so fucking dumb.” He laughs, thinking of them sitting on the ground, all of them whipping their heads up and down to the music. “But they looked so happy. And you—you just had this huge grin, y’know, like so proud. And I could tell that making them happy was making you happy, too. So. Yeah, that’s when it sort of clicked, I guess.”
That’s not exactly true. His real moment of clarity came when Eddie had noticed Steve, standing in the doorway watching them. He'd stuck out his tongue and thrown up a hand symbol that one of his favorite musicians likes to do—index finger and pinky up, thumb crossed over the middle two fingers. Then he put his hand down. And he'd smiled. And, out of nowhere, one of Dustin’s five-dollar words had popped into Steve's head: resplendent—shining brilliantly, gleaming. Bright and beautiful as the morning sun.
It was that smile, in that moment, in that room, surrounded by people they both love having fun, that made everything fall into place inside of Steve. The surprise blitzed through him like a flashfire, quickly replaced by something like relief. Oh, he'd thought, so that's what it is. It was as if he'd been steadily, but randomly, putting a puzzle together, and it was only when the final piece was in place that he was able to see the whole thing for what it was.
"Watching me headbang was your a-ha moment? Jesus, you're right," Eddie says, "that is pretty embarrassing." And then there it is, that smile. Resplendent.
"God," Steve mutters, then leans in to kiss Eddie again.
"Man," Eddie says dreamily as he opens his eyes, "I could really get used to this."
"Wait— So are we, like, on a date? Like, right this second?"
No—sitting at home watching a movie is not a real date. Yes—doing anything anywhere is a date as long as it's with Eddie. "Do you want to be?"
Eddie pulls his hair in front of his face again. "Yes," he mumbles shyly.
Steve's going to pull a muscle if he keeps smiling like this. "Okay, but we will go on, like, an actual first date. Y'know, if— if you want."
"I want," he says with an immediacy that Steve is frankly flattered by. "I'm ready to be wooed. Give me the Boyfriend Steve special. Even if it's totally lame, I promise to pretend that I'm extremely impressed, because that's how much I like you."
Steve is absolutely fucking floating right now. "Gee, you're a real catch, Eddie Munson."
"Don't I know it, Steve Harrington! How lucky you are to be dating little ol' me."
I really am, he thinks, and then thinks, oh, wait, and says out loud, "I really am."
Maybe Eddie was right in saying that being over-complimentary is an unfair power, but if it surprises him like this every single time, Steve is going to be stupid not to use it.
Then Eddie gets that old familiar mischief in his eye. And Steve, as always, braces.
He starts: “My first decree as your boyfriend—”
“—with whom you are so lovingly on a date right now, so you have to be nice to me—”
“Do I, though.”
“—is that we put on an actual good movie. Honestly, I’m trying to forget that we had our big gushy feelings moment to the soundtrack of goddamn National Lampoon.” Eddie starts pushing at Steve’s shoulder, who just looks at him flatly. “Chop chop!”
“What am I, a goddamn serf?”
Eddie has the audacity to bat his eyelashes at Steve. What’s worse: it actually works.
Steve shakes his head. “Yes, Your fucking Highness,” he sighs, getting up to go root around in the cabinet under the TV. As he's sifting through the movies he has, he becomes certain that his collection is about to receive a real overhaul in favor of someone's more eclectic taste. But he's not so much resigned to that fact as he is, like, maybe actually looking forward to it, all the little ways Eddie will keep making a place for himself in Steve's life.
Eventually, he finds one that he thinks will pass judgment. He holds it up, looking over at Eddie for his verdict.
After a tense moment of scrutiny, Eddie waves a dismissive hand. “I will allow it,” His goddamn Majesty declares.
Steve rolls his eyes and goes to eject National Lampoon and put the new movie in. “Christ, if this is what it’s like dating Eddie Munson," he laments as he sits back on the couch, "I don’t know how I’ll last.”
Eddie curls up against him and pats his chest, looking smug. “Be strong, soldier.”
Steve slings an arm around Eddie's shoulder, then sneaks a hand up to tweak his ear. Eddie makes an extremely unflattering noise and glares at him. Steve snickers and pulls him in closer. Fuck, he's on a date with his boyfriend right now. Of all the things to happen to him in this goddamn town, this is easily the most incredible.
There's a beach fight happening on screen when Eddie says, "Okay, Johnny Lawrence: yea or nay?"
"Yea or nay as in, like, what?"
"As in, do you think he's hot."
"Uhh." He considers the character in question as he moves around the screen, taunting the protagonist: blond, strong, flashy. A truly impressive nose. "Yea, I guess? Like, objectively, isn't the whole point that he's hot? So, sure, yea."
"What a perfectly diplomatic answer."
Steve wonders if Eddie meant something more, like maybe he's trying to suss out if Steve has taste in guys beyond him. "But he's kind of a huge douche, so not, like, I wouldn't date him."
"Yeah, okay, but by the end, there's, like, a glimmer of something under the douchebaggery. The way he's practically crying—god, it's so pathetic, it's beautiful." He hums, like he's mulling over a thought, then says, "Maybe I have a type: reformed douche."
"Oh, gee, thanks." He pinches Eddie's cheek. "Wait, you've seen this before?"
"What? Come on, of course I've seen The Karate Kid. Snatch my anti-conformity card away, but not even I am immune to some pipsqueak beating the shit out of a bunch of bullies." Eddie grins toothily up at Steve. "Living vicariously and all that."
"Okay, yeah, I can see that." He doesn't point out that Eddie really doesn't have to live vicariously through fictional characters to get that kind of wish fulfillment anymore. He's strong and tough and smart enough to fight for himself, in real life. A wave of pride washes over Steve, gratified by how far Eddie's come.
"You're way hotter than Johnny Lawrence, by the way," Eddie tells him. "Just to be perfectly clear."
"Oh, great, good, thank you. I'm so relieved that I'm not gonna have to, like, fight this guy for your hand or whatever."
"But you would though."
This is such a stupid conversation. Steve is loving it. "Duh."
Eddie beams at him, so openly delighted. Then he says, “It was actually before all—that." He doesn’t need to clarify what he means by all that. “Me being interested in you, I mean.”
“Yeah, like, witnessing you being a big damn hero was a clincher moment, certainly. And demobat was when I kinda realized, like, oh, okay—Steve Harrington is super fucking hot. I get it now, it’s true, awooga, etcetera etcetera—”
“—uh, yeah, please never say ‘awooga’ again—”
“—but it was actually way back – oh, Stevie, come on, we just established this, you’re very awooga—”
“—it was actually when you were working at fuckin’—” Eddie cuts himself off with a snorting laugh. “Fuckin’ Scoops.”
“Holy shit.” Oh, no. “What?” Steve’s face is burning. “No. No no no.”
“Oh yes yes yes,” Eddie says, gleeful. “Dude, there I was, minding my own business, going to the pathetic little record store they had in the mall, when I look over—”
Eddie is full-on giggling now, which would be cute if Steve weren’t too busy being mortified. “I look over! I look over, and who do I see in one of those dashing little blue sailor outfits—"
“—but King Steve ‘the Hair’ Harrington himself. Oh, you could not imagine the—" Eddie grips one hand into a fist "—absolute vindication I felt in that moment. How the mighty have fallen! I thought. The big man on campus, reduced to slinging sweet treats at the goddamn mall?" He laughs again, clearly reliving the euphoria he felt back then.
"O-kay, man, jeez—" Steve literally just moments ago made this guy his boyfriend. Unbelievable.
Eddie, shameless, presses on. "Needless to say, I was intrigued. In retrospect, one may even say entranced—nay! enamored. Ye of the perfectly popped polo collar—"
"—brought to such aesthetical lows. Steve, put simply, the sight was so goddamn ridiculous that it awakened an absolute burning curiosity inside me.
"Well," Steve says, honestly at a complete loss with how to respond. "Whatever works, I guess."
Eddie's face is glowing with humor, and Steve finds that he doesn't mind at all that it's at his expense. Okay, maybe he minds, like, just a little. But the glitter in Eddie's eye is worth it. “Did they let you keep the outfit though? Because, man, I will admit it,” Eddie says with a saucy grin, “those shorts were really doing it for me.”
Nevermind, not worth it. “You need to stop. Please. I am begging you.”
Eddie tips his head back to laugh loudly. Steve takes in the long arch of his neck, the chaotic fall of his dark hair, the glimpse of the black cord from his guitar pick necklace. All these little details that make Eddie so addicting to look at, so interesting. “Make me,” Eddie tells him.
So Steve does what he gets to do now: he kisses him. This is quickly becoming a default move, which clearly neither of them mind.
Eddie pulls away just a little, murmuring against Steve's mouth, "You really like my piercings, huh?"
Steve hadn't even realized he'd been rubbing his thumb over Eddie's hoops again while they kissed. "Yeah," he says softly, pushing Eddie's hair fully out of the way to show off the cut of his jaw, his pale throat. He leans forward and touches his lips to Eddie's earlobe, feeling the hard metal of his earrings. He opens his mouth a little, just enough to catch the hoops between his teeth for a second, before letting up and pressing a kiss behind the ear. Eddie makes a sweet little noise that has Steve kissing down his throat, wanting to pull it out of him again.
Eddie’s breath hitches when he makes it down to his collarbone. "Jesus, Steve…" he sighs, carding his hands into Steve's hair. Steve hooks a finger into the collar of Eddie's ratty band tee and pulls it down so that he can put his mouth to the peek of the tattoo there. He's never seen the whole thing and he really fucking wants to. He wants to see what other tattoos Eddie has hidden away; he wants to be allowed to know every secret part of him.
Steve slowly makes his way back up to Eddie's mouth. The easy, eager way Eddie opens up to him floods Steve's entire body with heat. Eddie's rings snag at Steve's hair, pulling lightly at his scalp, sending little electric shocks zipping down his spine. He slips a hand up the back of Eddie's shirt and spreads his palm wide, soaking in the warmth of his skin.
When Steve presses closer, Eddie lets out a low, throaty moan, and they both freeze, startled out of the moment. Steve pulls up a little, realizing that, at some point, he had pushed Eddie down against the couch and laid himself over him. One of Eddie's feet is planted on the floor, his other leg bent at the knee and bracketing Steve's hip, pulling them flush together.
"Um," says Eddie, blinking his glassy eyes back into focus.
Steve immediately backs off. "Sorry, uh." It takes a lot of willpower for him to take his hands off Eddie—sliding one out from under Eddie's shirt, untangling the other from his hair—but he manages it, scooting back across the couch. His whole body is thrumming, one big heartbeat. "Shit, sorry, I got a little carried away, uh—"
Eddie clears his throat, pulling himself back upright. His face is a deep, soft red, his hair all fluffed up. And his mouth—Steve tears his gaze away, heart thumping. "What? No, Steve, it's— it's cool, I wanted—"
Steve flushes when Eddie straightens out his shirt. Jesus, when was the last time he'd blushed? His palm is hot with the memory of Eddie's bare skin. "God, I'm sorry—"
"Dude, stop, I want it, like, seriously, I really, really do—"
"No, I get it, yeah—"
"—maybe, just, you know—"
"I guess we should, like… Let's…"
"Yeah," Steve agrees, "no, yeah, let's… Let's. Yeah."
"Yeah," says Eddie, "okay. Cool."
There's a beat of quiet before they both laugh sort of bashfully. It's been a long, long time since Steve has experienced this… shyness, this almost giddiness, with a partner. Maybe not since the very first time he kissed someone. It could be because this is his first time doing all of this with a guy, but he honestly thinks it's mostly just because it's Eddie. Everything feels bright and new and curious with Eddie. It's really nice. He'd almost forgotten what nice even felt like.
Steve runs a hand over Eddie's hair to smooth out the mess he made of it the best he can. He tidies Eddie's bangs and, because he just can't resist, tucks some of his hair behind his ear so the little silver hoops are showing. Those things are going to get Steve into a lot of trouble, he knows, and drops his hand away before he starts getting into more trouble right now.
Eddie reaches up like he's about to pay Steve the same courtesy, but instead starts aggressively ruffling Steve's hair. "Dude!" Steve knocks his hand away, pushes against Eddie's chest, who just laughs and laughs. "You are so annoying."
"Yeah, but you like it."
God, he does, and it's proving to be very bad for his health. Or his hair hygiene, anyway. "Just shut up and watch the movie."
"Aye aye, Sailor Steve."
"Holy shit, Munson, I am warning you, do not start with that."
"Too late, Popeye! It's started, and it's not ending."
"I swear to god—" Steve starts dancing his fingers along Eddie's sides, remembering a few weeks ago when Dustin had accidentally discovered Eddie is hilariously, disastrously ticklish. It only takes a couple seconds for tears of laughter to start streaming down his face. Steve's heart swells, so incredibly charmed. He can't believe he was ever able to box any of this away.
He lets up when Eddie chokes out uncle! uncle! in between breathless laughs. "You seriously just tickled me into submission. I'm in awe, Harrington."
"And I will goddamn do it again. Eyes forward."
Amazingly, Eddie actually listens, settling down against Steve again. (Tickling and compliments are powerful tools against his boyfriend. Important to note. His boyfriend, Eddie Munson. Also important to note.) And despite having seen it already, Eddie seems fully engaged with what's going on in the movie. Certainly more than he was with National Lampoon. Steve still can't believe the guy was really sitting there reading—and how can someone even read with stuff going on in the world around them? Though Eddie's always telling him that a good book can pull you in, distract you just as much as music or movies. And I don't mean your Sound and the fuckin' Fury here, Steve, he'd said once, as if that meant anything to Steve at all, but he'd known better than to interject as Eddie started listing out examples of 'good books', each with a premise more nonsensical than the last.
Steve pokes Eddie's shoulder to get his attention. “What were you reading, anyway?”
Eddie tips forward to grab his book off of the table. "The Light Fantastic!" he says, presenting the cover.
"Jesus christ," says Steve, physically recoiling when he sees it, because jesus christ, what a cover it is. There's a wizard and some—gnomes? dwarves?—riding on top of a treasure chest in mid-air, and what the fuck, the chest has feet. A lot of feet. A green woman in a skimpy outfit is hanging onto the wizard's robe, and a grey man in an even skimpier outfit is hanging onto the treasure chest. There're birds. There's a troll. "Uh. Wow."
"Your face," Eddie says, "is absolutely fucking priceless."
"I'm scared to even ask what it's about."
"But you know I'm gonna tell you anyway, right?"
"Obviously," Steve says, settling in to be regaled. This time, he doesn't interfere with Eddie's exaggerated gestures. He just keeps his arm slung around Eddie's shoulder and lets himself be pulled along the thread Eddie spins.
He's amazed at how this night began and how it's now ending. It's true that, ever since that night with the kids, Steve had been aware of his wanting. Looking back, though, Steve knows now that it actually started the day that they defeated Vecna. Eddie had found him on the battlefield and launched himself at him, and though the hug had been a brief, bright, streaking comet of a moment, the weight of him had burned an imprint against Steve’s body.
It's clear now that Steve had been searching for a way back into Eddie’s arms all along. He'll try not to fault himself too much for not getting here sooner. Because, in the end, finally, here he is. Exactly where he wants to be.