ace billy? ace billy.
in his early teens it seems like people are constantly talking about sex. girls stage whispering about the bruises on their collarbones with coy smiles. boys loudly comparing their girlfriends' assets. people talking about getting on their knees for someone like they're reverently describing finding god. and billy...billy gets good at nodding along like he understands.
but he's fumbling and lost and years of tiny moments all lead him to a conclusion that he resists with everything he has.
so he teaches himself to hide it. learns to wear flirtation like armour. every damn day he stands in front of the mirror practising, rehearsing for the tragic shitshow he calls a life. and sure, he rocks the hell out of his leading role, even loves the attention sometimes, soaks it up like it's the last scrap of affection he'll ever get. but it's not enough. it never is. it's hollow, all of it. he's painting a pretty face on a porcelain doll, waiting for the day he slips and it shatters.
by the time he moves to hawkins he's spent years perfecting the art of lying to himself and everyone around him. he's an impenetrable fortress of bullshit. he's turned it into a game. flirting with older women. married women. the more unattainable the better.
girls his age are boring. that's the story he tells himself. it's too easy. he doesn't want them because it's not a challenge.
he's got an excuse for everything.
he didn't like fucking that girl back in california because she tried too hard to be sexy and it was a turnoff. and the porn mags he keeps stashed away do it for him, honest, they do, his mind wanders to other things and his eyes glaze over til he's not even looking anymore but he still gets off so it counts, right?
and. and the guys he looks at don't turn him on either, so he's definitely not gay. he isn't.
he's gotten embarrassingly invested in befriending a couple guys here and there, but he's got a handle on it, he's better at playing it cool now.
except he isn't.
the second he opens his damn mouth around steve harrington he's spouting the dumbest, try-hard shit imaginable, and he walks away with his ears flushing pink and his heart in his throat and it's all so fucking stupid.
but he doesn't want him. he leans in real close while they're both soaking wet and naked and he doesn't feel a goddamn thing and he walks away both vindicated and confused. he could've sworn that one time when he saw steve kiss nancy in the hallway he was burning up inside with something, but now he has no idea what he's feeling. doesn't even know what he wants to be feeling, it's not like lusting after boys would be any better than whatever the hell this is.
doesn't matter though. he takes out his issues on steve's stupid pretty face and that puts an end to any chance of...anything. whatever he even wanted it to be. it can't be anything now.
so he goes back to what he knows. what's familiar. and he starts pushing it further. it's not just a stray compliment here and there, batting his eyelashes and playing it coy, no, he's fucking done being subtle. and it's almost exhilarating, knowing he's doing something he shouldn't. there's a thrill to it that almost makes up for how little he actually wants it to go anywhere.
but he must, right? he keeps telling himself he does. but late at night when he's curled around a pillow, fingers pulled tight and his forehead pressed to the fabric, pushing away lingering thoughts of doe eyes and strong shoulders, he knows he doesn't.
doesn't stop him from driving out to meet mrs.wheeler at a motel, stomach twisted up with warring emotions, and a strange, detached giddiness bubbling in his chest, and...
he'll never get the chance to know if he'd have liked it or not. he never makes it to that motel.
when he wakes up in the hospital, weeks later, veins still grey and his bandages itching, max is there, holding his hand, crying like she actually cares. and behind her, perched in a squared off beige armchair, is steve of all people.
he's just her ride, he says, but as the weeks turn into months, steve drops the pretense.
and so does billy, in a way.
steve kisses him for the first time three days after billy's released from the hospital, and it's...
well, it's alright. it's nice. he can tell steve's good at it, and it's by far the best kiss he's ever had, but. part of him breaks a little, cracks open and bleeds from a wound he didn't realize he had. because he's just now finding out how badly he wanted it to be an epic moment with sparks and doves flying over and a big orchestral swell, and. it's just a kiss.
he pulls away with tears in his eyes. pulls all the way out of steve's arms and wipes his eyes on his sleeve, turning away, swallowing a wounded noise.
and steve's fucking mortified, he's stumbling over his words, and billy knows he fucked up, should've just gone with it, should've just enjoyed what he got, because steve wants him, and that's. that's good, right? it feels good to know it. should've felt good to follow through too.
but billy never does what he should. life never works like that for him.
it takes way too long to calm down. to stop shaking and choking on apologies. he reached out and took steve's hand while he was freaking out, so at least steve stayed, and seems less horrified at himself.
and billy wants to tell steve the truth. wants to tell him everything. but he just. doesn't know what the truth is. the talk in circles for ages, steve not understanding what billy's getting at, billy getting frustrated and backtracking because...because...
because what teenage boy doesn't want to have sex. with anyone. he curls in on himself. and bites his thumbnail til it bleeds. and still has no idea how to say i don't know what wanting someone is supposed to feel like but i think i love you. because how is that fair.
it isn't. steve deserves...more. he wants more.
but billy says it anyways.
and steve stares at him, with wide eyes and parted lips and he's so fucking beautiful it hurts and billy aches still wondering why, why, he can't just want this gorgeous boy like he should, but
but steve touches him like he's something precious. carefully, touches his cheek, and slips his fingers through stray curls, almost reverently he steps closer, still hesitant, keeping his distance...
"hey...i love you too" steve's thumb brushes a lingering tear, "we can work this out, okay?"
and billy wants to believe him. his eyes fall shut, with a slow exhale he deflates, leans into the touch. wills himself to relax.