A/N: Hello, my loves! This is the sequel to my story '1985' so if you have not read it, this story might be hard to follow. I'd like to say an extra special thank you to everyone who asked about a follow-up story, as well as every single one of my amazingly supportive readers from the first story. You are all so incredible and I can't thank you enough!
I'm so excited to finally to share this with you! We are kicking things off from Steve's POV, but it will be switching off like it did in the first story. I really hope you enjoy reading as much as I did writing. Please be sure to follow and favorite if you do and leave a review letting me know what you think!
DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with Stranger Things, but if the Duffer Brothers ever decide to hit me up, you'll be the first to know.
STEVE / Coming Up Roses
The future arrived much faster than Steve Harrington had ever anticipated.
Not too long after healing from his wound and getting back to work did Rose, or Ten, take an interest in driving. One afternoon when he decided she had mastered the art of the parking lot, he took her to Joshua Drive, a cul-de-sac not too far from the Henderson's to show her how to drive on a real road. The two were both surprised to recognize one of the homes sitting at the end as the one from the vision of the future.
Feeling oddly attached to the property, Steve snuck in visits to the house whenever he just so happened to pass by. One day, as summer began turning into fall, he made the short detour down the side street on their way into town. "You're obsessed," Rose laughed from the passenger seat.
"And who's fault is that?" he teased.
As he pulled up to a curb he noticed the 'For Sale / Open House' sign stuck in the grass of the front lawn. The reality of the future Rose had brought forth slapped Steve in the face. Although he trusted Rose more than anyone, a small part of him doubted the vision. She had been able to change the future before with Tack, so it was not stupid of him to consider his changing, too. He had looked over to Rose, who was already making her way out of the vehicle. "Are you coming?" she asked.
At first, Steve thought it was too good to be true. He thought it could not be possible for them, but when they actually sat and thought about it, they knew they could make it work. Steve's recent promotion had him making plenty of money working for his dad, and it's benefits covered all the medical expenses from the gunshot. The money he made from babysitting Jane was just a bonus. On top of it all, Joyce Byers was able to land Rose, her 'niece' according to all of the forged documents, a part time job at the Melvad's. It would be a bit of a stretch, but they could make it work if they wanted it badly enough. So that's exactly what they did.
It was late into November of 1985 when they moved in. The house was one story and made of brick, with two bedrooms, one bath, and an open kitchen and living room. There were areas that needed work, and every room would have benefited from a fresh coat of paint. Not to mention, the proximity to Dustin's place meant he would be over much more often. But it was nothing Steve could not handle.
A week later, Steve and Rose had, for the most part, settled in. The idea that a vision of the future was now a memory of his past felt surreal. He smiled to himself as he looked back: Rustling Jane's hair when he knew she would just swat him away, Dustin laughing right on cue, planting a kiss on the top of Rose's head that reminded her of the time they decided it was a good life.
If you had asked seventeen-year-old Steve Harrington where he saw himself after high school, he would have told you somewhere far, far away from Hawkins, Indiana at some college frat party with Nancy Wheeler by his side. If you asked Steve Harrington now what he thought of his life, he would tell you he would not want it any other way. Even as he cleaned the counters of his tiny kitchen while Dustin rummaged through the room in search of snacks.
"Where's the chocolate pudding?" Dustin asked from a squatting position in front of the open fridge.
"You ate the last one yesterday," Steve reminded him. "They'll be here with the pizza soon, anyways."
With a groan, Dustin closed the refrigerator door and plopped himself into a seat at the kitchen table. "Not soon enough."
What started as a small gesture of Joyce wanting to do something nice for Steve and Rose had grown larger than they anticipated. If there was food involved, it meant Dustin would be there. If Joyce was involved, Will and Hopper would be there. If Hopper was there, Jane would be there. If Jane was there, Mike would be there. If Mike, Jane, Dustin, and Will were all there, then Max and Lucas would tag along, too. As people began showing up, the small home felt a bit crowded, and Steve wondered if they had invited the whole town over for pizza.
Rose and Joyce were the last to show, still in their work shirts and carrying five different pizzas. Steve rushed to the door to help, while Dustin rushed to the door to claim one of his own.
"Thank you, Steve," Joyce said as he took the pile of boxes.
The moment Steve set the boxes down on the counter was the moment all the younger boys started digging in. "Jeez, guys. You're like animals!"
Everyone got their share and the room filled with jokes and laughter. It was crazy for Steve to think that, with the exception of Joyce and Will, none of them were actually related, yet a strong sense of family and belonging washed over the crowd. He looked across the room to where Rose chatted with Jane and Max. When she looked up at him and smiled, he knew she felt the same.
"You've come a long way, kid," Hopper told Steve, handing him a beer. "You should be proud of yourself."
"Thanks, chief," he told him as they clinked their bottles together.
"You kids grow up fast," Hop said, looking to Jane as she broke away from her conversation with Rose and Max to talk to Mike. "Jeez, when did I start sounding like my father?"
Steve laughed. "Hey, me too," he joked with a gesture toward Dustin.
"Yeah, you're too young for that shit," Hop sighed. "I think that kid admires you a little too much."
Steve shrugged. Truthfully, he did not mind having the little shithead around. He had always wanted a little brother. Even when he was dating Nancy, Steve tried to befriend Mike, wanting to help set the kid back on the right path, but Wheeler was far too busy pissing and moaning and graffiting the bathrooms at school. "I don't mind having him around," he told Hop. "Maybe I'll start charging him rent soon."
"Yeah," Hop chuckled. "I've got one of those, too. Remind me to send Wheeler an invoice."
As they joked, Steve felt weird knowing people would consider him an adult now. He thought about his parents. His workaholic of a father who was always off on long business trips. His mother who fell out of love with the man a long time ago but stayed with him for his money. Steve did not have a bad relationship with them. It was more like they were just never really around, resulting in a lonely childhood for Steve. It made the thought of growing up to be like them a scary one.
Steve's concern must have read somewhere on his face, and Hop either ignored it or did not notice. Rose, however, made her way over and rest her hand empathetically on his shoulder.
"Hey," he greeted with a half smile.
"Hi," she grinned right back. "I feel like I haven't talked to you all day."
"Tell me about it," Steve smirked, wrapping one arm around her waist.
Hopper cleared his throat. "Well, you kids have fun… I'm going to go see what Joyce is up to."
Rose let out a soft giggle as Hopper wandered off. It made Steve forget his internal monologue and want to pull her in closer, so he did. As the weather got colder, the layers and long sleeves made things much easier for them, and they didn't have to be as careful about what skin was showing and where they connected. Not that Steve had anything to hide, or that Rose did not care to see the memories he kept. It was more of a silent agreement that they both preferred to appreciate the present.
"That looks… interesting," Rose commented, furrowing her brow at the pumpkin flavored beer in Steve's hand.
"This?" he asked, taking a look at the label himself. "It's supposed to be pumpkin, I guess, but it just tastes like regular beer," he shrugged, passing it to her.
She inspected the warm-toned picture on the label again before taking a sip. After taking a moment to form her opinion, her face contorted like she had just eaten something sour. "No. That's awful."
He laughed at her expression as she passed the bottle back. After placing it on the counter behind him, he looped a second arm around her waist, pulling her in even closer. She placed her hands on his shoulders and he dipped his head down, leaning into her, and she tilted her head up toward him.
"Steve!" one of the kids called just as their lips were about to meet.
"I swear, Rose, these kids are going to be the fuckin' death of me," he whispered with a soft chuckle.
As he pulled back, Rose grinned, causing her eyes to light up and her dimples to sink back into her cheeks. Steve found it almost impossible to look away. "Yeah?" he called.
"Where do you keep your - oh, nevermind. I found them!''
Steve lifted his eyes to find Mike Wheeler fishing siccors out of a drawer across the kitchen. He opened his mouth to call after him about what he could possibly need scissors for, but thought better of it. He ended up just sighing to himself as he watched the boy walk away with the sharp object in hand. "I'm just not going to worry about it."
Shaking his head, he returned his gaze back to Rose. "Good idea," she agreed before shifting her weight to her toes, adding just enough height to press her lips against his. When she pulled away, Steve was ready to catch the blood from her nose with the sleeve of his shirt. Laughter erupted from somewhere in the house, but the two were in their own little world together. "It's a good life, Steve," she reminded him.
When Hopper and Joyce decided to go outside for a cigarette, the kids decided it was the perfect time to present their housewarming present. Jane carried it out of the spare bedroom in two hands; a boxy object wrapped in old newspapers. It was relatively heavy for it's size, and Steve could only imagine what it could be. Knowing these kids, the possibilities were endless. The members of the party sat in living room, bursting at the seams with anticipation, while they waited for Mike to put the scissors back where he had found them.
The moment Mike rejoined the group, taking a seat next to Jane on the floor, Dustin decided he could not handle waiting any longer. "Just open it already!"
"Okay, man, jeez," Steve told the kid before passing the present to Rose sitting next to him.
The party's impatience grew as Rose studied it carefully. "I just rip it?" she asked Steve, looking up to him through her lashes. Often, Steve found himself forgetting that she had not had a normal childhood, and her question served as a reminder to him that she had never opened a present before. His heart panged, knowing she deserved much more than life had given her.
"Yeah, just tear it," he told her.
"The paper doesn't matter," Max assured.
Rose hesitated for another beat before tearing all of the paper off in one fluid motion, revealing a SuperCom radio. Steve looked up at the kids with brows knit together wondering where the the hell got the money for one of these.
"It's my old one," Lucas explained, reading the question written across the older boy's face. "I saved up to buy the newest model, and since we're going to be here a lot, we thought you should have one too."
"Everyone in the party has one," Will added in.
"I'm paladin," Mike elaborated. "Will's cleric, Dustin's bard, Lucas is ranger, El's our mage, Max is the zoomer-"
"We figured you could be the babysitter," Dustin finished, stealing the punch line from his friend.
The kids spent the next twenty minutes explaining all the controls and testing it with Dustin's, until Joyce and Hopper came back inside and announced that it was time to go.
That evening, Rose fell asleep on the couch with her head in Steve's lap as they watched some boring movie on television. When Steve noticed, he decided to take one of her hands in both of his. A few months back, he had made the discovery that while Rose slept, her subconscious projected her dreams for her, much like how she had once shown his future to him. All Steve had to do was make contact. The dreams were usually odd, and never made much sense, but they were always extremely vivid. It made it all the more interesting for Steve to watch, and although Rose thought he was crazy for finding it fascinating, she did not mind him looking. In fact, she found it helpful. If she woke up screaming from a nightmare, or crying from a dream of Nine, she never had to explain why.
But this time it was neither of those things.
She dreamt she was in a white church, built with high marble arches and green stained glass windows. Papa emerged from one of the pews, cradling a swaddled newborn baby in his arms. He walked up to her slowly, and for whatever reason, she felt an overwhelming sense of peace. A sense of knowing Papa had no ill intentions. Gently, Papa placed the beautiful baby into her arms. He stroked the child's cheek with the back of his finger, and as he did something flashed behind the infant's dazzling blue eyes. She looked to Papa, who smiled at her and placed an open hand on her shoulder. "She has your eyes, Ten," he told her. When she looked back down, the baby was gone. When she went to look back to Papa, he was gone, too. The baby cried out in the distance, so she ran in the direction of the sound, leading her to the doors at the back of the church. But no matter how hard she pushed and pulled, the doors never budged and the baby's cries grew louder. Suddenly, the lights in the church began turning off one by one until it was completely dark. Until she was surrounded by nothing but black.
"Steve," Rose mumbled, still half asleep.
Moving his hand to gently squeeze her arm, he whispered, "I'm right here."
She turned to her side and curled into a ball, facing inwards toward Steve and the back of the couch. "My baby," she muttered.
"It's okay, Rose. It was just a dream," he assured her.
"Just a dream," she echoed before drifting back to sleep.