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Steve can see it the moment it happens.

Realization dawned on Dustin's face in a way that felt more excruciating than anything Steve had ever experienced. He thinks back to all the times he'd gotten hurt before; falling off his bike and scraping his knees and elbows, twisting his ankle in his first week of boy scouts, getting beat by Jonathan Byers and Billy Hargrove and Russians, and none of it compares to the pain he feels when Dustin's face contorts in betrayal.

There's an unspoken line that'd just been crossed, and Steve felt entirely too helpless to do anything about it. It was almost like the line was dangling just out of reach, taunting Steve and reminding him that he would forever be stuck on the other side- that there was no way he could shimmy his way out of this one.

In Steve’s life, he'd never been one to handle things quietly. Even as a child, everyone in his life took notice of how easily he'd talk himself out of every situation he was thrown into, and he took pride in that fact. There was never a problem in Steve Harrington's life that couldn't be solved, no matter how long it took or how many obstacles got in the way.

Kissing someone is fundamentally familiar to him, something that felt more natural than most other hobbies he'd tried taking up in the past; magic, baseball, art, and swimming- though he was particularly skilled in the latter. It wasn't until he fell in love with Nancy Wheeler that Steve realized kissing was more than just a pleasurable activity he did to pass the time. Kissing Nancy was like falling in love again and again every time their lips met, like watching a firework show explode with vibrant colors each time his eyes fluttered closed at the warmth of her inviting mouth.

Kissing Dustin was different in every way.

He isn't sure, even moments after, why he did it.

They sat in a nearly vacant motel parking lot, the pitch blackness of night swallowing their car in darkness, save for the faint glow of the neon motel sign. There was a thick serenity in the air between them, and Steve can only remember how beautiful Dustin looked under the blue luminosity in that moment.

He'd never regarded Dustin in that manner before, always saw him as his best friend- maybe it was more than that, maybe Dustin was his other half, in a sense. Either way, there'd never been a time when Steve thought about his friend romantically or sexually, so he felt as if he'd been thrown under a bus at the sudden and newfound attraction. In hindsight, it made plenty of sense, he thought, to be attracted to somebody as well composed as Dustin was. That was something he and Nancy had in common; they were both more intelligent than Steve could ever dream of being, they both formulated and devised the most well thought out plans, and they both had a heart to match the immensity of their intellectual capacity.

That's another thing Steve so admired about Dustin; his heart. There was no one word suitable enough to truly express how highly he thought about his friend, but mostly, Steve simply thought there was no better person out there than Dustin Henderson. After seeing all the shit no kid should ever have to see, Dustin still remained pure of heart, the most generous and helpful person he'd ever known. It not only amazed Steve, but it struck him in a way he'd never be able to put into words.

So maybe that's why he did it, why the taste of Dustin's lips was overwhelming all other senses. Steve meant to say something, but he could only stare after he pulled away. Moments passed, watching as the smile slowly faded from Dustin's face, and all he could manage was a blank expression and no audible sound could be forced from him no matter how hard he tried.

"You didn't want to kiss me, did you?" Dustin asked, his voice wavering hurtfully.

Steve only stared.

After another minute had passed, Dustin hung his head dejectedly, resigned to the knowledge that Steve didn't actually want him like that, that maybe he was just lonely and Dustin was just there. He reached for the door handle and it was as if an alarm rang out in Steve’s mind, alerting him of not only how he really felt for Dustin, but that he was seconds away from ruining everything- of hurting the person he loved the most.

"Dustin," he whispered softly before reaching out and closing his fingers around his wrist.

When Dustin turned his body back towards Steve, it was immediate, both boys coming together under the glow of the blue light and tangling their fingers through each other's hair as their lips met in a heady rush. Steve savored the kiss this time, tasting every inch of Dustin's mouth and drinking in each whine he pulled out of him.

"So fucking beautiful." Steve breathed against his neck, pulling away only when Dustin raked his fingers through his hair and tugged, drawing a throaty groan past his lips.

"I did want to, think I have for a while." He said against the skin he'd just left a sizable mark on.

"Yeah, shit, me too."

Steve smiled and willed himself away from Dustin long enough to get their bags out of the trunk and get them into the motel room. With his latest discovered feelings giving him all the confidence boost he needed, Steve was surprised when he found he preferred letting Dustin take the reins, fucking him open nice and slow while they lavished each other with words and gentle touches.

Steve isn't sure what prompted him to kiss Dustin that night, but he knows one thing for certain; he'd never regret it.