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18+ Language Violence Mature Content

the urn on the mantle and a shower of pink rose petals

by crescentmoonprodigy


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.

It had all started in a hospital room with an iPhone, a guitar, and two people that really needed money. Or at least that’s what the Lucky Three’s autobiography would tell you.

It all started in the basement of Hawkins High, a tight, dingy space where the Hellfire Club brought their fantasies to life. Belle was what Eddie liked to call a ‘flitter’. She flitted from one corner of the table, to the end, where the younger members sat, to the head, where Eddie sat in a creaking folding chain, view shielded with the help of a thick-paged, dusty encyclopedia, and a mountain of loose leaflets, all covered in his chicken scratch.

“Can you not, Isabelle?” He would always ask her, and she would always smile her sweet, coy smile. “The gentlemen and I are trying to defeat the greatest, darkest evils in this very basement, and you are ruining the atmosphere with your..” He waved a hand at her. “Girliness.” It was true, she was the epitome of girliness - she always wore something pink, or frilly, or tight around her chest. That day’s outfit consisted of a magenta cardigan over a lace-edged tank top, paired with faded jeans that flared out towards the bottom.

“I just wanna see what you’re doin’, big brother.” She reached out a manicured hand, twisted one of his dark brown curls around her index finger, and yanked it. Hard.

He would glance over at her, obsidian eyes meeting her gentle hazel ones. Then the chase began, every single session, without fail. Belle was always the prey, low heels of her kitten mules clicking against the uneven slats of hardwood floor, while the soles of Eddie’s boots slammed against them as he sprinted for his sisters, arms outstretched, fingers curled into claws.

“Hey, guys, come on!” Mike Wheeler was always the first to complain. He buried his head in his long fingered hands and grabbed onto his thick, shaggy hair. “Why does this always happen? Jesus Christ.”

Dustin, his best friend since childhood, always laughed at the display. His chuckles filled the space, which only made Belle laugh harder. Eddie always caught her, winding his long arms around her thin, lithe body, and he would always tackle her to the ground as if he were a varsity football player. One of her mules always went flying off, and more often than not, Gareth was the target. He took the brunt with grace, and flung it right back at Belle, who would retreat to the gym to wait out the rest of the session, gaze glued to her phone as she sent texts in droves, one after the other, to friends of all cliques and circles.

It was routine. And as much as it annoyed Eddie on the surface level, he liked having her around. Then Belle changed. Her smile faded. She grew thinner and thinner. Her nights were restless, and it showed with dark circles that sat under her eyes, the ones that she tried in vain to cover up with makeup, but she never did. Eddie always asked if she was okay, and she would always say she was fine, Eds, and that there wasn’t any need to worry. Her presence in that dingy basement became scarce. Then, one, warm, March afternoon, in the middle of O’Donnell’s English class, the school nurse interrupted her long-winded explanation on the purple prose of Toni Morrison, thank fucking God. Eddie leaned back in his seat, grateful for a moment that he didn’t have to sit there, letting words like simile and metaphor, and onomatopoeia filter through his head. The buzz of his classmates’ meaningless conversations was an odd comfort..until all eyes turned to him.

Belle had passed out while sweet-talking Steve Harrington, the king of Hawkins High, in the hallway between 2nd and 3rd period. She was lucky that he was the quarterback of the Hawkins Bulldogs and had good reflexes, or else she would have face planted on the linoleum floor.

“She’s on her way to the hospital now, dear.” The school nurse had pulled him into her office. The walls were plastered in paintings..of cat paws, in every imaginable color. Eddie had always thought she was a cat lady, and this just cemented his theory. Then he remembered why he was there to begin with. “Is she gonna be okay?”

The woman just pursed her red-lipsticked lips and shrugged. “I don’t know, dear. We can only hope she will.”

Eddie sprinted out into the parking lot, hopped in his van, and peeled out of the parking lot as quickly as he could. He was pretty sure he was gunning 60 miles an hour, but if you took the backroads, no one would notice. The sharp notes of Metallica accompanied him on his race to get to St. Andrew’s, the only big hospital that was anywhere near Hawkins. The place was ginormous, with tall, windowless towers. The rest of the connecting buildings had windows, but the curtains in them were all pulled tight. A lump cemented itself in his throat. This was a place where people went to die, really - his sister didn’t belong there. He parked his van in fifteen rows from the main entrance. The walk would be long, but it would give him time to prepare himself for the worst. He stepped past the double doors, and almost instantly, his nostrils filled with the acidic scent of hand sanitizer and antiseptic. Through a quick check-in at the nurse’s desk, he learned that Belle was on the third floor, in general admissions.

He heard laughing, a chorus of two voices. Belle’s laugh was soft and tinkly, but the one that tangoed with hers was husky and low.

“Imagine these, just..just getting cut off!” Belle was laid up in bed, a knit blanket spread across her lips. Her clothes, a soft gingham dress and glittery jelly sandals were in a plastic bag that hung from her bed rail. Her hands were cupping her boobs. Steve Harrington was standing beside her, both of his calloused hands gripping his stomach as his laughter grew.

“Jesus, I-I’m so sorry, that-it’s not funny, it’s just..” A tear trickled down his soft, smooth cheek. His product laden hair flopped into his eyes. “The way you said it.”

If there was a picture next to the encyclopedia definition of ‘preppy stuck-up asshole’, Harrington would have been it. The laces of his Air Force Ones were undone, but not in a careless way, like Eddie’s, but fashionably, he supposed. He wore tight fitting khaki pants that showed off the muscles that bulged in his thighs and calves when he moved, even the tiniest bit. He wore a pink Lacoste polo that hugged his toned arms.

“It’s true, it’s just my luck that I would get boob cancer!” Belle said exasperatedly. Her fingers fluttered to her soft, honey colored curls that were cut short, and perfectly framed her heart shaped face. Steve burst into laughter yet again, leaned in close, and lightly pressed a fingertip to the tip of her perfectly sloped nose.

“It’s not. I promise.”

“You don’t know that, Stevie.”

Stevie? Anger washed over Eddie, and he cleared his throat as loudly as he could. “Paws off my sister, Harrington.”

Steve’s head snapped up, and his golden-retriever-like eyes went wide. “Oh. Oh, shit. Hey, uh..Eddie. You’re here.”

“No duh.”

“Eds, come on.” Belle’s lips pulled into a deep frown. “Be nice.”

“I’ll be nice when he gets the fuck out.”

Belle’s blonde brows furrowed together. “You’re not the one that’s lying in bed sick as a dog, so you don’t get to call the shots.”

Well shit, Eddie couldn’t argue with that. He plopped himself in a chair on the opposite side of Belle’s bed, and settled back, making sure to keep his gaze fixed on Steve and his stupid, clean-shaven-preppy-jock-face. Belle was poked and prodded, injected, and examined. It was almost midnight when they took her for a CAT scan, or was it an MRI? It was something in a machine. She was given a few minutes to say goodbye to the boys. Steve gave her a little peck on the lips and whispered something in her ear, something that made her cheeks turn pink. They shared a knowing glance. Eddie gave her hand a little squeeze.

“Just..don’t light up like a Christmas tree or anything, okay? That’s all.”

Belle’s eyes crinkled with mirth. “I’ll try not to.”

With her gone, he was finally able to really drop the act. With two steps, he was only inches from Steve’s face, and with another two, he had backed the prep into a wall.

“How long?” He asked, keeping his voice low.

“A little while.” Steve’s voice thinned out to a whisper.

“How long’s ‘a little while’?” Eddie had no issue grabbing the soft, fabric of that stupid fucker’s polo, and pulling him in closer.

“Two months.”

Jesus H. Christ.

He let go of the younger boy, and pushed him up against the wall with one little shove. Then he turned on his heel, ignoring the leaden feeling of his boots.

“Nothing’s happened between us. She wants to take things slow, and I..I do, too.”

He laughed at that, or at least he tried to, but it was really more of a bark. “You don’t seem like the type to do that.”

“Well, I’m just full of surprises.”

Eddie whirled around on his heel. “Are you now?”

“Sure.” Steve’s expression hardened, then flickered into submission, just for a moment. “I bet you are, too.”

“Nah, baby.” Eddie spread his arms out wide, like a bat, and got into a fighting stance. He was feral, a monster, a mistake - The Freak, he wore the title on his mane of curls, as if it were a crown fit for a king. “I’m an open book.”

It was Steve’s turn to scoff. “Sure.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Everyone’s got their secrets, man.” He answered, plopping down in his seat with an unceremonious thump. “No one’s really the exception.”

And for once, Eddie had nothing to rebut the Prep’s point with. He just plopped into the empty seat beside him, hands in his pockets. They waited together in silence for Belle to return so that the wall of awkwardness between them both would dissipate.

Belle was right.

Her boobs lit up like a Christmas tree. Breast cancer was rare to see in someone so young,only seventeen, but there it was on her scans, the masses of white were clear for anyone to see. Soon, Eddie’s life became confined to Belle’s hospital room, school, when he felt like it, and home. Belle’s hair fell out in clumps. Her eye bags just grew deeper and darker. Her face became gaunt and pale. Steve came by her room every morning to help her do her makeup, until she became so weak that she couldn’t hold her brushes or pens - then he had to do it himself, with careful coaching from Eddie, especially when it came to eyeliner. Steve didn’t question any of it, he just did as told, and watched as Belle’s eyes lit up when she caught sight of herself in the handheld mirror Eddie had brought her from the trailer. What he didn’t know is that the moment he bade her goodbye and stepped into the threshold that separated her room from the busy hall of the cancer patients’ wing, she would cry to her brother about how awful she looked. Her exact words were that she looked like ‘a fucking Tim Burton prostitute or something’ and he would just hold her close, and let her sob into his vest.

The months marched on, and slowly, the cast of characters that filled that room grew larger. First it was only Dustin and Mike, and then the rest of Corroded Coffin, who were quick to fill Eddie in on the list of venues they had convinced to let them play at. Gareth was the ringleader, of course, explaining the perks of every dive bar and hookah joint, while Archie pulled up each place on his laptop using Google Maps, choosing only the most tasteful photos available, which were few and far between. As much as Eddie missed his Baby, his guitar, it wasn’t important to him right there and then. The baby that mattered to him then was the one that wore pink silk scarves on her bald head. Dustin and Mike were joined by Will and Lucas, freshman who frequented the club, but never stayed for a full session. Will was a nervous kid, but brilliant as all hell. He knew the game inside and out. Lucas had prior engagements with the basketball team. But he seemed nice enough, so Eddie let him stay.

Then there was El and Max - Belle’s girls. Eddie didn’t know where she had found them, just that they came in a pair. There was no Max without El, and no El without Max. He had to admit that it was kind of nice, being surrounded by people who noticed him, really.

Then mastectomy day came; the news was given in front of everyone. He watched as Belle wilted, and burst into tears. She cried, and cried, and cried, until she threw up. Steve was there with a basin, always, just in case. This time it had come in handy.

“But..but you said the chemo was working.” She sobbed to her doctor, whose gaze shifted across the groups of kids. “Why-why is it not working anymore?”

“Your cancer..” The man stroked his white, wispy beard. “Is aggressive. More aggressive than we first anticipated. This is the best course of action, before it spreads any further.” The whole room grew quiet. Steve stood up, and pointed towards the door. “Get out.”

“What?” The doctor was startled.

“You just gave this..this life-changing news in front of a bunch of kids, with no decorum or anything!” Steve snapped. “That must violate some kind of HIPAA law, or something, right?”

“Steve, please.” Belle grabbed his hand, and squeezed it lightly. “It’s okay.”

“No, Isabelle, it’s not.” Steve pulled away. “I said, get out before I call my father's firm in Indianapolis, get the best lawyer I can, and have your ass sued.”

The doctor, surprisingly, did as such, with his head tucked down and eyes glued to his clipboard.

“Shit. Looks like the ‘my dad is a blank’ excuse actually works in some cases.” Dustin said as he took in the scene, cerulean eyes wide with awe. A wave of laughter, some genuine, some forced, filled the cramped space. A few weeks later, after every piece of paper imaginable was signed, Belle went under the knife. She awoke from her anesthesia three days later, and the first thing she asked, upon seeing Wayne, was if she could take her tits home with her. Eddie was pretty sure he had never seen Wayne really laugh until that day.

But that was short lived. Insurance only covered so much. Eddie went over the bill with Steve of all people, while sitting in his van. Each of them was smoking a fading joint. They had parked in a gas station in the middle of absolutely nowhere, three towns over, just to get away from it all.

“Shit. Forty-five-thousand? Even with insurance?” Steve blew a curling vine of smoke from his lips.

“Yeah, man. It says it right there, in Times New Roman.” Eddie jabbed the swimming numbers on the page. “I dunno how we’re gonna cover it all. Loans are a scam, Wayne is barely making ends meet, even with two jobs, and-”

“A song.” Steve blurted. His reddened eyes went as wide as dinner plates. “Let’s write a song.”

“For real?” Eddie asked, squinting at the boy who sat across from him, just over the console. “How-how is that gonna help, with like, anything?”

Steve hid his snickers in the collar of his t-shirt. “C’mon, we…we can make somethin’ good. I’ll sing, you get your guitar. We’ll put it on Spotify or somethin’.”

“You?” Eddie felt his stomach start to churn with disbelief. “You can sing?”

“I’m a lyr-lyri..” Steve trailed off, struggling to form the right word as he dug in his pocket, searching for something.

“Lyricist? You write lyrics, too?”

“Yep. Listen to this.” Steve pulled a crumpled scrap of paper from his pocket, unfolded it, and smoothed it out on the front of his jeans. “Gimme a tune.”

So, Eddie grabbed his acoustic guitar from the backseat and strummed a simple tune made of only three chords, and Steve began to sing - and it was awful. He was dreadfully off-key, he couldn’t hit a high note to save his life, but the words he sang were pure art.

Let me dance with you tonight,

Underneath the fading shadows

Let me hold you tight, until

Our bodies tango to graves.

Then we’ll take flight, working

Our way through the pages of

Memories we cannot keep behind.

The words were pure gold, and Eddie told him so, but that maybe he should stick to the lyric-writing part of the music business. Steve agreed - they both knew someone who could sing. Even through her treatment, Belle was ready for anything. Her voice was beautiful, from years of singing in the church choir and copying the smooth, velvety voice of Norah Jones. It wasn’t much, the recording - it was taken on Steve’s phone, a brand-new iPhone 5s. Eddie simply played his three-note tune, and Belle just sang his lyrics, plain as day. They watched as the file was uploaded. Steve’s finger hovered over the green ‘OK’ button. He glanced over at Eddie.

“This is gonna be sure to get us an A in O’Donnell’s class, right, Eds?”

He winked. Eddie winked right back. “For sure.”

Steve pressed the ‘OK’ button, and watched as their song, aptly named ‘Memories’ was sent into the world.

It wasn’t going to work, it just couldn’t. These sorts of things, raising money for a good cause with a simple passion, only happened to people who knew what they were doing and knew what strings to pull. The last thing Eddie expected was to arrive at school the next morning and hear Belle’s voice blaring over the PA system.

“That’s him, her brother.”

“Steve said he was the guitarist.”

“The Freak plays the guitar?”

He walked through the halls, getting a glance here and there, but there was something off - the jocks, the cheerleaders, the nerds were all smiling at him. Real, genuine smiles. Steve caught up to him during lunch, and brought him into a hug. “I’ve been checking our streams all day. We’re in the thousands, Eds. The money’s gonna start coming in soon, I promise.”

“I..yeah.” He wasn’t sure of what else to say besides that.

Steve pulled away, and that was when Eddie got a real look at him, and saw that those golden-retriever eyes were filled with tears. “It..it would be really cool if we were to make this a thing, music. What do you think about ‘The Lucky Three’ for our band name?”

“..As long as it’s low-key.” His tongue felt thick as a wave of thoughts rushed into his brain. Steve whacked him on the shoulder. “Of course, I wouldn’t dream of making this a real thing.”

~

“And then it became real, all of this.” The reporter looked at Eddie through his round, wide-lensed glasses that made his eyes look ten times larger than they should have. Eddie forgot what online news site he worked for, and honestly he didn’t care. Belle leaned up against him, and twisted a lock of his bedraggled hair around her finger - yank. “Something like that, yeah.”

Eddie forced himself to smile that patented Eddie Munson smile, and pretend that he didn’t see her ghost, standing right next to him, but instead he saw the urn that sat on the mantle above his white marble fireplace.

“Yup.”

“And you’re doing this tour for Belle, right? Things have been really hard on the fandom since her passing just over a year ago."

A year? It had already been a year since his sister died? Fuck. It felt like it was yesterday, over and over and over again. And the fandom? Fuck them. Shit, what did a bunch of ADHD riddled thirteen year olds care about a girl they didn’t even know? Why did they get the right to write long, tear-face-emoji riddled posts about how depressed they were and get validated for it, but when Eddie took time off from the Internet, he got death threats? It just wasn’t fair.

“Yup. I..miss her a lot.”

“It was an accident, right?”

“You mean, the accident?” He felt his tie grow tight around his neck. Belle let out a little ‘hmph’.

“Yes, in which a crazed fan leapt onstage and-”

“And shot her in the stomach, and she bled a ton, and she..” He was practically choking on his own words. His cheeks were hot. Fuck, fuck, fuck. “She and the baby were gonna be okay, then the doctors fucked up somehow. She had a pulmonary embolism during recovery.”

The poor kid’s face went red. “I..I didn’t know about the baby part.”

“No one does.”

The kid blinked again. “Do I have permission to put that on record?”

“Get out.”

“What?”

“I regret all of this.” Eddie stood up from his seat, a crushed velvet chaise that clashed with the black-and-white scheme of the parlor. “Just..delete it. The whole interview. I’ll have my guys send you some money, just the cost of gas, coming all the way out here from L.A.”

The kid blinked again. That was all he seemed to know how to do. Eddie leaned over, and flipped the coffee that sat between them over onto its surface. “Delete it, I said. Then go.”

With a shaking hand, Eddie watched as the kid pulled out his iPhone 14, and deleted the nearly hour long voice message from his memos. Once he was gone, Eddie sprinted into the kitchen and vomited violently into the sink. Last night’s dinner of pizza pockets, vicodin, and vodka wasn’t sitting well with him. He felt Belle’s hand pull his hair away from his face.

“Thanks, B.”

“You have to stop this.”

“No, you.” He replied as he spat up the last of the bile. “I love ya, but you gotta go.”

“Go where? I’m on your mantle, stupid.”

“Go to Heaven. Or purgatory. Or something.”

“I would if I could. If you would bury me.”

“Steve won’t let me.”

“Who cares what Steve says?”

“I do, and you should, too. He was your fucking husband.”

“I’m de-”

“I know,” He whirled around to face her. “You’re dead! I know you can’t do anything anymore, and you think it’s funny to answer with that, like, all the time, but it isn’t. You got shot, Belle, and you died.”

Her translucent face crumpled. “..I know.”

“Wait, Isabelle.” He reached out and tried to take the shape of her cheek in his palm, but he felt nothing. Her features were starting to become nothing. “You’ll be back later, right?”

“We’ll see.”

That always meant yes. He just didn’t know when she would decide to come back. In the meantime, there was nothing a little cold pizza and stale vodka could fix.


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Thu Nov 24, 2022 3:40 pm
vampricone6783 wrote a review...



This AU sounds sad. Eddie is more disconnected from the world than ever. Poor Belle can’t be free unless Eddie lets her…I’ll be sure to read stories about this AU when they come up.

I just have one question. Does this AU take place in present day? Because the original show takes place during the 1980s and in the 1980s, iPhones, Google maps, laptops, and Spotify did not exist.

Other than that, this was really interesting and I’ll be sure to read more.

Have an amazing Thanksgiving! (Or an amazing day/night if you don’t celebrate it).





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