mine is the hand that sows time - buttercup_beetle (2024)

Eddie knew that it was going to be a bad day as soon as he opened his eyes.

He yawned, heaving in a breath, and all the tiny muscles all along his rib cage strained, screaming tiny, annoying screams of agony. The big, thick scar that snaked along his abdomen, from his breastbone to below his navel ached in time with his heartbeat. The scar was still puckered and swollen, languishing in the first stages of healing. The nurses had let him take the bandages off a week ago, and he was still getting used to the fleshy, dark pink colour of the skin they’d had to graft onto his belly to keep his guts in place. He poked it with one finger. Gross.

Slowly, Eddie rolled over onto his stomach, and exhaled in a long, drawn out groan. He hadn’t even really moved yet, and already the muscles along his sides were aching. A pounding migraine was making even the feeble light of the sunrise seem like a flashlight shining directly into his eyes.

“Jesus Christ, man,” he complained aloud, stretching his arms over his head. His shoulder twinged. “This blows.” The Judas Priest poster on the wall beside him looked on apathetically.

Eddie reached out with one hand, fumbling for the handle of his cane, that he’d left propped up against the headboard last night. It was made of metal, with a comfortable rubber grip at the top. It was for old people, and it was ugly, Eddie thought. Wayne had bought it for him after Eddie first got out of the hospital, spending way too much of his meagre pay cheque. There hadn’t been much in the way of physiotherapy available, given that half of the town had either moved or was recovering from the so-called ‘earthquake’. And, like, he didn’t really have insurance, even before the whole ‘murder suspect’ thing. So he’d vacated the hospital bed as soon as he was healed enough to be able to sit upright without immediately passing out.

On his own, he made do with the old, clunky wheelchair that they’d taken him out of the hospital with on his worst days, and the old-people cane on his better ones. Eddie supposed that it was better than lying in bed all day, but he was still painfully slow going just about anywhere. It annoyed him beyond reason, but the frustration and on-off pain was better than the mind-numbing boredom of the hospital. Barely.

His body was still recovering from being eaten alive and then a week of muscular atrophy, so it was also a stupidly arduous process to get himself vertical. The cane helped, even if he kind of resented its existence. With one hand on the bed’s headboard, he leaned most of his weight on his left side, away from the bulk of the scarring, and slowly but surely started to make his way back out to the living room. The new house was a hell of a lot bigger than the trailer, thanks to a decent amount of government hush money, which was both a blessing and a curse, he thought miserably.

The Eddie of yesterday had decided that he could totally leave his wheelchair across the house from his bedroom in a fit of sudden, stupid vigour. Eddie of today was hobbling down the hallway and cursing his own hubris. But he was almost in the living room.

Wayne was out again, Eddie could tell. He mostly worked the night shift, and had been taking the shifts of some of his disappearing coworkers to make ends meet. Eddie felt a pang of guilt. He was too old to be on his feet that much. But it wasn’t like Eddie could work, even if he was able to stand upright for longer than fifteen minutes.

His uncle would probably be back in a few hours, toting a delivery bag of whatever the grocery store had in the hot food section. By then, Eddie will have gotten himself back in order. Eddie didn’t like Wayne seeing him hobbling around. He’d get that specific, sad frown on his face, and it always made Eddie want to apologise and apologise and apologise.

Eddie paused halfway down the hall, and rested his shoulder against the wall. He took a few deep breaths, and winced as they pulled at his slowly-healing ribs. The hallway was swimming dizzily in his vision, enough that Eddie had to lock his knees to stop himself from keeling over right then and there. Again, he cursed the missing wheelchair.

Thankfully, Steve would probably be up by now.

When he was really little, Eddie’s mom had had this big, white sheepdog named Alex, who was old and friendly. She was notorious for how she was always just so outrageously excited to fetch things for people- like, her whole body would shake with how hard her tail was wagging when she came to drop your slippers off in front of you.

He’d started to think of her, whenever Steve hustled him over to a chair with a firm insistence that he ‘take a break, damn it’. The other day, Eddie had asked Steve for a cup of water for his pills, and he could practically see Steve’s eagerly wagging tail at being able to help out. Like a big, worried dog, herding Eddie and the kids around. The whole thing was kind of cute, when it wasn’t getting on Eddie’s nerves.

Steve really was a good person, which was a kind of salt in the proverbial wound for Eddie. He’d spent like, three whole years convincing himself that Steve Harrington was a dick, only to learn that actually, he was really sweet, and cared so much, to the point where he’d been willingly staying over at Eddie’s place for a few days, just so Eddie wouldn’t have to be alone. He followed Eddie around, in his too-tight t-shirts, dutiful as a nursemaid, just begging to help.

In high school, Eddie had subscribed heavily to the idea that any guy in Hawkins hot enough to warrant a second glance was also, inevitably, a huge, evil, asshole. It was the golden rule. He didn’t try to hook up in town, because anyone he’d want was pretty much guaranteed to try to kill him for it. So Eddie got his rocks off in Indiana, if he could be assed to drive down, and he stayed the f*ck away from any pretty boys in Hawkins. The world kept turning.

But then Chrissy had died on his ceiling, and the devil had swallowed up what was left of his trailer, and Eddie had almost bled out in the hospital. The world had shuddered to a stop, for a terrifying, awful moment. Of course, it was promptly coaxed back into somewhat-daily life by the waves of government personnel, with their identical, unsmiling faces, but the fact remained the same. Hawkins became a ghost town, and Eddie took up haunting. He belatedly added a new sub-point to the doctrine: that you couldn’t pine after Hawkins guys at all, because all of the Hawkins guys were either dead or missing.

All except for one.

Steve Harrington, with his stupid chest hair and his soft, sweet underbelly, had thrown a wrench in Eddie’s master system all over again. Eddie wasn’t sure if he wanted to strangle him for it, or kiss him until his face turned that pretty, pretty pink. His cane snagged on a lump in the rug, and Eddie stumbled, yanked out of his head. He cursed at the unassuming, beige carpet.

Eventually, he made it to the living room, fully intent on forcing Steve back into the role of his butler- which Steve seemed to kind of enjoy, damn him. Only, when he turned the corner, he could see the faint outline of Steve’s sleeping form, still curled up under an afghan. His face was pressed into the cushion, so all that Eddie could see of him was part of his mussed-up hair. Eddie softened a little. He let the brash wake-up call die on his tongue, and instead shuffled closer, enough to drop a gentle hand on Steve’s shoulder and lightly shake him awake.

“Steve,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. Steve murmured something unintelligible, and burrowed further into the couch. It was kind of adorable. Beneath his head, Eddie could see that he’d bunched up a sweatshirt in place of a pillow. “C’mon, big guy, rise and shine.”

Steve exhaled, drawn-out and slow, and rolled to the side, and oh, what the f*ck.

“Steve?” Eddie blurted before he could think about it. Instinctively, he reared back from the couch, cane held in a white-knuckled grip behind him. Something was wrong here, very f*cking wrong, because Steve Harrington had gone to sleep on Eddie’s couch last night, like normal.

Whoever this man was, he sure as sh*t wasn’t the same guy Eddie had wished goodnight yesterday, and Steve, the real Steve, was nowhere to be found.

Eddie took another step away from the couch, and its not-Steve occupant. The guy was awake now, or getting there, and he made a discontented noise as he sat up. He stretched languidly, arms above his head, and his top riding up against his toned abdomen. Eddie got a better look at his face, which only served to make everything exponentially more confusing.

It was like an episode of The Twilight Zone come to life. The guy on his couch looked like Steve, sure, just not enough to be Steve. They shared some facial similarities- Eddie would believe that the two were related, maybe. But his hair was different, now that Eddie was really looking at it, streaked ever so slightly with grey at the temples. There were faint lines on his forehead, visible beneath the locks of hair falling loosely about his face. His scars were different, too- a cut across the bridge of his nose, and a tear in his left earlobe.

He was wearing a faded hoodie that was a little too tight on his broad chest, and too-short shorts that Eddie definitely didn’t recognise. There was a thin, silver chain around the guy’s neck, and a plain, gold band on his left ring finger. Eddie’s gaze lingered there for half a second too long. The guy swung his legs into a sitting position, and along the inside of his thigh, a few cut-off lines of ink were visible. Steve didn’t have any tattoos, as far as Eddie knew. He dragged his eyes away from the guy’s muscled leg and back to his face.

The guy was looking at him with wide eyes. He sat up slowly, then cast a long look around him. He was starting to grin a little, and it made him look a little crazed. Eddie wondered if he could muster up enough momentum to swing his cane into the guy’s head, and not topple over like that girl in Friday the 13th.

“Aw, sh*t,” the guy said, and Eddie snapped back to attention. He tensed. “I think it’s finally happening.”

Eddie very seriously contemplated puking on the guy’s lap. “What the actual f*ck,” Eddie managed, his voice strangled and too high. “What did you do to Steve?” He felt around for the wall behind him, trying to gauge if he could make a break for the door without the guy lunging after him.

“It’s me. I’m Steve. It’s a time-travelling thing.” He was talking in a low voice, like Eddie was a spooked animal that he was trying to corral, but he was saying words that were so outrageously insane that it was kind of offsetting the zen vibe he was going for. Eddie’s stomach lurched as he took a step backwards, his shoulder colliding painfully with the door frame. The guy looked at Eddie’s face, and then belatedly added; “Don’t freak out.”

“What? What?” Eddie asked incredulously. His voice had gone up half an octave, but he could barely hear it over the sound of his heartbeat pounding in his ears. “You break into my f*cking house, fall asleep on my couch, and you’re talking about f*cking time travel?

The guy sighed heavily, and ran a hand through his hair. It was a motion that Eddie had seen Steve do a dozen times when the kids were acting up- it was really creepy, seeing it on someone else. He leaned back against the couch.

“Your mom’s middle name was Janet,” he said. Eddie stiffened. “And you lied when you told me you had a crush on Princess Leia when you first saw A New Hope, because you actually had a thing for Han.”

A cold trickle of uneasiness spilled down Eddie’s spine. The guy raised an eyebrow. “Are you convinced yet?” he continued, half-mocking, “or do I need to tell you about that wet dream you had about that one Bon Jovi music video?”

Jesus Christ. Eddie had never told anyone about the Han Solo thing, much less that other sh*t. Like, not even in a drunken ramble to the rest of the band at three in the morning. It was dawning on him that this guy might actually be serious. He felt the same sick sort of feeling that he’d felt when he’d seen the hellspawn’s maw, gaping open at the bottom of Lovers’ Lake.

“How the hell do you know all that,” he said weakly.

“I told you, man,” the guy said, a bit annoyed, like he was f*cking inconvenienced that Eddie wasn’t believing him. Eddie wanted to throttle his pretty neck. “Time travel. I’m from the future.” Eddie’s eyes darted instinctively to the ceiling, like a new gate to eternal damnation might open up.

Eddie didn’t know how to feel. The resemblance was a little uncanny, sure, and the guy knew things about Eddie that Eddie had absolutely never told anyone else, but it was counted against the seemingly insurmountable fact that time travelling was not f*cking real.

It was a lost argument from there. Eddie hadn’t believed in monsters either, not until one had materialised in his goddamn living room. God. Eddie dragged his free hand over his face, rubbing his eyes hard enough to send little stars dancing all over his vision.

“Is it an Upside Down thing?” Eddie asked, resigned. His aching scars itched a little. The residual pain made his joints ache. He didn’t want to know. “Are the gates involved?”

The guy looked around the room. He didn’t seem to have heard Eddie’s question, and if he did, he was doing a good job of ignoring it. “This is Wayne's new house, right?” he asked. There was a certain expression on his face, something wistful and serious and too-old, that Eddie didn’t quite know how to place, even among his confusion. “The place looks familiar, but hell, I haven’t been here in about five years.”

Eddie didn’t really know what to say to that, so he nodded, then immediately regretted it. The migraine pounding at his temples made his head swim with even that little movement, and he wobbled on his feet for a split second.

The guy looked at him then, like really looked at him, and his brows furrowed a little. Eddie stilled under his scrutiny. “Is it a bad day today? You’re shaking.” He scooted over to the side of the couch, leaving a space. “You shouldn’t be exerting yourself, ba-uh. Dude.” He pursed his lips, like he was restraining himself from saying anything more.

Eddie, who had been leaning more and more of his weight against the door frame for support, squinted suspiciously at him. He wasn’t going to fall for some dumb-f*ck ‘good cop’ routine in his own home.

“Answer my questions, asshole.” He tried to point his cane threateningly at the guy, who didn’t look very threatened, especially when Eddie almost immediately lost his balance. “First off, where’s the real Steve? And then you can get into the whole time travelling bullsh*t.”

The guy raised his hands like he was surrendering. “Alright,” he said. “But I’m not gonna make you stand there when you’re hurting.” He patted the cushion beside him. “It’s not a crime to take it easy on yourself. Gotta heal up, man.” He had an open, unguarded look on his face, like Eddie was an old friend. It was a point in the this-guy-is-Steve category, because Eddie didn’t know many other people who were dumb enough to think Eddie would sit next to a glorified home intruder.

He had that look in his eyes too, that big, doe-eyed look that Steve got whenever he was worried. It was so familiar that it caught Eddie off guard for a split second. Steve and his kicked-puppy gaze, like Eddie was hurting him more than he was hurting himself. Eddie felt a prickle of annoyance, the way he always did whenever Steve pitied him- it made him want to keep standing just to prove that he could. But his back was hurting like a motherf*cker, and he’d never been really able to say no to Steve Harrington, even in this weird, alien-timeline form.

Eddie glared at the guy, but slowly shuffled further into the living room. He kept his back to the wall, cane mostly hidden by his leg, and slowly shifted over to the armchair beside the fireplace. Steve watched him, and Eddie feared that he’d close the short distance between them, God forbid, and try to help him. He sat down gingerly. Maybe-Steve didn’t move from the couch, but his shoulders relaxed a little when Eddie took a seat, exhaling heavily.

The adrenaline rush was fading now, and the pain was back in full force. Eddie’s back ached viciously, and he massaged absently at his aching side when he turned back to Steve. He raised an eyebrow expectantly.

“Your Steve’s fine,” the guy said. “I come here, and he gets sent to the future. Prevents us from meeting, and blowing a hole in space. At least, that’s what Dustin theorised.” He put emphasis on the last word, like it was an inside joke that Eddie didn’t get. It only served to make him feel even more on edge.

He tugged nervously at a loose thread on the hem of his shirt. “I don’t suppose you have any way of proving that,” he said.

“Not really,” the guy replied. He shrugged a little. “I mean, he’s young me, so I don’t think I can be alive if he’s not.”

It was a fair point, provided that time travel was real. The guy- Steve, Eddie supposed, kept talking. “God, it’s so much harder to prove time travel if you’re not the one travelling.” He pointed loosely at Eddie. “Let me tell you, you're so much better at explaining this than I am.”

Eddie blinked, surprised to the point of momentarily forgetting his wariness. “What are you talking about?”

“Well, when I woke up in the future, I talked to you for like, five seconds, and then immediately believed that I had time travelled,” Steve responded. He sounded fond. “I think I took it pretty well, honestly. Maybe you’re just the less intimidating one, between the two of us.”

“You meet me in the future?” Eddie asked. He got a weird sort of feeling in his chest, just thinking about it. Something to try to unpack later. “Wait, why am I your Obi-Wan Kenobi?”

Steve laughed a little. “You were just right there when I woke up,” he replied. He twisted the ring on his left hand, an unthinking, practised motion. “You’re right there.”

Eddie made an unintelligible noise. “Well, I’m sure it’s more convincing when you’ve woken up in a different time, and aren’t just meeting some f*cking guy on your couch,” he quipped, heart in his throat.

“Fair enough.” Steve laughed again, and Eddie liked the sound of it, as unfamiliar as it was. He shifted in his chair, taking a bit of weight off of his aching hips.

The worst part of all of this, in Eddie’s opinion, was that Steve got way, way hotter in the future. That shouldn’t even have been possible. But here he was, all long, hairy limbs, and big, fluffy hair, like something straight out of a gay p*rn rag. No, seriously. Eddie could find eight guys exactly like him in any issue of Honcho. Eddie was amazed that his future self was mentally capable of being in the same room with him without dying. He had rolled up the sleeves of his sweatshirt, and Eddie was having a hard time not latching onto his forearms with his teeth and drooling.

“So other-me’s alright,” Steve said. Eddie looked back up. “Did you have any other questions?”

“Oh, tons,” Eddie said. “I almost want to call Dustin, blow his mind a little.” Steve grimaced.

“Better not,” he said. “Trust me, he’s got a lot to say about time travel, and I don’t think I spend a very long time here. From what I remember, I got sent back from the future after about two hours, give or take.”

Eddie felt himself relax ever so slightly. “So I’ve only got to wait a couple of hours until I find out if you’re lying to me or not,” he said. “And then if you are, I can just murder you and then go find Steve myself. Easy.”

Steve nodded, a smile playing on his lips. “You know, I remember this place having a decent sized backyard. You’d probably be able to bury me back there, if you can dig a hole deep enough,” he joked. “Might want to get the kids for that. Don’t wanna throw out your back.”

“I could just toss you into a gate,” Eddie shot back, smirking. “Speaking from experience here, those bats will tear the evidence apart in no time.” It had felt a little wrong to be joking about it at first, but Eddie’s come to think that he’s earned a little gallows humour in exchange for losing a foot of his intestines.

Steve made a weird little face, like he was caught between laughing and frowning. Eddie snorted. “You can laugh,” he said. “I didn’t almost die for you bastards not to laugh at my jokes.”

Steve shrugged his shoulders a little bit. “If it helps, the kids eventually get the memo,” he said. “I don’t, but that’s just me.” Eddie faltered a little bit, his smile freezing on his face. Steve wasn’t looking at him, not directly, his dark, dark eyes looking a little ways to the side of Eddie’s face. “I don’t like thinking about death,” Steve said, and he kept his tone light and casual. His words hung heavily in the air between them.

It sent a spike of guilt through him, hot and shameful. Eddie forced himself back into motion after a long, agonising moment. “Well, I’ll keep that in mind,” he said, the smile still feeling mask-like on his face. “Begging your pardon, for I’m just a jester, Your Grace.”

He swept an arm out in front of himself, leaning forward clumsily in his seat. There was no leaping from table to table in the school cafeteria, but Steve cracked a slight, but mercifully real grin.

“Alright, jester,” he said. “I won’t take your head off this time.”

Eddie ducked his head in an exaggerated bow. “My thanks.”

But the pleasant atmosphere dissipated in a matter of seconds, and the serious, almost haunted look returned to Steve’s eyes. He sighed. “I guess I’ve got to tell you about Vecna now.”

“Oh right, you might want to take notes for this,” Steve added. He reached into the drawer in the end table and tossed Eddie a notepad and pen. They landed on Eddie’s lap, after he failed miserably at catching them. Eddie was momentarily struck by the sheer thoughtlessness in his actions- that he just knew, instinctively, how to get around in Eddie’s home.

“I don’t know if you remember,” Eddie said, “but I failed high school thrice. I’m not really known for my note-taking abilities.”

“You’re the most meticulous DM that your stupid little game of Wizards and Wraiths has ever seen,” Steve replied without missing a beat. It gave Eddie a strange sense of deja-vu, like this was an old argument, re-hashed a thousand times over. “I know you can handle a bullet point list.”

“It’s called Dungeons and Dragons and you know it,” Eddie said, purposefully refusing to acknowledge the praise woven into Steve’s words. But he clicked the pen obediently. Along the top of the notepad, he scrawled “TIPS FROM THE FUTURE?” in messy all-caps, and underlined it twice for emphasis.

“Okay,” Steve said, and he took a deep breath. “The bad news is that we didn’t fully kill Vecna the first time around.” Eddie’s horror must have shown on his face, because Steve quickly continued. “The good news is that I’ve lived through it- hell, we all did. So, I can just tell you how to beat him, and then everything will be okay.”

Eddie’s hands had started to tremble, at the mention of Vecna, enough to make his handwriting come out wobbly. Eddie the Coward, he thought bitterly. “I thought we killed him,” he said. “We f*cking torched his house. What more can we do?”

“Trust me,” Steve said grimly, “we had no idea who we were fighting.” His fingers twitched.

“We- or you guys, I guess, only start to know that Vecna’s coming back after this meeting,” he said, gesturing between himself and Eddie. “My Eddie called it a closed loop. He said you’d understand what it meant.”

“Yeah, it means that you’re fulfilling the loop by coming back here and talking to me, who’ll talk to Steve in the past, and then he’ll live to become you. And then he’ll travel back here and talk to me for the first time, and so on.” Eddie said. He drew a spiral in the air with one finger. “And on, and on, and on. Ouroboros is eating its tail.”

“Uh huh,” Steve said. He looked kind of confused. “I’ll tell Eddie that he was right, then.”

“Yeah, ask him how the Tralfamadorians are doing,” Eddie said. Steve made an inquisitive face. “He’ll get it.”

“Alright- well, the loop is supposed to start later today, if the timing is right,” Steve said. Eddie felt another wave of fresh fear smash up against his sternum. “Not Vecna. Eleven.”

Eddie had only met the famed Eleven once- they’d crossed paths at the hospital, when she’d come into the wrong room, searching for Max. He’d been struck by the startling intensity of her dark eyes, which had seemed huge on her thin, pale face. She hadn’t said a word to him, just stared for a long, uncomfortable moment. By the time Eddie had mustered enough strength to wave weakly at her from his bed, she’d already disappeared back out to the hallway.

“I haven’t seen her around much,” Eddie said truthfully. “I think she’s been staying with Wheeler and her brother.” He didn’t tell Steve that actually, he hadn’t seen anyone around much. That beyond Steve, and Wayne, and sometimes Robin, Eddie had become a bit of a hermit. The kids had practically hung off his bed for the length of his hospital stay, but ever since, Eddie had been dodging their calls. It was the same thing as with Wayne- two parts guilt, one part shame. Dustin still hadn’t wholly forgiven him. Eddie can’t really blame him.

Eddie picked up his pen again, and Steve continued. “What’s supposed to happen is that she’ll tell the others later today that she had another dream. It’s not like the clock visions- just a dream, but it hits on a few things that line up with what I tell you right now- it pushes us to start planning right away.”

“So without this meeting, we wouldn’t have believed in what El saw, and then by the time Vecna’s finally on our radar, it’s too late?”

“I guess so?” Steve lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug. “I mean, I’ve only ever lived it where we started fighting back now.”

“But,” he continues, “El’s gonna call everyone to the hospital, and she’ll explain that she saw a vision of herself- like, herself throughout her entire life. Child to teen to adult to grandma. And she’ll feel this, uh, this- this big, terrible force.”

“Vecna,” Eddie said, with a sinking feeling. Steve nodded grimly.

“But what you need to know- what you need to tell her, is that about a week from now, everyone in town is going to start-” Steve paused momentarily, grimacing ever so slightly. As he’d been speaking, he’d grown steadily paler. “They’re going to start having nightmares.”

“Like of the clock?” Eddie asked. He remembered the way that Chrissy’s eyes had rolled back in her head, seconds before she’d started floating off of the ground. She was a familiar icon in his nightmares. That old, paralysing fear was back. “There’s no way he can’t target all of us at once, can he?”

Steve was making a weird face by now, like he was in pain. “It’s just nightmares, at the start.” He was talking slower, practically gritting the words out between his teeth. “But after a few days, we start noticing that they’re-” He paused, and then stayed quiet for a few moments.

“Steve?” Eddie asked. “You good, man?”

“Fine,” Steve muttered. “Just, um- my head.” He hunched forward on the couch, elbows resting on his bare thighs. “The nightmares affect- they-” He heaved a deep breath, and exhaled shakily. “What was I talking about?”

“Dude, what?” Eddie protested. Steve looked back at him helplessly. “You were talking about the nightmares from Vecna. Just go slow, tell me in order, okay?”

Steve massaged his temples with one hand, and looked deeply annoyed. “I’m trying,” he grit out through his teeth. “The f*cking- I can’t say it.”

Eddie narrowed his eyes. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that I can’t f*cking remember what happened,” Steve snapped. He squeezed his eyes shut, his dark brows furrowing in frustration. “That’s not- no, it’s. I remember what we did. I remember everything, and then I try to say it out loud, and it’s not there.” He tugged at the roots of his hair, like he could force his brain back into place. “I swear to God, man, I have the memory, I can feel it, but as soon as I start talking-”

“Poof, gone,” Eddie finished, understanding dawning on him. Steve nodded, still frowning.

“The memories are still there, though. I can feel them. I know everything that happened to us. But the details are all blurry.” Steve drummed his fingers against his temples. He bit his lip, and Eddie did not linger on the sight at all. “Like there’s too much noise for me to concentrate, only it’s all in my head.”

“Like radio static,” Eddie muttered. “Something’s drowning you out.” He stretched his legs out onto the ottoman, and his muscles twinged in protest. Steve took a deep breath.

“Memory-” Steve said, then winced again. He looked at Eddie, like he was trying to communicate without words.

“Memory,” Eddie repeated. He wrote it down on the notepad, and circled it. “The interference is f*cking with your memory, and stopping you from telling me.”

Steve nodded. He put his hand over his eyes, like he was trying to stave off a migraine. “Okay,” Eddie said. He imagined himself as someone smarter, someone much more capable, and tried to instill that imagined confidence in his words. “We can work with this.”

Steve made an inquisitive sort of noise, and Eddie took it as a signal to continue. “I mean, you’ve been brought back here to change the timeline for the better. We know that. And while we don't know what exactly the force was, we can assume that its goal is to prevent Vecna from killing us all, right?”

“Right,” Steve said. “Maybe something with powers like El and the other lab kids. Only way, way more powerful than any of them, since El has never seemed to be able to f*ck with time at all.”

Eddie could feel the pieces starting to slowly come together. “But anything that powerful would send off ripples, right? El could feel it when Vecna was f*cking sh*t up over here- so Vecna, if he’s still alive like you said, would absolutely be able to feel that you’ve come here.”

Steve’s eyes widened. “And if he can feel me, then he knows that we’ve established contact, to some degree.”

“Exactly,” Eddie said. He gestured frantically with his hands as he spoke. “You can make it here, and Vecna’s still too weak to try to come and kill us again, but he’s not too weak to try and stop you from telling me how to put an end to all of it.”

“It’s getting harder to talk,” Steve said. He was back to massaging at his temples. “Like, I think you’re getting closer, because it’s-” he pursed his lips for a moment, breathing in deeply through his nose, “it’s hurting my head.”

Eddie frowned deeply. He didn’t like the idea of Steve being in pain. “What if you don’t say anything for a bit,” he said. “What if I guessed? You can just nod or something if I’m right, and then shake your head if I’m off.”

Steve looked interested, but he didn’t say anything. Eddie took the silence as permission to keep going. “Like, if I said that Vecna is not dead, and is slowly coming back, could you agree with me?” Steve nodded, then looked surprised. He cracked a slight smile- and Eddie was as glad to see it as ever.

“So it’s gotta be a puzzle,” Eddie said. “Like a real, old-fashioned prophecy. Hell, I’ll tell it to the kids in a rhyme.”

Steve nodded. He moved his hands around in the air, urging Eddie to continue. He looked back down at his notes- he wouldn’t be able to focus if he kept staring at Steve. “So Vecna can f*ck with your memories, even in his weak state,” he said. Steve nodded again. “So, following monster logic, if Vecna can f*ck with people’s heads now, then as he gets stronger, he’ll be able to f*ck with them even harder. Like leveling up.” Steve gave him an empathetic thumbs up.

“So he cut you off when you started talking about the nightmares,” he continued, drawing a thin line from the ‘vision’ bullet point to the ‘memory’ circle. “The nightmares must be connected to him f*cking with people’s minds then, right?” He looked over at Steve for confirmation. Steve offered a supportive double thumbs-up. “Right. So, he’s gotta be doing it for a reason.”

Eddie briefly wished that he had a cork board, like in a detective movie, where he could link things together with red string. God, he’d love the theatrics of it all. “Last time, he was f*cking with people’s bodies. It ended with the earthquake. Like he was trying to open the portal wider.”

Steve nodded. “It worked,” he managed, then put his head back into his hands.

Eddie ignored the chill that went down his spine. “Yeah. Vecna got enough victims, and tore the holes between the worlds. We burnt him, but that wasn’t enough, was it?”

Eddie could feel himself picking up steam. He was talking animatedly now, like he was on a really good streak mid-campaign. Across the room, Steve was alternating between wincing in pain and giving him intense, non-verbal cues of encouragement.

Steve shook his head. “So now he’s weak, but the first thing he’s going to do is try to f*ck with people’s memories with the nightmares?” Eddie chewed absently on the end of the pen. “Listen, I might be totally off here, but if this was a monster that I was playing, the memories would be its fuel.”

Steve looked at Eddie like he was the sun. “That’s a very good guess, Munson,” he said, voice thick with what might have been awe, and Eddie grinned. It felt like an all-time high, to be matching this older Steve at each turn.

“So if Vecna’s in his weakened form right now, and he’s using nightmares as a means to harvest some sort of mental energy- memories, maybe, from the town- I gotta ask, so what? What’s his end goal?”

Steve opened his mouth, then closed it. A second later, he mimed something with his hands. Eddie tilted his head, confused. “What was that?” Steve got up from the couch and did it again. It looked like he was outlining the shape of something, in clumsy, sweeping motions. It was tall, about as wide as a person. “I don’t get it.”

Steve, stubbornly, did the motion one more time, and pointed at it emphatically.

“Remind me not to be on your team for Pictionary,” Eddie said jokingly. Steve rolled his eyes, and then made the motion again. He pointed insistently at himself, and at Eddie, and then went back to waving his hands around in the air.

“A person. You?” he asked. Steve shook his head. He pointed his finger to himself, and took a deep breath. “Steve. No. Shirt. No. Chest- breathing?” Steve nodded once. He pressed his palm flat to his chest, and thumped it gently, two beats, then a pause, then another two. Eddie’s eyes widened. “A heartbeat? Breathing, and a heart, so- oh, f*ck, he’s trying to make a body!”

Steve did a truly ridiculous fist pump. He crossed the room in two big strides, and raised his hand to Eddie, open-palmed. Eddie slapped it. His own heart was pumping hard, and Steve, bright and smiling above him, was doing nothing to help. Eddie scribbled in the notepad.

“God,” Steve said. He was grinning this wide, amazed grin. Eddie scribbled furiously on the notepad. “Eddie, you’re a f*cking genius.”

Eddie looked up, and Steve was looking right back at him. Eddie could practically feel the tips of his ears turning bright red.

“I’m serious, babe,” Steve said. Eddie’s heart swooped miserably in his chest at Steve’s eager grin, at his words- words that Eddie didn’t even want to acknowledge, should they shatter in his hands. “You just saved my ass- your ass. Everybody’s ass.” He took a few steps backwards, and then collapsed back onto the couch, still smiling.

“Wait,” Eddie said, looking back up. The excitement of working out part of the mystery was fading. “A body- why the hell is he trying to make a body? And how does that work, with the nightmare thing?”

“Our best guess was that it was a more-” he hesitated again. Eddie could see the strain in his features as he pushed through the fog. “Uh- I think it was a better foundation in the world. He had more power over us, if he could get out of the Upside Down.”

“But you stopped him first,” Eddie said. It wasn’t really a question. “This whole thing, the point is that you were able to stop him before he fully manifested.”

Steve wasn’t smiling anymore. Eddie could see a thin sheen of sweat starting to spread over his features. It seemed harder now, even more so than before, to drag the memories to the surface. “Um,” he managed, straining against some invisible force. “I think so? I can’t- God, Eddie, I can’t remember.”

“It’s okay,” Eddie said nervously. “Don’t force it, man, you’ll blow a gasket.”

Steve shook his head, like he was trying to shake off water. “I’m fine,” he said. “I can feel him, trying to shut me up, but you’ve gotta know-”

Eddie wanted to call it off. His coward’s heart was urging him to clamp a hand over Steve’s mouth, to stop him from baiting Vecna back to life. “Steve,” he said warningly.

“No, no,” Steve said, but he sounded distracted. “I lived through actual Russian torture, I can just-”

Eddie flinched badly when Steve cried out in pain.

He looked distraught, his hair tangled from his nervous hands. He looked up from his lap, his gaze fixing itself desperately to Eddie’s. “It’s Vecna, right?” he asked, like he genuinely didn’t know. “The demodogs- no, but-” Eddie made to get out of his chair, and Steve frowned even harder, eyes fixed on the middle distance. “Dustin’s growing one in his turtle tank,” he said, hand lifted in front of him, reaching for something invisible.

“Steve,” Eddie choked. He rose clumsily from the armchair, his arms shaking as he tried to hold himself upright. He latched onto his cane, and took a few steps forward to Steve on the couch. “Steve, stop.”

Steve didn’t listen to him. Eddie didn’t know if he’d heard. “They’re coming,” he called, too loud for the small room. “You’ve got to get back inside, because they’re coming.” He was sweating in earnest now, his face drained of all colour. “It’s bullsh*t,” he muttered weakly, and Eddie’s heart plummeted at the tears forming in the corners of his eyes. “This is bullsh*t.”

“Steve,” Eddie said. He put a hand on Steve’s shoulder. He didn’t own any f*cking ABBA tapes, he thought, choked with terror. Steeling himself, he raised his voice, louder than Steve’s panicked mutterings. “Steve, wake up.”

And then, like a puppet with its strings cut, Steve slumped back onto the couch. He blinked very quickly, and then looked up at Eddie. His eyes were wide, and red-rimmed. He looked at Eddie like he’d never seen him before, for a single, terrible moment. Eddie’s breath caught in his chest.

“Oh no,” Steve said, face pale and tightly drawn. He pressed a hand to his mouth, and then he was moving very quickly out of the room. Eddie scrambled after him, grabbing his cane with both hands to push himself up. He limped into the kitchen after Steve, and found him bent over against the sink, retching.

“Are you okay?” Eddie asked, frantically. “Are you dying?”

Steve rested his forehead against the countertop. “What the f*ck,” he said, and he sounded exhausted. “I just- God, it was like I was back there, with him.

His words were thickly laced with something- something terrible, that Eddie had never heard in Steve’s voice before. Slowly, he began to see the pieces of the puzzle fitting together. The memories, the body, the foundation. The nightmares. Steve’s horrible, blank-faced look of confusion, as Vecna toyed with his mind, even ten years later and right back at the start of it all.

“That’s what he’ll do to us,” Eddie said, sure and scared. “What he did to you- he’ll turn us around. Against each other, maybe.”

Steve sighed. “I think he gave you a better clue just then, than whatever I could’ve told you.”

Eddie let out a shuddering breath. “That’s f*cking horrifying,” he said. Steve nodded grimly.

“The worst part is afterwards,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. “After he’s left your head. You can’t tell what parts are you, anymore. You can’t tell what he took.

Eddie shivered violently. The trickle of fear had widened, expanding into a rushing river of terror. He wanted to cover his ears, to wake up in bed, and have all of this be nothing but a dream. “But we win,” he said weakly. “You said that we would win.”

“We do win,” Steve said. He had that tone again, the one that Eddie thought made him sound like a storybook hero brought to life. “There’s a way to stop him- or at least to hold him back.”

“Like the tapes,” Eddie said. Steve made an affirmative sound.

“It’s a memory,” he said carefully. “A good one- the best thing you can think of.” He laughed a short, brittle laugh. “Hell, it doesn’t even have to be true. It just has to be the most perfect thing that you could ever imagine yourself having.”

Eddie’s mind flashed. He saw himself, unscarred. He saw the old trailer, and Chrissy, smiling and whole. He saw Dustin, and Mike, and Lucas, and the rest of Hellfire, playing and laughing. And then traitorously, he saw Steve, his Steve, close, and soft, and somehow in love. Eddie blinked furiously, forcing the thoughts from his mind.

“You’ve gotta hope for something,” Steve said. “That’s what he doesn’t have.”

“What’s your memory?” Eddie blurted, the question clawing itself from his lips. He winced, from where Steve couldn’t see him. He didn’t want to know, he thought. He never, ever wanted to know what Steve Harrington truly wanted.

Steve didn’t answer him right away. Eddie began to fidget after a moment, opening and closing his fist around the grip of his cane. Steve’s ring gleamed golden on his finger, visible even halfway across the room.

“It’s quiet,” Steve finally said. “It’s morning, before the sunrise. And I know, even before I open my eyes, that everyone is safe.” Eddie’s expression softened. Steve’s back was still to him, and he stood silhouetted in the light beaming in through the window above the sink. “And you’re there, of course.”

It was a crazily intimate thing to say to somebody while you were puking into their sink, Eddie thought, his heart pulling tight in his chest. He was mostly grateful for the fact that Steve couldn’t see his face right now, couldn’t see the messy, ugly twisting of his face. His tone was way too serious, Eddie thought. Like he was swearing an oath.

Steve twisted the ring on his finger once, twice. Eddie’s legs had begun to cramp in protest as he stood stock-still on the linoleum tiles. The silence stretched out, and Eddie felt, for a single moment, as if he might cry.

“Steve,” he said, softly, even if he didn’t quite know why. Steve’s shoulders twitched a little bit. “Your future is good, right?” He thought of futures that would tear Steve away from him-from the rest of the Party, that would rip the new scars into his soft skin. It was a bad, treacherous thought. Steve, stupidly kind Steve, who cut the kids’ apple slices when they asked, who defended Eddie even when he hadn’t believed in him. He deserved a good future more than anyone.

But Steve just smiled, big like he was the happiest motherf*cker alive, even elbow deep in puke. “Yeah,” he said, almost wistfully. “I’m doing really great. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.” He was looking at the brown, dead grass outside like he was in love with it. Eddie, selfishly, didn’t want to know about Steve’s great future life, but he surged onward, like a masoch*st, or an idiot, or both.

“You’ve probably got the wife waiting for you when you get back,” Eddie said, his tone just shy of too jovial. “That party bus of baby Harringtons, like you said.” Wheeler finally saw what she was missing, he didn’t say. He didn’t really want to hear Steve confirm it.

Steve made a weird face. He bit his lip, like he was holding something back. “Yeah, something like that,” he said absently, then he wasn’t saying much of anything, because he was bent over again, puking into Eddie’s sink.

“Oh gross,” Eddie said, and then turned around to get him some water. Behind him, he could hear the disgusting sound of Steve spitting up something gross onto metal. His quest for water was disturbed by the fact that the cupboards on this side of the kitchen were still empty- they’d unpacked the plates, but they’d left the cups in a bunch of cardboard boxes scattered throughout the house.

“Okay, so the dishware situation in this house leaves something to be desired,” he said. Steve had momentarily stopped puking, and was leaning heavily against the countertop, his head hanging low between his shoulders. He snorted. “Hold on a second, I’ll get you some water once I find something to put it in.”

“That’d be great,” Steve said, breathing heavily. Eddie privately thought that he sounded kind of really f*cking hot with his voice scraped raw, then immediately mentally berated himself for thinking that.

“So, besides the whole Vecna thing, anything else that I’m gonna care about happening in the future?” Eddie asked as he left the kitchen. “Anybody famous die?”

Steve made a sound like he was laughing. Eddie wished he could see it. “Uh. Reagan’s out of office,” Steve eventually said. Eddie barked out a laugh.

“Sweet.” He slid his hand along the countertop for extra support alongside his cane as he made his way back out to the dining room-slash-storage space. The dining room was dusty, which was surprising for such a new house. A cardboard box, with the words “CUPS + MUGS + sh*t” written on the top, was sitting open on the table.

Eddie started rooting around. Steve, in the kitchen, was silent for a long moment. The mugs clinked together in the box, ceramic on ceramic.

“Eddie,” Steve called from the kitchen, shattering the silence. Eddie froze like a deer in the headlights, drawn to Steve’s voice. “Before I go, I just- I want you to know that you’re a good person. Now, and in the future. Don’t ever doubt that, okay?”

Eddie didn’t say anything. He pulled a chipped Star Trek mug out of the box and inspected it for dirt. He busied himself with swiping away the dust along the inside of the mug, instead of going back into the kitchen and falling to his knees, begging Steve to say it again, and again, and again.

Steve, oblivious to Eddie’s turmoil, continued, his voice wavering against the nausea. “And you never start listening to me, about not being the hero,” he said. “You keep protecting them, even when you should be watching your own ass. You’re the bravest goddamn person I know.”

“Hey, I thought we said no spoilers,” Eddie joked weakly. “Don’t tell me I’m gonna die on you, now.”

“No,” Steve said quickly. “No, oh, God. I wouldn’t- Trust me, if you died in my future, I wouldn’t be coming back to try and help you get there.” Eddie looked to the doorway, where he couldn’t quite see Steve. “Trust me, there’s no magical bullsh*t that could stop me from coming back to you. I wouldn’t-” His tone had that same heaviness from before, the kind that Eddie didn’t quite recognise just yet. “I’d fight tooth and nail, you know that, right?”

A fist tightened itself around Eddie’s throat, pinching his voice. He blinked a few times. The silence was stretching for too long, he thought.

“Aw, that’s sweet,” Eddie said. “Noble King Steve’s looking out for a lowly peasant such as I.” It came out forced. He hadn’t called Steve that in weeks.

“I haven’t heard that nickname in years, jeez.” Steve exhaled audibly. “No, I just happen to love you, is all. Nothing noble about that.”

In his head, Eddie could picture a twenty sided die rolling to a stop. Nat twenty- a critical hit. He set the mug down on the table and heaved a tense, strained breath. It wasn’t fair, he thought childishly. It wasn’t fair that the best, most beautiful person that Eddie’s ever f*cked up and let himself want, was singing his praises across a decade of time. Not when it was hanging like a weight over Eddie’s shoulders that Steve would grow up and get the perfect, picket-fence life that he deserved, and Eddie would just be the dumb son of a bitch that had wanted him from the other side.

You’re not his wife, he reminded himself sharply. Remember your place.

“That’s a lot to try to believe,” Eddie said. His voice cracked a little. He picked up the Star Trek mug, tracing the peeling letters on the side. The Enterprise was soaring through the star-speckled expanse of space.

“It’s all true,” Steve replied. “The future, the good one, only happens because you’re there in it.”

“Well, then I guess I’ve got to watch my back,” Eddie said. “Can’t go dying now, not when the prophecy decrees otherwise.” He heaved himself back into motion, his cane clicking quietly against the hardwood floor.

“I’ll be watching your back,” Steve said. Eddie was almost to the door, and he could hear that the tap was running. Steve, around the corner, kept talking. “You’ll have me.”

Steve, Eddie thought, would play the best knight any campaign of Dungeons and Dragons had ever seen. The noble, soft-hearted paladin. “You can’t keep saying those things to a guy,” Eddie said, only half-joking. “He might get the wrong idea, Stevie.”

Steve was quiet. “I mean,” Eddie continues, fully aware of the hole he’s digging himself into. It was morbid curiosity that pushed him forward, even with the red lights flashing in his mind with each word. “Ten years in the future, you’ve got to know about me, right?”

Still no response. Eddie’s stomach dropped, the familiar, protective defensiveness creeping back up. “I’m kidding,” he said, rounding the corner. “Forget I said anything.” Steve wasn’t by the sink anymore.

The kitchen was empty. The tap was still running.

Eddie took a quiet, shaking breath. He set the mug down on the table, unused, and then went to turn off the tap. His cane slipped in his shaking grip as he went. The silence afterwards was deafening.

Slowly, he made his way back to the living room, to the same chair he’d sat in before. Steve wasn’t anywhere to be seen. The blankets on the couch were still messy at least, like proof that Steve had been sleeping there. His notes about Vecna were still on the coffee table. Eddie curled up in the chair, his knees pulled to his chest.

He felt adrift, like he’d been the one that was lost in time. Time passed, but he didn’t notice how much. He kept hearing Steve’s voice in his head, that strange, solemn tone. The scars across his hands. The half-covered tattoo on his thigh.“I just happen to love you.”

He swallowed against the growing lump in his throat. He thumbed at his fingers, twisting the thin ring around his pinkie. The rest of his rings had been lost somewhere between the Upside Down and the hospital and here. He thought again, again, of the ring that Steve wore like a wedding band. Would wear. He wondered if he would go to Steve’s wedding, in the future. If he’d stand at the back of the church, clapping and crying when Steve dipped his head to press a kiss to Wheeler’s smiling, birdlike mouth.

Eddie had slept with a guy once, in Indiana, who’d really liked getting spanked. He’d said afterwards, lying in the smoky, sweaty haze, that there was no better feeling than pressing on a bruise. The ache, he’d said, felt like twice the love that had gone into the hit.

Eddie hadn’t said anything to him. He’d been too high at the time to come up with something witty.

Now, in the present, Eddie sat with his knees pulled up to his chest. The weight of the future, bestowed gently by the person who, Eddie had begun to realise, might be the unsuspecting love of his life, bore down, heavy as sin, about his shoulders. He could feel the pressure curling tight against his aching lungs.

But at the same time, he felt the threat of that steel- the sharp, sudden realisation of the Upside Down that he would not bend. That he would die for these people. It wasn’t heroism, not quite. Eddie didn’t know what to call it.

He closed his eyes, and tried to picture that certainty, that uncharacteristic bravery as something tangible. Something to wield against anything that would try to do them harm.

Eddie blinked.

“Oh, holy sh*t,” he said.

Steve, the real, normal Steve that Eddie had been missing for an hour and a half, was sitting on the couch, cross legged. He looked pale, and he was staring down at his upturned hand, his expression confused, and surprised, and sad.

“Steve,” Eddie said, relief flooding his chest like a dam breaking. Steve’s head snapped up, and yeah, there he was. He looked at Eddie with dark, dark eyes, like he’d never seen him before, like he had never seen anything else. Eddie’s throat filled with a million things to say to him. I missed you and you’re back, tangling up with a complicated, hidden phrase that Eddie had sworn off of saying, after the last time had nearly killed him.

But he didn’t say something, because Steve was above him, holding him, and that was more important than- well, anything. Eddie curled his fingers into Steve’s strong, broad shoulders, and finally let himself relax.

mine is the hand that sows time - buttercup_beetle (2024)

FAQs

Where is the tadpole codebreaker exam in Fallout 76? ›

From Scout Leader Jaggy at the Pioneer Scout Camp, look South to see a short, relatively-intact building with a green door and "Pioneer Scouts Knowledge Exams" painted by the entrance. After going inside, there'll be a terminal on the right that you can use to take any of the exams.

Where do you take the possum exams in Fallout 76? ›

Pioneer Scout Possum Exams. Becoming a Pioneer Scout in Fallout 76 is not easy. Fortunately, the easiest part of becoming a Pioneer Scout is taking the exams at one of the terminals at the Pioneer Scout Camp. Still, some of the questions can be a little tricky.

What does telescoping an arrow mean? ›

The Telescoping Arrow extends up to six feet long after being fired. Extending the shaft does not seem to weaken it so a network of these can form an effective cage or cell. Presumably, these would be much heavier than most tricks. That might be why they are no longer in use.

Where to take the tadpole exam? ›

Head over to Camp Lewis in the Toxic Valley. Once you're there, look for a kiosk that's loaded with the Tadpole exams. It's pretty straightforward, and you'll find several categories to choose from. Just make sure you've joined the Pioneer Scouts first; otherwise, those exams won't mean a thing!

How do I complete the order of the tadpoles in Fallout 76? ›

Detailed walkthrough
  1. Scout Leader Jaggy. ...
  2. Demonstrate Kindness: Revive a downed player character. ...
  3. Demonstrate Helpfulness: Clean Up Kiddie Corner Cabins. ...
  4. Demonstrate Bravery: Control Pests at Dolly Sods. ...
  5. Demonstrate Growth: Earn 3 Pioneer Scout Badges. ...
  6. Return to Scout Leader Jaggy.

How do you get the tadpole backpack in Fallout 76? ›

The Backpack comes as a reward for finishing The Order of the Tadpole mission, which can be initiated by reading a Pioneer Scouts poster at Train Stations. Here's how to complete the mission: Read a Pioneer Scouts poster. Head to Camp Lewis and talk to Scout Leader Jaggy.

Can you get a dog in Fallout 76? ›

Actually, you can't get a dog in Fallout 76. It's a bummer, I know! But the game still offers a ton of other awesome features and adventures in the wasteland. No dog companions in Fallout 76, sadly.

How many possum badges can you get in Fallout 76? ›

Fourteen Possum badges can be earned via Challenges in total, with each having a unique icon. The requirements for earning the badges can be found in the main menu by going to World tab in the Challenges menu.

What is a Harrier fallout? ›

As a cross country runner, you might be called a "harrier".

How to earn tadpole badges? ›

Tadpole badges are used by the Pioneer Scouts to mark progression through the Order of the Tadpole. They are earned by completing World Challenges set by Scout Leader Jaggy at the Pioneer Scout camp. Three badges are required for completing the Order of the Tadpole, and promotion to Possum Scout.

How to clean up kiddie corner cabins? ›

Cleaning up the Kiddie Corner Cabins in Fallout 76 is pretty straightforward. You gotta start by getting rid of all the enemies around - those ghouls won't know what hit 'em. After that, it's all about picking up and scrapping or storing all the junk lying around.

What are the easiest tadpole missions in Fallout 76? ›

If you're looking to knock out the Order of the Tadpole challenges quickly, the five easiest challenges to complete are Codebreaker, Athlete, Medic, Entomologist, and Cook.

Who is Jaggi in Fallout 76? ›

Jaggy is the main Pioneer Scout leader at Camp Lewis. He is located near the building with the knowledge exam terminals and is authorized to recruit new members by setting them on the path to becoming Tadpole Scouts.

Where is the tadpole shooting test Fallout 76? ›

Walkthrough. This straightforward target range is located at the southern end of Camp Lewis. After activating the intercom, players have ten seconds to ready themselves and then two minutes to hit five bullseyes (the yellow zones in the center) of the range targets, using only the crossbow.

Where do I take the swimmer exam in Fallout 76? ›

Complete the swimming test at Spruce Knob Lake to earn the Swimmer badge.

Where is the source of the noises in the order of the tadpole Fallout 76? ›

Handy wearing a green scout leader's hat. He can be found at the Pioneer Scout Camp North of Grafton Dam, near the top of the map. As you get close, you'll hear him making a lot of noise - just follow the noise to its source and you'll encounter Jaggy, whereupon he'll give you your quest.

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