This is my newest interest! Stranger Things/Steve Harrington. This is my disclaimer: I don't own the show or any of the characters that you recognize here. I do, however, own Jessica Henderson. Yes, it's a Henderson sister story, and will eventually be Steve/OFC. If you've liked my other stuff . . . give this a try.
"I'll take your X-Men 134," Jessica Henderson heard from her bedroom window. She knew the voice belonged to Will Byers, one of her younger brother, Dustin's, friends.
Dustin had been at another one of his friend's houses that night and was obviously just getting home. It was a little after eight, which meant it was a little past his curfew getting home, but their mother wasn't really strict so he wasn't going to get in trouble.
Jessica went to the window, which faced the street of their two-story house, and watched as her brother put his bike away, which meant it was parked against the side of the house, and made his way inside. She heard as he said hi to their mother and began tromping up the stairs only to stop at her doorway, which was always open to him.
"Hey, sis," he said.
"Hey, have fun at Mike's playing Dragons and Dungeons?"
"It's Dungeons and Dragons," he said, rolling his eyes because he knew she'd purposefully gotten the name wrong. "And yes. We didn't get to finish, though."
Jessica knew absolutely nothing about the game Dustin and his friends played, but she did know he was very into it and so she tried to take an interest. She was just glad her brother had found a group of friends to be a part of. Her family hadn't always lived in Hawkins, Indiana, so she was relieved that she and her brother had found people to hang with.
She'd met her brother's D&D group and she liked all of them well enough. Will was her favorite out of Dustin's friends. Will was quiet and shy and the least likely to cause a problem. Dustin and Will usually rode their bikes home together because Dustin's house was on the way to Will's.
"You guys want to go to the arcade tomorrow? I have to work after school, so if you want I can take you as long as you get a ride home from someone else?"
"Sure, that'd be cool."
Jessica worked at the local theater, which wasn't too far from the arcade. Hawkins was a small town, so everything was pretty much within walking distance when you went into the main part of town.
"A'right, let the others know tomorrow and if it's okay with their parents, they can meet us here."
The next morning put a hold on their plans. Will Byers hadn't gone home the night before. Joyce Byers, Will's mom, called before Jessica left for school. Her mother answered and when she asked Jessica and Dustin if they'd heard from him, they both shrugged.
"I know he was fine when he went by here," Jessica said, and Dustin nodded.
"Yeah, he got to the end of the street just fine," Dustin added. "Sometimes Will goes in to school early, maybe –"
Their mom told Joyce and, even though Jessica couldn't hear Joyce, she knew that probably didn't help her at all. Will was a good boy. He wouldn't have just left without saying anything, Jessica didn't think.
Dustin didn't seem overly worried at the moment and Jessica was glad. She didn't want her brother worrying over something unless they were certain something had happened. She would know more once she went to school. She went to school with Will's brother, Jonathan, so if he was there she would get more information.
Dustin usually rode his bike to school, which meant Jessica didn't have to wait around to take him. She had a 1970 Chevelle sitting in her driveway, and it was the reason she had a job. She'd seen it, cherry red, and had fallen in love with it. Her mom had been less than thrilled, but she'd also said if Jessica could find a job and agree to pay a decent down payment on it, she could get it and her mom would help her out.
Hence the job at the theater and picking up extra hours if she could. Most of her weekends were no longer free, but it was worth it if she could one day call that car hers.
"A'right, well, I'm heading out," she said, mussing her hand over Dustin's head of dark curls, so different from her own. Her own hair was a lighter brown, and easier to tame. "See you after school."
She grabbed her stuff, kissed her mom on the cheek, and left.
Jessica's plan to find out more from Jonathan didn't go through very well because Jonathan Byers wasn't at school that day. To be fair, Jessica completely understood why. If Dustin had suddenly gone missing, Jessica wouldn't have been worried about school either. School was already barely a blip on her list of priorities that if anything ever happened to her brother she'd probably never go to school again.
The only reason she hadn't yet quit was because she didn't want to be stuck working at the theater her whole life. She hated high school, but she was actually excited about maybe going to college one day.
College, however, had nothing to do with her current situation: Jonathan not being in school, and her not being able to find out more about Will. She wondered if Mike and Lucas had heard about Will yet. She was also relieved that Dustin would be with them at the middle school for the remainder of the school day. If something had happened to Will, at least the other three had a support system they could lean on
During first period – English – Jessica zoned out for a while. She had an A in that class and could afford not to pay attention. It was mostly about research papers and how to cite sources and things like that.
Math was her second class. Her brain was usually fully awake by then. That day, however, she was more or less focused on the fact that Jonathan wasn't there. She didn't share any classes with him because she was a grade above him – she was a Junior – but his locker was right next to his, and he hadn't been there either of the times she'd gone by. She'd never really become friends with him because he was a little stand-offish, but they had said hi to each other in passing. They also sometimes worked the same shift at the theater.
Jonathan not being in school meant that they probably hadn't found Will yet, and Will hadn't just gone into school early like Dustin had suggested. He really was missing. No one else seemed bothered, and it made her realize that no one else knew. Will's disappearance hadn't been made public knowledge yet. He wasn't even officially a missing person because he hadn't been gone a full 24 hours. That was probably the stupidest thing she'd ever heard of because, sure, some kids didn't mind taking off whenever they felt like it, but Will wasn't like that. He was a good kid.
The next two classes flew by and then it was time for lunch. Jessica, not having eaten breakfast, was actually hungry enough to brave a school lunch. A slice of pizza, milk, and an apple.
She sat with a boy named Steve Harrington and two of his friends, Tommy and Carol. She sort of detested Tommy and Carol, and thought they only put up with each other as a couple because no one else would.
Steve, however, was okay. She thought he needed new friends, but she tolerated them because she did like hanging out with Steve. She liked it better when the other two weren't around, but that didn't happen often. Steve cared too much about what others thought about him and tried to appear cooler than he actually was. She hoped he would grow out of that.
He hadn't always been that way. She'd been in middle school when her family had moved to Hawkins, and she had shared a lot of classes with Steve. He'd been really nice to her – he hadn't had jerk friends then and hadn't cared about appearing cool. That came more with high school and becoming a dumb teenage guy and a jock.
She teased him about it constantly.
Steve nudged her with his shoulder so she looked his way.
Steve dressed like a rich, white boy, and acted like a rich, white boy. He had smooth, slightly tanned skin, perfect hair, pretty brown eyes, and, at the moment, a concerned expression on his face.
"You should eat," he said.
Even though she was hungry, she'd only been playing with the red apple she'd chosen from the food line. She brought the apple to her lips, but as soon as she opened her mouth a wave of nausea hit her stomach so fast she put the apple back down on the table in front of her.
Tommy and Carol, sitting on the other side of the table, glanced her way curiously.
"What's up with you?" Carol asked.
"Nothing. I'm just feeling sick all of a sudden."
"Probably because you skipped breakfast," Steve said. "You've been walking around with no energy all day."
Steve would notice that. When she was under stress her stomach bothered her. Steve had figured that out as soon as he'd met her. She'd had a lot of stress then – she'd moved away from her home, left her friends behind, had worried about not fitting in at the new school.
She'd never had it so bad that she lost too much weight, and only the people closest to her knew about it, but she did skip a meal or two when she wasn't at her best. A 13-year-old Steve Harrington had taken an interest and had taken her under his wing, so to speak, and things had gotten better quickly. She remembered his hair had been perfectly coiffed even then.
"Joyce Byers called this morning. Will didn't go home last night. He passed by our house a little after eight and he seemed fine. He was headed home."
"Byers," Tommy interrupted. "You mean that freak's brother?"
"Jonathan," Jessica corrected, "and, yes, his brother. He's only twelve, by the way, since you seem so compassionate about this."
"Hey," Carol snapped. "Watch the tone, Golden Girl. Besides, he's probably just hiding out somewhere. He'll show up when he feels like it."
Will wasn't like that, but Tommy and Carol didn't really know Will. Steve didn't either, but at least he wasn't being a jerk about it.
Steve talked her into drinking her milk and eating half of the slice of pizza she had, and then they walked to the gym together, minus Tommy and Carol.
"How come I'm the only nice friend you have?" Jessica teased.
"You're not the only nice friend I have," he said. "I have Nancy."
Nancy was Mike's older sister. She didn't really know the girl, other than to say hi to, but she knew that Nancy wasn't the type Steve usually went for. She was a good girl, not a partier, and did really well in school. She was a Sophomore, but she'd caught Steve's eye for some reason.
"Nancy is not a friend," Jessica said. "She's someone you're trying to sleep with."
"Hey!" He shoved her gently, playfully. "I resent that."
They stopped walking, and Steve pulled her to the side.
"Nancy is different. She's . . . I mean, we haven't . . . not that I wouldn't if she –"
Steve Harrington was flustered. Wow. But this – exactly this – was why she was friends with Steve. This was who he was when Tommy and Carol weren't around. Kind, caring, not a complete jerk.
"I'm supposed to meet her later so I can help her study."
Jessica grinned. "Study anatomy?"
"No!" Steve exclaimed, pretending to be shocked and offended. "Jeez. Chemistry."
"You failed Chemistry." Though failing didn't mean a D or an F. He was on the basketball team; he couldn't get but so low of a grade or he would be kicked off the team.
"Nancy said the same thing."
"Smart girl." Jessica sighed. "I've gotta get in the locker room. See you in the gym."
The gym was set up in a way that allowed there to be four volleyball games going at once. Jessica hated it. It was distracting, and she wasn't in the mood to play anyway. There was always the option of walking around the gym rather than do the actual sport they were supposed to be playing, and that's what Jessica eventually chose to do.
After gym, Steve suggested they hang out – just the two of them – until he had to go be with Nancy, but she declined because she had to work from five to nine that night.
After her last two classes she hurried home so she could shower and change into her black clothes and the red vest all the theater workers had to wear. She tamed her brown curls into soft waves – something Dustin could never do.
By the time she was ready Dustin was home from school. He'd come to her room immediately. He hadn't even dropped his bag off at his room.
"Mike and Lucas aren't allowed to go out until we find out what happened to Will."
She nodded. "Understandable."
"Chief Hopper came by the school to talk to us."
"Oh yeah?" He sat on her bed and she sat beside him. "Anything new?"
"No. He told us to come straight home after school."
Jessica tried not to show the new tension she was feeling. If Hopper had told them to come straight home, he had to suspect foul play of some kind. Or maybe he was just being cautious. Nothing serious had happened in all the time she had been in Hawkins, and definitely nothing involving anyone going missing. They were probably just all overly worried because this was Will that had disappeared. He was gentle and quiet, and Jessica couldn't imagine what would happen if he was ever in the position where someone was trying to hurt him.
"You okay?" she asked, mussing his hair with her hand.
"Yeah. Just worried about Will."
"Yeah." She shrugged. "I can go check in after work."
"That'd be great." Dustin grinned, most of his front teeth missing, and began digging through his backpack. He came out with a Hershey's bar and a pack of cheese crackers. "In case of emergencies . . ."
Jessica smiled, shook her head, and took what Dustin offered.
"Thanks, Dustie. Love you."
He grimaced. "Never say that in front of my friends."
After a brief pause and one lifted eyebrow from Jessica he rolled his eyes and said it back.
Work was slow that night. Being that it was a school night, most kids were at home, and the teenagers preferred late night showings. Plus, Hopper had decided to call out a search party for Will, and all the willing adults were out looking for him. Her boss had said something about Hopper having found Will's bike abandoned on the side of the road. How anyone knew that, Jessica didn't really know. She just chalked it up to Hawkins being a small town.
No matter how her boss knew about the bike, Jessica knew Will wouldn't have just left it there unless he hadn't had a choice. His mom wasn't that well off and he wouldn't have just thrown his bike away. She wouldn't be able to replace it. Something bad had happened to Will. Something bad had happened not long after Dustin had gotten home.
At that thought Jessica's stomach decided to have a full-scale revolution on her. Her breath quickened as she fought off the nausea she felt just from the thought of something happening to her brother. She also felt a little guilty from being relieved that it hadn't been Dustin who had disappeared. She knew it was perfectly normal for her to feel that way because as much as she loved Will . . . he wasn't her brother. She still felt awful for feeling that way.
She was now more determined than ever to go by the Byers' house after work to get an update and to see how Joyce and Jonathan were. So that was what she did.
She'd never realized how far into the woods the Byers' lived. It was a prime spot for a child – especially one that had been alone like Will had been - to fall prey to a predator.
On the way to the house, she passed by a section of woods that had been cordoned off with crime scene tape. That must've been where Hopper had found Will's bike.
She finally found the dirt trail that led from the road to the Byers' house and travelled down it slowly. She didn't want to hit a deer or anything. She reached the run-down one-story house that was probably considered more a cabin than anything else. Jessica knew Joyce had it hard because she was a single mother of two who had no help from her ex-husband.
Her car looked out of place in the driveway next to the two Fords, but that didn't matter. She parked close to the porch and hurried up the steps once out of her car. Joyce Byers, a woman in her late thirties or early forties, opened the door before Jessica could even knock.
Joyce's eyes were frantic and her hair was a little frazzled. She was a mom worried about her missing son.
"Hey, Ms. Byers. I, uh . . . I came to find out about Will, and –"
"Come in," Joyce said, and ushered her inside the house. "I – don't mind the mess."
"Of course not."
Once inside she noticed Jonathan on the couch, going through pictures of Will. He'd made a HAVE YOU SEEN ME? poster, and was obviously trying to find the right picture to put on it. He glanced her way to acknowledge her presence, but that was it.
"You can sit," Joyce said. "It was sweet of you to check on us. You're the first one aside from Hopper."
Jessica nodded. "I would've come out here sooner, but I was at work. Did they really find his bike?"
"Yes," Jonathan said. "They think he came home last night and was taken from here."
She didn't know what to say about that. If a child couldn't be safe in his or her own house, then where could they be? And if he'd made it home, and his bike had been found in the woods . . . that meant Will had been well enough to run home. Had someone chased him, then? Was there some psycho out there chasing after children? Did she need to be worried about Dustin?
She sat down by Jonathan and began going through the pictures of Will. She was sure Jonathan had taken them himself.
"I can help you put these around town tomorrow, if you want," she offered.
He seemed surprised by the kindness. They'd never really associated with each other – because didn't associate with anyone – so his surprise was understandable. "Why?"
"Because I have a brother too, and I wouldn't know what to do if anything happened to him. I would want all the help I could get. Plus, Will is my favorite of my brother's friends. I'd help for that reason alone."
Jonathan smiled, though it looked more like a grimace, and Joyce clapped a hand over her mouth as tears filled her eyes. Jessica didn't know what to do with that. Her own mother never showed real negative emotion. Should she apologize? Turn away and let Joyce compose herself? Hug her?
"We've made you uncomfortable," Joyce said.
"No, I just . . . did I do something wrong? To cause the tears?"
"It's because you're being nice," Jonathan muttered. "This town and its people . . . you know how they are."
"You mean how a lot of them are jerks? Yeah. Anyway, it's late and I should go, but let me know about the flyers when you get them done."
She stood up to leave and gave both of them a brief hug. Joyce returned it gladly. Jonathan was stiff – almost statue-like – but he hugged her just the same.
Not too far from the Byers' house – yet far enough away to be a few minutes walking distance – Jessica came across three bikes, one of which she was very familiar with because it belonged to her brother, parked near the crime scene tape.
"Dustin!" she exclaimed, frustrated, slamming on the brakes. "Seriously?"
It was storming, the rain having started almost immediately after she'd left the Byer's place. She'd been planning on going straight home, but now she couldn't. She had to make sure her brother was okay.
She better not get sick because of this. It was the beginning of November, for crying out loud. Raining, thundering, cold, and she was going to chase after three kids in the middle of the woods where one kid had already been chased from.
She cursed under her breath and got out of the car. She didn't even have a rain coat, so she was going to get soaked. She was actually probably going to get lost. She didn't make a habit of playing in the woods, and she didn't have a flashlight.
This was probably the stupidest thing she'd ever done.
Thankfully it didn't take long to find Dustin, Mike, and Lucas. They'd been yelling at each other. She was proud to find that her brother seemed to be the voice of reason at the moment. He'd been pointing out that they were going in the direction of the place where Will had maybe been taken and that they didn't have a weapon if they came across the person who'd done it.
"Guys!" she yelled, making them all jump. "What're you doing? I thought Hopper said to stay home!"
"About that . . ." Dustin started.
"We're looking for Will," Mike said.
"Obviously." She rolled her eyes. "Next time you guys wanna sneak around you should be craftier about it. You parked the bikes right near the –"
An insane screeching, animal and almost demonic in sound, filled the air.
"What was that?"
The bushes around them began to move with something other than the wind and rain, and Jessica thought they needed to get out of there as quickly as they could.
"Guys, we're going now."
At least the guys had flashlights, so they'd be able to see to get back to her car and their bikes.
"But Will –" Mike started.
"Isn't here," she said, voice firm. "There were signs at the Byers' house that point to Will making it home last night. He was taken from home, guys. So, we are leaving."
The rustling sounds grew closer and Jessica tensed. None of them had anything to fight with, so the only thing they could do was run. They turned to do just that, but their way was blocked by a girl in an overly large yellow Benny's Burgers shirt – Benny's Burgers was probably the best burger place in town. The girl had dark, closely shaven hair, and she was soaked to the skin, shivering – probably freezing – and she appeared frightened.
What was she doing out in the woods dressed like that? And who was she? Jessica knew Benny didn't have a daughter – he wasn't even married, had no other family in Hawkins that Jessica knew of aside from his parents.
The boys had frozen where they stood so Jessica assumed that meant she had to take the lead, which was wrong in her opinion, because even though she was the oldest, she had no clue what to do in this situation.
"Uh, hi," she said, stepping forward only to have the girl step back. "Okay. I'll stay here, and you can stay there. We'll talk just fine this way. What're you doing out here? Are you lost?"
"Not lost," the girl said. She spoke slowly, though, as if speech were new to her.
"Is there a number we can call for your parents?" Mike asked, finally coming back to life. The shock was obviously wearing off now.
"Where's all your hair?" Dustin asked. "Do you have cancer?"
The shock was wearing off of all of them.
"Is that blood?" Lucas asked, stepping forward so that the girl flinched.
Jessica noticed that Lucas was right, though, and there was blood on the girl's shirt.
"Stop it, you're freaking her out," Mike said.
"She's freaking me out."
"She's just scared. And cold."
She did tremble every time the thunder rumbled. Maybe the girl was going through some form of shock as well and the loud noise scared her for some reason.
Mike slid his jacket off of his shoulders and handed it to the girl. Jessica noticed she didn't flinch from Mike, so she slowly backed away and let Mike take the lead there.
"Okay, so . . . what are we doing? We can't leave her here."
They definitely couldn't take her to their house – there was nowhere to put her except for the cellar, and they weren't doing that. They couldn't take her to Lucas's because his parents actually paid attention to what he was doing, and he had a nosy little sister. That left Mike's.
"Mike . . ." she started. "You think we can sneak her in? The basement . . . you know, just for the night until we figure out what to do?"
Mike nodded. "Yeah, not like my parents will notice."
Chances were this girl had been abused and had run away – that was how her personality read anyway – and they were going to have to be careful with her
"A'right, let's get back to the car. Mike, we'll put your bike in the back. You're coming with us. She seems comfortable with you. Okay?"
"Dustin . . . Lucas . . . Are you guys okay riding your bikes?"
She hadn't forgotten about the screeching earlier, and she was sure that it hadn't come from the girl.
"Stay together at all times, okay?"
"Obviously," Dustin quipped. "We're not stupid."
"Hm. The jury's still out on that one."
Okay, as usual, let me know what you think. I have 12 chapters done on this already, so I can probably update once a week. I'm literally stuck on my other stories and started writing this to get my creative juices flowing again