The Golden Girl @creativewoman88
Chapter 12

I know it's been a while, guys, but I've been working on other stuff. Plus my grandmother's been in the hospital and had surgery, and I've started working, which takes up a lot of time too! Anyway, enjoy, and let me know what you guys think.

Chapter Twelve

That night went better than Jessica thought it would have. She put Star Wars in first because Dustin had to go to bed earlier than she and Steve did. She and Steve talked quietly through it because Steve wasn't much into that type of movie either.

Dustin was seated on the floor in front of the couch where Steve and Jessica were, so they were able to get an occasional kiss in during the movie. Even if she'd been paying attention she still wouldn't have known what was going on in the movie, so she didn't pay attention to it.

Dustin stayed up long enough to watch half of Jaws and then he couldn't keep his eyes open.

"You can watch the rest tomorrow," Jessica said. "After school."

"Mm . . ." Then Dustin carried himself to bed.

Their mom had been messing around with something in the kitchen, claiming she hadn't wanted to interfere with their movie time, but now that Dustin was going to bed she decided she could go upstairs as well.

On the way she said, "You guys know the rules. If you end up in the room, keep the door open."

"Mom?" Jessica wasn't sure what her mom had just given her permission to do.

"Keep the door open," her mom repeated before going the rest of the way up the stairs.

Jessica waited until her mom was out of sight before looking up at Steve.

"Is this a test? Like, if you go up with me later, are you going to pass or fail?"

"I don't know. Your mom just said to keep the door open like she's always said when I've been in your room."

"True." She shrugged. "Let's finish the movie and figure it out later."

She snuggled against him, head tucked under the arm that was around her, and watched through the end of the movie where the shark exploded. By then it was almost midnight and Jessica decided it was time for her to go to bed. She had to get up at six for school, and she had to work the next day too.

"Okay, Christine is gonna have to wait," she said. "I'm done."

She stood up, looked towards the stairs and then back at Steve.

"Um . . . did you actually want to sleep on the couch?"

"Absolutely not."

She grinned and held out her hand. "Well, come on then."

Steve had been in Jessica's room before and was used to the cool blue walls and the white lace curtains. He'd never spent the night in her bed, but he knew her favorite bedspread was plain white silk and that was what was covering the bed then.

Jessica had changed into a shirt-and-shorts pajama set and had already climbed into bed. Steve was debating whether or not it was okay to take his shirt off. It wasn't like he'd snuck into her room. No, her mom had given him permission to be there, and he didn't want to abuse that privilege.

"Steve . . . I've seen you without your shirt before. Just . . . take it off."

So he did, along with his jeans, and it was fine. He got on the bed, too, under the covers with her. She'd been right. She'd seen him in just shorts before when he was playing basketball. This wasn't really any different . . . until she curled up against him and he felt her bare legs against his and her hand on his bare chest.

It was definitely different. But not bad. Not bad at all.

"Is it okay if we keep the light on?"

"Sure." He remembered what she'd said earlier about the light helping her when she woke up from a nightmare.

She pecked him on the spot where his jawline started and then closed her eyes to try to sleep. Steve was just glad she didn't feel awkward about him being there in bed with her. As with most other things, he was making a much bigger deal out of this than she was.

Steve learned that night that it was much easier to sleep with the light on because he didn't have to keep watching the shadows around the room to make sure it wasn't something that shouldn't be there.

He also learned that Jessica had no problem going to sleep, but she had a nightmare about two hours in. She didn't wake up screaming or crying or trembling, for which Steve was grateful, but she did jerk awake when he was just getting good and asleep himself. It caused him to startle.

"What? What?"

"Just a dream," she said, breath coming in gasps but nowhere near as bad as earlier that day.

During her sleep, she had moved away from him, but now she leaned against him again, resting her head on his shoulder. She put her hand on his chest over the spot where his heart was beating, and Steve didn't know if she knew it, but she matched her breathing to his.

It helped her calm down quickly and to go back to sleep easily.

In the end, Steve fell into a deep sleep a little after two and woke up at six when the alarm went off.

Steve got ready while Jessica took her morning shower, and Dustin came in the room without knocking. The door hadn't been closed, so that was okay.

"What's up, kid?" he asked when Dustin sat on the bed. He was still in his pajamas and his head was ducked so as not to look at Steve until Steve spoke.

"Did you know people are calling Jessica names at school?"

"What? I knew they were talking, but –" he broke off. "Did she say –"

"Yesterday, at the video store, we talked a little." Dustin looked at him earnestly then. "She acts like it doesn't bother her, but it does."

Jessica hadn't said anything to him about anyone saying anything – except for Tommy and Carol and some of the jock guys Steve still had to hang around at practice.

"I'll keep a look out," he said. "But I might need your help because she hasn't said a word to me about it."

Dustin gave a grin, front teeth missing, and hopped up off the bed.

"Cool. Now let's get out of here before she gets out of the shower. No sneakin' peeks of my sister!"

And he was gone. Steve was tempted to chase after him for that comment, but he followed slowly out of the room and down the stairs. The little dude was right. He didn't need to be there when Jessica got out of the shower.

School was uneventful in the way that school usually was, and then Jessica had two hours before she had to go to work, during which she went to visit Will. Joyce was at work and Jonathan was leaving when she got there.

Will looked a lot better that day. His color was back, and he smiled easier. He hadn't been let back in school – somehow Joyce had made a deal with the school, so as long as he kept his grades up he could stay out as long as he needed. Jessica was sure there was more to it than that, but that was all she knew about it.

She had a reason for being there and couldn't stay long, so she got to it.

"How're you doing?" she asked. "After yesterday."

He shrugged as they settled on the couch. The house was in a lot better condition than it had been in November. No Christmas lights strung around, no letters on the wall, which had been painted over, and the house was more or less clean.

"Just thought you might wanna talk or something. Not everyone knows this, but I was over there too. Nothing like you were. I mean, it was only a few minutes, but it was still scary, and I . . . had a panic attack or something yesterday about it."

"Panic attack?"

"Yeah. I felt like I couldn't breathe, and my chest was tight and I felt like I was back there. I, um, thought maybe you had felt something like that too, because . . . maybe that PTSD stuff is true. I didn't want you to feel alone if you were experiencing any of that."

"I . . . sometimes. I don't – I don't have a panic attack, but I do feel like – like I'm back there. I see it. The darkness and that stuff that I wasn't supposed to breathe in."

Will's brown eyes were wide and now misted over.

"I do feel like my chest gets tight, but my whole body does. I just – I just freeze."

"Does your mom know? Or Jonathan?"

"Now, because of yesterday."

"Good. They need to know or they can't help. Okay? We all want to help, and we all need help sometimes. It doesn't make you less of a person."

She tapped him on the arm lightly.

"Think about it. You survived over there for a week. I know I wouldn't have been able to do that. So, you're pretty amazing."

He managed a watery smile and leaned against her when she hugged him.

"You can call if you need to talk. You had it way worse that I did, and sometimes I feel like I've barely got it together – but that's okay. I don't think there's a real time frame for healing."

She held onto him for about another minute before letting go.

"Okay, so I've gotta go to work now, but remember what I said. It's okay to need help."

That night at work Jessica worked the ticket booth. Tommy and Carol came through and didn't give her any problems until her shift was over. They obviously had not left once their movie was over because they were seated on the hood of her car when she reached it.

"Come on, guys. Get off my car."

"Or what?" Tommy asked, not moving from his spot.

"Or I'll call Hopper and have him charge you with harassment, now get off my car."

Really, she just wanted to go home. Was that too much to ask? She didn't think it was.

"Did she just threaten us?" Tommy asked, looking at Carol, amusement all over his face.

"I think she did."

Now he did get off the car, only to crowd against Jessica.

"I'd be careful what I say if I were you. Not all of us bend to your will like Steve."

He was so close to her she could smell alcohol on his breath. He must have snuck some in to the theater or had started drinking once he got out.

She tried to just go around him and that's when he grabbed her shoulders – not hard, but enough to keep her from moving forward.

She wasn't a fighter, not really, but she had enough survival instincts to react immediately and shove him hard enough to put a few feet between them. Tommy's eyes widened and his lips formed a grin. He hadn't expected her to push him but it seemed to amuse him that she had.

"Don't ever grab me again."

It was then that Jonathan came out of the theater. He wasn't off yet, so he must have seen what was going on and was checking on her.

"Everything okay?" he asked, looking at her. "Should I call Hop?"

"I don't know." Jessica eyes Tommy and Carol. "What d'you think? You really want to do this? You grabbed me, so I could probably get an assault charge if I wanted. Maybe threatening bodily harm . . ."

"Tommy, let's just go," Carol said and grabbed his arm. "I don't think she's kidding."

"Really not," Jessica agreed.

And so they left. Jessica's shoulders slumped as the tension she hadn't even been aware of left her body. She felt shaky and a little short of breath. She was sure the water-works were on the way.



"You're okay. They're just jerks. But you should still tell Harrington what's going on."

"There's nothing he can do. I don't want him getting in trouble just because they're talking crap about me."

"I don't know if you noticed, but Tommy wasn't just talking tonight. He could have hurt you if he wanted to."

That much was true. Tommy had gotten physical with her when he'd reacted to her threat. She hadn't expected that at all.

"Thanks for coming when you did. And you're right. If it happens again, I'll tell Steve. Hopper, too, probably. I can handle the talking because they'll find something else to talk about eventually, but . . ."

Jonathan gave her a small smile and then opened the car door for her. She pulled the keys out of the pocket of her pants and started the car.

"Be safe.," he said and stepped back so she could pull out of her space.

She watched him through her rearview mirror as he made it safely back into the theater.

The next morning couldn't come fast enough for Jessica, if only because she got to see Steve in the school parking lot before classes started. When she spotted him, she basically flung herself into his arms and let herself rest there.

"I missed you," she said. "I know I just saw you yesterday, but –"

"I missed you too," he admitted.

"Good. I don't feel so needy now." She leaned away just a little so she could see his face. "You wanna do something tonight? Like take a ride and stop at a restaurant outside of town? Doesn't matter where, just not in Hawkins."

"Uh, sure. Did something happen?"

"Something always happens. Tommy and Carol were waiting for me outside the theater last night when I got off of work. I just wanna do something where I know we won't run into them."

"Okay. I can meet you at your house around . . . six?"


She kissed him then and she immediately felt his lips turn up into a smile – she loved that part. She brought her hands up and locked her fingers together at the back of his neck as he placed his hands at her waist, underneath her leather jacket but on top of her shirt.

She pulled away briefly, but he followed her with his lips, so she allowed the kiss to continue for a few more seconds.

Then, "Steve, as much as I'd like to continue, we've got to get to class. And it's the middle of January. It's cold out here."

He squeezed her sides playfully. "I thought I was warming you up."

"Maybe. But we still have to get to class."

Steve and Jessica met in the cafeteria for lunch, where they were served something that was supposed to be a form of meat, mushy peas, and mashed potatoes. Jessica turned her nose up at it, but she ate some of it anyway.

They had gym after lunch. Tommy was near the entrance of the boys' locker room when they went by it. Steve would double back after dropping Jessica off at the door to the girls' locker room.

As they passed by, though, Tommy couldn't resist and just had to say something.

"Hey, Harrington, I wouldn't get too close if I were you. She's so frigid, she might call the cops if you touch her."

"Do what?"

Steve had stopped in his tracks and turned to face Tommy. Tommy didn't have gym that period, so he must have just been waiting for them to pass by.

"Yeah, she totally freaked out last night and threatened to call the cops because I was sitting on her car."

"You wouldn't move," Jessica said.

Steve didn't know what to think about that. He wasn't there at work with her, and he already knew she wouldn't allow him to drop her off and pick her up. She was too independent for that, and stubborn.

"We were just sitting there, and you threatened us."

"Yeah, let's not forget about the part where you grabbed me, you douchebag!"

They were drawing a crowd of onlookers, which Steve knew Jessica would not like, but they were in the middle of the hallway, so he couldn't help that.

"Dude, you put your hands on her?" To Jess, Steve asked, "Why am I just hearing about this now?"

"Well, it happened last night, so . . . and I already took care of it. I told him I wouldn't hesitate to call Hopper, and –"

"Press charges for assault," Tommy interrupted and stepped forward, towards Jessica, but Steve stepped half in front of her.

"I'm not hurt this time, Tommy. Don't touch her again, or we're gonna have a problem."

Steve was not a great fighter by any means, but he could be ferocious when he was protecting someone he cared about.

"Steve . . ." He looked at Jessica when she touched his arm. "It's not worth it. Just . . . let's go."

When Steve was absolutely sure Tommy wasn't going to throw a punch, Steve backed away.

"Running away again, Harrington? That's all you do, give up and run away."

"Shut up, Tommy," Jessica snapped. "You're just pissed because he's not hanging out with you anymore."

"And whose fault is that?"

"You know whose fault it is," Steve said. "And it's not hers!"

By that time, Coach Williams had come out of the gym because most of his students, who should have already been dressed for class and out of the locker rooms and in the gym were still out in the hall watching the drama unfold.

"A'right, break it up! All of you head to class before I write everyone up and have you running laps in detention."

Nobody wanted that, so the hallway began to clear pretty quickly. Tommy still got out one last threat, though, which was, "One day, Henderson, I'll show you the meaning of assault," and that was it. Steve had had enough. This wasn't Tommy and Jessica going at each other with words. This was Tommy threatening to hurt Jessica, and Steve couldn't allow that.

So he threw the first punch, which Tommy hadn't been expecting, obviously, because he hadn't done anything to block it and he hit Tommy right on the cheek.

"Steve!" Jessica's voice made it through the chaos, but he was too focused on Tommy, who had gotten his bearings already and was rushing forward to tackle him.

Steve was faster, though, and was able to use Tommy's momentum against him to push him to the ground. That was as far as the fight got because Coach Williams grabbed Steve and got between him and the fallen Tommy.

"Cool it, Harrington, or you'll be benched for the rest of the season."

"But, Coach –"

"You were provoked. I know, I saw. Cool it, anyway." Then to Tommy, "Get up. And you are benched for the rest of the season."

Tommy stood up, and Steve noticed with a small amount of satisfaction that Tommy's cheek was already beginning to bruise.

"Everyone else get to class," Williams said. "If you're supposed to be in gym this period, I want you dressed down and waiting when I get back from taking this guy to the office. And Harrington, go get some ice for that hand."

Coach Williams led Tommy away while Jessica walked with Steve to the nurse's office.

Throughout the rest of the day Jessica thought a lot about what had happened, about the fight and about what Tommy had said. Not about the assault part, even though that was scary enough. What she thought about were the words about her being frigid and about her being the reason Steve would give in or run away. What had he meant when he'd called her frigid? She was the right amount of warm and affectionate with Steve. Maybe not with anyone else, but they weren't her boyfriend, so she didn't have to be. And she wasn't making Steve act in a way he didn't want to act, right? Steve himself had once asked her if he should do something just because she'd asked him to, but that was when he'd been ragging on Jonathan and she hadn't liked it at all, so she'd told him to stop. She hadn't been wrong doing that.

They would have to talk about it after school. She wanted all this off her chest before their date that night, or she wouldn't be able to enjoy it.

Okay, so here's where I have my issue! How far would Tommy take his harassment of Jessica? Tommy to me didn't seem like he'd actually hurt a girl, but he wouldn't be above scaring her a little. That's just my opinion. We already know he's not above vandalism and tarnishing someone's name - neither was Steve really until Nancy. I have a few ideas in my head, but your opinion would be welcome as well.

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