The Golden Girl @creativewoman88
Chapter 22

Okay, so this is probably going to be the last update for a little while. I definitely will not be able to update as quickly as I have been. I've had the summer off because I work at a school, but it's starting back up again tomorrow. I'm a sub, not an ACTUAL teacher, so I don't work everyday, but I do work frequently, so just keep that in mind.

Chapter Twenty-Two

The next day started out normally for Steve. It wasn't any big deal that he'd spent the night with Jessica even though it had been a school night. She'd pretty much gone straight to bed as soon as they'd gotten home from the hospital and hadn't moved from her spot since. She'd been awake when the alarm went off for Steve to get up so he could go to school. He'd rather have stayed with her since she wasn't feeling great, but he knew her mom would be there to take care of her. Jessica wouldn't have to move from the bed aside from getting up to use the bathroom if she didn't want to.

She asked him if he would get her assignments for her and bring them to her after school, which he had no problem doing, and after he was done getting ready, he kissed her quickly on the cheek. He'd wanted to kiss her on the lips, but Nancy had said to be careful, so that's what he was being. Jessica hadn't shown an aversion to being touched the day before, but Steve didn't know when or if she would ever remember what Jason had been trying to do, and he didn't want to make her uncomfortable at all.

"Take it easy today. And try to eat something."

Jessica hadn't skipped a meal in a long time – probably since November when everything was happening with Will and all that other weird stuff – but he knew if she started stressing about what had happened the day before, her stomach would make her not want food.

"Mm. I'll try soup or something."

It wasn't until he got to school that he knew he was not going to have a good day. Rumors had already started spreading about what had happened at the bowling alley and, rumors being rumors, almost none of it was true. Pretty much the only things anyone got right was that Jason and Jessica had been alone in the hallway of the bowling alley at some point and that Jonathan had interrupted what had been going on.

They story ended up being that they'd gone off together, not that Jason had followed her. There was talk of kissing and touching and the only reason Jason and Jessica had stopped was because Jonathan had found them.

He was suddenly glad that Jessica wouldn't be coming back to school for the rest of the week. She didn't need to hear all the lies. The whole thing was ridiculous; Jessica had never once gone off with a guy before; the people who knew her wouldn't believe she'd just randomly picked one up at a bowling alley and decided to hook up with him. Even if she hadn't been dating Steve, she wouldn't have done that.

He got through his first four classes by ignoring the stares and the whispers. He tried paying more attention to the teachers than he normally did, mostly because he knew he had to take the assignments to Jessica after school. History, science, and English would be a breeze because most of that dealt with reading and answering questions. Math ended up being a review day; they were having a test that Friday.

During lunch Steve sat with Nancy and Jonathan. They asked how Jessica was but had seemed to decide to ignore what everyone else was saying, which suited Steve just fine.

Some of the members from the basketball team came over and sat down with them. He just knew they were going to say something. It had him on edge.

Luckily, Chris seemed to be leading that particular group because the first thing said was, "What happened yesterday? Jessica wouldn't . . . do what everyone is saying she did."

Steve let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "Jason put something in her drink. He got her alone."

"She's not in school today."

"It made her sick. She'll be back next week."

"How come Jason is still here?"

"There's no proof that he did it, and Chief Hopper can't do anything about it because it didn't happen in Hawkins."

"That sucks."

"Yeah. I mean, the chief's gonna keep an eye on him and hit him with whatever he can get away with, but –"

"But it's not the same," Chris finished. "Yeah. Anyway, we just wanted you to know that we know she wouldn't do that, even if she wasn't with you."

Steve gave him a tight smile. "Thanks. She'd appreciate that. She'll probably need to know that when she comes back to school."

It wasn't until after gym that Steve lost all control. Of course it was Tommy who started everything. He'd been leaving both Steve and Jessica alone lately, but with all the rumors going around Steve should've known he was going to say something.

Gym itself was fine. They had run a few laps around the track and then had had the rest of the period to do what they wanted as long as they were being physically active. Once they hit the locker rooms, however, Tommy switched to full on jerk mode.

He tapped Steve of the shoulder as he passed by.

"Where's your girlfriend today? You two are usually attached at the hip."

"You know where she is, Tommy. She's at home sick."

"Hm. You know, I saw her go off with Donovan yesterday. Looks like she had fun without you."

"It's funny, no one's mentioning that someone slipped something in her drink and that he followed her."

"Donovan slipped her something?" Tommy shrugged. "Guess he knew he couldn't get it any other –"

Steve couldn't help it. He shoved Tommy against the nearest locker and held him there.

"When are you gonna learn to shut your mouth?"

Steve was tempted to just change and leave without showering. He could skip his last two periods, and he would have if he hadn't had to get Jessica's assignments for her. Tommy was a jerk; Steve couldn't even remember why he'd ever considered him a friend.

Tommy shoved him back, suddenly, and the back of Steve's calves hit the wooden bench in between the rows of lockers. If the bench had been any higher, he probably would've lost his footing.

"It's too bad Byers broke it up. Maybe Donovan could've helped loosen her up a little. She's wound so tight, you know. Are you not doing it for her, Stevie?"

That was it. Steve threw the first punch. He didn't care if he got in trouble. Tommy couldn't just say those things and get away with it, not when Jason Donovan was already going to get away with what he'd done.

Steve ended up with bruised knuckles and a busted lip, but Tommy ended up with a scrape along the side of his face. Somehow Steve had gotten him good enough for his cheek to hit the metal of the locker, and he'd walked away worse than Steve had. The coach had heard the commotion – or maybe someone had gone to get him – and had broken up their fight. It might have been worse if they hadn't been interrupted.

They were both sent to the nurse and then to the office, Steve with ice for his hand, and Tommy with a strip of white gauze taped to his face. The principal had decided that they all needed to talk about what had happened. Steve and Tommy started talking at the same time and continued until the principal shouted overtop of them.

Steve told his side of the story first and then Tommy told an edited version of his own: he was just messing around; he didn't think Steve would have such a fit over it.

"This is not the first fight you two have had on school grounds. We do not condone violence, Mr. Harrington. That being said, Mr. Hall, the things you said are absolutely repulsive. What happened to Miss Henderson should never be allowed to happen to anyone, and you tried to pass it off as a joke."

Considering no one had been seriously injured – not even Tommy with the scrape along his face – neither boy was suspended, but they were given a week's worth of detention. Steve would have to fix that with his baseball coach, so that he wouldn't be penalized for it, but he was completely fine with his punishment. It would start the following Monday for them both.

They were free to go back to class, with the knowledge that if they got in trouble again there would be much steeper consequences.

Jessica was bored stiff by the time Steve got to her house that day. She'd gone back to sleep for a couple of hours after he'd gone to school that morning, but after that she'd gone downstairs, planted herself on the couch, and had been watching TV since then.

She had not eaten, not like she'd told Steve she would, but it wasn't because she hadn't wanted to. She'd tried some soup, but it hadn't hit her stomach well, and she hadn't been able to take in more than a few spoonfuls. She'd been able to keep water down, though, so her mom made sure she kept a glass beside her at all times. Her mom stayed with her while she was downstairs and watched whatever Jessica wanted to watch.

Hopper had come by to drop her car off and had even come in to see her for a minute or two, but he hadn't been able to stay long.

Steve got home way earlier than she thought he would be – around three, instead of five – and hoped he hadn't skipped baseball practice just to come back to her. When he walked in the door and she saw that his bottom lip was hurt baseball practice flew out of her mind.

"Steve? What happened to you?" Jessica's mother had beaten her to the punch there.

"Uh, just a small disagreement. Boys being boys, Ms. H. It's been sorted out."

Jessica watched her mom stand up and beckon Steve over. He was almost a head foot taller than her mom – much like he was to Jessica herself – but it didn't stop her mom from reaching up and moving his head so she could get a better look at his wound.

"Well, it doesn't look like it's going to swell."

"Honestly, it's fine. I'm fine. It doesn't even really hurt."

Steve, who'd had his backpack strapped over his right shoulder and his jacket draped over his forearm, let his backpack fall down over his jacket and then put both at the end of the couch near Jessica's feet. The knuckles of his right hand were red and purple.

"Your hand doesn't look fine," Jessica said, which just caused her mom to look at that too.

"Did you put ice on it, at least?"

"Yes. Like I said, I'm fine."

"Okay. I'm going to just assume you had a good reason for getting into this fight. I don't want you to start solving things with throwing punches."

"No, Ma'am. I mean, yes Ma'am, there was a good reason, and no that's not how I like to solve things."

"Good." Jessica's mom smiled. "I'm glad you're back. Jessica has been going crazy not being able to do anything but lie around."

Jessica rolled her eyes but gave Steve a shrug when he looked her way. Her mom wasn't that far off. She moved her feet, pulling them in closer, when Steve made to sit beside her, and then tucked her toes under his leg once he got settled.

Her mom went in the kitchen, probably to make a sandwich or something because she normally did that when Steve came over after school, and they were left alone.

"So . . . what happened?"



That was pretty much all he needed to say. Tommy hadn't bothered her in a couple months, but now . . . now he had ammunition to throw their way, so of course he was going to. She was glad she hadn't been there to witness it.

"How bad is it? What are people saying?"

"Jess . . ."

"I need to know before I go back, Steve."

"Well, then, I'll tell you over the weekend, okay? Just don't worry about it right now. Just know that Tommy said something that I couldn't let him get away with, so I didn't."

It must have been bad-bad. The last time Steve had thrown a punch Tommy's way was when he'd basically threatened her with bodily harm.

Jessica sat up, situating herself so she could lean her head against his shoulder, and then grabbed his injured hand. She very gently kissed his bruised knuckles before placing their joined hands on her lap.

"Was he just being a jerk-face?"

He scoffed. "A big jerk-face. More than usual."


Her mom came back out then. She was carrying two sandwiches on one plate. She placed them on the coffee table and turned to Steve.

"She hasn't really eaten anything."


"Well, you haven't." Then to Steve, "What would you like to drink?"

"Uh, Coke?"

Once her mom had gone back to the kitchen, Steve looked at Jess and then gestured at the sandwiches. They were turkey and cheese, with what looked like mayo. Perfectly good sandwiches.

"I tried to eat," Jessica said. "My stomach didn't like it."

Steve still convinced her to try a few bites of the sandwich, and that's all she could do. She gave him the rest.

Once Dustin got home, he plopped on the couch beside Steve and Jessica and when he noticed Steve's face, he asked what happened. Steve told him basically the truth. Tommy had said something unforgivable and Steve had had to take care of it.

"Hey, so Nancy told me Mike started a food fight yesterday," Jessica said. "What was that about?"

"I mean, it wasn't a big deal," Dustin said. "And he didn't really start a food fight – or he didn't mean to."

Jessica waited for him to continue.

"He was trying to take his sandwich out of the lunchroom. Food isn't allowed outside the cafeteria, so when he got caught with it, he sort of just threw it back in. It hit somebody and . . . there it went."

Okay, so maybe he hadn't meant to start a food fight, but he had shown a blatant disrespect for rules. If he'd been that way his whole life, Jessica wouldn't have bat an eyelash over it, but it wasn't like Mike to act that way. It wasn't like any of Dustin's friends to act that way.

"Well, just don't let him get you in trouble. Okay?"

"Says you. You were friends with Steve when all he was was trouble."

"Hey!" Steve said. "Rude."

Jessica laughed at Steve's reaction, which was basically just cursory because there had been no real intent to harm in Dustin's words.

"I was, and I never let him get me in trouble. All I'm saying is that I don't want to one day hear about you causing a food fight. Got it?"

"Yes, oh wise sister." Dustin grinned before becoming serious again. "How were you today?"

"Mostly okay. My stomach still doesn't like food, and I'm really tired, but . . . all things considered . . ."

Steve squeezed her hand and she looked up at him. She knew that he was thinking the same thing she was: that even though Jason had done things he never should've been allowed to do . . . he could have done so much worse.

Later that night, in Jessica's room, she and Steve were sitting on the bed with their books open in front of them. They were doing math homework.

"How is it that you missed today and you still know how to do this better than I do?" Steve asked.

Jessica shrugged. "Maybe because you have a genius for a girlfriend."

"Hm. Should I be intimidated? I feel I should be intimidated."

She softly elbowed him in his side. "Steve!"

He gently elbowed her back. "Jess!" he mocked. And then more seriously, he said, "Anyway, we can't both be stupid, so . . . it balances out, you being a genius."

Jessica knew he probably meant it as a joke, but . . . he hadn't sounded like he was joking when he'd said it. She knew he had trouble in school, but it wasn't like he didn't try – at least not anymore. He tried very hard.

"Steve. You're not stupid. Just because you don't understand this type of math doesn't mean you're stupid. It just means you don't understand this type of math. And . . . honestly, it's not like we're ever gonna use it anyway."

"Yeah? I suck at English, too, though. And I do need that."

"You do okay. You have trouble with the writing part, and you hate reading. That doesn't make you stupid either. And . . . you're good at the classes you care about, that you actually like."

"So none of the important classes then?"

"You've been doing better since you've been doing your homework with me," she said, and she wasn't lying.

She didn't know where all this was coming from, but she wasn't going to have him thinking he was stupid. She moved a little closer to him and lifted her chin up a bit like she always did when she wanted a kiss. She noticed as a gentle grin overtook his mouth and he leaned forward to meet her.

It was just a brush of skin against skin at first, until he pressed against her more firmly. She leaned back slowly. When her read touched down on her pillow she brought her hands up to lock around the back of his neck. She played with the hair there and felt him shiver against her

Their lips moved lazily against each other and Steve let out a soft groan when she opened her mouth to him, but he pulled away – just enough to look at her.

"Is this okay?"

"Why wouldn't it be?"

"Jess . . ."

She knew he didn't want to bring up what had happened the day before – especially when they were kissing – but she was also thankful that he would even think about how it might affect her and how she might feel while being kissed.

"I'm okay. I swear I would let you know if I wasn't. Kissing is – kissing is good."

"Hm." He leaned back down then and, before allowing himself to touch her lips again, he said, "Kissing is great."

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