The next morning as Jessica was going out the door to walk to her car, she noticed a white van parked across the street. She'd never noticed it there before and it just looked suspicious.
It made her quicken her pace to her car. It didn't matter, though, because a man was already getting out of the van to make his way to her.
He was dressed as an every day man. If he'd been in a crowd, she never would have noticed him.
"Hey, I just wanna talk to you," he said. "You're playing a dangerous game right now."
So the people from the lab were listening in, as she'd thought.
"I can't control what everybody else does. I haven't said anything to anyone."
Jessica was holding onto the strap of her bookbag so hard her hand was starting to hurt.
"Ms. Wheeler's your friend. Surely, you can find some way to discourage her. Remind her of what there is to lose, should she forget the terms of our agreement."
Jessica thought that the fact that she was the one getting this talk and not Nancy didn't seem fair. Jessica had no problem keeping everything to herself and not bringing anyone else in. She didn't want to endanger someone's life just because she couldn't keep her mouth shut. She just wanted to forget anything had even happened.
"I'll talk to her. Just – leave me alone."
After a few more minutes of threatening behavior, Jessica was able to leave. She was sure it was only because her mother had come to the door to see what the hold up was. She'd lied and said the guy was asking for directions.
Now that she was in her car and on the road, she made the decision that she was going to just have to be late for school because she needed to talk to Hopper right away. It couldn't wait until after school.
She drove just as fast as Billy had been the first night she'd seen his car, but she had a good reason. She parked haphazardly when she got to the station, relieved when she saw Hopper's police truck there.
She got out of her car and ran inside. She barely stopped to ask if she could see Hopper, but Flo seemed to know something was wrong, so she just pointed towards his office.
Hopper was at his desk, a cup of coffee in front of him.
Jessica closed the door before she sat down in one of the chairs on the opposite side of the desk.
"Why aren't you at school? What's wrong?"
"Some lab guy was outside my house this morning. He – I was gonna be a little late anyway, and I needed to talk to you. I was going to wait until after school, but then that happened."
"What did you want to talk about?"
"I called here last night, but you had already gone home."
She began with the phone call and what Nancy had revealed over the phone, about the Holland's planning to sell their house to pay for that Murray guy to investigate Barbara's "disappearance."
"I tried to get her to stop talking, but she wouldn't stop, and now the Holland's and that other guy could be in danger. Nancy's just . . . she's angry and hurting and she going to get all of us in trouble."
"Well, Murray's no longer in town, so you don't have to worry about him."
"Oh . . . okay."
"What exactly did the lab guy say?"
"Basically that I need to keep Nancy from doing what she's doing. I have to remind her what we agreed to. Clearly a threat."
Jessica noticed that her hands were shaking then and she clenched her fists and took a deep breath. Her throat was burning with emotion and she was horrified that she was about to cry in the middle of the police station.
She covered her face with her hands and rubbed up and down a few times before placing them on her lap.
"I didn't know what else to do, so I came here. You asked me to keep an eye on Nancy, so . . ."
"I did, and you did great. What were you planning on doing today?"
"Um . . . school, work right after, and then a party tonight."
"A'right. That's what you need to do then. Go to school, find Harrington and calm down, maybe talk to Nancy. Go to work and then go to that party. Have fun. I'll see if I can talk to Nancy, too, okay?"
Another deep breath and a deep sigh out.
Jessica timed it perfectly so that she would be standing right outside Steve's first period class when the bell rang for him to come out.
He stopped for a few seconds when he saw her before going over to her. She was pale and he wondered if she wasn't feeling well.
"What's up?" he asked. "You're, like, never late."
He had waited in the parking lot until the first bell had rung. He'd been worried because she usually called if she wasn't going to be in school so he would know not to wait for her.
"I had to talk to Hopper. I went to the station before coming here."
What he meant was that he wanted to know what was so bad that she'd skipped first period.
"We need to talk," she said. "But not in the hallway."
She nodded, so he led her to the nearest one. They waited until the halls cleared and then he checked the bathroom before he let her in. He locked the door, so that only a janitor could get in.
"Okay, what's going on?"
Jessica dropped her bag on the floor and pretty much lunged at him, wrapping her arms around him. He caught her easily and embraced her as well.
She was shaking, a whole-body tremble.
"Hey, talk to me."
"Nancy is going to get us all killed. She . . . I don't think she gets that there are people other than herself that could get hurt, if –"
"Wait. What happened?"
He had to be missing something.
When he found out about Nancy's phone call and then the lab guy talking to Jessica that morning and just how scared she'd been he had to force anger down. He'd known having anything to do with the lab – even just researching it – had been a bad idea.
"So, what're you gonna do?"
"Tell Nancy I'm out. I'm not helping anymore. I mean, I know she just needs to feel like someone is on her side, but it can't be me anymore."
Steve knew that would be hard for her to do. Jessica was always willing to help people – even ones she didn't know very well – and she felt guilty when she couldn't.
"It's for the best. I mean, you're looking out for everyone else. The lab guys could come after our families and they don't even have anything to do with it."
"I know. That's what scares me."
"Hopper knows, though? He's gonna help?"
"He'll do what he can. He said he'd try to talk to Nancy too."
They stayed in the bathroom for a few more minutes, mostly so Steve could help Jessica calm down. He didn't want to let her go when she was still shaking.
After he was sure she was okay he walked her to class. She was about twenty minutes late to second period, but she didn't want to miss any more than she already had.
It wasn't until after school that Jessica was able to talk to Nancy alone. She'd only seen her during lunch, but they couldn't talk openly there, so Jessica had just told Nancy to meet her at her locker so they could go talk in her car.
Once there, Jessica wasted no time telling her that she couldn't help Nancy anymore. It was getting way too dangerous and it just wasn't worth it anymore.
"Why is this so important to you anyway?"
"Because it's like everyone forgot. It's like nobody cares except her parents, and now they're selling their house."
Jessica felt bad for Barbara's parents. They really were in a tough spot because they had no clue what had happened, but Nancy did know and she needed to stop pushing.
"They're going to spend the rest of their lives looking for her. It's destroying them."
"Nancy, Barbara was their daughter – is their daughter. She always will be. Her being . . . dead doesn't change that. But you have family too. If you keep pushing, something could happen to them."
Jessica probably should've led with the fact that some lab guy had basically threatened everyone that morning, but she hadn't, so now she explained that part of her day and ended with, "So you see why we can't do anything."
"We could tell them the truth."
"Wh – have you not listened to a single word I said?"
"Well, we don't have to tell them everything, just . . ."
"Just what? How could you even begin to explain how you know what you know? Hm? Lab experiments, monsters from another dimension? How could you tell them that without having to explain everything?"
"I don't know. I –"
"Nancy, you have a brother, a kid sister, and parents. I don't understand why you're willing to pursue this when it could put all of them in danger. I'm not willing to risk it, which is why I can't help you anymore."
She could tell that Nancy was upset, but she wasn't willing to give in on this one.
"I have to go to work, so . . ."
Jessica had her work clothes with her because she was going straight in that day. She'd asked to come in two hours early so she could get off two hours early.
She would change into her clothes at work and then once she got off, she would have just enough time to go home, shower, and change into her costume for Steve to pick her up from her house.
"I thought you would understand."
"I do understand, Nancy, but Barb is dead. We are not. I'd very much like to stay not dead . . . or in jail . . . or whatever else they could do."
Nancy looked away from her then, and it wasn't long before she let out a huff and got out of the car.
Work was slow that day. Jessica had known it would be since it was Halloween. The theater wasn't even playing a horror movie. The were showing the new Terminator movie.
Because she hadn't had time to go home, Jessica had called home so she could talk to Dustin about what had happened that morning and that he needed to be careful while he went trick-or-treating that night. At least he would be with his friends, he wouldn't be alone.
"I'm not so worried about the lab guys," Dustin said. "I'm worried about maniacs driving Camaros."
"Yeah. Whoever was driving almost ran us all over. If we hadn't moved, we would've been hit."
Billy Hargrove really needed to learn how to drive. Him almost hitting her was one thing. Him almost hitting a group of kids was another.
"Okay, well, just be careful. I won't get to see you until later tonight, probably. Stay away from blue Camaros."
The rest of her shift was easy. She spent most of it cleaning all the concession machines. When seven o'clock rolled around, she hurried to clock out so she could get home to get ready.
Steve was going to flip when he saw her. She had never specified which Sandy she was going as. She'd contemplated going as the sweet, virginal one, but she knew she'd get more of a reaction from Steve if she went as the version from the end of the movie.
It had been so hard finding all the pieces she'd needed for the costume, especially the shoes. She hadn't been able to find open-to shoes because it was too late in the autumn season for there to be any, but she had found a pair of comfortable red high heels.
The shirt had been the easiest thing to find. There were a lot of Tina Turner fans and her famous black shirt was pretty much the same as Sandy's had been.
The pants had been hard to find and Jessica wasn't exactly comfortable in them. They were so tight, way tighter than she was used to.
When she got home, she made sure her mom knew not to let Steve upstairs while she was getting ready and to keep him in the living room. She really just wanted to surprise him.
She showered quickly and then did the best she could with her hair. She had not bought a blond wig and there wasn't much she could do with her messy curls, but she did try to tame them a bit.
Jessica peeked out her bedroom door, just to see if she could hear any talking coming from downstairs. She did hear her mother's voice, so she took a deep breath and began walking down the hallway towards the stairs.
She heard Steve's voice and knew her mom had kept him in the living room as she had asked for her mom to do.
She made her way quietly down the stairs and was glad that she was able to see Steve before he saw her. It had worked out perfectly because he had on his letterman's jacket, a black shirt, and tight black jeans with fancy black shoes. He'd fixed his hair the best he could and it matched Danny's pretty well.
She cleared her throat and Steve's attention fell on her. The shocked, wide-eyed expression he gave her made her blush and look away for a second.
She couldn't help it. She had to use the movie response.
"Tell me about it, stud."
The only thing missing was the cigarette – like she'd smoke just for a costume. Not to mention, her mother wouldn't like it at all.
She made her way to Steve as confidently as she could in her heels and her red lipstick and dark eye shadow. She wasn't used to being so made up.
Her mom was waiting there in the living room as well, a camera in her hand. When Jessica reached Steve, he hugged her to him and she hid her face against his chest.
"Mom! No pictures."
"Come on. I got some of Dusty. And you guys, this is your first time dressing up together. You have to have pictures."
"Yeah, we have to have picture," Steve agreed. "Don't hide. You look great."
"Fine . . ."
She grabbed his hand and then straightened herself up so her mom could get the pictures she wanted. It took a few minutes for her mom to get done, and by that time Jessica was feeling more comfortable in her costume so she didn't mind the pictures being taken anymore.
Once outside, Steve led her to his car and backed her up against it.
He had not expected her outfit. He wasn't complaining, though, because she did look great.
It didn't take long her his lips to find her neck and for him to start peppering the skin there with kisses. It really helped that she had decided not to wear a jacket despite the fact that the night air was chilly.
He let his hands wander over her sides before reaching around to cup her butt and squeeze. The noise Jessica made then caused him to laugh. It had been something between and gasp and a giggle.
"I'm sorry. I had to."
He let her go but didn't move away from her.
"You're really enjoying the outfit," she teased.
"I really am."
He opened the car door for her and waited for her to get in before shutting it. He hoped everything went well that night. They hadn't been to an actual party since the last one at Tina's – neither of their birthday's counted.
Jessica hadn't acted like she hadn't wanted to go, so that meant she was at least a little excited about going.
It didn't take long to get to Tina's house and the party was already in full swing. There were people standing out front and there was a commotion coming from around back too, so there had to be people back there as well.
Steve and Jessica headed inside and found the place packed. Loud rock music filled the house – it was loud enough for the people outside to hear it too.
There was counting coming from the backyard. Steve knew what that meant. They were already doing the keg stand.
"Man, they started early," he said.
"Yeah. Did you wanna . . . ?"
Steve hadn't really drunk to get a buzz in a long time. He'd had a beer here and there to take the edge off, but nothing more.
"Nah. I've gotta drive you back home, remember?"
They made their way to the punch bowl and found Nancy standing there asking what was in it. The only answer she got was 'pure fuel,' whatever that meant.
Nancy got a cup and dipped it into the bowl before gulping it all down in one go. When she was done, she noticed Steve and Jessica. She looked surprised at Jessica's outfit. Jessica was probably going to get a lot of that.
"I didn't know if you were still coming," Jessica said.
"Why wouldn't I? You're the one who said we needed to act like we're still alive."
"That's not what I said."
Jessica fixed herself a cup of punch and took a sip. She scrunched her nose up at the taste, but took another drink anyway.
Nancy walked away and quickly got lost in the crowd. Jessica just shook her head and finished her drink before tossing her cup in the trash.
"Yeah. I knew she was mad at me."
"Well, she shouldn't be. You're doing the right thing. The smart thing."
Steve put an arm around her and she leaned into him. She didn't hesitate when he led her to a group of people who were dancing to an old Aerosmith song.
About an hour later, after Jessica had had another drink and was loose enough to not care that people were looking at her outfit – looking at her – with admiration, she heard people chanting someone's name.
That someone just happened to be Billy Hargrove. He had on an open black leather jacket, blue jeans, and boots. No shirt. Jessica was pretty sure he was going as the Terminator.
He was surrounded by other boys – Tommy was one of them. He was dressed as one of the evil ninja guys from The Karate Kid.
Tommy began leading Billy over to where Steve and Jessica were. Apparently, Tommy had to tell Steve that Hawkins had found a new Keg King.
Billy did stare Steve down for a few seconds, but then he switched his gaze to Jessica and gave her a once over. His eyes gleamed brightly when he realized who she was. She didn't blame him for not noticing right away. She didn't usually dress that way or use make up – or at least not as much as she was wearing that night.
"Almost didn't recognize you, princess." He leaned in, his voice almost a purr. "You left me hangin' this morning. Didn't take you for the skipping type."
Jessica felt Steve tense beside her. Billy was blatantly flirting with her in front of Steve. Maybe he didn't know they were together. He hadn't been in Hawkins for long.
Luckily, she didn't respond much to Billy's comment. Besides, Billy reeked of alcohol.
"You, uh, have beer all over you. Maybe talk to me when you're sober." She grabbed Steve's hand to let him know they could go somewhere else. "Hope you're not driving home. You might run over some kids."
"What was that about?" Steve asked as they walked away from the Camaro-driving lunatic.
"All of it."
"He's in my English class. He's a junior, but he's really good at English. I don't even know if he knows my real name. He's never used it. Just calls me princess or sweetheart."
"You realize he's flirting with you?"
"Well, yes." She stopped in the middle of the crowd and began swaying to the music. She grabbed onto Steve, locking her fingers around the back of his neck. "But you realize I wasn't flirting back."
"I noticed that."
"Good." She pulled him closer so she could kiss him. "I love you."
"I love you, too."
It wasn't long after that that they spotted Jonathan walking into the party looking very out of place. Jessica was surprised to see him, to be honest. She hadn't expected to see him there at all.
"Hey, you," she said when she reached him.
Even Jonathan seemed surprised by her costume. Only when he saw Steve's costume did he seem to figure out who she was supposed to be.
A commotion came from near the kitchen then and they all looked over and saw Nancy getting another cup of punch. She'd already had so much, and she was a sloppy drunk.
"How long has she been like that?" Jonathan asked.
"She'd already started when we got here," Jessica said. "She's mad because I stopped helping her. It just wasn't worth the risk anymore."
Jessica realized then that Jonathan had no clue what had happened that morning so she quickly filled him in about everything. The lab guy, the very obvious threat he'd made, and then Nancy not taking it well when she'd said she was done helping.
Nancy was literally stumbling drunk now. Jessica couldn't believe it. Nancy didn't act that way. She was going to regret it in the morning.
"Think we can get her to chill a bit?" Jessica asked. "I mean, she needs to go home, sleep it off."
"I can take her," Jonathan said. "This is not my scene at all."
They all walked over to Nancy, who was now dancing and drinking at the same time. A few drops of punch had dribbled their way down her chin and were now slowly sliding down her neck.
"Hey, Nance, don't you think you've had enough to drink?"
"Not enough," she said.
"Well . . . you can't even stand up straight, let alone walk straight. Besides, you have school tomorrow. Why don't you let Jonathan take you home?"
"Oh, n – now you wanna – you wanna be helpful, huh?" Nancy shoved Jessica's shoulder hard enough to throw her slightly off balance. "Now you wanna be helpful? Wanna be a good friend? Wanna act like you care?"
"Wh – Nancy –"
"No, screw you! You don't care. You didn't – you didn't lose your best friend."
Nancy's voice was getting progressively louder as she went on, and people were starting to stare.
"What if – what if it had been Steve? Or Dustin? What would you have done?"
Even though Nancy was being extremely rude and hurtful, Jessica knew they had to get her out of there before she said anything else, something more incriminating.
Jessica looked at Steve, who had clenched his jaw and was staring at Nancy as if he didn't know her, and then at Jonathan and gestured for him to try. Nancy wasn't mad at him.
She actually let him begin to lead her out of the crowd and outside the house towards his car. There was obviously no way Nancy could drive home.
Steve and Jessica followed them to the car to make sure Nancy didn't pass out or anything on the way. Nancy tried to start talking again, but Jonathan quickly redirected her and got her in the front seat.
"Trust me, if you still want friends in the morning, you'll just let me take you home."
Once Nancy and Jonathan pulled away, Jessica turned around to head back into the house.
Steve followed her. "We don't have to stay . . ."
She stopped her forward momentum and turned back around. "Are you sure? I mean, we can go back in."
Steve drew her to him and she relaxed against him.
"People are gonna talk, anyway, but we don't have to face it until tomorrow."
She nodded. "Okay. I don't wanna go home yet, though."
Since it was a special occasion, her mom had given her a curfew of midnight instead of ten. They still had about an hour before they had to head home.
Steve led Jessica back into the house so he could grab his jacket. He let her wear it since her shoulders were bare because of her costume.
She wrapped herself in it gratefully and leaned into him so he could walk her to the car.
"Can we just ride around for a while?"
"If you want to."
Once they were both in the car, though, Jessica turned to him with tears in her eyes.
"Am I – am I a bad friend? For not helping her? She was – she was so mad."
"She was drunk. She shouldn't have said those things."
"How could she think that I don't care?"
"I don't know, Jess."
Steve wanted to reassure her, tell her there was no way Nancy had meant anything she'd said, but he knew drunk words were often sober thoughts.
"Just know it's not true. Okay? You care more than anybody else I know."
She sniffled once and then rubbed a hand over her face.
"I changed my mind. I do wanna go home. I wanna go to bed and just lay there with you."
Steve reached over and grabbed her hand.
"We can definitely do that."
Jessica hadn't drink enough to even have anyone realize she may have been a little tipsy earlier in the night.
Her mom was still awake and in the living room when Steve and Jessica got to the house. She took one look at Jessica and knew something was wrong.
When she asked about it all Jessica said was, "I just started feeling bad so we decided to leave."
It looked like her mom wanted to say more, but Jessica interrupted with, "I just wanna go to bed."
Once Jessica was upstairs, she immediately went to the bathroom to clean her face of the make-up. Steve went in with her, mostly because she hadn't let go of his hand, so he'd followed her in.
She took his letterman jacket off and handed it to him. He let it hang from the doorknob and then turned back to her.
She relaxed a little when he began to kiss her bare shoulders going from one side to the other, and she let him continue for a minute or two because it felt nice.
Once she decided she really did want to go to bed, she turned around and kissed him once on the lips before grabbing his hand to lead him out of the bathroom. She noticed that her brother's door was closed, so she assumed he was already asleep.
She hoped his night had been better than hers.
I'm kind of iffy about the Nancy scene. It couldn't be like the one in the show because Steve is not her boyfriend in this, but I did want to have some drama because she still has resentments and things like that built up, so . . .