The next morning Steve and Jessica were able to sleep in until ten, which was good, because they were able to make up for the night before. Their sleep had been uninterrupted and they actually woke up refreshed and ready to face the day . . . until they remembered what had happened the day before and what they had to do that day because of it.
Jessica groaned and turned to get closer to Steve, who was still sleeping if his lack of reaction was anything to go by. He was on his stomach, clutching the pillow beneath his head.
"Steve," she said softly before kissing his shoulder.
All she got was a grunt, which made her shake her head and smile.
"We have to get up. Lots to do today."
"No," he said, a little bit of a whine to his voice.
"I know. I don't want to either, but . . . we have to."
She still wasn't sure what exactly they were going to do, though. This was a lot different than last year. At least they had had an idea of where the demogorgan would attack and they'd even had a plan to draw it to them and then a plan of what to do once it got there. They didn't have any of that this time. Who knew if Dart was even still in Hawkins? Once it had taken off it could've gone anywhere.
Steve turned on his side so he could face her. His eyes were still sleepy and he only seemed half-awake. His lips had a pout to them. It was cute.
"Kisses first," he said. "Okay?"
She grinned as he moved closer, but she sobered quickly when she realized that these kisses might be the only ones she got from Steve today. They really did have a lot to do.
"Okay. Kisses first."
When Steve and Jessica finally made their way downstairs, they found Dustin already at the table, phonebook in front of him, piece of paper there as well. A few addresses had already been jotted down.
"What're you doing?" Steve asked, sliding onto a chair beside him.
"Writing down addresses for local butcher shops. Or well, nearby anyway. There aren't any butcher shops in Hawkins."
"What do you need that for?" Jessica asked, making her way to the refrigerator, where she pulled out a carton of orange juice.
"We need a way to lure Dart in, right?"
"Right . . . if it's still here."
"Yeah. But we can't just buy up all the deli meat. That would look weird."
"Okay . . . but meat from a butcher shop is pretty expensive, Dusty."
"Steve is rich."
"Uh, Steve is not rich," Steve said. "Steve's parents are rich."
"Stop talking about yourself in third person," Dustin said. "But you'll help, though, right?"
"Well, yeah. Of course."
"Great. I still can't get a hold of anybody else. Mike and Nancy aren't home, and nobody's picking up anywhere else."
"Awesome," Jessica said. "Did you try Hopper? I forgot to yesterday."
"He's not at the station, but I left a message with Flo."
"Guess it's just us then. You guys want breakfast?"
"I ate cereal already," Dustin said. "I've been up for a couple hours."
Steve idly wondered if Dustin had been up doing all this because Jessica had done so much the day before already that Dustin felt he needed to do what he could just so she wouldn't have to. Whatever the reason, it was cool of Dustin to have gotten up early to do all this.
"What if we hit up a diner before going to get the meat? We could have a real breakfast . . ." Steve said, tempting Dustin with proper food, which caused him to grin.
Over on the other side of the kitchen, Jessica was smiling as she put the carton of juice back in the fridge.
"I think that's a good idea," Jessica said.
"I was thinking we could lead Dart to the junkyard. Make a trail on the railroad tracks – at least the parts in the woods - all the way there. If he's around, he'll come."
Steve watched as Jessica looked from Dustin to him and gave him a slight shrug. Neither he nor Jessica had a better idea, so he guessed they were following Dustin's plan.
Steve drove them to a diner just outside of town. It wasn't busy as breakfast time was almost over, but they were still able to order what they wanted.
Steve wasn't surprised when Dustin ordered a large order of pancakes, which was not what Steve considered proper food as it was just sugar pretty much, but it was what the kid wanted. He ordered milk to go with it.
Steve and Jessica each ordered the breakfast special, which consisted of bacon, eggs, and fried potatoes. Jessica had milk with her breakfast and Steve had coffee with his.
They kept Dart talk to a minimum since they were in public and didn't want anyone overhearing, not that anyone would really know what they were talking about anyway, but still . . . just to be on the safe side, they didn't talk much about it.
They did, however, talk about getting all the meat they would need and how they were going to go about getting it to where they needed it. Steve noticed how Dustin treated it a lot like he would if he were making a campaign for that weird game he played with the others. Maybe that was the only way the kid knew how to handle it.
Once they were done eating, Steve paid and then they were off to the closest butcher shop, which was almost fifteen minutes away. Dustin had had the presence of mind to call before leaving the house to make sure they would have what they needed, and they did, but they still got weird looks from the butcher and the other customers when they ordered so much at once.
After loading the many packages of meat into the back of Steve's car, they just sat there for a few minutes.
"Are your parents due home today?" Jessica asked.
"We need somewhere we can chop all that meat up."
"Oh. Yeah, my place is okay."
To be honest, Steve didn't even really know where his parents were this time. Once he'd turned eighteen, he was lucky if they even told him when they were leaving, let alone where they were going. Sometimes his mom left a note, sometimes she didn't. He would just wake up and they wouldn't be there. He usually got a call when they reached where they were going and that was it.
"All right, well, we should get going," Jessica said. "This is gonna take a while."
After getting to Steve's place, they immediately got to cutting up the meat into little chunks so they would have enough to leave a semi-decent trail on the tracks leading to the junkyard.
It was gross and they had to make sure not to get blood on the counter in the kitchen.
"I'm never eating meat again," Jessica said, nose scrunched up in disgust.
Dustin didn't seem fazed by it, but she was amused to see that Steve seemed to think it wasn't very pleasant either.
It was almost three when they got done with all the cutting. They ended up with two small buckets of the meat – one for Steve and one for Dustin because Jessica was done touching it. She felt nauseated already.
"Okay, so . . . what else?" she asked.
"We need to take some water with us," Dustin said. "We don't know how long we'll be out there. So some snacks wouldn't be a bad idea either."
"Well . . . it's not like we're making this an all-nighter. We aren't spending the night out there."
She was definitely drawing the line there. But she couldn't deny that taking a container of water was a good idea.
"How are we going to kill this thing?" Steve asked. "We used fire last time, right?"
"Yeah, it doesn't seem to like heat," Jessica agreed. "So, yeah, we need gas to make a fire."
Steve got all the stuff together – water, a few packs of cheese crackers, his bat – and stuffed them into a backpack that he could easily carry, while Dustin tried to get in touch with the others through his headset.
There was no response from anybody, really, and Mike and Nancy still weren't home. Hopper hadn't shown up at the office, and it made Jessica wonder just how bad the fields had to be for him to just not go in to the station at all.
It was on their way to the train tracks that Steve stopped to fill up a container of gas so they could torch Dart if they actually did find him. It was also when they heard from Lucas, who apparently had his walkie-talkie back on.
The only thing Dustin really let Lucas know at first was that Dart had grown again.
"Yeah. He escaped, and I'm pretty sure he's a baby Demogorgan."
"I'll explain later. Just meet me at the old junkyard. We have a plan."
"Me, Jess, and Steve. Bring your binoculars and wrist rocket."
Jessica didn't say it, but she was pretty sure the wrist rocket wasn't going to do a thing against Dart. She was pretty sure the wrist rocket wouldn't do anything against anything bigger than a squirrel.
Dustin continued talking to Lucas for another minute and then Steve was back in the car and Dustin said, "Over and out."
"Who was that?" Steve asked.
"Lucas. He's meeting us at the junkyard."
Jessica still wished they could've gotten in touch with the others, and it really bothered her that nobody was answering at the Byers' house. She hoped it just meant that Joyce was busy taking care of Will and not that something even worse was happening.
Either way, there was nothing she could do about anything other than what she was taking care of at the moment. That would just have to be enough for now.
Steve parked his car as close to the wooded area of tracks as he could and then they were all getting out of the car and getting the stuff out of the trunk. There were the two buckets of meat and yellow rubber gloves because there was no way he was touching the meat without them and neither was Dustin – Jessica refused to touch it at all. He pulled his backpack out too, along with the gallon of gas.
Dustin picked up one of the buckets while Steve looked at Jessica and handed her a crowbar from the trunk.
"I'd rather you not have to use this, but . . . just in case, you know?"
She nodded, taking that and also picking up the gallon of gas. That left the backpack and the other bucket of meat for Steve.
"A'right, let's go. We don't have that much time before it gets dark."
They started off, all three of them walking in a line, Dustin or Steve dropping a piece of meat or two every ten feet or so. He hoped the meat would last until the got to the junkyard.
"So when did this whole Dart thing come up, anyway?" Steve asked. "When did you find it or him or whatever?"
"Halloween night," Dustin said. "He was digging around the trash can. I brought him inside, fed him some chocolate, and –"
"You fed the meat-eating baby demogorgan chocolate?" Jessica asked. "No wonder it ate Mews."
"I didn't know it was a demogorgan. And he seemed to like it, he ate it just fine." Dustin seemed defensive. "Anyway, I took it to school the next day to show Mr. Clarke, but that was when Will told us that he thought it was from the Upside Down. Max was there, outside the door, and when she opened it . . . that's when Dart got out. So he did run away. I just . . . I found him."
"Why was Max even there?" Jessica asked. "If you guys thought that –"
"We had already invited her before we realized. Besides, I thought she would like it. She's not a girly-girl. You know, she skateboards and plays video games. She's cool."
"Who's Max?" Steve asked, because he'd obviously missed something.
"Billy's sister," Jessica answered. "I don't know if you saw her, but she's the red head that got out of the car that first day we saw him pull into the parking lot."
"A'right, so . . . let me get this straight," Steve said. "You kept something you knew was probably dangerous in order to impress a girl who . . . who you just met?"
"Okay, that's grossly oversimplifying things," Dustin said.
"I mean, why would a girl like some nasty slug, anyway?"
"An interdimensional slug? Because it's awesome."
Steve looked at Jessica, who shrugged and said, "It's still kind of gross. It was all slimy."
"And even if she thought it was cool, I just feel like you're trying way too hard."
From what Steve knew about Dustin, he'd never been interested in a girl before and had no idea how to go about getting the attention of one.
"Well, not everyone can have your perfect hair, a'right?"
Dustin tossed a few pieces of meat down right in front of where Steve would have to step and he knew he'd hit a nerve as he stepped over it.
"It's not about the hair, man."
"It's a little about the hair," Jessica teased, playfully elbowing him in the side.
"Shut up," Steve said and grinned. "Anyway, the key with girls is just . . . just acting like you don't care."
"Even if you do?" Dustin asked.
"Yeah, exactly. It drives them nuts."
"You just wait until, uh . . . until you feel it."
"It's like before it's gonna storm, you know? You can't see it, but you can feel it. Like, uh . . . electricity, ya know?"
"Oh, like in the electromagnetic field when the clouds in the atmosphere –"
"No, no, no. Like a . . . like a sexual electricity. You feel that and then you make your move."
Steve heard Jessica trying to hide her laughter and then she said, "Okay, that's enough out of you."
"There is so much wrong with what you just said." She moved closer to Dustin. "Okay, first off, never act like you don't care. It will not drive a girl crazy. It will make her angry. She never wants to feel like you don't care. Okay? We . . . we want to feel loved and like we're being taken care of. It's how we know we can trust you. It hurts when we don't feel like our guy cares. Don't be a jerk."
She looked at Steve then.
"Did I decide to be with you while you were acting like you didn't care? No. You made mistakes – big ones – and then realized you were a jerk and tried to be better because of them. You showed me that you could be good to me and for me and only then did I decide to give you a chance.
"Two," she said, still talking to Steve, "do not give my brother the sex talk. He's like, not even old enough to –"
"Shut up. Not even old enough to worry about that right now. Don't put those ideas in his head."
"Third," she turned to Dustin then, "I am offended that you didn't tell me you liked this girl. This is the first time you've ever shown any interest at all, so it's a big deal. I'm your sister. It's almost illegal that you didn't tell me."
Steve grinned as Dustin pretty much cowered away from her words and enthusiasm.
"Sorry?" It shouldn't have been a question. "We've had other things to worry about."
"Okay, that's true. I'll give you that."
She looked at Steve again. "Any other bad advice you want to give my young, innocent brother?"
"N – no? Not if you're gonna yell at me."
"Good. And Dustin? If you really wanna know about girls, ask a girl."
They continued walking and kept coming across rotten trees marked by yellow flags. That must've been what Hopper was so busy doing.
The trees were black and had slimy stuff on it. It reminded Jessica of the gunk that was on the shed skin she'd found in Dustin's room.
"So this is what's happening to all the pumpkins," she said. "No wonder Hopper had the lab check it out."
"What?" Dustin asked. "This is happening other places?"
"Oh, um . . . yeah. I found out Thursday. I got so worried about Will that I forgot to mention it to you. Hopper thinks that something is coming from the lab that's causing all this rotting."
"Why would he think that?"
"Because it's all happening within a three-mile radius of the lab," she answered. "He's taking care of it, or looking into it at least. Probably why we couldn't reach him at the station."
They continued walking for about fifteen more minutes until they reached the old junkyard. It had been abandoned a long time ago, which made this the perfect spot to do what they were going to do. Nobody would end up there unless they knew to be there.
The area around the junkyard was overgrown with weeds and the cars were in various states of disrepair. There were a few other odds and ends placed in the yard, but it was mostly just dead vehicles. Right in the middle was an old bus, rusted and busted up. From what Jessica had been told, that was where Dustin and the others had hidden last year, where Hopper had found them hiding from the government guys. If Hopper hadn't shown up, the kids probably would've either been kidnapped or killed.
"Okay, yeah," Steve said. "Yeah, this will do. Good call, dude."
Jessica saw Dustin smile at Steve and it caused her to smile back. It was so rare for Dustin to actually have older male company – aside from Steve – and she was glad Steve had given him the compliment. Dustin had pretty much come up with the whole plan, so it wasn't as if the compliment had been unwarranted.
They had already dumped the rest of the meat into a big pile and circled it with gasoline, trailing it to the entrance of the bus, by the time Lucas showed up. He wasn't alone. Max was with him.
Why had Lucas brought someone who didn't know anything about what was going on? Not only was it dangerous for Max, it was dangerous for all of them. Jessica had been worried about Barb's parents and that news guy finding out, but this was a whole new level of messed up. Max was just another kid.
She just hoped Lucas hadn't made a mistake about trusting the girl.
Dustin and Lucas had gone off to talk for a bit – probably about Max and why Lucas had brought her along – and Steve, Jessica, and Max were left to fortify the bus, which was where they were going to hole up to wait and see if Dart would take the bait so they could finish him off.
Steve was going through old piles of metal – scraps and whole plates of it if he could find any – and he was just hoping nobody got cut because he didn't want to have to rush anyone to the ER for a tetanus shot.
The red headed girl, who he now knew as Max, just stood there for a few minutes watching him and Jessica work before he asked if she was going to help or not.
He didn't have to ask her twice and she seemed happy to help and be included.
It took them a while to just find stuff that would work to cover the smashed-out windows of the bus, but eventually they did. Now they just needed to find a way to make it work.
The inside of the bus wasn't much safer – rusty metal wise – and Steve knew they'd have to be careful in there as well. The legs of the seats were rusted and some of the seats had springs sticking up out of them.
"If we cover up the windows, how are we going to be able to see?" Jessica asked.
Max already had an answer. "We can go up and down to watch from the roof."
"Hm. Good thinking," Steve said, clapping her on the shoulder.
She gave him a small smile, almost as if she didn't know what to do with him giving her a compliment. Or maybe it was just she didn't know how to take a compliment from a teenage boy. If Billy was her brother, that was probably true.
Jessica, Steve, and Max went outside and Steve went to go get Lucas and Dustin, who had pretty much done nothing since they'd gotten there.
Jessica and Max went to find something that would help them get up on the roof of the bus. If worse came to worst, Steve could just lift them up, but having a ladder or something would be nice.
Max ended up finding an old aluminum ladder in a pile of junk nearby. It seemed sturdy enough to hold the kids at least.
Max was wearing a green jacket and the sleeve pulled up when she picked up the ladder. Jessica noticed finger-shaped bruises around her wrist and she had to stop herself from reaching out to the girl. She didn't know her that well, so she couldn't do that even if she wanted to do.
"What happened there?" she asked, pointing at the marks.
Instead of evading the question, Max just said, "My brother's a jerk."
Well, add that to list of why she wanted nothing to do with him outside of class. He couldn't just treat his sister like that – he shouldn't treat anyone like that.
They made their way back to the bus and got the ladder inside. Jessica opened the emergency latch on the top and then Max placed the ladder there so she could climb up before Jessica could tell her to be careful. The ladder held pretty well, though, and Max came back down.
"It's really open and exposed up there."
"Well, if we're gonna keep look out, we need to not be seen. So . . . like . . . we need stuff to hide behind."
Jessica grinned. This girl was going to fit in just right with the other kids.
In order to give them a hiding space, the guys ended up rolling some tires to the bus and up onto the roof where they lined the edges with the black material. They all ended up with streaks on their hands from the tires and Steve ended up with some on his face because Jessica petted him there on purpose.
He booped her on the nose so she ended up getting some there as well before she could swipe his hand away from her.
Steve was tired from all of the work they had been doing, but the laughter spewing from him and Jessica messing around gave him a boost.
They were all a bit dehydrated, so Steve was glad Dustin had mentioned they should bring water with them. They all shared it, no one complaining about having to, and they even ate the crackers Steve had thought to bring.
"So . . . why are we doing all of this for Dart? He was the size of a guinea pig the last time I saw him," Max asked.
"Yeah, he grew," Dustin said. "He's about the size of a dog now."
Steve and Jessica were leaning against the wall of the bus, Steve lighting his zippo and closing the lid to put the flame out.
Dustin was the one who ended up explaining everything that had happened the year before, starting with Will's disappearance and ending with the demogorgan being killed by El. He had to summarize or they would've been there all night, but he covered the important parts.
The sun was completely down now and the night was getting cold, but Lucas had still gone up to the roof right in the middle of Dustin's explaining things, and he was still up there.
"Guys, vision might be a problem," Lucas called down from the roof. "It's getting really foggy."
Dustin was pacing back and forth as much as he could in the tight space of the bus, and Max was sitting across from Jessica and Steve.
"So you've really fought one of these things before?" she asked Steve, who nodded but didn't really say anything. "And you're, like, totally one hundred percent sure it wasn't a bear?"
"Definitely not a bear," Jessica said. "It wasn't like Dart, it was more . . . humanoid. It stood on two feet, really tall."
"Why are you even here if you don't believe us?" Dustin asked. "Just go home."
Max stood up then and went to the ladder. "Someone's cranky. Is it past your bedtime?"
She carefully went through the emergency door and onto the roof. There were a few seconds of silence before Jessica homed in on her brother.
"What the heck was that? You can't treat her like that just because she showed up here with Lucas."
"That's not –"
"You've pretty much ignored her until you had to explain everything to her, and excuse her for not believing it. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't lived through it last year. Stop throwing a tantrum because you're not getting your way. You're better than that."
Dustin had stopped pacing and was now looking at the floor of the bus. Jessica had to remind herself that these feelings were new to Dustin. It wasn't his fault that he didn't know how to deal with them yet.
"Hey," she said, her tone exponentially softer. "Come sit with me."
He did so, but he did it slowly.
"Okay, so . . . people like who they like. You can't help that you like her, and she can't help it if she likes Lucas. Okay? It doesn't mean you can't be her friend, and it doesn't mean you won't find someone else that you like, someone you'll like more than you like Max."
"You've only ever liked Steve," he said.
"Okay, point, but . . . that's not usually how it goes in school. You usually go through so many dates before you find someone you even want to spend more time with, and that's okay. You're thirteen. You have time."
There was movement from above and it came across as thumps in the bus, causing all three to look up.
"You know, Lucas has been your friend for a long time. Don't let whatever feelings you have right now spoil that. And also," more playfully now, "would you really want Max to walk home by herself with that thing out there?"
"Didn't think so. So be nice."
About fifteen minutes later a shriek came from outside. Steve automatically knew what it was by the sound and he knew that everyone but Max would know how much danger they were in now, even if Dart was a baby demogorgan. It was still a predator and would kill them if it could.
Steve, Jessica, and Dustin made their way to one of the windows on the bus so they could look out of one of the many cracks in their armor.
"I don't see anything," Jessica said.
He could feel her grab onto the sleeve of his jacket; he could also feel her hand shaking against him.
"I don't see anything either."
The fog Lucas had mentioned was about knee-high – high enough for a regular dog to hid in, so high enough for Dart to hide in.
"Lucas?" Dustin called out, "what's going on?"
It took a few seconds for Lucas to let them knew he could see the thing from the vantage point of the roof. After finding out where to look they were able to spot Dart just fine.
Steve remembered where they had put the rest of the meat, but Dart wasn't going towards it.
"What's he doing?" Dustin asked.
"I don't know. He's not taking the bait. Why's he not taking the bait?"
"Maybe he's not hungry."
"Maybe he knows it's not right," Jessica said. "I mean, the gasoline . . . maybe he can smell it."
"Or maybe he's sick of cow," Steve said.
Steve pushed himself away from the window, drawing the attention of both Henderson siblings.
"Steve?" Dustin said. "Steve, what're you doing?"
He went to his bag and pulled his bat out. He looked at Jessica, who was shaking her head.
"You're not going out there."
He tossed his lighter to Dustin. "Just get ready."
"What else are we supposed to do? We have to draw him in somehow. Just . . . you stay here and you guys light it up when I tell you."
Jessica took a deep breath and settled down.
"Okay. Okay. It's just Dart. Not as bad as last year. You got this."
"Yeah. I got this."
Jessica watched as Steve opened the folding door, stepped out, bat at the ready, and made sure Dustin closed the door behind him. Steve moved towards the pile of meat slowly and Jessica was surprised when Dart didn't attack automatically.
Steve did have a bat, though, and if Dart remembered the hockey stick Dustin had hit him with it might be making him cautious.
"What's he doing?" Max asked, climbing down the ladder.
"Expanding the menu," Dustin explained.
Steve finally made it to the pile of meat and all Jessica could see was him twirling the bat in his hand. Why wasn't Dart doing anything? Not that Jessica wanted him to attack Steve, but it was almost unnerving that he wasn't.
"He's insane," Max said, moving to a window to watch more closely.
"He's awesome," Dustin contradicted.
To be honest, Steve was a little bit of both.
Suddenly Lucas was crying out, "Steve, watch out!"
"A little busy here!" Steve called back.
"Three o'clock! Three o'clock!"
"Steve," Dustin shouted, running to the door to open it up. "Abort! Abort!"
There was more than one. It finally hit Jessica what Lucas had been talking about. She rushed to the door as well, grabbing her crowbar on the way. She would go out and help if she had to. She wasn't just going to let Steve get hurt or worse.
Once she looked outside her heart almost dropped out of her chest. Steve had been using himself as bait and it seemed as if Dart had known that. Like a hyena bringing its prey back to the pack to be devoured, Steve had been lured into the middle and now he was being surrounded by other baby demogorgans.
Where were they even coming from?
Jessica saw one of the things jump onto one of the old cars, crouching like it was about to pounce.
Dustin and Max began shouting for Steve to run and then one of the creatures did charge at Steve. He threw himself across the hood of a car, swung at another one that was right behind him, and then he was running back to the bus, the creatures following behind closely.
Steve made it into the bus and Dustin slammed the door behind him. Lucas had come down from the roof at some point and was now huddled close to Max.
Everyone was screaming over everyone else, but Jessica was quickly taking stock of Steve, making sure he was okay. Aside from the terror on his face, he seemed to be fine.
Everyone shouted louder as the bus began to rock as the creatures rammed themselves against it. Dustin quickly picked up his headset to try and reach someone from the outside – Mike, Will, Hopper, anybody – but he got no response.
Jessica screamed as one of the creatures shoved its head through one of the windows, breaking through the metal. She didn't even think. She just started beating the thing with her crowbar. At one point, the end of it got stuck on the top of its head, making her lose her grip. It shrieked at her and the crowbar came loose as it opened its mouth.
The crowbar fell to the floor, but no way was she reaching for it with that thing still there.
Suddenly Max was screaming – Jessica was grateful it was from fright and not from pain – and all she could do was pull Max out of the way as Steve came barreling over with his bat.
In all the chaos, they had forgotten to close the emergency hatch, and now there was a creature trying to get in. Steve was blocking the way, though, and Jessica realized then that he would die before he let any of them be hurt. It made her love him even more.
Suddenly the monster on the roof looked away and jumped from the opening and down off of the bus. The rocking stopped and the things were running in the opposite direction.
What had happened? Not that she wasn't glad that they were going away, but she didn't understand why they were. Whatever the reason . . . she was glad they didn't have to fight anymore. There had been so many of them.
She went to go pick up her crowbar now that the monster was no longer there, but as soon as she saw the black goo that was probably blood her stomach decided to revolt.
She rushed to the bus door and out of it, barely making it before throwing up what little was in her stomach.
Steve had said her name as she'd pushed her way out of the bus and he'd quickly followed her out. She'd fallen to her knees and was now dry-heaving, having nothing left in her stomach to come up.
"Hey, you're okay," he said, holding her hair with one hand and rubbing her back with the other.
She knew she was okay. It had just been the sight of the blood and the sudden stop to everything – maybe she'd crashed from an adrenaline rush or something – but she was okay even if her mouth did taste like vomit and bile now.
"I need a few minutes," she said, catching her breath.
"And then we need to get back to your car and go find Hopper. He has to let the lab know what happened so they can take care of it."
The kids came out then and pretty much circled around Jessica, who was still on her knees but no longer throwing up or even feeling the need to.
"Jess?" Dustin said.
"I'm okay," she said. "Blood is gross."
"You stabbed that thing right in the face," Lucas exclaimed.
"Of course I did. Wasn't gonna let it in to get you guys."
"You guys are insane," Max said, but it was said with something like fondness.
"They're awesome," Dustin said, mirroring his response from earlier.
"Well, yeah. But still insane."
Jessica couldn't really argue with that. They were all insane.
So again feedback is always welcome. I especially liked the scenes between Dustin and Jessica in this chapter.