The Golden Girl @creativewoman88
Chapter 60

Author's Note: It has taken me FOREVER to write this chapter out. It was giving me so many problems. That being said, my update times might be slower than they used to be because I feel there are so many unanswered questions for Season 4 that I don't want to mess it up by writing season 3 without the next season coming out. There's the case of Dacre Montgomery being contracted to be in the next season, so I don't know if it's in flashbacks or what's going on there. If it is flashbacks I need to know if it's going to affect the plot at all. And then there the recent pictures of Steve looking like he raided Billy's closet after Billy died. Need the backstory of why he's no longer dressing like a prep because the only thing I can think of is that his parents are no longer providing for him so he has to buy his own clothes. I also need to know if they're aging the kids up at all, seeing as to how Covid hit and they weren't able to film on schedule - so they may have rearranged the script to make it where more time has passed than they originally planned.

I am still going to be doing filler chapters because in this chapter it's still December and there's still the rest of the months before July 4th for the third season.

Anyway, enjoy!

Chapter Sixty

The first weekend of winter break went by fairly smoothly. Steve spent the night with Jessica the night of the Snow Ball, and then they hung out at her house most of Sunday. They used that day to relax and be lazy since they knew they had the next two weeks off. It didn't matter if they napped sporadically throughout the day.

Mews 2.0 snuck into her room and onto the bed during one of their naps and, as cats sometimes do, used her paw to tap at Jessica's face until she woke up. She groaned and gently pushed the feline off of her until Mews 2.0 laid down by her side. Jessica didn't know why Mews liked her bed. While the cat was downstairs, she usually stayed beside Jessica's mom, but if the cat went upstairs, she would definitely sneak into Jessica's room if she left the door open.

The next day was Christmas Eve and a get together was being held at the Byer's house – a sort of potluck dinner thing; Jonathan said it was either that or risk his mom's cooking. Joyce was in charge of baking the turkey and everyone else was bringing a side dish.

The get together was mostly for the kids anyway, but Joyce had invited Jessica and Steve so that they could all exchange gifts instead of having to rush around Christmas day to do it.

After finding out what everyone else was bringing, Jessica decided to bring a couple of apple pies for dessert – store bought, not homemade – and a few cannisters of cookies that they could bake at Joyce's house if they wanted to. It was something easy she could do because even though she had a break from school, she still had to work. She'd asked for the day shift instead of the night shift as she normally did when she didn't have school, and she'd had no problem getting her normal shift changed.

As it was, she was getting ready for the dinner at Joyce's and waiting for Steve to arrive to pick her and Dustin up. She'd already gotten everything she needed ready and piled together in bags on the couch in the living room.

When Steve finally got there, Jessica grabbed her leather jacket and quickly put it on. Dustin was bundled up, a scarf around his neck to go with his poofy winter coat.

Steve came in to help with the bags so Jessica could grab the desserts they were bringing, and they quickly took everything to the car so they could hurry to the Byers' house.


The ride to the Byers' house was spent with Steve making them listen to cheesy Christmas music and keeping Dustin from looking in the bags of presents. To be fair, he wasn't really trying to look, but he did tease Jessica about it a few times.

The roads were clean now, the snow having melted a few days back, but Steve still drove carefully as he felt he had precious cargo inside with him in the form of the Henderson siblings.

"Hey, Dustin. You're sure Max is going to be there, right?"

"She said she would be, yeah."

"Good."

"Why?"

"I just have something I want to give her, that's all, and it would save me a trip over to her house if she was coming tonight."

"Oh. Okay. Well, yeah, her asshole of a brother –"

"Dustin!"

"Well, he is! Anyway, he's supposed to bring her over."

Steve's grip tightened on the steering wheel as he remembered what had happened the last time he and Billy Hargrove had been at the Byers' house. Granted, this time Max would have permission to be there and they wouldn't be harboring a runaway sister – or stepsister – so Billy would have no reason to go crazy like last time.

He probably wouldn't be coming into the house, anyway. Joyce was going to be there, and Hopper, and both of them knew what Billy had done, the damage he had caused.

He wasn't anyone's favorite person at the moment.

When they finally pulled in front of the Byers' house after driving down the long, dirt driveway, Steve parked behind Joyce's car. Nancy's car was there as well, so that meant she and Mike were already there. Hopper's police vehicle was already there, so El had to be there already as well.

"Hey, Dustin, can you take the desserts in for us?" Jessica asked as Steve cut the car off.

"What, you don't trust me with the presents?"

"We've got the presents."

Dustin got out of the car before they did and hurried up to the house. When Jessica didn't move to get out of the car, Steve knew she must have wanted to talk about something.

"What's up?"

"I – there's something you need to know."

"Okay . . ."

"I got Billy a Christmas gift. I didn't want you to see me giving it to him without knowing I got him one, so . . ."

"Why? You guys aren't exactly friends."

"I know. I know that. I just – Mom said something to me when she gave me the coats to give to him and Max, and it stuck with me the day I went shopping for gifts. It was about how maybe I should think about why he's not good at accepting things from people, and then I saw a video of a Metallica concert and he likes Metallica."

"Of course he does."

"I just wanted you to know so you wouldn't be surprised when I give it to him. Didn't want you thinking anything was going on. Or for Billy to say anything and you not have a clue about it."

"I get it," Steve said. "I mean, I kind of think you're wasting your time on him, but I get it."

"Wasting my time?"

"Guy has issues."

"Yeah, he does. But he hasn't been in any fights since . . . you know . . . and Max says he hasn't been as much of a jerk to her."

"So . . . are you rewarding good behavior?" Steve teased.

"No," she said and grinned. "I'm gonna tell you what I told him. I feel like he needs someone to be nice to him."

'You told him that?"

"Yeah. It was after the whole incident here and he didn't understand why I was being nice to him."

"At least we have that in common."

"Steve. Who was the one helping him off the ground last week?" she asked, smiling softly.

"Yeah, yeah." Steve returned her smile. "I just hope he doesn't take it the wrong way."

"I'll make sure that he doesn't. Okay?"

Steve nodded. "Yeah. We should go in soon, though, before they start thinking something is wrong."

"Something like we're arguing before a party like an old married couple."

"Yeah, something like that."


When Steve and Jessica got inside the house, they saw that the kids were in the living room, a Christmas tree in one of the corners, and the adults and older teens were in the kitchen. They placed the bag of presents in the corner near the tree, where there was a small pile of other ones.

Max was already there, as was Lucas. He had either come with Nancy and Mike or he had been dropped off by his parents. El got up to give both Jessica and Steve a hug before going back to her group of friends.

Steve and Jessica went into the kitchen, where Joyce was fixing a pot of coffee while Nancy and Jonathan were sorting out the food that had been brought.

"Hey, guys," Joyce said. "The turkey will be done in about an hour. Thanks for bringing the dessert."

"No problem," Jessica said. "I . . . had to work and didn't feel like cooking so . . ."

Hopper scoffed and shook his head. "You want coffee? We were all gonna have some."

"Yes, please," Jessica said.

Jessica took a place at the table and Steve pulled a chair up beside her so he could sit as well. It was nice. No one really felt the need to say anything, but they were all listening to the kids in the living room talking and having a good time.

It wasn't until the coffee was done brewing that Jessica got back up so she could help Joyce fix everyone a cup. She went to the refrigerator to get the milk out but stopped short at the drawing that had been put on the door.

The drawing had obviously been done by Will, and it was of Bob Newby. Even if the name hadn't been on the paper as Bob Newby, Superhero, Jessica would've been able to tell who the drawing was of. The guy in the drawing was wearing one of Bob's checkerboard shirts and blue jeans. He had a cape on, fluttering behind him as he flew through the air.

She hadn't known him that well, not as well as the boys had known him. She hadn't known much about him aside from the fact that he'd grown up in Hawkins, had moved away, and had then come back. She knew he'd started the AV club at the middle school, but that was only because Mike had told her. She knew Joyce had loved him or had been on the way to loving him.

She knew he had died to save them. And they hadn't even been able to bury him because his body had either been destroyed by the demodogs or taken away by the lab people. Either way, there had been nothing left.

Jessica's throat tightened and her eyes began to sting. Her hand began shaking even as she opened the refrigerator door. She could hardly keep a grip on the carton of milk when she got hold of it.

She must've stood there too long before opening the door because when she turned back around Joyce was watching her, a knowing look on her face, which just made Jessica feel worse.

She put the milk carton on the counter before turning away.

"I, uh . . . I have to go to the bathroom."

She was not going to cry in the middle of Joyce's kitchen.


Jessica was only given a few minutes to collect herself in the bathroom before someone knocked on the door. She was sure it was Steve, coming to check on her, but when the door opened she found it was Joyce instead.

"Jess, honey. Can I come in?"

Jessica wiped at a stray tear falling down her cheek, sniffled a bit, and nodded.

"I'm sorry, I – I wasn't expecting to see the picture, and –"

Joyce walked to her and embraced her quickly. "Oh, it's okay. I pretty much had the same reaction when Will showed it to me."

"Yeah, but he was your boyfriend. I barely even knew him."

Jessica leaned into Joyce more fully as she began rubbing her back.

"You knew him enough to know he was a good man. I think that's enough reason to be upset."

Jessica swallowed thickly as she nodded. What Joyce had said made sense.

"You want me to get Steve?"

"No," she said. "I'm okay. I was just surprised."

"Okay." Joyce released her from the embrace, but gripped her upper shoulders briefly before also letting them go. "Come back out when you're ready."

Jessica nodded as Joyce left the bathroom, closing the door behind her. Jessica felt better collected now, but she still went to the sink so she could turn the cold water on. She cupped her hands to let the water fill them and then leaned over so she could rub it against her face.

She was feeling a lot better. What she'd told Joyce had been the truth; the picture had surprised her, that was all.

When she made it back to the kitchen she found that her coffee had already been made, set in the place on the table beside Steve's own cup of coffee. He gave her a questioning look when she sat down beside him and she nodded to let him know she was okay.

He placed a hand on her thigh and squeezed once before reaching for her hand instead.


After the turkey got done everyone piled into the kitchen to get food. The seating arrangements for dinner was much as the rest of the evening had gone – the adults ate in the kitchen and the kids ate in the living room, the TV on but not being paid attention to.

It wasn't until it was time for gift-giving that everyone went into the living room. The kids ended up on the floor, while Joyce and Hopper ended up near the tree in the corner so they could hand out the gifts. Jonathan, Nancy, Steve and Jessica smooshed themselves together on the couch.

The whole group of kids rolled their eyes good-naturedly when they opened their matching Swatch watches but they immediately put them on anyway. El and Max seemed to be touched that they had been included in the Party gift and Jessica gave them a soft smile, because of course they had been included.

Jessica had also brought a few books for El, but they weren't Christmas presents exactly. The books had belonged to Jessica and were ones she had enjoyed when she was El's age, so she hoped El would appreciate them as much as she had. Some of them were more advanced than El could read at the moment, but Jessica was sure Hopper would help her. The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy were among the titles Jessica had chosen from, so the boys could help her as well.

Jessica had bought Dustin something, of course, but she would be spending Christmas day with him so she was going to give his gift to him then.

Jessica didn't know how the kids had pulled together the money for them, but El and Max each got a walkie-talkie. To be honest, they were less a Christmas present and more something the boys had thought about giving them as a sign of them being party members.

Once all the presents had seemingly been given out, Joyce stood up and said, "I think there's one more," before going down the hallway towards her bedroom.

Jonathan and Will looked at each other, Jonathan smiling softly and Will openly grinning before getting up to follow after Joyce.

It wasn't long before the three of them were coming back into the living room with a medium sized package wrapped in brown paper. It looked like it was probably a huge picture in a frame.

"This . . . is for you," Joyce said, handing the thing over to Jessica and Steve.

Given the size of the package, Jessica was surprised that it wasn't heavy.

She looked at Steve, who seemed as lost as she was. He apparently had no clue what was going on either.

"Well, open it!" Will said.

"Okay, okay," she said and laughed.

Steve held the sides of it so she could grab onto the paper to begin unwrapping it. What she saw as the paper came off was a white canvas-type material with writing and the number 1 on it. The number was made out of pictures of her and Steve doing random things like eating or just laughing together – sometimes they weren't even doing anything, but they were still very much together.

"Jonathan?" she said softly. The pictures had obviously come from him, but she hadn't known he'd taken that many of them together.

"It was Will's idea," he said. "Well, I mean, the kids thought they should do something for you guys, and Will came up with this."

Beside the number was the word 'year' in large print. It was written out with black marker, and underneath that in much smaller print was the word 'anniversary.'

"Mom bought the canvas," Will said, looking over at Joyce.

"Guys!"

Jessica didn't know what to say, but she brought Will in for a long hug before giving Jonathan a shorter one. She hugged Joyce for the longest. She hadn't expected an anniversary gift from anyone other than Steve since it was going to be their anniversary, but to learn that the kids had realized it and had planned something too made her feel like crying again, but for a good reason this time.

When she looked at Steve, she found he was looking at the gift with a soft smile. He seemed to be taking in the pictures the most. She wondered if he'd known Jonathan had taken so many.

"What is an . . . anni-ver-sary?" El asked, sounding the word out.

"It's like a milestone or a marker of something," Jessica said. "Like, this one is to celebrate Steve and I being together for a year."

El nodded to show she understood and offered a small smile.

It wasn't long after that that Jessica went into the kitchen to start on the cookies.


About thirty minutes later the kids were getting high on sugar, which Jessica felt slightly bad about since the kids were going back home that night and their parents were going to have to deal with them.

As it was, everyone seemed to be having a good time. The boys were showing El how to use the walkie-talkie, but she seemed to pick it up quickly. Apparently, Hopper had taught her how to use a CB radio while she'd been living with him over the past year. It was how they kept in touch when he was at work and she had to stay at home alone.

It was around 8:30 when Nancy and Mike left, taking Lucas with them, and it wasn't long after that that the unmistakable sound of Billy's Camaro could be heard coming from outside as it made its way up the driveway.

Jessica glanced at Steve and he gave her a nod. She smiled gratefully before turning to Max, who had been sitting with El since Lucas had left.

"Hey, so, give me a few minutes before coming out, okay?"

Max didn't seem to know what to make of the request, but she agreed anyway.

Jessica grabbed Steve's jacket because it was closer than her own before going outside and making her way down the porch steps and to Billy's car. She stopped by the driver's side door and he rolled the window down.

"Max better be ready to go," he said.

"She is. I asked her to give me a few minutes."

"A few minutes for what?" Billy asked, eyes giving off a small spark as he smirked.

Sometimes the best thing to do with Billy's comments was to just ignore them. If she reacted, it would just make him push harder.

"Wait here."

"Not like I can leave without Max, anyway."

Jessica went around the Camaro and went to Steve's Bimmer so she could get the tape to give to Billy. She was suddenly nervous of how he'd take being given a present, especially when he probably wasn't expecting one.

Billy was getting out of the car by the time she'd made her way back to him. She held the gift out slowly and watched as he tracked her movement. An eyebrow shot up before he locked eyes with her.

"What's that for?"

She smiled softly. "Well, it's a present, so you take it and you open it and you hopefully like it."

Billy grunted and rolled his eyes. "I know what a present is. I meant why are you giving it to me?"

"Because it's for you. I just . . . I was shopping for the kids last week and I saw this, and it made me think of you and something my mom said, and I – just take it."

She pushed it against his chest much like she had when she'd given him the coats from her mom. He reached a hand up to take it so it wouldn't drop.

"It's a tape," he said.

"Yes."

"A video tape made you think of me?"

She sighed. "Look, just open it. You'll see why I thought of you when you see what it is."

Billy did as she asked, even if he did seem hesitant about doing it. He was surprisingly gentle about opening it up. He didn't just rip the paper like she thought he would have. He took his time.

When the paper was finally off – he'd thrown it into the car – he looked at what he had in his hands.

"A Metallica concert?"

"Yeah. Like I said, it made me think of you because I know you like Metallica."

"I – uh . . . Dad and I don't usually do Christmas. We're only doing it this year because of Max and Susan."

"Oh. Well, if you don't want it –" She playfully grabbed for the tape in his hand.

He held it closer to his chest and turned a little bit away even as he allowed a small grin to form on his lips.

"No, I – I want it. It's nice. Thank you."

"You're welcome. Anyway, I'm gonna go back inside. I'll send Max out so you guys can get home."


Billy was back in the driver's seat when Max came out to the car and got in. Billy noticed the new watch on her wrist and a walkie-talkie in her hand.

"What is that for?"

"In case the party needs to get in touch with me when we're not together."

"That's what a phone is for."

"Shut up. All the others have one, so it's kind of like them showing me I'm part of the group for real."

"Great. You're part of the Nerd Herd."

"Jessica's part of the Nerd Herd," Max said, giving him a knowing look. "And you got skipped up a grade in English because you were more advanced, so . . . you're a nerd too."

Billy rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Don't let Neil hear you using that thing at night," he said, gesturing at the walkie-talkie. "And don't let him know you're using it to talk to guys."

"Obviously."

Things were quiet between them for a moment, the music on the radio the only sound in the car. Then Max decided to break the silence.

"What did Jessica want?"

"What, you weren't peaking out that stupid window?"

"Not this time."

Billy shrugged. "She gave me something. No big deal."

"What did she give you?"

"A tape. It's in the backseat."

Max turned in her seat to reach back there, where Billy knew the wrapping paper was on the floorboard of the car and the tape was placed more carefully on the seat.

"Metallica?"

"We listened to them when she was over for the project."

"Oh. That was nice of her."

"Yeah." Billy gripped the steering wheel a little harder than was necessary and his knuckles began to turn white. "Look, if anyone asks . . . you got it for me, okay?"

"Would Neil really care that someone – a friend – is giving you something. I mean, it is Christmas."

"He sees things like that as handouts if it comes from someone who isn't family."

"Oh. Jeeze, okay. I got it for you."

That being settled, neither of them felt the need to talk the rest of the way home.

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