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It’s a sticky, stifling day—the kind of summer afternoon that drags out long and thin, moves so slowly it almost makes Nancy long for the routine of school again. Almost.

They spend a lot of these kinds of afternoons in Jonathan’s bedroom—because his mom works second shift and Will is usually at her house with Mike, and Jonathan doesn’t like being at Steve’s. He’d never say so, but Nancy can tell he’s uncomfortable when they’re there. So she suggests Jonathan’s house, and they listen to her. They always listen to her; they’d do anything she asked.

But today is different.

When Nancy left her house that morning—in a rush, throwing a hurried wave over her shoulder toward her mother who was thankfully too busy making Holly breakfast to notice that Nancy was dressed appropriately for the weather in short shorts and a paper-thin halter top and no bra—she wasn’t planning for this to happen.

Well, she was planning to go to Jonathan’s with Steve—they drove for a while, waiting for Jonathan to get off work, Nancy’s bony knees pulled up to her chest and her keds propped on the dash, relishing in the way the cool air blasting from the vents bloomed goosebumps up her arms and made her nipples harden. But she hadn’t planned this. Sure, she thought about it, hoped for it even, but she never expected it to actually happen. She blames the heat.

**

When she and Steve showed up at the Byers’ front door the first day of summer break to see if Jonathan wanted to hang out, Nancy could tell Mrs. Byers was surprised even as she invited them into the living room to sit, perched awkwardly on the edges of couch cushions, to wait for Jonathan to get home—“No, no, please come in, he should be home any minute, really.” It made Nancy think that people didn’t come to the door very often just to see Jonathan, and her heart gave a little twinge in her chest.

Steve was nervous, bouncing his knee up and down and pushing his hands through his hair until it looked downright ridiculous. Everything about Nancy’s smile felt forced—she couldn’t stop thinking about the thick black letters under the hasty coat of paint on the wall above her head, how just months ago the whole place had been strung with Christmas lights and monsters had been bursting through the ceiling. But she had to be here because she just—she didn’t want Jonathan to be alone all summer.

After the whole … everything, Nancy felt connected to Jonathan in a way that she couldn’t really describe, or even figure out for herself really. It was more than just wanting to be nice to him, it was more than just friends—it was that he pulled her out of a gaping dark hole in a tree, it was that he understood her and believed her in a moment when no one else could.

And Steve—Steve dove between her and a faceless, gaping-mouthed monster, attacked it with a nail-trimmed bat and fucking won.

They’re the only two that get it—that she doesn’t have to pretend around. There’s just something binding about standing shoulder to shoulder armed with only a bat and a gun and a lighter against a creature from another dimension.

And they were friends now—all three of them—they talked outside of school and said hi to each other in the hallways. Steve had even jumped Jonathan’s car battery in the school parking lot one afternoon. But they didn’t hang out. Not until they were faced with the long-stretching, do-nothing days of summer.

Steve was actually the one who suggested it, when they were talking about going down to the theater to see the new Indiana Jones movie. “Wanna see if … I mean, if Byers isn’t doing anything, maybe…” he’d said and shrugged, giving her that smirky smile, and god she loved him that moment.

It was weird at first, being in Jonathan’s room. Not because it seemed too intimate or smelled so distinctly boy or because she caught a glimpse of a skin mag and a dirty sock on the floor before Jonathan had a chance to kick it under the bed. It was because she couldn’t walk down the hall without noticing the black, charred mark on the carpet and feel that monster breathing down the back of her neck. But she just kept her eyes trained steadily on the broad spread of Jonathan’s bony shoulders under his t-shirt, her hand stretched behind her, wrapped tight in Steve’s warm fingers, until they were past it.

That first day they stood awkwardly in the doorway of Jonathan’s bedroom, Jonathan shifting from foot to foot—probably feeling like a charity case, she thought—and Nancy started to say something, but Steve interrupted, cracked a joke, a dirty one, and Jonathan laughed so hard no sound came out of him at all, and Nancy couldn’t help but smile, a genuine smile. After that it wasn’t awkward anymore.

**

The fear still lingers, even after six, seven months. She still wakes up with nightmares, especially on nights when Steve doesn’t sneak into her room and wrap himself around her. Sometimes she’ll be at the dinner table or washing her hair or playing with Holly, and the fear creeps up her spine, breaks out in little beads of sweat along her hairline and down the back of her neck, curls around her chest like a vice and she can’t breathe. She can’t shake the feeling that it isn’t over.

But when she’s here, when she’s with them—with them both—she can let go, forget, at least for a little while. She can breathe; she almost feels normal, like maybe it never happened, maybe it was just a dream. She wonders if it’s the same for them too.

They’re sprawled out on Jonathan’s bed—tangled together even though it’s really too hot for it and the ancient fan in the window is creating more noise than breeze. Somewhere along the way, in the sweltering heat of long lazy afternoons, the lines between them blurred, but none of them seem to notice or care. Nancy closes her eyes and lets the gritty guitar riffs pouring out of the speakers wash over her, lets the bass line crawl up her spine and settle between her ribs. She runs her fingers through Steve’s hair and presses her toes against Jonathan’s t-shirt.

It’s too much—the music’s too loud, it’s too hot, they’re too close—but it’s right. She loves them both. She can’t help it.

Nancy reaches for Jonathan’s hand, his left hand, and traces a finger over the scar there, then presses her lips against it, darts out her tongue and tastes the salt on his skin. She looks over at him, propped up on one elbow now, and his eyes are burning into hers, his lips bitten red.

The bed dips as Steve shifts, rolls over until he’s practically on top of Nancy, pressing her down into the mattress, the sweaty backs of her thighs sticking to Jonathan's thin cotton sheets.

“Steve,” she breathes just before he kisses her. At first, she’s worried he’s being possessive, but she knows better. He kisses her soft and gentle, not an ounce of possessiveness behind it, and when he’s done he sits up and reaches toward Jonathan, pulls him forward and kisses him full on the mouth.

Jonathan stiffens for a moment, and then relaxes into it, makes a little noise in the back of his throat, and Nancy knows exactly how he’s feeling. She knows exactly what it feels like to be kissed by Steve Harrington. Heat spools out thick and slow in Nancy’s belly as Steve’s lips open and she can see their tongues press together. She wants to be in the middle of them, she wants to bind them together.

Nancy kisses Jonathan next. His fingers are light and cool on her cheek, and she leans into it. His lips are thinner than Steve’s, and more hesitant, but he’s a good kisser. Steve’s fingers are warm and sure as they trail up her spine, around her rib cage to her breasts and down her stomach. She pulls away for a breath, chest heaving, but Jonathan doesn’t even pause before he lunges over her and kisses Steve again, knocking him backwards onto the bed. Their legs are all tangled up, and Nancy’s caught half between them but she doesn’t mind. She’s content to just watch them kiss, Jonathan’s fingers in Steve’s hair, Steve’s hand around Jonathan’s shoulder.

Jonathan pulls away, sits back a little, and drags his palm down along Steve’s cheek. Steve still has a little mark on the bridge of his nose from their fight—Nancy likes to kiss it sometimes, when she’s feeling particularly affectionate. Jonathan runs his thumb over it.

“I’m sorry,” he says, his voice raspy and unsure.

Steve scrunches one eye shut. “Don’t be,” he replies, his voice hoarse. “If you hadn’t, we’d have never…”

Jonathan nods and kisses him again, sloppy and wet and open-mouthed. When Steve kisses Nancy again, he tastes like Jonathan.

They trade kisses for a long time—they’re in no rush—until Nancy’s so hot she feels like her skin is going to melt right off of her body. She struggles out of her top, Jonathan helping when the straps getting tangled a little around her arms, as Steve kisses down over her collar bones and down to her belly button, and soon he’s between her legs, tugging down her shorts. Jonathan’s mouth is on hers again, and she feels dizzy and light and overwhelmed—she’s never felt like this before.

Jonathan touches her breast and she arches her back into it as Steve works her over until she’s trembling and gasping, her hands gripped so tight in Jonathan’s hair that she has to be hurting him. But he doesn’t seem to mind, he just looks down at her, lips parted and eyes wide, and she wonders vaguely if that’s the first time he’s ever seen a girl come.

They only have one condom—”I’m sorry,” Jonathan says, “I was not expecting this to happen, you know.”—so Nancy lets Steve fuck her, while Jonathan watches, and when she wraps her hand around Jonathan’s dick, hot and hard and slick, he comes almost immediately. Afterwards, they fall asleep on soaked sheets, naked and tangled together, and don’t wake up until the front door slams.

“Jonathan?” Will calls out, and they scramble for their clothes.

“Oh my god oh mygod,” Jonathan mumbles over and over as he grabs a dirty towel from the floor and attempts to clean up.

“I can’t find my bra,” Nancy says, still disoriented from sleep and orgasms. Steve’s futilely attempting to smooth down her hair.

“You weren’t wearing a bra,” he says.

“What? Oh, oh yeah.” She pulls her shirt on hastily, not caring that the straps are twisted.

“Jonathan?” Will’s voice is coming down the hall now, and Jonathan swings the door open just as Will’s raised his fist to knock.

“Oh,” Will says, surprised. “Sorry.” The poor kid’s blushing, and Nancy can’t wait to get out of there.

“See you tomorrow?” she says to Jonathan.

“Yeah, tomorrow.”