Hawkins Indiana - October 1984

"Billy?"

Susan stepped into the living room where Billy was currently lifting weights surrounded by boxes from the move despite the fact they had officially arrived to two less than two weeks ago. Neil was at work, and Max was outside skateboarding in the driveway. Billy had pulled up less than a half an hour ago, and had disappeared in his room for a few minutes before blasting his stereo and headed to the living room to lift weights. Neil had transformed the den into the unofficial living room area, while the side room right off the door had turned into Billy's workout area. Neil only allowed this for the time being, warning him that by the end of the month he wanted all this "shit" picked up and put into his room. Bad enough half of his driveway had to be taken up by his piece of shit car. Billy wore basketball shorts, as he lifted well over two hundred pounds of weight above him, his muscular chest rising and falling, glistened with sweat. Susan was in the kitchen getting dinner ready, and stepped. into the doorway wiping her hands with a dishcloth.

"Billy?"

She had to speak louder so her voice would carry over the heavy blasting rock music. Billy had earlier asked if it was okay if he played his music while he worked out, as always avoiding eye contact, and being polite, just the way Neil had made him treat his stepmother. Susan said of course, knowing why he was asking permission, she tried to always look the other way when it came to how Neil treated Billy. She knew he had a major attitude problem, mostly dealing with his mother, his parent's divorce, Neil marrying her, and the move here. Neil said Billy had major emotional problems, and he just needed a firm hand. Since they officially moved, Billy was put in charge by Neil to be Max's ride whenever she needed it. At first Susan said that wasn't necessary, but Neil said this was a new town, and Billy needed to learn some responsibility for his younger sister. Still, Susan knew how Billy really felt about his step-sister, and hated that she didn't have the courage to ever say anything. Susan sighed, rising her voice slightly.

"Billy?"

Billy heard her this time, and carefully placed the barbell into the holder, before sitting up, sweating slightly.

"Yeah?"

Susan sighed before Billy read her mind, and nodded.

"Sorry, hold on..."

He got up and entered his room, seconds later the music stopped filling the house with silence. Faintly Susan could hear Max skateboarding up and down the driveway outside, the wheels spinning against the pavement. Billy returned, still sweating, this time holding a towel from the bathroom. Draping it over his shoulder, he leaned against the wall.

"What's up?"

"Um, I hate to ask you...but the family across the street. The Criss'?"

"Yeah?"

"I introduced myself a few days after we first moved in. They have a daughter that's about your age. I guess she's sick...the mother didn't get into it, but I think it's cancer or something, poor thing. I only met her for a second and she seemed so sweet..."

She saw by the expression on Billy's face he was bored, and waiting for the point. Clearing her throat, she twisted the dishcloth between her hands as she continued.

"Well, the husband is a pilot and is away most of the time, and the mother Mrs. Criss, she's visiting her sister down state, I guess she's going to be gone the weekend and tried to phone her daughter a few times and she hasn't answered. We exchanged numbers when we first met, and she just called...I know she isn't trying to worry, but she didn't want to call the sheriff to check in on her...I was gonna run over but I was wondering if you could cross the street and knock on the door and..."

"See if her kid isn't on the floor dead?"

Susan sighed, but tried not to let Billy's little snide remark bother her. Instead Billy rolled his eyes and nodded.

"Sure, which house?"

"The blue one right across the street, thanks Billy..."

Billy didn't answer her, instead he turned around and disappeared down the hallway, before returning just a minute later with a white T-shirt on. She was going to thank him, but saw how annoyed he looked as he passed her, and closed the door hard behind him. Stepping to the window, she pulled back the curtain and watched him pass Max who was currently trying to balance on her skateboard. Sighing, she hoped the Criss' daughter was all right. Letting the curtain go, she was snapped out of her thoughts by the oven timer going off.

Outside...

Billy passed Max who was standing on that stupid skateboard again. Ignoring her completely, he walked down the driveway, before glancing both ways of the shitty little street in this white trash nothing of a neighborhood, and instantly felt annoyed. All he wanted was to spend a little time without his dad busting his balls while he worked out. Instead here he was running stupid little errands for Susan who could have just walked across the street herself, or ask that little brat of hers to go check on this kid. Rolling his eyes, the crisp autumn air actually felt good to him since he had worked up a pretty good sweat inside. His T-shirt clung to him like a second skin as he reached the blue house and walked up the small path leading to the house. Climbing the brick steps, he stood on the front porch, before rolling his eyes, silently hoping whoever this was really wasn't dead since he really intended on conturing his workout as soon as possible.

The doorbell was actually something he had never seen before. It was a small metal end of a key. Puzzled, he stared at it for a moment before finally figuring it out and twisting it. A soft chime sounded inside. Billy waited, feeling impatient, tapping his boot against the porch. After thirty seconds when he didn't hear anything he twisted the key again, hearing the chime. This time he curled his hand into a fist and pounded on the door.

"Hello?!"

That's when the door from the force of his first pounding on it opened, slowly swinging inward. Standing there, his first froze as he stared at the now open doorway. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Max was still skateboarding, completely carefree and unaware of what he was doing. For a second he had the urge to go get Susan, but decided against it. If the girl really was dead, or some psycho had broken in he knew somehow it would get back to his dad that he ran back to go get Susan like a little baby. Instead, he lowered his hand, frowned, and stepped inside.

"Hello?"

The living room was the first room that was off from the front door. Sitting on the sofa, with a blood stained tissue against her pinched nose was a teenager, not the kid Billy had imagined in his mind. She wore black PJ bottoms, and an old faded navy blue T-shirt. Her black hair was tied back in a messy ponytail, and her skin was China white. Her head was tilted slightly backwards, pinching her nose, before she noticed him step inside. Instantly she sat up, letting the tissue drop beside her, where Billy noticed several other crumpled up ones sat with tiny stains of blood. A small faint twinge of color filled her pale complexion, and the first thing he noticed was how green her wide round eyes looked. Billy saw her shocked expression as he instantly raised his hands.

"Hey...I'm Billy Hargrove, I live across the street. My stepmother sent me over here to check and see if you're okay...your mom called a few times and you didn't answer..."

Instantly the girl looked over at the phone which was off the cradle and she closed her eyes sighing.

"Shit..."

Billy stood there, seeing blood start to form around her left nostril, before she opened her eyes back up and smiled, looking embarrassed.

"Sorry, I had a horrible headache and took the phone off the hook...I must have forgot..."

Usually Billy wouldn't have even stayed long enough to hear whatever stupid excuse she was spitting out. He stood there, ready to mutter whatever, and to put the stupid phone back on the hook, instead he eyed her nose and motioned to her.

"Um...your nose..."

The girl blinked for a second, before instantly she reached and touched her nostril, and eyed at the blood that was dribbling out. Sighing, she reached and grabbed another tissue and brought it up to her nose.

"Jesus...I'm a mess...sorry..."

Billy shrugged, before he pointed to the phone.

"You okay? Should I call someone?' The girl smiled weakly and shook her head. "I'm fine, just a stupid side affect from some of the meds I'm on."

She dabbed at her nose, and sniffled a little before giving a small smile.

"Sorry your mom had to send you over.."

"Stepmom...and don't worry about it. Why was the door open?"

"I must not have closed it when I grabbed the mail earlier. I swear you would think being stoned on pain pills would actually be cool, but it actually turns my brains into mush. I'm surprised my mother hasn't sent the coast guard after me when I wasn't answering the phone."

Billy smirked as she chuckled to herself before he leaned against the doorway.

"Well no offense to your mom but if she worries so much, maybe she shouldn't have left you home alone."

The girl raised an eyebrow and smiled, wiping the last of the blood away from her nose.

"I'm really too sick to be in the car for that long, besides I'm usually not this stoned and stupid. Please don't say anything to your stepmom, I'm embarrassed..."

Billy eyed the living room, it was tiny but overall neat. There was light blue furniture, a hutch filled with carnival glass, and a TV sitting near the archway he expected opening up to the dinning room. An MTV music video was playing on mute. His eyes returned to her, and that same old charm he so often relied on same into play. Instead of being annoyed, he smirked. Despite the baggy T-shirt, she looked like she had a pretty nice figure, and even though he typically wasn't attracted to this type, he really did think her eyes were pretty beautiful.

"Hey, it's fine..."

"July."

"What?"

"July...July Criss. You go to Hawkins high?"

"Yeah just transferred, total shithole."

July lit up and laughed, her beautiful round green eyes squinting as her tiny nose wrinkled. Billy couldn't help but smile himself. Once her laughter settled down, July smiled, still holding her bloody tissue.

"Sorry, but I don't think I've ever heard a truer statement. I do home schooling ever since I got sick."

Billy walked over, not taking his eyes off her before he reached the sofa. July stared up at him, before her smile faded and she raised an eyebrow staring up at him. Billy didn't break his gaze, instead he reached down and plucked the tissue from her hands and brought it up to her nose and wiped a small trickle of blood that had escaped again. Instantly July blushed again, before she took the tissue from him, and gave the bottom of her nose a good scrub.

"Sorry, gross..."

Billy shrugged.

"I get them all the time playing basketball...it's fine. Billy."

He offered her hand. July stared up at him before smirking and shook his much larger hand which seemed to swallow hers up. He turned her hand over, feeling how frail it felt in his, and how much cooler it was against his warm skin. He didn't know if this was another side effect of whatever she had. She stared up at him, before he smiled.

"Icepacks help usually."

"Really?"

"Yeah, little trick that might help."

"Thanks..."

Both continued staring at each other for a solid minute in silence, before July finally broke it but smirking.

"Where you move from?"

"California."

"Really? God I've always wanted to visit there. I heard the beaches are beautiful."

"Yeah, they can be pretty cool..."

"I always said when I get better I'm headed out there and learning how to surf."

"Surf? You wanna surf?"

"Someday. Unfortunately with a stage 3 brain tumor and living in the mid-West that dream hasn't become a reality yet."

Stage 3... Billy knew that wasn't good even though July seemed okay despite the nosebleed. She was a little pale, but otherwise looked pretty healthy.

"Well that's a damn shame since you happen to be standing next to one of the best surfers there are."

July smirked.

"Is that a fact?"

Before Billy could answer, Susan barged right in through the front door, nearly tripping over her own two feet. Billy turned and faced her, feeling her eyes glare at her as she looked at both July and then him. "Oh...I'm sorry...I didn't mean to just come in..."

Billy gave her a very annoyed look before July smiled, blushing again as she held her tissue.

"Oh my God I'm so sorry ...I didn't mean to worry anyone. I took the phone off the hook since I was getting a bad headache."

Susan eyed the bloody tissues.

"Should I call someone?"

July shook her head.

"Oh no, this is nothing really...happens all the time. I'll call my mother back right away. Sorry for worrying everyone..."

Susan sadly smiled.

"Oh don't be silly darling. We just wanted to make sure you're okay. Are you sur..."

Before she could finish, Billy turned, shooting her a look.

"She said she's fine Susan, she'll call her mom. It's okay."

"Susan eyed Billy nervously before looking down again at July.

"Would you like to come over for dinner? I made a pot roast and we would love to have you..."

"Thank you so much, but my appetite hasn't been that great. I'm just going to call my mom and go lay down."

"Are you sure honey?"

July smiled, staying polite. "Yes, thank you."

Susan sighed before she motioned back to the door.

"I'll come by tomorrow to see if you need anything and if you need anything...anything honey don't hesitate to come on over."

July smiled and nodded.

"Thank you Mrs. Hargrove."

"Susan please."

July smiled before Susan eyed Billy.

"Dinner Billy..."

Billy stared at her.

"I'll be there in a second."

An awkward silence filled the tiny living room before Susan got the hint and blushed herself.

"Well...I'll be going. Let me know if you need anything honey, and please remember to call your mom right away."

"I will, thank you."

Susan smiled, before catching Billy's eyes for just a mere moment. Turning, she walked out the front door, leaving them alone again. July sat back, tilting her head back before running her hands over her face.

"Jesus I could die..."

"I know she's too much..."

July sat up and shook her head.

"No, you guys are so sweet thank you. I just can't believe myself. Sooner or later my mom won't ever leave me alone..."

"Hey it's fine. So...if you went to Hawkins High...what year would you be?"

"Senior, you?"

"Same."

"When does your mom come home?"

"Monday morning?"

"And your dad?"

"He's in Rio flying jets, he won't be back until next month."

"Well...can you...like leave here?"

"Like go out?"

"Yeah."

July smiled amused, "Yeah I go out, not as much now...but sometimes."

"You wanna go to a party with me tomorrow night if you're feeling better?"

"A party?"

"Yeah, I don't really know anybody yet and thought it would be fun. It's some dumb Halloween party this kid Tommy invited me to..."

"Tommy H?"

"I think so, you know him?"

"Sure, we've known each other as kids. His parents must be away to, he throws some pretty kiiller parties. I haven't been to any in the last year though..."

"You think you might be up to going tomorrow?"

July looked down at her crumpled up tissue before shrugging.

"Yeah...I guess so...but I might not be much fun. I can't drink with my meds...and I sometimes get light headed and sick..."

Her words trailed off, before she shook her head.

"You know what...I'm having sorta a rough weekend and I might be in trouble for worrying my mom. You're better off going alone...sorry."

Billy stared down at her and cocked his head to the side and grinned.

"Tell you know...tomorrow around eight I'll swing by. If you feel good enough to go...we'll go together for a few hours. If you feel sick, then I'll sneak over a six pack for myself and we'll watch MTV. How does that sound?"

July stared up at him before a nervous smile formed on her face.

"Um...yeah...sure."

"Remember that icepack firecracker, I'll see you tomorrow."

He winked at her, before turning and walking out the door, pulling it closed behind him, smiling knowing the stunned expression he must have left on her face.

That night...

Dinner was mostly silent, besides the sounds of chewing and silverware hitting the plates. Max kept shooting Billy dirty looks from across the table, as Susan went on and on to Neil about that "poor thing" that lived across the street. She kept thanking Billy for going over and checking on her. Neil didn't see the slightest bit impressed and ended up reading the sports section from the newspaper. Billy planned on going out later and meet up with a couple of guys he met earlier this week who promised they had some pretty strong weed to smoke down at the park. Feeling the tension grow, his thoughts flickered back to July, and how green those eyes of hers were. He had dated and slept with plenty of women in the last few years, usually one night stands, but something about that name July kept coming back to him. It was unusual, and he seemed curious about her. Since arriving at Hawkins he had taken out a few boring high school girls, but so far hadn't slept with anyone. He knew it was just a matter of time before that happened.

Usually he liked hitting bars with his fake ID and picking up older women. He knew there was a reason behind his pattern of women, but he ignored it. Instead he kept thinking back to July, sitting there surrounded by crumpled up bloody tissues. He wondered if she had a nice rack underneath that T-shirt. Maybe tomorrow night he might get the chance to find out.

"Susan?"

Susan looked up having just dished out some more peas onto Neil's plate.

"Yeah?"

"Do you know what's wrong with July?"

"Stupid name...Jesus Christ..."

His father muttered from behind the paper. Both Billy and Susan eyed him before Susan cleared her throat, placing the bowl back down on the table.

Susan shrugged.

"Her mother only said it's a brain tumor, developed about two years ago."

"Can't they like...take it out?"

"I guess they tired before but since it's grown, there's a chance she might lose her sight. God, I could only imagine what her parents are going through. I guess she's a really nice girl too, they said they are trying chemo but nothing seems to be working. They give her less than a year..."

Billy's face twitched for a second as he continued staring across at her. Usually something like this wouldn't bother him, let alone hearing it about a complete stranger he had just met a few hours earlier. Still, he couldn't seem to believe it. She seemed so young. Susan changed the subject when she started asking Max about school. Billy meanwhile ate silently, and afterwards got dressed to go out. Avoiding his father who was out back nursing a few beers, he grabbed his car keys and stepped out into the chilly October air. Once he went to his car, he glanced over across the street. He saw the faintly through the living room window. Billy looked around the dark neighborhood, before looking back across the street. He could't see her, probably laying on the sofa, but he could see the glow of the TV against the wall. Smirking, he popped a cigarette in his mouth. Smirking, he climbed into his car, and started the engine, listening to it roar to life. Music started to blast from the stereo as he backed up, and was ready to speed down the street, before he noticed his eyes drift over to July's house.

His regular Billy attitude figured she was probably too sick to go tomorrow night. More than likely she would cancel or be a complete drag to go with. What would people think if he brought the sick dying chick to the party? The other part of Billy, the one that barley existed anymore actually hoped she wouldn't be up to go to the party. He actually wouldn't mind spending a Saturday night away from all these new faces. Maybe sipping beers and watching MTV with this pretty girl might actually be nice. Who knows, a girl who didn't have long to live might be more willing to let him into her pants. With a smirk Billy eyed himself in the rearview mirror, before he gave himself a wink.

Maybe this little firecracker wouldn't fizz out as fast as he thought. Maybe she might make this shitty new town a little more interesting. With a laugh, Billy floored his car, and flew down the street.