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Red Roses

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It was a friday, school had ended one hour ago, yet the Party was still hanging around Hawkins high. It was the month of june, and the day was pretty warm. Lucas, Dustin and Mike were just wearing t-shirts meanwhile Will and Jane prefered light and soft sweaters. They were talking about their day, what they were going to do this weekend.

 

Only one member of the party was missing. Max. Last year she travelled back to California, to see her dad, and mostly to take a break from her step-dad and step-brother. Her mom accepted, even if she wasn’t ok with it, but understood that her daughter wanted to see her father. She was supposed to be back yesterday, but she couldn’t make it. She stayed very vague about why she couldn’t.

 

They all heard a motor sound, very loud and low-pitched, and they all turned to face a motorbike and it’s biker. They removed their helmet, and a long red hair fell out of it.

All of them gasped when they recognize who it was

 

“Hey there stalkers! Missed me?” Max called,still sitting on her motorbike, all smile.

 

The Party got up and started running toward her, laughing and yelling about how much they missed her. Mostly Dustin and Lucas.

 

“Oh my god Max! I missed you so much! The party wasn’t the same without you!” Dustin cried-laughed while he tackled Max into a hug, almost making them both fall.

 

“God you’re such a drama-queen Dustin.” answered Max, laughing. She smiled and said “But i missed you too, I missed all of you.”

 

Silence fell on them then Mike started talking “Are we not gonna talk about...This?” he said as he gestured to the motorbike. Dustin let go of the hug and took a step back, looking at the engine “Wow.” he said simply.

 

“When did you got it?” Lucas asked, kneeling down to take a closer look at it.

 

“Last week.That’s why I couldn’t make it. My dad had to bought it and all the insurance and papers… I had to wait a bit more before getting back in Hawkins.”

 

The rest of them nodded and Will asked “Do you think we can… Drive it?”

 

The red-head laughed and Will blushed, embarrassed, Max noticed and stopped “Oh Will, no offence, but do you really think I could let ANY of you drive this baby?” the small teen shrugged and she continued “ No, for real, I love you guys, but I know it had costed a lot of money from my dad. I don’t want to risk anything.” Will nodded.

 

“Sorry.” he apologized and Max glared at him “Don’t apologize. It’s ok, I don’t hate you for asking.” she winked and added “I could let one of you have a ride though…”

 

All of them looked at each others, Jane glancing at Dustin and Lucas who were like two little kids in front of an Ice cream shop.

“Really?” the two of them yelled in the same time. “Well, yeah. Just, one at the time. I told you,I don’t want to break it only one week after getting it.”

 

Mike then wondered “Wait, how did you get back here with the motorbike, you didn’t drive all the way from California to Hawkins did you?”

 

“Are you crazy? No, of course not. My dad rented a small truck and we made a road-trip.” she paused “My mom wasn’t very happy about the motorbike, but my dad told her that it was for my birthday. You should’ve seen the look on Neil’s face. He wasn’t happy at all to the fact he was failing his role of a father.”

 

They giggled and Max asked “So, who’s in for a ride? I can get you home if you want.”

She glanced at Dustin who was right in front of her.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry, not today. Steve’s picking me up and we’re going to watch a movie and the cinema together. It’s one of the only weekends he’s not drowning of homeworks from College.”

 

“Oh okay, maybe another time then.”

 

Dustin smiled and nodded. Max turned to Will “What about you?” he seemed very excited at the idea to drive it, maybe she could make up for it and offer him at least a ride.

 

Will looked at Mike and shook his head “No, I - We can’t. We gotta go to the library to uh-” “Study” Mike finished “To study for the next chemistry test. My grades’ been pretty low lately.” Will gave him a look, squinted a bit but nodded anyway.

 

“Damn. That suck” said Max, a knowing smile on her lips. It wasn’t new that they were dating. Only they didn’t make a fuss about it, and never “officially” told the Party.

 

Mike flushed “We should get going.”

“Yeah the library is about to close soon…” Will blurted and the two of them turned around and went to their bikes.

 

“It was nice seeing you Max! We’ll see you around this week end I guess?” said Mike as the two boys passed next to her “Yeah! Totally! See you around!” Max responded with a giggle. On that Mike and Will left.

 

“So-” Max started speaking, but was interrupted when a car honked and they heard someone yell “Yo dipshit!”

Dustin turned to see Steve, in his car, driving up on the other side of the road.

 

“Is that you Max?” he asked, eyes widening.

 

“Yep!” she yelled back

 

“Shit. Nice motorbike. Okay Dustin, move your ass now! I don’t wanna be late again.”

 

“ Yeah ok!” Dustin rushed to the passenger seat and waved at the rest of his friends before getting in “See ya!”

 

Steve tilted his head toward them as a goodbye and started driving again, leaving Lucas, Jane and Max together.

 

“Welp.” said Lucas, he got up, and stretched.

 

“What about you two? Anyone?” Max asked and god she sounded desperate.

 

Jane shrugged and Lucas frowned “Me? On that? No thanks”

 

Max shook her head “What you think I can’t drive it?”

 

“No I didn’t mean that.”

 

“Then what?”

 

“I don’t have a helmet. I don’t mind riding a bike without a helmet on, but this is a MOTORbike.”

 

Max rolled her eyes “Lucas come on… I won’t do anything stupid. Have I ever done something stupid?” Lucas deadpan her “Where do I start?”

 

Max playfully punched him in the arm, laughing “Shut up stalker!”

 

“I should get going too. I need to pick up Erica from one of her friend’s house and get back in time to help make diner.” Lucas said, rubbing his arm. “Sorry, another time maybe?”

 

“Sure stalker.”

 

“Thanks zoomer.”

 

He got his bike and left quickly, smiling when he passed the two girls.

 

Jane was kind of staring in the void when Max called her “Please tell me no one is picking you up anytime soon Jane.”

 

“No”

 

“What?” The answer Jane gave her was unclear and left Max confused

 

“No, no one is picking me up”

 

“Ah!”

 

Max beamed. Jane saw how much the sun tanned her skin. Her freckles were now a deep brown and her hair was like a fire, curly and warm around her face.

 

“Hopper is still picking you up at the Station right? How about I drive you there?”

 

Jane nodded and asked “How do I do? I never ride a motorbike before.”

 

Max explained “Like a bike. Get behind me and put your feet there” she gestured behind her and Jane obliged.

 

“Where do I put my bag?”

 

“Keep it on you back ok? Make sure it’s all closed up though.” Jane checked her bag and nodded again “Ok cool, now, put your arm around my waist and we’re good to go”

 

“Your waist? Why? Shoulders are fine?” Asked Jane, confused as why Max wanted her to put her arms around her.

 

“Maybe when you were biking around with Mike it was ok to just put your arms on his shoulders, but a motorbike is a bit faster than a bike. You need a good grip. You get it?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Cool.” Max put her helmet back on, and lifted her arms as Jane put hers around her stomach “Ready princess?” Jane blushed at the nickname and she was glad that Max couldn’t see her “Uh- yes.”

 

Max started her motorbike, and kicked the ground to give her a bit of impulse to go.

Jane yelped when the engine started moving and squeezed Max between her arms.

 

Max was driving out of the parking lot, slowly just to make sure Jane was fine “Tell me if you want to slow down or stop ok?”

 

“Ok.”

 

Once they were out, Max picked up speed and Jane’s heart skipped a beat, she was now clutching Max’s sides, her face buried in her brown leather jacket. Max’s hair was whipping around her like wildfire, hitting her in the face, but she didn’t mind. She glanced above Max’s shoulder to see the houses moving fast around her. Once she got used to the feeling, she slowly put her chin on Max’s shoulder and relaxed her arms a bit. Now she could smell Max’s perfume. Mostly gasoline and maybe faint cigarette but she wasn’t sure. One that stood up to her was honey, probably due to Max’s shampoo. Max Mayfield smelled like honey and gasoline. That maybe was the wierdest smell ever but Jane found herself liking it.

 

For Max it was a whole new thing. She never gave anyone a ride. And the first person that accepted was Jane. Jane freaking Hopper. Max always tried to play it cool when she was in front of her, especially in public or the Party. But each time was the same, she’d blush, play with her long hair to try -and fail- to calm down, and ended up staying silent, not sure if her voice would break or not. And there she was, with Jane’s skinny arms wrapped around her, feeling her hot breath on the back of her neck. She could hear the brunette gasps a bit each time she was taking a turn, or when she was speeding up.

 

Soon enough they pulled up in front of the Police station and Max stopped her motorbike “Here we are! All safe” she got her helmet off and turned her head to see a wide-eyed Jane, who’s hair was looking crazy because of the wind.

 

“Fast. It was… Fast.” was all she could say. She was still holding around Max, as if she would die if she let go now.

 

Max laughed “It’s ok, it does that the first time. I guess. You’re the first person I gave a ride to, so I’m not sure.”

 

Jane slowly and shakingly let go, and got down of the motorbike “Thank you.”

 

“No problem!” Max got down too, putting the keys in her pocket and keeping her helmet under her arm “Mind if I stay with you a bit?” Jane wasn’t sure, maybe it was the sun slowly painting the sky pink, or maybe it was Max’s tan but she swore she saw the other girl blush when she asked.

And that only made Jane find Max even prettier than before.

 

“No, stay. It’s ok” And both of them walked into the Station.

 

When they entered, they were both welcomed by Flo “Ah! Jane I hope you had a nice day.” she nodded at the other girl “and Max, I hope you didn’t miss Hawkins too much.”

 

Max giggled and answered “Kinda. That’s why I’m back.”

 

Flo nodded again then turned back to Jane “Your dad called about twenty minutes ago, saying that he couldn’t pick you up after school. Someone painted slurs on a wall of Hawkin’s middle school.”

 

“Oh. Okay, I’ll walk.”

 

“Actually, he told Joyce Byers to come pick you up when she’s done with her shift. She should be here in thirty minutes.”

 

“Ok.”

 

Flo then started to work again, meanwhile Jane walked to her dad’s office and Max just stood there, not knowing what to do.

 

“That won’t be necessary” she blurted out. Flo lifted an eyebrow and Jane turned to see a red-cheeked Max. At this moment, feeling all the eyes on her, the usually “chill” Max was gone, and she didn’t knew why. Why each time she was around Jane she was feeling all stupid, or each time she was talking with Jane she was afraid to say something stupid.This was one of those times.

 

“I - I mean… I can drive her… To her home. Like this we- Joyce doesn’t have to bother.”

The freckled girl stuttered, suddenly anxious“Just- tell Chief Hopper that I can do it… Please?”

 

Flo looked at Jane, her eyebrow still raised “What do you think?” Jane glanced at Max. The other girl was red, very red, her eyes were jumping nervously from Flo to Jane.

 

“Yes. It’s ok. Thank you Max.” The smaller girl’s voice was soft and calm, as always and Max’s heart skipped a beat when she said her name.

 

“Alright Jane, I’m gonna call your father. Go take a seat now.” Flo dismissed the girls with an eyeroll, almost imperceptible but there as she tried to contact the Chief.

 

“.... office?” Jane’s sweet voice came to Max ears. The teen was pointing to her dad’s office, at the end of the corridor. Max didn’t catch the beginning of the sentence, as she was just thinking about how and why she was acting weird ‘It’s your name, she always calls you by your name, why are you like this, come on Max, she’ll notice and think you’re a creep, just think straight.’

Max nodded, and followed Jane into the room.

 

They sat in the chairs in front of the desk, Max put her helmet on her lap, tapping her fingers on it. Jane was rocking back and forth on the chair, like a child. She often did “childish” stuff, like rocking in a chair, humming song that she heard Nancy or Mike sing to Holly, she just found them nice and funny, or just flapping her hands for no reason, but those things always made her happy and smiley. So no one in the Party ever tried to stop her. Max always found them really cute and pure, and always made her strong heart melt a bit.

 

So they were sitting, Max glancing from time to time in Jane’s direction, to see her bobbing her head a bit, in rhythm with her rocking. Max was staring at her short nails when Jane broke the silence “You were red.”

 

“I- I’m sorry what?”

 

“You were red, when I said your name.” an unspoken “why” was hanging in the air.

 

Well that wasn’t something Max wanted to talk about right now, but she didn’t really had a choice. She didn’t want to lie, especially to Jane.

 

“I don’t know.” that was half a lie, to be honest “I just felt… Weird.”

 

“I know” ah. So she noticed “Me too.”

 

Max snapped her head toward her, getting a whiplash from her hair. She stared at Jane, wide-eyed, jaw dropping a bit “What?”

 

Jane squirmed in her chair, she suddenly felt too warm. A deep pink painted her cheeks and she had a hard time to think, to find the right words, even more than usual

“I feel weird. With you” damn it that sounded bad “You feel the same.”

 

“I guess?” she didn’t understand where this conversation was going, and she didn’t wanted to. The air was heavier and tensed.

 

“Girls?”

 

The two teenagers faced Flo, who was standing in the doorframe, a sweet smile on her face as she speaked “ I finally reached Hopper. He’s ok with Max driving you home Jane. I called Joyce at her work so everything’s alright.”

 

What Flo didn’t say but everyone knew anyway was that Jim would kill Max if anything happened to Jane. Max slowly blinked and nodded, then got up, walking away from the uncomfortable conversation that her and Jane just had. She glanced at Flo while exiting, she was pretty sure that old lady was secretly listening to them and jumped in, in time, so that they avoid an awkward discussion. Or maybe she was just paranoid.

 

Just before leaving the Station, Flo yelled “ Do you girls want a doughnut? There’s no way I’m leaving them to Hopper. He’s on a diet.”

 

The girls looked at each other and shrugged, then took the two remaining doughnuts “Thank you” they said almost at the same time.

 

They went out, Jane was slowly walking behind Max. She was looking at Max’s hair. It grew a bit longer than last time she saw her, it was now touching the bottom of her back. The fiery hair contrasted on the deep brown of Max’s jacket, and suddenly she wanted to touch it. To play with it, to braid it, to make Max even prettier with braids and flowers stuck in her hair.

 

“Ok let’s go.” Max’s voice was shaky, and she sounded distant, lost in her thought.

 

Like before, Jane sat behind Max, but this time she was sitting closer to her. She didn’t hesitate to put her chin on the taller’s shoulder, and squeezed her arms around Max again “Ready.”

 

Without any more words Max drived off the Police station, to Jane’s home.

 

The whole ride was silent. Max’s driving was more rough. In fact she wasn’t really focused on how she was driving, more on what Jane meant by “Me too”.  Surely, Max must’ve acted wrong and now Jane was now weirded out by her. God Jane was hating her.

Then Max wondered: ‘Why does that matter anyway?’ It was true, Max learned long ago that if people hated you it was best to let them go. But she didn’t wanted that with Jane. She wanted to be her friend, she wanted to stay close to her, to help her, to hold her hand and-

 

She stopped violently, causing Jane to let out a “Oof”, when she saw that they almost passed Jane’s house. Ok, from now on focus on the road, not on feelings, while driving.

 

“There you go.” she sounded flat. She was confused and scared. She removed her helmet, but sat on her motorbike. He legs were shaky and she didn’t trust them. Jane jumped down, and started walking before turning around “Max… About what I said-”

 

“No, no it’s me. I’m sorry, I acted really strange today and I totally understand if-you know- you feel the same”

 

“No listen-”

 

“ No, like I forced you to take a ride, called you “princess” -that’s so stupid- and I hate myself for it I’m sorry I just-”

 

“Max. Stop.” Jane was standing just next to her, her head was leaning a bit down to face Max, right in the eyes. The tall girl just felt the blood rush to her cheeks and ears. Shit.

 

“I don’t hate you. You didn’t force me to anything” Jane was blushing too.

 

“You don’t?” the other asked incredulous

 

The curly haired girl shook her head, a soft “No” escaping her pink lips

 

“But I-” she didn’t finish her sentence, she just stared at Jane whose face was just a few inches away from hers “I don’t hate you. Promise.”

 

“Then why did you say that you felt weird too?” she almost wanted to cry and she didn’t knew why, and she hated it. She never was that emotional.

 

“Because you feel like me.” she paused. She needed better words. Max didn’t interrupted her “You feel warm and fuzzy when you are next to me. You act weird and unsure when I call your name. I feel the same.” the flows of her words was surprisingly smooth for the situation and the difficulty she had to express her emotions.

 

Jane lifted her hand and slowly put it above Max’s chest, a bit on the left. There she could feel Max’s crazy heartbeat. Max didn’t even protest as she was lost in Jane’s brown eyes. A small sparkle was there, deep down in the dark brown of her iris.

 

“Here.” Jane offered her other hand to Max. The teen took it unsure, and Jane put the flustered girl’s hand on her own chest. Now Max could feel it too. Now she could understand “I feel the same.” Jane repeated and smiled shyly.

 

“Yeah. I guess so.” she was smiling too, her lips twitching a bit. Jane slowly bobbed her forehead against Max’s and closed her eyes.

 

They just stayed here, both unsure of what to do now. Jane knew what would come next but she didn’t wanted to do it. But did anyway “I love you Max.”

 

Both of their heartbeat went faster.

 

“You do?”

 

“Yes.” she was certain for herself “Do you?”

 

Max didn’t answer right away. So that was it. All the stuttering and blushing finally had some answers. Just idiot teenage crush and love.

 

“Of course.”Max took Jane’s hand in hers and lifted her head a bit. Jane opened her eyes and locked them into Max’s.

 

Jane leaned in, finally closing the space between their lips.

 

They broke away a few seconds later, mostly in need of air, but also maybe they wanted to look at each other a bit. Maybe they wanted to fall in love even more.

 

Jane was looking at Max’s blue eyes. As the sun was slowly falling down, the sky was painted in red and orange, making Max’s hair stand up even more than before. Her eyes were almost glowing in contrast to the warm colors around them.

 

“Pretty” she whispered and Max grinned and drop her head in Jane’s neck, giggling

 

“You’re so cheesy. But you’re pretty too. Very pretty.”

 

Jane freed her hands from Max’s grasps and ran them in the hair of the other girl.

She rested her chin on the top of her head and let out a sigh.

 

“Thank you for driving me home.”

 

“No problem princess.”

 

“Princess?” she leaned back and looked at Max, who was smiling

 

“You’re my princess. If you want to.”

 

Jane answered by kissing Max’s forehead.

“Is that a yes?” the redhead asked

 

“Yes. I’m your princess and you’re my favorite knight.”

 

Max wanted to crawl into a hole, god she was so in love with her, it was almost unbearable.

 

“Sure. I’m your knight.”

 

They both let go and Jane walked toward her front door. She turned when she heard Max “Hey, I’ll uh- pick you up tomorrow? Around 9am? We can go to the arcade? And buy some smoothies? If you want?”

 

“Ok. See you tomorrow.” she slowly got inside, looking back many times while she was unlocking and opening the door.

 

Max waved and as soon as the door closed she let out a long, long sigh. Relief was all that she felt. And love of course. She put back her helmet one last time and drove back toward her house. It all went down in one day. In one small afternoon she was back in Hawkins and got an amazing girlfriend.

 

She smiled so hard she thought she might stay stuck like that forever. But she didn’t really mind. She was happy and nothing could change that. Not even Billy.

 

As she drove she made a mental note to buy flowers tomorrow morning before picking up Jane. Something classic, like roses. Yes. That was it. Plain red roses.