Work Header

Wicked Game

Chapter Text

September 1st, 1985

The first day of Hawkins High School. It was the last place James wanted to be. When he was in middle school he would fantasize about what his high school life would be like. Finally, make friends, go to parties, he could be a normal teenager, have a normal life. But that was just a delusion. A lie he told himself to get through the day. It took some time but he finally understood he could never have a life like that.

It wasn’t the place that he hated, but the people in it. The most he usually hoped for with a new school was to be invisible, but he was certain that was impossible here. Fitting in was never going to be an option, not in this school. Adjusting to new schools had become easy after a couple of years. James had done it countless times and had become an expert at it. There where simple rules that he had picked up in the series of schools where he was the new kid.

Avoiding groups was essential. No teams, clubs or societies. No matter what group it was, being a member usually labeled you as one thing or another. People with labels usually weren’t invisible. Every group of people comes with some kind of stereotype or misconception and people will detest you just for your association. 

James had also learned not to initiate fights. This rule was learned the hard way and was usually the most difficult to follow. Sometimes he can’t control his anger, what fifteen-year-old kid can, but it was different growing up in the environment he did. A fight was never far away. All it took was a sideways glance at the wrong person in the wrong mood. When he was a child, he talked a big game even if he could never back it up. Fighting just becomes second nature to him. You get into enough of them, eventual you start to win some. But Hawkins wasn't the city, he probably didn't have to think about which students had switchblades or which ones had gang affiliations. Hawkins just wasn't that type of place. But fighting was still a great way to be in the spotlight, and that was the last place James wanted to be.

The most surprising thing he had found that helped in new schools was to play down his academic ability. James had usually been on top of his class. He wasn't a genius or anything but he had always been able to pick things up quickly when other kids struggled. His classmates hated him for that. As soon as he started showing off in class, he painted a target on your back. Some kids were jealous or insure or whatever. It wasn't important how they felt, only how they acted on those feelings, which was usually some form of aggression of bullying. He found it best not to answer questions in class and don’t try to sound like a smart ass. It seems stupid when he thinks about it, but it's worked for him so far.

His mind drifted to the time his mother and father had brought him to see some specialist doctors while they were living in New York. He couldn't have been more than six or seven at the time. The doctor asked him a bunch of pointless questions and given him silly word games or puzzles to solve.

He remembered overhearing the doctor tell his parents that he should be going to a new school. On where they wore uniforms or studied Latin James didn't think it sounded like it was for him but his mother wanted him to attend. His parents had screamed at each other that night, arguing if he should go or not. Emily, his mother had always wanted the best for him, even though they knew they couldn't afford it. Money was tight. She worked two jobs to try to keep them in their little shitty one-bedroom apartment. His father was worthless. Every dollar he made was injected into his arm.

He had hit her that night. Not the worst he ever had. James didn’t need to call an ambulance-like the time they had fought before that, he had paid for that in the worst way. The scar on his back itched as he shuddered thinking of the memory of his father throwing him into the glass coffee table. That familiar bone-crunching pain was rising in his chest. He cast the memories aside almost as quickly as they came. The rules. Remember the rules, be invisible and you will be fine. He repeated it in his head over and over again. He almost started to believe it.

He walked the halls of the school. It was his first time out in public place since he returned to Hawkins. Part of him believed nobody would remember him, he used to be nobody. Six years ago, he could get through the day without any interaction at all. Now it was different. The rumors surrounding his absence had died down in the years after he had left. But his sudden reappearance had initiated a new onslaught of lies and half-truths.

A common one among them detailing how he had killed his mother and had spent the last six years in a juvenile prison. Another half-truth. His mother’s death may have been his fault but he hadn’t killed her. The mystery surrounding her death had been the talk of the town for months, even years afterward. Nothing very interesting ever happened in Hawkins and when something like that happens, it doesn't just disappear. No matter how much he wanted it to. Hopper had done his best to keep it quiet, for James's sake. He kept it out of the local papers but it didn't stop the rumors and gossip from spreading throughout the town like cancer. Another thing he wished he could repay the chief back for.

Prison. James always found the idea amusing. It almost sounded preferable to living in the foster care system in Indianapolis for the last six years. At least there he wouldn’t be cold when that month’s parents would shut off the heating. There he wouldn’t have had to search the house for scraps when he got hungry like some kind of rat. It hadn't been easy living like that for so many years. Constantly on the move to new homes, each one making him reevaluate how bad a shitty foster parent could be. Constantly fighting just for his share, never feeling safe enough to sleep. It was one horrible situation to the next, constantly being kicked out for fighting or stealing. But that was behind him now, he was in a good place and was determined not to jeopardize it.

He surveyed the room carefully. The faces in the room where all people he had been in middle school with but he struggled to remember a single person’s name. The class seemed fairly evenly split between boys and girls. All looking tired and depressed to start another school year. The student's attitudes contradicted the room they currently sat in. It was all bright colors and posters about the benefits of learning, covering every inch of wall space. There where Bios of Authors with associated images lining the large blackboard at the front of the room. He didn't need to check his timetable to know he was in AP English. He didn't want to be in any advanced classes. He had always just done the bare minimum in class but he had been coaxed into by Hopper.

He selected his seat carefully, avoiding any groups or anyone who looked like they wanted to make a new friend on the first day of high school. It was at the back, as physically far away from the teacher's desk as he could be. A man entered the class and stood at the front of the room. James sat up and took off his walkmen headphones he had been listing to. The rule about avoiding fights also applies to teachers. Teachers could make life difficult if they wanted to, always best to stay on their good side or at least stay out of their way.

"Hello, class, I'm Mr. Mc Nial, I’ll be teaching you English this year." He said enthusiastically. The man sat at his desk and removed a large pile of sheets. The papers were handed to the person sitting at the front of the class. Teacher's Pet he thought to himself. However, the girl in front looked terrified. She had brown curly hair that reached down to just above her shoulder and big brown doe eyes. Ironic because she looked like a deer in headlights. She took them from the teacher and held them to herself, not looking up from her desk.

"This year's syllabus is being passed around so take one and pass it on," Mr. Mc Niall said without taking his eyes of the remaining piece of paper on his desk. The girl in front took this as a queue and took one and passed it on. James could see her breath out and relax a little. Mr. Mc Niall started to rattle names off the list, each name was followed by a "yes" or "here". He had stopped listening to the names being called and started wondering how he could sneak out of school for a quick smoke. Mr. Mc Niall was working through the list of names at a steady pace, then she stopped dead.

"James White," he said bizarrely, looking up from the roll call for the first time. There was an audible silence in the class. Some of the students wiped their heads around to look at him others looked around to see what the confusion was about. James guessed he wasn't as forgotten as he had hoped.

"Here," he said trying to sound confident. Mr. Mc Nial stared at him for a few seconds as if he were a maths equation he couldn't quite get. He coughed lightly and averted his gaze when he realized he was staring at him. The list of names suddenly continued as if nothing had happened.

"psssss, hey James" a boy sitting next to him whispered. He turned his head to see a boy staring at him with his hand held out with a bunch of papers in them. He went to grab some, but they were pulled back to quickly. He looked at the boy in the faced. A big part of him wanted to hit him without question. If he was in one of his old schools he might have. That's usually how James acted, fight now and ask questions later. If there was one thing he learned about winning fights it was the importance of throwing the first punch and making it a good one.

"Can I have the syllabus, Please?" James said through gritted teeth. The boy seemed to think about it for a second. He extended the papers to James again. 

"Yea, of course," The boy said with a grin across his face. James extended his arm and grabbed the paper. However, he frustratingly realized the boy wouldn’t release his grip. He was starting to get really pissed off.

"Is it true you killed your mother?" He said looking him dead in the eye. James clinched the side of his desk so hard he felt his nails start to bleed. Fuck fitting in he thought. This bastard was going to get it, bad. Under the desk, he clenched his hand into a fist, the whole time the boy's eyes never left his.

"TROY!" Mr. Mc Nial's voice cut through the tension like a blade. James looked up and saw her staring at them. 

"Please boys no talking in class," he said sternly. James doubted he had a mean bone in his body. He was just trying to sound intimidating but it did the job.

"Sorry Mr. Mc Nial won't happen again," Troy said. He looked over at James one final time with that shit-eating grin on his face. He was glad the teacher distracted him. Sending this kid to the hospital on his first day would make him look worse than he already did.

The rest of the class was uneventful. He continued the day with his head down avoiding the harsh glances and sometimes full-on stares he received in the corridor. It was almost time for lunch. Eating in the cafeteria is a rookie mistake. He usually got his food and went anywhere else. Too many social hierarchies to deal with. Too many landmines to avoid or defuse and if he encountered that prick Troy again, he was likely to end up hurting him. Worse than he probably deserves, but it was a long day and James was in a bad mood. The bell chimed for lunch and James was the first out the door.

September 1st, 1985

Things haven’t ever really been good for Will Byers. When he looks back on his short life, he sees short momentary bursts of happiness in the middle of a vast sea of shit. Will sometimes convinces himself that his life was fine before 1983. But the truth is, his earliest memory was a Christmas spent with his parents screaming at each other and hiding with his brother in his room, crying. Then the divorce happened, and the bullying got worse. That wasn't the worst of it though.

The worst part was the self-knowledge that he was different from his friends. For the longest time he never really knew what set him apart from them. It wasn’t something you could see or hear but he knew it was there. Always lurking under the surface. Always threating to reveal itself to him. So, he ignored it, pretended that everything was fine. However, as he got older it got harder to ignore. He knew what it was even if he had never said it out loud. He had figured it out on the night of the snowball. Dancing with Jenifer that night had been fun. But that’s all it had been. He didn’t feel anything for her. Not like Mike felt about El or the way Lucas felt about Max. He thought maybe it was just Jenifer he didn’t like, but he knew that wasn't the case. He knew the truth, he had always known the truth.

His life had changed when it got him. The Demogorgon. He doesn’t remember everything from his time in the upside-down. Just enough to still make him terrified of the dark and what he knows lives in it. He wanted to believe the doctor when he told him he was just having flashbacks, but he knew that it was bullshit, nevertheless, he had gotten good at lying to himself over the years.

Mike had told him how he had helped them when he was possessed by the Mind Flayer. He had told him over and over again that they couldn’t have beaten it without him. Will called bullshit on that too. His memories from when he was possessed are more fractured than his memories of the upside-down. It is almost as if the Mind Flayer only wanted him to remember the really bad shit that happened. He had never actually witnessed Bob's death. Not with his own eyes’ anyway. But he remembers it. He remembers leading the group of soldiers down into the tunnels to their death. He remembers the pain of the mind flayer leaving his body as Nancy stabbed him with the iron poker.

He still has his scars, but the worst ones are the ones no one sees. The scars that keep him up at night. His friends help but they have the own problems and lives to deal with. And in the case of Mike, El, Max, and Lucas their own relationships to manage. He is happy for his friends, even if their relationships mean he is lonely from time to time. Jealousy comes when he sees Mike and El holding hands under a table, thinking no one will notice or Max and Lucas stealing kisses while watching a movie, it disappears almost as quickly as it comes.

But it’s a new school year and he wants to start fresh. He hadn’t felt this optimistic in a long time and it made him slightly nervous. The first day of high school. Some people feared it, one of those being Dustin, shouting his usual nonsense about social groups and popularity. But Will viewed it as a new beginning. He and El seemed to be the only ones excited to start the new chapter of their lives. El was just excited to feel like a normal teenager for the first time in her life.

He scanned his timetable carefully. Math was the last class before lunch. The teacher, Mr. Brown was an old man who didn’t seem very interested. After doing a roll call and outlining the plan for the year he gave them permission to talk among themselves until the end of class.

"This sucks," Dustin exclaimed while laying his head in his arms on the desk. 

"I hardly have any classes with the party and it's only the first day and Ms. Williams, me and Lucas’s Biology teach, already fucking hates us." He lifted his head off the table giving them an exhausting look.

"It could be worse, I feel bad for El talking AP English by herself,” Will said.

"I still don’t understand how someone could go from barely speaking a language to being in the advanced class," Dustin said staring at Mike for some sort of explanation.

"I told you, she worked really hard for this. Hopper even got her some special tutor or something to help out." Mike said looking down at his notebook smiling slightly. They said nothing, but both Will and Dustin knew it was a look of pride.

El was a determined person. There was no stopping her once she decided that she wasn’t going to be afraid of English. Instead, she wanted it to be her best subject. Will remembered the look on her face when she got her class list and found out her hard work was going to pay off. Her progress over the summer was exponential. One week she was reading books suitable for Mike’s little sister the next week she was reading the Great Gatsby. The bell chimed and made will jump in his seat a little. The three boys packed their stuff and headed towards the cafeteria.

"Do you think they got us a table already?" Dustin asked nervously. Since the end of middle school, Dustin held on to this nightmare that once they got to High school, they wouldn’t be able to sit together anymore.

"Come on Dustin it’ll be fine, I’m not doing this with you again" Mike sighed looking at his friend.

"Fine but you better hope I don’t get stuck at some loser table." Mike and Will shared a glance until Will started giggling to himself.

"What! What’s so funny" Dustin said swinging his head towards Will. Sometimes Dustin's obliviousness was stunning.

"Dude we are the loser table," Mike said trying to hold back his laugh. They all laughed as they arrived in the cafeteria. Dustin spotted Lucas, Max and El sitting at a table towards the back. El lifted her head and eagerly waved them over. Will scanned the cafeteria as they walked over. Everyone in this school was bigger and older than him. it was intimidating. Mike sat down next to his girlfriend and softly kissed her as the rest of them took their seats.

"How was your first day," Mike said as El was practically jumping up and down in her seat with excitement. 

"It’s amazing, the school I mean." She said looking at the rest of the party for confirmation. She was met with dead expressions from everyone. Will couldn’t help but let his smile out, he was happy for her. She deserved this in her life. He had never been good at forging new friendships but with El it was simple, it was like she was always part of the party. Max took a little more time but now he couldn't imagine his life without either of them in it.

"What is wrong with you," Max said smiling to her best friend. She was looking at El but then her gaze slowly drifted over her shoulder to the entrance of the cafeteria. Max’s smile slowly faded as her eyes narrowed on the boy that just entered. Max wondered if you could actually call him a boy. He was a freshman for sure but he looked older. He stood at about 6ft and had deep blue eyes with jet black hair.

"Who’s that guy," she said a little too loudly. All six of them at the table turned their heads to look at him at once. Will scanned through the crowd entering the cafeteria.

"Seriously guys be more obvious," she said looking a little embarrassed. They turned back to the table and look at him, out the corner of their eyes as he crossed the cafeteria. It took Will a second to recognize where he had seen him before. It was weird, the boy seemed so familiar but also a complete stranger. Then it clicked. Will opened his mouth to speak but Lucus beat him to it.

"Holy shit, that’s James White," Lucas said spitting out the small amounts of food in his mouth. Lucas and Mike shared the same shocked expression as Will. He couldn't believe it was James. Will hadn't thought of that name in years.

"Jesus stalker say it don’t spray it. Who the fuck is James White anyway" she said looking to Dustin who was suspiciously quiet? He seemed to be as clueless as she was. El just started at the food on her plate. 

"He went to Hawkins Middle School," Mike said still not believing what he was saying. Each of them where either taking turns glancing over to him.

"I thought he was dead or something" Will added, looking back over his shoulder to take his turn and get a better look at the stranger.

"No guys I heard he was like in prison," Lucas argued. 

"They don’t send kids to prison, dipshit" Max said making Lucas deflate a little as James made his way into the queue with a tray in hand.

"Nobody knows what really happened," Will said with some sense of rationality that the discussion seemed to be missing. Max looked at him and nodded, signaling him to explain.

"Look, it's not like I knew the guy or anything, but we would see him around the school. One day he just disappeared and nobody knew why. We later found out his mother had died under weird circumstances or something. All the parents and teachers seemed to never talk about it in front of us, but rumors started spreading through school like wildfire. Some pretty crazy shit too." Will finished his explanation looking back at the party.

"I wonder what happened," Max said with a frown appearing across her face. She glanced at El and found her staring at the same point on her plate as last time. Will could she was keeping something from the party, she had a shit poker face, he thought.

"You know something," Max said slightly startling her. El looked at the rest of the party. One look was all it took for Mike to now Max was dead right.

"Holy shit El, do you know him or something," Mike said with a hint of worry in his voice. Ever since the 352 days he spent separated from El, he could be a bit overprotective. Ironic considering her unique ability to snap someone's neck with her mind.

"I don’t know anything, he's in my English class that’s it," El said panicking slightly and avoiding eye contact with Mike. He could read her like an open book.

"Come on El please, what do you know" Lucas pleaded. Will was getting more and more curious about this new boy. 

"Okay fine" she shouted. She took a deep breath and glanced over to James in the queue. There was something in her eyes. It almost looked like empathy.

"He knows Dad, their like friends or something". She explained. The party looked at her like she suddenly grew a second head. For as long as all of them have known the Chief he never seemed to be someone with any friends. Especially someone the same age as them.

"What do you mean, friends?" Mike asked. 

"All I know is a couple months ago, we were driving home and he said he had to make a stop. So, we pull up to this house on the edge of  East Hawkins. When we went inside, he told me to wait in the kitchen, he started talking to this couple in a home office. From what I could gather from the conversation….” El tried to explain.

"Eavesdrop more like" Dustin interrupted.

"Shut Up curly!" Max hissed while punching him in the arm and gesturing with a wave for El to continue.

"As I was saying, they were talking about someone coming to live with them. When I asked Dad about it later, he said they were going to foster an old friend of his. I tried to get him to tell me who he was, but he wouldn't. He just said that he knew him from when he lived in New York" El explained quietly. The whole time Will was getting more curious about this mystery boy.

"Wait, hold on, what makes you think that guy is the kid he was talking about if he never told you his name? "Will asked looking fully engaged. They were all on the edge of their seats now.

"I didn’t know his name until the roll call this morning but I have seen his face before. I saw a photo of Sara and him together in an old box of stuff under the cabin. I didn’t recognize him right away but then it just clicked " She said looking down. It stayed quiet for a minute. Will could feel the same pit in his stomach the first time he had learned of Hopper's first child. Hop could be a difficult person but after Will learned what had happened, he saw him in a different light. He was probably one of the strongest people Will had ever known. 

"But didn’t she, you know..." Dustin asked nervously.

"Yea, she died when they lived in New York before Hopper moved back to Hawkins." She replied. It stayed quiet for a few moments.

"We should invite him to sit with us," El said breaking the silent tension. Will looked back over to see if James was still in the cafeteria. 

"I don’t know if that the best idea," Mike said turning to his girlfriend to find she was no longer there. He looked up to see her crossing the cafeteria towards him.

"Shit, too late lover boy," Max said shooting him a cocky smile.

September 1st, 1985

James paid for his food and looked at the tray to inspect his purchase. Of all the schools he had been to and there were a lot of them, Hawkins High actual had some good food. It wasn't hard compared to some of the school cafeterias he had eaten in.  He studied the layout cafeteria. The idea of eating in the library was tempting.

That familiar itch was making its way up through his body. The one o’clock itch, he had come to name it. It has how far in the day he could get without a cigarette. With that in mind, he decided he would just eat outside. It was September, but he had a coat didn’t he. It was better than sitting in here with these people. The same people that stared at him like he wore a sign on his back spelling freak. The same people who told lies and gossiped behind his back. Yea he would definitely prefer the cold.

This decision came with one substantial disadvantage, it required him to walk across the full length of the cafeteria. It was a safe guess that he would have eyes on him until he got outside. He took a deep breath and turned to storm the beach. As he did so he found himself face to face with a girl staring at him. Well more like face to chest. She wasn’t very tall.

"Emm, can I help you. Wait I know you we have AP English together" James said realizing he was talking to the girl who sat in the front of the class. It’s the teacher’s pet he thought.

"Mr. Mc Niall's class right," he said putting on his best fake smile. There wasn't much use for politeness where he was from but here it was a useful tool.

"Yup that’s me, I’m El, " she said giving him a reassuring smile and sicking out her hand.

"I was wondering if you wanted to sit with me and my friends," she added still giving him a smile. She was very cute he thought to himself. If he didn't know any better he would have even asked her out. But chances where he would be back in the city with a new family within a few months. Hell, if history was anything to go off it would probably be closer to a couple of weeks.

"I’m James. That’s really nice of you but I was just going to eat outside." He said as politely as he could while taking her hand and shaking it.

"WHAT! Are you crazy it’s freezing out" she said glancing back at the table, seeing five pairs of eyes glaring at her? He held back his laugh realizing she had probably gone out on a limb by asking him to her table. It was obvious nobody would want him to ruin there lunch.

"It's fine, I'll manage" James lied. A small part of him wanted to go over there. To try and make friends, but friends were a fool's game. Friends where more people that ended up disappointing you or worse. James would just end up hurting them.

"Please come sit with us. I won’t take no for an answer. "she insisted. He looked her in her big brown eyes. Kind of hard to say no too, if he’s being honest with himself.

"Emm, yea alright. I'd love to sit with you and your friends" he said glancing over to the table of teenagers all currently staring at them. They all wiped their heads back to their lunch when they saw James return their gaze.

"Your friends I assume" he joked, smiling at her. They walked over to the table, El slipped into her former seat beside Mike. James sat at the end of the table so he could view everyone. He didn’t know these people, he really didn’t want to be stuck between two people he didn’t know. The redhead was the first to speak up.

"Hi, I’m Max," she said looking at him with a pleasant smile. 

"That’s Lucas, my boyfriend, the short one is Will and the curly one is Dustin." She said making a face at the two boys. James gave the Lucus and Dustin a polite nod. He turned his head to greet the smaller boy but Max spoke up again before he could.

"And the one that’s currently wrapped around El is Mike," she said looking at Mike while slowly shaking her head with disapproval. James hadn’t noticed but she was right. As soon as El had sat down Mike had covered her with his long limbs like some kind of weird octopus and was kissing her while throwing him dirty looks. James couldn’t help but smile to himself. Jealousy was a funny thing. 

There was nothing but empty silence as he looked around taking in each one of their faces. James usually could call if someone was full of shit just by looking them in the eye. He thought he had a grasp on everyone from middle school but he didn't remember anyone here. As he looked around, they all seemed normal. That changed when he looked at the smaller boy. It was the first time he actually got a look at the boy since he had sat down. There was something about him. He couldn’t put his finger on it. His concentration was broken as Dustin made an announcement.

"So James, How do you know the Chief," Dustin said looking at him while taking a bite of his sandwich. He was meet with five hateful glares from his friends and one confused look from James.

"Seriously dude," Lucas said avoiding eye contact with James. James looked around but no one would match his eyes. He was guessing they had heard some of the rumors about him. He actually couldn't blame them for being curious but how did they know he knew Hopper.

"Hmm, well he helped me and my mom out when I was young. I was friends with his daughter... How did you know I knew the chief" he said looking back at Dustin with a confused expression? He wasn’t angry that someone knew he had a relationship with the chief of police, but he was genuinely surprised by the question.

"He's my dad," El said quietly. James stared at her for a second. A silence hung over the group, and unrelenting tension settling between them. No one made a sound. It was only broke by James’s laughter. Everyone at the table looked at him with a puzzling gaze.

"Your Jane," he said with a smile on his face. She nodded to confirm his question which just made him laugh even more.

"I’m sorry, it’s a pleasure to meet Hops' daughter. He talks about you a lot you know. Every time I speak to him, he goes on about how brilliant his Jane is.” He said smiling. His words made her blush slightly. The frown on Mikes's face was getting deeper and deeper. James thought about all the times he had heard Hopper talking about Jane. He told him a lot about her. But it was all superficial stuff like her grades or how he was bonding with her. He never really explained how he came to adopt a thirteen-year-old girl.

"Hopper helped me a lot, I probably owe him my life. If you ever need anything from me just ask.” He said looking at all the members of the table. His eyes meet Will's. There it was again. That feeling. He couldn't explain it but there was something about the way that the boy looked at him. There was something in his eyes and his smile, something so familiar. He pulled his gaze away from him and towards the clock mounted on the cafeteria wall.

"Shit, well I’m going for a smoke before my next class" he announced as he stood up.

"I appreciate you all letting me sit with you, I’ll see yours around," he said turning and walking towards the exit.

1st September 1985

The party just looked at each other. Instead of answers about the enigma that is James White they just got more questions. One thing was definite. He wasnt just a normal fifteen-year-old teenager, something was differednt about him. Will watched the back of James's head as he exited the cafeteria. 

"I like him" Max announced looking at each of them, waiting for their response.

"Well, I know El sure liked him," Mike said bitterly as he stood up.

"What’s that supposed to mean "El responded looking at him with her eyebrows crossed.

"Nothing, it doesn’t matter, come on Dustin lets go to class," He said turning and walking towards the exit of the cafeteria. Dustin followed a few feet behind waving back at them with his goofy smile.

"What’s his problem," El said looking to Max for an explanation. She just shrugged her shoulders. El looked at Will to ask him but she was meet with the side of his head. Will was still staring out the exit James just left.

"Will, you ok," she said to him with a concerned look. He seemed to snap out of his trance and looked at her.

"Yea I’m fine, it’s just…. I don’t know, there’s something about him I can’t put my finger on" Will said looking at her. He seemed to come back to himself and stood up.

"It’s nothing come on let’s go to class,” Will said glancing back towards Max and Lucas who were in their own world and ignored his existence.

They all made their way back to the corridor, but James stayed in Wills' head. Who was he? What was his relationship with Hopper? Why did he come back to Hawkins? Why did he leave in the first place? What happened to his mother? He realized it was none of his business, but James fascinated him.

1st September 1985

He took a deep final pull of his cigarette before throwing it on the ground and stomping it out. He thought about the group he had just meet. He still couldn’t believe he was sitting across from Hops' daughter and hadn’t realized it. 

The more he thought about him, the more Will Byers stayed on his mind. In fact, it’s all he could really think about. It was only that as he lay bed that night, it hit him. It was his smile. It was fake. Just like his.