A/N: Thank you all so much! I'm so glad you're enjoying this. Thank you for all of your comments! I love hearing your thoughts on this. Please let me know what you think. As always, you can find me on tumblr at "asirensrage" and check out the manips and gifs I've made for this fic!

Chapter 40

There were moments where I felt…weird, for lack of a better term. I just didn't feel present in my body. My arms moved and I went through the motions, but it almost felt like I was playing it like a video game. It wasn't actually me.

The worst part was that I couldn't really tell anyone about it. At least anyone that would understand. Tammy's parents were still insisting I was grounded, outside of school or work. Luckily, going to see El counted as work. At least, that's what Hopper told them.

I waited outside with Buster until I saw Max. The dog was wandering on his leash, sniffing and growling at the grass, while I sat on the steps. I felt a bit spaced out, still emotionally empty after the events of the last few days.

Something wet and cold was shoved under the edge of my sweater, hitting the skin of my back. I yelped, jumping up. I looked back, seeing Buster staring at me. I hadn't even realized he crept up next to me. My eyes narrowed and I could have sworn he was grinning at me, like it was revenge. Maybe for stealing his person. I knew he still didn't like me…

"Why are you in a staring contest with your dog?"

I turned to see Max standing behind, board in hand. "He started it."

She raised her eyebrows, looking at me skeptically. "Sure."

"Let me just put him inside and we can go. You mind…waiting by the car?" I winced as I said it. "I'm supposed to be grounded."

"What'd you do?"

"Miss curfew," I told her. "Hold on." I led Buster inside and unclipped his leash. Once I hung it up, I called out. "I'm going to work!"

"Bye honey! Drive safe and be home as soon as you're done!"

I tried not to roll my eyes as I heard Deanna call out from upstairs. "Okay!" I locked the door behind me and headed for the car. Max climbed in without a word once I unlocked the door for her and no one stopped us, telling me that having Max there meant I was breaking more rules.


By the time we got on the small highway leading towards Hopper's cabin, the silence was starting to turn awkward.

"What's up? I asked, glancing at Max who still held her skateboard like a shield.

"What? Nothing."

"You nervous?"

"No." She said it quickly and I gave her a small smile.

"It's okay if you are. I mean, there's nothing wrong with being nervous about meeting someone new. Well, you've met once before right?"

There was a moment of silence before she answered. "Sort of. I mean, I heard of her a lot and Mike kept telling me I wasn't allowed to join because they had El. I saw her at the..well, that night."

"Ugh, Mike," I muttered. "What is up with that kid? Like you can't have multiple friends, or girls in one group? Okay," I shook my head. "That doesn't count. We'll reintroduce you properly. Just remember, it's not her fault Mike had issues with you, and it's not your fault she wasn't allowed to be at that school."

"...okay."

I smiled at her. "Great. Because I think the two of you could be good for each other. The world is a better place when women support other women." She gave me a look that said she didn't believe me, but I wasn't worried. Once we got over that initial hurdle caused by a bunch of boys, we'd be good.


It was a stare off.

I sighed before waving a hand between the two of them. It was enough to pull their attention from each other. "Alright, if you're done glaring at each other, can we get past this? El, I know you were gone but Max wasn't trying to take your place, okay? There's enough room for you both and Max, we've been through this, it's not El's fault that Mike was being a dick to you. I'm sure the two of them just missed each other and you were an easy target, right?" I looked towards El. She frowned at me for a second before looking at Max.

"Mike was being a…dick?"

Max snorted. "Yeah. Dustin and Lucas kept trying to include me, let me help out, but Mike just kept yelling at me and telling me I wasn't allowed. That I wasn't you."

El frowned. "That wasn't nice."

"No," Max agreed.

"Alright, great!" I clapped my hands together. "What do you guys think about bedazzling Hopper's chair?"

El looked at Max before they both glanced at me. El broke first, starting to giggle. Max grinned, joining in.

"Then we're agreed! How do you think he'd feel about pink?"


I was going to have to buy him a new chair. We stayed away from the actual seat part, but the rest of it was completely covered. Having something to do with their hands eased the tension between the two girls and before even an hour was up, Max and El were talking like they had been friends for ages. Especially as Max promised to show her everything she really needed to know and share her comics about her favourite female superheroes.

I sat outside, giving the two of them a bit of time to talk without someone older hovering over them. I could hear the two of them giggling. It was nice. After everything they had both been through, it felt like they were getting the chance to just be kids. It made me hope they could work through whatever trauma they both had. Not just from the monsters running around town, but from the shitty humans in their lives as well.

Just being around these kids made me feel better. Maybe it was because I could focus on them and didn't have to think about myself. I didn't have to worry about why my body didn't feel like mine at times or the reminder I was still lost here. That there might not be a way home. I could just be present and laugh at their terrible jokes and give advice if they wanted it. I knew I had to find a way to work through it, I couldn't just avoid the issues I was having, but it also wasn't like I could go to therapy and tell them I felt like I had stolen someone else's body and life. That I was from some other universe. That wouldn't go over well.

The sound of a car heading up the makeshift drive pulled me from my thoughts. I tried not to smile as Hopper got out of his truck. He was probably going to kill me for the chair but whatever, I'd deal with it. I had a feeling he'd forgive me once he realized that El having more friends was going to be a good thing. No offence to Mike, but the two of them needed to loosen their grips on each other. Especially if what Max said was true. Missing someone was no reason to be a dick to others.

"Going that well?" he asked as he headed towards me.

"Listen," I said. He did and I caught the small softer smile on his face as he heard the girls burst out laughing again. "They're having fun."

"Good," he said. He took out his pack of cigarettes and pulled one out. He looked over at me and tore a bit off the end. I grinned at him, appreciating the fact he was taking my advice. "How's it going with your folks?"

I bit back the urge to correct him that they weren't mine. "It's okay. I'm still grounded but we talked things over. I'm going to try to be more considerate of them."

"Ain't easy growing up," he mused. "But I know you'll do right by them. That all that's wrong?"

"All that can be fixed," I said.

"Yeah." He dropped the remains of the cigarette on the floor and stomped it out. "Well, let's see if they destroyed the place."

I pressed my lips together, trying not to give anything away.

He moved past me for the door and I scrambled after him, determined not to miss it and make sure his ire was directed at the person responsible: me.

He stopped in the doorway and the room was silent. I ducked around him before turning to face him. It was almost like a cartoon. The incredulous expression turning to anger but also trying not to get angry because the girls were clearly in the middle of having fun and even attempting to braid each other's hair.

I held up my hands. "It was my idea," I said, drawing his attention to me.

"You-"

"Yup."

"Kate-"

"I know," I said. "I'll buy you a new chair. I promise. I just…couldn't resist." I grinned at that because it was true. I couldn't and it was the best distraction that really helped start the foundations on the girls' friendship. I'd explain in detail later, when they weren't around. I could see him holding back his frustration. He pointed at me.

"You better."

"You have my word." Hell, I'd buy him a La-Z-Boy just for putting up with me. "Come on, Max. We should probably head back."


Of all the people I was expecting at my door, it wasn't Robin. Sam looked between us before he excused himself to get out of range of any drama. Smart man.

"Hey," I said.

"Hey. Can we talk?"

"Sure," I said. She looked a little nervous. "Do you wanna talk here? My room? Or we could go for a walk?"

"Your room works."

"Okay. Come on. Can I get you anything to drink first?" She shook her head and I led her upstairs. I sat on the edge of the bed. Robin stayed standing, fiddling slightly with her hands as she looked around the room.

"Is your mom home?"

"No, she's out visiting friends." I didn't push and ask what she wanted to talk about. She'd get to it when she was ready.

"Oh." Robin started pacing, before I saw her shoulders rise as she took a deep breath. She turned to face me. "I like girls." She said, looking resolutely at the wall over my head "I asked Veronica out and she said yes. We're dating."

My eyes widened and I couldn't help my smile. "That's awesome!"

Robin looked at me, stunned. "Really?"

"Yeah! Veronica's a great person. So are you. The two of you would be great together."

She blinked at me. "You're not…weirded out?"

"No, why would I be? So you like girls, it's not a big deal. You deserve to be happy." Robin moved closer and I thought I could see tears building up in her eyes. It wasn't an easy thing to be anything but heterosexual in this decade. In any decade really, but I hadn't considered that Robin might have been struggling with something like this. Then again, I've been focused on myself for the most part. "Hey, it's okay. There's nothing wrong with it."

She gave me a watery smile. "Are you-?"

I shook my head. "Tragically heterosexual, unfortunately. I'd quit men if I could." That made her laugh slightly. "Thanks for telling me."

"That's not..it's not the main reason I came, but it's one of them. I just, I wanted to talk, y'know? I missed our friendship and it's not like we've been friends for long but we are friends. I just, I wanted to say sorry. We had that huge fight about you keeping secrets but here I am keeping the biggest one."

"I doubt it's the biggest," I said without thinking.

"And I just, I realized I'm such a hypocrite and how can I expect you to trust me with anything when I wasn't trusting you and I just wanted to come and apologize and tell you. I've just…you've been different Kate, and you've always looked so sad lately. I couldn't place it and I didn't know why because everything just keeps seeming to go right for you, but you always just look sad when no one's watching and I wanted to just, help. And then I heard you knew the guy who died and I just kept feeling like I was getting further away when we had been friends and I couldn't explain why. Then there was Steve and I thought, well she doesn't need me anymore but you still look sad and Veronica told me I needed to actually talk about things and she was right, I was being a jerk. I really enjoyed being here for Christmas and I don't want that to change, I don't want to be on the outside again. So, I'm sorry. For everything and I'm here if you need or want to talk but I won't push it anymore. And oh my god, is it sweaty in here?" She inhaled sharply and I was left stunned, a little at the fact she managed to get all of that out in like one breath and more at what she said.

Tears welled up in my eyes. "I'm sorry too!"

She sat down next to me and hugged me. I clutched her back. I missed Robin. She was a good friend and the fact that she was dealing with her own things but was worried about me meant a lot. Bob said I needed to trust people. I had let Joyce and Hopper in and I shouldn't be entertaining the idea, but I wanted to tell Robin. I wanted to tell her everything. Maybe it would be easier with someone on my side who was the same age as I was. Maybe it would-

"I'm not Tammy," I blurted without thinking. I winced as soon as I said it. I shouldn't have done that.

Robin pulled back. "What?"

"Um.." Fuck. I should not have said that.

"What do you mean you're not…" her eyes widened. "Who are you?"

"Kate?" I suggested.

"What does that even mean? Kate?!"

I winced again and glanced at the bedroom door. I couldn't exactly go back now. "Are you sure you want to know? I mean, once you do, you can't…unknow."

"Um, yeah!"

I shifted, bringing my legs up on the bed and crossing them. Robin turned to face me completely. "You remember when we met? I mean, when I completely freaked out at the beginning of the year and you found me in the football field yelling at the sky?"

"How could I forget that magic moment?" She said, trying to sound like she was joking a bit.

"My name is Katya Poroshenko," I said. "I was twenty eight when I went to sleep in 2019 only to wake up in Tammy's body." Her mouth dropped open and she was staring at me in shock. "I don't know what happened. I've been trying to figure it out or get back and I haven't found anything but I've been living as Tammy because what else can I do and if I tell anyone they're either going to lock me in an asylum or…or experiment on me. No one knows, except Hopper and Joyce Byers. And Bob…he was the first one I told."

"Holy shit."

"Please don't be scared of me. I didn't mean for any of this and I have no idea what happened to Tammy but Debbie completely freaked me out when we saw her and she told me I'm basically here to stay."

Robin got up and started pacing, running her hands through her hair.

"You think I'm crazy, don't you?" I asked, wondering if I might be able to spin this into a joke. God, I prayed I didn't completely ruin this.

Robin whirled to face me. "Are you kidding me? This makes so much sense!"

"What?"

"You don't understand," Robin said. "I watched her for months…years and that day, you looked totally freaked out and then everything changed. You haven't acted like Tammy at all, especially with classes and Ally and Steve! Oh my god." I waited as she started to pace again. "Holy shit." She turned to me again. "And no one knows?"

"Bob did. Now it's just Joyce and Hopper and…you." My face was wet from crying and I tried to wipe at it. It was less though from the last times I've done this. It was still big and terrifying but it was…it was getting easier to tell people. Not easy, but less difficult every time before.

"Hey," Robin's voice was soft. "Hey, it's okay. We're both okay now, right?" She gave me a smile that was very clearly trying to be reassuring. I adored her all the more for it. "If there are any other big secrets, we'll just take a break. Like recess, they say that in court, right? We'll regroup, process and come back."

"Yeah," I gave a small laugh. "Probably a good idea." There were more secrets. Not entirely about me, but about the town itself. People needed to know how dangerous it really was here.

Wow." She sat down next to me. "So uh, what's…what's the future like?"

"Um, good and bad," I said. "There's definitely a lot more acceptance for LGTBQ."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"Shit. No wonder you seem to have it all together, you have the cheat codes! You're already an adult. Oh man, we must seem like such little kids to you!"

I laughed shakily. "I mean, no one has it together completely, even adults. Sometimes but also not really. I mean, it's easy to forget. Especially the longer I'm here."

"Wow."

"Being talked down to the way adults do though has sucked."

"Yeah, that definitely sucks."

I leant back against the headboard. Robin climbed over to sit next to me completely. She wrapped her arm around mine and leaned into me, head on my shoulder. We sat in silence, trying to come down from the adrenaline and emotional high that our reveals had wrought. I felt exhausted.

"Are shoulder pads still a thing? Because gotta say, I'm not really a fan."

I burst out laughing.

"What? They look like they're armour, like they'll take someone's eye out walking down the hall."

She looked completely serious. I laughed harder.

[tbc]