Stranger Things belongs to The Duffer Brothers and Netflix. I make no profits on writing this.
RED SPOTS OF LOVE
November 7, 1985.
Eleven was celebrating her first birthday ever. A year ago between the events that took her into closing the gate and defeating the shadow monster, plus Will's and herself recovering and the fact that she had to hide again specially after Hopper found out in detail just how exposed she really was with her little field trip all the way to Chicago, – which to be fair was completely reckless of her –; the date had passed so, when her father asked her if she wanted to have a birthday, she said that it was on November 7th when the boys found her and rescue her, so she thought it was only logic to have that date as a birthday being that from that day on, her life actually begun. She decided that waiting another year would be worth it so she could celebrate with all her friends, her father and her boyfriend because all of them were her family now.
It would not only be a birthday but also a life celebration because that year Eleven had really started living. Since December until August of the current year Hopper, Mike, the boys and even Steve himself – who helped until he had to leave for college –, had been preparing her to catch up with the main subjects so no one would noticed when she initiated school, that she never attended one before. She still remembered the knot on her stomach and how nervous she was. Hopper had taken her to the school door telling her to rehearsal the story they made up in the very likely event that someone asks what relationship she had with Chief Hopper: She would say that Hopper had an affair with her mother a year before he got married to Sarah's mom and he never knew he had a daughter all those years, but her aunt found him after El's mom died in a car crash before New Year so he brought her to live with him. It was a good cover story, that way it'd explain the holes in their relationship because, in the end, it does take time for two people to know each other and learn to live together and that last part was the only one that was true. So after they explained her the difference between a lie and a 'lie' and the benefits of such, it was only a matter of saying it once to whomever asks and then it would be case closed.
When they got to the school that first day, the party was already waiting for her on the parking lot and after a few reassuring words from her father, she took Mike's hand who walked towards the van when they pulled over and they walked to the school doors. At first she froze up and all she could ask Mike was if she looked pretty enough, his kiss was as good as a 'hell yeah' and that encouraged her enough to walk in and finally, after all those years, have a normal teenage life. And she absolutely loved school; there were so many subjects that caught her interest: Literature, English and Science were her favourites and, even when she had a few that first day she quickly decided that some were a waste of her time, like math. But she was completely happy because she could hang out with her friends at least seven hours a day every day. Yes, she had to deal with a few mouth breathers and even got them into falling on their asses, – because no one calls Mike 'frog face' and get away with it –; still the best part of school were her friends.
And, let's say the truth; the best best part of all was kissing Mike during periods as much as she wanted to.
Mike, he was definitely the best part of her new found life. Every day it was a surprise, every day he was sweeter, kinder, more considerate and he also kept encouraging her into being free and adventurous and, even when they weren't hand in hand all day, Mike and El found very hard to be apart more than ten minutes a day. To be honest, he was her favourite place to be, especially when he'd hold her by the waist so close to his body, when she smiled in content.
Eleven sighed on the couch in the cabin while she watched some of her favourite's soaps and waited for her friends to show up. Hopper was sitting in the kitchen with a cup of coffee in one hand and the news paper on the other, with all the food and preparations ready for the party to start, her first birthday party. He knew how much El had been waiting since she decided she'd have a party but even when he could see her jump up from the couch whenever a noise came from outside believing it could be her guests, there was one person irreplaceable for El, that wouldn't be sharing that day with her. Mike only three days before had begun with a lot of fever and even one of those days had to leave early from school which worried her a lot and it was even worse when, on the next day, Mike did not show up at school at all; so Hopper had to drive all the way to the Wheeler's house and ask about him and, when he got back home, he had to give Eleven the worst news: Mike had gotten the measles which meant he would not go to her birthday and she wouldn't even see him for, at least, the next ten days.
Ok, fine, maybe saying that that was the 'worst' thing someone could have told her was overreacting a little, it wasn't like he had died – God forbids it –; but he would not be there on the day that he had also worked so hard preparing to be perfect. It was totally unfair, it was like she had a birthday and no cake, and it was even worst when she found out the exact reason why he wouldn't come. Hopper did not allowed it and his reason, (stupid, according Eleven), was that she was the only one in the party that had never gotten the measles.
After several months in which El hadn't even thought about her past, the lab or Brenner, when her father told her that she wasn't immune to the disease, she had to take all of her rage against a poor innocent tree turning it into wood for the winter, breaking it into pieces until she got all of her fury out of her body. She was so frustrated because if she hadn't lived on such sterile environment, she would have caught every bug ever existed and Mike would be there celebrating her birthday without her father getting worried about her ending up with red spots all over her body.
"Hopper, why can't Mike come?" she asked her father who was sitting in the kitchen relaxing, looking at him with her head hanging from the side of the couch.
Jim just sighed for the hundredth time that week but giggled as she asked again, he knew she wasn't that mad at him and he had already explained her a hundred times but it was kinda funny to see how she still tried to change his mind.
"Already told you why, kid."
"Because I haven't had the measles…" she huffed as any teenager who wasn't getting what she wanted. "But Dustin told me that they all had it already and that is not serious. He said Mike's lucky as…" she hesitated because she knew Hopper did not liked that word even when he used it a lot. "As the 'f' word, and that he is enjoying paid vacations."
Eleven stop for a moment, thinking about what she said. "Dad, why is Mike getting paid?"
Hop smiled again.
"He is not getting paid, it's just a figure of speech." he explained. "The measles only presents it's symptoms the first few days and, after that, Mike only has to stay inside so he doesn't infects anyone else. But he is just fine, only covered in red spots and probably bored out of his mind, but fine." he finished, getting back to his cup.
"So… If Mike is bored he could come here because if he is not feeling bad he just…" she started her last lame try of convincing her father to go and pick up her boyfriend but the look he gave her was enough to cut her off mid-sentence and Eleven sat straight on the couch again, cursing her bad luck in silence.
Less than an hour after her last begging, Eleven recognized the noise of two cars arriving to the cabin and, after Hopper stood up to watch from the window and told her it was them, she rushed to open the door and to welcome her guests.
"Happy birthday, sweetheart!" Joyce Byers was the first one to come in and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek since she was holding the huge cake she prepared for the girl as a birthday present.
"Can I see it?" El asked as she tried to peek from the paper wrapped around the cake but Jonathan held her away from it saying it was a surprise and also to say happy birthday himself.
There they all were, Jonathan and Nancy had given her a walkman so she can listen to as much music as she wanted and not one, but five mixed tapes Jonathan had carefully been recording for the last two days. Eleven loved music, since the Snow Ball when she started dating Mike officially, music became a drug to her. She couldn't get enough of it, not only because of the beautiful and sometimes funny lyrics, but also because she was amazed of how those pretty melodies were created by the hands of different people touching instruments. It was incredible for El.
Steve was there too who, after Mike of course, became her favourite tutor because he had is own hilarious way of teaching, making examples with the kids of her party. She was surprised of how fast she stared to look at him as an older brother. She had seen Steve on Will's house when she saved them from the demodogs and, even when at first she didn't know what was he doing there, later on they told her how brave he had been and how much he helped and stood by her friends even when he didn't have to. Steve was the one preparing her with subjects like English and literature and he taught her how to really enjoy a good book. El still remembers the surprise on her friend's faces when they found out that King Steve knew more about Lord of the Rings than themselves.
"I came only for you, kiddo. Had to drive all the way from Indianapolis but I couldn't miss this day." he said ruffling her hair just as Hopper did and she knew he was making an effort since, for what she heard, college was no joke. He gave her the pocket edition of Stephen King's best sellers 'The Shinning, Carrie and Christine'.
Max, whom she had started to like on the Snow Ball after talking to Mike and being sure she was interested in Lucas, soon became her friend and was actually very fond of her. It was nice to have a girl friend especially when the boys became too excited on their D&D campaigns. The red haired girl had bought her a make-up set that Eleven just adored and the boys started to joke about how could Max known where to get it from since that was girl's stuff. El was sure that it did was a joke when Max punched all of them.
Dustin, Lucas and Will on the other hand didn't bought her anything, better yet, the made her a present and soon she realized why the three of them had been spending so much time on the Sinclair's house. She was touched by their gift when she opened it and they helped her unfolding the blanket. Thanks to Lucas's mom that the boys had cut, painted and sew on fabric into dozens of Eggos all placed on a white puffy blanket filled with drawings – made by Will – and those told their adventures since the day she met them. It was her story, their story that would keep her warm in the night, it was a beautiful gift. She spent at least three whole minutes hugging each of them and then all together.
"It's so beautiful, guys, thank you so much and thank you to all of you; you are all very important to me." said Eleven touched. They all smiled at her because spoiling that girl was the least they could all do after everything she had done for them from the moment they met.
"Hey El, here we have Mike's present." said Dustin giving her a gift bag.
At hearing Mike's name, – not that she had forgotten him –, she felt a little sad but tried to focus on her party and not on the whole measles thing. She didn't wanted to upset anyone and she was sure he would have wanted her to enjoy her special day.
"What did you get her, Hop?" asked Joyce, she was slicing some pizza in the kitchen counter.
"Oh, I got her a VCR so she can watch any movie she wants, and also have a little rest from the soaps operas I'm forced to see every day." he whispered while turning on the oven and laughing with Joyce.
Eleven opened the bag of Mike's present and she found a beautiful pink jacket like the one in that movie where everyone kept singing, it had the words 'girl power' in glitter on the back. It was like an inner joke for all who knew her and she laughed picturing her boyfriend as when he bought it. When he gets better she would be there wearing it.
"It's really pretty, guys, I'll call him to say thanks later."
"What's the other present?" asked Nancy reaching up to them to look into the empty bag. El looked at her and then she remembered they said it was more than one and before she asked she noticed they were all smiling.
"Ok El, you know how Mike is sorry he can't be here today, right?" Dustin explained while Will was setting the video camera on the TV with Jonathan's help.
"Wait until you see what he prepared for you, El! Come on everyone, sit down." called Will while he turned on the TV and all the people in the cabin settled around it, all intrigued by what they were about to watch.
"It's the cheesiest thing I have ever seen." said Lucas but he smiled too, although Max hit him again.
El was intrigued just as the rest of them when Will hit play.
"Here we go.. Ok there! Mike, it's ready." Will's voice was heard as he held the video camera and focused on his friend and, next to him, Dustin who wasn't giving up on trying to comb his hair even when Mike tried to push him away.
"Dude, you gotta look your best for your girl on her birthday." said Dustin who kept trying onto putting the Farah Fawcett spray on his head.
"Mike don't let him spray that shit on your hair, man, you gotta look like yourself not like if you have a bird nest." said Lucas's voice which came from behind the camera but you could still see his hands.
"Hey, we are already recording you pieces of shit! Would you keep it quiet?"
That was old-sweet Max also behind the camera and both Dustin and Mike step on each other before Mike push him away and it was only himself, like it should have been from the beginning. The teenager that left his childish features behind and held his hair a bit longer, wilder, (and hotter according to Eleven), settled on a chair in front of the piano in his house while he was rubbing his hands.
"Hi, El! So as you know and you can see because I didn't let Dustin putting make up on me…" said pointing at his red spot covered face as he stared at his friend.
"Hey I'm only looking out for your relationship, buddy. Do you think El would like to look at you all covered in polka dots? She already has the dress from the dance for that." he joked and everyone burst into a loud laughter.
Mike glaced daggers at them.
"Come on now, guys, be cool." said Will although he was also laughing. Mike sighed and rolled his eyes before speaking.
"Sorry about that, El, I'll get new friends later." he said and everyone booed him. "Okay, like I was saying, I'm not there because of this fucking measles that couldn't have waited apparently. I was really looking forward to share this day with you, you know that right? And I figured you are also mad a Hopper for not letting me come because I could infect you, but let me tell you that I agree with him. It's not a big deal, in a few days everything will be fine but I also wanted to give you something special besides the jacket."
Will walked over next to Mike and he settled facing the piano in his living room and it was obvious he was about to play something.
"I thought a lot about this and I wasn't planning to show this on a tape, I wanted to do it someday after school when you came, but I figured it would be a nice gift now that I can't be there with you." Mike chewed his lip and rubbed his hands again while he blushed a little. El and everyone in there were silent as they watched enthusiastically to the TV. She knew, from the way he was bouncing on his seat that he was nervous.
"Ever since you started to enjoy music I had been looking at my piano lessons from when I was younger and… well, I kinda wrote you a song, you know? To uhm, to show you what you mean to me." he said in a whisper as a smiled crossed his face. "Sometimes, when we are at school and you are thinking hard looking at nowhere and biting your pencil, and before you realize I've been staring at you like an idiot, I get lost thinking of all we've been through and yet I cannot believe how lucky I am for being with you. You, completely you, make me wanna be a better man, that's why your birthday is so important to me. You came into my life a day like today and from that moment you've turned my world upside down in the best way. Every single moment that we share makes me incredibly happy so… yeah, I hope you like this."
Everyone were amazed by the words of that teenage boy and also were anxious at what was he going to do. Lucas, Will, Dustin and Max, they all kept looking at the TV and El with a smile, they didn't wanted to miss her expression because they knew what was coming. She had her mouth slightly open in surprise while sitting on the floor holding her knees. If Mike was about to give her music, she was sure enough she'd cry her eyes out.
"Get your tissues ready, buddy." whispered Dustin playfully.
Mike looked at the camera one last time before facing the piano entirely. He cracked his fingers to loose them up and gently touched the piano keyboard and clearly very concentrated he started to play a melody that took Eleven's breath away. But she couldn't have guess, for the life of her, that her boyfriend would parted his lips and sing the lyrics of the song he had written for her with his own voice.
Look into my eyes - you will see
what you mean to me.
Search your heart, search your soul
and when you find me there you'll search no more.
All her guests were shocked as they listened and saw for the first time at Mike Wheeler singing a song. Neither Nancy could believe it even when she remembered the piano lessons, she could have never known that her brother had such voice and also, she absolutely could not believe, not even in her wildest dreams that she would live to see him singing a song for the girl he adored.
But no surprise was bigger than Eleven's, and nothing could break her hypnosis at the moment, not even the flash of the camera that took a picture of her.
Don't tell me it's not worth tryin' for,
you can't tell me it's not worth dyin' for.
You know it's true
everything I do - I do it for you.
Mike's voice was different, unique, and El couldn't get enough of what she was listening and what she'd seen. She was bewildered with Mike's face as he sang with his heart, with his rough but beautiful voice and the way he rocked his head at the rhythm of the music he made; she thought he was capable to do anything, like a superhero, especially when she noticed a few times when he closed his eyes lost in the song but yet kept on playing. He knew what he was doing, she could tell. It was a natural gift, it was his power that until that day she didn't know it existed; the power of making music with the hands she spends so much time holding and he was singing a song he had written for her, from the bottom of his heart.
Look into your heart - you will find
there's nothin' there to hide.
Take me as I am, take my life
I would give it all, I would sacrifice.
El took the lyrics of the song like he was giving her and order. She couldn't help but taking all those messages and what each word held behind. Everything they had lived together, all the pain, the waiting, the search, the struggle and their feelings were on that song her boyfriend was giving to her. Just like it said, that she should look into her heart and found there was nothing to hide, not only because they never tell lies but also because she knew just how much he would sacrifice. She knew for a fact that he would indeed give everything for her because he already had, from day one.
Don't tell me it's not worth fightin' for,
I can't help it, there's nothin' I want more.
You know it's true,
everything I do - I do it for you.
How could she not know? There she was surrounded by all those people who became her family watching as that boy they all knew was undeniably brave, was giving her the prettiest gift anyone had ever seen. He was giving her his feelings shaped onto music made by his own hands. Was it something more precious than this?
There's no love like your love
and no other could give more love.
There's nowhere unless you're there,
all the time, all the way, yeah.
She knew that everything he was saying was entirely true. She knew she was everything to Mike even when sometimes she felt like she didn't deserve him. He'd rock the world if she'd ever ask him to, she knew she had him wrapped around her finger even when she never intended to, and that if she ever asked him to give her the moon and a star, she may as well start making some room in her house because there he would be, bringing them in. And now he was saying that there was no love like the love she gave him, she couldn't believe it; there she was listening as he was giving her love as big as anyone had seen before. She could almost touch it in the air, in the song he was singing, in the attention he'd give her every day, in the history they shared, on the way he had stopped living when she was away… Eleven had said it before, he surprised her every day.
Your can't tell me it's not worth tryin' for You know it's true,
I can't help it, there's nothin' I want more.
Yeah, I would fight for you, I'd lie for you,
walk the wire for you, yeah, I'd die for you.
everything I do - I do it for you.
You know it's true,
Every word turned her universe smaller until they were only Eleven sitting on the floor and Mike on her screen, finishing a love song. The lights in the cabin were tinkling, caused no doubt by El's shaken emotions and she lost her grip around her legs, looking amazed at her boyfriend with a sparkly feeling dancing from her chest to her toes and the top of her head. Her face was covered in tears because she felt so happy that it even surpassed the infinite happiness she was already into. Had the world ever seen a boyfriend so wonderful? Was the word 'boyfriend' even good enough to be Michael's? She knew as the song had said it that there was no way she could ever make him understand he didn't have to do all those things for her; she knew that that would be the only thing he'd never listen to even if she'd asked him.
Suddenly El travelled back in time when Brenner tried to take her back to the lab whispering lies to her and how she called for Mike. Back then there were bad men holding him away and, even when he had been a child, he still tried to fight against them to save her. Yes, El was sure like never before, – since she actually hadn't fully known how strong were Mike's feeling towards her until then –, because every day, every struggle, every moment he proved her even before they became friends, that he'd fight for her, lie for her, put himself in danger for her, something that happened far too many times already; and, she was a little scared to be so sure about it, that he would die for her, only to keep her safe.
At the end of the song, Mike played for another few seconds before licking his lips and take a deep breath looking at his hands before turning to the camera and look through it, burying his eyes on Eleven's.
"Today you are celebrating your birthday and getting all kinds of presents and I wish for you to be happy every single day because no one deserves it better." he begun talking again not knowing he had such an audience. "But what you don't know, El, is that I get every day all kinds of presents from you. You, just as you are, you're a walking miracle. Your big eyes that look at me and take my breath away, your smile no matter how big or small knows how to make my heart skip a beat… or fifteen; your hand when you hold mine, your hugs, your intrigue, you completely, I wouldn't change a single hair of your head…"
He was pointing at her almost like he could see her.
"I don't want to take too long; I don't pretend you get bored of me. There are so many things I had planned to say and I can't even begin to explain how happy you make me every time we kiss." he said with the biggest smile in his face. "There's no other explanation for this. I've always known but until now I haven't had the courage to say the words, to really say it out loud…"
Almost like a presence placing itself onto the cabin and all around them, eyes wide open with excitement listening to Mike while he was talking, they were all very conscious of what they all knew and were about to hear.
"I love you."
The recording had ended with a wave of his hand and his words floating in the air, in her eyes, in the cabin and everywhere, yet nobody dare to speak first. All the people looked at each other in awe, feeling warmth running through their veins. Steve had a smile on his face and shook his head lightly, thinking Mike was a hero. Jonathan and his mother were sobbing like little girls, Nancy on the other hand was still in shock like when the video had begun because she couldn't understand when had her little brother grown so much. The boys and Max were bouncing on their chairs waiting for Eleven to react; they all knew what that gift would do to her, they all knew it would make her more happy than ever before. They also were, because they were their friends and behind every joke was always a true sense on joy for Mike and El.
They were all silent for a moment because no one could believe what they had just seen; even Hopper had his mouth open because he was also shocked. Deep down he felt embarrassed, ashamed of himself thinking of how many times he had shoved Mike's arm away from El's shoulders, or thinking about how many times he had lost his grip when he caught them kissing. He thought about how unfair he had been, and how he should have paid attention from the beginning. That wasn't just a hormonal teenage boy trying to grope his kid, no, that was a young man who was genuinely and unquestionably in love with his girl. Jim Hopper had never felt that amount of respect towards a single person, and he never could've guessed that respect would belong to his daughter's boyfriend.
"Sweetie, are you okay?" Mrs. Byers soft voice asked and she placed a hand on El's shoulder, who hadn't move an inch until then.
Eleven nodded enthusiastically, she hadn't moved or said anything because her voice was nowhere near, she also had apparently got lost somewhere in a way she never thought would be so pleased with. Was it something to say good enough to break the silence? El believed that speaking right now would be offensive because she could still hear Mike saying 'I love you' and she honestly hoped she could spend the rest of her life listening to him. Someone handed her a tissue and she just smiled while trying to stop crying, she was drying her tears but they were pouring out of her.
Would she ever stop? Was it any line to cross from how happy can a person get? She was sure she had broken a record.
It was then, that in the middle of her tenth tissue she gave up on her tears and she accepted that nothing, really nothing ever could surpass that moment of immeasurable joy, so Eleven turned to her father and exchanged a look. There was nothing else she wanted more, now it was her who wasn't giving him any choice and Hopper could see that she was touched because, honestly, who wouldn't?
Jim Hopper scratched his neck and looked at the floor and back to El until he moved his hand to cup his face and sighed, laughing a bit.
"Okay, kid…" he said while taking his coat, he couldn't believe that, again, he was defeated by his little girl. "Call that boy of yours and tell him to be ready in fifteen minutes, I'm on my way. After all, you could use some measles right now, before you get older…"
Only then Eleven stood back on her feet and flew to Hopper's arms to hug him. They all agreed, after all only and ice man could keep those two teens apart when they loved each other the way they did.
By the time the Chief got back to the cabin with Mike, there was not one guest on that birthday that hadn't been sure on a hundred percent, that Eleven would soon be covered in red spots of measles all over herself because as soon as Mike got of the van, she had wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him hard for a full five minutes kiss that not even Hopper, or her guests, or anyone in the entire world had the heart to interrupt. Not after witnessing the most beautiful love confession ever made.
Hi everyone! Thanks for reading.
The actual song belongs to Bryan Adams and as many of you know it's called 'Everything I do. I do it for you', and I know it's from 1991 but this is part of the fanfiction magic.
The sequels of this story are 'Lovesick' and then 'If you could see yourself through my eyes'; the prequel of this story is on the second chapter of my multichapter of one-shots called Weird Stuff and the chapter is 'I think I love you'.
Please, let me know what you think, your reviews are always welcome and appreciated.