El was curled up in her bed, hands pressed firmly over her ears, doing her best to block out the shouting, and her eyes squeezed shut, refusing to let the tears flow. She shouldn't cry. She absolutely shouldn't, she was doing this for him after all, she reminded herself. It's what's best for him, for both really. She gulped back a sob. Doing it was the hardest thing she ever did. It made all the fights with demogorgons and her closing the gate seem tame, something only reserved for kindergartners.
He's just so good, his heart so full to the brim with natural love, care and kindness for people, it makes her head hurt just thinking about it. She doesn't deserve him, she never has. He deserves someone so much better than her, someone who can give him a real future.
But if it's the right thing to do, why does her heart feel like it's shattering into a million pieces?
El buries her face in her pillow, forcing herself not to cry and stays there in that position for who knows how long, until eventually, she realises that she can no longer hear the shouting. She slowly sits up, removing her hands from her ears. Her heart hammers as she wonders. Is he gone?
There's only silence to be heard, except for the pounding of the rain against the roof of the cabin. She swallows, struggling to get the spittle down, feeling as if something was stuck in her throat. He has obviously gone home, finally accepting that she wasn't going to open the door for him any time soon. He also probably wanted to avoid getting the flu.
She swallowed, unsure of how she was feeling. Relief? Anger? Sadness? She only knew that she was currently feeling a numbness that was spreading throughout her entire body like a disease, making her lose any kind of feeling in her muscles.
She shook her head vigorously. No! She was doing this for him! It didn't stop a tear spilling down her cheek, even though she wasn't feeling sad. She wasn't feeling anything now. Just complete numbness. Like a piece of her was missing.
She stared at her bedroom door, wishing, hoping for a moment that he, would burst into this room, right then and there. She missed the way his eyes would light up every time he saw her, the way he smiled, his laugh ringing through her ears. She found herself thinking of the way his hand always held hers, the comforting feeling of his strong arms around her, encircling her and making her feel safe. The feel of his lips every time he kissed her…
Her eyes widened when she realised what she was thinking, and she finally felt some emotion, her numbness finally replaced with something else. Anger. She yelled in frustration, using her powers to throw a pile of books off the shelf beside her bed onto the ground, furious with herself for still wanting him, even after telling herself she was doing the right thing. God, she was selfish.
"Get it together El," she yelled angrily. She breathed heavily, in through her nose and out her mouth. She desperately wanted to smash or throw something else, anything, with her powers, just so she can feel something, so she can let all her emotions out all in one go. The horrible feeling of emptiness in the cabin only made her feel worse, the deathly silence of it frustrating her. She took hold of a hank of her curly shoulder length hair and yanked hard, making her wince, but luckily, she felt her anger subside. She had no time for emotions now.
It didn't matter what she thought. She was doing this for him, the most important person in her life. The one who found her, gave her a home, food, clothes, who for the first time in a long time, made her feel safe, who protected her and hid her when she was running from them. He was the one who taught her what a friend was, what it was like to truly care for someone. He showed her how to love.
And now she was giving him up.
A sudden loud noise snapped her abruptly out of her thoughts, startling her and causing her to lose her balance, falling off her bed. She stood up quickly, looking towards where the noise was coming from. She gasped in shock, nearly stumbling over herself.
At her bedroom window, a familiar face was standing there looking in at her, desperately knocking at the glass, and yelling out what sounded like her name. His eyes were wide and pleading. Although it was dark, she could tell he was soaking wet, judging by the way his hair was flattened against his scalp.
She felt a tiny sense of relief, as she saw the boy she loved standing outside in the rain, not caring that he was soaked to the skin. He's still here, she thought.
El clenched her fists, wanting to go over to the window and shut the blinds in his face, even though she knew much it would hurt him, as if she hadn't hurt him enough already. It was the logical thing for her to do. He had to move on without her, find some other girl who can give him happiness. The thought of that made her choke back a sob. For a split moment El was tempted to do so. Turn her back on him for the second time in two days. But then his yelling filled her ears, and she was forced to listen, no matter how much she wanted to block her ears again.
"El! El please, open! Please, I- I just want to talk." Mike was yelling, his hands banging desperately on the window, an anguished expression on his face. "El, sweetheart, open up. Goddammit, El please!"
El shook her head at him, finding that her eyes were filling up with tears. She blinked them away and turned to leave the room.
"EL! God, please, just-just talk to me, please! It can't just end like this!" He was yelling louder, his voice breaking at the last sentence.
Just the way he said it, as if the world was ending (which probably was for him) caused her to finally give in. She looked back at him slowly, and saw the despair in his eyes, how confused, angry and broken he looked. It hit her hard, and she realised just how much of a mess she made of him.
He wanted to know why she did it, why she hurt him like this without any warning, without giving him a real reason. It was the last thing she wanted, but she knew she owed him a proper explanation. He deserved to know, that much at least, she told herself. Then once he knows, he'll understand why and he'll respect her decision to end their relationship, knowing that it was the best thing for them. Her eyes stung with tears at the thought of him leaving her willingly, but she shook off her sorrow. Now was not the time. She will give him the explanation he deserves, and that's all.
Taking a deep breath, she reluctantly made her way to the window and opened it, much Mike's absolute relief.
"El!" Mike stood there in the pouring rain, dripping wet, and his whole body relaxing slightly, relief flowing off him in waves. He reached out for her, but she flinched back, shaking her head. The look on his face just tore her apart, the miserable look in his dark eyes making her want to take back that action. She just keeps hurting him, and dammit it was killing her.
"El, please let me in." He said it quietly, his voice cracking, and she saw to her own despair, that he was crying, his bloodshot eyes shining with tears of pain and distress. His face was splotchy and sore looking, rain drops dripping off his skin and the dark circles under his eyes that showed he hadn't slept a wink completed the look. He looked wretched and lost, like everything he ever loved was taken away from him. He trembled there in the rain, whether from the cold or his own heartbreak, El didn't know.
"Mike." El looked away, so he wouldn't see her own tears in her eyes. "I – you need to go home. It's late."
"No." He said it abruptly, spitting the word out.
El looked up sharply at the anger in his voice. There was a cold fury in his eyes that made her step back a bit. Due to his height, they were at exactly eye level as he stood in front of the cabin window. He shivered and shook his head firmly, his eyes never leaving hers
"No, El, I am not leaving here, until you tell me what's going on, and why you did what you did!" His voice was a mixture of anger and desperation, and he clawed at his hair in anguish. "I- I'm going to stay outside this window the entire night if I have to! I mean it!"
He sounded determined, and if there was one thing El knew about Mike, it was that he was insanely stubborn. He stood there unrelenting, as his heavy brown eyes bore into her own and she finally gave in. None of this was fair to him.
Stepping back, she used her powers to help him climb through her window, and he pulled himself in the rest of the way. She shut the window quickly behind her. She turned around slowly and faced him. Mike stood there dripping wet, his intense gaze burning into her own, making her stomach somersault. She swallowed.
"You're wet", El says awkwardly. Mike ignored that comment.
"Why did you do it?" He went for the question straight away.
"You know what!"
He glared at her, breathing heavily. He then froze as if realising how harsh it sounded and groaned, and turned away from her covering his face with his hands.
"Jesus, I'm sorry I shouldn't have said it like that. I just- God I- ." He broke off, fumbling with his words. He ran a hand through his wet hair in frustration. When he looked up at her, the anger was gone, replaced with a pleading look in his eyes.
"Why did you break up with me El?" His eyes searched hers, his expression filled with agony. He swallowed. "If it was something I did – I-I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, just- tell me what I did okay? I just want to know, please! "Whatever it was, whatever I did to you, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
El stared at him, torment and heartache filling her up as he looked at her desperately. She shook her head. "Not you. It's not because of you, Mike."
"Then what is it?" He begged her. "El, baby, please, just tell me!" He took a step forward, but she flinched back. She avoided eye contact as she spoke making her voice as cold as possible. "I already told you, yesterday."
"You're lying El." His voice was low, but she noticed the anger in it. "You're lying and you know it. Whatever you told me yesterday at the quarry, it's bullshit, okay! You do love me!"
"I don't love you Mike." El forced herself to spit out the words. She glared up at him coldly. "Whatever we have, whatever we had – it's gone. We don't have that anymore."
"It's true! I don't love you anymore Mike." She took a shaky breath and stared at him coldly. "It was never meant to be. I've already moved on, I don't need you in my life. So, get your goddamn head, out of your ass and get over it!"
There is a deathly silence as Mike stares at her, his face numb with shock. His chocolate brown eyes fill with tears and his breathing becomes heavier. El stares at him coldly, doing everything in her power to show him in her facial expressions, that she doesn't care about him anymore.
A tear spills down Mike's cheek as he shakes his head and whispers one word. "Bullshit."
He swallows, holding eye contact with her, his Adams apple bobbing. "You do love me." His voice shook with emotion. "You said so and you meant it when you said it. You always have, and you always will. I know you El! It's the reason you're doing this. It's the reason you're pushing me away."
"Bullshit," I say, but my voice sounds shamefully weak.
"No El." Another tear spills down his cheek. He reaches out. This time El doesn't flinch away. Mike takes this as a good sign, taking a step closer, until he's close enough to touch her. He hesitates, unsure of what to do. El waits looking up at him warily.
His eyes seemed to stare into her soul. His voice cracks as he speaks. "Tell me what's going on with you, please! Whatever it is I can help you. I always do."
"Not this time." A tear drips down her cheek. Mike's look softens and reaches out to brush the tear away. She nearly lets him do so. When the tips of his fingers brush against her cheek, she snaps out of it.
"No." She backs away, shaking her head. "No." She isn't sure why she keeps saying no, but it's the only word she can think of to make him go away. "No."
"El." Mike said desperately, pleading with her again. She shakes her head. "Get out of my house." His eyes widened in confusion. "El- "
"Get out!" She screamed, her hands at each side of her head as she squeezed her eyes shut. The tears came. "Just go!" She yelled, her voice breaking. "Just go! Please just go." She yelled as she breaks down into sobs, crumpling to the ground, hiding her face in her hands as she wailed. All the emotions she had kept bottled up for a whole week, ever since that horrible truth came out that started this whole mess, all her fury and bitterness and despair and heartbreak at the fact that her past has finally caught up to her, spilled out in one great gush as she screamed at her pain.
She could feel Mike holding her, his strong arms wrapped around her lithe body as she cried. He was still soaking wet, but that wasn't the reason she didn't want him holding her. She shoved him off, her strength surprising the both of them.
Mike stumbled back. She faced the wall, slamming her fists against it even though it hurt like hell.
"El just tell me! You're breaking my heart here, okay. Whatever it is, we'll get through it, just tell me!
"I can't tell you!"
"Why not!" He was angry again. "Why the hell not El? I have the right to know why you dumped me. Why you broke my heart!" He was shouting, the obvious heartbreak in his voice heard. "If you did it to protect me, from what!"
"I dumped you so I wouldn't break your heart! Because if you knew what I knew, you would stop loving me."
"Sto - stop love - LOVING you! What the hell are you talking about!"
"I can't have kids Mike!"
She screamed out the words in a fit of rage, saying them so quickly she wasn't sure she said them at all. But the cabin is completely silent, with only sound of her sobbing heard. He heard her. El, face wet with tears, slowly looked up at Mike.
Mike is staring at her, his gaze fixed on hers, his entire body completely paralysed. His face is registering shock, his expression frozen in a mixture of disbelief and devastation. It's too painful to look at. El looks away eyes brimming with fresh tears.
There is a horrible silence. After several long moments, Mike spoke up, his voice shaking, like he was hearing, but not believing any of it. "What?"
"You heard me Mike." Her voice came out a lot harsher than she intended it to be. Tears streamed down her cheeks. She swallowed, the words painful to say out loud.
"They sterilized me. At the lab. Doc Owens found my files. He- he came last week and told us." She looked away from him, focusing on anything but his face. She couldn't she just couldn't. She didn't bother to wipe away the tears. Because what was the point? "I don't even remember it happening. They did so many things to me there, it – it was hard to keep track of it all. Do you understand me Mike? I-I can't give you the life you deserve. I can't give you a family, Mike!"
El took a shaky breath, doing her best to quieten her sobs. When she spoke, her voice sounded bitter. "What- whatever Papa did to me – whatever they did to me at the lab, they took away any chance of me ever having a normal life. Because to them, I was just an experiment, a lab rat. Not a real person." She finally got up the courage to look up at Mike.
Mike was staring at her frozen, looking absolutely heartbroken, unblinking tears spilling from his eyes, which were wide with disbelief and grief, and streaming down his face in torrents as he just stood there, trembling, the very sight of his state just shattering her even more.
He knows. Now he knows. Now she has broken him. Now she has truly lost him.
She turns away, curling herself away from him. He's going to leave now any minute. She just doesn't want to see him go. It's too hard. She heard a sharp intake of breath.
"I don't care."
At first El froze. She whirled around in confusion. Tears were still pouring down his face, and there was still obvious devastation. But this time, there was something else. He knelt down in front of her. His gaze pierced through her own as he stared at her, wide eyed with confusion, his eyes searching her own, as if unable to process something. A fat tear spilled down his cheek as he spoke hoarsely.
"Did you- did you really think that after everything we've been through, that I would just stop caring about you - loving you! Just like that?" He looks confused and hurt, like he couldn't believe that she could even think that for one second!
El is frozen in shock, completely dumbfounded at his words. Did she hear him right? Was this just her imagination? She finally spoke.
"Didn't you hear me Mike? I can't have babies. I can't give you a future!" She choked out another sob.
Mike moved closer to her. He's still crying, but there is an unyielding, intense look in his dark brown eyes. "El. Listen to me when I say this." His voice is thick with tears. He took a deep breath. "Ever since I found you in the woods when we were twelve, I knew you were going to play some part in my future. I just knew it somehow. Because you were unlike anyone I had ever met before. And I'm not saying that because you have powers. Finding you there, when we were looking for Will, was a goddamn miracle!" He chuckled softly, the tears still coming.
"You saved me more times than I can count. You barely knew me, and you saved me over and over again! You protected me and the guys. You- you ga-gave your life for me." His voice broke at that, as painful memories filled his mind. "I-I waited for you, called you, for 353 days, because I knew you were still out there, I just knew! Everyone else thought you were dead, but not me. And-and when you came back to me – it was the best Goddamn day of my life, El. Because I knew from the moment you came back to me, that I loved you. You are the most important person in my life. You – you are so goddamn beautiful, and amazing, and badass and God, I don't deserve you! You- you might think that you're the one who doesn't deserve me, but shit you're wrong! I don't deserve you El. I-I never have. Out of all the billions of people in this world, you chose me. And I will be forever grateful for that. I have never, taken our time together for granted, not once. And I don't plan on doing so anytime soon."
El can't breathe. She's drowning in his beautiful eyes, as he speaks his words of love for her.
"What they did to you at the lab, El, is unforgivable. They took away your chance of having a future. They did everything in their power to ensure that you would never have the life you want." El stared at him then, frowning in confusion. She already knew that.
But Mike continued, giving her a small smile. "But the laugh is on them, you know why? Because you do have a future. You do! Right here." He gently took hold of her hand and guided it to his chest, placing it over his heart. El's pulse quickened. Mike swallowed, eyes never leaving hers.
"You might think that I deserve someone else, someone who can give me what you can't. But that is bullshit! You are all I want. You give me so much more than I deserve already." He takes a shaky breath, closing his eyes for a second before opening them and immediately finding her own. "I-I don't know how this thing they did to you will affect us, or what our future will hold."
"But what I do know, is that you are my beginning and end. I-I couldn't bear it if I had to live the rest of my life without you." Mike's lip trembles as he reaches out to touch her cheek, and this time, El lets him. "Dammit, I don't care that we're only fifteen. And screw everyone who says our relationship won't last. I know how I feel about you El. I have since we were thirteen. I-I love you El. I always have and I always will." He's smiling through his tears. He strokes her cheek, cupping her face with one hand. "You are my future El."
"Nothing, none of this, changes my feelings for you. I'm crazy for you El. I always have and I won't let something from your past that was designed to affect your future, affect our future."
El is just stunned. She's shaking hard, filled with overwhelming emotion of what he just told her. She realises that she's weeping, loud, uncontrollable sobs erupting from her throat, her tears blurring her vision. Because her heart is just so full of love for this boy. She is barren and maybe always will be, but he still loves her. He knows that she can't give him what they will always want, and he doesn't care.
"Mike." She manages to get out, sobbing her heart out. Mike smiles softly at her, stroking her face with his hand. He's still crying, but they're tears of happiness. They're both crying tears of happiness.
Because they love each other. And they won't let anything stand in their way.
Mike takes hold of her face with both of his hands, which are still damp from the rain, and cups her face lovingly. The look he gives her is one full of love and tenderness. He brushes away her tears gently with his thumbs, and she leans into him, relishing in his touches.
"El," he whispers softly, his look saying everything. He swallowed. "Promise me. Promise you won't leave me alone."
"I promise." She sobbed quietly and she pulls him towards her lips. They repeat those words over and over again to each other, assuring each other in the dim light of the cabin, that they will never lose each other.
After what seemed like forever, the kiss finally came to an end. El wraps her arms around him, stroking his hair and holding him tightly. After a moment, Mike leans against the wall and pulls her close. El cuddles up to him, listening to his heart thumping beneath his sweatshirt.
"I love you, did I mention that?" She whispers. Mike laughed and held her closer to him, gently kissing the top of her head. "I'll never get sick of hearing you say that."
She giggled mischievously, and intertwined their hands together. She's silent for a moment.
"I'll never leave you again Mike." He looks down at her, and his dark brown eyes bore into her own, filling her with butterflies. "It hurts too much." El blinks back tears. "I-I can't imagine my life without you."
Mike gazes at her, then lifts up their entwined hands. He gently pulls back her sleeve, uncovering her 011 tattoo. The eternal reminder of her past, of what she was born to be. A thing, not a real person.
Mike strokes the tattooed area on her skin, and presses his lips to it, his eyes closed, lingering for a few seconds. El's stomach does tiny flips as he does so. He entwines their hands again, and looks at her with that intense look again.
"Do you promise?" His voice trembles as he asks her.
El looks deep into his eyes, and answers as truthfully and honestly as she can.
Mike's eyes fill with tears again as he smiles, his expression tender and rests his forehead against El's. More tears are shed as they hold one another and breathe each other in, a feeling of bliss in the aftermath of chaos.
And El knows, she just knows, that no matter what other obstacles there are in the future, whatever else happens, they will survive.
They'll survive together.