So I started this multi-shot before season three came out, so in this fic Hopper isn't dead, El didn't lose her powers, and El and Will also didn't move away and they actually went to high school with the rest of their friends.
However, I do still reference some of s3 events in this chap.
But for those reading this for the first time consider this an Stranger things AU that would take place if everything went right for once and our children could actually be happy. Hope you enjoy! - salavibes
"Please welcome our new foreign exchange student who is visiting us all the way from Germany, Miss Sofia Altendorf."
All eyes were suddenly glued on the new girl who stood in front of the class alongside their English teacher. It was so unusually quiet you could hear a pin drop, the previous whispers and murmurs ceasing as everyone stared in wonder at their newest peer.
El remembered that just a couple years ago she had been right there in Sofia's shoes. It had been one of the most nerve wracking experiences she'd probably ever faced. It was not only tough being among kids her own age (which she quickly found out could be brutal) but the fact they knew nothing about her aside from the rumors spread about her being the weird adopted girl with the mysterious past, didn't make it that much easier for her to fit in.
But for this girl it was different. She didn't seem anxious like El was at all. No, quite the opposite actually. She seemed to light up the room upon entry with such an outward charisma and confidence, literally all bright smiles since the moment she walked in the door.
El closely watched as she curtsied when introducing herself, not caring in the slightest that her thick accent made her stand out, lacing within each word that she spoke. El secretly wished she could be more like that.. more free and more confident in herself.
She was also pretty, which rightfully fit her exuberant personality, in a way it kind of made El feel a bit self conscious for it was almost as if this girl came out of a magazine or something with her long perfect golden hair, blue eyes, and flawless makeup.
And obviously El wasn't the only one who thought that, half the boys in her class must've thought the same thing which became increasingly apparent in their whistles and obscene comments as their newest classmate walked towards an empty desk in the middle of the room.
But as the class droned on for the next hour and a half, so far gone was the new girl from El's train of thought. All she could think about now, was seeing Mike at lunch and hopefully getting started on these reading assignments that were now piling on top of all the other homework she had to get done. Ugh, annoying..
El anxiously picked at the loose strings of her sweater, glancing up every couple of minutes from the group's conversation to look up at the faces that passed by their table. He wasn't even here yet and lunch was halfway over. "Where's Mike?"
"Oh damn, I totally forgot. He told me to tell you he wasn't coming."
Her face tightened at Dustin's response. "Why not?" she asked, trying but failing miserably to hold back the edge in her tone.
"Something about needing to help the principal? I don't really remember." The curly headed teen simply shrugged, unphased by her obvious frustration. "But Mike sends his apologies." he replied, proceeding to open up his lunch sack, taking out a sandwich and a bag of chips and setting them to the side before reaching back into the bag. "Along with this." he pulled out a smaller zip locked bag and handed it to her.
El's frown shifted into a small smile when she opened the tiny bag. He had brought her eggos, of course he had. Mike usually brought her favorite waffles as a way to make it up to her when he was too wrapped up with tutoring or A.V. and he couldn't make it to lunch with her. It was what she had officially coined as his apology eggos.
Even though she honestly thought it was the sweetest thing ever it still didn't really make up for not seeing him. Although, she tried to be understanding given it definitely has been a lot harder to see each other now given their current circumstances.
For one, they didn't have any classes together this year. Mike was taking all advanced classes while El was in general doing her best to keep up. With that said, no classes together on top of juggling assignments, extracurriculars, and Mike's new job at the diner, it was a miracle they ever saw each other at all.
She wouldn't lie and say it didn't bother her, because it did. She missed being able to see him practically all the time like they did freshman year and last summer. But she knew how much Mike desired to make it into a great college for engineering, so she tried her hardest to squash that feeling down.
"Did you guys see the new girl?" Will asked, purposely shifting the conversation away from the group's ongoing complaints about the amount of homework they were swamped with.
"Pffft, like dude who hasn't?" Dustin toothily grinned, popping a Cheeto puff in his mouth. "She's crazy hot." he mumbled through chomped bits.
"Yeah, she's totally hot-" Lucas stopped himself, his smile immediately changing into an awkward grimace when he caught sight of Max burning a hole into him with her gaze. "Not.. not hot." he coughed in an effort to regain his composure. "Definitely nowhere near as hot as you."
Max snorted under her breath, rolling her eyes. "Yeah, nice save."
"She's in my English class. She seems nice, I guess?" El chimed in, not quite understanding everyone's fascination with this girl. "She's a.. foreign exchange student?" she asked, biting into her eggo.
"Foreign exchange is this program for kids to travel to other countries and see how it's like to actually live there." Will explained, noticing the term was unfamiliar to her.
"They stay with some random family and go to some random school for about half a year before they go back to their home country." Max jumped in where he left off. "I honestly don't get the point because I think high school is shitty regardless of what country you're in, but hey, to each their own."
"So El, did you happen to catch which country she's from?" Dustin asked, stuffing another Cheeto in his mouth.
"I think it was Germany."
"Wow, that's even hotter." He let out a dreamy sigh while licking the cheese dust from off his fingers.
"Better save it Henderson, because long distance is not exactly your thing." Lucas laughed under his breath before sneakily snatching a Cheeto from his bag, much to his dismay.
"Oh and what's that supposed to mean?"
"Don't you remember what happened with Suzie?" Max teased, teaming up with her boyfriend. "Because we definitely seem to recall, don't we Lucas?"
"What happened between Suzie and I was a mutual decision. Why is this even being brought up douchebags? It was forever ago!"
"Mutual decision my ass.. I still to this day can't believe she was even real."
El lingered beside her open locker. It had been almost five minutes now and she knew the bell would ring at any moment but she secretly hoped that if she stood around long enough that maybe she'd catch a glimpse of her favorite freckle faced boy coming down the hall, but so far no such luck.
"Ready for Schneider's?"
El had been so caught in her thoughts that she hadn't even seen best friend approaching. It was a good thing Max hadn't noticed how zoned out she was or she would've definitely gotten an earful about it.
"Not really." El sighed, grudgingly pulling out her history textbook. "Her class is always so boring." she closed her locker door.
"Right! especially ever since she made us switch desks because we were quote unquote "disrupting everyone else's learning environment with our constant talking." Max exaggerated with added air quotations. "Which is total bullshit if you ask me."
El couldn't help but giggle at the memory of them getting scolded by their history teacher. It had been a long time coming though and honestly she's surprised they hadn't gotten in trouble much sooner.
"You know what." Max enthused, looking back over at her friend with coy and expectant eyes. "Why don't we just skip her class?"
"Skip?" El cringed, unsure of the idea. She usually avoiding skipping especially when knowing she had to do twice as much work as everyone else just to catch up from being a little behind. "I don't kno-
"Come on El." the redhead insisted, leaning up against the lockers. "We haven't skipped since.. like what? last year. It's not gonna hurt anyone if we miss class just this once. Plus, knowing Schneider, she's probably just gonna continue lecturing on and on about the Civil war until our ears bleed like she did yesterday.
El anxiously rubbed at her arm, still not entirely convinced. "But what if she gives a pop quiz?"
"So?" Max snorted, fixing her falling backpack strap onto her shoulder. "What's the worst that could happen? If you're worried you'll fall behind, need I remind you that you're basically dating your own private tutor.
And you and I both know that all you have to do is bat those puppy dog eyes once and Mike would do all your homework for you in a heartbeat." she knowingly grinned, playfully bumping into El's shoulder. "So what do ya say?"
El rolled her eyes at Max's persistence, yet she couldn't help the smile creeping up on her face in turn giving her friend the answer she was hoping for.
Max excitedly squealed as she linked her arm in El's and before the bell had rung, the two girls disappeared down the end of the hall.
The two of them walked side by side near the empty football field, having to go around it in order to avoid any teachers or patrol officers who were usually posted by the front entrance. The windy air was cold and crisp like it usually was after a recent rain storm.
Fall had just come to an end and winter was fast approaching proven by the newly barren trees. The leaves that were once hues of gold and orange had fallen and turned a tinged shade of brown. The previous rain storm made the leaves slimy as they clumped to the ground, now starting to stick to the girls boots as they walked through to the other side of the field.
"So what should we do first? I was thinking we could visit that new coffee shop that just opened right across the street."
But El hardly heard what was said, her attention diverted to the pair walking on the opposite side of the field. She narrowed her eyes trying to get a better view. "Hey Max.. is that?"
"No way" Max's mouth dropped slightly, looking in the direction of El's gaze." What's Wheeler doing out here? and the hell.. is that the new girl?"
Mike's mop of black hair bounced up and down as he talked excitedly to the foreign exchange student who had been smiling ear to ear at everything he said so far.
Even though they were out of earshot and she hadn't known what was being said, El couldn't help but feel unnerved, a sudden uneasiness rocking her. Why was he alone with her? and why the hell was she smiling at him like that?
"Quick, over here, they're coming." Max rushed, urging El to follow behind her under the bleachers.
"Shh.." Max put a single finger in front of her mouth, quiet her. "They'll hear us."
"What are we doing?"
"Don't you think it's a little weird that Mike is skipping class with this new chick?"
"And don't you think it's also weird that they're out here... alone?"
El hesitated as she thought about it but then nodded again.
"So we're just doing a little investigating. There's nothing wrong with that." Max answered, her eyes darting back to the field. "So has Mike said anything to you about skipping class today or-?
"No, but Dustin told me that Mike was helping out the principal today."
"Well hate to break it to you" Max sighed. "but that doesn't exactly look like charity work to me." she motioned her head over at the two.
El couldn't believe what she was seeing. This girl was not only giggling at everything Mike was saying but she kept touching him. She would brush her shoulder against his and would put her hand on his bicep whenever he said something she thought was funny, and suddenly it dawned on her..
German girl was flirting
and with HER boyfriend.
El felt her blood turn to ice and her stomach clenched tightly along with her fists.
"Has he said anything else to you? like-
But El quickly covered Max's mouth with her hands when she noticed that the Mike and Sofia were now passing by right in front of the bleachers that the girls were hiding behind.
"This bowling you told me about.." Sofia pulled her white coat closer to her body to ward off the frigid wind as she walked alongside Mike on the track. "Americans do it often?"
"Kinda." Mike answered, kicking at the loose gravel on the track. "I mean, my friends and I usually go bowling when we don't have much else to do. I'm not all that great at it, but it's still fun, I guess."
"Can we go?" Sofia warmly smiled up at him, her hands swinging way to close to his for El's liking. "This Saturday?"
El and Max both exchanged the same incredulous glances. She couldn't be serious right? This upcoming Saturday the party had already made plans to hang out. Everyone even went out of their way to clear their schedules for this. It was set in stone and everything, no way would he agree..
Mike rubbed the back of neck, pausing as he wrestled with the idea. "Well.."
El closed her eyes and held her breath, wringing her hands in anticipation.
What was he hesitating for? He wouldn't just cancel their plans to hang out with some random girl he barely knew.. would he? Not unless.. no, no, she didn't even want to think that way.
"Um, yeah I think that can work." Mike finally concluded, offering her a half smile. "Okay, Saturday."
El suddenly gulped down the breath she'd been holding. She felt as though her heart had just been pummeled and was now sinking to the bottom of her chest.
He can't do this to her…
He would never do this to her..
Suddenly the thoughts El tried so hard to keep at bay, came flooding in all at once.
Her jumbled thoughts fought back and forth until she could no longer force down her feelings. Her increasing anger and now impending hurt began to surface just as fast as magma in a volcano and just as destructive.
Max could see the change in her friend's face, the immediate darkening of her eyes and wry expression no longer one of annoyance but now of full fledged anger and Max knew it wouldn't be much longer before she exploded. "El." she warned, but it was no use as the girl began to focus all of her attention on the pair walking away.
"I would just have to ask-" but before Mike could finish that statement, a brutal whirlwind of leaves and twigs immediately began to encompass them. It was like a violent gust all of a sudden emerged out of nowhere and the two of them found themselves stuck in the middle, shielding their faces from the flying debris as best as they could.
"Holy shit!" Mike blocked his eyes with his hands as he looked for Sofia. "Get down!" He yelled, grabbing her by the shoulder and forcing her to crouch down but there was no point for they both flew backwards face first onto the muddy field. It was only then that the whirlwind had subsided just as quickly as it had appeared.
Sofia frantically glanced around the field and then back at Mike, her mouth frozen wide open in an expression of stunned surprise.
His face had washed blank with confusion as the gears in his brain kept churning, desperate to piece together what the hell had just happened. "You okay?" he barely managed to cough out as he struggled to catch his breath.
"Whoa." Sofia gasped, as she laid there still feeling a little too shaken to sit up. "The wind here in America is crazy."
He knew in his gut that this wasn't the wind. It was far too forceful and it didn't even make much sense. Yeah, sure it was windy today, but this thing just came out of nowhere so unexpectedly and flat out knocked them both to the ground then disappeared?
He glanced over towards the bleachers and could barely make out the sight of a girl with chestnut brown hair disappearing behind the school with a redhead trailing behind her.
Mike quickly helped Sofia back to her feet, noticing that her once bright ivory coat was now ruined with grass stains and mud. "I'm really sorry about this, but I-well, I gotta go." he rushed, before taking off. "Meet you back at school!"
"What? Where are you going?" Sofia stood there completely dumbfounded in the middle of the field alone as she watched him sprint back towards Hawkins High. "Uh.. Mike?"
"El!" Mike breathily shouted as he finally managed to catch up with her. However, she blatantly ignored him and rounded the corner, stomping towards the school's parking lot.
"Screw off Mike." Max defiantly stood in front of him with her arms crossed, purposely putting herself as a wedge between him and El. "You know you've got some kind of nerve to-"
Mike didn't bother listening to what she had to say as he pushed himself past her instead walking up to his girlfriend and grabbing her by the arm.
"Get away from me." she seethed, trying to shake off his grip but he held on until she finally turned around to face him.
"What the hell?"
Her face was a deep shade of red, both from her apparent anger and tears he could tell she was fighting so hard to hold back. She quickly swiped at the trickle of blood from her nose while she bore him down with such an icy glare that it made chills instantly shoot down his spine.
"What was that about?" Mike demanded to know, as he searched her eyes for answers.
"You're a liar."
"Wh-what?" He shook his head in disbelief, not understanding in the slightest what was happening. He looked at her, his brows now furrowed. "What are you talking about?"
"Oh don't play dumb, Wheeler." Max interjected, stepping towards him. "Do you really think El's that naive?" She glowered and forcefully stuck her finger in his chest. "What was your sorry ass excuse again? Oh yeah.. That you're helping out the principal?" She plastered a fake smile on her face. "That is what you said right?"
But Max didn't wait for him to answer as she continued. "Hmm, only asking because, well.. I don't know." she snorted sarcastically as her face fell back into a scowl. "It just seems to us that you're a lot more interested in skipping class and chatting it up with the new girl than you are about helping out dear old Mr. Craig."
"That's-" Mike shook his head fiercely. "No.. no." he put his face in hands and slowly took in a deep breath. "Can I just talk to El" he exhaled, glaring back up at Max with eyes begging her to leave. "You know... alone."
Max glanced between the couple and El simply gave her friend a curt nod in response.
"Alright, but El, if you need me to come over here and kick his ass, just say the word." she then smiled in amusement upon noticing Mike's muddled expression. "I'll be waiting for you in the car when you're done." she thumbed over to her beat up Honda sitting on the other side of the parking lot.
"Oh yeah and Mike," Max looked back over her shoulder, her red hair whipping in the wind. "You look like shit." she casually mentioned, before disappearing off into the distance.
Mike scrunched his face as he looked down, now fully aware that his clothes were caked in mud. He shook his head and quickly refocused his attention on the girl in front of him knowing that his dirty clothes were the least of his worries.
"So what do you want?" El urged, her voice cold and distant.
Mike winced at the indignation in her tone. "I didn't lie to you, okay. The principal had asked me earlier this week to give Sofia a tour of the school since she's new here, so that's all I was doing. His face slowly twisted in confusion when it suddenly dawned on him that she wasn't in class. "What are you even doing out here? Aren't you supposed to be in history?"
"Skipping." El unabashedly replied as her face fell flat, unmoved by his explanation. "I didn't know school tours also included bowling."
"Wait, were you eavesdropping?"
El answered him with another glare and Mike ground his teeth, growing even more impatient with her.
"They don't have bowling where she's from and she was really interested in trying it. I know what you're thinking and no, I didn't suddenly drop our plans with our friends. I was actually gonna check with you and the rest of the party to see if it would be cool if she tagged along."
El's shoulders fell, the burning fire in her chest now becoming extinguished. She felt instantly relieved that her worst fear imaginable happened to be just a simple misunderstanding.
"But that was before I was blown away to freakin kingdom come!" Mike threw up his hands in exasperation but he stopped himself and carefully eyed the parking lot for any bystanders. "You know you can't just use your powers in public like that." he lowered his voice into a strong whisper as he looked back at her. "What were you thinking?"
El couldn't shake off her initial frustration with Mike, even though she knew he was in the clear it still didn't really help that he was talking to her like she was some child who didn't know the rules. "Nobody saw me." she snapped.
"How can you be so sure?" Mike heavily sighed, as he began to pace back and forth. "There are literally hundreds of kids and not to mention teachers at this school right this very second. El, what you did.." he rubbed a hand anxiously through his messy hair. "What you did was.. ugh!"
"What I did was.. what?" El challenged, her eyes narrowing. "Finish."
Mike stopped dead in his tracks, his face tightening as he met her glare. "What you did was stupid, okay! What you did was completely and utterly stupid! You not only put yourself at risk for no reason whatsoever but you went and probably scarred the new girl for life." he massaged the edge of his temples, hoping to rid himself of the newly impending headache. "Damn it, she's gonna give me such a bad report for ditching her, I just know it."
"Good." El snorted. "It's not like she matters anyway."
"What the hell?" Mike sputtered, his restrained anger now bubbling to the surface. "Do you have a problem with her or something?"
El dodged his gaze, looking anywhere but his eyes.
She just couldn't find it in herself to tell him that she hated the way Sofia had acted around him, the way she looked him up and down with such flirty eyes and not to mention, how she dared to touch him like he was her property or something. But what El absolutely hated more than anything about Sofia was the mere fact that the girl was definitely a lot prettier than she was.
"So.. you do." Mike answered for her. "The girl has literally only been here for a day and you already hate her guts, wow."
"Ugh.." She loudly groaned. "You wouldn't understand."
"Understand what? That you have zero self control and abuse people with your powers just because you don't like them? Because I understand clearly."
"You know what.." El could feel her nails digging in the palm of her hands, her patience wearing thin. "You're- You're insufferable!"
"Oh, that's new." He scoffed. "Where did you learn that from? Max?"
Ouch, she had felt that burn a mile away. Why was he being like this to her? If he'd just been at lunch today instead of frolicking off with this new girl then this convo wouldn't even be happening right now. But If he wanted a fight then she'd definitely give him a fight.
"Are you serious?" El looked back up at him in complete disbelief, her teeth grinding so hard that her jaw was growing sore. "I'm not dumb, I know what words mean!"
"You're taking it the wrong way! I didn't even mean it like that!" Mike abruptly protested. "All I'm saying is that Max has been known to string you along in the past and I wouldn't be entirely surprised if she probably strung you along this time." he angrily muttered under his breath.
"So now what are you trying to say? That I can't think for myself?" El pressed, her facial muscles starting to twitch from her forced restraint of emotions. "Or is it that you don't want me and Max to be friends?"
"What!? No! I didn't even say that!" Mike frantically shook his head.
"No!" he huffed his breath visible like smoke in the cold air. "How about you just stop putting words in my mouth?"
"How about you just stop being an asshole!?" El fumed, unable to control her tongue.
And as soon as that word left her mouth it had left a bad taste. Mike just stood there in absolute silence, not daring to refute her for the first time since their fight had begun. She could see the anger in his eyes slowly dissipate being replaced by a tense guilt.
She was very familiar with that look on his face. Every time he'd allow his stubbornness to get the best of him and he knew he'd put his foot in his mouth he would look at her exactly like that.. with such shame, that she could imagine he was probably mentally beating himself up.
But this time it wasn't his fault, it was hers.
How in this moment all she wanted to do was reach out to touch his face and soothe away his concern. He'd actually done nothing wrong. He never had.
It wasn't his fault he had to do so much just to look good for college applications. It wasn't his fault he was such a sweet guy and of course another girl would think the same way. And it definitely wasn't his fault that she evaded the truth of all of these things by starting this stupid argument with him in the first place.
To be honest with herself she just didn't feel like she was good enough for him anymore and it was like all of these sudden and intense emotions were starting to snowball one after the other and before she knew it, she felt smothered to the point she couldn't breathe.
So El did the only thing she knew to do and began to take off, but before she could even get a few steps away, he grabbed her by the hand.
"Wait." Mike swallowed roughly, his once taut face now becoming slack with concern. "Let's try and talk this out, okay?"
She looked into his eyes for a moment and suddenly felt uneasy. Everything in her was telling her to stay but for some reason she couldn't make herself do it. She wasn't ready to have this conversation with him.
"No." El responded. "I'm done talking." she pulled her hand away, not so much as giving him a second glance as she left him to stand there in the middle of the parking lot by himself.
It had only been a few days since they last had spoken but it honestly felt more like months. Ever since the day of their fight, they had mutually given each other the silent treatment.
Also, not only was it their biggest fight to date but the longest they'd even gone without speaking to each other and time seemed to trudge by SO slowly that El was now very aware of every new gap in her life that he'd previously used to fill.
Instead of Mike, Max was now the one driving her to and from school. She didn't really mind it, Max was great and all, she even tried to cheer up with their favorite Madonna songs but of course it wasn't the same.
El didn't receive the usual cute note from him she'd often find waiting for her in her locker. He usually sneaked it in her locker in between classes and she always looked forward to them especially since it would usually help lighten her mood after a long morning of Trig.
She now went to bed falling asleep to the sound of the T.V. instead of their usual late night talks and she had absolutely no reason to go to the diner anymore where she'd read her favorite books and munch on free fries he'd sneak her in the meantime while she patiently waited for his shift to end.
She also didn't get apology eggos from him for missing lunch which he now purposely missed, instead choosing to sit outside with another group of kids she didn't even realize he was friends with.
Which also made their already suspicious friends even more aware that something was going on between them. They had already suspected something when Mike hadn't even bothered going to the party's planned hang out instead giving an excuse at the last minute that he couldn't make it because he felt sick. None of their friends bought the lie and El couldn't say she blamed them.
It was always pretty obvious to the party when her and Mike were in a fight, however, this fight was now officially going on it's fourth day and even in all her stubbornness and pride, she couldn't lie to herself and say she didn't absolutely hate this.
She missed him.
Hell, she missed him… a lot.
"What?" she muttered, not bothering to look up instead focused on picking at the skin of the apple in her hand.
Max glanced over at the passenger's seat, before turning the wheel. "This moping shit has gone on long enough. So either you break up with him and move on or try to figure this thing out, but something's gotta give because you've worn the same sweatshirt for the last couple of days and I question if you've even taken a shower since then."
"Do you think he wants to break up?" El's voice raised with panic. It was the exact same question that had been prodding her mind every single day since their huge fight.
What if this was it?
What if they were done?
She hated to think about it, but then that nagging voice in the back of her head would remind her that maybe if they did break up he would be better off.
"Yeah right. Wheeler break up with you? Ha, not even if the world was about to end and his life depended on it." Max replied lightheartedly, hoping to relieve her nerves but it was to no avail as El grew even more despondent. "Why don't you just talk to him?" She added, nudging her friend with her free arm.
El stopped picking her apple, and stared dismally outside the car window. "I don't think he wants to."
"Why not?" Max disdainfully asked as if her friend had asked the dumbest question ever. "Thank God, he's not a two timing man whore like we'd originally thought or shit would've hit the fan real quick." she chuckled in relief as she continued to keep her eyes on the road. "So it's not like he has anything to be afraid of and lucky enough for him, he even gets to keep his balls. So what's the problem?"
"I was pretty harsh towards him." El redirected, far too caught up in her thoughts to engage Max's sarcasm. "He didn't deserve that. It wasn't really his fault."
"Look, I know I gave a lot of shitty advice to you about your relationship when we were kids." Max cringed guiltily recalling the memory. "But that's only because I didn't really understand what you and Mike have. I honestly still don't. You two are not the average couple, not by a long shot." she snorted, a half smile growing on her face while she pulled into their school's parking lot. "So with that being said, I'm not gonna make that same mistake this time. Talk to him El. I know without a doubt he'd want that."
"Yeah." El sighed. She sunk back into her seat and offered her friend a grateful smile. "I guess you're right, I'll talk to him."
"Well looks like it's your time to shine." Max immediately pulled up to the curb. She then pointed over towards the school's entrance where Mike was seen walking with the rest of their group of friends.
"Wait, now?" El's eye's grew wide. She hadn't had time to think about what she was gonna say or how she was gonna say it. Shit, shit, shit.
"Yup." The redhead knowingly smirked. "Now out you go." she said, ushering her out of the car.
El staggered out the car door, trying her best to grab her things as Max continued to rush her. "But Max hold on, I don't-"
"Good luck, Don't forget to give me all the details later, kay? love ya, bye!" Max then slammed the door and sped off leaving El awkwardly beside herself.
She peeked through the throng of students until she saw him. Mike was far too caught up with talking to Lucas and Will over near the courtyard that he hadn't noticed her.
She couldn't help but smile to herself despite the anxiety that was now pooling in her gut.
He was wearing that nice blue sweater (which also happened to be her absolute favorite sweater) with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows. The wind gently pushed back his raven hair which did nothing but help accentuate his sharp facial features and make her heart instantly somersault in her chest.
Wow, he looked so handsome.
El made a face at how she looked in comparison. Her hair hadn't been combed since yesterday and Max had been correct, she was wearing the same sweatshirt for the third day in a row with pants that she didn't even bother to match.
Geez, she probably looked homeless or something.
In an attempt to fix herself, she quickly raked her fingers through her messy hair and tried her best to smooth out the wrinkles in her clothes.
Damn it, if she knew she'd be talking to Mike right this instant she'd definitely would've took a shower this morning. Ugh! but there was nothing she could do about it now so with a heavy sigh, she swung her backpack over her shoulder and headed his way. .
It was now or never.
"Yeah, yeah, I know that but who in their right mind would actually-" Mike droned off mid sentence, instantly distracted from the conversation by the sight of her approaching him.
Lucas and Will both turned around to see what caught his attention.
"Hey Mike." El spoke carefully noticing she'd caught him off guard as he looked at her with a mixture of surprise and hesitation.
El fidgeted nervously with her hands. "Can we talk?" she asked, daring to meet his gaze.
"I almost completely forgot." Lucas blurted out, slapping a palm to his forehead. "Me and Will promised we'd meet up with Max at the library before class."
"Yes, Will." Lucas's eyes motioned between the couple before he glared back at him. "Remember…?"
"O-Oh" Will stuttered, as he finally caught on. "Yeah, to help her with her.. um, homework."
"Exactly, her homework." Lucas sighed, knowing Will was a lost cause. "So we'll catch you guys later." he rushed, starting to walk away. "See ya!"
"Bye Mike, Bye El!" Will shouted behind him as he followed Lucas through the school's double doors.
Mike rolled his eyes at his friends obvious gesture before he turned back to face El, his expression fell flat, the initial surprise now long gone. "I thought you were done talking to me." he remarked, his arms folded tightly against his chest.
"Mike, please." Her eyes pleaded with him on her behalf and she could see his face soften at her request.
"Okay." he sighed. "But we only have like ten minutes before class starts." he glanced down at his watch.
"Ten minutes is all I need."
They sat down together at one of the empty benches found in the courtyard. Some teens were sprawled here and there but most had already went to their first class of the day. It was pretty chilly out and El mentally berated herself for not preferring that they had this chat some place inside.
El noticed that Mike chose to sit on the other end of the bench, intentionally giving her space. He looked over at her with an anxious expression as though he was preparing for the worst.
She absentmindedly tugged on her sweatshirt, partially because of nerves and partially to warm her hands. "You were right Mike."
His eyebrows immediately quirked up and she had to bite back a smile at how cute she thought that was.
"I should have never used my powers in public like that and I normally don't but.. " El paused, trying to figure out how to approach this. "That Sophia girl, she was flirting with you and then you were talking about taking her bowling and-"
"Wait, she was flirting with me?" he stared at her dumbfounded, as though this was news to him.
El slowly nodded, lines of confusion drawing in her brow. "You didn't notice?"
"Um, no actually." Mike shrugged, rubbing his arm. He then hesitated, momentarily deep in thought. "So that's why you were mad?"
"Yeah, but I shouldn't have done that."
Mike's mouth fell as though a lightbulb suddenly went off in his head, "So you were there." he chuckled in unbelief. "And all these years I thought I had been going crazy.."
El's face fell. "What are you talking about?"
"You were there that day when Max and I were looking for Dart during that whole mind flayer incident years ago." He clarified. "You knocked her off her board, didn't you?"
"Yes.." El hung her head shamefully. She had apologized to Max about that awhile back but it never crossed her mind to talk about it with Mike. "and I shouldn't have done that either, it's just…" she trailed, struggling with letting her walls down.
"I get.. jealous." El winced as the last word rolled off her tongue. "I'm not as pretty or as smart as some of these other girls. I don't talk the way they do or act like they act. They weren't raised in a lab with a number as a name and they didn't grow up worried about monsters or the upside down." Her voice began to crack, as tears started to flow down her cheeks. "I guess, sometimes I get scared that one day you'll realize that you can have someone so much better for you who doesn't have as many problems as me." she confessed, finally unveiling to him many years of pent up insecurity.
El had been looking down in an attempt to cover up the fact that she'd been crying that she hadn't even noticed that Mike had made his way beside her until she felt his arm around her.
"Hey." he cooed, gently reaching out a hand to caress her face. He then wiped away a stray tear with his thumb before it could fall. "Do you know why I didn't even notice that Sophia was flirting with me?"
She looked up at him and although his hand was cold upon her cheek his eyes were so full of warmth it made her melt underneath his gaze.
"Because the entire time I was talking to her and giving her the tour of the school, I couldn't stop thinking about you." Mike answered with a gentle smile.
He then slowly pulled his hand away from her and his face turned serious. "I know you've grown up in a way nobody else has. You've suffered through so much shit and it wasn't fair that you had to go through what you did but because of it you're a lot stronger than anyone I've ever met. And sure, you might be different because of it but I love that about you."
"El, I only wish you could see.. " Mike softly breathed, using a single hand to tilt her chin up to face him. "That I love every single thing about you. There's no one for me but you. I mean you're it, you're all I've ever needed." His lips then lifted up into a teasing smirk "So I hate to break it to you but you're kind of stuck with me. Well, that's until you decide you're finally tired of me and move on."
"No." El shook her head, softly giggling. "You're stuck with me." She then looked away, her smile faltering. "Mike."
"I'm sorry too." Mike swallowed, as he absentmindedly rubbed circles over her back with his thumb. "I've been so caught up with everything lately at school and work that I haven't made much time for us and I hate it."
"It's okay, I understand."
"No." he immediately shook his head. "You shouldn't have to. I've decided I'm gonna drop tutoring."
"But Mike, you need that for college." El's eyes widened with shock. "You can't do that. I won't let you." she pressed, her tone turning strict.
"It's fine, I've got two years of tutoring to put on my applications." He reassured her, waving off the matter. "If those colleges don't accept me then that's on them." He then beamed at her, his eyes looking back at hers excitedly. "I know this is slightly off topic, but how do you feel about Italian this Saturday? I don't know about you but I've kind of been craving pasta all week."
El didn't even bother to answer his question instead leaning forward to kiss him.
Mike broke away. "So I'm guessing it's a date." he smiled crookedly.
El smiled back. She then threw her arms around his neck, pulling him down to meet her lips once again. His lips were chapped and cold against hers but she knew they wouldn't be for long as she began to deepen their kiss.
His hands fell from where they were on her back and slid down until he found her waist. She hoisted herself onto his lap, not once breaking her mouth from his in the process.
"HEY YOU TWO!" a boisterous voice barked. "BREAK IT UP AND GET TO CLASS!"
El and Mike immediately scrambled away from each other, their cheeks turning red as they dared not look their principal in the eye.
"Michael Wheeler." the older man stilled, pulling his glasses down to peek over them. "I've been meaning to talk to you about the report I received back from Miss Altendorf."
"Uh, is it bad?"
"Let me put it this way." Principal Craig exhaled, pushing his glasses back up his nose. "My office, now."
El cringed, feeling bad she got him into trouble. 'Sorry.' she mouthed at him.
Mike gave her a small smirk. "Call me tonight." he mouthed back, making the phone gesture with his hand before he turned back to follow Mr. Craig towards the school.
El watched as they walked off before she plopped back onto the bench with a dreamy sigh.
She sat there for a moment just staring up into the sky as she relished in the conversation they just had.
She felt like she was fourteen again, feeling so giddy and full of joy. Her heart was even thumping so hard in her chest, she'd swear it was audible.
Just the thought of Mike made her break into a huge smile. He was incredible. He was special. He was hers.
Wow, and she was just so absolutely head over heels in love with him.
She took in a deep breath and closed her eyes.
Mark her words, one day..
Yes, one day..
She'd marry that boy.