A/N: Welcome back! As I said in OOTW chapter 5, I apologize for being gone for so long. It's been a rough time. But, I'm back with inspiration to write. That being said, three of you have reached out to me with story ideas (either one-shots or short stories), and I am going to get to them. I have a running list of your ideas and my own ideas, and I will get to them all. I'm happy to say that there is a wide variety of topics in that list, so thank you for that, as I like to give you guys a variety of content. Without further delay, here is the tenth installment! Please enjoy!
Phieillydinyia: Thank you! I'm glad. I hope you like this one too.
Shrike176: I agree about 18 and 19 being young for what they were doing. Since I already had one with a daughter in it, I kind of wanted to go keep it related to that, and since in that one they were only 24 and their daughter was 4 years old, I had to make them young when they had her. So, I went back and forth between doing them trying to purposely get pregnant, or accidentally getting pregnant at 19, and I just decided to go for it lol. I'm glad that you enjoyed it though! And thank you, I'm glad you like how I write the characters, especially aged up.
UnoPeso22: You make a lot of good points. One of the biggest things people think of when it comes to babies is how expensive they are, but that pretty quickly takes a backseat if you really want kids together. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I completely agree Mike and El deserve a beautiful life together after all the supernatural stuff they've gone through.
Afanofstrangerthingsandstuff: Thank you. I try to let you know if one of these stories will divert from canon. I'm glad you like it!
Honeylove90: Thank you so much! I hope you like this one as well.
Setting: January 1985, just a few weeks after the Snow Ball and about 5-6 months before the events of season 3.
Disclaimer: I do not own Stranger Things or any of its characters.
"I'm leaving for work, kid. Want me to pick anything up on my way home?" Hopper filled the doorway and looked at the pitiful thirteen-year-old girl laying in her bed.
El did not speak a response, just sighed and shook her head. She was curled into the fetal position underneath her blankets, her knees pulled tightly to her chest. It seemed to be the only position she could lay in that provided any relief to her stomach.
"All right. There's soup in the fridge you can warm up for lunch, and those pills Joyce gave me for you are on the counter. Maybe you should take some before Wheeler gets here this afternoon," Hopper said, a touch of bitterness seeping in at the end.
Again, El nodded from her place in her bed. Hopper sighed and turned from her bedroom, crossing the living room to leave for work. This was day one of this month's week from Hell.
It happened the first time in November, just a couple short weeks after El had closed the gate and been reunited with her friends. Hopper would never forget the young girl walking out of the bathroom, her face as white as a ghost. His stomach had immediately sank, wondering what could have possibly happened.
"B-blood," El had quietly stammered.
It had taken everything Hopper had in him to stifle the groan in his throat. After he had assured El that she would be okay and that this was something normal that started happening around her age, Hopper had called Joyce Byers and asked her to meet him at Melvald's.
"Thirteen, Joyce. She's thirteen. Isn't she too young? Isn't this supposed to happen when you're older? Like sixteen?" Hopper had asked as he stood next to Joyce in the feminine hygiene aisle of Melvald's.
"It happens at different ages for all girls, Hop. There isn't a set age when periods start," Joyce had replied. "I got mine at thirteen, too. A friend of mine got hers at fourteen, another friend got hers at ten. It all depends on the person."
As Joyce spoke, she had pulled a package of pads from the shelf and walked into another aisle to pick up a bottle of Midol.
"This will help with the cramps and nausea and whatever other symptoms she might experience," Joyce had explained.
"You know the likelihood of getting her to take pills is extremely low, right?" Hopper had said, raising his eyebrows.
"So crush it up and put it in applesauce or something. Or have Mike explain that it's okay. You know she'll listen to anything he says," Joyce had suggested.
"Believe me, I am well aware," Hopper had muttered. "I can handle my daughter's first period without Wheeler's help."
"But not without mine," Joyce had teased, shoving the package of pads against Hopper's chest.
Hopper had let out a chuckle, taking the package into his hand and walking toward the cash register.
"How has that been going anyway? Her and Mike?" Joyce had asked, and Hopper couldn't help but roll his eyes.
"He's all she talks about. 'When can Mike come over?' 'When can I see Mike?' I gave Wheeler our phone number and told him he could call every other day," Hopper had explained. "But I haven't let him come over yet."
"Hop," Joyce had begun in a disappointing tone.
"I know, I know," Hopper had sighed. He paused while the cashier rang up the pads and Midol, and Hopper handed over the cash.
"Let me get through this week first, and then I'll see about letting Wheeler come see her," he had said as he and Joyce had left the store.
So, they got through the first one. And Hopper did let Mike come over. He let Mike come over once more about a week and a half before the Snow Ball. Then, El's second period struck the week before the Snow Ball.
"Happening again," El had said with a disgruntled look on her face when she came out of the bathroom.
"What's happening again, kid?" Hopper had asked.
"P-per-i-od," El had replied.
"Well yeah, kid, it happens once a month, remember?" Hopper had reminded her, and El had huffed.
"How long?" she had asked.
"Well, probably about forty more years," Hopper had replied, and El's eyes had widened.
"You're joking," she had stated.
"Sorry, kid, but I'm not," Hopper had said. "It's something you'll get used to-"
His words had been cut short by the long, frustrated groan that El had let out while she stomped toward her bedroom and slammed the door shut, leaving Hopper sitting in his recliner and chuckling at his situation.
Hopper hadn't let Mike come over during that week. Besides, Mike was going to see her at the Snow Ball anyway.
After the Snow Ball, El had announced to Hopper that Mike was now her boyfriend because he had asked her to be his girlfriend and she had said yes. Hopper didn't think he had ever sighed as heavily as he did in that moment.
Hopper was going to let Mike start coming over once a week. That quickly turned in to twice a week. Before Hopper knew it, Mike was at the cabin every day. While it kind of annoyed him, Hopper had to admit that it was the happiest he had ever seen El. So as long as Mike was careful not to get caught – and Hopper had reminded the kid numerous times to switch up his route every now and then – Hopper was willing to allow it.
Now, as Hopper crunched through the January snow toward his blazer, he grinned to himself at the idea of Mike experiencing El's period moods for the first time. The kid had no idea what he would be walking in to this afternoon.
Inside the cabin, El was trying to go back to sleep. She was holding her knees tightly to her chest, but it just wasn't helping. She grunted and rolled onto her back, stretching her legs out.
"Ah!" El cried out as she straightened out her body, her hand automatically going to her lower abdomen where the pain was coming from.
She let out a heavy sigh, knowing that trying to sleep was useless. El got out of bed and walked to her dresser, pulling out a clean pair of underwear, sweatpants, and a t-shirt. Joyce had said that hot baths could help with the pain. El had been hesitant to lay in the bathtub, but her cramps seemed worse this time than they had been the previous two months, so El was willing to try anything.
She adjusted the water to a temperature that would be comfortable and laid down in the tub, letting the water fill around her. El did her best to relax, and as she soaked in the bathtub she found that it did lessen the pain in her stomach.
After her bath, El made her way to the kitchen and picked up the bottle of Midol. She remembered when Hopper had first explained that the bottle had pills that would take the pain away during this time of the month. El had been skeptical and decided to just deal with the pain. It was only a few days, anyway. Last month, when her period had hit the week before the Snow Ball, her symptoms were a little stronger, and Joyce had come over and explained to El that she herself had taken Midol for years, and it was completely safe and harmless. Joyce had also told her that if she didn't want to swallow the pill whole, she could crush it up and put it in something to eat or drink.
El took the jar of applesauce out of the refrigerator and scooped a couple spoonfuls into a bowl. Then she used the back of the spoon to crush the little white pill and sprinkle it into her applesauce. El took a deep breath and ate the little concoction before meandering into the living room.
She laid on her side on the couch, holding a pillow against her stomach, and turned on the television. El decided she could watch her shows for a few hours and then get around to making herself look presentable for Mike. It wasn't like she was going to dress up or anything, but El figured she could put more of an effort into her appearance than just sweatpants. She watched tv for a couple hours, and without even realizing it, she soon drifted off to sleep.
El was jolted awake a couple hours later by the sound of knocking at the front door. She sat up in a daze, and blinked as she looked around the living room, trying to determine if she had really heard knocking. Then, the knock came again. The secret knock. El looked at the clock. 3:30pm. Mike was here.
She looked down at herself and immediately scolded herself for falling asleep instead of getting ready. But this is Mike, she reminded herself. He won't care what she's wearing.
El stood from the couch and walked over to the front door, flicking her head to the right to unlock it. Mike stepped in and closed the door quickly behind himself as the cold winter air blew in with him. He took off his shoes and coat and dropped his backpack next to the door.
"Hey," he smiled warmly as he wrapped El in a tight hug.
She didn't mean to, but El grunted when Mike squeezed her too tight.
"Are you okay?" Mike asked, pulling back.
"Fine," El replied, still not fully awake from her nap. "Just woke up."
"Yeah, you look like you had a comfy day today," Mike said casually.
El immediately felt self-conscious, looking down at her sweats again. Her hands went up to her curly hair and flattened it down the best she could.
"I meant to change before you got here, but… fell asleep," she said softly.
"That's okay," Mike said. "I didn't mean it as a bad thing. Besides, you're still pretty no matter what you wear."
El offered him a small smile which Mike returned before taking her hand and leading her back to the couch. She wriggled into his side, pulling his arm tightly around herself, and sighed contentedly. For a moment, the only sound was their breathing.
"So, what do you want to do today?" Mike broke the silence.
"Hmm?" El glanced up at him.
"Do you want to play a game? You're getting a lot better at shuffling cards. Or we could read some comics, or-"
"Why do we always have to be doing something?" El asked. "What is wrong with just this?"
"Well, nothing, I guess," Mike frowned, his brow furrowed. "It's just, I want to make the most of our time together."
"Then spend time with me like this," El said, snuggling against him and squeezing her arm around his waist.
Mike sighed. It didn't seem like El was in the mood to do anything today. Of course, he loved spending any amount of time with her, so he figured if she wanted to lay around, they could do that. He reached for the remote and started surfing through the channels when he heard El let out an exasperated sigh.
"What was wrong with what was on?" she asked.
"Um, nothing… I just thought I'd see what else is on," Mike replied. "Here, I'll put it back."
"Forget it. Watch what you want," El pouted.
"El, what's wrong?" Mike asked.
"Nothing," El replied firmly.
Mike certainly did not believe her, but he decided not to press the issue. He changed the channel back to where El had it and laid the remote back down. They silently watched tv, Mike wondering why El was being so moody, and El scolding herself for being so short with Mike.
Mike was absentmindedly stroking his fingers through El's curly hair when his fingers got caught in a tangle. She cried out as he pulled his hand back.
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to," Mike said quickly.
El sighed again and rubbed her scalp which still stung.
"It was an accident, El. You know I wouldn't hurt you on purpose," Mike added.
"It's fine, Mike," El said, though Mike could sense that things were anything but fine. He took a deep breath.
"El, what's wrong?" he asked, repeating his question from earlier.
"Nothing. I told you, everything's fine," El said.
"El, friends don't lie," Mike reminded her. "It seems like all I've done is annoy you since I got here."
El looked up and saw that Mike looked hurt, and she instantly felt awful for how she had treated him all afternoon. She just couldn't help how irritable she was feeling.
"I'm sorry," she said softly. "I'm just… off today."
"Do you want me to go home?" Mike asked.
"No," El replied immediately, tightening her arm around his waist. She definitely knew she wanted him to stay; she just wished she could stop getting annoyed at every little thing.
"And you're sure you're okay?" Mike asked.
"Yes, Mike," El said, biting the inside of her cheek. "I just don't feel good today, okay?"
"Are you getting sick? Do you want some soup or something?" Mike offered.
"No, I don't want any soup," El replied, trying to keep the edge out of her voice. She knew he meant well. "I just want to lay here with you… Quietly."
Mike seemed to take the hint and stopped asking El what was wrong and how he could fix it. El truly loved how caring he was, and she hated how irritated she was getting when all he was trying to do was make sure she was okay. Stupid period. Stupid hormones.
After about twenty minutes, El was drifting peacefully between consciousness and unconsciousness. She felt her head rise and fall with Mike's chest each time he took a breath. She could hear his heart beating steadily, and she could feel his breath against the top of her head. It was the most peaceful she had felt all day, and a soft smile crossed her lips, until –
Mike's stomach growled, startling El back into reality, and she jumped and raised her head to look at her boyfriend.
"Hungry?" she asked simply.
"Yeah, sorry," Mike replied, looking guilty for disrupting her nap.
"It's okay. Me too," El said, sitting up.
Mike stood from the couch and walked into the kitchen.
"What do you want?" he asked, opening the refrigerator.
"Eggos," El replied predictably, and Mike chuckled.
"You sure you're not tired of those yet?" he quipped.
When he heard no reply, he looked over his shoulder and saw El staring at him with pursed lips and narrow eyes, her face turning a shade of red.
"Why do you have to do that?" she asked coolly. "You ask what I want and then make fun of my answer."
"El, I wasn't making fun of your answer," Mike said calmly. "Look, I'll make you Eggos-"
"No. Forget it," El said. Neither of them noticed when Hopper walked in the front door, just getting home from his shift. "Maybe you should just go home."
"What? Come on, El, I was joking," Mike said.
"I don't care. Just leave me alone!" El exclaimed, tears starting to prickle the corners of her eyes as she stomped across the living room and slammed her bedroom door shut behind her.
Hopper, still standing in front of the front door, looked from El's closed bedroom door to Mike's expression of hurt and confusion. He sighed; it turns out witnessing Wheeler experience El's moodiness for the first time wasn't as fun as he was anticipating.
"It's not your fault, kid," Hopper said, placing his hat on the counter.
"What's wrong with her?" Mike asked.
Hopper chuckled and stepped into the kitchen, picking up a small pill bottle as he leaned against the counter.
"It's just a… difficult time for her right now," he replied, spinning the bottle so Mike could read the label. "It'll pass in a few days."
Mike read the label on the bottle in Hopper's hand. Midol. His face began to turn a light shade of pink as he realized what that meant, which caused Hopper to chuckle again.
"Look, kid, if you want to take a few days off from seeing her, I think she'd understand," Hopper suggested.
Mike shook his head. Hopper was right, she probably would understand. She would understand that Mike chose to avoid her because she was being difficult. She would understand that instead of being there for her in uncomfortable times, he left her to deal with things all alone. That's not what Mike wanted her to understand. He wanted her to understand that even when she was being difficult and things were uncomfortable, he would figure out what to do to make things even just a little bit easier for her.
When Mike got home that evening, he found himself standing outside Nancy's closed bedroom door. He thought about his options… Nancy, his mom, or Max… Mike stifled a groan, knowing his older sister was the best option he had. He just hoped she didn't make this conversation too unbearable. With a deep breath, Mike knocked on Nancy's door.
"Come in!" she called from inside.
Mike pushed the door open and stepped inside, closing it behind him. When Nancy looked up to see her brother, her eyebrows raised in surprise, having thought it was her mom.
"Mike? What's up?" she asked, confused.
"Hey, um, I was w-wondering if I could talk to you… I have some questions… about Eleven," Mike began awkwardly.
Nancy closed the magazine she had been reading and sat up on her bed, which Mike took as an invitation to continue, so he took a seat on the foot of her bed.
"What kind of questions?" Nancy asked gently.
"Well… it's… they're kind of personal questions. I don't know, it's… this is awkward," Mike said, his face turning pink.
"Mike, I think I know what this is about," Nancy said, her lips curling into a smirk as she surveyed her brother's face.
"You do?" Mike asked hopefully, looking up at her, thankful he may not have to say it out loud.
"Well, yeah. You've been spending so much time with her. It was only a matter of time before the idea of love crossed your mind, and you don't know how to tell her," Nancy said.
"What?! Oh my god, no. No, that is not it at all," Mike insisted, his face rapidly turning from pink to red. "I-I do not love her. And if I did, I wouldn't tell you."
"Okay, okay," Nancy laughed, trying to calm her brother's embarrassment. "I'm sorry. What is it, then?"
"I, um… I think she's, like… I think she…" Mike stammered, trying to just spit it out. "I think she's having her p-period."
Nancy waited for him to say more, but he did not.
"Okay?" she finally broke the silence.
"I don't know what to do with that, Nancy!" Mike said, exasperated. "I was over there today, and she was getting annoyed with every little thing that I did or said-"
"Like what?" Nancy asked.
"Like changing the channel on the tv. Or wanting to do something other than just lay around. Or when I accidentally pulled her hair, and it was completely an accident. Then she kicked me out because I made a joke about her eating nothing but Eggos," Mike recapped the afternoon rapidly. "It's like I couldn't do anything without making her mad at me."
"She was not mad at you," Nancy smiled. "Girls are just extra moody during their time of the month."
"Yeah, well, they should learn to deal with it better," Mike huffed, and Nancy's eyebrows immediately raised.
"Says someone who will never actually know what it feels like because you're a boy," she said.
Mike hung his head and shrugged.
"Mike, periods suck. You wake up every morning, hoping you won't have a mess to clean up on your clothes or bedsheets. You walk around all day with cramps that can range anywhere from minor discomfort to literally feeling like someone is twisting a knife around inside your stomach. That's not to mention everything else you can feel, like headaches, nausea, exhaustion. And we're just supposed to suck it up and deal with it," Nancy explained.
"Are- are they really that bad?" Mike asked.
"They can be," Nancy replied. "But I've been having them for years, so-" Mike shuddered, "-oh don't be such a baby, Mike. You obviously know I've had them for years, or you wouldn't be here asking me about them."
"Sorry," Mike mumbled.
"Anyway, I've been having them for years, so I know how to handle it and make it through the week," Nancy continued. "I'm guessing Eleven hasn't had too many of them yet, being only thirteen. She's already having to adjust to living outside of the lab, having certain freedoms she never experienced before, having a whole new set of rules at Hopper's house, and all sorts of other things. Her mind has probably been in overdrive trying to adapt to this whole new life, and now all of a sudden her body is doing something uncomfortable that it never did before? Cut the girl some slack if she was a little short with you, Mike."
Mike thought about Nancy's words. She was obviously right, there was no denying that.
"So, is there anything I can do to make her feel better?" he asked.
"Just be there for her," Nancy sighed. "Let her watch what she wants to watch. Do whatever she wants to do, even if that is just laying around. Don't bombard her with questions about how she's feeling. And for the love of God, if the girl wants Eggos, let her eat Eggos."
"That's it?" he asked.
"And chocolate. Bring her some chocolate," Nancy added. "And back rubs."
"Back rubs?" Mike repeated.
"I don't know about El, but my back always hurts when I'm on my period," Nancy explained.
"Noted," Mike said. Talking to his sister about her periods was not exactly what he had planned on doing today when he had woken up this morning, but he found that Nancy had actually been quite helpful. "Thanks, Nancy."
"Any time," Nancy smiled. "Good luck."
The next day, El was laying on the couch, wrapped up in the comforter from her bed and watching Grease. It was just to the part where Danny and the guys were fixing up the car, but not even "Greased Lightning" was brightening her mood. She felt so guilty about how she had treated Mike the previous day. Hopper had told her this morning to be prepared for Mike to possibly not come over for a couple days, and as each minute ticked closed to 3:30, El wished harder and harder that she could do yesterday all over again.
Suddenly, at 3:28, the secret knock filled the cabin, and El perked up from the couch. She hurried over to the door and opened it to see Mike standing on the front porch. A wave of relief washed over El as Mike greeted her with his regular smile, as if she hadn't yelled at him and kicked him out over Eggos less than twenty-four hours prior.
"I'm so glad you came," El sighed as she jumped toward him, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him into a tight embrace.
"Of course I did," Mike chuckled. "I come every day at this time."
"I know, but… I thought maybe you wouldn't today… After yesterday…" El said as she pulled back from the hug. Her eyes dropped to the floor, ashamed of how she had treated him.
"Don't worry about yesterday," Mike said softly. "I know about, uh, what's going on."
"You do?" El asked, looking sheepishly up at him.
"Yeah," Mike nodded. "It's nothing to be embarrassed about."
El smiled, relieved that Mike had found out what she was going through and wasn't completely grossed out.
"Plus, I have something that might make you feel a little better," Mike continued.
"What?!" El asked, her eyes perking up in excitement.
Mike opened his backpack, and El watched as he pulled out the familiar yellow box.
"Eggos?" she grinned.
"Not just Eggos. Chocolate chip Eggos," Mike handed her the box.
"They make these with chocolate chips in them?!" El exclaimed, looking at the picture on the front of the box.
"Yep, and they're even better than the originals, if you can believe that," Mike said.
El smiled and threw her arms around his neck again. Mike wrapped his arms around her waist and held her closely but was careful not to squeeze her too tight.
"Thank you," El whispered into his ear.
"You're welcome," Mike said just as softly.
El pulled back and carried the box of chocolate chip Eggos into the kitchen and opened it. She pulled a plate down from the cabinet and placed two of the waffles into the toaster.
"I have something else for you, too," Mike said, reaching into his backpack again. He pulled out a handful of Hershey's milk chocolate bars, and El's eyes doubled in size.
"So much chocolate," she said.
"Just in case you want something else for a snack," Mike said. He placed the chocolate bars on the counter.
Soon, Mike and El were sitting next to each other on the couch with a plate of chocolate chip Eggos. El restarted Grease, and the Eggos were gone before the opening credits song was even finished.
El placed the empty plate on the coffee table and snuggled into Mike's side, wrapping her comforter around both of them.
"Mike?" she said suddenly, looking up at him. "I'm sorry about yesterday."
"I know, and it's okay," Mike said, kissing the top of her head.
"Sometimes this stupid period just makes me so… so…" El scrunched her forehead, trying to find the right word.
"It's okay," Mike repeated. He definitely was not going to offer 'moody,' 'irritable,' or 'temperamental' as options, even if they might all be true. "It just means we get to take it easy and eat chocolate while wrapped up in a blanket."
"Exactly," El giggled. After a moment of silence, a thought struck Mike.
"El, do you know how long girls usually get periods?" he wondered.
"A whole week once a month… for forty years," El replied bitterly.
"Forty years?" Mike repeated, his eyes widening in shock, and El nodded. "That's going to be a lot of chocolate chip Eggos."
El giggled and squeezed her arms tightly around his waist. She leaned up and placed a soft kiss on Mike's lips before laying her head back on his chest to watch the movie. Mike started to rub his hand gently up and down her back, and El drifted off to sleep before they even got to "Summer Nights."
Mike softly kissed the top of El's head as she slept, and then he soon fell into his own slumber, thinking that doing this for the next forty years wouldn't be so bad.
A/N: Thanks for reading. I hope you all enjoyed this one. Leave me a review to let me know what you thought, and I'll be back soon!