Eleven did not like that Max girl. Not at all.
Everytime she looked her she was reminded of Mike grasping her arm and helping her up while smiling at her, and why would he smile at her, he was her Mike. Hers.
And El wasn’t going to forget that just like that. So when Max punched Mike on the arm playfully after D&D game one November night, barely a week after the gate closed and they could start hoping for better times, it took all of the self control that El possessed to keep herself from making Max fall from her chair. She grimaced instead, subconsciously gripping Mike’s hand that she was holding under the table tighter. He looked at her questioningly with his dark, attentive eyes. She shook her head, looking grumpily at the game pieces. She felt his thumb tracing her knuckles and her brows relaxed a bit.
‘Okay, dunno about you guys, but I’m hungry. ’ stated Dustin, stretching his arms above his head.
‘Aren’t you always?’ Lucas raised his eyebrows. Dustin made a face at him.
'I’m a growing boy! Besides Will needs to eat more to regain his strength! ’ Dustin put a hand at the small boys arm. Will smiled tiredly, amused. It was the first time his mom would let him go out since the night when they finally set him free and he was happy to finally feel almost normal again.
'I have a pizza leaflet in the kitchen somewhere. ’ said Mike and got up, never letting go of El’s hand. 'Come on, we’ll order something. ’
They all stood up, but Eleven reluctantly let go of Mike’s fingers, grasping Max’s elbow instead, keeping her in place.
'We will be there in a minute. ’ she told Mike. He raised one eyebrow, but nodded.
'Okay. ’ he kept his eyes on her for a few more seconds. She smiled at him lighty, as if to remind him that it’s okay. That she wasn’t leaving him. Never again.
When the boys disappeared upstairs, El turned to Max, furrowing her brows again.
'What the hell? ’ Max tried to release herself from El’s grip.
'One thing. Stay away from Mike. ’ she said calmly, looking her dead in the eyes.
'What?’ Max seemed to process what Eleven was saying.
'Stay away from Mike.’ El repeated slowly.
Max raised her eyebrows and then bursted out laughing. Elevens frown deepened.
'Oh my… Are you serious? You seriously think… ’ she tried to catch her breath. 'Dude, I don’t even like Wheeler like this! We’re friends, that’s all! ’ she was still laughing.
'You don’t? ’ Eleven let go of Max’s arm.
'No, why would I? Besides, even if I did, it wouldn’t make much difference anyway, since this dumbass clearly looks like he would kiss the ground you walk on. That’s why he didn’t want me to be part of the group in the first place. He thought I would end up as a replacement for you. He wouldn’t even talk to me civilly. The kid loves you so much it’s ridiculous.’
Eleven blinked at Max and tugged at the black bandana tied around her wrist.
'Wait. ’ Max suddenly spoke up. 'Is that why you hate me so much? Because you think I’m trying to steal your boyfriend?’
'We’re not exactly… ’
'Oh, shut up, you damn well know you are. So? That’s the reason?’ Max looked at her expectantly.
'Are you sure you don’t like him?’
'Friends don’t lie. ’ said Max, remembering the phrase that El and the boys used a lot. She extended her hand, looking at the other girl questioningly.
Eleven eyed her carefully for a few seconds and then grasped her hand firmly.
'We’re okay now?’
'Yes. ’ El nodded carefully and headed towards the stairs.
’ You sure have some jealousy issues, though. ’ Max joked as she climbed them after her. ’ I pity the next girl that has the audacity to breathe in Mike’s presence. ’
'Don’t push it. ’ El muttered, glaring back at her, but the corner of her lips quirked up slightly when she turned her head.
When they arrived at the kitchen, they were greeted by boys arguing over pizza leaflet.
'What kind pizza do you want, Max? ’ asked Lucas instantly, looking at the redhead questioningly. Mike snorted, handing the leaflet to El and explaining why pizza with pineapple was a crime against humanity, standing so close to her she felt his breath on her cheek. She glanced towards Lucas, who seemed to be trying not to trip over his own feet when Max snatched the bandana from his head, using it as a hairband while grinning at him.
Eleven smirked, suddenly feeling much better about Max being part of the group. Her fingers found Mike’s again (they seemed to do so a lot these days) and she looked up at him, recalling Max’s word’s.
“He loves you so much it’s ridiculous. ”
'Everything okay?’ he asked, squeezing her hand gently. She traced the freckles on his cheek with her free hand, making him blush bright red.
’ Never better. ’