There was a moment when we were talking to the kids [about creating musicals], and they were asking a bunch of questions. And I think it seemed slightly distant, what it was that we did. So Lin began to do a little piece of one of the shows that we worked on… and the quiet that fell across the boys was so palpable. What I realized was happening was a moment of recognition that someone could choose to do that, that someone could feel powerful enough, or bold enough, to say ‘this is my story, and I choose to share it with you.‘
-Trans!Robbie finally working up the courage to remove his shirt at the beach
-The kids see his top surgery scars and ask Sportacus about it
-Sportacus thinks for a second
-He tells them that he got them after he fought a bear and saved his life
-The kids are super excited and ask Robbie about it, clamoring around him and shouting questions
-Robbie looks at Sportacus like wtf
-Sportacus shrugs like he totally doesn’t know what’s going on
-Ziggy shouts “Did you really fight a bear, Robbie?! Huh?!”
-Robbie catches on then makes up some very outrageous story about him fighting a bear for the kids
-Sportacus starts crying because of course he would
-They all have a great time at the beach and Ziggy probably got buried in sand and turned into a mer-Ziggy
Mike and Eleven often sit in the field behind Hop’s trailer, talking. El reads, or journals, and Mike does homework or plans campaigns. It’s peaceful and bright and simple—until the boys and Max find them there one day.
After that, it becomes mostly theirs but sometimes everyone’s. The six of them have water ballon fights and build a gigantic open fort, which somehow looks kind of beautiful, with the sheer white curtains Joyce gives El to use, and the outdoor lights Hop buys.
It becomes a sanctuary for them, not unlike Castle Byers—which is sought out less in respect of Will, but used sometimes. It’s a place to cry and laugh and think. It’s the Fort of Solitude, and it’s almost like a home.
On a hot summer night, the kids set up a tent in Dustin’s backyard. It’s barely big enough for all of them, but when they lay out their sleeping bags, it’s almost like one big bed.
They tell ghost stories and play truth or dare by a fire that Dustin’s dad helps them make. They roast marshmallows, get their hands sticky, and laugh too much. Mike and El hold hands, and he even wraps his arm around her shoulder as they sit there in a circle.
When the fire goes out, they lay on their backs and talk about their futures and the stars. There are so many of them, just like there are so many roads for each of them to take. Max starts crying about it first, because she’s already losing Steve and doesn’t ever want to lose any of them. But they all promise to always stay friends, to always love one another. They take the vow a few minutes past midnight, and carve their initials into the large oak tree in the yard, using a flashlight to see.
When they finally fall asleep, huddled up in the tent, the sprinklers kick on. They wake up yelling and screaming, but it eventually fades into laughter. And then they’re running across the lawn, getting their feet muddy and ruining their pajamas. But it’s okay, because it’ll all last forever.
The first time the gang takes a ride in a hot air balloon, it’s a breezy summer day and the blue skies are streaked with cirrus clouds, perfect for the culmination of months of planning and saving. They crowd into the basket and wave for Jonathan’s pre-takeoff photo op. As the balloon lifts off, Dustin starts in with his most enthusiastic rendition of “Gonna Fly Now”. Nobody minds this because it’s a change from his endless refrain of “Up Up and Away” on the drive up. Once they’re in the air, Lucas muses out loud what it’d be like to spit over the edge. Dustin shuts the idea down with a “That’s disgusting,” as Max slugs Lucas in the arm to drive the point home. (“Thank you, Max.” “No problem.”) They spend the next few hours playing I Spy and debating the merits of a hot air balloon as a getaway vehicle (Lucas maintains that a plane would be a better, faster option, while Max just asks why they wouldn’t just use a car?). Will divides his time between politely asking the pilot questions about what it’s like piloting a hot air balloon everyday and trying to unnecessarily memorize all the scenery floating by for future drawings. I say unnecessarily because El brought Jonathan’s old camera, last week’s birthday gift, and when she’s not gazing in awe at the views, she’s immortalizing them in photographs. Mike is also trying to memorize the scenery, but he’s more focused on the kind with awestruck brown eyes and curly brown hair who keeps grabbing his hand and smiling that beautiful smile. The excursion ends with Jonathan and Nancy returning from their drive and taking the kids to a pancake house, where they all stuff themselves with the fluffy flat pieces of heaven and their mapley toppings of glory, all to sleep off on the drive home (during which Lucas drowsily hums “Up Up and Away” before nodding off).