mr. wheeler


I had a bad idea for an old meme and my friend had access to MS Paint.


“What are those?” Eleven asked, looking at the bundle of dark red flowers in Jonathan’s hands. 

“These?” he held them out to let her look closer, “They’re roses. A special kind of flower for Valentine’s Day.” 

“Why are they special?” Eleven tentatively brushed a fingertip against the soft petals of one of the roses. 

“Because you get them for a girl you really like, the way I really like Nancy.”

“Love.” It was a statement, not a question. Eleven may not have been the best at speaking, but she was certainly good at feeling. Jonathan’s cheeks turned almost as red as the roses in his hand. 

“Yeah,” he ran his fingers through his messy hair, “I guess so.” 

“Pretty,” Eleven smiled. Jonathan reached into the bouquet and plucked one out, handing it to her. 

“Careful,” he said, “Sometimes the stems have thorns.” 

“But they’re not for me,” Eleven hesitated, her hand hovering over the stem.

“This one can be,” Jonathan assured her, “Like you said, they’re for girls you love. And I love you like you’re my little sister.”

An excerpt from a Valentine’s Day fic I wrote a while back. 


Stranger things (set in 1983)
The Goonies (1985)
1 - Mike/Mikey - the protagonist
2 - Dustin/Chunk - the always hungry friend
3 - Lucas/Data - the obligatory foreign guy
4 - Nancy/Andy - the sweet girl
5 - Barb/Stef - the nerdy girl
6 - Jonathan/Brand - the outcast
7 - Steve/Troy - the jerk (wants the sweet girl)
8 - Mrs Wheeler/Mrs Walsh - the mom
9 - the friends/the Goonies - 4 boys on bikes

“Mr. Wheeler would you like to share what’s so important with Ms. Hopper that you need to pass notes in my class?” 

The smile faded from Mike’s face as he slammed his textbook over the piece of paper. Mike’s head flew up, fearful dark eyes looking into Ms. Kelley’s. He could feel El’s eyes burning a hole into the back of his head, but ignored it as he felt his cheeks reddening.

“S-sorry Ms. Kelley. It won’t happen again.”

“That isn’t what I asked you Mr. Wheeler. I’d like you to read your little note aloud.” Ms. Kelley said, crossing her arms.

“Ms. Kelley I’m so-”

“Unless you’d like to read it in the principal’s office?” 

Mike’s flushed harder as his classmates snickered around him. He slid the note from his textbook and slowly made his way to the front of the class. Mike’s eyes instanly locked onto El’s face, which was filled with embaressment.

“’We learned about constellations in astronomy today. I’m determined to find the big dipper!’ El said and I said ‘Cool. Do you wanna go out tonight and look?’ Then El said…” Mike trailed off, sighing before finishing. “‘Yeah sounds fun! Until then I can look at your face.’ I said ‘What?’ and El says ‘Your freckles. They’re like stars.’“ Mike finishes as everyone but El bursts out laughing.

“That’s enouh Mr. Wheeler please have a seat.” Ms. Kelley says. 

 Mike rushes back to his seat, ducking his head to hide his flaming cheeks and ignoring the laughter around him. When the class dismissed for lunch, Mike waited for the rest of the class to look at El. She gave him a small smile and took his hand, leading him out the class. Mike couldn’t help but smile back as they left the classroom when El held him back. He looked at her questioningly until she traced her fingers across his freckles. 

 “They’re just jealous of how cute we are together.” El said with a smug smile and Mike barked out a laugh. 

 “Of course they are.” Mike said, pulling her closer to peck her lips. 

 Ms. Kelley smiled, watching the young couple, before making her way to the teacher’s lounge.

The Pinky Promise

When El told a slightly crestfallen Holly that, even though she had to go home, she’d come over to the Wheeler’s house tomorrow and play an extra hour of Barbies, she didn’t expect the younger girl to hold out her hand, tiniest finger extended outwards.

“Pinky promise?” Holly looked at El with wide and hopeful eyes. For a brief moment, El pursed her lips, unsure what a pinky promise was and how it differed from a regular promise. Tentatively, El offered Holly her own small finger and watched, with interest, as Holly intertwined their pinky fingers, squeezed them together gently, and nodded happily.

“See you tomorrow, Ellie!” Holly grinned toothily up at her before skipping down the hallway towards the kitchen, where El knew Karen was beginning to prepare dinner before the rest of her family returned from work and school. As she let herself out, fishing around on her keychain for the key Karen had made for her, El could hear Holly joyfully telling her mother all about the day she and El had spent together. She heard, and returned, Mrs. Wheeler calling out a goodbye to her and dragged her feet to the end of the driveway where Jim sat in his idling truck, waiting to bring her home for supper.

“Mike, do you pinky promise that we’ll always be friends?” El asked, the phone in her bedroom pressed between her ear and her shoulder as she lay on her bed, snuggled in a collection of pink and purple blankets, safe between the canopy posts and curtains that hung around her—they reminded her so much of the blanket fort Mike had once built for her, nearly two years ago now.

“I, uh…” Mike racked his brain for the proper way to articulate what he was thinking. He had just finished answering El’s question, explaining what a pinky promise was. “Of course, El. But I need to see you to really pinky promise. Definitely yes though…” he paused for a moment, trying to still the beating of his heart. Why had her request to always be friends sent his stomach into backflips? Why was the phone in danger of falling from his suddenly clammy palms? Mike gulped—he knew perfectly well why. “Hey, El, I have to go. My mom’s calling me. Can I call you back before I go to bed?”

“Of course,” El laughed softly. Mike always called before bed to tell her a story and help her fall asleep—it was their tradition, “Bye Mike.”

“Bye, El.”

Hearing the click that indicated the end of the call, El hung up the phone and returned it to its place on her bedside table, reaching for the book that also lay there, a paperback novel she had borrowed from the library earlier that week. El opened the pages to the spot where a fancy metal bookmark—a birthday gift from Nancy—kept her place. Her eyes ran over the page several times before she could focus on the words, thinking instead of Mike and the strange tone his voice had adopted at the end of their conversation. She wondered, with some worry, if she had upset him by asking him to make a pinky promise.

El had only managed to read five pages before she heard a light tapping sound on her window. With narrowed eyes, she sat bolt upright and looked over to her pink curtains, behind which the tapping sound got slightly louder. El pushed herself out of bed and crossed the room, peeking out of the fabric of her curtains to see Mike, panting, with his face nearly pressed up against the glass. When he caught sight of her, his face lit up into a bright smile and he waved eagerly. El shot him a sideways glance, confused as to why he was there—and how he had managed to bike over so quickly—as she lifted the window and stepped backwards, her bare feet warm in the soft mauve carpet Jim had installed for her room.

“Hey,” he whispered as he slid his upper half into the window, leaning forward slightly. He was tall enough now that his legs didn’t dangle off the ground, but his height meant he had to lean in at an awkward angle. “Sorry if I scared you.”

“What are you doing here?” El asked in a low and amused voice.

“I came to give you that pinky promise,” Mike said, looking at her with a goofy smile and a wink, holding out his hand. “But,” he continued, his expression changing slightly and his cheeks turning dark red, “It’s just…I can’t promise to be only your friend forever. I want to be…I mean, maybe you want to be…maybe we could…” Mike grimaced, his tongue suddenly weighing a hundred pounds in his mouth and his throat dry. Could he screw this up any worse?

“Mike,” El raised her eyebrows, “You want to be my boyfriend?”

“What? Yes!” Mike smiled, the tension in his body immediately giving way to relief and his cheeks burning brighter, “I mean, uh, sure, definitely.” He couldn’t believe that El had just used the B-word; the same word he had been wringing his hands about for weeks now. “So you’ll be my, uh, girlfriend?” The word was odd in his mouth, but he liked the way it sounded.

“Yes,” El smiled and leaned forward to wrap her pinky finger around his, “I promise.”

“El,” Mike chuckled a little, before turning serious, looking her directly in the eyes he had grown so fond of. “I promise to always be there for you.” He squeezed his finger against hers and then looked up at her beaming face and shining eyes. He wanted to kiss her then, but there was a sharp, quick knock on El’s door.

“El?” The Chief’s voice sounded from the other side of the door, “You busy?”

“One minute please,” El squeaked, pulling away from Mike and working to hold back a giggle at the look of sheer horror on his face as he hurried to remove himself from the window.

“It’s nothing,” Hopper continued, his voice light and teasing, “But tell Wheeler he’s free to use the front door.”

With that, El flushed and heard her adoptive father’s footsteps retreating down the hall.

“Maybe you could…” she began, but Mike—her boyfriend—was already nodding furiously.

“I’ll go ring the doorbell.”

Pizza & Perfection

“Go fish.”

Dustin huffed, grabbing a card from the stack centred between them all, and Lucas snickered with delight.

Mike rearranged his hand. He looked to Lucas triumphantly. “Got any fives?”

Lucas squinted. He reluctantly handed over his five, and Mike paired them. “Suckers,” he said, grinning.

El rolled onto her stomach. She loved watching them—there was something so natural about the way they sat, effortlessly teasing and laughing, throwing bits of popcorn and occasionally eyeing that winning stack of comics and candy bars.

Will straightened his pairs, head down. He’d confessed to El that he was terrible at bluffing. I just don’t look at them at all, he’d said. I’ve won a few times.

Her gaze shifted to the window, where rain was lightly pattering against the glass and rolling down in clear streams. She loved the smell; Mrs. Wheeler had cracked it just a touch, so that the fresh scent permeated the living room.

“Who’s winning?”

Lucas quickly glanced at his tally. “Me,” he said, sitting up a little straighter. “Obviously.”

“Cheater,” Dustin muttered. He bitterly ripped his twizzler in half, handing the larger part to El. “Man, I swear, if your sister doesn’t get back with the pizza soon I’m gonna combust.”

“Lucas doesn’t cheat,” El advocated.

“I’m naturally brilliant,” the other boy added. “Sevens?”

“Son of a bitch!”

The lock on the door clicked, and in came Nancy, Steve, and Jon, bearing pizzas and sodas. Their hair was soaked, and Jon was holding Nancy’s jacket. She whacked him with it when he gave it back.

“Stevie!” Holly jumped up from her perch on the Lay-Z-Boy, running across the floor toward him. “Did you get pepper-pony?”

Steve laughed. “I sure did. And cheese, before you monsters freak out.”

El followed Nancy into the kitchen and helped her dish up the food. For a moment, the house was silent. El watched the boys re-deal their cards, and Steve rewind a VHS tape.

Max came running up the stairs from the basement, where she had fallen asleep a few hours before. Her hair was frizzy and tangled. “I smell food,” she said, wandering over. El handed over a plate of pepperoni, which Max took gratefully. “You’re a lifesaver, El.”

El smiled. What are friends for?

Max grinned at the thought. She helped El carry over the plates. El settled down beside Mike, who had enough pairs, she thought, to win this round.

“Pretty in Pink, or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?”

Mike glanced up at Steve. “Is that a real question?”

“Everyone’s favourite movie it is.”

El leaned against Mike, smiling happily, because everything about that moment was perfect. She was with her best friends, her family. No adult supervision, plenty of junk food, and peace.

Hours later, when night had fallen and the ten of them had crashed in various places in the living room, El softly intertwined her fingers with Mike’s and pulled Holly a little closer. This is what friends are for.

new to this

This is 4000 words Max + Lucas friendship with a lot of Max/Dustin and Will/Lucas background.  It takes place when they’re around sophomores in high school.

Max’s elbow was stinging like a son of a bitch and her wrist was aching and it was all because of Dustin Henderson.  Dustin fucking Henderson and his stupid smile.

“Shit, shit,” Dustin muttered as he threw down his bike on the grass and knelt beside her, looking at her arm in concern.  She’d always loved teasing him about how serious he got about injuries, always calling him Nurse Dustin for fun (even though she really did think he’d be a good nurse).  But now she didn’t find it funny at all, not when he was making it worse by making it nearly impossible for her to breathe properly.

It had been a stupid mistake.  She knew how to do that trick; she’d mastered it earlier that week and gotten it down perfectly.  But she’d made the terrible and foolish decision of looking over at Dustin in the midst of the execution, and suddenly all she could think about was wow, how have I never noticed his dimples before?!

And then her board had hit the ground without her feet and then all she’d been thinking was shit I’m about to fall and then she’d done just that.

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Alone - mileven

The world around her was completely silent when her eyes flew open and her body flung forward in the twisted blankets. At first, she thought she was still in the Upside Down; the room was dark and her heartbeat was racing, and she swore she could see grotesque shadows lining the wall. Through the fear, she could feel the warmth of the blankets surrounding her, bringing her back to reality.

Once her eyes adjusted, she could see that the room was familiar - covered in posters and littered with candy wrappers and old pizza boxes. El squeezed her eyes shut, trying to ignore the twisting knot in her stomach that told her that she had just awoken from a nightmare. She used to be able to remember what happened after her dreams violently shot her out of sleep, but now all she was left with was an intense feeling of fear.

She’d only been out of the hospital for a day, and it was decided that she would stay in her old blanket fort at Mike’s house until the Byers were ready to take her in. The place was cozy and familiar, sharply contrasting the Hell she’d been living in for a year. However, she didn’t feel safe being all alone. More than once, she’d caught herself looking around for monsters and flinching at loud noises. Mike did his best to assure her that she was safe, but it was hard to believe him when her nights were still filled with terror and flashes of horrible beasts.

Slowly, she crawled out from under the canopy of blankets and moved toward the stairs. Her feet were completely silent when they came in contact with the cool wood. She’d perfected the art of remaining soundless while living in the Upside Down, using her small body and quick reflexes to her advantage.

As she crept toward Mike’s room, she held her breath, hoping that Mr. Wheeler was still sound asleep on the couch. She knew her way around the Wheeler’s house well, and not just from her time spent with him. For the past year, she’d been living in the demented version of the home, relying on Mike’s energy to keep her sane. She wondered if she could explain that she knew how he felt because she had felt it too. Anytime she had been able to rest, she had spent it on Mike’s bed, taking in the hollow emptiness they had both felt in their chests. She had been able to feel every moment of sadness and anger he had experienced during their time apart, and it was the only thing that kept her fighting to escape.

A light flickered on in the hallway, forcing El to step into the shadows. She saw Nancy, all messy hair and pink bows, move out of the bathroom and toward her own room, sleep weighing down on her shoulders and making her slow. When the door closed behind her, El darted out of the corner she had been hiding in and allowing her feet to move carefully across the carpet.

It wasn’t until she opened the door that she realized she’d been crying. Mike’s room was illuminated by a nightlight, but El’s tears made the whole space blurry. She smiled sadly at the small yellow light that sat in the darkest corner of his room. It hadn’t been there when El had first come to Hawkins, which meant he’d bought it after she had been taken. She wondered if he needed it because he was afraid of the dark, or if he’d stayed awake at night watching the light, hoping her energy would make it flicker.

She moved toward his body, wiping away stray tears as she did so.

“Mike,” she whispered, reaching a shaking hand out to touch his shoulder.

He stirred in his sleep, shifting so he was on his back, but did not wake up. Tears moved down her cheeks rapidly and her breathing became uneven. Why was she so upset about this? Why was she so afraid?

“Mike,” she repeated, her voice cracking, “Mike, please wake up. Mike!”

The last thing she wanted to do was raise her voice and alert the rest of the house, but she wasn’t sure how else to snap him into consciousness. She shook his shoulder again, this time jostling his body slightly.

His eyes fluttered open and landed on El’s small frame. As soon as he recognized her, he shot up and reached for her hand. Fear crept into his chest, shoving out the feeling of exhaustion that would usually accompany him when he was suddenly awoken in the middle of the night.

“El,” he whispered, his voice filled with fear, “Eleven, are you okay?” He took her hand in his own and squeezed it, silently letting her know that she was not alone.

She nodded her head and wiped away the tears that had started falling again.

“Nightmare,” she whispered, looking away from the wide eyed boy.

Mike smiled sadly and squeezed her hand again, this time rubbing his thumb over the soft skin. “I’m sorry you’re having nightmares, El. Is there anything I can do?”

She stayed silent for a moment, her words getting caught in her throat. Suddenly, the whole thing seemed silly. She’d survived a year of terror in the Upside Down, why did she need comfort after one nightmare?

Instead of responding, she took a step back, ready to go back downstairs and curl up in her blanket fort. She’d accepted that she wouldn’t be able to sleep for the rest of the night, but Mike shouldn’t have to endure that with her.

“El?” Mike called, kicking back the blankets and beginning to stand up and go after her. Suddenly, a force hit him in the chest, making him freeze. “El, please come back,”

She shook her head, her feet already taking their first steps toward his bedroom door. All she could feel was shame, and the last thing she wanted was for Mike to see her as weak. “Alone,” she responded, not bothering to turn around and face him.

“No, El,” Mike said, his voice escaping a whisper, “You don’t have to be alone. I don’t want you to be alone.”

El shook her head and wiped her eyes, but paused. She stood outside his bedroom door, her bare feet and thin pajama bottoms making her chilly. Slowly, she released the hold she had on him, allowing him to move as he pleased. Immediately, he was by her side, standing close enough so she could take in his familiar scent.

“Please, El.” Mike had grown since her first visit to Hawkins. Now, El was forced to look up at him, his wide eyes captivating her. “You don’t have to be alone. Do you want to stay with me tonight?”

Eleven didn’t respond. Instead, she tore her eyes away from his and took a step back. Mike didn’t move; the last thing he wanted to do was to make her feel like she had no escape. They stood there for a while, balancing on the thin line in between together and apart. Mike watched El sadly as she pulled at her newly grown hair and rubbed at her skin like it was dirty. He knew it would be awhile before Eleven felt comfortable in her new, unexplored world, but he didn’t want her to face the uncertainty alone.

“El,” Mike whispered her name softly, bringing back memories of all the nights he spent alone, calling out her name. “Let me help you. How can I help you?”

Eleven shook her head and looked away, shame still cutting into her like a knife. She was Eleven, the girl with super powers, the one who saved Will Byers and killed the Demogorgon. She didn’t need help.

She stood up a little straighter, a wave of fake confidence taking over her body.

“I’ll be brave,” she said to Mike, giving him a little nod to assure both of them that she was telling at least part of the truth.

Mike let out a deep breath he didn’t know he was holding. He thought about how long he went after she left; faking a smile and reassuring his friends that he was okay. For months, he walked around like a puppet, dancing along and playing the part of a brave boy who had accepted loss and moved on. He hadn’t cracked until the lights flickered in Mr. Clarke’s classroom - a result of the wind speed being extremely high, according to his mother and his teachers and everyone else who’d already given up on her. That day, he finally let himself fall apart. His bravery had dissolved, but his hope had returned.

“You don’t have to be brave all the time, El” Mike murmured, his eyes finding hers in the darkness. “I have nightmares too.” El’s eyes widened in surprise. “They terrify me, El. I wake up shaking and crying and I feel so, so alone.” Without warning, his eyes began to water. He didn’t take his eyes off of the small girl standing in front of him as he wiped his tears away. “You are the bravest girl I know, but sometimes it’s alright to take a break. Okay, El?”

For a moment, neither of them moved. Sometime while Mike was speaking, she had settled into her skin. Her hands dangled loosely at her sides and her shoulders had settled, forcing the anxiety that had twisted and turned in her stomach to disappear. Mike watched her as she stared at him, noticing all of her scars and bruises. For the first time since she had returned, he realized just how small she was. She had gained weight while staying in the hospital, but was nowhere near her old self. Her ribs lay like hills underneath one of his Dad’s old t-shirts and her collarbones jutted out like icebergs from the sea. He knew she must be either freezing or terrified, because her entire body had begun to tremble slightly. For a moment, he thought about running into his room to grab her a blanket, but stayed put in fear that she would try to run away again.

“Friends want you to be safe and happy, El. Friends don’t mind if you get upset or scared because they want to help you feel better. Friends don’t leave you alone when you have nightmares or send you away when you’re upset. You don’t have to face your fears alone anymore.”

Before he knew it, El’s feet were flittering across the carpet like butterflies over grass. She twisted her arms around Mike’s neck, using him as a way to stay on her feet. Immediately, he threw his arms around her body, rubbing her back as she cried. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed his older sister peeking through her bedroom door. A sad smile had crept over her lips, but she didn’t speak as she watched El cry softly into her little brother’s arms. She could remember all the times she’d needed to be held like that, and was glad her little brother was kind enough to take care of the terrified girl that had wandered into their lives.

The corner of Mike’s lips pulled up slightly, letting his sister know that he would be able

to take care of Eleven alone. Nancy nodded in understanding and backed into her room silently. For a while, Mike and El stood alone in the moonlit hallway. Eleven continued to cry into Mike’s shoulder, letting out all the anger and sadness and terror she had been holding inside of her chest for months. Mike ran his fingers through her hair, which had grown into gorgeous curls while she was in the Upside Down. His other hand ran up and down her spine, tracing light patterns and moving cautiously between her shoulder blades.

“El,” Mike whispered, “do you want to go lay down? I can sleep on the floor and you can have my bed. Does that sound okay?”

Eleven shook her head aggressively.

“Can’t… I can’t be alone,” She stared at her hands, watching as they tightened into hard fists and then melted into loose bones and aching muscles.

Mike drew his eyebrows together in confusion. “You won’t be alone, El. I’ll be right next to you. You can wake me up any time you get scared, okay? I don’t mind.”

El didn’t respond. She knew Mike didn’t understand but she wasn’t sure if she could make him. Her words were so jumbled in her mind and they got lost on their way to her throat. Instead of arguing, she nodded her head. When Mike reached down and squeezed her hand, a ghost of a smile hovered on her lips, reminding her that happiness was still an achievable goal. For a moment, she could almost taste it.

But then, Mike’s warm body was gone, moving toward the ground below her. Instantly, the world grew cold again and she felt like she was falling into an infinite abyss.


He looked up at her, pausing from his task of laying out blankets for him to sleep on. His eyes were wide and sad, but he looked at her like she was the only person he could ever want to be near at three in the morning.


El gathered the strength to fake a smile. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that there was still something wrong; that she needed him next to her or she felt like the monsters would grab her at any moment.

“Thank you,”

Mike smiled again before moving to get under the blankets he set up on the floor. “Of course, El. I don’t mind at all. Wake me up if you can’t sleep,”

She nodded and laid back on his bed but didn’t respond. The sheets were still warm and his pillow smelled like the shampoo he used, but it wasn’t the same. She stared at the ceiling, waiting for the Demogorgon to come crawling through it. El couldn’t stand to look at Mike, knowing that seeing him would just make her want to move closer. The thought of burdening him again make tears brim in her eyes, so she remain frozen in place, not daring to even breathe too loudly.

What she didn’t know was that Mike wasn’t sleeping either. Instead, he was on his side, watching her dark form to make sure she didn’t have any more nightmares. He was determined to stay awake all night in the hopes of catching her fears before they could torment her for too long. It was too dark in his room to tell if she was awake or asleep, but he could see her breathing slowly begin to become regulated and calm. Every once in awhile, he began to doze off, but would soon catch himself and try to keep his eyes wide and his brain active.

When Mike awoke suddenly around 7 in the morning, a small delicate form had wrapped itself around his body. He did his best to be still, but he couldn’t help his wide smile and rapid heartbeat. Slowly, he reached his arm up to run his fingers through her hair, and kissed the top of her forehead when he was sure she was still asleep. Every once in awhile she would tense up, like a nightmare was about to begin. But, Mike would pull her close and whisper in her ear, reminding her that she was safe, and she would always have him to protect her.

When Eleven woke up a few hours later, her face flushed a deep red when she realized that she was tangled up in Mike’s arms. He loosened his arms when she attempted to pull away, but gave her a soft smile and told her that he liked having her close to him, so she stayed.

For hours they laid on the floor in Mike’s room, talking about Eleven’s nightmares and Mike’s favorite books and what kind of people they were going to be in a month; a year; a lifetime from now.

For the first time in a long time, both felt at peace.

We Didn’t Go To The Snowball Together (but it's okay)

The brown carpet burned against her knees. She readjusted, biting her lip as she straightened his tie. Mike winced. “Does it really have to be so tight?”

“Well…” she loosened it a little, and saw relief flood his features. “Better?”

“Yeah. Way better. Thanks.”

Nancy stood. She brushed off her dress—it was an older one, which their mom had let her borrow. I wore it to my junior prom, Karen had said with a small, sentimental smile. She had run her hands over the blue silk skirt, reminiscing about her glory days; hiding in the bathroom with Joyce Byers, throwing snowballs at Hopper, drinking a little too much…

Some of the beading was missing. It was still beautiful to Nancy, though.

“Are you sure you wanna go?”

Nancy watched as her brother brushed a comb through his hair for the thousandth time that day. He looked smaller, somehow—almost like he’d sunken into himself. But he was taller, and older in a way that she couldn’t put her finger on. It had only been a month since Eleven, but he’d cried every night between then and now. Sometimes the tears were silent. Others, they were louder than thunderstorms and shook the walls of her heart.

Mike smiled. “I’m good.”

“Mike…” she sat down on the edge of his bed, “no more secrets, remember?”

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