Mike Wheeler’s new year’s resolution going in to 1985 is to be braver. He tries to tell El as much as the minutes melt away, a brand new year approaching Hawkins. But somewhere in between El informing him about her resolution to read one “big” book a month, their excited countdown, and a shy, red-cheeked midnight kiss, the idea gets lost.
With Hopper outside warming the truck to bring him home, Mike and El say their goodbyes, hugging each other close. It’s when Mike pulls away, reaching for his boots, that El looks up at him, suddenly struck with remembrance.
“You never said,” she says with wide-eyed interest, “Your resolution. What is it?”
Mike flushes, suddenly losing his nerve and berating himself because he’s failing already. Clearing his throat, he tries again. “I want to be braver,” he whispers, knowing that if all goes according to his very tenuous plan—should have thought this through, Wheeler you idiot—this is going to be the moment he finally asks the question that’s been on his mind for the last month.
“You’re brave,” El tells him, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, her face incredulous that Mike may not believe this himself. “You fought monsters. You saved me.”
“Not that kind of brave,” Mike replies, his hands nervously playing at the pockets of his jeans. “Brave about little things. Like, well,” he licks his lips, wishing that El wasn’t staring at him so intensely.
“Mike,” she reaches out and pats his shoulder with care, “You can tell me.”
“Well it’s more like asking you,” he says, trying a smile to offset his suddenly dry throat, “I want to ask you to be my girlfriend but I’m n—”
“Yes,” El says simply, reaching for his hand and squeezing it.
“Yes?” Mike echoes, uncertain.
“I want to be your girlfriend,” El smiles, pressing forward on her tiptoes until her forehead is pressed against his, his head angled downwards so he can look into her eyes—her perfect, beautiful eyes.
“Happy New Year, El.”
“Happy New Year, Mike.”
Their lips just barely brush together again when a loud horn sounds from outside the cabin. Breathlessly, they pull apart, laughing. And even though their kiss goodnight was interrupted, Mike feels on top of the world. It’s going to be the best year ever, he just knows it.