strangers*

there were a couple messages in my inbox asking for recommendations so i thought i’d share some of the series i’m following right now on lezhin?

i’m sure by now everyone has at least heard something about killing stalking so approach that one at your own risk please. i’m more than willing to answer question about it in a private conversation for anyone who isn’t familiar though. and DO NOT come at me about how much you hate it and all of its readers if you don’t like it. i respect anyone’s right to hate it, but don’t demonize me for liking it. if you feel you must, at least do it off anon so i can block you…

other than that i highly highly recommend all the other stories and i am particularity fond of blood bank and window to window ♡

The Map

The summer before he leaves Hawkins for college, Mike spends hours drawing up a detailed map of the town, marking a tiny x on each of the spots that have a special meaning for he and El—somewhere in the middle of Mirkwood, where they first met on a rainy November night; the movie theatre, where they went on their first date to see Back to the Future; the lake, where he asked her to be his girlfriend; the quarry, where he first whispered a tentative I love you into her ear before kissing her as the sun set. 

On a warm morning in late June, Mike takes an early drive out to the Hopper-Byers’s place and slides the map in through the mail slot. It’s just after dawn so he doesn’t ring the bell—he knows Hopper will find the map soon enough, as soon as he wakes up to make coffee and breakfast for the family. He knows it’ll be in El’s hands as soon as she wakes up. 

Sure enough, an hour later, El pulls the map from an envelope addressed to her in a messy scrawl she immediately recognizes. El beams, brimming with happiness, as her eyes travel across the map and take in all the little markings. She knows, immediately, what each is meant to signify. 

Except for one. 

Right by the edge of the map is another small x, this one with a question mark next to it. It’s a spot that she can’t quite remember having any significance to her and Mike, a spot where Hawkins turns in to open road leading to the next town. When El calls the Wheeler’s house to ask Mike about it, she’s only slightly surprised to find that he’s not home. She asks Jim—dad, these days—if she can borrow his truck just for a little while. 

David Bowie on the radio, El drives with the window down until she reaches the very eastern edge of Hawkins and sees Mike’s car—an ‘87 Chevy in dark blue, pulled over on the side of the road. Mike’s sitting on the hood of the car, stretched out so that his back is resting against the windshield. El parks behind his car and jumps out, her stomach fluttering with what feels like hundreds of tiny butterflies.

Mike waves as she approaches and shifts his body so that she can join him on the hood, which she does without a word, resting her head against his shoulder.

“You got the map,” he says with a grin and El laughs, nodding.

“What’s this all about?” she asks, her hand coming up to play with the piece of hair that was constantly sticking up at the top of his head. 

“Did you know,” Mike begins, gesturing ahead of them, “That a few more feet in that direction and we’re not in Hawkins anymore?” El doesn’t say anything is response. She knows that Mike knows she is more than aware of the eastern border of Hawkins. Each time they visited Steve’s cottage, they drove past the large green sign that read: Now Leaving Hawkins. 

“Mike,” she says quietly after a moment of silence, “Why did you—” Her words get caught in her throat as Mike turns to look at her, the expression on his face one she barely recognizes—anxious, eager, hopeful. His bottom lip is quivering as he intertwines his hand with hers. 

“El, I love you.” He leans forward and presses a soft kiss to her forehead, the smell of peppermint gum filling what little space there is between them. 

“I love you too,” she sighs, eyes closed as she settles closer into the crook of his arm. 

“I thought this spot could become another one of ours,” he says, speaking quietly. 

“Oh?” El chances a glance up at him. She’s unsure what’s going to happen next and she has to consciously stop her knees from shaking.

“Will you come with me, El?” Mike asks, squeezing her hand gently, “Will you move to the city with me?” 

“Is that what you want?” she whispers against his shoulder and hears Mike laugh gently in reply.

“Of course,” he assures her, “But only if you want it to.” 

“I do,” El smiles and pushes herself ever so slightly upwards to kiss his cheek. “Love you, Mike.”