I know it’s been pointed out before, but look at how Lucas is crying during this scene. So many shows get in this habit of writing a character who is frozen in their ways and never has any real development. Lucas went from wanting nothing to do with El for most of the season, to literally crying when she saved them and disappeared.

That is the epitome of character development right there.

aesthetic: mike wheeler and will byers

The roll, it was a seven. The Demogorgon, it got me. See you tomorrow.

I love the image of Eleven seeing her first Christmas tree and being so enchanted and Mike of course being enchanted by HER like the lovesick kid he is. EVEN BETTER, they turn off all the lights in the living room except for the tree lights and both of them just lie down on the floor and look up at the tree, amazed by the way the tiny lights cast their glow around the whole room.

We need to talk more about grieving Nancy.

Nancy who, for weeks after Will comes back and Barb doesn’t, refuses to sleep in her room because every square inch reminds her of Barb. Even looking in her drawers brings her to her knees, because every item there has a memory to go with it.

Nancy who resents and almost hates Steve for the fact that he was so dismissive and uncaring for Barb, because now she’s gone, her best friend is gone and she’s angry and she breaks things of Steve’s because she feels like Steve broke something of hers. Nancy who can barely stand to look at Steve, because every time she does she can’t unsee the dismissal he had when Barb didn’t come to school.

Nancy who tries to turn to her memories of Barb for comfort. She sits down with Miss Holland and tries to talk through every single memory they have of Barb: the first time Miss Holland saw Barb walking, the times Barb stayed with Nancy on the phone for hours when she’d been grounded and confined to the house, all of the times they’d both been made into better people by her. Nancy who can’t stand to see Barb’s things taken away, and instead quietly comes to the house one day with plastic bags. Miss Holland understands immediately and they sit for hours, sorting through Barb’s things and trying to decide who deserves what. Nancy ends up with Barb’s favorite jewelry, most of her clothes, her perfume bottles (some empty and some full, because Barb collected them) and her spare pair of glasses. Miss Holland keeps the rest, and slowly gets rid of it for closure. Nancy does not.

Nancy who slowly sinks into a depression. She can’t get out of bed half the time. Her grades start to plummet. She barely talks to anyone. She tries to isolate herself in a world of memories and sweaters and empty perfume bottles and lockets. The only routines she does are sitting at her desk, reading through the desk drawer crammed with notes she’s saved from years upon years upon years of history class, trying to see through Barb’s heavy prescription until her head throbs, and then does it some more for good measure, staring at the ceiling above her bed for hours on end while her eyes burn and her head spins. Nancy who barely feels anything besides her self-inflicted punishments for being so careless with something she loved so much.

Nancy who turns to religion for guidance, driving every Saturday morning to the synagogue a town over to go to Shabbat services. Everybody appreciates her presence, this handsome stranger from another town who stands and sits silently, only mouthing the words of the Avoht and the Sh'ma, who says “Barbara Holland” quietly when the Mourners Kaddish ritual of saying the names of someone you are grieving for is done. Nancy who speaks with the rabbi, and isn’t satisfied when told Barb is going to be happy when Nancy is happy, because that’s what true friends do, but still manages to get by better with that thought in mind.

Nancy who gets closure much, much later in life, because she was a stubborn teenager and a stubborn young adult who didn’t want to take any. She wanted to believe Barb was coming back, that Barb was just in vacation somewhere and shes just keeping her belongings safe.

Nancy who’s grieving process is so backwards and forwards and repetitive that eventually, she becomes used to the cycles. She knows that if she wakes up feeling empty, she still has to go to class, even if when she looks at her hands she doesn’t recognize them as her own and she can’t swallow food. She knows that if she’s suddenly feeling disgusted looking at Steve, she needs to leave before she breaks his nose again, and go home and put on some of the records she and Barb used to love. She knows if she ever needs a reminder that this is real, and she’s not desecrating Barb’s memory by living because that’s what Barb would want, she can go home and look at all of the crumpled notebook paper scribbles she’d made with her and smile because she remembers all of the times she’d made Barb smile.

Nancy who wears Barb’s sweaters and perfumes (even though Nancy used to cough and call them old lady-like) often not because she’s afraid to let go, but as a way to carry Barb’s memory along with her, through life instead of in a freeze-frame of it. Nancy who wears both her ballet-slipper necklace and Barb’s favorite locket next to her heart. And when Nancy starts to need glasses, she has the lenses popped out of Barb’s pair and replaces them.

That’s Nancy’s version of closure.

Because you don’t just get over a loss that big. We need to remember that.

[(For Mileven Week 2016 Day 6: December 3rd – Upside Down) An extremely fluffy AU oneshot in which the Bad Men never arrive at the school to interrupt Mike and Eleven’s sweet moment.]

“I’ve never been, but I know you’re not supposed to go with your sister.”

Okay, that had been a little hard to admit, and his stomach was still doing flip-flops because he’d actually asked her to the Snowball, but this was El. She wouldn’t care that he’d never been to a school dance in his life. She didn’t think he was a wastoid.

“No?” she asked, shaking her head, still looking confused.

He sighed. “I mean, you CAN, but it’d be really weird.” REALLY weird. El was the farthest thing from a sister he could think of. How was he even supposed to say that?

He went on, his words coming out sounding robotic and stilted. “You go to school dances with someone that, you know… someone that you… like.”

There. He’d said it. He felt like he just might throw up, but he’d said it. And then she smiled and all that confidence he thought he’d had just left. His heart started beating faster because, well, that happened every time she smiled.

But then she asked, “A friend?”

She asked so sweetly and he almost nodded because yeah, she WAS a friend, definitely, but she was so much more than just a friend! She was so… important.

She was so good and kind and amazing and sweet and –

“Not a friend, uh… uh…” Was that all he could say? “Uh”? He couldn’t even think straight. She was looking at him with her brown eyes and she still looked so confused which made sense because he wasn’t doing a very good job answering her question. He STILL hadn’t answered her question, but how was he supposed to tell her that she was the most wonderful and important person and that he cared about her more than anyone else in the world?

Was there even a word for that?

She was still looking at him, squinting, like she was trying to figure out what he was saying, but HE didn’t even know what he was saying so he didn’t blame her for being completely confused.

“Uh, someone like a…”

He sighed. This was ridiculous. Just say it, Mike!
Say what? He looked into her eyes, which was a huge mistake. They were big and brown and beautiful and really distracting. His mouth had gone dry and his mind went completely blank.

Except for one crazy thought.

No. No WAY. That was nuts! It was stupid. It would be so stupid. To… to kiss her. It was absolutely crazy!

… Wasn’t it?

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But Nancy was just a vulnerable inexperienced teenage girl who was already terrified with losing her virginity when some guy she barely knows got pictures of it and then the guy she slept with put graffiti around town calling her a slut and this is all while dealing with the death of her best friend I just feel so bad for Nancy okay

They would’ve spent her first Christmas together. He would’ve showed her all the wonder and joy and warmth that is the holidays. They would’ve obliterated the other boys in a snowball fight and struggled to wrap presents together and, if he was brave, kissed under the mistletoe. He would’ve taken her into town to show her all the decorations and lights in the storefronts and seen how her eyes light up in excitement at the falling snow. He would’ve spent the whole month making the perfect present for her, and he would’ve always made sure she was wearing mittens so her fingers wouldn’t be freezing. Instead, he will go along with the Christmas shopping and the visiting relatives and the obnoxious amount of lights that his dad puts up, and he will never truly be home. She is his home, always will be. The trust in her eyes when she looked at him, the innocent happiness in her smile when she laughed, the strength he felt when she held his hand—now, only worn fragments of memory. On Christmas Eve, he will wrap her present and bury it in the drawer beside the sweatshirt and sweatpants, dreaming for a moment that…he was home for Christmas

(I’ll Be Home For Christmas)