A/N: I haven't written in so long, it feels good to have a non-crossover piece out now. This started out as a completely fluff piece, but I decided to take it another way and have Mike and Eleven tormented by more than just their friends.
I don't own Stranger Things.
"Scary," Eleven whispered.
Mike felt his heart swell in his chest as he brimmed over with a sense of protection. El's eyes were wide, and while Mike knew that she was the bravest of them all, he still felt nothing short of obligation to guard her.
He felt a surge of strength compile within his arm before he violently batted the offending creature away.
"Dude, what the hell!" Dustin shouted, gracelessly flopping over as he attempted to save his copy of Alien from his crisscross position. He missed, the clunky VHS tumbling further from his reach.
This school year had been a grueling gauntlet for the majority of the group. It had finally drawn to a close the week prior, and celebration was mandatory. After heated debate, it was decided that a home movie was the most suiting festivity. A trip to the movies could overwhelm El, and the group would also have all of summer to explore the forest, which could still conjure foul memories for Will.
Everyone biked home after school with the energy expected of freed children to collect their favorite movies. Karen, who had not immediately liked the idea of a young girl spending the night with her budding teenager, finally consented after weeks of nagging and offered her basement for the party. Food was horded and the kids fell upon it like hungry werewolves before they settled downstairs, rifling through the assortment of films.
So far, there seemed to be no luck in finding something that satisfied everyone. Horror movies were almost out of the question, no matter how 'scientifically accurate' they were or were not. Most action movies would be shot down by Lucas, who hated inaccuracy in fighting.
Finally, E.T., and Monty Python cleared the 'maybe' mark after much discussion.
Mike studied the tapes fervidly from his seat on the blanketed ground by Eleven. He plucked E.T. up and showed it to El, who traced the outline of the two figures on a bicycle outlined by the moon. "This one came out just last year. And they bike around like us, and E.T.'s good with radios and stuff, like you."
Lucas groaned. "Dude, stop trying to sway her vote, you know she'll listen to you."
Mike leaned forward and shoved Monty Python towards his stack of VHS cassettes, shrugging. "The tape is too fuzzy anyway."
Lucas rolled his eyes, but accepted that there was little he could do to change the collective obsession over Eleven and her well-being.
Very little was said during the film, minus Dustin's occasional outbursts of excitement.
It seemed like there would be little excitement for the duration of the movie. That remained true, at least for those who weren't El and Mike.
El wasn't fond of the quarantine scene. She had gone from slowly inching her way closer to him to nearly jumping into his lap when the faceless men in sterile lab coats appeared.
"Bad men," she stated. "They're bad men," she stated, trying her best to fix her broken English.
"Yes," he agreed, pretending the jolt he felt run up his spine was from pain and not something else. "Bad men. But they'll stay in the TV, I promise."
She nodded. "Scaredy cat," she whispered. She had picked the name up from a mouthbreather who had insulted Will's learned fear of the dark. While the flickering arcade lights had only alerted Will, the floating Pac-Man game which lurched toward Troy's friend, Carl, had caused him to wet himself.
"You're not a scaredy cat," Mike said sternly. "You've just… I dunno, had a bad past."
Mike reached around her hunched form, drawing her closer with his arm. At first, his hand rested on her soft hip, which he felt was too daring. His hand rose and brushed against what was dangerously close to her chest, then fell to the bony outcrop of her hip again. This is so hard, he thought to himself.
His arm slowly caught fire. It started in his clavicle, where her longer wisps of hair tickled at his skin. It spread to her head resting on his shoulder, his forearm where her back sat, and burned his fingers that rested against the cotton of her new pale dress.
The others watched the movie happily. El watched with fascination. Mike glanced over several times to see her eyes filled with wonder.
Even once the scary parts had passed, she remained cuddled close to his figure. The two had been growing closer than ever since El was found alone in the woods, filthy and near feral. Mike felt that if he blinked for too long, she would be trapped in some terrifying alternate dimension again.
Of course, he had also had to worry about his growing affection for the small girl. Mike worried that he was being too overt with his attraction to her. The two spent a lot of time alone, and every second of it felt fluttery and nervous.
They would brush hands, and El, probably not understanding what a romantic gesture it was, would gladly comply to place her fingers carefully between his. Their hugs would linger, Mike flushing when he stood pressed against her too long.
Before Mike was ready, the movie ended and El straightened her back in a stretch. She yawned, Mike watching her features adorably slump into sleepiness. "I'm tired," she stated.
"Okay," Mike sighed, trying to hide the disappointment in his voice. "Well, Mom wants you to sleep in Nancy's room. Nancy's going to be home late, so she'll probably just sleep on the couch, so if you need anything, you should take this."
Mike handed over his radio.
El intently observed the device. She sometimes had trouble with reading human emotion, and Mike knew she loved machines because they were always straight-forward and honest.
He watched as her eyes traced over every detail on the dials and gauges before she met his eyes and smiled brightly.
"Goodnight," she said.
"Goodnight," Mike replied, watching as she turned and moved upstairs.
Eleven stared up at the ceiling. She wound her hands into a tight ball, then unraveled it slowly. The ball formed, collapsed, formed again and collapsed again many, many times.
There was little that was scarier than being left alone on nights like these. In Indiana, the weather was bipolar and subject to change any minute – at one, El would hear wind fiercely tearing at the trees that groaned in protest, and in the next, it would be completely calm. Clouds glided with the willpower of the wind, blotting the moon's light out periodically.
Off in the distance, there was a thunderstorm whipping about.
Lightning brilliantly illuminated the sky for a split-second. El sat up, tense with the electricity that still hunched in the air. She looked out the curtains that were immobile to the untrained eye, but swayed uneasily to El.
Past the curtains, the night was alive.
White light filled the sky again, announcing the nearing storm with a distant rumble of something massive.
"Mike," El had scarcely noticed her seizure of the radio.
Garble filled her ears.
Her grip around the radio tightened as she quickly switched it off, breathing shallowly. She almost threw the device across the room when the garble continued, and worsened, more severe than ever.
Thunder growled at her again.
She had rarely experienced any weather phenomenon of summer. The snowstorms of winter nearly froze her to death when she fled the Demogorgon, and spring and fall were mostly calm. But towards the end of spring, thunderstorms assaulted her very existence. The lightning was too bright and the thunder was too close.
The lab had deprived her of many experiences, one of which was learning how to deal with severe weather. When she was with Hopper, she always shied away from windows and occasionally ended up in the chief's bedroom when thunderstorms started.
This was the first time that she had been left alone for one.
Her hands shook as she moved the radio back up to her mouth, preparing to speak through the dryness. She switched it on and was greeted with the sound of a million people speaking in hushed voices.
El gave up on contacting Mike, dropping the radio as it chattered quietly. Thunder grew closer to the house. She shuffled to the edge of the bed as rain began to slam against the side of the house.
No longer had she stood up then did something let out a muffled scream and slam its paws against the carpet.
She whirled around, catching the creature with her mind and lifting it up, about to twirl it through the window when –
"El!" a hushed voice shouted.
Mike flopped back down to the carpet when El released him, her edge disappearing.
He coughed, quieting his noise with a fist. "What was that about?"
El sat down beside him on her knees, half-crawling onto his slumped form. "I don't like thunder." There was another moment of silence, when even the rain itself seemed to halt. "I'm sorry I grabbed you. You scared me."
Mike awkwardly squirmed around, moving so that his freed lower half could rest on its side like his torso. "The thunder can't hurt you. Normally, you do fine during thunderstorms. Was it because you were alone?"
"The radio," El replied, keeping her voice to a hush. She assumed that Mike didn't want his parents to be woken. She put a finger to her mouth in the 'quiet' motion that the boys had taught her.
"What about the radio?" Mike pressed. He moved his hand to El's elbow, causing her to feel a jolt race up her arm like he had violently struck her 'funny bone'. She didn't understand what was so funny about the bone, it hurt very badly when it was hit. "El, tell me."
It was hard to focus around the rain patter, the thunder's foreboding pause between each clap, and Mike's warm, firm hand. "Can't… I can't explain."
She clambered up from the center of Nancy's room to fumble in the darkness for the radio she had forsaken. "It's doing this," she supplied, turning up the volume. The chatter continued incessantly. "They're talking to me," she said cryptically.
Radios were nothing to Mike. El watched him as he brought the device up to his ear. El held his breath, unaware if he would be able to decipher the code the monsters were spewing. "It's just static," he replied after a moment. He smiled, pulling El closer to him.
El's face was burning bright with embarrassment. Her face was so hot that she was terrified of the idea that she was glowing like a coal. "Static never sounded like that."
"Well," Mike's face lit up, and instantly, El forgot that her glowing face was embarrassing as she moved closer to Mike, enthusiastic to hear Mike explain something. "You know that lightning is electricity, right?"
El nodded. "Mr. Clarke," was her simple explanation.
Mike smiled proudly. "Radios try to talk to each other during thunderstorms. Well, because there's so much electricity in the sky right now, they're getting confused and trying to talk to the sky."
"Not monsters," El breathed out in relief.
Deep down, she knew that she was safe. But she would never want to brave something alone if she knew that Mike was only a call away. El smiled contently, moving closer to Mike, her hair brushing against the beads of carpet. Her eyes adjusted quickly to the shift in vision, barely able to focus on his face.
"Are you sleepy?" Mike asked.
El nodded. "What time is it?" she whispered. "I think I woke you."
"It's after midnight. But it's okay. You should go back to sleep." Mike gently squeezed El's arm.
"Hell no," Mike stated. El felt her heart do something weird and painful in her chest before she heard Mike's laugh. "I'm not staying in Nancy's room. Come down to the basement with me, just don't wake up my parents. Or the guys." With the way he emphasized his words, El judged that waking the guys would subject the two to a worse fate.
The two rose in unison, El seeking to grab Mike's hand the moment he had released her elbow.
El followed Mike silently, smiling lightly as he tried to be quiet, failing miserably as his gangly, growing limbs refused to listen to him.
The stairs creaked only once as they descended down the basement stairs. El hesitated, staring out at the array of sleeping bags that had been messily strewn out and kicked around the room in fits of sleep. "I won't bother them?"
Mike shook his head. "I'm sure they'll understand."
She still stood at the sixth step from the bottom, barely seeing Mike's silhouette on the fifth step against the darkness, the only light coming from the T.V. that had been left on.
"I won't bother you?" she asked, feeling that she must be more tentative. "You and I are… different?"
Mike tensed, then sighed. "Yeah, but it's a good kind of different. I mean, Mom will kill me if she wakes up to see you in my sleeping bag, and it's kinda early for us to sleep together, in any way, but this is a special circumstance…" Mike trailed off, seeming to understand that his ramble was leaving El confused.
"Mike?" El asked again after fighting the thick stone that had formed in her throat.
Instead of answering, El just moved her forehead against his, feeling herself teeter lightly as they both fought to balance on the stairs. She nervously placed her hands on his shoulders and gently bumped her nose against his, letting out a humorless laugh at the contact.
The moment she felt she was about to do something 'romantic', as everyone had called it, a beam of light flashed offensively off from the side.
"Guys!" Lucas whisper-shouted, waving the beam back and forth. "There's a serious problem!"
Will flicked on a lamp, Dustin's eyes still glued to the static on the T.V., unmoving.
In his hand, Lucas held Mike's radio, or what had been his radio. Now, it was a pile of melted plastic, with messy, burnt hairs of wire frayed out in many directions.
"My radio," Mike said, disappointment evident. He squeezed El's hands.
El looked over to his face, seeing that it crestfallen with disappointment. "Did I-?"
"It just," Lucas paused, searching for accurate (and 'Eleven-appropriate', as Mike called them) words to use.
"Exploded!" Dustin finished, his voice lacking any trace of humanity. The T.V. continued to spit out sounds of static. "And then this came on. And it's been making some really, really weird noises. Like I'm talking noises that a team of the best Elven and Dwarven scholars couldn't translate."
El was completely silent, feeling herself go lightheaded. Mike, still having hold of her hands, steadied her and gave her an odd look.
She looked up at the faces of the young dungeon explorers, and with her ever-growing vocabulary of Dungeons and Dragons, replied, "Demon scholars. You'd need demon scholars."
A/N: Fin. I expect this to be a multi-chapter story, the first of which I am attempting in a very, very long time. This will only happen if I feel like this is worth it, though. I love this piece, but I don't know if it's good enough for a continuation. Please, leave a comment, a fav, or even PM me with your responses and let me know if you want to see this worked on more or not.
UPDATE: Apparently fanfiction doesn't like my Word's borders so I spent THIRTY MINUTES trying to figure out how the hell to fix it and finally fixed it so now all the chapters will flow much more coherently, please re-read the story so I don't look like a grammarless slob c: