Binas: Sorry for the super long wait. My reasons are the following:
1) The chapter that I am currently on is being a pain to write. So now, I only have a three chapter buffer between the released chapter and the chapter I am working on from scratch. This is not accounting for tune ups that I make to the chapters that are slatted to be released next. I want to ensure you guys get the best quality of writing that I am capable of producing. I am doing my best to make sure no garbage of any kind interferes with your guys' enjoyment.
2) School started back up yesterday. It is currently looking like an unexpected, heavy work load judging by the seven hours worth of Macroeconomics assignments. That will be followed up by any programming assignments from Computer Organization I that I might have, almost 30 page readings of various literature and essays, any assignments from my student-to-real life classes for those with autism, any assignments from my Introduction to Theater. I will write when I can.
For those who found that a mouth full:
Just know that ahead of time I maybe swamped depending on which class decides to be the heavy work load winner and runner up and that I am working as much and hard as I can to give you the best that I can do.
Chapter Seven: The Training
Eleven stirred to the sound of Naruto struggling with something and Sasuke shouting out something weird like "Fire Style: Fireball Jutsu." As her vision cleared, she realized that she was no longer in the festival. She looked around and saw that her radio was next to her. She smiled in relief that she did not lose it. It would have been bad if she did.
Aside from the radio, Eleven saw that she was lying against a tree with a lightly sleeping Jiraiya on the other side of the tree, resting with a giant bottle in his lap. In the giant bottle was a liquid that smelled like a mixture of something rather bad and sour to her. Whatever it was, it was not good for her to drink judging by smell alone.
Eleven got up and grabbed her radio as quietly as she could. With it tucked to her chest behind her crossed arms, she slowly and silently walked off by herself. Her objective was to find a body of water, which was surprisingly not too hard as she found one only a little over thirty meters.
In front of her was a small, shallow, crystal clear, blue pond of water with tall grass and light purple wildflowers lining its rim. Its depth was comparable to the pool that her friends made a bath out of for her to use. The aroma of the air was very much relaxing as she took a large amount of air in through her nose and out her mouth.
Reaching into her jacket's pocket, she pulled out the taped up goggles that Joyce gave her. They looked a bit dirty with the droplets of syrup and Upside Down goo and spores. Eleven dipped the goggles into the pond and wiped the goggles clean of the debris that covered them.
Once the taped up goggles were clean, Eleven slipped them onto her forehead and set the radio by pond's edge as she slipped off her shoes and socks and began placing her bare feet in the pond. Inch by inch, Eleven slipped into the pond. She shivered as her toes were hit by the temperature of the cool water, but she pressed forward, heading towards the middle. She slipped the goggles over her eyes and slowly fell backwards so that she would float. Despite the pond lacking salt, she still floated. She was just having to work slightly harder to keep herself afloat on her back. Eleven took a deep breath and began to focus. She made the radio go static, as Mike called the fuzzy sounds, using it to boost her powers so that she could overcome the foreign energy that filled this world. She was not sure if the static would work like she wanted it to, but she was not going to let that stop her from trying.
Suddenly, Eleven found herself in her mental void, what Papa told her it was called. She walked in the one centimeter deep, invisible water floor, searching around. She saw Naruto and Jiraiya talking about hair growth direction, which made her unconsciously touch her own head's hair stubble. Moving forward, she saw Sasuke spitting out fire and heard him talking to someone, but that person's presence was not visible to her.
Seeing as she was still around the pond's location in her mind, she pressed further with her powers. This time she saw the small blanket fort she had lived in for a week at Mike's house. Tears streamed from both eyes as she smiled and ran up into it. She could feel the fabric and interact with its pisonic version in her mind. It was just as soft as she remembered.
Then she saw Mike, he had appeared in the blanket tent with her. She was overwhelmed by sensations of relief, happiness, and something else. The same feeling she had when his lips meet her's. It was a wonderful mix of emotions. She never wanted them to end.
"Mike," Eleven said joyfully as she touched Mike's shoulder.
Mike looked upwards slowly, becoming aware of her mental contact to him. He asked in breathy voice, "Eleven?" Eleven smiled brightly in response to hearing Mike say her name.
Mike, too, had huge smile the very next second and hugged her, "El! I missed you so much!"
"I missed you," Eleven parroted the words, but the feelings and emotions behind the words were very much real.
"What happened to you?" Mike asked as tears began to prick his eyes. "I have been trying to reach you for-"
"Four-zero days," Eleven counted in her own way. The number of days it was since she disappeared. "Not strong enough."
"You didn't have a radio or something?" Mike asked to which Eleven nodded. "Where are you?"
"Weird place," Eleven said making a face that Mike could tell that she was confused.
"Weird is better than bad, right?" Mike asked.
"Like home, but weird," Eleven continued. "Light. Warm. Weird people. People look like us. Like me. Not from bad place."
Mike nodded and clarified, "So you are somewhere where there are humans that have powers like you do but they are not from a lab?"
"Yes," Eleven confirmed.
"Wow," Mike laughed a but. "That sounds so cool! I wish I could see it!"
Eleven grasped Mike's hand and he got up. Together, they walked in the void. She brought his mind to the mental presence of Naruto and touched Naruto's shoulder. She said, "Naruto."
Naruto blinked a bit as he became aware of Eleven's telepathy. He turned around and saw Eleven and Mike in a black void. Upon seeing them in the Mental Void, Naruto gave a startled yelp as he jumped a bit with a small jerk in his movements.
"Hi, I am Mike Wheeler," Mike introduced himself as he stuck his free hand out to shake Naruto's.
Naruto got over his surprise rather quickly and gave a huge grin, "I am Naruto Uzumaki! So you're the guy Eleven was trying to use the radio for! That was a really cool thing she did! I want to learn how she did that!"
"El is a psychic," Mike said proudly as he stopped holding hands to place an arm around Eleven's shoulders. "And she is the most amazing girl I have ever met."
"He likes me," Eleven said brightly with blush appearing on her face.
"Yeah…" Mike trailed off, blush decorating his cheeks too.
Mike could feel the love, loyalty, and admiration that Eleven felt for him. It was so touching and shared by his own his own heart. It did not feel as embarrassing for his love for Eleven to be made known this time around, especially in comparison to when his own sister brought it up. Older sisters talking about their younger brothers' girlfriends to them will always be gross to him.
"So, is this Eleven's mind?" Naruto asked as he looked around. "It looks really dark."
"It's like Professor X's mind when he is using his telepathy to find and talk to people." Mike said, gaining confused looks from both Eleven and Naruto. "Professor X is a character from the X-Men comics I read with the others, Dustin Henderson, Lucas Sinclair, and Will Byers. The comic books are really good. We all like reading them and trading them."
"Wow!" Naruto whistled. "Can any of those characters make Shadow Clones?"
"Multiple Man, also known as James Madrox, can, but they are called duplicates and are not made of shadows," Mike said, not entirely getting the term "Shadow Clone." "Multiple Man first appeared in 1975 in Giant Size Fantastic Four, issue four."
Naruto beamed, despite not knowing what the X-Men and Fantastic Four were as characters and effectively ignoring the fact Mike did not understand what Shadow Clones were. However, he could tell that comic books were probably from something like manga judging by the word "book." That, or a magazine.
"That sounds really cool!" Naruto exclaimed, causing both Eleven and Mike to flinch from how loud Naruto got. "So, where are you from?"
"Another world," Mike said with a geeky grin. "Now that is probably one of the most mental things I have ever wanted to say."
Naruto went wide eyes with excitement. He might not have known what the word mental meant as slang, but he could definitely say one thing, "That is so cool!"
"When the other world is not a decaying dump of a place, then yeah," Mike said, gaining a confused look from Naruto. "Our world is not decaying. Just, another world that Will has been to is. We call it the Upside Down because that is what El named it."
Eleven gave a sad nod. The Upside Down was really unpleasant. The way it functioned and behaved was akin to her and Mike's home world, but the way it was deep down was very disturbing.
"What is the Upside Down like aside from gross?" Naruto asked.
"Cold. Dark. Scary," Eleven said in a frightened tone as brief images of it flashed into her mind. The memories came to her at a frightening speed, making her clutch Mike's hand tighter.
Naruto gave a concerned look as Mike comforted Eleven. Whatever had happened in that place had to have been bad. He imagined the Upside Down as an abyss with no light, reversed gravity, and a unrelenting blast of cold, frigid air that was full of ghosts. The product of his mind sent shivers down his spine within seconds of being conjured up.
"It's okay, El," Mike said, holding Eleven close. "You aren't there, neither is Will. And the Demogorgon is dead, so we're all safe."
"The Demogorgon?" Naruto, coming back to his senses, and with a scrunched up face he asked. "Is that some sort of nasty fungus?"
Mike shook his head as he stroked Eleven's head, "No. It's this monster with a petal mouth and no face. It can rip holes from its world into our's whenever it wants to. It is also super tall and strong. The Demogorgon is what kidnapped Will and took him to the Upside Down. Eleven killed it by disintegrating it and it did something to her in return. I don't know what, but I don't care. It hurt Will and almost got Dustin, Lucas, Eleven, and I."
Mike continued to hug Eleven close and said to her, "I am so glad you're alive."
Naruto smiled as they hugged, the bond between Mike and Eleven was touching despite the crazy circumstances that he did not really understand other than the two were separated by two different worlds. How that worked, Naruto also did not know, but it was filed under "Whatever" in his mind. He was just glad two friends were able to be together again for the moment. At that moment, Naruto began to fade from the mental void. He was shocked as his vision flashed between Eleven's mental void and the real world. Once he was gone, Mike released Eleven from his hug and held both of her hands.
"Please stay safe, El," Mike said with some tears in his eyes. "I wish you were really here."
"Snow Ball?" Eleven asked.
"Don't worry about it," Mike said, a small smile gracing his lips. "There will be another one next year. Even if you can't make it to it, that is alright. I understand that finding a way back is definitely not easy."
"You could, but didn't that really exhaust you? I mean, judging by the other usages of your powers."
"Yes. I could get…"
"Stronger?" Mike filled in for Eleven's silent pause, to which Eleven nodded. "Just practice. The more you practice, the stronger you will be. Soon you will be able to open a gate home without a problem. Your powers are like your muscles. The more you use them, the stronger they become."
Eleven nodded again and and quietly said as she then hugged Mike, "I like you, Mike."
"It's supposed to be 'I love you,' but that doesn't matter." Mike said with a slight chuckle as he hugged back. "I love you too, El."
With that Mike planted a small, quickish kiss on Eleven's lips, making them both blush a bit.
Mike said, "I wish you luck."
Eleven let loose happy tears as Mike began to fade from her mind's void. She would get stronger. Not just for herself, but to return to her friends and Mike. She had nothing to lose by doing so. She will return home to Mike and her friends.
Eleven left the void and orientated herself upright in the pond. She slipped off her goggles to see Jiraiya standing right in front of her.
"I found Mike," Eleven said with a grin.
Jiraiya restrained himself from making a perverted joke the best he could and asked with a slightly perverted smile, "And what?"
'They hugged and kissed,' he thought. 'Now, keep yourself together. Don't say something that Tsunade would flip over to an innocent little girl.'
"I know how to get home," Eleven said climbing out of the pond.
"Oh, you do?" Jiraiya asked, surprised by the response. "What's your plan?"
"Open a gate," Eleven responded as she tapped her mind as she began struggling to find words to follow afterwards. "I am not… strong… strong…"
"You aren't strong enough to open the gate home?" Jiraiya asked, to which Eleven nodded. "Naruto, he was pretty quick about it too, he did tell me a bit about what you and your boyfriend told him."
Eleven nodded. She may not know what a boyfriend was, but she could guess by how Jiraiya called Mike her boyfriend. So, from there, she decided to shelve that question and ask, "How do I get strong… with practice?"
"I suggest you being training. It won't be easy and could take hundreds of sessions over the course of several months to produce big improvements, but it is the best method," Jiraiya said. "Training is basically doing what you know and pushing yourself to build up your stamina. Stamina is energy that your body uses to keep moving. The less you have, the more tired you become. Training will drain it, but you need to use that to see if you have trained hard enough or not. Doing it right would be to the point you are tired but you can still move."
Eleven absorbed all that she was told about training and nodded, "When do I train?"
"Daily is ideal," Jiraiya said. "Now, do you want to begin today or wait until we get back to the village?"
Jiraiya smiled at the determination on Eleven's face. She had the mentality of a ninja who wanted to keep in top shape. Out of the small band of four, her determination to train was like Sasuke and Naruto's. She had a burning fire in her brown eyes, which were set on doing everything that she could to get home.
'To Mike, heheee. Now get your mind out of the gutter,' Jiraiya thought.
Outside the festival village a short time later...
"Now since you lack chakra, we will have to adjust your training a bit," Jiraiya said with his arms crossed. "Do you know how to do any exercises?"
Eleven shook her head no.
"Okay, watch closely," Jiraiya said getting into the grass with his palms holding the ground and lowered himself to be really close to the ground before going back up. "This is how you do push ups."
Jiraiya then got up and began jumping in place with his stretched out arms and legs making arcs, "Jumping Jacks."
He then laid down with his knees bent and began sitting up with his arms crossed just to go back down, "And sit ups."
Jiraiya got off the ground and smiled, "I know that they don't sound related to your powers, but they will build that stamina I was talking about. I want you to do fifteen of each, with no powers. If you feel like you can do more, repeat the amount of each. Got it, kid?"
Eleven nodded in understanding.
"Now begin," Jiraiya said with a clap.
With that, Eleven went on all fours and began attempting her first set of push ups, literally. The struggle was hitting her within the first eight push ups, but just Jiraiya said, she had to use that pain to get stronger. If feeling a bit sore meant the training was working and she had to continue to train for months to make the improvements to her stamina better, then she would persevere through it. She will do it for herself and for those who care about her. She would do it for Mike. She will not let any of them down. Not now when they clearly wanted their friend back from where ever the Demogorgon banished her to in its last few seconds of life.