Chapter 1: The Vanishing of Will Byers
November 6, 1983
The Wheeler ’ s Basement
“Something is coming. Something hungry for blood. A shadow grows on the wall behind you, swallowing you in darkness,” Mike announces, uselessly trying to deepen his voice to intimidate his friends. “It is almost here.”
“What is it?” Will asks, anxiety clear in his voice.
“What if it’s the Demogorgon? Oh, Jesus, we’re so screwed if it’s the Demogorgon,” Dustin whines.
“It’s not the Demogorgon!”
“An army of troglodytes charge into the chamber!” Mike exclaims, Lucas smirks triumphantly.
“Troglodytes?” Dustin laughs. “Mike, we aren’t twelve anymore.”
“Wait a minute,” Mike whispers for dramatic effect, interrupting his friends who are all laughing. “Did you hear that? That… that sound? Boom… boom… BOOM!”
Mike smacks his hand down on the table, making Dustin jump and squeak embarrassingly loud for a 15-year-old.
“That didn’t come from the troglodytes. No, that… that came from something else.”
The entire group had begun leaning in, nervous glances exchanging amongst themselves as they hunched over their rickety old Dungeons and Dragons table.
“We’re in deep shit!” Dustin exclaims as the other two boys groan, Mike is practically vibrating with excitement. This was the first campaign they’d been able to organize in months between their school and work schedules.
“Will, your action?” Mike exclaims, thoroughly enjoying orchestrating the entire evening.
“I don’t know!”
“Fireball him! Fucking Fireball him!” Lucas begins chanting.
“I’d have to roll a 13 or higher,” Will argues logically.
“Too risky,” Dustin agrees. “Cast a protection spell!”
“Don’t be a pussy. Fireball him!”
“The Demogorgon is tired of your silly human bickering!” Mike interrupts. “It stomps toward you. Boom! Boom!”
Mike continues while Dustin and Lucas shout their suggestions at an overwhelmed Will.
“He roars in anger!”
The shouting and swearing has reached a crescendo and Will panics, deciding to roll the die and throw a fireball. The die goes flying from the table.
“Where’d it go?”
“I don’t know, dipshit!”
The boys are clamouring to find the die, knocking their game askew as their knees bang into the too short table in their haste.
“Is it a 13?” Dustin whines.
“I don’t fucking know, idiot! I haven’t found it!”
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Dustin is pacing in circles dramatically as his friends search the floor for the die.
“Did you find it?”
“No, I said I can’t find it!” Will huffs, irritated with his friend’s demanding tone.
“Mom, we’re in the middle of a campaign!” Mike whines up the stairs to his mother who stands in the doorway at the top of the stairs.
“You mean the end?” she sasses. “It’s fifteen after and you boys have already woken Holly twice.”
Mike grumbles, chasing his mom up the stairs as the boys continue arguing and searching the basement floor.
“But, mom!” He skids into the kitchen, sliding on his socked feet. “Just 20 more minutes!”
“No, it’s a school night, Michael.”
“We’re fifteen, not eight,” Mike whines childishly which makes Karen laugh as he towers over her.
“You can finish next weekend,” Karen continues.
“But that’ll ruin the flow! Besides this is the only night all month that none of us has had homework or had to work!”
“Michael,” Karen sighs, her patience wearing thin.
“I’m serious, mom!” Mike continues. “This is the only night! And the campaign took two whole weeks to plan. How was I supposed to know it was gonna take ten hours?”
“You geeks have been down there for ten hours?” Richie laughs, shoving Mike out of the way as he heads towards the refrigerator. “No wonder it always smells like shit down there.”
“Language,” Karen warns her son, pursing her lips as Richie gives a fake sheepish smile. “Have you really been down there for ten hours?”
Mike purses his lips, looking startlingly like his mother.
“Dad!” Mike cries, heading towards the den where he knows his dad is reading the paper in his chair.
“Dad,” Mike repeats as he enters the room. “Don’t you think that twenty more-”
“I think you should listen to your mother,” Ted responds, neglecting to even look up from his paper.
Mike gives his dad an incredulous look before heading back to the kitchen to continue arguing with his mother.
“No, that’s enough, Michael!” Karen shrills. “Call it a night! That goes for your friends too, Richie,” Karen adds, snatching the carton of milk that Richie is drinking from and putting it back in the fridge that he neglected to close.
“What the fuck!”
“This is bullshit!” Richie shouts.
“Richard, watch your mouth.”
Richie rolls his eyes at his dad’s half-hearted reprimand from the other side of the house.
“Mom, this is total bullshit,” Richie continues. “My friends and I are watching movies and being normal human beings. Why do they have to leave?”
“Because, Richard, in case you weren’t aware you and Michael are twins and therefore both fifteen. And coincidentally it is a school night for both of you. And even more coincidentally I happen to be the mother of both of you,” Karen explains patronizingly. “So, if Michael’s friends need to leave because it’s late, so do yours.”
“This is all your fault!” Richie huffs, glaring at his brother.
“My fault!” Mike shrieks. “How is it my fault!”
“Because you and your lame ass friends-”
“My friends are lame? You guys call yourselves the ‘Loser’s Club’, now that’s lame-”
“At least we aren’t nerds-”
“Just wait until I get into MIT and you’re still living in our bedroom, sleeping on a bunk for the next 20 years-”
“Fuck you, once I’m rich and famous you’ll wish you were a little nicer to your big brother-”
“We’re the same age!”
“I was born first-”
“By six minutes!”
“How do you deal with them, Mrs. Wheeler?” Beverly asks, trudging into the kitchen and standing next to Mrs. Wheeler who has continued cleaning the kitchen from cooking supper as if there weren’t two six-foot-tall identical teenagers shouting at each other in her kitchen.
“Fifteen years of practice, dear,” Karen smiles, smoothing Beverly’s hair back.
“Richie,” comes Eddie’s voice from the living room off of the kitchen where the Loser’s Club had been watching An American Werewolf in London. “Would you shut up!”
“Eds,” Richie whines, turning his attention from his brother to his boyfriend who has just entered the kitchen. “He’s so annoying though!”
Richie throws his arms around Eddie dramatically, hiding his face in Eddie’s neck making Karen laugh. Eddie is half a foot shorter than Richie, so the taller boy has to hunch over ridiculously.
“You’re annoying,” Eddie deadpans, although he’s carding his fingers through Richie’s curls sweetly. Karen laughs again.
“That’s so rude!” Richie gasps, pulling back from Eddie. “I can’t believe you’re taking his side!”
Eddie rolls his eyes at his boyfriend as Mike’s friends can be heard trampling up the basement stairs.
“Hey, is there still pizza in there?” Richie asks when he notices Dustin with the box from earlier in the day.
“No,” Dustin calls over his shoulder, running up the stairs to the second floor. Mike stares confusedly at the staircase his friend just disappeared up.
“All you ever think about is food, Rich,” Eddie sighs.
“I’m a growing boy, Eds. What do you expect?”
“Mike doesn’t try to eat a full meal every fifteen minutes like you do and he’s the same height,” Eddie quips with a smirk.
“How dare you?!” Richie gasps. “I am an inch taller!”
Mike and Eddie both roll their eyes at Richie as he continues on about how he’s way taller and therefore needs more nutrients than his ‘little’ brother.
Mike looks away from Richie when he notices Dustin is descending the stairs dejectedly, still holding the box of pizza.
“Ready to go guys?” Dustin asks, putting on a smile.
Lucas and Will nod in agreement and head towards the front door.
“Hey, Mrs. Wheeler where can I put this pizza box?” Dustin asks, wanting rid of the bulky box.
“Here, sweetie,” Karen gestures for the box. “I’ll get rid of it.”
“Thanks,” Dustin smiles toothlessly, pulling the last slice from the box and shoving it in his mouth before handing Karen the box.
“Hey! I thought you said there wasn’t any more pizza!” Richie shouts at Dustin’s back as the boy makes his way towards the door laughing.
“Calm down, Richie, you’re going to wake Holly,” Karen scolds. “Seriously though, sweetheart, it’s time for everyone to go home.”
Richie rolls his eyes, looking exactly like his brother did five minutes ago.
“Yo, losers! Get the fuck outta my house!”
“What?” Richie asks, smiling at his mother sweetly.
The losers are through the doorway into the kitchen immediately, not wanting to upset Mrs. Wheeler who is the nicest out of all of the group’s parents.
“Goodnight, Mrs. Wheeler. Thank you for allowing us to come over,” Stanley comments before exiting with Bill, Ben, Beverly, and Mike.
“Not a problem, Stanley,” Karen smiles. “You’re welcome to come over anytime. In fact, if I could trade you for Richie, I would!”
The losers are soon through the door, picking up their bikes from the pile on the Wheeler’s driveway.
“Hm, that’s odd,” Karen says, peering out the window to the group of teenagers hopping on bikes and joking around. “There seems to be one extra bike out front. Wonder who’s that could be?”
“Dunno mom, super weird,” Richie agrees as Eddie chuckles into Richie’s back quietly, enjoying Karen’s playful nature.
“That is super weird,” Karen nods, before turning around to look at Richie. “Well, guess that’s everyone gone for the night.”
“Yup, I guess so,” Richie continues.
“Richie,” Karen smiles.
“It’s time for Eddie to go as well,” Karen smiles sadly.
“But,” Richie whines, pulling the smaller boy out from behind him and wrapping him in his long arms. “But, mom, please?! It’s cold outside and he needs a home! I promise I’ll walk him and feed him and play with him-”
“Richie!” Eddie laughs, smacking his boyfriend in the chest. “I’m not a stray dog!”
“Never, Eddie Spaghetti,” Richie agrees, kissing Eddie’s cheek before turning back to his mother. “But for real, please don’t make him leave, mom!”
“Richard,” Karen presses, although her resolve is wavering. She loves the polite young boy her son calls his boyfriends and she hates Sonia Kaspbrak. The woman is an abusive fool and Karen wants nothing more than to protect Eddie from her idiocy. “You know it’ll be world war three with your brother if I let Eddie sleepover but not one of Mike’s friends.”
“But, mom!” Richie whines again. “Spaghetti’s not just my friend! And who cares, Mike cries about everything.”
“You’re giving me more reason to say no, Richie,” Karen warns.
“Rich,” Eddie interrupts the two Wheelers. “It’s okay, I should really get home. My mom’s probably worried.”
Both of the Wheelers scowl at the mention of Sonia, making Eddie bite his lip nervously.
“Um,” Eddie begins, clearing his throat. “I’ll see you tomorrow at school.”
Eddie pulls on his shoes and jacket before giving Mrs. Wheeler a smile and kissing Richie on the cheek.
“Spaghetti,” Richie mumbles, shaking his head and pulling Eddie back to him to kiss him on the lips. Karen smiles fondly at the two boys.
“Oh, my God!” Mike exclaims as he comes back through the door. “Seriously, you may as well just get your lips surgically attached at this point!”
Eddie blushes violently, pulling away from Richie and excusing himself.
“You’re such an asshole!”
“How am I an asshole?! You’re so mean to me every day-”
“I am not! I’m trying to save you from a life of geekiness!”
Karen sighs, heading back to the kitchen as her teenage sons continue to argue in the front hallway.
Richie groans, rolling over to bury his head under his pillow, shaking the frame of the bunkbed he shares with Mike.
Mike pulls himself from his bed groggily and notices Richie is still under his mountain of blankets.
“Ha, sucker,” Mike laughs, running from the room and dashing into the unoccupied washroom at the end of the hall.
Mike cackles as he starts the shower, listening to Richie swear and argue with his mother in the hallway as he alternates between banging on the doors of the two bathrooms occupied each by Mike and Nancy.
“Mike, hurry the fuck up!”
“It’s been 30 seconds, Richie. Take a chill pill!” Mike laughs, stripping out of his pajamas and hopping in the shower, deciding to take his sweet time to annoy his brother as much as possible.
Although his shower was punctuated with loud thumps on the bathroom door every 20 seconds, Mike steps out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist and his hair dripping 15 minutes later with a wide smile.
“Fuck you,” Richie glares, shoving Mike out of the way before rushing into the bathroom to get ready for school.
Twenty minutes later Mike is sat at the kitchen table, happily munching on an Eggo with his sisters and parents.
“Michael,” Karen starts. “Where’s your brother?”
“Still getting ready?” Mike responds through a mouthful of waffle.
“You’re disgusting,” Nancy mutters, scrunching her nose in her brother’s direction. Mike smiles widely, bringing his face closer to Nancy’s and chewing obnoxiously. “Ew, mom!”
“Ted, control your son.”
“Michael, listen to your mother,” Ted adds, not looking up from his paper.
Mike looks over at his dad, giving him a disbelieving look before standing from the table and throwing his backpack over a shoulder.
“Michael, wait for your brother!”
Mike sighs before trudging towards the stairs.
“Richie! Hurry up, we’re going to be late!”
Mike huffs, knowing his brother will be another few minutes and sits on one of the bottom stairs waiting.
Mike startles as Richie vaults himself off one of the top steps, over his twin brother, and onto the landing by the front door.
“Bye, mom!” Richie exclaims, rushing into the kitchen to grab a waffle from his dad’s hand. He kisses his mother’s cheek and ruffles Holly’s hair before running past Mike and out the door.
“Let’s go, Mike! We’re going to be late!”
Mike huffs angrily but follows his brother out the door.
“Eddie lives the other way!” Mike argues, irritated by the fact that Richie is making them bike in the opposite direction of school to pick Eddie up.
“His mom doesn’t like him to bike alone,” Richie reasons.
“He biked home alone last night!”
“No, Bill went with him. Either Bill or I always make sure to ride home with him,” Richie calls over his shoulder as he turns the corner to Eddie’s house. “Spaghetti!”
Eddie is stood at the bottom of his driveway with his backpack on and holding his bike by the handle bars.
“You’re late,” Eddie states, staring blankly at the twins.
“Good morning to you too, Eds,” Richie laughs, pulling up beside Eddie to lean down and place a kiss to his lips. Eddie pulls away with a smile, hopping on his bike.
“Hey, Eddie,” Mike smiles politely, before pedalling in the direction of school, leading the way.
“Finally, come on guys! We’re gonna be late!” Dustin called. He was sat on his bike halfway between the Wheeler’s house and Hawkins High School with Lucas.
“Blame Richie!” Mike called as he zoomed past his friends with Richie and Eddie trailing behind him.
Dustin and Lucas shared an exasperated look before pedalling after their friend.
The five boys pull up at the bike rack, locking up their respective bikes.
“That’s weird,” Mike comments, drawing the attention of the other four boys. “I don’t see him.”
The boys had been discussing Mrs. Byers’ call to all of the boys’ mothers this morning looking for Will.
“I’m telling you, his mom’s right. He probably just went to class early again.”
“Yeah, he’s always paranoid Gursky’s gonna give him another pop quiz.”
“Fuckin’ nerd,” Richie laughs, arm thrown over Eddie’s shoulder as the five boys walk towards the entrance to the school.
“Shut up, Richie,” Mike and Eddie say at the same time. Mike was fiercely protective of his oldest friend Will and Eddie was especially fond of Will who had always treated him with kindness.
“Step right up, ladies and gentlemen,” comes a cruel voice behind the group. “Step right up and get your tickets for the freak show.”
The boys all turn to face Henry Bowers and Troy Harrington, resident Hawkins bullies. Mike rolls his eyes.
“Who do you think would make more money in the freak show?” Troy asks Henry. “Midnight, Frogface 1, Toothless, or Frogface 2 and his little fairy boyfriend?”
Henry places a finger to his lips as though considering his options.
“I’ll go with toothless,” Henry decides, putting on a lisp, mimicking Dustin.
“I told you a million times, my teeth are coming in!” Dustin argues. “It’s called cleidocranial dysplasia.”
Troy rolls his eyes and pushes Mike harshly out of the way while Henry does the same, taking the time to lick his hand and wipe it down Eddie’s face disgustingly. Eddie whimpers as Richie shouts, outraged that Henry could be so cruel.
“Richie,” Mike interrupts Richie’s ranting at Bowers’ form. “Enough.”
Richie turns away from the bullies to find Eddie shaking, tears clinging to his eyelashes as he scrubs vigorously at his cheek with his sleeve causing his face to become red with irritation. Richie sighs, approaching Eddie carefully.
“Eds,” he said softly, reaching out. “Eds, stop.”
Eddie continues his assault on his cheek, tears now running down his fact and nails clawing at his skins.
“Babe,” Richie sighs, forcibly holding Eddie’s wrists and pulling his hands away from his face. Eddie collapses into Richie’s chest, sobs wracking his body. “Shhh,” Richie soothes, rubbing his back. “Eds, c’mere,” Richie murmurs, leaning back and taking Eddie’s chin in his hand. He reaches into Eddie’s fanny pack pulling out an antiseptic wipe while Eddie continues crying. “Shh, it’s okay, I’ve got ya.”
Richie dutifully wipes down Eddie’s cheek, hesitating whenever Eddie hisses in pain at the burning of the alcohol on his scratched skin. Mike, Dustin, and Lucas watch with worry.
“Thanks, ‘Chee,” Eddie whispers, pushing his face back into Richie’s chest once Richie is done wiping his face.
“No problem, Spaghetti,” Richie whispers back, leaning down to press a kiss to the crown of Eddie’s head.
“You okay, Eddie?” Mike asks as he watches his twin brother and his boyfriend embrace. His voice is full of concern and slight discomfort.
“Yeah, I’m good. Thanks for asking, Mike,” Eddie smiles softly, pulling back from Richie.
“Okay, we’re gonna head to class,” Mike smiles back, gesturing towards the doors to Hawkins High School before following his friends up the path.
Richie and Eddie remain by the bike racks for a few minutes longer, Eddie’s face hidden in Richie’s chest and Richie’s pressed against Eddie’s hair.
“You good, Spaghetti Man?”
“Yeah,” Eddie whispers, not moving.
“Ready to go to class?”
Eddie whines and shakes his head ‘no’ causing Richie to laugh.
“Well, we both know I have no problem skipping Clarke’s class, but your mom will murder me if you skip,” Richie insists, convincing Eddie to head into the school.
“M’kay,” Eddie breathes, pulling away from Richie. “Rich?”
“I love you,” Eddie whispers, pressing his lips to Richie’s.
“Love you too, Eds,” Richie grins after pulling back.
“Remember, finish chapter twelve and answer twelve point three on the difference between an experiment and other forms of scientific investigation. This will be on the test, which will cover chapters ten through twelve. It will be multiple choice with an essay section…”
“No one’s listening, sir,” Richie laughs, walking towards Mr. Clarke’s desk as most of the class file out of the room. The only students left are Dustin, Lucas, and Mike.
Mr. Clarke’s science class was the only class Richie and Mike shared. Richie was often separated from Mike and Eddie as he became extremely disruptive when he was in a classroom with either of the two.
“Thank you, Mr. Wheeler,” Mr. Clarke deadpans.
“So, did it come?!” Mike asks suddenly, pushing Richie aside with excitement.
“Sorry, boys.” Mike, Dustin, and Lucas have gathered around Mr. Clarke’s desk. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but… it came!”
The boys cheer with excitement, Mike jumping childishly as Dustin and Lucas grin at each other.
“Fuckin’ nerds…” Richie comments, still watching from his place near the door, amazed that he is even related to Mike, never mind genetically identical.
“You’re part of AV Club too, dipshit,” Mike grumbles, turning towards his brother with a frown.
“Michael,” Mr. Clarke scolds, causing Mike to blush in embarrassment and mutter an apology.
“Only for extra credit in science, dipshit,” Richie responds, ignoring the similar reprimand he receives from Mr. Clarke.
The twins glare at each other as the other three watch on uncomfortably.
“Okay, how about we head over to the AV Room?”
“Yes!” Mike cries, rushing to sit behind the table holding the radio.
“The Heathkit ham shack,” Mr. Clarke declares proudly. Dustin, Lucas, and Mike crowd around the radio while Richie stands by the door, rolling his eyes. “Ain’t she a beaut!”
“I bet you could talk to New York on this thing!”
“Eddie’s mom?” Richie pipes in.
“Australi?!” Mike exclaims, ignoring his brother with practiced ease.
Mr. Clarke nods proudly, ignoring Richie just as Mike had. The three boys exclaim in excitement and begin speaking in vaguely Australian-sounding accents as Richie comments loudly on how bad their attempts are.
A knock at the door turns everyone’s attention to the hallway where Mr. Coleman stands with Sgt. Hopper.
“Sorry to interrupt, but, uh, may I borrow Michael, Lucas, and Dustin?”
“Hey, what about me?” Richie pipes up.
“You’re not invited, Wheeler,” Hopper laughs, smirking at the curly haired teen. Hopper was well acquainted with the trouble-making Wheeler boy.
“Mr. Coleman,” Richie starts, putting on an old timey Transatlantic accent. “Baby, you know your office is home away from home for me! I gotta come!”
“Fine, Mr. Wheeler, you may join us as well.”
“Knew he couldn’t resist me!” Richie jokes, heading down the hallway ahead of the rest of the group as Hopper snorts.
Hopper sighs, as the three boys on the couch shout over each other, attempting to explain the last time they had seen their friend will. Richie snorts from his spot, leaning against a wall. Hopper can’t help but silently agree with the boy who clearly finds his twin brother and his friends ridiculous.
“Okay, okay, okay,” Hopper interrupts. “One at a time, alright? Wheeler, you said he takes what?”
“Mirkwood,” Mike says with a gulp, nervous to address the town Sargent. He’s never met the man, but his brother has on quite a few occasions.
“Have you ever heard of Mirkwood?” Hopper asks his partner.
“I have not,” Callahan answers in an almost bored tone. “That sounds made up to me.”
“No, it’s from Lord of the Rings.”
“Well, The Hobbit,” Dustin corrects, causing Lucas to twitch in irritation.
“Nerds,” Richie coughs and Hopper laughs
The comment is missed, however, as Dustin and Lucas launch into an argument with Mike sitting between them silently, rolling his eyes.
“Hey,” Hopper interrupts again. “What’d I just say! One at a damn time, you.”
“Mirkwood,” Mike continues. “It’s a real road. It’s just the name that’s made up. It’s where Cornwallis and Kerley meet.”
Hopper nods, familiar with the area.
“We can show you, if you want!” Mike offers, on the edge of his seat, wanting to help look for his friend. “We can help look!”
“No,” Hopper sighs, as the boys argue. “After school, you are all to go home. Immediately You too, Wheeler,” Hopper twists in his seat addressing Richie who salutes him mockingly, not looking up from his cuticles which he’s busy picking. “That means no biking around looking for your friend, no investigating, no nonsense-”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Hop,” Richie interrupts, pushing off from the wall. “Nonsense is what I do best! I’m sorry, I just don’t think I can do that.”
“I swear to God, Wheeler. Do I make myself clear?”
Hopper is standing now, towering slightly over the teenager. Richie rolls his eyes while the other three boys nod in agreement.
“We should be out there right now. We should be helping look for him!”
“We’ve been over this, Mike. The chief says-”
“I don’t care what the chief said!” Mike exclaims. “We have to do something. Will could be in danger!”
“More reason to stay put,” Karen reasons, causing Richie to snort. He doesn’t want to go looking for the boy any more than his mother does, but he knows her statement is complete bullshit.
“End of discussion.”
Richie grins, thoroughly enjoying watching his twin getting shut down by his mother for a change of pace.
“This is bullshit,” Mike mutters, throwing down his fork and fleeing the dining room.
Nancy and Richie share a look while Karen looks to her husband for support, neglecting to find any, unsurprisingly.
“So, me and Barbara are gonna study at her house tonight,” Nancy breaks the uncomfortable silence at the table. “That’s cool, right?”
“No, not cool.”
“What? Why not?”
Richie cannot believe his luck. It looks like Nancy’s about to launch into an equally explosive argument with their mother.
“Why do you think? Am I speaking Chinese in this house?”
Richie barks out a laugh.
“Mom! That’s so racist,” Richie chuckles.
“Until we know Will is okay, no one leaves,” Karen continues, ignoring Richie’s comment.
“Wait, but I can still go pick up Eddie after dinner, right?” Richie asks, suddenly worried he might not get to spend the evening with his boyfriend.
“Mike’s right, this is such bullshit!” Richie cries, jumping from the table to follow his brother up the stairs to their shared bedroom.
“So, we’re all under house arrest, just because Mike’s friend got lost on the way home…”
Richie can hear his sister continuing to argue with Karen. She always was more persistent than her brothers. Mike typically accepted what he was told immediately and Richie would just do whatever he wanted anyway if he didn’t get the answer he was looking for.
“Nancy, this isn’t Will’s fault!”
Mike is suddenly rushing down the stairs at full speed, the bannister shaking as he jumps to the landing.
“You’re just mad because you want to hang out with Steve!”
“Her new boyfriend,” Mike spits, disgusted with the fact that his sister would try to blame will for her misfortune.
“You are such a douchebag, Mike!”
The argument has devolved into a shouting match, Karen attempting to referee but decidedly caught off guard by the odd pairing. Ted continued eating as though the room was completely normal.
“Hey, Holly-Doll,” Richie sighs, making his way back into the dining room. “Let’s go watch some cartoons, huh?”
Holly immediately has her arms raised, waiting for Richie to pick her up and place her on his hip before walking her to the living room.
“I’m the only one acting normal here!” Mike is screeching at the top of his lungs. Richie has never heard him this upset. “I’m the only one who cares about Will!”
Richie has Holly situated on the couch and is turning on the TV set when he hears Mike stomp up the stairs again. Richie sighs, deciding to go and check on his brother.
“I hope you’re enjoying your chicken, Ted!”
Richie notices his mother storming out of the now nearly empty dining room, leaving his father sitting at the table alone. He probably prefers it that way, Richie thinks, continuing his trek up the stairs.
“Hey, shithead,” Richie greets, bursting into their bedroom. Mike is laying atop his covers, Supercom in hand. “You okay?”
Mike eyes him suspiciously, Richie is never this nice to him.
“Uh, you just swore at mom,” Richie laughs in disbelief. “There’s no way your fine.”
“My best fucking friend is missing, Richie,” Mike blurts, sitting up and glaring at his brother in anger. “Would you be fucking fine if Eddie had gone missing last night?”
“No,” Richie whispers, looking at his feet. “Sorry.”
Mike sighs and lies back down.
“Lucas, do you copy? Lucas?” Mike is talking into his walkie-talkie now.
“Hey, it’s Lucas.”
“I know it’s you. And say over when you’re done talking so know you’re done. Over.”
“I’m done. Over.” Lucas sasses making Richie laugh.
“I’m worried about Will. Over.”
“Yeah, this is crazy… Over.”
“Tell me about it!” Richie adds, climbing the ladder and flopping down on his top bunk.
“I was thinking,” Mike starts, sounding nervous. “Will could’ve cast Protection last night, but he didn’t. He cast Fireball. Over”
“What the fuck?” Richie laughs as Lucas asks a similar variation of Richie’s question.
“My point is, he could’ve played it safe, but he didn’t. He put himself in danger to help the party. Over.”
“Meet me in ten. Over and out.”
Mike sits up suddenly, causing the bed frame to shake.
“Woah, woah, woah,” Richie starts, sitting up to look at Mike who has begun to stuff things into his backpack. “Where do you think you’re going? Mom is royally pissed with you right now.”
“I need to help find Will, Rich,” Mike whispers, his face so open and honest it makes Richie gulp, searching desperately for a joke to diffuse the tension.
“Don’t call me Rich.”
“Why not? Eddie calls you Rich all the time,” Mike blanches, pulling a thick sweater over his head.
“Eddie gives me blowjobs,” Richie starts.
“When you start giving me mind-blowing orgasms, I’ll start letting you call me Rich.”
“You’re fucking disgusting,” Mike responds, throwing one leg over the windowsill and out onto the roof.
“Wait,” Richie calls, stopping his brother with a look and pulling on his jean jacket. “You’re going to fucking fall off the roof and get us both in even deeper shit. I’ll come with you to meet Lucas, but then I’m going to see Eddie.”
“Yeah,” Richie rolls his eyes. “I already said, I can’t have you falling off the roof and blowing our cover. I’m horny as fuck and need to go and see Eddie.”
Minutes later the boys have navigated their way down the drain pipe and are slowly walking their bikes from the side of the house to the road.
“Oh, my God,” Mike mutters, noticing Steve Harrington attempting to climb into their sister’s window.
“Hey,” Richie calls. “Try climbing the drain pipe around back and walk across the garage roof!”
Steve startles, looking back at the younger boys curiously, but follows Richie’s instructions and waves gratefully.
“Richie!” Mike scolds.
“You just helped Steve Harrington climb into our sister’s bedroom in the middle of the night!”
“It’s 7pm,” Richie laughs. “Hardly the middle of the night.”
“Shit,” Richie mutters. “You’re right.”
Richie turns around, heading towards their front door to storm up to Nancy’s room and kick Steve out.
“Later,” Mike calls. “We don’t have time right now!”
“Richie?” Lucas and Dustin ask at the same time, confused as to why Mike would bring his brother to search for Will.
“I’m just escorting his royal highness over here,” Richie explains, skidding to a stop and winning the unspoken race between the twins with a smile. “Then I’m off to make some sweet, sweet love to my Spaghetti Monster.”
“You’re disgusting,” Mike groans, slightly out of breath.
“And you’re out of shape, nerd.” Richie replies, ruffling Mike’s hair as he passes his brother, pedalling in the direction the twins had just come from to get to Eddie’s house.
“But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?”
“Hey, Rich,” Eddie laughs, not looking up from the notebook he is currently writing in at his desk.
“It is the east, and Eddie Spaghetti is the sun,” Richie continues as though Eddie hadn’t spoken. He’s standing on the veranda below Eddie’s window, head rested on upturned palms as he leans his elbows on the window frame.
“We get it, Romeo,” Eddie smiles, getting up from his desk and walking towards the window to help pull Richie through. “You’re a real fucking romantic bastard, aren’t you?” Eddie grins, pulling Richie down for a kiss.
“You know it,” Richie quips after pulling away, flopping down on Eddie’s bed. “C’mere.”
‘Rich, I’ve got a lot of homework to do.”
“Spaghetti,” Richie whines. “Are you choosing homework over your one true love?”
“Richie,” Eddie smiles, staring exasperatedly down at his boyfriend. “Ugh, fine!”
Richie lets out a victorious shout before being muffled by both of Eddie’s hands and a desperate ‘shh’.
“You’re such an asshole, you know that?” Eddie whispers, snuggling into Richie’s chest.
“Hey, wait,” Eddie starts, pulling back from Richie to sit up. “Your mom actually let you out of the house after Will went missing less that twenty-four hours ago?”
“Do you really think my mom would do that, Eds?” Richie responds, trying to pull a squirming Eddie back towards himself.
“You snuck out?” Eddie asks incredulously. “Richie! Will went missing last night! No one knows where you are. What if your mom finds out you’re not in the house and thinks you’ve gone missing as well? We’ve gotta call her-”
“Eddie, it’s fine!” Richie laughs, sitting up. “My mom is pissed off with my brother and I. She won’t be checking our room tonight. Besides, Mike knows I’m here and my mom knows where to find me whenever I’m not home.”
“Oh, okay. Mike knows where you are. That’s good.”
“Mike and his band of geeks are currently off searching for Will in the forest,” Richie shrugs, laying back down.
“Shh,” Richie mocks, covering Eddie’s mouth.
“We gotta go help them,” Eddie demands, standing from his bed and searching for his backpack.
“What?” Eddie asks, confused as to why his boyfriend wouldn’t want to sneak around the forest at night. The entire thing screamed Richie Wheeler.
“We aren’t going out there,” Richie repeats, picking at a hole in his jacket. “You’re not going out there.”
“You can’t tell me what to do, Richard,” Eddie is immediately defensive.
“Spaghetti,” Richie’s voice cracks and Eddie can hear pain in Richie’s voice and lets his guard down, approaching Richie. “I-I-I… I can’t-”
“Rich, what’s going on?” Eddie is now sat on the bed next to Richie, running his fingers through the taller boy’s hair as Richie hides his face against Eddie’s thigh. Richie swallows before sitting up.
“I can’t lose you,” Richie whispers, cupping Eddie’s cheek. “Tonight… I was being a dick to Mike, asking him why he was being such a fucking psycho and he asked me how I would feel if it was you that had gone missing…”
Eddie lets out a puff of air, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around Richie’s neck, burying his face there.
“I would be a fucking mess,” Richie continues. “Mike is a fucking champ, because I would be a fucking basket case...”
Eddie lets out a sob and Richie squeezes him tighter. They can’t lose each other.
Chapter 2: The Weirdo on Maple Street
As always, any scenes from the show not described are assumed to be exactly the same.
Eleven stares around the strange room that the three boys have brought her to, asking her questions that she doesn’t know the answer to, shivering in the baggy shirt she had gotten from Benny and the too big coat one of the boys had wrapped around her.
“All right, that’s enough, all right?” the one who had given her his coat declared, stopping his friend from clapping in Eleven’s face obnoxiously. “She’s just scared and cold.”
Eleven gulps because, yeah, she’s both of those things, but she’s also somehow reassured by the kindness she finds in the eyes of this six foot, curly haired teenager.
“Here,” he says, pulling out a sweater and some sweatpants from a laundry basket nearby. “These are clean, okay?”
Eleven accepted the soft fabric, looking at the boy curiously. They’re warm and softer than anything she’d ever felt before. She shivered again, remembering how cold she was before standing and beginning to pull off the soaking shirt that was clinging to her body.
“No, no, no!” the boy shouts, scaring Eleven, while the other two boys turn away quickly making their own surprised shouts. The nice boy’s face has suddenly gone red at the reveal of her lower half and his eyes are on the ceiling. “Over there, that’s the bathroom. Privacy, get it?”
Eleven feels her cheeks warm at the boy’s soft voice, a feeling she’s never experienced before. Eleven nods at him, but his eyes still refuse to meet hers.
‘What the fuck was that about,’ Mike thinks, heart racing and pants uncomfortably tight as he watches the strange girl walk towards the basement bathroom.
He goes to close the door, looking for something to distract him from his discomfort when she grabs the door roughly.
“You don’t want it closed?”
The girl shakes her shaved head ‘no’ and Mike nods, confused further by her disregard for privacy. Every other teenage girl he had ever met was almost obsessed with the idea of privacy, at least as far as Nancy was concerned.
“No,” the girl whispers, surprising Mike with how soft and melodic it sounded compared to her rough appearance.
“Oh, so you can speak,” Mike smiles. “Okay, well… Um, how about we just keep the door… just like this.”
Mike has left the door open a couple of inches, hoping this would be enough for this strange girl that he suddenly felt weirdly protective of.
“Is that better?”
A soft affirmative makes Mike nod and turn away from the crack in the door frame. He can hear Dustin and Lucas freaking out on the other side of the basement, but he can’t bring himself to stray too far from the bathroom.
He turns, glancing into the bathroom quickly catching sight of the girl’s bare back as she pulls the sweater over her head.
‘What the fuck, Mike. Why are you such a creep?’ Mike reprimands himself, turning away and walking over to his friends, cheeks still red with embarrassment.
It’s past midnight when Mike decides to finally go up to his room to go to bed. Dustin and Lucas had left a few minutes ago while Mike was setting up a bed for the girl to sleep in.
“Um, here you go,” Mike says, dropping pillows and blankets into the small blanket fort he had built to hide the girl encase anyone came down into the basement. “Here is my sleeping bag.”
"Thank you,” she whispers, sitting in the fort crossed-legged, across from Mike who sits just outside it.
“Hey, um,” Mike starts, eyes zeroing in on the way his sweater hangs loosely on her frame, sliding down her shoulder. “I never asked your name.”
The girl hesitantly reaches out her arm, pulling the sleeve of the sweater up to reveal a neat 011 tattoo across her wrist.
“Is that real?!” Mike exclaims grabbing her wrist, startling her. “Sorry, just I’ve never seen anyone our age with a real tattoo before. Richie would be so jealous. He’s tried convincing the guys at the tattoo parlor in town to give him one before, but everyone knows he’s only fifteen,” Mike rambles, the girl staring at him with a blank stare.
“What’s it mean? Eleven?” The girl points at herself. “That’s your name?”
Mike can feel his heart sinking, upset by this fact for an unknown reason. The girl nods sadly and his fingers twitch as he fights a sudden urge to hug the girl in an attempt at comforting her.
“Eleven, okay…” Mike starts, trying to think of a way to cheer the girl up. He isn’t sure why it matters, but suddenly it’s as if his entire life depends on keeping this girl happy. “Um, well, my name’s Mike. Short for Michael… Maybe we can call you El, short for Eleven.”
Mike’s heartbeats rapidly as one corner of El’s mouth turns up slightly. She nods her approval.
“Um, well, okay,” Mike stumbles. “’Night, El."
Mike runs up the stairs quickly, heartbeat racing at the memory of El wishing him goodnight. What was going on with him?
Richie fell to the floor of his bedroom at 6:58am, 32 minutes before his mother’s customary shout to wake him and Mike up.
“Who the hell else would it be?” Richie grumbles, pulling himself up off the floor and throwing himself onto the bed next to Mike, too tired to climb the ladder to his bed.
“Get off!” Mike groans, pushing his brother’s shoulder from his chest. It was too late though, Richie was already passed out.
Mike would have been more surprised by the early morning disturbance if it wasn’t such a normal occurrence. Richie spent three to four nights a week at Eddie’s, only to crawl back through the window to their shared bedroom the next morning, their parents none the wiser.
Occasionally, Richie would sneak Eddie into the Wheeler household, but Mike often threatened to tell Karen about Eddie’s presence in such instances. It wasn’t that Mike didn’t like Eddie, it’s just that he never got any sleep on nights when Eddie slept over.
Richie would insist on both boys sleeping in his top bunk, giggling and shuffling around until a god-awful hour of the night only for Mike to wake up to the sounds of a giggling Eddie trying to escape from their room to get home while Richie held him down and demanded loud and obnoxious kisses the next morning.
Mike sighed, he supposed this was better than being kept up all night by the couple.
“Bye, mom!” Richie shouts, breezing through the kitchen in his typical morning fashion, stealing his customary waffle, giving his mother a kiss, and ruffling Holly’s hair. “Hey, where’s Mike?”
“What?” Karen asks distractedly from the other room, attempting to feed Holly.
“Mike?” Richie shouts up the stairs and into the hallway. “Mike, we’re gonna be late! Let’s go!”
Richie jumps when Mike bursts through the door to the basement.
“What the fuck were you doing down there?”
“Nothing, let’s go,” Mike insists, pulling his backpack on and heading out the front door without sparing Richie another glance.
“What the fuck, Mike,” Richie persists. “Something’s going on!”
“Nothing’s going on, Richie. Let’s go! We’re gonna be late, remember?”
Richie sighs, hopping on his bike and following his brother down the road.
“Hey, I don’t feel well,” Mike says suddenly, braking and pulling over on the side of the road.
“Are you okay, Mike?” Eddie asks nervously, wanting to help Mike but also wanting to keep his distance if the boy is sick.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Mike nods, glancing nervously at his brother who is staring at him with a critical look. Mike never missed school, even when he was sick. “I think I’m gonna head home though. I’ll see you guys later.”
Before Richie could stop him, Mike was pedalling down the road, ignoring Richie’s shouts.
“What the fuck is up with him?” Richie asks, staring at his brother worriedly.
“Richie, his best friend is missing.” Eddie reasons. “Besides, he could actually be sick… Oh God, you two share a room. If he’s really sick, your bedroom is an incubator for whatever illness he’s gotten.”
Eddie’s already got his vitamins and hand sanitizer out.
“Calm down, Eds. I don’t think he’s really sick.”
“I’m not taking any chances, Wheeler,” Eddie preens, swallowing a handful of vitamin C tablets and stuffing a couple into Richie’s mouth.
“Ah, fuck,” Richie shouts. “Ew, Eds these taste like shit!”
“El?” Mike calls, rushing down the basement stairs when he arrives home to any empty house twenty minutes later.
“Hey,” Mike smiles as her face pops out of the fort to greet him. “You good?”
El nods, climbing out of the fort.
“Okay, well, um, everyone’s gone so you can come upstairs if you want…”
El is staring at Mike curiously, understanding all of the words he’d said but not fully comprehending his statement as a whole.
“C’mon,” Mike laughs, grabbing her hand and leading her up the stairs. Both teenagers are surprised by the gesture, El due to her inexperience with physical touch and Mike by his confidence at taking a girl’s hand.
“Are you thirsty?” Mike asks, leading her to the kitchen when they reach the top of the stairs. He goes to let go of her hand, but El grips his tighter, not wanting to lose the contact. Mike clears his throat embarrassedly, looking away from El as his cheeks turn pink. “Um, I think we’ve got OJ, skim milk… What else? Um, we have…"
Mike looks over as he feels El pulling on his arm. El has continued walking towards the living room.
“Oh, this is my living room. It’s mostly just for watching TV.” Mike laughs, resting a hand on top of the TV set as El stares at it curiously, entirely unfamiliar with the device. “Nice, right. It’s a twenty-two inch! That’s like ten times bigger that Dustin’s!”
Eleven has already turned from Mike’s excited ramblings about the TV set and is looking towards the mantle of the fireplace.
“Pretty,” El smiles, thumb rubbing along the frame of a photo of Nancy.
“Like, objectively, I guess,” Mike responds in confusion. “That’s my sister Nancy. And that’s baby Holly, my brother Richie, and those are my parents.”
El looks at all of the photos barely registering the fact that Mike has a twin brother, to focus on the women in the photographs, stunned by their beauty and long hair.
“What’s your family like?” Mike asks earnestly, squeezing her hand slightly. El looks down, ignoring the question and moving away from the fireplace
“That’s our La-Z-Boy,” Mike explains when he notices El staring at it. “It’s where my dad sleeps. You can try it if you want.”
El sits in the chair hesitantly letting go of Mike’s hand as he kneels down to press the trigger to release the footrest. El jumps, letting out a whimper of fright, grabbing one of Mike’s forearms.
“It’s okay,” Mike reassures, worried he’s upset the girl. “Um, let’s go get you some real breakfast.”
After a breakfast of more waffles, toast, and orange juice, Mike is leading Eleven up to his bedroom. His palms sweat slightly as his fingers interlace with El’s. He knows the situation is entirely innocent, but he can’t believe he is taking an actual girl into his room.
“So, this is my bed,” Mike explains, referring to the lower bunk before blushing violently, worried that she may think he was trying to proposition her by pointing out his bed.
Eleven is unfazed, turning to look at the posters of rock bands Richie has taped on his side of the room.
“Those are my brother’s,” Mike explains. El has turned now to the other side of the room where all of Mike’s academic trophies are lined up. “And these are all my science fair trophies…”
For the first time in his life he is nervous and slightly embarrassed at showing all of his academic achievements to another person. What if she thought Mike was a loser? She was clearly super cool with her tattoo and shaved head.
“We get first every year,” Mike continues rambling nervously. “Except for last year when we got third. Mr. Clarke said it was totally political… El?”
The girl had become extremely still, breath coming out in harsh and ragged puffs as she stared intensely at a picture of Mike and his friends winning a science fair. She points at Will mysteriously.
“You know Will?” Mike asks, confused and slightly jealous. Mike shakes his head at his stupidity. “Did you see him? Last night? On the road?”
The teenagers are startled at the sound of Karen’s station waggon pulling up the driveway.
“Shit!” Mike shouts, jumping up and taking El’s hand. “We gotta go!”
He’s dragging her down the stairs as the lock in the door clicks open.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Mike chants, changing direction and pulling her back up to his room.
“Ted, is that you?”
“Just me, mom! I’ll be down in one second!”
“Michael? What are you doing-”
“Just a sec!”
“In here,” Mike gestures to the open closet. El hesitates. “Please, you have to get in or my mom, she’ll find you.”
Eleven gulps nervously.
“I won’t tell her about you,” Mike whispers, squeezing El’s hand in his. “I promise.”
“It means something that you can’t break. Ever.”
“Michael?! Get down here!”
“Please?” Mike asks desperately before Eleven nods, squeezing Mike’s hand nervously and stepping into the closet before he slams the door shut on her.
Mike is back up the stairs within minutes, locking his bedroom door once he’s through the doorframe.
“Eleven?” Mike whispers. “Is everything okay? El?”
Mike opens the closet door to find El crouched down, tears running down her cheeks.
“Mike,” she whispers, looking up at the boy.
“Is everything okay?” Mike asks, reaching out to place a hand on her knee. The girl’s breath hitches as she nods hesitantly. “Are you sure?” he asks disbelievingly.
“Promise,” she whispers and Mike feels his chest become tight.
“Come here,” Mike smiles, tugging on the knee of the sweatpants she’s wearing to encourage her to stand up.
Once standing he pulls her into a hug. Eleven stiffens, unsure of what is happening and Mike’s heartbeat races nervously.
“It’s okay,” Mike whispers. “It’s just a hug. To make you feel better.”
Eleven slowly relaxes, bringing her arms up to mimic Mike’s actions.
Richie, Eddie, Dustin, and Lucas have just arrived at the Wheeler’s house after school.
“She’s not home!” Mike screams up the stairs from the basement.
“Dustin and Lucas are here,” Richie shouts back. “C’mon, Eds,” Richie smiles leading Eddie up the stairs to the second floor while Dustin and Lucas trample down the basement stairs.
“I’m not going in there, Richie,” Eddie whines, trying to pull his hand from Richie’s grip.
“He’s not sick, Eds, God,” Richie laughs, pushing Eddie up against the outside of his closed bedroom door before kissing Eddie’s neck hungrily.
“Fine, but if I have to spend my weekend in the ER with a cold because my mother is a sociopath, I’ll kill you,” Eddie grumbles, tangling his fingers in Richie’s hair.
“You won’t get sick,” Richie promises, pulling away from Eddie’s neck to peck his lips before hoisting the smaller boy up, Eddie’s legs wrapping around Richie’s waist as Richie pushes the bedroom door open and carries Eddie over to his bed.
Richie attempts to climb the ladder to his top bunk mattress, awkwardly ramming Eddie in the back with his knees as Eddie’s sucks on his lower lip.
“Ow!” Eddie shrieks. “Richie!”
“Sorry, babe,” Richie breathes, pushing Eddie’s shoulders back into the soft sheets of his bed once they have finally made it up to the top bunk. “We really need to get rid of this fucking bunk bed. It’s such a cockblock,” Richie mumbles, lips returning to Eddie’s neck.
“Mm, Rich,” Eddie’s breath is a whisper, encouraging Richie to continue his slow and persistent movements, hips pressing Eddie’s down into the mattress. “Ngh… Rich… ”
Richie kisses Eddie’s forehead, loving how Eddie has come undone beneath him, unable to form coherent words other than Richie’s name. He knows that in a few minutes Eddie won’t even be able to form the word ‘Rich’ and his moans will devolve into desperate chants of ‘Chee’, which always has Richie cumming hard and fast within seconds.
“OH, MY GOD!”
“Oh,” Eddie moans, hips stuttering up into Richie who is frozen above Eddie, staring at his twin brother who stands in the doorway watching Richie and Eddie frantically grinding against each other. Richie shifts immediately, blocking Eddie’s face from Mike’s view, knowing the smaller boy will be mortified once he’s come down from his high in a few seconds.
“MIKE! GET OUT!”
Mike slams the door shut and Richie can hear his hurried footsteps rushing down the stairs. Eddie’s climax continues, hips still stuttering into Richie’s, a high whine ripped from his throat. Richie quickly bears down against Eddie, wanting to prolong the moment.
“ ‘Chee… Ngh… ‘Chee!”
Richie watches Eddie’s orgasm play out on the smaller boy’s flushed face. He can’t believe Eddie’s not done yet, he’s never seen the boy in such ecstasy for such an extended amount of time. He places a hand on Eddie’s lower abdomen, loving the feel of the smooth skin tightening and loosening quickly as the muscles beneath spasm.
“I know. I’m here, baby,” Richie mumbles as Eddie whimpers tiredly, rolling his hips into Eddie’s which seem to be twitching with uncontrollable exertion.
Richie smiles down at Eddie, brushing sweaty curls from his boyfriend’s forehead as Eddie attempts to recover from his intense orgasm, eyelids fluttering and chest heaving.
“Did you really just-”
“Shut up, Richie,” Eddie whispers, removing his hands from each of Richie’s biceps which were braced on either side of Eddie to hold Richie up, covering his face with both hands.
“Mikey just saw you cum,” Richie states unhelpfully.
“Rich, please shut up,” Eddie moans, for the first time in the last ten minutes, without any pleasure.
“No,” Richie smirks. “There’s no way a little dry humping made you cum. I know your pre-ejaculation face, you were nowhere near cumming until Mike made his presence known and then you came in your pants like a 12-year-old, you dirty little-”
“I hate you so much.”
Eddie’s face is beet red at this point.
“I’d beg to differ,” Richie giggles, kissing Eddie’s cheek. “You loved it, you little perv, you enjoyed Mikey walking in on us. I mean, I’d be jealous… But we’re identical, I totally get it. Having two Richie’s in the same room with a raging boner is a lot for a 16-year-old Spaghetti-head to handle.”
“You’re honestly the worst,” Eddie mutters, refusing to make eye contact with Richie who has moved on to placing kisses all over his face.
“And you’re adorable,” Richie whispers directly into Eddie’s ear. “But, unfortunately, I’m still hard. Help a guy out, Eds?”
“Rich,” Eddie groans, pushing up against Richie’s chest. “No, I’m so embarrassed-”
“There’s nothing to be embarrassed about,” Richie mumbles, leaning down to capture Eddie in another heated kiss. “In fact, I think it’s kinda hot,” Richie continues. “My little Eddie, an exhibitionist! Who would have thought? Bill’s gonna die when I tell him-”
“Don’t you dare, Richard!”
“Just kidding, babe,” Richie laughs, moving to kiss down the column of Eddie’s throat. “But, if you’re interested, I could probably convince Mike-”
Richie’s eyes widen in shock, his mouth closing involuntarily as he feels Eddie become hard again.
“Seriously? How the fuck are you hard again, you came like 30 seconds ago! How the fuck-”
“Please shut up,” Eddie groans face still crimson, wrapping his arms around Richie’s neck and pulling the taller boy down so he can hide his face in Richie’s neck. “Just, please for once in your life, shut up and make me cum again…”
“You’re so fucking hot,” Richie groans, reaching a hand down to palm Eddie over his jeans, causing the smaller boy to gasp in pleasure and bite down on the soft flesh of Richie’s neck.
“Oh, hello Eddie!”
Richie and Eddie are making their way down the stairs an hour later, while Karen is setting the table for dinner.
“Hello, Mrs. Wheeler,” Eddie smiles, although blushing at the thought of what him and Richie had been doing in her home.
“Can Spaghetti stay for dinner, mom?"
“Of course, Richie. Dustin and Lucas are staying as well though so it’s gonna be a full table,” Karen smiles, turning back to setting out plates.
“It’s fine, Eddie can just sit on my lap, he doesn’t mine. Right, Eds?”
“I am not sitting on your lap, Richie,” Eddie responds, rolling his eyes.
“Richie,” Karen interrupts. “Can you go and grab a spare chair from the basement?”
Richie grumbles but does as his mother asks while Eddie collects the silverware to help Karen set the table.
Richie is descending the stairs when Mike begins to squawk at him.
“What the fuck is your problem?” Richie asks, staring down at his brother who is now blocking the stairs.
“Nothing,” Mike breathes. “Just, what do you want? We’re having a private discussion about our next campaign.”
“You’re one to talk about respecting other people’s privacy,” Richie snorts as Mike blushes. “Mom wants me to grab another chair for dinner. Eddie’s staying.”
“He is?” Mike asks, voice cracking.
“Yes, fuckface,” Richie continues, rolling his eyes. “And if you make him feel even the slightest bit uncomfortable I’ll tell everyone about time I walked in on you with that Star Wars poster-”
“Okay, okay!” Mike shouts, trying to drown Richie’s voice out. “I wouldn’t have said anything anyways. Now can you please go away? I’ll bring the chair up.”
“Fine, weirdo,” Richie responds, looking over Mike’s shoulder suspiciously.
The table is virtually silent, the only sound that can be heard are the scrapes of silverware against plates and Richie’s ramblings about a new movie he wanted to see.
All of the other teenagers at the table are picking at their food silently, Mike and Eddie with suspiciously pink faces, purposefully turned away from one another.
“Something wrong with the meatloaf?” Karen asks, interrupting Richie.
“Oh, no, I had two bologna sandwiches for lunch,” Dustin lamely explains. “I don’t know why.”
“Me, too…” Lucas agrees.
“It’s delicious, Mrs. Wheeler,” Eddie adds, looking at Richie with disgust as his boyfriend leans down to shovel the food directly into his mouth.
“Thank you, sweetie.”
“So, there’s this… special assembly thing tonight… for Will at the school field,” Nancy announces, everyone’s eyes turning toward her. “Barb’s driving.”
“Why am I just hearing about this?”
“I thought you knew…”
All of the boys stare down at their plates, aware that Nancy is lying about the assembly.
“I told you, I don’t want you out after dark until Will is found,” Karen reminds.
“I know, I know, but it’d be super weird if I’m not there.” Nancy explains, hoping Karen’s obsession with appearing like the perfect family would help her cause. “I mean, everyone’s going.”
“Just, be back by ten,” Karen sighs. “And, why don’t you take the boys, too?”
“NO!” Mike exclaims as Dustin and Lucas shake their heads in agreement with Mike.
Richie and Eddie stare at the other boys in confusion. They were both aware that Nancy was lying about the assembly, but they didn’t think they would have such a strong reaction to going along with the lie.
“Don’t you think you should be there?” Karen asks in confusion. “For Will?”
Suddenly, Mike is snorting milk up his nose and spraying it everywhere as he coughs painfully.
“What the fuck, Mike!” Richie exclaims, wiping at the liquid that had landed on his cheek and looking over at Eddie who is staring queasily down at the sleeve of his shirt which is now doused in milk that Mike had coughed up. “You good, Eds?"
Eddie nods silently, biting down on his bottom lip as he grips Richie’s knee almost painfully tight under the table. Eddie’s mysophobia had become progressively worse in the last few years, which confused everyone around him as it seemed to worsen when he began dating Richie, possibly the least hygienic person out of all of Eddie’s friends.
Whenever Richie asked Eddie about it, Eddie often shrugged him off, explaining that once you’ve been in as close of contact with some of Richie’s bodily fluids as Eddie had been, nothing about the boy could really gross him out anymore. Eddie’s lenience for Richie’s germs seemed to have trigger an even stricter distaste for the germs in the rest of the world. In a fucked-up way, Richie thought it was kind of sweet.
“Come on, Eds,” Richie sighed, removing Eddie’s hand from his knee and moving to pull him up from his chair. “Let’s go get you a clean shirt-”
Dustin banged his fists down on the table suddenly, grabbing everyone’s attention.
“Sorry, spasm,” Dustin explained.
“You three are so fucking weird,” Richie groaned, tugging on Eddie’s hand again.
“Sorry, mom,” Richie responded automatically before ruffling his whimpering sister’s hair as he walked past her. “It’s okay Buddy Holly, it’s just a loud noise.”
Eddie sat on Richie’s dresser, legs swinging as he held his discarded shirt in his lap.
“I’m such a fucking loser,” Eddie groaned, leaning back to smack his head on the wall.
“C’mere,” Richie sighed, slamming shut one of his drawers. He pushed Eddie’s knees open, moving to stand between his thighs before pulling one of his old sweaters over Eddie’s head. “Adorable,” Richie murmured against Eddie’s lips as the smaller boy pushed his arms through the sleeves, hands not quite reaching out of the long fabric.
Eddie sighed, pushing his face into Richie’s neck, wrapping his legs around Richie’s waist as Richie wrapped him in a hug.
“You’re not a loser,” Richie whispered, running his fingers through Eddie’s hair.
“I am,” Eddie protested.
“You’re not,” Richie continued. “You’re not a loser for not wanting to be covered in my nerd brother’s snotty milk… ”
“Agreed,” Richie laughed.
Chapter 3: Holly, Jolly
Nancy burst through the door of Richie and Mike’s room startling the three boys inside from their slumber.
“Oh, sorry,” she muttered when she noticed Eddie’s face peeking out from behind Richie’s shoulder as her younger brother sat up in bed. “I didn’t know Eddie was over-”
“And neither does mom, so if you’d help me keep it that way…” Richie spoke, gesturing towards the door which Nancy closed. “It’s midnight, what’s up?”
“Sorry, go back to bed,” Nancy told her brother, making to leave the room, cheeks flushed pink. She didn’t typically come to Richie for things like this, her and Mike were much closer as their personalities and interests were more similar. She knew, however, that Richie would have much more insight on the topic than Mike would, if Mike had any at all.
“Nancy, wait,” Richie called, descending from his bed and following his sister across the hall and into her bedroom.
Eddie pulled his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms around them and stared nervously at the bedroom door Richie had just closed. He could hear Mike’s breathing even out as he fell back asleep.
“What’s going on?” Richie asked, standing in the doorway as Nancy took off her coat, setting her bag down on the floor by her bed.
“Richie,” Nancy breathed, letting out a quiet sob and covering her face with her hands.
Richie was immediately across the room, pulling Nancy to his chest and rubbing small circles into her upper back, paying no mind to the fact that he was only in a pair of boxers. He was incredibly comfortable walking around his house nearly nude.
“What happened? Was it Steve?” Richie asked, rambling with anger. “I’ll kill him!"
“We had sex,” Nancy whispered into Richie’s chest, shaking with tears.
“Harrington’s that bad, huh?” Richie joked, swallowing down the rage he felt within himself. He knew it would just upset Nancy further if he began ranting about chopping Steve’s dick off.
“I just…” Nancy pulled away from Richie, sitting on her bed and pulling her covers up to her chin as Richie sat by her feet. “Barb was right. God, she’s probably so pissed with me... I don’t think it meant to Steve what it meant to me…”
Nancy traced the pattern on her bedspread, embarrassed to be sharing her insecurities with her younger brother who was definitely more sexually experienced that she was.
“As much as I want to kill him,” Richie started, holding Nancy’s ankle that was hidden under the blanket. “You should probably just talk to him. Be honest…”
“I guess,” Nancy sighed, entirely unconvinced. “You should go to bed, we have to be up in like seven hours and there’s definitely a cute boy waiting for you in your bed.”
Richie smiled sadly at Nancy whose face was slightly puffy from crying.
“You’re right, Eddie must be terrified without me there to protect him,” Richie joked standing. “You’ll be alright, Nance,” he whispered, opening the door.
“Thanks, Richie,” Nancy whispered back, sliding down and snuggling into her pillow.
“Is everything alright?”
Richie had barely opened the door before Eddie was up on his knees, face full of concern.
“Everything’s fine spaghetti-head,” Richie smiled, closing the door and climbing into his bed. “Steve Harrington’s just an asshole.”
“Well, we both’ve known that for years.”
“Seems like my sister didn’t,” Richie laughed, wriggling under the covers and pulling Eddie down on top of him. “I might fucking kill him if I see him in the hallway tomorrow."
“I’ll help if you want,” Eddie murmured, rubbing his cheek against Richie’s chest.
“You’re the best,” Richie smiled, eyes closing.
Eddie stirred slightly at the sound of Karen yelling up the stairs. He snuggled further into Richie’s warmth unconsciously, licking his dry lips.
“Boys! I’ve been calling you for fifteen minutes! It’s time to get-”
Eddie shot up into a sitting position, hyper aware of Karen’s eyes on him. She had just entered the room, hand still on the door knob, when she noticed Eddie in Richie’s bed and was frozen with surprise.
“Baby, come back,” Richie whined tiredly, seemingly unaware of his mother’s presence in the room as he reached up trying to pull Eddie back to his chest.
“Richie,” Eddie’s voice was unusually high. “Stop!"
Richie opened one eye to stare at Eddie with concern.
“Richard,” Karen’s voice was stern.
“Fuck…” Richie sighed, throwing an arm over his eyes not even bothering to try and come up with an excuse as to why Eddie was in his bed.
“Mrs. Wheeler,” Eddie started, scrambling to get down from the bunkbed but stopping short when he realized he was only wearing a pair of boxers.
“Mike, get up,” Karen ignored Eddie’s flustered comment, waking her son. “Eddie get dressed and get home. Your mother’s probably worried sick.”
Richie didn’t seem to have any qualms about revealing the fact that he had slept almost entirely nude with Eddie in his bed, jumping down from his bunk immediately.
“Mom, I’m really-”
“Richard, we’ll talk downstairs.”
With that Karen left the room, heading across the hall to check on Nancy.
“You fucked up,” Mike laughed, breezing past his brother who was still stood in the middle of the room staring at the doorway his mother had just walked through.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck,” Eddie was chanting, scrambling down the ladder of the bunkbed and throwing on the jeans and borrowed sweater he had been wearing the night before.
“Eds,” Richie sighed, reaching out for his boyfriend who was cherry red and frantically searching for all of his belongings. “Eds, calm down.”
“Calm down?!” Eddie shrieked, turning to glare at Richie. “Calm down!? Richie, we overslept and your mom just found me in your bed. On a school day!"
Richie laughed at Eddie’s school comment.
“This isn’t funny, Richard,” Eddie glared, finally dressed and pulling his backpack on. “I’m going to be grounded until I’m thirty-five and your mother probably hates me now. She probably thinks I’m just some horny teenage boy trying to get in your pants.”
“Aren’t you a horny teenage boy trying to get in my pants?” Richie laughed, pulling the shorter boy into a hug.
“Hilarious, Richie,” Eddie mumbled sarcastically into Richie’s collarbone, wrapping his arms around Richie reluctantly, looking for comfort.
“My mom loves you, she couldn’t hate you even if she tried. Walking in on one sexy sleepover isn’t gonna change that!"
“Don’t call it that!” Eddie blushed, hitting Richie’s chest as he tried to hide a smile at the comment.
“You’re so cute,” Richie smiled, kissing Eddie’s cheek. “Come on Spaghetti, I’ll walk you out.”
Richie took Eddie’s hand, leading his boyfriend down the stairs and to the front door in his boxers.
“Richie! You’re basically naked!” Eddie blushed, following his boyfriend.
Ted gave Richie a pointed look as the boys walked past the kitchen where Ted was sitting with his coffee and the paper. Richie shot back an obnoxious grin.
“Goodbye, Eddie,” Karen commented, not looking up from feeding Holly. Her voice was entirely devoid of emotion, which surprised Eddie. He looked down at his feet in shame, unable to form the words for an effective apology.
Once they had reached the front door Richie was leaning down, attempting to engage Eddie in a kiss.
“Stop, Richie!” Eddie pushed at Richie’s bare chest, horribly embarrassed at the entire situation.
“Relax,” Richie chuckled, pecking a quick kiss to Eddie’s lips before he could stop him. “I’ll pick you up in half an hour.”
“Love you,” Richie added, pressing a kiss to Eddie’s cheek before he was out the door.
“Love you, too,” Eddie responded, cheeks still rosy with embarrassment.
“Hey, Eddie?” Lucas called as him and Dustin passed the boy walking up the driveway, but it came out as more of a question.
Eddie looked up at the boys before averting his gaze quickly and hopping on his bike to pedal home as quickly as possible.
“What the fuck?” Dustin laughed, sharing a confused look with Lucas before reaching the door which was still open. “Oh, my God!”
Richie was stood in the door frame, door open wide, still in his underwear. The boys were able to extrapolate what had just happened.
“What the fuck are you nerds doing here?”
“We’re meeting Mike before school to talk about, uh-” Dustin looked to Lucas in a panic.
“To talk about the campaign we started planning last night,” Lucas finished, rolling his eyes at Dustin.
“You guys do know your friend is fucking missing, right?” Richie asked, eyebrows raised but letting the boys in. “There’s more important things going on than your stupid game.”
Dustin and Lucas were silent, unable to argue with Richie’s comment.
“Good, you guys are here,” Mike announced, reaching the bottom of the stairs. He popped into the kitchen to grab a few waffles before leading his friends down to the basement.
Richie shook his head, watching his brother and his friends go. They really needed to sort out the priorities, which was odd considering how intense Mike had been two nights ago about finding Will.
Richie was back down the stairs ten minutes later, sliding into the seat at the kitchen table next to his sister. He immediately began filling his plate with eggs and toast, shoving bacon into his mouth while he did so.
“That’s disgusting,” Nancy groaned, watching her brother.
“Richard, slow down,” Karen reprimanded.
“I’m hungry, mom,” Richie choked through his food.
“You’ll be even hungrier if you choke and die,” Karen continued dramatically, causing Richie to laugh.
“Ugh, I’ve lost my appetite!” Nancy grumbled, standing from the table and heading back up the stairs to her room.
“Richard, your father and I would like to talk to you about what happened this morning,” Karen started, looking up from Holly. Richie looked to his dad who was staring intently at his paper, clearly not wanting to be a part of the conversation. Karen looked to him and sighed. “You know Eddie isn’t allowed to sleep in your bed when he stays over.”
“Mom, I know. I’m sorry-”
“I don’t think you are, Richie,” Karen interrupted. “We’re very disappointed in the both of you for sneaking around like that. I’m not sure I feel comfortable letting Eddie stay over on the weekends if you so blatantly ignore the rules we’ve set.”
“Mom, it was one time,” Richie’s eyes were wide with panic. He gulped, wracking his brain for a believable lie. “He was really upset, needed to get away from his mom. She was trying to get him to take the pills again!”
Richie had the decency to feel a slight twinge of guilt as his mother’s eyes softened. Besides, it wasn’t entirely a lie, Sonia had been trying to get Eddie to start taking the placebos again recently.
“Richie, all you had to do was tell me that last night,” Karen sighed. “You know I would have let him stay over in the guest room or on the couch.”
Richie nodded, looking down at his plate in guilt, fully aware that his mother would have done exactly that if Richie ever asked her if Eddie could stay over.
“I’m sorry, mom,” Richie said in an unusually quiet voice.
Karen picked Holly up, placing her on her hip before walking around the table towards Richie. She leant down, placing a kiss into his hair before leaving the kitchen.
“Oh, and you can explain to your brother why your bedroom door now stays open at night,” Karen called over her shoulder from the hall.
“Fuck,” Richie groaned, dropping his head into his hands over his plate.
“Language,” Ted piped up, not looking away from his paper. Richie rolled his eyes and shoved a piece of toast in his mouth angrily.
“Morning, El,” Mike smiled, descending the stairs and finding the girl curled up on the couch with his Supercom in hand, messing with the dials, as she had been all night. “I brought your favourite!”
Eleven’s face lit up with excitement as she accepted the Eggos.
“Thanks, Mike,” she said quietly, a small smile on her face.
“No problem, El,” Mike grinned back, cheeks pleasantly warm and pink.
“Hello, earth to Mike,” Lucas interrupted, causing Mike’s blush to turn a violent shade of red. “We’re here to go over the plan, not to watch you make googly eyes at the weirdo.”
“Don’t call her that,” Mike scowled, leading the boys to their Dungeons and Dragons table, leaving Eleven curled up on the couch munching on her waffles. “Okay, so we just tell our parents we have AV Club after school. That’ll give us at least a few hours for Operation Mirkwood.”
“You’re forgetting something kinda important,” Lucas sighed. “Richie is also in AV Club…”
“My parents won’t be home until late tonight. Dad’s working late and mom and Holly have some weird toddler class. I’ll tell Richie about the AV Club lie but say we’re actually going to the arcade. He won’t care, he’ll probably bring Eddie over or something.”
“You seriously think that the weirdo knows where Will is?”
“Her name is El,” Mike hissed, teeth grinding angrily at Lucas. Lucas rolled his eyes in response. “Just trust me on this, okay?"
“Fine,” Lucas sighed.
“Did you get the supplies?”
“Yeah,” Lucas grinned, grabbing his backpack. “Binoculars, from ‘Nam… Army knife, also from ‘Nam… Hammer, camouflage bandana… and the wrist rocket!”
“You’re gonna take out the Demogorgon with a slingshot?”
“First of all, it’s a wrist rocket. And second of all, the Demogorgon’s not real. It’s made up,” Lucas explained to Dustin, as if speaking to a small child. “But if there is something out there, I’m gonna shoot it in the eye… and blind it!”
Dustin jumped at the snap of the slingshot while Mike rolled his eyes.
“Dustin, what did you bring?”
Mike sighed, throwing his head back with defeat when Dustin emptied his backpack onto the table.
“Alrighty,” he began excitedly. “So, we’ve got… Nutty Bars, Bazooka, Pez, Smarties, Pringles, Nilla Wafers, an apple, a banana, and trail mix.”
“Seriously?” Lucas asked, face a picture of disbelief, wiping the grin from Dustin’s.
“We need energy for our travels! For stamina!” Dustin bit back. “Besides, why do we even need weapons anyways? We have her.”
“She shut one door!” Lucas argued back and while Mike wanted to agree with Lucas, he also found himself slightly irritated with Lucas’ lack of faith in Eleven.
“With her mind! Are you kidding me? That’s insane!” Dustin laughs, unable to believe how blasé Lucas was being about Eleven’s psychokinetic abilities. “Imagine all the other cool stuff she could do. Like…”
Dustin began rummaging through a pile of items in the corner of the basement, pulling out a pristine model of the Millennium Falcon. Mike blushed, embarrassed at the fact that he was nearly sixteen and had purchased the model only a few months ago.
“I bet that she can make this fly!” Dustin announced, moving in front of Eleven. “Hey, hey!”
“She’s not a dog, Dustin!” Mike called, feeling insulted for the girl.
“Okay, concentrate. Okay?”
Eleven looked up from the radio, staring at Dustin blankly as the toy clattered to the floor. Lucas and Mike both rolled their eyes, sighing.
“Okay, one more time.”
Eleven looked over at Mike, a hint of amusement in her eye that made Mike grin.
“Dustin, enough,” Mike laughed.
“No,” Dustin dismissed. “Use your powers, okay?”
Mike sighed again as the toy hit the ground, Eleven still staring intently at Dustin.
“Fuckin’ idiot,” Lucas groaned.
“She’s not some trained monkey, Dustin,” Mike huffed, picking up the toy and tossing it back into the corner.
“Yo, fuckers!” Richie called from the top of the stairs, making all of the teenagers jump. “Let’s fucking go, we gotta go pick up Eds!”
Dustin and Lucas grabbed the belongings before rushing up the stairs.
“Okay, just stay down here,” Mike told Eleven, sitting next to her and placing a hand on her knee gently. “Don’t make any noise and don’t leave, okay?”
“If you get hungry eat Dustin’s snacks, okay?” Mike added, gesturing to the junk food littered across the Dungeons and Dragons table.
“Fuckface, let’s go!”
“Coming!” Mike screamed in irritation.
“You know those power lines?”
“Power lines?” Eleven asked in a small voice that made Mike’s stomach churn.
“Yeah,” he continued patiently. “The ones behind my house?”
“Meet us there, after school,” Mike said, smiling as he removed his hand from Eleven’s knee and stood up.
Eleven stared at Mike blankly.
“Shit, sorry,” Mike laughed, forgetting that she had no way of telling time in the basement. “Here,” Mike quickly removed his watch, fastening it to Eleven’s wrist with shaky fingers. The watch slipped, the band entirely too big for Eleven’s wrist. “When the numbers read three-one-five meet us there. My mom will be gone.”
“Three-one-five,” Eleven repeated, staring down at the watch. Mike smiled fondly.
“Three-one-five,” he repeated, staring intently at Eleven. He grabbed her knee once more, squeezing it softly before grabbing his backpack and running up the stairs.
“Holy, fuck! Could you have taken any longer?” Richie groaned, sitting on his bike and leaning his forearms on the handles.
“Sorry,” Mike quipped, hopping on his bike and pedalling down the driveway leaving Richie stunned. Mike took every opportunity to argue with Richie, he never gave in that easily.
“Spaghetti!” Richie shouted as he rounded the corner to Eddie’s house, the other three trailing behind him. He excitedly pedalled up to Eddie, acting as though he hadn’t seen him in weeks. “I missed you!”
“It’s been thirty minutes, Rich,” Eddie rolled his eyes. “Don’t!” he warned, once Richie was close enough to reach out for him. Eddie glanced back at his house nervously where his mother was stood with her arms cross and a frown on her face. Richie being Richie, waved obnoxiously at the woman before planting a very obvious kiss on Eddie, holding the boy’s cheeks tightly to stop him from wriggling away.
“Have a nice day, Sonia!” Richie called over his shoulder before biking away from the house, Eddie at his side.
“You’re such a prick!” Eddie screeched at his boyfriend.
“Whatever,” Richie laughed. “So, how bad is it? Is she putting bars on your windows or what?”
“I told her I was at Bill’s and that we were up late studying and I was so stressed that I complete forgot about calling and fell asleep there by accident,” Eddie sighed. “Apparently I’m never allowed to leave my house again… Which basically translates to being grounded for a few weeks.”
“Fuck,” Richie groaned. “Well, my mom has decided that she’s a fucking prison guard and we aren’t allowed to close our door at night so I can’t even sneak out to come to your house anymore…”
“It’ll be like a month tops, Rich,” Eddie tried to sound reassuring but he sounded as upset as Richie did.
“I’m not even gonna be able to make it a week, babe,” Richie sighed as they pulled up at the school, the Loser’s Club approaching them.
“And then my fucking mom burst into the room and found Eddie full on blowing my brains out-”
“Richie! That’s not what happened!” Eddie shrieked, cheeks on fire as Richie recounted this morning’s events to the Loser’s Club at lunch. “We were just sleeping!”
“D-d-don’t worry, Ed,” Bill grinned. “We know R-r-richie’s a goddamn liar!”
“I’m wounded, Big Bill,” Richie gasped, flopping to the side onto Stan’s lap as though he had been shot.
“Get off me, you buffoon,” Stan grumbled, pushing Richie away.
“Buffoon? Seriously, Stan?” Richie snorted, stealing more of Eddie’s fries.
“Hey!” Eddie whined, slapping Richie’s hand away from his lunch. “You had your own lunch, this is mine.”
“But, Spaghetti,” Richie moaned, swallowing the stolen fries. “I’m still starving.”
“You’re such a drama queen,” Eddie grumbled, rolling his eyes but pushing his tray closer to Richie anyways.
“Love you too,” Richie grinned, kissing Eddie’s cheek.
The conversation had turned to the latest pop quiz in the sophomore English classes on Macbeth when Richie noticed Steve Harrington across the cafeteria, sitting with Tommy and Carol, laughing obnoxiously about something.
Richie let out a little growl, before standing and dislodging Eddie from where he had rested his head on Richie’s shoulder.
“Rich?” Eddie followed Richie’s glare across the cafeteria towards Steve. “Rich, wait-”
Richie was already stalking towards the junior with the stupidly quaffed hair.
“I need to talk to you, Harrington,” Richie growled, standing with his arms crossed.
“What do you need, kid?” Steve laughed, looking at Richie with amusement.
“Let’s talk in the hall,” Richie gestured to the exit with his head.
“No,” Steve laughed again, standing up from his table and moving towards Richie in an attempt to be intimidating. It didn’t quite have the desired effect as Richie was a couple inches taller than him. “Say whatever you need to say, Wheeler.”
Tommy and Carol were laughing openly at the exchange and quite a few people in the cafeteria had turned to watch, waiting in anticipation for fight.
Eddie and Mike had approached the two at this point. Although Mike wasn’t sure what was happening, he moved to stand shoulder to shoulder with his twin in support, glaring down at Steve. Eddie was standing on Richie’s other side, holding his bicep with both hands, not quite pulling him away but trying to keep him from doing anything stupid.
“I just wanted to say, you should watch yourself. I may be Nancy’s younger brother, but I won’t hesitate to kick your ass if you hurt her, Harrington,” Richie said, eyes narrowed in a glare identical to the one Mike was wearing. Mike stayed silent, knowing he wasn’t as good at trash talking as Richie was.
The two boys were bluffing entirely, neither one particularly strong or athletic, but they used their imposing height in an attempt to intimidate Steve.
“Fuck off,” Steve laughed, turning away from the twins and making his way back to the table.
Richie had seen the flicker of uncertainty in Steve’s eyes before he turned away though and made his way back to his table with a satisfied smile. Mike returned to his table, still unsure of what had just happened.
“Richie,” Eddie whined, trying to pull away from his boyfriend who was pushing him up the stairs to the Wheeler’s front door.
“Eds, chill,” Richie laughed, fishing around in his jacket pocket for his key. “No one’s home! It’s fine!”
“The only but I want from you is yours in my bed, right now,” Richie teased, grabbing Eddie’s hand and pulling him into the house.
“What the fuck!” Richie screamed, jumping back and holding Eddie behind him as Eleven peered around the corner into the front hall. “What the fuck!” Richie continued yelling, causing Eleven to draw back in fear. “Who the fuck are you?! Why are you in my house?! I’m calling the fucking police!”
Richie was shouting frantically, holding Eddie’s hip in a vice grip as Eleven cowered against the wall, terrified by the way she was being yelled at.
“Mike?” she whimpered, staring at Richie as tears fell down her cheeks.
“I’m calling the fucking police!”
“Richie,” Eddie spoke, rubbing a hand up and down his back. “Calm down, I think she thinks you’re Mike.”
“I don’t care who the fuck she thinks I am!” Richie shouted, reaching for the telephone on the table next to him.
Mike burst through the open door, grabbing the phone in Richie’s hand and slamming it down into the cradle.
“Mike, what the fuck?!”
“El,” Mike said gently, directing his attention at Eleven. “El, it’s okay-”
Eleven panicked, throwing Mike against the nearest wall with her powers.
“Oof,” Mike moaned, sliding down the wall to sit on the carpet.
“What the fuck!” Richie was screeching again.
“Richie!” Mike shouted, wincing as he stood up. “Shut up!”
“Mike, what the fuck is going on!”
“Just shut up!” Mike shouted again, turning to Eleven. “El, it’s me. It’s Mike. This is my stupid brother, Richie. Remember, Richie? I told you I have a twin brother…”
“Mike?” Eleven whimpered, staring at Mike uncertainly.
“Yeah, it’s okay. It’s me, I promise,” Mike spoke softly, approaching the girl with caution.
“Promise?” Eleven repeated, still crying.
“I promise,” Mike nodded, finally closing the gap between himself and the girl, pulling her into a hug. Eleven hid her face in Mike’s neck and continued sobbing. “I was worried about you when you didn’t show up,” Mike whispered to her. Eleven sniffled in response.
“Mike, what the fuck is going on!” Richie repeated.
“So, you found her out in the forest?” Eddie asked, voice full of disbelief.
“Yes,” Mike confirmed, rolling his eyes. He had already explained the story multiple times.
“And you’ve been hiding her in the basement for two days?”
“Yes, Richie,” Mike nodded. “I already said that…”
“I’m sorry, I just can’t believe you of all people have been hiding a girl in the house…”
“Fuck you,” Mike grumbled. Eleven was sat next to Mike, head resting on his shoulder.
“But, where did she come from?” Eddie intervened, not wanting to listen to Mike and Richie argue.
“We don’t know,” Mike responded. “She’s kinda quiet in case you hadn’t noticed…”
“El, right?” Eddie decided he would address the girl rather than speak about her as if she wasn’t in the room. Eleven’s fingers came up to wrap around Mike’s arm nervously but she made hesitant eye contact with Eddie. “I’m Eddie,” he introduced kindly.
“Hello,” Eleven whispered.
“And I’m Richie!” Richie added enthusiastically. The girl jumped at his loud void and shrunk back towards Mike who wrapped his arm around her comfortingly. His cheeks burnt red with embarrassment.
“Richie!” Eddie scolded, smacking his boyfriend’s thigh angrily.
“You guys can’t tell anyone about El,” Mike continued as though Richie hadn’t said anything. “Not mom or dad or any of your friends.”
“Of course not,” Eddie promised immediately while Richie shrugged.
“I’m serious, Richie,” Mike glared. “El’s in real danger. You can’t tell anyone.”
“Fine,” Richie rolled his eyes.
“Ugh, I wish Stan was here,” Eddie moaned as they trampled through the forest, Mike and Eleven in the lead and Richie, Eddie, Lucas, and Dustin bringing up the rear. “He would totally agree with me that that’s poison ivy!”
“Eds,” Richie laughed, rolling his eyes. “Not every fucking plant is poison ivy!”
“Still, Richie!” Eddie insists with a whine. “And who knows what’s lurking under all these rotting leaves,” he added with a shiver.
“Oh, my God!” Richie groaned, dumping his bike. “Hop on, Eds,” Richie laughed, crouching in front of Eddie.
“But our bikes…”
“We’ll come back and get them,” Richie promised, slapping his butt. “Come on!”
“You have no idea where we are, Richie!”
“Last chance, Eds,” Richie smiled before beginning to count down. “3…2-”
“You’re so annoying!” Eddie declared, dropping his bike before climbing up onto Richie’s back. “You so owe me a new bike if I don’t get mine back!”
“Whatever you want, Spaghetti,” Richie laughed, reaching to press a kiss to Eddie’s hand that was on his shoulder.
“Why do they hurt you?”
“What?” Mike asked, startled by Eleven’s question. Eleven pointed to her chin, indicating the cut on Mike’s. “Oh, that…” Mike tripped slightly over a root, blushing. “Uh… I just fell at school.”
“Mike, friends tell the truth.”
“I was tripped by this mouth breather, Troy, okay?” Mike sighed.
“Yeah, you know…” Mike started, laughing slightly. “A dumb person. A knucklehead.”
“A knucklehead?” Eleven asked, voice full of confusion making Mike laugh, his chest filled with warmth.
“I don’t know why I didn’t tell you. I mean, everyone at school knows,” Mike continues, staring at his feet as he pushes his bike through the forest. He can hear Richie and Eddie shrieking with laughter behind him while Dustin and Lucas argue. “I just didn’t want you to think I was such a wastoid, you know?”
“Mike… I understand,” Eleven said with a smile, reaching out to place her hand over top of Mike’s on his handlebar.
Mike looked away, blushing with a huge smile on his face. Eleven watched him, feeling her own cheeks heat up and looking away embarrassedly when Mike noticed her staring.
“Cold, babe?” Richie asked as he felt Eddie shiver against his back. The sun had set a few minutes ago and the entire group was now navigating through the forest in the pitch black. Eddie nodded, chin digging into Richie’s shoulder. “You good if I put you down? I’ll give you my jacket.”
“Rich, no,” Eddie protested, not wanting to take Richie’s jacket.
Richie had already begun setting Eddie down despite his protests, wrapping the denim jacket around a grumbling Eddie before kissing his forehead with a laugh. “Come on,” Richie wrapped an arm around Eddie’s shoulders while Eddie begrudgingly wrapped one of his around Richie’s waist, walking briskly to keep up with Richie’s long strides.
“What’s the hold up?” Richie called as they finally exited the forest, watching as Mike and Eleven stood close together in the clearing.
“Yeah, what are we doing here?” Lucas asked, stopping once they had reached Mike and Eleven.
“She said he’s hiding here,” Mike sighed, waiting for Lucas to throw some new insult Eleven’s way.
“I swear, if we walked all the way out here for nothing-”
“That’s exactly what we did!” Lucas cried, voice steadily rising with anger causing Eleven to shrink back slightly. “I told you she didn’t know what the fuck she was talking about!”
“El,” Mike turned back to Eleven, voice soft. “Why did you bring us here?”
Eleven struggled to answer the question, stammering softly under Mike’s intense gaze.
“Mike, don’t waste your time with her,” Lucas grumbled, picking up his bike and moving to hop on.
“What do you want to do then?”
“Call the cops, like we should have done yesterday,” Lucas exclaimed over his shoulder, already facing away from Milke, Eleven and the Byers’ house.
“We are not calling the cops!”
“Hey, guys!” Eddie piped up while Mike, Lucas, and Dustin began arguing.
“Guys!” Eddie shouted, effectively shutting the boys up. He was pointing towards the road where emergency vehicles were flying by.
“Will…” Mike said, gulping loudly.
All three boys scrambled to hop onto their bikes, Eleven climbing onto the back of Mike’s.
“Hey, assholes! What about us?” Richie exclaimed as they started pedalling away.
“Oh, shit,” Dustin commented, skidding to a stop. “Hop on, Eddie. Richie, go with Lucas."
“Rich,” Eddie whined, not wanting to ride on Dustin’s bike. Dustin wasn’t the most hygienic of Mike’s friends and Eddie didn’t want to have to be in such close proximity to the boy. Dustin was bigger than Lucas though, and it made more sense to put Eddie with Dustin rather than Richie. The two boys never would have fit.
“You can do it,” Richie assured his boyfriend, kissing his cheek before dragging him towards the boys and shoving Eddie in Dustin’s direction.
“The quarry!” Richie exclaimed as they got closer.
“Thanks, Einstein,” Lucas grumbled, rolling his eyes.
The group pulled up behind a firetruck, climbing off the bikes and throwing them to the ground haphazardly.
“Fuck,” Eddie whispered, holding onto Richie’s sleeve as his boyfriend watched his brothers panicked face. “Oh, fuck,” he gasped, turning to hide his face in Richie’s chest as they pulled a body they were sure was Will’s from the water.
Everyone else was silent, the only sound everyone’s heavy breathing.
“It’s not Will. It can’t be,” Mike’s voice cracked violently for the first time in a year.
“Mikey,” Richie whispered, reaching out to place a hand on Mike’s shoulder. Mike shrugged it off, shaking his head.
“It’s Will,” Lucas whispered, swallowing the bile he felt building in his throat. “It’s really Will.”
Mike pushed off from his spot on the firetruck, walking away from the group and dropping his head into his hands.
“Mike…” Eleven whispered, tears brimming in her eyes.
“Mike? Mike, what?” Mike exploded, shoving the girl away from him harshly.
“Hey!” Eddie shouted in outrage, trying to defend Eleven. “Don’t-”
“No! She was supposed to help us find him.” Mike ranted. “Alive!”
“Mikey, it’s not her fault,” Richie tried to reason.
“Fuck off, Richie!” Mike glared before turning back to Eleven. “You said he was alive! Why did you lie to us? What’s wrong with you?” Tears were streaming down Mike’s face as he stared at the girl in front of him in betrayal. “What the fuck is wrong with you?!”
“Mike…” Eleven breathed, loud enough for only Mike to hear.
“What?!” He stared at the girl expectantly, storming away when the tears began flowing down her eyes.
“Mike, come on. Don’t do this man.” Lucas sobbed. All of the boys were openly crying now, terrified and heartbroken, as Mike hoped on his bike.
“Mike, where are you going?” Richie called, chasing his brother. “Mike!”
He stopped running when Mike had picked up enough speed to leave a trail of dust, choking Richie as he breathed heavily from exertion. He crouched down, watching his brother bike home as he sat in defeat.
“Fucker,” Richie muttered bitterly before standing and heading back to the firetruck.
“Now, what?” Lucas asked, tears still streaming down his face. “How the hell are we gonna get five people back with only two bikes.”
“You guys head home,” Richie sighed. “I’ll walk Eddie and El home, I guess.”
“No, we’ll walk with you,” Lucas responded, shaking his head.
“Yes,” Lucas glared at Dustin. “We will.”
“El can stay at my house tonight,” Eddie suggested as they walked towards the Wheelers’ house.
“There’s no way we could get her past your mom, Spaghetti!” Richie laughed, smiling down at his boyfriend who was walking beside El, clasping her hand in a surprising turn of events. Eddie refused to shake hands, let alone hold a hand that wasn’t Richie’s.
“I guess you’re right,” Eddie muttered, chewing on the inside of his cheek nervously.
“Can I get that on record?” Richie exclaimed. “You guys heard that, right? Eddie just said I was right.”
Lucas and Dustin started at Richie blankly, clearly not in the mood for Richie’s jokes.
“Tough crowd…” Eddie leaned over to smack him lightly. “Ow! Eds!”
Chapter 4: The Body
“Dude, what the fuck?”
Mike pulled the duvet up to his chin, tightening it around his face.
“Mikey,” Richie whispered, sitting on the edge of Mike's bed and reaching a hand out to rest on his brother’s shoulder. Mike sniffled quietly and shrugged Richie’s hand off. Richie sighed, completely at a loss for words. “Mikey,” he whispered again, reaching to bury his face in Mike’s neck.
Mike let out a loud sob, his shoulders shaking as Richie reached up to hold him tightly.
“Mikey, I’m sorry,” Richie whispered into his brother’s skin, barely able to make out Mike’s face from his hunched position.
“He’s gone, Richie,” Mike croaked, eyes squeezed shut as tears escaped. “He’s gone. He’s gone, he’s gone-”
“Shh…” Richie soothed, sitting up and pulling his brother to his chest, quieting his distraught chanting. He rubbed his brother’s back in soothing circles, burying his face in Mike’s curls, completely speechless for the first time in a while. He shushed his brother again, letting out a few of his own tears as Mike’s sobbing picked up again.
Richie fell into a light and fitful sleep with his brother wrapped in his arms, while Mike lay rigidly still, unable to process the fact that his best friend was dead.
Karen climbed the stairs to her sons’ room with a heavy heart. Her hands were shaking and her cheeks were wet with tears.
“Mom,” Mike croaked when his mom entered the room, fresh tears welling in his eyes as he wriggled out of Richie’s hold and moved to hug his mother.
“Mike, I just received a call from the police station-”
“Mom, I know,” Mike whispered, not wanting to hear the words he knew were going to come out of his mother’s mouth.
“Lucas radio-ed,” Richie lied quickly, sitting on the edge of Mike’s bed and watching his brother and mom embrace in the middle of the room. “I’m gonna go have a shower. Get ready for school…” Richie announced, standing and squeezing his brother’s shoulder before leaving the room.
“Thanks, Richie,” Mike whispered softly.
Richie stopped in the doorway, turning back to Mike with a soft smile that didn’t quiet reach his eyes.
“Anytime, little brother…”
“How’s Mike?” Eddie asked as soon as Richie was within arm’s reach. The boys had to leave to go to school a few minutes earlier due to the lack of their bikes. Richie pulled Eddie to him silently, leaning down to press his face to the top of Eddie’s head. “Rich?”
“It’s awful, Eds,” Richie gasped, blinking back tears. “He cried all night, didn’t sleep for even a second… We couldn’t get him to eat breakfast, he just stayed in bed. Mom cried at the table. Dad asked if he should go and talk to Mike. Fuck... You know it’s bad when my dad tries to be an engaged parent.”
“I’m sorry, Chee,” Eddie whispered, squeezing Richie closer. He felt Richie’s Adams apple bob against his forehead as Richie gulped.
“Let’s just go to school,” Richie sighed, releasing Eddie and turning to walk to school.
“Chee, slow down,” Eddie called, jogging up to his boyfriend and wrapping an arm around Richie’s waist in an attempt to comfort the taller boy.
“Richie,” Bev called when the Losers noticed the couple walking up the path to the school’s front entrance. “We just heard!”
Richie continued walking, head down, ignoring his friends. Eddie shot an apologetic look over his shoulder, letting Richie pull him along.
“Oof,” Eddie groaned, landing on his tailbone while Richie crushed his bad arm that he had broken as a kid.
“Fucking faggots,” Troy spat as he walked past the couple with Henry Bowers after shoving Richie.
“What the fuck, Harrington?!” Richie shouted, pushing himself up off the floor. “Who the fuck do you think you are?!”
“Are you talking back to me, faggot?” Troy sneered, walking back towards Richie and Eddie.
“Rich,” Eddie whined, pushing himself up off the floor.
“Yeah, I’m talking to you. Are you fucking stupid?” Richie spit back, ignoring Eddie.
“You’re fuckin’ dead, Wheeler,” Troy shouted before throwing a fist at Richie.
Eddie jumped back, screeching as Troy and Richie struggled against each other, each getting in a few good hits and spirting blood across their shirts as Henry watched with a grin.
“Get off him!” Eddie wailed, searching in a panic for a teacher. “Richie, stop! Oh my, God! Stop! Someone fucking help!”
The fight ended when the gym teacher and the principal had shown up, pulling the two bloodied teenagers apart, each breathing raggedly.
“Rich,” Eddie squeaked, running up to Richie and taking his bleeding face in his hands.
“It’s fine, Eddie,” Richie dismissed, trying to shake off Principal Coleman.
“It’s not fucking fine, you douchebag!” Eddie hissed, hitting Richie on the chest. “Why the hell would you do that?!”
“I dunno, Spaghetti,” Richie mumbled, wiping at his bleeding nose with his free hand, the other held behind his back by the principal.
“Let’s go, Wheeler,” Principal Coleman, announced, signalling to the gym teacher to follow him with Troy.
“I know, I know, Eddie,” Richie groaned, holding an icepack to his swollen eye.
“No, you clearly fucking don’t, dickhead,” Eddie shot back. “Otherwise you wouldn’t have started a fist fight in the fucking hallway this morning!"
School had ended hours ago, Eddie heading straight to the Wheeler’s after the final bell with the Losers. Richie had been picked up at the principal’s office by a fuming Karen. Karen had turned the group of teenagers away when they turned up at her doorstep at 3pm, only allowing the frantic Eddie entrance to see Richie.
The two were currently sat in the basement with Mike and El. Mike was curled up on the other end of the couch flipping through what appeared to be a sketchbook sadly while Eddie applied ointment to Richie’s face and Eleven turned the dials on Mike’s Supercom.
Richie had snuck Eleven into the basement the night before, providing her with sustenance throughout the day in the wake of Mike ignoring her.
“Can you please stop that?” Mike groaned, snapping the book shut.
“Sorry,” Eleven whispered, turning the radio off.
Eddie bit his lip as he tended to Richie’s face. He wanted to snap at Mike for being a dick to the poor girl, but he knew that Mike was grieving. Eddie understood how that felt, the anger, disbelief, and utter sadness that it filled you with.
Eleven turned the radio back on, causing Mike grumble angrily.
“Are you deaf?” he shouted harshly. “Or just stupid?”
“Mike,” Richie sighed, trying to reason with his brother who ignored him.
“I thought we were friends or whatever… Y'know?” Mike continued. “But friends tell each other the truth and they definitely don’t lie to each other. You made me think Will was okay. That he was still out there, but he wasn’t!”
Mike continued to rant angrily, the frown on Eleven’s face growing deeper and deeper.
“You hurt me, do you understand? What you did sucks,” Mike sighed, slumping down and opening the book again. Eddie’s legs twitched, aching to cross the room and comfort Eleven. “Lucas was right about you… All along.”
Eddie watched as a couple of tears raced down Eleven’s cheeks.
“Mike,” Richie whispered cautiously. He was the only person who had been able to effectively communicate with Mike since the night before. Their relationship had shifted somehow over the eight hours that they laid awake crying for the 16-year-old Will who had lost his life. “Stop.”
Mike ignored his brother, staring intently at the sketchbook as he attempted to ignore the others in the basement.
“So come on and let me know,” came a static-y voice through the Supercom. “Should I stay or should I go?”
The boys’ heads all whipped in Eleven’s direction, eyes bugging at the unmistakeable voice of Will Byers. Mike’s breath hitched, he was sure he’d never hear that voice ever again.
“Should I stay or should I go now? Should I stay or should I go now?”
Blood was trickling from Eleven’s nose but the room was silent and still. Mike broke the spell, jumping from the couch and snatching the radio from Eleven.
“Will?” Mike cried into the radio. “Will, it’s Mike! Is that you? Do you copy?”
“What the fuck,” Richie mumbled before Eddie silenced him, pressing his hand to Richie’s open mouth.
“Will, are you there?” Mike called again as the room filled with static. “Will!”
Mike threw down the radio in frustration.
“Was that…” he couldn’t finish his statement, terrified he would be let down again.
“Will,” Eleven smiled softly, wiping the blood from her face.
Mike pulled Eleven into a sudden hug, startling the girl.
“Oh, my God!”
Eleven hesitantly wrapped her own arms around Mike, eyes closing as she felt the anger flow from Mike.
“Oh, my God,” he repeated with a giddy laugh.“We have to go find him!” Mike announced, pulling back from Eleven but taking her hand and pulling her into a standing position beside him.
“Whoa there,” Richie called lamely, pushing Eddie’s hand from his mouth. “We already tried this, remember? You can’t just go wandering through the forest all night…”
“Then we’ll do it during the day,” Mike responded, fixing his brother with a hard stare.
“I gotta get going, Rich,” Eddie announced an hour later, standing up from the floor where they were gathered concocting a plan for the following day.
“No,” Richie whined, throwing down the icepack that he had been holding to his face and standing to follow Eddie who had started up the stairs. “Spaghetti…”
Mike rolled his eyes, turning away from his brother’s retreating form to find Eleven staring at him intently. Mike cleared his throat uncomfortably, embarrassment and guilt swirling in his stomach.
“El,” Mike started quietly, not able to look at the girl and instead picking at the hem of his shirt. “About last night… I’m sorry.”
Mike looked up to find Eleven still staring at him blankly.
“I was a real dick,” Mike continued, still picking at the material of his shirt nervously.
“Yeah, like just someone who did something really mean and stupid,” Mike explained. “I was just really upset about Will.”
“I understand,” Eleven whispered back, offering a small smile that Mike returned.
“I shouldn’t have yelled at you like that… Or shoved you. I’m really sorry about that by the way,” Mike blushed. “That wasn’t okay…”
“Mike,” Eleven whispered, reaching out to hug him. “I forgive you.”
“Thank you,” Mike smiled softly, hiding his face in her neck.
Eleven giggled, the movement of Mike’s lips on her skin tickling her neck. Mike pulled back at the sound with a blush and muttered an apology. The two stared at one another in silence, the atmosphere in the room shifting. Mike gulped as he leaned in, Eleven staring at him with intense curiosity.
Their lips brushed softly, causing Mike’s arms to erupt in goosebumps as a deep flush shot up from his neck to his cheeks. He pulled back quickly, licking his lips nervously. Eleven stared at him, a confused smile on her face.
“G’night, El,” Mike mumbled suddenly, standing and running up the stairs before Eleven could get a word in.
“Okay, I’m gonna go shower, keep up the pretense that I’m going to school,” Richie told his brother, repeating the plan for the third time. “When mom comes in you convince her to let you stay home again, I go get Eddie and then we double back and meet you guys here while mom’s out.”
“Richie, you’re explaining this like I wasn’t the one to come up with the whole plan…”
“Hey, I just want to make sure we’re both on the same page!” Richie shoots back.
“We’re on the same page,” Mike drawls, rolling his eyes as Richie stands to leave the room.
“We keep losing the signal,” Mike sighs embarrassedly as they all huddle around Eleven’s fort in the basement. “But you heard it right?”
“Yeah, I heard a baby…”
“Mike, you obviously tapped into a baby monitor,” Lucas groaned, rolling his eyes at his friend. “It’s probably the Blackburns next door.”
“Uh, did that sound like a baby to you?” Mike deadpans. “That was Will!”
“Richie, Eddie, and El all heard it too,” Mike insists, Richie and Eddie nodding in agreement. “He actually spoke last night. Words! He was singing that weird song he loves-”
“Hey, The Clash are not weird!” Richie protested.
Lucas sighed, staring at Richie and Eddie doubtfully.
“Are you sure you’re on the right channel?” Dustin asked gently.
“I don’t think it’s about that,” Eddie answered, staring at Eleven critically.
“Yeah, I think, somehow, she’s like channeling him,” Mike agreed.
“Like Professor X!” Eddie smiled.
“You’re a nerd now too?” Richie gasped in fake disbelief, fully aware of the piles of comics littered around Eddie’s bedroom.
“Are you actually believing this crap?” Lucas asked critically as he watched Dustin smile in excitement at Eddie.
“I don’t know, I mean… Do you remember when Will fell off his bike and broke his finger?” Dustin muttered. “He sounded a lot like that…”
“Did you assholes not see what I saw?!” Lucas cried in disbelief. “They pulled Will’s body out of the fucking quarry! He’s dead!”
Mike and Dustin shared a look before starring glumly at the floor.
“Well maybe it’s his ghost. Maybe he’s haunting us.”
“It’s not his ghost,” Mike demanded.
“How do you know?”
“I just do!” Mike responded, voice raising in anger.
“Then what was that in the water?”
“I don’t know! All I know is Will is alive.” Mike persisted. “He’s out there somewhere. All we have to do is find him.” ‘
“This isn’t gonna work,” Eddie commented as he watched Eleven continue to fiddle with the Supercom. “We need to get El to a stronger radio.”
“Mr. Clarke’s Heathkit ham shack!” Dustin suggested with a smile.
“The Heathkit’s at school. There is no way we’re gonna get the weirdo in there without anyone noticing,” Lucas shot down. “I mean… look at her.”
The boys all stared at Eleven who blushed self-consciously when she made eye contact with Mike.
“You know what this means?” Richie piped up, putting on a high pitched and flamboyant voice. “It’s time for a makeoverrrrrrr!”
“Please stop,” Eddie commented, looking at his boyfriend with blank stare. “You’re not funny.”
“I’m hilarious!” Richie scoffed.
“I’ve got this. It’s like, in my blood,” Richie boasted, rifling through Nancy’s makeup bag and pulling out some blush.
"Just because you're gay, doesn't mean you know how to do makeup, Rich," Eddie rolled his eyes.
“Okay… and… there!”
“Richie!” Eddie cried. “She looks like a clown!” He shouted, gesturing to the rosy red circles Richie had created on her cheeks. “C'mon, El. Let’s go wash that off…”
Eddie took Eleven’s hand leading her from Nancy’s room to the bathroom across the hall.
“I think my boyfriend might be stealing your girlfriend, Mike,” Richie laughed causing Mike to blush and scowl.
“She’s not my girlfriend!”
“Whatever you say, little brother,” Richie laughed, ruffling Mike’s hair before leaving the room and heading down the stairs to help Dustin and Lucas go through the box of Nancy’s old clothing in the basement.
“We’re the same age!” Mike shouted down the stairs at his brother’s retreating form, the hint of a smile playing on his lips. They seemed to be returning to normal, their easy banter flowing seamlessly back and forth.
“There,” Eddie smiled, sweeping a final feather-light stroke of blush across Eleven’s cheekbone. “Much better.”
Eddie dug through the bag, pulling out a light pink lip gloss before smirking at Mike who was sat next to Eleven, a gentle hand rested on her thigh.
“Hey, Mike can you help El with the lip gloss,” Eddie asked, with a mischievous glint. “I’m gonna go help those idiots…”
“Um, y-yeah,” Mike stuttered, blushing as Eddie tossed him the pink tube before leaving the room. He opened the tube with shaking fingers, pulling out the lip gloss wand with a pop. “Um, is this okay?” he asked, lightly dabbing the gloss to Eleven’s lower lip. She nodded with a smile as Mike pushed the wand back into the tube, picking up some more lip gloss.
“Yeah?” He asked, finishing her upper lip and replacing the lip gloss in Nancy’s makeup bag, throwing it aside.
“Why did you…” she mumbled, unsure of how to ask her question. “Last night, when you...” she pointed to her lips, floundering as she searched for words.
“Oh,” Mike squeaked, cheeks flushing further. “I-I-I… I’m sorry I shouldn’t have done that.”
Mike cleared his throat embarrassedly.
“I don’t know,” Mike muttered, staring at Eleven intently.
“Okay, so this should fit you El,” Eddie burst into the room causing both of the teenagers to jump, holding out a pink dress in front of himself with a ratty blonde wing hanging over his arm.
“I can’t believe we’re making her wear that disgusting wig,” Eddie commented, nose scrunched in disgust as he leant his elbows on the bannister in the hallway, waiting for Eleven to change with the rest of the boys.
“We can’t take her to school with a shaved head Eds,” Richie laughed, knocking his shoulder into Eddie’s.
“I know that, shithead!” Eddie shot back. “I just feel bad, it’s so gross!”
“I really don’t think Eleven cares,” Dustin laughed in response.
They all turned their attention towards the door to Nancy’s bedroom at the creak of the hinges. Eleven walked out in the dress and wig, nervously fingering the ends of the synthetic blonde strands.
“Wow,” Dustin commented mildly while Eddie smiled brightly. “She looks-”
All of the boys turned to look at Mike with amusement. Eleven smiled at Mike brightly, thoroughly enjoying the complement, causing Mike to blush.
“Mike’s right,” Eddie exclaimed, rushing forward to grab Eleven’s shoulders and pushing her towards the mirror. “You look super pretty!” Eddie tousled the blonde locks, trying to make them appear more natural.
“Pretty,” Eleven whispered as she stared at herself, Eddie bustling around her. Eddie stopped and smiled at Eleven, squeezing her arm affectionately.
“Okay, we should get going before mom comes back,” Richie announced.
“Eddie,” Eleven called quietly as they walked down the road towards Hawkin’s High.
“Yeah, El?” Eddie smiled, pulling away from Richie and falling back to walk with Eleven behind the rest of the group.
“Can I ask you a question?”
“You just did,” Eddie joked. “But sure. What’s up?”
“Last night,” Eleven started nervously, unsure of how to phrase what she was about to ask Eddie. “Mike apologized.”
“Good,” Eddie responded, glaring at the back of Mike’s head.
“But then he… He put… He touched…” Eleven stared at her feet as she attempted to find the right words. Eddie held her hand and squeezed it encouragingly, waiting patiently for her to phrase her question. “He touched my lips. With his lips. Why?”
Eddie giggled delightedly.
“Oh, El, that was a kiss!”
“Yeah,” Eddie smiled. “It means he likes you. That’s his way of showing you that he likes you.”
“Oh,” Eleven muttered, fiddling with the zipper on the jacket Mike had given her before they left the house.
“I’m surprised though,” Eddie continued. “Haven’t you seen a kiss before? I’m pretty sure you’ve seen Richie and I kiss...”
“No,” Eleven responded, shaking her head in confusion.
“Oh. Well…” Eddie smiled mischievously, dropping her hand. “You will now. Hey, Rich!”
“Yes, my Spaghetti-head?” Richie called back, turning to walk backwards down the road.
Eddie ran up to Richie, throwing his arms around Richie’s neck and pulling him down for a kiss.
“Oh, my! Eddie Spaghetti,” Richie started in a feminine Southern accent. “Not in front of the children!”
“Shut up, Richie!” Eddie laughed, punching his shoulder before intertwining their fingers and continuing down the road.
“You coming, El?” Mike called over his shoulder when he noticed Eleven was stood still, watching Richie and Eddie with a smile on her face.
“No, but Eddie will be tonight!” Richie shouted, eliciting a groan from all of the boys as Eleven ran up to Mike with a grin on her face.
“Okay,” Mike started, holding the door to the school open for Eleven. “If anyone sees us, look sad.”
Dustin and Lucas nodded in agreement, Richie and Eddie leading the group down the hallway.
“Attention students,” came the crackling voice of the principle over the P.A. system, causing Eleven to jump and grab Mike’s arm in fright.
“It’s okay,” Mike smiled, removing Eleven’s hand from his arm and placing it in his own, lacing their fingers together. “It’s just the P.A. system,” he explained as the principle droned on about a special assembly for Will. Eleven nodded embarrassedly.
“Fuck!” Richie groaned, jiggling the handle of the door to the AV Room before hitting the door angrily. “It’s fuckin’ locked,” he explained, turning to his friends.
“What? Are you sure?” Mike groaned, reaching forward to try the door himself.
“I know how to open a fucking door, Mike,” Richie rolled his eyes. “It’s locked!”
“Hey, do you think you can open it with your powers?” Dustin asked hopefully, grinning at Eleven.
The group startled as Mr. Clarke turned the corner of the hallway.
“The assembly’s about to start…"
“We know,” Mike responded sadly. “We’re just… y’know…”
“Upset,” Eddie finished nervously, grasping Richie’s bicep tightly, fingers digging in painfully as he attempted to regulate his breathing which was starting to get wheezy as his eyes darted nervously between Mr. Clarke and Eleven.
“Ow, Eds,” Richie hissed, trying to pull Eddie’s hand from his arm.
“Yeah, definitely upset,” Dustin continued.
“We just needed some alone time…”
“To… cry,” Dustin finished lamely.
“Listen, I get it. I do,” Mr. Clarke sighed, frowning at the boys while Mike tried his hardest not to roll his eyes at Dustin’s pathetic acting. “I know how hard this is, but let’s just be there for Will, huh?”
Everyone nodded sadly.
“And then…” Mr. Clarke pulled a set of keys from his pocket, tossing them to Mike. “The Heathkit is all yours for the day, what d’ya say?”
Mike, Dustin, and Lucas grinned at each other.
“Oh, I don’t believe we’ve met,” Mr. Clarke interrupted their celebration, attention turning to Eleven. Eddie’s grip tightened on Richie who was openly wincing and hissing in pain. “What’s your name?”
“Eleanor!” Mike jumped in, giving Eleven’s hand an alarmed squeeze. “She’s, uh-”
“She’s my cousin!” Eddie jumped in, eyes wild and panicky.
“She’s here for Will’s funeral,” Mike continued, thankful for Eddie’s quick thinking.
“Well, welcome to Hawkin’s High, Eleanor,” Mr. Clarke said kindly, eyeing Mike and Eleven’s clasped hands happily. “I wish you were here under better circumstances.”
“Don’t we all,” Richie muttered before Eddie squeezed Richie’s arm again, effectively silencing him.
“Where are you from exactly?”
“Bad place...” Eleven responded quietly.
“Sweden!” Dustin cried.
“I have a lot of family in Sweden,” Eddie added, cheeks burning red at the lie.
“She hates it there,” Dustin continued as the rest of the group groaned internally, wishing Dustin would stop talking.
“It’s really cold,” Lucas added.
Mr. Clarke eyed the teenagers suspiciously before gesturing towards the doors to the gym where the assembly was being held.
The group burst into the gym while Principal Coleman stood at the podium, explaining the reasoning for the assembly.
“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” Richie commented loudly as the group found a spot on a bleacher, sneering at the teenagers who were watching them.
“Rich,” Eddie hissed. “Shush.”
“We come together to heal. We come together to grieve,” Mr. Coleman continued. “Will Byers’ death is an unimaginable tragedy. Will was an exceptional student and a wonderful friend to all of us. It’s impossible to express the hole his loss will leave in our community.”
“Look at these fucking assholes,” Mike scoffed, gesturing to the row of girls crying at the front of the gym while teachers handed out tissues. “They didn’t care about him!”
“They probably didn’t even know his name until today,” Lucas grumbled while Eddie nodded in agreement from nearby.
“Pathetic,” he muttered, staring at Troy and Henry in disgust as they laughed mockingly a few rows away. “Just fucking pathetic…”
The entire group looked over at the pair of bullies, glaring at them in anger.
“Mouth breathers…” Eleven whispered causing Mike to laugh quietly, squeezing her hand softly.
“Hey,” Eddie shouted, voice high and clear over the sound of squeaking sneakers as the students exited the gym.
“Hey! Fuckheads!” Eddie called again as he stalked across the gym. “You think this is fucking funny?” Eddie sneered as the boys turned to face him.
“What’d you say, faggot?”
“Hey!” Richie shouted, jumping forward only to be pushed back by Eddie.
“I saw you two,” Eddie continued as if Richie hadn’t interrupted. “I saw you laughing and I think that’s pretty fucked up.”
“Didn’t you listen to the counsellor, Wheezy?” Henry laughed harshly. “Grief shows itself in funny ways.”
“Besides,” Troy nodded in agreement. “What’s there to be sad about anyway? Will’s in fairy land now, right?”
Mike growled, jaw clenching and face flushing with anger.
“Flying around with all the other little fairies… All happy and gay! Don’t worry faggot, you’ll get there one day too.”
“Fuck you,” Richie roared, moving to pounce on Troy only to be pushed aside by his brother who stalked up to Troy and shoved him to the ground angrily.
The students who had gathered around to watch the confrontation hummed with excitement.
“You’re fuckin’ dead, Wheeler!” Troy shouted for the second time in one week, pushing himself up off the floor and throwing himself in Mike’s direction only to freeze.
Everyone stared at Troy in confusion, watching his panicked face.
“Oh, my god! Harrington peed himself!” came the sound of Beverly Marsh laughing with glee.
Mike stared at Troy’s wet jeans in confusion, a grin slowly spreading across his face before he pieced together what had happened. He looked over at Eleven, watching as Eddie wrapped an arm around her happily while she wiped at the trickle of blood beneath her nose, grinning at Mike discretely.
“Holy shit!” Richie roared with laughter, throwing an arm around Mike. “You made Harrington piss his pants, good one lil’ bro!”
Richie turned towards the sound of his name to find the Loser’s Club staring at him in confusion.
“Where the hell have you two been?” Beverly asks, referring to the lack of Richie and Eddie’s presence with their group lately.
“Bev, I can’t explain right now,” Richie starts, grabbing her shoulders desperately. He looks over his shoulder, watching as the group disappears into the AV Room.
“Richie, what the fuck?” Stan presses, staring at his best friend expectantly.
“Guys, I promise. We’ll explain later, but I can’t tell you right now. Mike’s pretty fucked up about Will and shit… I promise I’ll explain, just not right now!”
“Richie,” Dustin called, giving him an expectant look.
“I promise,” Richie repeated, pressing a kiss to Beverly’s cheek before disappearing behind the AV Room door.
“What the h-h-hell?”
Richie entered the dark AV Room to find the group of boys huddled around a silent Eleven.
“Why the fuck is it so dark-”
“Sorry, God!” Richie muttered, rolling his eyes as the four boys glared at him. He swallowed as he listened to the thumping sound coming through the radio, remembering what they were doing in the room.
“What is that?”
“Fuck,” Lucas hissed, covering his mouth in shock at the sound of Will’s voice.
“Will!” Mike shouted into the mouthpiece of the radio, Dustin and Lucas yelling similar sentiments over his shoulder.
“Can you hear us?”
“Why can’t he hear us?”
“I don’t know, Lucas!” Mike shouted impatiently.
“Mom, it’s coming! It’s like home, but it’s so dark and empty!”
Mike stared at his friends, tears in his eyes as he listened to Will's terrified voice.
“It’s so cold! Mom! Mom, please!”
Eddie let out a quiet whimper, covering his mouth with his hand as a couple of tears spilled over onto his cheeks. Richie moved towards Eddie, reaching to squeeze his shoulder.
“Fuck!” Richie shouted, jumping and pulling Eddie back from the radio as it sparked, exploding with flames. The boys jumped back as well, Mike pulling Eleven with him.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!” Dustin chanted, using the fire extinguisher to put out the flames as the fire alarm shrilled around them.
“El,” Mike started once the flames were extinguished. “El, are you okay? Can you move?”
Eleven stared back at him, blood gushing from her nose and veins popping out prominently against her pale skin.
“El!” Mike shouted again in panic, wrapping his arms around her neck and trying to get her to respond.
“Come on, Mike,” Eddie interrupted. “We gotta get her outta here!”
Mike nodded, pulling back slightly before scooping her up into his arms and standing.
“Shit, you been working out, Mikey?” Richie joked.
“Shut up,” Mike groaned out, pushing past Richie and running down the hallway, heading for the nearest exit.
The group had settled once again in the Wheeler’s basement feeling utterly defeated. Richie and Eddie were huddled together on one end of the couch, Eddie’s head pillowed on Richie’s shoulder while Richie wrapped him in his long, gangly arms. Eleven was spread out across the couch, still in her dress and wig with her head rested in Eddie’s lap.
Mike watched from the other end of the couch sitting by Eleven’s feet, jealousy rising up in him as he watched Eleven lay so comfortably on Eddie. He knew it was ridiculous, Eddie was gay, not to mention dating his twin brother, but he couldn’t help but worry about whether Eleven preferred Eddie to him.
As Mike watched his brother massage Eddie’s scalp, fingers knotted deeply in his hair, he was reminded of the intimate moment he had walked in on two days ago. It felt like a lifetime ago.
“What was Will saying, again?” Dustin asked from his spot at the table where he was jotting down notes in a binder.
“Like home… Like home…” Mike replied, turning his attention away from the three on the other end of the couch. “Dark?”
“And empty,” Lucas added.
“Empty and cold… Wait did he say cold?” Dustin asked, looking up from his binder.
“I don’t know, Dustin,” Lucas groaned. “The stupid radio kept going in and out!”
“Like home…” Mike repeated, standing and pacing in front of the couch. “Maybe like his house?”
“Or maybe like Hawkins!” Lucas exclaimed sarcastically causing Mike to roll his eyes and flip him off.
“Upside Down,” Eleven mumbled into Eddie’s thigh.
“What was that, El?” Eddie asked, placing a hand on her shoulder.
“Upside Down,” Mike repeated before Eleven had the chance. “Upside down! When El showed us where Will was she flipped the board over remember?” Mike asked, picking up the Dungeons and Dragons board on the table. “Upside Down. Dark. Empty.”
“Mike, you sound insane,” Richie called from the couch, throwing his head back and covering his eyes with a forearm.
“Shut up, Richie,” Mike started reflexively. “Guys, just think about it! When El took us to find Will, she took us to his house, right?”
“Yeah and he wasn’t there, obviously.”
“But what if he was there? What if we just couldn’t see him? What if he was on the other side?”
Everyone eyed Mike carefully, not sure how to respond.
“What if this is Hawkins,” Mike gestured to the top of the game board before flipping it over. “And this is where Will is. The Upside Down.”
“Like the Vale of Shadows!”
“Here we go with the nerd stuff again…” Richie groaned loudly as Dustin pulled out Mike’s Dungeons and Dragons binder, beginning to read out the information about the Vale of Shadows.
“Mom, no,” Richie whined, pulling at the tie his mother had just fastened around his neck. “It’s too tight!”
“Enough, Richard,” Karen snapped uncharacteristically.
“Mom!” Mike shouted, stalking into the room. “I’m not wearing this jacket, its itchy!”
“You’re wearing it, Michael!”
“Enough! The both of you,” she shouted, quieting the whines of her two sons. “We’re going to Will’s funeral! What is wrong with the two of you?!”
Both boys remained silent, staring at their feet.
“Sorry, mom,” Richie piped up when Karen continued to glare at them in silence.
“Be downstairs in 5 minutes, the both of you,” Karen said softly, turning to leave the room. “And no more complaining.”
“We’ll be back later today, okay?” Mike spoke softly while hugging Eleven tightly.
She nodded into his neck instead of offering any verbal confirmation. The girl had been exceptionally quiet since the visit to Hawkins High the day before. She had only spoke a handful of words to Eddie and Mike.
“I brought you some lunch,” Mike reminded, indicating to the tray of food he had set on the table. “And you’ve got my watch, remember?”
Eleven nodded before whispering five-zero-zero, indicating that she remembered the fact that Mike had told her they’d be home by 5 o’clock.
“Mike, let’s go!” Richie called from the top of the stairs.
“Coming!” Mike called over his shoulder. “You’ll be okay, right?”
Eleven nodded and pressed a kiss to Mike’s mouth quickly, surprising him. She had been thinking about what Eddie had told her the previous day about Mike showing that he liked her by kissing her. She figured it was her turn to return the gesture to indicate her reciprocated feelings.
Mike blushed deeply but a wide grin grew on his face as Eleven pulled back.
“What was that f-”
“Mike! Seriously!” Richie shouted down the stairs.
“I’ll see you in a few hours,” Mike said with a smile, squeezing Eleven’s hand quickly before taking off up the stairs.
“Why are you so red?” Richie laughed once Mike reached the top of the stairs.
“I’m not,” Mike shot back, blush deepening as he took off out the door.
“Sure…” Richie chuckled, shaking his head while closing the door behind himself.
“Mike, move!” Richie groaned, as he attempted to shove Mike into the back seat of the station wagon.
“No, I got here first!”
“You have to sit in the back with Nancy!” Richie shouted, pushing at his brother’s shoulder as they pulled up in front of Eddie’s house. “Eddie gets carsick, he can’t sit in the back so you have to move!”
“Why can’t you just sit in the back then,” Mike argued, pushing back against his brother.
“Boys!” Karen shouted, turning in her seat to look at her sons. “Mike, get in the back with Nancy, please?”
“This is such bullshit!” Mike huffed, removing his seatbelt and climbing over into the back seat that faced away from the middle row of seats in the station wagon, ignoring his father’s weak reprimand. “We’re going to my friend’s funeral and I gotta sit in the damn trunk?!”
Richie flicked the back of Mike’s head as he shuffled out of the car to go and collect Eddie. Richie hurried up the path to the front door before ringing the bell.
“Sonia,” Richie nodded cordially as the door opened.
“What do you want, Wheeler?” Sonia glared, peering over Richie’s shoulder to shoot Karen an equally dirty look.
“Just picking up my boyfriend,” Richie smiled obnoxiously, insisting on referring to Eddie as his boyfriend whenever Sonia was around to annoy her. Sonia growled lightly before turning to call to Eddie up the stairs.
“Coming, ma!” Eddie called, footsteps thumping on the floor above their heads. Richie snorted, restraining from making a joke about Eddie’s choice of words. “Hey, Rich!” Eddie smiled, as he reached the landing of the stairs, grabbing his coat from a hook and making his way towards the door.
“Hey, babe,” Richie grinned, kissing Eddie to spite Sonia, who made an angry sound in the back of her throat.
“Rich!” Eddie laughed, pushing Richie back and pulling on his coat. “I’ll see you later, mom,” Eddie said, turning to kiss the large woman on the cheek before rushing down the path, pulling Richie along by the hand behind him before his mother could make any further comment.
“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler,” Eddie greeted, cheeks tinted pink as he squished into the middle of the bench seat between Richie and Holly’s car seat. He was still quite embarrassed about being caught in Richie’s bed earlier in the week,
“Hello, dear,” Karen smiled sadly, mood appropriately somber for the occasion.
Eddie immediately frowned, reminding himself that they were going to the funeral of a supposedly dead 16-year-old. He looked to Richie who was apparently trying to appear somber just like Eddie, but failing miserably.
Dustin, Lucas, and Mike stood shoulder to shoulder, trying to appear sad as they watched the casket holding their supposed best friend being lowered into the ground. Richie and Eddie stood with Nancy and Holly nearby, Holly set on Eddie’s hip, happily playing with Eddie’s hair while her parents stood behind Mike supportively.
“Hey,” Dustin laughed, nudging Lucas and Mike and gesturing towards a sobbing blonde girl nearby. “Just wait until we tell Will that Greta goddamn Bowie was crying at his funeral!”
“Something tells me he wouldn’t care that much,” Mike commented quietly, looking over at Greta critically.
“What do you mean? He’s had a crush on her since-”
“Shh!” Karen interrupted their sniggering, shooting the boys an angry look.
Richie shook his head, letting out a quiet snort as he watched his mother pinch Mike’s bicep in an attempt to quiet him.
“Those idiots,” Richie commented under his breath to Eddie who looked over and nodded in agreement.
“They could at least try to pretend,” Eddie replied, turning back to make faces at the giggling Holly in order to keep her happy and quiet.
Richie watched his boyfriend and sister silently, a wide grin on his face as he felt a warmth settle in his belly at the sight. Nancy nudged him, shooting him a look reminding him that he was at a funeral. Apparently, he was just as bad as his twin brother at acting sad today.
“What are they talking to Mr. Clarke about?” Nancy commented, watching Mike, Lucas, and Dustin speaking animatedly to their science teacher at a table across the room.
“Who knows, Nance,” Richie laughed, shoving another sandwich triangle in his mouth. “Nerd stuff probably,” he garbled, egg salad spraying everywhere.
“Sorry, Eds,” Richie replied sheepishly, covering his mouth with a napkin to hide his grin.
“They love Mr. Clarke,” Eddie reminded Nancy, still giving Richie a disgusted look. “And they’re clearly having trouble grieving. He’s probably just trying to help them…”
Eleven jumped as Mike stabbed his pencil through the piece of paper he had been using while the flea and acrobat analogy to Eddie, Richie, and Eleven.
“It would take a lot of energy to build a gate like this,” Mike continued, staring at the three intensely. “But that’s gotta be what happened! Otherwise how’d Will get there, right?”
“Right,” Eleven agreed, staring at Mike nervously. She hadn’t fully understood Mike’s explanation, and neither had Richie for that matter, but she was nervous about Mike’s comment about building a gate.
“What we need to know is, do you know where the gate is?” Eleven shook her head in response to Lucas, causing Mike to sigh. “Then how do you know about the Upside Down?!”
Eleven looked down at her lap, unable to answer Lucas’ question.
“Hey,” Mike whispered, grabbing one of her hands. “It’s okay.”
“Dustin, what the hell are you doing?” Richie asked, having watched Dustin pace around in circles throughout Mike’s explanation.
“I need to see your compasses!”
“What?” Lucas and Mike asked in confused unison.
“Who the fuck carries a compass?”
“I don’t need a compass,” Eddie bristled, reminding the boys of his talent for navigation.
“I need all of the compasses right now!” Dustin exclaimed, ignoring Richie and Eddie.
“Well, I don’t got a bloody compass, mate,” Richie laughed in a British accent.
“Hang on,” Mike groaned, releasing Eleven’s hand and moving to grab his backpack while Lucas rummaged through his. “Here.”
They had collected a total of three compasses from around the basement, tossing them on the Dungeons and Dragons table before huddling around it expectantly, waiting for Dustin to explain his behaviour.
“So… What are we looking at?”
“Well they’re all facing north, right?”
“That’s not north,” Eddie interrupted, staring at the compasses in confusion.
“What?” the other boys asked in confusion.
“Exactly what I said, that’s not north!” Eddie repeated. “The sun rises in the east and sets in the west… So that’s north,” Eddie explained, pointing in a direction opposite to the one the compasses indicated.
“So, the compasses are broken?” Richie asked.
“Did you pay any attention in Grade 9 science, Richie?” Dustin asked, rolling his eyes. “Do you see a battery pack anywhere on here?”
“No,” Richie responded, giving Dustin a dirty look.
“No, you don’t because it doesn’t need one. The needles are naturally draw to the earth’s magnetic north pole.”
“So, what’s wrong with them?” Lucas asked.
“Well, that’s what I couldn’t figure out, but then I remembered,” Dustin started excitedly, voicing picking up speed as he continued. “You can change the direction of a compass with a magnet! If there’s a presence of a more powerful magnetic field, the needle deflects to that power. And then I remembered what Mr. Clarke said, the gate would have so much power-”
“It could disrupt the electromagnetic field,” Mike finished in excitement.
“Can you nerds translate that to English please?” Richie sighed.
“Meaning, if we follow the compasses north…”
“They should lead us to the gate,” Dustin finished with a nod.
“Let’s go!” Mike announced, scrambling to collect supplies.
“No,” Richie said quietly, grabbing Eddie’s hand before he could follow suit.
“What?” Dustin asked, pulling his change of clothes out of his backpack.
“We’re not going, Eddie and I.”
“What?” Eddie asked, looking up at Richie in confusion. “Yes, we are-”
“No, we’re not,” Richie argued, his voice solid. “I can’t let you go out there-”
“You can’t tell me what to do, Richie,” Eddie scowled, pulling his hand from Richie’s grip and turning to pick up his bag before rushing into the basement bathroom and slamming the door.
“That was the worst possible thing you could have said,” Mike sighed, shaking his head at his brother before running up the stairs to their room to change out of his suit.
“Eds!” Richie called, banging on the bathroom door which shook with the force of Richie’s fist. “Please, come on Eds! Let me in! Please!”
“Go away, Richard,” Eddie called angrily from inside, taking his time in the bathroom
“Spaghetti, I’m sorry! Please! Just let me in!” Richie continued banging on the door with more insistency when Mike returned in jeans and a jacket. “I’m an idiot, please let me-”
Richie slipped as the door suddenly swung open, falling into the bathroom.
“Eddie, I’m sorry. I’m such an idiot,” Richie rambled, words coming out in a rush as he shut the door behind him.
“I know I’m smaller than you and fragile and fucking pathetic, but that doesn’t mean-”
“I don’t think you’re fragile or pathetic, Eds,” Richie interrupted, eyebrows knitting together in confusion. “Why would you even say that?”
“Because it’s true, Richie!” Eddie exploded, sitting atop the closed toilet lid. “You’re always trying to protect me and babying me-”
“Eddie, I know you can protect yourself. I know you don’t need me to protect you,” Richie interrupted again, taking Eddie’s face between his hands. “Believe me, without you I would barely be a functioning fucking human being. I need you way more than you need me,” Richie laughed in a self-deprecating tone.
“Not true,” Eddie muttered, a small smile growing on his face as he avoided eye contact with Richie.
“It is,” Richie insisted. “But I try to protect you because I love you, because I literally don’t know what I would do if something happened to you. My motives are purely selfish.”
Eddie’s smile grew as he rolled his eyes before meeting Richie’s stare. He reached a hand up to hold Richie’s wrist, rubbing a thumb across the expanse of smooth skin as he felt Richie’s pulse.
“I love you, too,” Eddie sighed. “But I’m going with them to find Will whether you come or not. El’s my friend and I want to be there for her. And Will, well…”
“Yes?” Richie asked, encouraging Eddie to continue.
“Do you remember when we first came out in seventh grade?” Richie nodded immediately, grimacing slightly. “We were so young… No one knew any better, they were all so confused at the idea of two boys being best friends and boyfriends… Will was the first person to stand up for us and he got so much shit for it…”
Richie swallowed, pulling Eddie up into his arms to comfort himself as much as to comfort Eddie who now had tears in his eyes.
“We weren’t even his friend, we only knew him as Mike’s nerdy best friend but he supported us. He told people off when they made fun of us. Shy, little Will Byers… He is probably the kindest person in this whole shitty fucking town. I can’t live my life knowing that there was a chance to help find him, to help save him, and I passed on it because I was too afraid of what might happen or what my mom will do if I miss my curfew again.”
“I love you so fucking much,” Richie whispered, lips pressed to Eddie’s curls as he squeezed him tighter.
“Ugh,” Richie groaned dramatically from the back of the pack as they walked along the train tracks running through the forest. “How much farther?”
“I dunno, Richie,” Dustin snapped, staring down at the compass in his hand. “These things only tell direction, not distance, dipshit. You really need to learn more about compasses. Maybe you could sit in on some of Mr. Clarke’s freshman classes…”
“Fuck you!” Richie responded half-heartedly.
“How are we gonna know when we’re there?” Lucas asked Dustin, worry clear in his voice.
“Uh, I don’t know Lucas,” Dustin started sarcastically. “But I think a portal to another dimension is gonna be pretty fucking obvious!”
“El?” Eddie nudged Eleven from his spot directly behind her. The group was walking in pairs along the track, Dustin and Lucas in front, Eleven and Mike in the middle with clasped hands and a compass in Mike’s free hand, and Richie and Eddie marching up the rear. “You okay? You’ve been really quiet…”
Richie snorted, opening his mouth to make a comment about how she was always quiet before Eddie shot him a glare.
“Fine,” Eleven whispered with a sniffle, not looking up from her feet as they continued along the tracks.
Eddie sighed, falling back slightly to match Richie’s casual pace.
“Mike,” Eleven spoke up suddenly, grabbing his bicep with her free hand, effectively stopping him in his tracks.
“Hey!” Richie complained as he bumped into his brother’s back.
“What? Why?” Mike asked, face incredulous.
“I’m tired,” Eleven responded, the lie obvious to the entire group.
“Look, I’m sure we’re almost there. Just hold on a little longer, okay?” Mike sighed, raising one corner of his mouth in a half-hearted smile.
Eleven looked back at Eddie, eyes wide with fear.
“El,” Eddie soothed, moving to stand behind Eleven and rub a hand up and down her free arm. “It’ll be okay. Everything is okay.”
She nodded, letting out a shaky breath before giving in to Mike’s soft tugs at her hand to get her to start walking again. Eddie looked back at Richie, chewing on his lower lip as he gave Richie a nervous look. Richie gulped in response, concern clear on his face.
“Dustin,” Eddie called as they approached an old junkyard with broken down vehicles. “Hey, Dustin!”
“What?” Dustin shouted, looking up from his compass.
“We’re headed back home right now.”
“What, no we’re not,” Dustin argued, staring at the compass in his hand as the rest of the group groaned.
“Yes, we are,” Eddie insisted impatiently. “Look the sun’s setting behind us, right there,” Eddie explained, pointing over his shoulder. “We’ve looped right back around.
“Son of a bitch!”
“Dustin!” Mike and Lucas shouted.
“Why is this all on me?”
“Because you’re the supposed compass genius, dumbass!” Lucas argued.
“Hey, Eddie’s the one who noticed we were going the wrong way first!”
“Hey, leave Eddie outta this,” Richie called, crossing his arms in front of his chest grumpily. His legs were aching, his stomach was grumbling for dinner, and he was craving a smoke.
“I don’t understand what happened. What do your compasses say?” Dustin asked, tapping the face of his compass confusedly.
“North,” Lucas and Mike responded in unison.
“This makes no damn sense…”
“Maybe the gate moved,” Mike suggested, releasing Eleven’s hand and peering around the clearing.
“No, I don’t think it’s the gate. I think it’s something else fucking with the compasses.”
“Maybe it’s something here,” Eddie called, gesturing around to the broken-down hunks of metal around them.
“Nah, it’d have to be like a super magnet.”
“It’s not a magnet!” Lucas rounded on Eleven suddenly, stalking towards her. “It's her! She’s been acting weirder than normal. She’s trying to sabotage us!”
Eddie stepped in front of Eleven as Lucas approached her angrily.
“Why would she do that?” Eddie asked impatiently.
“Because she’s a traitor!”
Eddie rolled his eyes at Lucas’ overdramatic response, crossing his arms exasperatedly as he shifted his weight to one foot, hip cocked sassily.
“Tell us the truth! You did it, didn’t you?” Lucas sneered, peering at Eleven over Eddie’s shoulder. “You don’t want us to reach the gate and you don’t want us to find Will.”
“Lucas, come on. Seriously, you’re being ridiculous!” Mike exclaimed, pulling on his shoulder. “Just leave her alone!”
“Admit it,” Lucas continued, shrugging Mike off as if he hadn’t said anything. “Admit it!”
Both Eleven and Eddie jumped, startled by Lucas’ raised voice. Lucas reached around Eddie easily, grabbing Eleven’s wrist to reveal her blood-stained sleeve.
“Let her go!”
“Fresh blood! I knew it,” Lucas groaned, throwing her arm from his grasp. “I saw her wiping her nose on the tracks. She was using her powers to screw with the compasses!”
“Bullshit! That’s old blood, right El?” Mike defended, turning to Eleven expectantly.
Eddie bit his lip, remembering as he watched Eleven wipe her nose distractedly throughout their whole journey.
“Right, El?” Mike repeated when Eleven didn’t respond.
“It’s not safe...” Eleven whimpered quietly, confirming Lucas’ accusations.
“Motherfucker,” Richie groaned in frustration, throwing his arms over his head and pacing away to sit on the hood of a beat-up car while Lucas rounded on Mike.
“I told you! I fucking told you!” Lucas shouted into Mike’s face. “She’s been playing us from the very start!”
“No!” Mike shouted back. “She helped us find Will!”
“Find Will? Find fucking Will?” Lucas laughed incredulously. “Where the fuck is he then, huh? I don’t see him.”
“You know what I mean, Lucas,” Mike sighed, rolling his eyes.
“No, I actually don’t. Just think about it Mike,” Lucas continued. “She could have just told us where the Upside Down was right away, but she didn’t. Instead she let us wander around the forest like assholes all day.”
“Lucas, calm down,” Dustin tried to interject.
“No!” Lucas shouted, pushing Dustin away from him. “She used us just enough so she could get what she wants! Food and a bed, she’s like a stray dog.”
“Hey,” Eddie protested from his spot next to Eleven where he had an arm wrapped around her shoulders comfortingly.
“Screw you, Lucas!”
“No, screw you Mike!” Lucas shouted again, finger pointed in Mike’s face. “You’re blind because some stupid girl’s finally interested in you. You need to wake up man. Wake the hell up!”
Mike’s jaw clenched angrily, letting Lucas’ words wash over him.
“She knows where Will is and now she’s letting him die in the Upside Down.”
“No,” Eleven protested weakly as Eddie quieted her with reassuring whispers.
“For all we know, it’s her fault.”
“I said shut the fuck up!”
“We’re looking for some stupid monster,” Lucas laughed, pushing Mike roughly. “But did you ever stop to think that maybe she’s the monster?”
Mike let out a growl, lunging at Lucas and pushing him to the ground before landing a well-aimed punch,
“Stop it!” Eleven cried, Eddie holding her back from running into the tussle.
“Guys, what the fuck?!”
“Stop!” Richie shouted, throwing himself at the boys who were wrestling for dominance over one another. “Fuck! Stop it you assholes!”
“Stop it!” Eleven cried again before letting out a high-pitched scream.
Lucas flew through the air, throwing Richie onto his back with a thump as he was dislodged, before slamming against a piece of old corrugated tin roof.
Mike and Dustin ran towards Lucas while Eddie rushed over to Richie, checking him for injuries.
“I’m fine, Eds,” Richie groaned, pushing himself to his feet.
"You're bleeding!" Eddie protested.
“Eddie, I said I'm fucking fine.”
Eddie rolled his eyes at his boyfriends refusal for help, turning towards the other three boys.
“Lucas! Lucas come on, wake up!” Dustin and Mike cried, shaking their unconscious friend.
“Move, lemme see him,” Eddie interrupted, pushing the two boys away from their best friend as he began checking Lucas’ pulse.
“Why would you do that?” Mike shouted across the field to Eleven, turning away from his unconscious friend. “What’s wrong with you?” he screamed, immediately regretting his words as he watched Eleven’s face crumple in tears, blood dripping from her nose and down her dress.
Mike turned at the sound of a loud gasp and Eddie crying for Lucas not to sit up too quickly.
“Lucas,” Mike sighed. “You okay?”
“Lucas, how many fingers am I holding up?” Dustin asked obnoxiously, waving his hand in Lucas’ face. “How many fingers?”
“Let me see your head,” Mike said, pushing Dustin away.
“Get off of me!” Lucas groaned, slapping Mike’s hand away harshly.
“Just let me see!”
“I said get the fuck off of me!” Lucas repeated, pushing up off the ground and stalking away from the boys that had been crouched around him.
“Lucas, come on,” Mike called worriedly. “Don’t be like this.”
“Let him go, man,” Richie sighed, grabbing his brother’s shoulder to stop him from following Lucas.
“Where’s El?” Mike asked suddenly, turning to the spot she was standing before. The remaining boys all looked in the same direction, confusion clear on their faces. “Where the fuck is El?” Mike repeated desperately.
“El!” Mike screamed, hands cupped around his mouth to amplify his voice. “El!”
The boys all began shouting her name, searching frantically for the small girl.
“Fuck,” Mike moaned, rubbing his forehead as he thought about how he had shouted at her angrily while Lucas was unconscious “El!?”
This is what I mean by the back row of the station wagon:
Chapter 6: The Monster
“You’re fucked if you think I’m going home without her,” Mike snapped, not bothering to look at his brother who was supporting a crying Eddie.
“No, I’m not going home until we find her!”
“You can’t wander around the forest alone all night, Michael,” Richie snapped, irritated with his brother. The sun had set hours ago, Richie was starving, and Eddie was shivering and crying from the cold and the fact that Eleven had run away.
“Just watch me,” Mike countered, standing from where he was crouched, peering into a small alcove between some tree roots and a large rock.
Richie groaned and turned to Dustin who looked just as desperate to call it a night.
“Deal with your friend please,” Richie joked to Dustin, shrugging off his jacket and wrapping it around the uncharacteristically under-dressed Eddie before wrapping his arms around the smaller boy as well.
“Mike, come on man…”
“I’m not stopping you three from going home. I don’t care what you do, but I’m not going home until I find El.”
It was nearing midnight at this point and Richie was furious with Mike’s insistence, while also being slightly concerned for Eleven. He knew she was strong though, more than capable of fending for herself.
“Hey,” Mike called, a few yards ahead of the others. “Do you hear that?”
“It sounds like its coming from over,” Mike said pointing to his left.
“Well, well, well…”
“Shit,” Dustin groaned.
“If it isn’t Faggot and Frogface Wheeler and their two sidekicks Toothless and Wheezy!” Troy laughed cruelly.
“Run!” Dustin screamed, already taking off in the opposite direction.
“What?!” Mike cried, startled by Dustin’s shout before taking off after him.
“C’mon, Eds,” Richie yelled, grabbing Eddie’s wrist and pulling him along. Eddie stumbled, struggling to keep up with Richie’s longer legs.
“You’re all fucking dead!” Troy bellowed while Henry let out a strangled cry of rage.
“Fuck!” Eddie moaned as he tripped over a root, hand slipping from Richie’s grip as he landed face first, head smacking painfully against a sharp rock. “Ow!”
Richie’s legs had been moving with such momentum that his body had continued to move forward when Eddie fell. He doubled back, trying desperately to get to Eddie before Troy or Henry who were only a few feet away from Eddie’s sprawled form.
“Hey there, Wheezy,” Eddie heard Henry’s low voice whisper directly into his ear. Henry pulled Eddie to his feet by the back of his shirt, pressing the point of his switch blade to Eddie’s throat. Eddie whimpered, causing Henry to laugh nastily.
“Let him go!” Richie screamed, voice high in desperation and fear. “Eddie! Let him go!"
Troy snorted as a rock sailed past his ear.
“Nice throw, numbnuts,” Troy grunted, turning to look at Mike who stood a few yards away near the edge of the quarry, arm raised from having thrown a rock in Troy’s direction.
“Chee!” Eddie sobbed.
“Eddie! Let him go!”
“Stay back, Wheeler!” Henry grunted, smiling maliciously. “Or I’ll slit his fuckin' throat.”
Richie let out a broken sob, hands in his hair and pulling at his curls in desperation. He knew Henry was crazy enough to actually do it.
“What do you want?” Mike called.
“I wanna know how the hell you did it!” Troy glared.
“How I did what?”
“Richie,” Eddie cried again, fat tears rolling down his cheeks.
“I know you did something to me!” Troy shouted, stalking towards Mike. “Some nerdy science shit to make me do that!”
“You mean piss your pants?” Mike asked with an eye roll.
“Mike!” Richie called in shock, teeth ground together in anger. “Shut up!”
“Our friend has super powers and she squeezed your tiny bladder with her mind!” Dustin shouted, drawing everyone’s attention.
“Oh, my fuck!” Richie screamed, pulling at his hair again openly sobbing as he watched Henry hold Eddie, furious at Dustin and Mike for being so careless with their words while Eddie was in danger. “Holy fucking fuck!”
“Shut up!” Troy shouted at Dustin. “Hey, Henry! Why don’t you cut out his faggot tongue?”
“No!” Richie shrieked while Eddie felt his eyes roll back, knees starting to give out.
“Probably gets in the way while sucking all that fuckin' dick anyway.”
Eddie’s head lolled back against Henry’s shoulder as he finally passed out, his simultaneous anxiety and asthma attacks forcing his brain to temporarily shut down out of self-preservation.
“Eddie!” Richie called, lurching forward. “Let him go!”
“Get back!” Henry barked again, pressing the knife to Eddie’s throat harder.
“We’ll let him go,” Troy piped up, causing Richie to stare at him hopefully. “But first… it’s his turn,” he laughed, pointing over his shoulder at Mike.
“My turn for what?”
“Jump!” Troy shouted louder. “Or Wheezy over there isn’t ever speaking again.”
“No!” Richie whined, conflicted. His head was pounding, unable to comprehend the fact that the two most important people in his life were being pitted against each other in such a way. “No…”
“I’ll cut it out, right now!” Henry shouted gruffly, yanking back Eddie’s slack jaw and gripping his tongue between his thumb and forefinger. Richie was almost glad Eddie was unconscious, Eddie would have lost it if he knew what Henry was doing right now.
“What?” Richie asked, looking away from Eddie’s relaxed face and trying to make eye contact with Mike in the dark. He watched as Mike swallowed determinedly, jaw clenching.
“Just hold on. I’ll do it, but just hold on!”
“Mike, don’t do it!” Dustin shouted, trying to grab Mike’s arm only to be shrugged off.
“Mike!” Richie called, unsure of what he wanted to happen.
“Mike, seriously, don’t do it!” Dustin was still screaming as Mike walked towards the edge of the cliff.
He ignored the shouts, continuing his determined path to the edge of the quarry.
“Well, shit,” Richie heard Troy mumble in surprise.
“Five!” Henry shouted in Mike’s direction, clearly not having the same reservations as Troy. “Four! Three! Two!”
Mike stepped off the edge of the cliff, listening to his brother’s screaming.
Troy, Dustin, and Richie all ran to the edge of the cliff, peering over it.
“What the fuck?!” Richie cried out, watching as his brother appeared to hover a few feet below them before slowly lifting up into the air and falling back against the ground behind the group with a painful groan.
“El?” Mike moaned out, confusion and pain laced in his voice as he panted, adrenaline pumping through his veins.
“Oof!” Troy grunted, landing a few feet away after being thrown back.
Eleven was stalking towards the boys, a determined frown set on her face.
She continued walking towards them in silence, twitching her head in Henry’s direction and feeling the satisfaction settle in her chest as she heard the sound of his five fingers holding the switchblade snap simultaneously.
“Motherfucker!” he screamed, throwing Eddie to the side to cradle his injured hand. “She broke my hand. That crazy bitch just broke my hand!”
“Go!” Eleven whispered in a deadly voice as she glared at the two bullies.
“Come on,” Troy yelled, running towards Henry and pulling on his shirt as he ran past. “Let’s get the fuck outta here!”
“Eddie!” Richie whispered, rushing towards Eddie’s body that was laying in the grass.
“Yeah, that’s right!” Dustin shouted at their retreating forms happily. “You better run! She’s our friend and she’s fucking crazy!”
“Dustin,” Mike sighed, staring up at his friend in exasperation.
“You come back here and she’ll kill you!”
“You hear me?” Dustin continued yelling, ignoring Mike. “She’ll kill you, you sons of bitches!”
Dustin stopped his shouting when he noticed Mike scrambling towards Eleven.
“El!” Mike shouted again, shaking her shoulders. The girl had collapsed, a tell-tale trail of blood, a vibrant red, beneath her nose. “El, come on!”
She opened her eyes, tears clinging to her lashes. She was covered in dirt from hiding in the forest, her wig left behind in anger.
“Mike… I’m sorry…”
“Sorry? Sorry for what?” Mike whispered, cradling her head in his lap, face between his two palms.
“The gate… I opened it…” Eleven sobbed. “I’m the monster.”
“No,” Mike shook his head fiercely. “No, El. You’re not the monster,” he insisted with a smile, leaning down to press his forehead against hers as she continued crying. “You saved me. You saved my life.”
“Well, I mean, you probably would have survived. Maybe a few broken bones, but there’s water down there,” Dustin laughed from behind Mike who ignored him.
“Do you understand,” Mike continued, feeling a few tears sticking to his eyelashes as well. “You saved me.”
He pulled her up into a sitting position, neck aching due to the odd position they were in. She wrapped her arms around his neck, face pressed into it as she cried.
“It’s okay,” Mike hushed, wrapping her in his arms and pressing a kiss to her head. “You saved me.”
Dustin bent down, wrapping his arms around the two.
“Dustin, get off,” Mike laughed, shoving his grinning friend with a shoulder.
“Baby, please wake up,” Richie pleaded, carding his fingers through Eddie’s hair, the smaller boy’s head in his lap. “Eds, c’mon.”
“Chee?” Eddie croaked, voice cracking painfully.
“Eddie,” Richie sobbed.
“Chee, what happened?” Eddie asked, trying to sit up and look around. “Where did they go?”
“El scared them off. She saved us like the badass that she is,” Richie laughed gleefully through tears. “Fuck…”
“Eddie, you most definitely have a concussion from hitting your head, just had a knife held to your throat, and blacked out from lack of oxygen. You’re asking me if I’m alright?”
“Well, are you?”
“I love you,” Richie let out a watery laugh, wrapping his arms around Eddie and pulling him to chest.
“I love you too, Chee,” Eddie whispered causing Richie to shiver.
“Okay, you’re not in danger anymore so you gotta stop calling me that,” Richie said, pulling back slightly. “Otherwise I’m gonna pop a boner in front of Dustin and El!”
“What about Mike?” Eddie giggled, smiling up at Richie as he curled his fingers in Richie's hair, tugging at the curls teasingly.
“Meh, nothing he hasn’t seen before,” Richie joked, leaning into Eddie's touch.
“Come on guys!” Mike called, interrupting the two sat in the bushes at the edge of the forest. “We’re heading home!”
“Finally!” Richie sighed happily, standing and pulling Eddie up with him. “Oh, Eds,” Richie whispered, looking down at Eddie.
Eddie reached up, swiping a hand across his neck and groaning as he felt his dirty hands touch a jagged cut under his jaw from Henry’s knife, stinging with pain.
“Fuck, there’s probably flesh-eating bacteria in my bloodstream by now!”
“What? You know you’re insane, right babe?”
“Shut the fuck up, Richard!”
Chapter 7: The Bathtub
The group arrived back at the Wheelers’ house sometime after 2am, exhausted and shivering. They snuck into the dark and silent house, slipping into the basement without a sound.
“Fuck, I’m exhausted,” Dustin announced, flopping down onto the sleeping bag he had set up earlier in the day when Lucas and Dustin had planned on staying over for a sleepover. “G’Night,” he mumbled, snuggling into the plush fabric.
“C’mon,” Mike told Eleven, pulling her towards the bathroom. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”
Eleven followed Mike quietly while Richie flopped down onto the couch before Eddie crawled on top of him, pulling a cozy blanket hanging off the back of the couch over top of them.
“Rich,” Eddie whispered into Richie’s neck. The boy was settled on Richie’s chest with his face in Richie’s neck, hands curled in Richie’s threadbare Depeche Mode shirt.
“I’m tired,” Eddie whispered, shifting nervously.
“Me too,” Richie agreed, rubbing one hand up and down Eddie’s back while the other curled in Eddie’s hair.
“I’m too scared to sleep, though,” Eddie admitted embarrassedly.
“I’ve got you,” Richie croaked, attempting to cover up the fact that he was scared as well. “You’re okay, I’ve got you.”
Eddie whimpered, letting out a few tears and snuggling into Richie further.
“There,” Mike sighed, throwing the facecloth he had been using to clean Eleven’s face into the sink. “Much better.”
“Thanks,” Eleven whispered, turning to look into the mirror.
“El,” Mike whispered, reaching out to touch her shoulder when he noticed the way she was stroking her shaved head unhappily. “You don’t need it,” he told her, referring to the absence of the blonde wig.
“Yeah,” Mike agreed enthusiastically. He moved to take her cheek in his hand, causing her to turn and look at him. “Beautiful, actually…”
Eleven smiled at him while he flushed red at the words that seemed to tumble out of his mouth without his permission.
“Um, I’m happy you came back…”
Mike smiled back at her, hand sliding down to hold her neck before he leaned in capturing her lips in a soft kiss.
“We should get some sleep,” Mike murmured as he pulled away, a happy grin on his face.
Eddie stirred slightly as the sun coming in through the window hit his face. He had been in and out of consciousness for the last few hours, attempting to get some rest.
“Chee,” he hummed, rubbing his cheek into Richie’s shirt as he felt Richie’s fingers massaging his scalp.
“G’morning,” Richie whispered, sounding exhausted but continuing to card his fingers through Eddie’s hair.
Eddie opened his eyes, squinting against the rising sun filtering into the room. He saw Dustin, snoring lightly in the corner in a green sleeping bag. Sitting up slightly he peered over to find Eleven and Mike curled in Eleven’s fort. He smiled softly before slumping back against Richie.
“ THEY ’ RE COMING! ”
The crackling of Mike’s Supercom caused Richie and Eddie to jump in surprise.
“What the fuck!”
“ -son of a bitch! ”
Eddie scrambled off of Richie, reaching over to grab the radio before settling back into the couch next to Richie.
“What's he saying?”
“Dunno, it’s so static-y,” Richie yawned.
“He must be out of range…”
The sound of a panicked Lucas shouting through the radio continued, causing Eddie to gulp.
“I think somethings wrong, Rich,” Eddie said, biting his lip nervously. “Lucas, if you can hear me slow down. We can’t understand you.”
“Yes! I copy! They know about Eleven!”
Eddie looked up at Richie with wide eyes.
“Get out of there! They know about Eleven!”
“What’s going on?” Dustin grumbled, pushing himself up into a sitting position.
“They’re coming! All of them!”
“It’s Lucas,” Eddie explained, holding the radio as if it was a bomb about to go off.
“Do you hear me? They’re coming! They’re coming for Eleven!”
“Shit!” Eddie exclaimed, throwing down the Supercom and rushing to wake up Eleven and Mike. “Guys! Get up!”
“What’s going on?” Mike yawned.
“They’re coming! We gotta go!” Eddie cried, startling Eleven. “Lucas said they know about Eleven. That they’re coming for her!”
“Shit!” Mike swore, scrambling out of the fort. “Stay here,” Mike shouted before running up the stairs, Richie hot on his heels.
The twins stormed up the stairs, causing the structure to shake with their footfalls.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Richie groaned, following his brother to the living room and peering out the window. “What the fucks with all those vans?”
“You don’t think…” Mike trailed off. “Shit!”
Mike tumbled into the kitchen, Richie following as both boys screamed for their mother’s attention.
“Boys!” Karen shouted, covering the receiver of the phone she had been talking into. “I’m on the phone!”
“I’ve told you both a million times-”
“Did you schedule any repairs?”
“Repairs, mom. Is there anyone who’s supposed to come and do repairs on the house?”
“Michael, what are you talking about? Is there something wrong with the house? What have you done this time, Richard?”
“Mom, there’s nothing wrong with the house! That’s not the-” Richie rolled his eyes.
“Guys!” Dustin called, skidding into the kitchen from the living room.
“One second,” Mike waved his friend off, continuing to argue with his mom.
“Guys!” Dustin screamed desperately causing all three Wheelers to stare at him startled. “We need to leave right now. Right fucking now!”
The three teenagers ignored Mrs. Wheeler, turning to rush down the stairs into the basement.
“If anyone asks where I am, I’ve left the country!” Mike called over his shoulder, stumbling as he made his way down the steep stairs.
“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!” Richie called, rushing over to Eddie and Eleven who were sat on the couch, lifting Eddie up from the couch by his armpits.
“We gotta go,” Richie cut him off, holding onto his boyfriend’s shoulders and speaking seriously. “Right now.”
“C’mon, El,” Mike called, pulling a strap of his backpack over his shoulder and grabbing Eleven’s hand, pulling her towards the back door that led from the basement to the backyard.
“Richie, what’s happening?” Eddie shrilled, pulling on one of Richie’s spare coats he had gotten him and grabbing his backpack as Richie grabbed his own.
“There’s a bunch of random fucking vans surrounding the house. We think they’re here for Eleven,” Richie replied distractedly, holding the door open as he waited for Eddie.
“Oh god,” Eddie moaned, taking Richie’s proffered hand and letting him pull him outside towards their bikes.
Eddie gasped for air, pedalling harder than he ever had in his life, lungs burning as they tried to out-race the white vans. He knew it was absolutely hopeless, there was no way they could escape from a fleet of vehicles on their bikes.
“Shit! Go, go, go!” Dustin continued to scream unhelpfully. “This way, come on!” he called, leading them between residential houses, popping in and out of different streets.
“You good, Eds?” Richie called, looking over at Eddie and worrying about his asthma. Eddie nodded in response, saving his breath.
They had met up with Lucas at some point, Eddie was too exhausted and scared to remember when but he was now pedalling alongside them, screaming his own anxieties.
Dustin skidded to a halt on a deserted street near the edge of the woods, the rest of the group stopping by him.
“Holy shit,” Lucas shouted while Mike questioned if Eleven was okay and Richie helped Eddie pull his inhaler from his backpack, watching as he took a puff of the medication.
“I think we lost them,” Dustin announced as the screeching of brakes interrupted the otherwise silent atmosphere.
“You had to fuckin’ say it, didn’t you,” Richie glared, shoving the inhaler he had been helping Eddie with into his pocket and pushing off from the ground to begin pedalling again, the group following behind him.
“Go, go, go, go, go!” Mike screeched, pedalling his bike as his legs burned.
“Motherfucker!” Richie shouted over his shoulder, watching the vans whip around the corner and skid in wild pursuit of the teenagers.
“Faster, faster Eddie! C’mon!” Mike encouraged while Dustin let out a string of curses, the vans gaining on them as they approached the hill on which their school sat.
“C’mon Spaghetti Monster,” Richie called, slowing his pace to more closely match Eddie’s. “You got this, you can do it! Just a bit farther and then you can rest those lungs, babe.”
“Ah, fuck!” Lucas screamed, breaking Richie’s concentration from pedalling and watching Eddie’s face. He lifted his head, heart sinking as he watched a van turn a corner up ahead, coming for them head on.
All of the teenagers were screaming in fear apart from the ever silent Eleven and Eddie who was too busy gasping for breath. Suddenly the back wheels of the van began to raise. flipping the van forward into the air, arcing over the teenagers and landing upside down across the road behind them, blocking the path of the rest of the vans.
“What the fuck!” Richie shouted, slowing his pace as he stared with wide eyes at the van behind him. “What the fuck!”
“Keep going, keep going!” Mike shouted in reminder.
“This way, c’mon,” Lucas called, directing them off of the road and into the woods.
“Where are we going?”
“Junkyard,” Lucas responded, not offering up any other explanation, even as Dustin rambled questioningly behind him.
“Holy shit!” Dustin shouted as they finally stopped by an abandoned old bus in the junkyard. “Did you see what she did to that van?”
“No, Dustin,” Richie started with an eye roll, dropping his bike and moving to help Eddie lean back against the bus on the ground, pulling the inhaler from his pocket and bringing it to Eddie’s lips for him. “We missed it. Obviously, you fucking idiot!”
“I mean, that was-” Dustin continued, ignoring Richie’s sarcasm.
“Awesome,” Lucas interrupted. “It was awesome.”
Eleven looked up from Mike’s hands which were fussing over her, glancing at Lucas wearily.
“I’m sorry for all that bullshit I was saying yesterday. About you being a traitor and stuff… I was wrong.
“Friends don’t lie,” Eleven whispered as Mike sat back on his haunches, allowing Lucas to get closer. “I’m sorry, too.”
“Me, too,” Mike piped up, smiling at Lucas weakly.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Richie interrupted, standing from where he had been crouched in front of Eddie, whispering encouragements as the smaller boy caught his breath. “We get it, everyone’s friends again. Now can we get back to what’s actually important? There’s an angry mob of men in awful coveralls after us!
The group sat in a tight circle, listening as Lucas described the Department of Energy building he had found.
“Hey, do you guys hear that?” Eddie interrupted as they began considering their options. The sound was a steadily approaching helicopter.
“Shit!” Mike shouted, directing them all to hide their bikes and follow him into the bus.
“Go, go, go!” Dustin waving his friends into the bus before jumping in last and diving behind a seat.
“This is fucked,” Richie groaned from his spot behind one of the back seats where he was crouched with Eddie.
“Tell me about it,” Lucas nodded.
“They’re not gonna hear us from the helicopter, Mike,” Richie rolled his eyes at his brother.
The group spent an hour crouched in the bus, listening for even the remotest sound before pulling themselves up off the ground and collapsing against the marginally more comfortable old bus seats.
“I’m too fucking tall for this,” Richie groaned, stretching out his arms and legs as he leaned back against a seat.
“So dramatic,” Eddie laughed, shaking his head.
“Hey, shut it shorty!” Richie joked, shooting Eddie a grin.
“Mike, are you there? Mike?”
The group jumped at the sound of Nancy’s voice crackling through Mike’s Supercom.
“Mike, it’s me Nancy. Mike, are you there?”
Mike scrambled to pull the radio from his backpack, holding the radio out to the rest of the group as Nancy continued to call for him.
“What about me?” Richie whined indignantly, causing Eddie to elbow him in the ribs.
“Mike, we need you to answer.”
“What the hell does your sister want?”
“This is an emergency, Mike. Do you copy?”
“It must be an emergency. I mean, the nerd’s even using Mike’s lame radio talk,” Richie snorted earning a glare from Eddie.
“Mike, do you copy?!”
“Okay, this is really weird,” Dustin mumbled.
Richie reached out for the radio, ready to respond to his sister if it would stop her annoying calls for Mike.
“Don’t answer!” Mike shouted, pulling the radio back from Richie’s grip.
“It’s Nancy! She said it was an emergency!”
“What if it’s a trick? What if they kidnapped her?” Richie bit his bottom lip, considering Mike’s theory. “What if they’re forcing her to say this?”
“We need you to answer.”
“It’s Lando Calrissian. Don’t answer!”
“What the fuck does that even mean?” Richie gaped at Dustin.
“Star Wars, Rich,” Eddie responded distractedly, still watching the radio.
“Listen, kid, this is the chief. If you’re there, pick up.”
“Oh, shit!” Richie laughed. “My man Hop is there!”
“We know you’re in trouble and we know about the girl.”
“Why is Nancy with the chief?”
“And how does he know about El?”
“We can protect you, we can help you, but you gotta pick up. Are you there? Do you copy? Over.”
Everyone shared silent looks.
“God,” Richie broke the silence, pulling the radio from Mike’s grasp. “This is ridiculous. I’m answering!”
“Yeah, it’s Mike here. We copy. But I’d just like to remind you, Nancy, that you have two brothers-”
Richie was cut off as Mike snatched the Supercom from his twin, glaring at him before speaking into the radio himself.
“Sorry, that was Richie. It’s Mike now, I’m here. I copy.”
“Hey! I was talking-”
“Beep, beep,” Eddie muttered, glaring at Richie as he pressed his hand to Richie’s mouth to quiet him.
“We’re here,” Mike continued, speaking into the radio with determination.
“This is never gonna work,” Eddie moaned, pacing the length of the bus.
“Will you stop pacing?” Mike groaned from where he sat with Eleven.
“He’s right, Eds. C’mere,” Richie spoke gently, not wanting to upset his already anxious boyfriend further. Eddie groaned, flopping down next to Richie who wrapped an arm around his shoulder.
“Eddie’s right though,” Dustin added. “It’s been way too long. Maybe you were right, maybe this was all a trap and those assholes are coming to get us right now!”
“Would you shut up?” Richie sighed, rolling his eyes at Dustin. “Ignore him, Spaghetti. It’s gonna be fine.”
“It’s not a trap,” Lucas defended.
“The chief wouldn’t set us up. We go way back, him and I,” Richie continued.
“Yeah,” Lucas agreed. “The chief wouldn’t set us up. Nancy, maybe, but not the chief!”
Both twins scoffed in outrage at Lucas’ comment about Nancy, causing Eddie to giggle despite his anxiety.
“I’m telling ya, Lando Calrissian,” Dustin repeated, shaking his head.
“Would you shut up about your fucking nerd dude?” Richie groaned again as Dustin took up Eddie’s previous pacing.
“I don’t feel good about this,” Eddie muttered.
“When do you feel good about anything?” Lucas countered.
“Hey, don’t talk to him that way,” Richie sat up, bristling at Lucas’ tone of voice.
“Guys, stop,” Mike mumbled lazily from his spot on the floor between them.
“Maybe control your fucking friend then Mike-”
“Richie, stop,” Eddie pressed, taking Richie’s cheek in his hand and giving him a serious look.
“Shit!” Dustin shouted, gaining everyone’s attention where he was sat at the driver’s seat. “Shit, shit, shit!”
The teenagers watched through the windshield as a group of cars pulled up to the junkyard.
“Everybody down!” Mike commanded, taking cover under the nearest bus seat and pulling Eleven down next to him.
“Dustin!” Lucas shouted.
“Both of you, shut up! Now!” Mike hissed and the group fell silent.
Eddie gripped Richie’s bicep at the screech of the bus door being pushed open, nails digging into Richie’s flesh painfully as he whimpered. Richie pulled his arm from Eddie’s grip, wrapping it around his back and pulling him closer, quietly shushing his boyfriend.
Eddie gasped, pressing a hand to his mouth to stifle the startled noises he was making as muffled gun shots sounded directly outside the bus.
“It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay,” Richie chanted as quietly as he could, eyes squeezed shut in fear.
“All right, let’s go.”
Richie opened his eyes, for the first time in his life overjoyed to hear Chief Hopper’s rumbling voice. No one moved, still in shock.
“You heard the man,” Richie recovered first, popping up from his spot and pulling Eddie with him. “C’mon, Eds,” Richie grinned, tugging Eddie along as he skipped out of the bus happily only to stumble and nearly pull Eddie into the grass as he descended the stairs.
“Oh, my God,” Eddie hissed, pressing a hand to his throat nervously as they side stepped around a handful of dead bodies. “Oh, my God.”
“I’m gonna be sick,” Richie moaned before leaning over and puking up the little sustenance that was in his stomach.
“It’s alright, kid,” Hopper grunted, watching as Richie heaved. “I know, it’s a goddamned shock.”
The six teenagers squeezed into the police cruiser, babbling nervously and questioning the chief about what was going on with Nancy. Richie remained uncharacteristically silent, leaning his head against Eddie as his queasy stomach gurgled with the movement of the vehicle.
“We’re here,” Hopper announced, cutting the engine and leading the way up the driveway to the Byers’ house.
“Mike! Richie!” Nancy gasped, rushing forward.
“Oh, so I see you now remember that you have two brothers,” Richie joked weakly, holding his churning stomach.
“Shut up, shithead,” Nancy groaned, pulling Richie into a hug. “I was so worried about you. Both of you,” she continued turning to pull Mike into a similar hug.
“Take a chill pill, Nance,” Richie laughed. “We’re fine.” Mike nodded in agreement with his brother.
Nancy glared at Richie briefly before turning to pull Eddie into a soft hug, murmuring her pleasure at Eddie’s safety before her eyes landed on Eleven who was holding Eddie’s hand.
“Is that my dress?”
Richie barked out a laugh at Nancy’s comment.
“Um, maybe?” Mike answered for Eleven, wincing weakly at his sister.
“Okay, so the gate has a really strong electromagnetic field and that can change the directions of a compass needle.”
“Oh, my God!” Richie groaned from his spot on the floor of the Byers’ living room where he was laying on his back, head in Eddie’s lap. “I’m so sick of this damn story. I’m starving,” he complained, earlier nausea having subsided as Mike, Lucas, and Dustin explained the gate theory to Nancy, Jonathan, Hopper, and Mrs. Byers.
“What, Spaghetti? I haven’t eaten since yesterday and just yacked anything that was still in my stomach all over the junkyard!” Richie protested before pausing. “Hmm… spaghetti sounds great right now…”
“You’re so annoying,” Eddie muttered, rolling his eyes and attempting to smother the grin he could feel pulling at the corner of his lips.
“Is this gate underground?” Hopper asked, ignoring Richie’s outburst.
Nine heads whipped towards Eleven.
“Near a large water tank?”
“El?” Mike whispered gently, reaching out to touch Eleven’s shoulder.
“How did you know all that?” Dustin asked.
“She’s seen it,” Mike guessed, mind racing.
“Is there any way that you could reach Will? That you could talk to him?” Mrs. Byers asked desperately. “In this-“
“The Upside Down.”
“Upside Down, yeah….”
Eleven nodded, avoiding Mike’s gaze.
“And my friend Barbara?” Nancy asked. “Can you find her too?”
“Well, let’s get this show on the road then,” Hopper announced, clapping his hands together and pushing himself up from his chair.
“Wait, no! I’m still hungry!” Richie whined.
“Richie!” Eddie squawked, smacking Richie’s chest lightly.
“I’ll make you something to eat,” Joyce answered, still shaking slightly.
“You’re a doll!”
The group sat around the dining table, staring at Eleven and the Supercom clutched in her hand while Richie shovelled pasta into his mouth.
“You’re disgusting,” Eddie hissed, glancing quickly at Richie. “Chew with your mouth closed, Richard.”
Richie rolled his eyes but closed his mouth causing Nancy to scoff.
“So, you’ll stop if he asks you to?”
“Hey, like I’ve said to Mikey-boy, if you suck my-“
“Finish that sentence and I swear to God, I will break up with you,” Eddie interrupted with a glare, face crimson.
“Hey, you three! Shut it!” Hopper grunted, bringing the table back to silence and the sound of static from the radio.
The lights flickered as they all watched Eleven with baited breath.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, opening her eyes after a few minutes.
“What’s wrong? What happened?”
“I can’t find them,” Eleven responded, tears soaking her eyelashes and threatening to fall. Mike reached out to her, pulling her into a hug.
“It’s okay,” he whispered into her ear as he rubbed her back, her face hidden in the crook of his neck while she cried.
The group retreated back into the living room, Eleven and Mike curled up on the couch while the rest of the group gathered around them.
“She’s tired,” Mike explained, rubbing Eleven's back while she sat in his lap, turned sideways and resting her cheek on his shoulder with her eyes closed. “Whenever El uses her powers she gets weak.”
Eleven whimpered slightly at Mike words.
“Shh, it’s okay,” Mike whispered, squeezing her briefly.
“The more energy she uses, the more tired she gets,” Dustin continued.
“Yeah, she flipped a van earlier,” Richie added. “You must be tired as fuck, huh El?”
Eleven nodded slightly, cheek still pillowed on Mike’s shoulder.
“Like a bad battery,” Dustin nodded, causing Mike to throw him a glare.
“Well, how do we make her better?” Joyce asked, voice wavering with emotion.
“Well for starters, how about we stop talking about El like she’s not even in the room?” Eddie answered sassily, irritated on his friend’s behalf for how they were talking about her. “And we can’t. She just needs some rest and then we can try again.”
“Dunno,” Mike mumbled.
“The bath,” Eleven whispered, not moving from her spot.
“I can find them… in the bath.”
“What?!” Richie snorted with laughter.
“Shut up, Richie,” Eddie hissed, shoving at his shoulder.
Eleven explained the tank she entered to find people in the Void when she was back at the lab.
“It sounds like a sensory deprivation tank,” Dustin commented.
“I think that’s exactly what it is,” Hopper agreed, remembering the water tank from the lab.
“Okay, so let's get her to a sensory deprivation tank,” Richie said, staring plainly at the room around him.
“Oh, yeah, Richie,” Mike scoffed. “You’re right let’s just take her on down to the local sensory deprivation tank. Or better yet, let’s just take her back to the lab!”
The twins glared at each other as Eleven whimpered again.
“Shit, sorry, El,” Mike murmured. “I didn’t mean that.”
“Well, if we can’t find a sensory deprivation tank what do we do?” Eddie asked.
“We build one,” Dustin grinned, already heading towards the phone on the wall.
“I can’t believe you nerds know Clarke’s home number,” Richie snorted from his seat across from Dustin who was frantically scribbling down the instructions Mr. Clarke gave him.
“Beep beep, Richie,” Eddie groaned. “Now is not the time.”
“Yep, alright. Yeah, we’ll be careful,” Dustin grinned into the phone. “Definitely. All right, Mr. Clarke. Yeah, I’ll see you on Monday. I’ll see you on Monday, Mr. Clarke. Bye!”
“Hey, I wanted to talk to him!” Richie pouted as Dustin hung up the phone.
“Don’t make me beep you again, Richard.”
While Dustin and Lucas set up the kiddie pool in the Hawkins High gym, Eddie and Mrs. Byers took Eleven to get ready for the sensory deprivation pool and Jonathan and Hopper went to unload the road salt they had taken from the police station. The three Wheelers were sent out to get the hose from the maintenance shed to fill the pool.
“Shit, it’s locked,” Richie groaned, yanking on the lock.
“Lemme try,” Mike said, pushing his brother out of the way before ramming the door with his shoulder. “Ow!”
“Nice one, dipshit,” Richie snorted with laughter at his brother.
“Fuck off, Richie!”
“Move,” Nancy called, coming up behind her brothers. “Come on, stand back.”
Both boys looked back at her in confusion as she raised a rock, snapping the lock off of the door.
“Shit, Nance,” Richie whistled while Mike stared at her in awe. “You’re a certified bad ass!”
“Shut up, Richie,” she laughed, pushing the shed door open before piling coils of hosing into a wheelbarrow. “Here, make yourselves useful,” she indicated to the wheelbarrow and the extra coils that didn’t fit.”
“I can’t believe you two little shits didn’t tell me about Eleven,” Nancy groaned, carrying a coil of hosing over her shoulder like Mike while Richie pushed the wheelbarrow. “What did she even eat for a week?”
“Um, candy… leftovers… Eggos, she really likes Eggos,” Mike answered, grinning at his feet as he spoke.
“I knew you guys were acting weird. I just thought it was because of Will.”
“Well, we knew you were acting weird too,” Mike sighed. “I thought it was because of Steve.”
Nancy flashed a look at Richie who gave a small shake of the head in response to indicate that he hadn’t told Mike about what Nancy had confided in him. She gave him a small, grateful smile in return.
“Hey, no more secrets, okay?” Nancy announced. “From now on we tell each other everything.”
“Okay,” Mike nodded. “Do you like Jonathan now?”
Richie snorted at the obvious lie.
“Shut up, Richie. It’s not like that…” Nancy stammered. “Well, do you like Eleven?”
Richie burst out laughing at Mike’s protest.
“I love Eddie in case you guys were wondering!”
“We know, Richie,” Mike and Nancy deadpanned simultaneously. Richie publicly declared his love for Eddie at dinner on a weekly basis.
“And since we’re all being so honest,” Richie continued sarcastically. “Eddie and I fucked on your bed Mike-“
“Richie!” Mike screeched, reaching a pitch that Eddie would have been proud of. “Ew! What the fuck?! Oh, my God!”
“God fucking dammit, I’m kidding,” Richie snorted, bumping Mike’s shoulder with his own. “Chill.”
“You’re so disgusting,” Mike groaned, glaring at his brother.
“My love for Eddie is not disgusting! It’s beautiful,” Richie shot back, pushing the wheelbarrow through the gym door than Nancy was holding open. “Isn’t that right, Eds?”
“Shut the fuck up, Rich,” Eddie snapped, not even bothering to look up from the pool which he had taken over setting up from Dustin and Lucas once he was done preparing the blacked-out safety goggles for Eleven to wear.
“You don’t even know what I’m talking about, Eds!”
“Knowing you, Richie,” Eddie laughed, straightening up and turning to look at Richie. “It was probably something disgusting or crude.”
“You know him so well,” Nancy joked, unravelling the hose she was holding across the gym floor.
“How the hell did you do that?” Dustin spluttered, finally looking up from the pool Eddie had easily set up.
Eddie shrugged, giving them a smug grin.
“My Eddie Spaghetti is a man of many talents,” Richie grinned, coming up behind Eddie, wrapping his arms around Eddie’s stomach and lifting him off the ground.
“Put me down, asshole!” Eddie shrieked.
“Hey, where’s El?” Mike asked, looking around the gym worriedly.
“She’s with Joyce in the science room,” Eddie responded. “She’s fine.”
“Hey, shitheads!” Nancy shouted from where she was attaching two pieces of hosing together. “Wanna help me out here?”
“Sorry, Nancy!” Dustin called, rushing over to help her with pink cheeks. “Come on guys!”
Eleven and Joyce joined the group in the gym once the pool was set up.
“Here,” Eleven whispered, removing Mike’s watch which she was still wearing.
“Oh, thanks,” Mike muttered, cheeks slightly pink as he accepted the watch.
“Ready, El?” Eddie asked, handing the goggles to her. She nodded in response, pulling them over her head. Eddie and Mike each took a hold of one of her hands and helped her settle into the pool.
The lights flickered as Eleven let out a deep breath, body floating to the surface of the water.
“El,” Mike muttered, jumping nervously at the lights and grabbing onto the edge of the pool.
“Shh,” Dustin scolded, glaring at his friend.
The group watched her nervously, Mike’s fingers twitching as he refrained from reaching for Eleven. Richie held Eddie back tightly to keep him from doing the same.
Nancy leant forward, fingers curling over the edge of the plastic pool as she stared at Eleven hopefully. The group watched as Eleven’s chest heaved, the lights flickering again before cutting out completely.
“What’s going on?”
“Fuck if I know,” Mike glared, watching Eleven worriedly.
“Is Barb okay? Is she okay?”
“Shut up, Nancy.”
“Gone! Gone! Gone! Gone! Gone!” Eleven began screaming, body thrashing.
“El,” Mike cried, flailing to grab to Eleven’s hand. “El, it’s okay. I’m here!”
“No,” Nancy whimpered, leaning back into Jonathan.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Mike chanted quietly, pulling Eleven closer to him and holding her as she thrashed in the water, soaking Mike’s shirt. “It’s okay. I’ve got you. It’s okay, it’s okay. I’ve got you, I’ve got you. You’re safe, I’ve got you.”
“Castle Byers,” Eleven mumbled as she stopped thrashing, breathing returning to normal.
“What?” Richie murmured, confused.
Mike continued to hold Eleven, stroking her arm.
Everyone perked up, some gasping while others began to cry.
“You tell him, tell him I’m coming,” Mrs. Byers croaked, taking one of Eleven’s hands in her own. “Mom is coming.”
Everyone looked up at the Supercom set next to the pool.
“Oh,” Eddie squeaked, covering his mouth with tears in his eyes as he leaned back into Richie at the sound of Will's voice.
“Listen, tell him to stay where he is,” Mrs. Byers continued. “We’re coming. We’re coming, okay? We’re coming, honey.”
“Will! Will! Will!”
Eleven’s body went rigid, sitting up and flailing in the water.
“It’s okay,” Mike soothed, pulling her back to his chest. “I’ve got you.”
Eleven twisted, pressing her face to Mike’s chest as she began crying, back shaking with the force of her sobs.
“Shh, it’s okay. I’ve got you,” Mike whispered directly into her hear as he held her while the rest of the group watched with varying levels of shock.
“You did so good, honey,” Mrs. Byers whispered, pressing a hand to Eleven’s shoulder.
“I’ve got you,” Mike continued to whisper as Eleven’s sobs carried on. “I’ve got you.”
Eddie pushed himself up and out of Richie’s grasp, grabbing the towel they had brought for Eleven.
Mike twisted to look up at Eddie standing with the towel held out for him. Mike stood, pulling Eleven up and out of the water, indicating with a nod to place the towel around Eleven.
Eddie draped the towel over Eleven’s shoulders, watching as Mike pulled it tight around her before wrapping his arms around her again and shuffling over to the bleachers at the edge of the gym.
The two sat down, Eleven resting on Mike’s shoulder as the rest of their friends followed, sitting around the sopping wet teens, Eddie rubbing Eleven’s shoulder as he sat on her opposite side.
Richie watched as Hopper, Jonathan, Joyce and Nacy left the gym deciding to push himself up from the bleachers and follow them.
“Hey, wow,” Hopper grumbled. “All of you, get back inside!”
Richie, Nancy, and Jonathan watched as Hopper and Joyce fought about who would go to the lab before Hopper gave in, allowing Joyce to go with him.
“Okay,” Joyce said, turning to look at the teenagers. “I need you guys to get back inside-“
“No, mom,” Jonathan argued. “I can help.”
“Please, I need you to stay, Jonathan.”
“We can help!” Richie argued as Joyce wrapped Jonathan in a hug.
“Joyce! Let’s go!”
“Please go inside,” Joyce cried.
“Please be careful,” Jonathan whispered.
“I’m gonna find him, I’m gonna find him,” Joyce cried, body shaking.
“She should not be going,” Richie commented, shaking his head as he watched Mrs. Byers shakily open the door to the cruiser before Hopper tore out of the parking lot.
“Rich?” came the quiet voice of a scared Eddie, head peeking out from the gym.
“Yeah, I’m coming,” Richie sighed, turning to lead the way back into the school, heading back towards the bleachers with Eddie while Jonathan and Nancy moved into a hallway off of the gym.
Chapter 8: The Upside Down
The group sat on the gymnasium bleachers around Eleven. Dustin and Lucas were arguing a couple of rows up while Eleven sat between Mike and Eddie, her head rested on Mike’s shoulder while Eddie held her hand. Richie sat on the other side of Eddie, eying the door Jonathan and Nancy had gone through thirty minutes earlier as his knee bounced nervously.
“Rich,” Eddie murmured, placing his free hand on Richie’s knee to stop the movement.
“Where the hell are they?” Richie huffed, picking Eddie’s hand up off of his knee and giving it a squeeze before placing it back in Eddie’s lap and standing to pace back and forth in front of the group.
“Chill, they’re probably just sucking face,” Lucas laughed, causing the Mike’s face to scrunch sourly.
“Shut up, Lucas.”
“I’m gonna go check if they’re outside.”
“Rich, no,” Eddie squeaked, jumping up and grabbing Richie’s arm as he walked.
“I’ll be fine, Eds,” Richie responded, turning to look down at Eddie.
“At least let me come with you,” Eddie huffed. Richie nodded, not wanting to argue with Eddie right now.
“They’re fuckin’ gone!” Richie yelled across the gym, slamming the heavy metal doors once Eddie was through them.
“What?” Mike asked, looking up from Eleven.
“Jonathan’s car’s gone,” Eddie explained, eying Richie worriedly as he resumed his pacing in front of the bleachers.
“Maybe they went with the Chief?” Dustin offered.
“No," El whispered.
“El?” Mike asked, eyebrows knitting in confusion.
“Did you see them? Do you know where they went?” Richie asked hopefully.
“Yes,” she responded in the same even tone.
“Where? Where did they go?”
“We gotta go find them,” Mike said, pushing himself up from the bench he was sitting on and heading towards the doors with Richie.
“Hey, what the fuck?” Dustin shouted, standing from the bleachers and moving down to the gymnasium floor with Lucas. “We’re not supposed to leave!”
“We can’t just wait around here,” Richie responded, turning to glare down at Mike’s best friends. “We need to go find Nancy.”
“In case you forgot, dipshit,” Lucas responded drily. “We’re still fugitives. They’re still looking for us!”
“We’re not fugitives,” Richie scoffed, rolling his eyes at Lucas’ dramatic words
“Besides, we don’t even know where Nancy is!”
“El can find them,” Mike answered, making his confidence in the girl clear.
“Mike, look at her,” Dustin laughed, gesturing over his shoulder at Eleven who was huddled against Eddie. Mike looked over at Eleven, face softening as he took in the way her shoulders were shaking. “We gotta follow the chief’s plan.”
“Exactly,” Lucas nodded. “We stay here and we keep El safe and out of sight.”
Richie sighed heavily, pushing between Lucas and Dustin harshly before throwing himself down on the bench next to Eddie. He knew Mike would go along with Lucas and Dustin’s words as soon as Lucas mentioned Eleven’s safety.
“Besides, Nancy’s kind of a badass now,” Dustin joked before turning and heading towards one of the doors leading into the main school hallway.
“Where the hell are you going, Dustin? You just said stick to the plan!” Mike called.
“I am! Just goin’ to get some chocolate pudding!” Dustin called over his shoulder, signalling for them to follow him. “I’m tellin’ you, Lunch Lady Phyllis hoards that shit!”
“Are you kidding me right now?!”
“El needs to be recharged!” Dustin called back before exiting the gym with Lucas, leaving an exasperated Mike in the middle of the room.
Mike groaned as the doors to the hallway swung shut before turning to look back to the bleachers.
“Dustin’s probably right,” Mike said, reaching out a hand to Eleven. “Let’s go get you something to eat.”
Eleven looked up at Eddie shyly as if asking his permission to go with Mike. Eddie smiled at the girl, nodding his encouragement as he released her hand. Eleven took Mike’s hand, allowing him to pull her to her feet. Once she was upright he readjusted the towel still hanging from Eleven’s shoulders.
“C’mon,” Mike smiled, pulling at her hand and leading her out of the gym.
“Fuck it,” Richie sighed, pushing himself up to follow his brother and the girl. “I’m starving too.”
“Chee?” Eddie squeaked causing Richie to turn to look back at him.
“Can we stay here?” Eddie asked in a small voice, fiddling with his thumbs in his lap. “Just for a minute?”
“Of course, Eds,” Richie smiled sadly, collapsing on the floor beside Eddie and leaning back against the bench Eddie was sitting on. “C’mere, baby.”
Richie took Eddie’s hand, pulling him down off the bench and into his lap. Eddie threw one leg over Richie, settling down to straddle Richie’s lap and wrapping his arms around Richie’s neck before hiding his face in the crook of it.
“I’m scared,” Richie croaked, breaking the silence of the room.
“Me too,” Eddie mumbled against Richie’s neck.
“We’re gonna be okay though,” Richie promised, crossing his arms behind Eddie’s shoulders and squeezing Eddie tightly to his chest. Eddie nodded slightly, squeezing his eyes shut and trying to block out the panic he was feeling.
Eleven and Mike sat side-by-side at one of the cafeteria tables, Eleven’s head rested on Mike’s shoulder as their clasped hands sat in Mike’s lap, listening to Dustin and Lucas raid the cafeteria refrigerator.
“ Mike! I found the chocolate pudding! ”
“Okay!” Mike screamed back at his friend, startling Eleven slightly. “Sorry,” he apologized in a whisper.
“It’s okay,” Eleven whispered back, watching Mike’s thumb stroke the back of her hand with fascination.
“You feelin’ any better?”
Eleven shrugged noncommittally, shoulder bumping into Mike’s arm.
“Pudding,” Mike repeated with an air of amusement. “It’s this chocolate-y gooey stuff you eat with a spoon.”
Eleven titled her head up to shoot him a disgusted look, making him laugh.
“Don’t worry, once this is all over we’ll get you some real food. No more junk food or leftovers.” Mike explained, the cadence of his speech picking up as he rambled. “My mom’s a pretty awesome cook. She can make you whatever you like!”
“Eggos?” Eleven asked hopefully, pulling back to grin at Mike making him laugh harder.
“Sure, whatever you want,” Mike responded, resting his cheek on the top of Eleven’s head when she moved to rest her head on his shoulder again. “So… I was thinking once this is all over and Will’s back and you’re not a secret anymore, maybe my parents could like get you a bed or something for the basement.”
“Yeah! Or you could have my room if you want since I’m down there all the time anyways,” Mike continued to ramble. “You’d have to share with Richie though, which is pretty shitty… but Eddie’s usually there too, which you’d like!”
“Eddie’s my friend,” Eleven smiled happily.
“Yeah, he is,” Mike agreed, grinning. “My point is… they’ll take care of you. My parents, I mean. Well, my mom will… Dad doesn’t really do much. But they’d be like your new parents. And Richie, Nancy and baby Holly would be like your new brother and sisters!”
“Would you be like my brother, too?” Eleven asked innocently.
“Why not?” Eleven asked, beginning to worry that Mike didn’t want to be her brother because he didn’t like her.
“Because… it’s… well… It’s different.”
“I mean, I don’t know,” Mike panicked, feeling like an idiot. “I guess it’s really not… It’s stupid.”
“Friends don’t lie,” Eleven reminded him solemnly. Mike smiled at her softly.
“Okay, well… I was thinking… If you wanted to, maybe… Maybe you could, like… I dunno… If you want you could be my… girlfriend?”
“It means that we like each other.”
“Like each other? Like friends?”
“Well, I mean, yeah I guess,” Mike mumbled, running a hand nervously through his hair. “But it’s also more. It’s… you just like them… more... It’s just more…” Mike finished lamely, cheeks burning red as he attempted to explain what dating was.
Eleven and Mike jumped, looking up at the cafeteria doors that Richie and Eddie had just burst through.
“We gotta go!”
“What’s going on?” Mike asked, standing and calling for Dustin and Lucas.
“They found us,” Eddie explained.
“We gotta go! Right now!” Richie continued screaming, tugging on Eddie’s arm and leading the group down the hallway.
“How did they find us?”
“I dunno,” Eddie answered Lucas as he gasped for air. “But they saw us in the gym,” Eddie explained, indicating himself and Richie.
“Lando!” Dustin muttered causing Lucas to shoot him a dirty look.
“Fuck!” Richie screamed, turning on the spot and ushering the group back in the direction that had come from as the doors in front of him opened to reveal a group of armed agents. “Go! Go! Go!”
The group sprinted down the hallway, making a left towards the AV Room.
“Back!” Mike shouted from the front of the pack as agents turned a corner down the hall, blocking their way. “Go back!”
The group skidded to a stop before turning to sprint back in their previous direction.
“Fuck!” Richie shouted, stopping suddenly with his arms out to block the rest of the group from running past him. He stood, looking down the barrel of a gun that a female agent was point directly at him.
“Oh, my God!” Eddie gasped, covering his mouth with one hand while the other curled in the side of Richie’s shirt. The group watched with horror as blood sprang from the eyes and noses of the agents surrounding them before they collapsed to the ground.
“Ow!” Eddie cried as Eleven collapsed behind him, knocking him face first into the wall.
“You okay, babe?” Richie asked turning to look at Eddie’s face as his heart hammered in his chest, still in shock from having a gun pulled on him. Eddie nodded, turning his attention to Eleven.
“She’s just drained,” Dustin tried to reason, staring worriedly down at the girl in question.
“No,” Mike continued. “She won’t wake up. She always wakes up, even if she’s drained. El! El, wake up!”
“Hey!” Richie shouted as he was yanked to his feet, arms holding him around his chest to immobilize him. “Hey, let me go!”
“Get the hell off!”
“Let me go!”
Soon all of the boys were being held back by a different guard, yelling and flailing as they watched a man push through the group of guards and walk towards Eleven.
“Hey, get away from her!” Mike shouted, trying to shake off the guard that was holding him back. “Let me go! Don’t touch her!
The man bent down, taking Eleven’s face in his hands and calling her name while Mike and the other four boys screamed at him to leave their friend alone
“Eleven, can you hear me?”
Mike stopped struggling at Eleven’s quiet words.
“Yes, yes, it’s your papa!”
“Get away from her!” Mike began shouting again, a shiver of anger running up his spine at the older man’s words. “Let her go! Let her fucking go, you bastard!”
Eleven looked over at Mike, whimpering as she saw her friends struggling against the agents.
“Shh,” the man soothed, stroking Eleven’s cheek. “You’re sick. You’re sick, but I’m going to make you better.”
Eddie shivered at the man’s words, the phrase hitting too close to home for him not to think of his mother, while the rest of the boys continued to scream obscenities.
“I’m going to take you back home, where I can make you well again. Where we can make all of this better so no one else gets hurt.”
“Leave her alone!” Eddie screamed, arms flailing as he felt his anger rise at the familiar words.
“Bad… Bad…” Eleven began moaning, arms pushing at the man’s hold on her.
“Mike… Mike… Mike!” she gasped, still struggling weakly and choking on the blood at the back of her throat from her nose bleed.
Mike struggled against the guard holding him, face scrunched in anger as tears began to gather at the corners of his eyes.
“El! El, it’s gonna be okay!”
“Mike,” Eleven murmured one last time before the lights in the hallway began flickering.
“Blood…” Eddie mumbled, stilling in the arms of the agent holding.
“Baby?” Richie asked, now struggling against his guard to get to Eddie rather than Eleven.
“Blood,” Eddie repeated clearly, staring in horror at the bodies sprawled in pools of blood throughout the hallway.
The flickering of the lights had picked up as a distant pounding started at the end of the hall, the cement of the walls crumbling slightly.
“Demogorgon,” Dustin breathed, watching the wall come crumbling to the ground as the ugly creature burst through it.
The boys dropped to the ground as the agents released them, pulling their guns from their holsters and moving forward to fight the monster.
“El!” Mike screamed, pushing himself towards Eleven on his hands and knees. “El!” he called again, taking her face in his hands.
“Mike, let’s go!” Lucas shouted, pulling on his shoulder as Mike watched Eleven’s eyelids flutter. “C’mon, hurry!”
Mike scooped Eleven up from the ground, struggling to push himself up off the floor under Eleven’s added weight.
“Let’s go!” Richie shouted, waving the other boys down the hallway in front of him with one hand while the other clutched Eddie’s like a lifeline.
The six teenagers burst into Mr. Clarke’s science room, Eddie and Mike rushing to settle Eleven on top of one of the lab benches while the other three began stacking desks in front of the door.
As they pushed the last desk in the room into place in front of the door Richie sighed, wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand as he turned to focus on Eddie, Mike, and Eleven.
Eddie was stood on one side of the lab bench, clutching one of Eleven’s hands while Mike was stood opposite him. He had his face buried in Eleven’s neck, mumbling rushed words while Eleven laid back with tears in her eyes, her free hand in Mike’s hair.
Richie approached Eddie, wrapping his arms around Eddie’s shoulders from behind and resting his chin on the top of Eddie’s head as he watched Mike cry into Eleven’s neck from where he was hunched over.
“Promise?” Eleven whispered, voice watery and desperate. Richie gulped as he watched Mike pull back from Eleven’s neck.
“Promise,” Mike confirmed with a sniffle and a nod before leaning down to capture Eleven’s lips in a hard kiss. None of the other boys knew what Eleven was asking Mike to promise, but they knew from Mike’s face that it was a promise he was going to keep.
“Holy fuck!” Richie screamed, pitching back into the wall behind him, pulling Eddie back with him in the process, as the Demogorgon burst through the door to the classroom, desk and chairs scattering.
“Get down!” Lucas shouted, crouching behind one of the lab benches and pulling Dustin down with him. Richie and Eddie scrambled to get behind the bench Eleven was laying on as Mike pulled Eleven down from the bench to settle next to them.
Eddie sat between Richie’s legs, Richie’s back against the lab bench and his arms squeezing Eddie as close to his chest as he could, both breathing heavily.
Eddie slapped a hand to his mouth to muffle his cries of fear as the Demogorgon let out a shrieking cry causing all six teenagers to shudder. The ground shook as the monster slowly and deliberately stomped towards them, causing Dustin and Lucas to swear under their breath while the other three boys squeezed their eyes shut as if they could protect themselves by not actually seeing the monster.
“El?” Mike asked, voice high with fear when he felt Eleven pull away from him. He opened his eyes, watching as she pushed herself up from the floor. “El, no!” he scrambled to push himself up and grab her but was thrown back into the wall behind him.
“Mike!” Richie cried, reaching out for his brother.
“El! El, no!” Mike continued to scream, barely registering the pain he had felt when his back slammed into the bulletin board on the wall. “El, please!”
Tears were streaming down his face as he watched Eleven pin the monster to the blackboard at the front of the classroom with her powers, while using a smaller portion of her abilities to keep Mike where he was.
“I’m sorry, Mike,” Eleven turned to look back at the five boys, eyes settling on Mike who had fat tears rolling down his cheeks.
“El, no! Please!” Mike shouted, watching as she disappeared into a swarm of black smoke and fibre with the Demogorgon. “El!”
“Mikey,” Richie whispered, wrapping an arm around Mike and pulling him to his shoulder to continue crying and shouting Eleven’s name desperately. “I’m sorry, Mikey…”
“Chee,” Eddie whimpered from where he sat a few feet away watching the twins.
"C’mere, baby,” Richie nodded, signalling that it was okay for Eddie to approach them. As much as Mike was heartbroken, Richie knew Eddie was also hurting because of Eleven’s disappearance.
"Chee,” Eddie whimpered into Richie’s neck, wrapping his arms around Richie’s neck and hiding his face in the opposite shoulder from Mike.
“Shh, I know,” Richie murmured, pressing kisses to Eddie’s hair as he squeezed both of his arms around either boy tighter. “I know.”
Half an hour later Eddie and the twins found themselves resting on the back rig of an ambulance as paramedics fussed around them, waiting for their parents to arrive to pick them up. Lucas and Dustin stood opposite them, arguing with a few police officers.
Mike was sat with a blanket around his shoulders, staring blankly into space as he rested his head on Richie’s shoulder. Richie was sitting next to his brother with his boyfriend straddling his lap as he wrapped a shared blanket around them. Eddie was back in his favourite position in Richie’s lap, a leg on either side of Richie’s hips and his face pressed to Richie’s neck as he shivered and tried to block out the memory of the look on Eleven’s face before she had disappeared into the ether.
Richie looked up from the top of Eddie’s head at the sound of wheels screeching to a halt. His parents had pulled up in their station waggon, Karen throwing herself out of the car before it had even come to a full stop.
“Michael!” Karen cried, rushing towards them. “Richie!”
“Mom,” Mike croaked, pushing himself up to stand just as his mother reached the ambulance, wrapping her arms around him. “Mom,” he repeated as his shoulders began to shake and tears began rolling down his cheeks again.
“My boys,” Karen cried, squeezing Mike with one arm and wrapping her other around Richie’s neck and pulling him close to them. “And my Eddie,” she whispered, landing a kiss to the top of Eddie’s head as he was squished between Richie and Karen’s bodies.
“We’re okay, mom,” Richie reassured, pulling back slightly and hiking Eddie up higher on his lap, letting Karen focus her attention on Mike.
“No,” Eddie whined, pressing his body closer to Richie’s as if trying to melt into his boyfriend at the shrill sound of Sonia Kaspbrak’s voice. She had pulled up shortly after the Wheelers.
“Oh, my baby!” Sonia shrieked, waddling towards the ambulance. “Eddie bear, oh baby!”
“Please, no,” Eddie whimpered, clutching the front of Richie’s shirt tighter. Richie’s arms tightened around Eddie’s frame.
“Let go of him!” Sonia demanded, fixing Richie with a glare. “Mommy’s here Eddie bear!”
“He’s fine, Mrs. Kaspbrak,” Richie responded, glaring back at the overweight woman.
“Fine?!” Sonia shrieked. “Fine?! My Eddie bear is delicate! He is not fine, you dirty little faggo-“
“Do not speak about my son that way,” Karen cut in, glaring over at Sonia while she continued to comfort Mike.
“Your good-for-nothing son just put my baby’s life in danger!”
“What?! No I didn’t-“
“Eddie, baby,” Sonia tried again, placing a hand on Eddie’s shoulder. “Come here. We need to get you to the hospital. We need to get you checked out.”
“No,” Eddie whimpered quietly enough for only Richie to hear.
“He’s not going to a hospital with you, you crazy fucking bitch!” Richie shot back, an incredulous look on his face.
“How dare you!” Sonia exploded. “He is my son and we’re going. Let’s go, Edward!”
“Ah,” Eddie cried out in pain as Sonia grabbed a hold of one of Eddie’s biceps and pulled him backwards off of Richie. “Mom, stop. Ow, you’re hurting me!”
“Get in the car, Eddie,” Sonia continued, still glaring directly at Richie.
“You can’t just take him,” Richie's voice boomed, standing to glare down at Sonia who he towered over. They each had an hand wrapped around one of Eddie’s arms.
“He is my son and if I say we’re leaving, we’re leaving!” Sonia finished, pulling on Eddie’s arm again.
“Ah,” Eddie hissed as she yanked him towards the car.
“You’re hurting him!” Richie roared, releasing Eddie’s arm and stomping after the two.
“No!” Sonia responded, shoving Eddie harshly into the passenger seat of her car before turning to sneer at Richie. “You hurt him. I’m taking him to the hospital and then home, where I can make him well again.”
“You’re fucking crazy,” Richie spat, stepping back so he could lean around Sonia to see Eddie.
“I’m sorry,” Eddie whimpered in a small voice. He had never been particularly strong when it came to standing his ground against his mother.
“No, no, no,” Richie hurried, elbowing Sonia out of the way, rolling his eyes as she squawked in anger. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Spaghetti.”
“No,” Richie repeated, taking Eddie’s face in his hands and pressing a kiss to Eddie’s forehead. “I love you, baby.”
“Love you too, Chee,” Eddie whispered, swallowing his tears.
“I’ll come tonight,” Richie whispered directly into Eddie’s ear before swinging back from the car and glaring at Sonia. Richie’s jaw clenched as he restrained himself from swearing at the woman again.
“Disgusting,” he heard Sonia spit as she squeezed herself into the driver’s seat of her beat up old car. Richie bit down on his bottom lip to stop himself from taking the bait and continued towards his brother who was still crying, wrapping his arms around his twin and mother.
1 Month Later
“Hey, guys,” Jonathan grinned as he entered the warm kitchen filled with baked goods to find Richie watching Eddie stir a bowl of cookie dough.
“Hey, man,” Richie grinned, looking over at Jonathan. “How’s it goin’?”
“Yeah, fine,” Jonathan nodded. “Here to pick up Will…”
“They’re downstairs playing that stupid fuckin’ game again,” Richie groaned.
“Language, Richie,” Karen scolded, entering the kitchen behind Jonathan and moving to pour herself another glass of white wine.
“Sorry, mom,” Richie smiled, not looking the least bit repentant.
“Ok, I’m gonna go let Will know I’m here,” Jonathan said before disappearing through the basement door.
Richie turned his attention back to watching Eddie stir vanilla into the cookie dough for their Christmas cookies for the Loser’s Club Christmas movie marathon tomorrow.
“Looks good,” Richie commented before dipping his hand into the bowl and stealing a glob of the beige dough.
“Richie!” Eddie cried causing Richie to laugh happily, Karen watching with a smile from where she was icing a cake.
“Mm, delicious,” Richie moaned, licking at the dough on his finger. “Want some?”
“You’re disgusting,” Eddie responded, grimacing at Richie’s outstretched index finger.
“C’mon,” Richie taunted, wiggling his finger in Eddie’s face. “You know you want sooooome!”
“I really don’t,” Eddie denied, turning his face away from Richie’s persistent finger. “Richie, stop!”
“C’mere, Spaghetti!” Richie roared with laughter, smearing the dough down Eddie’s cheek.
“Awe, I’m sorry, Eds,” Richie smirked before moving forward to lick the dough from Eddie’s cheek.
“Oh, my God! Richie!”
“I love you,” Richie giggled in a silly voice, wrapping his arms around Eddie’s middle and pulling his back to Richie’s chest, tickling the smaller boy's stomach.
“Ah! Rich, no!” Eddie shrieked with laughter, face turning red as Richie lifted him off the floor and continued to tickle him while Eddie’s limbs flailed wildly. “Richie! Richie, seriously! Richie, I can’t breathe!”
“Fine,” Richie said, putting Eddie down with a pout and twisting Eddie’s hips so he was facing Richie.
“You’re a menace,” Eddie muttered, trying to glare at Richie but the look was filled with fondness.
“But a cute menace, right?” Richie quipped, pulling Eddie to him and hiding his face in Eddie’s neck so he could blow loud and obnoxious raspberries into Eddie’s sink.
“It's debatable,” Eddie laughed, carding his fingers through Richie’s hair as he smiled down at the top of the taller boy’s head.
“Bye, guys!” Will called down the basement stairs once he reached the kitchen. “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Wheeler,” he smiled, turning to smile up at Mrs. Wheeler.
“Merry Christmas, honey,” Karen smiled back. “Tell your mother I wish her a merry Christmas as well!”
Will nodded before looking over at Richie and Eddie who were still wrapped around each other and giggling as they muttered to each other.
“Merry Christmas, guys!”
“Oh, Will!” Eddie jumped, only just realizing that Will and Jonathan had entered the room. “Merry Christmas to you too, Will!”
“Thanks, Eddie,” Will grinned and waved at Richie as he pulled back from Eddie’s neck.
Richie turned back to Eddie, wanting to press more kisses to Eddie’s neck but Eddie had already picked up the wooden spoon he had been using to mix the cookie dough earlier and was stirring again.
“This is taking forever!” Richie moaned, leaning against the counter next to Eddie and resting his head on the shorter boy’s shoulder.
“It’s been ten minutes, Rich,” Eddie laughed, rolling his eyes.
“Yeah, that’s forever!” Richie joked, watching the dough slowly form a ball in the middle of the bowl before his attention was drawn towards Steve who had just walked into the kitchen looking slightly out of place. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Richie!” Eddie and Karen cried at the same time, glaring at Richie.
“Um, Nancy invited me over to watch a Christmas movie tonight,” Steve explained, eyes darting around the room.
“I see…” Richie responded, still glaring.
“Would you like a cookie, Steve?” Karen asked, shooting Richie a disapproving look and offering him a plate of gingerbread cookies.
“Oh, yes,” Steve smiled, taking a cookie from the plate. “Thank you, Mrs. Wheeler.”
“Sorry about that,” Nancy said, entering the kitchen and taking Steve’s hand. “Ready?”
Steve nodded before the two left to go watch a movie in the adjoining living room where Mr. Wheeler was snoring in his recliner.
“I don’t trust that boy,” Richie muttered, still glaring at Steve through the doorway.
“Richie, enough,” Eddie laughed, looking up at Richie briefly before turning to flour the surface of the kitchen counter so he could begin rolling out their cookie dough.
“Oh, rolling!” Richie cried, snatching the rolling pin from the counter and holding it over his head and out of Eddie’s reach mischievously. “I wanna help!”