Alone With Only Your Promises

In which Eleven misses Mike within the 353 days of them being separated.
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"It feels like forever and seems like yesterday when we were running around town together."

[ -'3000 Miles', Emblem 3 ]

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1. Alone With Only Your Promises

"Hey, El. It's me...It's Mike. It’s been 56 days since I last saw you.” Eleven sat up in her bed, his words echoing through her mind as she tried to fall asleep.

She looked over to the clock on the wall: 2:27. In the morning.

Fantastic. The benefit of Hopper never letting her go anywhere—even outside—was that she could sleep all day if need be.

She heard him call, every night for many days since she had last seen his face. She felt it, really, in her heart, whenever he called. Until she got tired of it, of waiting.

Every night he called, and every night she listened. She listened to him talk about his day, whether it was good or bad. She got to learn more about Will, Dustin, and Lucas. She got updated on Nancy and Steve and even Jonathan, on occasion.

She listened and she did so intently, but as good as it felt to hear his voice and know that he was okay, it hurt her. She was so close to him, yet painfully far away. She could have easily responded to him, but simultaneously…she couldn’t. Eleven didn’t even have words to describe how that felt, how she felt about the situation as a whole, and definitely not how she felt about Michael Wheeler.

She kept hearing his messages, day after day, week after week, month after month, until, finally, she had to respond.

The day was 353 and she was tired. She had had one of the worst days since Hopper had taken her in. All she wanted to do was go trick-or-treating and try to see him, but no. Not even in disguise was she allowed out for one night to set her eyes on him distantly for just a moment. There was also the sad fact that Hopper broke his promise to bring home candy and watch a scary movie with her.

That night, her heart was broken as she put on her blindfold and tuned into Mike's call from the staticky channel of the television.

There he was, sitting in her old bed fort, which he had obviously refused to take down. She stood, watching him from a short ways away. She slowly walked closer to him as he spoke: "It's day 353." He paused before continuing with a short sigh. 

"I had a bad day today... I don't know, I... I guess I wish you were here. I mean, we all do..."

As she approached him and knelt beside him, he continued to speak to her through his Supercom.

"If you're out there, please, just give me a sign." During a brief bout of silence between his words, she knelt beside him, examining his face with a look of longing and hopelessness on her own, noticing his facial features showed exactly how she felt in that moment.

Their expressions stopped mirroring each other's as their eyes met. Her lips twitched a little, but she refused to smile, and, after a moment of hesitation, Jane uttered a single word that, in the moment, was the most powerful thing she could have said. She said his name.

"Mike..." 

It was quiet and soft, whispered to where only he could hear, even in a crowded room of loud partygoers. She shouldn't have said it, but she couldn't take the one-sided conversation anymore, yet even as the name left her lips, she knew it shouldn't have.

His face lifted, and though he could not see her, she felt her heart skip a beat as he looked into her face with a glint of shiny hopefulness.

"Eleven?" He asked in disbelief and so unsure of himself, keeping his on where she was—to him, just blank space and air.

Her hand slowly lifted as she moved in to touch his face, but the action was quickly stopped as she saw his face fall into a look of complete despair and desperation, all signs of hope gone from it. He looked absolutely done as his hand came to close the antenna on the walkie talkie simultaneously while standing and walking off, leaving the girl to turn and stare in anguish with her hand still in the air while he walked away from her.

Her gaze followed him and it remained on the Wheeler boy until he faded from her sight. Somehow she knew that call would be his last and she may not see him again for a long while.

She yearned to see his face happy, to hold him and to hug him tightly, never letting go. She wanted to eat Eggos and watch movies together. She wanted to be normal with him and the rest of their friends. She wanted to go to the Snow Ball as promised and just enjoy his company. She wanted to go sleep in her make-shift bed again and she most certainly did /not/ want to be sitting in her room in a cabin in the woods crying right now.

As El ripped the blindfold off and tossed it aside, she squeezed her eyes shut and continued to cry—sob—trying to keep it silent. She let her nose continue to bleed and tried to take deep breaths, eventually just deciding to go curl up on her bed. Only then did she wipe her nose.

The tears still remained and soon enough, she was asleep with a tear-stained pillowcase.

Hopper had promised her soon. Soon? When was soon? 353 days was not soon and soon would never be soon enough.

 

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