A/N: So I was listening to Hamilton… again. And this happened…
I think I realized that I was in love with my best friend the same day I realized he would never love me back.
Max was the first to notice.
“Okay, okay, I know I give them shit for PDA, but they’re adorable,” she laughed to me. She had just shooed Mike from her car, where he and El had shared a quick goodbye kiss. Max had mock-vomited and kicked Mike out, driving away the second he reached his front door.
I nodded in agreement, not saying anything. I couldn’t trust myself enough to.
“Honestly, El, when is he gonna pop the question?” Max called to the backseat, where my telekinetic stepsister sat.
El rolled her eyes. “Grow up. Besides, don’t act like you and Lucas haven’t already planned your wedding and what your kids will be named,” she fired back. Max snorted.
“Yes, but I don’t make out with him in my best friend’s car, because I have consideration for my friends and their vehicles!” Max retorted.
El rolled her eyes. She lost, and she knew it. “Whatever. Hey, can you make a stop to the drugstore?” She asked, leaning forward.
“Why, you need a condom?” I drawled. Max guffawed. I hadn’t meant to be funny, I just wanted to contribute to the conversation.
El narrowed her eyes. “No, asshole. Mom wants me to pick up orange juice, and I need a new toothbrush.”
I flushed. “Oh,” was my witty response.
“Whatever you need, dear,” Max said as she pulled into the General Store parking lot. Our mom didn’t work there anymore, hadn’t in a year and a half, since she got a job managing the Italian place across the street. Dad had been ecstatic for her. Mainly because now he got bottomless breadsticks on the friends and family discount.
El hopped out of the car. “Be good, children, I’ll be back out in five,” she slammed the car door.
Max watched as El walked through the glass doors. “Are you in love with El?” She asked, nonchalantly.
I instantly recoiled. “Dude, ew! No, she’s my sister! Ugh…”
Max turned to look at me. “Okay. Are you in love with Mike?”
I hardly noticed her repeating my name as I traveled to the past for a split second…
Will slammed his locker door open. “And another note,” Dustin rolled his eyes. “When are they gonna leave you alone?” He asked.
Will rolled his eyes. “Hell if I know,” he replied.
Another mean note had been left in his locker, for him to find once it was opened. This one read Fuck you, faggot! Go fuck your loser boyfriend. Oh, wait.
Will shoved it into the trash can next to the end of the locker row. “Don’t tell my sister,” he said to Dustin. “She’ll rip them to bits,” he muttered.
Andrew Bellman, a junior that Will had been crushing on for a long time, came up behind them. “Hey, Will?” He asked, a furious blush on his face. “I was wondering if I could talk to you?” He looked pointedly at Dustin.
Dustin clasped his hands together and headed down the hall towards Lucas and Max. “See you guys in math!” He called over his shoulder.
Andrew leaned awkwardly against Will’s locker. “So like.. Homecoming is coming up. And… I wanted to know if… god, you probably don’t even like me that way… do.. Doyouwannagotothedancewithme?” He stepped back and winced.
Will hesitated for a split second.
This was the boy that he had liked for months now. The boy that El and Max had plotted behind his back to try and get one to ask the other out, to much failure and torment.
This was the boy whom Will had fantasized about asking to homecoming, even though he hadn’t had the guts to do it. For. Months.
So then why, pray tell, wasn’t he saying yes.
“Honestly, I think the sequel was better,” came a familiar voice.
Oh. That’s why.
“So? You wanna go?” Andrew asked nervously.
Will nodded slowly. “Yeah. Yeah, I do.”
Nobody needed to know how he wished, oh god, how he wished that he could go with someone else. The boy he had loved for years now.
“Will? Will. Will!” Max yelled, pulling me back to the present. I sniffed a bit.
“Yes,” I said in a low voice. She nodded slowly.
“Why’d you never say anything?” She asked, her voice barely above a whisper. “You had a chance.”
I turned to her. “First of all, no I didn’t. He- he likes El. Not me,” I dismissed her.
“Speak of the devil, your sister’s coming back,” Max warned. I panicked inside a little, before Max let out another guffaw.
“And I was like, sorry dude, but I have a boyfriend. And the lady looked at me like I was crazy, and I was like ‘hey, your dog is totally hitting on me’” El let out a giggle. “I guess I missed a lot,” she said, jingling her bag.
“You have no idea,” I whispered.
Max wanted to know why I couldn’t be with Mike or confess my feelings for him? Okay.
Number one. I am essentially supposed to grow up, get a job, get married, have kids, and die. No secret love affairs with my best friend. Besides, the whole I like boys development was a recent one. I’d only really deducted it when I was in ninth grade, and I realized I liked Mike.
Of course, by then, he was way too far gone.
I think it was a matter of, “He loves El. He wants to be with El. It’s El. It’ll always be her.”
That’s… probably it in a nutshell, anyway.
“My name is Mike,” said the boy as he extended his hand. “Do you want to be my friend?” He asked, shyly. Will nodded.
“I’d like that,” he responded, shaking Mike’s hand slowly. He gestured for Mike to sit next to him on the swings.
Ten years later, he saw the same boy take a seat on a bench and put his arm around a girl. Most of his friends rolled their eyes or mock-gagged, but Will felt… nothing.
Nothing as in… it was just a fact. A cold, hard, real fact that he just had to get over. Mike didn’t love him like that. Never would.
But do I want him to love me like that?
Number two. Listen, Mike and I have been best friends for twelve years. I’m not throwing away a friendship like that (or making it super weird and awkward…) just so I can be like, “Oh, heeeeey, I kinda fell in love with you in ninth grade, and like, I still like you? And shit? Haha! So, what do you think of this weather?”
Looking over at the girl sobbing while a boy walked away, Mike shook his head in disappointment.
“Man, poor Freya! She and Dan have been friends for six years, and Dan doesn’t like her in a romantic way?”
“And Freya...does?” Asked Max, snapping her bubble gum.
Dustin nodded. “Man, half the school just watched her get turned down!”
“Their friendship is like… ruined now, isn’t it?” Asked Max.
Dustin turned to look at her. “What do you mean?”
“Well,” she pointed at Freya, who had buried her face in her hands. “Look at her. I don’t know if it’ll ever not be awkward now. Saying “I love you” and having the other person pull a Han Solo. Only, this time, it’s not played for laughs, it’s cause, y’know, he actually doesn’t love her.”
Mike shook his head. “It would be strange, wouldn’t it? Being in a friendship when all you want is something more?”
Max shook her head. “Brutal,” was all she said.
Will stayed silent. Max snapped her gum.
There’s nothing I can do or say to make Mike like me like that anyway. Plus, it’s stupid and cliched to put our relationship in jeopardy just so I can get out feelings he doesn’t return.
Number three. I love my sister more than anything in this life. More than Mike, more than Andrew, more than anyone. I would choose her happiness over mine, every time. I know her like I know my own mind. If I told her that I loved Mike, she’d give him up. She’s the most selfless being I’ve ever met, even more than my mom. She’d be silently resigned to step back and watch us, even if Mike doesn’t love me back. Hell, she’d probably help me get him.
He’d be mine.
El would be miserable. For the rest of her life, probably. She’d be feeling what I feel right now, and all the time, endless regret.
I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, let alone my own sister.
She’d say “I’m fine.”
She’d be breaking her own “friends don’t lie” rule in that act, but it wouldn’t stop her.
I’d never give my life to her. My life of sadness, regret, wishing to god I had done something more.
Max snapped her bubblegum, feet up on the dashboard, the car seats leaning back.
“See, I told you this would be worth it,” she bragged.
Will snorted. “I had to get up at three AM for it to happen, but you’re right. Plus, we’ll totally get points with the science teachers for doing this.”
“Ooh, ooh, look! Another one!” Max pointed out the asteroid shooting across the sky.
“God, the stars are beautiful,” sighed El, who leaned across the driver’s side seat with Max.
“Hey, curly! How’s your view! Ours is great!” Max called to Dustin in his car next to hers.
“Great!” Dustin called. “Only I don’t have to deal with the wonder twins in there!” He snorted. Will looked up a little bit to see inside of Dustin’s hand-me-down Ford, just so he could see a little bit of what the others were doing.
Instead, he caught an involuntary but perfect glimpse of Mike. His black hair, messy and draped across his left eye. His hands were clasped behind his head, and he was laughing at something Lucas had said.
Will could. Not. Look. Away. But somehow he managed to anyway.
Instead, he looked over at his sister, who was staring at Mike with the same lovestruck glance Will had been sporting merely a second prior. Snap out of it, Byers, Will told himself.
“Hey, Will,” Max poked me in the shoulder. “You’re home.”
El was already bouncing up to the front step. “Don’t tell anyone,” I muttered at Max before pulling myself out of her car.
“Will?” She called after me hesitantly. I didn’t look at her. I couldn’t.
Will clanged his spoon against his glass, standing up. “Hi. Can I say something?” He asked, smiling down at the groom. Mike grinned back at him.
Will cleared his throat. “Okay. So, when Mike asked me to be his best man, I had no idea what I was in for. I understood the bachelor party shit, and all of that, but speechwriting, prepping the groom, being on time to places… it’s a lot,” Will began, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
“Uh, my brother got married about five years ago, but, uh… he eloped. So this was all completely new to me! But, according to funny wedding movies, I’m supposed to tell a story,” He continued.
“So… when I was twelve, I got lost in the woods of Indiana. For a week… and…. Mike, Dustin, and Lucas were my best friends at the time, still are,” Will chuckled and raised his glass to Dustin and Lucas, who were sitting next to him. “Mike wouldn’t let anybody stop looking for me. Even when they found a body believed to be mine. For real! This dude was still looking for me after they had a funeral for me. That’s how dedicated he was to finding me. And… I guess he was doing something right, because he met Jane, here, while he was looking for me, for the first time. She was lost, and cold, and had just escaped from a bad place. She was finally free, and my best friend is the first face she saw. I guess she liked it!” Laughter. “Anyway… I’m glad he looked for me. Because he was such a great friend, he met the love of his life. We should all aspire to be more like Mike. To Mike, and to Jane. A great sister, a great new brother, and great friends. To Mike and El!” Will called.
“Mike and El!” Echoed around the room, the loudest coming from Joyce, Hopper, Karen, and Steve. El and Mike raised their glasses to Will, then drank.
Will sat back down, a wide grin on his face.
It’s all right. It’s better than ending up like Dan and Freya. It’s okay.
At least Eleven is his wife.
At least I keep him in my life…
Mike looked at Will’s retreating back as he walked away from where they were sat that day. He’d meant what he’d said about Dan and Freya, back in tenth grade.
If he hadn’t he certainly would have told Will how he felt about him. How he’d felt all those years ago.
And how he still felt today.
This is probably the single worst fic I’ve ever written, and that’s saying something, because I also wrote a really bad fanfic called ‘50 Things Dustin Isn’t Allowed To Do’ and that somehow won a Levo.
I hope you enjoyed this, even though it was awful lmao.