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Through Every Open Door

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Mike’s stayed at the Sattler Country Club and Resort with his family every summer since he was old enough to walk, and every summer it’s been an awful bore. When they were both young enough for the age difference between them to not matter as much when it came to having fun, Nancy used to help a bit, giggling with him about the little old ladies trying to learn how to dance and chatting up the dancing people. Now Nancy’s old enough to be the one trying to chat up the dancing people, and she doesn’t want her little brother hanging off of her, even if Mike’s seventeen now and not an idiot kid, thanks. So he has nothing to do except read what books he can pack and roll his eyes when his mother makes him do the hula with a bunch of boring lawyers and doctors and CEOs in Hawaiian shirts (his dad being one of them, to his never-ceasing fucking embarrassment). Sometimes he tries to play croquet because Dustin, the kid who teaches it, is actually pretty cool and way into science and Dungeons and Dragons, but Mike really, really sucks at croquet and losing is getting depressing.

“Michael, my man, this is getting embarrassing for both of us,” Dustin says when Mike’s ball goes off course badly enough to knock a Bloody Mary-sipping housewife in the foot.

“Sorry,” he calls when she purses maroon lips at him. Dustin is grinning, his hair wildly curly from the unrelenting humidity.

“I don’t care if I suck at it, it’s better than having to do the salsa with some mean old lady who smells like mothballs. Which is what happens in every fucking ‘dancing’ lesson they have here,” Mike says.

“I feel you, man, those lessons are a fucking sham. Steve hates teaching them, especially when they’re always hitting on him,” Dustin agrees.

Steve has been doing the dance stuff here for years, and Nancy’s crush on him has grown with every passing summer. It's gross as shit, and part of the reason Mike never goes to the evening dances is that he has to watch her make eyes at him while Steve tries not to make it too obvious he's looking back. As far as he’s aware, they’ve never actually hooked up, but then Mike really tries to pay as little attention as possible to his sister’s sex life, so what does he know?

“Tell me about it. If I can’t hit a croquet ball, I definitely can’t do the fucking merengue without tripping over my own feet,” Mike says, wiping his sweaty fringe back from his face. He’s never been athletic, always being string-bean thin and painfully uncoordinated, but it’s gotten a thousand times worse after his growth spurt and now Mike is the definition of two left feet. It’s never really mattered much to him. His dad is going to think he’s a disappoint regardless for thinking doing stuff with computers is a better option than, like, pursuing a degree in economics or whatever, and the kids at school will take the shit out of him no matter how swanlike and graceful Mike is. It’s not like he ever needs to dance outside of these stupid summer excursions.

“God, there’s nothing to do here,” he groans. It’s hot, his mom is always halfway-drunk, his dad is either golfing or talking business with a bunch of similarly boring corporate assholes, always coming back to their room smelling so strongly of Cuban cigars it gives Mike asthma, and his sister is stalking Steve Harrington. Mike can think of approximately sixty-seven things he’d rather do with his summer, and quite a few involve Troy punching him in the face on a weekly basis.

“You say that because you haven’t seen Steve’s new dancing partner. She’s teaching lessons to some of the ladies who actually wanna learn and not, y’know…”

“Fuck Steve?” Mike suggests drily. Dustin grins, cheeks dimpling.

"Yup. And to a few of the men too, and I hope those lessons aren't also a euphemism because El deserves better. She's fucking gorgeous. Not really my type, but half the guys here are in love with her."

“I’m sure she’d lose her mind to get her hands on all of this," Mike says, gesturing at the six feet and two inches of gangly, awkward teenage boy that is his stupid body. "Why would anyone want Steve Harrington and his gperfect hair when they could have a nerd who's bad at croquet?"

“Bad at croquet and dancing. You’re a real catch. Oh, hey, Will, get over here and meet my fabulously wealthy companion!”

Mike follows the direction of Dustin's wave and sees a kid around his age with huge eyes and a bowl cut that is possibly even more unfortunate than Mike’s heading towards them, grinning. He’s wearing one of the tacky white caterer’s suits, which must be sweltering. Mike deduces that he’s probably coming from the dining room, where Mike’s parents are having lunch and pretending that their marriage isn’t falling apart.

“Hey, what’s up?” he says to both of them, his eyes so genuinely friendly as he extends a hand towards Mike he smiles back automatically. “I’m Will. I’m one of the lowly servants.”

“Mike Wheeler,” Mike returns. Will has a smudge of paint on his thumb that’s such a specific shade of Saffron yellow that Mike doubts that he got it doing house painting. His eyebrows go up when he hears Mike’s name.

“Oh, Wheeler. Cool. My older brother has a huge crush on your sister. Shit, I shouldn’t have said that.” Will winces, rubbing his head sheepishly. “Um. If you could not tell anyone said that, that would be great. We’re strictly forbidden from having any kind of rendezvous with the guests.”

It’s Mike’s turn to raise his eyebrows.

“Dude, I have it on good authority that Steve Harrington has slept with, like, half the wives here. My mom’s friend Magda was bragging about it last year when her husband was, like, smoking a cigar with the boys or whatever.”

“Yeah, correction, we’re not supposed to sleep with the guests unless it’s profitable,” Will says amiably. “So, y’know, ‘private dance lessons’, anything that keeps this place running. We’re a capitalist enterprise.”

“It’s true,” Dustin agrees solemnly. “We weren’t all born with a silver spoon in our mouths, Mike. Some of us have to sell our hot bodies to horny housewives to get by.”

Mike shifts uncomfortably, forcing a laugh. His family isn't rich, exactly, but they're definitely upper middle class. There's a guest bedroom in their house, Mike and Nancy both got their own cars when they turned sixteen, and their lives, in general, are pretty comfy. Dustin, by contrast, was raised by a single mom who works long night shifts nursing, and Will’s catering tux indicates he’s not exactly living the plush life. He’s looking around the croquet course with a kind of blinking awe, like he doesn’t spend a lot of time outside in the sun. Mike feels kind of guilty for being sick of the smell of freshly mown golf-course grass when Will’s obviously had it much worse; cooped up in the dining room serving mimosas to bitchy middle-aged women who don’t tip.

“So what does your brother do?” he asks, just to change the subject.

“Photographer,” Will answers, and Mike immediately knows who he’s talking about. “So, Mike, tell me what’s it like being on the guest side of things here?”

“Boring,” Mike answers automatically, then winces. Will’s been on his feet all day working, obviously, and Mike going on about the evils of living in the lap of luxury being waited on by kids like Will and Dustin is pretty fucking insensitive. “I mean, you know, it’s cool that we can afford it, I guess, but it’s such a useless waste of money, and the people are—you know, they literally just pay a ridiculous amount to feel like people are bowing down to serve them, and they're fucking rude just for kicks. It's gross."

“Yeah, thank God you’re not like that. I hate the ones who complain just to ‘give me something to do’,” Will says with an honest smile. “It’s cool that you’re more aware than that. A lot of people aren’t, even the kids.”

"I was trying to convince Mike to come to the dance at the main building tonight, to see people have some real fun," Dustin says, nudging Mike with his elbow. Will's eyes widen.

“You totally should,” he says enthusiastically. “It’s the most fun anyone has over here, and you can see my sister dance. She’s so talented it’s ridiculous.”

Mike swallows, feeling the heat for the first time. He doesn’t really care about Will’s sister, as nice as Will is. Even if she is gorgeous and talented, it’s not like she’d ever notice Mike. Even the nerdy girls at school don’t really notice Mike.

“Yeah,” he says anyway because Mike doesn't have a lot of friends at home and Will's eyes are shining like he genuinely cares that Mike shows up, "yeah, sure I will."

…………………………………

"I'm going to the dance at the main building with Nancy later," he announces when he gets back to their cabin. Nancy’s locked away in the bathroom, talking in a hushed breathy voice on the phone with some guy that is probably not Steve Harrington. She’s learned how to pitch her voice just right so that no one can make out individual words from the other side of the door.

“Dancing?” his father says over the edge of his paper, derision obvious in his voice. Mike’s mother tightens her hand over his shoulder in a vague threat.

“I think that sounds like a lovely idea, honey. It’s about time you started taking advantage of what we’re paying for.”

Mike just rolls his eyes and waits for Nancy. She whines when she finds out she’s supposed to take him with her, but it’s more perfunctory than truly reluctant.

“You can stop huffing, I’m not going to cockblock you and Steve Harrington," Mike grumbles as Nancy pulls him along towards the main building, which is vast enough that it kind of reminds Mike uncomfortably of the hotel in The Shining. In the two hours since sunset, it's gotten cool enough for Mike to wish he'd brought a jacket, the cabins far enough away that Mike can only make out the illuminated windows.

“Not going to happen," Nancy says, but there are two spots of color high on her cheeks, even in the dim light. "He could lose his job, they're super strict about that now."

She sounds bitter. Mike blinks, confused.

“Um, not to be insensitive to your crush—“

“I do not have a crush!”

“—but Steve's been with half the women here," Mike says. Even though Will tried to explain it earlier Mike still doesn't get it. If private dancing lessons are a euphemism, surely the daughters would be just as profitable as the mothers?

“Exactly, the women,” Nancy says pointedly, like Mike is being purposefully oblivious. "Not the girls. Apparently a few years back, that one dancing instructor—the one who was a total asshole with a mullet, Billy what's-his-name—got some girl pregnant and her dad, like, sued the resort or something, so now they're super strict about keeping the gross borderline prostitution to the women who are post-menopause.”

"Ah," Mike says, feeling not for the first time very young in comparison to Nancy's worldliness. He knows it's dumb, being jealous of his big sister, but everything comes so easily to Nancy. She's popular, she has boyfriends, and she can adapt quickly to just about anything, always seems to understand the subtle social dynamics of any situation you put her in, where Mike would just flounder like a fish out of water.

“Plus, I wouldn’t want to be with Steve like that,” Nancy says, flushing even brighter. “I’d want to be with him because he liked me, not because he was getting paid.”

“Um, yeah, thanks, don’t need to know any of that,” Mike says, wrinkling his nose, and Nancy hits him.

When they arrive at the main building, the dance hall is crowded and steamy with the heat of overly exerted bodies, the colored lights low and romantic. Mike's face scrunches up even more involuntarily as he looks around. Apparently, they're in between songs, because a portly man with an obvious toupee is telling terrible jokes as the band tunes themselves, and the swaying couples are shuffling around awkwardly, hailing down the caterers circling with appetizers and drinks so they can have something to do with their hands. Mike cranes his neck, looking for the familiar bowl cut, and finally spots Will smiling fixedly at an older lady in a dress that looks like upholstery.

“Right, I see my friend, I’m gonna—“ he starts to say, but he’s talking to thin air. When he turns his head, Nancy’s already disappeared into the crowd. Mike shrugs to himself, hoping for Steve Harrington's she isn't planning on seducing him, and heads over to Will.

“Hey!” he calls, over the din of the crappy stand-up comic, who’s now serving as announcer.

“And now, it’s time to get sexy! Get ready folks, because it’s that time of night! Let’s get our mambo on!”

He does a horrible shaking move that makes his belly jiggle under his ill-fitting tux, and Mike and Will cringe in unison, meeting each other's eyes. Will's smile immediately turns genuine.

“Hey, you made it! Can I interest you in an iced beverage? We have watermelon juice that’s surprisingly good.”

Mike accepts a glass as a Latin beat starts, trying to look at anything other than the older couples trying to inject hip gyrations into their tired two-steps.

“Oh hey,” Will says, looking at something over Mike’s shoulder. “There’s my step-sister, look!”

Mike turns, sipping his watermelon juice, and time seems to slow. The music and chatter fade to white noise and Mike suddenly feels so isolated he can hear his own pulse fluttering in his throat. A spotlight is falling on the dance instructors, and Mike sees Steve Harrington's signature hair with a kind of bleary detachment. The one he can't stop looking at is the girl.

She’s tiny, bird-boned and delicate with long curls that are so furiously wild they have to be intentional, and she’s wearing a blue dress that clings to the contours of her body like a film of water. They way she’s moving makes Mike’s throat go dry. The sway of her hips isn’t comically exaggerated the way he’s seen some of the female instructors do, but it’s so breathtakingly natural it’s almost more obscene for it. Every gyration takes Mike’s pulse further into his throat, and when Steve spins her, her skirt fans out as if in slow motion so that Mike gets one glimpse of white cotton underwear. She kicks a leg out effortlessly, swinging it inwards and then upwards into what’s almost a split, her calf slotting onto Steve’s shoulder like it was made to rest there. He pulls her back so that the split deepens as her other leg drags, her back curving into an impossible arc that reveals her face to Mike. It’s as lovely as the rest of her—curved with a sly, lazy quality that settles warm into his stomach, her eyes rimmed with dark shadow and kohl liner.

Steve is spinning her again before Mike can blink, and her hips are sliding back against his, her face now fully visible to him. She's smiling, dimpling in her right cheek. Other people are starting to watch them, pausing in their own dancing to clap and cheer as she spins again, again, again, then back into Steve, who’s suddenly lifting her like she’s a little doll, her legs kicking back behind her like a ballerina.

“That’s El,” Will says, beaming with pride. “Isn’t she brilliant?”

It takes Mike a moment to answer, he’s so fucking entranced.

“Yeah. Yeah, she really is,” he says. A portly older man is heading towards Steve and El, his face thunderous. He makes a throat-slashing cut-it-out gesture, and just like that El and Steve are back to the same kind of simple mambo the rest of the floor is performing, with just a little more grace. Will sighs, rolling his eyes.

"That's Mr. Wilson, he runs all of this. He has this crazy idea in his head that if they show off too much, people won't want to buy lessons."

“What?” Mike says, incredulous. “Why the fuck wouldn’t that sell lessons? What would it not sell? Stamps?”

Will laughs.

Around a half-hour later, Will recruits Mike to get some watermelons from the freezer and pantry, which is at the very back of the main building by the kitchens. Mike is only a little reluctant to stop watching El. It’s not like he’s not going to see her again, and he likes Will. He wants to help him out.

"These for more of that juice?" he asks, praying his arms don't give out. The last thing Mike needs is to break his foot and ruin his pants by dropping a monstrous watermelon.

"Nah, these are for us. There are a few perks to being the help," Will says cheerfully. Outside, the grounds are almost deserted, all twinkling fairy lights and long stretches of lawn shadowed blue by trees and moonlight. It's a hell of a lot easier to appreciate how nice it is when it's nearly vacant like this. Will leads Mike away from the main building, away from the pagoda where some of the smaller dances are held, and down a cobbled path that ends in a bridge, beyond which there looks to be a kind of warehouse.

“I can get it from here," Will announces. Mike raises an eyebrow. Will's already carrying two watermelons, which together must weigh the equivalent of a large dog and Will's tiny. He makes Mike feel like Superman.

“C’mon, I want to help,” he says. Will’s brow furrows.

“Thanks, Mike, but I’ll be fine. Help only from beyond this point.”

Now, Mike really wants to carry the stupid watermelon. He peers at the warehouse, which is throbbing with the thump of a bass, and his curiosity piques even more.

"Let me help," he insists. "Come on, you can't possibly carry three watermelons on your own. What is it you don't want me to see, some wild orgy?"

Will sighs, and Mike knows he’s won.

“Look, don’t tell anyone I brought you, okay? I could get in big trouble, Mr. Wilson’s super strict. Just keep your head down and if you can help it don’t tell anyone you’re a guest.”

Mike nods, grinning to himself. He feels like he's on the brink of some crucial teenage experience he should have been having years ago, something exciting and forbidden that will magically turn him into a real adult. When Will opens the door to the warehouse, Mike's eyes widen, and just like that he's back to feeling like a stupid kid, totally out of his depth. The sensitive, wilting virgin, looking in on his peers like they’re an alien species totally beyond him.

The dancing the help are doing in this warehouse makes the salsa-ing and the mambo-ing upstairs look like a five-year-old’s ballet class. Inside, it's clear there isn't any air conditioning. If the dance hall had been warm, this room is sweltering, the humidity hanging thick as fog over the dance floor. Mike gulps, telling himself that his burning cheeks are because of that, and not because these people’s dancing does kind of look like an orgy. Hips grinding, hands wandering to rude places, what actually seems to be dry humping going on in a few corners. Even worse, they all look like fucking pros. Ridiculously flexible and coordinated, making even the really filthy stuff look weirdly professional, and Mike has never felt like such a goddamn loser in his life. He doesn't even have the skill to slow dance at the prom he probably won't even attend (it's not like there's anyone who would go with him), and here are people his age grinding with their boyfriends and girlfriends like it's second nature.

“This is what your people get up to?” he says, trying to sound sarcastic and unimpressed, but his voice comes out kind of choked anyway. Will shoots him a knowing look.

“Regretting living the good life?” he asks, no bite to his voice. Mike swallows heavily and tries to shrug. It’s impossible to find anywhere to look that doesn't make him feel like a Peeping Tom. Everywhere there are bare legs and hands groping, clothes that cling with so much sweat they look like mere suggestions. Mike has never seen this much of the female body (except for that one time he walked in on his parents and that is obviously exactly what he needs to think of to cool himself down), and kind of feels like a little boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“Um, where do they learn to do that?”

"Beats me," says Will cheerfully. "I know I can't, and Jonathan's hopeless too. I guess in the basements back home." That makes Mike feel a little bit better, enough for him to follow Will through the press of bodies and to even look around curiously. He gets a few looks—girls who sneer, guys whose faces flash possessive warnings—and Mike's grateful when they get to the back of the room, where Will sets the watermelons down.

“I’m gonna take these over to Dustin to slice—oh, hey, El’s done!”

Mike's head snaps up so fast he just about breaks his neck. Sure enough, Steve Harrington and El are parting the crowds like the red sea, being greeted with wolf whistles and slaps on the back, and something torn between jealousy and yearning unfurls deep in Mike's dress when they start to dance. It's even more impressive this time, El’s dress clinging enough to make the swing of it in the main building look like something Mike's grandmother would find acceptable, her limbs shining with sweat and her dimple popping as they twist and turn. Mike’s never wished he was anyone else quite so badly as he does when she beams up at Steve Harrington, her body fitting against his like a puzzle piece.

“Poor Nancy,” he mutters, because it’s pretty obvious Steve Harrington isn’t going to be looking her way any time soon. He’s holding El’s pelvis firmly to his as she tips back, shaking her shoulders as her back curves into that same impossible arch. The next moment, he's pulling her up, letting her almost shimmy up his body until he can pop her knees on his shoulders, El grinning madly as she hovers over the crowd. Mike swallows again, sweat beading along his hairline and under the collar of his shirt, his breath coming unsteadily. Steve’s face is level with the flash of her white underwear, revealed every time she flips her skirt, the admiring wolf-whistling increasing.

“Huh?” Will asks, having totally forgotten his Dustin-locating mission to watch his sister with that same glow of pride on his face.

“Nancy likes Steve—aren’t they a couple?” Mike asks, his stomach plummeting even as he says it. It’s a ridiculous, dumb reaction. Even if Steve wasn’t in the picture, girls like El do not look twice at guys like Mike. His jealousy is about as rational as wishing he had telekinesis.

“Ew, no,” Will says, his whole face curdling. “Steve is, like, twenty-five or something and El is my age. Nah, they’re just like brother or sister. Or mother and daughter, maybe,” he says, mouth quirking. “Steve is such a mother-hen to her. ‘El, honey, make sure you do all your stretches so your legs don’t cramp and roll out your back before you go to sleep and can I get you anything to eat?’” he mimics in a high falsetto.

Mike is so inexplicably relieved he actually sags against the table, cursing himself for being glad a girl he doesn't have a chance in hell with isn't dating the dance instructor his sister's swooning over. Just then, the song ends, and the room erupts into cheering and congratulatory make-out sessions. El just hugs Steve, and he spins her around in a way that does seem more brotherly than anything else now that Mike thinks of it. The new song that starts up is something old and jazzy, something his mom might listen to.

“I’m a love man, oooh baby I’m a love man…”

When the dancing starts up again this time, El starts to migrate away from Steve, stopping for a beat to slide up against a guy in a leather jacket, or even to shimmy with another girl in a see-through tight white tee shirt. Mike realizes a second too late that she's heading their way. He actually gasps like a total loser when she all but leaps in front of them, like she's Michael Myers and he's a helpless babysitter. Her face is no longer glittering with delighted exertion. In fact, she looks kind of pissed, her lips pursed and her brow furrowed. It only emphasizes the deliberate smudging of kohl around her eyes, her bedhead of tousled curls suggesting all kinds of hair-mussing activities.

“Will,” she says curtly, and holy fuck her voice is everything Mike wouldn’t expect from her makeup. Breathy, honey-sweet, almost a little girl’s voice. He knows he’s blushing furiously now, feeling stupidly guilty for something he’s not even sure if he’s done.

“Is he a guest?” El asks, looking at Mike like he just picked his nose and ate it.

“Um, yes, but he’s cool, El—“ Will starts nervously, glancing between them. El cuts him off, eyes narrowing.

“Then why did you bring him here?” she asks, her voice quietly deadly. Mike’s mouth starts to open to say something incredibly dumb before he can stop himself.

"I carried a watermelon," he says, cringing immediately. The combination of her glare and his instant, excruciating mortification at himself for being such an obvious fucking dweeb is enough to make Mike wish he could melt into the floor. El just raises an eyebrow and flounces back into the crowd, skirt fluttering behind her.

“I carried a watermelon,” Mike repeats incredulously under his breath, kind of wondering if he could ask Will to knock him out and save him from melting into a puddle of extreme embarrassment. Will just winces in sympathy.

“Don’t worry about it, she won’t remember ten minutes from now,” he says, but he doesn’t look entirely convinced.

El looks at Mike not a minute later, her eyes finding him the second she has a good vantage point from where she’s leaning into Steve. Mike gulps, knowing he probably looks like a deer in the headlights. He fully expects her to glare again and leave him to his misery, but instead, she actually starts to walk over to him. Mike can only stare back at her, paralyzed, his feet glued to the floor and his heart trying to escape his chest. When she's a foot away from him—so close Mike thinks he might be able to feel her breath against his face—she takes his hands and tugs.

"Come on then," she says in a tone that leaves no room for protest. Mike's brain is short-circuiting. He looks at Will desperately for assistance—El probably wants to drag him away to murder him somewhere without witnesses, and Will cannot let Mike die a messy and gruesome death—but Will just shrugs, grinning a little, and flutters a hand at him. Mike fully means to stay stubbornly paralyzed, but his feet are already following El, his palms tingling from the damp press of her hands. El leads him to the middle of the dance floor and smiles almost sweetly.

“Let’s dance,” she says firmly. Mike still thinks it’s a trap—maybe it’s because he’s a guest and she thinks she’s duty bound to entertain him, and Mike feels sick at the thought—but he’s already obeying her when her hands go to his shoulders and push.

“Alright, bend your knees. That’s it, spread your feet a bit—“

Mike is pretty sure this can’t actually be happening to him. He’s not sure if it’s the best dream or a terrible nightmare, but surely there’s no way this gorgeous, dangerous looking girl is trying to show him how to dance, that Mike, with his two left feet and stupidly gangly limbs, is actually attempting to do as she says. But he’s already bent his knees and spread his feet, and when El dimples at him, he smiles back helplessly.

“Now roll your hips like this,” she says, and is suddenly moving against him the way she was against Steve earlier. Mike just stares at her, mortified and electrified by her touch, and she huffs a sigh. “Like this,” she repeats and actually grabs his hips.

It’s the worst and best thing to ever happen to him, El grinding up against him, somehow filthy and elegant in her every movement. Mike realizes dimly that he’s moving his hips too, which is impossible because he cannot fucking dance, and El’s smile is turning sly.

"Six feet one weigh two hundred and ten, long hair and real fair skin, long legs and I’m-a outta sight…”

El is mouthing the lyrics. The second Mike starts to relax just a little bit, he realizes something awful, which is that he is pretty much grinding with a girl that he is not dating, and the likelihood of something even more embarrassing happening is incredibly high. It's all very well and good if any of these other guys get turned on dancing—they're probably dancing with their girlfriends—but El is a stranger and Mike doesn't know her and he cannot possibly let himself…

“Keep your eyes on me,” El says, snapping him out of a fresh panic. “Good. See? You’re doing good. Now roll this way.”

Mike tries, feeling incredibly dumb again (and feeling dumb does a lot to alleviate the rush of blood down to parts of his body that are in direct contact with El) and sure he looks like a total idiot. He feels disconnected from his own body, clumsy and awkward as a newborn deer. El occasionally reaches out to place her hands on him again, guiding him every time Mike starts to flounder. It’s torture and it’s ecstasy. Her hands are impossibly hot against the waistband of his jeans, her hipbones sharp against his. Her smile is nothing like the mistrusting scowl she’d had earlier. Mike can almost believe she doesn’t mind dancing with him.

"Eyes on me," she says again when Mike freezes up for what feels like the hundredth time. Hers are impossibly dark and sparkling.

“Which one of you girls want me to hold you…which one of you girls want me to kiss you…”

"Good," El says, and suddenly wraps one arm around his neck. She takes Mike's hand and places it on the small of her back, and Mike's fingers curl around the curve of her waist instinctively, her skin much more than a suggestion through the dampness of her dress. His heart is in his throat, all the blood in his body trying to decide whether it wants to go to his groin or his face when she drapes her other arm around his collar so that her body is totally flush against his. "Okay?" she asks.

Mike can only nod and stare as she gyrates against him, her arms tightening around his neck. He lets his other arm loop her waist, pulling her even closer to him, and Mike half expects her to flinch away but she just smiles and presses closer, so close he’s acutely aware of the soft give of her breasts against his chest, her ever-shifting hips providing exquisite, excruciating friction. He knows he’s smiling, probably looking dopey as fucking hell, his eyes trained on her face. She’s gleaming with sweat, glittering from it, and Mike finally relaxes, letting his body follow hers. He doesn’t care what happens—if he trips and falls flat on his face, if he passes out, if he gets hard—it doesn’t fucking matter. All that matters is that Mike is pretty sure this is the best moment of his life and he wants it to last forever.

“I’m just a love man, a good ol’ man, I’m just a love man, a good ol’ man…”

As soon as Mike thinks of how badly he wants it to last, it’s over. The second the song ends, El un-loops herself from him casually, doesn't even glance at Mike as she walks away, disappearing into the crowd. Mike can only stare after her in shock—he thinks he should feel humiliated, but he just feels limp from exertion and maybe a bit of relief. It stings a bit, how quick she was to walk away, but what had Mike expected? If she'd stayed, it would have been awful trying to figure out what to say to her, if he should thank her or apologize or ask for another dance.

Mike leaves with only a wave to Will, gasping in relief at the cool night air. His skin feels like it’s on fire, and as he walks alone back to where the cabins are, checking his watch and finding out that it's well after midnight and everyone will be asleep, Mike can't drag his thoughts away from Will's stepsister. He's still thinking about El when he hears the rustling in the bushes as he passes the golf course, only stopping when he hears the cracking of twigs that means footsteps. Suddenly, Mike's Michael Myers reaction from earlier seems a lot more appropriate. He turns slowly, backing against the nearest tree so that he can't be seen as a couple emerge from the golf course, draped so closely around one another it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Mike can't make out the face of the boy, but when the girl’s is suddenly illuminated by a beam of moonlight, Mike has to stifle his gasp in his knuckles.

It's Nancy. She's trying to button her shirt with the one hand that's not draped around the guy, her short hair wild like someone's been running their hands through it all night. Even in such shitty lighting, Mike can make out the bruise on her neck.

He waits fifteen minutes before he follows her, the euphoria of dancing with El replaced with the feeling that something is going to go terribly wrong. Because Mike knows full well that Steve Harrington is dancing with El in a steamy warehouse, and hopes the sake of whoever Nancy was just with isn't an employee of the resort.