there’s something ‘bout the way
the street looks when it’s just rained
there’s a glow off the pavement
you walk me to the car
and you know i wanna ask you to dance right here
in the middle of the parking lot
mike pulls out his wallet while looking at the check. he insisted on paying for the whole meal, despite el’s attempts to at least pay for half. they’re 17 now and mike just got his license two weeks ago. el’s birthday is this wednesday, and mike wanted to make this year something special, especially since it’s their first date with no parents. hopper was a bit skeptical at first, his teenage daughter going off on a date with her boyfriend with completely no supervision. eventually el got him to come around though, she always does.
el’s dressed in a purple sundress, that lands just before her knees, and a new pair of sandals she bought at the mall with max last week. they’ve got a bit of a heel, which pushed el to buy them as mike is so much taller than her. which, don’t get her wrong, she loves how tall he is. but sometimes she wants to know what it feels like to be tall. mike seems to love them as well, so there’s another reason as to why buying them was a great idea. she left her hair down and let it dry naturally after her shower after school. el was going for simplistic, but still looks good.
and the date was good. so good. mike put so much thought into it, from making sure it wasn’t too far from home, but also a highly rated asian restaurant (asian food was el’s favorite) that he knew el would love. he picked her up at 6 and rang the doorbell, bouquet of flowers in hand. he was wearing a blue dress shirt with dress pants. he looks so goddamn cute. he even promised hopper that he’d have her home and safe by 11.
the food was incredible to say the least. they ordered a large sushi platter and a few other entrees, picking at all of the plates and trying everything out. it was all delicious, and el already couldn’t wait until they would be coming back.
el takes one last sip of water, before mike speaks. “you ready to go?” she smiles and nods. mike immediately gets out of his seat and around to el, grabbing her hand. he swiftly gives her a kiss on the cheek and leads them out the door.
as they walk outside, it hits el. how much she loves mike. sure, they’ve said ‘i love you’ before. all the time, really. but this was different. as she stands outside the restaurant, the glow of the moon hitting mike’s face, highlighting the freckles that she adores so much, her entire body fills with complete and utter love. she stops walking, never keeping her eyes off of him. he turns and looks at her with concern. “el, are you okay?” and she just wants to kiss him right then and there for always caring so much about her.
“yeah, i’m okay.” she gives him a small smile. el throws her arms around his neck, looking up at him. “i love you so much, mike wheeler.” she whispers. the way his eyes light up, and the massive grin on his face proves that he too, loves el hopper. he gives her a kiss, filled with so much love and emotion, before resting his forehead against hers. “and i love you so much, el hopper. so so much.”
el pulls back a bit, and says “dance with me.”
mike chuckles, “el, we’re standing in the middle of the parking lot.”
grinning from ear to ear, she responds, “so? i want to dance with my boyfriend, right now. so dance with me.”
and that’s how el hopper and mike wheeler find themselves slow dancing in the middle of the parking lot, after their first official date. under the stars, tangled up in each other, acting like teenagers in love.
and i don’t know how it gets better than this
you take my hand and drag me head first
and i don’t know why but with you i’d dance in a storm in my best dress
el is sitting at her desk, applying the finishing touches to her makeup. max is singing along to the pink radio perched on el’s dresser.
“okay, so i know prom is today, but which dress?” max says, lifting up two dresses. “i love the red one, but lucas always mentions that he likes me in blue.” it’s so like max to still not have a dress picked out 20 minutes before they’re supposed to leave.
el puts down her brush, and turns around. “hm… don’t get me wrong, the blue is stunning, but i think the red one is really gonna make you stand out.” she points to the silver strapped heels max brought with her, “with those shoes, oh my god, yes. definitely the red dress with the silver heels. you’re going to look amazing.” el assures.
“thanks, ellie. and you decided on the emerald green one right? you’re going to have mike swooning.”
el nods. she finishes her makeup with one last swipe of mascara and begins curling her hair. she decided that she was going to leave it down and curled, knowing how much mike likes running his fingers through her hair. when el finishes, she switches her curling iron off, and swiftly runs a brush through the curls. she puts her brush into her drawer, before grabbing her dress and heading to the bathroom.
the party are all dancing around in their own little circle in the hawkins high school gym. they’re surrounded by balloons and streamers in every corner, and a disco ball spinning above their heads. a bit 80s, but el kind of loves it anyway. dustin and will are laughing about the girl who had a bug in her hair in math class on monday, and lucas is attempting to teach mike and max a new dance move he learned in a music video he watched last week. she giggles to herself as she watches mike flop around like a fish. el is stood there in silence, but, and as cliché as it sounds, a comfortable silence. she stands here and watches the joy radiating from her best friends, she wonders how her life could ever get better then it is right now.
the rest of the night goes just as smoothly, them all dancing their hearts out and drinking way too many cups of fruit punch, leaving their lips stained red. and the best part of the night, is when they announce that mike and el did, in fact, win prom king and queen. the happiness exploding on el’s face is something that mike never wants to see get whipped away.
and eventually when prom comes to a close, the party decide that they’re going to continue the night in max’s basement. her parents are on vacation and she’s got the house to herself for the next few days. el makes it a point to mention that they will be having a sleepover at some point this week. pizza and makeovers and the whole nine yards. as they’re turning left down the hallway, mike steers them towards the right.
“mike, where are we going?”
“i just wanted some alone time before we meet up with everyone. come with me, promise you’ll love it.”
“okay, just let me give max my crown and sash. don’t want them to get ruined before i can show joyce and hop.”
mike and el say goodbye to their friends, promising that they’ll see them in a bit. mike takes them to the door that leads to the stairwell up to the roof. “mike, what are we doing here? this is the door to the roof. and not only that, but the door is locked.”
“well… i happen to know someone who could open it for us.” he says, smirking at her. “and i thought it could be kind of romantic. reminds me of that scene in high school musical.” he teases.
playfully rolling her eyes at him, el unlocks the door. “i hope you don’t expect me to start breaking out into song, mister.”
they walk up, choosing to sit on the edge of the building. el has her arm wrapped around mike’s, with her head leaning against him and their fingers intertwined, soaking up each other’s company. they stay like that for a few minutes until el feels a droplet splash on her shoulder. she barely has time to look up at the sky before it starts downpouring.
“shit! i didn’t know it was supposed to rain tonight-” mike pauses, pulling them up and giving el a sympathetic look. “i’m sorry el, i didn’t mean to get your dress all ruined.”
el’s heart swells with emotion. prom has been over for nearly an hour, they’re sat here on the roof of their high school, and out of all things that could go wrong, mike’s worried about getting her dress ruined by the rain. she giggles at him, and mike swears right then and there that he never wants to hear another sound ever again.
“mike, relax, prom is over. i don’t mind that my dress is getting drenched right now. and i kind of like that we’re standing out here in the rain. gives me ‘the notebook’ vibes, and we both know how much you love that movie.” el forced mike to watch ‘the notebook’ with her a few months back. forced is a strong word, considering mike was more into the movie than el was, but she loved watching his reactions to the film, especially when he was tearing up towards the end. el’s been teasing him about it ever since.
mike covers his face in embarrassment. “el, when are you going to give it up! you know i only watched it because you swear it’s the best movie of all time, and i had to see what all the fuss was about. which, by the way, it was definitely not the best movie of all time.” the space between them is slowly becoming smaller as they banter back and forth.
“if you say so…” el quipped. mike is standing right in front of el by now. he leans down, and gives el a slow kiss. it’s still raining around them, and by this point they’re drenched.
“i love you, el. i don’t think i’ll ever get tired of saying that.” mike whispers.
“well, i guess it’s a good thing i love you just as much.” el responds, before pulling him down into another kiss.
so, baby, drive slow
‘til we run out of road in this one horse town
i wanna stay right here in this passenger’s seat
you put your eyes on me
in this moment now capture it, remember it
they’re driving back to hawkins after taking their finals for the winter semester. they’re got about an hour or so left of the drive, and el’s sound asleep in the passenger’s seat of mike’s station wagon. she looks so beautiful, so at peace with her head against the glass window. it’s snowing lightly outside, and mike already knows el will drag him outside to play at some point during the week. el has seen snow countless times by now, but that doesn’t stop her from still wanting to make snow angels every chance she sees a snowflake hit the ground. mike smiles to himself thinking of when it snowed right before christmas last year.
el throwing snowballs at mike, using her powers a bit for help despite promising she wouldn’t use them. mike ran towards el, picking her up a bit too fast causing them to fall to the ground. they’re rolling around on the floor, limbs entangled. el stops laughing, grabs mike’s face and he expects her to kiss him, but instead she starts rubbing her nose against his.
“i just gave you an eskimo kiss.” el says, with complete seriousness. it takes mike a few seconds to realize what she just did, but he quickly rubs his nose back against her’s, before responding, “and now i just gave you an eskimo kiss.”
it amazes him how something so small, so insignificant, can make him fall in love with her all over again. all she did was rub her nose against his, and suddenly he feels like he’s on top of the world, can do anything, as long as she’s with him. he looks back up at her, all rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes, and before he can stop his mouth from spilling his thoughts he babbles “you’re so gorgeous.”
el thanks him by kissing his cheek, before saying “okay, mr. sappy that’s enough for today.” even though she’ll never get tired of hearing him tell her how pretty she is. “i’m getting cold. wanna make hot chocolate and snuggle on the couch? i’m in the mood for a christmas movie marathon. maybe even give you a few kisses if you’re lucky.” el says, smirking.
that’s how the day ends, them cuddled up on the couch in his basement, el having stolen yet another one of mike’s sweaters. not that he minds, he loves the way she looks in his clothes. sipping on hot chocolate and watching all of el’s favorite holiday films. and yes, mike was very lucky that day. mike wishes everyday could be just like this one, happy and in love.
mike smiles to himself at the memory, and turns his gaze back towards el. she’s got on one of his old hoodies from high school, with a blanket wrapped around her legs, and a hat pulled down over her ears. she never really did get used to the winter. their fingers are still weaved together in between them, even though el has been asleep for at least an hour. as mike looks over at el, he concludes that these small moments, just them doing completely normal things, but together, are some of his favorite.
el stirs next to him and pulls her hand from his to rub her eyes, immediately grabbing it back when she’s done. looking over at mike, she tiredly says, “sorry for falling asleep. how much longer till we’re there?”
mike gives her a small smile and pulls her hand up to his mouth, kissing it. “don’t worry about it, i know how late you’ve been staying up for your finals. you need the sleep. we’re about an hour away. i was thinking we stop at benny’s before going to my house?”
“yeah, that sounds good. i could really use a strawberry milkshake right now…” el trails off, reaching over to change the radio station.
well, you stood there with me in the doorway
my hands shake
i’m not usually this way
but you pull me in and i’m a little more brave
it’s the first kiss,
mike sits on the folding chair in the gym, sighing. lucas and max have gone off to dance, dustin is dancing with nancy (which he makes a mental note to ask him about that tomorrow. totally weird, right?), and even will is dancing with a girl from his art class. he wishes so badly that el were sat right next to him. they don’t even have to talk, just her presence makes him feel so safe and secure. just knowing she’s there, next to him is enough. ‘time after time’ ends, and ‘every breath you take” begins playing. nearly every student at hawkins middle is on the dance floor, whether their dancing with their friends or significant others and it’s all becoming a bit too much for mike.
just as mike is about to get up and go to the bathroom, he looks over to the doorway and stops, gasping. because standing right in that doorway looking stunning as ever, is el hopper. and suddenly all the wind is being knocked out of him and he feels his hands begin to shake as she makes her way over to him. she’s dressed in a blue and pink dress that lands just under her knees, with a hot pink belt across her waist. and as she gets closer he can see she’s got a blue clip in her hair and pink eyeshadow around her eyes. and is that lip gloss? oh my god, keep it together wheeler.
when they finally meet in the middle, mike can’t help but blurt out, “you look beautiful.” and he can’t even feel embarrassed because it’s true, she does look beautiful. she blushes and gives him a small smile, looking down.
“do you wanna dance?” mike asks. el pauses before speaking, “i don’t know how.”
“i don’t either. do you want to figure it out?” el nods and mike grasps her hand, bringing her to the dance floor. he pulls her arms up to his shoulders, muttering “like this. yeah, like that.” mike begins swaying to the music, and it doesn’t take long for el to get the hang of it.
and as they’re dancing, it all comes back to mike. the first time they met, the time he found her in the pouring rain in the woods. the time she helped save his best friend, regardless of her not even knowing him. their “first kiss” in the lunch room when he tried to explain to her what the snowball is and how he wanted her to go with him, as his date. the time she destroyed the demogorgon and disappeared right before his eyes. how he called her every night, every night for 353 days because despite what everyone told him, he knew she was still out there, waiting for him. and he’ll definitely never forget the relief that washed over him when she walked through the door at the byers’ house. even though they’re only 13, he’s starting to think he might love her.
he suddenly gets this overwhelming need to kiss her. and so that’s exactly what he does. he looks at el and kisses her. it’s not the best kiss in the world, nothing more than a peck. but it makes him feel brave, and safe and to him, it’s flawless.
the rest of the night goes on pretty similarly. mike and el dance for a few more songs, before joining the rest of the party at the table they were at before. el gets showered in hugs, along with a million questions from dustin. “how did you get here?” “wait, hopper was the one that suggested it?” “who did your makeup?” “where’d you get that dress from?” and el answers them as best she can, until max flicks his forehead with her finger, “jesus dustin, can you let the girl breathe? it’s her first time out in nearly a year and you’re throwing question after question at her.” she laughs to assure dustin she’s only kidding, and el realizes that maybe max isn’t so bad.
they dance a bit more, they talk, a lot, and mike even sneaks a few kisses in there. and before they know it, the snowball is over. mike can’t even try and hide his disappointment. he isn’t sure when the next time he’ll be able to see el is, let alone if he even can see her again. nancy informs mike that she’ll meet him by the car in 5 minutes, as she has to pick up her purse and coat form one of the classrooms. mike and el are walking out the exit, hands clasped together. just as they’re about to arrive at hopper’s truck, el stops mike.
“thank you for tonight. it was…” she pauses, looking for the right word. “fun.” she looks up at him and blushes, before kissing him right there on the sidewalk of hawkins middle school, in front of hopper (is he her dad?) and joyce. as she pulls away, she grabs his hand and leaves what looks like a slip of paper in it. mike puts it into his pocket without even looking, and gives her a big hug. she smells like strawberries and cream. she gives him a smile as she pulls away, and walks over to hopper before getting into the passenger seat. mike watches them drive away and once they’re out of sight he walks over to nancy’s car and leans against the door. he pulls out the slip of paper that el handed him and reads it. in el’s messy, but adorable handwriting it reads, “for when you need me” with what he assumes is hopper’s house phone number underneath. he can only guess nancy helped with this one, because he doesn’t think this is something hopper wants anything to do with.
and when nancy finally meets him at the car, and they’re driving home, he lets himself think about the events of the night. he’s never been happier than he was dancing in that gym with the girl of his dreams. he feels as if at that very moment, he could do anything. he feels fearless.