Chapter 1: Prologue (sort of)
July 1, 1985
“This isn’t gonna work.”
“Of course it’ll work. It has to.”
“This isn’t gonna fucking work, and you know it!”
“It won’t work with an attitude like that! It has to work or else we’re screwed and stuck here. You really want to be stuck here and watch mom and dad conceive us!?”
“Well, when you put it like that .” Mike sighed, twisting around to check through the bushes again.
It was still dumbfounding. There, right across the Star Court Mall food court, at the legendary Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor, was his very young teenage mother. Young, happy(ish), and less stressed than the version Mike had come to know and grown up with.
The one thing he could say was really familiar was that Aunt Robin still looked more or less the same. But his dad had always said she was a witch and she’d be young forever because she bathed in the blood of innocents.
“So, what’s the plan? We’re not gonna be able to fix the time machine sitting here in the mall.” Mike hissed back to his brother.
“Well, it’s 1985. If our parents are here then it has to mean Murray is here too, right?” Dustin suggested. They just needed to hunt him down.
“Great. But finding him means we have to drive to him, genius.” Mike rolled his eyes. “And I’m pretty sure we’re still too young to drive in 1985!”
Dustin shook his head, “And here I’ve been told that I was the dramatic one.”
“Only second right behind mom.” Mike assured.
They were so screwed. So incredibly screwed, screwed times thirty years! This was why Mike didn’t bond with his big brother, he gets freaking sent back in freaking time!
“Damn.” Dustin mumbled under his breath, and Mike caught him actually trying to use his cell phone.
“Are. You. Kidding. Me?” Mike was sure his brother was just as screwy as Murray now, it’s why Dustin hung around him so much!
“I was just checking!” Dustin defended, “Wouldn’t it suck if we thought we were stuck here and we could have called someone the whole time?”
Mike literally facepalmed. If and when they get back home Mike was officially going to file for being an only child. This was too much. He didn’t care if their mom and his lawyer were still trying to find his dad somewhere in California to get child support. Mike just couldn't deal with this family anymore.
“In this day in age, I think we’re stuck with those, Einstein.” Mike pointed to the payphones near the restrooms shortly down the way from the food court. And they came complete with the old fossils that he believed were called ‘ phone books’ . Hopefully they’d have Murray listed there.
“Oh, gross.” Dustin wrinkled his nose when he spotted them. “Who knows how many hands have touched those, how many mouth breathers have spread all their spitty germs all over them!”
Mike was going to start trying to shake some sense into his brother, “Dustin, its either be stuck here forever, or call Murray on the freaking payphones!”
Dustin sighed shoulders dropping like he knew he had been defeated. “Alright, alright. Jeez. You got any quarters because I -- Shit!” Dustin gasped and ducked behind the bushes again.
“Wha?” Mike tried to ask before Dustin was grabbing him to pull him lower too.
“What the hell, Dustin?!” Mike hissed,moving leaves and branches out of the way to try to see what his brother was gawking at.
The first thing that caught Mike’s attention was the god awful mullet walking into Scoops Ahoy. Okay, so he understood that it was the 80’s and that was the style, he really questioned the Man Bun back home in their own time. But, wow. Then there was the stupid shiny earring that just complimented the mullet.
But the tiny bitty red shorts -- Lifeguard shorts Mike knew for a fact thanks to some family photo albums full of pictures from around this time. You couldn't even say no one was topless, because that shirt was barely even buttoned, it was just enough to be considered decent. And all of it seemed to bring a huge smile to his mom’s face from across the front counter when he caught sight of Billy Hargrove.
“Dad.” Dustin and Mike breathed in unison.
July 1, 1985
“Barry, Bernard, Burrowman. Crap, Muray isn’t even listed.” Mike groaned as he scanned through the heavy as heck phone book by the Star Court Mall payphones.
Dustin snorted from three feet away from where he was playing lookout. He had to make sure their parents, Aunt Robin, or anyone else they knew didn’t come their way. Just because they were new at this didn’t mean they didn’t understand what kind of a catastrophe paradox it would cause if they were to bump into anyone. Who knew what kind of damage would happen if their mom just walked right into them!
“Of course Murray wouldn’t be listed under his real name, are you kidding? With as paranoid as that guy is.” Dustin shook his head, gazing back at his brother in amusement. “I told you to let me find his address and you play lookout.”
Mike glared at his brother, of course Dustin would let him get this far before he told Mike that Murray was probably using some kind of alias that the government knew nothing about so they couldn’t play Big Brother . “Fine. If he’s not listed under Bauman then what would he use?”
“As if I would tell you that. That’s classified information, dude.” Dustin grinned smugly.
If the phone book wasn’t physically attached to the payphone to try to prevent stealing then Mike would take it and bash Dustin’s stupid face in with it. All this was doing was wasting time! And the longer they were stuck here the more shit they could screw up! Hawkins was a small town, smaller in 1985 than it was in their time, but still. The chances of them running into anyone were getting bigger by the minute, and Dustin was standing there being a smart ass and thinking he was proving something.
“ Dustin .” Mike gritted through his teeth. Too many witnesses around at the mall if he were to kill his brother. And Mike didn’t know what that would mean if he killed his brother in the past. As long as his parents were fine then Dustin would just be born again when the timeline caught up.
Dustin rolled his eyes and stepped up to take the phonebook from Mike, “Alright,alright. I’ll find him. You go watch Scoops.” He gave his brother a shove to take his place as lookout.
“Whoa, hey!” Mike stumbled and caught himself against the wall, but when he looked back Dustin’s back was to him to make sure Mike couldn’t see the page or the name he turned to.
Miked rolled his eyes and then figured he might as well do his job and get to looking out for any threats...except no one was at Scoops but his Aunt Robin. “Shit.”
There was a sound of paper ripping and Dustin asking, “What’s wrong now?” As he shoved a page from the phonebook in his pocket.
“Mom and dad aren’t there anymore. They’re gone.” Mike pointed out, glancing frantically around the food court. “That has to mean they left together ,right?”
Dustin groaned,grabbing at the curls under his cap, “I don’t know! Do you remember if they were dating by now or just friends?” Depending on who you asked, some of the details before the Independence Day Festival of 1985 were murky. Some said they were just friends, some swore they had been dating for a while before then.
“Who cares, just as long as we don’t run into them. Do you have the phone number and address or what?” Mike pulled away to make sure Scoops Ahoy was out of view.
“Yeah, I just need some quarters.” Dustin nodded, the both of them feeling through their pockets for their emergency arcade money.
Mike shoved the coins in his brother's hands and Dustin tried not to drop them before getting them in the payphone. He didn’t even make a face this time when he picked up the receiver and started dialing.
He could hold his breath, but Mike could still hear his heart beating loudly in his ears as Dustin listened to the other side ring. And ring. And ring.
“Fuck, I got the answering machine.” Dustin moaned in frustration and slammed the receiver back to hang up.
“Shocked you even know what one of those things are.”
That earned Mike a slug to the shoulder.
“Shut up,Mike! Now what are we gonna do? We’re stuck here and we can’t get a hold of the one guy who can help us!”
Mike winced and rubbed at his shoulder, he really hated his brother. “Well, we still have his address, right? So let’s go to him.”
“Uh, you were the smart ass who pointed out that we have no way of getting there.” Dustin reminded, pulling out the phone book page and check the address again.
Mike sighed and turned back toward the food court. They were on the second floor, perpendicular to where Scoops Ahoy was situated. But from their vantage point, Mike could just see the south entrance of the mall on the first floor. The entrance where he could also see giant wheels just take off and go right.
“The bus. Dustin, the bus!” He patted at his brother’s shoulder to get his attention. “And without inflation of our time it has be cheaper now, like maybe not even a dollar. Even if we have to walk a little bit we can at least get to Murray’s neighborhood.”
And not even Dustin could argue with that logic. Probably because it was their only capable plan. So Mike got a nod and they set off, sort of taking the long way around so they were out of sight of Scoops, just in case. It may only just be Robin there, but she had the best Bull Shit Detector than anyone else they knew. She could know something was up just by looking at them!
The only downfall was they obviously didn’t know the freaking bus schedule. So, of course as soon as they got outside the bus was already taking off!
“No, wait! Come back!” Dustin screamed, jumping off the curb as if he could chase after the bus.
But Dustin didn’t see a blue muscle car coming down, almost peeling out of the parking lot.
“Dustin!” Mike threw all of his weight at his brother, knocking Dustin out of the way. But it just put Mike in the way of the car.
Luckily, the driver did see them and screeched to a stop. Just barely tapping Mike in the gut. Nothing monumental and gruesome, but enough to send Mike to his ass too. On the ground with Dustin who had skinned his elbow from where Mike pushed him.
“What the fuck do you kids think you’re doing jumping in the street like that?!”
Mike, though a bit dazed, really wish the car had killed him when he looked up to see who it was yelling at him. Because there, standing by the door of his familiar blue Camero, was their freaking dad !
And if that didn’t make them even more screwed than they already were, there was an, “Oh my god! Are you guys alright?” Coming from the passenger side. And, of course, there was his mom.
Then there were footsteps rushing over at them, and a really ridiculous sailor costume in Mike’s view. “God, Billy, I told you not do something stupid like that in a mall parking lot. It's never completely empty!”
Mike’s mom was now checking him and Dustin over, making a concerned face at the blood on Dustin's arm. “We should probably get you to the hospital or something.”
Dustin was in no shape in answering for himself, he was a little busy gawking at their parents.
“Please, Harrington, I didn’t kill them, did I.” Billy rolled his eyes.
But Mike could tell that his dad was looking a little pale under his usual tanned skin. And when Billy managed to fumble for a cigarette in the breast pocket of his flimsy shirt his hands might have shaken a bit. Mike had almost forgotten his dad use to smoke.
“Actually, uh, our uncle is a doctor. And we were just on our way to see him.” Mike spoke up, lying right out his ass. But they needed to get out of this mess fast! “Our Uncle Murray .” He stressed at his brother, begging Dustin with his eyes for Dustin to catch on.
“W-we missed the bus.” Was what Dustin managed to get out at some point.
“That’s what you guys were doing, trying to chase after it?” Steve asked, looking between the boys. He pulled something white from the back pocket of his stupid sailor shorts and pressed it up against Dustin’s arm to try to staunch the bleeding. Mike realized it was the hat that completed the Scoops Ahoy uniform.
“We lost track of time in the mall, forgot what time the bus left.” Mike nodded, figuring that was as good of an excuse as any.
“Got bad news for you, kid, that was the last bus of the day.” Billy formed, blowing out smoke as he exhaled. He wasn’t coming any closer, wasn’t nearly as hands on as their mom was. Mike wasn’t too surprised by that given how everything played out in their own time.
“Great.” Dustin sighed, turning worried eyes to Mike.
“We can take you guys back inside, maybe you can call your uncle.” Steve suggested, slowly helping Dustin up to his feet.
Dustin shook his head, “We tried that, just got the machine.” He was looking like he was trying his hardest not to cling to his mom. Dustin was injured and was doing a good job at holding it all together so far. But, then again, Dustin was also just a big Mama’s Boy.
“Then let us give you guys a ride to your uncle’s.” Steve offered, hold a hand out to Mike to help him up too. Mike’s stomach (and ass) was smarting a bit, but it wasn’t a pressing issue at the moment. It’d bruise, and Mike would live.
“What? No way am I letting them in my car, Harrington! They’ll get blood all over the leather!” Billy sputtered, looking a little demonic with smoke clouds swirling around him.
Steve rounded back to Billy, hands on his hips and eyes narrowing. “Are you fucking kidding me? You almost killed them, Billy! The very least you could do is give them a damn ride to their uncle’s so they don’t die from their injuries!”
And, that right there was the mother Mike grew up with. Nice to know his mom has always been like this. His mom may be a Carrier, but Steve Harrington could also be a real ball buster if need be.
“Its okay, you really don’t have to do that.” Mike assured. Getting into an enclosed space with their teenage parents probably wasn’t the best idea for the Space-Time Continuum anyways. He was sure the fabric of the universe was already trying to unravel.
Billy made an arm gesture toward Mike for Steve, as if to show that he was right and they should leave the kids to do their own thing.
But Steve still wasn’t having it.“We’re taking them. Or I’m calling the cops that some idiot in a blue Camaro hit a couple of innocent kids at the mall and then speed off from the scene.” Steve warned.
Billy was the one who glared right back, “You wouldn’t.”
Steve snorted and crossed his arms, looking very much like a pissed off mother that he would be soon enough. “Try me, Hargrove.”
Now this, right here, the standoff between his parents, Mike knew this. This was familiar. The fighting and arguing that went on all the time before the divorce, before their dad left and they never heard from him again. It was almost kind of nice to be familiar territory. Something that reminded him of home.
But, unlike back home where the fights got nasty and brutal, Billy flicked the butt of his cigarette away and threw his hands up in frustration. It was a surrender , and Steve smiled triumphantly knowing he won this one.
Mike and Dustin exchanged horrified looks this time. Shit.
THANK YOU SO MUCH <3
All of you guys who have read, left Kudos, and comments have really just inflated my self confidence after some really awful couple of months. I love all of you!
Couple of things to know here in this verse with Male Carriers:
1.) Married Male Carriers (Like Steve) take on their spouse's last names. But they are usually called Mrs. As in, Steve married Billy, so Steve is known as Mrs Hargorve to everyone.
2.) Male Carriers can NOT impregnate females. They do not carry viable sperm, just eggs that can be fertilized with someone else's sperm. Though some Carriers do date females and can adopt or use a surrogate, it's just not done often.
3.) Finally, every Male Carrier gets what is called a Cycle instead of a period, and they do get their Cycle once a month.
-They do not bleed or go into Heat, though their Cycle is when they are most fertile.
-Its a week of cramps and messy self lubrication that does involve using absorption pads or Tampon like products.
-It does make you emotional and have food cravings, sex drive is a little higher than usual. Stops for 9 months once the Carrier is pregnant. There are sections in supermarkets for Carriers to get hygiene products and special chocolate to make them feel better.
-A Carrier's first Cycle is usually the hardest and most painful. To ensure the body fully stabilizes to the new hormones painkillers can not be administered. Only vitamins and Carrier hormone equalizing chocolate. Painkillers can be taken every time afterward.
-Starting their Cycle as an adolescent is just one more gift from the Puberty Fairy for Carriers. Along with wider hips, which makes clothes shopping so much fun (not!).
-Carriers also have a certain pheromone they give off that makes it obvious what they are just by meeting them. Enough to make men turn their heads and look.
-A male liking a Carrier is not considered a Homosexual relationship. But some people are still very Anti-Carrier and believe they're an evolution abomination (i.e., Neil Hargrove and his narrow-minded piece of shit thinking)
Mike’s brain still wasn’t sure what his eyes were trying to tell him.
When one thinks of a happy American family, sure, they could assume that loving parents were in the picture to maybe get up and make breakfast for their kids in the morning before school. And maybe the really lucky ones got to have both parents doing such an act. But Mike and Dustin didn’t grow up in a magical and mythical home like that.
Back home, his dad was always at the shop, picking up as many hours as he could to support the family he was doing everything he could to avoid. And so it was Mike’s mom who was rushing around making sure the boys were ready for school. But his mom was also a History teacher at their school, so it meant Steve had to get himself ready too. Mornings were chaos, and breakfast was maybe a Pop-Tart, or a candy bar in Dustin’s case.
But being in this new timeline for a week after fucking around in the ’80s and supergluing their parents together, Mike was sitting here in the kitchen, still trying to not gawk at the image that was his father cooking breakfast for them. There was no air of urgency or frustration thinking they’d be late for school. No, Mike’s mom was actually cool, calm, and collected as he gathered the things he’d need for his class today too.
All the while his dad scrambled eggs, cooked bacon, and whistled a Scorpions song (after their little field trip to the past Mike could now recognize some vintage tunes way too easily). Yes, his dad was still going into his car repair shop for work too -- the car shop Billy Hargrove owned and was the boss here in this time. This version of Billy had a fancy contract with the city repairing everything from school buses and police cruisers that actually paid good money. Which meant money was now something Mike’s parents didn’t fight about here.
So, yeah, Mike was having a hard time not staring at this surreal scene even after a week of being back home from the past. Was this really how other people live? Easy mornings, non-stressed out parents, and a dad who cared and contributed? Was it crazy to think this was crazy?
Dustin finally finding his way to the kitchen was the only thing that tore Mike away from the weird domestic scene his dad was making. And only because Dustin wasn’t looking too hot. The guy looked pale and sweaty, like maybe he was coming down with something. It was a whole new world here they were now in, how easy would that make it easy to catch something that their immune systems weren’t use to here?
Mike arched a brow at his brother in question since their dad was too close to really ask out loud, but he just got a shake of a head from Dustin telling him to drop it. That wasn’t good. Maybe Dustin was having the same thoughts, and he was trying to not draw attention to it from their parents if he just tried to ignore it. Looks like it was one more secret to keep.
The one thing they didn’t account for was remembering that their mom was, and has always been, a very observant mother and good at his job. Especially when it came to Dustin. Because pretty much as soon as he walked into the kitchen, Steve’s eyes seemed to have zoomed in on his eldest son.
“Whoa. Hey, Dus, you’re as white as a sheet.” Steve was right up and checking Dustin’s forehead with the back of his hand.”And you’re clammy to the touch.”
The statement was enough to get Billy’s attention from his place at the stove.
“That’s weird, because I feel fine.” Dustin lied through his teeth, but still managed to smile up at his mom.
“It’s probably just stress.” Mike fumbled around for an excuse. “Summer break starts in two weeks, and then he’s off to camp where he’ll see Suzie. Then we’re gonna start high school next year too. You know, all that stuff.” He rambled.
At least Dustin knew to nod along, “Y-yeah. Just, you know, it all just kind of hit me. All of that, what Mike said.”
And just because Dustin was a Grade-A Drama Queen didn’t mean he was a great actor. Mike held his breath hoping they all bought it.
Steve looked up to exchange a look with Billy, a form of silent communication that Mike couldn’t decipher. That was another thing that was taking some getting use to, his parents back home never use to be on that same kind of wavelength.
In the end, Steve sighed and dropped his hand, “If you’re sure you’re alright, Dus.” he nodded, “But just know that there is nothing to be too worried or anxious about. Everything will all work out. You’ll make it through the rest of the school year, and be at camp in no time having a great time. Then high school will be a snap, I’m not worried about you guys.”
“Yep,already can’t wait.” Dustin nodded, keeping his smile when Billy came around and sat a plate of food in front of them. But, if anything, the food seemed to have made Dustin go whiter.
Mike was almost worried his brother would pass out. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea if Dustin stayed home today. A sick day wouldn’t raise too many questions, right? Mike still had a couple of questions himself, but he still couldn’t ask them yet in front of their parents.
“Yeah, and if anyone gives you trouble at your new school you just send them my way.” Billy added, “The Hargrove name is a legend at Hawkins High, I’ll just give them a little reminder.” He winked at the boys.
Steve snorted from where he was pouring coffee into a mug from the kitchen. “Right, ‘legend’. Sure, babe.”
“Damn straight.” Billy scoffed, slipping back into the kitchen himself and crossing his arms, “Been a legend since Halloween of ‘84. Where I usurped the previous ‘King’ of the school with my astounding upper arm strength.” And a keg. But the boys were too young for that kind of story. “Might have even made said previous King swoon for me a bit at such a marvel.”
Steve just rolled his eyes and tried to walk past his husband, but Billy caught him with a smirk and stole a sweet coffee flavored kiss. Steve didn’t put up too much of a fight to be against it. Nor did he try bothering telling Billy he was wrong. His mouth was a little busy, anyway.
And Mike went right back to being almost hypnotized by watching his parents interact. The quiet murmurs of conversation between them, sweet smiles, and another kiss before his mom went to take his own seat to eat quickly before they needed to leave. God, Mike can’t remember the last time he had seen his parents kiss.
Things started to get really out of control back home when Mike was ten and Dustin was eleven, its when Mike started spending more and more time over at the Byers, it was hard to be home and listen to all the arguing. Watching his dad walk out of the house time after time with a slam of the door and his mom just crumble into himself.
After the divorce last year, Mike wasn’t there to see his dad leave for the final time, he made a point to not be there for any of it. And for the last year Mike still rarely home. Will became the center of his life, and Dustin stayed home with their mom. But Dustin had always been the favorite. Mike wouldn’t have been surprised if his mom didn’t even know how much Mike was gone.
But now, right here, it’s like Mike was watching monkeys at a zoo. Was Dustin seeing this? Has he noticed how different it was here? It was crazy to think this was all their doing, they succeeded in saving their parents’ marriage!
Of course, Mike couldn’t turn to his brother to get Dustin to point and stare with him because Dustin still wasn’t looking too good. Dustin wasn’t even eating, he was just sort of moving the eggs around on his plate with his fork to make it look like he did something significant with them.
That felt like a bad omen for how their day would progress.
Dustin had really hated that Mike had been placed in his grade when they hit elementary school. Full out temper tantrum after Mike’s teacher had a parent conference with their mom and suggest Mike skip a grade.
Dustin: the blessed firstborn son, Mama’s Boy, and attention lover now had to share some of that spotlight with his little brother.
Mike: The lesser son, the forgotten son, the younger Hargrove boy who seemed to be just as smart as his big brother (if not smarter).
It wasn’t too bad when they got to middle school, they finally didn’t have every class together and weren’t stuck together in one room for the whole day. And by then, Mike and Dustin had perfected the art of acting like the other didn’t exist. Even when their mom was a teacher at the same school. It worked, until they somehow ended up with the same fellow nerdy friends, Will and Lucas. Though Mike stuck to Will like glue.
The whole different classes thing was good for the brothers. They had nothing in common except blood. And in this new timeline, Mike still didn’t think anything of it. Except, in this new timeline, it looked like the Mike and Dustin here actually got along and didn’t hate each other’s guts. Still so weird. It was going to have to be something they worked on when in front of others.
But today Mike knew his brother was sick, and maybe there was a chance that Dustin could end up in the nurse’s office and finally admit he was sick. Their mom was busy teaching, so it’d have to be their dad to come and take Dustin home. No big deal, and it was the farthest thing from being Mike’s problem.
Mike was in science the same period Dustin was in PE. Dustin hated the class, sadly, he wasn’t nearly as talented and athletic as either of their parents had been. It was fine, because neither was Mike. The boys were more brains than brawn.
So, while Dustin was probably cursing under his breath right now while running around the track (if he was even there and not claiming he was too sick to get out of it), Mike was actually enjoying himself in class. And not just because Mike liked the subject, but because he got to sit right next to Will. That was always one of the best parts of his day.
Back home, even if Mike and Will were practically always joined at the hip and Mike thought Will hung the freaking moon...they weren’t dating. Oh, Mike wanted to, believe him, he wanted nothing more. Will was the most adorable Carrier, person, human being to walk the earth with a big heart to boot. But Mike never felt worthy of his friend. There was a lot of anger balled up in Mike, so much fury after the divorce. After his dad left, after his mom just let it happen . Mike was so worried to taint someone as pure and perfect as Will.
But here, in this timeline, in this class, Will grabbed Mike’s hand under the table and gave him a shy secret smile while their teacher went on and on about physical and chemical reactions. Mike was having a physical reaction of his own.
Yeah, the Mike here, with his perfect life and perfect parents, looks like he never had a reason to not have all his shit together and got to date Will as much as he wants! Mike almost had a heart attack the day after being back from 1985 and Will kissed him when Mike and Dustin headed into the school that morning. It was just more thing for Mike to learn navigate how to work this thing, and one more reason he couldn’t screw up living this life and make anyone too suspicious.
The hand holding was fine, Mike use to hold his Will’s hand all the time. He just had to keep from jumping in surprise every time he got kissed, that was the new part. But Mike could smile back at Will now and give his (boy)friend’s hand a squeeze right back. This right here kind of made everything else worth it, he finally got to have Will all to himself just like he had always wanted.
Of course, perfection never stayed long.
“Hey, Mike, isn’t that your dad?” Will whispered at Mike’s shoulder, pointing over to the closed classroom door.
Mike almost didn’t catch what Will said because Will was right there and so close . But he did find himself following Will’s finger, and indeed, catch his dad’s profile through the skinny rectangle window in the door. Billy was talking fast and nodding at someone in front of him, someone bald and in a white Polo shirt...sort of looked like their PE teacher, Coach Jennings.
Mike was proved correct when the door opened a minute later and Coach Jennings popped his head in, gaining the attention of the whole science class when he cleared his throat. “Pardon the interruption. But Mike Hargrove needs to come with us. His father is here and he’ll be leaving for the day, if he could grab his thing quickly. It’s important.”
All heads swung over to Mike now, who was more than just a little surprised. But there was also a slight curious sense of dread that plopped like a brick in his gut. Why was his dad there?
Mike could see past Coach Jennings where Billy had his gray shop coveralls on, the sleeves tied at the waist to reveal the white shirt he had on under it, a spot or two of grease on his cheek like he had to literally just come from the shop and jumped in his car. But if something was wrong, why wasn’t it Mike’s mom coming to get him? His mom’s classroom just a hallway over. It’s why Mike didn’t bother asking questions and started packing up his backpack.
“What’s going on?” Will asked, glancing nervously from Mike and Billy.
“Don’t know.” Mike shook his head, slinging his backpack over his shoulder. “I’ll text you later when I know.” He promised, squeezing Will’s arm when he rushed past him.
His dad’s arm curled around his shoulders as soon as Mike was out the door and past Coach Jennings, leading Mike down the hall. “Dad?” He asked, trying to keep the rising anxiety out of his voice. They just past the corner where they would have turned left if they were going to his mom’s class.
“Something happened in PE with Dustin, Mikey.” Billy answered gruffly, keeping his eyes straight ahead.
“W-what do you mean?” And where was his mom?
Mike gazed back behind them, Coach Jennings was flanking them a few feet behind. Was that why Coach Jennings was there and talking to his dad?
“He just went down like a damn sack of potatoes,” Coach Jennings shook his head, “Curled up in his side and gripped at his gut like he was dying. Called the office and Mrs Hargove in his class.”
So Steve was called to come run to check on Dustin? Did that mean Steve was still him? Dustin had to be freaking out right now. God, Mike knew the guy had looked sick this morning!
“They think it’s his appendix.” Billy explained when they got to the front of the school, looks like Mike really was leaving. “Coach Jennings called for an ambulance and your mom called me to come get you. We’re heading to the hospital.”
Mike almost tripped over his own feet. Hospital ?!
“This is where I leave you, Mr Hargrove. Mike.” Coach Jennings paused by the glass front doors. “I wish your boy all the best. Tell him to take care.”
Billy gave a half nod at the other man, still pulling his youngest with him out the door. He looked tense, worried, and was probably just holding it all together for Mike’s sake.
“And mom? Is he coming?” Mike hoped. He didn’t have any experience with his dad like this, he didn’t know the protocol. Mike didn’t spend a lot of time with his dad back home because his dad never cared to try. What if Mike and Billy both started freaking out?
“Rode in the ambulance with your brother,he’s waiting for us in the ER.”
At least Billy was able to answer all of Mike’s questions and wasn’t shutting him out. But, god, was this some kind of karma for them fucking with their parents and their past?...Could Dustin really get hurt for trying to fix their marriage?
It was a little scary. And, really, Mike was alright with his dad not being too talkative right now. He just obediently got into the familiar blue Camaro that was considered vintage now, but still so lovingly cared for. Mike sunk low in his seat and kept his fingers crossed for his brother.
The ER waiting room was pretty busy for being the middle of a weekday, and Mike actually stuck real close to his dad when they walked in. Like the sick people miserably waiting for their names to be called would zombify and come after him. His dad still looked like he had spent the day under a car, and he still didn’t look too bothered by it. He also looked like a worried father who marched right up the front desk to give his name and then Dustin’s. Billy had texted Steve they were there as soon as they had parked.
The admissions doors to their left anamatronically folded open before Billy could get any information on Dustin, and Mike had never been so relieved to see his mom, “Billy!”
“Mom!” Mike found himself calling out, and he couldn’t stop himself from running over to Steve hugging him tightly. And it only got better when his mom hugged him back with the same enthusiasm.
“Whoa there, Mikey, it’s gonna be alright.” Steve promised, petting Mike’s hair softly. It really shouldn’t have been this nice to be comforted by his mother. It had been a long time since Mike had gotten anything like it from his mom back home.
“How is he?” Billy asked, following his husband when Steve waved at them to follow him back through the admissions doors.
Steve sighed, keeping Mike close since his youngest seemed a little shaken, “It’s not his appendix, thank god.”
The tight line of tension straight across Billy’s shoulders seemed to have been cut at the very words. “What the hell, Stevie? You and the coach both swore it looked bad. What else could it be? Gas? Gallstones? Demonic possession?”
Steve gave a humorless laugh and shook his head, pausing outside of Exam Room 3. The door was closed, but there was a muffled sound of something on the other side of it...crying maybe? What was going on? Steve then looked down at Mike like he was assessing his son for something, maybe not sure if he should explain anything with Mike there.
“I want to know.” Mike insisted, “I was pulled out of school just for this, after all. And he is my brother.”
Steve inhaled a long breath, and rubbed at his face, Mike noticed just how tired his mom suddenly looked. This whole thing must have really scared him too. Maybe Mike really should have insisted Dustin stayed home today.
“He started his first Cycle.” Steve finally admitted.
And while Billy just looked surprised, Mike was in absolute shock .
“ What ?”
Oh no, no, no .
You only got your Cycle if you were a -- “But Dustin isn’t a Carrier!” Mike insisted.
And now both of his parents were looking at him like he was crazy!
Oh, god, what did they do!
“Mike,” Steve started slowly, and he was now checking Mike’s forehead like he had with Dustin that morning, “Michael, yes, Dustin is a Carrier. He has been ever since he was born. You know that.”
Mike was gonna have a panic attack! Dustin had to of have at least ten of his own by now. It now explained the crying on the other side of the door. That, and first Cycles were hell on Carriers, no wonder everyone thought it was Dustin’s appendix, it has to be on the same level if not worse.
“It’s probably the stress.” Billy reasoned as he nodded at his youngest and then looked back up at Steve. “I think we were both a little scared when I picked him up from school. Probably should have reassured him a little better.”
“Oh,trust me, we were all a little more than just scared.” Steve nodded. “When Jennings called me in the middle of class I thought I was going to throw up. I tore down the freaking hallway to get to the gym so might I might as well have been flying.” Steve leaned heavily against the wall next to Exam Room 3’s door and Billy immediately stepped over to pull his husband into a comforting embrace.
At least they weren’t staring at Mike like he was an alien. He might as well be. He gawked disbelievingly at the wooden door that separates him from his brother, sort of wishing the door never opened. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what Dustin was going through right now. His whole freaking biology and even his anatomy changed just because of their ‘good deed’ they did in the past.
Dustin and his magical appearing uterus looked like it meant they would be making another exciting adventure to Murray’s. Either to get a second opinion or some kind of explanation. Though they might have to wait a bit since Cycles usually take about a week to expend themselves.
Mike was so not looking forward to a whole week of dealing with an emotional and cranky Dustin. He would rather live in the back of Scoops Ahoy watching teenage shove as many bananas in his mouth as he could in under a minute. Robin timing him but still making gagging motions. Mike never thought he’d miss the 80’s if it meant avoiding his brother.
Urg, I kind of hated this chapter because I'm not a science nerd. So I had to flub just about anything sciency and time travel related that Dustin and Murray talk about. Yikes. And of course, everyone here in this chapter has a higher IQ than me, and I must be a masochist.
July 1, 1985
Mike was getting dizzy watching Dustin and Murray pace around each other in circles. Hell, this whole situation, ever since he woke up that morning in his own bed and his mom told him to go fetch Dustin and bring him home was enough for anyone one to go cross eyed.
And, really, Murray was sort of only talking to them because not only did Dustin know where and how to find where he lived, but Dustin also knew how to solve the puzzles and riddles to get far enough to talk to the guy. It both impressed Murray and made him curious enough to speak to them.
And Mike thought the half hour in the back of his dad’s Camaro with his teenage parents not so subtly flirting with each other in the front seat was monumental enough. So Mike was rubbing at his temples and feeling the headache that had been building since they got to this decade start to intensify, while the two self proclaimed geniuses tried to solve the whole debacle.
He only looked up when he felt a hand on his shoulder, to see Alexei standing there with a smile and holding out a cup of something clear and fizzy -- could be Sprite , could be an antacid. Mike was hoping for the latter.
“Thanks.” He mumbled with a nod and taking the cup.
He just got another smile in return.
Mike was pretty sure this was before Alexei really learned a lot of English, because his English was almost perfect back in 2019, he just had a heavy accent. Mike did know the guy defected from Russia around this time. Most of the time traveling tech was actually ideas and schematics that Alexei had stolen and brought to America with him. Its how Murray had gotten his hands on it, and how Mike and Dustin were now stuck here.
“This just crazy. Crazy ! Astounding, and mind blowing, of course. But crazy!” Murray exclaimed for the billionth time that hour. He kept waving his arms around, the time machine in his hand -- the time machine that has been downsized and miniaturized over the past couple of decades of R&D to be about the size of a wristwatch.
Something that looked suspiciously like an Apple Watch .
Wasn’t Apple just starting up around 1985? Whatever, that is the farthest thing from their problem.
“To think something so small and powerful can be this small!” Murray twisted back around to face Dustin. “Those brick sized cellular phones are ten times this big and weigh a ton! But they probably don’t even make up a fraction of how powerful this little thing has to be to jump two of you back decades!”
And Dustin, the idiot, grinned brightly as if he was so proud of his friend for stranding them here. Mike could kill him right now.
Mike was also having a little trouble believing just how easy it was for Murray to buy into this. How did he know Mike and Dustin weren’t making this up? Murray even laughed when they answered who the President was in 2019. Maybe this was why Dustin was friends with the guy, crazy recognizes crazy.
“I had this idea, this very idea! It came to me in a dream last year, didn’t it, Allie.” He spouted off to the Russian, and then dashed out of the room in a flash. Leaving everyone to hear him fumbling around, and maybe crashing into a couple of things judging from what sounded like a loud spill of cluttered thumps.
But Murray came back with what looked like a rolled up poster, he ran over to the small dining table and unrolled it. It turned out to be some kind of schematic. Mike could read half of it when he came up to glance at it, the other half wasn’t in English. He figured it was probably Russian, meaning Alexei had to of helped out.
“Yeah, yeah, I saw this!” Dustin nodded, pointing to some of the intricate math in the corner. “This is your first blueprint for the time machine, but you wanted to put the whole thing in a car.”
Oh, a car. That’s what the weirdy drawn shape was suppose to be. Mike could see it now. A foreign looking car, maybe. The 80’s were all about weird shapes, so what did he know. He did know that he wanted something to get them back home!
“A car was the only thing powerful enough to even remotely work. Here in 1985, at least.” Murray nodded. “I can’t even imagine how long it would take to make something as small as this to do the trick.” Murray gestured to the watch.
“About thirty years.” Mike sighed, rubbing at his face, going back to take his seat again. Great, they’re stuck here now. They’ll probably get to be around long enough to even see their own births!
“Have you made this prototype, yet?” Dustin asked, pointing to the blueprints.
“Just the skeleton work in the garage,it’s almost done.”Murray answered, frowning and pointing to the motor design that looked like a combustible engine hybrid.
Dustin bit his lip and nodded in thought, eyes sweeping over the design. “That would explain why your hidden workshop isn’t under the mall yet.”
Murray blinked at the boy,”My what isn’t under the what ?”
“Hidden workshop.” Dustin repeated with shrug. “No one would ever think to look for something like a time machine under something so Capitalistic as a shopping mall. Let alone the government. There is a large bunker under there that looks like its a Cold War fail safe just in case the Russians think Indiana is a good target. Sorry, Alexei, no offense.”
And, good god, if Muray starts working under the freaking Star Court Mall because of Dustin Mike might scream. Were they even allowed to do that? Weren’t they still worried about circle pockets in the timeline like that? Because Mike could see the gears turning in Murray’s head, he knew the guy was gonna do it.
“We can’t just fix the watch, the parts probably don’t even exist yet without the technology catching up yet. But, Murray, can you use the time designs in the watch to get the car up and running correctly?” Mike hoped.
Murray tilted his head in thought, looking back and forth between the watch the blueprints. Then he had a fast paced conversation with Alexei in Russian, pointing to a few things on the schematic. Mike almost wished Aunt Robin was there to translate. But when Alexei smiled and nodded, Mike crossed his fingers.
“It might be plausible.” Murray eventually agreed when he turned back to the boys. “Heavy on the might , We’re gonna have to take the watch apart and study it. I just wished I had the notes or the plans for it here. Who knows how long it’ll take to even think about trying something for real to send you guys back home.”
“I have those memorized!” Dustin jumped in. “I was with our Murray through at least three of those prototypes. I could have fixed the watch myself if we got stuck in a time that had replaceable parts.We’ll get this done in no time!”
And thank god they didn’t get stuck in the 1880s. Murray wouldn’t have been around to help, and there were no cars or stupid watches. At least they wouldn't have to worry about running into their parents. Beggars can’t be choosers when it came to time traveling, it looks like...or they could have if Mike hadn’t tackled Dustin in Murray’s workshop and caused this mess that also broke the watch.
But that’s another story for another day.
What Mike now had to focus on was -- wait, there was something white that splotched with red on the end table by where Mike was sitting. Upon closer inspection when he picked it up showed that it was Steve’s stupid Scoops Ahoy sailor hat. The one he used to press up against Dustin’s bleeding arm. Dustin got out of the car with it, and put it down in Murray’s house when Alexei actually got bandages.
That means that Steve will know its gone at least by tomorrow, and that he knows where Mike and Dustin were here at Murray’s and could come back and get it. Those freaking uniforms weren’t cheap, no matter how much money the Harringtons had.
Mike groaned, just wishing this whole thing was a bad dream. “Guys we have a new incoming problem.”
At least this time Mike had his bike. It still didn’t make it any easier getting to Murray’s, the guy lived half an hour out of town and Mike’s legs felt like jelly by the time he got to the door. In the present time, Murray’s surveillance technology has gotten more sophisticated, but he could still look through the video feed and see Mike’s face. He was also smart enough that if it was just Mike sans Dustin that there was something wrong.
And he was now back to making Mike dizzy as he paced around in front of the boy.
“You two get back a week ago and already there is trouble.” Alexei was more a part of this whole thing now that it was 2019 and knew so much more English. It was almost weird to Mike, he had gotten use to playing a sort of charades game with the Russian back in 85 if Murray wasn’t around to translate.
“Hey, all we did was make sure our parents stayed together. How were suppose to now that that would change Dustin’s whole freaking biology!”
Dustin was back home, dressed in black like he was mourning. His current best friend was a heating pad and an ice cream spoon. It has been two days since the news at the hospital and the world might as well have ended.
“This isn’t good. This so isn’t good.” Murray sighed, taking off his glasses to rub at his face. If the guy had more hair Mike wondered if he’d be pulling it out by now. “Okay, Okay. Here is what we’re gonna do; we’re gonna do absolutely nothing.”
“ What ?” Mike lost all function in his legs biking here for this?!
Murray shook his head and crossed his arms at the boy, “Look, to us, and everyone that has ever met him here in this timeline,the Dustin here has always been a Carrier. This isn't news to anyone but the two of you. So we go with the original plan of you guys acting as normal as possible.”
“You realize that ‘normal’ for us is hating each other and avoiding the other as much as we can,which is what we told you when we came home a week ago. Nothing about this or Dustin being a freaking Carrier and starting his Cycle is normal, Murray!” Mike couldn’t wait to be an adult, maybe people would finally start to listen to him!
Murray rolled his eyes, very much treating Mike like a child, “Again, like I told you then, I mean normal for here . Dustin can be miserable right now, its expected during a Cycle. But he’s going to have to go on and act like he’s always known and its always been expected for him to start.”
“God, why did I even come here if you’re gonna just give bogus advice? This isn’t helping!” Mike jumped to his feet, the sense of dread in his gut growing a growing. They were really on their own for this.
“Michael, this is the only thing we can do.”Alexei jumped in, looking a little nervous standing between Mike and Murray. “The only way to stop this is if Dustin got a hysterectomy. Which no one would ever do to a minor if there is no medical emergency.” It was nice of Alexei to also remind them the Cycles would stop temporarily if Dustin got pregnant too.
Mike clenched his jaw, really hating that Alexei was making sense and that he was right. He made himself take a deep breath, trying to climb out of the whirlwind that was his life falling completely out of control. He hadn’t felt like this since the divorce, and even then Mike had an outlet, a way to get out and out of the house. Now it was just him and Dustin, in a situation that could have been like if he and Dustin were closer during the divorce.
“I just...I don’t understand how keeping our parents together could do this. How it could change something as big as anatomy and gaining new organs, you know.”
Alexei shrugged, but he was giving Mike a sad understanding smile. “Time is fickle. Changing one thing never stops at just that one thing, it ripples out. Helping your parents could have changed everything from the date and time they conceived your brother, to the exact sperm from your father that fertilized egg that would become Dustin.”
And now they were talking about his parents’ sex life and Mike really needed to go. It was bad enough having it almost always on their mind back in ‘85 to make sure they’d still even be born.
Mike rolled his eyes and waved them off, “Thanks for nothing, guys.”
He needed to be home before his mom and dad found out he wasn’t really at Will’s this whole time. And he wasn’t too happy that he was coming home empty handed with nothing to help Dustin in his current predicament.