“Mike?” Eleven whispered cautiously as she turned around a corner, they’d all gone to a haunted house because Dustin said it was part of the whole Halloween experience. Once they’d gotten there and they had paid to get in, she had gotten separated from the group.
It had been easy with everybody clamoring to get inside. She had turned her back for a second and then they had all disappeared, leaving her all alone. She had been looking for them for a solid twenty minutes but had only found things that frightened her and made her wish Mike was there to hold her hand and tell her everything was going to be okay.
“Mike!?” She called again, her heart jumping into her throat when Freddy Kruger jumped out from a room, reaching out for her with his razor sharp fingers. She covered her eyes and swallowed a scream while she ran away as fast as she could.
She burst out of the house and tripped down the steps, choking back tears as she did. She decided that she hated Halloween. She ran until she found a tree to hide behind and crouched down, drawing her knees to her chest and covering her face.
“Where’s Eleven?” Mike asked, stopping short and causing Dustin to run into him. They’d been exploring the different rooms when he realized she wasn’t next to him.
“She isn’t with you?” Will asked, paling slightly.
“You’re just tricking us,” Lucas added, rolling his eyes. “You two probably planned this. She’ll come out and probably try to scare the crap out of us!”
“I’m not tricking you! I swear!” Mike said, holding his hand up. “I can’t find her anywhere! She’s probably scared to death!”
“Just finish the haunted house,” Lucas insisted. “She’s probably outside waiting for us on the back porch right now!”
“I’ve got to find her!” Mike answered.
“Calm down!” Dustin told him. “Panicking isn’t going to help you or Eleven. Let’s retrace our steps and see if we left her in one of the other rooms.”
“Ah man, this is one of our most sacred traditions! I can’t believe you’re backing out of it because of a girl!” Lucas muttered, turning around following them out of Dracula’s organ room all the same.
“Okay, we’re going to split up!” Dustin said authoritatively when they were in the hallway. “We’ll find her quicker that way. Mike try not to panic. She isn’t going to disappear on you like she did the last time.”
“I’m not panicking!” Mike protested even though he sort of was. The threat of the Demogorgon was long gone and so were the bad men but still he worried about her. There had to be forces out there that would take advantage of a girl who was so unique.
And it was Halloween, her first. There were a lot of freaks and weirdos out, she was probably scared out of her mind and he wasn’t there to protect her. Not that she needed his protection. He knew that perfectly well that she didn’t. She’d killed men without so much as lifting a finger but he liked thinking there was something he could do. . .
“Mike, are you with us?” Dustin asked.
“Sorry?” Mike answered. “I was thinking—”
“He’s distracted because Eleven went missing!” Lucas rolled his eyes. “See! I told you we needed the buddy system!”
Dustin sighed. “Lucas, I told you! The buddy system only works when you have an even amount of people. Which we DON’T! And Mike would have buddied up with Eleven and they would have held hands the whole time. And I’m sorry Lucas. I just don’t think I’m ready for that kind of commitment with you or Will. Not yet anyways.”
“Guys, we still haven’t found Eleven yet,” Will reminded them quietly. “Maybe we should start looking for her.”
Mike looked at him gratefully. “So, should we split up then?”
“Don’t you dare suggest we use the buddy system to split up to look for her!” Lucas said to Dustin warningly.
Dustin rolled his eyes. “Fine. Mike, maybe she is waiting for us outside. Why don’t you look there? We’ll each take a room on the ground floor and meet at the end of the driveway. I hope we can find her. I don’t want to tell the Chief we lost his daughter. He’ll never let us take her out again if we have to call him in to help us!”
Mike just shook his head and went off to search for Eleven, leaving Dustin and Lucas to bicker while Will did his best to break it up and get them to participate in the search.
“El?” Mike called, going outside. “El are you out here!?”
“Mike!?” Eleven answered, standing up and scrubbing her face. “Mike where are you!?”
“I’m here!” Mike replied. “Where are you?”
Eleven stumbled towards him, unable to stop crying as she did. “Mike?” she repeated.
A few seconds later, they literally ran into each other. Mike pulled her into his arms as she started to cry harder.
“I’ve got you,” Mike soothed. “It’s okay. I’ve got you.”
“I lost you Mike and I was so scared!” Eleven whispered.
“Me too,” Mike whispered back, hugging her tightly.
“I don’t like haunted houses,” Eleven told him.
Mike almost laughed. “Don’t worry, we won’t go to another haunted house if you don’t want to!” he assured her.
Eleven nodded against his chest. “No.”
“We won’t,” Mike promised. “Shhh, it’s okay. It’s okay, you’re safe.”
“Mike! Did you find her!? We looked all over the downstairs and she wasn’t there!” Dustin shouted, charging towards them.
“I’ve got her!” Mike answered. “Lucas was right. She was waiting for us outside! We’re coming! Just hold on a second! You ready to go El?”
“Yes,” Eleven said, releasing him and leaning backwards so she could look at him.
He smiled at her and dried the last of her tears with the sleeve of his Han Solo costume before taking her hand. “Come on,” he said. “I’ll keep you safe.”