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Flower Tutor

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It was a warm and sun filled day when it had happened. For weeks it had been happening, for months all of it seemed like they were on borrowed time. The days at the pool didn't end with loving kisses, the days under the sun were spent inches apart each day, and love was supposed to blossom in the summer, but it had deteriorated for Mike and El. Mike had felt it, He knew something was off, that something was wrong with them, and he wondered if El knew as well, and she did.
"Mike," she began one day, under the stars. It was a warm night, it was a night of silence between the couple. "Do you love me? Really love me?" El asked. Mike gave her question no thought, answering instantly.
"Of course I do." He answered. It was true, Mike did love El. She was the first girl he had ever loved, the whole point of dating her was because he loved her.
"Mike, do you love me romantically?" She asked. Mike paused for a second. Of course he did! He loved El, right?
"Well, I mean, how would you define that kind of love?"
El paused at his question, presumably to think up an answer, before she continued on. "Do you get butterflies every time you see me walk into a room? Can you see us having a future together? Do you still get that warm feeling when we kiss?" she asked.
Mike stayed silent, because his answer to all of those questions were so easy. No.
"Mike, I love you. I do, but I don't think in the way I did before." She said, "I think it's time we break up."
Mike shot up, now he sat on the grass rather than laying on it. "What? No! We can't- But I-" He stumbled over his words as El slowly sat up with him.
"You deserve to be with someone who loves you how I used to, who can love you how I can't. I want to be your friend still, no matter what. You'll always be my best friend." El smiled sadly as she spoke.
He didn't feel like he was losing anything, so he nodded in agreement. "You're my best friend too." The both of them stood up and hugged each other, and it was sweet. a kind hug, one that reassured Mike everything would be okay in the end.
"And Mike? I think you are in love with someone who isn't me. I think you just don't know it yet." El said softly.

A few years ago, El had been right. The two were broken up now, and good friends, thankfully. Mike had realized a few things that summer, things about himself, things he didn't know before. Firstly, Mike realized he looked at boys the same way he looked at girls, one of the biggest self realizations by far. Though, the most life changing one was to find himself noticing his feelings for one Will Byers
Will is a special kid, there was no doubt about it. When they were twelve years old, Will survived going to the Upside down for a week. When they were thirteen, he survived being possessed by the Mind Flayer. Will was unbelievably strong, and he was so caring and good, he was a better person than Mike could ever hope to become. Will was also incredibly talented, Mike has always known how good at art Will was. One of his favorite things to do with Will was to just to watch Will draw, he could watch him just create things for hours on end. He had many drawings Will had given to him, and he cherished each and every one of them. He also happened to keep every single feeling for the shorter boy hidden. High School was a whole other adventure for the two to stick together by, and it was almost over, they only had to finish their Junior year and their senior year before it was over.
Mike noticed a lot of things about Will, remembering things about his best friend were easy. Things like in Sophomore year right before they chose their classes again, how Will wished he had a friend in the new art class he was going to take. A class called Elements of Floral Art Design, and of course that day, when Mike signed up for his classes, he chose Floral Art design.And when they got their schedules and Mike had four classes with Will, including Floral Art, The two were happy over how the year would be awesome having both of them in there.
Of course, then Mike started failing the class.
It turns out, Flower Elements, or whatever the class was called, was not as much of a walk in the park as he thought it would be. Well, maybe not for him. While Mike had an F in the class, Will had an A+, because Will Byers is an absolute God who could do any art project given to him. It's something Mike has always appreciated about Will. Another thing that Mike appreciated was Will's ability to help people.

"Man, Nancy's gonna kill me." Mike deadpanned, completely serious. The statement had come out when he had gotten his quarterly report card. So Mike didn't always do the best in school, the only person who really ever pushed him was his sister Nancy, and she started being more hard on him when it came to his grades. He used to have D's and C's in most of his classes, but Nancy pushed him to turn D's into C's and C's into B's, she told him she wouldn't be surprised if he was getting all B's this year. Which she was right about for the most part, except for the giant F in Floral Art.
Will, who was peaking over his paper frowned. "I can tutor you, if you want." 
Mike looked at Will, flushing pink. "You don't need to do that, I'm practically hopeless." He shrugged. Honestly, the whole reason why he was failing was because of one, he never paid attention to his flowers, he only looked at Will the whole class period. He also knew nothing about flowers, and barely could do his work because of it. 
"You've been doing better in school!" Will protested. "Plus, I've got an A in that class, I can help you. It's the only class you're really doing bad in. Let me help you." he pleaded. Mike gave a small smile and shrugged.
"If you have too." He replied which made him seem very uninterested in the whole idea, when in reality, the very idea made Mike extremely happy. Of course, Mike wasn't about to start showing that to his best friend, what if he thought Mike was weird, and he didn't want to be his friend anymore? What if his feelings for Will were just born out of pure confusion,The thought always plagued him, that his feelings for Will weren't real. Mike wondered what he would do then, if what he felt was fake. Probably, he would move on with his life and everything would be normal, how they were supposed to be.
"Great! You can come home with me Monday after school." Will smiled. Mike couldn't help but smile back at the shorter boy.
"Yeah, Monday after school." He nodded.

Once Mike had got home, Nancy stood in front of the stairs expectantly. "Report card." She demanded, sticking her hand out. He sighed, holding it in his hands close to him.
"Don't get mad, I'm already planning on fixing it." Mike replied, begrudgingly giving the report card to his older sister. Nancy simply nodded, looking over the report card and frowning at one point.
She looked over to him, sighing. "Mike, your grades are good for the most part, but an F? You've never gotten an F. And this is an art class, about flowers." she pointed out.
"I know! But Will's going to help me, he has an A in the class." Mike retaliated.
A sudden smirk fell on Nancy's lips. "Oh, Will's going to tutor you?" she asked, smugness underlying her tone.
Mike stared at her for a second, blush slowly covering his cheeks. He scoffed a bit and looked away. "He has an A in the class and he offered, I promise I'll get that grade up. At least to a C." And with that, Mike went back up the stairs and went into his room, slamming the door behind him.

Chapter Text

The weekend had come and gone, it was uneventful. The party didn't have a campaign planned, mostly since the party had been playing Dungeons and Dragons less with the party being more and more busy with school, they all had less time to hang out with each other, and it was the way things were, though Mike did plan one for a few weeks into the month, the weekend had come and gone for Mike Wheeler, and for the rest of the party. By the time school rolled around again, Mike had only wanted to go to school to see Will, he wondered if his feelings for Will were wrong, but every time he thought about it, Will would laugh at one of Mike's jokes, he would smile up at him, he would make the most adorable faces, and Mike knew that having a crush on Will Byers couldn't be the worst fate in the world

It was actually a miracle that Mike got anything done in his classes with Will, he had three other classes with Will that weren't about flowers. He had math, science, and Spanish all with Will Byers, and while he did occasionally stare at Will, he was more attentive in those classes. Mike could handle himself in those three classes, it was as if in Floral Design Will became the sun. Something so bright and dangerous to look at, but if Will was the sun, Mike never wanted to look away. He didn't care if staring made himself go blind, he would have seen the most beautiful face before losing all sight.
"Mike? Mike!" Will's voice snapped him of it, Mike beginning to blush profusely.
"What, what?" he asked exaggeratedly, trying not to focus on how cute Will was when he was concerned. His eyebrows furrowed together and his eyes widened in the most adorable way possible, if Mike could say so himself.
"Do you know the project we're doing?" Will asked. Mike looked at him confused before actually looking at the board, reading something about choosing partners and a theme for your bouquet. He looked down at his desk and saw a paper that said pretty much the exact same thing in greater detail. he looked back at Will.
"Yes. Using context clues I've figured it out." Mike answered. Will laughed at this, and Mike felt himself falling harder for this boy, and he found himself smiling and chuckling as well. Will had one of those contagious laughs, the one where everyone who hears it begins to laugh. It's a nice laugh to have, Mike thinks to himself. Especially since Will laughed so rarely, far less after surviving the things he endured as a kid, but a little more often in high school. Mike always would admire Will for being so strong, he seemed so unbroken by everything, and after being friends with Will since kindergarten, Mike knows Will has gone through more than just being in the upside down,. Will has had to deal with his father, who used to make Will bike to Mike's house crying when they were younger. When Mike had seen his best friend in that state, Mike's first instinct was to protect him, and Mike wonders if that's when he's stopped laughing so much. Or maybe it was the bullies, or maybe his first theory, being trapped in the upside down.
He doesn't know when they fell into comfortable silence, but it was nice, he could unapologetic ally stare at Will this way, and the way Mike saw it, as long as there was an excuse he could do anything he wanted to do. "So, what theme should we chose? There's a few suggestions we can choose from." Will offered. Mike looked down at the paper, his eyes setting on "love", Mike decided that was the topic he wanted to choose.
"We should make one for love." he smiled. Mike is someone with a lot of love in his heart, he could tell he loved Will, but telling him anything like that was a death wish, he would be weirded out by the fact Mike liked boys the way he liked girls, and Mike was sure of it. He had lots of love for all of his friends in the party, and he even had started loving his sister, even though Nancy nagged him most of the time and was sometimes the rudest person on the planet, Mike knew his life would be worse without her. He would be failing in school for one thing.
"Love? Isn't that a little cliche?" Will asked. Great, he hated it. As if reading his mind, Will backtracked, "I like it!" he reassured him, making Mike smile again.
“And we can do like, different kinds of love, we can incorporate family love, friendship, um- real love? Like, you know, true love.” Mike suggested, feeling nervous about giving his idea. Will seemed to like it, because he was smiling.
“That’s really smart! There’s hope for you in this class after all.” Will teased him. Mike grinned and shrugged, “Maybe that’s because you’re helping me.” Mike shrugged in response. In all honesty, it wasn’t just because WIll was helping him, it was because Will brought out the good in Mike, the things Mike didn’t know he had in him. The soft part of Mike that he had only shown around El when they were still dating, and that was a long way away. Though it’s not like Mike would be able to do anything with Will, Will wasn’t like Mike, he thinks. He wasn’t someone who had thoughts about hugging his best friend longer than normal, thoughts about kissing his best friend, holding his hand, going on dates, things like that were just not thought up for someone like Will, Will probably would be going on dates with girls soon and forget all about Mike. Mike hoped that day would be delayed as far back as possible.
“Then when I tutor you, you’ll have an A by the end of the year.” Will smiled. Will’s smile made Mike smile back on reflex. There was something about Will that was so contagious, anything Will did Mike followed. If Will laughed, so did Mike. If Will cried, so did Mike. It was impossible for Mike not to join with Will on something.
“I can’t wait for the end of the year then.” And it was true, he was going to have a good year if every week he got to spend more time with Will outside of school. Maybe he would start purposely failing, if it came to that.

As soon as Mike and Will got into the Byer’s house, the silence was relieving. It was nice break from his house and from school. His house always had some form of his mother yelling down the hall, his baby sister yelling when she didn’t get her way, Nancy talking on the phone, and school was pretty much no different. School was always so loud, and significantly colder than Will’s house, something he noticed quickly. Maybe this is what, often caused the smaller boy to wear layers on normal days, since Will started hating cold weather, hating the cold in general. After everything’s Will’s been through, Mike couldn’t judge him for it. Mike would never judge Will, there was no way he would be able to do that to his best friend.
“So where are we studying?” Mike finally asked, turning to Will, who was already looking at Mike. Mike watched as Will looked away, to his hallway instead.
“Let’s just go into my room, that’s fine right?” Will asked, turning to Mike again. Mike nodded in agreement, both boys making their way to Will’s room and sitting on the bed. They both stayed quiet, and it was a nice sort of quiet, comfortable one rather than awkward. Will opened his backpack, taking out the book they had to identify every kind of flower, their meaning and color meaning as well. Mike copied this, taking the book out. He honestly hadn't bothered to look at it most of the time. He was too busy looking somewhere else. "So I was thinking first I could quiz you-" Will began, being interrupted by Mike groaning. Will gave him a playful glare, "I need to know where to begin in tutoring you." He clarified.
"I can help with that!" Mike nodded, "I know absolutely nothing about flowers other than they all mean something, they're pretty, and you like them." He grinned.
Will gave him a mock offended look. "I may like flowers, but I'll give you a bouquet of basil if you keep making fun of me."
Mike started laughing, "Basil? You're going to give me a bouquet of basil?"
"Shut up! It means hate! And it's barely a flower, so yes it will be brutal." Will said, holding back a laugh. "Now come on, we need to get to work." He smiled brightly, and with a smile like that, Mike couldn't say no to Will.

Chapter Text

Will Byers first started having feelings for Mike Wheeler when he was twelve years old. 
Will recognized these feelings as something he didn't feel for his other friends, he didn't feel this way for Dustin or Lucas. With Mike it was completely different, his heart rate would speed up, his face would be going red more often, his palms would be sweating, and it only happened when Mike was around. He didn't act that way at all with just Dustin and Lucas, he didn't get why it was all so different.
Will Byers went missing for an entire week. Why? Maybe because he was taken into some other dimension entirely, maybe it was because he was stuck in a cold, dark, horrifying version of his own world. A place he hid for weeks, a place he forced himself to drink disgusting water in because he knew if he didn't he would die, and he was just barely getting into contact with his mother.
He used a few things during that week stuck in the Upside Down, he used music to keep himself distracted from the fact he was in a place he may be for the rest of his life, he used memories with friends and family just to get warm, but the warmest memories were ones with Mike. 
Maybe that's how he realized he had more than friendly feelings for Mike Wheeler.
Will started promising himself that no, he would not fall in love with Mike Wheeler. He couldn't, it wasn't right. His father always told him, no son of his would be a faggot, and Will, well, he didn't want his mom to see him like that. He didn't want his mom to side with his father, or with the kids at school. He didn't want Jonathan or his friends to do that either.
He only started repressing those feelings when Mike begun talking about how he missed a girl with a shaved head and a name that was a number. Mike was in love, and with that week that Will missed, Mike was already belonging to someone else. Not like Will had a chance. Never in his life. Sure, when Will had flashbacks, when he would think he was trapped again and yell for his best friend, Mike was always there. Yeah, he was also there while Will was being possessed by a monster. He was there when it took full control. He was there when Will needed to give a message to them, not verbally, but Mike gave Will the strength to without even knowing it.
Mike was his whole world back then, and Will? Will was probably just another friend to Mike, he would do it for Dustin or Lucas, why would Will be any different?
Then High School started. Will watched as Mike's first girlfriend had distanced herself from him, and he watched how over the Summer of their Sophomore year, how they broke up midway through. He noticed a change in Mike. Mike started looking at him more, started acting the same way Will did to Mike.

Will kind of brushed it off, then Mike started failing Floral Design and Will knew that something was wrong.

Chapter Text

Even after a week, it was proven that Mike did learn better when Will explained things to him. Mike started to love flowers just as much as Will. He had already learned so much, even just on his own. The last test they had on the meaning of the flowers of the week as their teacher called it, he got a B-, which was a huge improvement from an F. Will opened things up for him. It was like his world was dull before he started getting tutored by Will every day. Sure, there was color in his life, but Will made the color brighter, more vibrant. He had pulled his grade up to a D, which put him back on track to passing the class. He walked down the hallways of school, mostly looking for Will. He was supposed to meet him outside of the west wing five minutes ago, and yes, any sane person would keep working, Mike was not so sane. He worried over Will, for good reason too. Not only was Will a good target for supernatural things happening to him, he was also a frequent target of bullies, and Mike always wanted to make sure that Will was safe and protected.
Mike rushed to Will's sixth period as soon as possible, which was Will's creative writing class. Will was always talking about how much he loved to write stories for his drawings, but hated the way a few of his peers in the class acted. The class was upstairs, and Mike quickly made his way to the classroom as many scenarios of Will getting hurt or going back to the upside down, pretty much anything horrible he was thinking about it and thinking of solutions to each problem. Mike finally turned the corner to see Troy standing over Will, who was curled up against the lockers and shielding his face. Will's things were sprawled across the cold tile floor. His sketchbooks, his pencils, his school textbooks, everything was askew. 
"You know what needs to happen to fags like you?" Troy spat, glaring down at him. Before Will could say anything, Troy kicked him in the stomach, sending Will to lay on the ground, his focus going from his face to his stomach. When Mike saw how beaten up Will's face was, all he saw was red.
"Hey, asshole!" Mike called, walking over with such speed, only to be achieved by through his angered state. No one should be allowed to hurt Will Byers, not back when they were kids, and not now either. 
"Oh look, it's your boyfriend frogface!" Troy taunted. Mike didn't care how much Troy was trying to hurt him, he would pay for beating up Will. Mike slammed Troy against one of the lockers next to Will.
"Shut up." He commanded. "You're going to get the fuck out of here, or I'll send Jane and Max after you, and you know how they feel with our friends getting hurt." Mike threatened. It wasn't an empty threat either, this wasn't the first time he had to use El and Max against Troy, and one time he did need to go through with the threat. It was only used when Troy started acting up again, and Mike knew how afraid he was of two of the toughest party members.
"I got it man, sorry, I-" Troy stuttered, Mike simply let go of him, helping Will up from his place on the ground.
"Don't, just be glad I didn't get them to come with me." he growled. Troy nodded, picking up his own bag and bolting from the hallway. Mike looked back at Will, all anger washing away from his face. A sudden softly took over when he saw Will,  bloody, bruised, and crying. "Hey, it's okay, you're with me now." Mike shushed him gently, pulling Will into a gentle embrace. Will just continued crying, Mike's never seen Will so broken, not since Lonnie used to fuck with him. "You know nothing he says is true, you're not anything he says." Mike says, even though a small part of him wished that Will was like him. Though another, larger part of Mike felt ashamed for being so selfish.
"No, Mike, that's the thing I-" Will croaked, looking back up at him. Will's right eye was bruised, his nose had a cut in it and was bruised as well, his face was read and tears mixed with blood. Will sniffled and grimaced in pain. He got himself out of Mike's gentle hug, and backed away from Mike, looking down at the ground and still crying. "He's right. About me, he's- he's right. I am a fag, he's right, my dad's right, and I'm- I'm disgusting." Will said quietly, his voice above a whisper. Mike took him back into the gentle embrace and rubbed circles into his back.
"You're not disgusting, Will." Mike shook his head. "You're different. We all are." He gave a small smile down to the smaller boy. "Different is a good thing. Let's go to Steve, he's lost lots of fights, he'll know exactly how to help you."

Once they had gotten to Steve's shitty apartment, he instantly started asking questions.
"Who did this to you?" Steve asked Will as soon as he opened the door.
"Troy." Will answered. Steve gestured the two to come inside.
"I'm gonna fuck that little shit up one day I swear-"
Mike huffed, "You would lose! Just help Will!" Mike threw his free hand up, since the other was holding up a passing out Will Byers.
"Lay him down on the couch." Steve directed, walking off to probably his bathroom to get the things he needed to help Will. Mike simply nodded, sighed softly and gently placing Will down on the couch.
"Mikey..." Will mumbled. Mike held one of Will's hands in response. "Why are you failing floral design?" He asked, his voice still soft and mumbling. Mike figured Will was tired.
"What? Why are you asking me that?" Mike asked, scoffing.
"I see things Mikey, you don't fail classes. Ever, I've known you for years and you never have. So why something like flowers?" Will clarified.
Mike thought for a moment, and was about to answer before getting interrupted. "Alright fuckers," Mike immediately dropped Will's hand, "I have the shit to fix you right up." Steve said, entering the room. Seeing Will about to fall asleep, he tossed a bottle of aspirin to Mike, followed up by a water bottle. "If you plan on crashing on my couch, take those first. Three should be fine."  Steve directed. Mike took three pills out, handing them to Will. Will took the pills into his mouth as Will uncapped  the water, Will lazily drinking from it. "Alright buddy, you just sleep and you'll be good as new in a couple of hours." Steve patted his shoulder gently. Will hummed in response, and soon enough, he had dozed off. Mike knew Will's sleeping schedule wasn't the best. Mike knew that Will didn't sleep most nights, and when he did nightmares usually plagued his dreams. Mike watched as Steve cleaned his cuts and put bandages on him, and hoped he didn't look too worried, but apparently Mike was painfully obvious. "He'll be fine." Steve assured him.
"I know." Mike nodded, "I just worry about him. He's going to wake up from a nightmare, I know it." He sighed.
Steve studied him for a few moments, looking as if he was coming to some sort of conclusion in his head. "You know, I know why Will gets the shit beat out of him." Steve shrugged. "He's like me. Well, kind of." Steve noted. Mike looked at him confused, before remembering what Will had said earlier.
"What?" Mike asked, mostly for clarification.
"I like girls." Steve replied, then adding, "But boys are just as hot to me." 
Something in Mike clicked.
He knew exactly what that felt like.
"You can do that?" He asked.
Steve looked like he was going to laugh, but whatever what overcame him, he swallowed that laugh. "Listen, Mike, let me tell you a secret." He said, "I've been dating your sister and Jonathan for a few months now."
"You've been doing what-?!"
"Shh!" Steve covered Mike's mouth. Will had stirred, and Steve kept the hand on Mike until he completely laid still again. "I see you. I see how you looked at El all those years ago, not even that look matches the look you give Will." He said, this time his voice more hushed, considering Will was right in front of both of them, fast asleep. "I see you for who you really are, and I see who you love. I also know you're scared. Well drop that shit, because if you think you have bad heart eyes? Will has had worse heart eyes for years now. And it's always looking at you." Steve finished. "Just trust me, it could very well be worth it."
Mike stayed silent, but Steve's words echoed in his mind

I see you. I see who you love.

It could be very well worth it.

Chapter Text

The talk with Steve had helped, something Mike begrudgingly admitted to himself. He's never known what to do with his sexuality. He knew that there was once a time in his life he wasn't faking it. He knew there was once a time in his life where he was honestly in love with her, that time just faded, as some things tend to do. Though Mike also wasn't faking it with Will, or at least he hoped he wasn't. 
It was the chill of December now, November had passed and the real cold had began to set in the small town of Hawkins. There was always something different about Will when everything was so cold. He was quieter, he didn't sleep as much, and he thought nobody noticed these things. Well, he was wrong. Mike knew everything about Will, whether the smaller boy liked it or not. 
Mike wondered if Will had caught on by now, if he had caught onto the endless hot chocolate Mike made for the two of them before each study session, making them extra warm to make sure Will wad never too cold. Or Mike lending Will his scarf when they bike to the Byers home, or Mike triple checking that the heater was on. 
Mike thought he was being fairly obvious.
Christmas was coming up. Christmas, a holiday that he cared about deeply. Christmas, a time to tell someone how you feel. The time to finally confess things, and so, Mike needed to tell him, he couldn't keep hiding. He couldn't cower back anymore, his best friend, the boy who taught him of flowers so wonderfully, he deserved to know Mike's biggest secret.
It took a trip to the florist and some step by step instructions to craft his gift. Mike usually would buy Will a comic book, but this deserved to be special. No, it needed to be special. If he was going to confess how he felt, he needed to do this right.
So, Mike bought dark red Carnations, red Chrysanthemums, and a few Dahlias for good measure. He hoped it would get his point across, but in case it didn't, Mike bought a card as well. 
As soon as he got his supplies for his gift, he went home and began working. He hummed a song as he let his hands weave the stems of the flowers together. He watched as the work that was once too difficult become easy and smooth, he once was terrible with everything that had to do with flowers, yet it seemed now it was the only thing he had right. It took him a solid thirty minutes to make the gift out of flowers all symbolizing a different type of love, all pulled together into one woven crown that would hopefully show Will his true feelings.
Though, the nervous feeling runs through his veins as he finishes. They are only more empowered as he scribbles down all his thoughts and feelings for his best friend.

Merry Christmas, I don't know how to say this, really. You're my best friend, you have been for the longest time, and we share everything with each other. You're my best and dearest friend and the simple act of giving you anything this Christmas could potentially ruin our friendship. I've been doing a few things you don't really know about.
Remember the sketchbook you filled up last year? The one you lost? I took it, and I know you didn't care about it that much, so I just kind of have it. I also took the old shirt you only wear when you paint, and sometimes when I wake up from a bad dream about losing you or from one I can't remember, I hug it until I can fall asleep again.
I know it sounds weird, and it is weird. There's a reason why. I gave you a flower crown that has three flowers. You taught me the meaning of these flowers in more than one way.
Dark red Carnations represent deep love and affection, you taught me what it means to deeply love someone, and you were one of the first people I can remember showing me affection.
Red Chrysanthemums are symbols of love. There has been no love in my life that is greater than my love for you.
And Dahlias, they represent two different things. The common one being dignity and elegance, but I hope you can understand in this context it means commitment and an eternal bond. But it is also a promise, that if you'll accept it, I'll be committed to you forever.
Even if you don't feel the same, I want to ruin our friendship, I can't act like I'm not in love with you anymore.
Yours if you'll accept,

As he finished the card, both pages filled with words and written in a smaller font than how he usually writes, he tucked the card into the envelope and sealed it. He as well wrote Will's name on the front of it. He gently placed the flower crown in a box, tucking the envelope into the box before wrapping it and heading over to Lucas's Christmas party.

Surprisingly, Lucas had a pretty large party going on. It was filled with their classmates, some of the perks of Lucas gaining some popularity by being on the Basketball team, and as well as Dustin getting on the Football team. As soon as Mike entered, he was hit with the smell of Christmas cookies and smoke, the Christmas cookies were definitely on Lucas's part, but Mike knew that his friend would never do something stupid like smoke, so he figured it was coming from somewhere else.
"Mike! Hey man, I'm glad you're here!" Lucas greeted him with a smile. Mike grinned back at him, pulling one of his best friends into a hug.
"I'm glad I'm here too! Thank you for letting me be Will's secret Santa, you have no idea how much it means to me." Mike thanked him. Lucas simply gave him a roll of his eyes.
"Seriously, you two have been pining after each other for too long, are you finally getting the balls to tell him?" Lucas asked.
Mike was at a loss for words, giving him a confused look before speaking again, "How did you-?"
He was cut off by Lucas laughing a bit. "Mike, really? You're both incredibly obvious! The whole party knew about this probably before you did." Lucas scoffed. "I mean seriously, it's the only logical reason why you'e so protective over Will and always next to him. You always give him your jacket or one of your sweaters, you sling your arm around him, you spend time with each other a lo-"
"Okay! Lucas, I get it!" Mike flushed red. He looked over the sea of people. "Anyways, where is he? He's here right?"
"Of course he is," Lucas scoffed. "He's in the living room, last I saw he was on the couch." He added. Lucas placed a hand on Mike's shoulder. "You've got this, okay? Don't mess it up."
Mike nodded, giving Lucas one final smile before making his way to the living room. Just as Lucas had predicted, Will was there, he was smiling and laughing, he looked so carefree. Any other time, Mike would have smiled at the sight, only there was one problem.
Will was sitting in the lap of a stranger.
A sudden rush of panic and nausea intoxicated Mike. He felt like he was going to throw up, no, he felt like he was going to die. He didn't even have Will, yet he already lost him. That wasn't possible, was it? No, Will Byers wouldn't do something like this, not unless-
Mike's thoughts were interrupted when Will caught sight of him. Will ushered him towards them, but Mike couldn't be near Will. He couldn't be near that guy.
Mike did something Lucas told him exactly what not to do.
He dropped the present onto the ground before walking out of the Christmas party entirely.
He never caught sight of Will picking it up.

Chapter Text

Will Byers would tell you about an hour ago he had almost no chance with Mike Wheeler. Sure, there were things that may have given him hope, but it was not nearly enough proof to give him the suspicion to think that he had a clear chance. After all, Mike talked about girls, like any normal person would. Will didn't have the privilege to be normal, because he couldn't catch a god damn break. It wasn't like he had intentionally tried to think about boys instead of girls, girls were nice, yes. Girls are soft and gentle, but can be rough and harsh. Girls are pretty, girls are what he wished he could love. He's tried dating a girl before. Grace Marcie, she was wonderful. She was so sweet and he had a nice time hanging out with her. Their dates were fun, but he always wished someone else was with him when it happened. When they had kissed, it was admittedly okay, but it wasn't his thing. He didn't like how he couldn't give her hair a gentle tug, he didn't like how kissing her felt like he was kissing a pillow. He didn't like how his stomach twisted up.
He didn't like having to break her heart, she was a nice girl, a girl who should be able to have a real boyfriend. A boyfriend who loved her, and Will wasn't that boyfriend.
Will has been with a few boys, though, not a lot. His main fling at the moment was Richie Tozier. Richie was tall, had dark and crazy hair, eyes that reminded Will of a clear night sky, which were only amplified by his giant glasses, and he meant absolutely nothing to Will.
Though, in all fairness, Will meant nothing to Richie.
They were each other distractions, and Will knew that, and so did Richie.
But he was a damn good distraction. 
Will liked kissing Richie more than he liked kissing Grace. He didn't have to duck down, he had to crook his head up a bit. He had to drag Richie down and tug on his hair. He liked that, but the actual act of kissing Richie was not something he directly enjoyed. He didn't like how his lips felt too rough, he didn't like how hard he kissed, he didn't like the knots that still tied up in his stomach. He liked it, but at the same time, he didn't. 
And it was if every time Will kissed Richie, a single thought entered his mind.
I wish this was Mike
It wasn't like Richie didn't know about Mike, he did. There were many times after their study sessions where he would call Richie and asked him to pick him up. They would drive to an empty parking lot in Hawkins, and Richie would let him talk about Mike. Richie would talk about the boy he was pining after as well, he would talk about a boy named Eddie. So, they would pour their hearts out about the people they really love, have a meaningless make-out session, and Will would be driven home. It was a system they had, and it was okay. It didn't always help, but sometimes it did. 
Will just liked having some attention from someone who he could have a chance with. Was that so bad?
If things really didn't work out between him and Mike, he could try to fall in love with Richie.
He could get past the knots in his stomach, he could get over how rough his lips, how hard he kissed.
He could learn to love him.

Lucas's party was a good one. At first it began with Will bringing Richie for fun, they didn't expect to be doing much. Will had pulled Max in Secret Santa, he had bought her new stickers for her skateboard, and had brought it with him. Apparently, Richie brought his friends. And Richie's friends brought most of the school. Most of the schools brought alcohol and weed.
Will didn't smoke, he never has and liked to say he never would. Richie did, and was currently trying to coax him into stepping out of his comfort zone.
"Come on, it's not even smoking! It's just a brownie, it'll get you the same high." Richie grinned, holding the brownie in front of Will.
Will rolled his eyes, "You're ridiculous, I'm not trying that. And you shouldn't be getting high, tomorrow's Christmas Eve." Will scolded him. It was playful, a smile played on the smaller boys lips as he spoke. Richie looked as if he was in deep thought, then abruptly getting off of the couch and dragging Will behind him. "What are you doing?" Will asked, a giggle escaping his lips.
"If we can't get you high, we can get you buzzed." Richie shrugged, pouring Will a drink. "Sweet or strong?" he asked, uncapping a bottle of Vodka.
"If I drink that stuff, it will burn my tongue off." Will crossed his arms.
Richie just shrugged, filling up half the red solo cup with the clear liquid. "Sweet it is." He nodded. Richie set aside the alcohol, taking some Hawaiian fruit punch and pouring the rest of the cup filled with the juice. He gave Will the cup. "Drink up, pretty boy." Richie smirked, his eyes having a playful look to them. Will sighed, grabbing the cup and drinking it. It wasn't bad, it was bitterly sweet. It wasn't good either. He took a few good gulps before pulling back and letting out a huff of air.
"Why do you know how to make these? It tastes like cough syrup." Will frowned. A look of clarity came onto Richie's face.
"Oh, that's why he likes them so much. That explains it." the other teen chuckled. "I make these a lot for Eddie, it's his drink." Richie explained. Will nodded, already feeling lighter. He took another few drinks from it, the light feeling becoming more intense. 
"I don't exactly hate it, but I'm not crazy about it either." Will mumbled under his breath.
Richie raised his eyebrows, watching Will knock out the rest of the drink. "Come on Willy boy, you look like you need to take a seat." Richie said, taking the now empty cup from him. Richie had dragged Will to the couch, sitting him down on his lap. There was a plethora of people around him, and frankly, Will didn't think it mattered who saw them in his buzzed state of mind. "Maybe giving you Spaghetti's drink of choice was a bad idea." Richie spoke quietly into Will's ear. For some reason, the sentence had made Will laugh.
"You call him Spaghetti? Oh my God! Richie, that's a terrible nickname." he laughed at him. He felt eyes on him and he caught sight of Mike, who was an entire hour late. He was holding a present, and he had a look on his face Will had never seen. "Mike's here!" Will exclaimed, looking at Richie briefly before gesturing for Mike to come closer to them.
The look of a misplaced emotion had been completely replaced with one of hurt, maybe even anger. Will watched as Mike dropped the present and left entirely.
After a few moments, Will scrambled off of Richie's lap, picking up the present. It was for him, he looked over at Richie, his buzz disappearing entirely.

Chapter Text

Richie had taken Will to his car, and had already driven him to their usual spot. The two were silent for a moment before Richie spoke up. "So, are you going to keep it in your lap, or are you going to open it?" He asked. 
"I can't just- Richie, I have no idea what's in here, what if it's something bad?" Will glanced back at the neatly wrapped box. It was so light, and he was so curious, but he was terrified. Richie rolled his eyes at that statement.
"Are you kidding me? Will, he looked incredibly jealous at the party. If it isn't an invitation to hop on his dick, then I'll-" Richie paused for a moment before shrugging, "I'll ask out Eddie. But only if it's a direct invitation." 
Will stared at Richie for a few seconds before looking back at the box. "It isn't that, from what you've heard he would never do something like that." Will looked up.
"Okay, you should still open it." Richie reasoned, "It's not going to be something like 'I hate you forever, you're a fucking piece of shit, please die in a fucking hole'. He's still your best friend." 
Will nodded, before he carefully opened it. With shaking hands he pulled out a flower crown, he studied the flowers and dropped it back into the box. "Oh my god." Will whispered.
"What? Are those the flowers for burning hatred?"
"Oh my god." Will repeated, this time louder and with a grin on his face.
Richie was completely lost, "Dude, what do the fucking flowers mean?" He asked again.
"They mean you have to confess your undying love for Eddie Kaspbrak, drive me to Mike's!" Will's grinned widened, "Well, if you want, it's just not that far from here. You don't have too, I can walk."
Richie rolled his eyes, starting the car. "You forgot about the card." He said with a playful smile.
Will looked back in the box, he put the flower crown on his head, taking the envelope. On the front was his name, written in Mike's messy scrawl, with a hastily drawn heart at the end of his name. Will tore it open and read through it once. Sentences stuck with him. you taught me what it means to deeply love someone. Then twice, There has been no love in my life that is greater than my love for you. Then a third time, But it is also a promise, that if you'll accept it, I'll be committed to you forever. And continued on and on until he got to Mike's house, his smile never leaving his face. I can't act like I'm not in love with you anymore.

Mike felt like his whole world was crashing down around him, and like there was nothing else he could do to stop it.
How long had it been since Will met that stranger? Why didn't he know about him? So many questions ran through Mike's head, and the words he had written down had a lasting effect. He sat in his basement in Eleven's old fort, the one Mike never bothered to clean up since it was a place of comfort, a place he called home. He let tears streak his cheeks, and in his mind he thought of Will. Because Will wouldn't care to know about Mike's tears. Will wouldn't care that he had poured his heart out on paper, spent time buying and picking the perfect flowers for his project. No no, Will Byers would most likely be spending his night with that stranger, the person Mike didn't know. The person Will was hiding from Mike this whole time. 
Mike liked to think he and Will were best friends, he liked to think that they shared every secret with each other. He liked to think they didn't keep anything from each other.

"No! Mike, it's the other way around." Will explained with a smile on his face. Mike could watch Will smile every day of his life and never get tired of it. Will smiling was like catching a cold, it was incredibly contagious. "If someone hands you a bouquet of flowers using their right hand is when it means yes. If it's with their left, it means no." he explained. 
Mike let out an exasperated sigh, "Will, why do I need to know this again?" He asked, a playful smile on his lips to make sure Will knew he was just teasing.
"Because!" Will giggled, "If you want to pass the next quiz, you'll need it." He replied. Mike felt his heart skip a beat when Will looked at him again. Mike sighed and wrote it down on a flashcard, pretending to be annoyed. "I forgot to tell you," Will spoke up, causing Mike to look back up again, concern across his face. "My dad's coming to bond with me, we'll have to end our study session an hour earlier." Will frowned.
Mike put down his pencil and made his way next to Will, bringing him into a tight hug. He knew how awful his thoughts got when Lonnie visited, he knew that bad memories came out in his thoughts more and that he didn't particularly enjoy spending time with Lonnie. Mike knew how terrible Will felt for not liking his dad, even though it was all completely justified to anyone normal. "Hey, if it gets too bad, you can always come to my house afterwards." Mike offered. He felt Will nod against him, mumbling out a thank you. And a few hours after the study session had ended, Will was in Mike's room, the two of them reading comic books and sitting too close.

Moments like those would be over, Mike knew he couldn't face Will anymore. Not with the knowledge that there was someone else in his life now, someone more important than Mike. He admitted that he was jealous over someone he didn't know, purely because he had Will sitting in his lap and laughing, and Mike wasn't there. Though his thoughts were interrupted by the door being opened and footsteps coming down the basement. He wiped his eyes quickly in preparation for his mom, since Holly couldn't annoy him into telling her what was wrong, even though he desperately wished she was awake too do so. Though he wasn't greeted by his mom, or Holly. He was greeted by the person he secretly wanted to see the most.
Will Byers.
Mike told himself that he wouldn't start crying again, but as soon as he saw the flower crown that he had made just a few hours ago, he couldn't hold back the tears in his eyes. Will was here to tell him off, he was here to tell him that he had a boyfriend and that Mike was just being plain creepy. He was here to mock him by wearing the stupid flower crown he had made just hours ago. He was here to shame him for being so stupid to think that someone as good as Will Byers would ever want him. 
Mike buried his face in his hands and began crying again, not prepared for whatever terrible things Will was going to tell him. He was met with the only sound in the basement being his quiet sobs, and a feeling of someone pulling him into a hug. "Wh- What? What are you doing?" Mike asked, his voice shaking and nervous. He didn't know why Will didn't just get it over with.
"Did you mean it? What you said in the card?" Will asked quietly. Mike was taken aback, because of course he meant what he had said, he had been holding in those feelings for a few years now, and he didn't know what hurt more, Will coming to his own house to mock him, or Will thinking that Mike was lying to him.
"Yeah, I did mean it. Unlike some people I try to tell my best friend everything." Mike spat. He didn't mean to say it, and instantly regretted it when Will pulled out of the hug. Streaks were still running down Mike's face, but more threatened to spill when he saw how that comment had hurt Will. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have-"
"I'm not dating Richie." Will cut him off. "I- I know that's what it looked like. I know that I looked like I was dating him, but we're just talking about the people we really like. and sometimes that goes into kissing." He explained.
"You kiss him?" Mike asked, a bitter tone underlying in his words.
"It makes me feel better." Will looked away, ashamed. "I never thought you would like me back. I would kiss him and pretend it's you, but it still feels all wrong. I know it's stupid and wrong, but I never would have done it if I knew you felt that way for me. And I would take all of it back if I could, because I don't love Richie. He's my friend, but I don't love him. I don't know if I ever could, at least not while I'm in love with you." Will finished explaining, tears now threatening to spill from his eyes.
Mike stared at Will, before a small, watery smile spread across his lips. Mike pulled him into a hug, and soon enough, both of them were crying into each other. He felt relief, like he was emptying out any doubts he had. Will felt the same way as Mike did, and he wasn't dating someone else. Will was crying into him, for reason Mike didn't know, and probably wouldn't understand, but Mike felt like it was all going to be okay. He pulled back from the hug, wiping a few of Will's tears. "Can I kiss you?" He asked, his voice raspy from crying. Will gave a gentle nod.
So, Mike cupped Will's cheek, gently pulling him into a kiss. Mike Wheeler learned that kissing Will Byers was like taking a refreshing drink of water, it was like seeing the sun after weeks and weeks of grey skies. It was soft, warm, and it was full of love. Will Byers learned that kissing Mike Wheeler wasn't too hard and it wasn't too gentle. His lips were rough but smooth at the same time, and instead of knots that made Will want to stop, he felt warmth that made him never want the kiss to end.
But it did end. And when it did, they both giggled with each other, knowing it would be the first of many kisses to come.