Eleven met Will twice. Unfortunately, in both of the times that she saw him, he was captured by the Upside Down. In both of them, he was about to die.
Now, seeing Will all awake and well make Eleven happy in a way that she never felt before. Not the way that Mike make her happy, it was feeling like reuniting with Kali, but in a better and softer situation. She never talked to him before, expect the time in the void she told him that her mother was coming for him. And he never talked to her, expect the time he told her to hurry. It was a limited conservation. In an urgent situation. Will’s calling for help in the paws of death. And El’s answer for him to keep his hope alive.
Now, everything was different. Not okay, not alright, but better. There was no gate to be closed, no demo-dogs to worry about, no Mind Flayer to make it get out of a little boy. Everything was healing. So were Eleven and Wil.
They were in Will’s bedroom. Hopper was in the kitchen with Joyce, they were preparing the dinner. El wanted to meet the boy for real, although Hopper was still having his concern about El’s safety, Joyce convinced him that a dinner wouldn’t hurt anybody. So here they were, actually together, for the first time.
“My name is Will, short for William. But you already knew that right?” The boy’s soft voice made El smile. His face was still pale, he looked like he lost a lot of weight in a very short time, his eyes looked tired and there was a hidden sadness in his voice. But he was still smiling. Still trying to look happy for the people who love him, trying to look okay. But Eleven could see it. Like the lie she told Mike in the closet of his bedroom, telling him everything is alright. Will was trying to tell this lie to everyone around him, even El.
“I am El. Short for Eleven.” She said. The boy’s eyes met hers. They smiled at each other, sitting silently in Will’s bed.
“You are such a strong girl, you know that right?” Will spoke without breaking the eye contact. “You saved my life, twice. You saved my family, my friends. Mike told me that you saved him from falling from a cliff, and you flipped a van with your mind powers and…” Will giggled, shook his head like he couldn’t believe the little girl who was sitting right next to him did all this incredible stuff. “I just wanted to say thank you, for protecting my friends, and helping them to find me.”
El looked at the little boy. He was speaking about her abilities like telling a legend, a myth. He made her sound like a superhero. Maybe she was, indeed, like a little superhero. But it was because of Mike, Lucas, and Dustin. Before them, she was just a lab experiment. Caring for them and their missing friend, Will, made her a better - a real - person. Not just a runaway girl with a number tattoo and powers. If she was like a superhero now, instead of a weirdo, it was because of them, including Will.
“You are strong too.” She said with a confident voice. “ You survived the Upside Down. Twice. You told us the close the gate. You escaped from Demogorgon. You survived Mind Flayer. You are a survivor.”
Will smiled. Thinking about himself in a way that he didn’t before, it make him smile genuinely. He wasn’t a “zombie boy” for Eleven. He wasn’t “the boy who came back to life.” He was a “survivor”. It sounded a lot better.
“And you are a fighter. We make a good team.”
Eleven laughed. “Yeah, we do.”