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Long Live The Kings

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“The best thing we can do for them now is to go back to the surface and get help,” Dustin said firmly.

Erica pouted, clearly not thrilled with the idea of doing the ‘safe’ option. Dustin wasn’t exactly thrilled about his decision either, but realistically, he was stuck in an air vent in a secret Russian base accessible only by a terrifying elevator disguised as a storage room in the new mall with Steve and Robin MIA, presumed captured by Russian soldiers hell bent on destroying the country by opening up a gate to another dimension. And he had his friend’s ten-year-old sister for company.

Only in Hawkins.

Two years ago, he might have had Erica’s sense of invincibility. Hell, he definitely empathised with it. It had been the same feeling he’d had when he, Lucas and Mike had snuck out in the middle of the night to look for their friend in a storm. Perhaps if one of the Party was with him, he might have considered it. If it had been Hopper or Joyce with him, or even Nancy or Jonathan, he would have been doing what Erica was doing, demanding to go help his friends. But it was Erica fucking Sinclair. And all those familiar qualities that he recognised all too well as his own, when being repeatedly shoved in his face by this ten year old – a ten year old who hadn’t hesitated to believe him when he told her stories about Demogorgons and other dimensions and a superpowered friend that would have had any rational person who hadn’t seen them for themselves scoffing, laughing or quite possibly institutionalising him – only set him more on edge about her naivety and youth.

Truth be told, her company only made him feel more alone than he’d ever been in his life.

And she was talking, by god she was talking. Words drifted through his thoughts… they’d do the same for you… what do you think will happen to them without us… how will they get out without help… what if the grown ups decide it’s too dangerous… It got on his nerves. He forced himself to think about Steve and Robin, how less than a year ago Steve had tried to talk the Party out of helping Will and Eleven by setting fire to the tunnels because it was a stupid risk to all their lives. How terrified he had been when a pack of Demodogs rushed towards them all. How Steve had rushed to get everyone out of the tunnels as fast as possible without giving a thought to himself. How he’d pulled Dustin close as the Demodogs rushed past them, more by luck than anything, because Steve had promised Nancy that he would keep her brother and his friends safe.

Dustin looked at Erica, as though seeing her for the first time. The similarities between her and Lucas suddenly became much more pronounced. He’d never noticed how her nose was exactly the same shape as her brother’s. He thought about what Lucas would do if anything happened to Erica. He thought about what Lucas would do to him if anything happened to Erica because of his choice. He tried to think about what something happening to Erica would do to Lucas, but found that he couldn’t even contemplate that.

He thought about what Steve had done all those months ago, and what he would say if he was here.

His mind was made up. And it would not be changed.