in a world of our own

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the chatter and bantering of the party sounded throughout the wheeler household, the group of teenagers being reunited once again on the chilly christmas eve in the small town of hawkins. will and dustin fought over the atari and lucas and max fought over the amount of multi-colored sprinkles coated on the sugar cookies.

"if you put one more sprinkle on those cookies, i will hit you with this." max scolded, holding up a piping bag filled with vanilla cream frosting, the same frosting they were lathering the slightly-overcooked cookies with.

"there's never too many sprinkles!" dustin pointed out as he paused his argument with his friend about the game console, lucas smirking along with a thumbs-up as he glanced back at his girlfriend, a look of utter dissatisfaction placed on her face as she glanced at his smug stance.

she held up the bag of frosting, a coy smirk playing on her lips. she was unable to hold back a giggle as lucas's once bright eyes widened out of fear as she approached him more closely and tightened her grip on the bag.

"i was just kidding! max... please don't hit me with the bag. not again, please not the bag!" he pleaded before a loud shriek left his lips as max repeatedly hit him with the bag, laughing as he flailed his hands out in front of him desperately.

"was the scream really necessary, lucas?" mike walked hand-in-hand into the kitchen with his girlfriend's cheek snuggled into his shoulder, their lips both noticeably swollen and strands of hair wildly poking out from their heads, showcasing exactly what they had been doing down in the basement while the others were gathered around the exuberantly decorated christmas tree.

"was the apparent makeout session really necessary?" max retorted as she placed the bag back on the counter, lucas giving her a high-five as him and the others snickered at her remark. a light shade of pink coated el's pale cheeks, mike rolling his eyes as he walked her over to the christmas tree. the two sat beside each other, mike smiling contently as he felt el's cheek bury even further into his shoulder. dustin made a loud choking noise as he watched the two lovebirds exchange romantic looks, causing will to laugh.

as mike glanced back down at the girl beside him, the girl who he absolutely adored with ever fiber of his being and the girl that was engraved into his thoughts constantly, he couldn't help but frown as he noticed a miserable expression on her face.

"hey, is everything alright?" he questioned softly, his voice laced with concern as he gently brushed a chestnut strand of hair out of her face and behind her ear. she plastered on an evidently tight-lipped grin, his heart aching at the sight. just as he was about to pull her aside and talk with her privately, lucas and max entered the family room with joyful expressions, beyond ecstatic to open the presents the friends had exchanged with each other that year.

he sighed sadly as his attention averted back to the girl beside him, his soul crushing as he could see right through the artificial smile.

"i'll see you tomorrow night, mrs. wheeler always makes the best meatloaf. you're going to go crazy over it." max stated, pulling her best friend in for a hug and patting her back as she was halfway out the doorway. el smiled right back at her, releasing from the embrace and grabbing onto max's hands.

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