name your courage now
Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

Teen And Up Audiences
Archive Warning:
Graphic Depictions Of Violence
Stranger Things (TV 2016)
Maxine "Max" Mayfield & Erica Sinclair & Lucas Sinclair, Maxine "Max" Mayfield & Erica Sinclair
Erica Sinclair, Maxine "Max" Mayfield, Lucas Sinclair
Additional Tags:
Not Canon Compliant, Season/Series 03, Alternate Universe - Canon Divergence, Post-Battle of Starcourt (Stranger Things), Whumptober 2023, Whump, Hurt/Comfort, Sister-Sister Relationship, Broken Bones, Blood and Injury, Mild Gore, Compound Fractures, Cave-In, background established lumax
Part 5 of whumptober 2023
Whumptober 2023
Published: 2023-10-05 Words: 1,765 Chapters: 1/1

name your courage now


Erica’s heart beats like a wild thing as she shuffles to her. The debris falls from below her, and she moves carefully, to not cause any more injuries.

Day 5: Debris | Pinned Down | "It's broken."


this one is especially gory in terms of wounds description, so giving an additional warning. read tags! compound fractures/cave in consequences described

name your courage now

Erica comes to consciousness rapidly, like she’s been thrown out of a car. Not like she has any experience with that – the closest was falling out of her uncle Kenny’s truck when she was riding in the back with her cousins. The sudden awareness hits her like a train and it takes her a good moment to actually start taking in her surroundings. First through her

It’s quiet. Uncomfortably quiet, especially with the explosions and screams and roars that were around her just a moment ago. There’s nothing now. Not even the slightest noise, no distant noise of an ambulance siren, no breathing or shuffling around, just this painful, ear–wrenching sound of Erica’s own garbled panting.


Suddenly, a noise. Erica’s head feels briefly like it’s being split in half, ran over by a monster truck, one wheel after another like a fucked up wedding game before the blinding, unnatural light self–induced by her brain recedes and she can focus again.

“Max?” She tries to answer, but her throat is too dry. Like parts of it are chipping off even with the smallest sounds, and when she tries to cough, nothing comes out. Only whistling when the air goes in and out of her lungs.

More shuffling. “Thank god you’re awake.” Max whispers, somewhere from her left, and Erica tries to move towards her, but realizes her hand is pinned down. From her mid–biceps downwards, it’s fully and positively numb, stuck under a piece of rubble she isn’t able to reach.

“Wait,” Max says, and her hands hover over the piece of debris pinning Erica’s arm down. “Should you raise something pinning a limb down?”

“I have no idea.” Erica grunts, “Lift it.”

And so, without further banter, Max raises it. There’s a soft gasp from her, but Erica finally wiggles free from her temporary prison. As far away from it as the cave–in they’re in allows, rubble falling alongside her, crashing and shuffling loudly.

Max’s lips part with a wet pop.

“Your head is bleeding.” She touches Erica’s forehead tenderly. Tips of her fingers ghost over Erica’s hairline, tingling, and they come back bloody. Her face is drawn in worry, eyebrows screwed together, and it – that worry, that is – makes Erica feel safe, for some reason. As if there’s someone older who can take charge. She knows, logically, that Max is only a few years older, and most people at thirteen years of age are ridiculously irresponsible.


“I’ll manage.” Erica garbles, and Max sends her a small smile.

Then, Erica’s eyes begin to wander. They tend to do that when she doesn’t have anything to busy herself with, like right now.

Max’s form is smaller and bigger than Erica remembers, at the same time. There’s a weird kind of feeling to her, to all of it, like she’s almost glowing in the darkness of their tomb. She’s debris and dust–dirty too, lower part of her t–shirt torn off, and–

“Your ankle.” She breathes out. Max’s attention snaps to her, and then to where Erica’s looking. Her ankle is twisted at a disturbing angle, enough to make Erica’s intestines twist and turn, visibly battered and bruised even from under Max’s sneaker top.

“I can’t put any weight on it.” Erica wants to argue that she shouldn’t be conscious right now, much less having tried putting weight on it, but she purses her lips and whispers a “fuck” under her breath.

They’re solemnly fucked. How long could it be before someone finds them? And how long could it be before they’re rescued? Hours? Days? This mall is huge, bigger than Hawkins High, it’s going to be so fucking long before they pull them out of the rubble. Will they even be alive by then? “I can– I can try to set it. I learned how to in Girl Scouts, when we went on a camping trip last summer.”

Max smiles at her. Even in the weak light, Erica can see how her face moves to accustom it. She has a beautiful smile.

“You can try.”

Erica’s heart beats like a wild thing as she shuffles to her. The debris falls from below her, and she moves carefully, to not cause any more injuries.

She grabs Max’s ankle in – hopefully – steady hands. One around her ball, the other on ankle. Max’s face is unreadable, expression somewhere between tired, hurt and fucking terrified. But she looks at Erica like she would trust her with anything. It makes Erica’s stomach swoop. She doesn’t want to be trusted. “Ready?”

Max nods.

“On three. One, two–” Max whispers out the numbers, and at the two Erica snaps her foot to Max.

“Oh fuck!” She thrashes back, spine arching and the other leg kicking Erica’s side on reflex, but she keeps her other foot as stable as she can. Erica is pretty surprised with the extent of her self–control – she’s seen counselors with less of it at the very same camp she learned. She still remembers the screaming of one girl who had to had her ankle set during a hike, and how a counselor had to stuff a t–shirt in her mouth so she wouldn’t make too much noise and attract wild animals.

Erica licks her lips. They’re tough with debris and dust. Max’s eyes are squeezed “Can you move it?”

Max wiggles her foot around. Some life comes back to her eyes as the neurons start to work, muscles tensing and releasing as she makes circles with it.

“Don’t do too much. It’s still weak.” Erica hopes that they get out, and that they get out quickly because they need to stabilize Max’s ankle, and if it heals wrong, they will need to break it again to correct it. Lucas went through that in third grade and she still remembers his howls as they re–broke it.

Erica shifts uncomfortably, trying to settle on the debris drilling into her entire body, glass shards and pieces of bent metal, and then something catches her attention.

A red and white sneaker. Just like the ones Lucas wore--

Her mouth goes numb in an instant. She presumably looks terrified, because Max is suddenly shuffling to her on her hands, mouth moving around words Erica cannot hear.

She manages to point at the shoe, and Max's mouth freezes mid-sentence.

Together, they carefully crawl over to the small space the sneaker is. It's much less spacious than the cave-in they were in earlier, and they have to crawl on their elbows and knees for a good part of it. Erica almost panics and leaves Max the hell alone, crawl through that tunnel yourself, but the conscious and logical part of her brain manages to convince the rest to keep pushing.

Erica crawls out after Max, and she can barely look at the gash forming on her calf from a shard of glass, when Max whispers,

"It's broken." Her sickened whisper fills the empty space between them and makes Erica's stomach turn violently.

“What?" She breathes out. "What do you mean it’s broken, Max?” Her breath comes out in a quick puff. Max looks at her, eyes wide as saucers. Terrified.

Erica has never seen her so scared.


Oh fuck. Jesus Christ. Oh fuck.

Lucas’ leg might be as well torn in half, with how violently it’s twisted. Split in half, uneven at the edges. The bone is visible, and the pieces and bits of his shorts stick to the mess. It looks like roadkill. Flesh and blood and tendons and parts of his pale shorts, thrashed all over, a fucked up mass. Squashed like a soda can in a school bin, except there’s so much blood, and it’s still gushing from the giant wound.

His leg is one big wound, and Erica might handle it, but her body can’t. Like they’re two disconnected beings, her mind and her body.

“Jesus Christ.” She suddenly gags violently, all organs inside her shifting, and throws herself to the side, dry heaving. Bile comes up to her throat and she fights against it, trying to calm herself down. Her head is spinning like she’s on some wild rollercoaster, swinging from side to side uncontrollably. She can see that Lucas is saying something, his mouth is moving but her vision is swimming, and she can’t hear anything but her own heartbeat. When he tries to propel himself up, Erica almost throws herself to keep him down. “No! No, don’t get up. You’ll panic.”

“I want to know what the fuck is going on with my leg.” Lucas grumbles, but stays put. His next noise is a moan of pain, and Max leans over him, staring right at his face.

“It’s… It’s broken, okay?” Max sounds just as scared as she looks, but even with all this fear and panic she manages a soft smile for Lucas. “Don’t get up, you’ll only mess it up.”

Lucas doesn’t look like he believes her, but he’s barely conscious anyways, so he leans ever–so–slightly closer to her and stares into the ceiling of the cave–in.

Erica gulps. Her brother was never this calm – catatonic even. As long as she knew him, even when he was quiet, he was working on something, whether it was a new level in his video game or homework, he was always active. Now, he seems like a jellyfish.

Puke comes up to Erica’s throat again.

Barely containing tears and vomit and about half of the earth’s weight, she leans over to Max to whisper into her ear, “Is it still attached to– to him?”

Max blinks slowly, like she needs a moment to process Erica’s words. Then she shrugs and purses her lips, looking at the gory massacre that is Lucas’ leg. Erica doesn’t know how she can just take all of this. She doesn’t seem to even be moved. “I hope.”

She hopes. She doesn’t know, and Erica is holding onto her every word like a child holding onto their mother’s skirt, like Erica herself used to. And if Max breaks down, Erica will break down, following her like a duckling following its mother, doing everything she tells her to do. Because Erica doesn’t know, and holding onto someone responsible, clever – Max – seems like a good thing to do.

For the time being. What will happen? Will they ever get found? Will they die under the rubble, battered and bruised and hurt and bleeding out, internally or externally? Is Lucas alive right now? Are the others alive? Will her and Max live?

Erica sobs silently.


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