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New Fic: Hideaway

Hideaway

Fandom: Stranger Things
Rated: G
Category: Gen. Vignette. Family. Hopper and Eleven.
Time Frame: Some time after season two, before the upcoming season three.
Spoilers: Stranger Things, Seasons One and Two.
Summary: Hopper makes a house into a home for Eleven, but sometimes they still need a hideaway.
Word Count: 913
Note: when I was a child, I camped at a place called Hideaway. I have a significant scar to prove it. This one’s for you, Dad, for teaching me how to fish, for letting me get the kitten, and for being there when I came to.

-------

The first time El visited the trailer, it was just a quick stop.

Hopper said he had to pick something up. He told her to wait in the truck.

She didn't.

As he came out from the back, shoving some papers into a bag, he jumped when he saw her standing in the doorway.

Then he took a deep breath and put on his best grin.

"Well," he drawled. "What'd'ya think?"

Eleven scanned the room, then gave Hopper a dubious look.

Hopper noticed and ran a hand over the back of his neck.

"Uh, yeah..." he muttered. "Haven't been around much."

Eleven tentatively sniffed the air.

Hopper sighed.

"Yeah, I know. Let's go."

With that, he bodily turned her around and ushered her out the door.

-----

The second time was just under a year later, and the circumstances were vastly different.

Now, as Hopper led El through the door, her eyes were widened with wonder, rather than narrowed in disgust.

He'd hung actual curtains. He'd gotten rid of all the trashed furniture and replaced it with new stuff. There were clean sheets on the beds and fresh towels in the kitchen and bathroom. There wasn't a beer can or dirty dish in sight.

Everything matched, too.

He'd even hung pictures on the wall, and the fridge was covered with drawings held in place by colorful magnets.

Eleven gravitated there first. She ran a hand over the papers and smiled, then looked at Hopper with gleaming eyes.

"Will?"

Hopper nodded. "The others too. A housewarming gift."

"Housewarming?"

Hopper chuckled, still amazed by how far El had come and how far she had left to go.

"It's a... A present to make a new place feel like home."

"Home," mumbled Eleven, tracing that same word on one of the drawings.

Hopper let her linger for a moment, then clapped his hands once.

"Wanna see the rest of the place?"

El nodded and stepped away from the fridge. Hopper then gave her the nickel tour, showing her the bedrooms, the bathrooms, and the small deck outside.

When he was done, they sat down on the living room couch together.

"Not bad, huh, kid?"

Eleven gave an approving nod, and Hopper let out a relieved sigh.

"Better than the cabin?"

El looked pensive for a moment, then shook her head.

Hopper looked disappointed. "No?"

"No," said Eleven. "Not better. Just different."

"Guess that's true," conceded Hopper.

They were quiet for a long moment after that. Eleven's eyes moved rapidly back and forth, focusing around the room, and Hopper got nervous. He could tell she was getting antsy.

"Hey," he whispered, "you okay?"

Eleven nodded hesitantly.

"We don't have to," said Hopper. "We can stay in the cabin. I just thought..."

He trailed off, not sure of himself. Frankly, he liked the cabin. But the trailer was closer to town. There were two bathrooms, and he'd be able to sleep in an actual bedroom, with at least a semblance of privacy.

The TV reception was better too.

But if El wasn't ready... If she wanted to stick with what she knew, he'd scrap the whole idea.

He was thinking of doing just that when her small voice interrupted his thoughts.

"Benny," she said clearly.

Hopper blinked a few times and scratched his beard absently, trying to make sense of that. When he failed to do so, he shook his head.

"What?"

"Benny," repeated Eleven, standing and crossing to a shelf on the wall.

The shelf held a row of framed pictures. There was one of the kids - Will, Mike, Lucas, Dustin, Max, and El - from the Snow Ball last year. A black and white one showed four soldiers. Another was of a smiling blonde girl in front of a huge statue. And lastly, there was a much younger Hopper, in football gear and with his arm thrown around a teammate.

Both young men were grinning ear to ear. Eleven ran one finger over the faces in the picture, then turned toward Hopper with tears in her eyes.

"Benny," she said yet again. Her lower lip trembled ever so slightly, and Hopper suddenly understood.

He closed his eyes and exhaled heavily.

"You saw."

It wasn't a question.

Eleven nodded as her face scrunched up. Her pained expression seemed frozen for a moment.

And then she was sobbing and Hopper held her to his chest and rocked her gently back and forth right there on the floor.

He whispered platitudes into her hair as he ran one hand up and down her back.

They sat like that until they both could breathe normally again.

Then Hopper stood suddenly and held out a hand to her. She took it and followed him out the door without another word passing between the two.

They didn't stay in the trailer that night. Or the next. Or for the following twenty-six nights.

But eventually, they did. For a night. And then for a few more a week later.

And when it was all said and done, they lived there. There were real dinners and friends and cars in the drive and some pictures that changed and some that never did.

But sometimes, it was just too much. He'd meet her eyes across the room, and she'd give him a barely noticeable nod.

If they were alone, they'd say nothing.

If they weren't, his gruff voice would clear everyone out in a heartbeat.

And on those nights, the cabin was still home. This entry was originally posted at https://jackwabbit.dreamwidth.org/842743.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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