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New Fic: Be Prepared (Stranger Things)

Be Prepared (Stranger Things)

Fandom: Stranger Things
Rated: G
Category: Gen. Family. Hopper and Eleven.
Time Frame: Shortly after season two.
Spoilers: General series knowledge.
Summary: Hopper has skills that aren't apparent. Good thing, too.
Word Count: 1351

----

Jane mystified Hopper.

And not just with the fact that there was no “if” in “if looks could kill” with her.

Sure, that blew him away and he tried not to think about it too much, but with all he’d seen in the past two years, that was his new normal. Interdimensional monsters made telekinesis not such a big deal.

But it was the little things that still astounded him on a nearly daily basis.

Today, for example, he woke before dawn to the sound of her crying.

He was up in a flash and was at her side a moment later, flicking the lights on as he went.

He found her on the floor next to her bed, sobbing hard and cradling something whitish-tan and fuzzy in her arms.

When he finally got her to calm down, she didn’t tell him what was wrong. Instead, she just held out the battered teddy bear he’d given her a year ago and looked at him with sad, pleading eyes.

The bear’s left arm had been torn off.

Hopper took the bear and gave Jane a puzzled look. After a long moment, she finally spoke.

“Bad dream.”

Hopper took a big breath, in and out, then nodded.

“It happens,” he said, placing a hand on her shoulder.

“I hurt her,” muttered Jane.

And there it was. This girl had killed at least a dozen men. She’d fought off a full-fledged monster and who knows how many mini monsters. She’d traveled to Chicago and back completely on her own. She’d closed an interdimensional portal with her mind. She was thirteen years old. She was hardly a child. And yet here she was, devastated over the wounding of a teddy bear. It was so incongruous it made Jim’s head spin.

Even Sara, forever five in his mind, wouldn’t have been this upset over something like that.

Then again, Sara had known something Jane didn’t.

Hopper smiled. It was time to let Jane in on that little secret.

“Stay here,” he said, handing the bear back to Jane. “I’ll be right back.”

Jane sucked in a quick breath through her nose and looked at little scared as Hopper stood up, again seeming so much younger than she was.

“Trust me, it’ll be OK,” said Hopper, patting Jane’s shoulder. “Just give me a minute.”

Jane settled and nodded and Hopper left the room.

He went out to the kitchen, reached on top the refrigerator and retrieved a small box, then returned to the bedroom. Jane was right where he’d left her, still cradling the bear.

He sat down in front of her and held out his hands.

“May I?” he asked, nodding toward the bear.

Jane nodded and gently passed him both pieces of the bear.

“Now,” said Hopper. “Let’s see what we can do here.”

As he talked, he opened the box and pulled out a needle and several spools of thread. He held the thread out to Jane and then held them up, one by one, to the bear.

“What color, do you think?”

Jane looked puzzled.

“Don’t have much to choose from, but I think we can find something that will do. How about this one?”

He held up a khaki-colored thread, and Jane looked even more confused.

Hopper sighed. He forgot that he had to start at the beginning with Jane. Every time.

“We’re going to fix her, see,” he explained. “And nobody likes to have a scar. So we have to match the thread to her fur.”

Jane beamed, suddenly seeming to understand.

“Yeah, that one!” she said, pointing to the thread in his hand.

Hopper nodded appreciatively. “Good choice. Let’s do this.”

Then he threaded the needle and began sewing the bear’s arm back onto her body with practiced stitches as Jane watched in wonder.

He was about halfway done when he looked up at Jane.

“You wanna do some?”

Jane looked apprehensive, but nodded slowly, so Hopper handed over the bear and the needle.

“OK. So just put the needle through there. Yeah. And there. Now pull.”

Jane did has she was told, and a much sloppier stitch resulted. She glared at it, then tried to hand the bear back to Hopper.

“Hey, none of that,” said Hopper. “Nobody does it perfect the first time. Try again.”

Jane gave him a frustrated look, but then focused on the bear again. She bit her lip and tried again with the same result.

“It’s OK,” said Hopper, cutting off her protest before it could start. “Do another one.”

She did. And this time, it was better. It was still a long way from Hopper’s neat stitching, but it was much better. Jane smiled and looked up at Hopper with pride in her eyes.

“There you go,” he said. “Keep going.”

And so she did. She made it five more stitches before suddenly jumping and yelping.

“And watch your fingers,” said Hopper. “You want me to finish it?”

Jane sucked on her index finger in silence for a moment, then shook her head.

Hopper grinned at her newfound determination. “Alright, then, have at it.”

Jane removed her finger from her mouth and kept going. After far longer than it would have taken him, Hopper saw her nearing the end of the torn area and reached for the bear again.

“OK. That’s good. Now, lemme see her. I’ll show you how to tie it off to finish.”

Jane handed the bear over and watched closely as Hopper did just that. Then he held up the bear and made it wave at Jane with the previously amputated arm.

“See? Good as new.”

Jane took the bear and hugged it to her chest. Then she climbed back in bed and yawned. Hopper looked out the window and shrugged.

“Guess it is still dark,” he muttered. “You good if I go back to bed too?”

Jane nodded sleepily. Hopper snorted a small laugh, then ruffled her hair, but he made no move to leave.

Instead, he climbed into the chair next to Jane’s bed and watched as she fell rapidly asleep again.

Then he carefully extricated the bear from her arms and resewed the area she’d done so that it would hold up to how rough she was on the thing. After he finished, he slipped the bear back into bed with her and gathered his supplies. They went back into the box and then back on top the fridge.

By then, the sun was peeking over the horizon. But it was Sunday, and he didn’t have to work, so instead of making breakfast and heading out for the day, he went back to bed too.

He fell asleep with a smile on his face, grateful for two things.

One, that Jane’s tears hadn’t been from anything too serious.

And two, that he’d fallen that day in the woods when he was seven.

Because that was the day his grandfather had handed him a spool of thread and a needle and told him to patch up his pants and get on with the hike.

He hadn’t wanted to. He’d tried to pull the “sewing is for girls” card. But the old man had just given him a look and said that “Davy Crockett’s mommy didn’t follow him around to fix his pants.” Young Jim hadn’t been able to think of an argument for that, so he’d fixed his torn trousers with a spool of mismatched thread and a dull needle fished from his grandfather’s pack while the old man gave him pointers. He’d done an admirable job that day, all things considered, but he’d notice a much neater line of stitching placed over his the next week.

And given that the Hopper men were nothing if not competitive, that led to a contest between him and his grandfather to see who could sew faster (his grandfather – always) and better (Jim – eventually), and Hopper had always been thankful for that.

Because while he might not be Davy Crockett, all alone on the frontier, patches didn’t sew themselves on uniforms, and teddy bear surgery was always an emergency.

Always.

----

A/N: my nephew recently joined the Boy Scouts. He asked me to sew some patches on his uniform. He’s fourteen. I told him I would. Once. But then he could come to the house and I’d teach him to do it instead. He balked at the idea. On the spot, I used the Davy Crockett line in this story on him , because it's true. Everyone should know how to sew. He couldn’t come up with an argument. I figure Hopper might have been in a similar predicament once upon a time, so here we are. Plus, look at the flag patch on his coat in the first season. It’s hand sewn, and one corner is a bit loose. He doesn’t take that coat to someone. Just saying.

Also, the Boy Scouts have no sewing merit badge, which is absolute crap for an organization with a motto of “Be Prepared.”

Oh, and this one is for my mom, who didn’t force me to learn to sew as a boy (I’m self-taught in the past ten years – thanks, internet!), but who fixed Pinky for me when I was in college.
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