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New Fic: Defense Mechanism

Defense Mechanism

Fandom: Stranger Things
Rated: G
Category: Vignette. Family. Hopper, Eleven, and Will. Mild Jopper angst.
Time Frame: Any time after season two.
Spoilers: Stranger Things, Season Two.
Summary: Playing possum isn’t just for possums, you know.
Word Count: 853.

-------


Hopper was asleep on the couch.

And Joyce wasn’t home. Jonathan had taken her to visit her mother for the weekend.

So the kids used the opportunity to sneak into the living room and change the channel on the TV.

As they fiddled with the antenna and the knobs, trying to get a clear picture, Hopper rolled over to face the back of the couch and grunted.

They froze, but when he settled again, they continued trying to watch Doctor Who, like they always tried to do at eleven on Saturday nights. It was a special treat when they managed it, because while they were allowed to watch it, they rarely got the opportunity.

Between schedules, only having one TV, random air times (but always late at night), and sketchy reception at best, it just wasn’t something they could do regularly.

Tonight, it seemed, wasn’t their night.

Try as they might, they couldn’t get more than some scratchy, accented voices to come from the TV. Nothing appeared on the screen except static.

After several minutes of trying, Will sighed.

“Not gonna happen,” he mumbled.

El shrugged. “We can still listen,” she said. “You can still tell what’s going on.”

Will nodded. “That’s true. I just don’t understand why I won’t come in. It’s PBS!”

Eleven blinked at him, and he realized she had no idea what he meant. “Oh, never mind,” he said, annoyed, but letting it go. He settled in next to El and they listened to the TV for the next half hour, doing pretty well with understanding the impromptu radio drama.

Eventually, though, they lost interest in having to work so hard at entertainment, and they started to chat.

They covered everything from school to movies to books and comics.

And during it all, Hopper never budged. He’d snore occasionally and send the kids into giggles, but that was it. He slept on.

That is, until a particularly loud laugh from Will woke him enough to make him realize he had to pee. He was comfortable, though, so he still didn’t move.

That ended up being a very good thing, because the next thing he heard brought him fully awake in an instant.

“You think they’ll ever do it?” asked El. Her voice held a note of suggestion that Hopper wasn’t entirely comfortable with. There was no denying what “it” was in her question.

Hopper mentally perked up, but still didn’t move. He needed to know the “who” in the question before he acted, so he played possum.

Will giggled.

“I don’t know. I wish they would, though.”

“Right?” said El, clearly exasperated.

“I mean, they spend a ton of time together. And it’s so obvious,” said Will, dragging out the ‘o’ in so for so long that Hopper couldn’t help but roll his eyes.  Clearly, the kids thought these people were idiots.

“Ugh, I know,” agreed Eleven. “It’s like a soap opera.”

Will laughed. “Totally. Complete with kids caught in the middle.”

Now Hopper was confused. He couldn’t figure out how kids would be involved in whatever this was. His curiosity was about to get the better of him and he was about to roll over and ask for the details when Eleven’s smallest voice, the one she used when she was unsure, stayed his movement.

“Will?”

“Yeah?”

“Would it be OK?”

“Would what be OK?”

“If, you know, they did.”

“Of course!”

“Like, if they…  if me and you…” Eleven trailed off, but Will picked up her thread.

“If they got married? If we were brother and sister?”

El nodded, and Hopper’s eyes widened as he realized which two idiots the kids had been talking about.

“It would be awesome, Jane,” said Will, using her given name instead of her nickname very much on purpose. “At least I think so.”

“Me too,” said El, beaming broadly.

“Good. Now let’s go to bed. It’s cold out here,” said Will, running his hands up and down his arms.

“OK,” said Eleven with a shrug.

And just like that, the conversation was over. Will and El wandered off to Will’s room, where she had a cot set up on the floor. Neither one of them slept for a while, since they continued to talk in muffled voices punctuated by giggling, but they certainly slept a whole lot more than Hopper, who just stared at the back of the couch until he no longer heard them.

Then he got up to pee and went to bed in Jonathan’s room.

Eventually, he’d fall back asleep. He wouldn’t dream.

And in the morning, awakened by footsteps and shouts in the hallway, he’d get up and do what he always did. He’d pretend he was none the wiser.

But when Joyce returned that afternoon, and they all had a light dinner before Hopper took El home, he’d catch himself looking at Joyce and wondering if maybe… just maybe…

Then he’d see Will or Eleven looking at him looking at Joyce and he’d go back to eating.

It was safer that way.

Whatever they’d awoken in him could stay asleep. Or at least pretend to be.

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