Like Riding a Bike
Fandom: Stranger Things
Category: Gen. Family. Hopper and Eleven. Holiday Fic.
Time Frame: Shortly after season two.
Spoilers: General series knowledge.
Summary: Some things, once learned, are never forgotten.
Word Count: 751
When he was seven years old, Jim Hopper got a bike for Christmas.
It was red and white and the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.
He couldn't ride it until spring, though (except for that time he rode it down the stairs when his parents ran to the store for a minute, but that hardly counted), so for months he just stared at it.
But finally, the snow melted and the roads cleared and he was able to ride.
And ride he did.
He'd known how before. Mostly.
But it wasn't until the spring of forty-eight that he really got it.
And he used his newfound knowledge as often as possible. He rode all over town.
And like most kids, he did so for years.
But eventually, as happens, the bike stopped gathering miles and instead collected nothing but dust.
It ended up in a barn on his grandmother's property; property he'd largely forgotten he owned.
That is, until Joyce glanced up at him one morning at Melvald's and asked what he was getting El for Christmas.
"I dunno," sighed Hopper, browsing the shelves while Joyce stuck price tags on candy canes. "Clothes, I guess. Lord knows she needs 'em."
Joyce gave him a look. "And something fun, too, I hope?"
Hopper sighed again. "What's wrong with clothes?"
"Nothing," said Joyce. "It's just...she should get something else too, Hop."
"I know. But it's not like she's a... a normal kid, Joyce. She doesn't like Star Wars or any of that stuff. Hell, she's never even seen a movie."
Joyce raised her eyebrows at him. "And whose fault is that?"
"Jesus, not you, too," he groused.
Joyce laughed. "I'm teasing, Hop. I know you can't take her out yet."
Hopper half-glared at her, and Joyce giggled again.
"But there are other things..." she drawled.
"Like what?" asked Hopper. "If you've got suggestions, I'm all ears."
Joyce thought for a moment, tapping one finger on her lips absently.
After a moment, she grinned and met Hopper's eyes. He looked away suddenly as she did, not wanting her to notice that he'd been fixated on her gesture.
"What about a bike?" asked Joyce.
"No," answered Hopper. "Absolutely not."
"She doesn't know how to ride one."
Joyce rolled her eyes. "I’m sure she can learn, Hop. "
“And I don't want her riding all over town. I have a hard enough time keeping her under control as it is."
Joyce raised her eyebrows at that.
"Well, then she's just going to keep riding double with Mike," she said nonchalantly. Then she turned back to her pricing.
Hopper didn't visibly react to Joyce's words. But he did turn on his heel and leave the store.
Behind him, Joyce chuckled.
An hour later, Hopper's blazer pulled into a pasture at the end of a disused road. He climbed out and looked up at the old barn there with an odd look on his face. He hadn't been here since his gran died, but it was still technically his.
So after a moment, he shouldered open the barn door. It took some effort, but he got it eventually.
Inside, he found just what he'd expected. Dust, musty, ancient hay, and more dust. A few rusty tools were scattered about. Otherwise, the barn looked empty.
But looks can be deceiving.
Hopper walked over to the second horse stall on the right and shined a flashlight inside it.
Once the beam lit up the stall's contents, he grinned.
Because there, wedged in between a pile of old horse blankets and a wheelbarrow, was that old red and white bike.
The next day, he went back to Melvald's. He bought sandpaper and paint and WD-40 and was grateful Joyce was off that day.
And for the next two weeks, he left for work early.
El didn’t notice because she’d developed that teenage habit of sleeping in, and Flo didn’t notice because he was still late almost every day.
And in the end, it paid off.
Because on Christmas morning, in a little cabin in the woods outside a small town in Indiana, a dad gave his daughter a shiny new bicycle, and she loved it.
It would be months before she could ride it, and she’d have to learn how, but that didn’t matter.
All that mattered was that the old saying was right.
Some things, like enjoying Christmas morning with family even though it’s been years since you’ve had one, really are like riding a bike.This entry was originally posted at https://jackwabbit.dreamwidth.org/843980.html. Please comment there using OpenID.