The green Douglas fir in the corner of the room glistened brightly with sparkling lights and shiny tinsel, the soothing sound of Christmas music adding cheer to the atmosphere, a scent of cinnamon and gingerbread still lingering in the air from whatever Joyce had baked earlier in the evening. Hopper set his hat on the table, removing his gloves before taking a hold of the steaming cup of coffee she was offering him. He’d only stopped by the house to pick up Jane but as usual, Joyce had not let him leave without inviting him in for a bit.
“Thank you for this.” He said, taking a small sip. He looked over at Jane who was seated comfortably on the couch talking to Will. They had a movie on but they seemed to be more interested in each other’s commentary than what was actually happening on the screen. Hopper knew she always looked forward to escaping from the routine.
It had been days since she’d been out of the cabin but Joyce always seemed to find a way to distract her. He was starting to run out of ways to show his appreciation for everything she did to help him out. He’d been a father before but that didn’t mean taking care of a telekinetic teenager was any easier.
“Only one kid tonight, huh?” His gaze returned to Joyce’s. A tiny smile on her lips as she nodded, big round eyes radiating happiness. She looked fetching as always but something about that moment in particular had his heart sputtering like an old engine. He drank from his coffee, doing his best to hide his infatuation.
“Jonathan went over to the Wheeler’s. You know how boys are when they’re in love. They’ll take any opportunity to get out of the house.” Her voice was chipper, not minding at all that Nancy was the object of her oldest son’s affection.
Her comment, while innocent, had clearly shaken up some memories in Hopper. He sipped his coffee in silence, steam billowing over his face, eyes glued to hers as a tiny smile formed on the corner of his mouth.
She cleared her throat, giving him a bashful look, unable to find a way to change the subject at a second’s notice. He had a way of watching her sometimes that made her skittish. Not in a bad way, but in the way a teenager would react to her crush giving her just a tad too much attention. Joyce’s stomach twirled with excitement, the mood around them still quiet. Will and Jane’s voices became nothing but stifled background noise. The crackling of the flames in the fireplace a mesmerizing tune, like a soundtrack to their private trip down memory lane.
Her eyes brightened up, as if she’d just been hit with an enlightening thought. The enthusiasm in her voice amplified more than necessary, obviously trying to abruptly end whatever moment they were sharing.
“Let her stay. Her bed was all set up already, we thought you were going to be working late tonight.” The nervous bite of her lip gave her an air of innocence that Hopper found impossibly captivating.
He pulled himself out of his daze, looking over at Jane again. She was already dressed in a pair of snuggly pajamas—ones clearly belonging to Will.
“Separate rooms, I assume?” He said dryly. He’d become fiercely protective of her. As far as he and anyone else was concerned, she was his little girl now, and he’d grown to love her no differently than if she were his own flesh and blood.
Joyce laughed. “Oh Hop, come on. I wasn’t born yesterday. I know what you mean by that and while I appreciate you being a concerned parent, I’m also a little offended that you would think I would let her sleep in Will’s room. I was a teenager once too, you know?”
“Sorry.” He lifted an eyebrow, cocking his head as he contemplated his options. Allowing Jane to have sleepovers wasn’t really something he was ready to be lenient on, and to allow sleepovers at a boy’s house was obviously insane. But it was Joyce’s home… and he trusted her. Hell, he trusted her with his own life.
Hopper couldn’t believe he was actually considering it.
“You can stay too.” She said, beaming at him. Heart speeding up as she watched his reaction. “I have a couch.” Her eyes trailed over him, knowing well enough that he was too tall to sleep on the couch comfortably.
He chuckled, setting his coffee cup on the table. “And I have a bed. It’s big and cozy, and I can fit my whole body on it.”
She grimaced. “Look at her.” Her gaze kind and tender as she watched Jane and Will. “She was so excited about spending the night, especially when I promised to make them french toast for breakfast and spend the day watching Christmas movies on the new VCR.”
“French toast?” Hopper asked incredulous. “She was excited about french toast?” He grumbled, remembering the last time he’d made some for her.
Joyce nodded, an overzealous tone to her response. “Yes. French toast! I will let you know that I make the best damn french toast in the world, Jim Hopper.”
He put his hands up in surrender, not meaning for it to be offensive. “I’m not doubting your cooking abilities. I’m just surprised she’s willing to try something other than waffles. I can’t go a week without having to buy a box of Eggos.”
“I did agree to make waffles as well.” She added quietly.
Hopper let out a hearty laugh, earning a playful jab in the arm. Joyce didn’t see what was so funny about the situation.
“She really does like it here, doesn’t she?” He framed it as a question but there was no need for confirmation. The answer was clear just by watching the two kids interact.
After a moment he relented, taking her up on her offer. “Okay.” He sighed. “I’ll stay but only because I’ve seen her laugh more in the last ten minutes than I have the entire week.”
Hopper was no stranger to falling asleep on his own couch but sleeping on Joyce’s was a whole other ordeal. The house was mostly still, with the exception of the normal creaking wood and the scurrying of small animals outside. The wind had picked up considerably soon after everyone retired to their bedrooms, a combination of light rain and sleet tapping on the roof in an almost rhythmic pattern. Any other night, it would’ve been calming but Hopper remained awake through it all, shifting on the couch as he tried to find a good position.
Every time he closed his eyes he was distracted by even the faintest of sounds. It was no different than the usual nighttime noise he’d hear in the cabin, and yet, every tiny bump and scratch had him on the verge of going mad. He kicked the covers off, coming to a seated position in nothing but his underwear.
Rubbing a hand over his face, he muttered to himself as he fetched his pants off the armrest. “This was a bad idea.”
He stood up, pulling them up without buttoning them. The only reason for even bothering to get dressed was out of respect for anyone who happened to walk out of their bedroom at the same time he was making his way to the bathroom. God knows he’d be mortified if Jane ever saw him in that state. He’d gone through a lot of trouble to adjust his quirks and habits once he took her in, and one night at the Byers’s house was not going to change that.
Hopper went about his business, taking a deep breath as he washed his hands and took a look at himself in the mirror. Internally hoping he’d be able to get at least a couple hours of sleep in that godawful couch.
“Jesus fucking Christ.” His heart stopped for a second when he opened the bathroom door.
Joyce was standing in the hallway, holding a glass of water, looking up at him like she was truly shocked to see him there. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.” A lack of restrain to her glances as they alternated between his face and his bare upper body. The open fly of his pants giving her eyes another reason to wander.
“It’s fine.” He pulled up his zipper and looked down at her, resting his hands on each side of the doorframe, frozen in place as his gaze fell over her. A silk, white robe was wrapped around her small frame. His eyes were appreciative for a long minute before he looked away, not wanting to be too intrusive.
He flicked off the lights in the bathroom, initially leaving them in complete darkness before their sight adjusted to the dim glow escaping from her open bedroom door. His bare feet took a few steps over the cold tile floor before he pivoted when she spoke again.
He sighed. “Uh, I’m sure it’ll catch up to me eventually.” There was a slight pause in movement, like neither of them wanted to actually return to their respective areas.
She smiled, a pleasant shiver coursing through her body. “A smoke usually helps me when I can’t sleep.” Her tone was inviting. “It’s too cold to step out this time of year so I tend to just prop my window open.” She paused and chuckled under her breath. “Like we used to do when we were in high school.”
Hopper laughed and then remembered the kids were already asleep. Lowering his voice, he said, “Remember that time your mom came to your door. I threw the cigarette out the window and dove under your bed?”
Joyce nodded, a huge grin on her face. “You panicked and I was petrified. I was willing to come clean about my smoking habit as long as she didn’t find out I had a boy in my room.”
The quiet moments that followed between them, both bathed in a shadowy light as they indulged in the nostalgia of the good old days, was like a soothing lullaby. Hopper decided right then that maybe he didn’t really need to sleep after all.
“What do you say?” She murmured.
He raised his eyebrows, a naive cluelessness as he asked for clarification without actually uttering a word.
“For old times’ sake?”
His inner voice was screaming at him. He should say yes, right? She didn’t mean something more by it, did she? No. Of course not.
Joyce didn’t say anything else. She only waited for his smile and then took a hold of his hand, slightly tugging at it as she beckoned to him. She shut the bedroom door behind them slowly and Hopper was careful when opening the window—an effort to avoid making too much noise. He regretted not grabbing his shirt as soon as the biting cold seeped into the room, but he’d gotten so caught up in the moment that it didn’t even cross his mind. He looked back at her every now and then as she unwrapped the new pack of cigarettes.
“Been saving these for a rainy day.” She said.
He smile, noting that the cold air had also manifested on her through the thin garment she was wearing. The white robe making her look like an ethereal specter, hauntingly beautiful and enigmatic.
As much as he scolded himself internally, he couldn’t stop himself from getting swept up in her. Joyce blushed, becoming aware of his admiring gaze as she tapped the bottom of the cigarette box. There were so many things they’d shared in the years of their youth that had gone unspoken, frozen in time as if buried in a time capsule. Neither of them brave enough to dig it up. But every day that had passed had brought them closer to it, hollowing out the dirt until there was little left to hide.
“You gonna light that?” He teased, a dimpled smile on his face as he pointed to the cigarette and lighter in her hands.
But Joyce had suddenly become consumed with the idea of them. How they had ignited faster than a raging wildfire and fallen apart so abruptly like a house of cards in the middle of a storm. She’d always blamed herself for it, knowing she had ruined things between them. And if she were being frank, she didn’t blame him for trying to put it all behind him and pretending like they never happened.
Hopper’s brow was furrowed as he took the cigarette from her, the touch of his fingers was electrifying, carrying her to a place in time when they didn’t have a care in the world. His eyes, subdued as they locked with hers, swallowing nervously, trying to make sense of the situation. After a few moments of no response, he took the lighter from her hand and placed it next to the cigarette on the window sill. Shutting the window and accepting the fact that their plan to share a smoke was going to have to be put on hold.
He was no mindreader but he thought he had a handle on what was happening. Joyce looked withdrawn, lost in some type of memory that was obviously gnawing at her. Whatever had triggered it wasn’t important, he knew what he had to do. One hand reached for her, his fingers spreading over her arm, sliding over it in a calming manner. He was preparing himself for the eventual break down that would follow. To listen to her lament Bob’s death and give in to the melancholy like she’d done before.
“I really wish you wouldn’t do that.” Joyce didn’t know who to be furious with, him or herself.
He stopped. “I’m sorry?” Confused by her words.
She shook her head. “I know it’s not your fault. You have no control over what I feel or…” Her voice became small, quiet and sheepish. “How my body reacts to your touch.” And she’d been feeling that way for quite a while now, unable to pinpoint the exact moment when she’d fallen victim to the yearning.
His eyes widened, a complete look of awe displayed on his face. Maybe he was wrong, maybe he didn’t know what she was going through. “Joyce, what do you mean?”
“I’m a terrible person.” She admitted. “I am, right? For feeling this way so soon after—” She didn’t say his name.
Her words made his body buzz, livening it up without even trying. “If you’re a terrible person then what does that make me?”
She cracked a faint smile as his hand rose again, fingers encompassing her arm, rubbing smoothly over the sleeve of her robe and comforting her. He watched her close her eyes, taking in the pleasing sensation. So he did the same with his other hand, the whole while taking cues from her reactions. Hands moved languidly over her shoulders, gently trailing down her back until they were comfortably positioned on the small of her back, flirting with the bend of her ass.
Hopper leaned over, forehead resting on hers, noses brushing delicately. He wanted to have her as close as possible, to hold her until she didn’t feel like she was in the wrong for feeling something that was out of her control. A tiny exhale left her lips, adrenaline rush to the heart making her breathing shallow. Heat rippled through her body in response to his closeness, and she felt a tug in her stomach along with a satisfying shudder that made her center quiver.
Hopper was careful with his actions, not wanting to push it too far too soon. “Talk to me, Joyce.”
She opened her eyes, still lost in his embrace and the heat that radiated off of him. “What do you say?” She echoed her own words. “For old times’ sake?”
There was a slight moment of trepidation in him that quickly dissipated when he saw the twinkle in her brown eyes. A smile spread across his face, and he leaned down, mouth closing the gap between them. Joyce raised herself on the ball of her feet, drawn to his lips, unable to escape his magnetic pull as she met him halfway. His taste, familiar and intoxicating, clouding her thoughts and making her heated core ache and pulse.
Her small hands clawed at his back, wide shoulder blades taut against her fingertips. One fervent kiss after another sending her into a spiral as her tongue performed a sensual dance around his.
Joyce pressed herself against his naked chest, breathing accelerated and body eager to experience more. Hopper stopped for a second, hands firmly on her waist, staring at her with those deep blue eyes, looking for granted permission that came in the form of a nod. A quick flick of the tongue before sucking her lips with fiery need and then turning her around. Joyce’s back crashed into his naked upper body. Her robe came undone easily, its front opening as one hand glided between her breasts and wandered across her body. She moaned, feeling herself melt into him as his mouth brushed the hollow of her neck. He slipped the robe off her shoulders, letting it fall to the ground. Teeth nipping at the side of her neck and fingers roaming over her exposed skin with dominance and confidence.
Joyce moved against him. Hopper’s large hands palming her breasts and sending shocks to her center with every pull and twist of her stiff nipples, her wetness increasing with every stroke.
She turned around, head tilting upwards as her lips searched for his mouth. He touched her in earnest, caressing the back of her thighs as she became busy with the zipper of his pants. Their bare upper bodies came in contact, and his erection rubbed against her bellybutton, creating delightful friction between them. A low, guttural moan escaped his throat and he basked in the pleasurable feeling she was providing.
After a few moments, he lifted her off the floor. Underwear clad body entangled in his and legs hooked around his waist as he managed to kick off his pants. Hopper pushed her against the wall, producing a thud—forgetting for a moment that they were not alone in the house—he hoisted her up higher so his mouth could reach her chest.
Joyce kept her voice hushed, moaning quietly as he licked and sucked one hardened nipple after the other. Her center wet as it pounded in arousal, moistening her underwear as his tongue continued to work its magic on her nubs. He gripped her ass, her body moving over his hardness with desperate need, heated core longing for contact.
“The bed might be too noisy.” He said breathless, setting her on the floor for a minute.
She nodded, her hand shyly reaching beneath his underwear and pulling the rest of him out. The sight of his erect cock was both magnificent and intimidating.
He kissed her fervently, getting her out of her underwear swiftly and then picking her back up. He guided himself inside her, dripping tip entering her gradually until she was accustomed to his size. His slow pace quickening his breathing with anticipation. Joyce was whimpering into his ear, lips kissing the side of his neck, teeth biting down and tongue leaving wet trails over his skin as he slipped in and out of her. Her fingers combed through his hair, hips moving in a circular motion over him as he filled her up, meeting his thrusts every time he plunged into her.
The way their bodies connected and the feelings that it elicited in both of them made the experience seem like brand new. After a few minutes, Joyce gave in to the influx of sensations. Her body heat rising as he drove into her, tight walls slick with release and body shaking from elation as she came for him.
Their little grunts and quiet whimpers were concealed within the four walls of the room. The glass in the window became fogged with every ticking second of the clock, the nighttime nothing but a quiet witness to their secret tryst. As the minutes passed, it became impossible for Hopper to hold back. He kissed her, hard and ardently, biting her lower lip as he pushed in deeper, invading her relentlessly as he allowed himself to reach his peak. Grunting into her neck as he spurt in sweet relief.
Once the moment of bliss had subsided, he set her down again. A blush cloaking her cheeks and a big smile adorning her already beautiful features. Joyce was truly a dream, one from which he did not want to wake up. He picked up his clothes off the floor as she covered herself up with her robe.
She cracked the window again, the cool air seeping in and relieving their burning bodies.
“Stay.” There was a newfound sweetness to her voice and an almost pleading tone to her words.
She rolled the cigarette between her fingers, fidgeting with it as she waited for him to say something. She placed it between her lips and flicked the lighter on, taking a drag.
Hopper pulled up his pants and smirked. “What if the kids—”
“It’ll be fine. We’ll be up before them.” After a moment she added, ““And you still haven’t had your smoke.” But they both knew he’d be sleeping like a baby regardless.
He looked down at her as she offered him the cigarette. His eyes narrowing in deep thought as he reached for it. “Alright.” He cocked his head, exchanging playful glances before winking at her. “For old times’ sake.”
Joyce laughed, watching him intently, completely transfixed as he placed it in his mouth.