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Hopper handed El a ten dollar bill. “I expect to see change,” he warned her, as she pocketed the money. She grabbed Mike’s hand, unable to contain her excitement over getting to go to an actual movie theater to see a movie with him and their friends.

Nancy and Mike had just arrived to pick up Jonathan, El, and Will. The two older teens were chaperoning all the kids to see Back to the Future. Hopper initially felt a little concerned about letting the two kids sit in a dark movie theater together, with zero adult supervision. However, they couldn’t stop talking about the movie, and he realized they probably wouldn’t take their eyes off the screen the whole time anyway.

It was also the first chance Joyce and Hopper had to be alone together in almost a month, though that may have been on purpose. While neither of them would care to admit it, they were both starting to feel a little anxious about officially taking their relationship to a new place. Still, Hopper hadn’t forgotten what he promised to bring a month ago, and he also walked in with a chilled bottle of white wine in his hand. Joyce smiled at him, and he put the wine in the fridge, anticipating the kids’ departures.

The sky was darkening as a summer storm rolled in.

“Goodbye. Have a good time!” Joyce called to the five of them, closing the front door. The rest of the kids were going to be meeting them at the theater.

Joyce turned around, and when her eyes met his, they both smiled nervously.

“Alone at last,” Hopper teased, trying to lighten the tension he felt.

Was Joyce nervous too? Did she not want this anymore? He wondered.

He suddenly had a hundred different doubts and questions all rushing through his head, and he wished that his mind would just shut up for a minute.

Joyce headed straight for the wine in the kitchen. Hopper leaned against the wall while she silently poured two wine glasses full. She handed him one, and he followed her back to the living room. They sat on the couch and both took a long sip of their drink.

“El seemed pretty excited,” Joyce finally said after a moment.

“Yeah,” he almost groaned. “I still feel a little weird about letting her go out alone, you know?”

“She’s not alone,” Joyce reminded him. “But yes, I know exactly what you mean.” She’d felt the same way about Will, and now she feels it for El too. “I think anyone with bad intentions would have to pry her out of Mike’s lifeless hands anyway,” Joyce pointed out, trying to make them both feel better.

Hopper couldn’t help but stifle a laugh. “That does sound about right.” The more time he spent around the two kids, the more he realized just exactly how lovesick they were.

Joyce stood up and went to the record player, flipping through a box of albums.

“Any special requests?” she asked.

Hopper shook his head no, so she decided on Rumors by Fleetwood Mac. Nothing overly romantic.

She sat back down next to him, holding her wine glass and pulled her legs up on the couch. Thunder was rolling in in the distance, and it had already begun to rain. Hopper wrapped his arm around her, and she laid her head on his shoulder. She felt him let out a deep breath.

Hopper internally groaned at himself for feeling so ridiculously nervous over all of this, like he’d never been with a woman before. Only a few short years ago, he’d been the master at making women’s clothes fall off in seconds. But those women weren’t Joyce; they hadn’t meant anything to him, and even though he’d already spent one night with her, this felt incredibly different.

Both lost in their thoughts, they sat in a somehow comfortable silence. After a few minutes, Joyce leaned over and set her wine glass on the end table. She took Hopper’s face in her hands and gently kissed him, hesitant, because she’d been waiting for him to make the first move.

The second her lips touched his, he realized how stupid and ridiculous all the nervous anticipation had been. Joyce felt even better than he remembered and almost all of his anxiety disappeared. She pulled her lips back with a soft sigh, letting her now obvious tension dissolve too.

Though she knew that Jim Hopper was absolutely right for her, the words that came out of her mouth didn’t match what her mind was saying.

“We don’t have to do this,” she whispered, pulling away, giving him one last out.

Hopper pulled her back towards him, resting one hand on the small of her back and the other against the back of her head. He pressed his lips back against hers, and this time when he kissed her, Joyce parted her lips and his tongue slowly ran across hers. They stopped for a brief second, and Joyce climbed on top of him, straddling his legs with her knees, resuming and deepening their kiss. His hand on her back slipped under her shirt. She could feel his desperation, as his fingers sought out bare skin, silently urging her that this was okay.

“I guess maybe we do,” Joyce admitted with a sigh, pulling away to breathe for a moment.

Despite their reservations, it was clear given the fact that they couldn’t stop touching each other, that they were both so incredibly starved for this.

“Joyce,” Hopper sighed.

“Yeah?” she asked breathlessly, when he didn’t finish his thought right away.

I want you so bad.” He spoke quietly, almost with regret, as if it pained him to say it. And maybe it did. He knew that Joyce deserved more than what he could give her, and yet, here he was.

Joyce was surprised by the agony in his voice when he said it; no one had ever spoken about her like that before. She resumed their kiss, now desperate to give him what he wanted, to make that tone disappear.

Her hands trailed up to the buttons of his shirt, undoing the top two, then grasping the hem of the shirt to pull it over his head. Their lips lost contact for a second, so she took the opportunity to whisper, “Bedroom.”

She took his hand and climbed off of him. They were going to do this right this time.

He followed her down the hallway and closed the bedroom door, just in case.

Joyce sat on the bed and Hopper approached her, laying her down gently, taking full control. His body pressed against hers, and he kissed her only for a second, until his lips broke away. Joyce moaned a quiet complaint, until his lips continued over her jaw and down her throat, in slow torturous kisses that made her clench the sheets in her hands. His hands slid down her shirt, lifting it with the clear intention that he wanted it off. Joyce arched her back, and her breasts pressed into his chest.

“Go easy on me,” Hopper murmured to her. He wanted to last a little longer than the last time, and she was already challenging him.

Joyce laughed and whispered, “No promises.” She removed her shirt and unhooked her bra, throwing them off the bed. Hopper kissed the swell of her breasts, and then moved his lips back up to her collarbone, slowly continuing down her shoulders, stomach, and to the waist of her pants, making her shudder in anticipation.

He unbuttoned her jeans, and she lifted her hips for him to take them off. As he removed them, his thumbs dragged slowly down her bare legs. When her pants were off, she sat up on her knees to help remove his, leaving them both only in their underwear. Joyce slid her hands down his chest, stroking him slowly with the palm of her hand through the outside of his briefs.

“Jesus Hop,” she moaned, realizing he wasn’t kidding earlier about needing to go easy on him.

“Let’s not bring him into this,” Hopper teased softly with a groan.

Joyce let out a small laugh and dropped his underwear, taking him into her hand. Her hands slid up and down his length, running her thumb across the wetness that appeared.

Hopper threw his head back with a groan and pulled her off of him. No matter how much he had mentally tried to prepare himself for this, he could still barely stand her touching him like that. He wondered if she had any idea what she did to him.

He took both of her hands in his, and laid her back down on the bed, holding her wrists above her head with one hand. The fingertips of his other hand drifted down her side, causing goosebumps and a slight shiver. His hand ghosted the outside of her underwear and slid over her inner thigh. Joyce moaned, and pressed her hips against him, making Hopper chuckle at her discomfort. He brought his hand back up, and slipped his fingers inside her underwear, giving her what she wanted. Joyce gasped when she felt his fingers slowly stroking her, bringing back memories of their last encounter; he remembered just what she liked.

Joyce squirmed under him and his hand slid lower, turning around to curl one finger inside her, while still pressing his palm against her. He dropped his grip on her wrists and buried his hand in her hair, kissing her. Joyce moaned into his lips, rocking her hips against his hand. She slid her hand down between them, slowing his motions. She pulled back and pressed his shoulders up, climbing out from under him.

Joyce took the time to slide her black satin underwear down her hips. She had put on her “sexier” underwear that morning just in case things were to actually work out, though Hopper couldn’t have cared less what she wore. She was fucking beautiful in everything and nothing.

“You didn’t forget it this time, did you?” Joyce panted.

Hopper rolled over on the bed to grab his wallet out of his pants, and Joyce smiled when he pulled the package out. She watched him tear the corner open with his teeth, and slowly roll the condom down himself. Seeing him touch himself, even if it was to simply put a condom on, made her throb, almost painfully so. Joyce met him with a kiss and guided him to lay back on the bed, straddling his hips. She teased him, slowly grinding her hips against his. His eyes closed and he moaned, moving his hips in time with hers. Finally, Joyce gripped him in her hand, stroking him twice, before lowering and guiding him inside.

“Ohmygod,” Hopper gasped. He thought she said it too, though he couldn’t be sure, because he was just trying so hard to hold onto his sanity.

Hopper’s hands slid down her waist, holding onto her hips while she slowly rocked back and forth on him. Being inside Joyce felt even better than he ever could have imagined, and he hated that it took so long for it to happen.

Joyce finally opened her eyes and looked down at him with the sweetest smile he’d ever seen. She leaned down against his chest, pressing her breasts to him, and met his mouth with a lazy kiss.

Hopper moved his hand to her clit, rubbing her slowly, matching their rhythm. After a moment, Joyce sat up, resting both hands on his chest. He pulled himself up too, and she sat down on him fully, wrapping her arms around him. He supported her back and rolled her over, briefly pulling out, causing her to whimper in dissatisfaction. He parted her legs, and settled in between her thighs, slowly entering her once more. Hopper dropped his head so that it rested tenderly against Joyce’s forehead, their breath mixing rapidly as he set a rhythm.

“Fuck, Joyce,” he moaned. He had so much more to tell her, but all that made it out of his mouth was her name. Her hands slid up and down his shoulders, one landing on his neck, digging her fingers into him.

Joyce started making more and more desperate noises, and Hopper couldn’t resist the urge the thrust harder. Their ragged breathing was only punctuated by occasional kisses and moans, and their mutual release was not too far off.

“Ahhh, Jim,” Joyce urged with a whine, gripping his forearm. He brought his other hand between them, once again rubbing the spot she loved the most. He was so close, but he was going to be damn sure that she finished with him.

Her breathing sped up, and she wrapped her calves around his lower thighs. Her eyes pressed closed again, and he caught how she held her breath, only letting it out every so often with a sweet whimper. Joyce tensed underneath him.

“You are so damn sexy,” Hopper murmured into her ear, feeling like he couldn’t hold back much longer. It felt strange finally being able to say those words to her out loud, and it was enough to send her over the edge. Her thighs squeezed his, and she couldn’t hold back a cry as she fell over the edge. Thank god no one had been home.

It only took a couple more frantic thrusts, and Hopper came too with an intense groan. Joyce’s trembling legs eventually calmed down, and she loosened her grip on his arm, realizing now how tight she’d been holding him.

She slowly stroked his hair instead, and he leaned down to kiss her. When he pulled back, she locked eyes with him, giving him a what could only be described as a satisfied, delighted, smile.

Hopper pulled out and rolled over, removing the used condom from himself. Joyce nestled herself in next to him, enjoying the feeling of his bare skin on hers.

“I never pictured you as a screamer,” Hopper pondered with a smile, stroking her arm.

“I’m not,” Joyce laughed. At least, she never had been before.

“Hmm,” Hopper mused. “I like it.”

It was still only early evening, so there was technically daylight left. However, the storm had darkened the sky considerably, creating a calm, shadowy room. The rain, which had been steady since they made it into the bedroom, beat heavily against the roof and outside the open window. The storm had considerably dropped the temperature, bringing in a nice, cool breeze.

Though Joyce had been nearly sweating a moment ago, her body suddenly cooled down, making her involuntarily shiver. Hopper rearranged the blankets up around his waist and pulled the edge over Joyce’s shoulders, hugging her close to him.

“Are we really going to do this?” Joyce asked after a few silent minutes. He knew she didn’t mean just the sex part.

Hopper’s fingers lightly stroked her arm. “Don’t you think it’s a little late to ask that?” he retorted anyway, causing Joyce to chuckle.

“I mean, yeah. I guess so,” she agreed with a sigh. “I suppose we’ve already been doing this for, what, about a year? It’s just now we don’t have to be so sexually frustrated,” she added with a laugh.

That hadn’t been untrue. Over the past two years, they’ve gone through so much, and they probably were a lot closer than your normal, everyday couple.

Hopper’s had her back through everything, and he could easily say the same about her.  He’s always made her feel so incredibly safe when she’s with him. Even when some really bad shit was going down, she knew she could count on him to be there for her. It seemed like he always knew how to help her get through it. Sometimes that meant just sitting silently with her while her brain tried to process terrible things. Would making their relationship official change any of that?

“So, should we uh, tell the kids?” Hopper asked.

Joyce didn’t respond immediately. “I guess we should. They’ll find out one way or another. I don’t think they’ll be upset.”

“Oh, I know El won’t be. She’s been hinting at me kissing you, pretty much since last year,” Hopper revealed with a smile.

“She’s the sweetest,” Joyce laughed. “Speaking of kids, what time is it?” she added.

They looked at the clock and saw they probably had a good half an hour before the kids would be back. Joyce let her eyes close, feeling like she could fall asleep, though she knew that they shouldn’t. Soon, they would have to leave each other’s arms and put their clothes back on. Still, it made her smile knowing that this wouldn’t be the last time she’d feel his arms wrapped protectively around her. That someday soon, she would feel his fingers grazing her bare skin again and that she’d have plenty more opportunities to feel him inside her. And in hopefully, less than another month, now that they were over their weirdness.

Time seemed to go too fast, because before they even had the chance to get out of bed, they heard car doors slamming in the driveway.

“Shit,” Hopper swore, collecting his clothes off the floor, remembering that his shirt was still in the living room. He jumped into his pants, not even bothering to put his underwear back on, and ran out to grab his shirt. He threw it on just as the front door opened, the top two buttons still undone. He grabbed the warm glass of wine and sat back down on the couch, attempting to look casual.

El came running inside after kissing Mike goodbye, and she sat down in the chair across from Hopper, immediately telling him about how awesome the movie theater was. She had “popcorn and Sno-Caps and Sour Patch Kids,” and apparently a soda, given her ridiculous amount of energy. She emptied her pockets and laid two dollars in change on the end table.

Joyce hid Hopper’s underwear under her bed and joined them in the living room, fully dressed. She looked much more innocent than Hopper thought he did, and he wondered how she managed that so easily.

“So, what did you guys do?” El asked. Will came in and sat on the arm of the chair next to her.

“Oh nothing much,” Joyce replied. “It sounds like you guys had a good time?”

This started another story from both of the kids, rambling on, almost too excited to even get a complete story out that made sense. Joyce just nodded along, as if she were used it.

The kids continued talking and laughing until Hopper interrupted them, telling El that it was time to go home. El was too happy from her night out to even complain. She stood at the door, waiting for Hopper.

Joyce followed them to the door to see them out. They hadn’t talked about exactly when or how they were going to tell the kids, so she assumed that it wouldn’t be tonight. However, Hopper couldn’t stand not giving her an appropriate goodbye, and so he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to him. His lips grazed hers and he whispered about what a good time he had tonight too. Joyce smirked and kissed him once more.

El and Will looked at each other in complete shock, surprised by their parent’s blatant display of affection. It had been obvious to the kids that their parents liked each other as more than friends, and Will had his suspicions since Hopper stayed over last time, but he thought they would never admit it.

“Alright, kid. Let’s go,” Hopper said, turning to leave. El hugged Joyce, trying to contain a squeal, and ran out through the rain to the car.

El couldn’t contain her thoughts when Hopper got in next to her.

“Is Joyce your girlfriend now?!” she asked before he even closed his door.

“Mm-hm,” he answered simply.

El broke out into a huge smile, and she didn’t think her night could ever get any better. Hopper left the Byers’ house that night feeling the same.