All of this silence and patience, pining and anticipation. My hands are shaking from holding back from you. - Dress (Taylor Swift)
He really didn’t want to be there. There were countless other things to do on New Year’s Eve than spending it holed up with Hawkins’s snobby dwellers in one of the worst cocktail bars in town. He pushed the glass doors open, a cold, snowy breeze rushing in behind him. For a moment it felt like he’d stepped through a time machine and it was grad night all over again. Everyone holding their drinks like they were sipping champagne at The Hamptons, the cyan glow of the lights illuminating the room like a fever dream from a Hollywood film. Hopper paced slowly and without making much eye contact, but a six-foot-three man like him couldn’t go unnoticed even if he tried.
Karen Wheeler sipped her drink, one hand gently pulling at the sleeve of his jacket as he passed her by. He turned, a smug look on his face when he saw the tilt of her head and the startled look in her eyes.
“Good evening, Karen.” His voice was monotone, not an ounce of joy. His eyebrows furrowed in annoyance at her criticizing look. “What?”
She huffed, giving him a once-over. “You would show up without RSVping, you jerk.” Her hand moved over the crowd and the setting, clearly putting into display her weeks of hard work. “There might be an unreserved seat by the dessert table if you’re lucky.”
He smiled. “Couldn’t have asked for a better spot.” His eyes flicked over to Ted. “Apple cider? Come on Ted, I’ll be at the bar if you feel like having a real drink.” But the man seemed to have lost his speech capabilities, especially when it came to contradicting his precious trophy wife. Hopper grumbled under his breath, diverting from the scene directly to the open bar.
He really didn’t want to be there. But he had promised Jane he would try a little harder and attending that god-awful party was part of the deal. He ordered a double whiskey to start, sipping on it and hoping she was at least having a good time at his expense. Taking another swig, he smiled to himself. Who was he kidding? Of course she was. That wide-eyed gaze and blissful smile when he told her Nancy would be watching her for the night was a cause for concern. There was no doubt little Mike Wheeler would also be tagging along and if he were being truthful, he wasn’t so little anymore, and their jump into teenage territory scared the shit out of him. He shuddered.
Swirling the last contents in his glass, he brought it up to his lips and finished it. The warmth spread through him, making his predicament a little more bearable. He lifted up one finger to the bartender, only until then noticing what a sweet, little thing she was.
“Another whiskey for the most handsome Chief in Indiana?” She asked coyly, bright green eyes connecting with his as she brushed her red hair away from her face and tucked it behind her ear.
She was dangerously young but obviously old enough to know how to make a living mixing a good drink. He nodded, giving her a discreet smile but avoiding any kind of conversation. Getting tangled up in a one-night stand was not part of the plan, no matter how long it’d been since he got his dick wet or how appealing the idea presented itself in his head. Besides, this crowd wouldn’t let him live it down. Not to mention, a certain brunette still had him clutched by the balls like he owed it to her.
The sound of the string orchestra resonated in the room along with the buzz of the people around them. Dark liquor poured into the glass, crackling the ice as she looked at him with a twinkle of mischief. “Any plans for after the party?” Her question was clearly meant to bait him in.
He shook his head. “Too old for that shit nowadays.”
She laughed. “One can never be too old for a little fun.”
He smiled, raising one eyebrow at her, wondering what it was about him that caught her attention. The little devil on his shoulder pushing him to make a very bad decision.
“Hopper?” He froze at the sound of her voice. Jesus fucking Christ. Wasn’t she supposed to be spending the night with Jonathan and Will?
He turned around on his seat like an idiot, almost spilling his drink at the sight of her. Mouth slightly open, unable to spit out the words right away. A little black dress on her, tiny straps over her shoulder and form fitted like a glove. Her shoes adding a few inches to her petite size. She looked like her, she talked like her—the Joyce with whom he’d spent the last year battling creatures from hell. But her almond eyes, stealthy like a cat and her cherry lips distractingly perfect, were more reminiscent of her prom queen days than the Hawkins hard life she’d grown accustomed to. There was a tug in his stomach that traveled even lower still, causing a small flinch in his pants that caught him off guard.
Hopper cleared his throat, watching her eyes light up as she smiled. You look like a dream, is what he wanted to say. But instead he uttered, “Hi Joyce,” almost dismissively.
She took a seat next to him, seemingly unaware of the effect she had on him. “Karen’s a little annoyed–”
“What’s new?” He chimed with a slight chuckle.
“You know she’s the queen of party planning around here and hates it when things don’t go her way.” She waved down the girl behind the bar and asked for what Hopper was drinking, inadvertently putting an end to any attempts at flirting for the time being.
Then maybe we should get the hell out of here. His own thoughts came through like a loud, annoying echo. She wasn’t even supposed to be there, and entertaining this ridiculous teenage crush wasn’t going to lead to anything good, just like it didn’t lead to anything good back then. The past was gone, their time had been over before it had even started. And he couldn’t overlook the fact that the last time they spoke she’d still been reeling from Bob’s untimely demise.
He was lost in thought before realizing she’d been looking at him the whole time, one side of her mouth curled in a cute, tender smile. Big brown eyes brushing over him playfully. “You clean up pretty nicely, Hop.” She said, noticing his black tie getup.
His heart was pounding hard and his stomach was in knots but he laughed anyway. “Some of us don’t look like our high school picture so we have to try a little harder.” He winked before downing the rest of his drink.
Maybe two doubles had been a bad idea.
The two of them sat in silence for a moment, the laughter and chatter of the crowd encapsulating them as the pretty bartender poured him another drink without him even asking. He looked up at her, thanking her without speaking and she lingered on just long enough for Joyce to take notice. She could read right through her. When the redhead turned away, Joyce focused her attention on him, fully expecting him to ogle her as she made her way to the other side of the bar. But to her surprise, all he did was take a small sip of his drink.
They both spoke at the same time. Stumbling into each other’s words and tripping over their own. Joyce laughed, her nose scrunching adorably. God, he was such a sucker for that smile.
“What were you going to say?” She urged him on.
“Why are you here?” The tone in his voice perhaps a little too brusque. Before she could even answer, he reworded his question. “I mean, why did you come to this stupid party if you already had plans to spend New Year’s Eve with your family?”
She took a deep breath, followed by a swig of whiskey. “The kids wanted me to have some fun tonight and you know Karen…” She rolled her eyes. “She picked me up and everything.” Her brow furrowed, “Although, I can’t help thinking this was just the kids’ excuse to have some fun of their own.”
A siren went off in Hopper’s head. Blue eyes widening in surprise, “Is there something I don’t know.”
Her motherly instinct told her he was worried about Jane. It was cute. She smiled. “They’re having a get together at your place probably right about now.”
He narrowed his eyes, running a hand through his hair as she continued. She could see the worry manifesting on his face.
“With the Wheelers, Dustin, Lucas…” Joyce bit her lip. “And before you say anything, it’s nothing big. Just pizzas and movies.”
Hopper didn’t mean to say it out loud but he did. “Sounds way better than this damn party, doesn’t it?”
She smiled, shaking her head. “Yeah,” she looked around the room not really into the crowd. “All of these people would’ve probably had me admitted months ago had it not been for you.”
He gave her a side glance. “Is this your way of saying you want to leave? Because I’m all for that idea.” He grinned, pointing at his drink. “I’ve had two of these puppies but I’m feeling pretty good, so how about you polish this one off for me and we get out of here?”
Joyce took the glass in her hand and followed through with his request without any hesitation. The offer was too good to refuse.
“What the fuck is this bullshit?” The exasperation in Hopper’s voice noticeable as he pointed at the blocked road in front of them. It was dark and windy, snow still pouring down on them from the pitch black sky—the first blizzard of the season. The trees covered in white, the road barely drivable even for his Blazer.
Joyce looked back at the fork they had just passed, the red glow of the tail lights painting it crimson. “You’re gonna have to take the road near the quarry.” She sighed.
He nodded, being well aware that was his only option. He jumped back in the car and set it in reverse without thinking it twice.
They had just passed the library on the east side of town and traveled only a quarter mile into the backroad leading to the quarry when flashing lights ahead brought them to a halt.
“Chief?” Powell said, pointing the flashlight right at his face as he approached the truck.
“Hey, watch it you dipshit.” Hopper complained. “What’s with all these blocked roads, why hasn’t the snowplow come through yet?”
The officer noticed Joyce in the passenger seat and gave him a teasing look before answering his question. “Snowplow’s not starting up, they think it might be the battery. They’re having a hard time getting a hold of a mechanic being New Year’s Eve and all. It’ll be at least another couple hours in these conditions and maybe another hour until it runs through here… maybe.” He repeated.
“Fuck.” Hopper muttered. He looked over at Joyce, her mouth opening slightly as she glanced at the clock on the dashboard and then at him. “Please don’t ask me to go back to that party.” He rolled up the window.
She shook her head. “No. I was just going to say, Happy New Year.” She smiled, making him forget about the situation for a moment.
He hummed. “Happy New Year. I’m sorry you had to spend it stuck in a car with me instead of your family.”
“It wouldn’t be the first time.” She quipped but didn’t dwell on the meaning, and instead offered a solution to their current crisis. “It will be 3 am by the time we can cut through here—if we’re lucky. I think we should find a place for the night and let the kids know we won’t see them until the morning.”
Without warning, there was that feeling again. That annoying tug in the pit of his stomach and the feverish pulse that accompanied it.
They pulled up to one of the only two motels in town. It was close to the outskirts, so it wouldn’t be a problem leaving the next morning if the roads got jammed by the holiday crowds.
Hopper turned the door key slowly, the beat of his heart pattering uncontrollably like a teenager on prom night. He flicked the lights on, bathing the interior in a soft, dim glow. The room was cozy and quaint, a single queen size bed with a quilted cover and in the corner by the window, a wooden rectangular desk. Joyce went to it right away, tossing her coat over the back of the chair and picking up the phone to dial the cabin’s number.
He looked around the place as she spoke with Jonathan, trying not to make his admiring glances too obvious. It was a brief back and forth, calm and simple. When she hung up, she didn’t make an effort to move from where she was. Her small frame leaned back against the edge of the desk, hands supporting her as she eyed him warily.
“Everything alright?” He took off his jacket, starting to roll up his sleeves as he waited for an answer.
She pursed her lips. “You know, I’ve been wondering that for the past few weeks.”
He did that squint of confusion with his eyes, licking his lips like he was going to say something but remained silent.
“I can’t help feeling like you’ve been avoiding me ever since the Snow Ball.”
Hopper raised his eyebrows. “No I haven’t. I’ve just been busy.” His reply was way too quick to have any kind of veracity to it. After all, everything had been a breeze at the station since closing the gate.
She giggled even though it wasn’t funny. “Come on Hopper, you barely say anything when you bring Jane over to visit Will. You haven’t stayed for dinner once in the last month and you’re always conveniently in the shower or running an errand when I go to the cabin. What’s going on?”
What wasn’t going on? Joyce was either completely oblivious or in denial. Their shared history had become impossible to ignore, they had reconnected under the strangest of circumstances, and then been forced to sweep that all under the rug to focus on pure survival. But she’d really done a number on him and it hadn’t really been obvious until the dust had settled. And all the while he wondered, did she ever think about it? About them? Their past? The unfinished first chapter of their story?
Their connection had always been there, late night yearnings building up to something greater and they’d been close. So close. Had she not gotten swept up by that loser the last year of high school. Lonnie Byers already had it all, he didn’t deserve to have the girl too, and yet he did. That bastard.
“Nothing’s going on. Just focusing on real life again. And tonight, that just happens to be two friends stuck in the middle of a snowstorm… again.” He said, his steps approaching her end of the room. “Except this time we’re not stranded on the side of the road, twenty degrees and no heater.” He gave her a thoughtful glance, nostalgic in nature and full of meaning.
“I hated that stupid car. It always stalled on you when you needed it the most.” Her voice was soft, reminiscent. “Also, I’d like to think we shared a whole lot of shit for this to be reduced to a simple friends label, Hop.” Her heart began beating rapidly for no reason whatsoever.
Her mind fogged by the memories of that winter night of their youth. All those things she didn’t dare think about, things she told herself she had forgotten, they all came to her at once. And they were both back in the backseat of his dad’s old GTO. His large frame struggling to maneuver within the confined space, that moment in which they first gave in to the insufferable pining and the need to explore one another without thinking of the consequences.
Suddenly, she couldn’t breathe. Hopper was standing right in front of her, contemplating her quietly. Blue eyes stirring up a fire she thought had been dead long ago. Two grown adults now, decades after the fact and yet nothing about it seemed out of place. Her knuckles were turning white from the clasp she had on the desk’s edge, her body trembling from the abrupt urge to do so much more than just talk.
But was it too soon after everything that had happened? The idea of moving on seemed almost unforgivable.
He must have been wondering the same thing because after a long moment he took a step back, ready to retreat from whatever was going on between them. “I should probably go out there and help my guys out with the road situation.” He looked over at the bed, “You should get some rest.”
One shaky hand reached for his arm and his eyes flicked down to it momentarily before becoming fixated on her.
“Don’t go.” She pleaded, her breathing sparse. “That’s what I should have said to you that night, you know? I should’ve never let you go.”
He smiled, leaning down to see more at eye level with her. His pulse was out of control but he masked it pretty well. “I think someone had a little too much to drink tonight.”
“I feel great, actually.” She practically interrupted him.
He licked his lips, absentmindedly rousing her anticipation. “What are we doing, Joyce?” The gravelly tone in his voice irresistibly tempting.
“I don’t know,” she said, “I just know that I don’t want to hold back any longer.” Her voice low and needy as he inched a little closer.
Hopper was so sure he would end up regretting what he was about to do. But it wasn’t going to be the first regret in his life and it definitely wasn’t going to be his worst. He placed his hands on the desk in between hers. His mouth moving timidly to close the gap between them. Soft lips touching his, facial hair brushing her nose and chin in the most satisfying of ways.
It was all too quick, a literal taste before he pulled away. “I’m sorry.” He muttered, feeling like he’d rushed into something that needed more time. Like he’d somehow taken advantage of her.
But Joyce was done overthinking. That kiss had been the answer she’d been looking for. “I’m not.” Her reply came as a surprise, as did the tug on his tie as her fingers gripped it tightly.
She drew him in again. Her mouth crashed into his with new awakened hunger. One arm encircling her waist, fingers tracing invisible lines over her back, running softly over the fabric of her black dress causing her breathing to quicken.
Joyce cupped his face, her mouth biting down on his bottom lip, moaning as he lifted her up. She was light as a feather, legs wrapped around his waist, her heat pulsing against his stomach. She was desperate for him to do as he pleased with her, for her body to be consumed by his fiery touch and kisses.
Hopper sat her on the edge of the desk, standing between her parted legs. His icy blue eyes were reassuring, making everything around them disappear in an instant. His palm inched higher up her leg, lifting the skirt of her dress in the process while the other kept a firm hold on the small of her back. A little moan accompanying her breathing as his tongue traced the rim of her red lips. He kissed her again, long and hard and she sighed in response, slipping one hand between their bodies.
She smiled, her center pounding when she came in contact with his bulge. He languidly passed his tongue over the hollow of her neck. The way his breathing changed when she touched him was exhilarating. Her fingers ran over his hardness, whimpering as he nipped her naked shoulders. He felt so good against her hand, she palmed him with a little more force, rubbing him until he stated to pant.
In one swift movement, the neckline of her dress was underneath her breasts. His scalding mouth wrapped around one nipple, torturing her as he alternated between a gentle graze of his teeth and sweet, gratifying suckling. He took his time with each one, eliciting gratified noises that only encouraged him more.
“Don’t hold back from me.” She muttered, undoing his belt and simultaneously feeling the grip of his strong hands on her upper thighs.
He chuckled under his breath. “Oh, sweetheart. I wasn’t planning on it.” The little growl that escaped him at the end made her temperature rise.
She gave him a playful smirk, bringing him in closer and yanking the tie loose around his neck before pulling it over his head. One button after another coming undone until her hands were planted on his sturdy chest, hastily removing his shirt as her mouth pressed against his warm torso. Joyce could feel the beat of his heart on her lips as she placed kiss after kiss on him, marking him as her own.
Her body levitated once more, only for a second as he pulled her dress up to her hips. Nimble fingers sliding her lace underwear over her perfectly shaped legs and down her calves.
He dropped to his knees, looking up at his dream girl, basking in the beauty of her perfection. Her breathing hitching as she watched him bury his face between her thighs, his hot breath making her tingle with need.
“Oh God.” Her voice obtained a higher pitch the second he came in contact with her.
Widened tongue swept over her slit, licking her up and down, tip teasing her little nub with just the right amount of pressure to make her scream. Her whole body quivered, her breathing shallow, heart racing with every dash of his tongue, his facial hair adding to the agonizingly delicious friction. Her legs felt like jello over his broad shoulders, hot breath and wet tongue blanketing her folds and setting her body ablaze.
It wasn’t long before she was spiraling. Warm, soothing orgasm making her gasp. Hopper smiled as he retreated and came to his feet, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, mesmerized by the glow of her blushed cheeks and the elated look in her eyes.
He finished taking off her dress, leaving her completely naked, his hands and mouth wandering over inches of soft skin before he took her in his arms and carried her to the bed. Her stomach clenched with fervent excitement as she helped him out of his slacks. Shoes kicked off to the foot of the bed, while her hands freed his glorious, aching cock.
Joyce’s mouth parted in awe, his impressive size making her cheeks go red and her core twinge desperately as he readied himself for her fairly quickly. Heat swirled in her core, his long fingers enclosing the back of her knees as he spread her open with a hint of dominance. He leaned down to kiss her mouth, tongue savoring every sweet nibble of her lips. Carefully and ever so gently, he introduced himself through her entrance. He wasn’t one to brag about it but he was well aware of his size and the need to take it slow.
Her moistened center stretched little by little. A subdued cry escaped her throat and she said his name just like she’d done so many years ago when she clung to him in the backseat of his broken down car. “James.” And fuck did it do things to him hearing it again.
Her soft hands caressed his shoulders, running along his brawny arms, gasping and moaning every time he reached new depths. He was determined to pace himself even though his instinct was to pound into her without restraint. All the pent up tension and frustration filling him to the brim.
She welcomed every inch of his length, enclosing him in her heat as he moved into her, swaying his hips delicately. Hopper grunted in satisfaction, his throbbing shaft hugged tightly by her walls. Joyce felt like heaven. He increased his speed gradually, going by her fervent response.
Her small frame beneath him writhed after a while, chest lifting off the mattress as he brought her close to that sweet ending. She touched her lips to his neck, exhaling hot breath and whimpering. “Right there,” she said, “I need more.”
Hopper picked up his pace, each time a little faster and little harder than the time before. He could feel her gliding around him, wet with imminent release as his body connected with her again and again. One large hand gripping her breast, stroking and pinching until she could no longer avoid that pleasurable surrender.
He gave her a minute to recollect herself and then rolled her on her side without much of a warning. An excited yelp left her lips as he moved behind her and reinserted himself without losing his rhythm. He kissed the nape of her neck, whispering sweet nothings into her ear as his hand glided down her stomach, trailing over her hips and down her leg.
He kept at it for minutes on end, bodies sheathed in sweat now as his hand dove between her thighs. His fingers magic as they worked her point of pleasure. Hopper felt her body tense, smiling as she gave in to the influx of stimulation once again. The divine noises she made as she came undone inevitably put him over the edge. He grunted and moaned against her ear, slamming into her over and over as he reached his climax.
The biting cold crept in through the cracked open window, the cigarette smoke billowing through the air as Hopper stared off into the distance. Grey shadows cloaking the snow covered dirt road, a golden glimmer from the nearby lamp posts providing only patches of lighting. The town was now silent, the celebrations having been put to rest hours ago.
Joyce wrapped a bathrobe around her body, leaning against the window sill and looking up at him with a playful little smile on her face. He chuckled, handing over the cigarette for her to take a drag. As expected, she showed her aversion to the taste before blowing out the smoke.
“I feel like a horrible mother for saying this but that was by far one of the best New Year’s I’ve ever had.” Dreamy eyes looked up at him.
He reprimanded her. “Don’t you dare say shit like that. You are a fantastic mother, Joyce.” He stared at her for a long moment. “The best.” Their eyes holding a silent conversation that only the two of them understood.
He put out the cigarette and took a hold of her hand, placing it between his and gently giving it a squeeze. “I want you to take your time with this.” He said with the utmost sincerity, “There’s really no need to rush.”
She perched up on her toes to kiss him and then brushed his lips with her words. “I know all about you, Jim Hopper. Everyone does. And I’d hate for you to think of this as just another one of your fun misadventures.”
He crinkled his brow as if he was offended by her calling out his womanizer reputation. “You’re Joyce Byers.” He said, “It doesn’t get any better than that. Trust me.”
Joyce laughed, charmed by his response. “So this means you’re not just going to forget about me and never call me again, right?” She teased.
“Darling, I couldn’t forget you even if I tried.” He said, placing a delicate kiss on the top of her head as he hugged her tightly.