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April 26, 1986

Kamchatka, Russia

2:48 AM

“Aмериканский,” The guard hissed, sliding open the cell door with a loud clink! while wearing a disgusted look twisted enough to upset even the most powerful of people. “выпрямись, смотри вперед. нам нужно поговорить с вами.”

Hopper peered up at the man, wincing at the sudden burst of sunlight. Being locked in these cells was hard enough with the lack of oxygen, let alone light. Among the many things, the Russians did not particularly care about.

“по-русски?” Hopper mumbled, shielding his eyes as he did as the guard instructed, much to his dismay. “I’m afraid that won’t do, comrade. Alas, even after spending the last year in the hell hole you call ‘the motherland’ I’m not fluent enough to speak to a 6-year-old, let alone a high-ranked official. Perhaps, maybe, try 3 years from now? And perhaps send a sort of Russian-English dictionary my way, speed up the process.”

The guard snarled and lunged forward, pulling a gun from his belt before letting out another yell. A mistake on Hopper’s part, he knew, but not exactly a lie either.

“Руки в стороны!”

“Shit, fine, whatever.” Hopper cursed, standing straight and stepping away from the gun. Alas, not satisfying the guard, he also received a violent yank of the arm to outside the stall. Great way to start the morning, in his humble opinion. “Just please stop waving that thing in my face.”

The guard quickly stalked into the cell and pulled Hopper to the side, flashing out a set of handcuffs and clasping them onto his wrists. He then proceeded to walk him outside of the cell and down a large corridor.

To be honest, the place seemed even eerier than before, when he’d first been transported here. Much quieter, with the number of prisoners shrinking down with each day. One could oftentimes be heard playing out in Russian as they were dragged somewhere, followed by an even more ominous screech. No one knew where the prisoners would go until it was, well, their turn.

Hopper would never find out where the other inmates were going, though. Aside from the fact that the only human interaction he’s had for the last 10 months was between the occasional guard and on a good day, whatever hallucinations proved themselves prominent (Usually El or Joyce, though he’d be lying if he said Murray hadn’t shown up once or twice), he had heard officials shout something outside his during the selection.

“не американец.” One of them would say, opening up one of the surrounding cell doors. “Мы можем использовать его.”

God, if only showed that kind of mercy with every other situation.

“Hey, comrade, mind telling me where we’re going?” Hopper grumbled as he and the guard slipped into a less than sanitary looking elevator. “Uh.. место нахождения, где идти.”

“вопрошающий.” The guard said simply, but it made as much sense to him as whatever language they spoke in that Star Trek show El loved to watch with the party.

The memory of Dustin Henderson, likely the geekiest and weirdest of the group, showing up at the cabin with an armful of sci-fi movies, still fresh in his mind. Star Wars, E.T, Logan’s Run, they probably stayed up for 48 hours straight watching those movies.

And when Dustin excitedly offered El something made to look like Soylent Green before the ending, god, he’d never seen her run to the bathroom so quickly. (Authors note: For those who don’t know, Soylent Green turned out to be made of humans, and was seen as one of the best ways to get nutrition :) )

Shit, and how amazed she was, no matter how disturbing and sad, on how similar her story was to Firestarter. Dustin said the film did shame to the book, but that didn’t stop her, exclaiming how thrilled she was to know someone else shared similarities with herself.

Hopper smiled at the thought of El and even small-town Hawkins. For almost a second, he could pretend he was back at the cabin enjoying a steaming cup of coffee in the Lay-Z-Boy furniture as she and Mike were most definitely going against his wishes in her room. Hell, even that sounded nice right now.

But everything snapped back to reality once the guard grumbled something in Russian, instructing him to raise his hands above his head for a pat-down. Instead of being surrounded by a bunch of people who tolerated him, he was currently a prisoner of Russia whose fate was literally in the hands of a bunch of power-hungry criminals who got angry at him for gaining all their secrets at the expense of a strawberry slushie.

“Do I get a translator for all this?” Hopper questioned, wincing as another person stepped out and began to feel around his sides. Usually, he was the one administering the searches. “Перевести? Aнглийский?”

“Вы будете говорить с кем-то, кто понимает английский язык.” The guard spoke, taking out a key card and waving it in front of a scanner box.

“We will ask basic questions.” The other guard who had just pat Hopper down added in a thick, Russian accent. “If you cooperate, freedom may reach you in the future.”

Yeah, right.

The two guards proceeded to add on yet another set of shackles, this time at his feet before keying open the door. Inside lay a pull, white room with a huge (Likely two-sided) mirror with dangling fluorescent lights brighter than Hopper ever thought imaginable. In the middle lay what was essentially a medical operation table, though it was unclear on whether or not it had been used in the past.

And sitting and the table was a stern-looking man.

Broad shoulders and wearing the same puke-green uniform Hopper (and the rest of the team “Bald Eagle”, and El’s friends put it.) had been wearing when he supposedly died in the fire. The only difference was the myriad of metals and hand-embroidered patches lining his chest.

With each badge stating a different thing, the only thing Hopper can make out from the mess of Russian letters, though, was a name.

“Gospodin Borya,” Hopper said, offer a cuffed hand but receiving little more than a glare from the guards and sergeant alike.

“Am I not good enough to be your comrade? Why use such a title as ‘Gospodin’? Do you not see me as one of your American mates?” Borya spoke, instructing the guards to put Hopper into the tables other corresponding chairs. “A pity, surely. I was hoping we could go out later, grab some hamburgers and beer at the local bar and then go watch colorful explosions together, just like American mates do.”

“I take it America isn’t viewed kindly here?” Hopper gritted his teeth, annoyed at the man’s excuse of a joke.

“Hardly,” Borya laughed bitterly, though only the guards laughed along. “I mean, you and your lady friend did sabotage our multi-billion-dollar  mission in Hawkins, make the leading scientist turn against us and partake in your American madness, and killed one of our most saviored men, so you can say we don’t think very highly of your nation as a whole.”

Hopper wanted more than anything to scream at this man, for waking him up at god knows what time, make unsavory jokes about him, and eventually interrogate him to pieces. Alas, though, the fact that he still was the one in control hung over him like one of the metal cinders you’d see in a cartoon. So instead, he proceeded to sit there and withstand the man’s comments.

“Why did you need me here?” Hopper mumbled, shifting uncomfortably in his chair.

Borya stopped his distasteful comments and one more looked sternly at Hopper. The clearing is throat and mumbling something in Russian, he once again proceeded to speak, only this time flatter and less light-hearted than before.

“You’re not one for jokes, I see.” Borya sneered. “Never mind then. You’re probably wondering why an American scum just as yourself would be brought here, or even kept alive for that matter.”

“That, and why I’m even here in Russia. It always seemed nice, and Diane and I almost had our honeymoon here. Granted, you also went and mucked it all up with communism among other things, but I can tell you for sure I did not bring myself here, especially-“

Hopper was suddenly cut off once an electric cattle prod was jammed into his side by one of the guards. Shutting up quickly, Hopper hastily adjusted himself and cleared his throat, giving Borya the signal to keep talking.

“Look,” Borya began, tapping his fingers against the metal table, receiving a different noise for each time. “I consider you a smart man. War combat, police chief, managed to revive a kid that wasn’t only declared dead by a mortician and embalmed but also had a funeral, and files suggest that in a past life you were a big-city homicide detective. But,”

Borya stopped drumming his fingers, moving them to his temple.

“That only scrapes the surface, I’m afraid. You took down a government laboratory, ventured deeper into the unknown than ever sought imaginable, aided in the closing of an interdimensional gateway, so clearly, you have a bit of power here.”

Borya quickly stood to his feet, throwing his chair to the side and getting closer to Hopper’s face than comfort. Reaching across the table and grabbing Hopper by the collar, Hopper couldn’t help but gasp at the sudden movement.

“Or so the media suggests.”

One of Borya’s guards ran up behind him and handed him a file with much precaution. Immediately throwing it down to the space between them, it wasn’t until Borya lunges backward and angrily pointed to the manila folder that Hopper finally felt like he could breathe.

“Do you know what this says, James? You know what this classified folder says?”

Hopper tried to resist, but words suddenly began to tumble out of his mouth before he could process anything he’d been thinking.

“Can’t say I do. I’m afraid it was Murray and Alexei who covered the Russian, sir. Me, I know little more than whatever slurs you people yell in the corridors every day, and I definitely can’t read any of it.”

Hopper hissed in protest as he once again was met with an electrifying pulse, though Borya did little more than sitting back down into his chair and lean back.

“It says ‘Американские психологические эксперименты’ or, to put it simply, ‘American Physiological Experiments’.”

Hopper stared blankly at Borya. “Do you mean MKUltra? I don’t understand, I wasn’t apart of any of those experiments, simply cleaned up what was left of it.”

Borya waved his hand in a dismissive tone and then flipped open the folder to the first page. On it, a picture of a Hawkins National Laboratory, circa 1969. “I understand you had no part in the trials, as we personally aided in the making of them.”

Hopper leaned forward to get a closer look at the file, grabbing the top sheet and turning around. Though everything was written in Russian, there were red underlines and notes strewn throughout, and on the backside a few pictures highlighting the basics of what was discussed in the paragraphs. Though many of the photographs were little more than blueprints and layouts, among them one stuck out in particular.

The photo was a picture of 4 college-aged students standing in the sickeningly familiar gowns. From right to left, each of the 4 people had a red arrow traced off of them with names, ages, and numbers.

Gloria Flowers, 23, 01

Ken Davis, 26, 02

Alice Hartwell, 22, 03

Terry Ives, 23, 04

“I don’t understand, this didn’t even take place in Hawkins. Besides, the time of these experiments, it was Vietnam, I was one of the first to get shipped off. I couldn’t have been apart of this.” Hopper said defensively, looking closer at each one of the photos.

“Oh, but that’s where you’re wrong.” Borya grinned deviously. He then proceeded to pull out another page of the file, standing up and beginning to slowly walk around the table like a predator closing in on its prey.

“Jane Ives, born in 1970, experiment 011. Daughter to Terry Ives.” He read aloud, tracing his finger on the edge of the table as he slid along. “Telekinesis opened up an interdimensional gate at age 12. Disappeared at age 12. Status: Unknown.”

Hopper shifted uncomfortably and attempted to avoid Borya’s increasing glare. “It’s just that, status unknown. I don’t know where she is and haven’t known since November ‘83. Disappeared. Brenner must have taken her back.” He lied, gritting his teeth.

Borya smirked and suddenly stopped circling. He carefully handed Hopper the file in hand and pointed and the third paragraph.

“So you didn’t adopt a 13-year-old girl in 1984? You didn’t house and feed a fugitive months prior to the adoption?” The man glinted, becoming increasingly more condescending. “Or are you lying?”

Suddenly, a girl (No older than Hopper, maybe a few years younger even) burst through the concealed room’s door in a state of dysphoria. Unlike the other guards, though, she wore a white lab coat and grease-stained scrubs, and glasses with a small chip in the frame. In addition, though, her badge was not one of any other person but instead read ‘Иностранный инженер’.

“Borya,” The girl said frantically, but possessed an American accent as opposed to a slavic one. “Что-то пошло не так в Чернобыле, и радиация распространяется. Нам нужно эвакуироваться.”

Borya turned away from Hopper and instead rushed to the attendant, grabbing the paper in hand and quickly read it over. He then shouted something to the guards, who then ran and away from the room. Soon following, Borya left Hopper and the attendant alone in the room.

“Where is he going, what’s wrong?” Hopper hissed, attempting to stand up but tumbling over due to his cuffed feet. The attend hastily walked over and helped him sit back down, careful not to get caught by any passing guards.

“There was a meltdown at Chernobyl. It could have been anything, but due to precautions were going to have to relocate the prisoners..” The girl said carefully. “Be can’t be sure.”

“So where are you taking me? And what were all those questions about Hawkin’s Lab about?”

The attendant looked as if she wanted to answer Hopper, but shoot her head instead and helped pull him to his feet. “I don’t know.,” she said, undoing the cuffs at his feet. “Just cooperate, and do as they say. I’ll see who I can reach, just stay calm.”

After undoing the lock, this girl quickly rushed out the door, but not before mumbling something about how someone will be back to collect him.

But now, instead of having any answers, Hopper was left not only to wait but with more questions than he originally started with.

Who was that girl? Why were they asking so many questions? Would someone be back to collect him?

And how come they wanted to know about El?

 

Chapter Text

April 26, 1986
Indianapolis, Indiana
9:46 AM
‘I tell you, Andrew, people everywhere just like love Spies Like Us by Paul McCartney, just can’t get enough of it.’

‘Stacy, I reckon the ‘everyone’ you speak of includes you, too.’

‘Well, you got me there.’

‘Alright, you heard it here folks, Spies Like Us, by Paul McCartney.’

‘And, well, on an unexpected and sudden note, we receive the news that a massive nuclear explosion has happened in Pripyat, Ukraine. Sources suggest that the reactor had dire flaws in its design and had a breach of protocol during a simulated power outage safety test. With the reactor overheating and generating a blast the strength of 500 nuclear bombs, 21 civilians were left dead this morning, with thousands more at risk and forced to evacuate.’

“Will? El? You haven’t seen my prescription anywhere, have you?” Joyce said frantically, opening up the bedroom door to find the two sitting on the ground. “They weren’t where I put them last and I’m afraid of missing a day might mess everything up.”

“Have you checked on the table?” Will asked, turning the radio down and peering up at his mother.

Joyce shook her head and proceeded to run off in a separate direction. It wasn’t until she yelled the call of approval that she was finally able to ease back a bit.

“Why are you two just sitting there, huh? It’s almost 10:00 and you’re not even changed yet.” Joyce mumbled around the corner, downing a couple of pills and washing them down with water from the tap.

“It’s Saturday,” El said simply, clicking the radio off completely and placing it on a dresser. She then pulled herself up with the help of said cabinet and went to join her practically adopted mother.

“You aren’t seeing the party today?” Joyce said with a shocked tone. “Why, that's the first in months.”

Will, who had also emerged from the bedroom, shook his head. “It’s Holly’s birthday, so Mike couldn’t come, Lucas said he had too much homework, and Dustin was visiting his aunts today.”

“Max’s family say it’s too far to come here every weekend,” El added monotony.

Joyce shook her head and offered to two a disappointed glance. Though the party had become quite a hassle compared back to when the actually lived in Hawkins (opposed to the big city of Indianapolis), their weekly visits did bring to assurance that their old life hadn’t completely faded away. “And Jonathan and Nancy are working today..” Joyce hummed. “Don’t suppose take any interest in visiting Murray with me?”

El peered at Joyce out of confusion. While Murray had been a nice me, if not a little out of touch, and he did help them shut down Hawkins Lab and close the gate, he wasn’t exactly someone you’d spend an entire day with by choice.

Will suddenly got a disgusted look on his face.

“Are you dating Mr. Bauman?” He exclaimed loudly, much to both El and Joyce’s surprise. He wasn’t typically one to speak out like that, let alone my accusations.

“What?” Joyce said with an odd mix of terror, embarrassment, and astonishment. “No! No, no, nothing like that.. he’s just helping with a few things.”

Joyce trailed off, trying to avoid the conversation of ‘a few things’. Though some of the things were nothing serious, such as Russian lessons (Joyce was left distraught after not being able to communicate with Alexei properly, and decided she’d try and prepare herself should she ever meet another ally) and mindless talk about whatever had been going on in their lives, most of their time was taken up by the talk of Hopper and whether or not he was still alive.

Murray had brought up some interesting leads a few times, it’s true. A middle-aged man who owned an explosives company moved to Boston, a Vietnam war veteran with more trauma than ever imaginable to Michigan, every now and then a lead would show up in the system the two would investigate whether or not it was their Hopper.

But with every new lead, brought an even bigger disappointment. Each explosives manager and Vietnam War vet was just that. Nothing more. Not a once big-city homicide detective now a father with an adopted telekinetic daughter, just regular people who just happened to get caught of Murray’s raider.

Not that they would ever stop trying, anyway.

“I’ll come with you,” El said plainly, much to Joyce’s surprise. El above them all took the most amount of disinterest in Murray. Between writing against her as a runaway Russian boy in ‘84 and the continued suspicion of her after the battle of Starcourt Mall, she’d always felt off around him. Not in the sense that he wanted to hurt her, like Brenner, she just never exactly got to the point that she fully trusted him.

“Really?” Will asked, failing to mask the shock in his voice. “I mean, are you sure? I’m sure there’s a re-run of those soap operas you like on TV somewhere. Wouldn’t that be more fun than listening to Murray’s far fetched theories and comments?”

El shook her head and looked over to Joyce expectantly. “So can I.. come?”

 

The car ride to Murray’s was uneventful, to say the least. Though the Byers lived in the less populated side of Indianapolis, Murray managed to live in a rural area while still being in the city.

In addition, though, it was quiet. Not just due to the lack of people and vegetation as a whole, but in the car as well. Joyce has never been good with conversations, and it reflected on her children. Jonathan, being his outcastish and mature self while Will dawned hesitant and reserved personality. Even with Lonnie being his outspoken and loud self, the Byers were never really ones to speak without purpose.

This did not exclude El by any means, though.

Though her bloodline and birth certificate showed ties to Joyce, she had quickly adapted to the three’s way of life. Granted, it wasn’t exactly a big jump from what’d she’d been taught by Hopper, but she was definitely taken off guard to just how silent people could be.

“So,” Joyce said, turning the car’s radio (The Buggles’s Video Killed the Radio Star) down and breaking the previously reserved silence. “Do you like going to school? With Will?”

El nodded her head but resisted saying anything.

“I know.. it’s not Hawkins, and you don’t really know anybody, heck, I’m still trying to figure out the people at the call center, but it’s still fun, right? You’ve made a few friends?”

El considered it for a second and nodded her head once more, though this time with more hesitation.
“I mainly sit with Will though.”

“Well, what about that Hanscom kid? With all those news articles on Hawkins? He seemed pretty fun.” Joyce added, noting one of the few kids El spoke about earlier in the school year.

“He moved in October,” El said unfazed.

Joyce didn’t know what to say. That kid really was the only kid besides Will that she spoke about tastefully.

“What’s your favorite subject?” Just questioned, changing the topic and clearing the heaviness in the air.

But El simply shrugged, much to Joyce’s dismay. The way El had originally spoken of school when it was first revealed she’d be going, she’d been so excited. But now, it seemed more like a burden than anything else.

“You do like school, right? It isn’t too hard?” Joyce tried once more. “I’m sure we could get someone to homeschool you. Robin and Steve would probably do it, they seemed to like you enough.”

“It’s fine,” El said, shaking her head. “It just seemed easier to make friends back in Hawkins.”

Joyce nodded her head sympathetically, even though she understood El missed more than just her friends. While she’d never admitted it, losing Hopper was what really affected her the most. With her friends, she’d get to see them on most weekends and even go back to Hawkins ane very now and then. Jonathan and Nancy had ended up opening their own reporting business on the other side of the city and managed to rope Steve and Robin into it, so seeing the older kids were quite common. And even seeing the Ives was a thing, with the visit occurring every now and then, though it was mostly to make sure everyone was alright.

But Hopper? She hadn’t even been able to say goodbye. He was just... gone.

“I know it’s hard, trust me I do,” Joyce mumbled, steering the car down a winding driveway. “But I may have an idea on how to make it up to you.”

El suspiciously turned in her seat, hesitant to hear what her ‘adoptive’ mother had planned. “Yeah?”

Joyce carefully pulled up in front of a beaten-down house- If you could really call it that - that if you didn’t know there was someone living there, was completely abandoned. Turning the car to park and preparing herself to exit the vehicle, Joyce sighed and offered El a reassuring glance.

“You know how Will always has the party over, and sometimes they’ll stay over and stay up until goodness knows what time, watching reruns of all those weird shows and movies..”

“CHiPs,” El said, remembering the last sleepover the boys had at the Byers household roughly 2 months before.

“Right, right,” Joyce said, though she wasn’t looking for the exact shows they’d binged. “The point is you don’t always get invited to them for.. reasons.”

Joyce reddened at the ‘reasons’. It’s not that she particularly believed that El, someone who likely didn’t understand the concept of anything more than kissing, would do such a thing, considering her more than questionable and isolated upbringing, but there was a certain point where girls stopped having sleepovers with boys and vice versa. Furthermore, the boys’ parents didn’t know of the trauma El went through, and never really thought to invite her to such things. (All with taste, though, Joyce was sure.)

“Max says the reasons we’re not usually invited because that’s when Mike and Lucas talk about dating advice and how to make us happy.” El smiled, and Joyce was grateful for her friend’s way of explaining it in an appropriate manner.

“Exactly,” Joyce said. “Now how about instead of having the boys over for a sleepover, and disrupt their talks, you have Max over and do your own thing? You’ve done that a few times, yeah?”

El contemplated it for a second and nodded her head excitedly. “Yeah, but that’s when Max’s stepbrother was trying to hurt Heather, so we didn’t have a lot of fun.”

Joyce placed a comforting hand on El’s shoulder as she dislodged the seatbelt. “Well, about you do that again but without all the stress from before. You can do girl stuff like paint your nails and read magazines.”

El beamed with excitement and began to list off all the things she’d do with Max. Watch movies makes Eggos, have a pillow fight...

It wasn’t until Joyce dragged her out of the car and to Murray’s doorstep that she finally settled down.

“State your name.” A raspy voice called through a speaker.

“Murray, you already know who I-“

“People could have followed you in, Joyce, it’s standard procedure. State your name.”

Joyce rubbed her eyes in annoyance but was quick to comply. “Joyce Byers and El Hopper.”

“Legal name.”

Joyce let out a groan, though El was yet to be effected, stepping forward past the annoyed woman, she leaned close to the talkative speaker expectantly. “Jane Hopper, Jane Ives. Eleven, depending on who you ask, but mostly El.”

A few seconds later, the door let out a loud ‘click!’ as it unlocked, beckoning the two to come in.

Stepping forward and into a less than clean hallway, the two were quickly met by a man dressed in a pale pink bathrobe while carrying a stack of papers and a half-empty Smirnoff vodka.

“Joyce, did you really bring the Russian escapee with you to discuss how we’re going to take down her country?” Murray questioned sarcastically, unamused. “Because if that’s what you did I might just kick you out of my abode.”

Joyce rolled her eyes as Murray led the two deeper into the house and eventually, to his living room.

“Actually, Murray, El isn’t Russian, nor is she a spy. The result of crude experiments brought forth by our friends in Europe, yes, but as far as we can tell she’s never touched sort of soviet soil.” Joyce added, sitting down into one of the living room’s couches and beginning to survey the papers in front of her. “Team Griswold Family were all busy today and she decided she wanted to join us today.” She paused. “Besides, assuming you have the right materials, El might prove to be more helpful than what she originally leads on.”

Murray cocked an eyebrow as he poured three glasses of vodka. Taking one for himself and passing the other two to Joyce and El, he thought little of the gesture. Joyce, though, shot the man a death glare as she relocated the teenager’s glass near her own.

“What, with her telekinesis? Is she going to make Hopper magically float all the way here to Indianapolis?” Murray scoffed.

“Not quite,” El spoke, quickly understanding Joyce’s intentions though shocked on the possibility that Hopper might still be alive. She’d have to interrogate later, but for now, it would be best to just go along with the two’s plan.

 

“Extrasensory perception,” Murray admired as he assisted in turning on all the faucets within the small kitchenette. “And you’re sure your not Russian?”

“Papa always said once I was strong enough we’d go and assist the Russian government. He’d brought in a teacher when I was 8 to try and teach me the language, and I ended up learning quite a bit, but he canceled her visits once he insisted I was getting close. He didn’t want to distract me.” El mumbled bitterly, tying a polka-dot tie around her eyes and preparing to enter the void.

“El had a difficult upbringing,” Joyce said in a calm tone, counteracting the one the girl in question had been using. “But I can only hope that even with all the interdimensional demons and people trying to hurt her, she’s much better off now than she was a few years ago.”

El presented Joyce with a meek smile, working as a silent agreement that things were indeed better. But even with the brief pleasantries, the tone did not last forever, as El quickly broke away from the expression and returned back to a more stern attitude.

“Who am I looking for?” El stated, adjusting herself on the kitchen’s floor.

“Anything you can,” Murray said, opening a manilla folder and flipping through a few pages of documents. “Preferably Hopper, if possible, if not to just make sure he’s alive, but at this point, anything would be helpful. Location, holding, who he’s with; Anything that you can see.”

Joyce lightly elbowed Murray in the ribs for her comment about whether or not Hopper was still alive, but El took little note. Instead, she focused intently on entering the void.

Though her powers had returned a few months after the battle of Starcourt Mall (With more help and support from Will than she could ever imagine), she hadn’t really used them as much as she used to for the simple reason of there really wasn’t a purpose too.

She and Mike have set an agreement to never spy on each other (More El, though) unless there was a possibility the other was in danger, and communication-wise she had a long-range walkie talkie to speak to them with.

And her telekinesis became more of a “catch something before it smashes to the floor” kind of thing. Due to the few months where she had little to no powers, she learned to depend more on doing things physically instead of telekinetically, and once her powers came back she ever really made the switchback.

That isn’t to say she didn’t use her powers after they came back, though.

The night her and Will able to channel them enough that she could actually do something, the two stayed up until probably 2 am trying to find Hopper. Alas, the task proved to be more challenging than originally thought, as there was nothing to base the finding off of.

Because the cabin was destroyed back in July, all of Hopper’s possessions were never really recovered. The few photos, his police uniform, his records, nothing.

The two spent hours trying to use random things that had at least a bit of sentimental value to him. Cigarettes, a cup of coffee, Joyce (she was quite confused when El and Will beckoned her into their shared bedroom and 11 pm when they really should have been sleeping, but went along with me anyway).

It wasn’t until El finally dug out his note to her that she was finally able to enter the void.

That is, only to find nothing.

Total darkness.

Once it was clear that she wasn’t going to find anything in the void, she quickly ripped off the makeshift blindfold and just cried. As far as she could tell, Hopper really did die in the underground base.

No one ever brought up the event that occurred that night.

Things proved to be different the second time around, though, as when she made it to the void she was met with not Hopper, but instead a man sitting at his desk and reciting something into a phone.

‘ ...будет перенесен из-за взрывов на Чернобыльской АЭС. Hам не ясно, были ли эти взрывы нашими врагами или это была вина украинцев, но заключенные должны быть переселены, если Америка попытается спасти заключенных.”

“What is being said?” Murray said numbly, noting as the blood begin to trickle from El’s nose. “Is it Hopper?”

“I-I don’t know, no... it’s some man, he’s on the phone.” El said, both stunned and confused on why she was seeing this man. “He’s speaking Russian or something, not English.”

“I thought you spoke Russian.” Murray shot back, receiving yet another glare from Joyce. “Whatever, just speak it back and I’ll try and translate. This could be useful information.”

El tried to concentrate on the man’s words and repeat them back to the two adults, though she quickly began tumbling over her words. Furthermore, she also attempted to translate the few phrases and words she did understand in the midst of repeating it back to Murray, though it ended up doing more harm than good.

“Jesus, is that how I sounded to Alexei?” Murray joked, reviewing his written notes once El had finished and exited the void. “Because that was bad. You’re supposed to be better at a language when you learn it young, not sound like you’re a 12-year-old who thinks they're fluent in a language because they took one year of it in middle school.”

“She did fine.” Joyce hissed, rubbing circles on El’s back comfortingly as she insisted she not listen to the man, and how he’d likely had one too many shots. “Now, before you give her a complex, will you please translate the rest of of the Russian?”

Murray waved Joyce off in annoyance as he finished scratching down the rest of the English wording. He then proceeded to flip the notes around so the two could read it.

‘All prisoners will be moved to a previously disclosed location within the next few days. Special removal will be required for the anthropomorphic being. Do not do anything until further notice.’

“What does this have to do with Hopper?” El questioned, dabbing a wet washcloth under her nose.

Joyce and Murray peered at each other, expecting the other one to have the answers but to no avail, found none.

“We can’t be too sure,” Joyce said simply. “We can hope it means Hopper is currently being held by the Russians, but this is the first we’ve really thought deeper into this. It can take weeks, months, years, even.”

“For what it’s worth,” Murray said, cracking a slight smile. “I have no job and spend too much time investing in Russian conspiracies, and have some people who will let me know where these prisoners are heading. If Hopper’s there, we’ll know in a matter of weeks if not days.”

And with that, El and Joyce left the Bauman household with more questions than answers. But even with all the new things to consider, the two left with a new hope that Hopper was still alive, and was slightly blissful for the first time in months.

But oh, how things were about to change.

Chapter Text

April 29, 1986
Indianapolis, Indiana
The Byers’s Household,
11:46 pm.

“So like, do you two just stick together? What happens when you have different classes?” Max question, adjusting herself on El’s bed and munching on a bag of Lays potato chips.

“Kind of,” Will said, dusting Max’s crumbs into her hands and rushing them to a wastebasket before they began to stain. “Mom said El was homeschooled in Sweden up until a year ago and needed me to explain the basics of schooling and translate when needed.”

“But neither of you know Swedish.”

“They don’t know that.” El smiled, as the three began to laugh about their trickery within towards the school.

As promised, Joyce had set up a sleepover between El and Max. Stating it would be her sort of thank you for helping at Murray’s, El graciously accepted the event and quickly got to planning (With the help of Will, who quickly found that visiting the party would not be theisable and would just have to make the best of the situation. Not that he minded, anyway. Max and El could be just as fun as the others.)

And despite what seemed like an endless wait until the sleepover, the time had finally come that Max comes over to the Byers household and spend the night.

Though Joyce had to take a late shift of work that night, she did end up insist on being home later and for them not to go anywhere they shouldn’t, though her request only fell on deaf ears as it wasn’t long before the two had run off to partake in a number of activities.

A stack of outdated magazines, over sugary snacks, and a couple of movies later, it wasn’t long before the girls turned to El and Will’s shared bedroom that they finally began to settle down.

“So how’s high school in Hawkins?” El questioned, turning the conversation towards Max, much to her dismay.

“Hell.” She scoffed, grabbing another handful of chips. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, Billy dying has definitely done its damage, but now everyone treats me like a child. Now instead of seeing me as the skater girl who moved from California, I’m that skater girl who moved from California whose brother died are whatever sort of bullshit way Hawkins is claiming Billy died.”

Max stood from El’s bed and began to pace the room. Not out of anger, but instead out of frustration towards the entirety of the situation.

“And I mean, I guess it’s good he’s even remembered but people like Heather, and her parents? Their house got sold 3 weeks after they died. The entire news business he used to work at shut down soon after. That old lady you’re brother was so obsessed with?” Max said, pointing to Will. “I’m pretty sure people just forgot about her entire existence. The only reason Billy hasn’t gone the same route is that my stepdad is too busy banking off of the entire situation for anyone to forget him.”

El simply stared at her friend for a few seconds, giving Max the queue to calm down. Noting the signal, Max hastily slipped back onto the bed and let out one last annoyed groan.

“We did end up getting a bunch of Hopper’s stuff though, so he’s not completely forgotten,” Max explained, finally finished with her screaming.

Both Will and El perked up in shock. The cabin had been destroyed, what could Max have found that would have any sort of remote times to El’s adopted father?

“Yeah, Steve ended up being brought down to the police station after some kids totaled his car.” Max snickered, noticing the two’s expressions. “Dustin wanted to go make sure he was alright, and once we got there the receptionist handed us a bunch of stuff the police force collected from his old trailer to give to you or Joyce since you guys were the closest thing to family.”

“What trailer?” El asked quizzically, this being the first time she’d heard of any sort of Hopper’s living quarters beside the cabin. “Do you have the stuff?”

Max jumped up from her previously resettled position and went to grab a worm down looking backpack from the other side of the room. She then proceeded to pull out one of them over the top IKEA bags.

“I don’t know why you’d be excited about it, considering he’d apparently lived in the trailer before you came along. Everything is just drenched in old alcohol stains and smells like a middle school bathroom. Save for maybe a few books and records I don’t think you’re going to get too much enjoyment from this.”

But despite the confusion surrounding El’s enjoyment lingering in the air, she still practically ripped the bag out of Max’s hands and began to dig through it, only stopping every once in a while to take a closer look at each item.

Letters from people El didn’t recognize, ashtrays far too ornate to ever belong to Hopper, clothing that must have been worn 1 million years ago to some long-forgotten party, all coming out onto the floor like a title wave of forgotten possibilities.

Cards with 5 different shapes etched on them, a copy of The Scarlet Letter, and some old edition of Times Magazine sporting an astronaut holding an American flag on the front. A baseball hat caked in dirt, an address book stuffed with a myriad of different names and locations, and a handful of coupons that hadn’t been valid since the late ’70s.

But among the other items lay something so small, yet so meaningful.

At the bottom of the box lay an old picture frame with a gold casing and dusty old glass panel with a slight chip in the corner. On top of it, a layer of dust that couldn’t be any younger than
any of them. But under it?

A man a woman, so older than 30, dressed in casual clothing you’d wear to a golf course. The man was clean-shaven, with nothing more than a few scratches here and there from where the razor missed. The woman, with a flowing gown that began red but ended orange, had her hair tied in a neat bun.

Between them, a little girl who couldn’t be older than 8, with her thin hair tied in pigtails and dressed in a sky blue dress with sandals to match.

The three were smiling in front of an over the top American flag backdrop, as they all held up and sign.

July 4th, 1977.

The photo, taken a year before, only now resurfacing for the three to see.

But that’s not why El suddenly had a tear in her eye.

Technically, it could be for a number of reasons. It could be due to the fact that this was the first time she’d seen Hopper, if not just a picture of him, for months. It could also be because this was her first time seeing the girl Hopper had talked to her about so much, how she was her sister.

It could also be because the photo was nothing more than a destroyed New York daydream that Hopper left behind when he moved back to Hawkins.

But in reality, it wasn’t any of that. Instead, El let out a tear simply because this was the key. If Hopper really was still out there, this photo would be her way of finding him.

This would be her way of knowing he was still out there.

 

“Are you sure this is going to work?” Will asked suspiciously, helping El tie a makeshift blindfold around her eyes. “I mean, you said you saw nothing but darkness the last time you tried to look for him.”

“A Russian man.” El corrected, peering down at the framed photo of Hopper. “Ms. Byers, Mr. Bauman and I tried looking for him, but only found a man speaking Russian over the phone.”

“What was he saying?” Max questioned, sliding down into the floor where both El and Will sat.

El shrugged as she adjusted the freshly tied blindfold to her comfort. She then proceeded to place the framed photo onto the ground in front of her. “Murray said the man was speaking about moving some prisoners to a different location due to a possible attack in Ukraine.”

“Chernobyl?” Will perked up. “The one from the radio program? Holy shit, where is this prison?”

Another shrug. Though the man had said something about a nuclear power plant exploding, Murray had never specified if it had been the one Will was speaking of.

After a few more questions of reassurance, El finally got both Max and Will quiet enough to let her concentrate. While there did happen to be a lingering heaviness in the room due to the fear of El’s powers giving out midway or her not finding anything once she entered the void, it wasn't long before she managed to enter the sickeningly familiar inky blackness she'd seen so many times before.

At first glance, there wasn't much. Just a light screeching noise of train tracks as a train car glided across it. With a slight whistle every now and then, there wasn't much to it.

That is until the noises began to get louder and louder. The noises began to escalate so much that it wasn't long before it sounded as if the train was right next to El, screaming in her ears.

Which, wouldn't be too far off from the truth.

Looking down at her feet where one would typically see a thin layer of water, lay a winding train track that most definitely had not been there before.

When she tried to run, the track just seemed to follow. She was stuck, and she couldn't find her way off the winding piece of metal.

It wasn't long before things took an even worse turn for the worse. With the train becoming louder and louder with each passing second, El suddenly saw to bright-as-the-sun balls of light rushing towards her at what seemed like a million miles per minute.

She frantically tried to move off the tracks but to no avail. The conducting car couldn't be more than 20 feet away at this point.

With each attempt to pull away, the train only got closer.

Closer,

Closer.

She was helpless. The struggle to pull away quickly turned into counting down the second she had until the vehicle ran into her.

Was it even possible to die in the void? What would it look like to Max and Will? What would they tell the party? Joyce?

So many thoughts raced through her head it the few seconds she believed to have left.

The train couldn't be any more than 5 feet away now.

But suddenly, smoke.

As soon as the conducting car made contact with her, it combusts into a shadowy cloud of dust. But now instead of standing in the middle of some train tracks that didn't seem to lead anywhere, she stood in what seemed to be a prison cell.

With the same noises from before playing in a what seemed to be excluded tone, it was clear that now El was on the train, if not just in the void version of it.

The train car was filthy and frankly, nothing like that Murder on the Orient Express movie she’d watched when Jonathan and Nancy visited over winter break. Instead of a lavish sitting area and aristocratically dressed passengers was a steel holding with grime covering the walls head to toe. Rust, dirt and what could potentially be blood, all covering the walls.

As for the seating area, there was none. Instead, there was a cold and somber flooring with boot scuffs and stains alike.

And the passengers, there was only one. The man, dressed in what seemed to be an exact copy of the Russian-base uniform (Which Murray occasionally wore proudly around his house, while Joyce keep it in the deepest, darkest part of her closet), yet just as disgusting and dirty as the cell holding it.

But this wasn’t just any man. No, from his now overgrown 5-o’clock shadow to the lingering scent of cigarette El swore she could smell, even inside the void, she immediately knew who the man in front of her was.

“Hopper?” She gasped, practically falling to her knees in shock. It had been so long since she’d seen him.

‘-somedays I wonder if you can even hear me, or if I’m just talking to myself everyday. I mean, sure, you listened to Mike when he made these things every day, but you knew where he was and he had a walkie talkie. Fuck, I have don’t even know where I am, other than some shit hole prison in Russia.’ El could hear Hopper mumbling to himself once she had gotten closer.

‘I mean, I know I said never try to contact Mike when you’d listen to him messages, but goddamnit, if you are hearing me please let me know. Hell, I don’t care it’d hurt me, just please let me know you’re there..’

El reached forward to touch her adoptive father, but quickly stopped herself once she remembered all the other times she’d touch things in the void. She didn’t want Hopper to disappear like the train did.

Instead, she slowly sat down into the train car's floor, wincing as her pants became soaked with void water. It didn’t matter though. For the first time in months, she wanted to sit and listen to her adoptive father.

‘If you have been listening to these sad messages everyday, you’d notice I’m not in a glorified metal box. Instead, I’m in a glorified moving metal box now. From what I was told, something happened in Ukraine and out of fear they’re moving all prisoners to other location. Whatever that means.’

”The radio said something about certain parts of a power plant were faulty, and couldn’t support the system.” El mumbled, her voice cracking a bit due to how sudden and unexpected this phantom interaction was.

‘To be honest, I’m not sure how much longer I can deal with this. The reality that you and Joyce, or anyone at Star Court- hell even Hawkins - May have not in fact survived the blast, and if and when I get out of here there’s a possibility there’ll be nothing left but a shell of whatever it was before. I guess what I mean to say is I fear you’re dead. You, Joyce, all of you, you know? That I’m the lucky one. Sure, I’m a prisoner of Russia currently being questioned for taking you in and eating nothing but stale bread and lukewarm soup every day, but at least I’m alive.’

“We’re alive, we’re all alive,” El tried to scream, but to no avail. Hopper couldn’t hear her. She began to feel hot tears streaming down her face, not because of sadness but instead because of how stupid it was. Why couldn’t she just touch him? Why did everything have to turn to smoke?

In an instance of pure anger, El quickly lunges forward at Hopper, on to pull back in horror and realization of what’d she’d just done.

Similar to how the train faded before, Hopper slowly began to drift away. El’s tears of joy quickly turned to anger and she desperately tried to hold on to the little bit of Hopper she could muster.

Trashing forward, El suddenly tumbled over herself and let out a choked sob, on top of a loud ‘clunk’ and her knees hit the metal floor.

No longer was it just Hopper fading away. Now, the entire void began to collapse in on itself. Soon, she’d be back in Indianapolis.

With the little fight she had left, she tried desperately to get up, to see him one last time. One final time to say goodbye.

‘El,’ The fading image of Hopper whispered as if he’d just seen his daughter’s struggles. ’If you can hear me, I lo-‘

El suddenly found herself back in the real world.

Quickly ripping off her blindfold to reveal her eyes puffy and red with tears, it wasn’t long before Max and Will began to flood her with questions.

“What did you see?” Max questioned excitedly. “Were you in the Upsidedown?”

“Did you see nothing again, or was it something else?” Will added, handing El a kitchen towel to wipe both her nose and eyes.

“Was it another monster?”

“Did you see the lady instead of Hopper?”

“Is Hopper dead?”

El dismissed any question that came her way, but it wasn’t until she had finally calmed herself enough that she finally spoke.

“I saw Hopper.” She said, her voice slightly shaken.

“Was he dead?” Will asked suspiciously.

“No.” El mumbled. “But I fear he might be if we don’t get him out soon.”

Chapter Text

May 3, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
6:14 AM

The last few days seemed to melt together for Hopper. 2 boat rides, 4 train rides, and a trip in a cargo plane; Something that likely would have been an enjoyable trip should he not had been drugged out of his mind. Typically, trips (both physically and mentally) like that would have been the highlight of his week.

A boat ride to Dublin, Ireland in ‘75. Sarah, no older than 5, peeking over the railing of the boat with a look of awe in her eyes. Diane, sipping a small glass of Rosé, shrieking in delight as water ocean splashed onto her dress. Finally, a change in scenery from the bustling city of New York. Instead, there was nothing but clear, blue water for miles. Seagulls flying low as seals sang their song as they swam along the vessel.

Or, in a different sense, any day from ‘80-‘83 in Hawkins, Indiana. Any sort of pills he could get his hands on. Prescription for the days he didn’t want to wake up in some random dumpster, and LSD and shrooms for when he didn’t care if she ever woke up again. Bright colours and hallucinations, only to get up the next morning with a splitting migraine and do it all again. A vicious cycle, really, but that was Hopper’s life not too long ago.

This, though, was excruciating. Instead of waking up in a lavish hotel room or with a sickening feeling on someone’s couch, he found himself in yet another maximum-security prison.

He didn’t know where he was, but he knew it wasn’t the same place he’d been only a few short days ago. For one thing, it was much cleaner, which he could tell by the huge fluorescent light illuminating the room. Instead of grim covered walls so dirty, it’d looked brown, the place was sparkling white and so clean, Hopper he could see his own reflection.

Not that he wanted to, seeing as he probably looked like a complete disaster who hadn’t stepped in a shower since ‘76, but the point was the place was much cleaner than he was used to.

In addition, the room had a thick piece of see-through glass to line the door, and a food slot instead of just a door that would occasionally swing open and throw whatever was being served that day in.

And Hopper’s cell wasn’t the only one whose cell was like this. As he looked through the panel of glass, he could see at least 5 more rooms like his own, each with their own slumped over prisoner looking just as Hopper felt: like an absolute mess.

That is, for every cell except for the one right across from his own.

“Whoo, moving day,” Hopper said sarcastically, propping open the food slot and calling out to the person across from him. “Don’t suppose you have any Tylenol? My head is killing me.”

The man in the cell across from him peered up from whatever he’d been doing and offered Hopper a brief smile. His face, though eerily seeming quite nice looking, donned a large scar that laced his entire face. From his left eye down to the right side of his lip, there was a giant marking that could have only been from some traumatic accident or malpractice surgery.

“I’m afraid the Russians are fans of medicating their prisoners, at least not in the helpful sense.” He said, catching Hopper off guard.

“You’re English, it’s..” Hopper sputtered, shocked at the man’s language skills.

“Perfect? Makes sense. I’m afraid the only time I’ve been in Russia is as a prisoner. Besides, mother raised a Swiss boy, not a soviet comrade.” He laughed, enjoying Hopper’s shock. “And What about you? You seem to speak English quite well.”

Hopper waved his hand dismissively, scooting closer to the food slot and adjusting himself so it was easier to communicate. “Have you heard of a small little town called Hawkins, Indiana?”

“You could say that..” The man trailed off, looking away from Hopper’s gaze.

“Well, it holds a lot more than you’d think. A portal to another dimension, a kid who was trapped there for about a week, an MK-Ultra Esque government conspiracy, and some pissed off Russians who couldn’t hide their shit well enough. And this guy,” Hopper grinned, pointing to himself. “Didn’t just spend most of his life in that town, but also got caught in the middle of it all.”

The scarred man let out a laugh as he too moved closer to his own food slot. “Jesus, how’d you get caught in all that? You must have made some huge deal to get caught in the middle of all that.”

The man continued to laugh, but Hopper suddenly tightened his lips. He had, in fact, made a deal with the government that landed him in the middle of it all. Lucky guess, surely, but strange nonetheless.

“I’ll tell you all about that, as soon as you tell me how you got here,” Hopper said, attempting to shift the attention away from himself. Even he’d spent the last year longing to talk to someone besides the constant sneer of Russian guards and at times, himself, this felt too odd for him.

“You don’t want to hear about that.” The man mumbled dismissively and with a slight chuckle.

“I was a homicide detective who took a turn for the worse, there’s nothing more terrible than that.” Hopper persisted.

“No, no, I’m serious, it’s nothing.”

“Look, I’ve spent too long hearing nothing but Russian. Just the sound of your clean American accent is euphoric enough. So, if you don’t mind, I would like to hear whatever bullshit you did to end up here.” Hopper finally mumbled, earning a groan and ‘fine’ from the man across from him.

The man removed his finger from the propped up food slot audibly took in a deep breath: In, and out. He then replaced his hand once more and began to speak.

“I wasn’t the smartest man, come about 15 years ago. Not in the sense of drugs and hookers. No, even I knew that was a recipe for disaster.” A fatal blow on Hopper’s behalf. “But other things. I was a Phycology major, come ‘69. People everywhere, getting shipped off to Vietnam for yet another war. You would have been one of them, yes?”

Hopper nodded his head, though he didn’t know why. To be honest, he wasn’t quite sure why he was telling this man anything.

“These people, coming back tainted and disasters. Sure, some of them found their escape. Families, jobs, death, dare I say. Yet there was always bound to be the ones that didn’t find their escape. The drunks, druggies, and overall just miserable ones, all longing to get back to what they once had.” The man said, beginning to fidget with the door slot. “But that’s where I came in. Drugs, beautiful drugs. All promising the wipe away that section of their lives they deemed unsavoury. These Russians, they loved it. Commissioned me to find something for their own usage. It could erase unsavoury memories, who's to say what else it could make disappear?”

“Guess that didn’t work out too well, huh?” Hopper joker, though the man offered no response. Instead, he simply peered ahead.

“They got greedy. Started asking for all these drugs. Mind control, steroids, and eventually drugs to give you superpowers. I crossed the line when they wanted to bring in children and pump them full of chemicals, all the while depriving them of a normal childhood.”

Hopper nodded his head in agreement. Seeing as he’d spent the last year in Hawkins trying to make up for what El lost, he knew the effects first hand.

“I’m afraid America’s not any better,” Hopper mumbled without fully thinking it through. “My daughter... El.. she was caught in some questionable projects before I’d adopted her a few years back. She’d had what most would consider a terrible childhood. It took weeks to assure her no one was coming to take her back to the place she’d called home for so long, and even longer to show her not everyone was bad.”

The man left out an “mhmm” in apology, though paying more attention to messing with the food slot than Hopper’s conversation. But even despite the little attention, Hopper continued to speak of El’s upbringing and what he’s done after adopting her.

“And when she started dating, god, that was the worst. I tell you, I’ve never seen anyone become so attached to a person.” Hopper paused. “I wonder if that’s how she feels about me..”

The man, not stopping his fidgeting, adjusted himself against the door and let out what seemed to be a sneer, though Hopper couldn’t tell from where he’d been sitting.

“Seems like she has a lot of trust in you, this El girl of yours... Why El, anyway? Why not something like Jane or something?” The man mumbled. “Just spitballing, it didn’t have to be Jane, just curious.”

Hopper presented the man with a confused glance. How had he known it was a nickname, and better yet her name was Jane? He hadn’t mentioned that part of her life, not yet.

“Eleanor. Eleanor Ives. The people who raised her called her Eleanor, and wanted to revolt against what they’d done to her in away.” Hopper improved, peering suspiciously at his neighbour.

The man let out a slight chuckle and mumbled something under his breath, but not before he could ask yet another oddly specific question.

“And this Eleanor of yours, she looks up to you, see’s you as her saviour?” He questioned, pointing to Hopper as he spoke.

“I mean, I suppose, seeing as I’m her father figure. But she looks up to anyone who didn’t lock her in closets for not killing a man. She looks up to Joyce just the same, just in a more motherly sense.”

“Joyce?” The man asked, perking up in interest.

“Yeah, Joyce my uhh.. unofficial girlfriend, as it’s put. Can’t exactly go on a date if the other half is trapped in a Russian prison.” Hopper said turning is gaze to the floor as he began to trace all sorts of shapes and blobs onto the tile. “God, he’s probably moved by now, no longer Hawkins. Her, Jonathan, Will.. and El. Jesus, El would end up with the Byers, wouldn’t she? The cabin’s gone, and I doubt Karen would like her son's girlfriend living with them..”

“Where would they have moved too?” The man mumbled, shifting closer to Hopper, practically squished against the door at this point.

“I don’t know.. Joyce had family in Sherwood but had a fall out with her mother. She was going to move to Maine with her old boyfriend, but he died and decided it was too expensive. I think Lonnie moved to Tallahassee, so likely Indianapolis? She spoke of Indianapolis a few times..”

The man gave out a slight smile as he contemplated his next wording. This could make or break the situation.

“It’s interesting that she puts so much trust in a pair,” The man began smugly, raising to his feet so he could look down on a sitting Hopper. “That gave up her life, her brief freedom, for the ability to potentially rescue a practically dead child in a death-trap dimension.”

Hopper squinted his eyes in confusion. Where was this man getting this information from?

“And yet she continues to live with the man that offered the information in the first place. In fact, he was the one that came up with the idea to trade her location. Funny, how she could still find trust in him, but not in a person who nurtured her and helped her grow her abilities.”

Hopper gasped in the realization of who this man was. He didn’t cross the line on depriving children of their childhood. He made the line.

“Unless,” He gasped, mocking shocked expression. “You never told her. To her, you’re just her saviour in the darkness.”

Hopper, quickly jumping to his feet, let out a cry of anger.

“You sick bastard.” He cried, pounding his fist against the glass as inmates around them began to wake up groggy. “Mother fucker, you’re not really a prisoner, you’re a fucking bug, to get me to talk!”

The man shrugged innocently, knowing exactly what he’d done.

“She ran away from you because she couldn’t handle your cruelty, and you played the victim through the whole situation. You force-fed her the idea that you cared for her, that you were her Papa.” Hopper yelled, throwing another blow to glass and wincing as his knuckles began to bruise. “Don’t you dare try to lay another finger on here, Brenner.”

“Or else what? You’ll call your unofficial girlfriend and her resurrected son?” Brenner said smugly, clicking his tongue as he removed a key from one of his pockets. “I’m afraid you can’t do much if you’re in a maximum-security prison 16 hundred miles away from Indiana.”

Brenner swiftly plunged the key into the locked door, and with a satisfactory click! slid the door open as if he’d never been a prisoner.

“But thanks for the information. I reckon Borya will have quite a bit of fun regaining his prized pupil.” He said, moving closer to Hopper’s door and staring eye-level at him. “Oh, and since you apparently never told her of our little deal, we’ll be sure to inform her. Makes the transition easier, you know?”

Hopper let our one final go at the glass, which promptly gained a crack upon impact. Brenner proved unfazed, though, as he merely offered an unamused look before walking off in another direction.

“Возьмите его для повышенной безопасности.” Brenner mused to a pair of guards standing in front of the bays doors, to which they promptly swung open Hopper’s own door and dragged him out.

Resisting and cursing himself in anger, Hopper kicked and squirmed in protest of the guards, all the while letting out a slew of curses aimed at an unaffected Brenner.

How could he had been so dumb? Even with the scar, Hopper should have been able to recognize the man who deprived El of a normal childhood, who caused her so much trauma and pain. And yet, he was the one being dragged away.

“Don’t you dare touch her.” Hopper wheezed, anger bubbling in his throat. “Don’t hurt her again.”

“Достаточно.” One of the guards growled, plunging a hypodermic needle in Hopper’s side.

Hopper began to drift off against his will, but not before he offered one last song of curses and pain. Before giving in completely to the lingering darkness, Hopper couldn’t help but contemplate his mistakes and the outcomes.

He had to warn El, should it be the last thing he ever does.

Chapter Text

May 3, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
4:17 AM

“Перерыв?” Alice mumbled, running up to her block’s administrator and tapping her wrist as if there was a watch. “Пожалуйста?”

The admin peered to his on watch and let out an annoyed groan. The audacity the engineering intern had by asking for a break was absurd. As if they hadn’t been loading prisoners into the new base and hadn’t just gotten off a plane.

“15 минут.” He grumbled. “You take more, you’ll be in deep Говно.”

Alice offered a grateful smile before scampering off to the freezing outdoors, wasting no time of the small break she had been so generously given.

As her clunky boots hit the pavement and her flowing brown hair bounced with each new step, she had to run about half a mile before she finally found what’d she’d been looking for.

Dirty and forgotten, strange yet untraceable, Alice breathed a sigh of relief at what she’d been looking for: a roadside payphone.

Sure, the quaint apartment she was granted for the time they spent in the small Canadian peninsula had a telephone that worked just fine, but to use it would be far too dangerous. It’s not that they didn’t trust her directly, it was more the fact that they didn’t trust Americans. Even though she’d proven herself useful with fixing all sorts of mechanisms, and she had quickly graduated from being the team’s coffee runner to an actual worker, there was a very large possibility the phone they’d provided her was most definitely bugged.

Even speaking in English, it wouldn’t take long before she was the one in the Russian prison, with the lingering possibility that each day may be her last.

So instead of rushing back to the place she’d be calling home for the time they spent in Newfoundland, she found herself standing on the side of the road wearing nothing more than thin work clothes at the freezing time of 4 AM.

Ideal? Most definitely not, but she had no choice. She had a duty to fulfil that simply couldn’t be postponed any longer.

Plunging the few coins needed to make a call into the phone slot, Alice quickly found herself silently pleading that someone would pick up on the other end.

Ring…

Ring…

Ring…

It wasn’t until Alice had felt the wave of defeat began to wash over her that she finally heard someone pick up on the other end.

“..Hello?” I groggy voice questioned, sounding as if he’d just woken up.

“Oh thank god, Murray, it’s you-“ she practically shouted in relief.

“Alice?” He mumbled, cutting a very enthusiastic Alice off. “What’s wrong, do you realize what time it is? Are you still in Russia?”

“That’s the thing,” Alice said, anxious to get straight to the point. “I found him, I found Hopper. He’s in holding, and he’s being questioned.”

On the other end, Alice heard Murray let out a gasp of amazement, similar to what she’d done when she herself had found out.

“I don’t understand, you’ve been there for months, how are you just now finding out?”

“There was a problem in Ukraine, and everyone else was freaking out about the possibility of it being the enemy. I was the only one thinking straight so I had to go inform Borya about what was happening and-“

“Wait,” Murray said, sounding as if he’d just solved the hardest problem in the world. “Alice, you didn’t do anything, did you?”

“The nuclear explosion?” She questioned. “What? Why would I-“

“Jesus Christ, Alice, people died.” Murray practically shouted, audibly facepalming. “And you didn’t find out Hopper was there until after? You just caused a nuclear explosion without knowing if it would work?”

“..I heard rumours about Hopper being in holding, but I couldn’t be sure.” She mumbled in a low whisper, embarrassed. “Besides, it was bound to happen at some point. I just gave it a little push.”

“Alice, you’re judgment means literally nothing when it comes to when something is going to explode, you do realize that? That area won’t be inhabitable for such a long time it’s not even funny. We’ll be dead.” Murray groaned, only causing Alice to sink more and more into herself.

She really didn’t mean any harm, not like that. She just couldn’t afford to wait any longer, and even just the rumour of Hopper being in the Borya’s holding could determine anything.

And it’s not as if she had meant for it to go as far as it did. Shutting down an entire nuclear power plant in 1986 is quite different than shutting down a few cameras and attempting to start up a car engine in 1969. Sure, it’s all about keeping a nice balance of electricity and her own energy, but it’s just as easy to lose control. With cars and cameras, who cares? If you move fast enough, or you just restart the engine, there isn’t really any result of it. But one wrong move with an entire power plant? Things happen quickly, too quickly.

“Can we discuss this a different time? In-person?” She whispered practically inaudible through the phone. “I don’t have long, and you won’t have a spy much longer if I don’t get back in time.”

“They’re that stern?” Murray asked, his tone returning to more sympathetic than disturbed. “Whatever, do what you need to. Just, where are you?”

“Newfoundland, Canada,” Alice spoke, looking to her watch to see home much time she had left. “I know, stupid name, but it’s all that we had. It was too dangerous to go anywhere else in Europe and Newfoundland was small enough that we could slip in without anyone noticing.”

From the other end, Alice could hear Murray scribble something else before asking if that was it.

“Yeah, that’s it.” She responded. “Just.. be safe, you know? Don’t get yourself killed. And don’t go telling everyone you know.”

“Sure.”

Alice smiled a bit. It was the small things that really kept her going.

“Bye.” She mumbled.

But instead of a response, she was quickly met with the other-person-hung-up tone. Though she’d typically get upset, she didn’t have the time, not now.

Now, she had to find a way to get Hopper out of here without drawing too much attention.

Chapter Text

May 4th, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
3:56 PM

“I’m afraid we never finished our conversation,” Borya said, peering into where Hopper lay.

It was later, after the incident from the day before. Hopper, who’d been forcefully moved from the cell-lined corridor to some Silence of the Lambs Esque holding, had just woken up from the drug-induced sleep put upon him after he’d revealed a little too much on the location of his adopted daughter.

Though it definitely felt a lot better to get away from the monster who’d taken away El’s childhood and hurt her beyond recovery, Hopper still found himself feeling a sort of guilt plaguing himself.

“I’m afraid a nuclear explosion got in the way. A real pity, actually. I was sort of looking forward to telling you every detail of my emotionally scarred daughter’s life.” Hopper said bitterly, standing from the small cot he’d been provided.

But instead up giving any sort of response, Borya merely continued to peer in. While both men were around the same height, Hopper couldn’t help but feel as if the man was looking down at him in away.

“Not that it matters,” Hopper continued, attempting to bait a response out of Borya. “Considering you already baited that information out of me with-“

“Enough,” Borya commanded, tired of Hopper’s aimless chatter. “You Americans and your need to talk, it’s idiotic. Brenner too, constantly going on how he'll get back experiment Eleven.”

Hopper wanted to say something, yet found that no words could form in his mouth. He wanted to defend El, he really did, he just didn’t know how to.

“If you already know where she is, and you have intentions of taking her again, why bother keeping me around? I’m no use to you anymore.” Hopper said, only realizing his mistakes once he actually heard them aloud.

But instead of getting angry at Hopper, the man merely chuckled at Hopper’s misspeaking.

“Because she still trusts you.” He said as if it was the simplest thing in the entire world. “The more she believes there are still people who will ‘save’ her, the harder it will be to get what we want.”

“That’s fucked up.” Hopper spat, disgusted by the man’s intentions. “I’ve hurt more people than I care to admit, seen people get devoured by murderous flower-dogs, and completed two tours of Vietnam and yet you are the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in this shitty thing I’ve had the pleasure of calling life.”

“Flattery,” Borya said simply, straightening himself. “Yet I’m not the one who traded the location of experiment Eleven to say a kid who was on the brink of death.”

“This again?” Hopper groaned, not prepared to suffer the same amount of guilt he had the last time this information had been used against him. “I’ve already established I’ve made a mistake, but I love her too much to do it again.”

And he really did mean it. Though the Byers boys’ had practically become just as much his family as say El and Sarah due to the amount of time he’d been spending with their mother, he realized now he wouldn’t trade El’s location like that again.

There would have been another way, even if it meant breaking past the numerous guards and plunging into god knows what without any protection.

But if he could turn back time, he knew he wouldn’t give her location up again.

Sure, he’d admired her and her abilities from the first day he’d found out about her, but that was more of bedside-manner type of situation. He wanted to prove he wasn’t like Brenner to find Will and had never thought he’d be signing her adoption papers almost a year later.

But after spending those nights with her in the cabin, watching reruns of soap operas and animated cartoons while sipping on lukewarm coffee, he realized he didn’t know what he would have done himself if she actually got brought back to the lab.

Pills, drinking, sleeping around.. he’d already failed Sarah with potentially deadly consequences, what would it be like to lose a second child?

“Do you really believe you have the ability to save her, as you put it? From a maximum-security prison on a peninsula with a population of only a little more than half a million?” Borya laughed as if it were the funniest joke in the world. “I think you forgot you have absolutely no communication with her.”

“Exactly,” Hopper said, moving closer into the glass. “And yet you’re the one who wants me to tell her that I traded her location for Byers’s safety.”

Hopper paused.

“Frankly, though, I’d say trading an entire counties secrets and plans for a cherry slushie is much more pitiful than trading a location that could very likely be inaccurate.”

“Dr Alexei became an enemy of Russia once he found more comfort in staying with you than with a much more sophisticated and advanced government. Whatever choices he made are not to be tied back to us.”

Hopper rolled his eyes at the man’s reasonings. It seems Borya would do anything to cover up a failed outcome. Or, in this case, a devotee gone rouge.

“And you may have no contact with experiment Eleven, but that doesn’t mean we don’t,” Borya said smugly, turning to the outer rooms door and beckoning a parade of people in.

Men in lab coats all flooded in, pushing a series of different devices on all sorts of pulleys and carts. The one that stood out the most, though, was a large and clunky tape recorder with a number of buttons Hopper could only dream of understanding.

“I’m recording a tape?” Hopper mumbled suspiciously, not fillet understanding what was going on around him. “I’m assuming that’s for you to play on repeat once you abduct her and bring her to wherever the fuck this is.”

Borya shook his head with a disturbed look as if Hopper was the one making these plans.

“We’re not animals, James,” Borya said as if it were the simplest thing in the world. “We have no intentions of forcefully bringing her home. One of our assistants will travel to Indiana and present her with the tape where you explain your doings and how she’s better off with us.”

Borya moved aside as the now set up tape player was placed on the cart. Pulling a ring of keys from his belt and instructing Hopper to move deeper into the case, a team of 5 hastily reeled the cart in and placed it near the door.

After they had finished their task, all but one of them returned back outside the cell, leaving only a short brunette girl wearing a lab coat inside.

The same girl from earlier.

“And if I refuse to record this message?” Hopper questioned, eyeing the girl suspiciously. “ I don’t suppose you’ll keep your philosophy of ‘not kidnapping’ El if you don’t have any evidence to prove that I’m the major asshole you’re making me out to be.”

“I have reason to believe both you and experiment Eleven would prefer the audio recording to one of your limbs being chopped off, fingernails removed, or waterboarding, though that’s just my opinion,” Borya spoke, contemplating Hopper’s question as if there was a clear option. “And should you choose to the tape option, I will let you know that it would be in your best interest to follow strict guidelines. Alisa will be reviewing the recording after, and if there’s even a Jaír out of place... well, let’s just say there isn’t much room for any jokes you may be planning.”

The assistant shot up as if she hadn’t specifically stayed in the cell to minister Hopper.

“Actually, Gospodin Borya, my name is actually Alice Ha-“ The assistant began, hesitant to correct her superior.

“What that now?” Borya cut her off, missing everything she’d just said.

But instead of correcting Borya again, Alice simply shook her head, waving her original comment off. It was small, sure, but it still wasn’t her name.

“Very well then,” Borya said triumphantly, preparing himself to leave the room. “I expect the tape to be finished within the next hour. And remember, don’t do anything funny.”

Hopper nodded his head, though he wishes he didn’t have too. Letting Borya win wasn’t on the list of his more favourite things.

Borya and the few assistants who helped set up to recorder left the room, leaving only Hopper and Alice to record the message.

Hopper moved closer to examine the machine, taking in every dental he could. He didn’t exactly want to get a jump start on telling El he’d majorly fucked up.

A series of Russian symbols on a number of buttons. A glass panel protecting a fragile white tape, on it written in scratchy handwriting was ‘Experiment Eleven’.

Not what Hopper would have written on it, of course.

He’d probably have put something like ‘From Your Greatest Disappointment- A Memoir of You Adoptive-Father’s Greatest Fuck-Up’ Or ‘Suprise! Your Adoptive Father is Alive! Now Go With These Russian Men and Relive Your Childhood Trauma!’.

It was funny, actually.

How he and El would make a game out of naming tapes they’d make. Hopper has received the old recorder after the precinct got the newest model, and didn’t need the other one around anymore. Originally used for recording confessions and interrogations (The few that they had, that is), the machine was quickly turned into a professional home audio recordings and whatever songs they’d seen on MTV.

‘Take on Me’ and ‘9 to 5’, with many other songs being pushed into the machine and onto a small cassette to be blasted at any hour of the day.

But instead of naming it something like ‘Mixtape’ or ‘Music’, the two would name it random things that had absolutely nothing to do with the tape.

There were at least 6 different recordings with the label ‘Coffee’ for Hopper’s car and around the same number of tapes named ‘Eggos’ for El.

And it wasn’t just them who did it.

Sometimes, when they’d visit the Buyers' for dinner (Or vice versa), El would drag the group around her recorder and have them choose a few songs, which Jonathan Byers would help her place on the tape.

And the songs would play for the rest of the time the visiting family was over.

“Borya is the only one who really understands English,” Alice mumbled, snapping Hopper out of the dazed state he’d suddenly found himself in. “The others really only understand the basics, and don’t necessarily care to learn more.”

“And?”

“Borya doesn’t care to listen to the output, at least he hasn’t cared to listen to them for the other prisoners he’s let do the messages…”

Hopper gave the assistant an odd look. “So this recording thing happens a lot? How many other captives with adopted telekinetic children are there?”

Alice shook the head, offering Hopper a slight smile.

“It’s more like country leaders making their final resignation, or individual enemies making their last pleas for their followings to stop whatever it is that made them enemies in the first place,” Alice explained, moving from her space in the corner over the where Hopper had sat to examine.
“But I’ve always been instructed to listen to them. He trusts me enough, and assumes I won’t let anything slip.”

“Are you implying I don’t record a message telling El to go with these men?” Hopper questioned quizzically. “Why? You don’t owe me anything.”

Alice’s originally hesitant expression suddenly turned tense. She didn’t know what to say.

“You’re right, I don’t owe you anything,” Alice spoke aloud, unsure of what exactly she was saying. “But I do owe Terry something.”

Hopper stared dumbfounded, just as confused as Alice was. Why the hell would a girl based in Russia knows anything let alone owe anything to someone based in Indiana?

“Terry Ives? From America?” Hopper gasped. “How? Were you sent there to hurt her?”

Alice quickly shook her head, clearing all thoughts from Hopper’s head.

“No, nothing like that!” She cried, looking quite panicked. “I’ve only been with these Russians for about a year, that’s it, I swear!”

“Then how do you know Terry?”

Silence.

“Holy shit,” Hopper mumbled, realization dawning on him. “Alice Hartwell. 22 years old, experiment Three.”

“Died 1970, after a fatal collision in Bloomington, Indiana, starting soon to be a string of deaths regarding all participants in a local college’s experimental program.” Alice continued shakily. She’d read her obituary too many times to count to the point it was permanently burned in her brain. “Brenner never could take a loss.”

“I don’t understand, what could you possibly owe Terry? You obviously escaped, you both did. El and I, we’d occasionally go and visit her in Indianapolis. She’s brain-dead, not actually dead..” Hopper sighed, shifting uncomfortably where he sat.

Alice’s face fell. So she was right.

“Electrocution, right?” Alice said sadly. “I did see that a lifetime ago, didn’t I?”

Alice slowly stood from where she sat. The Russians were likely wondering where she was by this point, and why she didn’t have the tape yet.

“I.. I don’t know how to explain it in any other way then Terry saved me, and it cost her her child. She didn’t know it would, of course, but she didn't have to show up that day, not like that..” Alive sighed, pulling her own key from her lab-coat pocket. It’d been years since she’d even thought about Terry, let alone all the trouble she’d caused her. And while she knew that without Terry (Or any of them for that matter, Kali included), she’d likely not be standing here today, Alice couldn’t help but feel like it was her fault for all the pain and trouble Terry had gone through. “Your daughter, she’s already lost her mother, I can’t imagine what it would feel like to lose her father, too.”

And with that, Alice left the cell, leaving Hopper with nothing more than a slew of questions and even fewer answers.

Not that Alice had any response to any possible questions Hopper may have. The mound of trouble she’d be in if the Russians themselves found out that she was one of the original experiments would be colossal. One of the main reasons she refused to even be in the same room as Dr Brenner.

‘Astounding,’ she could practically hear the men say. ‘Precognition turned electrokinesis? Why I believe we may have to start the experiments back up again!”

As it exploiting college students in the late ’60s wasn’t enough.

Nonetheless, Alice couldn’t help but hope that Hopper didn’t speak of their interaction. After all, it could be detrimental for both of them should rumours begin to spread.

As for Hopper, he could be seen scooting closer to where the recording machine sat, previously untouched by him.

The machine was definitely one of the new ones, with a plethora of new buttons and gadgets strewn across the board.

And to top it all off, the few instructions written on the base were all etched in might as well have been gibberish to Hopper.

And even with all the Russian symbols built to replace the familiar English ones, it wasn’t long before Hopper found what he’d been searching for: The record button.

With its unmistakable circular shape that could be seen in pretty much any sort of recording equipment, it would be Hopper’s first way of communication with El in a year.

It would also be the button that could very likely tear their relationship apart.

Hopper hesitated for a second. Was he really about to do this?

No, he had to. The Russians were going to deliver El a tape no matter what, he just had the slightest control of what it said.

Taking one final breath, Hopper quickly smashed down the button, waiting for the cassette’s tapes to start turning.

This was it.

“Hey El,” Hopper began, suddenly feeling as if he could weep. “You’re probably wondering where I’ve been..”

Chapter Text

May 3rd, 1986
Indianapolis, Indiana
8:36 AM

“Joyce?” Murray cried, bursting into the small Indianapolis household without warning. He looked both extremely panicked and relieved, and the news he was about the share would surely make any person have a similar reaction. “Joyce Byers?”

It’s was an early 8:36 AM in Indiana, and few were awake when Murray Bauman made himself more than welcome in the household. With the local school shut down due to an asbestos problem, both El and Will found themselves staying an extra couple days at home, and had planned to spend those days sleeping in.

Instead of waking up at an uncomfortable 6:30 am, as the two had become used to, both children had prepared themselves to get as much sleep as possible on their day off.

That is, until Murray burst open their door in search of Will’s mother.

“Mr. Bauman?” Will mumbled, rubbing his eyes as he sat up in his cot. “Is there a problem?”

“Perhaps.” Murray said, unfocused, moving deeper into the room to open what he believed to be another bedroom (Though it was a small bathroom the entire household shared). “You know where you’re mom is? I need to speak to her about something.. urgent…”

Will shook his head while El, who too had been woken up by Murray’s unexpected entrance, moved to help in whatever search that was occurring within their household.

“She may have left for work?” El offered, putting on a more effective pair of pants to move around the house in.

Murray shook his head, quick to move out of the shared room and further into the house. Will and El were quick to follow.

“She always visits on Mondays, always.” Murray said, pushing open another door (to no avail). “I don’t want to get into it, but it’s not something she’d miss on purpose.”

“And you’re sure you too aren’t dating?” Will tested, earning a grin from El as he caught up with the pacing man.

Murray was less than amused, though, as he did little more than speed up in an attempt to get away from the two following children.

“Joyce? Joyce Horowitz?” Murray tried once more.

“Jesus Christ, Murray, what are you doing her so early? I mean, it’s not even-“ Joyce began, walking out of her own bedroom in light clothing she must have thrown on last minute.

“I get it, I get it, it’s early but this is important.” Murray interrupted, quick to ambush the woman. “I would have preferred to sleep in too, especially with all the stress we’ve been under lately, but I discovered something.”

“You discovered another Russian base?” Joyce mumbled, sounding less than excited.

Murray quickly shook his head dismissively. Something bigger.

“I went to school with a girl who ended up doing some things in college, some things that caused her to go underground for awhile. We’d talk about anything and everything together, and her grandmother taught me Russian whenever I’d go over to her house.” Murray said as if it was the biggest news in the world. “I thought he died, Joyce.”

El and Will merely peered at each other, having no clue on what Murray was spatting on about. And frankly, Joyce felt the same way.

“So you discovered your elementary school crush is alive? That’s good, I guess..” Joyce said quizzically.

“What?” Murray said suddenly, having been caught off guard. “Alice isn’t really.. I’ve known she was alive for a few years, that isn’t anything new.”

Joyce looked at Murray expectantly. He woke her and the kids up too early, and if he didn’t make it worth her while, he’d have more than a few problems on his plate.

“After coming back from god knows where, she ended up picking up an apprenticeship as an engineer for the Russian government. At first, I was skeptical. But once she said she was working in a facility run by Terminator, I became more open to her choices.” Murray spoke aloud. “I thought little of it, even forgot about it for a couple months. But she called me this morning. Now, I told her never to call me unless it was for the most important reasons, seeing as you can’t have any private conversations anymore, and she did not disappoint. This morning Alice called me and told me-“

“Hopper.” Joyce gasped, cutting Murray off. As much as she wanted it to be true, she refused to imagine what Hopper must be going through should he be with the Russians.

But even despite Joyce’s silent pleas, Murray nodded his head in confirmation.

El gasped in horror, not sure how to interpret the news. Yes, he was alive, but for how long?

As Will rushed to comfort his stunned mother, El couldn’t help but stare at Murray, making him quite uncomfortable under the teenager’s gaze.

“Hopper’s not in Russia anymore.” El said plainly. “Glorified moving box.”

Murray and Joyce hesitated for a moment, unsure of what to say. It wasn’t because they didn’t understand the girl, as they had (Mainly Joyce) has become accustomed to El’s butchered and often times incompetent speaking patterns, but simply because the two were unaware of her second attempt to reach her father.

They had only seen the completely hopeless and distraught version of the occurrence, as El had seen little more than a man droning on in Russian about the nuclear explosion and its effects.

But Will saw the key to El’s sudden confirmation. He and Max, sitting around a long forgotten framed photo from Hopper’s trailer, as El attempted to reach her father.

“El saw Hopper in a box car, when she tried to find him after she went to visit you, Murray.” Will was quick to explain. “He said he was being moved, from wherever he was previously.”

“And you didn’t think to tell me?” Joyce sobbed, pointing an accusing finger at both El and Will. “Hopper could be dead!”

Will shook his head panicky, as El moved in front of him in a certain way to shield him. Will was never one to take yelling, and though El was t much better she’d formed a sort of protection over her adoptive brother over the past year they’d been together.

“Don’t blame Will!” El throwing her arm across his chest and pushing him off to the side. “It wasn’t his fault, it was mine. You.. I didn’t want to tell you anything we didn’t know for certain. He could have.. they could have been shipping him off to die. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to hurt you if something did happen.”

Joyce softened, easing the sudden tension in the room.

But instead of rage, tears began to drip from Joyce’s eyes. Not from the believed betrayal, but because everything was suddenly coming into focus.

Hopper was alive, and they knew where.

They had to get him out.

“Where is he?” Joyce said suddenly, wiping a tear away and turning to Murray.

“Joyce, Alice was already planning something, we can’t just interfere with her plans-“ Murray tried, but was quickly cut off by Joyce.

“Murray, where is Hopper?”

Murray hesitated for a second, but eventually gave in. There was no fighting Joyce, especially not when she’s as worked up as she was.

“Newfoundland. Canada, I think. The little peninsula.” He sighed, giving in to the woman’s pressure.

Joyce was quick to rush back into her room and pull things from whatever little crevices she could. Clothing and health supplies, all rushing into the small koffer she’d less than delicately thrown to the bed.

“Mom?” Will questioned anxiously, walking in behind his panicked mother and noticing her actions.

“Joyce you can’t just barge into a Russian base, you’ll get killed.” Joining in with El following in tow. “I know it’s a lot to handle, with Hopper being gone for so long but we have to trust Alice.”

But even despite Murray’s warnings, Joyce simply proceeded to stuff whatever she could into the suitcase, paying little mind to the others complaints.

“I need to see him.” Joyce said in resistance.

Murray paused for a second, preparing himself to mumble one last word of warning.

But once he found he could come up with none, the man simply sighed.

“Then I’m coming with you. You’ll need a translator and a partner in crime.”

“Hopper’s Magnum, I’m Wheelbarrow. You’re just another background character.” Joyce scoffed, turning to Will and El. “And you two, I’m calling Jonathan and Nancy to come and watch you, so don’t try and pull anything. I don’t know how long we’ll be gone but for the love of god please don’t cause any tro-“

“I’m coming.” El interrupted, stepping forward.

Everyone turned to look at El, who had now crossed her arms firmly.

“El..” Joyce tried, not sure what to say.

But El only shook her head, making her point and demands clear.

“He’s my father.” El said sternly, squinting her eyes in an attempt to looker meaner. “I should be allowed to go.”

Joyce and Murray hesitated for a moment, not too quick to make and major (and possibly regrettable) decisions.

It’s not that they didn’t trust El, it was more a matter of them going deep into the unknown. In addition, she had only recently gotten back to using her powers after months of not having them, and they weren’t too sure how much strain she could handle.

Not to mention that these people were likely still angry about their sacred cow escaping, and likely knew whatever tricks she may have in store. After all, she was raised to be their weapon.

Even Joyce, who was quick to declare her position on the adventure was hesitant to speak. Jonathan was older, and so was Will. They could take care of each other, and even stay with the Wheelers if needed.

But El, she was different. Still catching up on the childhood she’d spent so long missing out on, she couldn’t survive, not like the boys could.

And she’d have nobody to stay with. The Wheelers wouldn’t take in Mike’s girlfriend, not like that. She wasn’t as close with the Sinclairs, and Ms. Henderson didn’t have the space for another child. Not to mention that Max’s parents were weary around her. It doesn’t matter whatever story Nancy and Jonathan were able to twist out of Hawkin’s post, she was at the supposed crime scene. While they may not think she killed him, she surely didn’t bring back any pleasant memories.

Sure, there was Murray, but at times he was just as bad as Joyce with stressing out. Conspiracies and Russians and what not. He wasn’t a bad person, per say, he’s just not a person who can handle children more than he had to.

That being said, Joyce didn’t want El around the Russians more than she needed to be. With Murray, Joyce would be fine. Two Russian speaking (Or really, one Russian speaking) adults seemed reasonable enough. But a 14 year old who spoke little more than basic English and the few phrases of Russian she’d remembered from her time at the lab would be iffy at best.

“Joyce.” El said, standing her ground. She understood the risk just ask well as everyone else, but refused to let that taint her beliefs.

“El, you’re so young though, and Murrrah and I, we’ve been through this…” Joyce fought back, losing her reasonings as the seconds quickly ticked bye.

But it was no use. El only peered to the others with a look of determination. She wouldn’t give up, not now. Not when they were so close to finding Hopper.

“She can come.” Murray sighed, answering before Joyce could. “But you’re staying here.”

Murray pointed to a very shocked Will, earning what was almost an offended expression in return.

“But Hopper’s-“

“Will.” El said, cutting her brother off before he could speak anymore. Sure, she’d definitely feel more comfortable if she could bring him along, but even she knew it just wouldn’t be possible.

Will mumbled angrily. It pained him to know that while his mom, El, and Murray were out saving Hopper he’s just be stuck at home with nothing to do but worry about the three’s safety.

“We’ll call Nancy and Jonathan to take care of you until we can determine what’s going on.” Joyce said comfortingly, zipping up her bag as she finished placing one more item inside.

“Mom, please, I can help!” Will cried out once more in an attempt to convince her to let him go with them.

“It’s not that we don’t trust you, we just don’t want to risk anything to detrimental.” Murray said in the nicest voice he could muster.

Will wanted to grumble one last protest, but it was no use. It wasn't going to get him anywhere. Instead he only nodded his head.

Joyce gave Will a comforting squeeze to the arm before moving out of the room to prepare something else.

Murray was soon to follow.

It wasn’t long before only Will and El stood in the small room, feeling sader and more confused than when they entered.

“We’ll be fine.” El attempted, trying to mimic what Joyce and Murray has said only a few minutes prior.

“I know that, it’s just..” Will huffed, uncertain of what to say. “I’m worried. About you, and mom.. I’m not sure what I would do if I lost you guys.”

El thought about it for a second, tapping her foot on the ragged carpet. She’d never really thought about it that way.

“You could live with Jonathan, and Nancy. Or maybe Steve? If Jonathan and Nancy don’t want you.” El hummed innocently, as if she wasn’t talking about the potential death of her, Joyce, and Murray.

Will shook his head sadly. “Not like that. I’ll always have Jonathan, I know that, but what about you? It hurt when dad left, but at least we see him every now and then. If you and mom do as much as even slip up, I won’t get to see you anymore.”

“Don’t think of it as us leaving. We’re coming back, and hopefully with Hop.” El offered Will a comforting smile. “And then, you won’t have to worry about calling Lonnie your dad, not like that. Hopper, and Joyce, and Jonathan, and me, and you. 5 people, under one roof.”

“As a family?” Will questioned hopefully, giving in to El’s hopes and wishes.

“As a family.”

Will quickly lunged into his sister, hugging her tights and attempting to fight the tear beginning to drip down his face.

“I’m going to miss you.” He choked, his voice beginning to strain. “You can’t get hurt.”

“I won’t.”

“And you’ll call as soon as you find him.”

“I will.”

“And you’ll keep mom and Murray safe.”

“Will.” El said finally, silencing the boy in question. “We’ll be fine.”

With that, Will finally stepped back, wiping the rebellious tear that manages to slide down his face. This was it.

“I should probably go pack a bag, to find Hopper.” El said, trying to hide her own awkwardness.

“Yeah, you probably should.”

Will watched as El left the room.

Some many thoughts began to flood his mind. Fearing for their safety, whether they would be able to find Hopper.. everything.

But there was one thing he was sure about.

He wasn’t about to just watch his family walk into the unknown without him.

Chapter Text

May 3rd, 1986
Indianapolis, Indiana
6:42 PM
After Joyce, Murray, and El left for Newfoundland a few hours prior.

“Will!” Mike practically gasped, quickly swinging Jonathan and Nancy’s shared car door open and hopping out. “Will, you need to explain what’s going on!”

“Mike, it’s all fine, El’s safe and-“ Will tried to explain, stepping out of the Byers’s front door and going to assist his visitors. Even in the most detrimental of times, Will couldn’t help but keep up the common courtesy he’d been taught from a young age.

“She’s going to Canada, Will, she’s not fine!” The boy interrupted, bombarding Will as the began to load bags from the trunk.

Will attempted to continue on with his explanation in order to comfort his friend but to no avail. Mike simply continued on about worrying about his girlfriend, having begun to pace around the front yard. It almost made Will wonder how distressful a car ride the others had to withstand on the way here.

“Will you calm down, Mike?” Lucas scowled, stepping out from the car less rushed than Mike had.
“Yeah, you’re not the only one who's worried here, and you’re most certainly not doing us any good,” Max added, pulling a dark green, beaten-up book bag with her.

Mike whimpered, upset. While the others understood Mike’s frustration and worry surrounding the situation, it was quite clear that El had been the only thing on his mind since he found out about what was happening.

Starting when Joyce had made a quick call to Jonathan to come to make sure Will wouldn’t get in too much trouble while they were gone. Noting how he and Nancy had quite a bit of work to finish, Johnathan explained that he would likely come over, but only if she wouldn’t mind Nancy tagging along.

Furthermore, the group had planned a meetup at the Byers household for that weekend. Hawkins High school let out much earlier than the school Will and El attended, and the others were simply waiting until the weekend to visit.

Not that the other’s parents knew, anyway. Sure, El and Will had a few days off due to asbestos problem at school, but the school would start up soon enough, if not at a temporary location or even the trailers used when there were simply too many children.

But a good majority of the party’s parents were beyond oblivious, and when told that Will and El had finished their freshman year barley questioned it.
The others were most definitely alarmed by the situation, but Mike was in full panic. What could he have done better? What is she thinking? Why are Murray and Ms. Byers letting her go? Will she get hurt?

“I’m just worried..” Mike sighed, understanding the other’s frustration. “I was terrified of losing her, that's all.”

“I know you’re worried, but El’s strong. She knows what she’s doing.” Nancy said comfortingly, walking up next to her brother and giving his elbow a squeeze.

“Wait, is El going against the Russians?” Steve questioned, he and Robin stepping out of the car (Much to Will’s surprise. He was never really close to Steve a Robin, so them tagging along definitely wasn’t expected.) “Oh, she’s fucked.”

“Steve!” Robin cried in horror, embarrassed by his comment and nudging him with her arm.

Mike’s expression turned to one of pure horror as the others glared daggers at the older boy.

“El will be fine, I promise,” Will tried saying to move the attention off of Steve. “But staying here and waiting for something to happen will do us no good.”

“I’m going.” Jonathan and Nancy said in unison, already opening a map and looking it over to find the best route to Newfoundland. “Steve and Robin will watch you guys until we come back.”

Steve and Robin yelled in protest, not wanting to stay behind and watch over the party.

Sure, Steve has done it once before in the midsts of the closing of the gate and when Will had been possessed by the Mind Flayer, but he’d grown since then, and could now take on all sorts of Russians and Demogorgans.

As for Robin, she’d never really cared for watching kids and always found more thrill in an adventure. While it was true she’d taken a liking to Dustin Henderson and Erica Sinclair, Robin had racked up more than her fair share of babysitting from her time at Scoops Ahoy.

“They’re what, 14 now? They can take care of themselves.” Robin said am atter of factly.

“Actually, I just turned 15 3 weeks ago.” Dustin corrected, testing the adults.

Steve waved Dustin off dismissively, still offended by Nanny and Jonathan’s intentions to leave them behind.

“The point is,” Steve said, moving the center of the semi-circle the group had formed. “You two are no stronger than Robin and I and have little more experience than us. What did you do the last time anyway, visit sick old ladies in the hospital and take pictures of rats? Buckley and I were invading an entire top-secret base! If anything, you should be the ones staying behind!”

“It’s my mom going! Not to mention we’re talking about rescuing someone who's basically my mom’s boyfriend, with his adoptive who's basically my adoptive sister! You have no ties to her! I do!” Jonathan shot back, looking up from the map he and Nancy had been holding.

“And you’re brother teased El when Mike first found her, so I doubt she thinks very highly of you!” Nancy added, anger beginning to bubble in her voice. “And you’re ‘breaking into a Russian base’ story gets x10 less cool when you remember that you and Robin we’re wearing sailors uniforms the entire time.”

“I had just gotten off of work, thank you very much!”

The 4’s bickering started to get louder and louder as they progressed. Arguing about the other group’s flaws and pointing out why they shouldn’t be the ones to go find Joyce, Murray, and El, it wasn’t long before the party had gotten in on the stride as well.

“Nancy and Jonathan managed to take down the Demogorgon, and helped burn the mind flayer out of Will!” One voice yelled, contributing to one side.

“Well, Steve brought us to the tunnels so El could close the gate!” Another voice rang out.

It wasn’t long before everyone was shouting, picking sides and exclaiming reasons.

In fact, it had eventually gotten to the point where the party was exclaiming how they should be the ones going, as they’d known about El the longest.

Everyone but Will, that is.

Will stood in shock and frustration as he watched everyone else fight and bicker over who would be the ones to go and who would stay behind.

“Will, you’re logical, who do you think should go?” Dustin shouted, pointing at the boy in question.

Will blushed in embarrassment, not wanting to be the center of attention. As everyone turned to him and silenced themselves to wait for Will’s answer, Will couldn’t help but stutter an almost inaudible reply.

“Will, nobody could hear you.” Lucas scoffed, crossing his arms and shifting all his weight to one foot. Everyone was quick to assume Will would choose them to be the ones to go.

“It’s because we’re all yelling a screaming, of course, he’s a bit hesitant to speak up,” Jonathan said as if we’re the most obvious thing in the world. “Now, who do you think should go to find Hopper?”

Will shifted uncomfortably, moving away from his brother as he began to get closer and closer. He knew that Jonathan had meant no harm in it, seeing as the two were both a bit on the anxious side and had never really been ones for close contact.

“I-I don’t want to decide, not like this.” Will finally sputtered as the others looked on expectingly. “Sure, the party have known El the longest and thus have a stronger relationship with her, but Jonathan has a stronger bond with Mom and he and Nancy knows how to face whatever monsters come their way. That being said, though, Steve and Robin have dealt with the Russians before and sort of know what kind of stuff we’re getting into.”

Will began to pace back and forth across the yard, similar to how Mike had only a few minutes prior.

“But Robin is the only one who has the slightest idea of the Russian language but could never pass like a guard since they’re typically males. Sure, Steve and Jonathan could probably pick up a few phrases and pass as guards, but that still leaves Nancy and Robin, who would likely have to have to be somewhere close should they need a translation, not to mention someone still needs to watch us,” Will said, referring to the party. “But even then, it’s not like we’re just going to stay in Indiana and wait for El, mom, Murray, and Hopper to just to come back. It’s too risky.”

Will groaned in frustration. The choice was far too hard to have one group go and have the others stay behind. Whether it be due to fear of the group getting upset with him for his choice or their needed strengths overall, it was far too difficult to just decide.

“If we all have an upper hand in the situation,” Max questioned, moving to sit on top of the parked car. “Then why decide at all? Why can’t we all go?”

The others nodded in agreement until Nancy spoke up and moved closer to the center to gain everyone’s attention.

“That would be great and all, but we don’t know where Hopper is aside from Newfoundland and El, Joyce and Murray aside from moving closer to Newfoundland.” She said, much to everyone’s dismay. “It’s not like they were trying to give us an idea about where they were going, so that’s a lot of lands to cover just to find them. Not to mention traveling without a route can become especially dangerous, more so when you have a group of 4 adults and 5 kids all packed into one car.”

Everyone stood defeated at Nancy’s point. The closer they got to come to an agreement, the further they got to finding everyone.

Pure silence lingered over the group as they all attempted to make some sort of conclusion of where they could be, but nothing came to mind.

Nancy was right. Will couldn’t recall if his mother had a passport, so there was a chance they’d be crossing illegally, though that only cut off a part of the route they could be taking. As for Hopper, even for being nowhere near the size of Canada, Hopper could be anywhere within the Newfoundland land.

The silence continued.

That is until Will suddenly let out an audible gasp and stumbled backward.

Mike and Steve both quickly rushed behind the boy before he completely fell to the ground, though in the end, it was Steve who ended up holding him by the shoulders.

“Are you okay, you look like you just saw a ghost,” Dustin noted, moving to see what was wrong with Will.

Max and Lucas were right behind Dustin as they began to crowd around Will (Who was still being supported by a very confused and concerned Steve.) Jonathan came rushing in the shoo the others off but stopped when he saw his little brother.

Will was looking up with his eyes looking the same way they had when he’d had the upside-down visions the year prior. The only difference?

His nose had begun to drip blood.

“Mom, El, and Murray are in Ottawa County, right by the coastline. They’re staying at the motel near the tourist island, though they’ll be taking a ferry to the Canadian mainland tomorrow morning. Hopper’s in the Newfoundland and Labrador Corrections Facility that is temporarily being used as a Russian prison as they wait out the events of Chernobyl Nuclear Meltdown.” Will mumbled in such a way that he simply couldn’t have known.

“Shit, kid,” Steve whispered in awe, now struggling to support the boy after his unexpected yet quite detailed reply that managed to catch them all off guard. “How’d you do that?”

Will pulled away from Steve’s support (Which he was very thankful of) and peered down at his hands as if they had managed to do something magical.

“I-I’m not sure..” Will said, just as surprised himself. “I-I’ve never done anything like that.”

They call stood around a still sitting Will, unsure of what to say. Was it possible that from his time in the upside-down, or being possessed, or even when he was able to sense the flayed that he managed to gain some sort of tracking power similar to El’s?

“So uh..” Max finally said, breaking the shocked silence. “Now that we know where everyone is in more detail, does this mean we all can go?”

All 4 adults looked to each other, a hesitant look in each of their faces.

“Fuck it, what’s the worst that can happen?” Robin said, propping open the trunk and sliding in the baggage they’d all just take back out.

Chapter Text

May 4rd, 1986
Port Clinton, Ohio
7:12 am

It was early. Earlier than El would get up for school, even. Joyce and Murray had left to go find ammunition for gun and food for breakfast, leaving El alone to watch over their motel room and make sure nobody came for them.

None of them had gotten any sleep the night prior. With Joyce and Murray constantly switching places for driving and El staying awake due to a strange mix of fear and panic and excitement and a longing to finally see her adoptive father, the idea of sleep was not their number one priority.

Nor was it now, for that matter. Though Joyce had said that El should attempt to get at least a little bit of sleep and that it was quite unlikely anybody but she and Murray would be coming into the room, El simply couldn’t find herself doing anything more than roaming around the room and occasionally peering out the peephole.

It’s started with rummaging through the drawers. She found little more than a roll of toilet paper, some nice smelling soaps, and rough towels she wouldn’t use to dry herself off even if she needed to.

On the nightstand, there was a list of all the local tourist locations a person could visit, including a handful of restaurants and boat rentals, though that quickly got boring.

And at the coffee table, a small coffee machine with packets of coffees and sugars. Hazelnut, and French vanilla, and straight black coffee among the flavors she’d recognized. She’d never liked coffee, but Hopper practically lived off of it. She’d become very accustomed to its strong smell. Sometimes, when Joyce was really stressed out, she’d make a pot and drink it throughout the day, leaving the coffee grounds in the machine to clean out whenever she felt stressed next time.
El would sometimes pour herself a cup, smell it, and place it back in the pot, just to get the smallest bit a feeling that perhaps she was back at the cabin.

She didn’t make herself a cup of coffee.

Instead, she moved to the only thing left in the room that she hadn’t looked at: The television.

It’s true El had spent a good chunk of her time in the cabin watching nonstop television with few breaks in between to the point that she hated it to a certain degree, but at times like these the thought of just sitting down and watching something felt almost.. relaxing.

It was the small things that got her. Like how in the cabin, MTV was 26 but on the Byers’s television, it was 43. Because of the different numbers, she oftentimes would plunge in the wrong numbers at the wrong house and would end up getting things like the game show channel when really she just wanted to watch whatever celebrity they had to offer for that day.

And now was no exception.

As soon as she grabbed the remote, she found that 26 nor 43 would bring her to her desired channel. Instead, they brought her to a movie rerun channel and soap opera channel.

Not that she minded soap operas, it just wasn’t what she was looking for at that exact moment.

She then began clubbing through channels. 1: The Nature Channel. 2: The Documentary 3: The Lifestyle Channel.

Click, Cartoons. Click, Morning News. Click, click click.

So this is what Hopper meant when he said there was nothing on. He didn’t mean it in the sense that all the broadcast had just stopped playing, he meant it as there just wasn’t anything worth watching on.

Even The Dark Crystal seemed dull at the moment.

El sighed as she shut off the television and threw the remote to the side. It was no use. There was nothing that could keep her entertained at that moment.

Standing to go explore the room again, El began to retrace her steps. The bathroom had some nice smelling soaps and toilet paper. The night stand had and informational brochure. And the peephole had..

...A man standing outside the door that most certainly wasn’t Joyce or Murray.

The man had a bushy mustache and wore a black leather jacket with a satchel crossing his body. He was peering down at a piece of paper and had is other hand in his coat pocket.

“Hello?” El’s questioned, her hand gripped onto the doorknob and her attention on the man completely.

“Jane Ives?” The man said in a deep, foreign accent. “You’re father sent me to deliver you a message.”

El gasped audibly. Could it be real, was she dreaming? Moving to open the door and unhinge the locking mechanism, El felt her heart practically pounding out of her chest.

But then she stopped. This didn’t feel right.

“Miss, please open the door, I have something for you.” The man pressed, sounding more persistent this time.

But El still didn’t open.

“Miss, your father is in trouble, he needs your help.” The man giggled the doorknob, taking El off guard.

“Where is Hopper?” El asked suspiciously, placing her foot at the bottom so the man couldn’t push it open.

But instead of getting a reply, El was met with silence. Too much silence.

Peering out of the peephole once more, El suddenly saw why the man was being so silent. Instead of holding the paper in his hand, the man now had a lock picking set and was getting into the room. By the time El realized this, though, it was too late.

El quickly backed away from the entrance as the door swung open, revealing the man and the gun he now pulled from his pocket and has pointing at El.

But it didn’t matter. As soon as the man walked deeper into the room, El made the door swing shut behind him and sent him flying against it. The man let out a groan as his back hit the cold metal backing with a loud ”thunk!”. El held him there too make sure he couldn’t get up, with a big of her power aimed at his neck to make it increasingly difficult to breathe.

“Who sent you?!” El cried, blood now beginning to drip from her nose.

The man began to claw at the invisible grip around his neck. “Jim Hopper.” The man wheezed between shortened breathes. “T-The tape, for you-“

The man shakily dispensed a cassette tape and player from his satchel, dropping it to the floor due to just how unstable he’d become.

“C-come with me. T-To Newfoundland. We have your father, and we’ll protect you-“ The man began, but was cut off once El restrained his neck even more. “Please-“

“You took Hop away from me.” El said, giving the tape little more than a glance. She could look at it later, but now she had business to finish. “I have no sympathy for you.”

Giving it one last push, El watched as the man’s body went completely limp. Tears began to stream down the man’s face, though she knew it wasn’t due to sadness. El had seen it, in the movies, and when Hopper would talk to her about his times as a homicide detective.

Without air, the body can’t work. Blood vessels burst, you’re skin turns a different color, and you’re eyes began to water.

She didn’t feel guilty, not like how she had with Ray. She didn’t want to kill him, and in the end it was a Kahli’s motivation. But this man, this Russian man, he wanted to take hurt her. He already had Hopper, what was one person more?

El fell to her knees, quick to grab the tape the man had managed to dispense. It was nothing out of the ordinary, with no writing other than the obviously pulled away sticker rezado.

But the outside didn’t matter, it was the recording the mattered. She’d seen Hopper in the void, but that could have just been one of his memories, like what she did with her mother and Billy.

Nonetheless, she was prepared. For confirmation, for disappointment, for anything. This was it.

Shakily placing the tape into the Walkman’s player and slipping the headphones over her head, she took one deep breath before clicking the play button. The machine began to whirl into action.

That tape begins with silence that isn’t quite quiet. It’s a wordless song , but without a point. Like when you switch too far on the television and it brings up a channel of static, with that weird noise that you can’t quite describe.

But then, music began to play.

‘..You can’t go the distance, with too much resistance, I know you have doubts, but for god's sake don’t shut me out.’

‘This time you’ve got nothing to lose. You can take it, you can leave it, whatever you choose..’

El couldn’t believe it, this couldn’t be it. The months of waiting, pondering, hoping that Hopper was alive.

Only to find out the closest thing she had to a real message from him was nothing more than a Billy Joel rape someone ripped the cover off of.

El was about ready to rip the headset off and throw it to the ground, crush it and cry, but suddenly the tape gave out again.

Making a small ‘click!’ noise, the machine began to whirl up again, this time repeating back a different kind of silence.

And silence that was eventually interrupted by the voice she had wished for so long to hear.

“Hey, El.” She should head Hopper sigh. He sounded exhausted and worn out. Oh, how she just wanted to see him. “It’s.. it’s been awhile.. it’s really has.”

“I know you’re likely wondering where I am, and why I haven’t seen you for so long, and the truth is that there isn’t any simple way to explain what happened. Hell, I don’t even know what happened. But that’s not the point. The point is that you’re likely very confused on why some Russian lackey is having you listen to some prerecorded nonsense I was forced to take part in, and why it started out with music.”

El peered to the now dead Russian she’s killed only a little bit before. So much for being a good henchman.

“Alice said to use some music tape that’s she could switch out last minute, so I’m sure there’s a method to her madness somewhere. But that’s not the point. The Russian guy. Knowing you, you’ve already slammed him against the wall and killed him. Hell, you’ve probably burned this tape not knowing what the hell it is. Not that I blame you.”

El smiled a bit. Even after spending months apart, Hopper still managed to remember her moves.

“To put it simply, I made a mistake. Back before I’d even adopted you, and Joyce and I were still trying to rescue Will from the Upsidedown, I made a deal with Brenner that I will forever regret. He said that if I traded your location to him, he would set Joyce and I up with all the equipment we needed to get Will out. Now, don’t drag her into it, since it wasn’t her. It was all me, really, so don’t be mad at her. She didn’t know. But now they’re expecting you to be mad with me and never want to see me again and go with them and let them give you a better life than I could ever give you..”

Hopper audible sighed, regret and sadness settling into his voice.

“And I wouldn’t blame you. I don’t.. I’m not sure if you’ll ever get this message or if the guy ever gave it to you, but if you do find yourself listening to this, I want you to know that I love you.. so much.. and I would give everything I could to just see you again. I know you probably hate me now, and that I practically gave away the little freedom you gained, but please understand I regret every second of it. The petrified girl who was wearing Nancy’s Wheeler’s old dress and floating in a kiddie pool of ice salts and water is not the same girl I learned to love so much in the last 2 years I got to spend time with her, and I know that now. So please know that I won’t blame you for wanting to go with whoever it is that came to get you. I’ll miss you, god I’ll miss you, but I won’t blame you. What I did was beyond shitty and if I could turn back time I would fix it, get Will our a different way.”

“Just please know.. I love you and don’t want this to be the last time you hear me.”

The tape made a weird noise and reset itself, signifying the end of the message. Now things were truly silent.

El didn’t know what to do. Yes, Hopper has been living a lie for so long, but what choice did he have?

Standing up and moving to the nightstand, and wordlessly grabbed the brochure and located the Ferry.

Leaving in 30 minutes with an 10 minute walk to the loading dock. She could make it if she rushed.

El tore the paper in half, pocketing the part with information and quickly scratching down a note to Joyce and Murray. They would forgive her, they had to.

Grabbing the man’s satchel, the Walkman, and enough money for a ticket and food if needed, El finished her note and placed it on the bed where she knew Joyce would see it.

It hurt to know what she was doing, but it’s not like she has much of a choice.

Sure, she was willingly heading straight into the Russian’s trap, but not for the reasons they wanted. Instead, she had another mission in mind, one she knew they wouldn’t be in favor of.

The Russians wanted to get their prized experiment back all the while keeping her adoptive father.

Instead, they were going to face the wrath of the girl they’d deprived childhood for so long and loose the only thing they had over her.

She was going to get Hopper back whether they liked it or not.

Chapter Text

May 4th, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
4:12 pm

The wait after recording the message was maddening. It felt like being in the Upsidedown again, the increasing difficulty breathing included.

This would be about the point and time Hopper grabbed a pack of cigarettes and smoked himself into oblivion. Unfortunately, though, he was currently in the middle of nowhere where the closest thing he gets to any sort of smoking is getting high off all the mistakes he’d made in life.

It’s like when you’re a few seconds away from sleep when suddenly you remember that one thing you did is 7th grade and suddenly you’re wide awake and questioning your entire life, accept 24/7.

Nonetheless, it was not quite high he would consider ideal.

What was the possibility that Alice was really lying and by having him record a message against their wishes, was looking for yet another reason to put a bullet between his eyes?

Or what if she really was working with Hopper, but the tape got comprised, so now Alice is the one getting punished?

No, they would have gotten him by now, they didn’t like him and wouldn’t keep him around longer than they needed to.

..Unless this was some sort of test. They wouldn’t wait unt admited his guilt, would they? And if he didn’t, would they bring in El and torture her until he admitted his wrong doings?

Could they even gotten El at this point? It could have been too long, could it? Hopper had lost his concept of time after the trip from Russia to.. well, wherever he was. Before, he had trouble keeping the days straight. But now? He wasn’t even sure if it was 1986 anymore.

How much time had passed since he recorded the tape? Hours? Days? Months, even? How old was El? Will? God, was Joyce even alive?

No, he and Joyce were about the same age, and as far Hopper was aware, he wasn’t dead yet.

Unless this was purgatory. Not quite Hell, but definitely not Heaven. Wait out your sins and thou shall receive an eternity of salvation.

Unless this was like that one Twilight Zone episode where that terrible guy thought he made it into heaven but it turned out to just be glorified Hell.

So much for that, Hopper snorted.

Suddenly, though, the outer door swung open, startling Hopper. Was his Purgatory sentence over? Was he finally free?

“вставай!” Alice yelled, pushing in a large metal cart with a cloke surrounding the base. “Now!”

Hopper offered Alice a quizzical look, adjusting his sitting position and moving to the back of the cell as she pulled a key card from her belt.

As she waved the plastic in front of the small box that dispensed a loud ‘beep!’ and reached to open the doors, she wordlessly whispered something inaudible to any possible Russian standing by.

“Play along.” Hopper read, not quite understanding Alice’s intentions. Alice looked even more of a mess than Hopper was, which was definitely saying something. Instead of her well put together outfit consisting of neatly combed hair, a lint-free lab coat engraved with unfamiliar Russian characters and cleanly tied shoes, Alice’s hair was heading in all sorts of directions, her lab coat wrinkled and folded, and her shoe laces askew. She had deep purple circles lining her eyes with a bulky pair of glasses to presumably replace whatever pair of contacts she’d wear on the daily bases.

To say she looked tired was an understatement. She looked exhausted, worn out, like she hadn’t slept in weeks.

Alice looked like she’d spent all night coming up with a plan.

“ужин.” Alice barked, quickly sliding into the cell with the cart in tow.

This was quite odd, and not only because of Alice’s presentation. Not only had he never received his dinner on a large cart, or even had anyone give him food by not sliding it through a food slot, but he’d never had anyone like Alice give him food.

Usually the low life guards who would be on the ground floor when it came to powering up the generator. The repair men, wearing hazmat suits. The ones that would be blown to shreds should the generator be faulty. The ones that had no notable quality other than being able to fire a gun and kill a man without it scaring them.

Alice, on the other hand, was less disposable. Hopper knew that from the start. Even when breaking into the base at Starcourt, Joyce had to pin her hair up and roughen up as to not seem like a girl. But you Alice to just walk around without any need for a disguise meant she had something very valuable to the Russians.

Sure, they likely had an entire army of male engineers that could identify any problems with the generators. But Alice was different. She was in the experiments, and walked out different than when she walked in. She’d been good with motorized devices before, but now she could feel them, quickly find out what was the issue and how to fix it. Alice was far too important to be reduced down to a lunch lady.

“What the hell are you doing?” Hopper whispered in a low voice as he moved farther into the wall. “No one would believe you, an engineer, would be put on feeding duty. You’re going to get us killed.”

“Just trust me.” Alice shot back, closing the door behind her as she let out another round of orders.

Hopper rolled his eyes in protest, but went along with it anyway. It’s not like he had much of a choice.

“We have located your daughter in Port Clinton, Ohio were one of our men are bringing her back to the facilities for testing. See this as a last meal before we dispose of you.” Alice announced loudly, obviously making things up as she went along.

“Shouldn’t you be speaking Russian?”

“нет.” Alice said bitterly, uncovering the cart to reveal just a glorified version of Hopper’s typical meal. Bread. Sad looking vegetables. The thinnest piece of meat Hopper had ever seen. Oh, how Hopper had missed meat.

Nonetheless, it was clear the cart was more for show than practicality and most definitely wasn’t meant to be Hopper’s last meal before his ‘disposal’.

“Wow, lukewarm steamed carrots instead of peas? Goodness, I must only have a few more hours to live!” Hopper said in an exaggerated tone as he took the tray from Alice.

But Alice only stuck her tongue out in response, unbothered by Hopper’s sarcasm. Instead, she proceeded to all sorts of recording devices from the cart and removed the middle panel to make more room.

“Don’t tell me we’re doing more tape recordings, I’m not sure I can go through another round of spilling out all my feelings to a person I’m not even sure I’ll get to see again.” Hopper scoffed, throwing the plastic tray aside with a loud “thunk!”, watching as the poorly made meal spilled in multiple directions.

“I mean, if you want to you can.” Alice said simply, moving a large white bucket from the bottom panel and placing it to the side. “But I brought it more because it was the first cart I could find. It’s not like Borya strives to give prisoners their last meals.”

Hopper nodded to show he understood, but was caught off guard as Alice handed him a heavier than expected box of film strips.

“Granted Borya barley gives them meals to begin with, but that’s not the point here.”

Alice pushes aside the curtain lining the cart and placed her arm inside, putting her while weight in an attempt to see how much the bottom panel could support. “How much do you weigh?”

“I don’t know, 200? It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to a scale.” Hopper mumbled, throwing the film strips aside and moving closer to see what is was Alice was doing. “Why, you planning to put me in a box and walk me out of the facility?”

Though Hopper was joking, Alice hesitated for a second, moving out from the cart and giving Hopper a sympathetic look.

“More like putting you on a cart and rolling you out..” Alice shrugged shyly and attempted a smile, but was only met with a “You have got to be joking” look from Hopper.

“Look, I was up all night and couldn’t think of anything else! This isn’t like Russia where there had all the corridors with exits out. We’re in the middle of some backwater Canadian town with a renovated prison due to its quaint prisoner population, in case you haven’t realized, and the facility is nowhere near the actual size. Not to mention, I’m literally risking my life trying to get you out!” Alice said suddenly, standing up quickly with a huge look of panic on her face. “I barely even know you! The only reason I'm here is because a college friend called me up and asked for a favor. Trust me, I was much happier back in Ontario where I was as far away from Dr. Brenner as his Russian friends as I could get.”

“Then why did you come? You seem to believe you owe something to Terry, not some man that adopted her kidnapped daughter.”

Hopper had now began to shout a bit, getting increasingly upset with the woman. It’s true that he would be forever grateful for her willingness to help, but he just simply could see why she’d risk everything for him.

“What choice did I have, Jim?” Alice mumbled, sounding more and more exasperated. “I mean, it’s not like I was doing anything. A mechanic, for God’s sake. I was turning into my father. So when Murray called I thought that maybe I could do some good, help out an old friend. I didn’t think it would get this far.”

Alice sighed, pushing a fallen strand of hair from her eyes and moving back to the cart.

“We were so close to. Murray was going to fly in and get you where you were and that would be it.” Alice recalled, placing her foot onto the bottom panel and applying pressure. “But then I had to fuck it all up, like I always do..”

Alice paused for a second.

“Look, I don’t regret offering to help, I’m just exhausted. It’s been so long since anything has happened, and as you can imagine it puts a lot of strain on me.”

Hopper shook his head, waving Alice off.

“It’s not your fault. I know this is stressful, and I’m sorry for criticizing your ways, I just sort of imagined that with.. well..”

“Jane’s set your standards pretty high, huh?” Alice mumbled, he frustration slowly being replaced with a small but prominent smile.

“What?” Hopper questioned, being caught off guard.

It wasn’t that he’d never heard anyone call El by her birth name, Hell, he’d even use it whenever El would misbehave, it just felt.. weird. He’d heard nothing but ‘Experiment Eleven’ for so long that he was convinced that he was the only one who saw El as an actual person anymore.

Sure, she rarely went byJane, but Alice calling her something even remotely close to an actual persons name just felt foreign.

“Nah, nah, not like that.” Hopper said reassuringly. “Though it’s odd. Terry’s files said you had some sort of precognition thing going on, yet you’re a mechanic with mechanical abilities.”

Alice shot up from the cart, only to ease back after a second.

“Shit don’t scare me like that. I forgot from r a second about her stash of files and her attempts to sue the lab. Making me think Brenner still has records of me..” Alice trailed off. “Though I guess those are inaccurate now, huh.”

Alice waved her hand dismissively, showing she wasn’t as worried about Brenner having files as much as she originally let on.

“Early stages of testing, I suppose. I’m sure El probably had it, though might have been too young to remember. They all started out with the same drug, but expanded from there. Different effects on the body, but once Six walked in they changed stuff around for it to be mechanical to fit more with what made me click. Granted, it also could of been from Gloria’s doses, though it’s been years since I’ve seen her.”

“Six?”

Alice nodded, grabbing a wrench from a discarded box and beginning to tighten a bolt somewhere on the siding.

“Francine, She was also precognitive, though was born with the abilities. No need for two people with the same powers.” Alice thought about it for a second, hesitating. “Jokes on them, anyways. They shot her when she, Control, and Three tried escaped.. even when restarting the number system they couldn’t get it right.” Alice tossed the wrench aside and began to dust herself off and adjust her lab coat. “Or so I’m told. That’s when Terry supposedly tried to get Jane back. Ken’s boyfriend quit immediately following that day, though I pressed him for information.”

Alice folded down the blue curtain and stepped back to admire her handy work. Giving it one last pressure test, she finally let out an amused “hmm” and beckoned Hopper closer.

“Alright, get on.”

 

“And you’re sure we won’t get caught?” Hopper grunted, wincing as the cart rolled over something causing it to jerk up.

“Not if you don’t shut up,” Alice shit back through gritted teeth. The two were speaking in a low voice, in fear of getting caught. It’s suspicious enough for someone like Alice to be rolling an unnecessary cart down the prison’s corridors, let alone her talking to said cart.

As for Hopper, he was enjoying the experience just as much as Alice was. The cart was beyond cramped with little leg room, and Hopper had to crouch his head down so his head didn’t bump it too much.

Yes, the idea of nearing freedom was amazing and something he couldn’t get his mind off of, but it was times like these that almost wondered if the cell was any more comfortable.

“Any indication of when we’ll be out? I’m not sure how much more I can take up this nonsense.” Hopper attempted in a low whisper, moving the blue curtain a smidge to see how far they were from an exit.

Alice, having noticed Hopper’s peering eyes, was quick to swish the curtain back. She couldn’t risk it.

“It’s hard to say.” Alice responded, turning a corner to another long corridor. The medical wing, if she was right about the layout. “Assuming I know where I’m going, I’d say probably another five minutes, eight at most.”

Alice passed a group of electricians with their lightning-bolt inscribed coats. Offering them a toothy grin as a way of pure politeness and absolutely no suspicion whatsoever, she received little more than a smug “hmph” in return as they stuck their noses up.

“How are you able to just not smack them?” Hopper pondered aloud once the group walked away.

Alice shook her head and turned away. So much for being polite.

“You just have to remember how much more godly you are than them.” Alice rolled her eyes and laughed, finding amusement in her less than serious response. “Foolish electrician mortals, I could kill you with your own expertise!”

Hopper attempted to restrain a chuckle, though Alice took less care.

“Alice?” A Russian guard spoke with a thick accent, turning the corner and immediately noting the girls odd laughter. He was younger than most of the other workers, 20 at most. He was very lankey and the gun he was holding appeared huge compared to him. He was communications, if Alice could recall correctly, and rightfully so. He was one of the only ones who could speak fluent English besides Borya and Alice. “What is funny to you?”

“Oh, oh, nothing.” Alice assured, waving the guard off and attempting to pull the attention away from herself.

“No, is it joke? I want to hear.”

“It’s nothing you’d understand. It’s uh, English humor. From America.”

The guard furrowed his brows together, looking around for a second before returning his full attention back to Alice.

“America?” The guard pointed down, regarding Canada’s placement over the US. “How? Telephone?”

“Yeah, Yeah. My mother called me, and I was thinking back to something she said. I’m afraid it personal, though.. Sorry.”

The guard looked a little hurt but was quick to disregard it. Instead, he began to walk beside Alice as she proceeded on.

“Where are you going?” The guard questioned, quickly noting Alice’s route.

“Lunch.” Alice quickly answered, but quickly realized her mistake. “At 16:00. Borya had me working late. So I guess that this is just an early dinner.”

The guard showed his understanding, though his confusion didn’t completely fade away. Instead of peeling off, he continued to walk on with an increasingly nervous Alice and a Hopper, hidden away only by a thin layer of cloth.

“With cart?” He tried, his voice unsure, though whether it was because of the bad translation or just confusion of why Alice had it was unclear.

No it wasn’t, Alice thought aloud, slowly yet not purposely quickening her pace. Why the hell would a person need a cart for lunch? You don’t, she was causing suspicion.

“It’s for Borya.” Alice sad with a tone meant to finish off the conversation. “But look, I got to get home for a bit. Eat, sleep, and start it all up again in the morning, right? See you..”

“Police.”

Now it was Alice giving the guard a quizzical look.

“Your name is Police? Is that like the Russian version of Peter?”

But the guard didn’t speak. Instead, he lifted up a shaky finger and gestured to the cart, pressing a button on his belt loop as to signal something.

But once Alice was finally able to see what the guard was pointing to, it was too late. At the bottom of the fringe lay an opening, an opening wide enough to thinly show the facial features of Hopper. Though it was barely enough to recognize who it was, it was clear that there was most definitely a person in there. A person who shouldn’t be there.

“Fuck,” Alice cried out just as the alarms began to sound. She was quick to pull Hopper from the cart and push him to the side, throwing her exit cart at him all within a few seconds.

But the guard was also very quick, having also picked up his own gun and having it aimed directly at the two.

“Alice,” He said, his voice as shaky as his fingers clutching the trigger. “It didn’t have to be like this.”

Alice could only do as much as offer the boy a small smile as she grabbed a taser from her belt and activated it, throwing the machine at him to catch before it started up.

“But it did.” Alice said sadly just as the machine burst into electricity. While the amount on its own typically wouldn’t be enough to do anyone any harm besides stun them, with Alice cranking up the power to as far as it could go it only resulted in a lethal dose of electricity.

They guard, having dropped his gun, caught the small death machine but then tumbled to the floor, unable to withstand the shock.

It was a pitty, really.

Alice had never wanted to kill anyone, not on purpose. But she had bigger things to worry about now.

“Run.” Alice said, turning to a stunned Hopper. “I’ll be right behind you.”

Chapter Text

May 6th, 1986
8:17 PM
Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland
Five Hours From St. John’s, Newfoundland

El had always hated traveling, especially in cars. She’d get so easily car sick that they’d never be enjoyable, and even traveling from Hawkins to Indianapolis was stomach-wrenching.

Yet here she sat, almost 27 hours into her 32 hour ride to find her father.

She’d been on two ferries, a handful of bus rides, and far too many hitchhiking trips to count, and it all somehow got her on some train heading to the capital.

She didn’t know why, but it felt right. Something about it.. A few trips back, an older lady had asked where she’d been heading, and where her parents where.

“City.” She could only reply, refusing to look her in the eyes. “My father’s is in the city. He’s waiting for me.”

The lady thought about it for a second.

“Saint Johns the capital , if that’s what you mean. I don’t know if that’s what you’re looking for.”

El didn’t know either, but thanked the lady anyway. She’d been at this for too long, and was deathly tired.

Not that she could sleep, anyway. She hadn’t been able to since Murray showed up at the door and told her of Hopper’s whereabouts, and when the Russian came to give her that recording.

She didn’t know how to interpret that recording. It was amazing to know Hopper was still alive, but..

No, she couldn’t think of it like that, no now. She’d made it this far, she couldn’t let herself think about that now.

El shook her head, earning a few worried glances from the other passengers. She waved them off, though. They wouldn’t understand.

The bus wasn’t overly crowded, especially with the constant rotation it had been admitted to with every new stop. Businessmen, families, teenagers, on and off, on and off.

There was a mother with two children sitting at the far end of the bus. The kids- a boy and a girl- were running around with delighted shrieks while the mother repeatedly growled at them to settle down.

A man wearing a dark grey tux and leather briefcase held onto a standing bar as he impatiently tapped his foot and peered to his watch.

An older women sat across from El, knitting a pastel pink tube that fell further and further to the floor with every click of her knitting needles.

And a younger lady, sitting only a few seats away from El with a book in hand. Carrie, if El wasn’t mistaken.

The lady caught El’s glance and smiled, dog earing the page and placing it to the side.

“You like Stephen King?” The lady asked, sliding closer to El with her book.

El thought about it for a second. She’d really only seen the movies, which weren’t always known for showing the good side of his books.

“Yeah.” El said anyway.

The lady nodded, looking back to her book in hand. “What’s your favorite one?”

“Salem’s Lot.” El muttered, though it sounded more like a question. It was the only one she could think of off the top of her head.

The lady smiled warmly. “New England vampires, eh? I’ve personally always been partial to Firestarter, you know? Just the concept of teens voluntarily pumping themselves with toxins for a quick buck, only to have a pyrokinetic child and lab chasing after the father-daughter pair is just.. wow. Hard to think of really happening in real life.”

El winced, though she didn’t know why. She’d seen the movie with Dustin, and tried to get through the book. She didn’t hate it, far from it in fact. It just hit a little too close to home. With the parallels becoming a little to real, El wasn’t sure how much she’d be able to take if Hopper went the same route as Andy McGee.

“Would ability would you have if you could choose? Or like, if you’re parents injected mysterious chemicals for money, what power would you want?” The lady asked expectantly, tilting her head as she spoke. “I’d want the ability to see the future. Get good at lottery tickets and gambling, you know?”

El vocally let out a “hmm” sound as if she were contemplating it. What does she say in a situation like this?

Telekinesis with sensory perception?

Or just be blunt, and say something like flight.

Or maybe illusions? Like Kali?

“Invisibility.” El said finally. “To escape from everyday life while still watching from the sidelines.”

 

The lady had gotten off the bus at the next stop, beckoning El a goodbye and noting how she’d enjoyed their chat.

And to be fair, El did to. To a certain degree, if calmed her nerves.

But without the lady, El was now left alone once more. It was later now, maybe 11:00 PM. She still had time before her stop, though there wasn’t anyone on the bus anymore. The night sky was inky outside, as the sun had made its departure a few hours ago.

And with only a fraction of the original passengers remaining on the bus, El quickly found herself fading off with her eyes becoming more and more tired.

She tried to fight it, but it became harder and harder to fight. She’d been up for too long, and desperately needed rest.

She’d wake up by then, she’d have to, she rationalized in her mind. Besides, what would a few seconds of sleep do to harm her?

1980
Hawkins Lab
“No, no, no!” The teacher yelled, slamming her large book down in frustration as Eleven watched in terror. “You go one with god damn ‘всë’, and always mess it up! Is you find yourself as a Russian meeting, with very important people, as you are trying to get them to believe you are fluent, why would you ever say anything like ‘everything’? I’d like to make a toast to everything!” The teacher scowled. “Do it again.”

Eleven hesitantly reached for the book, almost as if she’d get yelled at again if she were to even look at it. Sure, she’d learned to withstand the adult’s fury after having spent so long of withstanding it, but that doesn’t mean it ever got any easier for her.

“Я хотел бы предложить тост за все,” Eleven said shakily, fear audibly rising in her throat. “в котором мы все собрались в единстве.”

Eleven tried to continue, but knew she was finished once her voice broke. Even if she fought the punishments to come, I’d be of no use. She’d disappointed her Papa.

The teacher glared at Eleven as he viciously grabbed the book from her and grabbed her by the wrist.

“We’ll have to try again tomorrow.” He growled, dragging her through the door and back off to her own room.

She’d be put in solitary confinement for not getting it right, she knew. Like she’d been so many times before.

Hawkins Lab
1981
“Don’t you look beautiful,” Brenner hummed, stepping into one of the lab’s many doors where Eleven and a semestres had been.

Eleven was wearing a velvety red dress with long sleeves and a shawl draped around her shoulders. The front was decorated with shimmery
embroidery and glittering beads.

It was one of the few days where all tests were discarded, and instead Eleven was sent with different people to prepare for all sorts of things.

Reading, writing, and now fittings: All for a pending Russia trip to come.

“I couldn’t decide whether the blue or red worked better for Subject Eleven, and was hoping I could get an opinion. Red complements her brown hair nicely, but a royal blue could also do wonders.” The seamstress notes, chewing on the edge of her pencil as she spoke.

“Is the blue of the same material as the red?” Brenner questioned, moving closer to the sewing station.

“Ah, yes.” She nodded, bringing a large white box from the ground a folding it open to reveal the dress in question. “With silver thread and beads to compliment.”

Brenner nodded his head in satisfaction, feeling the end of the dress with his fingers.

“What do you think, Eleven?”

Eleven, having stopped twirling in her dress, looked to her Papa with wide eyes. Rushing over to where the to had been, she excitedly peered at the royal blue dress.

“Pretty.” El said, not daring to touch the fabric. “More than the red.”

Brenner smiled a bit, grabbing the box. “Perfect. This will be quite nice to bring to Russia to meet Mr. Borya.”

Russia
1983

“Привет,” Eleven smiled warmly to the man in front of her, offering him her hand and clutching her dress like she’d been taught by the etiquette teachers.

“Brenner, who knew you could raise such an elegant lady.” Borya mused, though refusing to shake her hand. They could paint her up and teach her Russian, but that didn’t mean he’d view her any higher. After all, she was a little more to him than a fork was to a spoon; Sure, having the two is nice and can prove itself useful. But in the end, you could only live with one.

Besides, he couldn’t afford to humanize or give anymore experiments a sense of hope. She was Experiment Eleven for a reason. Sure, a handful had escaped or died due to certain mishaps, but Ms. Ives certainly wasn’t the first one of Brenner’s children to make their way over to Russia.

“Yes, though im afraid I can’t take all the credit. It’s astounding how easy it was for Eleven to collect information as quickly as she did.” Brenner snapped his fingers to show emphasis. “Why, she was even speeding through the deprivation with ease. I dare say we may even be able to start the tank soon.”

“Ah, yes, about that.” Borya trailed off, thinking over the translations and how he was going to say it. “We’ve uh.. while testing the generator.. there was a tear..”

Borya frowned. Usually it was his underlings to stutter, not him. But here he was, having great difficulty explaining something that should be easy to Martin Brenner, of all people.

“We suspect we’ve made way to a gateway leading to another dimension. See, it’s wasn’t quite through, as a thin layer covering the slit in the wall, but looking in..” Borya sighed, eyeing Eleven suspiciously as if she were a spy with intentions to infiltrate all of Russia’s secrets. “Interdimensional beings. Imagine the warfare tactics, Martin. We’d always have the upper hand.”

“What are you implying?”

Borya’s sly smile returned as he layed a less than comforting hand on Brenner’s shoulder.

“Eleven has been able to see our men from halfway across the room using nothing but white noise. How would creatures only a thin layer away from her be any more difficult?”

Brenner stared in awe, unsure of what to say.

“You’re crazy, you know that? What happens if you bring it in to our world? Do you really expect to be able to train it‽”

But Borya could only laugh a wicked laugh that would make both Brenner and Eleven cringe.

“I have a steady flow of enemies flowing into my grip at any point and time with quite a few locations.” Borya grinned evilly. “And find their comfort and lives are not very high on my list of priorities.

 

“Kid?”

El’s eyes shot open- how long had she been asleep?- to find the gruff old bus driver peering back at her.

“Kid, it’s your stop.” The man said through his unshaven 5 o’clock shadow. It was later now, likely past 1 am now. The town, never having really been as lively as other places El had seen, was now only illuminated by dull street lamps. The bus stop, where the bus had, well, stopped, could be seen just outside the window. But most importantly, El was really the only one on the bus.

“Where am I? What city is this?” El said groggily, pushing herself up and rubbing her eye.

The man pulled El up by the hand, providing her with a bit of balance.

“St. John, Newfoundland.” The man said as El slipped the satchel over her shoulder. “Though I’m not sure why, in the midst of the night with no parent around. Not to say St. John’s and shady place, but is there anywhere safer I can drop you off? A parents house or maybe a friends?”

El wanted to decline, but suddenly something hit her. Something about her dreams, though she couldn’t quite remember them..

“Is there any sort of prison in St. John?” She asked, though the words seemed to flow out of her mouth without thinking about them.

The driver nodded his head, humming a second before he spoke.

“The correctional facility? I believe so, though it’s been out of service for a bit due to renovations. Why’d you want to go there?”

“Because.” El said, sitting down once more as she finally felt satisfaction wash over her. “I’m gonna see my father.”

Chapter Text

May 4th, 1986
8:47 AM
Port Clinton, Ohio

“Mom?” Will noted his mother, running out of the cramped vehicle the moment Jonathan was able to get it into a park. “Mom, are you okay?”

Joyce peered up at her son, have shocked to see him but also seeming extremely upset. She’d been kneeling in the middle of the motel’s parking lot next to her car, clutching what seemed to be a price of paper with tears streaming down her face.

Murray Bauman was standing next to her, looking not as disturbed but most definitely off-put by something.

“Oh, Will, honey..” Joyce tried to muster but immediately broke into another fit of tears. As the others began to distribute out of the car, the circle surrounding the Byers’s mother became more and more dense with people. “She’s gone?”

Will stood with a look of awe. She didn’t have to say her name, he already knew. Yet Will couldn’t help but look around in a panic as if she’d be somewhere close. Maybe just across the street, or at some local store. Most definitely wherever his mother had been implying.

“El’s gone?” Mike said, becoming quite pale and stepping deeper into the circle. “No, no, who took her? Was it the Russians?”

Mike continued to ramble, only stopping once Nancy rushes beside him and pulled him back physically and mentally.

And now, it was Murray who spoke for Joyce, who had once more broken into another fit of tears.

“No, no one took her, she’s fine. We suspect a man had come to get her to bring her back to wherever she may be, but she.. well..”

“Is that a dead body?” Max squinted, looking past the crowd and into the shared room. The others were quick to see where the girl had been looking.

“Holy shit!” Dustin exclaimed in both horror and excitement. He quickly rushed into the room despite the adults protests, Jonathan even going as far as to try and block the door from anyone else rushing in. But it was no use. One man was no use for five teenagers (Plus Robin, who was just as intrigued by the dead body as the younger kids)

“You really weren’t going for 5-star when picking a hotel, huh Mr. Bauman?” Steve wrinkled his nose as he stepped inside and noted how unattractive it was.

Paint peeling, wallpaper that simply couldn’t match the carpet, stained bed sheets, sparked outlets, cigarette stains, and ugly artwork presenting what seemed to be the result of a three year old’s artwork after having been left out in the rain: All brought together to make a less than flattering motel room.

“We’re in Ohio, for God’s sake, what did you expect?” Murray rolled his eyes, walking in behind with a visibly shaken Joyce.

All the kids stared in awe around the room, thought Will was quick to return to his mother.

He asked the basic question of whether or not she was alright, if she had witnessed anything, and so on. But before long, Will began getting into the real things.

“That note,” He said, pointing to a now crumpled piece of paper his mother had been clutching for dead life. “Is that from El?”

“Huh?”Joyce asked, surprised and looking down at her hands. “Oh, yes, yes, it’s from her..”

Joyce shakily handed the note to Will with shaky hands, still unsure of how to handle the situation. It wasn’t clear whether she knew what she was doing. Nonetheless, Will was suddenly in possession of the note that had brought his mother so much pain- but could also determine El’s intentions.

Sure, most of them were clear. El wanted her father. Her father was in Newfoundland.

With a bit of connection and inferring, one could determine that this man had been sent to harm her, or was in some way Hopper’s kidnapper.

Yet there was just as many loose ends that needed tying. Why not wait until Joyce and Murray returned? Was Hopper really in Newfoundland, or was Murray’s friend lying?

In all though, Will held the note just as tight as his mother had. The others were busy searching around the room trying to scrounge up whatever clues they could to where El had wandered.

But Will had the one thing she’d left behind.

Yet he couldn’t bring himself to open if. Surly, he wanted to open it and discover what secrets she’d left them, the clues, anything.

Instead, though, Will pushed the note deep into his pocket and joined his friends in their search.

“Dude, are you okay?” Lucas asked, pulling open the bedside drawer and peeking inside to see if anything notable was inside.

“Yeah, just off put..” Will trailed off, leaning onto the bed and assisting Lucas in looking. “I’m worried, you know?”

Lucas nodded, but suddenly rejoiced as he pulled something from the drawer.

“Score!” He exclaimed, his fist shooting up in the air out of excitement. Everyone turned to see what the boy had been so happy about, but were quick to become annoyed once they saw what it was.

Instead of being anything substantial, Lucas held in one hand a small little rectangle wrapped in shimmery blue foil with a gold title.

“Chocolate won’t help us find El.” Mike spat, becoming quite upset about Lucas’s false alarm of discovery.

“But Will help my hunger.” Lucas grinned, piling the candy in his mouth and continuing on with his search.

As for the others, they’d continued on with their own digs. The bathroom, under the bed, behind the television: The smallest thing could mean the world to them if it meant having at least the faintest idea of where El had departed to.

It wasn’t long before the children gathered around the small table, dumping their findings onto it and crowding around it to see what the others had discovered.

“I found an envelope by the nightstand. I know it’s not much, and it’s empty, but hid had some unreadable handwriting on it that could potentially be El’s?” Max tried, referring to her own findings.

“That was the envelope with money left for the maid, Mayfield.” Murray scoffed from the side, leaning on the TV stand since there was no room around the table. “And I happen to find my handwriting quite legible, thank you very much.”

Max offered Murray her middle finger with a grin, not particularly caring whether or not she’d offended him. Murray stuck out his tongue in response.

“I found a stack of brochures for tourist traps lining Lake Erie. Perhaps she’s gone to one of those?” Mike added anxiously, notably distressed by the entire situation.

“Perhaps, though I doubt it. If anything, she'd take some sort of boat or plane to Canada, as that’s where Murray’s friend had implied he was.” Joyce hummed, her eyes having become bloodshot and voice raspy from her recent fit of crying. “But that’s not necessarily the problem. We know she’s heading to Newfoundland, but we don’t know where. For being a constantly overlooked peninsula, there happens to be quite a bit of land to cover.”

Mike frowned, disappointed that his input didn’t help as much as he’d hope. He’d known that El likely wouldn’t have run off to somewhere enjoyable, sure, he’d just felt he had to add something.

But there wasn’t much time for mopeing, as Steve, Jonathan, and Nancy were quick to break the silence as they practically dashed ack into the crowded room, presumably having gone to ask anyone if they’d seen El leave.

“Nothing.” Nancy huffed, roughly throwing herself onto the bed where Robin sat, though she hadn’t been paying much attention. “All they could say they saw her leave, assumed she was heading off to find Ms. Byers and Mr. Bauman. No sense of what direction she was heading.”

“And even if they did know where she was heading, it was over an hour ago. She could be anywhere at this point.” Steve added, looking just as defeated as everyone felt.

“So.. what do we do? We’ve checked the entire room, and have found nothing.” Dustin muttered. “Unless..”

Dustin rushed over to the dead body, hesitant to touch it but still pointing to it with outstanding confidence. “If this man had come to collect El, would it be logical to think that maybe she found out where Hopper was by using whatever she could find on him?”

“No.” Robin said blankly. Everyone turned around to look at her, only now realizing what she’d been holding something in her hand. An ID card, to be specific.

“Mr. Bauman, you’d say ‘лаборатория’ means ‘laboratory’ when translated to English, yes?”

Murray cocked a suspicious eyebrow, walking over to where Robin sat and immediately snatching the card from her hands. He peered it over, adjusted he glasses, and immediately moved to his own suitcase to drag something out.

Once he found what he was looking for, though, he frowned in disgust, mumbled only loud enough that only a few people could here.

“Aw, Jesus, Al, you had to choose these idiots?” He questioned, more to himself than anyone else.

Joyce was right behind Murray, though, her hands beginning to tremble as she hastily reached for the card.

“It can’t be, we killed them off, the generator..”

But the moment Joyce was able to spot the forever daunting logo she’d come to hate so much, it was all over. She broke down, holding the card tight as as both Jonathan and Will rushed to give her comfort.

“Mom..” Will trailed off, not daring to look at the card in her hand.

“Looks like we’re meeting back with the bastards under Starcourt.” Joyce said in a raspy voice, defeat washing over her. “Let’s just hope the uniform still fits.”

And with that, Hoyce collapsed, giving into the weight of the situation.

Chapter Text

May 7th, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
3:14 AM

“We can’t stay here like this, we’re sitting ducks goddammit,” Alice said anxiously, an unlit cigarette between her lips as she paced back and forth across her small apartment. Hopper, who’d changed out of the tiringly old and worn down Russian uniform and into one of Alice’s old band shirts from Indiana, chose to stay silent as if you give the woman the piece she needed to think. “I mean, I don’t know what to do. They’ve practically launched a manhunt for you, and I’m not sure how much longer I can go on with this “taking a break” thing. They’re bound to be suspicious!”

Alice removed the cigarette from her lips and anxiously grabbed the matches from her counter. It’d been years since she’d smoked, and even then she really wouldn’t smoke more than one pack a week. The smell has never been pleasant to her and due to her constant workings around motor oils and flammable liquids, she thought it better than to excessively feed the possible addiction.

But in the last few days, since she’d gotten Hopper’s of the St. John’s prison, she’d gone through probably five packs by herself, a number to put even Hopper to shame.

“We have to go back to America, we can’t just sit here waiting for Borya to find you. It’ll be both our heads if he finds out.”Alice slumped down on one of the table’s chairs and peered to Hopper. Even after sleeping through most of the last two days (With a few breaks only to eat, use the bathroom, and shower) he’d looked unbelievably tired.

“Would it be safe to travel to the mainland? Getting a plane ticket would take too long and it’d seem suspicious to travel to America without any luggage, not to mention I don’t have a passport. It’ll be weeks before I’m able to get one.” Hopper hummed, moving from the counter he’d been leaning against the table. “But if we take a ferry from St. John’s to Quebec then we’d at least be far enough away from the Russians that we’d at least have enough time to think of something.”

Alice contemplated it for a second, suddenly pulling the unlit cigarette from her lips and throwing it to the side. She then proceeded to lean over and pull open on of the kitchen’s doors and pull out a stack of maps.

Alice placed the stack on the wooden table and began sifting through it, placing each map aside once she’d determined it wasn’t the one she was looking for.

Map of Indiana, kарта камчатки, map of The United States of America, all tossed aside due to disinterest. Карта России, map of Newfoundland, map of Maine...

And finally, Carte du Québec.

“Alright,” Alice let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding, unfolding the map as she did so. The map looked older than all the other maps, with a sort of orange hue and permanent stains scattered throughout. Furthermore, the entire thing had been written in French, with no English breaks in between. But that didn’t matter. It was the points that mattered, and as long as each city was marked correctly, this map could very well end up saving Alice and Hopper. “The boats don’t start up until five, so we have a bit of time before we would have to leave. That being said, we’ll likely have to take a bus to Conception Bay South, as they have a ferry to Bell Island. From there..”

Alice trailed off, tracing her finger across the map to the meer corner of Québec before the border to Newfoundland and Labrador’s attached land.

“We’ll take a boat to Blanc-Sablon, Québec.”

Hopper smiled, looking past the seemingly endless journey the two hand ahead of them. One that would take over half a day in boat travel, in fact.

“And from there?” Hopper mumbled, practically tasting the freedom that would come the moment he touched any land that wasn’t connected to Newfoundland or St. John’s, far away from any Russians hoping to use him in order to gain back El.

“Ideally a one-way ticket to Hawkins, Indiana, if you’re up to it. It’ll take a while, probably about 2 full days of driving, but I feel like even that would be better than waiting here for Borya and his minions to come and find you.” Alice answered, pushing her glasses (Which she’d taken to wearing the last few days instead of contact lenses) further up the bridge of her nose. “That is, of course, assuming we can even make it to the station without raising any suspicions. Kind of hard when you’re on the run for a power-hungry government.”

“It always is.” Hopper sighed happily. It wasn’t much, but it was a nice break from all the chaos he’d been submitted to the past year.

 

Hopper had found it to be incredibly odd drinking coffee again, after only getting water (if that) while in Borya’s grasp. It wasn’t that he could no longer handle certain aspects of the bitter drink, such as the straight-to-the-point taste or just how long it takes to cool down enough so it doesn’t burn your throat, it was more that fact that he was actually able to do it again.

Typically, he’d put in a big of half-and-half or a spoonful of sugar, but he didn’t have any time for that now. Instead, Hopper found himself funnelling one cup of straight untainted coffee after another. French roasts, light brown, full city, even the fire-risk roast tastes delightful as it slid down his throat.

“If I would have known you liked coffee so much, I would have gotten you some before now,” Alice mumbled, eyeing Hopper as he polished off his fifth cup. She normally would have worried about how much that amount of caffeine would off-put Hopper’s sleeping schedule, but at this point, she didn’t exactly have any concerns left to give. The man had just spent a year in a prison were sleep was scarce and had spent the last few days doing nothing but sleeping. Whatever pattern he might have had in Hawkins was nothing more but a distant memory at this point.

That, and the fact that the two we’re currently doing nothing but waiting for the bus to make its loop around and take them to Conception Bay South. Due to the likelihood that it would take quite a while before they would be able to eat again and any store near the boat’s loading dock would be severely overpriced, Alice and Hopper found themselves scanning a small gas station before their departure.

“God, never before did I think I’d be excited to see this disgustingly sugary cereal.” Hopper scoffed, pulling a box of Lucky Charms from the shelf and showing it to Alice. “I almost prefer Eggos and whipped cream over this.”

“A favourite breakfast of her’s, I presume?” Alice notes, referring to El.

Hopper vigorously nodded his head, and even let out a laugh. The amount of money and days he spent getting Eggos for his adopted daughter were enormous, so much so that he wasn’t sure if a day passed that she didn’t consume the sweet breakfast item at least once. The syrup and butter and whatever else El decided belonged on a waffle, all stacked onto a plate and consumed throughout the day.

“I think that’s what I’m most looking forward to, being able to see El without being forced to tempt her to the same prison I’ve been stuck in. Even her violet temper tantrums seem like a walk in the park. I just hope they haven’t gotten to her yet.”

Alice and Hopper, having collected their basket filled with all sorts of snacks- Hopper’s was stuffed with all the things he’d longed for over the last year such as cans of Miller Lite and a few packs of camels, were as Alice had collected her fair share of fruits and vegetables to make sure they wouldn’t be eating complete crap over the time it would take to get to Québec- had begun making their way to the stores counter to finish up and pay.

“You’ve raised her for what, two years? And she has telekinesis? She’s fine, probably snapped the guy’s neck the moment he walked through the door.” Alice reassures, pulling her wallet from the pocket and placing her basket of the counter. “And you’ll be able to see her soon. The trips only going to take what, four days? Then you’ll be back in Hawkins. It’s like those times you travel for work and are gone for a few days.”

“I was a big-city homicide detective turned small-town police chief, Alice, the only break from work I took was my double tour to ’Nam. I wasn’t gone for a ‘few days’ I was gone for two years.”

“You know what I mean.”

Once all the groceries had been paid for and Hopper had consumed his sixth cup of coffee, the two had started to make their way to the bus stop across the street. It was later now, about 4:45 am and would soon be on their way to the loading dock. Hopper didn’t know how to feel about it all, which Alice quickly took note of.

“Aren’t you excited to see Hawkins again? And you’re family?” Alice questioned, tilting her head and frankly, catching Hopper off guard. It wasn’t that he was shocked that she was asking, since it was bound to happen- it all felt as if her was an inmate being released, not an enemy of Russia on the run - he just wasn’t sure how to respond.

“Yeah, of course, it has El and the Byers, and even seeing the Wheeler kid will be nice again.” Hopper paused and turned away from Alice as if to hide his face. “I’m just worried, you know? About you, and about El- god, what will she think?- and the possibility that Joyce isn’t even in Hawkins anymore.”

Hopper began to spiral, only stopping once Alice placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. He turned back only to see the woman stricken with her own pained yet smiling expression.

“Please, don’t worry.” Alice sighed. “I’m in contact with Murray whose in contact with Joyce. If the Byers are no longer in Hawkins, we’ll know where to go. And he would have told me if El was captured or no longer wants to be reunited. It’s going to be awkward for awhile, I know, but you’ll get through it.” Alice thought about it for a second, kicking a rock that just so happened to be in their path along the way. “And I have places. I’ve moved around nonstop since ‘70, I have multiple burner homes at my disposal.”

Hopper didn’t say anything in return. He upset him to know that more people than just El had to have a sort of plan should the lab ever come back to claim their failed science experiment. He knew there was nothing he could do, him being at Hawkins High School and now where near the Bloomington college where the experiments took place, he almost wished there was something he could do about it all.

But paired with the bitter silence was the arrival at the worn down bus stop. Alice, who’d begun to look even more tired under the failing fluorescent bus stop lights, threw herself onto the wirey bench with an audible sigh.

“4:57, we have three minutes.” Alice wheezed as she peered at her watch, reaching for her another cigarette and match tucked away in her coat pocket. “You want one?”

How briskly nodded his head, though he didn’t know why. He wouldn’t be able to handle the cigarette after such a long break, even if he used to smoke a pack a day. Instead, he began to tear away the paper covering once Alice handed it to him.

“You say Terry saved you, and you owe it all to her,” Hopper began, watching the scraps tumble to the concrete floor and be gathered away by a slight gust of wind. “But you’ve never explained how. You have these burner homes, but you haven’t lived in Indiana in forever. What happened that you don’t dare to show your face, even all these years later?”

Alice shook her head, the murky smoke moving with her. “It was like adult kidnapping. They had forms stating they could keep me at the lab after they’d filled me up with enough electricity and called me worthy. Terry, and the other subjects, for that matter, got me out and sent me away to Canada.”

Alice removed the cigarette from her lips and tapped it, watching as the ash fell away without even thinking about it. “They would always say “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer”” Alice laughed bitterly. “I don’t think they meant to assist them in their cruel and inhumane experiments.”

Hopper tried to crack a smile, though it was truly a hard thing to do. He knew that between getting him out, and killing a man to get him out, switching the tapes, he’d forever be in her debt. She was walking straight into the lion’s den of horror that she’d tried to escape from all those years ago. All to repay some debt she believes she had with Terry Ives, a women Hopper had only seen in her vegetative state.

“Hey, it’s alright, it’s fine.” Alice said, beginning to stand up and grab the bags of food. “Don’t get all soft on me now, not with the bus coming. I’m sure the last thing the bus driver wants to see is a crying man and five in the morning.”

And Alice was right about that. As soon as she’d finished her attempt at soothing Hopper, a creaky bud that likely hadn’t had a paint job pulled up in front of the bench. From the outside, it was clear the bus wasn’t bustling with activity and likely wouldn’t be until later.

So, as soon as the vehicle let out a moan as its rusted doors opened to the public, the last thing Hopper and Alice expected was to see someone walking off.

It wasn’t clear at first under the dim street lights, but the moment the person in questioned made it down the final step, Hopper suddenly felt his heart stop in his chest.

The weeks and months he spent dreaming, hoping, praying, even, for a way to once more see his daughter all cane rushing back to him.

Time seemed to stand still. He was about to spend countless hours traveling from city to city just to reach Hawkins, all to have the slightest chance of seeing his family again.

But now it all seemed to be nothing more than a day dream. Now, instead of needing to travel hundreds of miles to see the people he wanted to see most, Hopper only had to walk a few feet.

“El,” Hopper cried, dropping the bags of food and embracing her as quickly as he could, he felt warm tears began to stream down his face, but he didn’t care, he couldn’t care. His daughter was here, and he couldn’t see him letting go over her even if he tried. “I’ve missed you.”

Chapter Text

May 7th, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
5:00 am

“Are you Terry’s girl?” Alice suddenly asked, interrupting the silence left behind by the two’s meeting. She didn’t mean it to be that way, of course, but Alice could practically feel herself ripping apart at the seams due to how desperately she wanted to ask this question. “Terry Ives? From Bloomington, Indiana?”

El pulled away from Hopper’s grasp and looked at Alice suspiciously. Nonetheless, El still found herself slowly nodding. Hopper had seemed to be with her willingly, so she must be worthy to some degree, right?

“Mama, yes,” El said, hesitant to move closer to the women- who after a closer inspection was wearing a stained lab coat with torn lettering that once stated her position- without Hopper by her side. “Though she never raised me, she couldn’t. Even if... Even if it didn’t happen I didn’t get to meet her until I was thirteen. How did you know?”

Alice smiled warmly, putting El at ease only the slightest. Still, Hopper offered her a comforting squeeze, and once she turned to look at him saw that he was mouthing “It’s alright”.

“I suppose you wouldn’t know, would you..” Alice trailed off, speaking more to herself than El and gently touching her lips as she spoke. “All is well, though. I’m Alice Hartwell. I knew your mom, back in college. She.. she did more for me than I could ever explain.”

Suddenly, the bus creakily shut its doors and began pulling away. Hopper looked at it with sad eyes, knowing they’d missed their chance, but Alice did little more than wave him off. Instead, she continued on with her conversation with El.

But in a state of anxiety, El only moved further into Hopper to the point that he had to step back into the street to prevent himself from tumbling down. El noted this, so instead resorted to squeezing his hand instead.

“And me? How do you know about me?” El questioned, a pang of fear still present in her voice. It was the damn uniform that threw her off.

Alice softened a bit, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear but stopping there. She didn’t want to upset El any further. “Oh, honey, I was Number Three, or the original one, at least. Me, Gloria, Ken, and your mama. I was pumped with electricity nonstop and wasn’t able to escape until they’d signed off stating I was now the lab’s property.” Alice’s voice audibly became thicker, as if a streaming liquid had suddenly been replaced with mud and became increasingly more difficult to push out of a faucet.

El suddenly perked up, a sudden realization seeming to dawn on her. Now it was her turn to excitedly- if that’s even the word - to rush up to Alice and interrogate her with questions.

“Three?” El asked with a glimmer in her eyes. She had now pushed away from Hopper and stepped closer to the bus stop overhang.

El grabbed the woman left arm and pushed back the stained beyond repair sleeve expectantly. But instead of being met with a number that could connect the two, she was only met with Alice’s bare wrist. She peered to her suspiciously and slowly backed up a bit.

“Oh, no, not like that I’m afraid,” Alice said reassuringly, pulling her sleeve back down. “I was no more than twenty-two when I started testing. And willingly, may I add. It was a sort of trial run, with Kali being the only one to show any real sign of abilities from the starting era. We weren’t special enough to get the tattoos, only the numbers.”

El nodded her head to show understanding, but in reality, she was more lost than she’d felt comfortable being. How could this woman be apart of the program without having a marking?

“But can you do anything?”

Alice hesitated but finally thought better of it all. Instead, she beckoned El and Hopper to follow are as she collected her fallen groceries.

“Yes.. and no.” Alice sighed, scooping up an apple and standing to her feet. She was now heading the same way they’d come to get to the bus stop. “Sure, I can do things a normal person wouldn’t be able to do, but not in a controlled sense. It’s like a glue bottle, you understand? Sometimes, you can squeeze it and squeeze it and nothing will come out despite all your attempts. But at others, you can only give it the slightest tap and suddenly you have a mess of white gloop everywhere.”

“So what do you do?”

“It’s.. difficult but to explain.”

 

The moment the three of them had stepped back into Alice’s quaint apartment, Hopper immediately shut the door. No reason to bait any prying eyes that may or may not be connected to St. John’s prison.

El immediately sat down on the couch where she was soon joined by Hopper. The two sat in silence, no more than two inches apart, as they waited for Alice to return.

And return she did, with a collection of items she’d been able to scrounge up from her kitchen. A flashlight, a single lightbulb, a toy circuit board, and finally, a taser she’d pulled from her pocket and placed onto the coffee table.

“You aren’t planning on killing anyone with that, are you?” Hopper laughed, receding to both the taser and the poor guard the two had harmed in the process of escaping.

“Not you guys, anyway,” Alice mumbled calmly, picking up the taser from the table and undoing the safety lid. She squeezed the mechanic for a second and watched the two prods spark to life, releasing a crackle of blue electricity as its handler turned the power up all the way. The electricity only got stronger, as did Hopper and El’s worry about the women’s intentions.

The power on it could easily make the two unconscious, and the look on Alice’s face did little to comfort them. Besides, what could they do to fight back? Hopper had left any hope of a weapon back in Hawkins, and El still wasn’t completely familiar with her powers. They’d be solely at Alice’s mercy if it ever came down to it.

But luckily, if you can really call it luck, Alice merely lifted up her pant leg and quickly plunged the two prods on her thigh. A lethal EpiPen shot, with electricity strong enough to kill multiple grown men instead of saving a single person. El and Hopper stared back in horror, sure that Alice would collapse.

“Holy fuck!” Alice hissed, wincing as she pulled away from the taser and threw her face into her hands. When she finally looked up, it was now clear how iterated and red her eyes had become. Nonetheless, she was still standing, even if she did look as if she had, well, stuck her finger in an electrical outlet. “God damn, I do not miss doing that.”

At this point, both El and Hopper were at the edge of their seats to help. Hopper looked to his daughter to see if she was to one to do it, but was merely met with a just as confused head shake. Alice had done it by choice.

Alice quickly noticed the two’s expressions, though, and made sure to reassure them that she was fine.

“There just isn’t as much machinery here as in Kamchatka or even the prison. Can’t put on a show if I don’t have the electric charge to do it, I’m afraid. The downside of not starting young.” Alice added sarcastically, discarding the taser on the small table and picking up the light bulb from it instead.

“But- Alice, you just gave yourself a lethal dose of electricity. I dare say it’s more than what you gave that Russian guard.” Hopper questioned, still not over Alice’s parlour trick.

“Calm down, I’m fine. They gave me far worse when it was still precognition and now it acts more as a stimulant than anything else. Jolt something up inside me, you know? Gives the body a taste of what I want it to do.”

Alice had brought the light bulb up to eye level and pushed her clunky glasses up again. She had now begun to focus intently on the thing in hand.

“They never did anything like that to me,” El protested nervously. “Zap sticks, yes, but never with that amount of power. You must have been in an enormous amount of pain.”

Alice shook her head, still focused on the lightbulb. “You were and pending telekinetic, yes? They wouldn’t want to harm you in any way that can’t be fixed. And the electricity had a sort of tolerance after a while, one-and-done.” The bulb let out the smallest amount of light before going back down in protest. This thoroughly upset Alice, as she then proceeded to shush the others. “Now if you wouldn’t mind me asking, I desperately need you to stop talking.”

El and Hopper shut their mouths in unison, yet still felt a feeling of dread wash over them. Had she really just boosted herself with a large amount of electricity?

But before long, the lightbulb began to shimmer to life. Slowly, slowly, slowly, little by little, the glass filled with light. As it grew stronger and stronger, Alice became happier and happier. It eventually became so bright that it could light up an entire room if need be.

But with an astonishing amount of light came an even larger blow. Too much electricity to one source can do more harm than good, and this bulb was no exception.

Suddenly, the price of glass exploded, tiny shards destined to hurt flying everywhere.

Or it would have, should El have not stopped the prices in mid-air and slowly funnelled them onto the coffee table, all in a neat little pile to be taken care of later. Alice shot El a thankful glance, but it meant nothing to her.

“You’re an Electrician!” El cried out of excitement. “A real-life Electrician!”

“Well, actually,” Hopper began but was unable to finish. El grasped tightly onto his shoulder and onto his feet, a large smile spreading across her face.

“Hop, she’s an Electrician!”

Alice laughed, returning with a dustpan to sweep up the glass. “I’m afraid I chose a life of engineering as opposed to being an electrician. I’m actually a precognitive turned electrokinetic. They ended up gaining a stronger girl and switched the dosage, though I’m sure Gloria’s solution didn’t help the results much either.”

But El didn’t care. Alice wasn’t lying and she had found, in her sense, yet another sibling. With wonder in her eyes and a smile on her face, El was finally able to breathe for the first time in months.

Hopper was back and away from the Russians, another one of Brenner’s past lab experiments were able to get out unscathed, and in no time they’d all be back on their way to Indianapolis.

And Hopper and Alice were able to feel the peace in the room as well. A sort of wave passing over them, but instead of it being the hurt and frustration they’d become so used it, it was a sort of nice feeling none of them wanted to end.

But alas, no good could ever stay for anyone associated with Hawkins and it’s tellings. The apartment’s phone began to ring a flowery tune, to which Alice quickly jumped up to collect.

“It’s probably just Borya asking where I am and when I’ll be back.” Alice insisted, bringing the device to her ear and attempting to avoid the wire cord.

Except it wasn’t Borya asking of Alice’s whereabouts. In fact, it wasn’t Borya at all. Instead of getting a call from anyone even on the Newfoundland peninsula, Alice was actually getting a call from someone now in Ohio.

“Jesus, Al, took you long enough.” Hopper and El could hear Murray scoff from the other end of the phone. “We just arrived in Quebec and should be in Newfoundland within a day or so.”

“Wait, no, actually, you don’t need-“ Alice attempted, but was quickly cut off.

“Make sure no one gets too suspicious. It’s already a big enough risk using your apartment phone, but I wasn’t sure you’d be close enough to the payphone. Just done do anything stupid while you wait.”

“But Murray, I already-“

But Murray didn’t listen, not the first time nor the few times after that Alice attempted to call back. Now, instead of simply taking El and Hopper back to Indiana, Murray and Joyce were going to head straight into the prison and bark up the wrong tree.

Alice slammed their phone down onto the receiver, not caring as it tumbled down and began swinging from the cord.

The room had lost its peaceful appeal and now felt very heavy. Waiting in the apartment was too much of a risk already, but she didn’t know when Murray would be arriving.

Not to mention the fact that they were also going to unknowingly walk into a place that could very likely be a death trap.

They couldn’t stay in the apartment but they couldn’t leave. And both Hopper and Alice knew this. There was only one safe if you could call it that, place on the entire peninsula that they could wait for the others, despite how unsafe it may seem.

“Hopper, we have to go back-“

“To the prison, I know.”

Chapter Text

May 7th, 1986
Last Land Location: Blanc-Sablon, Québec
Currently Traveling on: Labrador Sea
6:14 PM
19 Minutes from Saint John, Newfoundland

 

“Ay, Murray, why are ‘ya going to Newfoundland anyway?” Captain Larkin crowed, though ‘Newfoundland’ came out sounding more like “Newfindlind”. Captain Larkin, or more simply, Larkin, was yet another old friend of Murray’s from college. Though not going as far back as Alice who went her separate ways from Indiana mid-semester (Or what would have been, should she have attended the college instead of working at her father’s mechanic shop), Larkin had been a good friend of Murray’s stretching back to as early as ‘65.

Originally coming from the shore of Florida, Larkin had found himself in the Navy before settling down to pursue a job as a naval mechanic. Though being plagued with an unforgettable pronunciation of many words that might seem odd to any other person, Larkin was in all a very intelligent man who after leaving Hawkin’s for good, spent a good portion of his life on Canada’s coast.

Which was the very reason Murray has seeked him out to get him and the others from Blanc-Sablon, Québec to Saint John, Newfoundland. Though hesitant at first, Larkin quickly obliged, thrilled to catch up with an old friend after so long.

“I’m afraid it’s nothing I can really speak of, even if there’s a zero percent chance of bugs on this boat. I hate to say it, but it’s a matter of life or death at this point. One wrong move could be..”

“Vital,” Joyce added, moving from one end of the bot to the other, where Larkin and Murray had been speaking. “But we can’t worry about that kind of stuff, not now. Just, uh... thank you for taking us so far. Really, if there’s any way I could repay you..”

Larkin, letting one hand on the wheel go, waved his hand at Joyce to show that all was well. Really, it didn’t know how much this meant to her and the effect it could possibly have if done correctly. ¨Its good to see Murray again, and I ́ve enjoyed meeting new people. Though I must ask, are they really all related to you? Surely they can be associated with Murray, but I can't really see you working in any sort of job that, ah, handled any people of younger ages.̈ Larkin referred to the rest of the group, all either children or only a year or so out of their childhood years. ̈And I know you say you can't speak of you ́re Newfoundland intentions, but what's there that a group of kids find fascinating there? I reckon that this group alone would add on more than half of its entire population.¨

̈”̈Their fathers in prison and they're having the trial there. Like Napoleon, right? Exiled to an island you wouldn't know about unless you had to be there.”Murray interjected, though not completely lying. Sure, none of them were truly blood relatives with Hopper, and it was highly unlikely the Russians would be so kind as to grant him a trial, Hopper was in fact locked away the island of Newfoundland. ”But, uh, Lar, do Joyce here a favour and don't ask any more questions? Murray's voice had now dropped to a whisper as he leaned in closer as if he had a dark secret to tell. ̈Hopper hasn't exactly been the most faithful of partners, you know? Joyce didn't really know until recently of Hopper's habits. It´s a surprise to us all.¨

Larkin glanced at Murray and Joyce, who had rolled her eyes at how incredibly dumb the excuse was but shut his mouth anyway. It's not like he could prove the theory, anyway. Instead, Larkin continued on to change the subject, this time asking Murray about his time hidden away in Indianapolis. This, of course, mad Murray quite uncomfortable, but not wanting to make his friend any more suspicious, Murray answered any question that came his way.

But one will find that Murray’s impossibly dull stories have little to add to the events to come. Nor do many of the other passengers on the boat, for that matter. But to say that everyone on Captain Larkin’s boat we’re doing little more than talking about their experiences or chatting excitedly about whatever movies surfaced recently or even chatting about their plans after returning home, would be a false assumption.

While the only recently turned adults went on about their jobs, hopes, and the cruel people they’ve met while working and the younger ones of the passengers talked about a brand new video game that happened to appear at The Palace Arcade, Will Byers found himself sitting alone by the boat's edge.

Sure, Will had always been a sort of a loner and had never done well to interact with others, it was odd for him to exclude himself from the party’s discussions. This was especially odd, though, considering his movement of schools back in ‘85. Any chance he and El would get to see the party was savoured with little time going to waste.

So to see Will keeping to himself as if he were spending every day in Hawkins again with the ability to see his friends at any moment immediately struck Mike as odd.

“Hey, are you okay?” Mike questioned, moving from one end of the boat to the other. Max, Lucas, and Dustin took little note of the boy’s movement, but Will immediately shot up as his friend came closer.

“Just a little seasick is all.” Will tried, though it was clear he was lying. His face was incredibly red and looked as if he’d been crying. Mike immediately caught a whiff of this.

But instead of pestering the boy anymore, Mike simply sat next to Will and made sure to grasp his eye contact. He didn’t believe Will, of course, and completely knew he was upset about El, but new just how much more upset he’d be if Mike called him out.

“We shouldn’t be too far from Newfoundland. I’ve never been there before, but I overheard your mom and Murray talking about it. You won’t feel seasick for much longer.”

Will flashed a more than a fake smile but immediately fell again.

“That’s the issue. I know it’s a good thing. We’ll be able to get Hopper and get out before the Russians note him gone. But what if…” Will trailed off, looking away from Mike’s prying eyes. “What about El? She only just got her powers back. Who's to say she even made it to Newfoundland my choice? For all we know, that man could have had back up to come and get her.”

Mike shook his head, placing a comforting hand on his knee. “Will, she’s fine. You’re right about her only just getting her powers back, but she’s not a child anymore. She’s smart, and both you and I know that.”

“I know that..” Will sighed, moving closer to the boat’s edge and peering over. He didn’t enjoy feeling as weak as he did. “She’s done this before, back when she was confined to the cabin. She escaped to see her mother and somehow ended up in a gang with her sister. It’s just.. what if this time around she’s not so lucky?”

Mike suddenly pulled away, unsure of how to respond. El had never really been open about her time with Kali, treating it more of an untouchable subject. Even more so than the lab, which she was quite hesitant about speaking of. When it came to her sister, she’d only shut down and refuse to speak of Kali or her gang.

And even the parts she did speak of, mainly about the butterflies she longed so much to see again, with their technicolour wings fluttering into oblivion, she’d immediately bottle up about. She’d insist that she’d barely escaped with her life, and that was just the Indianapolis police force.

So what upper hand did an entire Russian government hold against her?

“I don’t know,” Mike admits, though his face refused to change. “But that was over a year and a half ago. Even with her breach of power, she’s infinitely stronger than what she was then.”

Will nodded his head but suddenly paused.

“Mike, can I tell you something?”

It was now Mike’s turn to perk up in interest. If Will had something to say, he’d almost always be upfront about it all and tell the entire party.

Nonetheless, Mike shook his head and stared intently at the boy, signifying his readiness.

Will visibly thought about it for a second, as if he were hesitant about speaking. But as each second ticked by, Mike wanted more and more to know what Will had to say until, finally, and seemingly against all his wishes and spoke.

“Someone’s not going to make it out of this trip!” Will finally blurted louder than he intended. His face immediately turned red as he curled up a bit. Luckily, though, no one else on the bus seemed to hear. “I mean.. I don’t know. Something just doesn’t feel right. I’m not sure what though, and it’s driving me insane because if something does happen, it’ll all be my fault and-“

“Will,” Mike spoke, interrupting Will’s spiral mid-sentence. He didn’t mean it in a mean way, of course, but if he wasn’t careful Mike himself would also become stressed out. “Let’s start with something simple. You feel that somebody in the group, though no one in particular, won’t make it out. Why do you feel this way? What’s telling you that someone won’t make it out?”

God, Mike sounded like one of those cheesy therapists now. Why do you feel like the world is out to get you? Mike could practically hear himself asking, like the therapists on television would question.

Their big declined chairs and bulky books lining the walls that the couldn’t have actually read. Though he supposed that an enclosed, lilac smelling room where people went to sort out their problems was far more different than a moving boat heading to a Canadian peninsula.

But it didn’t matter. What did matter was that Will seemed to find a bit of comfort in it, and even began speaking with more willingness than he had before?

“Flashes,” Will mumbled, opening up a bit. “Bright pictures that are there for a split second, but immediately fade away before you can get a clear look at them. There’s a person, walking out of a building. And then there’s a match. And then it all burns away. But there’s always a black figure, completely blacked out, as if their shadow is there, but it’s not truly there.”

Mike was expecting Will to simply say he was just getting bad anxiety, or even some voices in his head were insisting someone wouldn’t make it out. But this was different. This was like one of those superheroes you’d read about in comic books, flashes and all.

“Is it someone we know? Perhaps El or Hopper?” Mike asked, feeling more panicked than he wished.

Will trailed away, shaking his head in the process. But that didn’t mean no, far from it. He meant that he didn’t know, and likely wouldn’t be able to until the event happened.

Frustration and rage plagued Mike. He had never fancied not knowing, but this was excruciating. We want to yell, scream, stop whatever may be coming..

But he also wanted to bombard Will with a million more questions, his once calm and collected persona now a mere memory.

But before Mike could ask any more, a large holar suddenly filled the air, so loud that every other conversation on the boy ceased immediately.

The boat notably began slowing down, but with good reason. As everyone looked up from whatever they were doing, it was clear what the yell was about before anyone could comprehend.

“We’ve now arrived at Newfindlind!” Larkin called from the front, standing on top of one of the boat’s seats. “Population of too few to count and in personal opinion, a terrible place for a ‘cation.”

And the others could agree on the fact that Newfoundland was by no means an ideal place to spend their time. But as they would quickly find out, the Newfoundland peninsula would have more to offer that one immediately catches the eye.

Whether that’s good or bad, though, was a secret not even its longtime residents could tell.

Chapter Text

May 7th, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
Newfoundland Correctional Facility
5:58 pm

 

Panel door after panel door burst open as Alice screamed different phrases in Russian. Behind her, El (Who’d found herself placed into a lab coat with the embroidered letters reading ‘xимик’ and a clunky pair of goggles to match) and a beyond terrified looking Hopper.

To anyone watching from the sidelines, it would look as if the only two female workers had captured the escapee and bring him back to be placed into maximum security.

But anyone who was really watching would know that not only was Alice the only female worker in the specific facility but that Hopper was already it the tightest security available in the Newfoundland location.

Nonetheless, people stepped out of the threes way with smug glances, believing they had squashed Hopper once more. And to be found by the very person who was on vacation. Astounding, really. How could you be that dumb?

“Pindos.” A worker clutching a cup of coffee spat as Hopper passed by. Hopper could only look on with terrified eyes, internally pleading for mercy.

Or that’s what the Russians thought, anyway. In reality, Hopper was vibrating. Good or bad, this was the strongest about of feeling he’d felt in a good while, and he could practically feel in heart jumping out of his chest.

Spending a few more hours in this prison meant nothing to him anymore, as soon he’d be able
to see Joyce and even Murray again. He’d finally been reconnected with his daughter after a year and he was so close to getting off the peninsula that he could practically taste it.

“You look happy, Hop.” Alice mumbled once they’d gotten to a spot with fewer observers. Low enough that no one listening could hear, but loud enough that El and Hopper could hear if they leaned in a bit. “Which, is good, but you need to try and keep it in a bit. It’s already suspicious enough for me to come back from ‘vacation’ with the prisoner, but for the prisoner to seem happy about something could be dire.”

“Sorry, I’m just not sure how long I can wait.” Hopper sighed, looking down as they passed through another set of double doors. “Joyce is coming, and El is already here. Being sad is the last thing on my mind at the moment.”

Alice looked at Hopper with sympathetic eyes, but not before letting out another slew of Russian phrases.

And truthfully, Alice was ecstatic as well. She’d been quite jumpy the entire time she’d been working with the Russians and couldn’t wait to finally get as far away as possible from them.

“How much longer until we reach Hopper’s cell?” El hummed, fiddling with the hem of the coat as she spoke.

“It shouldn’t be long if they haven’t changed anything since I’ve been away. It should only be..” Alice trailed off as she pushed open one final door. Behind it, lay a now empty glass container with a small plot of ground unscathed by the holding.

Inside was a palooza of objects once kept on a cart, now discarded around the cell. A small cot, looking as if they’d bought it from a mid-civil-war era clinic with a thin sheet draped on top.

And in the corner, a now even greyer looking blob of meat only barely suitable for human consumption. With it, and miraculously so, a few flies on top of the slope looking for another meal.

“Hopper..” El gasped in horror. Hopper didn’t have the heart to tell her that this was one of the better holdings he’d been placed it.

“No, no, it’s fine El, I’m fine. It only looks this bad because we left in a hurry.” Hopper tried to rationalize, moving closer to the cell and peering in. Alas, it did nothing to calm El’s nerves.

“And we need to put you back in there until Ms Byers and Mr Bauman come back?” El continued, fear lacing her voice.

Alice attempted to comfort El, bringing her closer to her as she pulled a key from her belt.

“Your father will be okay, I promise,” Alice said comfortingly, undoing the lock and pushing the door open. “It’ll look like he’s trapped inside, but in reality, I won’t lock the door. He’ll be able to escape whenever he needs.”

El could only let out a whimper in response

“It’s great you have no intentions on actually keeping me locked in here, Alice, but what’s El to do while we wait for Joyce and Murray?” Hopper said, pulling away from his daughter and moving into the cell. “Not to question you, seeing as you know much more than me regarding all this, but I don’t suppose seeing the ex-experiment that escaped a few years ago hanging out with a prisoner of Russia won’t be, uh.. odd?”

Alice shook her head, fully closing the door once Hopper had moved far enough into the cell. El immediately gained an utter look of horror, much to both Alice and Hopper’s dismay.

“El’ll just have to be my assistant until he can get you and your friends out. We have quite a few chemical engineers, so as long as we stick together we can just say we’re working together.” Alice suddenly smiled. “Let’s just hope no one suspects us to be alchemists.”

El, instead of being upset or worried, suddenly became very confused. “Al-chem-ists?” El sounded out, just as she did when the party had first found her in the woods.

“It’s pseudoscience, El. Magic.” Hopper sighed from the other side of the glass. “Alice is joking. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

Alice rolled her eyes, but not for long. Instead, she began to drag El along, as if she were a little child needing to be pulled from the candy aisle.

“Alright, kid, we need to go have a very unpleasant conversation with an even more unpleasant man.”

 

“Alisa!” Borya cries as Alice entered his room, still getting her name wrong. Nonetheless, the man looked oddly happy to see the girl and even looked as if he wanted to hug her. “Ты вернулась из отпуска!”

Alice pulled away all the while keeping El a safe distance from him. Though Alice had a distinct hatred towards Borya, she couldn’t imagine having a threat of him actually identifying her, and thus wanted him to take as little note of El as possible.

“Ah, английский, please. I’m still a little rusty from the break, and fear the escapee has done nothing but cause me stress..” Alice lied. She could understand Russian just fine. Her mother spoke it, and would actually speak it more at home than English. But she also understood the El didn’t learn as much Russian as she could have while at the lab, and didn’t want any vital information to slip through the cracks due to a language barrier.

“Not a problem, not a problem at all. Now, I must admit I find myself to be quite a bit offended. Why you haven’t even taken to introducing your friend here.” Borya said, clasping his hands together and learning into his desk. “I see she’s off the chemist variety, but I find myself being quite.. well, perplexed, actually. I don’t recall hiring an ah..”

Alice looked to Borya with a hidden sneer, one she wouldn’t dare reveal if she had any hopes of staying on his good list.

“A women.” She grimaced. “She’s from a different branch, Czech, if I’m not mistaken. I needed assistance in fear of starting another Chernobyl. But she’s only temporary, due to return back to her home country within the next few days.”

Borya. Suddenly became very serious, his once stern expression melting into a stern sneer.

“We have plenty of chemists who are likely leagues about this Czech girl. Good, Russian men, must I add.”

El gasped, understanding every word Borya spoke. Alice gently nudged her though, pushing her nearer to the door. She didn’t mean it as any harm, but she also didn’t want to draw any unwanted attention.

“Well, I’ll be sure to keep that in mind,” Alice responded, clutching her coat harder and harder with each passing second. “But I believe I have some information of interest to you.”

Borya, who has since opened up a drawer and withdrew a manila folder, suddenly peered up in interests. “Is that so?”

Alice proudly nodded her head, pulling a pair of cuffs from her pocket and throwing them to the desk. Borya did little more than flinch.

“You’ll be proud to know the James Hopper, having been spotted at the loading dock, has been returned to his prison holding. “

Borya smiled, but not too hard. Like a child receiving a gift, he’d already known about.

“I that so? You found him.”

“Indeed. I was just picking up the assistant from the docks and had spotted him there. Lucky, I know, but he’s been returned nonetheless.”

Borya looked to Alice triumphantly, as if he himself were the one who had found Hopper. But his smile quickly turned from a snicker to anything else, though there was nothing funny about the situation.

Borya suddenly stood to his feet and began tracing his desk as he grabbed the file from his desk. Alice suddenly felt herself tense up as Borya neared closer and closer to her until he was eventually close enough to whisper in her ear.

“You joke, Alisa,” Borya mumbled, speaking directly to Alice but eyeing El. “But I’m afraid you also take me as a fool. The loading dock? Finding him?”

Borya pulled a picture from the file, one that made both El’s and Alice’s heart sink.

On the worn piece of white printer paper was a grainy series of images that would seem illegible to anyone else. But Alice and El weren’t anyone else.

On the paper were a handful of images resembling the moment Alice had escaped with Hopper. Him getting onto the cart. Alice talking with the guard. Alice killing the guard. And finally, the two bolting for the door.

No matter how hard she tried, Alice couldn’t look away from the image. She didn’t dare make eye contact, though Borya continued speaking anyway, his voice now colder and more evil than ever.

“The precog turned electrokinetic. Who would have thought? And here I thought you were smart enough to stay away. Why, how long has it been? We’d lost you in ‘70, yet here you are in ‘86.” Borya spoke, his full attention still on El as if she were about to bolt for the door. “Alice Johnson. Didn’t even think to change the first name, did you? The last names enough, yes?”

Alice was still looking at the photo, her throat raw and her fists clenched. She didn’t know what to say, but words began to tumble out anyway.

“Гореть в аду.” Alice whispered in a low, hoarse voice.

But it didn’t matter. Borya could only smile throwing the file to the side and moving closer to El. He stroked her chin, leaving her to do nothing but stare on in horror.

“Oh, but what’s the use in that?” Borya teased, not letting go of El’s chin. “Your Papa taught you Russian, yes? You and your beautiful, shimmery dress? And the velvety dresses? Wouldn’t you like to do that again?”

It was now El’s turn to shake her head in horror, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t move. He was holding tighter and tighter until she practically couldn’t breathe.

He grabbed Alice’s wrist too, leaving the two shocked and defenceless. Alice had now visibly begun attempting to muster out what little power she may have, even a droplet, to shock Borya into letting them go.

But it was no use. The glue bottle, once powerful enough to make a lightbulb explode in her apartment, sealed shut and not willing to open up. No matter how hard she tried to squeeze out even the smallest amount of electricity even just a spark- fell flat.

And El, to stunned to even speak, couldn’t do anything. Haunting memories, memories of what would have been should she have not to get out, all surfacing at once. It all came tumbling down like a ton of bricks, bruise after spark after the days stuck in solitary: All adding up to make her too terrified to even do as much as move an inch.

They were hopeless, and all Borya had to offer was a triumphant grin he could no longer bear to hold. It was sickening to look at and even more appaling to think of. Borya noticed Alice’s struggles, but only squeezed harder in response.

“You have little to worry about, Alice. See, I reckon you’ve already served you divine purpose, and can do little more to serve us. Why, you even eliminated the Chernobyl power plant without being asked, something we were hoping to do before, ah, Ukraine became too vocal about our choices.” Borya could only grin harder as Alice felt a sea of guilt wash over her. It was bad to begin with, sure, but helping Borya in any further way other than fixing a few machines every now and then left a toxic taste in her mouth. “But I’m afraid Experiment Eleven has yet to serve her country, and with rumours of all sorts of growth regarding her extrasensory perception and even digging into a person's thoughts is something I’d hate to see be put to waste.”

“Don’t you dare touch her!” Alice snarled, hot tears beginning to stream down her face and soil the photos. “Please, I’ll do anything, cause another disaster, even, just... Please..”

Alice hadn’t expected Borya to take pity, he never did, but she definitely didn’t expect him to hit her so hard that she’d end up tumbling backwards out of pain. She would have stumbled backwards, but due to his increasingly tighter grip she merely moved a few inches.

Her glasses, though, were not as lucky, falling you the floor and cracking upon instinct. Alice could only look on with pain, knowing how slim her chances of escape would be now.

She turned to El now, sadness now replacing the horror and strength she had only just had. She could only whisper a small “I’m sorry” as El realized how powerless they’d become.

To which El could only nod her head, though not in agreement but instead in assurance. It wasn’t Alice’s fault, and nor was it her own. They’d done all they could, but had managed to come out short in the end.

But even when all seemed lost, a saving grace appeared. Or more so, sounded, to be truthful.

Alarms would never bring back favorable memories for both El and Alice. El, as it was one of the last things she’d heard before she’d escaped from the lab with Brenner hot on her trail and Alice, as it was one of the few things that could reveal her while escaping to Canada.

But now, the sound of the alarm was the song of angels. For none of them were expecting the ringing, Borya included, their wrists and chins were suddenly dropped.

And from there, it was a quick, uninterrupted dash to the door, one that happened so quick it wasn’t until both Alice and El were practically halfway down the hall that Borya noted his mistake.

“You’re going to have to help me.” Is the last thing Alice could mumbled before a sea of guards came dashing out of an entry way. “We’ve got to find Hopper.”

Chapter Text

May 7th, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
Newfoundland Correctional Facility
6:12 pm

“Shit.” Murray cursed as alarms began sounding the moment he and Joyce had opened the doors. He began quickening his pace, knowing it wouldn’t be long before a slew of Russians would start following in tow, and while they were wearing the uniforms wished to be in and out as soon as possible. “If they ask for identification, don’t give them anything. Just follow my lead and do what I’m doing.”

Joyce nodded her head, jogging a bit to keep up with Murray. She was still a bit shaken by it all and unsure of how to feel. On one hand, she’d be able to see Hopper very soon. But on the other, she was walking into the eye of the hurricane with no clear answer of whether or not they would return.

Not to mention El. It was no question about whether or not she was splitting off to find Hopper. But whether or not she made it was still the part that choked them up.

Nonetheless, the two proceeded on, pushing open each door in the corridor they could find. Supply closets, sleeping quarters, break rooms.. all revealed with each opening of a door.

But none of them was the one they wanted. They proceeded on with their search until they couldn’t open any more doors. They’d reached the end of the hallway, only met with another pair of double doors. But the double doors were not as simple as the supply closest they’d seen so many on their way there.

As instead of having no locking mechanism, there was a black box near the corner.

“The card,” Joyce said quickly, quickly searching through one of the uniforms many pockets for the key in question. It wasn’t long until she triumphantly pulled the item of question out from her pants pocket.

But as soon as she waved the price of plastic in front of the scanner, it simply buzzed and presented a red light in response. It declined.

And it proceeded to decline of the second, third, fourth, and even fifth time. Joyce threw down the card in frustration, preparing to hit the box with her foot to see if that would do anything. But luckily, before she made any potentially regrettable decisions, Murray pulled her back, picking the discarded card in the progress.

“Yeah, let’s not do that,” Murray said, wincing as Joyce wiggled free from his grip. Fortunately, though, she didn’t attempt to take another hit at the scanner.

“But it doesn’t work, Murray,” Joyce grumbled, her voice getting choked up a bit as she spoke. “This may not mean much to you, but Hopper could be just past that door. Just past it!”

Joyce was now pointing to the locked door with fury. But before she could take another blow at it in hopes of cracking it open, Murray pushed her off to the side and leaned in closer to her.

“We’re going to open that door, I promise you that. But I can guarantee you that breaking the one mechanism that unlocks it will not only prevent us from opening that door, but it will also likely set off even more alarms then there are now.”

Joyce, still quite a bit upset, slowly nodded. As much as she hated it, Murray was right and it would bring them no good to break the mechanism. So, instead of trying the card again or breaking the scanner any further, she took a deep breath and collected the card from Murray again.

“If this doesn’t work,” Joyce sighed, holding the card as if it were a fragile baby bird. “Then what do we do? It’s not like we can go ask for a new, working card.”

“Actually, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

 

“Простите, сэр,” Murray began, approaching an armed guard who’d since been placed by the very entrance they’d come in from. “Я прошу прощения за неудобства, но я боюсь, что мне нужна ваша помощь.”

The guard looked from Murray, Joyce, and finally back to Murray. He seemed quite confused, and had no form of recognition in his eyes, but proceeded on with them anyway.

“В чем проблема?” The guard said, sliding his gun back into its holster and moving closer to the pair. “Но, пожалуйста, сделайте это быстро.В настоящее время мы пытаемся найти предателя.”

Murray’s heart jumped, and Joyce immediately knew something was wrong. She didn’t dare ask, though, in order to keep up their illusion. Nonetheless, Murray’s panicked expression slowly ate away at her as he longed to know what to were conversing about.

“Предатель?” Murray asked hesitantly. But even before the guard could explain, he already knew what the man meant. What else could he mean? Something had slipped through the very fine cracks they’d attempted so hard to seal. The practically foolproof plan had crumbled, and they were now walking on what was practically a land mine. They’d found out about Alice and we’re going to kill her.

Or he could at least hope they’d take that much pity on her. The entire prison was littered with traitors still living out their sentences. Whips from exposed wires, electrical shocks via the cords used to jumpstart cars, sliced skin, exposed and submitted to a harsh seasoning of salt...

And that was for minor offenses. What about Alice, who had signed up to be pumped up with A Lot6 Esque substance, who was hooked up to a series of car generators to show she could see unforgettable glances of the future. Alice, who had to flee to Canada to escape the pending doom, only to come knocking on its door 15 years later. Alice, who had the very thing they were looking for in El except with a more mature, advanced and useful ability.

“Ты в порядке?” The guard questioned, beginning to look quite concerned for Murray. It even looked as if he were about to crouch down to the man and even provide him comfort, though the guard decided against it last minute.

“Да, да, я в порядке.” Murray reassured, hastily grabbing the key card from his pocket and presenting it to the guard. “Я боюсь, что Антон и я отсутствовали в течение нескольких недель, даже до того, как мы переехали в Ньюфаундленд. Просто ... мы можем быстро забрать вашу карту? После релиза мы не получили новых и не хотим опаздывать на работу. Особенно из-за бегущего предателя, мы не хотели бы быть теми, кто загоняет их в угол. Ничего личного, только не наш отдел.”

The guard nodded his head, showing understanding as he reached for both Murray’s card and his own. But suddenly, after taking a quick glance at the piece of plastic, he paused, a confused expression washing over his face.

“Этот ключ с базы Хокинс, которая была разрушена в 85-м, в первую очередь как тактильная база. В каком отделе, по-ку работаешь?”

Murray suddenly froze, immediately catching Joyce’s attention. They’d been caught, and both he and the guard knew it. Instead of reaching for his card again, the guard has now taken to reaching for his communicator to call in god knows who to take care of Murray and Joyce.

That is until Joyce swiftly knocked the man in the head with the barrel of her own gun. In a few quick moments, the man tumbles to the ground, dropping his communicator in the process.

Murray looked to Joyce with a terrified expression, though she takes little note of it. Instead, Joyce takes more interest in collecting the guard’s working key and communicator.

“How’d you know I was in trouble?” Murray questioned, rushing to keep up with Joyce as she practically flew down the corridor.

“I didn’t.” She said simply, scanning the card and lighting up as the door unlocked. “I just had to take a bet. You look as if you were struggling, and I figured that contacting another person wasn’t what we wanted in this situation.”

Murray looked to Joyce in awe. For being someone who’d never looked to violence as her first choice, it was astounding to see Joyce just rush into the situation without any confirmation.

Nonetheless, the two now had an operating key card and communicator, if needed. Both Murray and Joyce could feel the adrenaline pumping through their veins as they scanned and opened, scanned and opened each door they’d come across.

And thought my of the doors led to unforgettable things, with some rooms over cramped and filled tired-looking prisoners and others with a series of inhumane torture weapons, they both knew they couldn’t stop for a meer second, if not just to confirm their seeings.

But at this point, they couldn't think about the other rooms, no matter how much they wished to. They didn't know those people, and those people didn't know them. Their problem was finding Hopper, not sympathizing with a collection of people the Russians considered to be an enemy. Sure, if they found time later, then they would do everything in their power to at least stop the suffering. But as for right now, Joyce and Murray only had time to worry about Hopper.

¨How does it feel to know that you ́ll be seeing Hopper in only a short amount of time?” Murray questioned, scanning the card at yet another black box and frowning the reveal. ¨I mean like, what kind of things do you want to do with him?¨

Joyce, who ́d tried her best to avoid eye contact with Murray, thought about it for a second. ¨I suppose getting out of here would be nice, preferably after getting as many good people out of here as possible and burning this hell hole to the ground.” Joyce shut the disappointing door shot and proceeded on to the next door. ¨Though an escape to Australia would be glorious.¨

Murray chuckled, attempting to relieve the pressure of the current situation. ¨Australia? You don't really seem like the kind of person to want to visit Oz. Why not somewhere else, like South America or Asia?¨

Murray scanned yet another black box, though this one led to yet another corridor of explorable doors. This place really just needed a map, preferably with a list of all the prisoners to correspond with each location.

“Indiana is hot, but not as hot as South America. And Russia has placed in Asia. I just want to get as far away from the Russian government, all the while staying away from Indiana.¨ Joyce sighed as Murray scanned another box. And to no surprise, the room was just as helpful as the others; This time with another hallway with glass cells, all having occupants except for two empty ones. ¨They're going to be looking for us in Indiana. We won't be able to live there for awhile.”

Murray nodded his head. Joyce was right, and it was a shame too. After having just moved from Hawkins last summer, the move would be nothing but expensive. Not to mention the debate of whether they would need to bring everyone else with them.

Jonathan, Nancy, Steve, and Robin would likely be fine, as well as all the younger ones (Save for El and Will, of course), but the move would be traumatic nonetheless. It was already bad enough having to drive a couple of hours to see them every now and then, but what about halfway across the world? And how long would they have to live this way? Would they ever be able to return back to Indiana, or even the US?

¨We´ll have to see what happens when we get there, though I expect only the worst of things will come out of this situation.¨ Joyce mumbled.

She pushed open another door, though she wasn't exactly paying attention to what was inside. She had no reason to, really. All the other rooms up until this point hadn't had anything meaningful to them, and this one likely wouldn't either.

Except that wasn´t the case here, inside the room was a glass cell, and inside the glass, cell was a mess of all sorts of devices discarded and thrown about. And by the mess of discarded objects was a pile of disgustingly old food, and but the pile of disgustingly old food was a bed.

And on the bed, thin and frail, was a man who´d dissaperead what seemed to be a lifetime ago. A man who was presumed dead by multiple papers within his old town, and was only discovered to be possibly alive no more than a week or so ago.

A man who had been through hell since the seventies, and had lost his loved one's time and time again. A man, who despite smoking and drinking away his feelings, found that someone could actually love him again and would go through just to know that he was okay.

A man, who after hearing the door click open, drew his attention to the door with wide an expecting eyes. Was it Borya, here to take him away and torture whatever detail he deemed important out of him? Or was it Alice, her clunky glasses sliding down her nose as she ushered him out, explaining that the inevitable at occurred and they needed to leave as soon as possible.

Or, is a sort of fever dream, was it the women he’s been pinning for for over 2 years, each day passing as the images of her cleanly straight brown hair and doey eyes danced around his brain as he attempted to get even a wink of sleep.

“Hopper,” Joyce cried, pure shock tainting her voice like a thick coat of paint washing over a white wall.

Hopper slowly opened the cell doors, so careful and frail that it almost seemed as if she’d fade away if her opened it too quick.

But when it became apparent that Joyce was no mirage and would not fade into oblivion should he even look at her, Hopper lunged at the frail woman, inhaling deeply as he drew he close enough to smell her musty uniform.

“It’s been so long..” Is all Hopper could muster before a tear slipped down his cheek, wetting whatever fabric lay under it.

Chapter Text

May 7th, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
Newfoundland Correctional Facility
7:03 pm

“Where’s El and Alice?” Hopper questioned, noting the whimper as he pulled away from Joyce’s increasingly tight embrace. Unfortunately, though, Joyce’s sadness quickly turned to worry after she was able to take in what he’d said.

“What do you mean?” Joyce stuttered, suddenly moving back in fright.

Hopper shook his head in confusion, unsure of how to respond. Alice said they were going to go talk to Borya and then find Murray and Joyce. But Murray and Joyce were standing right here, and the alarms were going off, and El and Alice were nowhere to be seen.

“Hey, if you two lovebirds aren’t too busy making out over there, I’d suggest we stop wasting time and go find your friends before the Russians do.” Murray hummed, scoffing at the two’s reunion. “Yeah, apparently Alice is now a traitor and an enemy of Russia. Though I was never told that El with Alice.”

Joyce spun around in frustration and horror, finally understating what Murray’s panic from earlier was about. Why he didn’t think to explain to her, though, was beyond her. While it was true she didn’t know Alice by name, she’d been aware of a man on the inside and the fact that she was now in trouble could possibly be dire for all of them.

“No, no, Joyce, I’m sure they made it out just fine..” Hopper trailed off, moving both he and Joyce out from inside the cell. Though he attempted to sound comforting, he wasn’t even convincing himself.

Nonetheless, Joyce proceeded to nod her head, taking in Hopper’s words as best she could. Slowly, she moved out and back into the hallway, until she was finally able to speak clearly.

“Yeah, that’s it..” She tried, moving down the hallway as she spoke, leaving both Murray and Joyce to rush up and keep up with her. She didn’t seem completely there, lost in thought, as she tried to rationalize the situation.

Sure, Murray seemed to have a fair amount of faith in this person who’d supposedly been through hell and back to help them out, but what good was she if was now just as vulnerable as Hopper? And if something were to happen to her and El, would she feel a sense of hatred towards Alice for losing the girl she’d come to treat as a daughter, or pity, knowing she’d fought to the end to protect El?

A sea of emotions flooded her head, her heart aching and her vision becoming more and more blurry as she attempted to make sense of it all.

But while Joyce, Murray, and Hopper attempted to make it out of the Russian’s prison corridor to find their friends, the worst of the Hawkins gang found themselves with their own task, one that would, unfortunately, become very important once everything came to a close.

So while the adults made their way through both a physical maze and a mental maze, the others found themselves awaiting the signal to end it all.

 

“Jesus, how much gasoline did you buy?” Max noted as Nancy, Jonathan, Steve, and Nancy pulled up in front of the lab. Their entire backseat and presumably trunk was filled with red canisters and smelled distinctly of a gas station. Just the thought of trying to get the smell out made Max light-headed.

“Enough to burn an entire Newfoundland prison.” Robin grinned, hopping out of the passenger seat and moving to prop open the trunk.

She threw gas can after a gas can onto the sidewalk, nodding to everyone to being grabbing their designated canister to allow more to flow out.

“And how much would that be?” Dustin questioned, scrunching his nose that the intoxicating smell once he’d managed to pick up one of the containers.

The others quickly followed suit, until only a few match respective matchboxes remained. Just the thought of eventually needing to use them, whether everyone was out or not, was nauseating a thought none of them wanted to think of.

“Enough to cause a worker to come out and question what pyromaniacs such as ourselves were doing in such an unknown city and what we were planning to burn.” Jonathan answering, rolling his eyes as he slammed the trunk shut. He then proceeded to begin popping the caps off of his canister and dump it around the premises. The grass immediately begins soaking in the bitter smell, causing more than a few of them to wince.

“But don’t worry, soon after he decided to ask what nice girls like me and Robin were doing hanging around a bunch of pricks like those two,” Nancy said, referring to Jonathan and Steve. But instead of wearing a face of annoyance, both girls in question had grins outlining their entire face.

“Do I dare ask you who told him?” Mike questioned, emptying his own canister into a corner and reaching for another one. “I’m afraid what you’ll say if I do.”

Robin snickered, moving from one side of the car to the other and winking at the others.

“Let’s just say you’re sisters a good kisser.” Robin grinned, smiling even wider as the adults burst into laughter and the children, specifically Mike, turned away in disgust.

“You kissed my sister?” Mike exclaimed in horror, practically throwing his container to the ground in an attempt to get as far away from the girl as possible. It’s not that he minded her choices, just the thought of anyone kissing Nancy made him squirm.

But, Robin quickly found this to be a useful opportunity, to which she made kissing noises and blew it in Nancy’s direction. Nothing the joke, she took it graciously and held her hands close to her heart as if she had caught it.

Mike only yelled out in disgust, much to everyone else’s enjoyment.

But everyone’s enjoyment quickly faded, as did the amount of the gas cans. For the next few moments, the only audible noise would be the sloshing of the yellow tinted liquid porting out.

Canister after canister after canister, all tossed aside and collected should another trip be necessary.

The smell only became more nauseating as they went on though, to the point that many of them had to step away just to keep from puking up what little food they’d consumed.

“How many canisters do we have left?” Lucas mumbled, wiping a fallen tear with his forearm, should any gasoline be on his hands.

“Probably about twelve, though we might need more.” Nancy sighed, covering her nose with the palm of her hands and stepping back towards the car. “Or not. It really just depends on how much we can dump without being caught.”

“Speaking of which,” Max scoffed, violently tossing another one of the jugs to the grass and moving to another. “Should Ms. Byers and Mr. Bauman be out by now? It’s getting to be a little long.”

But just as Max finished, the prison’s doors suddenly swung open, revealing the now three people in question. Murray and Joyce, looking both disheveled and anxious to finish up and get away from the Russians, were met with little more than a sigh of relief just for knowing they’d managed to get out.

But Hopper, who’d looked both exhausted and worried, was met with a crowd of cheers from those who hadn’t seen him in meer months.

“You’re alive!” Dustin exclaimed, discarding his gas can and moving with the crowd to embrace the man.

But even with a crowd of hugs and what can only be described as cries of welcome, Hopper felt no joy but instead was left to scour the bundle with an increasingly more upset look on his face.

“Jesus, Hopper, don’t tell me you’ve developed Stockholm syndrome and want to go back.” Steve rolled his eyes. “Lighten up a bit, would you?”

Hopper could only shake his head, quicker and quicker with each passing second. He felt a feeling of dread growing in his stomach, and the others quickly began to pick up on it.

Everyone but Joyce moved to give the man at least a little bit of breathing room, which much to their dismay did little good. Joyce, on the other hand, held on to him tight as she attempted to bring Hopper back to reality.

“Hop?” Joyce said with a hint of worry in her voice. While it was true she was still a bit shaken herself, it was nothing compared to Hopper was feeling now.

Hopper looked to Joyce, his eyes looking as if he’d just seen a ghost. He grasped on to Joyce’s hand and squeezed hard, only letting go and realizing his mistake once she lets out a small squeak in surprise and attempted to pull away.

“Hopper, what’s wrong?” Murray interfered, pulling Joyce back in order to prevent any further injury.

“She’s gone, she’s not here..” Hopper was finally able to say, his voice becoming weaker and weaker with each word. “She’s not here.”

It was no question who ‘she’ was. Each party thought she was with the other, but to find that she was in fact with the other sent a striking amount of fear into everyone.

“El isn’t with you?” Joyce said, suddenly Pauling and looking around with fear. But to no avail, and to no one else’s, El was nowhere to be seen.

But everyone’s search suddenly ceased when another issue surfaced. It wasn’t bad, per say, but it wasn’t good either.

For what everyone had turned to look at was the opening of the two-panel doors. Two-panel doors, that Hopper, Murray, and Joyce had walked out only a few moments prior.

And in the door frame stood a person who at any other point would be a relief to see. But in this case, a sense of fear suddenly shot through everyone.

For instead of standing alone, looking exhausted and as if they could break down in tears, this person should have another person with them.

But that was not the case. This person who’d they’d eventually need to go retrieve within the building was alone, and not with the other person in question.

“I’m so sorry..” Was all the girl was able to muster before falling to her knees in defeat.

May 7th, 1986
Newfoundland, Canada
Newfoundland Correctional Facility
6:12 pm
Immediately Following El and Alice’s Escape

“Storage closet?” Alice squinted, moving to the side of a wall in order to both read the sign and avoid being caught by any guard that may be rushing past.

“It says ‘кафетерий’” El said, butchering the word due to lack of practice. To be honest, El felt a little lost in the entire facility, with no directions and only a basic understanding of Russian. Not to mention vulnerable, as the only one who knew her way around couldn’t see more than three feet in front of her. Nonetheless, the two prevailed.

“That’s the cafeteria. We’re close though, try that one.” Alice said, gripping El with one hand and pointing with the other.

El dragged them a little further, this time to a door with the lettering reading ‘тюремные камеры’. Not helpful, sure, but the two went on anyway.

“What room are we looking for, anyway? There’s no use in checking every door when we can just rush past the ones we know for certain aren’t the ones we’re looking for.” El mumbled once they’d passed four more doors that were not, in fact, the one they were looking for.

Alice walked on, squinting at another sign in an attempt to at least get a basic idea of the word in front of her. Sadly, though, it was only another break room.

“You wouldn’t understand the lettering, would you?” Alice tried, opening another door to lead to another bay doors. “Not that it matters, anyway. Correct me if I’m wrong, but would that sign happen to have almost a ‘6’ shape before a backward ‘n’?”

El nodded her head, before adding that “It says ‘Кабинет снабжения’”

Alice grinned and immediately pushed open the door, only letting out a sigh of relief once she was sure everything was alright. She began dusting El off a bit and making sure Borya hadn’t scared her too much, and once it was determined El was fine, she was finally able to back up a bit.

She wiped her eyes with her shaky hand and attempted to collect herself, the fear in her voice being held back only by a very thin border of strength. She looked more tired than she had the last time El had managed a good look at her, and her once the clean white jacket was now riddled with stains rooting from god knows where. Nonetheless, she managed a small smile despite her uneven state.

“We’re in so much shit right now,” Alice sighed, grabbing hold of El’s wrists one more time, this time bringing them close to her own chest. “We’re in so much shit right now, and I would be lying if I said I don’t suspect the worst to come out of it.”

A tear had now begun to slide down her cheek, splashing the floor below them. It wasn’t much, sure, but it was the one bit of water that managed to slip through the water dam. Though Alice was a mess of emotion, she couldn’t let El see her like this, not ever.

“I couldn’t tell Hopper, I never could, I didn’t..” Alice suddenly let go of El’s hand to instead grasp her shoulder. She let out a curse before falling to her knee, wincing in pain as her white lab coat suddenly began to pool with blood. Slowly and painstakingly tainting the coat with each passing moment.

El rushed to her side, ignoring her pleas to back away and how she was fine. Nonetheless, the young girl carefully pulled Alice’s hand away to reveal a small but prominent wound scathing on the top of her shoulder.

“What the hell..?” El question worriedly, pulling a piece of cloth from her own jacket to make a tourniquet.

But before she could attend to the wound any further, a cocking noise suddenly made itself prominent in the now eerily quiet room. It was subtle but unmistakable. All heads turned to the direction of the noise, where a tall, blackened figure remain.

“Who the hell are you?” Alice practically yelled, feeling a sort of protective instinct despite her circumstances.

But the figure did not share the same sort of fear, and it suddenly moved closer into the dim light, gun still aimed at the two grounded girls. The figure had a large scar lining his face and an outfit just as messy as Alice’s. But despite its own seemingly misfortunate state, the figure still managed to send panic into both Alice and El.

“Never did I think I’d live to see experiment Eleven meet up with experiment Three,” Brenner noted in a calm and collected manner. “Though I suppose it doesn’t come to be too much of a surprise. You and Ives did always seem to click together so well. Who's to say her daughter wouldn’t do the same?” He added, referring to the still shocked Alice’s past in Hawkins.

And even despite the two wants to scream out, to run away and get away from the man who had caused them so much pain, both El and Alice remain kneeling on the ground with only one thing for certain: Brenner had the gun, and Brenner had their lives.

“What the hell do you want from us?” El attempted, turning to the man who once had the audacity to be called her Papa.

Brenner sneered, now moving to point the gun at El, all the while keeping it close enough to make sure Alice understood how easy a sudden switch would be.

“I always knew James Hopper would never be a good parent, with you nor Twelve. The mouths and superiority complexes you develop.” Brenner scoffed, gripping the gun harder in anger. “I want you to listen, and listen to you will. See, we all have needs in this world, whether it be for you to come home and do not have a bullet shot through your skulls, yes?”

Alice gasped in horror, moving to push El out of the way but only stopping when her shoulder yelled out in protest.

But El was not as panicked, for she knew exactly what to do. She didn’t fear Brenner like she once had but instead had raged against him. Rage that needed to be burned off. With fury in her eyes, El spoke calmly and collected. He knew what had to be done.

Though she knew the likely outcome of her choice, there was no other option to be made. Inhaling sharply to Alice, she was able to find her voice again.

 

Will El listen to Brenner?
Chapter 19: El Chooses to Listen to Brenner
Chapter 20: El Chooses Not to Listen to Brenner

Chapter Text

“Fine,” El said confidentially, fear being as far away as possible from her voice. “We’ll listen to you, do whatever you want, just... don’t hurt Alice.”

Alice looked to El with shocked eyes, not at all expecting her response. So defiant and sure of herself, only suddenly conforming to the man who’d caused them both so much pain.

But Brenner took little note of Alice’s shock, as instead, he smirked. Not moving the gun from in front of them, of course, but still smirking.”I knew you would come to your senses.”

Alice gripped onto El’s arm, though whether it was for El’s comfort or her own was left unsaid. She felt hopeless in front of Brenner, even if she ceased to see his full potential.

She’d tried endlessly to avoid him, to never see him. The rumours of him working with Borya never being so much as confirmed in fear of being discovered. But now, at her considerably weakest point was the moment she had to face what’d she’d feared for the seventeen years since she’d seen Brenner and all his cruelty.

“You’ve already taken so much from us, what else could you possibly want?” Alice attempted, her nails beginning to dig into El’s skin.

But Brenner could only laugh, moving his ready gun around as if it couldn’t go off at any moment. He couldn’t care, not one bit, should a bullet suddenly misfire and hit the two. After all, they were playing cat and mouse in a round where he happened to be on top. “You! You have no room to talk, Ms Johnson. Or wait, my apologies, Hartwell. Changing your last name, but not your first name.” Brenner scoffed, moving the gun back at the injured girl. “If I recall correctly, you as well as four- one being a replacement, so five- other voluntarily traded being pumped with an unknown substance for twenty-five dollars and a pass from classes. Classes, if memory serves, you were not participating in.”

“You stole a child from her mother!”

“She knew the risk, sleeping with that man while participating in the experiment. Besides, the child proved to be too dangerous for anyone that was, ah, untrained when it came to her abilities. It was a death sentence either way.”

Alice pressed her lips into a thin line, stopping herself from saying anything more. The pain of her shoulder had since vanished but was now replaced with the bottled up hatred of Martin Brenner.

But in the end, it was El, who was finally able to since Alice’s wound up enough to make the bleeding stop, who finally spoke up again.

“You say you need us,” She began, standing up again and pushing her chest against the nozzle of Brenner’s gun. Alice still held on tight, not letting the girl as far as she may have liked. “So why don’t you elaborate before I blow that gun upright in your grip?”

Brenner laughed lowly, not at all afraid of the girl’s threats. He had bigger fish to fry, El’s petty moves not being one of them.

“Don’t think I haven’t thought of that. That’s why I have any and all available bodies watching this very room should anything go do. You wouldn’t make it five feet without being reprimanded.” Brenner sneered, moving to circle the two girls without removing his aim. “And trust me, these men would be more than happy to get their hands on you two.”

El suddenly felt blood begin to pool on her wrist, to which she swiftly pulled away. Where Alice’s has been gripping lay four sharp indentations decorated with a spritzing of red to top it all off.

Alice, not realizing how hard she’d been holding on, finally looked to see her damage. She quickly recoiled herself, suddenly understanding what’d she’d done.

“We can’t help you, not anymore. I haven’t been able to control anything regarding my abilities for years. I’m a ticking time bomb ready to explode.” Alice interjected, frowning as she wiped her fingertips on her coat. “And El might as well be too strong. As in, able to shut and open interdimensional portals dangerous.”

Brenner nodded as if he were thinking about something, only now pulling the gun back a bit. It released the pressure in the room a bit, but not by much.

“You’re right,” Brenner admitted, his face suddenly becoming deadpan. “Alice, you are a lost cause. You took Ms Flower’s dosage and mucked everything up for us. You’re too far gone, and just trying to untangle the mess you’ve made is a headache in of itself. Why I reckon it’d just be easier to shoot you in the head and call it a day.”

Alice winced, fully expecting Brenner to go through with his threats. But instead, he moved closer to the girl he once played a fatherly figure to and stared down to her. He pushed a strand of her now flowing hair behind her ear and let out a small smile as if he actually cared about her.

El cringed, but couldn’t let Brenner pick up it too much. Instead, she stood her ground and made sure not to show any sign of discomfort. Small victories, in away.

But Brenner was unbothered. He didn’t care about El’s opinions then and didn’t care for them now. She could be shivering in fear and he wouldn’t even bat an eye.

“But you’ve done your service, Alice. You lessened the enemy, even without the reports to prove it. You’ve dragged the attention away from Russia all the while silencing the Ukrainians. You’ve ultimately completed your destiny, and can’t do any more for us.” Brenner mumbled, drawing his hand away from El’s face and now moving to the injured girl. “But dear Eleven here is yet to complete be designated task. You’ve run, and run, and run until you’ve finally had nowhere else to go. So tell me, where can you go now, if not anywhere at all?”

El thought about it for a second. It was true, cornered and unwilling to leave Alice behind, El didn’t have anywhere to go. Not to mention the slew of guards just waiting to get their hands on her. So then, if not to her friends and family, where could she run?

“Where are you suggesting we go, Brenner?” El asked instead, not allowing herself to flinch under Brenner’s hasty gaze. “I suppose it would be with you, but what from there?”

Brenner smiled a bit, knowing he was close to winning. He pushed his gun to the side and pulled El close, fully enjoying her increased discomfort as he did so. But despite it all, she refused to cave. He held her close, and though struggling, El never once attempted to push away.

“The Americans always had a thing for the Hawaiian islands, with their lush beaches and glamorous volcanoes.” Brenner began, recalling the islands as if he were speaking of a vacation. “We have ties that can empty out an entire island in a matter of days if needed. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be Hawaii. It can be all of China, for all I care. You just have to come with us.”

Alice quickly began to pick up on the girl’s intentions and attempted to grab her wrist in response. But El was quicker, stopping her hand before it could even make contact.

“El, what are you thinking?” Alice whispered in a low, hoarse voice. She had now attempted to stand, gasping in pain as she went up.

“Just trust me,” She whispered back with a smile. But it wasn’t good, “I’ve got this” smile, more of a “You’ll be fine” one. As much as it made her upset, she couldn’t speak her concerns, not now. El had already begun talking again.

“I’ve always wanted to see Switzerland, I suppose,” El said shyly, looking back to Brenner. Unbeknownst is to him, though, a tear began to fall down her cheek.

It was only Alice, through her blurred vision due to her own tears, who saw it though. She was doomed, yes, but at least El had something to look forward to.

“The Alps are beautiful,” Brenner noted, pulling El deeper into the room. “And neutral. We pay the locals a few grand and they’ll be out of there in no time. Plenty of room, and who knows, perhaps we can start up the experiments again?”

Alice gently touched her hand to El’s shoulder. Not to provide comfort, not now. She was the one with the issues now, but instead to get even just a fraction of her attention.

“And a little goat, to run amuck in the mountains?” El asked, ignoring Alice’s silent pleas. “Please, just as a pet. I’ll... I’ll be good, I promise.”

Alice grip increased, with both frustration and anger.

“Eleven, you can have a whole farm of little goats. You just have to come home with me.” Brenner soothed, sealing the deal.

Suddenly, El turned to Alice, looking at her with apologetic eyes. She didn’t want this, she didn’t want any of this. But it’s what had to be done if she had any hope of her friends and family walking out okay.

“Thank you, Ms Hartwell, for everything you’ve done for me. I’m sorry things didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, not with my mother or with me, but please,” El’s voice suddenly caught in her throat, tears now steaming at full strength. But she smiled through it all, not flinching once. “Please tell Hopper I’m thankful for everything he’s done. And Will too, tell them all that... I’m glad I was able to meet them in my lifetime.”

Alice violently shook her head refusing to let go of El. “Stop this nonsense, we’re getting out of her once and for all. We’ll find a way, ``I-I promise-“

“Alice.”

El looked up to the girl, the girl who had done everything for her. It was now her turn to do something. She’d endure the pain, just like she had until she was twelve. The nights spent alone in solitary, or under the watch of Russian men wanting to do nothing but harm to other countries, would once again become her normal.

And all for the knowledge, her family was finally safe. They could move somewhere and get away from Hawkins. Things would return to back before she even saw them in ‘82. They would be able to walk out on the streets without the fear of any fear of the Russians, or the lab, or even the Demogorgon.

Times were changing, and El had to change with it. She’d watched it in the guys, from them moving from Dungeons and Dragons to arcade games, to console systems. Things weren’t going to stay the same forever, so why not move with it?

She didn’t like this change, sure, but who's to say what change is really good? The ideas that seem to be the worst can oftentimes be the worst. Perhaps things would churn out to be okay in the end anyway.

“Let them know I’ll be okay, but that they can’t look for me. Please, just let them know that this is for the better.”

“El, you’re crazy, there’s another-“

“And please, if nothing else, make sure Joyce can move on. If she moves on, so will Hopper, and that’s all I want for them. For all of them.” El was both physically and mentally exhausted, to the point that it hurt. She knew that she wasn’t ready for anything Brenner or the Russians were to do, and no matter how hard she tried to get those notions out of her head, she couldn’t shake the thought.

But her stubbornness stumped her worry, as she knew what harm would come if Alice didn’t leave now. If not to her, it was extremely likely Brenner would take to terrorizing the others once more, and wouldn’t stop until each and every one of them were gone. Not to mention the fact that they all were no use to the Russian government's strength, and she’d likely end up going with them anyway, should push come to shove.

So then, why struggle at all? Save the bullets and blood for different times, and cause a little panic as possible. She trusted Alice as much as Alice trusted her. She’d make it out, likely untouched since Brenner overall got what he had wished for, and that was it. Everyone- especially Mike, how she dreaded the pain she was about to cause Mike- would likely curse her for it, sob and even try to go back into the building to retrieve her, but that would be it.

And even with the tears to come, she’d to get through it. Hell, assuming she’ll be able to get a hold of some sort of radio or transmitter, she would even be able to communicate with them every now and then, if not to just tell them how they needed to keep away.

But none of this would be able to happen if Alice didn’t listen to her, just once.

“Alice,” She spoke again, now heavily aware of the cocked gun behind her. Brenner was getting impatient, and Alice’s minutes would become numbered if she didn’t get out now. “I will never be able to thank you enough for all that you’ve done, and I hope you never forget this, but I desperately need you to leave.”

“El, there has to be another way, a way where you’re able to go back to Hawkins or Indianapolis, or anywhere you want. Just where you’re free and able to live the life you wanted to live for so long.” She responded, frustrated and upset and so wanting to scream.

But El only softly shook her head. “This is it. I know you want everything to turn out a certain way, but..” El trailed off, suddenly catching Alice’s glance.

“I don’t like this.” Alice stuttered, her face red and wet.

El smiled a bit, but only to respond by pushing the girl back-outside the now open door- and hope for the best. God, how Alice would hate her for that, but it’s what had to be done.

“I know,” El sighed moving her hand and slamming the door shut with all the strength she could muster.

And that was it.

Now, instead of Alice and El no more than a few inches apart, they lifetimes apart, with both nothing and everything separating them.

Once Alice was finally able to register just what has happened, she was quick to slam, kick, and even throw herself onto the door, if not to just tell El that she was still there.

But she didn’t open, and nor would she. Alice could break down the door and she still wouldn’t go with her. She had made her decision and wasn’t about to let anyone change her mind.

“I’ll fucking kill you, El!” Alice screamed through her tears, her hands and feet now aching from the amount of strain she was causing them.

But the door still didn’t open. Not that Alice could try again, though, as once she attempted another blow at the door, a voice suddenly came over the loudspeakers, something that never happened unless it was absolutely necessary.

“Внимание,” The speakers began, Borya voice feeling every room within the facility. “Элис Хартвелл была замечена в западном коридоре. Закрыть, когда это возможно, и вернуть ее живой.”

“Shit,” Alice yelled, kicking the door in frustration one last time and breaking for the door. She could already hear the thunder of army boots as they hit against the floor heading her way.

It pained her to run away like this, especially with El still inside, but what good could she do? None if she came out dead, that’s for sure. And so she ran or at least tried to. Everything looked as if she were peering through a cheap magnifying glass, and her shoulder was screaming out of pain.

Alice felt as if she could collapse. She wanted to curl in a ball, and couldn’t truly fathom what she was doing, what El was doing. Worse, though, she was running into what could very likely be her end, and then what?

The others are still waiting out there for her, though how much she couldn’t be sure. Sure, Hopper and Murray and Joyce, but who else came with them, who followed them?

Would they end up prisoners of Russia, as Hopper had only just been? How many new enemies were they gaining, and how many friends were Alice losing?

And god, even if she did make it out, where would Alice go? The mainland was tempting, but it’s bound to be too close. Not to mention she was once again leaving behind everything. She didn’t have much money, to begin with, but now she had nothing.

Alice shook her head in frustration, ushering the bad thoughts from her head and continuing on.

But then she saw it, in all its worn out and tired glory. Two large doors that also stood for her freedom, and what was to come. Outside it could either be a large plane wide enough to let her run and run and run...

Or a sea of guards grins lining each of their faces as they were finally able to understand their victory. But she had to take a chance, it was now or never. A field of freedom, or a field of death.

Grimacing, Alice slowly pushed open the heavy doors, her eyes too tired to even stay open. She’d been through too much today. Inch by inch by inch, she could faintly hear the sound of soft bickering, bickering she didn’t care to hear.

She didn’t care to hear it when it began, nor did she care to hear it when it suddenly ceased. She couldn’t hear, too much pressure filling her head, god how she felt she could explode.

She could only say softly before she tumbled to her knees, was “I’m so sorry.”

She fell, not caring how dirty she got, she’d been caught, and this was it.

Until it wasn’t.

 

“Alice?” Murray squinted, rushing to her side in order to support the fallen girl. Everyone wore a face of confusion and horror, both unsure of whether or not to trust Alice and worry of why El wasn’t with her. “What happened?”

Alice shook her head, still refusing to open her eyes. She couldn’t look at their faces.

“I tried, I tried so hard, b-but she..” Alice choked out, feeling a hand suddenly touch her wounded shoulder. She winced at the pain, but Murray didn’t stop. Instead, he carefully undid the makeshift tourniquet. Slowly peeling back the bloodied bandages, he suddenly gasped, noting the wound.

“Who shot you?” Murray mumbled, his eyes suddenly becoming very wide. “You didn’t get caught, did you?”

Alice was silent, only now having the courage to open her eyes. But much to her surprise, the increasing crowd wasn’t angry, but instead worried.

“Alice, who hurt you like this?” Murray pressed again.

Alice hesitated, but after finally gathering enough strength she was finally able to speak. “Brenner. He... We ran into a supply closest to avoid any guards, and he shot me and... He took El, he took El and she went willingly.”

The crowd suddenly became silent, unsure of how to respond. While some had become quite panicked and were preparing to barge into the building, Hopper stood stone face, only now making himself present.

He could sense Alice’s frustration regarding the entire situation and did not wish to spook her. Instead, he softly kneeled down next to her and lightly grabbed her hand. This had come as a surprise to everyone else, though, as this was very unlike Hopper’s usual style. Nonetheless, he stayed calm and collected, trying his best to hear the girl out.

“Do you know where they’re going? If they’re already outside the facility?” Hopper said softly yet sternly. Alice sniffled a bit but still nodded nonetheless. Hopper continued on, taking advantage of the increasing silence around them. “Or, more importantly, will they get hurt?”

“From what?” Alice questioned with wide eyes. But she needed no answer, as just as she said it, she was met with a headache-inducing amount of gasoline smell. It was so strong, and how she hadn’t noticed it before was well beyond her. “Oh. I’m sure of it, seeing as there are probably hundreds of escape routes within the building.

“So… It’s a go on the matches?” Mike questioned, likely the most furious of them all. He already had a matchbox in hand and was prepared for the very moment he got the approval.

And approval he got. As Hopper nodded his head and stood to his feet, others quickly rushed to collect their own box. Alice was immediately moved back from the door, wishing not to be caught in the fire or inflict harm on the building (Even if they had taken everything from her, her mind could only wonder to the falsely accused prisoners within.)

Each match was placed around the premise of the building, each bud touching the next one’s wooden stick. Though they’d almost been caught by patrolling guards a few times, it wasn’t long before the entire area was surrounded by flame sticks, with only a few remaining.

It wasn’t safe for anyone to be less than twenty feet from the building, and Alice knew this. While the adults were fighting over would be the one to light the building and risk dying with it, and the children bickered over ways to potentially light the flame from afar, Alice sat silently, thinking only to her self about how she could go about this all.

“We can line more matches to the actual building a hope it works.” Alice heard Dustin suggest, but was quickly shot down by Mike who stated they didn’t have enough.

“We light my jacket on fire and throw it at the building,” Will added, pointing to the article of clothing.

“We’re not throwing fire at a building,” Lucas scoffed, rolling his eyes in the process. “But perhaps if we find a mechanical object and expose the wires we can start an electrical fire.”

Alice suddenly perked up in interest, suddenly having an idea. Though she wasn’t confident enough to walk on over to the group of friends, she beckoned them over, paying little attention to their nervous glances.

“Do you have an idea on what to do?” Will questioned, tilting his head a bit. Alice grabbed a walkie talkie from her jacket pocket and removed the panel on the back to reveal the green board and slew of wires.

She pointed to a red wire and pulled it a bit. Once she was satisfied with its lack of give, she smiled and held her hand out. “You kids wouldn’t happen to have a box cutter or x acto, would you?”

Everyone shook their head, but Alice didn’t give up hope yet. Instead, she slid off the lid of the car and rushed over to the wall of watches. “Get everyone in the car, we’re gonna want to get away as soon as possible.”

The children shared worried glances, but Max was off within seconds. Alice, on the other hand, had moved closer to the building while ripping off the protective wire casing with her bare teeth. Once she was satisfied, she placed his down onto the pile of matches, careful to make sure at least three matches were touching the wire.

And the rest was history. Everyone quickly compiled themselves into the car and drove at Alice’s instructions. Though it made little sense, to begin with, seeing as they were simply driving away from the building, Alice’s mind was hard at work.

Murray, who has been driving, noticed the girl in the very back, more confused than ever on why the girl was sitting with her eyes clenched so hard that tears began to fall down her cheek. But before he could even question her choices, Alice’s eyes suddenly shot open.

“Flor it,” She said simply, followed by a mass explosion sending them a fair bit forward, even with their distance from the building.

“What was that?” Lucas cried in excitement, remembering the fireworks from only a year prior.

“Utter exhaustion,” Alice said, wiping a stream of blood from her nose before collapsing in on herself.

As for the building, it was gone before the group could even get to the Newfoundland loading dock. Everyone within the prison died of either burning to death, or due to the gases. This included Borya, who in an attempt to flee the facility, was shot by a man a girl making their way out of the facility, on their journey to Switzerland.

Newfoundland Fire Department spent a total of three hours trying to extinguish the blaze, only being able to trace the start of the blaze back to a small, burnt to a crisp box dropped just outside the premises. Being isolated, for the most part, the fire did not spread to any surrounding buildings but left an irreparable land where the prison had once been.

For the next couple days following the event, more information was discovered on the facility, and discovered to have been aiding Russia in its inhuman activities, and was quickly pinned against the country as a conspiracy that would cause quite a feud between the two countries.

As for the unidentifiable man a girl, they had been seen escaping the building before the flame completely took over. None have been able to find them, though search teams have been sent across the world in hopes of finding the potential arsonists.

The Hawkins gang successfully made it back to the US a few days after the events, with the new addition of Alice “Hartwell” Johnson. Little has surfaced about the group, the only information known to be a portion of them had disappeared soon after. Ties to the family have refused to speak on the subject, though many have speculated a portion of the group now resides in Australia.

Chapter Text

“No,” El said simply, standing up tall and stretching out her arm in preparation. She felt empowered and ready to take on anything, including the defeat of the man who once made her call him ‘Papa’. “Not anymore, not ever again.”

Brenner sneered, now moving his gun to have it pointing at the girl. But she didn’t flinch, filled with pure adrenaline and the desire to protect her friend. Alice, on the other hand, was silently looking between the two, contemplating her next move.

“Why have you become so stubborn?” Brenner cried, waving his gun around enough to put the two on edge. “What happened to the nights in The Lab, where you wouldn’t talk back? And you, Alice, when you were more focused on the check than the fact that you were getting pumped full of mysterious chemicals? Hell, do I dare even mention how you even collected Ms Flower’s dose and did it on the off days, just to get some sort of high?”

Alice attempted to stand up, only being able to when El offered her a hand. She struggled for a second, feeling just as dishevelled as she felt. Nonetheless, the two girls-two experiments- stood together to prove their strength over Brenner. Their pasts, both spent alone and confined within The Lab’s walls all the while enduring its inhumane treatment, all surfacing at once, this time with more rage than ever before.

“You know that wasn’t my choice, not fully. Something was wrong, and I was the only way of finding out.” Alice winced, softly touching the bandaged shoulder and pulling her hand back in disgust. “Besides, you hadn’t expected to keep me, had you? Think of it this way: The originals only showed minimal signs of work, and in the thriving era you killed seven out of the eleven participants, leading to the other four to escape.”

A fatal blow. Brenner had yet to produce an actual working experiment, the closest ever being Eleven, and even then she still had much to learn. Everyone else would either die on their own/in the hands of the lab or would escape before anything else could occur. This ultimately led to a very angry Russian government and multiple prison sentences and executions towards the Hawkin’s Lab workers. Brenner’s finger tightened around the trigger.

“But we’ll be so much more successful at the return of experiment Eleven, now won’t we?” Brenner shot back, specifically eyeing El. She internally cries he’d at the man’s comment, but wouldn’t dare show it. “I mean, it is tempting. And this think, Ms Hartwell doesn’t even have to come with you. She can go back to living a happy life in Canada, in Hawkins, and your friends, how much better there be once their dreaded Eleven has finally gone home!”

Alice gripped on tight to El’s hand, more for her own stability, but also to show that this was, in fact, real life. Brenner could say whatever he wanted, do anything he wanted, but it wouldn’t matter, not to them. They were stronger together, and if anyone thought they weren’t was in trouble.

“I’ll try and reach out for a pulse, make it overpower itself. Just..” Alice mumbled trailing over and looking to Brenner’s Walkie talkie at side... “If I can get this right, it’ll explode, but I fear how large it might be. It’s hard to say, but it could be just small enough to make him drop it or large enough to.. to..”

Alice didn’t dare say it, but El knew what she was thinking. Kill us, kill you, kill me, kill, kill, kill. The opposite of what they wanted, really, or at least not for them. Brenner could die off with all the other lab workers, but they couldn’t go down, not like this. It would diminish all they’d worked towards these last few months.

“Ms Hartwell, is there something you’d like to share with the rest of the class?” Brenner scoffed, sneering at Alice’s unheard comment. He didn’t need to hear it.

Alice slowly shook her head, turning her attention back to the man in question, but not once breaking the possible pulse of his Walkie talkie. In fact, she began to slowly move around him, pitifully circling him.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Brenner cried, quickly swinging the gun away from El and to Alice. But even with the unwanted attention, she didn’t dare flinch. Focus, focus, focus…

And El followed, unaware that the action wasn’t intentional. Nonetheless, she walked one, working counter-clockwise instead of Alice’s clockwise.

“You’re both going to get shot if you don’t stop moving,” Brenner said with more anger than before, now moving for anything else that could work as a weapon. Alice only walked on, and El paid little mind, only stopping to make a snarky comment.

“You’ve lost your grip is all. You can’t control us anymore.” El said cooly, looking to Alice carefully as they passed each other. But she was met with no response. It was actually quite worrisome if she was being completely honest.

“Exactly!” Brenner practically shouted, unsure of where to point his gun. The two hadn’t quickened the pace or moved off course, everything had just begun to work to fast for him to keep track. In a way, it’s almost as if he was able to feel the pressure building up within the room, but on the other hand, it felt as if he couldn’t feel anything at all. Nonetheless, Brenner had become increasingly more panicked than he had before and wasn’t sure how to react to it. “You children and your needs are so unaware of how lucky you are. Protecting the entire nation by having these abilities like no other. It’s a great honour that many could only wish to have.”

Alice suddenly froze, the pressure dropping with her attention. El caught off guard by the sudden stop, accidentally ran into the girl in the process.

“Protection from what?” Alice whispered horsley, locking eyes with Brenner. She didn’t mean to sound so weak, but it all came out the same. “For the other children, exploited due to either their past mistakes or their own parents' selfish actions? How many places have this? The Shop? The Institute?”

Alice began to get choked up, almost as if she was pent up with tears and rage she didn’t know she’d been holding. She felt as if she could break down, and though she couldn’t show it facially, anything and everything electronic surely did. Pulsing and breathing like stars.

A thin, wiry sound began to drag out if anything that suddenly had a voice, a hum quiet enough to make anyone question their sanity.

“Alice?” El questioned, suddenly sounding a bit panicked. The alarms had since stopped, replaced now with the god awful sound. And the lights in the room had become significantly duller, switching from bright to low, on and off. It all seemed like a horror movie in some twisted, disgusting way where even the villain was no longer safe.

“Three-“ Brenner began, quickly noting his mistake. He suddenly dropped the gun, bracing for any impact that may come his way.

“No!” Alice cried, swiftly turning to Brenner with tear-filled eyes. “Don’t you ever call me that. Don’t call anyone that. We’re not some trail run, with numbers in such large supply that you can replace them whenever need be!”

El tried to drag the upset girl back a bit but to no avail. The noise had only gotten louder, and the lights quicker. As Alice seemed to get more and more overworked, the room began to get tighter and tighter. So much his, that El hadn’t noticed the fallen before Brenner was able to grab it once more.

“I’ll shoot, make it stop or I’ll shoot!” Brenner yelled over the ringing, aiming the gun directly at Alice. Her eyes had shut extremely tight, with one hand grabbing onto her head to ground her just a bit.

“Smash your communication device, she’s focusing too hard on it!” El yelled back, keeping one hand on Alice and the other pointed at Brenner.

But in true Brenner fashion, he wouldn’t dare listen. What did El know? “And cut all contact with Borya? How can I know that you aren’t just saying this to make me helpless?”

El felt as if she could smack Brenner-more than usual, anyway. What more could she know? Probably about ten times more, considering her past with overloading herself. And while this handled two different abilities, she was able to get the basic idea of what was going on.

“Can’t you see that she’s overpowering due to something electric? The entire point of her was to overpower her, you’re bound to have seen this!” El cried, fed up with Brenner’s stubbornness. “She’s going to kill us all if we don’t cut the ties!”

But Brenner could only turn away, grasping his walkie talkie protectively. Even if he was relying on the communication device for contact with Borya, it wouldn’t work well with Alice’s chaos. The feed was bound to be dropped by now and was likely never to recover after whatever shit storm was occurring then and there. But he would never allow himself to accept that, how could he? He’d known what he’d done and knows that Alice and El did would forever hate him for it.

But instead of listening to El in any way, he instead went against it all. Instead of destroying an already fried piece of machinery driving a girl to the edge of her abilities, he took his handgun aimed it, and with confidence lining his eyes, he shot.

The room suddenly stopped pulsing, and the noise came to an end. That isn’t to say anything electric started up, though, as once the deed was done the entire building came to an inky black.

But it wasn’t because Alice had been shot, or El, for that matter. Alice, who had since managed to find her way out of the trance due to the loud and unexpected noise, looked around at her body to find nothing of any sort.

“El?” Alice asked worriedly, fearing for the worst as she attempted to make her way through the darkness. She bumped into something and suddenly moved back.

“Alice, I’m here, are you hurt?”

“No, nothing besides the shoulder,” She began, suddenly pulling a match from her pocket and setting it on fire to allow even the tiniest of light. And it was true, all was fine and standing in front of her.

But the same could not be said for Brenner. Now it was he who was lying on the floor, face down and in his own pool of blood. He shot himself, knowing nothing would come out good for him. Whether Alice was able to kill him with the fatal blast or El got to him, he couldn’t bear to stay around and see it all play out.

And just like that, years of pain and torture faded with him. Whether it was a good thing, neither of them would ever find out. They couldn’t, seeing as few words were ever exchanged after the incident.

“Two lefts and right, there should be a door,” Alice mumbled, moving to leave the room herself. “Just.. don’t wait for me, and get out as soon as you can. It’s all coming down once I get to the emergency power supply.”

El suddenly turned to Alice, who had been able to pry open the door and start walking down the corridor. She had something in mind, and wouldn’t share it with El.

“What do you mean, what are you doing?” El gritted, rushing up behind Alice, who had already made it down the corridor. By the time El was able to find her in the darkness.

“Making it up to Terry, now go, before it’s too late.”

“Alice, wait,” El attempted, pulling her back a bit to no avail. She only kept walking, almost robotically in a way. She had been pushed off the edge and wasn’t coming back. “Brenner’s gone, and we can go home now, we just need to leave-“

Alice interrupted, pushing El back and turning to her for a final time. “Please, I’m not done. Nothing is done until Borya is gone, and we can’t do that until the building's gone.”

And that was the last time El managed to see Alice in person. As much as she wanted to go after her and at least try to change her mind, it would be of no use. The time was slowly running out, and with that, so was El’s ability to get out.

With tears in her eyes, she managed to take the two lefts and a right, and just as Alice predicted was the two towering corridors. She opened them, wincing at how bright the sun was and smiled, Boeing she was almost home.

But it wasn’t because she was able to see her friends and family again, or because a large winding road leading to at least fourteen different escape routes was visible, it was far off, a large and bright light began to shine.

“I’m so sorry..” El mumbled stumbling a bit but still making it past the group. “We have to go.”

“El?” Mike questioned, rushing to her side. She was making her way into the car, and the others followed, Jonathan even slipping into the front seat to turn the car on. “El what's wrong?”

“We need to leave, she’s doing it,” Is all she said, pulling mike into the car in a very tired manner. Though everyone followed, everyone was very confused. But it was only Hopper who managed to ask the forbidden question.

“El, where’s Alice?” He questioned once everyone made it into the car. He wore a distinct look of confusion, but at the same time, he also knew what the answer was.

“She going to try and overpower the building, as she did with the Ukrainian disaster. She’s..” She’s sacrificing herself to save us all.

El threw her head into her hands, feeling the need to puke and scream and cry. The world seemed to spin around her, and the car just didn’t seem to be going fast enough.

“Wait, Murray’s friend caused the Chernobyl meltdown? How?” Dustin asked excitedly, earning a glare from just about everyone in the car. “Is she a sibling?!”

“Dustin-“ Steve began but was quickly cut off.

The building, which they’d gotten far from by now, exploded behind them, illuminating the darkness with one final spark.

And that was it.

An estimated 146 people died in the Newfoundland explosion, known for miraculously being able to contain itself all the while completely destroying the island’s main prison. With an astounding 85 falsely imprisoned patrons dying that day with another 60 workers to top it off, the country of Russia was quickly investigated for several acts against America.

As for Alice, the one non-worker, non-prisoner of the body count, died with glory, having overpowered the prison’s emergency circuit in a matter of moments. Though many have suspected her to have been a worker at the facility, an anonymous voice from Hawkins, Indiana managed to identify the girl a few days later, ceasing any and all law cases that would have been aimed at her existing family.

As for the visiting group from Indiana, all are said to have made a safe return to their respective homes, though sources state the seven of them moved from their temporary Indianapolis location, and have not been seen since.

Chapter Text

June 23rd, 1986
Tasmania, Australia
The Byers-Hopper Household
Two Months After El’s Departure
12:14 pm

It had taken a long time for everyone to really take in what happened. With Hopper dealing with the loss of another daughter, Mike with the loss of a girlfriend, the party with the loss of a friend, and Alice with Terry’s child, it took a while for everyone to accept the way things had become.

Alice was never able to go back to Hawkins, having found her father had passed away a few years after her move to Canada. Though insisting she would be fine on her own, Joyce was quick to state she would return back to Indianapolis until they finally found somewhere to lay low for a bit. The group ended up living out of the Byers’ household until they all decided on a location. Both far from the Russians and all of Hawkins, everyone decided that the Australian island of Tasmania would be best.

But this story isn’t all sorrows and woes. The small period before the large move, Hopper and Joyce finally married, deciding that after having been through hell together they were truly meant for each other. The wedding was small but vibrant, having been hosted back home in the waste yard everyone had come to be so familiar with. But what was truly remembered that night wasn’t the long-awaited joining of the two high school sweethearts or the finally official siblingship the Byers now shared with El (Even if she hadn’t been seen since Newfoundland, everyone assisted they would come to find her with time), but instead was the joke played by Murray and Joyce.

Though Murray likely lost any pride he may have had, everyone invited to the party agreed to the wedding agreed that he looked simply dashing in a dress. This included Hopper, who after accidentally leaning in to kiss his supposed wife-to-be was appalled to find the man he’d deemed a lunatic for so long.

The only regret everyone shared that night was the fact the El, who had spent months planning the imaginary wedding Joyce and Hopper would have once they’d found him, was unable to witness it all. But that is why they insisted the marriage had to be minimal, for the true party was yet to occur.

Nonetheless, another month went by and with it, another Indiana family moved away. The Byers-Hoppers, Murray Bauman, and Alice Hartwell all moved to Australia after determining it was the safest for them all until they were able to pinpoint El’s exact location. And so they went, leaving all they’ve ever known behind them. Hopper claimed he was glad to leave all the Hands Across America stuff behind, but even he was sad to see his beloved home bye.

Working in a sort of summer-camp style set up, the five all scrounged enough money together to purchase a large home for them all to live in, but easy enough to leave behind when they made their way back to Indiana. Hopper landed a job within the first few days of their arrival, working as a night-knocker, though was likely to be promoted due to his overwhelming amount of experience. Murray also slipped his way into a publishing company and Alice an electrition job. Joyce, much to her frustration, decided it would be best to return back to watching from the sidelines, but also keeping in touch with Jonathan and Nancy to make sure everyone was okay back in Hawkins.

But due to the weight of the situation, it took quite a while for everyone to really come to truce with everything that happened. While most attempted to find a distraction via whatever new trends started popping up or investigating new conspiracies (Murray had come to decide the Alice hadn’t in fact caused Cherynobl, but instead was just Borya’s scapegoat).

But Will was different. Though he hadn’t really added any new interests onto his load, he began losing interest in any and all activities he and EL had once enjoyed. Instead of watching all sorts of soap-opera re-runs and pouring over comic books, Will would spend endless hours reading novels and watching documentaries.

But most of all, Will was quick to store away anything he had gotten during his time in Ohio and Newfoundland. While he had been prone to collecting mini soaps and advertisements for local shows you could find at the reception desk, Will could only slip his findings in a box and shoved deep into his shared-room closet. And he forgot about it for a long while, only rediscovering it when Joyce had got whiff of how dirty the room had become.
“Shit, how has the room gotten messier since the last time I was in here?” Alice noted, stepping over a large box of still unpacked books in order to get to her bed. She scooped up a random book-Thinner- from the box and began reading.

“Mom’s making me clean it, though I don’t see why.” Will sighed, pulling a trashbag holding his sleeping bag (Not used since Indiana) from his closet. “It’s not like we have anyone coming to visit.”

Alice removed her glass-one of the first things she got upon returning to Hawkins, thank god- and moved them to the side, discarding any hopes of digging into her book she may have previously had. She moved around a bit until she was finally able to see what Will was digging through.

“You just have to make the best of Tasmania while you can, and I promise you’ll be back home soon.” She said comfortingly, resting her head in her hand. Will wasn’t taking, it though, as he simply went back to rummaging through more boxes and putting stuff away, taking out the things he wanted out and putting away the ones he didn’t. “Besides, haven’t you made any friends that can come over? You only have school all year, it’s not like you’re not able to see them almost every day.”

Will shrugged, standing up to put a plethora of objects onto shelves and replacing a box back in the closest. Its spot wasn’t empty for long, though, as soon enough another box was placed out. But that doesn’t mean he immediately went to rummaging through it, as instead, he went to go sit by Alice on her bed.

“Not really. On one hand, it’s nice to not be known as the kid who came back to life, or the kid who got possessed that one time in November, or even that one who was tossed around but his father, but...” Will looked away in embarrassment, not daring to face the facts. “I guess I’m just scared. Surly the guys haven’t replaced me yet, so why should I?”

Alice suddenly stood up, a flurry of upset flying through her. If it wasn’t for Will by her side in a number of seconds, it’s likely the single light bulb illuminating the room would have burst. “Child, you can’t do this to yourself, that’s not how it works. You’ll go back, but you also must make the best of what you have. If I would have realized that when I first got to Canada, I promise that things would have turned out a lot better for me.”

Will didn’t dare respond, but instead, he returned back to his box. This one contained flyers for In Trousers at a local theatre, as well as a catalog for different types of room service. But what interested Will the most wasn’t and musical flyers or menus, but instead a scrap of paper. It was folded multiple times and had a bit of water stain, but nonetheless readable.

“What’s that?” Alice questioned, slipping her glasses back on a rushing beside the boy.

“I-I don’t know, I don’t remember..” Will unfolded the scrap just as a sea of memories washed over him. He hadn’t dared open the scrap when he first found it in the hotel room, but now it all seemed so clear, so true. For inside the paper, the paper he couldn’t bring himself to open when the possibility of El actually returning home was possible was a destination.

‘The Alps’, the paper described. Alice gasped in realization, already knowing what it meant. Will didn’t even need to ask.

Instead, against all his will, he spoke with an exuberant amount of confidence. “I suppose we’re going to Switzerland.” He said.

Alice nodded, already standing to her feet to go collect the others. And they had only just managed to pack up everything. “I guess we are.” She said robotically, following Will out the door and igniting the start of yet another adventure to come.

Chapter Text

June 17th, 1986
Hawkins, Indiana
The Byers-Hopper Household
One Month After Alice’s death
3:56 pm

Alice’s death hit hardest for El. For the few moments following, she wouldn’t speak of it, she simply couldn’t. She couldn’t shake the feeling that in the end, it really was her fault. Had she just followed her or even, god forbid, forced Alice to come out with her, the likely hood that she would have been able to make it out would be predominantly larger.

But what hurt the most was how quickly everyone moved on. It’s not as if they wanted to, as both Hopper and Murray were quite affected by the girl’s death, but instead because they didn’t have time. With El still out there and the group now an enemy of Russia, they had to move, and they had to move quickly. Almost everything was packed up in a matter of days, and where the Byers, Hoppers, and Murray (Who insisted he was never on the Russian’s good side and would have to go into hiding even if El didn’t make it out) would migrate to come even sooner.

Spain, Alaska, Germany, and Portugal, all options they discussed for a possibility for the safest lifestyle. Morroco, France, China, Japan, anything, to get away. But in the end, the adults all decided Australia-specifically the island of Tasmania- would be the safest for them to stake out for a bit.
And so they packed everything they could and began their adventure north-east. Their goodbyes were short and moments together shorter, as they all finally broke away from everything any of them had ever know. There was no telling when they’d be back, or even if they would be back at, and everyone knew that. Will, having little items to begin with due to the massive toy purge only a year earlier, took only a few hours to pack up. But El was different.

Each time she found something that had any sort of sentimental value to her, she felt as if she could cry. The amounts of letters from Mike, or comics from Dustin, or tapes from Lucas, god, all flying at her all at once. She didn’t realize how much they all meant to her until she was finally having to say goodbye.

So much so that it wasn’t until the day before they left that she was finally able to unpack her bag from Newfoundland (Stolen from the Russian man). She had originally planned to just shove it in a box and deal with it in Tasmania, but something drew her closer and closer to the bag with each glance.

At first, it wasn’t much other than some spare change, some discarded tickets, and food wrappers. But the further down she went, she found more and more. She still had the cassette player and tape holding Hopper’s message, not that she’d ever let him know. It wasn’t out of embarrassment, as she had sufficiently made sure he knew how much she missed him since his return, but it all just kind of felt off, as if in some way he didn’t know about the message.

But despite it all, she continued on with her search through the bag, if not just to gain a bit of closure from the entire incident. She wasn’t finding much other than an old bus and train tokens, and crumpled receipts tossed aside for a later date, but it didn’t matter much to her, not now anyway.

“El?” Hopper mumbled lowly, opening up the door a bit with a box in hand. He still looked tired and messed up from his time away, and would likely do so until the move. “Are you okay? The others and I were going to go say our last goodbyes to Hawkins, and figured you’d like to come with us.”

Hopper pushed aside a box on his way to go sit with El, practically shifting the bed as he sits down. Even with his drop in weight, he’d been well-packed with delicious home-cooked meals since his return, and by no means was a light man. “What are you looking at there?”

El opened the bag up a bit more in Hopper’s direction, wordlessly allowing him to get a better look at it all. Though he’d likely only recognize a handful of items, El let him look on anyway. There wasn’t anything to hide.

Sifting through the bag just as El had before, he began pulling more items out. Though the main purpose of it was to sort the trash from the slightly less trash, as well as the slightly notable items (A walkman was a walkman even if it came from the Russians. By no means were they going to let it go to waste) in a completely separate pile, Hopper suddenly froze once he found a certain item in the bag.

“You never told me you like ‘Mötley Crüe’” Hopper spike aloud, switching the tape around in his hand. But he knew even before El gave him an odd look that she hadn’t been listening to Theatre of Pain, and knew for a fact the Russian deliver hadn’t either

Without speaking a word, Hopper wordlessly walked to the player and pressed the tape in, unsure of what he was expecting. He didn’t know if he wanted it to be another message, or just a regular old tape, but either way he was about to find out.

It all started out the same, with a small crackling before jumping into action. Just as before, a bit of music started playing, a nice hum following with it. Fireflies and Dogfights, the recording spat in a seemingly distant way. Runnin’ Hot in the Heat.

It felt almost as if they were listening to it in a separate room, or as if it was a recording of a recording. It didn’t make sense, not that anything did, and it al left-leaning sickening. A few more seconds played Street Noise, Another Bribe, filling the room with an echoey song, this time joined by a slight, almost inaudible hum.

But as soon as it started, it stopped, ceasing with a slight click. Except it wasn’t their machine that ceased, as the humming continued on until it all just... died.

El and Hopper looked between themselves and back at the machine, unsure of how to respond. None of them had ever recalled receiving the tape, and found the contents even more bizarre. But before the could speak about what they’d just seen, the tape spoke again, this time in a low and raspy voice, sounding beyond tired and worn down.

With a bit of shuffling and finally a sigh, someone sat down with a grunt and was finally able to state their thoughts, just as Hopper had only days prior. The voice mumbled something about hoping some precognition worked before finally speaking loud enough to hear everything clearly.

‘Today is May 4th, 1986 in the Newfoundland Correctional Facility, about seventeen years after the first Lot 6 experiments at Hawkins University.’ The voice said softly, pain lacing the person’s voice. ‘The experiments, though voluntary, trapped four people and an unborn child into the experiments, killing two, electrocuting one beyond repair, and causing one to flee the country. My.. My name is Alice Johnson, now Hartwell, and I escaped the experiments at the age of twenty-three and am now working with the enemy.’

El gasped, moving closer to the machine expectantly. She didn’t dare say anything in fear of missing something, but she simply couldn’t help herself.

`I'm going to die in three days, and I’m going to drag this building down with me. But, before I’m gone for good, I want to clear the story and give justice to the ones who weren’t as lucky to escape. This is the story of a man named Martin Brenner, and how he deprived eleven children of their childhood, and many more of a child.’

Alice, through everything, went on to speak of everything: The tests, the thrill of the electricity, the torture, the girl trapped with them, the illusions, everything, that had happened while Hawkins lab was still active. At many points, Alice sounded as if she could cry, but she wouldn’t dare let herself. Instead, she spoke on, until there was nothing else to be said.

With one last sigh and the click of the machine, the tape stopped, finishing its speech for another day, and now leaving El and Hopper to only stair wordlessly at the machine.

“What now?” Hopper asked duly, not able to look El in the eyes. “We can’t just leave this here and hope someone else finds it, this, this, is evidence against everything we’ve ever wanted to go against.”

El thought about it for a moment, only ejecting the tape when she felt certain it was the right choice. She pocketed it, and began to slowly walk from the bedroom. Hopper followed behind her.

“See what Nancy and Jonathan can do with the little evidence we have.”

 

That was almost one month ago. El only had time to hand over the tape to Nancy and Jonathan before leaving, and the rest was history. Taking what they knew from their first time around trying to prove Hawkin’s Lab was up to something, they made sure not to add too much. The tape was copied and released anonymously starting in Hawkins, but quickly expanding.

Other news companies picked it up as well, using it as their own and getting to go places as far as Hawaii and Maine. And the best part? Things began to happen.

Suddenly and without any sort of warning, fourteen hospitals across the US were forced to shut down, as well as forty-six people stepping out and revealing everything that had happened to them when they had taken their chances in college.

And while El was only about to witness it through the steady stream of letters and the tape slowly trickle if into Australia (Watched with even more hospitals begging forcibly shut down and more people stepping up), she knew she had won.

Though she would forever regret having to leave both Alice and everyone else behind, she knew that this was it. This is what Alice had always intended to happen, to both El and her family. And so while they may no longer be in Hawkins or Indianapolis, they certainly founder their way home.