So I know I said I didn't have time for this, but then I was like you know what, screw it I'm doing this. So here's the Steve Babysitting fic no one asked for but I had to write.
The forest glistened in the morning light as Steve stomped through the dull, dead grass and leaves. He was wrapped in a light coat and a scarf and his car was parked just down the road and a little out of sight. He was exhausted still, even a whole two days after that night. But, when Hopper called he knew better than to ignore the police chief's request, so he threw some clothes on, dragged himself out of bed, and drove to the little cabin hidden away in the woods.
It wasn't the first time he'd been there. In fact, for the past two days, he'd gone between Hopper's cabin and Will's house to help clean up. He didn't know why he kept putting himself in places where he'd see Nancy and Jonathan, but he did and it wasn't terrible. Sure, yeah it was weird seeing the girl he broke up with next to her new guy after… what? A week? But there was something else that kept him coming back. He was part of this now. Whatever this was, it was bigger than him and he had to help bring back some semblance of normalcy.
"About time," Hopper's gruff face answered and Steve wondered how El was ever able to figure out if the stern man was joking or upset.
"Sorry, sir. You kinda dragged me out of bed," the boy responded with a nervous laugh and a visible puff of air thanks to the cold.
"Well, you're here now," the man shrugged as he tugged on his coat. "Food's in the fridge, TV's working now, phone is too. I'll let you know before I come home and don't let anyone in before checking the window. No one except me gets in, got it?"
"Uh, yes sir."
"And let me know if she gets up. I'm not thrilled about heading back to work, but we gotta make it look like nothing really happened. We still have to keep her on the down-low."
"Good. She's still sleeping, probably will most of the day. Make sure she has some water and eats at least one non-Eggo thing, got it?"
Steve wanted to question if he heard Hopper right, but the taller man was already pushing past him and down the wooded path to his car. "Remember!" Hopper continued. "No one but me. No. One."
"Okay, okay!" Steve called, giving the man a wave. "Don't worry, she's safe with me!"
Jim stopped and glanced back at the boy, as though evaluating whether or not that statement was true. In the end, he decided it was good enough and turned back down the path without another word.
It was only when the truck had turned on and driven away that Steve let out a breath. Jeeze, what a stick in the mud. El had been basically unconscious for most of the past two days after closing the gate and who in the world was going to find them all the way out here? There was nothing to worry about.
"He's worse than Mrs. Ryder with her precious Alice," Steve muttered jokingly to himself, a memory of the high strung affluent woman popping into his head. Babysitting for her was like babysitting the pope!
But, this would be different. Sure, he would rather spend the whole day in bed, but this was the second best thing. House to himself, a television, fridge full of food… And best of all he was away from Nancy so he could finally relax and not think about his relationship status.
First, he decided to check in on the girl and gently opened the door to her small room. She was there, as expected, still fast asleep on the bed. Her mess of curls flew wildly around her head and her face was still red and warm as it had been for the past few days. But, Hopper insisted she was alright, just tired and exhausted from overexerting herself. Steve still didn't know what to make of El, but he was beyond grateful to her for saving their little town.
Seeing that she was fine, Steve made his way back to the main room and flopped onto the couch, his arms stretching over the backrest. He flipped the TV on by stretching his foot out over to the power button and then relaxed to the high pitched sounds and cheers of the Price is Right. Yeah, he figured, of all the babysitting jobs in town, this was by far going to be the easiest.
He sat there for about a half hour before he heard the creak of a door. He glanced over, a little startled, and saw El standing in the doorway. She was wearing a long night shirt and looked beyond exhausted as she swayed and leaned on the doorframe.
"Hey, you should be in bed," Steve said as he stood and made his way to her. She continued to stare at him, looking confused and tired, and Steve felt horrible for her. She probably was wondering where Hopper was.
"Steve?" she asked in a raspy voice, searching his face for answers beyond what she had asked.
"Yeah. I'm watching you and the house. Your, uh…" Dad? Papa? Guardian? "Hopper is back at work. But I'm here. Are you hungry?"
"Yeah, had to go back for your cover, you know? Make it seem like everything's cool." He frowned, realizing she hadn't answered his question. "I can get you some food…"
"Not hungry." Steve realized she looked a little sad that Hopper wasn't there and he felt bad for her all over again.
"Okay, well why don't you go back to bed then? You're still tired, right?"
"Still tired," Eleven nodded.
Without another word, Steve ushered her back into the room and got her to lay back down on the bed.
"Alright when you wake up next, you need to eat something," he told her and she nodded, letting out a comfortable sigh as her head hit the pillow. Steve ruffled her hair and turned to leave. By the time he got to the doorway, she was asleep again.
He went back to watching TV, though he'd missed nearly all of The Price is Right. He picked up the TV Guide to see what else was on but barely got to the actual guide before there was a loud pounding at the door.
He about lept out of his pants, he was so startled by the noise and he began to lunge forward, but then stopped himself. Hopper made it clear that no one, not one single person besides him was supposed to step foot in this house. Well, then what was Steve supposed to do? He was pretty sure his nailed up bat was back at Will's house and he didn't know if he had enough time to fund a gun in this mess of a house. So, he picked up the end table and hoped it would work.
The loud knocking on the door continued as Steve made his way to the door, the legs of the end table sticking out. He got closer and closer to the door and was just reaching towards the handle when the person on the other side spoke.
"Come on, Hopper, I know you're in there! You promised me you'd let me see her!"
Steve dropped the end table with a loud clang and flung the door open.
"Wheeler, what the fuck are you doing here?"
Before him stood Mike who he once would have immediately described as 'Nancy's little brother' but was now 'one of the kids I took to fight dangerous monsters in an alternate dimension thing a few nights ago.' He looked shocked for a moment and then grinned sheepishly at the older boy. For Mike, he had no idea what was going on with his sister and her boyfriend… or ex-boyfriend, but he thought Steve was pretty cool.
"Hopper said I could see El but he didn't say when, he just said soon, and I thought that was bullshit so I decided to come here and see her myself," Mike rambled out in one long sentence. He took another deep breath. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Babysitting," Steve replied shortly, though he did feel bad that Mike hadn't gotten to see his friend in two days. "Go home, Mike."
"No, I want to see her."
"Then I want to see her sleep!"
Mike turned bright red and Steve stifled a laugh. He knew though, from the determination in Mike's eyes, that he wasn't going to get him out anytime soon. Groaning as he stepped aside, Steve gestured to the inside of the cabin. Mike looked surprised and then beyond grateful.
"Fine, but you're out in an hour. If Hopper finds out I let someone in, he'll string me up by my toes and kill me."
Mike just shrugged indifferently at the prospect of an angry Hopper murdering Steve, but he decided not to chance his luck with a smart ass comment, so he hurried inside.
Steve just stood there for another moment with the door wide open as he watched Mike make his way to Eleven's bedroom. Well, he thought, this job just got a whole lot harder.