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Eight First Dates

Chapter Text

"Hey, dinner is in the slow cooker. Should be ready at 5:30 when you two get home." Robin said, clearing off the table as Goro and Loki got ready for school.

"You mean when you get home, right?" Loki asked.

"Loki, look-"

"I can't believe this! You're coming home late again?"

Loki stomped his foot, only partly in dress code, as Goro tugged his arm to get him to hurry up.

"Looki..."

"This project is almost done, okay? I'll be able to get off at 5 again after this week."

"You said that last week! Tell them to fuck off!"

"Language." Robin scolded, opening the door. "It's just one more week, Loki."

"C'mon, leave Dad alone. We're gonna be late."

Robin looked over the two, stern. Loki was a difficult teenager, while his youngest, Goro, was doing his best to be well behaved. Loki had been rebellious since he was a preteen, dying the ends of his black hair red, wearing all black and getting multiple different piercings. While Goro tried his hardest to be a good student, Robin was a bit worried he admired his older brother too much. Loki scoffed, walking out the door. 

"I better not come home to another call from the school, young man!" Robin shouted after Loki.

"Whatever!"

It was another long day of meetings after meetings, Robin practically dragging his feet. He barely got in the door when he heard footsteps come towards him. He tossed his jacket aside as Goro ran towards him.

"Dad! You're home!"

"Hey, there's my little boy." Robin cooed, picking Goro up in a hug. "How was school?"

He moved from the front door to the kitchen, finding all the dishes cleaned. He could hear loud music coming from Loki's room.

"Okay. Dad, you don't have to pick me up and carry me, I'm not a little kid anymore."

"I know," He murmured, putting Goro down. "Isn't Featherman on soon?"

"Oh, yeah! Come on, watch with me Dad?"

"Okay, sure. Let me grab some dinner first."

Robin spooned some food onto his plate, bringing it into the living room as Goro turned on the tv. As soon as he sat down, he became sleepy, barely making it through the opening theme song. 

"Dad? Dad, wake up." Someone muttered, shaking him.

Robin opened his eyes to find he was still on the couch, Loki peering at him. He turned to sneeze into his elbow, sitting up.

"What time is it?" 

"Midnight. Goro tried to wake you after his dumb show but he didn't have any luck. Go to bed."

"Mhm." Robin carefully got up bringing his plate into the kitchen and cleaning it. "Shouldn't you be in bed too?"

Loki rolled his eyes.

"Is he asleep?"

"Yes, now go to bed."

"Okay, okay. I'm on my way."

"You ever think about dating someone?"

Robin sighed. This was not the conversation he wanted to be having right now.

"Look, I already told you, I'm too busy for that. Besides, most people don't like dating someone with kids already."

"Then find someone else with kids. Then you can date, and maybe you'll stop being worked to death so much."

"Loki, it's not that simple."

"You don't do anything for yourself." 

"Because you two are my first priority." 

"We can take care of ourselves! We're old enough now! Besides, everyone's using dating apps now. It is easy."

"If you stop antagonizing your teachers, Loki, I'll consider it."

"But it's fun."

"Loki."

"Just for a day?"

"Not long enough. A month?"

"That's not fair." Loki whined.

"I ask very little of you, Loki." Robin said sharply.

"There's no way I'm giving it up for a month for a stupid date!"

"Goro is sleeping, Loki, will you quiet down?"

"A month isn't fair for one date. Two days?"

"No. Loki-"

"Three?"

"A week. But only if you help me set up on one of those apps you mentioned."

"Uugh..." 

They had a stare off, Loki huffing.

"Fine. When you get home tomorrow, I'll help you."

"Thank you. Good night, dear."

"Night." Loki muttered with a roll of his eyes.

Robin opened the door to his bedroom to find Goro sitting on his bed. Goro looked up, fidgeting.

"Is something wrong, sweetheart?" Robin murmured, kneeling down in front of him.

"Couldn't sleep. Heard you two arguing."

Robin sighed, going into the bathroom to change into his pajamas. He laid down on his bed afterwards, patting the space next to him. Goro snuggled close, Robin brushing his fingers through his hair.

"Are we getting a new parent?" Goro asked gently.

"I don't know. I told Loki I'd at least go on a date." Robin mumbled, kissing his forehead.

"Oh..." Goro mumbled. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"

"Mhm. We'll see how it goes."

It was quiet for a while, Robin on the edge of drifting off.

"Dad? Can you sing for me? I miss it."

"Mmph, sure."

Robin sang softly to Goro until he fell asleep, Robin falling asleep soon after.

Robin felt he was rushing in the morning, his kids, or more accurately Loki, seemed to not be in a rush at all.

"You two will be late if you don't hurry." 

Loki whined and dragged his feet a little, but finally relented after a withering stare.

Robin was ultimately thankful that he was ten minutes less late getting out of work, coming home to a rather quiet house.

"Kids? I'm home." He called out.

Loki came out of Goro's room, closing the door behind him. Robin was about to question him, but Loki grabbed his hand and pulled him over to the table before he could.

"Is Goro-?"

"It's dating app time."

Loki walked him through setting up an account, taking a picture for him and setting it as the first picture on his account.

"You can add more, just need at least one so people can decide if they like you."

"Loki, is Goro okay?"

"I took care of the problem." Loki muttered.

"Loki."

"We were waiting for you to get back so we can eat. I'll go get him."

"Loki-"

The phone rang, Robin giving a disappointed glance at Loki as he turned and slinked away. He got up to answer it, back turned to the hallway. After a short conversation, he hung up and turned to find his kids set the table, seeing Goro quickly hide a black eye, deciding to not say anything for now. They ate dinner quietly, and he realized it was the first time they have eaten together in a long time. He put his utensils down once they were all done, reaching over to cup Goro's face.

"Sweetheart, what happened?"

"This group of big kids were bullying this new kid so I told them to stop, but they-" Goro hiccupped, tears rolling down his face.

Robin quickly got up and kneeled down in front of him, wiping away his tears. 

"Okay… how about I get you some ice for that? It'll help."

Goro nodded, waiting as he got up to grab a bag of frozen peas. He realized he needed to go shopping soon too. He gently pressed it up to the black eye, letting go once Goro had it. He quietly cleared off the plates, catching Loki giving a quick sideways hug to Goro out of the corner of his eye. Goro had gone back to his room after a few minutes, sniffling.

"Loki, stay put." He said without turning around as Loki tried to get away.

He turned to face his oldest, crossing his arms over his chest.

"The deal was to not antagonize the teachers , not some low-down shitheel assholes." Loki protested. 

"Mhm. I know what our deal was. Violence doesn't solve anything."

"It lets them know not to fuck with my little brother."

Robin sighed. He decided to just put the dishes away. 

"Did you get a date yet?"

"Maybe? I found one person I like talking to, he isn't crass. I told him I'll let him know when I have the time."

"Finally, maybe you'll get laid."

" Loki. "

Loki slipped away before he could scold him further, sighing again. 

He really, really, really , just needed a moment to himself.

Chapter Text

Arsene was going through his phone late at night, sitting alone in his study. He had school tomorrow, of course, and so did the others in his house, but for now this was his time, and he wanted to savor it.

He had a decent life, now that he was semi retired from his high-stress but high paying career and gone back to his passion of teaching. Of course, this meant that he was often holed up grading rich kid high schoolers on their grasp of the french language and didn't get to spend as much time as he used to with his family. At least it was helping with his japanese too. His son had taken up a part time job at a florist's, despite his insistence that he didn't need help keeping the house or paying for things. This meant less time with his only child. Of course, there were the other children that often stayed in their home, without any invasive questions about their home life. If they needed a place to stay, they could stay. Even if they weren't that good of friends with his son. All he asked was that they stayed out of his study, as that was his space. Luckily, it was only the three of them in the house right now.

He was going through a dating app that got really popular lately. William was out on a trip, being hired by someone to sail their boat as a vacation, and supposedly it wasn't a long trip. Ryuji was staying with him though, for the time being. And he really wanted to date someone new, because as much as he loves his partners, they were all busy too. A knock on the door got his attention.

"Papa? Can I come in?" A voice asked.

"Of course." 

Akira came in, gently closing the door behind him. Arsene raised his arm so Akira could come up and snuggle him, giving him a squeeze. His son was always an exception to the rule.

"Is something wrong, love?"

"Missed you." Akira mumbled, watching Arsene go through his phone. "You're up late. Grading again?"

"Mm, no. I was thinking about going on a date with someone new."

"Not happy?"

"I am, just… you're older now, and figured it's time for a change. I'm limiting myself to other people with kids, though, don't worry."

Arsene paused on one of the profiles, which looked rather new. A red haired man who looked rather muscled under his clothes caught his attention. He swiped through his photos, seeing him in various family picture style selfies, one an older looking punk kid, the other brunette looking about Akira's age. It stated that his kids were his first priority, and that he was looking for other people with kids. Akira flipped back to one of the pictures on the profile, perking up.

"Hey! That's the kid who stood up for me! Is this his dad?" He exclaimed, pointing at the brunette.

"You were getting bullied and you didn't tell me?"

Akira looked away, guilty. Arsene sighed, ruffling Akira's hair.

"How is that kid?"

"He's very nice, kinda always worries about his grades. I'm gonna talk to him more now though. He did that without really knowing me."

Arsene hummed, liking the man's account. He found he liked him back, the chat box opening.

"Oh, he liked you, papa."

"I see. Now, go on, you have school tomorrow. Get to bed."

"Yeah, so do you. Remember me and Ryuji are gonna have a sleepover at his friend's house Saturday."

"I do remember. Perhaps I should go out then. Now go on, good night."

"Ugh, okay. Good night."

They kiss before Akira runs off to bed, loudly chatting with Ryuji on the way up. He chatted with the man, Robin, for a while.

How about Saturday? I am teaching but I will be free in the afternoon.

R: sounds good. Where to?

They decided on a restaurant that was pretty good and not too far for either of them, just in case they needed to get home quick. 

I will make the reservation, so don't worry about that. Is 6 good?

R: Good for me. See you then. Good night.

Arsene fretted over his appearance in the mirror. He wanted to look good for his first first-date in years. He was debating on which shade of lipstick to wear and what else he wanted to add to his outfit. He was wearing his black ruffled shirt, nice black slacks, and his favorite thigh high boots, but he felt it was still lacking.

"Whoa, is it date night already?" Ryuji exclaimed.

Arsene turned to see Ryuji and Akira peeking at him through his open door. Arsene rolled his eyes and waved them in, Akira closing the door behind him. 

"Yes, but with someone new."

"Did you get a date with that man from that app?" Akira asked.

"He and I are going to dinner. What do you think boys, dark red or dark purple?" He asked, holding up two tubes of lipstick.

"Dark red." They both say at once.

Arsene put the purple one down, putting on the red one.

"You gonna wear your lucky jacket?" Ryuji teased.

"Ah, that's what this outfit is missing."

Arsene dug through his closet for his favorite red leather jacket, old but well taken care of.

"Seriously? That thing is old." Ryuji grumbled as he slipped it on over his shoulders.

"There. What do you think? Do I still got it?" Arsene turned around and posed for them.

"You're really going on a date with someone else? Thought you were kidding."

"No, no I am, Ryuji. Figured it'd be a nice change of pace around here. Besides, don't you two have a sleepover you should be getting ready for?"

The boys scrambled off to finish packing up their backpacks, Arsene going down and waiting for them in the front hall.

"Remember, you feel uncomfortable, use your passphrase and I'll drop everything to come get you two."

"Yeah, yeah, we know papa. Bye." Akira rolled his eyes, the two bolting out the door.

Arsene sighed, locking the door behind him. No matter, he had a date to get to. He had arrived just at the same time as his date, Robin holding the door open for him. The two were quickly whisked away to their reserved table by the hostess, both smiling at each other.

"You look lovely." Robin murmured, a slight blush to his cheeks.

"As do you. Wine?"

"Oh, uh, sure."

The two made some small talk as they looked over the menu, Robin picking one of Arsene's recommendations, which made him swell with pride. They took a small break to order food, Arsene collecting the menus for their waiter to take.

"So, don't mean to be rude, but you don't seem to be the type for dating apps."

"Ah, do I give off that impression?" Robin said sheepishly. "My oldest has been pestering me to get back to the dating scene for a while. He set it up for me."

"Well, good. I wouldn't have met you otherwise." Arsene purred, giving him a wink. 

The blush spread further across Robin's face, hiding behind his wine as he sipped it. 

After dinner, both insisted on paying for it before they agree to split it, walking outside. The pair walked aimlessly towards the nearby park in silence.

"I had a nice time with you." Robin said, stopping.

"So did I." Arsene offered his arm, smiling. "The night is still young, what do you say we walk around a bit more?"

"I would love that." Robin smiled, taking his arm.

They walked around the park, talking about their work places and their kids in equal amounts. A loud ring interrupted them, Robin looking ashamed as he unlinked arms with him and pulled out his phone.

"Sorry, I have to take this. It's my youngest." Robin apologized, walking a few steps ahead to take the call. "Goro, what is it?"

Arsene watched his face drop, running a hand through his hair.

"Alright, I'll be right there."

Robin turned, apologetic.

"Sorry to cut this so short, Arsene. My youngest had a bad nightmare and my oldest is out. I have to go comfort him."

"I can come with you. It'll be nice to meet him."

"Uh.. sure. Come along, then."

Arsene kept pace with Robin as he ran back to his house, unlocking the door.

"Goro?" He called out, closing the door behind Arsene.

The child that was Akira's age ran towards them, jumping into Robin's arms, sniffling loudly. Robin picked him up and moved to the couch, sitting down with him.

"Hey, I'm here… it's alright." He murmured, soothing him until the boy calmed down.

The boy looked up at him with stunning red eyes, suddenly guilty.

"Oh no, did I interrupt your date?? Sorry dad…"

"No, it's fine. He came along by choice. Goro, this is Mr. Lupin."

"Hello…"

"Hello." Arsene smiled softly at him.

"Go back to your date." Goro said, pushing on Robin's shoulder.

"Are you sure?"

"I'll just play something for now. Go, I'll be okay now."

Goro got off his lap, Robin getting up.

"Are you sure? I can sta-"

"Dad, go. You're on a date."

"Okay, okay. I'll be back a little later, okay? Call if you need me again."

"Okay. Enjoy your date."

Arsene led the way out of the house, Robin shutting the door and locking it.

"You have a wonderful son." Arsene said as they started walking together again.

"I do my best. I'm sure your son is just as wonderful."

"Hopefully you'll meet him in better circumstances than I met yours."

Arsene's phone rang. He checked that it was from Akira, giving an apologetic glance to Robin as he answered. 

"Akira?"

"Hey papa, just wanted to say goodnight. Hope you're having a good date, if you're still on it."

"I am having a nice time, actually. I hope you two are having fun at your friends'?"

"Yeah... Papa, next time we go shopping, can we get some more oreos?"

Arsene's face fell. He spoke too soon.

"I'll be right there, hang on."

He hung up, pulling up the address of the house the two were staying at.

"Hey, I have to go pick up my son. Do you want to come with me? It's not too far from here, actually."

"Yeah, sure."

The pair ran off, Arsene slowing down as they got to the house. Robin stayed on the sidewalk as Arsene walked up to knock on the front door. Ryuji and Akira barreled out of the house, as Arsene gave some excuse about some vague family emergency and led them away. Arsene sighed as he got back to Robin, who looked concerned. The four of them walked in silence for a bit, going more towards Robin's house.

"Is this your date, Papa? Sorry…" Akira mumbled, looking at his feet.

"It's fine, I promise. Had something similar happen earlier, ha." Robin said gently, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Oh, I didn't introduce you, how terribly rude of me. Akira, Ryuji, this is my date, Mr. Hood. My son, Akira, and my best friend's son Ryuji. He's been staying with me while his father is away."

"Good to meet you, mister." Akira said, partially hiding behind Arsene.

"Nice meetin' ya." Ryuji said, also embarrassed.

"Likewise." Robin said.

The four of them started looping back around to where the station was, quietly making small talk. They take a step on the end of Robin's street, knowing they were still a fair distance to the station, when it started to downpour. 

"You've gotta be kidding me." Arsene hissed.

"C'mon, we can get out of the rain at my place." Robin said, leading the way.

The four of them stumble soaking wet into Robin's house, startling Goro. Robin shut the door, quickly taking off his shoes before going further into the house to retrieve towels for all of them. He guided the three of them to sit at the table after draping all of them in towels, himself last.

"Um, I think we still have hot chocolate somewhere, if you two boys would like some?"

"Yes please." Ryuji and Akira said at once.

"If you don't mind, Robin, I'll take one too."

"Goro?"

"Yeah. Sure dad. Uh, do we need the other chairs?"

"If you could get them, please."

Goro got up and disappeared into the hallway beyond as Robin got to work heating up a kettle of water. Arsene was fussing over the two boys, glancing up as Goro set up a couple of folding chairs and sat down on one. Soon enough, Robin had hot chocolate for all of them, sitting down.

"Merci." Arsene murmured, sipping his mug.

"Hey, you! You saved me from those bullies. Thank you." Akira said, smiling at Goro.

"You're welcome. Um, I'm Goro."

"I'm Akira, and this is Ryuji."

The boys got to chatting about their interests, all three realizing they all had an interest in Featherman and talking about that. After a few minutes, Goro asked if they wanted to play with him, the boys retreating to the living room. It was quiet between the two adults for a moment before Robin snorted. He slapped a hand over his mouth, embarrassed until Arsene giggled at their situation too, the two laughing together.

"Goodness, this was probably the worst case for both of us and we're still trying to keep this date going. We are fools, aren't we?" Arsene chuckled.

"Perhaps. But hey, must be pretty good if we're still on it."

Arsene hid his smile as he took another sip of hot chocolate. They talked softly as their kids played, passing an hour or so of time. Robin looked through his phone, a slight frown on his face.

"Doesn't look like this is going to let up soon, it's far past midnight, and I'd hate for the three of you to walk home in the rain." Robin looked up, gathering the empty mugs. "Would you like to stay here overnight?"

"I don't want to impose on you."

"You wouldn't be, I promise."

"Well, it's not up to me, ultimately." Arsene said, turning to the three boys bumping into each other as they play some racing game. "Boys, would you mind if we stay over here tonight? Doesn't look like the rain will stop anytime soon."

"Can we?" Akira asked.

"Can they?" Goro asked. "Please?"

Arsene chuckled, smiling at Robin.

"Guess it's settled. I think we might have some old sleeping bags somewhere. And you can take my room, Arsene. I'll take Loki's, he won't be in until tomorrow morning anyway."

"No no no, I couldn't do that to you, Robin. It's your bed. I can take the other bed."

"Loki is very particular. I'd rather he be annoyed at me than you."

Arsene got up to dry the mugs, interrupting him before he could protest.

"I know this is only our first date, and this might be strange, but would you mind if we shared your bed?" He asked quietly so the boys wouldn't hear him.

He saw Robin turn bright red, Arsene taking the last mug from him before he dropped it. 

"I… wow, uh… okay. Okay. This date is already so goddamn weird anyway."

Arsene grinned, leaning up to place a kiss on his cheek. He left a lipstick mark, watching Robin get real flustered.

"Thank you. You're a sweetheart."

After Robin leaves the sleeping bags near the kids, Arsene follows him as he retreats into his bedroom. 

"Ah, you probably don't want to sleep in that.  I have some extra clothes, they might be a bit big on you." He mumbled as he hands off an extra set of his pajamas to him.

"You have my eternal gratitude." Arsene whispered, already starting to take his clothes off. "Oh, you don't mind if I change in front of you, do you?"

"Uh, no, uh, I'll be busy changing myself."

The two peel off their wet clothes, Robin pausing after taking off his shirt. 

"Are you okay?" Arsene asked.

"Just realized how long it's been since I've had someone else share my bed that wasn't one of my kids. Suppose I'm just not used to having anyone else in it anymore."

Arsene hummed in acknowledgment. He used to share a similar feeling too as he first started dating the others. He turned to see Robin had put his pajama pants on, trying to figure out if his shirt was inside out. Arsene slid over to him, clearing his throat to get his attention.

"Sorry… may I? You have some impressive muscles there." Arsene asked, hands hovering over his skin.

"Yeah." Robin mumbled, blushing again as Arsene felt up his arms. "Losing them a little bit, haven't been able to do my usual routine. Gotten too busy."

Arsene took a step back, removing his hands so Robin could put on his shirt. Robin pulled the blankets back, letting Arsene settle in before he got in it himself.

"What do you usually do?"

"Archery. I also used to deadlift when I was younger, but I don't really do it anymore. Archery is my one time I can be alone, y'know."

"Kids and work leave you barely any time for yourself, huh?"

"Mhm."

"I know the feeling."

Robin and Arsene quietly talked a little longer until they both fell asleep cuddling.

The next morning, Arsene sat at the table while Robin was busy making pancakes for everyone, watching quietly as the front door opened. He watched the red and black haired punk stomp inside, throwing off his shoes with a loud thunk, not having noticed him yet. The teen turned around, startled at his appearance before squinting his eyes at him.

"Who the fuck are you?!"

"Language, Loki." Robin scolded. "And this is my date, Mr. Lupin. Arsene, my oldest, Loki."

"Oh, ew. I thought you said you weren't going to fu-"

" Loki." Robin warned, shooting a glare. "And could you be quieter? Goro and the others are sleeping."

Loki looked down towards the bedrooms, then back at them, and back at the rooms, before gagging silently. He slipped off into another room, slamming the door. Robin sighed deeply, rubbing his temples.

"Sorry about that, Arsene. He's… rebellious."

Arsene chuckled, waving away his apology. After breakfast, the three said their goodbyes and parted ways, Arsene making sure they had everything of theirs.

"Did you like him, Papa?" Akira asked.

"I did. I don't know if we'll have another date soon, but I sure hope so."

Chapter Text

Necro couldn't help but steal glances at the red haired man across from her in this supposedly important meeting they were having. Her company and his had been working together on a very important joint project, which as the head of her company's development team, required her to come work in his building for a while.

The meeting finished, pretty much summarizing what they already knew. Most of them went straight to lunch, Necro hoping that the break would be a good chance to talk to her crush. On her way to the break room, she heard a loud conversation.

"Where's the fire, Hood? Not even gonna eat lunch?"

"No, I'm working through lunch today. My department's a bit behind still." 

Necro turned right into him as he rushed out the break room door, both yelping as hot coffee spilled on them both.

"Oh my god, are you alright?? I'm so sorry." Robin apologized, running back in to grab some paper towels. "Here, let me. It's all over your jacket, I'm so sorry."

"It's alright, I can, oh, it's all over you too." Necro said quickly, grabbing some of the towels from him to help him clean up too.

She looked up as both their bosses turned the corner, Necro panicking. She shoved him back into an open closet before their bosses could see that they weren't presentable, closing the door. Robin grunted, Necro slapping a hand over his mouth.

"If your boss is as strict as mine, we can't let them see us like this." She whispered.

She waited until the footsteps were gone, backing out of the closet. She flushed as she realized how close she had just gotten to her crush, flustered. He was blushing too, not looking her in the eye.

"I… that was so inappropriate, I am so so sorry."

She was mortified. Robin didn't comment on it, quietly giving her his suit jacket.

"Look, here. You have another meeting to go to, right? Just take it for now, yours isn't looking too good." 

"Oh, uh, yeah. Thanks." Necro stammered, taking off hers and putting on his.

It was a little too big for her, but at least it hid the rest of the coffee stains. She gave her jacket to him and ran off to her meeting as if nothing was wrong, glancing over her shoulder to see Robin picking up the mess by himself. She was planning on giving his jacket back, but she got so busy she didn't remember until she was almost at the station to pick up Futaba and Yusuke after work.

"Ugh… what's wrong with me?" She muttered. "He's gonna hate me forever."

"Mama!" Futaba shouted, letting go of Yusuke's hand and running over to hug her.

"Hiya munchkin." Necro chirped, picking her up. "Hey Yusuke, how was class?"

"Boring." Yusuke said, walking beside her as they left that stop to get on the right train.

Yusuke filled her in on his school day as they rode back to drop off Yusuke. Yusuke opened his front door, walking in.

"Father says you could stay until he comes home. He wants to see you for once. Well, anyone, but you're here right now, so I figured he wouldn't mind if it was you."

"Oh, I know. This project has been a bit of a nightmare. Thanks, kid." Necro smiles, ruffling his hair despite his protest and coming inside. "I'm sure it's the same for the rest of us."

She put Futaba down, Futaba proceeding to follow Yusuke around. Necro sat down on the couch, carefully folding Robin's jacket in her lap. It certainly smelled like her crush. 

It wasn't long until Goemon came home, finding her on the couch watching Yusuke try to teach Futaba how to paint.

"Necro, dear, good to see you." Goemon said, leaning over the back of the couch to kiss her forehead.

She turned to notice he was holding some groceries.

"Oh, need help?"

"No, I got it. Thank you though."

She slid over so Goemon could sit on the couch too, running a hand through his blue pompadour. Goemon grinned, pulling her close.

"How was work?" He asked.

"Oh my god, don't even get me started." Necro groaned. "I am such an idiot."

"No you're not." Goemon said, frowning.

"No, no I am, Goe. You know that guy I was telling you about?"

"Your latest crush?"

"After this extra long meeting we had, I accidentally ran into him, making him spill his coffee. He was trying to clean it, and I was helping but then, I…" Necro blushed, running a hand through her hair, revealing the bright green gradient underneath her black hair. "Our bosses were turning the corner, we were both a mess, and you know how my boss is so strict about dress code, so I… I pushed him into a closet."

Goemon let out a low whistle. Necro put her face in her hands, reliving the embarrassing memory.

"He was sweet enough to lend me his suit jacket for my next meeting, but I forgot to give it back to him. I'm sure he hates me for making him part of the subject of office gossip now."

"Isn't that project finishing up soon?"

"I know. I owe the guy a coffee. Maybe even dinner. But asking him might be pushing my luck."

"Can't hurt to ask, Necro."

"Like it's that easy." 

Goemon sighed. 

"Just ask him. Trust me, Necro. What's the worst he can say?"

"No." Necro pouted, she hated when he was right. "That's the worst he can say. I'll try."

"Good. You better, because I'll get everyone to ask."

"You wouldn't."

"Necro, come on. You've been crushing on this man for a while."

"Okay fine!"

Necro got up, making to leave.

"Futaba, we gotta go!"

Futaba groaned, but walked over to grab her hand. The two left for their own apartment after saying their goodbyes.

Necro carefully approached Robin's desk with her laptop. It was after 5 on a Friday, and mostly everyone else had gone home for the day. A coworker snickered as she came, turning to Robin.

"Oh, looking for a spicy way to-"

"You finish that sentence, and I will make your workload hell tomorrow." Robin warned, making the man shut up.

He said goodbye, rushing to the exit. Necro placed a coffee on his desk, Robin looking surprised.

"I figured I owed you that for the other day, at the very least." She said, her blush creeping up her cheeks.

"Oh. That." Robin said with a blush, rubbing the back of his neck. "Thank you."

"Still behind?" 

"No, just wanted to finish up this sheet. But I can stay with you, if you needed to catch up?" 

"Oh. No, I can power through it either tonight or tomorrow morning at home. Oh, uh, here. Your jacket." Necro gave him his jacket back, seeming to spark something in him.

"Oh, yes. Here, I had yours dry cleaned for you." He said, handing her the jacket.

"You didn't have to do that. What do I owe you?"

"Don't worry about it."

"Then at least let me take you out somewhere as thanks." Necro blurted out before she could think about it, slapping a hand over her mouth immediately afterwards. 

There was a beat of silence as she watched his face get even more red.

"I mean, I like… I've had a crush on you for a while, and since I figured I shoved into a closet like an idiot I'd treat you to food." She stammered. "Sunday night, maybe?"

"Oh, uh… I promised I'd take my kids to Dome Town Sunday, but… oh, nevermind, I'm sure you don't want to spend time with me and my kids, not that you aren't lovely I just-"

"I'd love to come! I have a daughter of my own, actually, um, it can be a good chance to see how our kids like each other too, uh…"

Her face got hot, knowing she couldn't hide her blush now.

"Then… it's a date?"

"Yes, a date. See you then."

Necro hurried out of there before she could change her mind, dying on the inside. She got a text on the train home, opening a text from Goemon.

G: so? Howd it go?

Fine. We're going out sunday. To dome town. With our kids

G: oh he has kids?

Yeah. But hes single, he said yes to a date

G: see? It paid off

Necro sighed, her heart fluttering. She couldn't help but wonder what they would do together. And parks are fun, she hadn't been to one in a while.

Necro walked down the stairs, Futaba holding her hand. They overheard a conversation as they came down.

"Dad, what are we waiting for?"

"Someone from work is coming with us."

The two turned the corner as this punky teenager gags dramatically. He locks eyes with her, looking over to Robin.

"Oh. I see. 'Meeting' with someone." He said sarcastically, making quotation marks with his fingers.

Robin turned around, smiling at her. He was wearing a gray tshirt and long shorts, revealing his muscular frame. She blushed a little, knowing she definitely felt those the other day.

"Hi Robin, good to see you."

"Hello Necro. These are my sons, Loki and Goro. And who's this?" He asked, kneeling down and smiling at her daughter.

"This my little munchkin Futaba."

"Hiya Mister Robin!"

"Hello." Robin chuckled, standing back up. 

The five of them got onto the train as it arrived, Loki pouting at Robin. Robin rolled his eyes at him, Loki scoffing and turning to look at Necro. His eyes flicked over her hair, twirled into a bun so it showed the gradient green dye.

"Cool hair." He said quietly.

"Thanks, you too."

He seemed to brighten up at that, the three kids talking about what they wanted to ride first. They get to the park, walking around and riding some of the rides all together.

"Can I go to some of these myself?" Loki asked. 

"Could you at least take Goro and Futaba with you?" Robin asked.

"Fine. Deal. Let's go." Loki said, grabbing both of their hands and pulling them along. "

"Meet us back in front of the ferris wheel before close!" Robin called after him. 

Loki was pulling them along to some sort of scrambler ride, the two adults alone. Robin sighed, running a hand through his hair.

"Well, let's walk around. I'm sure there's something we can do together. Let the kids have their fun." Necro said, grabbing his arm.

"I just hope Loki stays on his best behavior." 

"It'll be fine. We're finally alone, now, you know. So let's make the most of it."

"Yeah, right. Where did you wanna go first?"

Necro pulled him onto a few other rides, making him ride a couple of rollercoasters despite his hesitation. They walked through a path lined with games to get to another part of the park when she spotted an adorable, giant stuffed squid at one of those ring toss games.

"Oh, look at that, isn't it cute?" She said, pointing it out.

"I could win you one."

"What? Noo, you don't have to."

"It'll be fun, come on."

Robin pulled her over to the booth, getting them both several rings to try. After several tries, Robin manages to get the ring on a bottle on the second row, getting a choice of medium stuffed animals. He picked out a smaller, spotted green squid, handing it to Necro.

"I know it's not that big one you had your eye one, but-"

"Shush, he's perfect!" Necro gave him a big grin, kissing his cheek. "Thank you."

Robin blushed, grinning. They walked around more, only bumping into their kids once in line for a ride. As it got darker, Necro led them to the ferris wheel.

"So, do you want to ride that?"

"Of course. I think it'd be the perfect end to the day, don't you think?" Robin said, tugging her along to get in line.

It wasn't too long before they got into one of the carriages of the ferris wheel, Robin trying his hardest not to squish Necro. Necro held the squid on her lap as they started going backwards and up, leaning against Robin's shoulder with a smile. They stopped every so often as more people got on, slowly getting to the top. They were stopped right at the top after a few turns of the wheel, looking out over everything.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Necro asked.

"Yes. Forgot how nice it looked from up here."

Robin peeked down at the operators below as there was a commotion, the staff rushing around.

"Hm, weird." He said.

"Hm? What?" 

One person walked out a ways from the ferris wheel, holding something up.

"Sorry everyone! The ferris wheel has stopped working momentarily! We are working as fast as possible to get you all down!" A man shouted through a megaphone.

They groaned, Robin leaning back and putting his face in his hands. 

"Figures." Robin muttered. "Why does this sort of thing happen on every date I go on?"

"Come on, can't be every date… I'm sure you've had good dates before." Necro said, slightly confused.

"I mean, last Saturday, not only did he and I have some kid related emergencies, it rained on us. Dinner with him was very nice though, just seemed to go downhill from there." Robin explained, sheepish. "This one isn't as bad, at least."

Necro blinked in surprise at his mention of his last date.

"He?"

"Oh, uh, yeah. He and I really hit it off, just want to not commit right away, y'know, uh… oh…" Robin's face fell, looking away from her. "I shouldn't have said that."

"No no, I'm okay with that. Understandable, really."

It was silent between them for a minute.

"So… like, are you… bi?" Necro asked slowly.

"Uh… I don't know. I gave up trying to put a label on it a while ago."

"Fair enough. But hey, we might be able to get down soon."

"And you are good company."

Necro blushed, sliding her hand over his. They were startled by a phone ringing, Robin awkwardly trying to dig out his phone to answer it.

"Loki?"

"Where the fuck are you? We're at the ferris wheel, ready to go home."

"We're stuck on the ferris wheel." 

They both look over the edge, trying to spot the kids below. Robin waved at a likely group. Necro took the opportunity to pull out her own phone and take a selfie, getting her and Robin in it, though his face was partly blocked by his hand and phone. She sent it to the group chat, along with a simple caption:

We got stuck on the ferris wheel :')

Robin hung up, keeping his phone in his hand as Necro did the same. It took another several minutes before they got the ferris wheel working again, both breathing a sigh of relief. The two made their way towards their kids, Goro and Futaba running towards them to give them a hug. Necro ruffled up Futaba's hair, grabbing her hand once she let go. 

"I can't believe you got stuck on a ferris wheel." Loki grumbled.

Robin shrugged, the five heading home for the day. Necro stopped him before they split up.

"Wait, let me give you my number. Maybe the next time we go out we won't get stuck on a ferris wheel."

Robin snorted, letting her add her number to his phone. He sent a message so she could have his number.

"Alright, good night. See you tomorrow."

"Good night Robin."

Necro carried Futaba as she talked about everything she did with Robin's kids, Futaba falling asleep before they got home. She put her to bed, retreating into her own room. Necro put the squid on her desk, beaming. She checked the chat, seeing her partners both laughing at her and asking if she was okay.

Carmen: and who is that??

Goemon: so how was your date?

Milady: ooh, date? 

Carmen: what?? give us the deets

Necro took a picture of her new desk friend, sending it to them.

He won me a squid! Hes very sweet

She got ready for bed, deciding to not check her phone until next morning. They would probably ask her a million questions that she didn't want to answer right now.

Chapter Text

William stumbled into his apartment, exhausted and frustrated. He just came back from having to socialize with an annoying and constantly fighting family who somehow thought this vacation would fix everything. His first order of business was a hot shower. He knows it's much too late to go pick up Ryuji, he'll have to do it tomorrow. It'll be a nice surprise for his son, as they both thought he'd be gone longer.

After his shower, he checked the group chat, seeing Necro's new stuffed animal. He didn't bother scrolling up to read the rest, he'll have to catch up later. Tonight, even if he had just gotten home, he needed to go and have a drink. He quickly dried his blonde hair with his towel, tossing it over the shower rod. He decided to leave the prosthetic behind, knowing he’d probably lose it on accident. He changed into fresher clothes, making sure to grab his keys on his way out.

Of course, he found himself now several drinks in at this rather busy bar, retreating to a table in the back. He perked up when someone approached him, also looking pretty drunk.

"Hi, sorry, may I sit here? Everywhere else is full." The man mumbled, a bit nervous.

"Aye, knock yerself out." William slurred, waving at the empty chair.

"Thank you." He said, taking the chair, almost spilling his drink.

William carefully looked over the man, from the messy red hair to his muscular frame, seeing his face was pretty flushed. The man sipped his drink, looking him over as well.

"You look like a strong one." William started, putting his elbow on the table, hand up. "What d'ya say?"

The man laughed, putting his drink aside to take his hand.

"Ready?"

"Bring it, ginger."

They both counted down before starting, the man slamming his hand down on the table after several moments of fighting. William whistled in appreciation, grabbing his arm to feel it up. 

"I'd say that victory earned a drink, don't you?"

"You don't have to buy me-" He started to protest.

William got up before he could finish, coming back with two full pints and shoving one into the man's hand. The man accepted it with a sigh, finishing off his last drink in one go. The two got to talking, the man refusing any more drinks after William bought two more strong ones for him. 

"Right, think it's time fo' me to go 'ome." He mumbled, getting up and immediately stumbling.

The man caught him, less drunk than he was at the moment.

"Do… do you need help goin' home?" The man asked, supporting him.

"Ah, you askin' to score, yeah? Well, I'm game. Let's go." William slurred, dragging the poor man along.

"I- what??" The man stammered, getting redder. "I jus' want to help you home."

William leaned on the man more and more the closer they got to his apartment. He fumbled with unlocking his door for several minutes before unlocking the door and falling forward, almost dragging the man down with him.

"No no no, I got you. Shit." The man murmured, pulling him back up. "Where's your room?"

William laughed, pointing him in the right direction. He was glad Ryuji wasn't home right now as he ended up trying to pin the man against the wall next to his door. The man ended up pinning him against the wall, flustered.

"Aye, there we go." Willaim mumbled, pressing a kiss to his lips.

To his surprise, the man started kissing back, deepening it. After a moment, the man pulled back, looking embarrassed.

"I should go." He whispered.

He let go and backed up, heading for his door. 

"Wait, come-" William started, tripping onto the floor.

"Shit. Hold on." The man said, helping him up.

The man led him to bed, helping him get in it. He stopped his hand as he tried to pull the man into bed with him.

"I can't, I have to go. My kids…" He said, pushing his hand away and leaving.

"Fuck, I don' even know yer name." William called out after him. 

He struggled to get up, giving up after a minute or two. He closed his eyes, mumbling how he should've asked his name.

The next morning, he woke up with a groan, drinking whatever water was within reach. After finishing the glass he kept on his nightstand, he got up and wandered into the kitchen to find some painkillers,and  a couple bottles of water with a note on the counter.

Sorry about last night, figured I'd pull these out for you. Text me when you get up. -Robin

There was a phone number he immediately entered into his phone, under the name on the note. He figured he should wait to text this man, at least until after he drinks more water and takes the painkillers. He does so, and the. figures he'd make himself breakfast while he waited for the painkillers to kick in. After sitting down, he sent a couple texts to the man.

Sorry bout last night. Would like to talk face to face some time. Sober  

Names william btw

He ate, figuring since it was only about nine in the morning, that the man probably wouldn't get back to him until later.

William freshened up before he went out, knocking on Arsene's door. It was after school, so he knew at least one of them had to be home. Akira opened the door, eyes widening in surprise.

"Captain!" He shouted, hugging him.

"Hey laddie, where's yer old man?"

"He had a meeting after school, he'll be home soon though. Come on, maybe papa will tell you about his date too."

Akira pulled him inside, William looking around.

"Dad!" Ryuji shouted, running towards him and leaping.

"There's my lil first mate!" William laughed as he caught Ryuji and spun him around.

He brought him close to his face to give him a bunch of kisses, Ryuji giggling.

"Daaad…" Ryuji pouted as he continued for a while.

"Oh, alright. Fine. Don't want kisses from yer old man, I see how it is." William teased, putting him down.

They hear the door open, Akira running off to meet whoever it was.

"Papa, come look, I have something to show you!"

"Akira, I swear, if it's another stray cat, I already told you-" Arsene started, surprised as he turned the corner.

"Oi, a stray cat am I?" 

"William!"

Arsene dropped his things and ran over, William catching him as they kiss. Arsene smiled, pressing their foreheads together.

"Welcome home."

"Good to be home. Yer certainly a sight for sore eyes." 

"Ugh, daaad."

"Papaaa."

The two turn to see their sons being dramatic over their affection.

"Don't one of you have to go pack? Go on, get." Arsene said, shooing the boys as they ran off to get Ryuji's stuff together.

"Thank you for taking care of him, Arsene. He loves it here. Hope he wasn't too much trouble?"

"Those two together? How can there not be trouble?" Arsene jokes, giving him another kiss. "I'm sure he wouldn't mind another night here, y'know. What do you say? Spend the night with me?"

"Well, you certainly are a temptation, my dear." Willaim purred, bringing him closer. "But I can't, gotta report to work early tomorrow."

"Mm, a shame. Coffee, at least? I'm sure Akira will distract Ryuji while he packs."

"Sure, I'll take a cup. Want me to put your stuff away?"

"No, no. I got it. You just got back, my love. I don't want you doing much."

"Mhm, sure, but you want me to stay the night."

Arsene chuckled, leaving his arms to pick up his discarded things and put them on the nearest surface. He follows Arsene into the kitchen, sitting down at the table as Arsene prepares a french press.

"How was the trip?"

"An annoying chore. It was a family who believed that this getaway would fix all their problems like magic." Willaim grumbled, rolling his eyes. "Paid pretty well though. How are your students?"

"Oh, don't get me started." Arsene rolled his eyes as he brought over the coffees and sugar.

"That bad, huh?"

"Do you know how many times I've had to stop students from saying they're horny to the entire class today?" Arsene said, sipping his coffee as he crossed a leg over his knee.

William snorted, putting a couple of spoonfuls in his coffee before taking a sip. Arsene always made incredible coffee, he always wondered why Arsene won't open his own cafe, despite how many times Milady has offered to buy one for him.

"These kids are going to drive me crazy, William."

"Ah, well. Kids these days." William chuckled, sipping his coffee. "Oh, Akira said you went out on a date? Who'd you take out this time?"

"Oh, actually, someone new."

"Oh? Now now, you know you can't leave me at just that."

"The craziest thing happened on that date, William." Arsene said, putting his coffee down to gesture. "Like dinner was fine, but then he had to go home to comfort one of his kids, and then I had to go pick up Ryuji and Akira from their sleepover, and he came with me because I went with him to his kid, and then it rained on us. He let us stay in his home to dry off, which ended up becoming a stay overnight, and I ended up sharing his bed."

"Sounds crazy."

"It was. Oh, but William," Arsene said, pressing his hands over his heart and getting a boyish smile and fluttery lashes. "He was such a sweetheart. I could tell he loved his kids very much." 

"Oh, I know that look. You're smitten by him, aye?"

"Maybe I am." Arsene teased, hiding a grin behind his cup.  "He's so lovely."

"Mhm. Oh, wait, I should tell you about last night."

"Hm?"

"So I went out drinkin', y'know because of work, and this man I met at the bar ended up taking me home. Couldn't really walk after all."

"Oh no, what did you do?"

"I sorta tried to pin 'im to the wall, but he pinned me. And then when I kissed 'im, he started kissin' back. He left rather quick after that, put me to bed and then left some waters and painkillers on the counter, along with his number."

Arsene sighed in relief, William rolling his eyes at him.

"Look, I know. But I didn't. I want to talk this out with 'im face to face. Sober. He hasn't texted me back yet, though."

"Good, as you should. Drunk you can be a pain."

"Hey.." He pouted, knowing he had no defense. "Anyways, nice job on winning that squid for Necro."

"What? Oh no, that wasn't me."

"Really? 'Cause Goe asked how 'er date was and I figured it was you who took 'er out. Then who did?"

"No, I took the boys to that place with their favorite milkshakes after dinner. I was grading and cleaning most of the day. She took a picture of them stuck on the ferris wheel." Arsene paused. "Wait a minute."

He took out his phone, scrolling through it. 

"Hm? What's up, Arsene?"

"Oh, weird. I think that's the same man I dated the other day. Hard to tell, his face is kinda blocked."

He showed the picture to him, William feeling that there was something familiar about Necro's date. He took his phone back, texting.

"Asking her?" 

"Uh huh."

"Daaad, I'm ready!" Ryuji said, backpack and suitcase in hand.

"Alright, alright, we can go home. One minute." 

He got up to kiss Arsene one last time, putting his cup by the sink. He grabbed Ryuji's hand, the two walking out.

"Hold on, did you say thanks?"

"Thanks Arsene! Bye!"

"Anytime, Ryuji. Bye now."

Akira hugged Ryuji one last time before they left for home.

"Didja have fun, Ryuji?"

"Yeah, lots!"

"That's good."

Ryuji chatted the entire time as they made their way home, the two collapsing on the couch once they got in. William put on some quiet cooking show as Ryuji yawned, curling up into his side.

“Missed you, dad.” He mumbled.

“Missed ya too.” William murmured, ruffling his hair.

Ryuji was practically asleep by the time the show was wrapping up, William shutting off the tv and picking him up. He started carrying him to his room when Ryuji stirred.

“Noo… I wanna sleep with you.” He whined softly.

“Alright, alright. I’ll let ya.” 

He carried him into his room, helping Ryuji get ready for bed before they settled down, Ryuji on top of his chest. He pulled the blanket over the both of them, rubbing Ryuji’s back until they both fell asleep.

He smoothed back his hair a little as he waited in this little coffee shop, coffee in front of him. He’s been spoiled by Arsene’s coffee, of course, but it wouldn’t hurt to have some extra caffeine to get him through the rest of his day. He was finally meeting the poor man he sort of came on to, their schedules finally lining up so that they could meet face to face. He adjusted his prosthetic a little, making sure it was secure. 

“Good morning.” A familiar voice said, the man sliding into the seat across from him.

He had an iced coffee, something with whipped cream and a lot of caramel. 

“Robin, right? Nice to meet ya.” William said, extending his good hand.

“Likewise, William.” Robin said as he shook it. “Hope you were okay that morning?”

“I was. Thank ye for the stuff. It helped. Yer too nice.”

“You’re welcome.” 

They were quiet, struggling to figure out how to address what happened that night.

“You kissed me.” Robin started quietly.

“And you kissed me back. S’pose we’re even?”

“Maybe? God, that was a weird night…” Robin mumbled, sipping his coffee.

“Maybe? May I ask why you say maybe?”

At that, Robin blushed slightly.

“Well, we seem to like each other, given how that night played out. I figured… maybe we should go on a date?” 

William quirked an eyebrow at that, leaning forward, amused. That was not something he expected.

“You better not be pullin’ my leg, Robin.”

“I’m not, I swear.” Robin said, crossing his heart for emphasis.

“Then, why don’t we start by talkin’ here? It was ‘ard enough trying to meet up like this. So let's  do this now. Tell me ‘bout yerself.”

“Oh, uh, alright. Well, I have two kids who are my whole world, but otherwise I work a lot. I’ve been single forever it feels like, but raising two kids doesn’t leave much time for dating. But they’re older now, so.” Robin shrugs, drinking more of his coffee. “I used to do archery and work out on the regular, but my life has been a bit crazy so I haven’t been able to do that since, oh, last year, maybe.”

“Archery, huh?”

“Heh, I used to be a competitive archer in high school and through most of college. I still go because I enjoy doing it."

"Maybe one day I'll be lucky to see those guns in action." William teased.

"Maybe. What about you?”

“Ah, I have one lil scamp of my own, but I sail as my main job. I do tours most of the time, but I’m also a part-time captain for hire. Just recently got back from a particularly long trip, which you caught the tail-end of. Sorry again, I can be a ‘andful when I’m drunk.”

“No worries. May I see your kid?”

“Oh, o’ course, long as you show me yers.” 

They take a moment to look through their phones for pictures, both showing each other. Robin raised an eyebrow, looking from the picture of Ryuji to him.

“Oh, I’ve met your son, I think.”

“Huh?”

“Ah, weird thing, I was on a date and it ended up downpouring on us, so I offered your son, my date, and his son a place to stay for the night. It was kinda a weird night overall, haha.”

“...Yer date wouldn’t happen to be named Arsene, would it?”

“Yeah, him. He was wonderful.” 

William’s jaw dropped, hiding his shock by drinking his coffee as Robin was distracted by finding another picture. He quickly took a picture of him, making a mental note to send the picture to Arsene later. Robin looked up to show him another picture of his two sons, a punky teenager with dyed hair and a younger boy about Ryuji’s age.

“I love my sons, but my teenager can be quite the troublemaker.”

“Ah, hit those teenage rebellion years, huh?”

“Yup, since he was a preteen. I worry my youngest looks up to him too much.”

They talked for a little while longer before Robin had to go, leaving William by himself. He immediately texted the picture to Arsene.

Hey, met yer date

He saw that he was immediately added to a group chat with Arsene and Necro.

Arsene: why have all of us met and dated this man separately? Whats going on??

Necro: as always, you have good taste, sene

William snorted, putting his phone away for now. He got up from the table, grabbing his coffee on the way out. On the way back, he sent one more text to the other two as he waited for his stop.

I see why yer smitten by him arsene

Chapter Text

Johanna sighed as the newest arrivals, a pack of wiggly kittens, tried to escape the check up room. Again. She resorted to picking them all up one by one and putting them in a deep cardboard box so they couldn’t escape. Picking up the box, she let one of the older volunteers finish the paperwork for the kittens so she could put them back with their mother. They weren’t ready to be weaned and adopted out yet, but it was their last week. Many people had asked questions on when they could be adopted. 

She paid no mind as a brown haired child pulled his tired father along to look at the dogs. 

“Dad, Dad look! Puppies! Can we get one?”

“Goro, for the millionth time, a dog is a lot of work. We don’t really have the space or mon-” 

Johanna yelped as she tripped on a hose left on the ground, losing her grip on the box and watching it fly as she fell to her knees. The man jumped and caught the box, carefully walking over to her and balancing the box under one arm to offer her a hand. She took it, pulling herself up with a little of his help.

“Are you okay miss?” 

“The kittens. How are the kittens?” She said, grabbing the side of the box and checking inside it.

He held it out in both hands again as they both peered inside. She sighed in relief as all five kittens were in there and unharmed. The child came running over, standing on his tippy toes to try to get a look inside. The man crouched down to show him, the kid smiling brightly. 

“Oh, kitties.” He cooed.

“Alright, you’ve seen them. We have to give them back to the nice woman, okay?”

The man stood up and gave her the box back, not letting go until she had it. 

“Thank you, sir.” She mumbled as she breezed past them to get to the cat section of the shelter. 

“You’re welcome.” The man called after her.

Johanna didn’t relax until all five kittens were put back with their mother, the mother holding one down to bathe it. She circled back to pick up the hose and properly put it away. The child was pulling his poor father along to point out each and every dog. 

“Now, which idiot left the hose here?” She grumbled.

She turned to go see if the two needed anything, only to see the child pouting.

“But Daaad… Look at how cute they are.” The child whined.

“Sweetheart, please. We don’t have the time or money for a dog, let alone a puppy. A puppy is much more work.”

“We can allow you to see a dog, if you want. Play with them a little.” Johanna cut in and offered, making the father jump.

“Please? One dog?” 

The man looked between them both before sighing. 

“Okay. But we can’t adopt them.”

Johanna led them to one of the friendlier dogs, a little black shiba inu. 

“This is Nori. She’s energetic for her age, but she’s really gentle.” Johanna introduced the wiggling dog, unlocking the door to let the two of them inside. “I can let you play for about ten minutes.”

The child giggled as the dog licked his face, picking up one of her toys and playing with her. The man looked worn down, running a hand through strands of messy red hair that wasn’t pulled back into his ponytail.

“She is cute, I gotta say.” He admitted quietly.

“She’s the favorite among all of us. We’re really hoping she goes to a good home.”

The man let Nori sniff him, smiling as she licked his hand. Nori went back to playing with the boy, bouncing around and the two chasing each other around. 

“So, first time here?” Johanna asked.

“Er, first time inside. My son has been dragging me here for a while and staring at it from the outside. This place is a lot bigger than it looks.” 

“Finally wore you down, huh?”

“Mhm. My youngest is sweet, but…”

“Ah, more than one kid? I know the feeling.” She said. “My youngest always asks to skip school to come here with me instead.”

They quietly chatted more as the two others wore themselves out. She found him rather cute, if not charming. By the last minute or two, the boy was sitting on the floor with Nori’s head in his lap, both their eyes closed. 

“And time is up. Sorry, kiddo.” Johanna announced, opening the door back up. 

“C’mon, Goro. Playtime is over. We gotta go now.”

The boy grumbled, but he got up after kissing Nori’s forehead. He grabbed his father’s hand as they walked out, Johanna closing the door. She walked them to the front door, continuing their pleasant conversation from earlier. She grabbed one of her cards off her desk, quickly writing her personal number on it and a request to talk to her some time.

“Wait, here. If you ever change your mind.” Johanna said, handing him her card.

“Oh, thank you. Goodbye.” 

“Goodbye.”

She watched him leave, her coworker at the front desk smirking.

“Oh, does someone finally have a crush?” The woman teased.

“Oh shush.” Johanna mumbled, retreating back to make sure Nori had water.

 

She loved talking to the man, Robin, over texts. The two had similarly busy lives, between their work and their kids, and planning a date was a careful balancing act. But they managed to plan one a few days in advance, Johanna happy about it. A date with someone new was exciting. 

Her second job she didn't mind, she loved being a librarian. Her short, silver hair was partially tucked behind one ear as she sat at the front desk. It was a particularly slow night, raining rather heavily outside, and it seemed the only people were the usual regulars at this hour. She checked her watch, noticing closing time was soon, readjusting her reading glasses. She wasn’t expecting anything real exciting to happen in the last forty-five minutes, mostly just a check to see if there were people still here so she can gently tell them to come back tomorrow. She genuinely enjoyed the night shift at the library. 

She glanced up as two people hurry inside, a hood pulled over the clear adult, soaked through, holding a plastic bag to his chest. The teen with him was not very pleased at the situation, less soaking wet, but that wasn’t saying much. The teen was dragged over to the front desk, watching as the adult pulled out a book from the bag with a little difficulty, trying to not get it wet.

“Hello,” He says quietly, putting the book down in front of her. “I’m very sorry, but I need to know the fee for late returns.” 

He started rummaging around for a wallet, presumably, while Johanna took the book to check what date the book was checked out. She glared at the man, who hadn’t noticed it yet.

“This was supposed to be returned nearly two months ago.” She said sharply. 

The man looked very ashamed, while the teen, presumably his, got this little smirk on his face.

“I know, it got shoved in a drawer and I forgot abou-”

“I don’t need your excuses. You should be keeping track of your books, sir.” 

“I’m sorry.” He mumbled, wallet out.

“We don’t do fees.” She said coldly. “However, you won’t be able to borrow books for the next four weeks. Card, please.”

“Right. Right, sorry.” 

He handed over the card. She stamped the book loudly, making aggressive eye contact with him. He avoided eye contact with her, easy with the brim of the baseball cap he was wearing under his hood. She wrote the ID number of his card on the late return list for this month along with the date, before tossing his card back at him. He picked up the card, apologizing again before leaving. The teen snickered as he followed the man out, Johanna going back to what she was reading. She sighed heavily, turning the page. Late returns were one of her pet peeves.

 

"Carmen, please, it's just a date." Johanna groaned as Carmen held up another dress to her at the store she dragged her to. "My old clothes are fine, and you know dresses aren't my thing."

Carmen had practically filled the dressing room with different outfits. Sae was watching Ann drag Makoto around the store, making sure they didn't cause any trouble.

"Oh, c'mon, Jo. How long as it been since you've been on a first date? Just try it on."

"I have to get through half of the other ones you gave me first." Johanna sighed as she took the dress and into the room, closing the door again. "You're such a bully."

She put the shimmery, ankle-length silver dress on anyway as Carmen slid a couple of matching heels in her size under the door. She sighed louder so she could hear her. She heard three pairs of footsteps running towards her as she slipped on the heels. She looked at herself in the mirror, kind of liking it, but wishing it wasn't as long.

"Can we see?"

Johanna rolled her eyes at herself before unlocking the door and stepping out. 

"This is so unlike you, mom." Sae said, smiling. 

"Pretty." Ann and Makoto said at once, dragging her over to the little platform in front of the three mirrors in the fitting room. 

Carmen was proud as she helped Johanna up, letting go so she could twirl around. Makoto tapped her leg, holding up a pendant shaped like the north star.

"Here mom, wear this too."

Johanna nodded, struggling with the little clasp. Carmen helped put it on her, straightening it out. The dress had a little blue tint to it, which she kinda liked. She was almost warming up to the idea of this dress.

"What do you think, hun?"

"It's nice. Expensive, too, isn't it, especially with this?" She said, touching the necklace Makoto gave her.

"Don't worry about it, dear."

"Carmen..." She mumbled.

She was always flustered when Milady and Carmen bought her stuff, especially when it was expensive. But Makoto did pick out the necklace for her, probably with Ann's help.

"Mom, you deserve nice things. Especially when you couldn't stop gushing about this guy, whoever he is." Sae said, nudging her a little. "You look beautiful."

"See? Let me spoil you, love." Carmen teased as she smooched her cheek.

Carmen's insistence and Makoto and Sae's smiles got her into getting the whole outfit. She blushed as Carmen paid for it at the cash register, saying that she deserved the best. The three of them got home after Carmen making sure she took the bag and got another kiss. 

"It's tomorrow night, right? Will we get to meet him?" Sae asked as Johanna was busy putting the outfit away.

"He's coming to pick me up, and we are going to a restaurant nearby."

"Oh, so we get to-"

"Sae, do not grill my date." She chastised softly. "I don't want to start our date off badly."

"But mom, how will we know if he's right for you?"

"I can figure that out myself, thank you very much. Now go on, you two have school in the morning, you should be getting ready for bed."

Sae rolled her eyes, slipping off to the bathroom to brush her teeth with Makoto. Johanna sighed, trying to rearrange her bureau so what she wanted for her date was up front and easy to find.

There was a knocking at the front door, Johanna silently cursing as she was still in the shower. That meant her kids were going to answer the door. She finished up as fast as she could, hearing Sae welcome him in and start talking to him. 

Johanna hurriedly dried herself off, brushing and blowing her hair dry. The dress she slipped on as Sae started grilling him in the other room.

She was starting to regret letting her watch all those courtroom shows, Sae sounded like she was cross-examining him. He didn't seem too bothered by it though, sounding more amused than anything. She struggled with the clasp before she got it on, getting the necklace on the right way. The heels she slipped on, grabbing her clutch on her way out of the room. He looked nice, the hair neat, dressed up, and holding a bouquet across his lap.

"Sae, stop playing lawyer on my date." She gently scolded, before flashing him an apologetic smile. "Sorry Robin."

Sae rolled her eyes at her.

"No worries, I'm sure she'll be an excellent prosecutor one day." He says, standing up and offering the flowers. "You look very lovely, by the way."

"Thank you." She says, taking the bouquet from him.

She took the time to put the flowers in a vase, setting them on the counter for now. He moved to the door to grab his umbrella, opening the door for her.

"Bye girls, see you later."

"Bye mom, have fun!" Makoto chirped.

They chatted on their way down, pausing as Robin opened his umbrella for the two of them. Johanna shivered, moving closer to him as they walked.

"Not the best day for a short sleeved dress, huh?" She joked.

"If only I could control the weather for you." He joked back. "Do you want my jacket?"

"Then you'll be cold, mister. We can't have that. The restaurant will be warmer, I'll be fine."

Once at the restaurant, which was on a slightly flooded street, Johanna waited as he closed the umbrella carefully and shook some of the water off of it. They headed inside, Robin leaving his umbrella by the door, and then waited for a table, still talking. The host soon whisked them away to a table and poured them some water before leaving them to the menus. Johanna frowned a bit, lowering her menu.

"Nervous?" He asked gently.

"Just been some time since I've been on a first date."

"I know the feeling."

Her weird feeling went away as their date wore on, the two talking about all manner of things. It seemed Robin prioritized his kids over everything, which was nice, but it seemed he didn't do much for himself. She pointed this out, Robin getting sheepish.

"Work has been demanding a lot of my time. If I could be paid yo do what I loved and not make any changes to my current life, I would." He sighed, putting on a small smile. "But it's alright, my kids have a good life. And getting back to dating has let me meet some wonderful people like you."

"Oh, been going around?" She asked.

"I'm not sure I want to commit long term yet. Sorry if that's not what you were expecting to hear."

"Still reeling from the last long term relationship, huh?" 

"A little." Robin admitted, sipping his water. "It's also because it seems my life hasn't really settled down, and has only gotten busier."

"I understand. Don't worry about it, sorry to ask."

"I brought it up, it's fine."

They managed to smooth out the bumps and get back to pleasant conversation, having a wonderful time. 

After dinner, the two splitting it after a conversation about it, the two walk out, Johanna grabbing his umbrella for him. She hands him the umbrella, about to start heading back when a car speeds down the road. Robin steps in front of her, getting splashed from the car passing by.

"Asshole!" She shouted after the car, before turning to Robin. "Are you okay?"

Robin sneezed, grumbling.

"I'll be alright. I-" 

He sneezed another three times in a row, interrupting himself. Johanna opens the umbrella and holds it up.

"Sounds like the start of a nasty cold." Johanna said, starting to walk him. "I can give you a change of clothes before you leave. Or at least let you dry off."

"This is the second time I've been soaked this week, so that probably made it worse." He said. "At least I returned that book before I forgot again."

"That was you?!"

"Yes. I know, I'm sorry." He rubbed the back of his neck. 

Johanna felt a little guilty on their way back, offering an apology. She gave him back the umbrella, offering her arm as they walked back up to her apartment. They walked back in, Johanna kicking off her shoes and moving into the kitchen to make him hot tea.

"Just stay until you dry off a little? I'd hate to send you back like that."

"I don't want to get the three of you sick though." He protested, sneezing into the crook of his elbow.

"Come, sit. I'll make you some tea at least." 

She dragged him over to sit while the water was heating up, Robin covering his mouth so as to not breathe on her.

"Mom, you're back, did-" Makoto chirped, stopping when she saw Robin. 

She looked between them for a minute.

"Is it special adult time?" She asked quietly.

The two adults looked at each other before they realized what she meant. Robin blushed a little.

"Makoto…" Johanna said, flushing in embarrassment. "It's not.  I'm just making tea for him before he goes. Why are you still up?"

"Waiting for you to get back."

 

Johanna walked over and crouched down, cupping her face.

"Honey… I'm fine. My job is to worry about you, not the other way around. I can take care of myself and both of you. And I wouldn't bring anyone home if I didn't trust them." Johanna waited until she saw a nod. "Now come on, get to bed. It's still a school night."

Makoto quickly kissed her nose before leaving the room, Johanna standing back up. She poured Robin a cup of tea, Robin quietly taking it. She sighed and sat down across from him.

"Thank you." He said, sipping it.

"Don't worry about it. I still owe you a little bit for earlier."

He sneezed again into his elbow, grumbling.

"You don't owe me anything." He insisted before drinking the tea. 

They talked for a little while longer before he finally dried off, Robin getting up.

"I had a nice time." He said softly.

"I did too, now go get rest." Johanna said,before adding quietly. "Hope you figure out what you want soon."

The next morning, she pestered Robin into giving her his address, making sure he was also staying home for the day. Clutching the tupperware she was carrying tightly as the train came to a stop, she pushed through the crowd to get off. She found the house easily enough, knocking on the door. A black and red haired teen about Sae's age answered the door, peering at her. She recognized him from the library.

"Hello?" 

"Hi. Shouldn't you be at school right now, young man?" 

"Dad got me sick too." He lied.

"No, that's what you're hoping he does." 

The teen seemed to shrink back after being caught lying, huffing.

"Now, where is your father?" Johanna asked.

"I'll go get him." 

The teen disappeared into the house, leaving her on the step. She could hear them talking as they came towards her.

"Loki, go to school." Robin ordered. 

"But Dad, who's going to take care of you?"

"Who's going to take care of Goro at school?" He shot back. "Now go, or I'm grounding you."

Loki groaned, begrudgingly stomping out of the house with a backpack slung over his shoulder. Johanna stepped aside as the teen stormed out. She turned as Robin came to the door, smiling at him. He looked awful, wearing a face mask with balled up tissues in his hand.

"Hi, Johanna. Sorry about him. Would you like to come in?"

"I would, thank you." 

She stepped inside, Robin closing the door behind her. She saw all the cold medicine on the counter, turning back as Robin threw the tissues away and washed his hands. 

"I don't want to get you sick, Johanna. Why did you come over?"

"I made you soup." She said, putting the tupperware down on the kitchen table. "Chicken noodle. With instructions on how to heat it up.

"Well, I-" He coughed loudly, sighing afterwards. "Okay, thank you."

"I mean, it's the least I could do after what you did last night."

She could tell he was blushing a little under his mask, rubbing the back of his neck.

"I'm glad you're resting, at least." She added.

"Yeah, uh, I don't want to get the whole office sick either."

They talked a little longer before Johanna left, making her way to the train station. She checked her phone, Carmen asking her about her date in the group chat. 

Actually I just brought him some soup because he got a horrible cold after protecting me from getting splashed. Hes sweet.

Carmen: oh dear, the poor thing :(

As she was chatting with them about her day otherwise, Johanna got another buzz, solely from Necro.

Necro: this mybe weird, but is his name robin?

Yes. Why?

She was added to a smaller group chat with Arsene, William and Necro. She scrolled up to see the picture Kidd sent of Robin on their own date.

You've all dated him??

Necro: welcome 2 the club!

William: forreal? Damn. Im taking bets on who he dates next

N: 10 for Goe

Arsene: i really think this is just an extraordinary set of coincidences

W: how can he not know by now? Hes met my ryuji

N: no one gonna match my bet? :/

Johanna just sort of giggled to herself. 

Fine. My bet's on Milady.

N: no way! I dont think shes next

W: for laffs, zorro

N: the last time zorro texted any of us has been like three weeks ago. Doubt 

A: :/

Johanna smiled, putting her phone away. She finds it funny some of her partners have found the same man. They really do have similar tastes.

Chapter Text

Robin was drifting off on the train, one hand tight on the handhold above him, other hand swinging idly. He felt a small hand grab his, automatically holding it back.

"Hello Goro." He mumbled.

It took him a minute, realizing that Goro was both home right now, and no longer that small anymore. He opened his eyes and looked to see a young blue-haired boy clutching onto him.

"Hello." The boy said with a small smile, squeezing his hand harder.

Robin quickly looked around, not seeing any parent in sight. This boy could not be older than six.

"Oh dear. Hey little buddy, let's get off and wait for your parent, okay?"

"Okay."

~~~~~~~~

Zorro looked by his side, panicking when Morgana was no longer there. He whipped around only to see him before the doors closed.

"Shit." Zorro hissed, running towards the train.

Now he had to wait for the next train, getting more fearful by the minute. He got on, staying as close to the doors as he possibly could, wishing the train was faster. Zorro stumbled off at the next stop, searching frantically. He saw Morganna sitting on a bench, a notepad in his lap, one hand grasping a pen while the other was holding the hand of the man crouched in front of him. He looked to be happily doodling away, and Zorro could hear gentle conversation from the man, his voice soothing.

"Morganna, I-"

"Papi!" He chirped, getting up to hug his leg.

"You need to stay by my side so you don't get lost." Zorro softly reprimanded, patting his head.

Zorro noticed he didn't let go of the other man, glancing at him.

"I am so sorry, sir. He tends to like wandering off."

"No worries, he's a delight. It's been a while since my own sons were this small." The man sounded so fond, before looking at him with worry. "New father?"

"Yes, I am. Uh, thank you for staying with him, by the way. He tends to latch onto people he likes."

"No problem at all." The man let go of Morgana's hand, but he still clung to him. "Uh, you look like you could use a break, really, uh, no offense."

"Um… yeah, that sounds nice. Oh, I'm Zorro." 

"I'm Robin. Nice to meet you. I know a place not too far from here if you want to sit down and grab something to eat."

"Uh… sure. Why not? You're not in a rush?"

Robin shook his head.

"No, not at all."

Robin chatted with him as he led them to the little restaurant, Zorro having reluctantly given Morgana to him to carry, Morgana smiling. It was a little casual place, Robin making sure they got a kids menu for Morgana before they sat down.

"Hey kiddo, gonna put you down, okay?"

"Okay."

Morgana didn't fuss as Robin put him down, finally letting go to grab the little box of crayons he was given. Zorro took a moment to check him over, making sure he wasn't hurt, being relieved. They took a moment to order food, Morgana happily going back to coloring. 

"I cannot thank you enough." Zorro said, ruffling Morgana's hair, who made a face. "He is my whole world."

"I could tell." Robin said, sipping the coffee he got. "He is very sweet."

Food came, Morgana stuffing chicken tenders into his face immediately.

"Morgana, slow down. Taste your food, dear." Zorro chastised.

Morgana blinks at him before doing so, reaching for the ketchup over by Robin. He seemed to get frustrated after not being able to reach it, pointing at it.

“That!”

Zorro was about to scold him before Robin spoke up.

“And what’s the magic word?”

Morgana stared at him, the gears ticking in his little head.

“Alakazam!”

They both laughed, Robin clearing his throat before trying again.

“That’s a magic word. It starts with p…” 

“Puh… Please?”

“There we go, good job.” Robin handed him the ketchup with a smile. 

Morgana proceeded to squirt the ketchup all over his plate, getting some on himself as well. He didn’t care though, he was busy dunking whatever was left of his chicken and fries in it.

“Oh, dear…” Zorro mumbled, picking up a napkin to wipe off his shirt.

Morgana grumbled because he was getting in the way of his fries. Robin chuckled, seeming to enjoy the two of them. 

Despite Zorro’s protests, Robin paid for the entire meal. 

"You didn't have to do that."

"I wanted to." Robin shrugged.

"Uh, maybe we can exchange numbers and go on a proper date sometime?"

"Oh, sure." 

Robin pulled out his phone as Zorro did the same, exchanging numbers.

"Just that quick to date someone, huh?"

"I'm single, I'm sure you would want a little break from parenting. My kids are old enough to be responsible and babysit for a couple of hours."

"Oh, okay. As long as they're okay with that of course."

"I'll make sure of that before we set our date. I'll let you choose where we go."

They said their goodbyes and parted ways, making sure to say goodbye to Morgana too.

Zorro couldn't help but be nervous. He hasn't been on a date since Morgana's new burst of energy and now he's going on one with someone completely new. He feels almost guilty about not really responding to any one in his current relationship, but life has been making it difficult to remember to do so. 

The walk to his place wasn't bad, his home kinda nice as they walked up to it. Zorro knocked on the door, Morgana clinging to him as the door opened.

"Hi Zorro, hi Morgana, come on in." He said, stepping aside.

He saw a punky looking kid with dyed hair and a younger kid with brown hair, both seeming to be busy playing a video game to notice them.

"Loki, Goro, we have guests."

"Hello!" The younger one chirped, smiling at him.

The older one snorted, saying nothing. Robin sighed. Zorro let go, Morgana immediately wandering over to see what the kids were doing.

"Be good you three. We will be back soon, okay?"

"Okay dad." Goro and Loki said at the same time.

"And I mean what I said earlier, Loki. Your best behavior."

"Okay, dad." Loki huffed.

They started to walk out when Morgana ran over to grab Zorro's leg.

"Papi?"

"Don't worry, sweetie. I won't be gone too long. Just stay with these two, okay?"

Morgana clung to him, prompting Zorro to pick him up and carry him back over. He kissed his forehead before putting him in Goro's arms, who grunted a little at being distracted from the racing game they were playing. Zorro walked back over, seeing Morgana settle down a little.

"Why don't you two dig out the board games and play those with him?" Robin asked.

"After this game." Loki said, waving them away.

The two walked out, Robin locking the door behind him. Zorro paused, starting to worry.

"The kids will be fine." Robin soothed, linking his arm and pulling him along. "I promise."

Zorro sighed, soon walking along with him as he calmed down. His presence was rather soothing, and chatting with him made him happy. They sat down to have dinner, Zorro much more relaxed than he had been, but still worry on the back of his mind about his son. 

Dinner was over before he knew it, and the two of them were sitting on a park bench with ice cream cones, quiet. 

"Still worried about him?" Robin asked gently, jolting him out of his thoughts.

"Yeah." Zorro said, then sighed. "I suppose I feel a little guilty, too, in a way."

"About what?"

Zorro carefully picked out how we wanted to explain. His grip tightened around his cone.

"Just… my life has gotten so messy, it seems, I haven't even texted any of my partners back and now I'm on a date with someone new."

"I'm sure they understand. Life happens."

"Parenting is a struggle. They, you make it look so easy, and I can't even seem to hold myself together enough."

"I can assure you, I didn't have a picnic and neither did they. We've just been at it a bit longer, so we got it mostly down now. I say mostly, because it hasn't changed much, they're just closer to adulthood now, and are able to take care of themselves and each other somewhat."

"Still, it's just been me and my little Mona, and trying to balance everything tends to make a mess of something else. I just get so frustrated with myself, and-"

Zorro froze as he felt the cone crack under his grip and splatter ice cream everywhere. He saw Robin just as surprised to be partly covered in ice cream, Zorro getting embarrassed.

"I am so sorry." He mumbled as he searched for the napkins he grabbed earlier.

"It's okay. Uh…" 

Robin stayed still as Zorro cleaned off his face, a small smile on his face. 

"Okay, got it all. Sorry, Robin."

"It's okay. But, uh, if you're too worried to continue, we can head back if you'd like? I don't mind ending this early."

"No, no, it's fine. This is nice, actually. I… haven't done much without Mona in a long time."

"I'm glad you're enjoying it."

They stayed there a little longer, Zorro finishing off what was left of his cone before the two headed back, hand in hand.

They unlinked hands so Robin could open his door, the two going inside. The kids were hunched over a game of Sorry, seeming to be a very intense close game. 

"Hey kids." Robin said.

"Hi dad- oh yes! I win!" Goro proclaimed, sliding his last piece into home.

Loki rolled his eyes and got up as Morgana ran over to Zorro. He raised his arms up, expectant 

"Papi!"

"Hi Mona." Zorro lifted him up with a smile.

"Do we still have cookies left or did you two eat all of them?" Robin asked as the boys were putting away the game.

"There should be a few." Goro responded.

Robin went to the cookie jar, taking out a couple cookies. 

"Is it okay if I give Morgana one?"

"Cookie!"

"Yes, he loves them." Zorro smiled, taking one.

Robin handed Morgana a cookie, smiling fondly. Morgana took a bite out of the cookie, shifting his hands around it. Zorro shifted a little to eat his own cookie.

"I remember when you two were this small." Robin said.

"Careful, Dad might keep him if you don't keep an eye on him." Loki teased Zorro. 

Morgana lost his hold on the cookie, it breaking on the floor.

"Oh n-"

"Fuck!" Morgana chirped.

Everyone froze for a solid minute. Robin turned to give the most disappointed look Zorro has ever seen to his two sons, focusing on Loki, who was squirming.

"I-"

"Loki, are you serious?" Robin asked, sighing as he pinched the bridge of his nose.

"I just… it wasn't on purpose!" 

"Come along, young man." Robin said, pulling him into one of the rooms further into the house.

Goro stayed quiet as they could hear the tense conversation, Zorro giving Morgana the rest of his cookie before looking at his phone. He took the time to take a picture of him happily munching away on his new cookie before Robin came back. Loki sulked into another room, slamming the door behind him.

"Right, we should get going. It's almost someone's bed time." Zorro said, moving to the door.

"I am so, so sorry." Robin apologized, opening the door for him.

"It's okay. Um, I had a good time, and I'm sure Morgana did too. Good night."

"Good night."

Morgana fell asleep as he carried him, taking the time to pull out his phone. Finally he had the courage to finally message the group chat, sending the picture of him and Morgana he took earlier with the caption:

Guess who just learned the f word?

Many of them were sending their condolences, but also expressing how happy they are to hear from him. He gets another message from William, opening it up to see a smaller group chat.

Arsene: i know that kitchen

Zorro has been added to the group we share one man and braincell

A: ??? 

A: stop changing the name of this chat necro i know its you

William: shit really?? JO AND NECRO PAY UP I WON

What?

Necro: SHIT

N: also hi hun its nice to hear from you

What is this?

W: we have all dated robin so arsene made this chat to figure out whats going on

W: personally i think its hialrious

A: i dont think hes figured out were all dating each other, unless you mentioned it?

No, just that i had partners. He didnt seem to mind, luckily

A: well thats good

Johanna: shouldnt all of you be asleep? Dont you two have work early tomorrow?

W: jo come on at least say hi to zorro

Zorro grinned, putting his phone away as they got to their stop. They really did all have the same tastes. Now he has to figure out how to get Morgana from not saying his new word from this point on.

Chapter Text

Carmen loved window shopping at this time of year. There were so many new and interesting styles for the season, and she couldn't help but stop in every time a display caught her eye. She usually took Ann, but she was having a sleepover with Akira and Yusuke at Arsene's. She was eyeing the suits, hoping that maybe she could convince Arsene in one to join her for the awards dinner afterparty next month she is supposed to go to, when she overheard a conversation.

“I hate this. You sure I can’t wear my old one?”

“Loki, you haven’t worn a suit since you were like six for her sister’s wedding. It won’t fit you anymore. Look, I don’t like it either, but please just pick out something.”

“So why are we even going?! I hate her! You told her to get out of our life and now you’re just gonna walk right back into it?”

Carmen inched around the display to see a very upset looking man with an angry goth teenager out of the corner of her eye. He seemed to be holding a postcard in his hands, a glossy custom photo one. He sighed deeply.

“I know. But if we don’t, she won’t take any excuses I give her. Wouldn’t it be nice to see your mother again one last time?”

Carmen had to bite back a whistle. She didn’t want to let them know she was listening to them.

“Why? She didn’t want either of us. She didn’t want to see us all these years and now she wants to?” The teen’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t tell me you still love her??”

“I-...” He rubbed at his eye, even more upset. “ Don’t put me on the spot like this…”

“Unbelievable.”

“It’s complicated, okay? Look, I don’t even care if it’s a suit, just get something that could pass for formal wear that matches the… colors she picked out.”

“She made those deliberately ugly to make herself look good, you know that right?”

“I know. And don’t worry, it encourages I bring a plus one as well as you two.”

“So it’s a trap, and she’ll embarrass and talk shit about you regardless. Not like anyone wants to go to a random wedding with someone they hardly know as a date.” 

“I know.” The man sighed, seemingly defeated. “At least go see your other grandparents?”

“I don’t want anything to do with them either.” The teen muttered. “But I’ll go for you.”

“Thank you.” 

“Can we go to another store now? There’s nothing I want here.”

“Okay.” 

The teen turned around and walked past her alongside the man, pausing and whipping around to face her.

“I… aren’t you Carmen Mérimée? The actress?”

Carmen sighed, guessing the jig was up now.

“Yes, that’s me. I just wanted to be by myself but I… couldn’t help but overhear.”

“Oh, um, sorry for bothering you, we-” The man started, seemingly embarrassed.

“Is that the invitation? May I see it?” Carmen interrupted him, holding out her hand for it.

“Uh…” He stammered, pressing it to his chest.

The teen nudged him, the man handing the invitation over after the teen gave him a look. The long black haired woman in the pictures was absolutely radiant alongside her rich looking husband to be. The colors of the wedding for the guests to wear was hot pink and neon orange. She felt physically ill at the thought. The plus one caught her eye too, and the little “bring our kids” note at the end screamed more insult than reasonable request.

“What a bitch to invite you to her wedding.” She said, handing it back to him. “And with such a clear taunt in her p.s. too.”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell him.” 

The man sighed. 

“Look, Goro doesn’t mind going to see her.”

“Because he was too young to remember how awful it was for you.” The teen snapped. “He doesn’t remember the divorce.” 

“I know he doesn’t. Just one day is all I’m asking.”

“So what are you going to do then? If you show up, she’ll make you feel bad for coming alone. She’s going to make fun of you.”

The man looked wounded by that, trying to figure out what to say.

“I can help you.” Carmen said.

“I can’t ask you to do that, miss, I-” 

“Someone needs to put her in her place. It’ll be fun.”

“But-”

“Holy shit, please?! Can you imagine the look on her face when you show up with an actress?”

“Umm…”

“Dad, please. You know she’ll laugh at you otherwise.”

“Okay, fine. Uh, my name is Robin Hood, by the way, and this is my oldest son Loki.”

“Charmed.” She shook his hand, smiling at him, before taking Loki by the arm and leading him out. “Now come on, you still need something to wear right? What are you thinking? What do you like?”

Loki chatted off different fashions and trends he was fond of as they went to a bigger department store, Robin along for the ride. Carmen asked as many questions about his ex-wife as he was comfortable answering, trying to get as much information as possible. They were waiting outside the fitting rooms after Loki pulled in a bunch of stuff he picked out with her help.

“Do tell me to quit it if I make you uncomfortable, dear. Exes aren’t the best of subjects at times.” 

“I’m just curious why you want to help, really. I’m not really anybody special.” 

“You seem sweet. And god, how awful that she left you to raise the kids on your own?”

“I wanted them, actually.” Robin snapped.

“Oh.” 

She stayed quiet, seeming to have finally hit a nerve. He looked guilty after a moment, slouching.

“Sorry… I… you’re just trying to help.”

“No, it’s fine. It seems like it’s still a touchy subject.”

Robin didn’t say anything the rest of the time as Loki showed off different outfits, lost in thought. Loki finally picked out something, Robin softly protesting as Carmen bought it for them. 

“Look, I don’t care. We’re dating now. So let’s keep going boys, we need to find shoes for this outfit. How long do you want us to be dating for, by the way?”

“Uh… I don’t know. Wouldn’t it be hard to prove with you being famous and all?”

“We celebrities can hide a relationship for a while, depending. A few months then. That would be believable enough. So let’s figure out what a few months of relationship entails for us, hm?”

They talked for a while as Loki tried on a bunch of different shoes, coming up with a nice outline of their quote unquote relationship for the past few months. 

“I should tell you my other son. It wouldn’t look good if you didn’t know some things about him too.”

“Ah, here, I’ll tell you about my little girl too.”

They dove into an easier conversation about their kids and their varied interests, and Carmen realizes how much Robin loved his kids, even if they gave him a hard time occasionally. She slowly came to the realization that she could see herself with him, how much his ex is missing out on. 

The three of them left together after Carmen bought the shoes too, Robin flustered. 

“Wait, exchange numbers with me. When is this wedding again?”

“A few days.” Robin answered as he pulled out his phone. “And are you sure? I-”

“I’m sure. Can I take you out tomorrow for a drink? So I can know you even better?”

“Uh, sure.” 

“Great! See you tomorrow, dear.”

Carmen’s first order of business once she got home was seeing if she had anything close to the garish colors the bride-to-be put on her invitation. 

 

She walked towards him as he arrived, giving him a kiss on the cheek before she led him inside the club. Robin seemed a bit overwhelmed by the noise and lights before she dragged him into one of the VIP rooms. There was already wine and glasses set up for them, along with an ice bucket. It was a lot quieter in here, Carmen guiding him to a seat. 

“Nice, isn’t it?”

“It is. Suppose being famous gets you such nice things.”

“Mhm. And no paparazzi in here, I told the owner not to let anyone disturb us unless it was an actual emergency.” 

She poured him a glass, handing it to him before pouring her own glass. They talked about many things, mostly small talk and getting to know each other better. The second bottle was almost empty when she decided to ask more about his past relationship.

“So, just stop me if I’m prying too much, but what made you two quit on each other?” Carmen asked softly. “You seem to still like her, if your earlier conversation in that store was anything to go by.”

Robin sighed, sinking into the booth. His face was pretty flushed from the alcohol as he spoke.

“Our parents set us up. And it worked for a while, we did love each other for a while, honestly. Our parents wanted grandkids, and I wanted kids of my own, but a few months after Goro was born, it started to become clear we were only arguing on how to raise them was because she never wanted kids in the first place. She just wanted to make her parents happy, so she had some. Loki… was old enough to remember our worst fight we had. We couldn’t live with each other anymore, and so I told her to leave, that I’ll raise the boys on my own, to never talk to me again. I… couldn’t get over her for a while, was just miserable. I… don’t like the thought of having another failed marriage after… that.” 

Robin fell silent, covering his mouth, shaking. Carmen threw an arm around him, feeling horrible to make him bring it up. 

“And she sent you an invite to her wedding after all this time? Fucking bitch.”

“She… doesn’t know how I feel about her.”

Carmen leaned against him, gently taking the wine away from him and setting it on the table alongside her own glass. 

“Fuck… sorry… this is depressing. Ha… it’s kinda pathetic isn’t it?”

“No. you two were in a relationship for a while, right? It’s understandable.”

“Ten, maybe eleven years, four before we had Loki? Fuck, I can’t really remember anymore.” He mumbled, wiping tears out of his eyes. 

“She let you, such a gem of a man, go for selfish reasons.” Carmen said, pressing a kiss to his cheek.

He perked up, avoiding her eyes for a moment. He gently pressed his lips to hers, and soon the two were kissing each other deeply. They were laying down in the booth, Carmen pulling away for a moment. She started to kiss him again, Robin stopping her gently.

“Wait… I’m not…” He said quietly. “We shouldn’t…”

“Yeah… sorry.” She mumbled, pulling him back up.

“I think we’ve had enough for today.”

“Hm, yeah.”

They sat in silence, not sure how to continue their conversation. 

“Thank you for listening to me. I… haven’t really told anyone else about all of that.”

“No problem. We are dating now, you know.” She teased.

He snorted, covering his mouth again. He removed his hand to reveal a stupid grin on his face.

“Sure. Um, travel arrangements, probably should be talked about? Uh…” 

“I’ll come by, and pick the three of you up. I won’t subject my poor daughter to the horrible crime against fashion your ex is committing, I’ll let my wife handle them both.”

“Wife? You… You’re married?”

“It’s fine, she’s very understanding. Besides, we have an open relationship, so even if we were dating for real, it’d be fine. Unless… you’re not okay with that? Sorry… I was going to take my band off for the day while we did this.”

“No, no, that’s fine. Sheesh, maybe Loki was right, maybe I am a bit out of touch with current stuff.”

“We’ve kinda kept our marriage quiet, so I’m not surprised you don’t know. Besides, I think we should get going soon.”

Robin nodded, the two of them getting up and carefully leaving the room and club. 

“See you tomorrow, Robin dear.”

“Mhm, see you.” 

“Oh, Robin?”

“Mm?”

“I am shooting in the morning, so I might be late. If that happens, I’ll just send my chauffeur to pick you up and drop you off.”

“Mkay. Bye.”

Carmen came home to Milady patiently waiting in her favorite chair, reading. She looked up, smiling.

“You’re finally back, dear. I sent the girls to bed.”

“Hi love.” She crossed the room to kiss Milady, sitting on her lap.

“So how was it? Was he nice?”

“Oh my god, Milady, he is so sweet and so cute! He really loves his kids, he deserves someone really good. I can’t believe someone would let him go like that.”

“Well, you know, sometimes things are unhealthy and don’t work out.”

“I know. I did… kiss him a little. He’s good at it.” 

“You sound like you enjoyed at least a bottle of wine.”

“Mhm. But Milady…” 

She proceeded to drunkenly rattle off a bunch of other stuff he really liked about him. 

“And now I have to go to this wedding with him after work, because I don’t want him to feel horrible and alone being there.” 

“Well, have fun, and please don’t start any fights, love.”

Milady carried her sleepy, drunk wife up to bed with her bridal style, Carmen giggling. 

"But seriously, babe, I wanna make this man happy. He has such a sweet smile. You should meet him too one day."

"Perhaps I will, since you seem to adore him so much."

 

Carmen felt bad because she was, in fact, late. She at least made sure the three of them got there on time. It wasn’t anything flashy she sent them in, but it was a nice car. She adjusted her hot pink dress, feeling lucky the paparazzi didn’t get any pictures of her in it.

The venue was nice, somewhere up in the mountains with the cherry blossoms, and she knew it was behind the building they pulled up to. She thanked her driver as she got out, texting Robin to let him know she was here. She moved through the building, stopping by reception to make sure she was going to the right place. Outside, the wedding arch was decorated in more cherry blossoms and tiger lilies, people already sitting down and waiting. Carmen quickly slipped into the seat beside Robin, getting a double take from the groom before the aisle walk music started. Everyone quieted down, watching the bride walk down the aisle with her father. The ceremony was quiet and rather quick, the newlyweds walking back down the aisle together after the bouquet was thrown. The people filed into the building for the reception, Carmen taking Robin’s arm.

“Sorry dear, work ran a bit late. Let me get you a drink?” 

“Oh, sure, I think it’ll be awhile before dinner is served anyway.”

It took her some time to cross the room where the glasses of champagne was, people stopping to talk to her every few steps. She had to politely talk her way out of circular conversations, eventually getting the champagne for the two of them and starting her way back over. There were many whispers going around about her, making her smile. Robin seemed to have been ambushed by the bride and groom, looking a bit smug. Loki and Goro were on one side of him, Loki tugging at the neon orange dress he was wearing and adjusting his braid. Goro seemed to be smiling, but it started getting a little strained as the conversation went on.

“May I call you two my sons?” The groom asked the two of them. “I did marry your mother after all.”

“You may not.” Loki said, crossing his arms. “I will never see you again anyway.”

“Loki, don’t be so rude to your step-father.” The bride chastised, with a pointed look at Robin.

“And you’re alone, Robin?”

“Well-”

“Robin, darling, there you are.” Carmen sang, sweeping in to hand him a drink. 

The bride’s jaw dropped, stunned. 

“Hi sweetheart. Ah, let me introduce you. This is my ex-wife, Marian, and her new husband Kent.” 

“Charmed. Might I say, you looked positively radiant in your engagement photos. Congratulations, dear.”

Loki smirked, taking a step back as Marian stuttered.

“How did you two even meet?”

“Well, you know, it’s such a small world. We managed to bump into each other a few months back while I was incognito. And we’ve just, clicked ever since our first date.” 

“Uh huh. Well, I have some questions.”

“Fire away, because all your guests do too.”

Marian then started grilling them on some difficult questions about each other, the two answering with ease. Robin finished his champagne rather quickly, still making tense but polite conversation. 

“And you, Robin, I can’t believe how you’ve raised our kids.” Marian huffed, gesturing at them. “And look how they’ve turned out.”

Loki grabbed Goro’s hand and opened his mouth, angry. Robin cut him off before he could say anything.

“Oh yes. Our kids, the ones you didn’t want to raise in the first place, have never tried to call them or keep in touch with them, and pretty much disappeared from their lives? Of course. How silly of me to consider that you had no impact on their lives after you left.” He said in cold sarcasm. “I wasn’t aware you had a hand in raising them, Marian.”

“They’ve turned out to be little angels, really.” Carmen added. “My little Ann will not stop asking when we get to visit them again. She considers them her brothers and acts as if they’ve been siblings her whole life. Loki and her love having little fashion shows with my clothes, and they’re adorable.” 

Marian practically rolled her eyes at them before she excused them and left to go somewhere else with her husband. Robin sighed in relief, going to take a sip and finding his glass empty. Goro and Loki were looking at her in awe as she finished her own glass.

“Shall we go get some more, dear?” 

“Of course.”

The four of them walked back over to the refreshments table, avoiding Marian as much as they could, getting stopped by every guest on their way around anyway. Robin got them a couple more drinks, sneaking Loki one before pushing his way through the crowd around Carmen to give her a glass. 

“Thank you darling.” She said, kissing his cheek. 

The rest of the reception went as smoothly as possible, Marian glaring daggers at them when she caught their eye, Loki slipping her a middle finger or two as well. Once the reception was over, they made their leave as others started trickling out, the four escaping to Carmen’s car, Robin opening the door for her before getting in last. The little car was still spacious with all of them in it, Loki and Goro leaning on each other.

“You know what? I don’t miss her at all.” Robin said, smiling. “Not after today.”

“Fucking finally.” Loki said.

Loki and Goro had fallen asleep on the way back, the two quietly talking so as to not wake them up. Once they got back, Robin gently woke them up, Goro grumbling and clinging to his arm instead. Robin lifted him up, carrying back into his home. Carmen followed, waiting by the front door.

“I cannot thank you enough.” Robin said.

“No worries, this was fun. And well, you’re very cute. So we should go on another date sometime, okay?”

Robin blushed, Loki letting out a whistle. Carmen laughed, waving.

“Goodbye kids, sweet Robin. Hopefully we get to see each other again.”

Carmen took off her heels once she got home, immediately stripping out of the horrendous hot pink dress. 

“Momma!” Ann groaned.

“Have you seen this thing? It’s terrible.” Carmen said, running upstairs to change. 

Carmen checked her phone as she came downstairs, seeing another chat. A smaller chat with Zorro, Johanna, Arsene, Necro and William.

Jo has added Carmen to the group we love one (1) man

Jo: So, Milady was telling me all about the guy you were going out with while we were shopping. Congrats.

????

Necro: we’ve all dated robin :^)

Robin Hood?

Arsene: yes

You! I need to call you sometime about that dinner

Carmen spent some time chatting with them before showering and heading to bed, Milady curling up beside her some time later. 

“Start any fights?” She asked.

“No, but I did help finish one.”

“Good. That’s my girl.”

~~~~~~~

Loki heard a knock at his door, lifting his head up.

"Mm?"

"Loki, are you still awake?" Goro whispered as he opened the door.

"Yeah. What's wrong?"

Goro closed the door behind him as Loki sat up, running over to hug him. Loki put his chin on his head, hugging back.

"... Mom hates us…"

"Yeah. Sorry." Loki mumbled, wiping away some of his tears. "Dad used to argue with her a lot."

"Dad still seems upset about it, so I didn't wanna wake him up. Why did she invite us?"

"Because she didn't think Dad would have anyone to bring with us. She wanted to make fun of him." Loki ended with a growl.

They sat there in silence for a while, Goro clinging tightly to him while Loki stroked his hair.

"Hey, let's surprise Dad tomorrow, okay?"

Goro nodded, Loki lying back down with Goro. The two fell asleep soon afterwards.

 

Loki waited for Goro to leave school, grabbing his hand and running off. They went to a convenience store, poking around until Loki had an idea.

"Hey, let's make Dad a cake. Find frosting and stuff to write with and I'll grab a box."

They hurried home with their purchases, hoping to have the cake made before he came home. They almost had it done before they heard keys jingling, Goro taking the cake to his room to finish it.

"Hey kids." 

"Hi Dad. We were waiting for you so we could eat."

"It's pretty late."

"And? We wanna eat with you."

Goro slipped out of his room to give Robin a hug. After dinner, Goro made him stay in his seat.

"You gotta close your eyes Dad."

"Huh? Why? What are you two up to?"

"Just close them!"

Loki waited until Robin closed his eyes to retrieve the cake, putting it in front of him.

"Okay, you can look now." Loki said.

Robin looked at the pink frosted cake that had "World's Best Dad" written on it in blue icing as Loki grabbed a knife.

"Surprise!" Goro shouted, hugging him. 

Robin beamed, wiping away some happy tears. Loki handed him a big slice of the chocolate cake as Goro grabbed forks.

"Thank you, boys. I couldn't ask for better sons."

 

Loki slipped into his room, seeing Robin still up, reading some trashy tabloid, not noticing him yet. He climbed into bed with him, Robin perking up and looking over. He put the tabloid aside, curious.

"Loki? Is something wrong?"

He said nothing, hugging him instead and squeezing his eyes shut. He felt Robin hug him back, rubbing circles on his back. 

"I love you, Dad."

"I know."

"I want you to be happy too."

"Oh, hun, I already am happy. I have you two."

"Do we have to see them again?"

"No. Never. I don't care what she says about me anymore."

"Good. I'm glad. I… got worried you would let her have her way again, like you often did."

“Not after she tried to call you horrible children. I can’t stand that about her. And… I know, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to lose her back then." He sighed, pressing a kiss to his forehead. "Making sure you two are happy and safe is more important to me now.” 

Loki dozed off, Robin moving so they were lying down and he was comfortable.

Chapter Text

"Yusuke, you know I'm all for artistic expression," Goemon started as Yusuke shook a paint spray can. "But you will get in trouble for this."

"I don't care, father, this wall calls to me."

Goemon sighed, wondering who he will have to talk to get his son out of this when he gets caught this time. At the very least, it was a dark alley on a more quiet street at the slowest time of day, so less people around to watch for. He could hear Yusuke start painting, knowing he won't pay attention to anything else.

"I told you all to leave me alone!" Someone shouted across the way.

"Hm?"

Someone was running towards them, and Goemon looked around the corner as they turned into the alley, hearing some other people following. He heard a yelp, whipping around to see the poor person covered in spray paint.

"Hey!" Yusuke said, upset.

Goemon turned to see a couple of relentless paparazzi, stepping in front of them to block their access to the alley.

"Why it's the famous artist Ishikawa! Maybe you can help us, we're from-"

"I know. Leave." He growled at them. 

The two took a step back, confused.

"Stop harassing this poor person and leave, or your magazine will be sued by me for invading my privacy."

The two look stunned but slink away defeated. Goemon knows that won't stop them for long. However, right now he could hear the poor fellow getting an earful from his passionate son.

"-ruined the sanctity of my art, and-!"

"Yusuke, that's enough." Goemon scolded, stepping in between them.

The poor person had his eyes shut, which was a good thing because the paint was dripping down his face and all over his hoodie.

"Are you okay? Actually, come with us so we can clean you up." 

"Okay." The person mumbled.

Goemon led both his son and his victim home, making sure Yusuke grabbed his paints before they left. He shuffled the person into the bathroom, gently pulling down his hoodie so they could wash off his face better. He turns on the sink, waiting for it to get warm. He recognizes him from the pictures with Carmen that are all over the tabloids, but he didn't bring it up.

"I am so sorry about that. My son gets into his art. I hope nothing got in your eyes."

The man didn't say anything, letting Goemon wash his face. He handed the man a towel when he was done, the man rubbing his own face dry. 

"Here, let me wash your hoodie for you too."

"You don't have to." He said. "It's old anyway. I'll wash it when I get home."

"I insist, since my son sprayed you. Plus I doubt I really discouraged those two, so you might wanna lay low for a while."

He sighed deeply. He took off his hoodie, his hair even more a mess now, and handed it over.

"Okay. You win." 

"Here, come in and sit." He led the man to the couch. "You're Robin, correct?"

"Yes. Tabloids, right? And you're Ishikawa. I recognize you from your exhibit."

"Call me Goemon. And yes, actually, but Carmen told me a lot about you too. She seems to adore you." 

"Oh."

Robin blushed, hiding his face. Goemon politely pretended not to notice as he went to wash his hoodie. He gave a pointed look to Yusuke who was sitting across from Robin, making him sheepish.

"Sorry." Yusuke mumbled.

"It's alright. It was kinda my fault anyway. Should've looked where I was going."

Goemon grabbed the box of half eaten chocolates, bringing it over to offer him some. Robin took one, face still red.

"You know each other? You and Carmen?"

"You could say that, yes. She dropped by my exhibit the other day to check in on me. Can I get you some water?" 

"Yes, please."

"She's sweet, isn't she?" Goemon said once he got a cup for him.

"Very. I… didn't expect to see her in person, let alone have her come to that wedding with me." 

He took a sip, seeming to be a bit upset. He shook it off, sitting up straight.

"My life has turned weird."

Goemon chuckled, grabbing a chocolate for himself.

"You went to my father's exhibit, yes? Tell me what you thought of it." Yusuke quietly demanded.

"Oh, yes. I'm by no means any sort of art critic, you know." Robin stammered a bit, caught off guard by Yusuke's intensity. "I think my favorite was Through the Blossoms piece though. It felt almost… nostalgic, in a way. Sad too." 

"Really? How so?"

"Well-"

Robin's phone rang, looking apologetic as he answered it.

"Hey sweetheart, what's wrong?"

They watched his eyes widen.

"Stay where you are. I'll be right there."

He hung up the phone and sighed.

"Sorry to leave so soon. It seems some paparazzi have cornered my sons in the underground mall in Shibuya and they can't leave without being noticed. I have to go distract them so they can leave without a fuss. But thank you for the water and chocolates."

"But-" 

"You're welcome." Goemon cut off Yusuke before he could protest, letting the poor man leave. "Poor fellow. They won't leave him alone for a while."

Goemon stayed up late helping Yusuke with homework, not getting much sleep before he had to get up and go to the exhibit, busy as ever. However, near the end of the day, he saw Arsene and Akira, making his way towards them.

"Hello, my dear little Lupins." He greeted playfully, the two looking up and smiling at him.

"Hello dear. Long time no see." Arsene murmured, kissing his cheek. 

By the end of the day, Arsene was yawning as Akira excitedly chattering Goemon's ear off, Goemon noticing the dark circles under his eyes.

"Oh, dear, you look exhausted." He said, putting an arm around him.

"It's exam season." He said softly, leaning on his shoulder. "So many tests to grade and comment on."

"So let's go to my place, drop by and rest a little while. My place is closer to here than yours is, and I get to be a little selfish and have you two to myself."

"Goe…" Arsene started protesting, interrupting himself with a yawn. "Ugh. Fine. I do want to spend some time with you, after all."

The three make their way to Goemon's house, Akira running off to find Yusuke as he guided Arsene to the couch. He found some wine, pouring a couple glasses for the two of them and handing Arsene one. He sat down, Arsene slowly putting his legs on his lap and sinking into the couch.

"How are your students this year?" 

"Mmn, okay." 

Arsene rambled to him about the year so far, all the smaller frustrations and changes to the curriculum he keeps having to make every day for the kids to stay on track, sipping his wine every so often. Goemon rubbed his leg as he listened, making little quips to cheer him up every now and then. Arsene put his now empty glass down, putting his head on his shoulder.

"I miss this." He mumbled.

"Mhm, I do too. Have you washed your jacket recently?"

"Ah, shoot. May I use your machine? I have a feeling I'll forget as soon as we leave."

"Go for it. You might have to switch it out, I don't remember if I put clothes in the dryer last night."

"No wonder Carmen's worried about you. Do you sleep at all during your exhibits?" He asked as he got up, taking off his jacket.

"Not as much as I should, admittedly."

Arsene shook his head and tsked at him, opening the machine. He made a noise of confusion, pulling a stained gray hoodie out of the machine.

"Goe? Whose hoodie is this?"

"Oh, shoot. I forgot to give that back to him before he ran off. Here, let me take it." Goemon got up to grab the hoodie from him. "I offered to wash it because it got spray painted by accident."

"Wait." Arsene said, pulling the hoodie away from him. "Who was here?"

"Arsene, what's gotten into you?"

"Was it Robin Hood?"

"What?? How did you-"

"You too?"

Goemon stared at him for a solid minute.

"What?"

"Oh, you haven't been on a date with him yet?"

"I… Robin? No." He was thoroughly confused. "I mean, I was considering it- oh shit. I didn't get his number."

"I have it. Here."

"Arsene, what's going on?"

"Most of us have dated him already. So just let me give you his number so you can give him his hoodie back."

"I mean, sure, but it's not exactly clean."

"You did leave it in the wash all night and day. Let me handle it, I'm washing my jacket anyway."

He started to protest, Arsene putting in both the hoodie and jacket and starting the machine anyway.

"Arsene, you don't have to do my laundry for me, dammit. I invited you over here to relax."

"What do you think of him?"

"I- Robin?"

"Mhm. I'm curious."

"Look, Carmen already told me a lot about him the other day. He's… cute. There. Happy?"

"I am." Arsene smiled before teasingly pushing him towards the couch. "It's adorable you have a crush on him."

"So do you, by the sounds of it."

"Hmm, guilty as charged."

Goemon fell back onto the couch, Arsene sitting in his lap.

"All jokes aside, I have missed you."

"And I, you. Now, tell me about your date with him, then."

Arsene happily told him how their date went, Goemon smiling at how boyish he started sounding talking about Robin.

"He's so sweet, Goe. I'm telling you."

"I've heard." He said, kissing him before taking out his phone again. "Ah, I should at least let him know I still have his hoodie."

Arsene read off his number, Goemon nodding.

Hey, you left your hoodie here at my house -Goemon

Robin: oh shoot. Ill drop by later today

"Oh, he's coming over later."

"Good, then we can go once my jacket's done so you can ask him out."

"Sene…"

"Go get 'im, tiger." Arsene teased.

"Arsene."

Arsene simply smiled and kissed him gently. Goemon kissed him back, pressing their foreheads together after they pulled away.

 

It didn't take too long to wash and dry the two pieces of clothing, Arsene folding the hoodie nicely before handing it off.

"Akira! We gotta go!"

"But Papa!"

"Now, Akira. We both have work to do."

Akira groaned, but came to Arsene's side. They kissed one more time, Goemon ruffling Akira's hair on their way out.

"We should go on a proper date soon, Goe. Just the two of us."

"Maybe after exams and the exhibit are over. We will have to see. Bye, my dear little Lupins. Get some rest."

"I am not that much smaller than you, y'know, Goe." Arsene playfully whined with a roll of his eyes. "See you soon, dear."

 

As he was in the middle of making dinner for the two of them, there was a knock on the door.

"Hello? It's me." Robin's voice was on the other side of the door.

"Shit." Goemon hissed, before speaking up. "One moment. Yusuke, could you get that?"

Yusuke opened the door, giving Robin a hard stare.

"Oh, sorry, I had no idea I was interrupting your dinner, excuse me."

"No worries." Goemon put the spoon down, letting the pot simmer for a little longer. "Would you like to join us?"

"No, I need to get back and make dinner for my own kids. Thank you though."

"Perhaps another time?" Goemon asked as he gave the hoodie back, making him blush.

"Like… a date?"

"Yes."

"Oh, uh… would love to, some time." 

"Father, the stove."

"Right!" Goemon shut off the stove before the food could burn. "You have my number, so let me know when."

"Yeah. I will. Um. Goodbye."

"Bye dear."

He could hear Robin make a flustered noise before he left, Yusuke closing the door behind him. 

"I'm still upset at him ruining my painting."

"Yusuke, please. It was simply an accident. Plus you should know how frustrating it can be when the paparazzi set their sights on you."

Goemon went back to preparing dinner.

"...He said he had kids of his own, right? I wonder what they're like?" Yusuke pondered aloud.

 

Another day at the exhibit crawled by slowly, and Goemon had to wonder if that had to do with his plans for right after. He was set to go get monja with Robin right after, but he spotted a few journalists wandering around, so he'd probably run a bit late. Goemon texted him to let him know that might be the case. 

"Mr. Ishikawa, do you have a moment?" One of them called to him.

"Of course."

Goemon rushed a bit out of there once they were done interviewing him, hoping he hadn't decided to give up. He was relieved to see Robin standing outside waiting for him. He was dressed nicely, almost too nicely with the suit jacket.

"Oh, dear, hope I didn't make you wait too long?"

"I actually got caught up doing some work at the office, so it wasn't too long before you came."

"Well, thank you for waiting for me. Shall we head in?"

"Of course."

Goemon felt himself relax a bit in his presence, and talking to him felt very natural, as if he was talking to one of his other partners of a few years. They talked about a wide variety of things, from kids to hobbies to work as they ate. He could feel eyes watching them near the end, but he paid it no mind. He knew it wouldn't change much at this point.

"What's with these famous people dating nobodies lately anyway?" They overheard a man at another table talking. 

"Man, wish that was me. Lucky guy. Gets to date the Carmen after all."

Robin seemed to get somewhat uncomfortable about it. Goemon paid the bill, stunning Robin a bit.

"Wait…"

"Don't worry about it. Come on. We can head to my place for now."

"Okay. Thank you."

 

Goemon noticed his quiet sigh as they got off the train, seeming somewhat upset. He didn't want to press him at the moment, opening the door for him.

"Here, sit down. Make yourself at home. Do you drink?"

"Here and there."

Robin quietly accepted the glass of wine Goemon handed to him before he sat down. Yusuke padded downstairs to see them sitting together.

"Oh. We didn't get to complete our discussion last time."

"Oh, yes. What did you want to ask?" Robin smiled at him.

"Why you thought that painting you mentioned was sad." Yusuke started, and Goemon knew there was no stopping him now. "It's a very romantic and purely beautiful piece."

Robin's smile fell, leaning forward with a sigh. 

"And you want the truth, no matter how weird it seems?"

"Your honest opinion is more valuable than flattery."

"Yusuke…"

"No, it's alright." Robin said, taking a sip of his wine. "It just… reminds me of when my wife and I were still together. I… took her somewhere similar for our third anniversary. I helped braid so many fallen blooms into her hair."

Robin's face fell, staring into his glass. He drank the whole thing in one go. 

"S'pose I thought I'd be completely over her after…" He mumbled, trailing off.

"Oh. Did she die, or something?" Yusuke asked.

"Yusuke-"

"No, just… I should just go, I think. It's late."

He got up slowly, moving to the door. Goemon got up to intercept him.

"You sure you can't stay?"

"... I had a nice time with you. Just… stressed out, lately." 

Even then he made no more attempts to leave.

"Been reminded of her a lot, recently. All that those paparazzi want to talk about is the wedding… I should… Good night."

"Good night." Gormon said, opening the door for him.

He watched Robin leave, feeling bad he left upset. He had to talk more to Carmen about the wedding, to figure out why he seemed upset by it.

"That could've ended better…" He mumbled, feeling a bit guilty.

"...Sorry, father. I just wanted to know."

"It's alright. Just need to learn when someone is too upset to continue, which is a learned skill."

He pulled out his phone, sering he was already added to another chat. He would have to check that later.

Carmen, whose wedding did you go to?

Carmen: ? Oh! You mean the one with Robin?

Yes.

C: it was his ex wife's… poor thing keeps getting hounded by it. Somethin rong?

He kinda started talking about how 1 of my paintings reminded him of a time they were together and got a bit upset

C: T-T that poor thing…

Goemon sighed, sending a quick apology to Robin before flipping over to the group chat he was added to, which was everyone but Milady.

Arsene: howd it go?

Couldve ended better

Necro: ???????

Necro: u ok goe? :v

He glanced at a new notification that Robin reassured him it wasn't either of their faults.

Art discussion can go many places… so we accidentally ended up touching on an ex of his.  Says he doesn't blame me or Yusuke tho

William: oooo… never a good place to go

Carmen: the pap have been hounding him lately so im sure thats takin a toll 2

Arsene: oh dear

I need to make it up to him somehow

Carmen: want his address?

...maybe… ill let you know if i need it

Goemon was determined to get the man some gifts to make up for the end of their date.

~~~~~~

"Hey, you're home kinda early." Loki said as Robin shut the door.

"You're up late." He says quietly.

"... are you okay? Did your date stand you up?!"

Robin gingerly sat next to him on the couch as he paused his game.

"I'm pathetic, aren't I?" He mumbled. 

"Huh?"

He sighed.

"... I thought I was finally over your mother, but… she got brought up and… I still have some good memories of her. That's never going to change..."

"Dad, you're not pathetic." Loki started. "I… you were together long before you had me, right? It was a long time."

Robin sighed again, frowning.

"Maybe I should just go to bed. Sorry for cutting into your playtime."

"Wait, Dad-"

Robin shut his bedroom door on Loki, adding to the horrible guilty feeling he was having. He was tired, that was most likely it.

 

He felt the bed move a little, and a weight on his sides, waking up. Robin looked to see Loki and Goro cuddling up to him, touched. He shifted to be a little more comfortable, hugging them. His kids loved him. He felt better being reminded like this, dozing off again.

~~~~~~~

Goemon felt that nervous slowness that was always being stuck somewhere when he wanted to be elsewhere. When the exhibit closed for the night, he left as soon as he could. 

 

Bouquet and chocolates in hand, he knocked on the door, hoping Robin was home. The door opened to a punkish looking teen with partly red dyed hair, staring at him. He could see another teen, about Yusuke's age, in the kitchen from the door. 

"Hello. Is your father home?"

The teen narrowed his eyes at him.

"You were his date last night, weren't you?" 

"Yes, I'm-"

"You have a lotta fucking nerve!" The teen snapped at him. 

"I-"

"He came home upset! What the hell did you do to him?? You-"

The teen started yelling at him with no signs of letting up. The other moved to see what was going on, holding a whisk. His eyes widened.

"Um, Loki-" 

"-and now you're here, which will just upset him more because he's going to apologize to your sorry ass and-!"

"Loki! Stop! That's Mr. Ishikawa, the artist! Loki!" 

The other teen grabbed his arm and was trying to pull him away. Loki dug in his heels, not budging.

"I don't care! He upset Dad! So he's going to sit here and-"

"Loki, calm down." Robin's voice called from further inside. "Let me handle this."

Loki crossed his arms and grumbled, letting the younger one drag him back into the kitchen. Robin came to the door, apologetic. He could still feel Loki glaring at him.

"Would you like to come in, Goemon?"

"No, I really only came to drop by. I suppose I'd get another earful from him if I tried. Here," Goemon said, handing him the bouquet and chocolates. "I'm really sorry how our date ended. I'd also love to make a painting for you, but the exhibit eats up most of my free time."

"You don't have to…" Robin mumbled, a slight blush to his cheeks. "I'm sure you'll be busy afterwards, too, you don't have to do that!"

"I want to spend some time on a gift for you, for upsetting you in such a way." Goemon asserted.

"Um… thank you. And I did have a nice time, honest. I'm kinda kicking myself for not staying a little longer."

"Maybe you should come over one day so I can paint you? Your form must be incredible as a competitive archer."

He turned bright red, hiding his face behind Goemon's gifts. Loki and Goro looked at each other, murmuring excitedly among themselves.

"I-! You-? I haven't competed in a while, hahaha, but mm-! Maybe??" Robin spluttered. "I-?!"

"You don't have to give me an answer now. I'm in no rush. But do feel free to chat with me any time, okay?"

"Ah… okay? Okay! Uh… um."

"Goodbye, sweet Robin." 

"Goodbye."

Goemon left, happy to have made amends with him. His phone went off, opening the chat.

Necro: u 2 good now?

Yes. Ended up getting an earful from his oldest but ive offered to paint him some time. Archers are hard to come by nowadays. Perhaps i could find a way to get some costuming as well...

William: oh dear, we lost him to his art

Arsene: glad you two are good now

Johanna: yea, were happy for you

Goemon put his phone away now, beaming. He couldn't wait to one day be able to paint Robin. But first, he had to deal with the exhibit.

Chapter Text

It wasn’t too often that Milady wandered about the city. Not that she didn’t like it, she simply had not much of a need to walk anywhere on foot. Besides, it seemed that any time Carmen and her stepped out of the house, the paparazzi would find them within moments. 

No matter. It was a nice day, and she felt horribly cooped up as of late, bouncing between all of her lovely wife’s obligations and her own, as well as their two daughters’ own things, was leaving her feeling a bit stressed out.  She adjusted her head scarf and sunglasses, really trying to not be noticed by cameras today. She was not in the mood for them and their annoying and invasive questions.

Milady looked up as she was crossing the street, just in time to see someone in front of her trip. Without thinking, she grabbed his wrist, side stepped, and grabbed his waist with her free hand as he continued to fall, just stopping him from hitting the ground. 

They stared at each other for a minute in awkward silence as people moved around them. The red haired man started blushing before the two of them thought to move and stand back up.

"Um, thank you." He mumbled.

He started to walk away.

"Wait, dear. Are you okay?" 

He stopped, turning to look at her.

"No, I'm fine. Um, did I hurt you? I'm not the lightest person in the world."

"I'm okay. Do you have somewhere to be?"

"Me? Uh, not in particular. Just grocery shopping."

"Then may I join you? I want to enjoy someone's company for a while."

"Uh… sure? I'm not sure why you would want to chat up a stranger?"

"You're Robin, correct? My wife has told me so much about you."

She hooked her arm with his, walking him forward.

"Huh? Oh, you're Carmen's wife?" 

"My name is Milady. So glad I could meet the date she was so fond of."

Robin blushed harder as they walked, Milady let him take the lead on where they were going.

"I do hope you aren't getting harassed at your own home. We'd feel horrible."

"No, not at my home. It's died down a lot, but they've followed my sons too. I didn't want them to get followed too."

Milady sighed, patting his arm.

"They don't care about people's feelings or privacy. Sorry, dear."

Milady chatted with him all the way to and inside the grocery store, trying to cheer him up. He seems to smile after a bit, chatting and joking around with her. She can see why her wife adored him. She let go so he could actually shop, escorting him around.

"Must be hard being her wife. You always must be followed around by those people."

"I'm a bit famous in my own right, so it's nothing new. Just have to work a little harder to not be seen. Of course, it makes dates with my wife more difficult."

He looked a bit confused at that, tilting his head at her. She smiled and shrugged, and he went back to his list. At check out, Robin was making polite conversation with the cashier, being patient as the register was a bit slow. 

"Ah, there we go, and your total is-" the cashier rattled off the total as Milady just handed her a card.

Robin was surprised and stood still as Milady started grabbing the bags, before deciding to help her. 

"You didn't have to pay for me." Robin mumbled.

"Don't worry about it." She waved it off, grinning at him. "And the only form of payback I will accept is your number."

Robin blushed as they walked down to the station. Milady followed him all the way to his house, putting the bags on the table for him. 

"Thank you. Here." Robin said, sharing his number. "You really didn't have to do that."

"I wanted to, and you're handsome. I hope I can take you out sometime?" 

She made sure to text him so he had her number as well.

"Uh, sure. Okay." 

"Looking forward to it. Bye dear."

"Bye."

She had told Carmen all about it when she got home, really excited. She was somewhat impatient, wishing time to her date would go faster. Talking to him made her feel better though about how slow the days were passing.

And then the day of, she was a little nervous out of nowhere. She was puttering about the house, playing with her hair and going through her clothing, overly picky with her whole closet. 

"Baby?" Carmen asked, holding up four different outfits that she was trying to choose between. "Is something wrong?"

"I just don't know what to wear." Milady grumbled, falling back onto their bed on top of a bunch of other clothes. "Why is this so difficult? It's just a date."

"Hun, how long has it been since you've been on a date?"

"A month?"

"Anyone other than the seven of us."

Milady sighed.

"A couple years? Ugh, it has been that long, hasn't it?"

"Yup. Now come on, it's quick choices time. Don't think about your answer."

"Okay."

"Which color: pink or purple?"

"Purple."

She tossed two dresses onto a chair.

"Long or short?"

"Long."

She tossed another and grabbed one of the remaining ones out of the closet.

"Last one: left or right?"

"Right." 

Carmen handed her the dress she was holding in her right hand, Milady beaming.

"Oh, thank you love. Light of my life who knows how to get me to pick." 

Milady started changing into it, Carmen starting to put the dresses strewn about up and away. She popped over to help her lace up her dress.

"There. Go sweep that man off his feet."

"I will."

She took some more time to do her hair and makeup before slipping on some matching heels. The two kiss each other quickly before Milady left, not wanting to be late to pick up Robin. 

 

It wasn't too long before she knocked on his door, smoothing out her lace dress. He opened the door, looking just as sharp in his suit, smiling. He gave her a little bow, making her giggle.

"You're even more beautiful in the moonlight." Robin murmured, offering his arm as he stepped out.

"Oh my, a natural charmer. And here I thought you couldn't get any sweeter. Now come on, or we will be late for our reservation." 

Milady took his arm and leaned against him as they started walking. She tried to avoid as many main streets as she could to avoid possible paparazzi, not wanting to have anything upset him before they could have dinner together. Robin didn't seem to mind, keeping cheerful conversation with her the whole way. 

Once at the place, the two stepped inside, the hostess recognizing her immediately and whisking them away to their table. Robin was looking around, trying to take everything in. 

"So, Robin, what do you do?"

Robin looked back at her to talk, the two only interrupted when the waiter came to give them water and menus. They took a break to look it over, Robin looking up to ask a question. Milady decided to just answer it for him.

"Order whatever you like. I'm treating you."

"I… are you sure?"

"Yup. So don't worry about it." 

She reached over to squeeze one of his hands, smiling at him. Once they ordered food and wine, they got right back to where they left off in their conversation. Milady stared at him adoringly as she poured wine for them both, now fully aware of why her wife loved him. by the time dinner was done, she had a little more alcohol than he did, but she was feeling great. Once she paid without letting him see the bill, they left the restaurant.

"Oh, shit." She muttered, pointing out some paparazzi to him. "Let's go before they notice us."

Robin nodded, letting her pull him along. It wasn't long before a couple of people stepped in their way to take pictures of them. Milady rolled her eyes at them and barreled through them, Robin in tow.

"Hey, wait! Aren't you Carmen's boyfriend?"

"Well-"

"Are you cheating on her?! That's low!"

Robin froze before starting to hurry up, completely upset. Milady was pissed as they kept harassing him and calling him a cheater. Milady turned around, let go of Robin, and punched one of them hard enough to knock him to the ground.

"He is not cheating! You assholes!"

"Milady-"

She grabbed another person's camera and ripped it out of their hands before throwing it on the ground, cracking it. 

“Fuck you for talking about him that way!” 

She hit the side of another camera as the man pulled it away in time, but leaving a small scratch on his hand in the process. Robin scooped her up and ran off to lose them, Milady swearing at the paparazzi the whole time. Once they had lost all of them, Robin put her down carefully.

"Sorry about that. I didn't want you to get hurt."

She sighed, tapping her cheek.

"...thank you for looking out for me. Usually I have better control than that."

"Let me walk you home, at least?"

She nodded, hooking her arm with his. Robin followed her directions, surprised that she pulled him inside. 

"Hello mother." Haru chirped, standing up from the couch and skipping over with Ann. 

“Welcome home, Mum.” Ann sang.

"Girls, what are you still doing up? It's late." 

"Mother, your nails." Haru said, upset.

She looked down to see some of them were cracked and bleeding. Robin let go, concerned.

"Is there bandages somewhere?" 

Haru slipped off to go get some, Robin guiding her to sit in the closet chair. He kneeled down next to her, worried. Haru handed him some soaked cotton balls, gently wiping her nails as Haru opened the bandages. Ann disappeared upstairs, two sets of footsteps coming back down.

"Milady, love of my l-" Carmen paused on the stairs, seeing the three of them.

She rushed over to see if she could help too, not caring that she was wearing a rather revealing nightgown. Robin politely didn't look, more focused on cleaning the blood. Ann stayed where she was on the stairs.

"It's just a couple broken nails." Milady mumbled, slightly embarrassed.

"Did you try to fight the paparazzi again dear?"

"She did. I believe she broke one of their cameras as well." Robin piped up.

"For your honor! They were calling our sweet Robin here a cheater."

Robin blushed, taking an excuse to go throw the bloodied cotton balls away. Haru put the bandages on her, Milady helping a little.

"I think you might've had a bit too much, love." Carmen sighed, kissing her. “I told you, they’re gonna write whatever they want no matter what.”

Milady shrugged. Robin came back with a glass of water, handing it to her.

“As much as I appreciate you defending me, I’d rather you not hurt yourself for my sake.” 

Milady huffed and simply leaned against his chest, grabbing Haru’s and Carmen’s hand as well.

“They upset you. And I hate them anyway.” 

“C’mon dear, why don’t you come to bed?” 

Milady let go of their hands and got up, putting an arm around Carmen’s waist. Carmen put a hand on her back, starting to lead her upstairs.

“Wait.” Milady said, turning to look at Robin. “Robin. Next week, I’d like you to come to our anniversary party, dear.”

“Oh? So… soon after knowing me?”

“Oh, yes. We both know you, we want you to come dear. And your sons too.” Carmen said. 

“And don’t worry, it will be a small thing, just here with others we know and love.”

“And I’m going to bake the cake.” Haru chirped. 

"A casual affair, really. Please? We'd love to see you again." Milady finished.

"Do you want something as a gift?" He asked.

"You being there." They both answered.

"I'll do my best to make it." Robin said, blushing.

"Fantastic! Good night, dear."

"Good night."

Milady leaned on Carmen as they went upstairs, the girls slipping off into their own rooms for the night. Carmen helped her out of her dress and into bed, Milady hugging her. 

"You're so right. He's so sweet. I wanna spoil him more." 

"I know. And his smile! It's lovely."

Milady snuggled up to her further as Carmen pulled the blankets over them.

"And he's strong! Picked me up like it was nothing. You sure know how to pick them, love."

"Oh, it wasn't me this time, but thank you."

Milady was too tired to ask, falling asleep.

Milady woke up to the smell of pancakes downstairs and a bed empty of her wife, getting up. 

"Good morning!" Haru sang from her spot at the stove.

Ann was helping to put stuff out for breakfast while Carmen was fiddling with their coffee machine, no doubt mumbling swears at it under her breath. Ann immediately put a plate of pancakes at her spot on the table, smiling.

"Thank you dears." Milady said as she sat down.

Carmen sighed in relief as she got the coffee machine working, sitting down beside her. They kissed, Carmen putting her head on her shoulder.

"Hello love. Surprised?"

"Very."

The girls soon joined them, the four eating breakfast together. Carmen got up to pour them all coffee, bringing the cups over to the table. The girls ran off after breakfast, Ann determined to help Haru with her garden, leaving the two alone. Carmen quickly sent a text, Milady opening her own phone once it buzzed. She saw Carmen texted the whole group.

Wifey: its official, Robin’s dated all of us now

“You’re kidding.” Milady said.

“No.”

Milady cracks up laughing, Carmen shaking her head in amusement. She waited until she gained her composure, Carmen texting every now and again.

Captain: guess we dont need that seperat chat now huh

Arsene: guess we dont

Wifey: you cant hear but milady is laughing at us rn

Necro: the real question is does robin know?

Goemon: ?

G: how could he not at this point?

Zorro: i mean, he didnt seem to mind when i mentioned i had partners

Johanna: i dont think hes connected the dots all this time

C: i outright asked him if he met arsene since he met ryuji that one time but it seems he missed that connection

As stimulating as this is, I was laughing because we truly do have the same taste. Who was first?

A: Me

Thank you for bringing such a gem of a man into our lives dear.

Z: i do hope we see him again

W: we did invite him to our anniversary and he said hed do his best to show

N: yay!!! We get to see more of our man!!

Milady had another giggle about that, putting her phone away. She went outside to check on the girls, happily maintaining the garden Haru was intent on expanding even further one day. 

Later on, before going to bed for the day, her phone buzzed, checking it. Necro had sent a different picture of Robin to them all. It seemed she had taken the time to draw little hearts around his head.

Necro: this man is WANTED!!! For stealin my heart…

Arsene: same

Milady smiled at the chorus of similar responses before putting her phone in her night stand drawer for the night. She really hoped Robin would be able to make their anniversary.

Chapter Text

Robin was just tired. The long day wore on him hard, Robin collapsing onto the couch right when he got home. He closed his eyes, and after a minute he felt the spot next to him dip a little.

“Dad? You okay?” Goro asked.

Robin looked at him, slinging an arm around his shoulder.

“Just a long day. I’ll be alright. Did you two eat yet?”

“We were waiting for you.”

“You could’ve just ate.”

“We want to eat with you. We want to see you too, you know.”

Robin affectionately messed up his hair, getting up. Goro slipped into the hallway to collect Loki, the two coming to the table as Robin set it. 

“You think about having a second date with any of those people?” Loki asked after they were done and just had been sitting there for some time. 

“I do. Maybe soon.”

Robin went through his contacts, trying to decide who to text first. They were all so nice in their own ways. Not to mention that Carmen and Milady had invited the three of them to their anniversary, which was tomorrow night. But he just hit a wall of some sort. He wasn’t sure what was making him think twice about texting any of them for a second date. Why he was so incredibly indecisive about this. Then he figured it out and let out a long sigh. 

“Sheesh, what a problem to have.” He mumbled.

“What? What’s wrong?”

“I like all of them too much to single one of them out.”

He felt his cheeks turning a little red as he leaned onto the table, face in his hands. Loki sighed and rolled his eyes at him before leaving to his room. 

“Figure it out. They aren’t gonna wait around forever, y’know.”

“I know…”

But how could he? He spent so much time thinking he’d never find someone again and resigned to being single forever after his divorce. And now, these eight people made him feel happy and romantically loved for the first time in a long time. But Loki was right. No one had that much patience to wait forever for someone to make up his mind. He shook his head and sighed again, getting up. 

“Dad?” Goro asked.

“I’m just gonna go to sleep. I’ve had a long day. I think this will be clearer after some rest. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight. Oh, wait, we’re going to that party, right?”

“Yeah. It won’t be until late afternoon anyway, so you two get to sleep in a little.”

“You should sleep in too, Dad.”

“Mhm.”

As soon as he got into bed, he fell asleep.

He did end up sleeping much later than he usually does, and a glance at his clock told him it was 10 am. He sat up, looking through his phone. Still indecisive between picking one of them, he got up to get dressed for the day. He entered the kitchen to find Goro pouring himself orange juice while Loki fiddled with their old waffle iron. There was a bowl of batter next to him on the counter.

"Good morning, Dad." Goro chirped.

"Good morning." He replied, kissing Goro's forehead. "I'm surprised you have faith in that thing, Loki."

"Hmph, morning. You slept late."

Robin didn't respond, making himself some coffee. He could hear Loki swearing under his breath at the waffle iron.

"Do you need help?" 

"No! I got it!"

"Okay, okay."

Robin got out some syrup, pouring himself a cup of coffee once it was done brewing. He sat down to watch Loki do his best, going through his phone every now and again. It still wasn't any easier to choose now. He put his phone down as Loki let out a shout of triumph, getting the waffle iron to work. Soon enough, the three of them were eating the waffles Loki made.

"Alright, we should get going soon." Robin said as he started putting stuff away.

Goro helped him as Loki unplugged the waffle iron before the two of them ran off to get dressed. Robin quickly washed the dishes before the two came back.

 

Loki glanced at him, skeptical. The house was impressively large, befitting of the two women who owned it.

"Here? Really?" Loki asked 

"Yes, here. Come on." Robin answered, starting the walk up to the front door.

Goro and Loki stuck by his sides, Robin knocking on the door. It sounded like the party had already started inside.

"Come in! It's open!" Carmen said through the intercom next to the door.

Robin opened the door, walking inside, the boys following him as he closed the door behind him. He paused when he turned around, surprised.

Everyone who he had dated recently were there, laughing and chatting while their kids ran around and had fun.

"Robin! So glad you made it!" Milady chirped, waving at him, next to Arsene and Necro.

Loki and Goro whip their heads around to stare at him as his face gets hot. 

"Dad, what the hell?" Loki hissed.

He didn't have a lot of time to rethink this or scold Loki, as William hooked his arm with his and dragged him over to one of the nearby couches. Akira rushed over to pull Goro over to where he and Ryuji were playing, and Loki sort of awkwardly hung around Sae. They both sat down, William slinging an arm around his shoulder.

"Here, Robin." Johanna smiled as she handed him a drink.

He finally found his voice as he accepted the drink.

"Oh, you all know each other? Huh."

William snorted at that.

"Yeah, we're all datin' each other, mate."

It finally clicked, and he got even more red.

"Oh." 

"Wait, ya really didn't figure it out 'til now?!"

"Oh, Kidd, lay off him." Necro teasingly scolded, leaning on the back of the couch. "You might scare him off."

Robin sipped the drink he was given as William stuck his tongue out at Necro. Necro got a bit jealous as Zorro took the last spot next to Robin, sitting next to and leaning on Johanna. Morgana climbed on Robin's lap, grabbing his other hand. Robin relaxed and smiled at him, giving his hand a gentle squeeze.

"Oh, hello again, Morgana." 

"He hasn't stopped asking when we'll see you again." Zorro mentioned, grinning as he ruffles up Morgana's hair.

"Aww…"

Robin listened as the others take turns explaining their relationship to him well enough. They turned onto other subject matters, Robin enjoying himself, seeing his sons were also enjoying themselves too. The longer the party went on, the more comfortable Robin was around them. Robin was loudly telling stories of his sons' childhood.

"...When Loki was around Morgana's age, he used to be very possessive of Goro, always holding him, to the point he would slap my hand away when I went to take care of Goro. I had to distract him, but he would glare at me the whole time until he got Goro back."

"Dad!" Loki shouted at him across the room, embarrassed. "Stoooop!"

Robin giggled, leaning on William's shoulder, pretty tipsy at this point. Futaba ran over to grab Morgana under the arms.

"Monamona, let's plaaay!"

Morgana let out a whine as she dragged him off Robin's lap, going limp.

"Futaba, don't hold him like that. Be gentler." Necro scolded her.

Futaba put him down, but grabbed his hand and pulled him along towards the other kids. Morgana relented, going with her.

"Food will be out in a minute." Arsene said, as he was helping Goemon, Zorro, and Necro put out trays of takeout food.

"Let me help!" Carmen complained as Arsene pulled her away from the set up.

"No. It's your anniversary, dear. Stop trying to do everything." 

Arsene started to pull her onto the couch, but he misjudged where the armrest ended and fell over it, Carmen on top of him, into Robin's lap. Robin quickly held his drink out of reach, but almost spilled it on William anyway.

"Oi!"

Arsene blinked at Robin, realizing his head was in his lap. The two giggled and apologized, sitting up. Carmen tried to get up to help again, Arsene sitting in her lap to prevent her.

"Let us do things for you two, for once." Arsene said, turning to Robin. "Also, hello dear. Good to see you. I know I didn't come say hi earlier, but William was being a bit selfish."

"And ya weren't going to do somethin' similar?" William rolled his eyes at him.

"It's fine, you looked busy." Robin mumbled.

"Oh, well I'm not now."

Arsene grinned and poked the tip of his nose. 

"For someone so small you sure are heavy." Carmen teased.

"We're the same height." Arsene huffed.

Carmen kissed Arsene, arms around his waist.

"I know, you're so easy to tease about it, though." Carmen pressed her lips against his neck. "Now will you get up so I can help?"

"I'm going to sit right here. I've gotten too comfortable." Arsene retorted, pressing his face against hers.

"Fiiine. You win this round, Lupin. I'll stay."

"Good."

Johanna and Milady were leaning against each other, reading the same magazine, Milady trying to convince Johanna to let her buy some of the nice things from it. Robin got into a long conversation with Arsene and Carmen about coffee from various places around the city.

"And you haven't made this man coffee yet, Arsene? A tragedy."

"It's not like I carry the damn thing with me on my dates."

Carmen dove into a long talk about how she and Milady keep trying to convince Arsene to open a cafe. Arsene shook his head and made faces the whole time, until Carmen caught him and gently headbutted him for it. 

"There. Now we're ready for food." Goemon called. 

Everyone started getting up and moving to get food.

"Now can I get up?" 

"Hmmm, I'll think about it."

"Arsene."

Robin lifted Arsene off her lap, Arsene making a noise of surprise. Carmen giggled as Arsene blushed, Robin smiling. He put Arsene down once Carmen started going towards the food. Arsene grabbed his arm and pulled him along to join everyone else in line. 

"I do have to make you coffee, some time. It will ruin your taste for other coffee, though." 

"I'd love to have some. Carmen made it sound good."

Even now knowing they were all dating each other, Robin didn't feel left out at all. He didn't have to choose at all. They didn't. But he wasn't sure how he felt about that for himself. It certainly appealed to him in a way. But his sons would have different feelings about it. He will have to think about it. 

"Robin, sit next to us!" Necro called, patting the seat in between her and Goemon.

He smiled, sitting there. Robin had a lot of thinking to do when he got home. Dinner went fast, Ann dragging Loki off somewhere, and Robin got pulled back to the couch by Milady and Goemon, making him sit between them. He laughed, not minding at all. It felt good to be wanted. They started talking again, excited. It wasn't too long before the cake was served, Carmen and Milady sang to, and then the cake cut and handed out. The kids disappeared with their slices, Goro carrying Morgana's as he chatted his ear off about magic tricks and magicians.

"So, what do you say? You wanna join us?" Johanna asked him.

"Ah, I'm not sure. It's a bit overwhelming." Robin answered, putting his fork down. "I have a lot to think about."

It felt awkward being put on the spot like this.

"What about your family? Surely you'd consider them too?" Arsene asked gently.

"Uh… well, really it's just Loki and Goro now." Robin rubbed the back of his neck. "My parents moved back to England when Goro was five. I still talk to them occasionally, we just can't visit them as easily anymore." 

He didn't mention they wouldn't approve of anyone else besides Marian anyway.

"Well, no matter what, you are always welcome." Goemon said, slinging an arm around his shoulder and pulling him close.

"Thank you. You're all so kind."

"And so are you." Milady said, grabbing his hand.

Robin smiled, leaning back. He could get used to this, in all honesty. He liked them all too much to force himself to choose.

 

It was late when the party mostly subsided, Goro and Loki coming back to get him to come home. It took him some time to say all his goodbyes, Carmen talking him into taking some cake home for the boys.

"Did you two have fun?" Robin asked.

"Yeah, lots." Goro said.

"Sounds like you were having fun, Dad." Loki grumbled at him.

Robin opened the door to let them all in. He let out a yawn as he put the cake down on the counter.

"So, now what?" Loki asked.

"I think I want to date all of them. But… it's a bit overwhelming to think about. I need to think it through."

The two boys looked at each other before looking back at him. He held the back of his neck. It was quiet for a few minutes.

"Are you two… okay with the idea?" 

"Do they make you happy?" Goro asked.

"Very. Happier than I've been in a long time."

"Well, good. We want you to be happy too, Dad."

Loki crossed his arms and closed his eyes.

"Loki…?"

"How would this work? What would we call the other kids? What would we call the other adults?"

"It's just an open relationship with each other. Date when we can, and we love and support each other. But other than that, I suppose that's up to you. It didn't seem like they called them cousin or uncle or anything different."

Loki hummed, staring at him. 

"It's okay if you don't think it's a good idea. I'm still thinking it through, after all. If you two won't be happy like that, I can ref-"

"No. Stop. Stop that." Loki interrupted. "Stop doing that. Stop putting us first for once. They make you happy, then keep seeing them. We'll figure it out. You seemed much happier with each of them, even at Mother's wedding."

"I just want to be sure you two were okay with it."

"We want you to be happy. You were happy with all of them around. Let yourself be happy." Loki repeated, annoyed. “What’s stopping you?”

"I… still have to think about things."

“It’s like you’re scared of being happy. Make up your mind.” Loki huffed before he slipped off into his room. 

Robin sighed deeply. 

"Goodnight, Dad." Goro said, giving him a quick hug. “They like you. The other kids. They want you around too, y’know.”

Robin patted him on the back before watching him go to bed. He soon went to bed himself. He didn't sleep well, mulling things over. Maybe he was scared of it all going wrong again. He sighed, rolling onto his side, seeing the empty half of the bed. It felt weird when Arsene was next to him, sleeping. He was alone for so long, after all. But now that he could possibly sometimes share with someone else again, his room felt lonely and cold. He gets up from the bed, moving to the kitchen to make himself coffee, figuring that he wasn't going back to sleep anyway. It was still dark out as he texted Arsene. figuring he should be first to know. He was the first of them he had dated after all.

Arsene ive decided i do want to join all of you. Idk how, but i want to try

Robin sipped his coffee, surprised as he got a text right away.

Arsene: thats wonderful! Ill add you to the group and we can go from there

Shouldnt you be sleeping

But he saw he had been added to a group already. He saw the comments about him as he scrolled up a little, blushing.

A: say hello robin dear

Hi everyone

Johanna: robin!

William: hey

Robin grinned, putting his head down on the table, feeling tired.

The next time he woke up, Goro was shaking his shoulder.

"Dad…"

"Mmn?"

He sat up, rubbing his eyes. His coffee was cold now, sighing gently. It was bright out now, and glancing at his phone told him it was nearly 10 am.

"You okay?" 

"Wasn't sleeping well. I'm okay now."

He got up to reheat his coffee in the microwave, feeling a tug at his shirt. He turned to look at Goro.

"Can you make me pancakes? Please?"

"Mm, okay." 

He took out the box of pancake mix while Goro retrieved ingredients for him. 

"Mm, low on pancake mix it seems." Robin mumbled to himself. 

"Hey, you didn't hear what we did yesterday." Goro said, appearing at his elbow.

He chatted Robin's ear off, detailing all the things he did with the other kids at the party as he cooked. Robin shut off the stove and put the plate of finished pancakes on the table, sitting back down. They ate, Robin checking his phone to see more was added to the group chat. Goro asked questions about what Robin did yesterday, Robin answering.

"Sheesh, why are you both up this early?" Loki groaned, rubbing his eyes.

"Hey bud, I made pancakes. Feel free to warm some up."

Loki grunted, slowly making his way over to make himself a plate. Robin looked at the group chat, catching up.

Johanna: Im so happy you decided to be with us! How exciting!

Necro: ?!?!

N: yaaaaaay!! ur here!!

Goemon: good morning. And welcome, robin

Milady: oh, hooray. Hi robin dear

Carmen: o good, we didnt scare you off yesterday 

N: hey!

"Dad, you left your coffee in here." Loki said, sighing. 

"Oops, sorry."

He took out the cup to heat up the pancakes, putting the cup back in after to warm it up again. Robin looked at his phone again.

N: also u 2 r up at a gross time in the morning. isnt it summer vacay for u arsene?

A: habit

Also a habit. 

W: how ya feelin

This will take some time to get used to. I will have lots of questions! But im happy 

He turned the phone to silent so it wouldn't buzz constantly on the table, getting up to get his coffee again. This was going to be interesting.

~~~~~~

Goro wandered around after buying the featherman figure he wanted, enjoying time alone. He didn't want to bother Loki, he was still sleeping, and Robin was at work. It was about after 12, so everyone was out and about. He blinked, spotting Akira and Arsene in the crowd.

"Akira!" He shouted, running towards them.

Akira looked up and waved, the two stopping so he could catch up.

"Hey, what's up?" Akira asked, smiling.

"Hello Goro. How are you?" Arsene asked.

"I bought a new figure, what are you two doing?"

"Oh, we were gonna surprise the Captain. Ryuji's down there already. Wanna come?"

"Sure!"

They chatted the whole time, Arsene guiding them down to William's work. Ryuji ran over to them when they spotted him, the three excitedly talking as they kept an eye out for his dad. They waited for some time, Ryuji perking up when he saw him, waving at him. It wasn't too long before there were five of them together.

"Heya lads! Good to see you. And you too, Arsene." 

The adults kiss quickly, Goro's phone ringing. He picked it up, seeing Loki was calling him.

"Hey, Loki."

"Hey. Dad forgot to plug in the crockpot again, so I'm going to cook something for dinner when you get back, okay?"

"Oh, okay." Goro felt bad. "I can come home soon, then. Bye."

"Bye."

"Hm? What's wrong?" Akira asked.

"Oh, uh, dad forgot to turn on our crockpot so Loki is going to cook. I need to get home."

"Does that happen often?" Arsene asked.

"Sometimes? It's okay, I just feel bad because Loki's always cooks when Dad works late."

"Wait. Why don't we come and cook for you two and stay for dinner?" Arsene asked. 

"I'm sure Loki wouldn't mind the break."

"Come on, let's go."

Goro was happy he got to stay with them longer, and that Loki didn't have to cook for once. And they wouldn't be alone. William and Arsene pulled the three of them into the grocery store.

"What does Loki like to eat?"

Goro helped picked out food, having fun. He led the way back to the house when they were done and ready, Loki jumping in surprise when he saw the others.

"What are you all doing here?"

"Helpin' yer old man out. Now go play, we'll take care of dinner."

Loki seemed skeptical until Goro pulled him back to where he was playing a game. Arsene and William were joking around while they found cooking utensils, and the four of them were having fun where they were.

"Oh, chairs." Goro said, pulling Loki back down as he started getting up. "I'll get them."

Goro ran off to get more chairs, putting them around the table. He slipped back to where the other kids were trying to set up some zombie game for the four of them. 

"What time does he usually get home?" Arsene asked.

"I dunno, usually around five thirty, sometimes a little later." Loki replied.

They could hear the two adults discussing how they wanted to go about this, deciding to wait a few more minutes to start. They started setting up the table, taking their time and making sure the chairs were evenly spaced. 

~~~~~~

Robin got back late, sighing. Work ran a little too long, and he just wanted to sit down for a moment before he heated up whatever was left for dinner. He opened the door, eyes sweeping over the two extra kids in the room before he started taking his shoes off.

"I'm home."

"Welcome home." Two familiar voices said at once.

He whipped his head around to see Arsene and William in his kitchen, cooking. He glanced back over to see Akira and Ryuji with his own kids.

"What are you two doing here?" Robin asked, putting everything down to go help them.

"No, go sit. It's almost ready anyway." Arsene ordered, pushing him towards one of the chairs. 

William snorted as Robin looked a bit offended.

"Don't worry, he does that to me too sometimes."

"Robin, go sit. I'm serious. We're taking care of it."

Robin looked at them, and then looked at the unplugged crockpot on the counter.

"Oh, shit. Knew I forgot something." He muttered, sighing in defeat.

He sat down finally, chatting with them as they worked. Eventually, Arsene kicked William too, so now it was the two of them sitting down next to each other. William shook his head and tsked at Arsene.

"Then why'd ya ask me to help then, Lupin? Sheesh." 

"I needed an extra hand, and I wasn't going to ask Loki to do it. Now shush."

Robin and William smiled at each other before doing some more talking, Arsene muttering in French as he cooked.

"How'd you two get here?"

"We ran into yer little one over there. Seemed sad that Loki was gonna have to cook. So we came to the rescue."

"Did you find the figure you wanted, Goro?" Robin asked.

"Yup!"

He certainly hadn't expected the two of them to come cook for them. It was nice.

"This is unexpected." Robin admitted. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it, dear. We're here for you, y'know." Arsene said.

"You three are our family now. That means helping out." William finished, holding his hand and squeezing it. 

Robin beamed, intertwining their fingers together. 

"Alright, there. Dinner's ready." Arsene called out as he shut off the stove, moving everything to the table.

"Hold on we're in the middle of the game." Akira shouted back.

"We're gonna eat it all on ya, then." William teased.

The three of them sat down, making their own plates. The kids finally wrapped up what they're playing and come to the table, a little tight. 

"You're off for the summer along with the kids, right? Must be nice, Arsene."

"Oh, it is. It never feels long enough, though."

The seven of them talking was a bit chaotic and loud, but Robin felt it was wonderful. After dinner, the four went back to their game, leaving the adults at the table. Robin started to clean up, Arsene stopping him.

"No. We'll take care of it. Relax."

Arsene kissed his forehead quickly before he and William clear and do the dishes, Robin a little flustered. 

"Sheesh, maybe I should forget more often." He joked lightly.

"We'd spoil you like that." Arsene shot back.

"Oh, I know. I won't do that to you two."

"You know, I'm free. I could look after them during the day, too." Arsene offered.

"I don't know. I'm not sure how Loki would like that."

"Well, the offer's open."

"I can vouch for Arsene." William backed up.

"You don't have to. You're all trustworthy."

After the dishes were done, the three moved from the table to the couch, Robin in between them. The three quietly chatted as they watched the boys played their game. 

He could get used to this, he decided as he leaned his head on William's shoulder and Arsene was leaning against him. They had a new family now, and life became a bit more bright and lively. He loved it. 

 

"Robin. Robin, yer snorin' loudly." William said, shaking him awake.

"Mmn, sorry." 

"It's fine 'cause yer cute."

"Shush." Robin mumbled, gently headbutting under his chin. "I was just resting my eyes."

He heard Arsene giggle, tugging on his arm.

"C'mon, you're tired, let's get you to bed." 

Arsene tugged on him again, Robin begrudgingly getting up. William put a hand on his back gently as Arsene slung an arm around his shoulders. The kids were still playing together, just quieter.

"Okay, fine."

"Good. Ya need rest, Robin."

"Mhm." 

They let him go so he could change in the bathroom, Robin coming back out in his pajamas. 

"Well, good night dear. We'll get out of your hair."

The two make to leave, Robin gently grabbing their shoulders.

"Wait. Stay?"

"Look, the only one of us who doesn't have work in the mornin' is Arsene. I stayed later than I should have."

He walked down the hallway.

"Ryuji, let's go lad."

"Aww…" 

Ryuji said his goodbyes before they left. Akira started getting up too, giving a curious look at Arsene.

"Well…"

"Can we stay Papa? Please?"

"Ah… well, it couldn't hurt to stay." Arsene said, hugging Robin as Akira cheered. "We will leave as soon as you leave for work."

"Does Akira need pajamas?" 

"We can figure it out Dad. Good night." Goro called to them.

"Good night, you three."

Robin grabbed his hand and led him to the bedroom, handing him the same pajamas Arsene borrowed last time. It wasn't as awkward sharing this time, the two getting cozy under the covers as Robin set his alarm.

"Good night, dear." Arsene murmured, kissing him.

"Mm, good night."

Robin definitely could get used to this. He loved the others, and he knew they loved him too in their own ways.