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Watching Something Soft Move

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"Like that move? I learned it from your Dad."

The words, when Miguel spouts them, have a ring of - and Robby's not one for profanity but he doesn't know what else to compare it to - 'I fucked your mom.'

It's odd, of course, but it cuts right to the quick. Not because Robby's protective of his Dad - oh no. But it plays on his sense of abandonment just right. His sense - if he's honest - of jealousy.

And Miguel, for however much he doesn't know Robby, seems to know this about him.

Then everything goes to shit of course - but before that -

 

 

 

His Dad tries to make him and Miguel play nice.

It's after the LaRusso's have left - there's a pause of silence in the trashed living room and Robby doesn't know how they're even going to get along - but before the school year starts.

Johnny - because Robby isn't sure if he's going to call him Dad anymore - rubs the back of his neck and tells him Carmen has invited them for dinner.

Robby could not go, but for some reason he does. Maybe it's the way Johnny shifts around, hesitant to ask, bracing for his rejection and Robby feels - kind of like how he feels with Mom. Protective, a little bit. An urge to be a good son. Robby hates it.

Him and Miguel stare at each other from across the table and when pressed exchange pleasantries but it's nothing more than that.

 

 

 

Now, more than anything, Robby wishes he'd taken the opportunity to say something - anything - that might have made them take a different path.

 

 

 

Miguel doesn't die. His prognosis is tentatively positive.

Johnny drinks and drinks - doesn't work. Falls over himself and cries into Robby's hair when Robby goes to help him up. About all kinds of things, about how sorry he is, about how he's an awful father, an awful teacher.

Robby's used to this part. Helps his drunken Dad into bed and forces him to drink a glass of cool water. Just like with Mom.

The irony of it isn't lost on Robby. That just as his Mom is in rehab he's now in possession of another alcoholic parent he needs to take care of.

He's suspended from school. But he's lucky he's not in juvie.

 

 

 

It's a couple of weeks. Things don't really return to normal, but there was no status quo to begin with so Robby doesn't sweat it.

Johnny rolls out of bed one day, hair askew, face pale, and stares at Robby with dark ringed eyes from the kitchen table. Robby's making him a bowl of cereal.

Johnny stares at it forlornly before he begins to eat it slowly.

He clears his throat as if gathering courage,

"Robby," He says, "I'm sorry. You shouldn't be doing this...shouldn't have to take care of me. I...should be taking care of you, and I will. From now on."

Robby doesn't believe it. Like he said, he's been down this road before.

 

 

 

The first time Robby saw his Dad after the fight with Miguel he was afraid that he'd lost him, just like how he'd lost Mr. LaRusso, and everyone else too really. Because somehow his mistakes were too big and he just wasn't good enough.

But Johnny had only stared at him with red-rimmed eyes before wrapping his arms around him.

They haven't addressed it otherwise.

 

 

 

His Dad isn't allowed to see Miguel at all. Robby knows this. Carmen doesn't look at either of them anymore when she passes them in the complex. Johnny doesn't visit Miguel who's rehabilitating in the hospital.

It's inevitable though, and with some exasperation Robby thinks 'of course it is', that Miguel gets a hold of Johnny.

He wheels up to their door one day, sickly looking in his second hand wheelchair and smiles widely when he sees Johnny approach from behind Robby.

Robby isn't expecting it. He's expecting for Miguel to hate him but Miguel doesn't look at him with any particular regard, just greets him perfunctorily before moving his attention immediately to Johnny, who isn't receptive at all.

"You shouldn't be here." Johnny says, even as he has to move quickly when Miguel jams his wheelchair through the door.

Robby hangs back and watches. Tries to say sorry but his throat is dry.

"I came to see you Sensei. Cheer you up."

Johnny looks serious and displeased before that collapses and then he just looks sad and tired.

"Your mom - "

 "I know." Miguel says, serious now, "but I need to talk to you."

"Robby-" Johnny calls to him - quietly, strangled.

Robby doesn't respond right away, isn't really sure what his Dad is getting at. But Miguel does. Miguel knows immediately what's bothering Robby's Dad.

"He obviously never meant to." Miguel huffs, "But I'm sorry for kissing Sam, too, alright?"

Johnny hems and haws in the doorway, but eventually Robby just opens the door wide and ushers Miguel in.

"I'm sorry." Robby says, probably much too late.

"Well, I'll be honest, you didn't see me at the hospital. I was much angrier then."

"Let me help you with that." Johnny says, when Miguel's wheel hits an errant can.

"I knew you couldn't come." Miguel says to Johnny.

For a moment it's like Robby doesn't exist, like they're alone and he's on the outside looking in. It sets him off if he's honest, raises his hackles. Like they're the perfect pair - a father and a son.

But then his Dad snorts and guilt comes crashing in.

"And I know about Cobra Kai." Miguel continues, tone pitying.

Robby doesn't know what Miguel knows about Cobra Kai.

Johnny does though, because he shrinks into himself and sighs miserably.

"Your mom-" Johnny begins again.

"Sensei Lawrence." Miguel almost - scolds - in exasperation and Johnny brings a hand to the back of his neck contritely.

Maybe that's when Robbie's sixth sense first tingles. It's creates a sort of weird atmosphere.

"How are you doing?" Johnny says softly.

"I'd be better seeing you again."

And yeah.....Robbie does a double take at that. Dorky Miguel looking up at his Dad, pale but...his eyes....he looks...he looks lovestruck, Robby thinks with some incredulity.

Now that it strikes him it takes no time at all to solidify into fact.

Robby's eyes snap to his Dad - who, really doesn't see it. His Dad's expression is tortured with guilt, mouth unhappily down turned. Nothing shows Johnny realizes.

For the first time in....forever....Robby feels almost something like...amusement.

"I think it's better if we respect your mother's wishe-"

It's about then that Carmen storms in. She yells a lot at Johnny, swears at him - despite Miguel's protestations. Robby's used to scenes like that - his mom screaming at her various men.

She slams the door on her way out.

Johnny is pale, his knuckles turning white, nails biting into his palms.

Robby wonders if this is going to drive him back to the drink.

It doesn't, miraculously.

 

 

 

It's baffling.

Miguel and Robby's Dad.

Robby's had friends who've skeeved over his mom before but his Dad?

That's a new one and it's - god, it's weird. Robbie's had gay friends before sure but he's never been in this situation in particular.

It doesn't track. Maybe because his mom makes an effort - always she is well put together and - yeah, embarrassingly flirty. Robby can admit that. There's been more than a time or two where he's been forgotten while she wooed a man. She's noticed everywhere they go.

But his Dad? He's kind of a mess.

 

 

 

Robby almost doesn't notice until he does - but he isn't jealous of Miguel and his Dad at all anymore.

 

 

 

Johnny tries to be a good Dad.

Robby sees it in the way makes an effort. He manages to pick up a job being a bouncer at a bar. He makes an effort to have groceries in the fridge.

Johnny even manages to get Robby enrolled in a different school. Robby doesn't have it in him to refuse to go.

Johnny doesn't ask how his days at school go and Robby doesn't ask Johnny about his nights at work - not even when he shows up with a black eye.

 

 

 

It becomes a comedy of errors. His Dad in dark sunglasses, grumbling furtively whenever they go out so as to try and avoid a suddenly dogged Miguel (who Carmen eventually gives up trying to control).

How Johnny ignores the knocks at the door. He's trying not to disrespect Carmen's wishes. And - Robby has an inkling - he doesn't want his former student to see him with a black eye. It makes Robby feel a little proud. Because Robby is family and Robby is allowed to see.

Robby answers the door though. It's always Miguel.

Always it's a nonchalant exchange of 'hey', while Miguel tries to look passed him. Eventually Robbie can only take so much.

Miguel's about to roll away from the door when Robby nudges the wheel, leans against the door.

"You ever gonna get out of that thing?" Robby asks, tries to play it like it doesn't mean anything.

He's seen Miguel out in the common are with his mom. He's seen him take about five steps.

"Maybe." Miguel hedges. "You ever gonna visit Sam?"

The question makes Robby start.

"Probably not." Robby bites out, "You ever gonna stop making eyes at my Dad?"

Miguel goes a little pale at that but doesn't look entirely shocked, he must have figured he'd be called on it eventually.

"I'm just worried about him." Miguel shoots back.

"Sure- worried about him."

"After what Kreese did -"

"Kreese?" Robby asks, startled.

Miguel's jaw ticks in hesitation.

"You must have heard. He took over Cobra Kai. Didn't Sensei Lawrence tell you?" Miguel asks, before getting that wide-eyed worried look on his face he always gets at seeing Johnny, "Is....is Sensei okay?"

Robby lets out a slow breath.

"He's okay."

Miguel swallows thickly, like it's costing him to ask, "About me, does he...does he know?"

Does Johnny know that Miguel is mooning over him?

"No." Robby relents with a sigh, "Weren't you all over Sam anyway?"

It's Miguel's turn to sigh.

"Sam..." he says, voice wavering a little.

"You know my Dad will never-"

"Yeah." Miguel cuts him off sharply, "I know, okay?"

 

 

 

Robby turns it over and over in his mind but he still doesn't see why his Dad caught Miguel's attention.

He's studying Johnny at the breakfast table over pancakes, Johnny drizzling syrup miserably. His blonde hair is sticking up in places.

Johnny finally notices. He tilts his head, "you okay?" he asks.

"Yeah Dad." Robby says, without thinking.

Johnny almost chokes. Whatever mess of emotions passes through his face passes quickly and then he tries to pass it off like it's nothing. But - Robby sees. Robby sees Johnny look away, catches the corner of his Dad's smile.

It's the first time he's called him Dad since - and it's not like it had been intentional but Robby doesn't regret it. He feels good about it.

 

 

 

It's a few days after that when there's a knock on the door. Robby throws it open without a second thought. Miguel's a familiar site by now.

But it's not Miguel.

Robby feels his heart sink.

It's Mr. LaRusso.