There are a lot of facts that Robin knew to be true.
One, she absolutely adores chicken wings. There was nothing in this world that could ever make her want to try to be vegetarian. Sorry chickens.
Two, she did not want children. Maybe her mind will change in the future but right now, as she watched Dustin, Max, Lucas, Will and Mike all parade around Steve, she was determined.
Three, she was an absolute sucker for Steve Harrington. This didn't need much explanation considering that everyone who met them saw how much they cared about each other but Robin was a sucker for Steve.
Emphasis on sucker.
Because she, being the blessing she was, opened her fridge and pulled out the half eaten cake that she and Steve made one of those nights he stayed over.
"Robin, do you ever cook?" Steve asked, absently throwing a couple pieces of popcorn into her mouth.
Robin snorted. "What? You have a problem with my frozen pizzas and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?"
Steve rolled his eyes. "No shithead, I was just asking cause you never cook anything."
"Ah, I like to bake." Robin shrugged. "It's easier. And better."
"Agree to disagree Buckley," Steve grinned, paused then grinned wider. "Let's bake a cake."
"Hey gremlins!" Robin yelled, cutting through their excited chattering. "I have cake!"
They all dashed towards her and she quickly placed the cake on the counter, slinked around them and made her way back to the living room. Steve sat on his couch with an overwhelmed and slightly exhausted look on his face.
When he saw her he smiled, the stressed crease in his forehead fading. "Thanks Rob."
She plopped down next to him on the couch. "So. What are you going to do?"
Steve sighed, throwing his head back with a small thud and Robin didn't have to look to know that the stress crease was back.
Earlier, because apparently the infamous couple didn't know how to stop, Nancy and Jonathan invited Steve to the movies. Steve was charming on the phone, all large laughs and witty quips but as soon as he hung up, he started freaking out.
"Robin! I can't hang out with them for two hours!" He ranted as he paced back and forth. "I can hardly hang out with them for twenty minutes!"
"And that was before I realized that I was kind of in love with them!"
"Now I'm going to have to pretend that I'm not looking at Jonathan's lips everytime he talks to me! And that I'm not imagining showering Nancy and Jonathan with gifts just because I can!"
"Harrington!" Steve paused and looked at her, the beginnings of a panic attack in his eyes. "Shut the hell up and listen to me."
He snapped his mouth closed and Robin smiled.
"Breathe." She said gently. "You're gonna be okay."
"I don't know Rob, I'm definitely not going to be okay." He sighed. The sounds of the kids fighting over the corner pieces of their cake echoed into the room. "I don't think I can do this."
"Steve. You can do it." Robin said intensely. Steve looked up and they locked eyes. "You wanna know why I know you can do this?"
Steve nodded, just the slight move of his head, his brown hair flopping slightly.
Robin's serious gaze melted into an encouraging and smug smile. "Because I'm gonna be right there with you."
At that, Steve's eyes widened and he slumped in relief. "Damn. Have I told you how much I love you? Because I do."
Robin, still smiling, patted Steve's shoulder. "You could stand to tell me a little more."
So yeah, she was a sucker for Steve Harrington.
Robin could visibly see Nancy Wheeler's smile dim at the sight of her.
A small part of her was mad because how can she judge someone who she had a five minute conversation with? But a bigger part of her felt glad. Nancy could dislike her all she wanted. She couldn't imagine being friends with Nancy Wheeler.
So Robin smiled, wide and shark like, all teeth and not a shred of kindness.
"Hey!" Steve waved, a nervous smile plastered on his face. Robin watched as Jonathan's eyes lit up and Nancy's hands fluttered by her sides.
Steve walked up to meet them and Robin trailed behind slightly, making her she could see them all.
There was something here that Robin wasn't getting. She didn't know what it was but it was right there and it was bothering her-
Steve turned back to Robin with furrowed brows and that stressed crease and a look that said, help me please. So, Robin immediately took the last couple of steps forward and allowed her arm to bump Steve's.
"I, uh, I hope it's okay that I brought Robin." The arm that wasn't pressed against hers did a little flourish as if he was presenting her. "I figured she'd like the movie."
Nancy's smile was strained and Jonathan's eyes were dark. Robin didn't know what she had done exactly but it was clear.
They both didn't like her.
"That's okay." Jonathan nodded. He sounded unenthusiastic but Robin couldn't really tell until his tone did a complete one eighty. "So how have you been?"
Steve did a little shuffled and she felt him shrug against her arm. "Ah, you know, work, watching the kids, same old same old."
Nancy opened her mouth, probably moving to continue the awkwardness of this stupid small talk but Robin couldn't resist.
"Dingus, do you even hear yourself?"
Steve blinked down at her humorous smirk and raised eyebrow. He unconsciously smiled even though Robin knew he didn't know what she was referencing.
"Work," She mocked, making her voice deeper. Not too deep because Steve voice had a high quality to it that Robin enjoyed. But of course, she had perfect pitch, so- "watching the kids, same old same old."
Steve snorted. Robin chuckled. Nancy glared. Jonathan tilted his head.
"Oh my God, I'm a mother." He said between laughs. "A soccer mom!"
Robin nodded. "Now you're seeing what I've been seeing."
Steve absently reached for Nancy's shoulder to keep himself up right as he laughed and she jolted. Robin watched as she did it. It was like someone shot a lightning bolt right through her stomach. Robin instinctively looked to Steve, who didn't even seem to notice- or maybe he did, judging by the tightness around his eyes.
He moved his hand, casual in the way that told Robin that he was making it casual and Robin's jaw nearly dropped when Nancy swayed towards Steve, seeking his touch.
Jonathan's eyes tracked Steve's hand, but not with anger or hostility but with longing? Is that what Robin was seeing?
Everything seemed to be slotting into place and the realization of it was making Robin excited. She watched Nancy almost fall into Steve, seeking a hug and watched Jonathan crowd close.
Steve, ever the tactile person, immediately pulled Nancy into a one armed hug even though Robin would've thought it weird to be hugging so late after saying hello. Steve's cheeks flushed red and his eyes flickered to Jonathan nervously but Jonathan was watching them with a warm and relaxed smile.
Nancy pulled away and Steve, probably unable to resist himself, clapped a hand on Jonathan's shoulder.
"I miss you guys." He admitted softly and suddenly Nancy's eyes were wet, Jonathan was looking doe eyed and-
And Robin understood.
"We- uh- we missed you too." Jonathan croaked and Steve let his hand fall before smoothly reaching for Robin. Robin automatically curled her hand into his, ignoring the sweat that she knew was there from nerves.
She squeezed twice and he squeezed twice back.
"Let's do this." Steve said, a blinding smile on his face.
"How do you feel about hand holding?"
Robin frowned. "Like, with you? Or with a girl?"
Steve hummed, noncommittal.
And wow. Great. Thanks for clearing that one up Steve.
"Me and my dad used to do it a lot." She found herself admitting. "Back when he was actually around."
Steve nodded, his eyes tracking around her empty living room and landing on the window seat. He tilted his head, like he was imagining a little Robin Buckley and her dad sitting there holding hands.
"It was nice. Knowing that you aren't the only person in the world but it wasn't all-" Robin paused, searching for words and Steve, with his distant eyes still on the window seat shifted.
"Heavy? In your chest? Intense?"
Robin breathed out. A whooshed breath that was all relief.
"Yeah." She nodded, even though he wasn't looking at her. "Yeah. We held hands and sometimes he'd squeeze twice. And if I was okay, I'd squeeze back twice."
Steve hummed again.
There was a pause and Robin figured he had drifted to sleep before he reached over. He tangled their hands together gently. He paused for a moment before he squeezed twice.
With a small smile on her face, she squeezed back.
With him? It was twice. Always.
The movie were crowded, so Robin kept her hand in Steve's.
He did a quick look behind him to see if Jonathan and Nancy were following before he ducked off to the snack counter.
"I'm just going to buy some candy okay?" He said and Robin could see that he needed a moment. Whether to psych himself up or calm himself down, she didn't know. But she let go of his hand and allowed him to weave through the crowds easily.
She turned to see Jonathan and Nancy holding hands yet looking slightly lost.
Robin cleared her throat. "So what movie are we watching?"
Nancy's brow furrowed and Robin didn't know why until Jonathan frowned.
"I thought Steve said you would like the movie?" He asked, not unkindly. "I figured that you'd know-"
"Oh!" Robin bobbed her head, waving a hand around. "Steve didn't tell me what the movie was. He knows my taste so-"
Which was not a lie. Steve did know what kind of movies Robin liked. But she had no doubt that her taste did not match up with Jonathan Byers.
"Ah." Jonathan said shortly.
There was a silence and then-
"So are you and Steve dating?" The question was strained and Nancy looked pained while she asked it. And Robin thought about the time that Steve told her that Nancy likes to ask questions. Even when she doesn't want to know the answer. Even when she knows the answer.
But damn. Robin was not expecting that one.
Jonathan shifted, leaning forward slightly, like he couldn't wait to know the answer and Robin wanted to laugh.
"I got the candy!" Steve interrupted, closing their little circle. His arms were full of boxes but he carried them with grace. "I got popcorn for you Jon cause I know you don't like candy."
Jonathan blinked, his eyes widening. "Jon?" He repeated, his voice sounding strangled.
"Wait, how do you know that he doesn't like candy?" Nancy asked.
Robin, on the other hand helped Steve by taking some of the candies from him. She saw Skittles, sweetarts, M&Ms, Sour patch kids and-
"Steve! You got Starbursts?" She exclaimed.
He smiled. "Yeah, just for you. Also, I know he doesn't like candy the same way I know that you like sour candy." He threw her the Sour Patch Kids and the Sweetarts. "I pay attention."
Nancy caught the candy and flushed red. "Right."
"And," Steve passed Jonathan the popcorn with a slightly sheepish look on his face. "Jonathan is a little too...formal. I mean, if you don't want me to-"
"No." Jonathan said empathetically, startling both Steve and himself. "I-uh, I mean, no. I- I liked it."
They both looked at each other, expressions open and honest and Robin felt a weird charge in the air. She wanted to look away, that's how intensely they were looking at each other.
Jonathan opened his mouth to say something but a kid running past accidentally knocked into Nancy and he clicked his mouth shut before turning to help steady her. A shadow of hurt flickered across Steve's face, the aching pains of seeing them together, before it was gone. Replaced by a bright smile.
"I think that's our cue to get in there." He offered and Robin watched as he walked towards the theater.
Because his back was to them, he completely missed they way Jonathan and Nancy watched him go, all big adoring eyes and identically wistful frowns.
The movie was not Robin's taste.
She couldn't help but snort at some of the attempts to scare the audience and once Robin started laughing, Steve did too. So there they were, at a horror/thriller, shoveling candy down their throats, laughing as fake blood came out of a girl's eyes.
"Stop laughing." Steve hissed, a barely repressed smile on his face. "She's dying."
"I can't help it," Robin defended, holding back another giggle. "It's so stupid."
Something about that must've set Nancy, who was sitting on Steve's other side, off because she growled and turned to them.
"Well how about you go watch something else then?"
Robin blinked and Steve stiffened. Robin watched Nancy slap her hands over her mouth like she wished her could keep the words in but the damage was already done.
"What the hell Nance?" Steve asked. His voice was low, as to not disturb anyone else watching, but his anger was loud and clear.
Jonathan shifted like he wanted to speak but he didn't, keeping his eyes trained on Steve.
"I- I just-" Nancy stuttered, her face pale and her eyes wet. "I didn't mean-"
Steve sighed heavily. A huge whoosh that made Robin wince. He looked pained and Robin knew he was making the choice to either defend his best friend or comfort his crush.
"Listen Nance." He ran a hand through his hair. "You're going to have to try to get along with Robin because she's not going anywhere any time soon." Then he paused. "Unless you want me to go to-"
"No." Jonathan said quickly and Nancy shook her head frantically. Everyone turned to look at him and he ducked his head from all the attention. "No. Robin's great."
Robin blinked. While it made her warm to hear Steve say he'd leave them if they were rude to her, she didn't need that. Nancy didn't really hurt her feelings or anything and it was kind of stupid.
"I'm sorry Robin." Nancy said. And it sounded sincere. Her eyes kept flickering from Steve to Robin and the air was tense so Robin sighed.
"No worries." She smiled. "Dingus over here is just sensitive."
Nancy smiled back and for a brief second Robin could see why Steve was so enamored with her.
Steve relaxed, rolled his eyes and nudged her. "Ha ha. You're so funny Rob. You should become a comedian."
Robin's smile grew. "Yeah, I should."
The rest of the time passed by uneventfully and soon enough, they were all right back where they started, outside of the building near Steve's car.
"Do You- Uh- do you want to come to dinner with us?" Nancy offered and Steve looked happy that she made a point to look at both Steve and Robin. "We were just going to head to my house."
Steve, while looking overjoyed at being invited, shook his head. "Ah, I can't. I wish I could. I'm watching the shithead tonight."
Nancy frowned but Jonathan laughed, light and easy. "Dustin?"
Steve's smile went soft and wobbly and Robin could tell he wanted to melt at the sound. "Yeah."
"Oh." And the disappointment on Nancy's face looked almost painful.
"But!" Steve exclaimed, "But, you can always drop by Scoops. Or we could do this again. I mean, if you wanted."
And Nancy and Jonathan's matching smiles were brighter than the sun.
"That was a mess."
Robin rolled her eyes. "It could've gone worse."
Steve took his eyes off the road to stare down Robin for a second. "It was a mess."
She shrugged. "I got Starbursts so..."
Steve chuckled, which turned into a laugh which turned into a hysterical cackle. His hands tightened on the wheel and his shoulders tensed up.
"Pull over if you need too," Robin hummed. "You don't want to die before your second date with Nance and Jon."
"Oh my God, I called him Jon. Why did you let me do that?" Steve groaned, his laughter immediately stopping at the reminder. "I can't believe- I'm gonna throw up."
Robin squinted. "You aren't watching Dustin tonight are you?"
"No. Are you kidding? Definitely not." He shook his head but his hands loosened their grip on the steering wheel. "God, he'd read me like a book. That little idiot is so fucking smart."
"Hm. You know who else is smart?"
"Damn straight." She approved. "Because I figured something out."
Steve's brows furrowed and frowned.
"You know how you like Nancy and Jonathan? Well, Nancy and Jonathan definitely like you."
Robin was not surprised when the car squealed to a stop in the middle of the empty road.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Steve, the way they were looking at you when you weren't looking, the way they leaned into you, how happy they looked when you remembered simply shit about them? That's called a crush." Robin raised her eyebrow. "Don't tell me I'm wrong because I'm not."
But instead of laughing like Robin intended, Steve sighed one of those chest heaving sighs and trained his eyes on the dashboard.
There was a pause before-
"Rob," And Steve sounded shaky, vulnerable. It made Robin's stomach tight with nerves. "I can't get my hopes up with this. It- it would hurt too bad. I already lost Nance once. I can't lose her again. And I definitely wouldn't be able to handle losing Jonathan before I even have him."
Robin's eyes widened. Steve's hands tightened on the wheel.
"So yeah, maybe there's a maybe. But that maybe will hurt more than nothing."
Robin grit her teeth. She wanted to protest. She wanted to grab Steve and shake him because Nancy and Jonathan looked at him like they were lost puppies, because Steve nearly melted when he heard their names, because they looked good together. When they were together, they smiled with their whole faces and laughed with their entire bodies.
So she wanted to shake some sense into Steve.
And she could, she could, she could.
She remembered pining after Tammy Thompson, and before that Emily McGregor and before that Katie Brion. And Steve was right. The hope hurt worse.
It could tear apart your insides. Rip you right open before you even go to the point that you could even be rejected. It hurt too much to bear sometimes.
So she nodded, despite everything in her screaming not to, Steve swallowed thickly and they rolled on.