Max is sleeping, which means Lucas and Dustin and Steve are all asleep too. But she notices Nancy isn’t.
Robin tries to catch her eyes to ask the silent question of are you okay?
Nancy gently smiles and nods her head, Robin can see how droopy her eyes are though, how tired her face looks. It’s probably why Robin doesn’t disclose the fact that she hates sharing beds.
Nancy Wheeler looks like she’s one sleepless night away from reaching a premature midlife nervous breakdown and Robin Buckley won’t allow that to happen just because she sort of, sometimes, with anyone except her friends, prefers to sleep alone.
“Thank you,” Nancy sighs and slumps forward, almost making them share a pillow on her big, big bed.
“Yeah, no problem.” Robin whispers.
Sometimes Robin lets anything or anyone decide what’s going to happen next in her life. It’s silly really and she probably should stop because ultimately it will result in something unhealthy for her future (or even present, already) self.
But here Robin is, letting the fact that Nancy readjusted herself on the bed lead to her blurting out an invasive, stupid question.
“Have you never liked sleeping alone or is that because of…” Robin gulps and takes a hand to her cheek (she doesn’t know why her hand’s at her cheek but she know she made the decision to bring it there, maybe to mask the nervousness she feels over this common conversation that friends ultimately have, but the second she lifts the arm that is not supporting her head on the pillow, the moment becomes too real, too slow, too fast and she knows she’s on the edge of not remembering this conversation even if it turns out that all she wants is in fact to remember this conversation).
“Vecna?” Nancy asks.
Robin clears her throat and it only worsens the effects this moment is having on her mind; her hand plops down ungraciously back to where it was resting and she gathers courage to continue this conversation rather than just shutting down and saying never mind, Nancy, goodnight.
“Um, yeah but, I mean, you’ve had scary encounters before him, right? So, was it just him or did it start when…all of it started?” Robin feels like she should clarify Nancy doesn’t have to answer, she’s afraid her voice comes out too dragged, too low, too everything it shouldn’t come out as but she says it.
“It’s okay, I’ve always been a fan of talking about things rather than pretending they didn’t happen,”
Robin smirks a little because Nancy didn’t even finish saying the words before wincing as if she’s like Robin, — a self-contradicting person, a paradox of feelings and morals — who feels one side of the extreme just to go to the other the next moment.
“Really?” Robin utters but she hopes it’s said with curiosity instead of mistrust.
She’s glad that Nancy’s little smile (that small quirk of her lips, little dimples showing, no teeth but not quite a smirk either and eyes kind and half open, half closed) is something she’d been able to read right in the last few occasions they’ve teamed up because, “No. I guess just a few very specific things.”
They go silent for a few minutes, Nancy’s eyes are closed again and Robin decides (by herself) that she’s going to try to sleep too. After all, this silence is comfortable and she doesn’t feel the need to fill it like with most people, so she’d rather leave it at that than say something (else) stupid.
“It’s always been like this, I think,” Nancy’s eyes are still closed but Robin feels more awake now because of the unexpected answer which almost frightened her off the beginning of her sleep, “Afraid of the dark, I mean. But I guess before it was manageable? Bearable? Yeah, something like that.”
Robin stares at Nancy.
It must’ve been so exhausting having to always control your fears or conceal it.
“Well, I don’t think I was trying to conceal it, but yes, control.”
“Shit, sorry. I didn’t mean to say that out loud,”
“That’s okay, Buckley,” Nancy smiles really softly at her and Robin feels like caving to the need to cry at the gentleness she’s receiving, “You know, with me you can always say what you want to. I promise,”
Nancy’s words reverberate around her brain, repeating itself over and over again but a pinky finger wrapping itself around her own completely blanks her mind.
“Pinky promise? Wow, you truly mean it huh?”
Nancy chuckles but pushes their hands to Robin’s collarbones. Robin knows Nancy knows she was joking but for some reason, Nancy chooses to answer truthfully to the question.
“I do, I really do. You’re safe with me,”
This is the perfect opening to come out.
Actually, this is the perfect opening to rip herself open and throw the parts of herself she hates the most at Nancy’s feet and ask her if she’s going to be different from the people who said that before.
Robin just stares at Nancy though. Doesn’t say anything on her mind except for a shaky thank you and goodnight Nance.
Something inside herself curls up to go to sleep too. Robin thinks it’s the doubt she felt earlier when she believed she didn’t belong.
She wakes to Mike’s eyes scrutinizing them where he stands next to the now open door of Nancy’s room.
It’s so off putting that Robin only realizes she had her arms around Nancy’s body, that they were holding hands (fingers intertwined, not palm to palm!!!) when she jumps back in fear.
Nancy wakes up then, asking what’s wrong? Robin, are you okay? Not even looking around the room, but zeroing in straight on Robin’s face and scanning her body.
Robin swallows, remembers the last time she had to consciously swallow and the missed opportunity because she was a coward.
“Yeah, I’m good,” She directs it at Nancy, takes the hand that was hovering an inch away from her forearm and she doesn’t mean to speak so gently, almost a whisper but her voice apparently does that around Nancy, “Your brother just decided to be our alarm clock today.”
Nancy, sweet Nancy who has just woken up, abruptly turns to where Mike stands, still watching their interaction.
“God Mike, could you be any creepier?”
“Sorry. Just wanted to make sure everyone was accounted for, I’ll let you guys sleep more.”
His voice sounds so different from what his face says that Robin gets whiplash. This family, she swears, has some power to make her feel like she doesn’t know what’s going on or what’ll happen.
A hand settles at her waist and she lets it pushes her back down to a lying position.
Robin’s feeling like she might cry again because of all this kindness and affection that she’s never been directed to at this level before.
And Nancy’s hand that is now splayed at her hip where her shirt has ridden up, thumb going back and forth just makes it even more worse (better).
And decides to let herself feel whatever she’s feeling.
“Best sleep I’ve had since last year,” She sags down to Nancy’s touch and gets closer like Nancy did last night, almost sharing a pillow again when Robin breathes a you? to Nancy’s forehead.
“Well before I was rudely awakened by you, yes, I slept like a baby,”
“Blame your little brother for that, dude’s eyes were the first thing I saw when I woke,” Robin snickers, closing her eyes and Nancy’s thumb is now drawing letters on her skin.
It’s pure bliss, she thinks, after everything that happened (and that still has to happen) lying down next to Nancy Wheeler on her comfortable bed while she paints Robin’s skin with her fingertips.
It’s not so blissful anymore when Nancy’s hand suddenly cups her cheek. Robin’s eyes fly open at the action.
“Sorry,” Nancy whispers, “You’re just so—”
“I’m a lesbian.”
Robin sits up and repeats what she said, a little louder but not so much that Mike would be able to hear her and come back with wider eyes than before.
Nancy sits up too, when she hears what Robin said and realization sinks in.
“Okay,” Nancy looks confused but Robin doesn’t know what she's confused about.
“Is that alright?” Robin has to ask.
Nancy’s entire face softens and Robin can’t believe she’s going to get two people who know her and who accept her for who she is.
Nancy’s entire face softens and she’s saying idiot, c’mere to Robin while pulling her out of where she turned herself small, bracing for rejection, for disgust.
“Of course it’s alright,” Nancy says into her neck and Robin’s skin there ignites where the warmth of her breath settles, “dingus.”
They both chuckle wetly before letting go.
They both kind of wish they didn’t have to.
It’s three weeks later when Nancy almost gives Robin a heart attack.
Robin’s parents left for a conference and they’ve been cooped inside her house ever since the morning when they waved goodbye to them from the front door.
Robin’s making them pasta from scratch. When she learned how, she swore to herself that she’d cook it for a future date. But here she is, making fettuccine for Nancy Wheeler at 7pm on a pleasantly chilly Saturday.
"So," Nancy starts, unexpectedly looking kind of sad while cutting strips so Robin can mold them to look like fettuccine, "you guys couldn't figure out my music taste, huh?"
Robin doesn’t even think about it before replying, "Oh no. I did know, fucking Eddie Munson just didn't have it in his house."
Robin sees Nancy stills beside her.
She realizes Nancy was probably expecting her to say that Steve did in fact know but not. Robin.
Robin Buckley who Nancy met exactly once before this all started.
Robin Buckley who came out to her not long ago.
Certainly not Robin Buckley who might as well have turned on a boombox and blasted to the entire neighborhood that she found Nancy interesting, that she paid close attention to her, seeing as she apparently knew more than her ex-boyfriend did, than people she fought a monster alongside with.
It makes Robin’s heart triple its rhythm inside her chest at the implications of her knowing Nancy’s favorite song.
Robin can’t even imagine what Nancy’s feeling right now but she doesn’t want to know so she makes her face stay where it’s safe.
But because it’s Robin and her brain and mouth sometimes disconnect from each other, she goes to the saucepan and starts mixing it with more velocity than normal while her stupid lips form the words,
“Oh, yeah, but Steve, you know, he uh, he knew it too. He was just in shock or whatever, I swear Nance, he—”
“Robin, it’s okay,” Nancy lays a hand on the one that has a spatula to showcase her point.
She slows down the mixing of course, but Nancy’s hand stays there and she’s looking at Robin with a dangerous look, as if trying to decide if she should say something damning or not.
And because it’s Nancy, she does say it. A knowing glint in her eyes but her small nervous smile betrays it.
“Why are you always so nervous around me?”
Robin scoffs because what the fuck is she going to do? Spill her heart out?
“That is so presumptuous of you, Wheeler. Never figured you’d have Steve’s ego,”
Nancy closes her eyes and sighs, lips shifting to what she calls Nancy’s Robin Smile.
“Okay, fine. Why,” And just to make Robin suffer a little more, Nancy settles to Robin’s left, sitting on the countertop, “do you always seem to be more nervous than normal when it’s just me and you?”
They’ve totally forgotten about anything not relating to the bubble Nancy just created.
She feels a hand pulling at hers, pushing her forward so she’s standing in between Nancy’s leg, heart going into cardiac arrest in any minute.
“Is it because,” Nancy whispers, the hand that pushed her forward into this devastating position is now across her neck, two fingers playing with the small hairs at the back of her nape, “you think I’m pretty?”
Robin’s not breathing.
Or is she breathing too much? Is this what hyperventilating is like or is this lack of oxygen?
Or is it just the fact that Nancy’s smiling too close to her face now, breathing her next words to Robin’s nose and then cheek,
“Or maybe because you’d like to do things to me?”
Then Nancy’s fucking lips press so gently under her eye and then under the other and it’s all downhill.
Robin’s turned to mush.
She counts the seconds of Nancy’s hand driving down to her waist, of Nancy’s breath trembling when she ghosts her lips on Robin’s cheek.
“Robin,” Nancy murmurs and there's that desire to cry again but this time it’s because she knows she can, she knows Nancy will still be there after.
Robin’s just appreciating that fact when she feels Nancy start to pull away and then Robin comes back to the present in full force.
“Would,” She clears her throat, “you like that? Would that be okay?”
Nancy’s face is too close but she knows now that it gets impossibly softer the way it does when Robin’s being a dingus. So she pushes forward.
With delicacy. Slowly.
She lays one hand on Nancy’s cheek and the other under one of Nancy’s thigh, pulling her closer still.
She feels Nancy’s knuckles travel from her cheek to her neck and then her hand opens up there and pulls her forward until their lips meet.
Once. A breath, two smiles.
Then they stay there, Robin angles her head up because Nancy’s still on the counter so she’s currently taller and Nancy follows Robin’s lead, dragging her lips over Robin’s. Biting the lower one and then a tongue is immediately soothing it.
It’s dizzying and Robin doesn’t know how she never thought about this before. Not consciously at least.
It makes her head spin with the want and affection she feels for Nancy.
They stop kissing with a plop and Nancy’s breathing is heavier.
Foreheads connect and two smiles turn into two giggly mess when Nancy confesses,
“D’you know how long I’ve wanted to do that?” And just for good measure Robin figures, Nancy kisses her again after saying it. This time is deep, and passionate and so, so slowly delicious, Robin has to take a second after attempting to reply.
“Mmm,” Robin’s voice doesn’t seem to work so she turns her head to the side a bit and tries to clear her throat, “yeah, I know the feeling.”
If she’s smiling as goofy as a child who just got told they’re getting a puppy, nobody can blame her.
Because Nancy Wheeler makes her feel like that and she intends to never lose it.