There are three things Robin knows for sure about Steve Harrington:
- His reputation is on a steady, steep nosedive since graduating high school
- He isn’t as much of a douchebag as he used to be
- He’ll flirt with anything that moves, including but not limited to herself, every girl who enters Scoops Ahoy, and for some unfathomable reason, Eddie freaking Munson
When Steve comes aboard the Scoops Ahoy team, Eddie and Robin have both already been there for a month’s worth of weekends, getting ready for a summer residency. Robin had found them the jobs – she felt like she had to, after she’d gotten them both fired from the pet store last summer. It wasn't her fault that the parrots were very good learners, and in her defense, how was she supposed to know that the pet store owner spoke German and knew just which particular curse words she’d taught the parrots? Eddie took the rap for it, mostly because their boss wouldn’t believe it was anyone but Eddie, and though he’d told Robin it was fine, she’d still felt kinda guilty. Kinda a lot guilty.
Hence the mall. Hence Scoops . Hence the little sailor boy hats and the bright blue shorts and the pipe music that filters in from the ceiling from opening until close. Robin doesn’t even know who turns it on. It’s just there .
Steve joins them not too long after his graduation, a graduation he almost didn’t get – Eddie doesn’t say anything, but Robin knows he’s kind of bitter about it. Fortunately for everyone (but mostly herself, because she would hate working at Scoops even more than she already did if Eddie and Steve were going to have some weird high school beef), Eddie doesn’t get a chance to act bitter, though.
Because Steve will not stop flirting. It’s like he doesn’t even know he’s doing it – like it’s as simple and as natural as breathing for him. Maybe it is, for King Steve. Robin’s just never been on the receiving end of it before, given that he didn’t even know she existed until he turned up at Scoops .
Not that it has any effect on her – she is perhaps the only human being in Hawkins to be entirely immune to Steve Harrington’s charms. Or, no, actually – a lot of the girls who come in for ice cream seem to be immune to Steve and his big floofy hair and his big brown eyes. Like, a weird amount. Way more than Robin thought, which is her proof for Fact #1. His reputation? Apparently not helped by almost flunking out of high school and having to wear board shorts for a living.
Unlike those girls, though, there’s one person that Steve’s flirting definitely works on. Someone with equally fluffy hair and equally big brown eyes who is still struggling his way through high school because as Robin’s mom always says, God loves a trier.
“It’s like he can’t help himself.” She says around a scoop of Double Bubblegum. Eddie always chooses the worst flavours, but that still isn’t going to stop Robin from nibbling away at his complementary banana split. “He’s a compulsive flirter. It’s weird. I’m worried for him.”
“I’m not.” Eddie sighs softly, kind of dreamily, propping his elbow on table and resting his chin on top of his open palm. He keeps his spoon in is mouth even though he hasn’t picked up any ice cream in about five minutes, only taking it out to speak. His gaze far off in the distance. “It’s special when he flirts with me, though, right?”
“Don’t flatter yourself.” Robin snorts.
“Someone’s got to, sweetheart.” Eddie sighs again, far more dramatically this time. He puts his spoon down with an air of finality, sitting up straight so abruptly that Robin jumps. “I’m telling you, Harrington’s at least a little bit gay. Maybe he’s bi!”
“He is not .” Robin argues. “If you look up straight guy in the dictionary his picture is right there, guaranteed.”
“Well in that case maybe I will pass English this year.” Eddie grins, eyebrows waggling. Robin gives an ugh around a mouthful of Chocolate Winter Berry, nose wrinkling. “I’m serious, Buckley. I’ll bet you five dollars.”
“Make it ten,” She retorts. “Because I’m right. And I could put 10 dollars to good use.”
Eddie rolls his eyes, but he holds his hand out over the table, waiting for her to shake it. “Deal.”
She smiles, pleased with herself. “You’ve got until the end of the summer to prove to me that Steve Harrington isn’t straight.” She informs him. “Good luck – you’re gonna need it.”
“You’re late, Harrington,” Robin sing-songs when Steve scurries into work, an entire twenty minutes after he was meant to be there, three days after her and Eddie's wager. “Did your butler forget to wake you up?”
“Gave him the day off.” Steve huffs, throwing his backpack through the door to the “Captain’s Quarter’s” and shoving his hat on his head. It lands skewiff, off center, and Robin rolls her eyes, reaching out to fix it. When she pulls back Steve is smirking at her.
“You looked dumb.” She informs him, eyebrows arching as he steps away.
“Well we can’t all wear it as well as you do, Robin,” He tilts his head, smiling sweetly. She throws a bunch of bananas at him – he only just catches them, blinking at the force with which they hit his chest.
“Make yourself useful and hang those up.”
“Who died and made you the boss?”
“Uh, I was here before you.” She points out, folding her arms over her chest. Why is it that every conversation with Steve feels like an argument? “Which means I’m in charge, so scoot, dingus.”
Steve huffs at the nickname, turning around to put the bananas away. Robin leans back against the cupboards behind the counter, eyes scanning the mall for potential customers. It’s kind of too early for ice cream, the shop hasn’t even been open a half an hour yet, but that never stops the odd one or two from stopping by.
Emphasis on the odd . Because who else but Eddie Munson, on his day off no less, slopes into the shop and leans against the counter. He’s wearing his denim vest even though it’s easily 85 degrees outside and only getting hotter. She narrows her eyes at him as he approaches the counter, not getting up from where she’s lounging. Steve hasn’t noticed him yet, too busy taking down bunches of bananas and inspecting them for brown spots.
“You don’t get free ice cream if you’re not working, Munson.” Robin tells him. Steve’s head jerks up when he hears the name, and he turns slowly on his heels.
“You’re so cruel to me, Robin.” Eddie gasps, hand coming to rest over his heart. “You’re not gonna let her treat me like that are you, Stevie?”
He directs his stupid big doe eyes at Steve, fluttering his eyelashes like a woman in a period drama and Steve grins, resting his elbow on the freezer in front of him. “What’ll it be, sweetheart?”
Eddie takes a scoop of Melon Madness, and whilst Steve’s got his head in the freezer he shoots Robin a pleased-with-himself Cheshire cat grin.
“Cheater.” Robin hisses.
“Just playing the game.” Eddie counters, his voice low. He has to lean against the counter to be heard. “ Sweetheart .”
The pet name means nothing. Steve was just playing into Eddie’s coquettish little act! He’s committed to the bit, Robin’ll give him that.
Steve hands the ice cream over the counter. Robin catches the way his fingers brush Eddie’s as he does so, and her eyes narrow – that was definitely him doing that, not Eddie. Then again, Harrington is kind of ham-fisted, he almost launched a coke halfway across the shop once trying to give it to the customer, so maybe she’s reading into it too much?
When she looks back at Eddie he’s blushing . The flush across his cheeks and nose is bright red, not at all easily explained way and when Robin looks at Steve she finds him smiling brightly, looking oh-so pleased with himself.
“What’re you doing here anyway, dweeb?” She asks Eddie, because the two of them were just looking at each other, staring lovingly into each other’s eyes and it’s start to creep her out.
Eddie drags his gaze away from Steve’s, blinking like the spell’s broken. Eddie and his stupid crush, Robin thinks. He digs into the pocket of his vest and produces a cassette that Robin can’t read from as far away as she is.
“New Megadeth tape. They just got it in, I came to pick it up.” He stows it back in his pocket, clasping his hands behind his back and leaning forward, looking at her through his lashes. “And maybe I came to see my favourite little sailor.”
“You memorising my shifts again, Munson?” Steve smirks, eyebrows arching.
“He means me, dingus.” Robin rolls her eyes, but then she pauses, eyes narrowing. “Right?”
Eddie looks at Steve, raising his eyebrows suggestively. He takes a step back from the counter as he looks back at her and Robin tries to calculate the distance between them — maybe she can still dive across the counter and wrap her hands around his neck. “Don’t have too much fun without me, you two.”
“Eddie!” Robin calls after him as he lopes off. “Eddie you mean me, right?!”
He doesn’t turn around, but he does throw up the sign of the horns with his right hand before he disappears — Robin doesn’t know what that means. She scowls after him.
When she hears Steve snickering softly beside her she turns, head whipping round so fast it’s a wonder she doesn’t break her neck. She looks at him, accusing, but he only shrugs his shoulders as he meanders through to the back.
At least some of the time, Steve's complete and utter failure at securing a date isn't entirely his fault. As is the case when Robin comes back from her lunch break to find Steve flirting with Lara Weaver, which almost makes Robin laugh out loud. Partly because Lara is looking kind of queasy as Steve puts on his best Charming-the-Ladies smile but mostly because Robin made out with Lara at a party last Christmas break and knows that Lara, much like herself, is never going to fall for the charms of Steve Harrington. Or any man, for that matter.
He doesn’t seem perturbed when Lara leaves in a hurry, throwing a handful of coins over the counter and telling him to keep the change. He turns around when he hears Robin snickering though, brow immediately furrowed. “Something funny, Buckley?”
“You really think you’re gonna charm Weaver? Like, actually?”
“Is it such a wild idea to you that someone might actually be into me?”
“Lara Weaver is never going to be into you, Steve.”
“Because she doesn’t like b–” Oh she has got to stop talking. The words die in her throat, which now feels like it’s closing up on itself, her eyes big and wide. Lara’s nowhere near the shop, of course, has no idea that Robin has just outed her to King Steve, of all people, but still– it’s not good. It’s a total dick move. And Steve isn’t as much of a douchebag as Robin had expected him to be, but that still doesn’t mean he’s just going to be cool about it. Her stomach twists. “Never mind.” She snaps. “Shut up.”
“Weaver doesn’t like boys?” Steve says in a low voice, glancing around to make sure no one’s about.
“I never said that.” Robin says quickly. “Steve, don’t–”
“No, no, it’s– that’s cool. That’s– I just didn’t know.” He holds his hands up, palms out in surrender. He drops them after a moment, shoulders shrugging. “Good for her.”
Robin blinks. That is precisely the opposite of what she expected him to say and now she feels almost stupid for expecting anything else. She also kind of feels like her head has just broken the water after she almost drowned, only to find herself not in the middle of some vast, terrifying ocean, but in the middle of the Hawkins public pool. Like she was making a big deal out of absolutely nothing– stupid Harrington, taking her by surprise.
“How do you know, anyway?”
And now she feels like she’s been pulled back underwater again.
“I just do.” She says, hoping she doesn’t sound as cagey as she feels.
“Did she tell you? Or–”
“I just know , okay. It’s like a… sixth sense.” Oh she needs to shut up. She needs to shut up so bad. She’s about to put her foot right in her mouth. No, scratch that, her foot is already in her mouth, and now she’s about to shove the other one in there, scuffed converse and all, for good measure. “It’s like a– a gay radar. A gaydar.”
Steve snorts. He picks up the spray bottle and a cloth, going round to the front of the freezers, spritzing the plastic with lemon-scented disinfectant to wipe away the smears from some kid’s sticky fingers. Robin’s heart hammers in her chest. She tries not to look too much like a rabbit caught in the headlights of Steve’s stupid BMW. “Gaydar, right.” Steve nods. “What does your gaydar say about me?”
She snorts. Of course he just wants to talk about himself. Why was she worried? “Straight, obviously.”
Steve puts the bottle and the cloth down on the counter, leaning against it for a moment. There’s a funny look in his eye that she can’t place. His smile ticks up just a touch like she’s said something funny except she hasn’t – has she?
“Obviously.” He repeats. He pushes up from the counter, tongue swiping his lower lip as he does so. Robin feels like she’s gotten an answer wrong in a test she didn’t even know she was taking, her brow creasing.
“Aw, c’mon, Harrington - I was enjoying the view.” Eddie complains, pulling his headphones down around his neck as he walks through the shop towards the back, still in his civvies. “Nobody come back here, I’m getting changed.”
“All the more reason,” Steve says simply, grinning when Eddie snorts softly. Steve looks back at Robin, nodding in the general direction he’d gone in. “What does your gaydar say about Munson?”
“Go home, Harrington. You’re free, shoo, get out of here.” She sighs. She’s not about to out Eddie to Steve – he was fine about Lara, sure, but it might be different with Eddie. With a guy. A guy he works with.
A guy he flirts with non-stop.
Steve rolls his eyes, leaving the spray bottle and cloth on the counter so that Robin has to put them away. He knocks on the swinging door to the Captain’s Quarters , ear close to the wood. “You decent in there, Munson?”
“No!” Eddie calls. “Come in!”
Steve snorts, a grin splitting his face as he pushes into the staff room. Robin rubs her temples, eyes closed. It's been just over two weeks since her bet with Eddie, and though she has plenty of evidence of Steve flirting with every lady who walks by, she's got to admit that his incessent flirting with Eddie is kind of putting a spanner in the works. Not that she's worried; she has a good six or so weeks to gather more evidence. She flinches when the bell on the counter dings and subsequently gets caught up giving out samples to a gaggle of eleven year olds, passing out spoon after spoon until Eddie appears beside her.
“Are you little hooligans going to buy anything or do I have to call Petey down here?” He asks, head tilting.
“Isn’t that hair a hygiene issue?” Their leader retorts, her head tilting.
“I can make it a hygiene issue, if you want more samples.”
The little girl narrows her eyes. She turns to her cronies. “Let’s get out of here."
She turns to look at Eddie when the shop is empty again; apparently Steve had left whilst she was busy because the back room is clear when she peers through the little window. "You flirting with him is totally against the rules."
"Uh, explain to me in the rules where we said I couldn't flirt with him?" Eddie glares. "He's flirting with me, Buckley. And he's definitely into guys so if this flirting is gonna get me somewhere I am not going to miss my chance-"
"You don't know that!"
Eddie offers her a wide, shit-eating grin. "Oh but I do, Robin."
She rolls her eyes. She hates his stupid self-confidence. "Show me the proof, then."
"I am." Eddie says sweetly, his arms splaying out wide. "Hence the flirting."
"He was just flirting with Lara Weaver when I got back from lunch, he definitely just does it on impulse."
Eddie pauses. Thinks for a moment. Robin's never told him about the Lara thing but she doesn't think she has to, because to anyone in-the-know, it's kind of obvious. "Maybe he thinks he's just being friendly?"
"Shut up and go restock the waffle cones." She instructs, pointing at the empty display. "And stop coming on so strong! You look desperate."
"Good!" Is all Eddie says as he disappears off to the stock room.
Another week passes, and Robin is still no closer to her ten dollar reward until she hits what she believes is a jackpot. Steve is on the phone in the back room when she arrives for her shift, which is definitely against company policy, given that: a) he’s the only one working right now, meaning the counter is unattended for any number of small children to barge in and stick their grubby little fingers in the ice cream tubs; and b) he’s definitely on a personal call.
She can tell by the way he startles when she pushes her way into the staff room, throwing her backpack halfway across the room. He looks at her like a dog caught chewing the furniture, all wide-eyed but blinking fast and he drops his voice, turning slightly towards the wall as if that’s magically going to deafen her.
“--Robin’s here, I gotta go, but– yeah, tonight. I’ll pick you up.” A pause. Robin can only see the side of his face but she can tell that he’s smiling from the way his cheeks shifts. “I always make an effort, you make an effort. Okay. Uh huh. Right, yeah, going now, shut up, see you later.”
He puts the phone back on the wall and turns around, his face carefully blank. Robin narrows her eyes at him. “And who were you talking to?”
“What?” He blinks. “No one.”
“Have you always been such a terrible liar or is this new for you?”
His head tilts. He grins. “Aw. Are you jealous?”
“ No .” She huffs a sigh, grabbing her hat off the hook by the door. “Just curious as to who you’re talking to in the middle of your shift.”
“What, you gonna rat on me?” Steve asks. He folds his arms over his chest, looking deeply unimpressed, which only earns a smile from Robin. She loves messing with him.
“Maybe I should,” She says contemplatively, tapping her finger against her chin. “You know, it’s so important that we as employees make sure proper protocols are followed, and I just think–”
“Are you done?” Steve asks.
“Are you ?”
He rolls his eyes, but he traipses out to the front anyways, which is a victory in her book. She has the urge to make a personal call of her own, to tell Eddie that Steve has a date, but she’s not going to let Steve catch her on the phone and also… it doesn’t really prove anything. Steve could, in theory, be going out with a guy, even though Robin highly doubts it. She sighs, wondering how she can spin this to get Eddie worried as she steps out to the front.
Robin can't tell Eddie about the phone call until the next day, when their schedules align. She's practically vibrating with it as she waits for him to come into the shop, though he's late, as always. As soon as he's managed to balance his hat on his unruly hair she whirls on him, smirking. “Guess who had a hot date last night?”
For a second Eddie goes so still that Robin feels a chill run down her spine — Eddie is never still. He’s as hyperactive as she is, the two of them bouncing around behind the counter, dancing to the stupid sailor music overhead and acting out odd little pirate battles when there’s no customers. That was how they’d met, after all, when she’d been cast as Abraham and he’d been cast as Gregory in the Hawkins Middle School production of Romeo and Juliet . They hadn’t really been friends after that, hadn’t really spoken until last summer, at the pet store. Robin had thought it would be so awkward but when Robin had asked him to put fresh bedding in the Guinea pig hutches he had stuck his thumb behind his front teeth and she had collapsed into laughter.
“That’s a disgrace, if you bear it,” he had pointed out, to which she had rolled her eyes, and replied, “That’s my line, idiot.”
And then she had gotten them both fired — so maybe it isn’t the happiest story in the world but that isn’t the point , the point is that Eddie is never still. But then all of a sudden, before Robin could start to really worry, he whips around to face her, eyebrows arching, hair flying. Maybe that is a hygiene hazard.
“I’m guessing not you…”
She smacks his arm and he flinches, jumping back, pulling his arm into his chest like she had branded him instead of lightly hitting him.
“Maniac!” He accuses.
“Says you.” She shakes her head, but she isn’t perturbed. “ Harrington .” She says, her voice low. “I caught him on the phone yesterday, planning it. Said he was picking someone up.”
“So?” Eddie asks, folding his arms over his chest. “He could’ve gone out on a date with a guy.”
Robin snorts. “Right. Steve Harrington on a date with a guy in Hawkins, Indiana. Even if he’s not worried about his reputation — which he is — he wouldn’t do it. I would imagine he likes not getting his ass kicked by every jock from here to Indianapolis.”
Eddie’s being weird again, turning away from Robin, actually working . He’s going through the little laminated cards depicting each flavour, presumably finding the ones he needs for the tubs he’ll take out of the freezer in a moment. Very uncharacteristic of Eddie — he usually tries to avoid doing any actual work at all cost.
Maybe it’s just a touchy subject. The two of them had come out to one another after getting locked into the pet store one night — they had gotten drunk off a bottle of whisky in Eddie’s backpack and had passed the two hours waiting for their boss to show up with the keys by petting bunnies and crying and sobering up. She should be a little more sensitive, maybe, but hey, this was her reality, too.
“Who says his date was here?” Eddie asks, shoulders shrugging. “Could’ve gone to the big city .” He puts on a creepy voice and arches his eyebrows, wiggling his fingers, like the big city is something to be feared, which… honestly, Robin does kinda balk at the idea. “Yknow I hear they’ve got two gay bars now. Won’t anybody think of the children?”
“They’re being corrupted.” She agrees gravely. “I guess we have to just… find out where his date was. Grill him. I want my ten dollars, Munson.”
“I’m starting to doubt how gay you are, Buckley — you’re obsessed with this boy.”
“I am not! ” She cries. She tries to smack him again but he dances out of the way, actually giggling as he steps out of arms reach. She can't help but laugh, Eddie's giggles getting under her skin. “I told you, I want my money!”
They’re interrupted by another voice, coming from other the counter. “Wow, I didn’t know you were in the mafia, Robin.”
Robin looks over the counter at Steve, and immediately rolls her eyes. He isn't even scheduled to work today, she shouldn't have to be subjected to him, nor she should have to be subjected to the horrible love-sick-puppy thing Eddie does whenever Steve is anywhere in his general vicinity.
“What are you doing here, dingus? Don't you have a home to go to? Hobbies? Friends? Don't say you want something, we have the right to refuse service to anyone, y’know.”
“You would never.” He retorts. Robin counters him with arched eyebrows and arms folded over his chest, to which Steve sputters, and says, “Fine! I’m not here for ice cream anyway!”
“I’d serve you, babydoll.” Eddie tilts his head, smiling dreamily.
Robin elbows him in the ribs harder than is probably necessary.
“Ow!” Eddie cries, rubbing at the sore spot on his chest.
“Are you two done?” Steve asks after a moment. He holds out a cassette to Eddie, who quickly yoinks it out of his hand, tucking it into the back pocket of his board shorts.
“Stealing my stuff again, Stevie?”
“You stealing my stuff, actually. It was in my walkman. I told you, man, if you’re gonna borrow it without asking me you gotta change the cassette back–”
“I forgot to ask, Stevie ,” Robin cuts across him, throwing a glare at Eddie before she looks at Steve again. “Good date last night?”
Steve’s eyes widen as if Robin had just reached under the tablet and pointed a gun at him. His eyes flick momentarily to Eddie, for some reason. Probably hoping Eddie will bail him out and change the subject or something.
But Eddie, apparently intent on proving himself right and Robin wrong, plants his hands on the counter and leans forwards a little, grinning wickedly. “Yeah, how’d it go? Did ya get lucky?”
“I did, as it happens.” Steve smirks, pleased with himself. Robin makes an ugh sound, looking away. She’s suddenly sorry she asked. “Funny how quick people’ll put out these days, honestly–”
“We’re living in new and sexy times, Harrington,” Eddie chuckles. “Why wait if you know you’re in for a good time?”
“I usually like to wine and dine ‘em a little first, set the mood–”
Robin could strangle the pair of them, with their little back-and-forths. She feels like she’s on the outside of some stupid joke, and she sighs, looking at Steve with an expression that tells him to stop being such a pig. “ Please don’t tell me it was one of the eight hundred girls you flirt with across this counter, ‘cause if some idiot is gonna start coming in here drooling over you everyday–”
“Hey, Steve Harrington does not kiss and tell.” He holds both his hands up, backing away from the counter. Eddie snickers softly.
“That is absolutely not true , you’re always bragging!” Robin interjects. Steve is getting further and further away, grinning as he goes. Robin resists the urge to stamp her foot. “I am not dealing with any lovesick, googly-eyed girls that come in here–”
“Goodbye! Don’t have too much fun without me!” Steve calls from the end of the shop, ducking quickly out into the crowds that pass by.
“Hey, y’know if slinging ice cream doesn’t work out, you should be a detective.” Eddie says, turning to look at her. “Get yourself one of those dumb hats, a pipe, you’d be a Sherlock for a new age–”
“Shut up .” She shoves him, stomping around him, heading to the staff room. “I’m going to find out who it is, and then I’m gonna get my ten dollars!”
“Sure, sure,” Eddie snickers, going back to the little cards in his hand as Robin disappears. She is going to find out who he’s seeing. And when she does, she’ll collect, just like she said.
Robin decides not long after that that whoever this person is that Steve went on a date with, it must be serious. Because all of a sudden, Steve’s interest in anyone remotely attractive who walks into the shop drops away entirely, like a switch being flipped. He doesn’t even flirt with her anymore, which is nothing short of a relief.
But still, it’s strange. She watches him as Carrie Bryce comes into the shop, twirling a lock of bright red hair around her finger, tilting her head and smiling sweetly as she chats to Steve. She might as well be holding up a sign that reads Steve Harrington I am free this Thursday and would like to go out and yet, despite the way she pushes her pink glossed lips into a pout and brushes her fingertips over his as she takes her cone, he’s nothing but professionally polite. Carrie throws an accusing glance at Robin as she turns on her heel and leaves, which is really fucking annoying, because Robin has no idea what this is about, and she hates the insinuation that just because she and Harrington are in proximity for eight hours at a time they must be ‘involved’. Carrie throws her ice cream in the trash can by the door on her way out, entirely untouched. Robin makes a mental note to add her to the customer shit list she has going with Eddie.
And it happens again. And again. Which is funny because before, when Steve would shamelessly flirt with anyone and everyone that showed up opposite the register, he was kind of hit or miss with it. Sometimes they’d be into it, but largely they would leave, giggling with their friends about how that was kind of awkward and kind of strange, glancing over their shoulders at Steve as they left.
(Robin had a whole whiteboard dedicated to just how much he sucked — Eddie had rubbed it off a few days ago in favour of a cartoon drawing of the three of them in their uniforms, all holding hands. A loss of important data, maybe, but it’s kind of cute, so she lets it slide.)
Now that he’s apparently decided he’s off the market, though, it’s like he’s irresistible. It’s like a parade of girls with big hair and shiny lips through the store and Robin’s not complaining in the slightest, but it’s weird . He doesn’t take the bait, not with any of them, and after a week she decides she can’t take it anymore.
Molly Kutcher stomps out of the store, muttering to her cronies as she goes. She had been very much hinting at Steve taking her to see Back to the Future at the cinema in the mall, but Steve hadn’t even picked up on it – or if he had, he’d done a good job of pretending otherwise. He’d told her to come back and let him know how it was and Robin had almost melted into the floor on Molly’s behalf. She stands behind him as he puts the coins into the register, stepping up to him when he shuts it with a ding .
“Okay, what gives?”
Steve turns to her, blinking his stupid big brown eyes, absolutely oblivious. “What?”
“ That . Kutcher. She wanted you to take her out, dingus.”
“Oh.” Steve murmurs. “Did she?”
“Yeah.” Robin says slowly, sounding out the word, her eyes blowing wide. How is he not getting this? Has his skull just been getting progressively thicker over the past few weeks? Maybe he has some kind of condition she doesn’t know about. “She was practically throwing herself over the counter at you.”
“Oh.” Steve says softly, a little resigned this time. He shrugs his shoulders. “Never mind, I guess.”
“ Never mind ?” Robin echoes. She wants to reach out to shake him violently by the shoulders, watch his stupid bobble head flop around. Maybe it’ll knock some sense into him. She doesn’t, but she can’t stop her fingers twitching. She smiles, teasing, as she looks at him. “Where is Steve Harrington and what have you done with him?”
He snorts in a way that isn’t at all attractive and shakes his head, his mouth opening to say something, but Robin cuts him off. Maybe if she rambles at him enough she can get him to spill. “In all the time we’ve worked together which is just over a month now, Steve, you have never not flirted with a customer that is like, our age and mildly attractive.”
“Do you know how weird you’re being right now?” Steve asks, crossing his arms over his chest.
The answer is yes, she does. But she carries on. “I’m worried for your health, Harrington. You’re not acting like yourself, it’s weird.”
“I’m fine .” Steve insists. He rolls his eyes, but she catches the shifty look to them, the furtive glancing away. He has a secret. “You’re being, like, crazy–”
“If you’re seeing someone and not gossiping about it with me that is like, so shitty Steve.” She informs him. “Eddie would never do that to me.”
“He wouldn’t?” Steve asks. He smirks, but he’s trying to hide it, his head down as he busies himself with replacing the roll of paper in the register. Robin’s eyes narrow. That feeling of being outside a joke persist, and Eddie isn’t even here this time.
“ No . Because he’s my friend.” She states. It feels kind of weird to say it, but he is. Eddie’s her friend. This summer’s kind of consolidated it, even if she doesn’t know what’ll happen when they go back to school in the fall. “Aren’t you my friend, Harrington?”
“Not right now, no.”
She throws a damp cloth at his head, the lemon-scent of the disinfectant on it briefly filling the air. He catches it before it can hit him – goddamn jock. “ Steve .”
“Alright! Fine! I’m seeing someone. Is that what you want? Is that what you wanna hear?” He throws his hands up, and Robin sees dollar signs in front of her eyes. Oh, she’s so going to get her money from Eddie.
“Who?” She pushes. She reaches out, prodding his bicep with her finger.
“I told you, I don’t kiss and tell.” He puts his hands on his hips, his stance reminiscent of Robin’s mother when she scolds her for hoarding cups in her room or not coming out to say hello to their guests. Robin resists the urge to look at her shoes.
“Steve!” She whines.
“Nuh-uh, Buckley, I’ve told you enough–”
“Are you two gossiping ?” Eddie plants both his palms on the counter, leaning against it as he looks between them. “ Without me? I’m hurt. I thought we were friends.”
“Steve won’t tell me who he’s dating.” Robin says, looking at Eddie. Surely he has equal stakes in this, she thinks. He’ll want to know who Steve’s seeing.
But all Eddie does is look at Steve, all wide-eyed, smiling in a way that makes his surprise look entirely false. Robin narrows her eyes. “You’re dating someone, Stevie?”
“Maybe.” Is Steve blushing ? Robin stares at him, hoping that if she narrows her eyes enough she’ll be able to read his thoughts. Steve scuffs the front of his converse on the bench underneath the counter, knocking the toe of it gently against the wood. “Early days, though. They might be too good for me.”
They. Robin’s eyes narrow again, before she realises she can’t actually see now - she blinks, but it doesn’t matter, ‘cause neither of them are looking at her.
“Oh, now I doubt that,” Eddie replies, pushing up from the counter, head tilted to one side. “Who could be better than King Steve?”
“You’d be surprised.” Is all Steve says, so cryptic that Robin wants to tear her hair out.
“Go clock out, Harrington. And punch me in whilst you’re there.” Eddie tells him, nodding his head towards the door.
“Want me to take your bag?” Steve asks, gesturing to the backpack falling off Eddie’s shoulder.
“Nah, I’ll dump it in a sec. Now shoo.” He waves his hands, but for a second, Steve doesn’t move. There’s a look passed between them, a silent communication that Robin can’t decode. She grinds her molars, casting her gaze to the ceiling in despair, missing the way Eddie shoots Steve a wink. Steve disappears, and Eddie waits until the door has swung shut to look at her.
“Still no closer to winning this bet, huh?”
“I hate you.” She informs him. “Do you know who it is?”
“Me?” He perches a hand over his sternum. “If I knew, Robin, I would tell you. And collect my ten bucks.”
“But maybe you do know and you know that I’ve won and you don’t want to pay up.” She says. Eddie purses his lips, and she can see the smile behind them, twitching at the corners of his mouth. “Which is totally unfair, by the way.”
Eddie steps away from the counter, moving towards the back room. “If I knew I would tell you, Buckley. A deal’s a deal.”
She doesn’t believe him, but she doesn’t say anything else. She huffs softly as he disappears, drumming her nails on the countertop. There has to be some way to find out. She wants her ten dollars sometime before summer ends so that she actually has time to enjoy it, but short of actively stalking Steve, she’s not sure what else she can do.
She considers her options for a while before she realises that neither one of them has reemerged – it’s a good five minutes since Eddie disappeared, and like ten minutes into his shift. Thankfully the place is pretty quiet, but still. Robin could do with a break, and surely Steve should want to go home?
She pushes through the door to the Captain’s Quarters , her voice ringing out as she goes. “Eddie I swear to god if you don’t get there I’m going to take one of those bananas and jam it in your–”
The room is empty. Her voice ricochets off the walls back to her. Eddie’s backpack sits on the table in the middle of the room, and upon inspection, Steve’s is still sitting by the coat rack.
She glances around the room, wondering if the two of them have been raptured without her knowing. That can’t be it, though, because there’s absolutely no way either of them are going to heaven, and if she’s been raptured then why is heaven a Scoops Ahoy, and why does she still have to wear this stupid uniform? No, they’ve not left – or at least, they’ve not gone far.
She perches by the door to the back corridor, her ear to it. It’s usually pretty quiet out there seeing as it’s for staff only, but she can hear something– wet smacking, heavy breathing. Making out . Her eyes widen momentarily as she presses herself fully up against the door, as if that’ll make the sounds any clearer. There’s absolutely no way this is what she thinks it is. Right?
Only one way to find out.
She pushes the door open forcefully, busting into the corridor like a cop on a drugs bust. Still entirely in denial as to what she knows is going on, what her brain says makes the most sense– that Steve has been flirting with Eddie this entire time, even after he stopped flirting with everyone else, that they’re always sharing some kind of inside joke that she’s not in on, that they make each other blush constantly, flirty little winks and insinuations thrown about. But there’s no way, she tells herself. Because Steve Harrington is straight .
Or not, as evidence would prove. Because Eddie has his back to the wall, Steve’s left hand by his head and his right hand on his hip, and Steve’s lips on his, noses bumping as they each pull away.
They stare at her. She stares at them. She turns on her heel and walks back into the staff room for a second, reaching for her rucksack. She goes back out into the hallway, resolutely not looking at either of them, her body angled away as she holds out a ten dollar note.
Eddie takes it with a hissed yes .
“If you’re not back in five minutes I’m getting both of you fired.” She warns, stalking back through to the front.
It’s been six minutes by the time Eddie comes back through to the front. Robin doesn’t hold good on her promise, though – she doesn’t want to work here alone. Eddie’s lips are kiss bitten, his cheeks pink. She scowls at him. “How long has this been going on?”
“Uh– about three weeks.”
“ What ?”
“I mean, that was when it started , I guess, we were just talking about making it official when you burst in on us–”
Robin grimaces. "I didn't hear a lot of talking going on."
Eddie grins, entirely unashamed. "I just asked him, Robin. ‘S not that hard. I mean, I was pretty sure he was kinda fruity, he kept staring at my lips whenever I was talking to him–”
Robin interrupts him by smacking his arm. Eddie flinches, rubbing at his arm. “Ow!”
“You just asked him!?”
“Yeah. Turns out he is queer.”
“Well I guess that, dumbass. I just saw him shoving his tongue down your throat.” She shudders, the image of it lingering behind her eyelids. “You’re paying for my therapy.”
“And you are paying for me to take Steve to the movies.” Eddie smiles, tilting his head so that his unruly curls, made only worse by Steve’s fingers being tangled in them, flop dangerously close to the freezer. He taps the ten dollar bill in his pocket. “So thank you for that.”
“I hate you both.” She pauses. “Where’s Steve?”
As if on cue he appears from the back, raising one hand in a wave. "Had to fix my hair." He admits. Right. Because Eddie had just been running his fingers through it.
"So you're not straight?" She asks.
"No," Steve draws out the sound, shaking his head. "Super bi."
Robin doesn't have to look at Eddie to know that he's grinning; she can feel the warmth radiating off of his smile. "Since when?"
"Since forever?" Steve returns, rubbing the back of his neck. Robin gives him an entirely unimpressed look, so he continues, "Tommy got super drunk at his birthday party in tenth grade and told me he had a crush on me or whatever, so we spent that entire summer just, like, making out. I guess that was the start of it."
Robin blinks. Eddie is snickering softly beside her, shoulders shaking. She feels kinda dumb, but in her own defense, Steve is a very good actor. Like he can read her mind, he adds, "But, y'know. Hawkins, Indiana. Gotta play the part, right?"
"And you play it so well, baby," Eddie beams. Robin makes a soft ugh sound, shaking her head.
"Get out of here, Harrington. You two being all googly-eyed is making me nauseous." She says.
“That’s very homophobic of you, Robin.” Eddie tsks. “I expected better of you.”
She reaches out to flick his ear. “That’s not the issue and you know it.”
Eddie shakes his head, muttering something about small town prejudices. Robin doesn’t pay him any mind, but she does repurpose an old jelly jar, the label on it reading Traumatising Robin Jar . She places it on the table in the back room whenever they’re all on shift together, and finds that it’s hard to be upset about how quickly it fills up when she gets to keep the contents of it.