Eighty-second sunset: Robin
A/N: Second incursion in our beloved Robin's head! Enjoy this chapter, I think it'll please most of those who hate the slow-burn. :p
Also, thank you for sending out your ideas for the baby's name, I think I've found one that particularly appeals to me (and to Regina) for its meaning both in signification and in symbolism. So stop sending out ideas. I've got the one. ;) And thanks to all of you! Some of those names are truly beautiful, and if I am blessed with children one day, I think I may call my daughter one of those. :)
And keep asking questions, don't be shy, I don't bite!
A reader asked: "Does Grace know Jefferson likes Elsa? Or is she going to play little matchmaker between Regina and Jefferson?"
You'll see. Grace isn't stupid though. She knows her Papa quite well. :p
27. Eighty-second sunset: Robin
That day had been exhausting to say the least for our archer. Marian and him had gotten into another argument when she got up early in the morning, her 'bleeper' calling for her in the hospital at an ungodly hour.
Ever since she had found that job as a nurse, he was seeing less and less of her.
Not that it seriously bothered him, but...he thought she'd not like it. Being apart for so long periods of time.
No, if he was honest to himself, the fact that he was not seeing his wife that often, except for diner and sometimes even not for that, didn't bother him so much. He had more time to himself to think and to take care of his son as he used to before she came back rushing into their lives.
Except this time, one person was missing, one crucial person.
Robin had grown more and more worried about Regina when Marian told him during a casual conversation that the Queen was coming in to see Dr Whale regularly. To him, something was off, even if his wife kept telling him she was checking on that blow to the head.
Regina's skull was as hard as diamonds. It was not that.
That day, he went to fetch Roland a little later than usual due to his work.
But he knew his son wouldn't mind, since his Papa fought baddies all the time.
It brought a small smile to his lips as he entered the elementary school, that his son was always so enthusiastic about his parents' jobs. Papa fought baddies, Mama saved people. Such a proud little boy.
"Papa! Papa!" his gaze snapped to the right where Roland was currently running towards him at full speed.
He caught him mid-air and swooped him in his arms. "Hello there, little man."
"Look Papa!" Roland's arms were full of paper flowers. "Miss Nova said we could do something for the women we love."
"Oh." he smiled. "I suppose you've made some for your Mama then."
Roland nodded and showed him the two pink roses in his arms. "These are for Mama." Then the two blood-red roses. "And these are for Gina."
Robin frowned a little. "For Gina?"
"Yes, Papa, I love her too!" Roland struggled in his father's arms to be put down, then he looked up at him, slightly concerned. "Do you think I can give it to her now?"
Robin looked at his watch. Six pm. He sighed and shook his head. "It's a little early for that, little man, she's surely dining now. Maybe we can go back to Granny's, put your mother's in the room, go eat something and then go to Gina's?"
Roland's brow furrowed as if he pondered the proposition, then he smiled brightly and nodded. "Yes! That is a good idea."
Robin smiled again as his son pulled him towards the exit, but it faltered a bit at the thought of visiting Regina that evening.
What would she think? Would she let them in or would she leave them under the porch and slam the door on their faces?
He shook his head at this thought. No, Regina would not do something like that ever. Not to Roland. She loved his son, and would not be cruel with someone who had nothing to do in their current...situation.
Roland was jumping up and down excitedly during the whole diner. He even stopped Ruby when she came by to serve them more water to tell her he was going to 'see Gina and give her the most beautiful gift ever'. The wolf-girl had smiled softly at the boy but sent a harsh glance to his father, who was so used to it by then that he didn't even think to protest anymore...
During the main course, Emma and Killian came in, no doubt to have their own diner.
While the Saviour seemed keen to avoid the archer when they were not at work, the pirate went straight to where he sat. "Hey there, mate."
Robin smiled up at the other man. "Good evening, Killian. Emma." She nodded back, although clearly uncomfortable. "Care to join us?"
"No, thank you, we're here to order on the move." Emma said. "And I'll go order right now. Excuse me." And she walked towards the counter, leaving the boys by themselves.
Killian rolled his eyes. "She still feels responsible."
"For what?" Robin's brow furrowed.
"You know, the whole...'Marian affair'. She thinks you're pissed at her."
Robin's eyes widened. "Me? Angry with her? No, not at all! I thought she was angry with me!"
Killian chuckled darkly. "Yeah, well, I'd better tell her that then."
There was a pause, then Robin, glancing at his son, seemed to realise something. "Are you not dining at Emma's parents tonight?" They always ate at Snow's, always. It was as if the princess didn't bear not having her daughter close to her.
Killian shook his head. "Nope, not tonight. Dave wanted some time alone with his wife. Little Neal is under Tink's care tonight, and Henry is at Regina's, so...we're all alone." He winked, and Robin caught the underlying message, which sent a pang of jealousy to his heart. At least Killian could enjoy his lady's company, while he...
Roland, who had remained silent during the whole exchange – he was so impressed by 'the man with a hook' that he barely spoke in his presence - spoke up then. "Henry is at Gina's?" he smiled brightly at his father. "That means I can see him too!"
Robin smiled softly, albeit sadly too. "I guess so, little man."
Killian's brow furrowed. "You're intending to go to the Mayor's tonight? Risky, mate."
Robin sighed. "Roland has a gift for her."
"Oh, I see." he smirked. "Well, good luck, mate."
The pirate nodded both boys his goodbyes and joined Emma at the counter.
Risky was a euphemism.
After they were done with their meal, Roland started fussing that he wanted to go to Gina's now or she'd be already gone to bed.
Robin didn't have the heart to tell him that grown-ups scarcely went to sleep that early, and let him walk ahead of him in the still faintly lit main street.
It was mid-July by then, and the cold Elsa had brought with her hadn't subsided yet. He doubted it ever would. But he didn't mind the cold. He even felt as if it kind of was his penance.
As stupid as it sounds.
So, at eight pm, the sun seemed already almost set, even if it was a side-effect of the Atlanteans' magic and the high wall of water hovering in a bubble over most of the town.
That sometimes worried Robin, that wall of water. It soon would be closed over their heads, and what might come after frightened him. He had known some dark magic during his life – the worst being Rumpelstiltskin's – but not one that might drown every one into town with a simple flick of will from a strange people.
"Hurry up, Papa!"
Robin shook off his thoughts and smiled at his son a few meters ahead of him. "Go on, little man, I'll catch up with you."
Roland nodded and hurried head on his own. Regina's house could already be seen over her high hedge.
Roland had already rung the doorbell when he reached the front door.
In a moment of cowardice, Robin hoped he could hide behind a bush or something and let his son do his business with the Queen. Then he reminded himself Roland was five, and could not possibly go all alone to an adult's door. He'd be caught, and would pass for the imbecile he felt at that moment.
It took more than a minute for someone to come open the door. She surely had been tidying or maybe had been in the middle of a conversation with her son.
But when the door opened, it was not Regina. It wasn't Henry.
It was the Hatter.
Robin felt his blood boil in his veins at the sight of the other man opening Regina's front door as if he belonged there.
He had seen the man named Jefferson interact with Regina on many occasions now since this had whole started, but he had never felt such anger as he felt right now. Being friendly with her, overly friendly at that, was one thing. Opening her front door as if he owned the place was something else entirely.
Jefferson's eyes locked onto the small boy before him at first, and since they had already met, Roland had no qualms in smiling up at the guy. "Hey there. Roland, is it?"
Roland nodded frantically. "Is Gina here?"
"Of course she is, it is her house after all." He chuckled, then a smirk appeared on his lips as he looked up at Robin, who saw red. "Good evening, archer."
"Hatter." The venom in his voice was unmistakeable, but said Hatter merely smirked wider, as if the situation was extremely agreeable.
Jefferson then straightened up and looked back inside. "Regina! There's someone for you at the door!"
There was the sound of hurried heels inside the house, then Regina appeared, a white apron stretched on her stomach, and upon seeing who it was, she started slightly before whirling around and muttering something under her breath.
Robin would have sworn he saw purple light around her at one point.
Jefferson went back inside, to Robin's delight, leaving the three of them alone on the porch.
Yes, she'd leave them there. Because she had guests. And she would not wish to see them when he was there.
Robin gritted his teeth as Regina's brown eyes met his for a fraction of a second before she settled her attention on the small bundle of joy that had attached itself to her legs as usual.
"Good evening, good sir! And what brings you to my door tonight?"
It still amazed Robin how enthusiastic she could sound when interacting with his son while she was obviously uncomfortable.
Roland outstretched his arm and the couple of paper flowers in his hand. "This is for you!" Regina's eyes widened and a small smile formed on her lips. "Miss Nova said we could do some for the women we loved, and I love you too b'cause you are my godmother!"
At that she let out a little squeal of surprise, he could tell, but then tears started forming in her eyes and she scooped the little boy in her arms, hugging him tight.
"Thank you, my darling, thank you."
Her eyes met Robin's, and his heart leaped in his chest at the sight of her tears. He wished so much to take her in his arms, to soothe the sudden sadness Roland's words had awaken in her.
But he couldn't. Had no right to. And it killed him.
When she settled him down, Roland looked up sheepishly at Regina. "Is Henry here?"
The Queen smiled and nodded. "Yes, he is. You want to say hello?" Roland nodded frantically. "He is in the kitchen. Go." Roland didn't need another push, and he ran inside, leaving Regina and his father alone.
Robin took a deep breath. He knew he should not make a scene, but he could not just stand there and say nothing. So he slowly walked up to Regina and reached behind her, closing the door softly.
Regina said nothing, and apparently, his proximity did things to her as hers did to him for her breath itched. "What are you doing?" she whispered as he backed away.
"I wanted to talk to you."
Their voices were still down, as if their conversation could be heard by the walls itself. Robin liked that. It meant the Hatter inside would not hear. "Jefferson."
She seemed slightly surprised to say the least, but quickly enough, a light sparked in her eyes and she crossed her arms. "I can invite whomever I want in my house, can't I?"
"Yes, you can, but...I don't like him."
She chuckled darkly. "You don't like him. Well, the feeling is mutual." She paused. "You have no right to tell me that, you know it, right?"
Robin saw red again, the mere thought of Jefferson's arms around her form sending murdering ideas to his mind. "I have every right. Or have you forgotten what you told me about this?" He outstretched his right hand and uncovered his wrist, showing her the fated tattoo that had started this whole story in the first place.
Regina's eyes closed for a second, and she didn't reopen them when she spoke next. "It doesn't matter anymore. You've made your choice."
"Regina, listen to me very carefully." He advanced on her, placing his hands on her arms and forcing her to look at him. "Marian is Roland's mother. Do you have any idea how hurt my son could be if I rejected his mother?"
She didn't answer, her brown orbs staring so deeply in his a lump formed in his throat under her scrutiny.
Then she took a deep breath. "It doesn't matter. You've still chosen her. And I won't be the other woman."
He didn't know what to answer to that. He knew, of course he knew, how hurt she was to be second-choice. She had been second-choice all her life. By her mother who didn't love her, by her husband who thought of her as a sister, by her guards who preferred Snow White...everyone.
So he had to do something, even if it was stupid.
"You could never be the other woman." his hand weaved itself in her hair and pulled her softly towards him, and he kissed her lips as softly as he could.
Unlike the last kiss they shared, this one didn't have a taste of last one. It had a taste of what he had missed so much during these long weeks without her. Love. Belonging. Soul-mates.
He knew he was hers as she was his. They were fated to be, and he poured all of that in their kiss.
It remained slow and languid, and if she froze at first, she soon answered, her slender arms closing around him as they kissed under the setting sun.
Then, all of a sudden, she pulled back away from him, as if she was trying to put as much distance between them as possible. "I can't, Robin, I can't..." And she backed away inside her house, leaving him alone in the cold, the lingering taste of her on his lips.
And when Roland rejoined him five minutes later with a goofy grin on his lips, Robin caught one last glance of the man closing the door.
But this time, he was the one to smirk.
Jefferson might be there that night, but Regina had kissed him back.
She still loved him.