53. Cherries
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After their main weekend date night (because now Robin now has a mid-week date night with Oliver too!), Robin leaves Oliver’s place first and heads out to the shop. After hiring Damien, who is a barista like Jenny, Robin has hired a pastry chef, Chloe, who’s main job is to help prepare all the different desserts and cakes in the morning and early afternoon. This allows Robin to accept more dessert commissions.

When Oliver comes by in the afternoon, Robin makes sure Jenny has the spare keys to lock up, and then leaves with Oliver.

“...That’s a lot of stuff,” Oliver says, side-eying the bags in Robin’s hands. He takes one and his expression becomes even more surprised. “What’s in here?”

“Two kilos of oranges and a kilo of cherries,” Robin admits.

Oliver eyes the other bag.

“And I have cake and some more cheeses here,” Robin adds.

Oliver’s expression becomes soft. “You don’t need to bribe my mum.”

“This is hardly a bribe,” Robin protests. “If it were, I would have carried a crate of mangoes too!”

In fact, Robin has grown up with this kind of behaviour—when visiting others, it is very important to bring a gift, and fruit is a common choice.

When they exit the station in Oliver’s home suburb, Robin’s trying not to be nervous. Oliver spots a familiar car by the pick-up area and ushers Robin forward. Thankfully, he opens the back passenger door.

“Hey mum,” Oliver says, nudging Robin in. “Mum, this is Robin.”

Robin smiles politely. “Hello, Oliver’s mum.”

Oliver’s mum turns in the driver’s seat, her eyes assessing. “Robin, good to finally meet you. Call me Susan.”

“The pleasure is mine,” Robin says. He doesn’t dare call Oliver’s mum by her given name.

Oliver’s mum gives a weak smile and drives. It’s only when they arrive and get out of the car does she notice all the things they’re carrying.

“What’s all this?”

“They’re for you,” Robin says.

“No, this is too much,” Oliver’s mum says without looking.

“No, please, take it, I should have brought more,” Robin says.

“Yeah, he really means it,” Oliver adds.

Eventually, Robin’s able to convince Oliver’s mum to accept the food—she concedes when she sees the cheese. The cake goes into the fridge.

In the kitchen Robin meets Rebecca, the girlfriend of Oliver’s older brother. “I’m glad you brought cake,” she says, grinning as they shake hands.

“I hope you’ll enjoy it,” Robin says sincerely.

“We can make a club,” Oliver says. “The eat-desserts club. If Cameron doesn’t want to join then it’s all the more for us!”

Rebecca laughs. “If one of you were my boyfriend, then I would get to eat a lot more dessert, huh?”

“What’s this?” A tall, solidly built man stomps into the kitchen and wraps an arm around Rebecca’s waist. A younger man follows him.

“This is Cameron and Henry,” Oliver introduces.

“Robin, nice to meet you.” Robin shakes hands with Oliver’s brothers, not changing expression at Cameron’s macho grip.

Cameron appears to like to loom on purpose. “So. Robin,” he says, voice a touch of taunting. “Can you play footy? Or do you want to join my girlfriend and my mum in the kitchen?”

“You’re just saying that because you can’t cook,” Oliver quickly retorts. “How weakling.”

“Cut it,” Cameron says, annoyed. “Can you cook, Ollie?”

“Wait, I thought you could only make burnt pasta,” Henry says.

Robin’s lips quirk up, glancing at Oliver. Burnt pasta was exactly what they almost had on their first dinner together.

“I made a full roast chicken with all the trimmings a while ago,” Oliver says proudly.

“Really?” his mum says, sounding a bit dubious.

Really,” Oliver insists. “I rather help you in the kitchen then be Cameron’s footy-ego-boost.”

Oliver,” his mum says.

“Actually, I don’t play footy,” Robin tells Cameron. “But my sister does. She’s really good. She plays in the local casual league, and her full time job is literally teaching kids and adults how to play. She says it’s like having the best part of footy, getting to play for fun everyday. She also helps teach and support disadvantaged kids and even attends conferences about sport. By the way, what do you do, Cameron?”

Cameron’s expression sours.

Robin inwardly smirks. No one can beat Lark, and certainly not Cameron.

Henry bursts out laughing, nudging Cameron in the ribs. “Heh, what was that, Cammie?”

“Car repairs,” Cameron minces out. “And neither of you have a car, huh?”

“Actually, I do have a car,” Robin says. “It’s currently parked at my local station.”

Henry slaps Robin on the shoulder. “Mate, welcome,” he says warmly. “Anyone cooler than Cameron is a brother of mine.”

“Does that make Rebecca your brother too?” Oliver says.

Amongst all the grins, Rebecca (who is also smiling) pats Cameron soothingly. “It’s alright, Cameron. It’s the weekend, why don’t you call the boys and play a game down at the park? By the time you come back, we’ll have dinner ready.”

“I was going to do that yesterday, just thought it’ll be polite to invite Oliver’s boyfriend,” Cameron says. “Clearly your answer is no, so I’ll be off.”

“Don’t forget your sunscreen,” his mum says.

“I know.” Cameron stalks off.

“I’m sorry about Cameron,” Oliver’s mum starts.

Robin smiles apologetically. “Maybe I shouldn’t have told him about my sister.”

“Nonsense,” Rebecca says. “Your sister sounds lovely.”

“Should we start making dinner now?” Robin asks.

“No, no,” Oliver’s mum says. “The chicken is already marinating, and popping it into the oven is easy. Why don’t you wash some fruit and play some games?”

“Sounds good,” Henry says enthusiastically.

*

Oliver watches as Henry leads Robin and Rebecca away to play video games. Oliver lingers in the kitchen, dutifully washing some cherries and delaying getting totally defeated.

“Well, he seems like a nice boy,” his mum says. “Did he grow up here?”

“Yeah, well not in this suburb.”

“And you treat him well?”

“Of course.”

His mum hums, but makes no further comments.

By the time Oliver heads into the living room, Henry, Robin and Rebecca have started playing, vibrant colours and characters moving across the TV screen.

“Just watch and wait til this round finishes,” Henry says without any remorse.

Oliver rolls his eyes and sits down next to Robin. “Cherries?” He holds one up to Robin’s lips.

Robin’s eyes dart quickly from the TV screen to him. “Thanks.” He accepts the cherry. Oliver holds up the spare bowl for the cherry pit, and repeats.

The cherries are not tart, they’re ripe and sweet but with a slightly firm bite that isn’t mushy. Oliver licks his lips. Robin’s lips are stained red. He would lean over to kiss, but then he’ll block his boyfriend’s view of the game.

“Hey, why aren’t you feeding me cherries?” Henry complains. “Me and Rebecca are like your siblings too!”

“Fine, fine,” Oliver says. He leans over and feeds them too, amused by Henry’s shamelessness, and Rebecca plays along.

“This is the life,” she says. “Gaming and having a handsome guy feed you cherries. How about I recline while you look for some grapes? Sorry Robin, but Oliver wouldn’t mind, right?”

Robin smiles, pressing his shoulder against Oliver’s. “That’s alright.”

Oliver pouts. “Robin! Treading on thin ice!”

“Ah, as long as I get Oliver back at night,” Robin says.

Henry groans while Rebecca laughs. But at least Oliver gets a kiss from Robin, which makes it alright in the end.

And when Oliver glances to the door, he catches his mum watching with the slightest exasperated smile on her face.

 

 

Bringing fruit when visiting other people is very asian in my opinion haha. And like....fluff? The little chapters feel a bit disjoint ahhhh, they basically feel like epilogue scenes already....??

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