Chapter Seventy-One: “If someone mugged her, she’d invite them for tea”

Robin and Finch had been dating for about two months. Things were going really well, considering that Finch barely spoke and Robin was an apathetic asshole. Finch, however, in one of his rare loquacious moments, vaguely suggested that it might be time for them to meet each other’s families. At the time, Robin’s near-jerk reaction had been to nod without saying anything. It wasn’t until he was at home alone later that he let himself really panic about it.

He was in no way ashamed of Finch or his relationship with Finch. Finch was arguably the coolest person he had ever met. He wasn’t overly friendly, though. Robin’s mother, Suze, was the kindest woman in the world. Robin didn’t think she’d be blatantly unkind to Finch, because she wouldn’t ever be blatantly unkind to anybody ever, but he also wasn’t sure she’d be thrilled about his new relationship. He was already introducing her to an awful lot as it was, what with Finch being the first man he’d ever dated. And then to add the fact that Finch was a surly, brooding dude in a leather jacket with a shaved head, a nose ring, and a scowl that frequently made small children cry on public transportation seemed almost unnecessarily cruel.

“Am I having a gay crisis?” Robin asked Miles one night after explaining his dilemma. They were standing in Miles’ kitchen, very obviously avoiding Miles’ mopey roommate Liam, who was sitting in the living room, sniffling to himself as he watched Jurassic Park. Miles had said they had to avoid Liam because Liam would want to talk about his break-up. Miles didn’t want to talk about Liam’s break-up. He’d already gone several weeks without talking about Liam’s break-up, a streak which Miles was very much hoping to uphold.

“Well, you’re sure as hell having some kind of crisis,” Miles returned unhelpfully.

“I’m just concerned about my mother…,” Robin trailed off.

“I’m sure your mum will love Finch,” Miles replied dismissively.

“Seriously?” Robin asked, hope welling inside his chest.

“No, not seriously,” Miles returned immediately. “Absolutely not. He’s terrifying. Your mum will be terrified of him. She’ll be nice about it, but she’s nice about everything. If someone mugged her, she’d invite them for tea.”

It was not what Robin had been hoping to hear.

Robin met Finch’s family first. It seemed like a better idea. They went out for dinner with Finch’s parents, his two brothers, and his sister-in-law Julie. All of them were bizarrely kind individuals. Even his brothers, who Finch said pestered him about going to church all the time, were nice. Robin was even more concerned about introducing Finch to his own family afterward. Of course, his mother would be as welcoming as Finch’s parents, but she would also likely be very startled. Robin came to the conclusion that he’d have to forewarn his mother about Finch so that both she and Finch didn’t learn about each other at the same time. Finch would handle that fine. His mother would probably have some sort of embolism.

Robin had just resolved himself to call his mother and explain the situation when she turned up unexpectedly to his apartment one Saturday morning. It was the first time she’d ever been to his apartment. He’d been putting off having her over for a number of reasons, all of them related to Joey. He was trying to find a time when Joey was going to be out for a prolonged period of time to have her over. Of course, when she showed up unannounced, Joey was sprawled on the couch in the living room with a towel under his bleeding nose. There was an ice pack on his crotch and his backpack had been conspicuously absent when he’d returned home so Robin assumed things had not gone well in the Best Buy parking lot.

If Robin was apprehensive about his mother meeting Finch, it was nothing compared to how little he’d wanted her to meet Joey. He had had plans to put it off indefinitely. That was shot straight to hell the moment his mother stepped inside the apartment and Joey wolf-whistled at her.

“Damn, Robin,” he said. “Your mother is fine.”

Robin’s mother, Suze, blushed furiously instantly. Robin was fairly confident in the assumption that no one had hit on her since his parents had gotten divorced while he was in the third grade. She wore a lot of turtlenecks. Joey, however, seemed to find turtleneck sweaters on middle-aged women alluring. Robin had given up on trying to figure him out. For quite some time, he’d been under the impression that Joey had a thing for Finch. Then he had asked out Tallulah’s sister Priscilla. Clearly Joey was a very complex individual and Robin couldn’t even begin to fathom the depths of his intricacies, nor did he want to. Joey was an enigma better left unexplored.

“Oh my,” Suze said delicately, moving to take a seat at the kitchen table. Robin sat across from her after he’d fixed her a mug of tea. Joey stayed on the couch, much to Robin’s chagrin. He’d been hoping that he would make himself scarce, but no such luck.

“I’m glad you stopped by,” Robin told his mother mostly truthfully.

“Oh, me too, dear,” Suze replied, beaming as she patted him on the back of the hand.

“I want to introduce you to someone,” Robin continued sheepishly. He had no idea how to begin talking about Finch. There was a lot to discuss and his mother had only come over for a nice visit and to drop off some muffins.

“Ooh, got a nice girl, have you?” Suze cooed excitedly. On the couch, Joey laughed sharply, clearly eavesdropping.

“Sort of,” Robin answered, mouth twisting. Joey laughed even louder, loud enough that Suze turned to give him a wary look. She looked concerned, like they were only moments away from her giving Robin a whispered lecture about the merits of making good friends. She felt that the right friends could go a long way in a person’s life. That was why she was so pleased when Robin had first introduced her to Miles. He was polite to his seniors. Besides, Robin had met him at church camp, which had gone a long way. He was definitely going to find a way to work in the fact that Finch voluntarily went to church every Sunday morning. Granted, so did Joey. It seemed less likely to improve his character, though.

“Tell me about her,” Suze instructed enthusiastically, turning back to Robin.

“Well, his name is Finch and he works with me at the record store,” Robin answered quickly. “He goes to church every week. He bakes.”

Suze was stunned. Joey laughed even louder. Robin should’ve prepared better for this. The silence that followed his admission was heavy and uncomfortable. Joey was unbothered by the tension, turning on the television to watch tennis. He was weirdly invested in tennis. Robin wondered if maybe he had some kind of betting pool going on. It seemed unimportant at the moment, though. His mother was still blinking at him unnervingly quickly. Eventually, she broke the silence.

“You know I love you no matter what, right?” She asked gently, reaching out to take his hand again.

“Yeah, Mum, I know,” Robin replied, thankful that his mother was who she was. She was the kindest woman on the planet and he was eternally grateful.

When Suze and Finch actually met for the first time, Robin made sure to arrange it so that they were out of his apartment with no chance of Joey turning up. They went to an Italian restaurant near his place because his mother loved carbonara. Finch arrived at the restaurant in a collared shirt and Robin was so stunned that he was left momentarily speechless. Suze tittered about him being stunned by Finch’s handsomeness, which was precious and ultimately untrue. He hadn’t known Finch even owned a collared shirt. He was almost one hundred per cent positive that he’d borrowed it from one of his roommates. Although it was black.

By the end of dinner, Suze seemed sufficiently charmed by Finch, who had willingly volunteered information about himself in several complete sentences. Robin was dumbfounded. When they left the restaurant and walked Suze to her car, she hugged each of them tightly before saying good-bye.

“My little robin and my little finch,” she cooed, looking teary as she opened her car door. Robin groaned internally. He could already tell that they were going to get a lot of bird-related joint presents. There were many birdhouses in their future.

“Your mother is very nice,” Finch commented as she drove away, waving frenetically in the rearview mirror. “She’s very welcoming and sentimental.”

Robin nodded in agreement.

“You’re not like her at all,” Finch continued. Robin pushed him off the curb.

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