Sunday morning breakfast
"Okay. Time to add the blueberries."
His assistant reached a chubby hand into the bowl of freshly washed fruit and scooped up a fistful of berries before cautiously scattering into the pancake batter he'd just ladled into the pan.
"Like that, Poppo?" Rowena asked, aiming those eager brown eyes right at him. He tousled the four year-olds sleep-messed black curls with a smile before picking up the spatula.
"Exactly like that, Ro," Robin replied. "I have a feeling these are going to be the best pancakes I've ever had."
His granddaughter giggled before staring down at her handiwork from her perch on the safety stool, beaming with pride just the way her mother had done at this age when she'd been his pancake sous chef.
He and Regina had kept the grandbabies overnight last night, something they offered to do on a semi-regular basis so Merida and Neal could occasionally sneak in a night out together, not exactly an easy feat for the parents of two young children. Ro adored sleeping in her mother's old room, but Archer wasn't so fond of the crib they'd installed for him in Roland's old quarters, and had ended up sleeping on top of Regina's chest for most of the night. The pair of them were still stretched out on the oversized recliner he'd purchased years ago, much to his wife's chagrin, snoring in time with one another.
He really should snap a picture of them. Maybe later. There were pancakes to attend to at the moment.
The spatula worked it's flipping magic, and Ro clapped as Robin grabbed up a wooden spoon in his left hand and stirred the blueberry compote he'd left to simmer on the back burner.
"When do we make the whipped cream, Poppo?" Ro asked, setting a sticky palm on his cheek.
"After we finish the pancakes," he answered. "Whipped cream doesn't take long, but the mixer does make a bit of noise."
"Can I be the taster?" Ro asked, biting her lower lip in a way that reminded him so much of Regina.
"Of course," Robin replied, touching the tip of her nose. "I couldn't ask for a better taster than you."
Ro giggled as he slid three pancakes off of the skillet before adding batter for three more. She dutifully added the berries, just the way her grandpa had taught her, beaming at his resulting praise.
"Something smells good enough to eat."
Her voice washed over him like a clear mountain spring, the way it always had, ever since the day of their first meeting in the Enchanted Forest.
"Good morning, Love," he replied, turning to smile at his wife and their youngest grandchild. Archer's thumb was in his mouth, his red hair sticking up every which way as he held tightly to his grandmother's chest. "Somebody still looks half-asleep."
"Make that two somebodies," Regina returned, walking to the coffee pot and pouring herself a cup of dark roast. "I didn't really sleep all that well."
He assumed that her back would be bothering her later today, so he'd offer a massage and a no frills dinner of spaghetti and wine, one of the few dishes he'd perfected over the years.
"Maybe you can catch a nap after the kids leave," he mused before flipping the pancakes. "We don't have anything on the agenda for today, do we?"
"Not a thing, thank God," Regina replied before taking a sip of her coffee and walking over to give both him and her granddaughter kisses.
"Hey, buddy," Robin said, rubbing his grandson's head. "How's my boy this morning."
The one year old didn't answer, choosing to suck on his thumb a little harder, instead.
"I think he's cutting a tooth," Regina stated, reaching back to take another sip from her mug. "It would have been nice if Merida and Neal had mentioned that fact when they dropped the kids off."
Robin chuckled, and rubbed the top of his head.
"They might have been worried we'd have changed our minds about keeping him," he stated with a shrug. His wife gave him an unamused stare.
"Granna-look!" Ro exclaimed, pointing to the skillet. "Look at our pancakes. They're gonna be yummy."
Regina couldn't help but smile as she leaned down and rubbed noses with her granddaughter.
"I'm sure they will," Regina returned. "You know how much I love blueberry pancakes."
"I know," Ro replied with a grin that looked just like her mother's.
"Why don't you go sit down with Archer, and Ro and I will serve you breakfast?" Robin suggested, smiling as his wife rubbed a finger down his bare arm.
"That sounds lovely," Regina returned, managing to balance her grandson in one arm and her coffee in the other. The fact that she was magical without using her magic made him lover her all the more.
He and Ro made a final round of pancakes before making the whipped cream and toting their creations to the table. Regina ooo'd and ahhh'd much to Ro's delight, and Archer turned and faced the table from his grandmother's lap with a grin that melted Robin's heart.
"Here, Archer," Robin said once his hands were free. "Let me put you in your highchair so we can get you some pancakes."
The boy reached for his granddad, laughing as Robin tossed him up in the air once for good measure.
"You're going to throw your back out doing that," Regina warned, earning herself a look of reprimand as he settled Archer into his highchair.
"I'm not that old," he retorted. "And I do stay fit, you know."
"Oh, I know," she hummed, tossing him the best wink she could muster. "Believe me, I appreciate your level of fitness. I just don't want you to end up laid out on the couch like David was a few weeks ago when he was playing horse and chariot with these two."
"I'm smarter than David is," Robin whispered as he took his seat, making certain Ro was all secure in her booster. "You can't tell your grandpapa that I said that, alright?"
Ro placed a finger over her lips and nodded.
"That's my girl," Robin replied, kissing the girl's forehead before they all dug into breakfast. He paused at one point, staring at his wife as she cut up Archer's pancake into bite-sized pieces he could pick up with his fingers.
"What?" Regina asked, tucking a strand of gray behind one ear.
"Nothing," he replied, taking a sip of his coffee. "I was just thinking about how lucky I am."
The corner of her lip turned upwards.
"Damn straight you are," she hummed under her breath, knowing Merida would reprimand her for her language if she were here.
He chuckled and took another bite.
"Years ago," he continued. "When you showed up on my doorstep in New York, when I had to tell you that Zelena was pregnant…" He paused, taking another drink, knowing he had her full attention. "Well, let's just say I never dreamed our lives would turn out like this."
He gazed back and forth between Meri's two children, two perfect little humans who wouldn't have existed had he and Regina not been put through hell and back by Zelena. He'd do it all again for his daughter and his grandbabies without a second thought, and he knew without a doubt that Regina would, too.
"Neither did I," she confessed. "But I'm glad that they did. Always means always, you know."
"Yeah," he replied, letting Ro feed him an overly-generous bite of pancakes and fruit. "I do."
"Don't talk with your mouth full," Regina instructed, shooting him a teasing look.
"That's right, Poppo," Ro added on. "Chew your food first. Then talk."
"Yes, ma'am," Robin returned, wiping his mouth with his napkin. "Your wish is my command."
He took another bite, chewed and swallowed. "You know, once Amelia and Henry finally have their twins, we'll have as many grandchildren as we have children."
Regina's fork stopped halfway to her mouth.
"You sound pleased by this," she said, turning to reprimand Archer for tossing a piece of his pancake to the floor.
"I am," he said. "Aren't you?"
"Very much so," she admitted. "But it does make me feel old."
He chuckled and reached out for her hand from across the table.
"Nothing wrong with growing older," he stated. "Especially since I get to do it with you."
She squeezed his hand then and blinked a few times.
God, he was a lucky bastard, a mere thief who'd been given a second chance at love with a queen of all people, a father who'd raised four children, none of whom shared the same biology. His stepson was happily married and lived just a few houses down, Roland had his own apartment just across town and was now his equal partner in their landscaping business, Meri and Neal lived in the Charming's old loft, and Boo-God, he missed his youngest daughter, but she was off studying at MIT of all places, that young genius of theirs who'd inherited both her mother's blinding intelligence and relentless drive. Now there were grandchildren, babies who owned his heart in a manner reserved just for them and added a measure of joy to his life he'd never anticipated until they'd arrived.
"Together," Regina breathed, smiling as he stood and leaned over to press a kiss to her knuckles, loving her even more with everyday that passed.
"Together," he replied, smiling at his granddaughter who'd raised her hand in his direction, fully expecting for him to kiss it, as well. He did so with flourish, making her giggle before she scooped her finger into the whipped cream and dotted it onto his nose.
Yes. Life had been good to him. Far better than he deserved.