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Smile Like You Used To

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For hundreds of years, LazyTown had been precisely one word: lazy.

To put it quite frankly, the town was a very lackadaisical, laid back settlement. It was quite an astonishment that it had as many buildings as it did, even if the population had at one point in time been double or triple what it was currently.

Sportacus, as he thought on it, realized it was a little weird to question how LazyTown’s past had happened. If the lifestyle of the residents had taught him anything, then it was that anything that happened occurred with an air of relaxation or disregard.

Still, it was a mystery how the town had been not even two years ago. Of course, Bessie and Milford were too old to be certain points of active. The kids, however, were a different story. They were just filled with unbridled energy, every one of them bouncing on their heels in excitement to play all day every day.

Under his watch, all the kids had grown quite spectacularly. Even at the age of twelve, Pixel still found some time within his busy school schedule to play sports. It currently was summer, meaning that he was either playing outside or inventing inside.

Normally Stingy or Stephanie helped him. Those two had also grown, in that Stingy was a little more giving and Stephanie had grown in levels of confidence and leadership. Both of them were busy with school, true, but not quite as busy as Pixel. Together, they all played everyday outside- especially during the summer.

Ziggy seemed to take after Stephanie, from the looks of it. He had a tendency to stick close to her side, sometimes embarrassed, since he was two years younger. Trixie tended to isolate him for that sometimes, but he had adapted her to rough nature and stood just as proudly and confidently as Stephanie did.

Trixie was still her rambunctious, rebellious self. Sportacus wasn’t sure whether that was a relief or a concern, but it was nice to see that she still managed to grow and be herself. True to such nature, she didn’t play a sport after school. She spent her time either with her friends, skateboarding, or learning kung-fu over in BusyCity. She was becoming a strong little warrior, much to everyone’s amusement.

Even so, Sportacus watched them all play with a heavy, uncomfortable feeling settled in his stomach. These children were growing so beautifully, blossoming into their own persons, yet he had missed entire portions of their life. He didn’t need to see them, no, but how much more would their growth mean if he knew what they were like before two years ago? Before Stephanie had arrived, and thus in tow Sportacus himself?

“Ah, Sportacus?” Milford’s voice startled Sportacus from his handstand. In a shaky attempt to recover, he barely stuck a flipped landing. A laugh awkwardly bubbled out as he leaned against a wall, trying to act cool.

“Hello, Mayor! Is there anything that I can do for you?”

Milford blinked in surprise at Sportacus’ shaky landing. He took a second to compose himself, shrugging and giving their town hero a concerned smile.

“Oh, well nothing, really. You see, I was just concerned. Bessie and I were talking and we noticed you’d stopped your..ah...handstand push ups! Yes, that's what you were doing. You looked kind of distraught and we became worried, is all.”

By this point Bessie had finished watering her flower bed and had come to stand beside Milford. They both looked concerned alright, brows knit and eyes warily scanning him for any bodily harm.

“No, I’ll alright, Mayor,” Sportacus assured. He rubbed the back of his neck in thought, stuck between saying something and not. “It’s just...I’ve seen so many people grow in my time here. Everyone’s come so far! But...can I ask you both something?”

Bessie perked up immediately. “Why of course, Sportacus dear! Ask away, please.”

“Well…” They waited as Sportacus figured out how to phrase his question. “How was...What was Lazytown like before? Before I came to town, I mean!”

“Oh!” Milford couldn’t help but laugh. “Well it’s was exactly like what the town’s name might suggest- lazy!”

“Yes, yes. Nobody ever really did anything or talked to anyone. Even today, the kids’ parents still drive over to BusyCity or MayhemTown to work, meaning they rarely ever see their children- much less the other townspeople! I don’t think Pixel’s had a proper dinner with his mothers in years.” Bessie ticked sadly. Sportacus mentally filed down mothers under another fact about Pixel’s home life.

“Aren’t his…. Mothers?” Bessie and Milford nodded, “Mothers- aren’t they usually traveling around the world with their technology business?”

“You’re right! They became very famous for their computer systems and eventually made their small town business into an international one. They left about six years ago to start travelling the world. They rarely ever visit little old LazyTown anymore.”

Sportacus frowned, not quite on board with Bessie and Milford’s sad, reminiscent smiles. Parents were supposed to be there for their children. Not miles away in another country, scarcely visiting their young.

“And Stingy and Trixie’s parents? Ziggy’s?”

“Mr. and Mrs. Spoilero are usually away on business too- or vacation. They normally leave Stingy here so he can play with kids his age- or so he doesn’t get in their way. He used to be a very stubborn child- led to a lot of public scenes.” Bessie sighed, looking over to where Stingy was petting Piggy happily.

“As for the Troubleby’s,” Milford added on, “Trixie’s mom works three jobs now?” He had to confirm with Bessie before nodding confidently. “Yes, three jobs now. Her father was an alcoholic and finally moved away- but not without almost all of their money. As for Ziggy, his father runs a bakery over in LiarTown-”

“LiarTown? That’s three hours away!” Sportacus exclaimed.

“Sadly,” Milford said. “But he does, and he tries to come home on the weekends. I’m sure you’ve seen him at least once or twice. Normally they just spend their time indoors relaxing. He doesn’t show his face around LazyTown that often- not after the scene his ex made.”

Sportacus felt his mustache droop with his shoulders. “That’s….really sad. I know Stephanie’s parents died, but I was really hoping that the rest of the kids had better home lives. Was it always just their families?”

“There was the Junkfood’s and the Pestella’s at one point…” Milford tapped his chin, trying to remember more.

“Along with the Glæpurs- I think Robbie is one of the last ones in that family. Officer Obtuse and his family lived here for a while, along with that farming family. Remember Milford, they had that weird chicken- Hannin?”

“Oh, I do remember them!”

“Wow...LazyTown used to be so much bigger.” Sportacus said lowly. The thought of it’s current small size sent a sad shiver down his spine, energy and enthusiasm drained. He seemed to just sag against the wall, barely listening to Milford and Bessie prattle.

“Oh yes, a lot bigger! Most of the houses here now are just empty, ever since families started to move out. Even if we were lazy, we were...happy? I wish I could describe it to you, Sportacus.” Milford sighed, “It was just so cozy and peaceful here. You would have loved it.”

Bessie frowned, thinking. Suddenly, she grabbed Milford and shook him excitedly. Both the Mayor and Sportacus jumped in surprise.

Miiilllffooorrrdd!! You can show him what LazyTown used to be like! Don’t you remember?? Mrs. Hyperbyte used to take videos around town! Why, if I could find that video recorder, we could show Sportacus!”

“You guys have videos of the old Lazytown?” Sportacus gasped, a bright grin spreading over his cheeks. His blue eyes sparkled in excitement, energy and adrenaline coursing through him once again. The two elder adults had to duck to miss his sudden exercise burst.

“That’s great! That’s fantastic, Ms. Busybody! The kids could watch, and even Robbie! We could all get together and watch these videos!”

“We’d have to set up my living room in order to, but I think I can arrange that.” Bessie grinned at Milford, Sportacus’ enthusiasm quickly spreading. Milford grinned too, although strained, because he knew that meant moving her heavy couch to accommodate more guests.

“Sportacus, go play with the kids until nightfall. Milford, come with me! Set up the living room while I go through some things in my attic to find that video recorder. Hurry now, faster Milford!”

Sportacus watched as Bessie and the mayor hustled over to her big red house, leaving him to chuckle in fondness. The kids were getting restless without him, suddenly in desire for an intense game of football. Such game would certainly occupy them until nightfall. Sportacus grinned and flipped over, almost too excited to wait until evening.

------

Ms. Busybody’s living room was big, but perhaps not big enough to host nine people with seating. Sportacus settled himself on the floor, that way he could do exercises should he get restless. Trixie, Stephanie, and Ziggy sat close to him on his right. Stingy, Bessie, Pixel, and the Mayor made themselves comfy on the small couch and single recliner.

“Come on, let's get this ball rolling! I’m pretty sure there’s baby me in this!” Trixie said, an excited glint in her eye. Stingy and Pixel agreed with her, knowing that they were at least in it as well.

“They’re half my baby videos and half videos of the town...Mom just kinda filmed whatever she wanted to.” Pixel awkwardly laughed. It was as though he was apologizing for any embarrassing videos they were bound to see. Perhaps he was also bracing himself for any embarrassment that was going to follow.

“I’m not gonna be in any of these...but I’m excited! I wanna know what LazyTown used to be like!” Ziggy was practically bouncing in his seat, jostling Stephanie and Trixie slightly.

“Are we getting started soon?” Milford asked. He was in truth an older man now, and was getting tired. He would probably fall asleep not to long after the videos started.

Bessie gave Milford a light hit to his arm. “Not yet! I’m waiting to see if Robbie will show up in the next minute or so. He said he might come.”

“Wait, Robbie Rotten is coming?” Stingy asked. His nose wrinkled in the slightest, showing his distrust. Stephanie leaned back and gently pushed at his knee.

“Don’t be mean! Robbie is probably in a lot of these videos. Pixel told me he’s been around LazyTown for a long time. Let’s just wait a few minutes. If we doesn’t show up in five, then we’ll just start watching.”

They settled back into mixed conversations. Sportacus took the chance to do some last minute exercises in order to tucker himself out. If he was sated enough, he’d be able to watch the videos and pay attention. Just sitting there in anticipation was enough to get his adrenaline going again.

Trixie had set a timer on her phone for five minutes. At thirty seconds left, everyone looked at each other in either disappointment or smugness. Some people knew Robbie just wasn’t going to come, while others only hoped.

Ding dong!

Everybody sat up straighter as Ms. Busybody’s doorbell went off. Bessie immediately shuffled through the mess of blankets, pillows, and snacks to rush to the door. Nobody could see who was there, although the soft rush of voices left Sportacus with a grin on his face.

Bessie bustled back down the hallway into the living room with the infamous Robbie Rotten lazily following behind. He was dressed like they all were- in his comfiest pair of pajamas. Sportacus could spot his robe and sleep hat over his arm, peeking out from under his blankets and pillows.

“Robbie! You came!” Said Stephanie with a grin. Everyone welcomed him somewhat warmly.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m being social...I just want to watch the first few, let’s get this on with.” Robbie waved his hand to shoo their attention off of him as he shuffled into the living room. Seeing as Milford was in the recliner, he flopped down besides Sportacus with as much grace as a toddler. Sportacus grinned at him, leaving Robbie to snootily turn his head away and blush under his stare.

“You heard the man, let’s get this started!” When Bessie fixed her with a stern stare, Trixie faltered and corrected, “I-I mean, can we start watching now, ma’am?”

Bessie approved of her correction and tried started the videos from her seat. Everyone waited as she fumbled through some TV screen options and the volume level before they actually started.

Sportacus and Robbie winced at the harsh static that first assaulted them. The screen was black but the video camera was rubbing up against something. Then, a blanket was pulled away, making the screen flash white as the lens readjusted.

“Ah bbbbrrrb!”

“Oh? And what block are you holding now?” Asked a womanly voice, teasing Baby Pixel.

Baby Pixel, who seemed to barely understand her, instead laughed and waved the colorful R block around in his hand. Sportacus smiled as he watched him pick up another block and smash them together.

“Oh my god…” He heard Pixel hiss. Sportacus looked up over Robbie’s shoulder to see him covering his eyes, a bashful yet embarrassed smile on his face.

“Can we skip this one?” He asked Ms. Busybody. Trixie argued to continue watching it, since it was the first video, but by the time they decided to keep watching the scene changed.

The speakers crackled again, fuzzy lines running down it’s surface as it showed two legs sticking out from under a counter. Besides it stood Pixel’s other mother, her face furrowed in concern. In the foreground in front of them, baby Pixel once again played with his mother in the living room.

“There you go, Mrs. Hyperbyte.” The kids practically screeched as a young Robbie slid out from under Pixel’s counter. “That should fix the problem. And here is your ring, by the way. Maybe next time set it on the counter instead of by the faucets?”

“Robbie, look at your curly hair! This is before you started to gel it!” Bessie teased. Sportacus couldn’t help but giggle like the kids, watching as video Robbie ran a greasy hand through his curly hair.

“Bah, skip this one! I look ridiculous! Bessie, I thought you said they were in the first few videos!”

“Now hush, Robbie.” Bessie chided. To save from arguing with the lanky man, she sped up the video. Young Robbie and Pixel’s mother continued to talk as he sat up, Baby Pixel still playing with his blocks and crawling around. “This is only the second video. I think they’re in one of the next ones.”

“They?” Sportacus asked, tearing his gaze away from the laughing Robbie in the sped-up video. Just seeing him chuckle along with Pixel playing with his mothers spread warmth throughout his heart. Curiosity probed at him still at who Robbie meant by ‘they’.

“...You’ll see, Sportanosy.” Robbie murmured. He settled back down into his nest of blankets and pillows and harrumphed at yet another video of Pixel. Pixel groaned when he realized it was a video of him messily eating baby food. Bessie laughed and skipped it.

“Are you excited for the big game tonight?” Asked Pixel’s mother.

“Heck yeah dude, we’re gonna win for sure!”

A very satisfied sigh left Robbie’s lips. Sportacus looked over at him, the remnants of a smile still on his lips, before turning back to the screen. Two lanky teenagers stood outside, the BusyCity High School colors painted on their cheeks.

“They’ll never know what hit ‘em. MayhemTown is going down!” Said the girl, giggling excitedly while she twirled her pants pockets.

“Who are those two?” Stephanie asked, curiously watching as the two of them sang their school fight song for Mrs. Hyperbyte.

Those two are Jives Junkfood and Penny Pestella.” Robbie said matter-of-factly.

Bessie leaned forward and put a hand on Stingy and Trixie’s shoulders. “They were the only two teenagers in Lazytown when Pixel was a baby. Trixie, Stingy, do you remember Jives? He babysat you guys a few times.”

“I do!” Stingy gasped. “He was my favorite babysitter!”

“He fell asleep when I was supposed to be napping and didn’t catch me putting colored dye into our pool.” Trixie snickered.

“Were these the two you were waiting for?” Sportacus asked Robbie. The video changed again, to Pixel’s first birthday. The teenagers were coloring with him in the dining room.

“...Yeah. They were quiet, lazy kids. Good kids. Smart….better than you brats.” The kids snickered at his failed attempt to hide his fondness for the two teenagers. Sportacus couldn’t help but smile at the reminiscent look Robbie kept giving the TV.

“Were they close to you?”

“If you must know, Sportacurious,” Robbie side-eyed Sportacus and faltered, “I-I- yes, I was. They were good company.”

Robbie’s nose twitched, a frown covering his features. He looked sadly at the TV, not quite reminiscent anymore. Sportacus knew that he missed Penny and Jives, just from the looks he gave.

He scooted over and hugged the man, ignoring his squeaks of surprise and hisses of protest. Eventually, when Sportacus continued to not let go, he groaned and gave up his struggle. An arm was haphazardly thrown onto Sportacus’ shoulder. Robbie smiled to himself, although whether it was because or the hug or because of his favorite teenagers remained unknown.

Sportacus shimmied off of Robbie after a moment and sat close to him. Robbie pushed him away once, murmuring about personal space, but only got the elf to move an inch. Sportacus just smiled at him and watched the TV screen.

A variety of videos took place in the span of what seemed like six months. Winter in the videos turned to spring, only a few making it into summer. Of course Baby Pixel was in a lot of them. There wasn’t any sign of Stingy or Trixie, but Sportacus had grinned brightly the few times that he’d seen younger Bessie or Milford. Every time Robbie came on screen he paid closer attention, reveling in the way his frenemy seemed to be a much more open person.

The people in LazyTown, and the town itself, sure had changed a lot since then. That much was noticeable. Everything about LazyTown and the growth of the people he knew just brought a dumb smile to his face.

The last video they watched was Penny’s moving day. There was a truck outside her house, boxes still being moved into it’s back as her mother and father carried the last of them. Penny was hugging Jives goodbye, the two of them a crying mess. Robbie suddenly sniffled besides Sportacus.

“Call me sometime, you stupid stoner.” Penny cried into Jives’ shoulder. He hugged her back tighter, choking something out about how he would. Sportacus wrapped an arm around Robbie when he sniffled again.

Mrs. Hyperbyte came up, Pixel carried on her hip. Penny separated from Jives and picked up the baby, giving him a hug and a kiss on his temple. Baby Pixel laughed.

“Tell Penny goodbye, Pixel.” Said Pixel’s mom, the one who was holding the camera. Baby Pixel looked up towards Penny with innocent eyes and giggled.

“Bye-bye, Ne-Ne.” Penny laughed and kissed him all over his face, making Baby Pixel erupt with childish laughter.

Sportacus watched with sadness of his own filling his heart as Penny hugged both of Pixel’s parents goodbye. It seemed she’d said goodbye to everyone but a single person, as Mrs. Hyperbyte moved the camera to her left.

“Robbie..” Penny hiccuped. She held out her arms to the lanky man, hair curly, dressed in an early evolution of his striped outfit. The Robbie in the video was crying just as much as the Robbie on his shoulder, who was sniffling into the rag Sportacus had given him.

Penny launched onto the sobbing man and hugged him, only to be squeezed by two long arms not even milliseconds later. They sobbed into each other’s embrace.

“I-I’m not going to m-miss you, P-pest!”

“Only you’ve ever been allowed to call me that!”

“I know!

Sportacus comforted the Robbie that sobbed on his shoulder. It was hard not to tear up himself, feeling the emotion from the two wailing friends on the TV screen. They were quite moving, touching a deep, almost repressed emotion inside of him.

“Why are you crying?” Robbie said as he looked up to Sportacus with tear-filled eyes.

“I’m an emotional person!” Sportacus defended, trying to wipe the tears from his face. Anyone else who was awake sniffled their agreement.

Bessie paused the video when Penny finally stepped away and sat in the backseat of her family’s car. Her parents had finished packing the last boxes and pulled away. The screen paused with Penny leaning out the open window, waving goodbye as her family passed the welcoming sign into LazyTown.

“I think that’s enough for tonight.” Bessie said. Her voice sounded slightly congested, a finger wiping any stray tears from her eyes. Robbie wholeheartedly agreed with her, embarrassingly pushing himself off of Sportacus’ shoulder. Sport rubbed his back, which he relaxed into.

Milford had fallen asleep sometime after Jives and Penny made their first appearance. They started watching videos after ten, and Ziggy had barely lasted through Pixel’s second baby video. Stephanie and Stingy were wiping tears from their eyes while Trixie stood up from her spot on the floor.

“Aw man, I miss Jives! He was a great babysitter!”

“He was pretty cool.” Pixel sighed.

“Well maybe you could find him on that social media of yours, Pixel.” Bessie said, yawning afterwards. “But for now, it’s time for all of you to go to bed.”

The kids were staying the night there, so Sportacus and Bessie tucked them all into their sleeping bags. Robbie stood up and cracked his back, groaning as his legs creaked too.

Sportacus left the house right after Robbie, trailing behind him as they walked into town square.

“Robbie, wait up!”

Robbie groaned and stopped, looking back over his shoulder to eye the town hero. “What, are you going to tease me for crying like a baby in front of the entire town?”

“What- no?? Robbie, I just wanted to say that it was nice to see you there, watching the videos with us...it must have been nice for you, to see the old town..I mean, you’ve been here for so long that you know everyone! That’s so cool! And you had such a great relationship with Jives and Penny.”

Robbie harrumphed, remembering the many things that he helped the teenagers with. If they didn’t need help with a school project, sometimes they just hung around to watch him work or play video games with him. There were a few videos after Pixel’s birthday where Mrs. Hyperbyte had managed to record the three of hanging out together around the town.

“...Thanks, I guess, for the rag..to cry on..”

“No problem Robbie.” Sportacus smiled up at him, “I understand how it feels to miss someone a lot...”

Robbie raised an eyebrow at how the elf trailed off in thought, his smile withering at the corners. He felt his nose twitch as he stayed silent. With a loud groan, he pulled Sportacus in for a hug and squeezed him tight.

“Don’t cry. I can’t kick you out of town if you start blubbering like a baby. Just- smile, you overactive monkey.”

Sportacus couldn’t help but chuckle into Robbie’s shoulder. He hugged him again, tight, before pulling away and calling for his ladder.

“Thanks, Robbie. I’ll see you tomorrow? Another scheme?”

“Don’t get your hopes up, Sportasap.” Robbie sneered, although it held less malice.

Sportacus grinned and climbed up the ladder, leaving Robbie to grumpily trek home through the dark. He couldn’t wait to see what his villain had in store for tomorrow.

Chapter Text

The kids played peacefully after another one of Robbie Rotten’s infamous schemes. Sportacus watched, a little breathless after Bing Bang, as they immediately went off to play a game of volley ball. They seemed to forget that Robbie had just tried to ruin their fun, as they always did.

With them distracted, Sportacus ran off towards where Robbie was stomping. He flipped over a wall to see him shove a fake beard and ruined hat into a trashcan, grumbling about something. A frown covered his features as Robbie kicked the can, already stomping away.

“Wait, Robbie!”

“AH! Sportaflop!” Robbie shrieked, a hand grasping over his heart. Sportacus gave him an apologetic smile and hovered a hand over his arm.

“Just Sportaflop. Are you alright? I thought I saw you slip on Trixie’s skateboard. That looked like a hard fall.”

Robbie’s nose twitch, his eyes scanning any possible escape routes. Sportacus stepped back a bit, letting him go if he wanted.

It’d been a somewhat similar routine the past week. Every time a scheme failed Sportacus at least tried to have a nice conversation with Robbie afterwards. This had started after they watched the old recordings that Pixel’s mother had taken. Once seeing how great he got along with Penny and Jives, and how open he had been with the community, Sportacus strived to befriend Robbie and see that beautiful side of him in real life.

After checking all his possible exits, Robbie slouched a little and crossed his arms. “It wasn’t that bad. I’ve slipped harder in my bunker.”

When Sportacus adopted that look of concern on his face- eyebrows furrowed, a slight frown marring his features- Robbie had to suppress a sigh. “Don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m a tough cookie, if you must know.”

Sportacus cracked a mischievous smile. “A sugar-free cookie?”

“Oh, ew!” Robbie blanched, an almost violent shudder running down his back. “I can’t stand sugar-free cookies. They taste so bland! Sugar gives it that sweet, sweet flavor- the best flavor!”

“But I can’t eat sugar, Robbie.” Sportacus said. It was a gentle reminder, albeit not that subtle.

“I know that. Which, in all honest to god truths, is a damn shame.”

“Well,” Sportacus baited, “perhaps you could make me something someday. Something without sugar but that’s still sweet.”

Robbie squinted. It occurred to him that he was still in his disguise from earlier in the day. His tie fluttered in the wind, the panda bear pin glistening in the sunlight. He had dressed as a zoologist, who was trying to get the kids to go inside and be lazy in order to protect the endangered ‘Lazy Bird’ species that was ‘native’ to the area. Of course they had saw through his plan to throw all the sportscandy out of town, which was lethal to the fake bird.

He subconsciously tugged at his shirt sleeve and looked away. “Well- I-”

“You don’t have to.” Sportacus assured, giving Robbie that sickeningly sweet, concerned smile. Robbie blushed softly and tugged his sleeve harder.

“It’s not like I can’t….I just have a reputation, Sportahero! The villain does not do nice things for the hero.”

Sportacus just raised an eyebrow. He swayed on the backs of his heels, thinking of Robbie’s soft side. As good as a villain he was, Robbie was a very kind person at heart. He kind of doubted that he just couldn’t do nice things for him, a hero.

“Don’t look at me like that.” Robbie said. He’d crossed his arms again, grumbling as his eyes narrowed.

Sportacus turned his head then, still smiling smugly. Robbie growled.

“You said not to look at you that way.”

“.....You see, this is why I want you out of town, you cheeky elf!” Robbie leaned forward and swatted at Sport’s arm, causing him to giggle then burst into full on laughter. A few chuckles escaped Robbie as well.

A moment later, once they’d calmed down, Sportacus couldn’t wait any longer to ask him an important question. “Are you going to sit by me tonight again? Ms. Busybody said that we’re going to watch the videos.”

Robbie looked over him, a very light, almost invisible blush brightened his cheeks. Bony shoulders hiked up to his ears, and yet he still managed to turn his head away. A wry finger scratched at his cheek in disinterested thought.

“I guess it wouldn’t be that bad to sit by you again. You didn’t squirm or exercise last time.” The tip of his tongue blepped out at the mention of exercise. Sportacus couldn’t help but smile at the tease.

“That’s great Robbie! It was really nice to sit next to you last time. Well, I’ll let you get back to your secret lair, and I’ll go preoccupy the kids until later tonight. Bye Robbie, see you there!”

Robbie jumped when Sportacus flipped away, even if the elf had stepped a few feet away before he did them. The man grumbled and turned around, ignoring the happy shrieks of children in his ears.

------

Of course, in true Robbie Rotten style, the man appeared fashionably late. Bessie brought him into the living room, where he was displeased to find Milford almost fast asleep in the recliner again. Sportacus sat on the ground once more. He was patting the spot next to him, saved specifically for Robbie.

“Thanks for saving me a seat on the ground, Sportaloser.” He grumbled, both unhappily and yet teasingly. Sportacus chuckled in return.

Before Robbie could be graced with Sportacus’ sarcastic answer, Trixie hushed the two of them as the videos started. Ziggy made a home in Sportacus’ lap, already nodding off in the dark room.

There was an agreement between Pixel and Ms. Busybody about skipping his baby videos, for both his sanity and showing the old LazyTown. That what they were watching for, after all. So, Robbie quietly stewed as Bessie skipped about four of Pixel’s videos, already bored of minimal socializing. He just wanted to see Jives, and that was it.

The first real video, in Robbie’s opinion, was the smiling face of Officer Obtuse. It made him do a double take, seeing as that was a face he hadn’t seen in a long time. Bessie was already explaining to the kids who he was.

“Officer Obtuse was the last police man in LazyTown! Our population dwindled so low that the station had to be shut down, but by then Obtuse was the last person running it. He left LazyTown shortly after, I think to MayhemTown to continue working.”

Ziggy sat up straighter in Sportacus’ lap, “I remember him! He found my lost dog once. He was nice- you would have liked him, Sportacus.”

Robbie saw Sport nod out of the corner of his eye, but decided not to pay too much attention. Instead he watched the screen, trying to remember if he knew when this was taken.

“...so Robbie and I will continue to put in the rest of the sports field this weekend. If we’re lucky we’ll make Jives’ skateboarding park on the outskirts of town. I doubt it though-”

“Really?? Bummer dude! A skatepark would be a great addition to the town, I’m telling you!” Jives seemed to pout, arms crossed. Obtuse chuckled and rubbed his neck in apology.

If they were just building the sports field, then the video had to have been taken around Pixel’s second birthday. It was already there by the time Stingy was born, but was built after Penny left. Which was sad, Robbie suddenly thought, because Penny as the one who fundraised most of the money for it.

“Pixel, you’re older than the sports field!” Stephanie said, “And you were telling us it was older yesterday!”

“No, I said I’m barely older than the field! Officer Obtuse helped Robbie make it a few years after I was born.” Bessie and Milford nodded sagely in agreement.

“Are we not going to question about how Robbie built the sports field?” Trixie asked, nose scrunched in distaste.

Robbie couldn’t help but wince at her loud tone, ears ringing. He shrugged his shoulders in response. “Nope. Just watch the dang videos! I thought you kids were going to be quiet for once.”

Trixie tried to stick out her tongue at him, but Sportacus gave her a warning look, which she wisely adhered to. He turned back to Robbie, shifting the already sleepy Ziggy in his arms, so he could sit a little closer to the lanky man. He of whom didn’t pay him heed, too mesmerized by the conversation between himself, Jives, and one of Pixel’s mothers.

“So tell me, Ila, have you ever seen an adult man do a Heelys trick?” Robbie had grinned smugly, or maybe conceitedly. It was hard for himself to even make a differentiation.

“Haha, I don’t think I have, Robin.” Ila, Pixel's mother, chuckled. The camera wobbled as she adjusted her seat on the bench.

Video Robbie looked over at Jives and seemed to snicker. The teenager’s only response was a smack on the shoulder, but it barely landed because Robbie was off. He wobbled on his heels, Heelys barely gaining enough speed. Robbie momentarily lost his balance, which only fueled Jives and Ila’s giggles, but recovered enough to grunt and place a poorly timed jump at a bench edge. The soles of his heels hit and bounced off, only for him to lose balance upon landing and lay on his back, winded.

“Haha! Ta-da!” Video Robbie laughed, arms spread limpy above his head. Jives snickered and showed him up, properly riding the edge of the bench before landing and skating backwards on his heels. Robbie laughed again and flipped him off.

“Robin!” Ila scolded, in time with Bessie having a hissy fit in real life.

“What? It was over ten years ago!” Robbie defended. To his right, Sportacus couldn’t stop giggling, which resulted in a soft blush on his face.

“I think you should get out your old pair of Heelys and teach me a trick.” Sportacus smiled. Robbie hated that he blushed more, only because he knew the elf was sincere, of all things.

“Shut up. Right now. Look, it’s Sticky as a baby.” He shivered at the wail of Baby Stingy, but Sportacus all but whipped his head towards the screen and gasped. Should he have been a puppy, Robbie was sure he would be wriggling with joy.

“Look! It’s my baby video now!” Stingy said, jumping excitedly in his seat.

Everybody flinched as Baby Stingy let out a curling wail. Bessie had to turn down the volume. The room delved into silence as the speakers went mute.

“.....Sorry. It was my time to shine, and baby me probably got excited.” The kids laughed with Stingy. Robbie rolled his eyes. Sportacus smiled again, tempted too to roll his eyes in a teasing manner.

When the video changed, Bessie turned the volume up again. She left it at half of what it was prior, but it was loud enough for everyone to hear Baby Pixel tottering around and talking to a half asleep Baby Stingy.

“A block!” Baby Pixel picked up one of his alphabet blocks, stacking it in the pile next to Stingy.

“That is a block! Is that one for Stingy too?” Pixel’s other mother asked, who sat by Stingy’s mom. Pixel looked at the block in his other hand and vigorously shook his head, speaking nonsense as he walked to the other side of the room and hid it in a chair.

“Haha, Pixel! You have to share the blocks!” Ila laughed, watching her son take the rest of the blocks and hide them in the living room.

“You know, maybe that's where Stingy got his behavior from!” Trixie said. Robbie snickered with her.

“Robbie…” Sportacus chided, although there was a smile tugging at his lips. Trixie meant the jab to be more than a tease, they all knew, but even the most innocent of men had to appreciate a good tease when they heard one.

“You’re probably right.” Stingy said, watching the screen through squinted eyes. “I was probably scarred for life because Pixel couldn’t share. I probably have PDST.”

Pfffttt!” Robbie couldn’t help but laughing. He delved into breathless chortles a minute later as he looked over at Stingy. “Y-you do mean PTSD, right kid?”

“Yeah, that.”

Robbie giggled again. Sportacus lightly whacked him on the arm. They gave each other a look before bursting helplessly into their own giggles.

The rest of the night went by as it had the first time. Eventually everyone tuckered out enough that they could watch the videos without too much banter. There was the Hyperbytes coming back to Jives baby sitting Pixel, both fast asleep. Officer Obtuse made a return, where he and Robbie showed off their stunning beach towels at the Hyperbytes’ pool party. There was a video of Jives that Robbie knew the teen was stoned in. He himself made another comeback where Ila caught him and Jives piling toppings onto their ice cream cones at a parlor one night. They were all good memories, Robbie realized.

“One more before bed!” Bessie announced.

Milford was already passed out. Ziggy had been gone for a while, and Stingy had only just succumbed to sleep. Stephanie and Trixie were fighting to stay awake, while Robbie and Pixel seemed fine. Sportacus himself was struggling to not close his heavy lids, but Trixie’s sudden screech was enough to wake him up.

“THAT’S ME! HELL YEAH, I KNEW I WAS IN THIS SOMEWHERE!”

“Trixie!” Bessie and Sportacus scolded. Stingy snapped awake, grumpy and delirious. No one else woke up, but Stephanie and Robbie seemed disgruntled if not severely annoyed.

“What?! Look! It’s me! I look so dang cute!”

Indeed she did, Sportacus sighed. Baby Trixie’s first appearance was in the sports field in Jives’ lap. He also held Stingy in his other arm while struggling to maintain Pixel. The parents wanted a picture of the last few kids from LazyTown, but most of them were too young to pay attention.

Untrue to his nature, Robbie quickly stepped in and grabbed Stingy. Jives sighed as there was no longer a tiny hand straining to steal his infamous green beanie. Pixel came and plopped down in his lap at the same time Robbie restrained a familiar scream, sounding more like a whine. Stingy was tugging at his curly hair now, not paying attention to the parents at all.

Robbie had to laugh as the video stopped a second after, where he quickly relinquished Stingy to his parents. He remembered taking that photo, how he’d stepped in to help Jives. He also remembered the immediate, deep seated regret as soon as Stingy, famous for pulling hair and jewelry, went for his normally untouchable hair. The resulting photo was bound to be found somewhere, depicting one haggard adult, one stressed teenager, two distracted babies, and one toddler who actually enjoying himself.

“I want to see that picture.” Sportacus said, a hint of laughter laced in his voice. Bessie took Ziggy from him as Robbie scoffed.

“Of course you would. It’s probably in an old, moth-eaten scrap book somewhere. Also, are you happy now? Seeing all of your children young and safe?”

A protest about them being his children was on the tip of Sportacus’ tongue, only to be forgotten as he made an emotional check. His heart fluttered, and his cheeks seemed sore from smiling even more than usual. He’d laughed a few times that night, and Robbie kept giving him butterflies in his stomach.

“Actually...yeah, I do feel happy. It’s so late I probably wouldn’t have even realized. Thanks, Robbie.”

There was the surprised twitch of Robbie’s nose, which always would bring a happy grin to Sportacus’ face. Then Robbie would blush a dark red and sputter something, causing him to breathlessly laugh. Out of instinct, he gave the villain a hug. Robbie resisted a shriek, still unused to the physical contact Sportacus kept giving him for some reason.

“Thank you again for coming Robbie- you seem to have a nice time when you do! I-I always have a nice time too...I’m staying here tonight. Do you need me to-”

“I can walk myself home, Worrycus.” Robbie squeaked. He pushed away from the elf, regained his composure by adjusting his properly worn pants and picking up his belongings. He tenderly snatched away his blanket when Sportacus handed them to him.

“Alright Robbie. Sleep well tonight, okay? See you tomorrow?”

Robbie gave him a wary look. He hesitated to say anything, as though the gears in his head had just stopped. A mute nod was his good bye, as he swept past the town hero and left without saying anything else.

Sportacus heaved a sigh and flopped down onto his own nest of blankets and pillows. He had a hard time concentrating on making his makeshift bed comfortable enough to sleep in, too distracted by his thoughts. Robbie was, dare he think it, cute when he blushed, and when he was happy. He was good company, too.

A twinge of something caused the butterflies in his stomach to fly again. Sport curled up into a ball, bringing the blankets up to his face in an effort to stop thinking. It was time to sleep, not think about Robbie. With a sigh, as the thoughts ceased, Sportacus shut down and passed out for the night, ready to wake up and play all over again in the morning.

Chapter Text

LazyTown was oddly quiet, and Sportacus was dying.

Earlier that day, the kids piled into Trixie’s mother’s van and drove off to PrideTown to go to the zoo. The trip there was a good four, almost five, hours. They left at eight in the morning to get there by noon, at which the zoo would open. They were supposed to be back by nine, which was six hours away. Far too long, in Sportacus’ opinion.

At the very least, Sportacus could always count on Milford to spice up his afternoon. Of course, the man couldn’t keep himself from getting into some type of trouble. Just hearing the beeping of his crystal brought a smile to Sportacus’ face, knowing that there was something to do.

“Mayor! I’ve got you!” He yelled, racing up to the tree that Milford dangled from precariously.

“Oh, Sportacus! Help me, quickly!” There was a tone of panic that Sportacus could hear, something that Milford was obviously trying to hide. He wasted no time in rescuing him, helping the older man before his crystal cracked from its frantic beeping.

“There you go Mayor, back on safe ground! Perhaps it would be wise to leave trimming the tree branches alone for now?”

Milford nodded, face once flushed white quickly turning a deep pink. A shaky hand wiped his brow as he said, “I think you’re, ah, quite right, Sportacus. I’ll stay on the ground until Stephanie is back, and perhaps you and her could help me.”

“That sounds wonderful, Mayor. I’d be glad to help you.” Sportacus smiled his blinding white smile and led Milford indoors. Bessie fussed over him minutes later, as she saw the escapades from her window. He knew Milford was in good hands as he left, closing the door slowly behind him.

Back to silence, he supposed.

Soccer was attention grabbing for a while. One could only kick a ball into a goal for so long before it was tiring, however. There was basketball, but with no one to play H.O.R.S.E. with him it was boring. Baseball was out of the question, as was tennis. That left him with jogging, as it was the only thing his energetic mind would focus on.

Twenty minutes later, he huffed and puffed as he slowed towards a bench. He was drenched in sweat, thankful his suit was light colored and didn’t show the quickly drying stains. He’d have to give them a good wash later, he realized while chugging down some cool water. The bench was hot from the sun, but it felt wonderful to let his screaming muscles get a minute of rest. It felt nice to just sit and look over LazyTown for once, too, he realized.

Sportacus sat just outside the sports field, almost in the middle of a neighborhood. What used to be Jives’ old house sat in front of him, untouched for years now. He rubbed at his sweaty forehead in thought, wondering if it was dusty and depressing on the inside. In fact, the thought of all the empty houses in Lazytown turned his mood sour.

A sigh heaved its way out of his chest. Sportacus stood up, content to amble around while he finished the last half of his water bottle. The condensation slipped over his fingers as he walked, thoughts clustered and heavy.

LazyTown used to be so big. It had families teeming, happy and lazy. Perhaps not everybody knew everybody, but they interacted and created the town he now knew and loved. What made them leave? Why did everybody work in BusyCity or MayhemTown, or as far away as LiarTown like Ziggy’s mom? Couldn’t they spark a work upwelling in LazyTown? The shops needed it desperately, especially Town Hall.

Moreover, what perhaps confused him even more, was what the hell happened to Robbie Rotten? The man he knew was not the one in the videos. And yet he would occasionally see glances of the old Robbie, who smiled and was goofy for the purpose of being funny, who overshared and was helpful where help was needed. Just what happened that made that sparkle in his eyes twinkle out?

Sportacus slumped back onto another bench in downtown. He stared at the restaurants and movie theater, knowing full well that they were closed. There perhaps might have been a gift shop once as well, but it was hard to discern if it actually was a gift shop.

So instead, Sportacus focused on their sun bleached signs and curling paint. He looked down the road, at the cracked pavement and rusty lamppost, right next to the new flower bed-

New flower bed?

Sportacus sat up straighter, squinting as he looked down the road. Into the abandoned neighborhood was a new flowerbed, on the corner of two streets next to the lamppost. And, quite a surprise to see, was Robbie Rotten, hunched over and tending to it.

Since when did Robbie tend to the flowers? He never came near the gardens that the kids cared for. Perhaps his antisocial nature prevented him from gardening with the kids? Looking around at the other street corners, it seemed that Robbie had planted flowers there too. Was he trying to make the town a bit brighter?

Almost intimidated, Sportacus crept off the bench and towards Robbie. He stopped a few feet shy of the other man, not sure what to say and how. It was easy to scare Robbie if he wasn’t careful, and Sportacus knew he didn’t want to do that.

“Uh...those are really nice flower beds, Robbie.”

“AH!” Robbie jumped up in a skittish frenzy. “Sportadunce! What have I told you about sneaking up on me?!”

Sportacus sighed, feeling his tense posture fall in failure. “I’m trying! I thought my approach was less startling than usual.”

Robbie grumbled something about how it wasn’t, wiping his hands on his gardening jeans in irritability. He looked Sportacus up and down with a critical eye, noticing his sweaty look and the water bottle in hand.

“Taking the empty town for advantage? I figured you’d be up in your death blimp, enjoying the day off. Or away in another town. Far, far away from here.” He said, a slight sneer tugging at his lips.

“Are you kidding me?” Sportacus couldn’t help but laugh. At Robbie’s insulted look he backpedaled, “I mean, no offense to you, but I’m dying! There’s no one to play with or to save- except the mayor. I’m so bored! Besides, there’s no other towns in my allowed vicinity that are under my watch. You’re stuck with me in little old LazyTown.”

Sportacus beamed at his….frenemy? They weren’t friends, but weren’t exactly enemies anymore either. The lack of schemes and the increased conversations between the two proved that fact. Robbie seemed to tolerate Sportacus more now, which was also proven by the frown he gave Sportacus to rival his dazzling white grin.

“You? Bored?” Robbie scoffed. “You always entertain yourself with some sport. Why is it now that you’re bored, and have to bother me?” The question was accompanied with a flourish of his hand, which elegantly moved to lay at his chest.

“Because everyone’s gone, and the mayor and Bessie are busy. I, uh, I see you’re busy too, actually. I just wanted to tell you that the flower beds looked nice. But, seeing as you’ve been working, I’ll let you get back to that. Um, see you later.”

Robbie stared as Sportacus turned on his heels to walk away. His demeanor had changed quite suddenly, away from cheery to that sad, mopey tone he adopted rarely. Something twinged inside of Robbie and he groaned, dropping back down to the ground and picking up a spade.

“Mopeycus, get back here. Help me garden, that way you’re not bored and mopey, and that way I have help. It literally pains me when you’re not happy-go-lucky. It’s unnatural.

A tiny gasp was audible from Sportacus as he turned around and leapt to Robbie’s side. He plopped down and grabbed the spade, excited to help. “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it!”

“Dig right there.” A long, slim finger pointed to a spot in the dirt just in Sportacus’ reach. While he dug, Robbie carefully extracted a flower from the plastic holders he’d bought it in. He set it in the newly dug hole once it was big enough and covered what he could adequately with dirt. Sportacus admired the gentleness he used when handling the flowers as he continued.

“You know,” Sport looked over at him fondly, “I never knew you liked to garden. You’re good at it. The kids could probably use some tips from you.”

Robbie, who had enjoyed the silence between them, grunted in slight disgust. “I don’t like gardening. You’re handling a small, fragile plant life that you could accidentally smother with one careless act. See, metal is much more durable, and takes more to destroy-”

“If you don’t like it, then why are you doing it?” Sportacus asked, absentmindedly flicking his thumb nail under his other nails.

“Because.” Came the stubborn reply. Robbie took the aggressively spade back and widened another hole that Sportacus had dug. “....Penny and her family used to plant flowers in the park every summer. It’s almost fall now, but I figured it’d be something nice to do.”

Sportacus ‘ahhhh’ed in understanding. A grin swept his features again, eyes crinkled at the corners. Robbie was too concentrated on transferring the flowers to notice the fondness in which Sportacus looked at him. He did notice the silence that enveloped them, but dared not speak. Perhaps, for once, they could enjoy each other’s presence.

------

Surprisingly, Sportacus truly was good company. Robbie worked, apathetic to most of Sportacus’ talk about anything healthy. He was more focused on the work, but it seemed the town hero could savor silence too. Even when he did talk, he didn’t talk about health and sports all the time. Robbie could appreciate the jokes he told and the way he could balance a conversation and silence.

Moreover, while Robbie himself was uninterested in most conversations that day, Sportacus took no time in filling in that space for him. Bessie came by once and tried to talk with them. Robbie mumbled half hearted responses, not looking up from the garden. Sportacus noticed his discomfort and started multitasking between helping the town villain and replying to Bessie.

“So the kids will be back by nine?”

“Oh, yes! Ziggy will probably be fast asleep by then, but hopefully the rest won’t be too energetic. They’ve had quite the exciting day so far!”

Sportacus laughed as he covered the base of a flower with new soil. “The zoo is a great place to learn and have fun! They’ll probably be tuckered out by the time they get home.”

“Milford and I believe so, yes. Which is a relief, since I think we’ll all be too tired to try and handle them all by then. Which reminds me, have you been enjoying the quiet, Robbie?”

Robbie looked up at Bessie with a strained smile. “Yes, very. LazyTown is finally quiet. Too bad I’ve been working the whole day, else I’d be enjoying it.”

When Robbie looked down at his work again, Sportacus took the slight signal and turned around to look up at Bessie. “It’s a great day for planting these flowers! It would have gone by faster with the kids, but they might’ve been too rowdy. I have to admit, it’s been quite peaceful!”

“Oh yes, with no one to save and all. I know you rescued Milford earlier, but we’ve been relaxing since then. Are the flowers coming along nicely? It looks like you’ve covered most of the neighborhood by now!”

Sportacus nodded enthusiastically. “Yup! We’re actually almost done. Just in time too, since it’s almost dinner time.”

Robbie stood up suddenly, grabbing flowers and spades as he bent down with a nasty crack. Sportacus winced and watched as he walked down the street to the next corner, starting the new flower bed. Bessie couldn’t help but chuckle softly, expecting nothing less of a tired Robbie Rotten.

“Dearie me, I always forget he gets even grumpier after a day of work. How about you go help him finish up, and we’ll talk later? I’m sure Stephanie and the kids would love to call you and tell you about their day."

“Ah, thank you Ms. Busybody! I’d love that. We only have a few more blocks to go, too, so hopefully it won’t take too long.” He chuckled heartily, only then bidding goodbye to Ms. Busybody as they parted ways. The forgotten flowers and tools were brought back over to Robbie.

“.....Thank you.” Robbie grunted. Sportacus perked up in surprise.

“For what?”

“Talking. I didn’t want to spend the next half hour gossiping with her. It’s nice sometimes, but I’m hungry and tired and sick of the hot sun. Just-” Robbie hissed as a wood chip hit him under the nail. “Shit!...J-just, thanks, or whatever.”

Sportacus waved him off, mumbling a flustered, “You’re welcome!” as he offered the last of his forgotten water bottle. Robbie washed his injured finger and was relieved to find no bleeding. With silence settled around them like a blanket, they comfortably got back to work.

By the time they finished, it was past dinner time. The last few blocks had taken a while to finished but they’d at least gotten it done. Vibrant purple, white, and pink flowers could be spotted at every corner of the town. They’d have to be watered daily if it didn’t rain, but it seemed like such a small cost to see LazyTown be a brighter place.

Robbie had worked hard just to do something nice for the town, which was a very kind gesture coming from him. It was done in memory of Penny, who was not dead, but not in his life anymore either. Actually, if Sportacus thought about it, he might have spotted Robbie setting a small pot of marijuana on Jives’ porch as well. The memory of Penny calling Jives a stoner once came to mind, so he pretended he didn’t see Robbie as he passed on his way to Ms. Busybody’s.

“Oh, hello Sportacus dear!” Bessie happily greeted him before he could even knock on her door. She had a phone awkwardly held between her cheek and shoulder, ushering him inside, along with Robbie who’d stalked up behind him.

“Yes yes, Stephanie, Sportacus is right here, along with Robbie…..oh yes, speakerphone would be wise for this.” The elder lady gave the town rivals a cheery grin as she put speakerphone on. Her cell was left to sit on the coffee table as the three of them found a place on her couch.

“Sportacus!” Came the cheer of five children. Robbie winced at the loud crackling of all of them through the tiny speaker.

“Hi, hello guys! How was your day?”

“Oh it was great, Sportacus!” Stephanie immediately answered. “There were so many animals to see! There were monkeys, giraffes, lions, alligators- there were even penguins!!”

“They had a shark exhibit!” Trixie said.

“There were little piggies!” Stingy sniffed, obviously trying to grab the phone from Stephanie (or at least it seemed so, from the awkward shuffling and crackling noises).

“Wow, it sounds like you guys had a lot of fun! It’s almost seven thirty now, are you guys close to home yet?”

“Still and hour and a half.” Called an unfamiliar voice. Sportacus couldn’t discern who it was, but Robbie mouthed ‘Trixie’s mom’ to him.

“Ah, alright. Well, is anyone tired? Sounds like you all had a busy, busy day.”

“Nope!” They all answered.

“Not even Ziggy?” Sportacus asked, a smile spreading upon his lips. Even their energetic children weren’t tired after such a busy day. It seemed it would take more to tire them out.

“Well, I mean, we’re kind of tired.” Pixel said, “But Ziggy isn’t. He ate so much candy and sugary foods when we were there. I actually think he’ll crash pretty hard in an hour.”

“I’m sorry, but the triple chocolate fudge ice cream with extra sprinkles and toppings looked so goooood! And it was!!” Ziggy whined in response. Sportacus didn’t even have it in his heart to scold him.

“Well, since you’re all so awake, how about when you get home we watch some of Pixel’s mother’s old videos?” Asked Bessie, inserting herself into the conversation. The kids cheered in agreement, causing Robbie to cringe again.

“Alright then. When you all get home, get into your pajamas and grab your blankets and pillows. You children can spend the night here at my house again.” Bessie had a warm tone to her voice, obviously looking forward to later that night. She turned to the two men besides her and asked, “And what about you two? Will you both be there?”

“Of course! I might have to go back up to my airship to wash off and eat a late dinner, but you can count me in!”

“No thank you.” Robbie scoffed. He folded his arms together, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. The sight of him, still wearing his gardening clothes (just jeans and a shirt with a cotton plaid thrown on top) and covered in dirt, somehow sent butterflies through Sportacus’ stomach. However, he had to pout at Robbie’s refusal.

“Why not?”

“If a day at the zoo, one of the most energy spending activities one can do in public, hasn’t tired out those munchkins, then imagine how loud they’ll be just sitting here all night. No thank you, I’m out.” Robbie held up his hands in surrender, a deep frown marring his features.

“Wait Robbie’s there?” Trixie murmured a bit too loudly from wherever her seat was. Robbie stopped himself from groaning in frustration as he stood up.

Was. Robbie was there. I’m leaving to go eat a nice creamy cake and clean all this dirt off of me! Good night, you little brats.” And with that, Robbie Rotten bid his adieu, elegantly walking out of Bessie’s house with his head held high. Sportacus and Bessie sighed as he left.

“I did say that Sportacus and Robbie were here, children.” Bessie said, gently scolding.

Ziggy pouted from his seat. “We didn’t hear you…”

“Well whatever the reason, if you all are awake when you get home I’ll pop in the videos until you all fall asleep.” She said. There were some muttered apologies again, but before they knew it they had to say their goodbyes and hang up.

“Sportacus dear, go home and have your dinner. Take a shower and get all the dirt from the gardens off of you. I’m sure the kids would appreciate it to see you tonight.”

“Thank you, Ms. Busybody. I’ll be sure to clean myself up and have a healthy dinner. Thank you again for showing us all the videos, you can count on me to be there!” He stood up and gave her a hug. Bessie laughed into his shoulder, which brought a happy smile into his glum mood. He too left shortly after, trying to get a head start on his hour and a half time limit.

------

Nine o’clock rolled around fast. Sportacus had spent the evening by enjoying his dinner with a good book. After his food was digested he did a little exercise, knowing that he’d be sitting for the rest of the night. Lastly he showered, currently damp blond curls cascading over his ears as he looked over LazyTown.

Funny, he thought, I can’t see Ms. Troubleby’s van anywhere….

There was no sign of the van from the only road coming into town. It was growing darker with the minute, making it harder to look. The sun set later in August than it did in July, and it was beginning to get dark very quickly. Sportacus sat himself down in the pilot's seat and looked out, but for another fifteen minutes failed to spot anything.

Something was wrong.

Robbie too had noticed that something was off. At nine o’clock, there was no screaming children. Perhaps the silence was deafening, since he emerged from his bunker and looked out towards the field. It bothered him when there was supposed to be noise but was only silence, and vise versa. He frowned deeply and set off towards Ms. Busybody’s house, sure she’d have an answer.

The two of them got to town square at the same time. Sportacus dusted himself off from his journey down the ladder, oblivious to his unhidden ears and blond curls. Robbie felt his breath catch, suddenly trying to look anywhere but the admittedly attractive hero.

“Kids not back?” Sportacus asked.

“No, they’re not. Going to Ms. Busybody’s?”

“Yes! Let’s?”

“Let’s.” Sportacus grabbed his arm and they rushed off towards Bessie’s house, strides long and heads held high.

In the way that Ms. Busybody was Ms. Busybody, she opened the door before either Sportacus nor Robbie could knock. They looked at her in surprise as she smirked, curlers in her hair as she eyed the two of them down like an approving mother.

“They got caught in some nasty traffic near MayhemTown. Ms. Troubleby got them a hotel room for the night. They’ll be back in the morning.”

“How early?” Asked Robbie, squinting.

“Depends when they get up and leave. I’d say anywhere between nine and noon tomorrow. Ms. Troubleby does have to work an afternoon shift in BusyCity tomorrow.”

Sportacus sagged against Robbie in relief. A dopey smile tugged at his lips, the small adrenaline high he rode calming down. It was just very relieving to know that he kids were safe and cared for. He was truly worried, and was glad to see it wasn’t just him who had noticed the lack of children.

“Wait!” He said, a thought popping into his head. “Does this mean that we won’t watch the videos tonight?”

Bessie had to laugh. She wiped what was maybe a real tear from the corner of her eye mirthfully. “No, Milford and I won’t.” At Sportacus’ pout, she hummed in thought. “However, I’m sure if I gave you the videos, you and Mr. Rotten could watch them tonight- as long as they’re returned tomorrow, that is.”

Sportacus gasped and whipped his head towards Robbie, silently begging him with his child-like charms. Robbie groaned, groaned again when he realized they were still linked by their arms, and drew away with a defeated huff.

“Okay, okay! Maybe! Solid maybe. I might not be able to sleep tonight, so perhaps your company wouldn’t be too terrible. No flips, however, at all!” He said, warning the cheery elf in front of him.

“Yesyesyesyesyes!! Thank you Robbie, thank you so much! Oh gosh, you can explain to me everything and get to be nostalgic and I can be happy just to see everybody! It’ll tucker you right out and you’ll be asleep in no time, trust me! You won’t regret it!”

“Yeah yeah yeah. Go and get your stuff, or whatever.” He grumbled. Sportacus flipped off after stealing a bone crushing hug. Bessie laughed as Robbie squealed in absolute surprise.

She disappeared for a moment only to return with the video recorder in hand, a few wires wrapped around it. Robbie assumed he’d need them in order to connect it to his DVD player.

“Treat him kindly, Mr. Rotten. You two get along better than you might realize.” Bessie advised, winking at him. She tittered when he blushed, turned around and closed her door with a smug “Goodnight, Mr. Rotten!”

“Goodnight to you too, or whatever.”

Robbie hiked his shoulders up to his ears and shivered, aware of the unnaturally chilly night. Perhaps if Sportadunce didn’t catch him, he could run home to escape the cold. It might just buy him a few minutes before the bouncing elf invaded his home. It would also cover his cheeks in a deep red due to the nipping winds. He wasn’t flustered, not at all.

However, the bright blush on his cheeks definitely said otherwise.

Chapter Text

Knock knock. “Robbie?”

Sportacus shifted from foot to foot nervously. He hugged his blanket and pillow closer to his body. This was the third time he’d knocked, and the cold was starting to seep into his bones now. Thankfully, there were a few bangs and some curse words before Robbie pushed the hatch up.

“Sportakook.” He said, grunting with the weight of the hatch. Sportacus smirked despite himself and nodded.

“Just Sportakook. Uh, I brought my pillow and blanket, like you said to. Do you have the videos?”

Robbie muttered a yes as he waved him down, already starting down the pipe himself. Unsure how to proceed, Sportacus threw his bedding down first before flipping into the pipe.

The metal was cold on his rear end as he slid down. Sliding up and around the pipe walls, with the air whizzing past him, Sportacus could make a stable guess that it was even colder down in the bunker.

At last, having descended through what felt like three other micro-climates, Sportacus gasped as he was thrown into Robbie’s livingroom. The shock of the cold air surprised him, which caused for an unsteady landing on top of his own bedding. Robbie chuckled from his recliner, already snuggled in with a bowl of popcorn and what seemed like three fluffy blankets. Sportacus got up and rubbed his behind, taking in the full scale of Robbie’s home. He shivered against the cold air and the goosebumps on his arm. Either the bunker was always cold, or Robbie was like the other LazyTown residents and was too stubborn to turn the heat on until the brunt of fall really hit.

“Wow, you’re house is even bigger than I thought.” Sportacus eventually said. He eyed the catwalks behind Robbie and on the second floor. Robbie just smirked from his seat and crunched on a piece of popcorn.

“What did you think I lived in? A tiny, three bedroom house with barely any room for inventing, pacing, and being an overall genius? Pah! A true villain has enough space to accommodate for anything they set their minds to.”

Sportacus nodded. That made sense, considering he could see lab tables and scattered work equipment only yards away. A few inventions looked vaguely familiar, sitting on Robbie’s work bench, but it was hard to discern what was old and what was new. But in an attempt to not be rude, he tore his gaze away from the machinery and moved his stuff in front of Robbie’s recliner. He was here to watch videos, not gawk like a creep.

“Just what are you doing, Sportakook?” Robbie said, kicking at his comforter with a slipper-covered foot.

“Oh..” Sportacus shrugged in uncertainty. “There isn’t enough room in your recliner for the both of us. Also, you seem to already have your TV and DVD player ready, so I figured I could sit in front of you and we could start watching the videos.”

Robbie simply rolled his eyes. He sat up straighter and wiggled around, which looked awkward due to multiple blankets in his lap. Suddenly, he picked them up to reveal enough space for Sportacus to sit, a grin on his face.

“Ta-da! Enough space for both you and me. Now get over here, the air is cold and I want to put my blankets back down!”

Sportacus didn’t need to be told twice. It would have been easier to flip into the spot, but that would have been rude. Instead, he toes off his boots and politely squeezed in beside his unofficial frenemy. His blankets soon became warm as he nestled into then, an arm wrapped around his pillow as he looked up to Robbie and grinned. “There! Can we start the videos now?”

There wasn’t a verbal reply to grace their new silence. Robbie used the remote to choose from an old selection menu to the first video of the night. Sportacus rested his chin on his pillow and watched with wide, blue eyes. The screen seemed to come to life and the speakers crackled with the blissful twittering of birds.

“Haha, Ila! The farmers’ rooster got out again…” Pixel’s mother was the one recording while her wife walked over. The camera zoomed in on a rooster with sickly white-yellow feathers. The couple laughed as it strutted up towards Young Robbie, seemingly staring him down.

“What is it going to do…?”

“I’m not sure...Oh- oh my gosh!” Pixel’s mother seemed to cover her mouth as she snickered. “He wants Robbie’s fries!”

Outside, the couple could hear Robbie vohemeothly cursing at the rooster, trying to keep the rest of his bagged fast food lunch hidden. He was already playing tug-o-war with the carton of fries in his grasp, the rooster’s beak on part of the cardboard.

“Let go of it you sad excuse of a rooster!” Robbie had screamed. The rooster, as if taken aback, gasped. Sportacus couldn’t stifle his giggles when the bird raised a wing over its chest in offense.

The fight for the fries continued for another three minutes. Sportacus ended up cackling into his pillow, just as bad of a mirthful mess as the Hyperbytes filming from their second floor window. Robbie even spared the video a few chuckles, looking on with nostalgia.

“Oh my gosh….whose rooster is that anyways?” Sportacus laughed again as the bird made away with the rest of Young Robbie’s greasy lunch.

That is Hannin. He was the worst rooster ever! I swear, he was even lazier than I was! He’d be on my bench before I would get there sometimes in the morning, he’d steal my lunches and- god -sometimes even my cake!” Robbie almost sobbed at the memory of his stolen cake. “He made me look healthy compared to him- and he was a rooster!

“Wait, really? He’d give you a run for your money?”

“Yes, he would! It was the worst! I wasn’t even a villain then, I was just the town’s laziest resident. Title I held proudly.”

Robbie watched as Pixel’s mother moved the camera, now filming Young Robbie trying to chase the rooster around town to get his lunch back. He huffed, trying to hide his own chuckles.

This was a particularly long video, but by the end of it both men were smiling (even if one was trying to hide it). As the video changed, Sportacus settled even more into his seat. He still grinned into his pillow, watching the screen with blue eyes crinkled at the corners. It took some shifting, but he managed to pull his knees to his chest without bothering Robbie, who’d gone quiet at his side again.

The TV screen turned a lovely shade of blue. The clouds swirled as Ila spun in place, laughing along with her son. Baby Pixel ran circles around her, kicking up red and orange colored leaves as he went. Sportacus gasped in silent awe at his hearty, happy giggles.

It was fall in the recording, two months after Trixie had been born. It seemed to be the annual LazyTown Autumn Festival, except it was booming. Sportacus had never seen anyone from outside the town visit and partake in the merriment- but here they were, ten years earlier, milling around town square while sipping on apple cider and eating donuts.

Officer Obtuse ambled around the perimeter, on duty with about four other officers. They chatted nicely with the festival goers, still alert. Sportacus saw Milford, young and chipper, talking with an elderly couple. There wasn’t any sign of Bessie, but Ila made sure to film her son’s interactions with Jives and the other LazyTown babies.

“Leaf! Leaf leaf leaf leaf leaf!” Baby Pixel stated, giving out brightly colored leaves to Jives, Stingy, and even Baby Trixie. Stingy waved his around and Jives accepted his with a chuckle and a smile. Baby Trixie didn’t acknowledge the object set on her chest, instead opting to continue sleeping.

“Oh, Bittybyte!” A Young Robbie cooed over a stall. Baby Pixel looked over and squealed with delight, excited to see another familiar face to hand out leaves to. “Oh yes, it’s me! Why, thank you, Bitty! Here, a free donut for you, in thanks for your wonderful gift.”

“Robin…” Pixel’s mother sighed. Young Robbie grinned cheesily, a loose curl falling in his face as he twisted the leaf stem between his fingers.

“What? He deserves a little sweet treat! He’s almost three now anyways, I’m sure a little sugar would do him fine.”

Jives sauntered up to the stand, Baby Stingy on his hip. Robbie had to explain to Sportacus that he babysat Stingy quite often as a child, with his parents usually too busy to watch him themselves after all.

“What about me?” Jives asked.

Young Robbie sneered. “Nothing, you high school senior stoner.”

“Even though I’m gracing you with my beautiful presence? And look at this! Another child to coo at! Come on man, I want a donut but I’m poor.” Young Robbie jeered again, only he smiled through his teasing tone.

“Fine, but only because you brought another cute child that deserves love and attention! Yes, I’m talking about you! Hello!” Baby Stingy gurgled with laughter, grinning brightly at the attention.

“Awe, Robbie!” Sportacus looked up at his companion, grin too wide and eyes too fond. Robbie blushed and stuffed a handful of popcorn into his mouth. In his defense, children were cute and lovely and needed to be told how wonderful they were. It didn’t make him soft, no siree.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the annual festival so….big? I mean, I’ve never seen so many people attend it! We barely get any visitors from MayhemTown, and that’s only twenty minutes away.”

“Well…” Robbie swallowed and rubbed his chin in thought, “After all the old couples started to move out, and when the Spoilero’s began spending their money in places besides town events… people stopped coming.”

Sportacus’ mustache drooped with his frown. His happy energy drained away once realizing what happened.

So there was some sort of mass exodus, where all the elderly residents moved- perhaps with their families- to places more accommodating for their age and physical limitations. Then the money stopped being spent in the economy, and soon LazyTown was nothing but a husk of it’s former self. That was just the simple version, but it still depressed him just to think about it.

Robbie, unable to look at him sad once more, wrapped an arm around his shoulders in an attempt to brighten his mood. It worked, he found- especially when Sportacus leaned himself on Robbie’s shoulder to continue watching. A bright blush enveloped his cheeks, but he ignored it to watch the third video of the night.

It took Sportacus a long moment, but a realization hit him head on not even a moment later. He looked up at Robbie, mouth partially open, before his cheeks split into a giant grin.

“You called Pixel ‘Bitty’.”

Robbie’s face heated again. He fisted the material of Sportacus’ warm comforter in embarrassment. “What? Preposterous- hey, don’t look at me like that….Okay, okay, maybe I did. It’s an old nickname, is all.”

“It’s cute. You don’t call him it anymore?”

A gentle shake of his head. “Nope. Not since Jives moved out, I don’t think.”

Sportacus frowned, disappointed. He wondered if Pixel liked the nickname anymore, or how he’d respond if Robbie were to call him it now. Those thoughts were saved for later nights as Officer Obtuse taught Pixel and other children from BusyCity how to do stop-drop-and-roll. While it was entertaining, he found he just couldn’t pay attention.

Past ten o’clock as it was, Sport found his eyes drooping. He didn’t mention it to Robbie, not wanting to ruin his nostalgia experience, as it became harder and harder to stay awake. Once the position became uncomfortable, he shifted once to the other side of the recliner, out of Robbie’s extended arm, and nestled his pillow onto the chair arm. With blankets up to his ears and head awkwardly on his pillow, Sportacus closed his eyes to the sound of childish laughter, his last sight the smile of a man who doesn’t smile.

------

Robbie stared at his ceiling. The pipes were far too high up for him to really see them, the lights hanging lower down than the pipes themselves. He supposed they’d need a maintenance check sooner or later- hopefully later, because he really didn’t care too much.

The floor wasn’t that interesting either. Cold blue marble with only one orange rug to brighten his dull living space. He could see the old rusted edges of the pool, the cover of which was welded shut. There wasn’t any water beneath it anyways, and the robo-sharks had stopped working a long, long time ago.

Perhaps the only interesting thing to look at in the room was the man on his chest. After getting only five hours of sleep, Robbie had woken up to the elf cuddled up to his body heat, their blankets mixed as Sportacus used his chest for a pillow.

At least the elf was warm. Normally, especially in the fall and winter, the bunker got unbearably cold. The way Sportacus radiated heat was wonderful, and Robbie really wasn’t complaining. He idly played with the tips of his curly blond locks or rubbed soothing circles into his shoulder, thinking with a tired brain.

Robbie didn’t know what Sportacus was to him. He was both an enemy and now becoming his friend. He could make him laugh and smile, while yet aggravating him to the depths of the earth and back. He was attractive yet homely. Robbie couldn’t seem to make up his mind on what he thought about him.

A sigh escaped the villain as he continued thinking runaround thoughts. Friend, or enemy. Heroes and villains. He leaned his head back and stared at the ceiling again, oblivious to Sportacus slowly waking up.

There was a thumping sound. A steady beat. A motion on his shoulder was soothing, grounding in a way that made him want to sleep some more. Sportacus rubbed his cheek into his blankets and breathed in content. His bed was comfy, nice and warm. The airship had been getting cold since fall was approaching.

The feeling on his shoulder stopped, and Sportacus screwed his eyes shut. At least the heartbeat was constant.

Heartbeat?

Sportacus shot out of the chair, falling over the arm and a;most hitting his head on the side table. Robbie sat up abruptly, hands clenching the orange fur while he screamed in surprise. They both sat there, breathing hard as the moment caught up with them.

“Sp...Sportacus! What the hell was that for?!”

“I- you-” Sportacus stood up and awkwardly looked around. He hadn’t meant to stay the night. Shame burned red on his cheeks as Robbie stared at him.

“Hello? Earth to elf?”

A hand went up to his ears in confusion. A rather unmanly scream left Sportacus as he realized his hat was in the airship, and had been since his shower last night. His hands clasped around his ears in embarrassment.

“...If it makes you feel any better, your hair looks nice?” Robbie tried to smile. It didn’t work.

Sportacus lowered his hands, still cautious. Robbie’d seen them the entire night, so there wasn’t any need to hide them. He shifted from foot to foot, now unable to even look in Robbie’s direction. God, he’d been snuggled up to his chest. His, firm, toned chest with a pudgy stomach, that was so comfortable to lay on-

I’m sorry!” Sportacus blurted. He cringed at how loud he was. “I-I didn’t mean to sleep overnight! That was very rude of me, and I swear it won’t happen again- if- if this ever happens again, that is. And I was hogging your chair and probably kept you awake last night, I’m so sorry Robbie, I promise-”

“You’re fine.”

When Sportacus’ brows knit together in confusion, Robbie shrugged. “It’s cold in here. You were warm. Plus, I kinda had a feeling you wouldn’t stay up too late. It was already nine when we started watching videos, and you’re annoyingly dependant on eight o’frickin eight, so…”

The only thing Sportacus could think to do was nod. He’d apologized, but Robbie had forgiven him without a second thought. As an added bonus, his ears weren’t made fun of, and Robbie didn’t immediately hate him, or at least dislike him more than he already did.

With nothing else left to do or say, Sportacus shuffled forward and collected his blanket and pillow. Robbie watched apathetically from his seat, having now reclaimed the rest of the chair. Before the hero could stand fully, he reached out with his foot and kept the blanket on the ground.

“Uh….you’re welcome to shower, or something. I know you did last night, but…”

Sportacus melted in appreciation. “I’ll just take a quick one to wake me up. Thank you, Robbie.”

“The good bathroom is up the stairs and down the hallway. Second door on the right.”

“Uh, thank you!” Sportacus shuffled away from his pile of bedding and timidly followed Robbie’s orders.

Five minutes later, he walked out of the bathroom with damp curls once more framing his face. He padded back down to the first floor in a hurry, that way he could get out of Robbie’s hair. Robbie, however, stopped him at the bottom of the stairs to gave him an apple.

“Robbie…”

“You need to eat breakfast, or whatever it is your routine details. Bessie called and said that the kids would be back soon, so you’ll need all of your- ech- energy to handle them.”

“Awe, don’t you worry Robbie! I’m energetic enough on my own to play with the kids, the extra energy is just for saving people. I’ll be able to handle them.” He took a bite out of the crimson apple with a smirk, leaving Robbie to roll his eyes as he left to change.

By the time he returned, Sportacus had folded his bedding and was finishing his morning apple. He noticed the pillow tucked under Robbie’s arm, to which he simply raised an eyebrow.

“Hush. Not a word, hero. I’m going up and returning the videos before a nice long nap on a bench. You may be a human heater, but even that won’t get me to sleep for long.”

Sportacus snorted but didn’t say anything else. Together, the climbed out of the pipe and ambled towards town. Sport traded his bedding for his hat in the airship and Robbie returned the videos to Ms. Busybody.

They met back up together on accident at the sports field, where Robbie was napping and Sportacus was exercising. Sportacus tried to make conversation, but the tired Robbie to his side was barely responding.

The kids arrived back in town quietly. Neither Sportacus nor Robbie noticed them, too engrossed in some conversation. Robbie was laughing at something Sportacus said, eyes closed as his voice becoming sleepier and sleepier, when suddenly screaming children woke him back up.

SPORTACUS!

AHH!

Trixie tackled Sportacus to the ground, followed promptly by Stingy and Ziggy. Stephanie and Pixel laughed as Sportacus sat up in surprise. Robbie’d snapped into a sitting position with a terrifying scream, a hand over his racing heart. His scared expression changed into one of fury.

“Was that really necessary?! I think you’re all smart enough and old enough to know when someone is sleeping!

“You weren’t sleeping,” Trixie said, “You were talking with Sportacus!”

“I thought you hated Sportacus.” Ziggy said, sitting in Sportacus’ lap. Robbie rolled his eyes.

“I don’t hate him. I hate what he teaches and I hate how loud you children are.” He looked over to his side and sneered at Sportacus. “Why are you looking at me like that? Stop, you weirdo. Weirdacus. Sportaweird.”

The kids giggled a little bit. “Well, if he’s weird, then I’m weird too!” Ziggy defended.

“Yeah! We’re all weird!” Trixie agreed.

“There’s nothing wrong with being weird,” Pixel said, “Everybody is weird in their own way.”

“Yes, I’m weird in my way.”

“Shush, Stinky-”

Stingy. My name is Stingy, Mr. Rotten.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. As I was saying! No, I don’t hate your blue jumping kangaroo. I just hate that he encourages you all to be loud and healthy.”

Stephanie sat down on the bench beside Robbie. She gave him a smile as she said, “Well, does that mean you two are friends then? It’d be really nice if you were!”

“Stephanie,” Sportacus cautioned, “I’m not going to force Robbie to be my friend if he doesn’t want to be.”

“Yeah, don’t be ridiculous! We’re not friends, we’re frenemies.

Everybody turned their heads in Robbie’s direction. With a squeak, Robbie sat straighter, unsure why everyone was looking at him. “What? Did I say something wrong?”

The children could hear the birds tweeting in the trees as Sportacus looked up at Robbie. His sapphire eyes sparkled in the sunlight. Carefully, he maneuvered Ziggy onto the blacktop as he stood up and dusted himself off. Without warning, he shot forward and squeezed Robbie into a bone-crushing hug.

Gah! Sportacus!” Robbie yelled, face smushed into his shoulder, “Space! And air! Stop- stop hugging me tighter!” He gasped for air, exaggerated, squirming and fighting to get out of Sportacus’ death grip. The elf seemed unphased, cheek rubbing into the crown of Robbie’s hair with a dopey smile.

Stephanie and Trixie had to drag Sportacus off of Robbie. The three of them fell onto the bench while Robbie scrambled onto the ground between Stingy and Ziggy.

“What was that for?!”

“Frenemies! We’re officially frenemies!”

“What’s frenemies?” Ziggy asked, brows furrowed with confusion.

Pixel lowered his visor and typed into his bracer. “‘A person or group who is friendly toward another because the relationship brings benefits, but harbors feelings of resentment or rivalry.’ Or at least, that’s what dictionary.com says.”

The children ‘ah’ed in understanding. Sportacus looked back over at Robbie and grinned even wider, matching the frown he was receiving from the town villain.

“Oh, kids! We have some wonderful news, oh you’ll all be so excited!” Bessie and Milford raced to the sports field, Trixie’s mother lazily walking behind them. Everyone quieted down as they entered through the rusted gate.

Bessie continued to chitter as Ms. Troubleby and Milford stopped to catch their breath. “Oh, Robbie, you’ll be overjoyed!”

The villain in question scoffed. “Try me.”

Bessie looked over at Milford and grinned. Trixie’s mother smirked knowingly, and Robbie squinted his eyes. The kids got anxious and began to beg. Sportacus sat politely and shot a glance Robbie’s way.

Finally, breath caught and all three adults on the same page, they turned to the group and cheered.

“Jives is coming back to LazyTown!”

Chapter Text

“Robbie, calm down!”

“No! Things have to be perfect!” Robbie hissed back to Ms. Busybody, his legs whipping back and forth as he paced from table to table.

Jives Junkfood was five minutes out from LazyTown. There was to be a welcoming feast- the kids’ idea- and Robbie was more than excited. Sportacus, however, fidgeted from his spot outside, looking into the dining tent they’d set up. Robbie and Bessie quarreled over what needed to be done, leaving everyone else tense and restless from their radiating aura.

Not even a week ago, just after the kids got back from their zoo adventure, Bessie and Milford announced that Jives would be returning to LazyTown for a visit. He would be there for a week in total. When Bessie first informed them, Robbie had jumped up and started screaming.

“You’re serious?! He’s coming back?? Like, for real?” He’d asked, a rare grin splitting his cheeks. The kids found it disturbing, but Sportacus grinned with him.

“For an entire week! His house hasn’t been touched since he left, so he’ll be staying with me. Unless you’d like him to stay with you?” Bessie asked.

Robbie laughed, jumping up and down and dancing. He took Sportacus from the bench and pulled him into sloppy waltz. Soon giggles erupted out of the both of them, and Robbie draped over Sportacus’ shoulder with a brilliant smile. “Why not?! It’ll be great to catch up with him!”

Trixie stood up from the bench with a grin. “Does that mean I can play pranks on him again?”

“No!” All of the adults answered simultaneously. She sulked as Stingy stood up.

“Obviously you cannot, because he’ll be visiting with me. He was my babysitter, after all.”

“He babysat Trixie and I too, Stingy.” Pixel reminded.

Their wealthy friend shrugged and said nothing else, lest he be shouting over Ziggy’s excited ranting.

“I’ve never met this Jives person!! You all used to- to- to talk about him, when I first arrived and stuff! And he seems really nice from the old videos, and he and Robbie were good friends, and he got along with everyone! I can’t wait to meet him!”

“Jives was a very relaxed person. You could always have some sort of a conversation with you, and he’d be happy to have it.” Milford sighed, reminiscing upon six years ago.

Stephanie stood up besides Trixie and voiced her agreement with Ziggy. “I had never heard of him until we started watching the videos, but I’m excited too! It’ll be really great to meet an old citizen of LazyTown, and to actually talk them. Are you excited Sportacus?”

Still a little dopey from the amount of smiling he’d been doing in Robbie’s direction, Sportacus nodded dumbly. “O-of course! It’s great to meet new people, especially ones who are important to those around you. Jives used to be an important member to our society, so it’s wise to welcome him back with open arms!”

And welcome him with open arms they did. That conversation was a week old, and Sportacus nervously did another twenty push-ups while listening to another arguement start up. Robbie must have really cared about Jives for everything to be perfect now, a decade later.

The distinct sound of the only bus that stopped in Lazytown was enough to halt everyone dead in their tracks. Sportacus quickly flipped up and dusted himself off while the kids bustled to stand in a straight line. Ziggy bounced on his heels with too much excitement, Milford wiping his brow in nervousness behind him. Bessie and Robbie raced off to the bus stop, leaving everyone else to watch the tent.

There was a muffled, yet loud greeting. Sportacus could make out what sounded like laughter- from Robbie, the one he only ever heard in the videos- before the bus pulled away. When they came back, Robbie carrying a suitcase on his back, a man was talking besides Bessie and buoyantly keeping step with them.

Jives Junkfood was a tall, thin fellow. His limbs would be gangly if it weren’t for the lean muscle he’d accumulated from gardening and light exercising. Yet even then, his clothes almost hung off him in that awkward teenage way. His hair was slicked back into a familiar old green beanie, paired together with a white t-shirt with a yellow, green, and white flannel. A casual pair of jeans and green converse flashed deftly in the afternoon light. He looked very different than in the videos, but he was still distinguishable enough from his slight hipster fashion.

Robbie opened the now well oiled gate open with his hip effortlessly. While he set Jives’ luggage on a nearby bench, the returning young adult spun on his heels and marveled at his surroundings. A twinkling laugh escaped him, his entire demeanor overflowing with positive enthusiasm. It was quite contagious.

“Look at everything! Oh my god, it feels so nostalgic! Nothing has changed at all. Everything is awkward, weird bent angles.” Jives turned to Robbie, who was rubbing his aching back subtly, and pulled him close for a hug. “It feels good to be home!”

The two best friends hugged tightly. Sportacus looked on with a fond smile while the kids started to fidget. They were trying to be polite and not rush their old friend, but it was getting hard to since he was right there.

Milford stepped forward with a wry smile tugging at his lips. The older man didn’t say anything, but from the way Jives’ eyes sparkled at the sight of him perhaps nothing needed to be said. Jives pulled him into a tight hug right away, swaying on the balls of his heels.

“Oh, Mayor Milford! It’s been too long, sir. I miss our old morning conversations at the park. Always woke me up and brightened my day.”

“Oh, Jives! You’re too kind.” Milford chuckled. “I miss those talks too. But I’m not the only one who missed talking to you. I’m sure you remember Pixel, Trixie, and Stingy.”

“Bitty! Tricky! Stinge!”

The trio groaned in both embarrassment and nostalgia. They ran forward into Jives’ open arms, where the adult picked them up and twirled them around.

“Oh my god! You’ve all grown so much, just look at you all!” He set them down and peered closely at them, all big smiles and wide eyes.

“We’re not the only thing that grew while you were gone!” Pixel chirped.

Jives looked over at the three remaining townsfolk and smirked. He tucked his hands behind his back and wandered over, followed proudly by the other residents.

With a leer towards Ziggy, Jives extended a hand and bowed slightly. “Hello good sir! Ziggy, correct?”

Ziggy gasped with delight. His small chubby hand eagerly took Jives’ in a handshake, his body moving with his strong movements. Jives laughed.

“How’d you know, huh?!”

“Back when I had just moved away, you had just moved in! I used to talk with Ms. Busybody back then, and she used to tell me all about you. I had a sneaking feeling that the charismatic boy with the bright blue eyes just had to be you.”

Ziggy bashfully preened in the attention. Jives ran a hand through his short hair before looking over at Stephanie with the same softness in his eyes.

“And you must be Stephanie? Ms. Busybody told me when she first got in contact with me that you were a very bright girl. Thank you for keeping LazyTown cheerful!”

Stephanie blushed and took Jives’ outstretched hand in a confident handshake. “Awe, thank you! LazyTown has become my home, and I only want the best for it. It’s just so nice to talk to an old resident. You must know so much about the town history! That’s why we started watching the videos in the first place, since Sportacus wanted to know more about everything.”

“Sportacus…” Jives looked over and grinned at the town hero. “You must be Sportacus then!”

“That’d be me! Sportacus Ten, above-average-hero at your service!” Sportacus too took Jives’ outstretched hand, and was pulled into a big hug. He couldn’t help but grin brightly at the overflowing aura of happiness that Jives seemed to ooze.

“I’ve heard so much about you! Even from over in MayhemTown, we hear some awesome stories. You remind me a lot of a hero we have over there, named Nine. He taught us how to eat healthier and how to grow our own gardens. Following him was the best decision I ever made.” Jives laughed, his canine tooth gently peeking out from under his lip. Sportacus perked up at the mention of the other hero.

“Nine? Mustard yellow outfit and hot air balloon?”

“That’s the one!”

Sportacus couldn’t resist himself from flipping with joy. “That’s my older brother! I knew he was stationed in a district of MayhemTown, but I just wasn’t sure where.”

“He covers the northeast end, by the mayor’s office. Police departments from other districts tend to borrow him though, so we never truly know where he is when he isn’t with us.”

Robbie stepped in between them with a bored sneer. With an arm around his old friend, he said, “Information from a friend, but your brother is an ass. We’re not talking about him right now, we’re welcoming Jives back. And I’m speaking for everybody when I say it’s almost dinner time and we’re all starving. I think if we don’t get food now, I’m going to throw all of you into the tent and feed you the most unhealthy things I’ve prepared.”

“Ew!” The kids protested, immediately moving away into the tent. Bessie followed behind, Milford bringing up the end. Jives watched them go before shaking his head.

“They’ve all grown up...I mean, look at Bitty! He’s got so much technology with him, is he like a wiz or something?”

“Pixel is a genius with technology. Whenever I have a problem, he’s the first to fix it!” Sportacus said proudly.

“Wow…” Jives rubbed at his jawline in thought. Another bright grin spread over his cheeks as he moved towards the food tent, town hero and villain in tow. “I never thought I’d be back here, and yet here I am. Everyone has grown, and there’s even new residents! I never would have believed you if you’d told me the town had grown again.”

Robbie scoffed and retorted something back. Sportacus quietly watched them banter, watched how they picked up like Jives had never left.

A feeling of happiness and something bitter battled in his stomach. Sportacus frowned, not quite sure what he was feeling. He decided to ignore it, however, when the kids called him over. His bitter emotions would just have to wait.

-------

Over the period of the evening, Sportacus had found out that Jives was quite the character. He was a great entertainer and could talk to just about anybody. During dinner he made sure to talk to at least everyone, even if the conversation was small. Sportacus was finishing a talk when the kids became rambunctious.

They were eager to show Jives how they’d brightened the town. Enveloped between them, Sportacus helped to lead Jives through their small town, proudly presenting what they’d done.

“These are our gardens! We grow food here during the spring and summer-”

“And pumpkins in the fall!” Ziggy said, only then apologetically looking in Stephanie’s direction. Stephanie patted his shoulder and finished explaining.

“When Sportacus arrived, we decided to eat more sportscandy in order to be healthy. The gardens hadn’t been used in forever, so we had to fix them up. It took some team work, but now we’re able to eat healthy foods whenever we want!”

Jives wandered through the flower beds, surveying the properly cared for plants. Having been tending to his own garden for five years, he was impressed by their skills.

“These gardens look great guys! Those zucchinis look very healthy- they’ll probably be ripe in a week or two.”

“If you think our gardens are good, then we should show you our sportsfield!” Trixie said. She took Jives’ hand and guided him back out to town square. Without effort, she kicked open the metal door and presented the sportsfield to their guest.

Jives whistled lowly. He looked over the renovated playground to one side, the soccer field and basketball court on the other. A lone soccer ball sat by the entrance way, and he took no time in gently dribbling it along.

“This is a great sportsfield, guys!” He passed the ball to Sportacus, who trapped it before returning the pass.

“The kids worked hard to repair it. We play outside everyday, although we always break to keep hydrated and eat sportscandy.”

Jives nodded in understanding. He kicked the ball back and forth a few more times, but before long the kids wanted to show him the rest of town. They walked through Town Hall and down the shopping district, even if the grocery store was the only open place there.

By the time they rounded back to town square, Robbie had finished cleaning up the tent. Bessie and Milford took any uneaten food back to their house, seeing as Robbie’s dishes had been emptied. As soon as they were near enough, the town villain wrapped an arm around his old friend and they walked together.

“Have the brats tired you out yet?”

“No, they’ve just been showing me around town. If anything, I’m tired after a day of travelling.”

Sportacus let the kids walk in front of him so he was besides the friendly duo. “The kids will want to play with you a lot tomorrow, trust me. How about you go to bed early tonight, that way you have enough energy for tomorrow?”

Robbie’s eyes lit up. “Are you suggesting we be lazy for the rest of the night, dear Sportacus Ten?”

Oh, so that was how it was going to be. Sportacus laughed despite himself and nodded. The grin on Robbie’s face made him smile a little more. “If that’s how you want to take it, then yeah. I can keep the kids entertained and quiet for the rest of today. They’ll be energetic enough tomorrow anyways.”

"Well I’ll be!” Robbie looped his arms with Jives and whistled. “You’re telling me to be lazy! I never thought I’d see the day.” He laughed loftily before tugging Jives away from the group, towards the town outskirts.

“Goodnight children, we’re going to be lazy and you’re going to be quiet! Isn’t that right, Sportaloon?”

Smirking, Sportacus nodded in jesting agreement. “Tell them goodnight kids, we’ll play kickball with them tomorrow afternoon. Robbie and Jives are going to catch up.”

The kids stopped chatting in order to pout. “Good-bye!” They said, waving sadly.

Sportacus ruffled Ziggy’s hair in order to get rid of the pout the boy sported. Ziggy leaned on his leg with a huff.

“Why does Robbie get to spend more time with Jives? I wanted to show him my candy collection.” Sportacus shook his head mirthfully as he knelt down to their level.

“Kids, sometimes old friends need time to catch up. Robbie and Jives are very similar people, and yet very different. It’s best just to let them do what they need to do, with Jives adjusting to life here an all. We’ll play with him tomorrow, don’t worry.”

“He and Robbie are really good friends….” Stephanie said.

“Robbie wasn’t very nice to you this last week though,” Trixie said, “So why should we let him just hog Jives?”

Well she had a point there.

Sportacus thought back during the last week, how Robbie had repeatedly shrugged him off in order to prepare things for Jives. It….hurt, but Jives was one of the only important people Robbie had cared about in presumably a long time. It was understandable?

Sportacus sighed and shook his head. Robbie wasn’t the best person, but he could acknowledge when the man was trying his best. And perhaps he himself was too forgiving, which was why he held no judgement.

“Perhaps he hasn’t been the nicest, but he cares a lot about Jives. Now, how about we go to Pixel’s and play some charades, huh?”

“Oh! The first turn is mine!

“No way, Stingy! It’s mine!” Trixie sprinted ahead. Stingy and Ziggy ran after her, leaving Sportacus, Stephanie and Pixel to groan in unison. It was going to be a long night.

------

Jives jumped down the stairs by twos and landed lazily on the floor. He finished the glass of water in his hand, ibuprofen tablets for the small headache he’d gathered already downed. Robbie, sitting in his lab, looked over once as the young adult finished his descent. Jives ambled over, nursing his empty glass against his chest.

“Not going to bed?”

Robbie shook his head. A quick stroke of a pencil told him that he intended to finish this design he was working on. It looked close to being done already, so it probably wouldn’t take much longer.

“Well, don’t stay up too late.”

“You’re not my mom.” Robbie muttered. Jives scoffed mirthfully.

“No, but I do care.” He pointed out. Robbie moved his ruler and made a mark, then another. Jives watched him for a second, leaning on the workbench as he watched.

“Bessie said you’d become a villain once Sportacus arrived. Are you going to throw a scheme at him sometime this week?”

Robbie shrugged. “If you’re busy, then I might. Just so you won’t yell at me- we both know you’d yell at me.” An impish grin swept his features as Jives laughed besides him.

“I would! You’re too clumsy with your inventions. But, since you’ve been doing this for a few years now, I assume you’ve gotten a grip on it. Villain number one, eh?” Jives nudged his old friend with his elbow and a wry grin. Robbie looked back over with a smirk, arms a flourish as he finished marking the last of his design. The two entered a nudge-war, elbows jabbing, but stopped when Robbie elbowed himself. Jives bent over from laughing too hard, and soon even Robbie chuckled against his workbench.

After a moment of recovery, Jives pointed at his friend, hand still grasping the empty cup. “Hey, at least tell me what you’re working on before I go to bed. I need to know what I’ll be up against if something goes wrong.”

Again, Robbie scoffed, but ultimately dropped the haughty attitude. “A freeze ray. And it’s not time related- I’m talking frost and ice here.”

“No, yeah, I get you.” Jives said, peeking back over at the design. “So are you going to use it on Sportacus this week?”

“Maybe. Why do you care?”

Jives shrugged. “He seems like a genuinely nice guy. You two seemed to get along for a little bit there.”

Robbie furrowed his brows, taking a second before rolling his eyes. “Honestly? He disgusts me, yet he doesn't at the same time. I could probably consider him a friend. He’s been making an effort to be considerate at least, so I’ve been trying not to…..dislike him any less.”

“So friends, then.” Jives said, “Considering you magically became villain number one as soon as he came to town, I’d say that’s pretty good progress.” Robbie decided not to ask progress of what.

“By the way, number one villain of what?”

Robbie laughed lowly. “Why, number one of everything villainous! I wasn’t titled ‘Number One’ by Villain’s Weekly for nothing.”

“And to top it all off, you’re going to demonstrate how much of a villain you are later this week?”

All Jives received was a chuckle and finger guns as Robbie backed away to his work station again.

“That….you know that doesn’t make me any less concerned. But I guess don’t freeze yourself tonight.”

“Yes, Mom.

“Goodnight, Robin dearest!

Robbie scowled at the young adult before him, who laughed and flipped him off as his goodnight. He heard Jives head to the kitchen to drop off his empty cup before heading up the spiral staircase. When the bedroom door closed, he set off to work as quietly as he could. This freeze ray wasn’t going to build itself, after all.

Chapter Text

The lair was dead quiet as Jives yawned and exited his guest bedroom. It was hard not to feel awake, with Robbie’s cold floors sending jolts of awakeness through his body. The cobalt marble wasn’t just on the first floor, it was on the second and third and fourth, and even the metal staircase was freezing. Jives was beginning to wish he’d brought warmer clothes.

Upon stepping into Robbie’s ‘living room’, he could immediately tell his host was asleep. Mechanical bits and bobs were strewn over his multiple workbenches, tools and scraps everywhere. Robbie himself was asleep on his workbench, two pencils tucked behind his ear. Jives couldn’t help but laugh.

It took some effort, but he eventually maneuvered the man into his comfortable orange chair. It’d do him no good to sleep hunched over a workbench, or really the chair, but the man still refused to use his own master bedroom. The chair and his purple cow blankie would have to do.

Jives stood up with a groan and put his hands on his hips. With Robbie resting comfortably, it was probably time to make breakfast. Or clean up the lair. Robbie, as immaculate as he was, always had a hard time with organization. Jives couldn’t even remember all the times he’d cleaned the old man’s house, the two of them bickering over it.

Twenty minutes later, he finished placing Robbie’s tools neatly on one workbench. Another bench held all of the scrap metal, piled in an organized fashion. The third bench held the half-finished skeleton of the ray gun itself, alone and untouched. Everything looked immaculate, and pleased the young adult greatly.

He wandered into Robbie’s kitchen to make breakfast, stomach growling. Every cupboard was filled with junk food though, and Jives had to wrinkle his nose in disgust. It’d been years since he’d had this much unhealthy food in his own cupboard, and felt a little nauseous just seeing it all.

Well, the kids had mentioned that he could use what was in their garden…..

-------

Sportacus jumped down into town square at the early time of eight thirty in the morning. He stretched his upper body, walking around the town slowly. It was a Sunday, and no one seemed to be awake. The comforting chirps of the birds brought a smile to his face, pushing him to start off for his morning jog.

Today was the day that the kids were planning a big kick ball game. They wanted Jives to play, since this was their way of welcoming him back into their community. Later, there would be a picnic dinner before they ended the day by watching the stars as the sun set. Of course they had other activities planned for the week, but today was the day that the kids had been buzzing with excitement about.

Speaking of plans, Sportacus wondered if Robbie had anything he wanted to do with Jives. He’d heard him spew off a few ideas once, but for the majority of the last week Robbie was too busy to talk to him. Sportacus worried his lip and hoped that whatever Robbie wanted to do didn’t collide with the kids’ plans, and hopefully Jives wouldn’t be spread too thin.

“Good morning, Sportacus!”

“Guh- oh! Good morning, Jives.” Sportacus stopped himself from tripping in surprise. He’d been too busy thinking to notice him picking fruit in the gardens.

“It’s actually kind of comforting to know I’m not the only one up early. Over in MayhemTown, my entire neighborhood is probably up. As nice as the silence is here, it’s just nice to see another person awake.”

Sportacus laughed, a hand rubbing his neck, as he walked into the garden. “I’m always up early! Sometimes the kids are up with me, but now that school is starting soon they’ve been trying to sleep in.”

Jives picked a few apples from a low-hanging branch with an understanding nod. “God, I understand that. I actually just graduated from college a few months ago, so I can see why they’re trying to catch up on their sleep.”

“Oh? What did you go for?” Sportacus asked, standing besides Jives and inspecting apples with him.

“I majored in environmental science, and minored in agricultural engineering.”

Sportacus’ eyes lit up, a grin sweeping onto his cheeks. “That sounds amazing! If you’d just graduated from college, how do you know my brother?”

Jives chuckled softly as he went over to the tomato stalks and picked a few ripe ones. “I moved out to go work at a plant nursery in MayhemTown about six years ago? Just after I moved in, Íþróttaálfurinn started coming around and helping out our area. Eventually he stayed, but before I actually went to college I worked trying to save up money. He was really influential in helping me become healthier.”

“Sounds like he was doing this job then!” Sportacus said.

“He was! And still is- I think he’s helping out in another neighborhood this week, actually. A few drug busts, or something.”

Sportacus blinked in surprise. MayhemTown was vastly different from LazyTown, after all. He shook his head fast, like a dog shaking off water, before giving Jives an apologetic chuckle.

“Sorry, I had to comprehend that last sentence for a second. We don’t have any of those here in LazyTown. But I guess now that we’re picking fruit and vegetables,” he motioned to the garlic they’d started to pull out of the garden bed, “I do have to ask, you do realize that Robbie probably won’t eat any of these, right?” It wasn’t asked harshly, tone gently reminding.

Jives paused for a second before bursting out in laughter. The back of his hand came up to cover his mouth, eyes crinkled at the corners as he looked at the hero before him.

“Of course not! I was planning on getting some fruit for a side, and a little bit of garlic to help put some flavor into my omelette. I was going to make Robbie some chocolate chip pancakes. Most healthy foods, or anything without a certain level of sugar, can sometimes upset his stomach.” Jives explained, “I would never dream of giving him something healthy without some form of sugar or dessert with it.”

Oh. Oh.

Well, that certainly explained a lot. Sportacus flushed red, realizing why Robbie never ate such healthy things like the rest of them did. Jives clapped him on the back, understanding.

“Don’t worry, he doesn’t like to tell people. He’s secretive like that, my man.”

Secretive was one word for Robbie Rotten. He nodded dumbly and pulled another garlic bulb from the ground.

Jives looked him over, smile small and somewhat fond. He turned back to the garden and picked what vegetables were ripe. There weren’t many blooming fruits, so when they finished they had dirty hands and a basket full of vegetables.

The sun was peeked far beyond the horizon by now. It hadn’t been more than an hour, so Jives assumed it was a bit past nine. Robbie probably wouldn’t be up until eleven or twelve at the latest, he remembered, so some company would be appreciated.

“Hey, you should come back with me! We could talk and get to know each other. You seem like a pretty nice dude, and I’m sure you’d appreciate some breakfast, judging by the way you’ve been eyeing the apple tree.” Jives laughed when Sportacus sputtered to respond. “I can’t fault you, those apples look delicious!”

“I-I mean,” Sportacus coughed, “Robbie probably wouldn’t take too kindly to me just being there. We’re frenemies, but we’re not exactly close..”

Jives raised an eyebrow. “So? I want to get to know you. It’s not everyday I can bond with someone over my fondness of nature and healthiness.”

Sportacus still felt himself hesitate to agree. Part of his mannerisms told him no, because Jives was staying at Robbie’s house and he didn’t want to anger the host himself. But on the other hand, he wanted to get to know Jives, since he knew more about LazyTown and Robbie than he himself did. Also, who could refuse a healthy breakfast?

“Alright, let’s have breakfast! We can make omelettes, and maybe you can tell me what LazyTown used to be like! The videos satisfy some of my curiosity, but you’ll always know more about the town than I ever will.”

Jives laughed, fist pumping the air in success. “Alright dude! Come on, let’s go! Man this’ll be awesome, I’ve got so many old stories I could tell you. This’ll be great.” They looped arms, moreso because Jives began to excitedly tug Sportacus in the direction of the bunker. They jogged the whole way back, because neither of them could contain the jumping excitement in their veins or the challenge of running arms-linked.

------

Loud. It was too loud to sleep.

Robbie cracked open a single eye, crusty from sleep. He wiped at it, stretching and groaning. From the kitchen he could hear voices, more than one, which said that Jives had company. A sneer tugged at his lips, and he at least found it in him to change into clean clothes before making an appearance.

“...So your brother chases him around the entire neighborhood, doing nothing but saying hello! Glæpur kept running away, screaming until he was finally caught. We made him clean the President’s car until the authorities came to pick him up, but oh man that chase scene still makes me cackle!”

Sportacus snorted at the table, mouth full of strawberry, indicated by the berry on his fork. “Wow, that really sounds like something my brother would do. He used to do that to me when we were children. Except I didn’t scream and run away, I laughed and chased him.”

“That is the cutest mental image ever. Hey, do you want another omelette? I’m going to make myself another while I get started on Robbie’s pancakes- oh!” Jives grinned, “Speak of the devil! Mornin, Robbie!”

Robbie raised an eyebrow at the two men sitting at his table. Jives got up and bustled around the kitchen, saying something about how he was making chocolate chip pancakes. He mumbled something along the lines of a thank you and sat down next to Sportacus, who looked shy yet confident.

“Good morning, Robbie.”

“What time is it?”

“Ten-thirty.” Both health nuts answered.

Robbie crinkled his nose. “Ew. Too early.”

Jives tsked as he cracked a few eggs, going between making pancake batter and frying the beginnings of an omelette. “It’s not that early, you big dummy. The sun’s been up for a few hours now. I bet you can’t wait until fall, when it’s dark all the time.”

“That sounds perfect. Less time for screaming, active children. More time for sleeping, being lazy, and preparing for the best holiday there is.”

“Wait, what holiday is that?” Sportacus asked. He’d been there for two years, but couldn’t quite remember any big holidays they’d celebrated during autumn.

“Halloween!” Robbie said, Jives screamed.

“I almost forgot, oh my God! It’s what, the end of August? I have about two months to figure out my costume. My friends Goggi, Nenni, and I are going to volunteer for MayhemTown’s haunted house attractions.” The young adult jumped on his heels in excitement. “It’s going to be so fun! I think we might go as zombies.”

“Peh, zombies are overrated. You could totally come up with something better than that.” Robbie said, chin leaned into his hand. “If not, then I’m always open to designing you three a costume. I promised Bessie I’d make something for all the kids this year, anyways. She plans to take them out to LiarTown for the weekend, that way they can actually celebrate Halloween.”

“How come we don’t just celebrate it here?”

Robbie rolled his eyes at Sportacus, though his voice held no malice. “There aren’t any people here, Sportadumb. They’d never get any candy when trick-or-treating, especially with you here!”

Well, Robbie had a point. Even if he felt inclined to argue, Sportacus kept it down. “Why didn’t we do anything last year, then? No decorating?”

“Too much work. I’m too lazy, the kids have school, and Bessie and Milford are busy working.” Robbie jabbed his pointer finger into Sportacus arm, a sly grin splitting his features. “Although, maybe we can just get you to do it all for us, this year.”

“That’s just not fair,” the elf pouted with a smile, “I’m just a humble hero, how could I take away the fun of decorating from them? It’d be cruel. Villainous, even.”

Puh-lease, Sportasweet. You’re too innocent for that.”

“Now now, children,” Jives chidded, “Enough arguing. Save your energy for eating, and then we’re all going to play kickball. Especially you, Robbie!”

“I’m going to play what now?”

------

“You’re going to play as the catcher!”

Robbie blinked up at Sportacus, curling his legs into a better position on his place on the ground. “And what, exactly, does the catcher do?

“They catch the ball, you old coot.” Jives said, spinning a ball around in his hands. At Robbie’s blank stare, he explained, “Okay, okay, so Sportacus will be rolling the ball for the kids to kick, right? If they miss the kick, then we want you to catch it and throw it back to him. Or, if someone is running for home base,” he pointed to the white plate Robbie currently sat on, “Then we’ll throw it to you to tag the person out. You have to be touching the base though.”

“That,” Robbie started, “Sounds absolutely terrible. You assured me that I would be playing the least active position to play in this inane game, and yet it sounds like hell."

“Awe, come on Robbie,” Sportacus sighed, “It honestly is a very relaxed position. The kids are pretty good about kicking anyways, so the only thing you might be doing is tagging them out. They’re pretty good aims too, so there’s no need to worry about stray throws.”

Before Robbie could retort something, Trixie ran up and jumped besides Sportacus. “Can we start now?? We’re all warmed up and I’m ready to kick butt!”

“The only thing you’ll be kicking is this kick ball,” Jives teased, beating Sportacus to a light scolding. “No kicking butts now, only fair and square winning. And good sportsmanship, don’t forget that.”

Trixie rolled her eyes slightly but looked up at her old babysitter with determination. Jives ruffled her hair as he turned around, “Alright then, is everybody warmed up?”

“Yes!” They whooped.

“Robbie?” Jives asked.

“I’m dead inside.”

“Alright, I guess we’re ready then!”

Sportacus couldn’t help but choke on a giggle at Jives’ response, but Robbie seemed to take it jovially with a deep chuckle. The hero walked forward and helped his frenemy up, ignoring Robbie’s protests that he was fine. As he stood to his full height, Robbie’s back didn’t give a crack of protest, so Sportacus assumed he’d helped him up correctly.

“You’re sure you’ll be fine playing?”

Robbie rolled his eyes, waving Sportacus off. “As much as I abhor being active, I can do it for an hour or two, if Jives is happy. Haven’t seen the kid in forever, and it’s just nice to see him smiling. Also, he promised me a bucket of ice cream, so don’t get your hopes up here Sportakick!”

“I won’t, I won’t.” Sportacus grinned, laughing softly at the way Robbie playfully pushed him away. There was a small tug to the ends of the grumpy man’s lips, and Sportacus brightened at the thought that maybe he was finally cracking his hard shell.

The game went off without a hitch. Trixie’s team kicked first, which consisted of herself, Stingy, and Jives. The young adult was there to break up any fights between them, since Pixel, Ziggy, and Stephanie had already formed their team. Sportacus rolled the ball, his spot permanently fixed to the mound. Robbie sat on the ground behind home base, lazily catching any ball that moved into his lap. Bessie and Milford watched from outside the fence, relaxing at the scoreboard with drinks and sunglasses.

Everything picked up in what Sportacus had dubbed the third quarter. The kids were having so much fun, as was Jives, and Robbie begrudgingly decided to continue playing. Trixie had groaned as Ziggy hopped onto home base, who beamed with pride as Robbie caught the ball afterwards. Stingy had thrown it a second late, and now the game was tied.

“Come on guys, we can do better than that!”

“But Trixie!” Stingy whined, “It’s been almost two hours, and we’ve only had one break! Can we please get something to drink, Sportacus?”

A roar of protests and agreements bombarded Sportacus. Catching the ball from Robbie, he held his free hand in the air and shushed them. “Guys, guys, one at a time! I promise, there’s no need to yell over each other. I think, since Pixel’s team already has two outs, we’ll play one more kick and see if anyone gets out. Whether they do or they don’t, we’ll take a break. Alright?”

Everyone seemed to agree, even Robbie, who sat up straighter and cracked his back before giving a thumbs up. Sportacus ignored the need to cringe and prepared to roll the ball for Stephanie, who was kicking for the second time.

“I’m ready!” She called. Sportacus nodded, and rolled the ball.

Twack!!

Stephanie kicked the ball hard, sending it out into back field. Trixie ran for it, out past their boundary for where backfield ended. Pixel immediately ran from second base and scored a point. Stingy screamed as Trixie narrowly missed catching the ball. Too far out to throw, she ran as fast as she could.

Robbie really could see the event unfold better than anyone else. After all, he had the seat that overlooked the entire field. As Stephanie ran for home base, Trixie entered throwing range. Thrown objects were faster than an object running, he knew this fact. He made the mistake of looking at Stephanie once, and as his head turned back he realized his mistake. As the ball whizzed through the field, time seemed to slow down. Robbie internally groaned as he realized too late that the ball was coming too fast for him too catch. Stephanie was halfway to the base. He cringed and braced for impact, already knowing the ball would hit him.

SMACK!

The field went dead silent as Robbie fell backwards. Trixie stumbled, standing surprised with the rest of the group. In the midst of the commotion, no one had noticed that Sportacus’ crystal had gone off.

When Robbie sat back up, a hand held his nose. Tears brimmed on the edges of his eyes, and blood trickled out from between his fingers. Sportacus scrambled into a sitting position, having just dived and missed the ball, and began attending to the villain.

“Keep your head forward, pinch the front of your nose...that’s it, nice and slow Robbie…”

“Is it bad?” Robbie hissed, breath barely a whisper. Sportacus shrugged, rubbing his friend’s back as he encouraged him to lean forward ever so slightly.

“Not too sure yet, waiting to see if there’s swelling and bruising. The bleeding doesn’t look to bad, but we’re also attending to it straight away. Just keep breathing through your mouth okay? Head forward, don’t want you to choke on your own blood.”

Robbie just nodded, keeping his head forward. His eyes glanced up to see Bessie and Milford attending to the kids, and Jives hugging Trixie. He looked at Sportacus, who was busy trying to pull a handkerchief from his backpack. A tiny flutter unsettled his stomach, making him scowl breathlessly.

The handkerchief was pressed to his nose, and Robbie breathed out in relief. He dabbed at the blood that’d dripped down his face and held it under his hand, gathering what continued to bleed. Sportacus sat by him the whole time, voice gentle and soft, a reassuring constant.

After ten minutes, Sportacus lifted Robbie’s hands from his face. When no blood trickled from his nose, he had the villain stand up.

“Go sit on the bench, don’t touch your nose unless it starts to bleed again. I’ll be right back, I’m going to go get a cold compress.” Robbie simply nodded, and watched the elf flip away.

“A-...are you going to be okay?” Trixie shyly padded up to Robbie. By her side was Jives, who kept a comforting hand on her shoulder. If anything, from the way Trixie stood and shifted from foot to foot, she looked as though she wanted to hide behind his legs. Robbie suddenly had a realization, noticing just how much she’d grown without him noticing.

“Yeah...yeah, I think I’ll be fine. Does it look bad?” He managed a smile, even though the crest of his cheeks were beginning to ache. Trixie cringed, looking away.

“Your nose looks a little swollen, and you might bruise around it too. How does it feel?” Jives sat down, pulling Trixie to stand close by them.

“Sore. The bleeding stopped pretty fast, I guess, but I feel like it’s swollen.”

Jives laughed a bit. “Yeah, it swelled some. Not too much, though. Which is a good thing, which means it wasn’t a bad break. Accidents happen, right?” He looked over at Trixie, who nodded.

The young girl stepped forward and breathed in deep. She suddenly donned her tougher nature, Robbie saw, when she crossed her arms and looked down at the ground. “I’m sorry I threw the ball at your face. I didn’t mean to break your nose….even if you’re a villain and mean sometimes.”

If he could have, Robbie would have snorted. Instead he gave a quick breath through his mouth, a smile tempting to tug at his lips. “Yeah yeah, Loud Girl. It’s really one of the lesser injuries I’ve been given, so for that I should thank you….you’ll make an excellent villain one day!”

“Robbie!” Jives scolded. Trixie smirked at the ground.

Before their apologies could turn awkward, Sportacus flipped back over and held out an ice pack.“I’m back, sorry I took so long! I landed the airship by your bunker, Robbie, so I would be able to check your nose properly. Here, hold this ice pack to your nose gently- just don’t make it bleed again.”

Robbie took the ice, but swore that if Sportacus could, the elf would have rather duct taped it to his face. Sportacus flitted from person to person, making sure everyone else was alright, before calling their game at a tie and flipping back over to Robbie. His anxious, unusual nature was starting to bother him.

“Okay, so, airship! I have an entire room there for injurious, sort of like an on the fly doctor's office, med bay, whatever. We’ll just stop by there and then once done, I can get you down into your bunker and you can rest up. Sound good?”

Jives stood up and agreed. “Sounds great, man. Listen, I’ll keep a handle on the kids for right now, but I’ll go and keep an eye on Voldemort here once you’re done.”

“My nose is broken, not gone, you ass-”

Robbie!

“Robbie said ass!” Trixie hissed with a rebellious glint in her eye, despite her previous guilty and stubborn attitude. The kids giggled.

“Trixie!” Sportacus scolded, face drawn into a shocked expression.

“My villainous deed for the day is done.” Robbie sighed, leaning back into the bench with content. He smiled a devious smile, though cautious of smiling too wide. His cheeks were still sore, and the ice pack against his nose provided a weird numbing sense.

Sportacus, frantic and stressed, shook his head and picked up Robbie. There was an indignant yelp, but with only a hand to hold onto him, he was forced to lean into the town hero’s arms. Robbie still managed to glare, even if half his face was obscured by the ice pack.

“That’s it, we’re leaving. I’m getting an x-ray of your nose, you’re going to be lazy for the rest of the day. You children are going to forget that word and I’m going to pretend one of you didn’t just speak it.” Sportacus, with that, bid everyone goodbye and mall-walked to his airship, concerned about his villain’s nose.

------

Sportacus sat back and bit his lip. Across from him, Robbie raised an eyebrow. From the wince he gave, Sportacus guessed the swelling was leaving him sore around the eyes. Broken noses tended to do that. The bruising was beginning to set, too.

“Okay, so good news and bad news. Which do you want first?”

“Bad news. Always makes the good sound sweeter.”

“Well, the bad news is that you definitely broke your nose. Good news is that it was just the septum! It doesn’t look to be misaligned, which is good for healing, but your nose is swelling and bruising around the impact area.”

Robbie still managed to pull a face. “Great. My face is a bruised, swollen mess. See, Sportajerk, this is why I don’t play sports. Someone, usually me, always gets hurt.”

“Oh, Robbie..” Sportacus sighed.

The elf leaned back in his chair, a hand running down his face. Guilt plagued him that Robbie had been hurt, especially since this was the first time he’d played a more athletic game with them. The cold feeling twisted in his gut even more at the not-so-gentle reminder that he failed to keep Robbie safe. Had he moved just a second earlier, he would have caught the ball and avoided this whole mess.

“Are you dead?” Robbie nudged his leg with one of his crossed ones. Sportacus snorted, somehow a smile breaching his contemplating expression.

“No, I’m not. But, since I did fail to save you from the ball, and you got injured because of it, and because I know you’ll do something in the next week to possibly injure yourself again-”

“No I won’t.”

“Yes you will. Anyways, to amend my failure and your face, I can… heal most of the damage.”

Robbie waved a hand as if to pardon him. “Pft, you wish. I mean, there’s no plausible way on earth that you would be able to do that, such technology doesn’t exist. What are you going to use? Magic? Sure, you elves exist, but magic doesn’t.”

With a perhaps cocky grin, Sportacus moved from his seat to kneeling in front of his frenemy. “Maybe. Just hold still for a minute, I’m going to hold your head.”

“What do you think you’re doing-”

“Hush, Robbie!” Sportacus pushed a finger to Robbie’s lips and resumed holding his head. The villain still managed to scowl, bruised face or not, but kept still. Satisfied that his fidgety patient wouldn’t disturb him, Sportacus shut his eyes and let his small portion of magic flow.

At first, Robbie didn’t feel anything. Sportadumb had closed his eyes, and his sweaty, calloused palms were uncomfortable on his temple. His upper cheek twitched in apprehension, not sure if the damn elf was pranking him or not. Just when he thought about jumping up and strutting out of the damn ship, a numb, present tingling started in his face.

“What in the-” Sportacus shushed him again before he could cuss. Robbie flushed, felt his cheek twitch again, and tried not to move as the tingling got stronger. Sportacus ran his thumb over his temple, smoothing back his messed hair, keeping him relatively grounded. Robbie silently thanked him for that.

They sat like that for almost five minutes. By then Robbie’d began fidgeting his feet and hands, but had relaxed his face. Sportacus kept rubbing his thumb over his temples, even if his pace got slower and slower.

“Okay….I-I’m done.” Robbie, who’d shut his eyes after a while, opened them.

Oh, wow. Wow. That...was not a fitting look.

“Why are you staring at me like that?” Sportacus stood up, wobbly on his feet. Robbie immediately stood beside him, ignoring his vertigo, and grabbed the hero to stop him from toppling.

You look downright awful. You’ve got sweat on your forehead, the space under your eyes are dark, and you look pale. I- what the fuck did you do?!”

“I healed you, Robbie. It takes a lot of magic and energy, I’ll be fine-” He stumbled in Robbie’s grip, having been forced to walk out of the Med Bay. “You do realize we’re heading towards the bathroom?”

“I knew that!” Sportacus, even tired, repressed the urge to roll his eyes. They moved back the other way, coming out of the bleak white hallway to the main room. Robbie “Aha!”ed and dragged him over to the food bar.

“Uh- Ship! Dancing Death Bot! Apple- pronto!”

Voice not recognized.

“Ship, apple, please.”

There was a faint hum, the telltale sound of the gears working. An apple shot out of the wall, missing Robbie, and was barely caught by Sportacus. Robbie looked at him with badly concealed concern.

Sportacus, your energy is low. A small nap would be advised, along with a healthy snack or meal.

Robbie jabbed a thumb up at the ceiling. “See? Even the damn ship knows you’re not doing too good.”

Biting into the refreshing apple, Sportacus smiled. He sat down on the edge of the bed, else his head would swim. “Yeah, I probably did over do it, didn’t I? At least your nose only has a few days to heal instead of a few weeks. The swelling is gone, and you only have the tail-end of some bruising.”

Robbie touched his nose, feeling no pain with surprise. “Oh...well, uh, thank you? I wasn’t actually expecting that to work….”

“You’re welcome, Robbie. Thank you for worrying about me, I guess I did overdo it.” Sportacus grinned up at his frenemy, and Robbie desperately tried to ignore the weird, hot feeling that wracked his stomach.

“Er- your welcome? Don’t even think twice about it- strictly a gesture to make sure you’re in top shape! I have a scheme this week and I can’t have you tripping over your own two feet. So… rest up, strict order from your frenemy!”

Sportacus snorted at the way Robbie waved his finger around, almost as though a doctor theatrically waving around a pen. “Alright, Robbie. I’ll rest up, orders from my frenemy.”

“And frenemy only.” Robbie’s cheek twitched, and the man went strangely still. “Um. I’ll be leaving now. No flipping! Or being active!”

“I won’t, Robbie! Goodbye!”

Sportacus watched as Robbie climbed down the opened door, heard the undignified yelp when he slipped to the ground. He laughed around a mouthful of apple. Being frenemies with Robbie sure was different from being enemies with him. The kind and worrying gesture kept bringing a smile to his face, even when he tried not to think about it. Which was hard, because the airship had dimmed the lights and, with the apple gone, he really had no choice but to rest.

As much as he hated sleeping during the day, Sportacus hunkered down under his covers, ever alert with his crystal, and heeded his frenemy’s orders. A cat nap would do him fine, just for one day.

Chapter Text

Come Wednesday, Robbie was sick of healthy activities. Over the past few days he’d had his time with Jives, going to MayhemTown and enjoying the day at the ice skating rink, getting ice cream afterwards, or simply spending most of the afternoon playing video games, but those damn kids were beginning to get on his nerves. Every day they’d whisk him away, off to play sports until the lamps had been on for hours and Milford and Sportacus were begging them all to go in.

One could say that he was jealous of them, how they managed to gain Jives’ uproarious laughter that Robbie hadn’t heard in years. Another could say that he was just sick of the extra pair of feet stomping up above him, which only furthered the dust cascade that was familiar to him.

Overall, it was about time Robbie took matters into his own hands.

So, it wasn’t unimaginable to see him standing on top of town hall, overlooking the sportsfield. With all the time the kids had been spending with his guest, maybe too eager to collide their plans with his, Robbie’d had time to finish the freeze ray. The sleek gun looked more or less like a large Nerf blaster gun, the difference between them being it was made of metal with rich purple and orange hues. In the sunlight, one could see the mist of cold air coming off the freezing metal. The gun shot out rays of ice and biting-cold water depending on the setting. To combat this Robbie wore gloves, his scarf, and a pair of protective glasses just in case. Even then, he could still feel the cold gun as though he held it with his bare hands.

“Alright, where are those brats right now? They probably have the rest of the town with them…” Robbie raised a hand over his eyes, squinting as he observed the streets.

Nothing in the sportsfield, which was a relief. He needed to freeze that place in a moment. No one was walking through down town, and it seemed no one was in the neighborhood.

Actually, thinking back on it, Jives had left the house in beach shorts and a towel.

“The kids want to go to the beach today, since it’s supposed to get cooler next week. September is supposed to start on Saturday. Today’s one of the last warm days, you know? I’ll be back by three, that way I can shower and we can hit up those old movies you wanted to watch. Bye Robbie!” And with that, the man had climbed up the chute, leaving Robbie to wave him off in bleary annoyance as he tried to get back to sleep.

Over in the distance, at the lake, he could just barely make out the rest of the town. It seemed Milford was up in the tower, and Sportacus stood down besides him. Bessie rested in a chair, tanning, while Jives and the kids played on the beach and in the water. They were completely occupied, and Robbie grinned with mischief.

“They’ve left the town empty, for me to so deviously do what I want. After I freeze their stupid sportsfield, I can relax for a day without having to worry about them ruining my plans…”

Robbie stopped for a second to think about how he was very jealous that he wasn’t the only one spending time with Jives, but waved the thought off and readied the Freeze Ray. “They can play with Jives whenever, but the least they could do would be to be quiet during the time I have, those little brats!”

A foggy thought of forgetfulness nagged in the back of Robbie’s mind. It wasn’t until he’d pressed the trigger and felt the kick-back that he realized what it was. He hadn’t

tested the damn thing. But, surveying the corner of the sportsfield that was suddenly an icy wonderland, Robbie had to admit that the ray gun worked. Perhaps too well.

“If the gun freezes everything that fast, then I might run out of fuel in the tank.” He mused, looking at the blue, frosted barrel at the back of the ray gun. Well, if he worked fast maybe fuel wouldn’t be a worry.

Robbie fixed his glasses and pulled his gloves tight. The kick-back had knocked him onto his butt, only a slightly painful fall, and stood up on wobbly feet. He refused to think about how high Town Hall was, and about how he was on top of it. Ignoring the shake of his hand, Robbie braced himself, aimed, and fired again.

There was a sickening, cracking sound as the ice hit the sportsfield sidewalk. It resonated deeper as the ice spread up the wall, on the metal swing sets, over the basketball hoops. Hopefully, the gun would be able to cover everything in ice before everyone came back.

Was it petty of him to freeze the town so people could be lazy and leave him and his friend be? Very, very petty of him. But, as a villain, Robbie knew everything there was about pettiness. And this? This was some top level pettiness.

Not even half way through, Robbie started to inch forward. The back half of the sportsfield was out of range. No matter how close he inched to the edge, however, the beam of ice wouldn’t hit the uncovered half.

“You stupid gun! What- no- don’t die out on me now!” He hissed. Pulling his finger off the trigger, Robbie hit the gun against the palm of his hand a few time, as he always did in frustration, to get it working again.

“Now, to finish covering the field with ice!” He aimed again, with hoped that the problem had fixed, and pulled the trigger.

The kick-back, he forgot, was strong.

“Dang it!” Robbie hissed, rubbing his back from his position on his side. As he stood up, a sick sense of dizziness overcame him as he accidentally looked over the edge. His hands instinctively clenched in panic, and his finger pulled the trigger.

CRRRRACK!

“Wh- whoa!” Robbie slipped backwards as the shingles under his feet were covered with ice. As soon as his behind made contact with the frozen roof he began to slide down towards the ground.

“Oh God, no! I’m too young to die!” Robbie screamed. A hot flash of fear and panic flooded his stomach, knowing just how far he was going to fall. Adrenaline pushed him to squirm and try to claw his way back up, to grab a hold of something, but only managed to make the situation worse.

KA-BOOM!

The gun, held tightly in Robbie’s fist, had smacked against the ice and cracked the side of it’s stiff, metal casing. In a panic Robbie’d pulled the trigger again, and the gun, too overwhelmed with the strain of the trigger and the damage from the smack, exploded.

------

The expanse of the great blue sky greeted Robbie when he opened his eyes again. He hissed in pain, feeling the dull throb of the bruises around his nose. A pounding headache bullied his temples, and an overall feeling of soreness racked his body. To top it all off, everything was cold.

“That must have been a nasty explosion…” Robbie muttered. He was familiar with inventions blowing up in his face, but few ever had the power to knock him out. “Good thing none of the townspeople were here...I wouldn’t hear the end of it,” He sneered slightly, thinking of the kids giggling and laughing at his failures.

“Alright, I’d better clean this up before everyone comes back…” Robbie sighed. He made a move to get up, and frowned when he couldn’t.

“What in the-?” It was painful, but he craned his head forward to look at his lying body. “Oh for the love of everything holy!”

The reason why everything was cold was because he was encased in ice. From his shoulders down, ice covered his body to about an inch thick. How long had be been like this?? His nose and cheek twitched in sudden panic, realizing he was stuck in the ice, and would probably freeze to his untimely demise.

The longer he laid there and stared at his frozen cage, the bigger his panic swelled. Abruptly he squirmed and wriggled, trying to kick his unmoving feet and wave his immobile arms. His shoulders practically shimmied, face red due to the useless exertion and the freezing air around him. Tears welled in his eyes, salty and warm against his cheeks, as he continued to stay encased.

Nothing was working, he wasn’t moving- he couldn’t move his hands, his legs, nothing was working- anything, everything- nothing was helping-

Help! He needed help! Sportacus- the kids- no, they’re at the beach, they can’t help!

An overwhelming feeling of lightheaded-ness and the creeping beginnings of nausea began to swim in his head. His wriggling stopped. Uncontrollably, Robbie began to sob.

“Robbie?! Robbie!” Feet, pounding on the roof shingles. Robbie managed to look up, sobbing in relief at the sight of Sportacus.

“Gods, Robbie, what happened?!”

Words failed him, nothing but sobbing gibberish, so instead Robbie looked at the broken-but-mainly-intact-gun in his hand.

“Shit, Robbie,” Sportacus swore, knocking a hand against the holding ice. It was only less than an inch thick, but Robbie’d engineered it to be harder to break than regular ice.

“Okay, I know you’re panicking right now, but I’m going to take some calm breathes with you okay? I’m going to get you out of here Robbie, don’t worry. Just-” frantically, looking from Robbie to the ice, he laid his palms on the ice and another on Robbie’s cheek. “In- one..two..three..four...And out- one..two..three..four… ”

They repeated the process. Robbie squeezed his eyes shut and leaned into Sportacus’ warm hand. As Sportacus walked him through the exercises over and over again, voice steady and calming, a bright light snapped red over his eyes. He squeezed them tighter, holding dearly to the breathing routine.

It took a moment, but warmth started to spread to his body. Water trickled down his chest, up his neck and tickling at his ears. Sportacus’ voice began to waver, and Robbie could only guess he was using magic again. Sportacus sat him up, arms around his body while his heated hands began to rub over his chest, arms, legs, feet and hands. Robbie opened his eyes and leaned into the furnace of an elf, letting the numbness fade and the warmth enwrap him.

“How are you feeling?” Sportacus asked. Robbie looked at him, face pale and sweaty. Subtly, he noticed that his other hand started the healing spell, telltale by the tingling in his body.

“Cold...better…” He mumbled. If anything, he felt truly tired now. The writhing and panic attack had drained all energy out of him. The warmth and healing spells were going to drain Sportacus, too, if he didn’t stop.

“Keep still.” Sportacus scolded. Robbie tried to grab his arm, hands still rather numb and fingers slow. Sportacus grabbed them with his healing hand and pulled Robbie more into his lap. “I’ll be alright, don’t even think of worrying about me. I’m worried about you. Come on, let’s go inside now. I think you’ll be okay if I move you.”

With no trouble Sportacus lifted him up. Robbie grunted softly, finding himself too tired to care that his plan had failed, that he was once again saved by the bouncing blue elf. Sportacus noticed his lack of grumpiness and hurried to his glider, hovering at level with the roof. He jumped in, careful of his passenger, and flew over to Milford’s.

Robbie would be warm there, and everything would be okay.

------

Hours later, Sportacus ran a brush through Robbie’s hair. The man grumbled and complained, but Jives was the one dealing with him verbally.

“Dude, just let him brush your hair!”

“He’s pulling too hard!” Robbie hissed. Sportacus sighed, more or less out of monotonous relaxation from the diligent task. He kept his brush strokes lighter, his calloused hands running through soft black hair.

Upon getting to Milford’s house, Sportacus had laid Robbie down on the couch in the livingroom. The heating spell had thawed out the ice, making Robbie’s clothes wet. Sportacus had stripped Robbie down per what he’d been taught about hypothermia, and bundled him in a blanket-burrito.

For the next hour and a half, he monitored Robbie’s breathing. The villain whined about wanting to sleep because he was tired, but Sportacus snapped multiple times that he was not allowed to. Sympathy washed through him every time Robbie whined, though, along with guilt for not being there fast enough. The most he could do until the mild hypothermia left was keep him awake and warm.

Sportacus had told the kids not to worry when he’d left, so they arrived home later to him making Robbie a warm beverage. It’d been almost four hours since then, and the kids had started a game of Monopoly. Robbie was still wide-awake and conscious enough to complain about Sportacus brushing his hair, and Jives was half paying attention to both activities. Bessie and Milford read the paper on the other side of the room, content to letting Sportacus and Jives look after everybody.

“See? Now that you’ve calmed down, Grumpy Cat, he’s done!” Jives said, waving a hand in Sportacus’ direction. Robbie harrumphed as Sportacus clambered off the couch arm, feeling his limp, deftly curly hair falling over his forehead.

“And there isn’t any product here that I can use?”

“I already searched the bathroom, without invading any of the Mayor’s privacy,” Sportacus said, “And again, no, I’m not going to go into your bunker and grab some for you. I’m watching over all of you now!”

“Oh come on!” Robbie groaned, “Jives is basically Nine’s student pet, you should be fine leaving us alone for five minutes.”

“For the record, if anyone is Nine’s sidekick, it’d probably be Solla,” Jives interjected, sparing a glance at his old friend.

“Oh, well ex-cuuuuuuse me, Princess.”

“Could you guys stop bickering for like, five minutes?” Trixie snapped. She held an unused monopoly piece threateningly in one hand, arm ready to throw.

“It’s alright Trixie,” Sportacus said as he walked by, “Jives and Robbie naturally bicker. They don’t mean anything harmful towards one another.”

“Well, it’s still annoying,” Stingy said.

Ziggy agreed, wringing his hands shyly. “Yeah, I don’t really like it either. It makes me feel nervous, like you guys are gonna fight really, really badly. Besides, you never fought in the old videos…”

“Oh!” Bessie jumped up before anyone could speak, “That’s what we should do tonight! I was wondering, since we have to look after Mr. Rotten, but now that I think about it, we can all enjoy a night of old video watching.”

“Wait, you mean the old videos that Mrs. Hyperbyte took?” Asked Jives.

Pixel nodded, although he nodded with both dismay and embarrassment. “Those would, in fact, be the ones.”

Jives took a moment, the gears whirling in his head, before splitting into an ear-to-ear grin. “I knew you guys had watched them, but I didn’t think I’d get to! This’ll be so awesome, I can see all the tiny babies!” He leaned forward and scooped all the kids into his arms, squeezing them and laughing.

“It’s still light out though,” Stephanie said, “Can we wait until dark to watch them? It always feels cozier that way.”

It was only about five in the evening. Sportacus rubbed his chin in thought. When an idea came to him, he held up a finger and exclaimed, “How about Milford and Jives barbeque some hot dogs and some burgers, and you kids can help Ms. Busybody make a salad. I’ll continue to watch over Robbie, and when it’s nighttime we can setup the video player here.”

“That sounds like a lovely idea! Thank you, Sportacus.” Milford said. He tugged at his jacket, proud to be showing off his barbecue skills. He was quite the griller, if he did say so himself.

“And cucumbers!” Said Stingy.

“I can grab some croutons from my house,” Pixel offered.

“Yes! I love croutons!” Trixie groaned. She tugged Stephanie along to the garden with Ziggy to grab some fresh vegetables. Pixel dashed off to grab the croutons, and Stingy helped Jives and the Mayor set the grill up.

Robbie watched as Sportacus helped Bessie gather bowls and utensils in the kitchen. When he came back, Robbie forced him to kneel next to the couch.

“You, sir, need to stop moping.”

“Moping?”

He sighed, thinking of a way to explain this. Since the mild shaking from the hypothermia had stopped, Robbie took his hands out from under the warm blanket to take Sportacus’ head in his hands. He examined him before grumbling.

“You’ve just had this subtlety of silent sadness, and you haven’t been flipping around the place either!”

Sportacus rubbed the back of his neck. Was he worrying Robbie? Hopefully not, the villain was supposed to be doing nothing but recovering. It was the second time in a week he’d failed Robbie, and yet here he was, under scrutiny from his concerned gaze.

“It’s just a small space, I don’t want to hit anyone.”

“Uh-huh,” Robbie rolled his eyes. “Have you rested yet? You’ve been pacing ever since you brought me here. I mean-”

He hesitated a moment. Grey eyes darted to Ms. Busybody nervously, Robbie’s nose twitching slightly. In a whisper he said, “Do you even know how much magic you exerted?? No one’s said it yet, but you look exhausted.

“I do not.” Sportacus argued. His brows knit together, a tiny frown pulling at his lips. Robbie reached forward to teasingly flick at his mustache with a hiss of, “You do too!”

“Go look in the mirror. Just- be glad that you saved me, alright? I know that stupid rock of yours doesn’t go off for me every time. I appreciate what you’ve done today, alright?”

Sportacus could hear the tiredness seep into Robbie’s demeanor. It’s been a long day, for the both of them truthfully.

“Alright Robbie,” he sighed. “I’ll go look in the mirror. We can...do something when I get back, so I’m relaxing and you’re recovering.”

He got up to leave, missing the remote control Robbie threw at him. A snicker couldn’t help but escape him when Robbie scolded him about how he was totally being lazy, and not to think it was anything but. It went unsaid that Robbie was worried, and that Sportacus appreciated it.

With Robbie to no longer scoff at him, Sportacus softly padded along to the bathroom. He turned the light on, looking over the bathroom for the second time that night. He moved over the mirror and winced, frowning with recognition that, yeah, he did look exhausted. He took off his hat, a hand running through his blond curls with a sigh.

His face had donned a paler color, which further darkened the bags under his eyes. His lips tugged into a subconscious frown, and his eyelids seemed to droop of their own accord. Now Sportacus knew he wasn’t an old man, in his mid-thirties, but his smile lines and the small crows feet by his eyes seemed to pop even more. If anything, he looked older, but definitely exhausted.

Well, if it would help Robbie rest up, then he could stand to rest, too. He went back to the living room and contented himself to the couch besides the town villain.

The kids come back inside to help Bessie not too soon after. Trixie pointed out that Robbie and Sportacus were sitting close together. Both were trying to play a game on Robbie’s phone, heads bowed close together in concentration. When asked, the game was Candy Crush, and Robbie laughed about how good at it Sportacus was.

“It’s a video game, Robbie,” Sportacus mumbled as he matched candy and racked up points.

“Yeah, a video game about candy, that you're good at.” Robbie poked his cheek, tempted to flick his mustache. Sportacus ignored him with a smirk, focused on the game at hand.

The kids flitted on about how close Robbie and Sportacus have been in the last few weeks. Bessie chuckled knowingly and gave them carrots to peel to occupy their minds. Whatever the town villain and hero had growing between them would blossom soon. It was just a matter of time.

Dinner went by fine. Sportacus took a hotdog to Robbie and nibbled at his own burger. Everyone else ate around Milford’s dining table, laughing and chatting. Jives noticed Robbie was being subtly jealous in that way that he (and recently Sportacus) only noticed. He eventually moved over and the three of them played more Candy Crush.

“If Ms. Busybody goes and gets the videos, then Trixie, Stingy and I can do the dishes!” Stephanie announced as everyone finished eating.

Pixel put his plate in the sink and said, “I’ll help the mayor get his setup ready for the video recorder. It’s not the same brand as Ms. Busybody’s, but I can get it working.”

“Thank you, Pixel.” Milford said, a relieved smile on his face.

“You excited kids,” Bessie chuckled, “You all need to run home and grab your pajamas and sleepover bags anyways, so don’t take too long.”

Ziggy watched as every other kid rushed around with an activity to do. He pouted, feeling too small to help. “What can I do?”

“Help me build an awesome pillow fort, Lil’ Z!” Jives rolled away from the couch, tired of the game, and stole a pillow from the armchair to throw in his general direction. Ziggy caught it with and laughed, running over to help.

Robbie watched Jives playfully roll around and build with Ziggy. He leaned over and snatched his phone away from Sportacus, hitting his head gently.

“Since you’re so attached to them, I’d suggest you pay attention to the cute stuff that your practical child is doing.”

Sportacus stared at Robbie, then smirked. “Thank you, Robbie. Though I must ask, since when did you care what me and my-practical-children do?”

“Don’t snark with me.” Robbie warned. Sportacus grinned. They looked at each other and breathlessly giggled.

Bessie bustled back in, Trixie, Stingy, and Pixel in tow. They all had their sleepover bags with them. Jives got up and escorted Ziggy to his house to grab his bag while everyone got comfy in the fort. Pixel rigged up the videos to the TV and settled in himself.

Jives and Ziggy returned, sitting themselves in front of the couch so they could fit in the last free space of the pillow fort. Robbie teased him as Bessie selected the videos that he and the town hero had already watched.

Sportacus crosses his legs, knees bouncing, as Bessie started the videos. He wanted to move, to exercise, but kept polite and quiet. If anything, later he could go up to the airship and exercise then. Robbie sent him a glance of perhaps pity.

Bessie and Milford laugh about Hannin. Jives told the kids all about the rooster as Young Robbie fought over his lunch with him. The last video that Sportacus remembered was the Autumn Festival, and Pixel groaned as that one started to play.

“Don’t groan! Look at you, you were adorable!” Jives said, bright eyes watching his old interactions. Both he and his best friend laughed at the mention of him being a stoner.

“You still gave me the donut.”

“That I did.” Robbie smiled. He looked over at Sportacus, who was jittery and unfocused. Was relaxing really just too much for the damn elf?

Sportacus jumped at a feeling on his shoulder. Robbie ran his hand down Sport’s arm and stole his hand. He opened his mouth to ask a question, but quieted down when the villain began to draw on his palm with the tip of his finger. Eventually his mind drifted away from the need to move, and focused on what was being written in his hand. Robbie relaxed and watched the videos as well, knowing Sportacus was finally content.

The kids caught up on the videos that the two had previously seen. Officer Obtuse was on screen now, but Robbie could hardly pay attention. His thoughts wandered, and the important need to sleep was really beginning to drag him down. He hadn’t napped at all that day, and his mind was tired from the almost sleepless night he’d had before.

Perhaps he wasn’t the only one who was suffering from an eventful day. Sportacus had leaned his head on Robbie’s shoulder, the fidgeting from his legs now stopped. A gentle hum left him as his mind continued to sink towards sleep.

The feeling in Robbie’s finger had eventually faded away, just the numb movement and the warm, familiar feeling of Sportacus’ palm. The videos danced their lights in front of him, but Robbie couldn’t bring himself to comprehend them. Sportacus had refused him sleep, telling him he’d need somewhere between two to six hours to warm up before hand. It was getting to be almost eight, and the mild shivers had worn off. Sleep was a must, whether Robbie wanted it or not.

“Hey, Robbie?” Jives’ warm voice whispered in his ear. Robbie immediately sat up, almost dislodging Sportacus’ head from his shoulder. Had he drifted off for a second there?

“Wh...yeah?” He blinked, trying to figure out what happened. Jives offered him a sympathetic smile.

“You fell asleep for a good forty-five minutes- you and Sportacus. Bessie is making some hot chocolate for everybody. Do you want some? I figured I’d ask, because you love hot chocolate, and I didn’t want you to be butt-hurt about it.”

Sportacus grunted from beside him. The tired elf shifted, leaning heavily on Robbie’s side. Sleep beckoned him back, too, and Robbie had to give him a sad shake of his head. “N..No, I’m tired. Thanks for asking but...I’m gonna..go back to sleep.”

Jives chuckled and nodded in understanding. “Kinda figured. Sleep tight, Robbie.”

As he shut his eyes and slipped back into the dream world, Robbie was aware of Jives wrapping him firmly in blankets to keep him warm. He might have even felt the goodnight kiss Jives planted to the top of his head.

Chapter Text

On the last day that Jives was spending in LazyTown, he decided to spend it in the best way possible. For the next upcoming months, he wouldn’t see any of the town’s citizens, and it was decided that they all needed to spend time with him one last time for a proper goodbye.

The day’s activities would go something like this:

[9:00 am - 12:00 pm]: Play/spend time with the kids.

[12:00 pm - 2:00 pm]: Help Bessie and Milford around Bessie’s house, and help to prep dinner.

[2:00 pm - 5:00 pm]: Exercise/spend time with Sportacus.

[5:00 pm - 7:00 pm]: Hang out with Robbie before dinner.

[7:00 pm - ???]: Dinner.

After that, Robbie would take his car out from his ‘garage’ and drive Jives home himself. It was easiest for Jives, since the bus that came out to LazyTown only came twice a day, and would arrive and leave in an uncomfortable period of time. No one wanted to sacrifice their time with the young adult, and Jives preferred to thoroughly get to know everybody once again before leaving.

When the rain of dust and dirt rained from the ceiling, Jives knew that the children were up. While eating a bowl of cereal with messy hair and a hastily tied bathrobe, the young adult peered through Robbie’s periscope and assessed how much time he had. Robbie was still fast asleep, so he quietly finished his morning routine and climbed out to greet the kids, now ready to start the day.

The kids greeted him with brilliant smiles and buckets full of excitement. Jives laughed and walked them through some warm-up exercises, borrowed from Nine. They started a baseball game moments later, with Jives on the mound and Pixel as catcher.

“I can’t believe it’s your last day here,” Ziggy sulked halfway through the game.

“It’s not like he can’t visit later,” Pixel reminded.

Stephanie slid to third base and stood up, dusting dirt from her knees. “Yeah! He can always visit another time, you guys. Like Christmas, or Easter!”

Jives chuckled, dropping his pitchers pose with relief. It was astonishing how quickly he’d managed to grow attached to these young children, some of whom he’d been attached to years prior. It felt amazing to reconnect with them again, let them dig their roots back into his life.

“We have the Autumnal Festival in MayhemTown too, like LazyTown does. Perhaps you all could visit then? It’s at the beginning of October this year, during the first weekend.”

The children’s eyes lit with excitement, all of them dropping the game to run close and assault him with questions. Jives laughed and hushed them all, dropping down to squat near their height.

“Okay, okay! One person at a time, little dudes, else I can’t understand you. Trixie?” Jives asked, watching with amusement as the she jumped on the balls of her feet ecstatically.

Trixie’s eyes glowed with nostalgic determination, which, before she even spoke, caused a bit of a shiver to run down Jives’ spine.“Are there like, dunk tanks?! We used to have one years ago, and every year I would dunk the mayor!”

Ah. Well, Jives laughed, that was something he should have expected. Nothing screamed Trixie more than dunk tanks at a local fair, now did it?

“Yes, we have a dunk tank.” Jives chuckled. “Our mayor normally sits in it, or occasionally we get some officers from the local department to partake. There was even a year where we got some inmates who wanted to do some good to help out.”

Trixie pumped her fist into the air with a hiss of, “Yes!” The other kids giggled, imagining being able to dunk someone in the water as well.

Ziggy was next. He seemed to buzz with renewed energy as he asked, “Are there caramel apples? Oh! Will there be donuts and apple cider? What about pizza and pop and...” He trailed off, eyes wide as saucers at the mere thought of all the fair food.

Jives sighed, a wearisome smile tugging at his lips. “You remind me of my friend Siggi- yes, I know, your names are very similar. Actually…” He trailed off, making quite a few characteristic connections. The young adult shook his head, wisps of his hair peeking out from his shaking beanie. “But yes, there’ll be caramel apples, along with a bunch of other foods. I think my friends Goggi and Nenni will be making the caramel apples.”

Before he could finish speaking, Stingy shouldered his way in front of the other kids, standing proudly before Jives. The child managed to straighten his vest in such a way that Jives wondered if he picked it up from someone far older than him. Stingy looked up at him with a question of, “Will there be prizes for the games? I aim to win all the games, then, because they’re all mine. They rightfully should go home with me, of course.”

“Stingy!” Trixie scoffed, landing a punch to his arm. “Don’t be such a hog- it’s MayhemTown! There’ll be hundreds of places to go play games at, you’ll never be able to get all the prizes. Besides, there’ll be other kids too, so you have to share.”

Stingy rolled his eyes, but listened begrudgingly as Jives said, “There’ll be plenty of games. And, while you probably won’t win all of the games, I’m sure you’ll be able to win most of them. There’ll be enough prizes for everyone.”

This seemed to please Stingy, as he smirked a smirk so devilish that Jives was tempted to roll his eyes as well. The child straightened his vest one last time and moved for the next person with a question.

Stephanie asked about helping out with any of the booths, and Jives politely told her that some game stalls might need help, but most set up crews needed help from high schoolers or college students. She seemed satisfied with this, as did Pixel, who had a much similar question.

Jives stood up with a crack in his knees, and he held off a curse as he immediately thought of Robbie and his messed up back. He felt fine, however, and they finished their game of baseball. Stephanie persuaded him to a game of soccer before their time for the day was up, and he lost against Stephanie’s team of Stingy and Ziggy. With the good sportsmanship that Nine had taught him, Jives accepted the lost- even if it stung, since a group of children had managed to beat him and his two (also children) teammates.

Sportacus leaned against the ugly, yellow walls as he watched the kids finish their game. Jives waved a hello to him as he walked over, sweaty and familiar beanie off to help offer himself relief.

“Morning guys!” Sportacus said, a chuckle tailing his words.

“Morning Sportacus!” Everyone said back, some like Ziggy running up to the wall he leaned on to ask if he wanted to play.

“No, not today,” Sportacus said at the same time Jives asked, “Here to tell me my time is up?”

The hero nodded, scratching his cheek as he said, “Actually yeah, Bessie wanted me to come find you since her and Milford are ready now. You guys done with your game?”

Jives voiced the affirmation, wiping his forehead with the hem of his shirt to clean up the sweat. The fabric was rough on his forehead, but the young adult ignored it as he slipped on his familiar beanie and stole a hug from each kid. They cheered him goodbye during their break, watching as Sportacus flipped away with Jives walking alongside him.

Honestly, Jives pondered on how Sportacus’ hands didn’t ache from the constant flipping. The harsh landings he must take had to have ruined his wrists and fingers, and yet when he asked about it Sportacus just laughed.

“You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I had to wear bandages or splints to make sure my hand didn’t take permanent damage. I may be good at what I do now, but trust me when I say that I’ve certainly had my fair share of scarring.”

While Sportacus’ tone sounded light and joking, with just a dash of reassurance, Jives couldn’t help but squinted his eyes. It helped with the blaring sun of the hot August day, but even then Sportacus knew the young adult wanted to call him on his bluff.

“Want to see the scars on my arm from when I flipped over a waterfall?”

“You what- Heeeell yes!” Jives roared, laughing at just the damn thought of Sportacus Ten flipping over a waterfall.

Sportacus gave his new friend a cheeky smile as he stood straight, arm out as he presented Jives with the open gate to Bessie’s house. Jives gave the hero a stern look, and Sportacus felt his mischievous elf side take over with a smirk.

Jives waved a finger at him as he passed, saying,“You’re telling me this story when we hang out later.”

“I wouldn’t dare skip a detail,” Sportacus said, boldly, as a hand flew to cover his chest with a dramatic flourish. They both delved into childish giggles as Jives walked up the sidewalk, beginning his afternoon with LazyTown’s commanders in charge.

For the first time since his quiet breakfast that morning, Jives found he could relax. He helped Bessie make tea, and talked about everything yet nothing. They started some work outdoors, Bessie planting in her garden while Jives and Milford tidied the hedges and her fence. More tea while relaxing in the shade, more work. Just something about their company made the tension in Jives’ shoulders leave. Peace hung about his mind, giving him the ability to laugh and enjoy the work.

The most interesting interaction of the night happened during dinner-prep in Bessie’s kitchen. Milford washed veggies, Jives diced and cut them, and Bessie arranged them into multiple meals. They chit-chatted throughout the process, and Jives had offhandedly mentioned that he, Robbie, and Sportacus somehow all got along together.

This caught Bessie's attention.

“Well,” she started, “Robbie and Sportacus began to get along not long after we started watching the videos. I don’t think Sportacus realizes it yet, but I think he’s developing a crush for our dear Robbie, with the way he gets all protective, bashful, and even sassy or mischievous in his presence. Or, I could just be reading his personality wrong.” She shrugged, but Milford made a noise of agreement.

“He’s definitely got some sort of attachment to Robbie. Which isn’t bad, since Robbie’s schemes have mellowed out a bit. Which is a relief, with the damage costs and the kids playing. But anyways, I’m pretty sure the sentiments are returned- hasn’t Robbie shown some care for Sportacus since they’ve begun to get along?”

Bessie began to shake her head, not recalling any particular memory, but Jives snorted and raised a hand between the two.

“If it helps any of your thoughts, if I tease him about it, Robbie gets all ranty about how Sportacus is ‘annoying and kind and thoughtful but needs to stop flipping around so much oh my God but when he’s not preaching about being healthy he’s a pretty ok guy Jives oh my god stop staring at me like that it means nothing Jives I swear!’”

The pure mental imagine of Robbie caused the three of them to burst into giggles. Bessie and Milford wiped a few loose tears from their eyes, and Jives tried not to fall over from laughing too much. His stomach hurt from the obscene amount his diaphragm was contracting, his knees weak once he clung to the counter.

“Oh, if only we knew exactly how they were feeling,” Bessie sighed with a smile, “then perhaps we could help them in this situation. It’s not often that people find love in LazyTown.”

Milford raised an eyebrow, and Jives desperately stared down at the cutting board to avoid eye contact. That, sure as hell, was awkward.

With a cough Jives shrugged, taking a washed carrot from Milford and beginning to dice it up. “I mean, I can always ask Robbie later. Or Sportacus- I’ll be spending time with both of them.”

“Oh dear,” Milford said, “Just be careful. Who knows how Robbie’ll react.”

“He’ll get all flustered probably,” Jives snorted. He shook his head, already imagining the fuming man spitting out a flurry of responses, red in the face and stomping and cursing around. Another shake of his head, and he just couldn’t seem to quit smiling so fondly.

Not much later, Sportacus promptly knocked on Bessie’s front door. Jives could barely say goodbye before Milford and Bessie practically shoved him out, a knowing and somewhat fond twinkles in their eyes. Sportacus raised an eyebrow, not sure what to say, but managed to grin when Jives started to snicker and shake with subdued laughter.

The two of them exercised for a bit in the sportsfield, trading routines. Some of Sportacus’ warm ups made Jives want to flop like a fish without water. How could one elf run so much, and still have that much stamina? Jives couldn’t figure it out, and decided he didn’t want to.

“Are you excited to go home?” Sportacus asked, towards the end of their allotted time together. They were gardening, plotting seeds in the last of the empty seed beds.

“Yeah,” Jives said, with only a hint of sadness, “I am pretty excited to go sleep in my own bed. I’m going to miss this place though.” He looked up, gazing at the weird architecture of the town. There were few places that had architecture like LazyTown, and despite it being oh-so wrong, it was blissfully nostalgic.

“I can only imagine. I’ve only been here for about two years, but this place has a special place in my heart. I can only think about how it feels for you, having grown up here and all.”

Jives shrugged, arm twisting as he manipulated the spade to make a hole for a seed. “But that’s the best part of it, if you ask me. This place will always have a piece of my heart, and I’ll always carry it with me. I’ll get homesick, but I’ll remember that I always have my thoughts and memories and my love for this dinky little town. It makes me feel better on bad days.”

“By the way,” Jives turned to look at Sportacus, leaning against the garden’s wall with a rather cocky smirk, “Tell me what’s up with you and Robbie! There’s something there, right?”

Sportacus’ body froze, everything about him came to a stop. His mouth opened and floundered, words not working. It was abnormal to see him so still, Jives realized. The hero hardly ever froze like he did in that moment, bright red blush on his cheeks and shame, or maybe embarrassment, across his features.

“I- uh, I-”

“Whoa, whoa, sorry man. I mean, I was curious, but I didn’t mean to breach the subject so hard. Sorry I surprised you man, I’ll be sure to ask you about this stuff and be much more careful-”

“N-no! You’re okay!” Sportacus interrupted, unfrozen as his hands flew about as if to brush Jives off. “You just startled me, sorry! I- uh… I mean, I don’t know…” His voice lowered to a whisper, and his bright blue eyes darted around as a chuckle laced his breath.

“Take it easy then man, I’m still here.” Jives said. He leaned over and bumped his fist to Sportacus’ shoulder.

“Well,” Sportacus said after a deep breath, “I… We’re frenemies, right now. Or at least, that’s what I think we are. But I’m beginning to realize I feel… so much more when I’m around him. It’s both amazing and terrifying.” The two of them laughed, and Sportacus ran a gloved hand over his hat in fidgety thought.

“I don’t know what it is, Jives. I smile and I laugh when I’m around him. I’m learning more about him, more how he works. What makes him open up and what makes him uncomfortable, and how I can help avoid or go around those situations. I want to see him smile and laugh, because in the videos he’s so open and different and beautiful…. And sometimes...I see that side of him in real life… and I feel something. Bliss? Love? A feeling that I don’t even have a word for?”

During his rant, Sportacus had waved his arms around and nervously stared at the garden beds around them. He looked to the trees and darted his eyes over to Jives when his words began to fail him and he needed to convey those emotions somehow. Jives felt himself grin, and he surged forward and hugged his new friend tight. He pat Sportacus’ back firmly and gave a tight squeeze around his shoulders.

“Keep feeling my dude, I think there’s something for you there on the other side.”

“You really think so?” Sportcaus asked, voice muffled by Jives’ arms. The young adult could feel the anxiety in Sportacus’ voice, that had creeped into his rant about halfway through. There was a slight tremor to his arms, a twitch in his fingers, and Jives realized that maybe this was the first time Sportacus truly registered or even spoke about his budding feelings.

“I have a pretty good idea of it, so yeah.”

“That’s bull…” Sportacus laughed, and Jives laughed too. Their bodies shook and they shifted and swayed, letting the emotional high wash over.

Eventually, Sportacus pulled away and ran his wrist over his face. He wasn’t crying, but obviously the August heat brought sweat dripping down to his eyes. Or at least, Jives was going to let himself believe that.

“We should finish working,” the hero sighed.

“Yeah yeah, Mr. Sportawork. Let’s hurry this up, eh? Dinner’s in a few hours and I’m starving already.”

Sportacus shot Jives a thumbs up, readily digging his spade into the nutrient-rich soil and planting his seeds or flower bulbs. They worked in silence, until Jives was nudged in the shoulder.

“You won’t tell Robbie… right?”

“Never man. Lips locked and sealed.”

“....Thank you.”

“Your very welcome, my dude.”

------

The distant sounds of booms and pops sure caught people's’ attentions.

“Is that Robbie’s car…?” Ziggy asked, his face falling in discomfort. He reached up and took Jives’ hand, and Jives pat his head as he watched Robbie drive his car from the billboard up to town square.

“Yeah, that would be the one, buddy.”

It was infamously known that Robbie Rotten had quite a few large vehicles under his name. There was the most commonly seen bulldozer, whose low growls from the engine always alerted the townspeople. There was the garbage truck, which had once been used to spew tons and tons of garbage about the town. The only time Robbie took it out was around holidays when large amounts of trash needed to be thrown out. Even the pirate ship could be considered a vehicle, if there were to be an argument about it. Of course there were smaller, unmemorable ones, but no one could remember if Robbie had actually driven a reasonably sized car before.

What kind of abomination is that?” Asked Stingy, his nose wrinkling as Robbie drove his ‘abomination’ up into town square.

The car in question was an old purple mustang, a model that neither Robbie nor Jives knew. It was a deep purple in body color, sparkling in the sunlight. Once, the bumpers and any sort of metal trimming had been spotless and shiny, but after years of rusting they’d been replaced by Robbie’s signature marbled scrap metals. More in Robbie’s own tastes, the steering wheel had been furnished with orange fuzz, along with the seats and headrests. A pair of dice hung from the rear view mirror, fuzzy orange and obnoxiously eye catching.

As Robbie pulled the car into park, a ghastly BOOM emanated from the engine. Dark colored smoke wafted from the exhaust pipe, and Robbie made a face of distrust. His nose twitched, and he muttered something as he climbed out.

“Are you sure you have functioning cars?” Trixie asked, leaning around the back end to watch the exhaust turn back to a lighter shade.

“You’re standing right in front of one, kid.” He retorted, leaning against the door and raising an eyebrow to his friend. “Are you ready?”

Jives sighed, picking up his suitcases and handing it off to the town villain. They were put in the trunk while Jives went through one last goodbye with everyone.

“We’ll miss you!” All the kids cried in a six-person-hug. Especially Ziggy, who had fat crocodile tears running down his freckled cheeks. Jives wiped them away fondly.

“Don’t worry Lil’ Z, I’ll be sure to visit soon, alright?”

“You better!” He whimpered, and the kids chorused him.

Bessie gave him a goodbye kiss as well as a hug, leaving Jives to awkwardly yet tenderly rub at the red kiss mark as he said his last goodbye. She handed him a container, filled with some of her latest confections. Even if her cooking wasn’t the best, Jives had to admit that he’d missed it.

Milford gave him a firm hug with a clap on the back. Jives tried not to think about how much he would miss this town, and how all the old residents had moved on, grew up, or were just too busy to say goodbye. Milford, despite his old age and his job, still managed to make time for him. It was tugging at his heart strings, and actual tears were beginning to get hard to fend off.

There was a smirk tugging at his lips when he walked up to Sportacus. The hero sported one of his own, and the two of them shared a firm hug where they swayed side to side. Sportacus brandished an apple to him, sheepishly saying something about it balancing Bessie’s food. Jives laughed, white teeth flashing in the sunlight.

“Hey, keep an eye on Robbie for me, yeah?” Jives asked, side-eyeing his friend. Robbie currently picked out a spec of food from his teeth. He awkwardly shimmied away from the kids when they turned to talk to him, and Jives pulled his lips tight and pleaded to Sportacus. “Just make sure he’s doing alright when he’s not...active, around town. I know how he gets during those lulled sessions.”

“I promise,” Sportacus said. He glanced over at Robbie too, and his heart faintly picked up beat. He’d have no problem keeping that promise.

“Good, thanks man. Hey, keep safe, my Hero Dude.” Jives punched him in the arm, signature smirk in place, before striding up to Robbie and announcing his final last goodbye to the town.

Everyone waved and shouted their farewells as they passed the “Welcome to LazyTown!” sign. Jives waved back for as long as he could see them, but soon the town became distant, and the mountains far away began to shrink too.

They were travelling across the Lazy Plateau, across plains and lone hills. Farmland accompanied them the whole way to MayhemTown, sometimes a friendly pasture of horses or cows along the way. Jives relaxed into the fuzzy seats, head lolled as Robbie let jazz classics play across the radio. It was comforting, to be in the old busted mustang again. Cumbersome and sad, too, but Jives knew that he couldn’t take work off forever.

The classic jazz pulled Jives into a silent thinking state, staring out the window as the old car sputtered and boomed throughout the trip. Robbie relaxed as he drove, head resting on his fist, using one hand to drive the straight-shot roads. Even when they entered the town, neither really talked. It was nice, to be in one another’s company. The mood almost felt as though, if neither broke the silence, then they wouldn’t have to say goodbye.

“....You’re going to want to take a left up here,” Jives said. His voice was low, but with a tired finality. He had to work tomorrow, and there was no point in trying to run from it.

Robbie wordlessly turned, a particular POP from the engine bouncing the car. Jives instructed him through the Latibæ neighborhood. Even if he didn’t say anything, Jives could see the displeasure plain across Robbie’s twitching face.

“You don’t like this neighborhood, huh?” Jives asked after giving a particular direction. Robbie scoffed besides him.

“It’s not bad. Compared to what we came in by, and what the greater city looks like, this is probably the middle class neighborhood. Which isn’t bad, I’m actually happy to see that you don’t live in some of the poorer parts. Still, I think the architecture is weird, and there’s just this creepy vibe. I wouldn’t nap in the park here, no-sir-e.”

“Even if you tried to, Officer Obtuse probably wouldn’t let you!” Jives snickered, “That, or some of the local kids would draw mustaches on you. I’ve seen that happen one too many times.”

Robbie growled, and Jives could only assume it was him restraining from a rant- as he often had to do, else Jives would argue with him.

They drove past the gardens, and past the neighborhood square, where the mayor often visited back when the city was smaller. Since then the old mayor’s office had been turned into a library, and often let small tourist groups sit in the jail cell if they were interested in the building’s history.

Robbie remarked that this particular part of town used to be popular, saying, “Even my father took me here when I was younger. Well, my brother and I, if he could keep still and out of trouble. Which, mind you, wasn’t often.”

“I know, you’ve told me that before. Take a right here, and my apartment building should be on the right. Big sign, hard to miss.”

It was in fact hard to miss. There was a giant sign, reading "Latibæ Apartments", in front of a block of small, one story houses. Further down the block were actual apartment buildings.

“Which one is yours…?” Robbie asked, his hand moving from his red cheek to rub at his chin. Jives pointed to the last house, just before the apartments.

“That one, my three friends and I all live together. It’s actually pretty nice, despite it’s small size.”

“There’s enough room for four bedrooms?” The villain whistled, putting the rusty car into park in the driveway.

“Eh, more like two rooms that we split up between the four of us. Now, help me get my stuff inside!” Jives jumped out of the passenger seat and grabbed his biggest suitcase, knowing that Robbie would probably throw his back out trying to lug it around again.

Robbie grabbed the smaller bag from the trunk and hefted it up the walkway. He ignored Jives’ raised eyebrow at his dramatic carrying.

“There!” He grunted once at the doorstep, “All ready to move back in. Give me a hug, you dumb stoner.” There definitely wasn’t a wobble to his chin, or a thick tone to his voice. Oh, and there absolutely were not tears welling in his eyes.

Jives ignored the way his throat suddenly clogged, and he felt like there was much too big of a lump in his throat. “‘M not a stoner,” He protested. His voice wavered and Robbie quickly pulled him into a bone-crushing hug.

They rocked together for maybe a moment too long. Neither complained.

Robbie shook his head, sniffling and wiping any stray tears from his cheeks. “You’ll always be my dumb stoner. Always have, always will be.”

“Even if I’m not a stoner anymore?”

Especially because you’re not a stoner anymore.”

Jives laughed, and Robbie revelled in the fact that he was happy and healthy. An adult, with a job, after college. His best friend had grown, and it was almost tempting to think about his own growth in that moment.

With some sorrow, Jive took out his house key and unlocked the front door. His friends were working until evening, so coming home to a quiet house was expected. Robbie peered in and decided not to comment upon the mess there, that Jives knew was Siggi’s doing.

“Hey, keep yourself busy for me. I know how you get when you’re not. Also, mind texting me what’s up with you and Sportacus, lover-boy?”

“L-Lover-boy?!” Robbie gasped, appalled. His put a hand to his chest, clutching his light jacket as though someone had stabbed him. “I’ll have you know we’re just frenemies, and I-I-I-”

“Totally love the way his smile sparkles in the sunlight, enjoy the way he exercises in the park, loves it when he gives you that dreamy, blue eyed look- Hey! Ow! Haha, that hurt!”

Robbie made another swing for Jives’ arm, trying to reach past the now half closed door to get a hold of the little traitor. “Just because I say something in my sleep does not mean it’s true!”

“I think, from your experiences, that a therapist might say otherwise,” Jives snickered, and managed to shut the door once Robbie made a quick retract of his hand.

“Open the door, Shaggy Rogers! Lemme have a damn word with you, you ass!” His fists pounded at the door, but the click! of the lock and Jives’ signature laugh told otherwise.

“Never!” Came the muffled response.

Robbie rolled his eyes, and felt the hot, embarrassed blush recede off his cheeks. There’d be days for his revenge, but not now. It was best to let that pot stew and boil on its own.

“When you visit next month, I’ll be sure to remember that, Junkfood. Stay safe, damn stoner. Don’t think I’ll forget!” He backed away from the front door, slowly backwards walking to his car. There was no reply, and the blinds inside didn’t flutter.

Robbie sighed and let himself back into his car, turning it on with an awful CRACK-BOOM before puttering the hour long drive back to LazyTown, back to familiarity, back to loneliness and nothing but thought-filled insomniac nights. It was depressing, but it was also familiar and home. The next bone-shaking ejection of exhaust seemed to agree with his thought, and Robbie took comfort in the constant popping all the way back home.

Chapter Text

It was a beautiful sky blue day, with a few big fluffy clouds floating around at their own pace. If Robbie craned his neck enough, the revolting image could be in his peripherals. He shuddered against the pole, clutching it harder and ignoring the howling wind outside.

On the first weekend of October, Sportacus contented to flying the Mayor, Ms. Busybody, the kids, and Robbie over to the Autumnal MayhemTown Festival. By airship the ride was reduced to only half its original time by car, but Robbie felt he’d rather die than be on the flying death blimp any longer.

A shudder ran down his spine at a particularly loud howl from the wind. Even if he had his back to the front of Sportacus’ ship, and was hanging onto his exercise pole like his life depended on it, Robbie could still envision the sky surrounding him. Could practically feel the air ruffling his hair, the weightlessness of being so high in the sky. Another shudder passed through him, and he hunched closer to the bag someone had settled in his lap.

“Robbie’s gonna huuurl!” Shouted Tricky, somewhere by Sportacus’ cockpit. Robbie was half tempted to turn around and puke on her.

“Oh my, Mr. Rotten,” Milford chuckled weakly, “You do look a little green from the ride.”

“Poor dear,” Bessie agreed with a sighed.

The two of them sat on Sportacus’ bed, letting the ship’s gentle lulling ease their nervousness. The kids were all gathered around Sportacus by the cockpit, and Robbie clung to the exercise pole behind them. He sat cross legged, pole between his legs, and let the ride pass as quickly as it possibly could. There couldn’t be too much longer to this damn trip!

“Wow, look at that balloon!” Soggy squeaked, and Robbie could practically envision the kid pressing his chubby face to the glass as he showed the other kids.

“That balloon...it’s mine!” Stingy insisted, enamored with it.

“No it’s not,” Stephanie said, “It’s obviously that man’s, since he’s in the basket.”

“He’s waving to us!!” Tricky said. Robbie heard the children stampede to one side of the ship to wave back, and he squeaked in fear that their weight shift would send them into a barrel roll.

Sportacus had a steady handle on his death blimp, as he should, and Robbie felt no other elements acting on the ship. He brought the bag closer to himself and listened as Pixel said, “Do you know who he is, Sportacus? He has a nine on his chest, like you have a ten.”

“I do!” Sportacus laughed, “That’s my brother! He’s number Nine in our hero line.”

You have a brother?!” Ziggy all but screamed with excitement. Robbie groaned at the feeling of a terrible headache in his temples.

“We knew about that Ziggy,” Pixel reminded. “Remember when Jives first came to town, and he mentioned he knew Nine? Jives mentioned that they were brothers, and Sportacus confirmed it. Right Sportacus?” The hero merely nodded his head yes, head craning back to look at Robbie’s tense figure.

With a flip, Sportacus sprung out of the cockpit. Nine waved even more vigorously from the balloon’s basket, and he spared but a minute to wave back. Despite his shorter stature, Sportacus strided over to Robbie within three paces. He ducked down to his sitting height, a hand over Robbie’s on the pole.

“We’ve just entered MayhemTown, in Jives’ neighborhood. I took the long way around so it’d be an easier drop off. Do you want off first? How are you doing?”

“I feel like shit,” Robbie hissed. His nose twitched, and Sportacus couldn’t help but notice that he looked paler than normal. There was also a thin sheen of sweat on his forehead, and the gentle greenish hue on his cheeks wasn’t very reassuring either.

“Just get me off this death trap whenever it’s safest.”

Sportacus nodded, mind already set. It was safest now, with the blimp in park and hovering above MayhemTown’s Old Town Square. Íþróttaálfurinn was outside in his hot air balloon, making that two Numbered Heros to assist Robbie down if needed.

“Hang on, Robbie,” Sportacus whispered. In a louder voice he called, “Kids, stay right where you are until I come back to get you guys. I’m going to go down with Robbie first.”

“Right now?” He squeaked with dread.

Now situated behind him, Sportacus nodded without looking to see if Robbie had saw him. A hand settled on the villain’s neck, feet planted on either side of the sitting man, and he grabbed the exercise pole with a shout of, “Ship! Platform down!”

Robbie’s head snapped up to look at Sportacus, curses and screams ready for war. Those weapons left, however, at the sight of the confident hero above him and the sudden howling of the very real wind around him. Screams forgotten, Robbie suddenly clung to the pole and went still with shock.

The platform gave a deep GRRRRRGT as it steadied to a halt. The wind wasn’t terrible, Sportacus knew, but to Robbie, someone who hadn’t trained and had no practice with higher altitude breezes, it was probably hell.

“How are you doing?”

Down.

“Alright, just hang on, yeah? Don’t start screaming just yet…” If he worked fast, Sportacus knew he could get Robbie down before the shock factor wore off. Only then would the screaming start, and he knew that his job would only get harder. “LADDER!” he called. It fell from the underbelly of the ship, unfurling with an elegant ferocity.

Before he could grab ahold of it, however, of course his cheeky brother had to flip over.

Íþróttaálfurinn had steered the hot air balloon under the ship, preparing to talk to his brother as the platform came down. The ladder passed him, and with neat movements, he launched off the side of the hot air balloon’s basket, only then swinging onto the ladder. It was like swinging on a vine, and as the ladder arced upwards he backflipped off, cheekily landing besides his brother perfectly.

“Tryggvi! It’s so nice to see you again- oh! Hallo!” Íþró bent at the waist to wave to Robbie, who shot glares that promised death and misery to whomever met his gaze. “Not much of a talker, eh?”

“Uh, Robbie and I just need some help down… Hold the ladder? I’ll give you a proper hug once everyone's left the ship.”

“Of course!” Íþró said, leaning over to grab the swaying ladder. Sportacus waited until the only movement was of that of the wind, and helped Robbie up.

“N-No-”

“I’m going to go down first, okay?” Sportacus took Robbie’s hand before he passed him off to Íþró. The other elf smiled just as delightfully, helping to keep Robbie steady as Sportacus situated himself on the ladder. “You can come on now!”

It took multiple minutes of maneuvering, but they eventually got Robbie to shakily hang onto the ladder. He more of less clung to it with all of his remaining strength, and only inched down at a snail’s pace. Sportacus didn’t mind however, and encouraged him to keep moving as they got closer to the ground. By the time they reached the bottom of the ladder a small crowd had gathered. Jives appeared and shooed them all away, helping Robbie by wrapping him in his jacket. Sportacus sprinted back up the ladder and started to situate the kids on their descent.

Stephanie and Ziggy had a hard time with the height, but Sportacus managed to get them down faster than Robbie. Stingy, Trixie, and Pixel came down with relative ease, and both heroes helped Bessie and Milford. Jives herded them all to the benches, where his friends helped get them their festival wristbands and recover for a few moments.

Sportacus jogged over to the bench and sat himself besides Robbie, who was eyeing the cotton candy stand with a weary expression. He barely looked up as Sportacus sat down, and the hero felt his chest tighten.

“....H-hey, Robbie… You feeling better?”

“Just fine. Not like you gave me any warning, or anything.”

Sportacus sighed. He rubbed at his neck, trying a hundred different ways to explain. His mouth floundered, and finally he said, “I-I of course wanted you down as fast as possible, since I knew you were getting sick and didn’t like the airship, and if I gave you time to prepare then there was a chance you wouldn’t have reacted so calmly- so I- uh- used your shock as a way to get you down without giving either of us hopefully too much trouble. I’m, um, sorry, for what I did though. I really should have cleared that with you first…”

Robbie squinted, and his frown deepened.

“Wh-... Robbie?”

You are so much more mischievous and villainous than anyone gives you credit for, you bastard.”

"Is it really villainous, though?” Jives squeezed in between them as he leaned over the back of the bench. “Also, hey Sport! Long time no see! Welcome to MayhemTown, my dude. But yeah, villainous or not? I personally think-”

“No one cares!” Robbie hissed. The two of them had a baby fight, and Sportacus laughed as he almost got caught in their flailing hands.

“Hey, hey! Haha, you guys! Stop- you’re going to hit someone, namely me!

“Good,” Robbie grunted, fending off a hand from Jives, “Serves you right, Mischief Maker!”

“He causes way less mischief than you do,” Jives said incredulously, “But thank you for rerouting this conversation back to the basics. I think he did it out of heroism, since he didn’t want to make you endure the brunt of the descent sober minded- ow!

“I vote heroism, if that counts?”

“Nobody asked you, Sportavillain.”

Jives pumped his fists into the air, almost falling over the front of the bench from his loss of leverage. “Two votes heroism, one vote villainy! Democracy baby!”

“I hate you both.”

Sportacus rubbed his neck as Robbie continued to bicker with Jives. He heard Trixie mutter something about the three of them being “old coots” while letting a girl with red suspenders wrap the wristband around her arm. He was tempted to blush and laugh, but decided to hold it back in case she realize he heard. The kids had been teasing him and Robbie a lot lately, for reasons that Sportacus had yet to figure out, and he wasn’t the keenest on calling them out just yet.

Íþró weaved between the growing mass of people and raised an eyebrow at the scene before him. A look was shot to his fidgety brother, who grinned and shrugged his shoulders in response.

“Are they always like this?”

Yes!” The children all but screamed. Íþró rubbed his hat-covered ears in surprise, and reached forward to poke Jives in the forehead.

“Excuse the interruption, but aren’t you on booth duty right now?”

“Shit, yeah! Thanks Íþró. Come visit booth 213, I’ll be working there until five. After that Solla has a shift, and I can enjoy the festival with you guys. Check the map if you can’t find it. Alright, gotta dash!” Jives gave Robbie a binding hug, that had the adult wheezing for freedom, before running off to wherever booth 213 was. The kids waved goodbye as they turned to their new guest.

“So you’re a hero too, huh? Huh?” Ziggy looked up at Íþró, more or less interested in the patch on his chest. Íþró looked down and tapped it, grinning proudly at them.

“Yessiree! Sportacus Nine, at your service. Graduated hero school five years before your Blue Devil over there!” He winked at Sportacus, and Robbie made an “Aha!” at the nickname.

“So you are villainous!”

“Just mischievous by nature,” both answered. Elves were tricky beings, and often grew up pranking or messing with other people. Still, Robbie couldn’t help but scowl at their response.

“Sportacus isn’t that mischievous…” Stephanie argued, struggling to think of a time.

Íþró simply shook his head. “You see, when we were growing up, Ten here used to hide my homework all the time, and claim that the dog had taken it. There was the time where he changed the pathway signs in the forest and got travelers hopelessly lost, the time he nearly scared our grandmother half to death by back-flipping off a waterfall to win a bet, or the time he shaved Pabbi’s eyebrows-”

Okay, that’s enough!” Sportacus huffed, jumping off the bench to clamp a hand over his brother’s mouth. Íþró laughed, and Sportacus shot daggers his way. If the hero dare tried to lick his hand, there’d be a war afoot.

Luckily for him, Íþró did no such thing. Instead the kids exploded, almost screaming questions about what Sportacus was when he was little, how his home life was, what did he play to have fun, etc. The two of them winced at the harsh screaming and Bessie had to come over and hush them all.

“Are we ready to go now?” She asked, pink wristband around her wrist. Milford came up besides her, tugging at his coat, he too excited to start seeing the festival grounds.

“Can we go get candy? I’m hungry!”

“What about the game booths? Those prizes are mine! I say we start there.”

“Where’s the dunk tank?! I need to see someone get soaked!”

“I kind of want to go get something to eat too, maybe there’s a sportcandy stand around?”

“By my calculations, if we start with the first location on the map right now, then we’ll probably get to a majority of the attractions before it gets too late tonight.”

Robbie pushed himself off the bench to go and stand besides Sportacus. Bessie and Milford began to guide the children towards a snack stand down the sidewalk, away from Íþró’s almost panicked look.

“If you’re wondering how we deal with them, then the answer is simple: you don’t.

“Obviously that’s wrong, because I handle them all the time,” Sportacus said. Robbie missed his sarcastic tone and instead went into a mini-rant, of which the two heroes listened to as they caught up to their group.

The crowds weren’t big, but Íþró mentioned that things always got more hectic in the evenings. That was when people were out of work and were able to bring their whole family. Trixie’s mom was going to meet up with them, and suddenly Sportacus worried if she’d be able to find them. As well as Ziggy’s father, who might also make an appearance.

“Don’t worry,” Robbie waved him off, “Nothing ever stands in the way of a concerned parent. Trust me, they’ll find us one way or another.”

That was all Robbie had to say on the matter before encouraging Sportacus to enjoy the weekend off. Íþró may have been walking with the group, but he was also on the job. MayhemTown was technically outside of Sportacus’ district, and thus, with just about all of the town under his watch anyways, he was practically on vacation. The elf might not take relaxing vacations well, but a weekend spent enjoying festivities might be more up his alley.

Which, to Robbie’s not-surprise, was accurate. He watched as Sportacus began to weave throughout the crowds, as though playing a game. No one but him seemed to notice, since no strange looks came his way. Ziggy began to giggle at one point, as he kept turning his head to stare at the hero brothers, but Robbie walked faster and put distance between him and any embarrassment coming their way.

At some point, after passing the games, the group sort of split. Robbie meandered between them, seeing as one was ahead of the other. He was walking away from Sportacus and Stephanie when he caught sight of Trixie at the dunk tanks.

The prospect of a dunk tank always riled Robbie up a little. Who wouldn’t want to pay to see some hopeless sap get dunked? Peak comedy, the dunk tank was.

Trixie was aligning her aim when Robbie walked up behind her. Hands behind his back, he leaned over her slightly. She tilted her head up to gaze at him, an eyebrow raised. Robbie peered back at the person in the dunk tank, and almost fell on top of Trixie.

Of course he’d heard that his old friend was going to participate in the festival, but Robbie’d never imagined to see Oliver Obtuse sitting inside the dunk tank. As the gears in Robbie’s head began to turn it seemed so did Oliver’s, who suddenly broke into a grin and started laughing.

“What’s he saying? Do you know him?” Trixie asked, aim lowering. The man looked familiar, but she couldn’t quite place him. Oliver had begun to say something but was muffled by the glass around the tank.

“Hmmm, I don't know. How about you take aim and let it rip, eh? I’ll see if I know him then.”

Trixie cackled, readying herself again. “Are you encouraging me to dunk this man?”

“Technically he’s an officer of the law, and yes, for once I am. Now throw!”

The ball flew from Trixie’s hand like a bat from hell. With a force that Robbie would expect from a kid at least five years older than her, the ball smacked into the target with a loud THUD! Obtuse fell from his platform with a muffled scream, and Robbie raged with laughter.

Trixie whooped with delight at having dunked her first victim of the night, jumping up and down and high-fiving the town villain. Robbie strolled up casually to the tank as another patron payed for their experience, waiting for Obtuse to get settled back in the seat.

“Robbie Rotten! Never thought I’d see you around these parts!” Obtuse greeted once he was close enough.

“Oliver Obtuse, I never thought I’d see you dunked by an ten year old, yet here you are, and here I am. How are you doing?”

“Great, actually! I love working in the Latibæ neighborhood, it’s so wonderful here. Hey, I get off my shift in the tank in about an hour, so if you want to meet up around then it’d be great to catch up.”

“Booth 213, maybe?”

“Isn’t that Jives’ booth?”

Robbie couldn’t help but grin. “Ahh, so you do keep in touch with him fairly often. Anyways, yeah, that’s his booth. I’ll be there, so stop by. Have fun getting soaked.”

As they walked away Robbie gave a wave just in time to see the paid patron throw the ball. Obtuse’s wave was cut short as he was dumped into the water. Trixie cackled besides him, and Robbie couldn’t help the mischievous pep in his step as he made for booth 213.

------

The kids munched on lunch a bit later, on an order from Bessie. They’d all packed into two small picnic tables, which forced Robbie against Sportacus’ right side. If the movement of his jiggling leg and the slight vibration of the table annoyed him, he didn’t say it.

Sportacus traced a finger absentmindedly against the smoothed down wood, whose years of service to the public gave it a greyed look. Multiple hearts and initials were carved into the surface, alongside words that had been half sanded away. The tables reminded him of crappier versions of the ones back in LazyTown, one of which Robbie and he had been sitting at a week or two prior.

“You’re awfully curious,” Robbie had said. He was laid on the ground as he worked to tighten the bolts on the underside of the tables.

Sportacus remembered he had jumped in surprise, not quite used to Robbie calling out his curious behavior. With the kids at school and all the adults working, it often left him and Robbie alone. They’d begun to ‘hang out’ and keep each other company during the long school days. It was getting easier to notice their different mannerisms, with all the time they spent together.

“Well, uh, I heard you saying something as I passed by and came back around to see what you were up to. I’ve noticed you only mutter when something is giving you trouble, so I was curious…”

Robbie grunted back at him, moving to sit up. A grease covered wrench was held tightly in his fist, and Sportacus politely bent down to try and peer at the underside of the table. “If you’re so nosy, then I’ll have you know the Mayor asked if I could repair all the loose tables. This one had a bent support, and I just finished wrestling it into place to bolt down when you walked by.”

“So everything is screwed down then?”

“Of course, else the table probably wouldn’t be standing, if not sturdily.”

With a tilt of his head, Sportacus gave a smile to Robbie. The villain squinted his eyes at his frenemy, since he’d come to learn that mischievous look within the last month and a half.

“If you flip onto that damn table- I WAS JUST SAYING-

Sportacus grinned down at Robbie, arms fisted at his hips while he stood proudly on the table. “Wow Robbie, this is a pretty sturdy table! Great job! I shouldn’t be surprise,” he laughed, “since you are the one who makes repairs and adjustments to the playground all the time.”

“Hey, that’s only because the Mayor asked, and because I get nice pay whenever I do. I don’t like the running and the jumping and the sports, but I’d rather get good money and have children be safe than have one of them break something important.”

Sportacus wrinkled his nose in an infectious smile as he said, “You care! I’m sure if you were to tell the kids they’d be so touched, Robbie.”

The villain had waved him off as he moved to sit on one of the seats, raising an eyebrow as Sportacus got off the table to take a seat across from him. “I’d rather they not. You see, they don’t trust me, because I’m the villain. If they knew I repaired their play sets they probably wouldn’t touch them again, because I probably rigged them or something.”

Robbie sputtered at the eyebrow raise that Sportacus gave him, his look calling out his bullshit. “Don’t give me that look! That’s exactly how they’d act.”

“I think you don’t give them enough credit. They love hanging around you Robbie, and Pixel and Ziggy are always so interested in your inventions. I bet they’d be thrilled to know that you take care of the park.”

Robbie shook his head, disbelieving. They switched conversation topics however, and Sportacus found himself sitting and talking with Robbie for another two hours. It was probably the longest he’d just sat and talked in a while, but it was almost refreshing compared to his constant movement. Sure his leg jiggled, but Robbie made no comment. More than once Sportacus had to hide his laugh behind his hand, because Robbie always managed to make him giggle and have his heart soar. He’d hide his blush, but never when he managed to make Robbie howl with laughter. Something about his giant grin and beautiful deep laughter made Sportacus star struck, and he was sure the light constricting feeling in his chest were butterflies waiting to fly.

A bad crush, Jives had texted him when he asked what the feeling was.

“You okay there, Sportathink?” With a twitch of surprise, Sportacus blinked up at Robbie. The villain was waving a hand in his face, a half concerned look on his face.

“Uh- yeah, sorry. I was just thinking about something.”

Robbie nodded, immediately back to his non-concerned self. “Ah, alright. Warn a guy next time, your eyes looked as though your soul had left. It was giving Trixie the creeps.”

“Was not!” She objected, flicking the stem of her apple at him. They grimaced at each other while the other kids snickered.

Their bickerment was cut short by the visit of Officer Obtuse. The kids happily remembered him, giving him a cheery hello while Robbie simply smiled at the man. The Dunk Tank Incident would not be forgotten by either it seemed, judging by the smirks and squints they gave each other. Sportacus shook Oliver’s hand with kind words and an eagerness usually reserved for children. Oliver bounced from the energy and strength from Sportacus and they laughed, snickers heard from the kids and a few chuckles from Milford and Bessie.

There was not time for Robbie to catch up with Obtuse, however, because the kids seemed desperate to leave. By then they’d finished their snacks and drinks and wanted to go play games. Robbie volunteered to take them, since the games were somewhere by Jives’ booth and he’d promised to visit. Sportacus opted to go too, since he could see Íþró flipped towards them and wanted to spare himself any embarrassment.

A while later, Sportacus decided to make conversation. “Are you enjoying the fair?”

Robbie turned and glanced at Sportacus, his lean shoulders shrugging as he watched Trixie win a small plush from a dart-throwing game. While there wasn’t much to truly enjoy there wasn’t much to hate either, so he settled for indifference.

“It’s alright,” he said with a wave of his hand, “Nothing that I can’t handle. The crowds are still manageable, even if annoying. The food’s alright at least. Why? Are you getting bored, Sportaflip?”

The chuckle that Sportacus gave put a small smirk onto Robbie’s lips. It was something he hated to admit, but there was a little feeling of victory every time he made the elf smile. The feeling, if he delved deeper, intertwined with an emotion that he wasn’t very good at explaining, so he often didn’t think deeply on his feelings towards Sportacus. The smiles and the laughter were the little victories, however, that he let himself enjoy. “No, I’m enjoying it very much actually!” Sportacus laughed, “There’s such a feeling of coziness and just familial entertainment. I mean, the kids are having a great time,” he pointed off towards were Pixel was beating Ziggy at a squirt-gun game, “and I’m quite interested in playing one of the apple bobbing games they have scattered around. The apples look super delicious!

“I guess I was asking because I know you don’t like crowds,” Sportacus finished lamely. “I know you didn’t get to catch up with Officer Obtuse, and you haven’t seen Jives’ booth yet, so I guess I was wondering how you were doing.”

Once more Robbie shrugged, reluctant to admit that he was touched by Sportacus’ concern. “Don’t worry, I can handle this. Dad used to take my brother and I to fairs all the time. Liked to swindle and make money off of cheap games and gullible patrons.”

“Is there anything I can do to make this experience memorable then?”

Make it memorable? Robbie looked over to Sportacus, eyes wide. Fighting the blush upon his cheeks to stay unnoticeable, Robbie looked off towards the games. There was a certain purple cow plushie that he’d spotted a few times but was hesitant to play to win, since either the games were rigged or they were a physical or active game.

Sportacus followed his frenemy’s train of sight and smirked. A high-striker game? He could win one of those easily. He could see the cow plushies too, and knew of Robbie’s soft spot. If asked, he’d gladly win the purple cow for his crush.

“Plushie?”

“Plushie.”

Happily, Sportacus paid the booth-tender the fee for the game. Robbie stayed back as he was handed the hammer. Immediately the kids crowded around him, cheering and practically screaming their hero on. It was hard to tune out, but just watching Sportacus flex his muscles while throwing the hammer back was enough.

THUD!

KA-TING!

Whoa!” Ziggy cried, echoing the other kids as Sportacus nearly broke the game. Robbie whistled. He knew Sportacus was strong, very strong in fact, but he thought the elf would at least hold back enough to not break the dang thing.

“Guh- take your pick of the large plushies, sir,” The booth-tender stuttered, amazed at Sportacus’ sheer strength. While they inspected their game Robbie pushed forward, hips swaying, and snatched the cow plushie. He smiled into the fur, despite it smelling of factories and terrible carny food, and kept it tight within his grasp.

Sportacus walked back over, arms folded with nervous pride, as Robbie hugged his new cow close. There was an honest glint in his eyes, no well-intended mischief at the moment. The smirk on his face was enough to paint his face as one who was trying to do something wholly nice, an innocent gesture. Or, it was simply that of a hero who was falling helplessly in love.

It was too bad that Robbie missed it, his eyes closed shut as he savored his new plush.

“Thuh- th- thank youew-"

There was a grin that understood Robbie’s valid attempts. “You’re welcome! I’m just glad you like it. Memorable?”

Robbie opened his eyes then, meeting Sportacus’ honest gaze. He couldn’t remember when his damn feelings had betrayed him in favor of his best frenemy, but it was then his emotions swelled and crested over him. There wasn’t a time that he could remember feeling this flustered over just a look, specifically one from Sportacus, of all people.

“Very, very memorable,” he murmured, because he knew that if his heart pounded any louder into his chest, then his mind would commit the feeling to memory.

The kids all shared a pointed look as they followed the blushing hero-villain duo. Ms. Busybody did say that something was blooming between them…

For the rest of the evening, just the slightest glance of Robbie cuddling his new plushie gave Sportacus butterflies in his stomach. To see him snuggling something that he’d won for him was enough to make his day, week, month, even year. Or at least, so-said the adrenaline coursing through his veins.

Everything went by as well as it could after that. Sportacus continued to flip and flop between the crowds, and Robbie pretended he didn’t know the man. They greeted Trixie’s mom near Jives’ booth, where Trixie ran towards her and was spun in a loving embrace. Not much later Ziggy’s father showed up, and Sportacus was mystified that he’d never really met the cheery, if not slightly tired, portly man. The enlarged group passed by Jives’ booth a bit later, and while he couldn’t come off of work just yet, Robbie spied his friends Nenni and Goggi, if he was correct.

Before they’d left the booth with their candied apples and other confections, Jives leaned over and poked the cow in it’s purple forehead. “Now, either you cheated at one of the impossible carny games, or you got that through physical activity! Only the hard games have those plushies, you know.”

Robbie scoffed, hugging his cow tightly once more as he moved it out of Jives’ poking range. “I’ll have you know it was begifted upon me by a very kind hero.”

Oh?” Jives grinned. The situation must have been somewhat recognizable, since within the booth both Goggi and Nenni groaned.

“Stop being a drama hoe, you Meme Lord, and help us out here!” Nenni scoffed, "You're ruining all of my organization and the schedule sheets!"

Goggi agreed, moving about to place some fresh confections on the front table. “Yeah, come on man, at this rate we’ll be 14 minutes behind schedule if you don’t start helping again soon.”

Jives waved the two worriers off, leaning out of the booth to shoot looks between LazyTown’s hero and villain instead. “So you’re telling me that Mr. Hero got it for you? That’s saccharine, dude, oh my God. Can I ask how your love life is then???”

Without missing a beat Robbie backed away, a quick middle finger sent his way, before being towed off somewhere by a scolding Sportacus who just-so-happened to have seen the action. The text Robbie got minutes later only served to help his mind reel in the possibilities of his feelings, which didn’t help in the slightest at all. At least Jives was concerned.

[Text received from Shaggy Rogers]: Dude no seriously tho, catch me up? You guys seem way closer than you were in August. Srry if it’s nothing, but there was definitely a blush when you mentioned he got you the cow. Srry again, continue your evening, Robbean.

Robbie didn’t reply, but his mind wondered and thought about Jives’ question. The kids and Sportacus tugged him along, laughing at his scoffs and smiling with his antics as the evening wore on. His mind could be preoccupied overthinking his feelings all it wanted, but Robbie was going to enjoy the festival either way.

------

With the highs of the highs there always came the lows of the lows. It wasn’t long after leaving the rides that the people around them began to grow uncomfortable. Robbie and Sportacus immediately sense their discomfort. Neither had the chance to ask what happened before Officer Obtuse, Jives and his two friends, and Íþróttaálfurinn pushed through the thick crowds.

“What’s-”

Come on!” Íþróttaálfurinn said, voice urgent, as he grabbed Sportacus by his wrist and tugged him back towards the Old Town Square.

Sportacus didn’t need to see his airship to know that dread was nestled deep within his stomach. As Íþró dragged him through the crowds Robbie followed behind. They shared a look and plowed ahead, Robbie dragging the kids with him.

At the Old Town Square the crowd had thinned out to a ring. Íþró pushed through and stared up at the green, noxious gases that spilled from the lowered platform. Sportacus took one look at his home and stumbled. His brother was the only reason why he stood and watched with horror in his eyes.

In the chilled October air, the clouds encircling the ship were bright green and sickly. The ladder hung limply from the underbelly, swaying abused in the wind. Dirty scuff marks and green gunk covered the once pristine rings. No one dared to approach the ship, to touch the evidence, to save the only home away from home that Sportacus owned. The crime was horrible, cruel, and only a few people could imagine who’d do such a thing.

Obtuse thrust forward and pulled out his badge. Sportacus and Íþró lost track of Robbie and the kids in the haze of police tape, interrogations, and the sound of sirens in the distance. The festival was cancelled for the night, soon to resume the next morning.

Chapter Text

Sportacus was not sleeping. Or, from what Robbie could tell, he wasn’t sleeping well. The damn elf kept twisting and turning over the covers, pushing them from his body and thus gathering on Robbie’s side of the bed. Not that he was complaining, by all means, because the extra warmth was welcomed. Sportacus just kept twisting, and Robbie swore he was going to kick the elf off the mattress if he continued for much longer.

Sleep was dodgy for Robbie anyways. The events from earlier that evening were startling, to say the least. He wasn't the best of friends with sleep anyways, but even he knew when to savor it. It was hard to do just that with Sportacus constantly writhing behind him, however.

At a truly illegal time in the early morning, Robbie fitfully woke up once more. It was his fourth time of the night and a short feeling of annoyance sprouted deep from within his chest. The feeling wore off when he duly recognized the vibrations from the other side of the bed. A quick glimpse over his hunched shoulders confirmed his suspicions.

With a huff, Robbie shifted so he laid on his left side. He scooted to the other side of the bed, what was supposed to have been solely his queen-sized bed, and wrapped a warm, blanket covered arm around the cold and shivering hero. Sportacus’ blankets were either on the floor or in Robbie’s possession, and while sharing wasn’t his biggest skill, he could tell when someone else was in need. Sportacus, it seemed, was in need.

“Can’t you be lazy and sleep for one minute?” Robbie huffed blearily. He kept his arm anchored around Sportacus’ abdomen and pulled himself close.

The silent and dark room heard the sound of his feet kicking some blankets over onto Sportacus, the rustle of fabrics being draped and shared over the two soon-to-be sleeping men. There was a moment of complete silence before a satisfied huff. Robbie nuzzled into Sportacus’ neck, too drowsy with potential sleep to care about his actions as he savored the cool of Sportacus’ clothes. Maybe the elf would stop twisting and turning now, and let sweet dreams melt away the stress and cruelty that plagued him. He’d stop being cold too, Robbie figured, and hoped that their position wouldn’t make either too hot. The villain was not in the mood to wake up again, at least not until it was past noon.

------

His dreams were of warm weather. Of picnics on grassy hills and cake that seemed just as sweet as the person that’d made it. He dreamed of playing and running, with great rolls of laughter crossing his lips as his brother ran alongside him. There were dreams of college, a degree in hand, and the inventions he’d create. Visions with firm hugs, cuddles, and times so bright that his lips hurt from smiling. Dreams of sun-kissed skin, thin lips that smiled just right, with long ears, curly hair, and a ten on his chest-


Robbie awoke to an empty bed, panting hard. His mind tried to run through the distant haze of memories and fantasies. Everything was filed away for later, or to be forgotten. The ever present wave of anxiety took it’s sweet time to subside. It was barely past ten, too early to be up. Unfortunately, the ramming of his heart against his ribs said otherwise. With a hand that shook too much, he wiped the sweat off his forehead.

Perhaps it was time to get up.

------

By the time Robbie moved down to the Old Town Square, Sportacus had just finished his morning exercises with the kids. The festival wasn’t to start until noon, due to the police cleaning up the area and the dreadful smell of the gas, slime, and open sewer lines. It seemed Íþró’d extended his exercise regimen to accommodate, as seen by the gaggle of young adults recovering on the hotel steps. What caused him confusion, however, was the sight of Sportacus, panting, on a bench as he tried to earn air back into his lungs.

“He got snarky with Nine when he underestimated the stair exercises,” Jives casually explained. He snickered and said, “Guess he won’t smack talk his brother again anytime soon, huh?”

“Well I hope he wouldn’t!” Íþró said, a huff to his words as he watched his younger brother. “It’s not right to disrespect those older than you.”

Sportacus, to Robbie’s humor, defended himself with a gesture that had Íþró gasping. It must have been some sort of elven version of the middle finger, but Robbie thought it was funnier without the context. He and the other adults chuckled at the brother’s’ scene.

Thankfully, Sportacus was back to his jumping, energetic self by the time the kids came back from the petting zoo. With them were the four adults from LazyTown; that being Milford, Bessie, Ms. Troubleby, and Mr. Zweets. Robbie watched as Sportacus greeted them all back, jumping around and asking about the zoo.

“Good morning, Hye-Rim, Clement,” Robbie said with a quick wave of his hand.

“Robbie, hello!” Clement said at the same time as Hye-Rim, but with perhaps too much enthusiasm.

“How was the petting zoo?” He asked, moving to make room for his two new companions. They stood outside the faded honey-colored hotel, watching as Íþró taught the kids some of his exercises.

Clement beamed at the simple question. “Oh, it was great! Ha, I’ve never seen Ziggy so excited to feed some ‘lil pigs before. Of course Stingy tried to beat him to it, and it was fun to watch them do it.”

“I almost got rammed by a goat?” Hye-Rim offered, an unsure smile gracing her features. “Trixie liked it, so did Stephanie and Pixel. I think the Mayor and Ms. Busybody were just concerned with the kids’ hygiene, though.”

Robbie snorted. “They’re kids, they’ll live! I mean, maybe they’ll get sick once or twice, but they’ll recover faster than any of us would.” Hye-Rim at least chuckled at his exclamation.

“Ya’know,” She started, “You might start seeing me around town more often.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah,” She said, “I figured it was about time I start taking more responsibility in Trixie’s life. I mean, I’m way more financially secure- better than when Peter left me- and I’m always on top of bills now. There’s no need for me to keep working my life away, never knowing or loving my kid.

“So, uh, I’m quitting my part-time jobs to accept the job offer I have to work with Oliver over here in the Latibæ Police station. It’s about time I start putting my police training to use,” She finished, spreading her hands wide as through finally coming clean.

Clement awed, his face breaking into a warm grin. “That’s great, Hye-Rim! I’m actually in a very similar situation. I’m closing the candy shop in LiarTown for a bigger parlor in BusyCity, which is just another thirty minutes from here. It’s such a shorter work commute, and I can start having a stable place in Ziggy’s life.”

Robbie blinked in astonishment. He glanced over to the kids, where neither Trixie nor Ziggy had heard their parent’s admissions. A little grin of his own took over. “Well, I’ll have to prepare you some welcome back cakes. Nothing better than sweet sugar to commemorate it. Soggy and Trippy will be more than happy to hear the news.” He paused, then after a rude snort said, “Maybe you can get Pixel’s moms to come back, eh? I haven’t seen them in years.”

Hye-Rim obviously refrained from punching him. Clement casted Robbie with a disapproving look, which caused him to scoff.

“Come on, guys, I know you’re thinking the exact same thing! We all watched them leave six years ago. Neither of you two are dumb either- you know he misses them.”

“Ila and Nevaeh are busy, you know that," Hye-Rim said. Her tone almost left no room for argument.

Robbie took the chance to bite back with just as much vigor. “Most technology companies could be ran from someone’s house. Some companies started from their houses. There’s no good excuse for why they haven’t visited. I’m not even a parent, and I know that.”

“There’s no use talking shit, Robin,” Clement sighed, “I bet you both of them already know how bad they’ve been. Maybe once we’re all settled we can give them a call, see about having them stop by.”

“Get the Spoilero’s into the call and I’m down,” Robbie huffed. He crossed his arms and popped his hip stubbornly. Hye-Rim just laughed.

“Last I heard, they’ve off in Italy again! Visiting Bentley's wife’s family.”

“And they didn’t take Stingy?”

“Bentley said the kids are either too old or way too stuck up. I think he thinks he’s doing Stingy a favor by leaving him here.”

Robbie’s nose scrunched in distaste. His leg jiggled angrily as he said, “Doesn’t mean he couldn’t put forth some effort to stay longer. And that wife of his is a terrible step-mother for Stingy- she never talks to him.”

“Robbie,” Clement chuckled, “Since when did you become protective of the kids? Last I checked, you were rather, ah, unconcerned with them.”

“Ask Sportacus Ten,” Hye-Rim said before Robbie could retort. “I had a pleasant word or two with him this morning. I talked to Jives after, and a little birdie told me that someone likes our town hero.”

Robbie furiously ignored the raised eyebrows and smug smiles. “I hate both of you, and it is none of your or Jives’ business who I like or don’t like. Sportacus is my frenemy-

“Frenemy?” Hye-Rim tugged her lips into a bigger smile. Robbie scoffed and pushed off the hotel’s paint-flaking walls.

“Shut up, both of you! Hush, no more words! I get enough of this from Jives. Enjoy your weekend off, now good day!”

He would have walked off, the last word had and determination in his steps, if he hadn’t of been ambushed by Jives.

“You! Robbean!”

“Guh- Shaggy?”

“Yes, Shaggy! So,” Jives started with the beginnings of a smile, “A little birdie told me that you shared your bed last night.”

Robbie sputtered in surprise, his shoulders hunching up to his ears out of instincts and habit. He managed to squint at his young adult friend, ignoring the low blush on his cheeks. “W-well, maybe I did! It certainly isn’t your business, but I’m confused as to how you found out.”

At Jives’ raised eyebrows and sealed lips, he groaned and straightened his posture, defeated. “Alright, alright. I offered him to sleep with me because I knew he wouldn’t have any place else to sleep. Every other hotel in the area was sold out and our hotel was completely full too. They had most or all of their rollaways already rented out to the numerous families staying for the festival, too. I got a room with a queen-sized bed, so it was better than Milford or Bessie trying to get him a rollaway or a sofa bed.”

Jives nodded as Robbie finished. His lips upturned into the tiniest of smirks, not actually expecting his friend to give a full-fledged explanation. “Thank you for tellin’,” he said, “I was teasin’ ya earlier. Sportacus told us that you were very kind and lent him the other half of your bed when we asked where he’d slept last night. Either way, I’m glad to see you two are getting along!”

“Getting along is a word for it,” Robbie grumbled. He shrugged, thinking back over the last few months. He and Sportacus had grown close, especially with the kids being in school. Either way, they did have some positive conversations and interactions between them now, didn’t they? It was a pleasant thought, and one that Robbie wouldn’t let himself dwell on until later.

“I guess. Ya’know, he’s actually pretty stressed,” Jives said worriedly. “Came down to exercises this morning and basically worked himself into a tizzy. I mean, yeah, he was bickering with his brother as brothers do, but I could tell this is nagging him.”

“It doesn’t help that his ship is literally right above him. A constant reminder,” Robbie said gruffly. His grey eyes glanced upwards again. He scowled, trying to think of anybody that would do something so cruel.

Jives nodded, looking up too. The ladder had stayed down, since the green goop on the rungs needed to be analyzed. It looked like the police went down into the sewer lines since the manhole covers were off. The smell permeated throughout the entire area, mixing with the sickeningly sweet smell from the gas and slime. The center of the square was tapped off with police tape, which served as a good circular track for Íþró’s morning run. He’d noticed Sportacus looking at the area often, probably thinking a million things.

“Officer Obtuse stopped by this morning.” At Robbie’s raised eyebrow Jives said, “He stopped by to grab an extra pair of handcuffs from Íþró, and to get some coffee from the police station. Supposively he’s been up all night following the goop trail they found yesterday. It went into the sewers.”

“Eugh,” Robbie said. His mouth twisted and his tongue stuck out. Jives laughed, very much in agreement.

“Maybe you should do something nice for him? You know that there’s going to be interrogations today.”

Robbie stuffed his hands further into his jacket pockets. He wrinkled his brows in confusion as a particularly tough wind blew through the square. “They already interrogated him last night- they knew that he forgot to put the ladder up by accident. What else could they ask him? He’s stressed enough as it is!”

“I don’t know! They’re the police, they do police things and find things out! Just- maybe we should do something nice for him?”

“Like what? Because I certainly have no idea. I’m terrible at gift giving, Jives.”

“Just-” Jives sighed in defeat, pushing his tall friend towards the kids. “I heard that your children want to go to the pumpkin patch in the park a few blocks down- go take him and keep his mind offa this stuff. He’d like that, right?”

“Gah- Jives- I mean, sure?”

“Yes! Now have a nice afternoon!” And with that Jives waved goodbye and went to collect Nenni and Goggi from the other side of the square. Robbie waved back, weakly, and went to stand beside Sportacus, who did not jump and flip as the kids tugged Clement, Hye-Rim, Milford, Bessie, and the two of them along to the pumpkin patch.

------

The face of a poorly yet eagerly painted witch stared up at Sportacus. Trixie was currently painting a black, curled hat over top of her green, warty skin. She kept giggling, which made Sportacus smile with her mother. He could hear Robbie loudly talking to Stephanie just a few seats over and felt his lips tug just a little bit higher.

“Where’s her broom? How’s she going to fly around?” Hye-Rim asked, pointing to the witch’s bottom half curiously.

“Maybe she runs,” Trixie snickered, “or flips around like Sportacus. She’d be like, Sportawitch or something!”

Sportacus laughed softly, his blue eyes glancing over towards Robbie at her words. “I think someone has been spending too much time with Robbie, huh Hye-Rim?”

“No!” Trixie defended.

“Ah, maybe,” Hye-Rim chuckled. “Its either Bessie, Milford, Robbie, or your hero friend here, so you’ve been spending a lot of time with someone.

“‘M friends, that’s who. Milford and Bessie are around but sometimes they’re working, and Robbie and Sportacus are usually around like, half the time. Steph and Stingy and I like to play a lot, and Ziggy and Pixel too.”

Sportacus pouted. “I’m around! We play almost all the time. In fact, you asked me to play baseball with you guys last week, and I did.”

Trixie painted on the stripes to the witch’s socks with a nod. “Yeah, I guess you did,” she said with a sigh. While paying particular attention to one stripe she added, “Sometimes we don’t see you because we’re in school though. You and Robbie seem to talk sometimes on those days.”

“You guys are learning while everybody else is working. Robbie is good company since I tend to get lonely without you guys,” Sportacus admitted with a soft laugh. He ignored the interested look Hye-Rim gave him in favor of encouraging Trixie with her witch. While his mood had lifted since being with the kids, he wasn’t quite ready for the badgering on his festering crush.

Stingy plopped himself down onto Sportacus’ right side, looking rather pleased with himself. Before either Sportacus or Hye-Rim could ask he proudly showed off his painted pumpkin. It was yellow with a familiar pink pig in the center.

Sportacus grinned at the sight of Piggy and of the proud twinkle in Stingy’s eyes. The painting was well done, with a skill of someone a few grades above the boy. To be honest, Sportacus wouldn’t have pegged him to be an artist. It seemed the kids always had him surprised and on his toes.

“Look at how well my Piggy came out! The pink paint was the perfect shade, and they had my favorite yellow paint too. I’ll have to show Dad when he comes home next week,” Stingy said. There was a lilt to his tone, as if asking ‘This is sharing, right?’ Sportacus laughed and ruffled his hair, just glad that Stingy was catching on.

“It looks great, Stingy! Your dad would be very proud. Not to mention your art skills have been getting better! I wonder what you’ll paint next.”

Stingy huffed and flattened his hair back down. A beat later he was excited all over again, words leaving his mouth a mile a minute. Sportacus wasn’t sure exactly what he heard, but it seemed Stingy might paint something about the treehouse and his friends. It was a kind gesture which brought a bright grin to his own face.

Trixie grouched on Sportacus’ other side. “Your pumpkin looks good, yeah, but I think my witch looks better. It’s even in the Halloween spirit! No nasty squirrel will come eating at it because they’ll be too scared!” She cackled gleefully, Hye-Rim chuckling softly too.

“That’d be nice. Less of a mess to clean up at the end of the month, huh?” She asked, to which her daughter agreed.

Sportacus cocked his head to the side with a thoughtful smile. Being up in the airship meant that he couldn’t really put out any holiday decorations. Which was okay, since on occasions such as these he didn’t have to worry about rotting foods. Besides, sometimes he hung up lights on the outside of the ship to commemorate whatever was being celebrated. The mess from the pumpkins must be troublesome, with it being rotten and picked at by the neighborhood animals.

“Mine is too nice to be picked apart by the squirrels. They’ll just sit and stare at it in awe,” Stingy sighed. The boy leaned forward and set his chin atop his pumpkin, a steely determination in his eyes.

It was obvious to both adults that the two children believed wholeheartedly that their pumpkins would win the Painted Pumpkin Contest. The other kids had nicely painted pumpkins too, so obviously the contest would be won closely. Sportacus was excited to see who would win; friendly competition always got him geared up. Nothing was better than a little bit of fun and rivalry between close friends. Too many memories of him and his childhood friends came to mind, and obviously he’d turned out pretty okay, so Sportacus knew that the kids would fare just fine.

Suddenly, the weighted sound of heavy boots and combat gear rang unpleasantly in Sportacus’ sensitive ears. The stench of something foul made him wrinkle his nose. The pumpkin patch was free of the nauseating stench that had begun to hang over the town center, and the remainder of the smell was enough to make him feel sick.

Before the police had even entered the pumpkin patch Sportacus knew what they were there about. His shoulders sagged and a sigh punched out between his lips just before he plastered on a warm, compliant smile.

After the stress of yesterday, all Sportacus wanted to do was watch the kids in their contest. Obviously the situation at hand had other ideas, and here he was to be whisked away for hero business on his first true vacation in years. The deep stinging twinge he felt must have been disappointment, since Sportacus had been secretly hoping that the situation diffused naturally. Sure, he wanted to know who vandalized his home, but spending time with the kids and putting the situation from his mind was nice too.

Robbie slipped from the bench and stood beside him, a hip cocked almost challengingly. Sportacus smiled genuinely at the gesture as he breathed a breath of relief through his nose. Clement slid over to where Sportacus had sat, the kids shuffling over with them. Hye-Rim encouraged them to continue painting, though both her and Clement snuck looks over as Robbie and Sportacus walked up to the officers.

“Good afternoon, officers! Is there anything I- we- can do for you?” Sportacus asked pleasantly. His nose scrunched again as he caught a whiff of the foul smell. One of the two officers who had walked up simply held out a pair of handcuffs from an evidence bag, covered in something bright green and slimy. Sportacus almost vomited at the intensified smell.

“Oh, Jesus Christ, what the hell is that smell? Is that the same shit that was on the ladder?” Robbie gagged. He turned his shoulder to the cuffs as the officer bashfully rebagged it. “I mean, I knew the town square vaguely smelled like sewers and death since last night, but god damn! It smells like even Death itself died and decomposed.”

Both men coughed as they caught their breath and their sense of smell returned. The other officer gave an apologetic smile. “Apologies, we were just here to get you to come down to the sheriff’s office. We actually caught the perps this morning. Thought you’d like to come down and question them or press charges, Number 10.”

Oh, thank the spirits! Sportacus laughed and nodded, a true smile gracing his features. “Absolutely, I’d love to go down and wrap up this case, please! I have a vacation to return to.”

“I’m coming too,” Robbie said, “for company and emotional support. I’ll, ah, keep out of the way.” He coughed and nodded decisively. The officers nodded and led them back to the station, the pumpkin contest long forgotten.

------

To be quite frank, Sportacus was glad that Robbie had accompanied him. While the officers went inside and prepared the building, both Lazytowners had opted to stay outside in the cool October weather. Since leaving the kids his nerves had been strung high, yet also they sung gloriously of relief. It was hard to express how stressed the situation truly had him. Someone, someone who probably didn’t even know him, had vandalized his home. Perhaps it was to be violent, or of a warning. Sportacus just didn’t know what to think about it. Didn’t want to, truthfully. What would have happened if he were there, or the kids? Or Robbie? Would he have been hurt? Sportacus didn’t want to know the answer.

It was nice to know, at least, that the officers had been working overnight to try and find the perpetrators. It showed not only how determined the MayhemTown PD were, but how resourceful and gifted their program was. They’d solved the case within twenty-four hours, which was quite the feat. Sportacus felt relief in knowing that he wouldn’t have to worry over his home for much longer, or who’d done it and why.

They’d all asked those same questions, but perhaps only one person knew how much it’d been affecting him. Robbie’d been beside him since that last night, which helped his shot nerves. He’d offered a place to sleep and had spent the day beside him. Even now, Robbie was by his side, just as eager to close the case as Sportacus himself. Sportacus grinned at his friend, his chest warm with eagerness and anxiety.

“What?” Robbie asked, his posture gruff yet his voice anything but.

“Thank you for coming. And for last night, and spending the day with me and the kids. You’ve been looking out for me, so thank you.” He laughed softly, “Soon this will all be over and you won’t have to worry anymore.”

Robbie snorted. He looked up at the airship as he said, “Your welcome, you dumb elf. And to be clear, I’d still be worried about you, whether it was this situation or not.”

“You care?”

“Duh, you blue idiot. I wouldn’t be here otherwise.” Sportacus felt his features melt in awe at Robbie’s sincere words. Robbie pointedly ignored him, though a blush played along his features.

The heavy oak door at the top of the sheriff’s office’s steps opened. Officer Obtuse stood at the top of the stairs, smiling wearily down upon them. His uniform was covered in green slime and he smelled rank. Sportacus and Robbie followed him up at a distance and understood why he didn’t talk or breathe too deeply.

Inside, Obtuse took off for the locker rooms as Íþró welcomed them in with a tense smile. “Welcome to our district’s, ah, tiny police station. We’ll hopefully be moving to another building this spring, but for the time being this is what we’re stuck with.”

And a tiny station it was. Robbie knew that the Latibæ district had been using the old town hall, as well as the old library, but even he had to agree that the space was rather cramped. As it was, there was a cell on the right wall just behind a desk crowded with papers. The left wall had more desks, and the stairways to the library upstairs had historical pictures and slates. What interested him most were the three, green covered individuals behind the cell bars to his right.

“Ah, I see you’ve already spotted our perpetrators…” Íþró grimly chuckled. “One of our night shift officers noticed that the slime tracks from the town center here went into the sewers. Obtuse and a few guys went down and found these three in a dead end lab a few blocks away. We think the gas and the slime were created there, since the science department a few buildings over confirmed that they both had large trace amounts of sugar.

“Anyways, the big guy was stuck in a pipe- he was too big around to fit through. The other two tried to fight back and it ended in a green, slimy, and rank smelling result. I guess you can tell who won in the end, though. But come over, let’s let you two have a look at them.”

He beckoned the two Lazytowners over as the trio lifted their heads. Robbie hated the look of their bird masks, which for some reason they’d been allowed to keep on.

Sportacus eyed the three of them wearily. His eyes narrowed as his mouth took on a disgusted twist. “You’re sure these are the people who did it?”

“Does anybody else smell like sewers, have green sludge smeared all over them, and have past convictions on file? Not to mention have escaped prison and have been on the run for the last three years?” Robbie strangled out a laugh at Íþró sarcastic tone.

“I think these are the guys, alright,” Robbie said. Sportacus was looking over them so critically it made him think that they’d missed something. In the end, he nodded and turned away swiftly, his fists clenched at his sides and an angry bounce to his step. Robbie sighed and patted Íþró on the shoulder; a congratulations on a case well solved.

“Let’s go get this legal business out of the way, see if Sport wants to prosecute, etc…” Íþró sighed, and Robbie guessed it was purely because he’d have to sit down and do a bit of paperwork.

Together, the two of them turned to leave. Just as Íþró took the lead, Robbie heard a compressed PSSST over his shoulder. He jumped and clutched at his chest, his eyes wide as the biggest of the trio grinned at him.

Oh, it was a nasty smile. All yellow teeth just below the cruel twist of his beaked mask. The other two mimicked the same grin, so content in their criminal ways that they were able to smile behind bars. Robbie hated it with every fiber of his being.

“That’s a nice costume you got there Boss,” The big guy said. “Don’t know what made you think stripes was a good idea, but it still looks good.”

“Yeah, lookin' great, Boss!” The other two chimed in in nasally voices. Robbie stared down at his usual striped outfit and felt his cheeks flame up. He hugged his jacket closer to himself as the littlest guy spoke up.

“Eh uh, Glanni- Boss! I mean Boss, sorry! Uh, when are ya breaking us out??”

Oh. Oh. Everything clicked together and suddenly the big picture became so much clearer.

“Yeah yeah,” The middle guy piped up, “When are ya gettin’ us out?? We went off mission like ya said and slimed the- the elf’s- Ten’s ship! That guy- Ten. Gotta tell him somehow to stay off our turf, eh?”

The big guy nodded. He tipped his beak mask up and winked at Robbie. The chills that went down his spine made him nauseous. “We’re still on board for makin’ Nine’s life a livin’ hell as payback for puttin’ us behind bars. We wanna start poppin' holes in his air balloon right away, and hackin’ at his wicker basket. Maybe throw some stuff into a lake, we’re not sure yet.”

The three of them cackled gleefully amongst themselves as they whispered off other ideas. As for Robbie, an idea of his own bloomed. It was probably one of his worse ideas, but damn it if he didn’t try. The police would thank him and he’d have a certain brother to kick the shit out of later. Besides, he wasn’t called a Master of disguise for nothing. If he could pull this off, then he could do anything.

With a cough to clear his throat, Robbie leaned in towards the bars and grinned at the trio. He tried to put the best maniacal gleam into his eyes and spoke roughly from the throat, making it as nasty and guttural as possible. As he started to speak the trio leaned forward eagerly, masks leering.

“So, boys,” He emphasized in the way he thought Glanni might, “I’ll have you outta here by the end of the day. I just need a few reminders, you know how it goes.” He rolled his wrist in exaggeration and tugged his scarf tighter while pretending to peek at the police in the office. “What are we doing after I get you out, eh? What have we got planned again?”

“Oh Boss! You must be testin’ us again! Ya drilled us earlier just before ya escaped down ta PrideTown,” The smallest guy said with a laugh. He turned to the middle guy and asked,“Right Gus? Tell ‘im!” Gus nodded so hard his mask bobbed with the motion.

“Don’t worry, we know what we’re doin’. I thought you woulda started lootin' by now, but I guess ya wanted ta see how this whole situation wit’ the elves ended before goin’. We’re gonna go and destroy Nine’s stuff then start thiefin’ around here again. We need people’s money and valuables ta start smelterin’ down inta cheap jewelry to sell big ta the rich! You were gonna go and steal from them rich in PrideTown, get some more money for our lab in the sewers.”

Robbie nodded at Gus and looked to the big guy for confirmation. He grinned, a proud tug upon his lips.

“And Nine, as we’re doing all this?”

“Makin’ his life a livin’ hell, of course,” All three answered.

“See, since we’re gonna be usin’ the lab for that sugar gas and makin’ cheap jewelry for the dumb rich, he’ll probably be on our case. Gus and Orion were gonna keep tabs on ‘im while the two of us keep workin’,” The big guy explained.

The cell they were kept in was tiny in comparison to the trio’s goals and aspirations with Glanni. It was hard to think they’d gotten out of prison in the first place, considering how they depend so heavily on what was obviously Glanni’s plan. Why else would he drill them on what they were doing? Because they were idiots and were malleable, just the kind of people that Glanni loved to pieces.

“I’ll get you all out before nightfall, which leaves you with some time to fuck with Nine’s balloon before 9:09. I’ll make my way up to PrideTown and start my end of the job. You lugs better hold up your end! Oh, and do something for me? Don’t get caught again! I can’t be saving your dumb asses all the fucking time.” He smiled sweetly, sickeningly, just like Glanni would. It was identical to the one Robbie himself was given almost all the way through childhood.

“Of course, of course Boss! Felix, Gus, and I are gonna screw over Nine good and restart the lab! No more gettin’ caught for us! If I can say somethin’, tho, it’s kinda weird you’re askin’ us this stuff in the police station.”

“Don’t worry, I was just making sure. But good, don’t get caught again,” Robbie purred with a warning glint in his eyes. “Oh, and one more thing, boys.” He brought his voice back up to normal and spit out, “Stay the fuck away from my best friend. Tell my brother, if you ever see him again, to die in the nearest gutter. Have fun in prison, thanks for the information!”

“Hey- wait! Boss?!”

Robbie spun on his heel and stomped over to Íþró’s desk. He slammed his hands down and startled the brother duo from their paperwork; Sportacus’ hands clenched and Íþró’s glasses askew.

“You know a Glanni Glæpur?”

“Uh- yes?” Íþró set down his pencil diplomatically as he eyed Robbie. “You know, now that I think about it, you look a lot like him. Why?”

“He’s my brother. He’s an asshole, by the way. You might want to alert the PrideTown police to any burglaries or break-ins because that’s where he escaped to. The trio here?” He jerked his thumb back towards the three, who looked to be having a panic attack inside the cell. “Yeah, they’re working for him. They’re dumb idiots and were planning more theft, illegal selling of illegally made jewelry, and destruction of property. Specifically yours, by the way.”

Íþró blinked at Robbie’s overly sweet smile. Or maybe it was anger, for something in his eyes burned bright and horrific.

“Robbie, how’d you find this all out?” Sportacus asked. He’d laid an arm on Robbie’s, sensing the deep welling anger that radiated off of his every word.

“They mistook me for Glanni. Managed to squeeze some info out of them before basically telling them to fuck off.”

“Language,” Sportacus tried lightly.

Íþró rolled his eyes and re-routed the conversation. “And the attack on Sportacus’ ship?”

“Something about going off plan, about telling Sport to ‘stay off their terf’. Sounded like Glanni had them do it because he was pissed there were two elves in town.”

Íþró had picked up his pen halfway through and began to jot down everything on a clean piece of paper. He nodded constantly, asking questions before he’d even finished his last sentence. “And Glanni is in PrideTown? I’ll have someone call their station right away.”

Sportacus and Robbie watched as Íþró got up and made a call. Almost immediately the office was up and bustling. The two of them inched closer together and towards the door. Sportacus noticed Íþró’s nod of dismissal. He tugged Robbie out and breathed in the fresh, cool air. His lungs filled sweetly and it was nice compared to the dust and stuffiness of the tiny station.

“Are you okay? You were… really angry,” Sportacus said. He turned back to Robbie and peered at him with worried eyes. He noticed the way the angry tic faded from Robbie’s eyebrows once they made contact, along with the way his posture returned to it’s usual hunched position.

Robbie rubbed a hand over his chin and shook his head. “To be honest, I was very pissed. My brother is always behind these things, it seems. He’s basically a shitty celebrity around these parts since his plans usually fail. But of course he’s the one who did this to your ship. He’s such an asshole! I-I almost feel responsible, because he’s my brother and I’m always being pinned for things I didn’t do just because we look alike.”

Sportacus bristled at his words. “You are not responsible for this, Robbie! Glanni- Glanni and those three did it. I’m mad at them for what they did. If anyone had been inside the ship they could have been injured or even died. You didn’t do that, they did.”

The situation still weighed on Robbie, but he sighed and let it go. He pulled Sportacus in for a hug and held him, perhaps tighter than strictly necessary. It was hard not to blush as they pulled away.

“Thanks, I guess. I know it’s not my fault, but, well… You know.” Sportacus chuckled at the shrug he gave.

“Yeah, I get you.”

Robbie flung an arm around his frenemy’s shoulder and pulled him close. “Hey, you know how I think we should end our day?”

“How should we end our day, Robbie?” Sportacus asked with a ridiculously large smile. When he’d donned that Robbie knew not, but it damn well was infectious.

“I think we should go spend it with the kids in the funhouse and play some games before we head home in your clean, no longer vandalized airship.”

“Oh Robbie,” Sportacus laughed, “I don’t think you could have read my mind more. Let’s go!” With one well-muscled tug, Sportacus dragged Robbie down to the pumpkin patch to go pick up the kids. Robbie may have complained about the speed of their walk and the denseness of the crowd, but the grin on his lips and the healthy blush on his cheeks told Sportacus all that he needed to know.

And, just like Robbie had suggested, Sportacus spent the rest of his day having fun with the kids and their growing LazyTown family. It was possibly the best afternoon he’d had in an arguably long while.