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On mandated uniforms and workplace entertainment

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The best part of working in the video store, according to Robin, is the fact that it’s basically like working at Scoop’s – Steve’s there with her, and the customers are still kinda stupid, and the boss is kinda weird but at the end of the day it’s an easy job – only they don’t have to wear the silly uniforms.

She and Steve seem to be the only ones who aren’t missing the silly uniforms, though.

“I hardly recognize you in normal clothes, Harrington,” Billy Hargrove says with a grin, just like every other time he enters the store. “I got so used to seeing you in those skimpy little shorts.”

“Man, when are you gonna let that go?” Steve complains as he comes up to the counter. “You can’t call the Scoop’s uniform skimpy when you walked around on your job wearing only a pair of shorts!”

Here we go again, Robin thinks and discreetly moves back to get a better view. Honestly, Hargrove’s visits are proving to be the highlight of her day in this place. Prime entertainment, those two.

“It was the mandated uniform, Harrington. And I looked good.”

There’s a wistful note in his voice at this, and Robin can’t help but let her eyes drop to the light blue shirt he’s wearing today. The top button is unbuttoned. Just the top one, though. Billy Hargrove hasn’t been shirtless once since he got back – and she doesn’t know what kind of scars his clothes are hiding, but she can imagine. She saw him, briefly – just after everything went down. No way something like that didn’t leave marks.

Maybe Steve picks up on the mood, or maybe he’s just barreling on anyway – honestly, with Steve it’s 50-50 – because he only hesitates for a second before he narrows his eyes and points at Hargrove.

My uniform was mandated, too! Do you think I wore it for fun?”

And Hargrove grins, and Robin breathes out a sigh of relief as they fall back into familiar territory; teasing.

“I don’t know”, Billy says. “It was fun for the customers, at least.”

Steve scowls at him, and Billy’s grin widens. “Also, Harrington, I can’t help but notice that you didn’t refute the fact that I looked good.”

Steve splutters, and the bell over the door alerts Robin to a new customer. It’s only Dustin, though. Robin leans back against a shelf with a smile of her own. Makes herself comfortable; this is shaping up to be a good one.

“Who looked good?” Dustin asked, because that kid is never above inserting himself into any conversation, ever.

“Me”, Hargrove says, hardly sparing Dustin a glance.

Dustin laughs. “Says who?”

“Says Harrington.”

“What? Steve!?”

Steve is looking between them and shaking his head. “What? No I did not say that, Billy! Dustin, he’s lying.”

“I said I looked good in my work uniform, and he didn’t disagree.”

“Steve!”

“I was distracted!”

Hargrove smiles like a shark smelling blood, and Robin wishes for popcorn.

“Oh, I can understand that. You weren’t the only one who was … distracted … when they saw me at the pool.”

Steve groans and hides his face in his hands. “Not what I meant, Billy, and you know it. Stop twisting my words around.”

“Yeah, lay off him”, Dustin agrees, forever loyal to his friend. “The only time you looked good in your uniform was when the Mindflayer was in charge and covered you up from head to toe, anyway.”

Aaannnd, Steve’s not the only one who has trouble reading the room, apparently. Jesus. Billy flinches, Robin rolls her eyes, and even Steve frowns at that. Dustin 100% does not notice, though, as he continues, basically in the same breath, “Steve, on the other hand, always looked good in his.”

He turns, beaming, towards Steve, who’s looking between him and Hargrove like he doesn’t know what to say. “Uh, thanks?”

Hargrove gives a raspy little laugh that doesn’t fool anyone but Dustin, probably, and visibly puts himself back together. “Well, I’m not arguing with that, kid. You looked very good in that uniform, pretty boy.”

“Shut up”, Steve says, probably wishing for a better comeback. Robin almost feels sorry for him when his ears are turning red. Key word: almost.

“I can’t believe that you kicked ass in that outfit, actually!” Dustin says, excitedly, and Robin has to fight back a grin. She knows what’s coming.

Sure enough, Hargrove perks up just as Steve closes his eyes in resignation.

“Oh yeah!” Hargrove says and turns his full attention to Dustin. “Tell me again how that went down?”

Dustin’s smile is like the sun, because this is his favorite story to tell (Robin knows this for sure, because he’s told it to them a thousand times, blissfully unaware that his attempts at making Steve sound like a badass only ever manages to embarrass her co-worker to the point of violent blushing and stuttering).

“Dustin, no!” Steve says.

“Dustin, yes!” Robin finds herself saying, and she shrugs innocently in response to the betrayed look Steve throws at her. What? It’s a slow day, and a girl has to get her kicks somewhere.

Dustin looks between the three of them, and finally picks up on something. He narrows his eyes at Hargrove.

“Haven’t I told you this already?”

“Many times”, Hargrove agrees. “But it will never cease being fu– cool. Indulge me.”

Dustin still hesitates, so Hargrove puts on his best child-friendly smile and drawls, “please”.

And it’s not like Dustin was ever going to turn down a chance to tell his favorite story, ever. He jumps right in, as Steve puts his head down on the counter and Robin absentmindedly pats him on the back. Hargrove throws her a sharp glare when she does, and honestly, Robin has to bite her tongue to keep from laughing. Just to mess with Hargrove, she puts her hand on Steve’s head and ruffles his hair affectionately.

If looks could kill, she’d be toast right now.

But Steve shoots up, glares at her and goes about fixing his hair, and when Robin backs up a couple of steps, Hargrove reluctantly turns his attention back to Dustin’s story.

“– and there’s this guard there and he’s seen us, yeah? But Steve doesn’t give him a chance to raise the alarm before he absolutely obliterates the guy! Like, he kicks this Russian soldier’s ass!”

“Wearing the Scoop’s uniform?” Hargrove asks, even though he knows.

“Yes, wearing the Scoop’s uniform!” Dustin agrees.

Hargrove glances over at Steve and grins, probably thinking that no one but Steve knows how far down in the gutter his mind is, but joke’s on him, because Robin is fluent in many languages and body language is definitely one of them.

“Then what did Steve do? In the uniform?”

“Well”, Dustin says, blissfully unaware of what the sweet tone in Hargrove’s voice suggests. “Then he finally knocked him out with a phone! Just, bam! Like that!” He illustrates this with some wild flailing of his arms, and somehow manages to look like a human windmill.

Hargrove visibly fights down a smile, and struggles to shape his face into something that resembles calm interest. “Oh really? Then what?”

As Dustin continues with his story, Steve glances over at Robin and mouths “I hate you for this”. She just smiles sweetly at him and – when Hargrove gives the two of them a look through narrowed eyes – blows Hargrove a kiss, which he ignores with a huff.

She grins. These people. She loves this job.

“Hey”, Steve says and walks around the counter so he can get in between Hargrove and Dustin, and get in Hargrove’s face. “I’ll have you know that for all the fun you make of me, the fact is that I did kick that Russian soldier’s ass.”

Hargrove looks like Christmas came early. “While wearing your little sailor costume.”

“That is not the point!”

“Oh I disagree.”

They’re getting closer to each other, and Robin holds her breath. Is today going to be the day when they finally–?

“The point is that he was badass and finally won a fight!” Dustin interrupts, appearing between them and breaking the tension.

Robin sighs. Spoil-sport.

Hargrove gives a lazy smile. “I thought the point was that you guys got yourselves captured by the Russians –” He carefully does not mention the beating or the drugging, even though Robin knows that he knows about it, and she is struck with the realization that Billy Hargrove might actually be the only person in her current group of acquaintances who has a working brain-to-mouth filter, “– and had to be saved by two ten-year olds.”

“Hey, I’m not ten!” Dustin says, and is ignored.

The argument progresses, but Robin straightens up and tries to look professional, because Keith just came back from his lunch break and is approaching her, and Keith is a lot of things but he’s also kind of their boss, so.

He stops next to her, and watches the scene taking place in the front of them, in the otherwise empty store.

“I thought you said that hiring Steve Harrington would bring in girls, Robin”, he says quietly.

She shrugs. “It does! All the time.”

“Billy Hargrove is not a girl, Robin.”

Nodding slowly, she glances at her boss. “True, I guess?”

“He’s here all the time.”

She nods again. “I know.” Because there’s no denying that fact.

“He’s scaring the customers away–“

At this, Robin turns to Keith, eyebrows raised. “Now you know that’s not true. Look at him!” She gestures to Hargrove, who’s looking at a wildly gesturing Steve and wearing a smile that would make half the girls in Hawkins drop their panties for him. “If anything, him being here makes more girls come in here! Between him and Steve, this is going to be the new hot spot for hot chicks, Keith.”

Keith frowns. “Between the two of them, there’ll be no girls left for me.”

Robin has to turn around and pretend to cough so she doesn’t end up laughing in his face. As she does, the bell above the door makes her look up, and that is Kelly Davies entering the store, followed by her little sister and a couple of her sister’s loud friends – one of whom is Erica Sinclair. Kelly looks good, with her hair framing her face and wearing big yellow earrings.

“It’s not the two of them you should be worried about”, Robin says under her breath.

“What?” says Keith.

Robin plasters a smile on her face and turns towards him. “I said, there's nothing to worry about. Look, there’s a girl, now! The first of many, I’m sure. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a job to do.”

She shoulders past Keith and goes to meet Kelly at the counter.

“Hi, Kelly. Need any help today?”

Kelly smiles. She’s so pretty when she smiles.

“Um, yeah, actually, I’m babysitting the brats tonight and the easiest way to do that is to sit them down in front of the TV so … Something that’ll keep them entertained for more than an hour would be nice?” She tugs a lock of hair behind one ear. “Any suggestions?”

Robin bites her lip. “Lots. Hang on, I’ll show you.”

As she walks around the counter to join Kelly and the gang on the other side, Erica sidles up to her and nudges her in the side with a sharp elbow, indicating the still obviously infatuated boys arguing by the window.

“They still haven’t kissed?”

“Nope.”

“Damn. What’s taking them so long?”

“Beats me.”

Erica sighs deeply, like someone who has been though A Lot™ and is tired of the world, and shakes her head.

“Boys are so dumb.”

Robin looks from Hargrove and Steve – who have somehow gotten even closer, probably because Steve is currently poking Hargrove in the chest, to Hargrove’s obvious delight – to Dustin, who has wandered off between the shelves and is currently fake-fighting a cardboard cutout of the Karate Kid, to Keith, who’s managed to spill coffee over himself in the thirty seconds since Robin left him alone.

“Well, you’re not wrong.”

And then she’s standing in front of Kelly, and can’t help but bounce a little on her feet when she smiles – a real smile, not a customer service smile – and says, “Now, are we thinking comedy … or romance?”

And Kelly laughs, and ignores the shouted replies from the girls around her, and looks Robin in the eye. “Maybe a little bit of both?”

Robin nods. She loves this job.