Roanan stared at the little ball of fluff Charity was holding out to him.

"You want me to what now?"

"You have to babysit Custard!" She thrust the dog out further—impressive, considering he was already at arm's length. Roanan raised an eyebrow, then looked to Val.

"You want me," he pointed to his chest, "to babysit that," he pointed at the dog, who tried to lick his finger, but Roanan pulled it out of reach, "so that you two can go to New York for a girls' weekend?"

Val sighed. "Roanan, I told you you don't have to. We just thought we'd ask you first since you two already know and like each other."

"I do not-" Custard yipped, cutting off all of Roanan's attempts to declare his lack of like for the little pom. Charity cradled him close, smoothing her hand over his fur so furiously that Roanan wondered how the puff ball had any fur left.

"Don't listen to him, Custard. You know he's just playing hard to get, yes. You know how he loves you, don't you? Mommy luvs you, yes she does, yes she does, she wuvs her widdle cuddle puddle yes she does."

Roanan rolled his eyes and looked back to Val. He wouldn't read the expression she gave back in return. Damn.

"Like I said." Her tone was icy flat. No, not even icy. Just flat. It only seemed icy because he was so used to heat coming from her, especially in regards to himself. "You don't have to. We just thought this would be less a pain in the ass than asking someone else." She didn't have to say "guess I was wrong". It was perfectly clear how unimpressed she was with his grandstanding.

And that was exactly what it was. He didn't like Custard, that was going too far, but the little dude was low maintenance. He was always chill when Roanan and Val watched him. What was really bothering Roanan was that Val was leaving for the weekend, and he didn't know how to feel about that.

It was hardly the longest they'd ever gone without seeing each other. Really, they only hooked up every other week or so. And it wasn't like her weekends were his. Val did lots of things on the weekend that weren't Roanan. It was just… Well, it was just that he had some feelings about it all, and he didn't know what they were, and he disliked that that meant he had to look. If there was one thing Roanan truly hated in this world, it was examining his feelings.

So he scooped up the little dog, staring into his beady little brown eyes, hoping their depths held better mysteries than his own.

"Will he be okay at Asylum?" he asked, without taking his eyes off the dog's.

Charity's answering high pitched squeal was unintelligible. Valerie translated.

"I'm pretty sure that was a request to flood his Insta with Asylum selfies. That should at least give you two something to do while we're gone, since you clearly have nothing else in common."

"Hey, we both like you, right?"

Roanan leaned in for a kiss, which of course brought Custard into face-licking range. Val rolled her eyes and gave them both kisses, though admitted a much more chaste one for Custard.

"Thank you, Roanan. Don't hesitate to call if you need anything."

"Yeah! All our numbers are in Custard's phone! I'm speed dial one, Mom is 2, his hair dresser is-"

Roanan held up a hand to stop her, and not to take the little green cell phone she was holding out to him.

"I'm sorry, Custard's what now?"

Charity thrust the phone out again. "His phone. For his Insta, and for FaceTime before bed."

"Face time?"

But Charity was already handing over Custard's purse and luggage, and Val only gave him a sly smile when he looked to her to help. Soon, the girls were gone, and it was just Roanan and Custard standing alone in Valerie's driveway.