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A New Chapter

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Robert waits for Aaron on the other side of the door to walk together and tells Aaron, 'you'll have to guide me here, I don't know where anything is'.

'Sure, no problem,' Aaron says, then he asks, 'is the cafeteria ok?'.

'Yes, that will be fine,' Robert replies.

They arrive in the cafeteria and get a coffee each then search for a table, and sit opposite each other and Robert speaks first, 'I have some questions I hope you can answer. What is Victoria condition exactly?.'

Aaron looks at Robert and nods, 'what I know is what I told you on the phone, she has a broken arm, and a concussion which the doctor said is not serious but they want to keep an eye on her just to make sure.'

'So why is she still unconscious?', Robert asks.

'The doctor said that there is nothing preventing Vic from waking up, she is not in a coma, so she should wake up soon.' is Aaron reply.

They both take a sip of coffee each and Robert asks 'what happened, what was the cause of the accident?.'

'Well from what Diane told me...'

'Who's Diane?'

'That Jack's wife, she went to Vic's house to get a cake tin or something and found her on the kitchen floor, called for an ambulance, and came here.'

Robert takes a minute digesting the information then asks his next question, 'why did you phone me, did someone ask you to?'

Aaron frowns at the question, 'no, no one told me to phone you, I just thought you would want to know, I didn't know how serious it was, and because Vic has mentioned you before to me a few times over the years, I just thought you would like to know,' Aaron replies then looking at his coffee, thinking maybe he did the wrong thing.

Robert notices the effect his question has and says 'well thank you for calling me, it's good to know Victoria has someone who cares, by the way, you and Victoria are...?'

Blushing slightly Aaron says 'friends, we're just friends, but Vic's husband Adam should be here tomorrow.'

Robert frowns and asks 'she's married, I didn't know, how long have they been married?, and why only tomorrow?'

'He's away in Wales on business, he said he would try and get here as fast as he could, they've been married for... around 8 months now'.

With some of his questions now answered, Robert thanks Aaron for answering his questions and suggests they go back to see if maybe Victoria might have woken up by now.

When they arrive at Victoria's room there is no one standing outside, so Robert opens the door to find Victoria is awake surrounded by Andy, Katie, Diane and Jack.

Victoria is laying against the headboard looking at the people around and listening to Diane tell her that Adam is on his way from Wales. She asks how long has she been in hospital, Andy answers a few hours but that she will have to stay at least until tomorrow so the doctor is sure she is ok.
She nods her head at the information she has been given, then the door opens and Robert is standing there in front of her. Everyone in the room turns to see who it is and Victoria shocked and wide eyed says,

'Robert, you're here?, how are you here?

'Got a phone call this morning telling me you had had an accident and were in hospital so I came straight away. How are you feeling Vic? Robert asks in a gentle voice ignoring everyone else in the room.

'My head is a little sore, and my arm, well as you can see not great at the moment but I'm okay, who called you?', Victoria asks.

'Aaron did', says Robert while stepping aside to reveal Aaron behind him.

'Thanks Aaron, I'm glad you called my brother at least I get to see him, even if it's the first time in many years.?' say Victoria, happy that her oldest brother is here but annoyed that she has to be in hospital for her to see him. must try and change that, she thinks.

Robert ignores the jab which is true but a jab none the less that Victoria has thrown at him and turns to Diane who is standing next to Jack and introduces himself by stretching his hand,

'You must be Diane, I'm Robert. I've been told you found her. Thank you for helping my sister.'

'No need to thank me pet, just glad that I found her so soon.' says Diane with a smile.

Robert just nods and smiles but does not say anything back he then turns to Victoria and asks if he can get her anything, to which she says that she okay and does not need anything. Robert nods and says 'ok'.

During the whole time Andy has been watching how Robert is interacting with Victoria and how he seems like such a different person than when they were kids, when he was staying with the Sugden family. it's been so many years since he last saw Robert, they must have been 15 when he left without a word, but he also notices that Robert has not acknowledged Jack once since he arrived at the hospital, ignoring him completely and Jack has been quiet and stone faced almost as if he is unhappy to see his son, something is definitley very off here, Andy thinks to himself, something must have happened all those years ago because he remembers that when Robert left, his name became forbidden in their house, never to be spoken again in front of Jack.

Even Diane and Katie who have never met Robert until today also notice the coldness from Robert towards Jack.

Andy is about to talk to Robert when a phone starts buzzing. Robert reaches for his phone inside his jacket to see who it is, when he sees that it's the office, and says 'excuse me' to the room and leaves to go out into the corridor.

When Robert closes the door he answers, 'Jane, good morning,'

Jane who is Roberts P.A. at the office, answers, 'Good morning Mr Harker, I have Mr Dubois on the line for you'.

Robert rolls his eyes at the name, he is not in the mood for this man today, but Robert tells Jane to put the call through.

While he is on the phone he is facing away from the room so he doesn't see Andy come out of Victoria's room.

'Bonjour Monsieur Dubois', Robert says, the call lasts a couple of minutes, but during this time Andy stands behind Robert not understanding a word of what being said, even though he does recognize the language. He didn't know Robert spoke French, but there are obviously a lot of things he does not know about Robert.

The call ends and Robert turns around and sees Andy standing in front of him and Andy is the first one to break the silence, 'didn't know you spoke French'.

Robert is silent for a few seconds and then replies, 'yes, well there are a lot of things you don't know about me, like there are many things I don't know about you, we haven't seen or spoken to each other in many years'.

Andy nods and asks, 'what happened Rob?, why did you just vanish without a word and kept away from home for so long?'

'This is not the time or place to have this conversation, don't you think, another time, yeah' Robert replies, and starts to move towards Victoria's room but stops when Andy talks again, 'okay, I agree but maybe we can go for a drink later or tomorrow.'

'Yeah, maybe', Robert says and walks into the room with Andy following him where he then goes to stand next to Katie, whom Robert has not met yet. Aaron is still standing against the wall, quiet and observing everything, especially watching Robert who he can't take his eyes off of.

Robert turns to Aaron and asks if he knows what the visiting hours are to come see Victoria, to which Aaron says he does not know, but he is going to ask at the nurses desk so he can know himself.

Robert turns to Victoria and says he'll be back later, cause he needs to take care of some things, at the same time Aaron does the same and as they are about to leave Jack speaks for the first time, surprising everyone in the room, 'Robert, can I have a word?'

Robert doesn't even turn to look at his father, doesn't say anything and walks out the door.

Aaron also leaves the room and Andy and Diane start asking Jack what just happened and why is Robert so cold towards him. Jack just keeps silent and does not answer anyone's questions.

Katie then says 'well he is just rude he didn't even introduce himself to me, I mean am his sister in law after all...' her rant is interrupted by Andy, who is a little annoyed.

'This isn't a social occasion, and he doesn't even know who you are, he's never met you before, he doesn't even know I'm married or that I'm his brother seeing as Jack adopted me after Robert left, so can you put an end to that talk please' He then looks at his dad who is not paying any attention talking to Diane and saying that he just needs a bit of fresh air, alone.

Aaron finds Robert talking a nurse, asking about the visiting hours and he tells him the information and they start walking out towards the exit of the hospital.

Once outside the hospital Robert turns to Aaron and asks him ' do you want to grab some lunch,?'

Aaron surprised but curious about this man and a little nervous says, 'um sure, okay, where do you want to go?'

Robert with a hint of a smile tells Aaron, 'well since I don't remember anything here and it's probably all different now, you decide'.

Aaron starts to blush a little to his own annoyance that Robert doesn't need to do anything for him to blush, it's just ridiculous, he thinks to himself. He then thinks quick and asks if pub food will do to which Robert replies that it will be fine and asks Aaron if the pub is close or will they need to drive. Aaron tells him that the pub is 5min walk so they can just do that, if he doesn't mind, Robert just shakes his head and says that a walk will be good.

When they get in the pub it's half empty and go to the bar and order their drinks, a pint each and tell the bar maid, they choose a corner booth to eat their lunch at. A bar maid with a huge cleavage comes to asks what they want to eat, Aaron tells Robert that the burgers are good, so they both decide to have burgers. The bar maid leaves in a huff since neither man paid her the attention she was seeking.

After a few seconds of quiet Robert thinks that he better make conversation to get to know Aaron a little or this is going to be a very awkward lunch with a stranger, so he asks, 'I think we should tell each other something about ourselves because we basically strangers, so, tell me about yourself, what do you do?.' He finishes with a smile.

Aaron feeling himself blush again not only at the surprise question but also at maybe being caught staring at the freckles across Robert's nose but answers anyway, 'I work with horses, and you?'

Robert is a little surprised but finds himself being even more interested, 'oh, um I work with investments, but that can be as boring as it sounds, but I want to hear more about the horses you work with, I love horses,'.

'Oh um I work with a Hanoverian and a Dutch Warmblood, they are show jumping horses. That's what Katie my boss does, she's a show jumper'. Aaron says.

Robert notices that their is something that Aaron is not happy about when he's talking about his work, but Robert decides not to ask since they don't know each other, having only met today, even though he feels very comfortable talking with Aaron and finds it quite cute whenever he starts blushing. He'll just keep to the simple questions for now.

'That's great, I've never ridden Warmbloods before, how are they to be around with?' Robert asks.

'They are good horses, those two, they are well behaved and are sometimes better than people. They require quite a bit of training because of the discipline they compete in but they are both good girls.' Aaron answers and take a sip from his pint.

Before they can continue to talk, the food comes out, and Robert says it looks good, Aaron just smiles and nods.

After a while Robert asks, 'so you only work with Warmbloods or do you work with other breeds too?'

Aaron shakes his head and says, 'no only those two, Katie only has those two'

With Aaron short answer Robert can see that maybe Aaron doesn't want to talk about his work, so Robert decides to change subject.

'Do live you in Emmerdale, I don't remember you from there before I left?', maybe this is better, Robert thinks.

'No, I did live in Emmerdale for a few years but then moved here to Hotton when I was eighteen. You wouldn't have remembered me because I came to Emmerdale with my mum after you left. My mum still lives there as does a lot of my family. She owns half the pub while Diane owns the other half. And what about you? You live far from here?.' asks Aaron.

Robert thinks how much he wants to say since they've just met and he doesn't want Aaron telling his family, he definitely does not want them to know. But he feels he can trust Aaron for some reason. 'I live just outside London, to the north of the city. Its good for me to be relatively close to the city because of my work even though I can work from anywhere as long as I have a phone and a fast internet connection. But at the moment I don't want not to live in cities. I just feel it's better for me now to live close but not in them. I have lived in big cities before. I think I'd actually go crazy with stress if I had to move to London.'

Aaron nods while listening, and watching Robert talk is just something else, such an interesting person, must have lots of fascinating stories to tell. I wonder if he would ever move back to this area even though I get a feeling he would not, Aaron thinks and before he can stop himself he asks that exactly, 'do you think you'd ever move back to this area?' Oh shit, why did you open your mouth, damn it.

Robert looks at Aaron, starting to blush again, this man is too adorable, Robert smiles at what he sees and replies 'no, I'll never move back here and I never thought I'd come back either, only did because Vic is in the hospital ... well because you phoned me actually. Otherwise I would not be here having lunch with you, cause no one else would have phoned.'

That is what Aaron thought, at least about the moving, now about the phone call....

'Talking about Vic' Robert interrupts his thoughts, 'I think I should be getting back, to see her for a bit then I need to find a hotel, and depending on how Vic is this afternoon will help me decide how long I'll stay. If she has gotten better from this morning it is likely that I'll just stay tonight and go home tomorrow morning. By the way, are there any good hotels around here that you can recommend?'. Robert asks.

'Um, yeah. I'll go with you to see Vic and then we'll see what we can do to sort that out for you', Aaron says with an idea already forming in his head.

While leaving the pub Aaron could not take his eyes off of Robert's arse and legs, it had been difficult keeping himself from staring at him during lunch as has been trying to control the blushing.

But on the street they walk side by side so it is easier not to admire the man.

As they get to the ward where Victoria is Robert is hoping that everyone is out to lunch, so he can spend a little time with Victoria, but as son as he opens the door to her room he is disappointed to find everyone still there with a few extra people to add to the mix, great more people, how is it even allowed that so many people are in here, then he almost feels Aaron tense up an looks to him as can see he does not look as relaxed as before, that seems to be bothering him, it must be one of the new visitors that had arrived while they were having lunch. He looks around at the people in the room, Andy, blond woman, Jack, Diane, and a woman with brown almost black hair and man with a face that does not look like he has many friends. Must be the man that is the cause of the tension in Aaron.

His attention is directed towards Victoria when she asks him, 'you came back?'.

'Of course I came back, I said I would, didn't I. So how are feeling? Have you been told when you can go home?'

'I'm feeling better, the doctor said that if all goes well I can go home tomorrow.'

'That's great news Vic.', Robert says with a smile towards his sister.

'Robert, I want to introduce to my mother-in-law, Moira and her husband Cain'

Robert turns around to the two people and says, 'nice to meet you, I'm Robert, Victoria's brother'. Both seem surprised at that information. Moira seems friendly but her husband still has the same face and keeps looking at Aaron.

Then someone behind him clears their throat as if they want his attention, and then they speak, 'and I'm Katie' she says with her hand stretched and a smug smile. At that Robert looks towards Aaron as if to get confirmation that she is the same person he had mentioned earlier as his boss, to which Aaron gives a slight nod. What is Aaron's boss doing here? She a bit full of it, so different to Aaron.

Andy steps in to say that Katie is his wife, which seemed to annoy her for some reason. He didn't know that Andy had married, but then he doesn't live here or talk to any of the people here, only keeps in contact with a message once in a while to Victoria, so shouldn't be surprised really.

After a while a nurse comes into the room, and is shocked with the amount of people in the room and tells everyone only two at time and that the visiting time has ended.

One by one all start saying goodbye to Victoria, until it's just Robert, Aaron, Andy and Jack. Aaron is the first of the four to say goodbye and as soon as he is about to leave he hears Jack speaking with an annoyed tone, 'Why, won't you acknowledge me, I'm your father?.'

Everyone looks to Robert knowing he hasn't said a word all day to Jack. But Robert doesn't even look up and just talks to Victoria, 'I'll come by to see you tomorrow morning, yeah, have a good night's rest.' He smiles to Victoria, turns to Andy and with the same tone as when he arrived says his name, then turns to Aaron and asks' you coming?', and leaves the room.

As soon as Aaron leaves the room behind Robert, Cain pulls him aside but also Robert's attention at the same time. Robert sees Aaron pull his arm back abruptly, he hears Cain saying to Aaron that he needs to phone his mother and tell her what's going on in his life, that the family never see him and that she wants him to come home so that she can see him.

Moira is trying to cool the situation and telling Cain to stop it while Aaron looks like he is going to punch someone but then he sees Aaron take a breath an say, 'now she and everyone else cares do they?. Where was everyone of my so called family when I was growing up? My life is no one's business, and you can tell her and everyone else that.'

Then he turns around and walks to Robert and says 'shall we go', Robert nods and they leave the ward.