There are three things you need to know before you read this.
Life is absolutely, positively awful. It kicks you in the gut and stomps on your face while it’s at it.
Family is objective. How can you be a family if you haven’t seen them in years, when those who aren’t related to you care more, protect you more than they do?
You have to work for happiness. Yes, you can find it anywhere, at the bottom of a bottle, in the smile of your lover, but to keep happiness, to saviour it… you have to work hard.
These were the three things Aaron Flaherty knew, memorised and lived by. He knew that no-one else would save them. They would have to drag themselves up.
Shaking himself out of his thoughts, he smiled as he grabbed the tray placed in front of him, walking around to the window where Robert stood, grinning.
“Penny for them?” He asked, as Aaron rolled his eyes.
“Nothing. Do you have table 5’s order?” He asked, as the chef raised an eyebrow, pushing the plates forward. “Thanks.”
“Anything for you.” He winked, as the younger lad turned away, hiding a smirk.
When he and Sandra left, Aaron was around 9 years old. She had found out… and her immediate thought was to get her stepson out of there. Even though he didn’t want to at the time, she involved the police, and luckily was able to get her stepson help. Soon after, Liv was born.
Sandra may have her faults, but she loved Aaron and Liv, even if she couldn’t really cope being a single parent. And so, this is where Aaron picks up her slack, still feeling guilty about everything. His therapist tells him, it’s not his fault, he doesn’t deserve it, but he can’t help it. He smiled at the table, handing out their meals.
“Why does the guy at table 4 look nervous?” he asked Holly quietly as he passed her, her eyes on the same table.
“Argument, I think he's been cheating on her, but she's just sat eating calmly, not letting him leave.” The girl said in awe as she watched, Aaron smirking.
He tapped twice on the serving window frame, as Robert appeared, grinning at him.
“Two chef specials, thanks.” Robert nodded, grinning wider as he replied.
“Why don't you ask him out?” Holly asked quietly as Aaron threw her a look. “Seriously, you're gay, he's interested.” The waiter rolled his eyes.
“He's a big flirt, he probably doesn't mean anything.” Holly scoffed, but walked back to her area, as Aaron walked to his.
He couldn't help it but kept thinking about it through the rest of his shift, waiting for it to end. As they shut up shop, he waved the girl off, greeting her mother as he came to the door to pick her up.
“Hey love, do you want a lift home?” Moira asked Aaron, as he smiled at her.
“I'm good, but thanks.” He insisted, as she looked unsure but nodded. Robert appeared behind him.
“I'll make sure he gets home safe.”
“Alright, goodnight.” The mother and daughter waved, as Aaron raised an eyebrow at the older lad.
“I can walk myself.”
“Never hurts to have company though,” The blonde grinned, grabbing his coat and bag before nodding him through to the back door. Aaron shook his head, following as they exited, locking up behind them. “You never know who’s about.”
“Okay, so what’s the deal with you and Holly?” Robert asked as they walked.
“What are you talking about?” He asked, confused as Robert laughed.
“You both are always whispering to each other, conspiring behind the bar.” Aaron shook his head, laughing.
“Me and Holly are just mates. She’s not my type, mate.”
“Oh?” Robert encouraged, teasing. “And what is your type? Blonde bimbos?”
“Well, men, preferably.” He grinned at the surprise on the other lads face. “And blonds as well.” Robert chuckled. “So, Sugden, was this your plan all along? Walk me home and get me to confess my deep dark secrets to you?” Aaron snarked, as they reached his flat.
“More like wanted to get to know you. I do like you, Aaron.” He said, as the other boy threw him a nonplussed look.
“And what about when you get bored, and decide to move onto your next conquest?” He asked bluntly, as Robert looked at him seriously.
“I wouldn’t. You always bring out the best in me.” He grinned as the other boy blushed.
“Well, you can take me out for dinner tomorrow then.” He grinned, before turning into the flat. “Night.”
Walking upstairs, Aaron grinned, joy overtaking him. Maybe, just maybe, he could be happy. But, he forgot about Rule 1.
“Liv?” He questioned, coming into the flat where she was sat by the sofa, crying. “Hey, what’s up?” The boy took the young girl into his arms, cuddling her as she sobbed. A feeling of dread came into his stomach, as he saw Sandra’s bedroom door wide open, showing the room inside bare.
Thank you to those who commented, those who left kudos and everyone who has read so far.
What the hell do I do now? Aaron thought, as he sat besides Liv in bed. She had been hysterical, so he eventually convinced her to sleep in Sandra’s room with him, sharing the bed. It had been the only way to calm the young girl. He’d tried to ring Sandra multiple times earlier, as he fed Liv, but she wasn’t answering her phone. He did find a letter on the kitchen table
I’m sorry I’ve had to do this this way, but-
I need a holiday. These past couple of years, they’ve been too much.
I’m going away for a couple of weeks. All the bills have been paid, and there’s money for you both in the jar. If you need me, well, call me.
Love you both
Some poxy letter He thought, thoughts drifting back to earlier. After initially calming his sister, he managed to find out that Sandra had left at some point while Liv was asleep, and thinking she wouldn’t wake up, left the note for Aaron to find. Of course, his sister woke up feeling cold, and when going to find her Mum found that she couldn’t, she panicked. At least she left at the beginning of the weekend, meaning Aaron had time to try sort something out.
Fumbling for his phone, he sighed as he saw the screen.
Can you cover for Rebecca this weekend? She’s out sick - Toby
Sighing, he looked at Liv, before texting back.
I can do the mornings, but I need to stick Liv in the office again. Sandra’s at work. He lied, as his boss sent an affirmative. Thinking for a few minutes, he then sent a text over to Robert.
Can’t do tonight. Got Liv with me.
After a few minutes, he gained a reply.
Bring her with you. We can go to the park or something.
Smirking, he shook his head. Well, at least he’s persistent. Creeping out of bed, he walked over to the door, keeping it slightly open as he walked into the living room. The kitchen was a mess, same state as the living room. If Rob’s gonna pick us up, I don’t want the place to be a mess. It’ll only bring attention to us.
Robert grinned while pulling up, waving to Aaron as he walked over to the car with Liv.
“You remember Rob, don’t ya Liv?” Aaron asked, as the young girl nodded, grinning and waving at him. He situated her in the back as Robert chatted quietly to her. “So, where we going?” He asked, as Robert chuckled, starting the car back up.
“I figured we could take missy back there to the park, and get something to eat in a while.” He said, as Aaron smiled softly, nodding.
“So, why’d you want to take me out so much?” Aaron asked as they sat, watching Liv run riot over the small play park. Robert leaned back, hand brushing his arm lightly.
“I like ya, Aaron. A lot.” He admitted, as Aaron turned to him, apprehensive.
“I don’t want to lose you, Robert, if this doesn’t go very well.” He mumbled, as Robert leant in to him. Aaron could feel his breath against his lips, as Robert’s hand rested on the back of his head. Their lips met hesitantly, Aaron’s hands resting on his arms as they kissed.
“I promise. I won’t be going anywhere.”
“So why the restaurant? I thought Sandra works, so surely she’s able to support you both.” Robert enquired as they walked along to McDonald’s, the lads indulging Liv in letting her choose where they ate.
“She only works shifts, and doesn’t get paid very much.” He lied, as Robert raised an eyebrow. “Anyway, why are you so bothered? You’d have never met me if I hadn’t worked there.”
“I’m just curious.” He shrugged. Aaron was used to this. Curiosity from people in his and Liv’s life, as they shied away from making Sandra do much when she was in one of her moods. It was tiring after a while.
“Look, don’t worry about Sandra.” Aaron pleaded, as Robert sighed, dropping it for now.
“You know if you need to, you can talk to me. I won’t say anything you don’t want me to.”
“Come on,” Aaron diverted, as Liv bounded up to them. “Why don’t we sit down, eh?”
“So, I guess here’s your stop.” Robert muttered, as Aaron blushed, letting Liv run inside.
“Yeah. Thanks, for taking us out. We may see you tomorrow anyway, I’ve gotta cover for Rebecca and Liv’s gonna have to come with me again.” Robert nodded, leaning in towards him.
“I really enjoyed this, Aaron.” He murmured, hand running down the side of Aaron’s face. The younger lad’s face flushed as he tilted his head up, smiling bashfully.
“Maybe you can carry on. Come upstairs?” Aaron muttered against his better judgement, as Robert nodded, locking the car and letting the other lad pull him inside.
Alarm bells went off inside Robert’s head, as he looked around the small flat. It looked like it had been lived in by the two kids, and no-one else. Aaron quickly shut Sandra’s bedroom door, before moving towards the sofa, where Robert followed. The taller lad grinned, arm stretched out behind them as Aaron looked straight ahead to the TV, trying to find something to put on. Leaning forwards, Robert kissed his neck lightly, grinning as Aaron shuffled in his seat, head turning towards him. He caught Aaron’s head with his hand, bringing it close enough for Robert to kiss him. Aaron’s hand flew from his side to Robert’s shoulder, grabbing at the coat the other lad hadn’t yet taken off.
A small “Ewww.” broke them apart. Robert laughed, as Aaron made a face at a now giggling Liv, who climbed onto the sofa to join them.
“Is Rob having a sleepover?” Liv asked, as Aaron blushed.
“I think that depends, he may have work tomorrow.” Her brother explained gently, as the other lad smiled at them both.
“I don’t mind.” He stated, as Aaron flushed again. “If the offer stands.” Liv gave a small cheer, as Aaron looked down shy.
“Does that mean you can make us Sausage and Bacon sandwiches?” Liv begged, as the boys chuckled lightly, Aaron throwing her a look.
“Yes you cheeky monkey.”
“I’m gonna go play in my room.” She announced, running off as Aaron reminded her to thank Robert. “Thanks Rob.”
“Thank you,” Aaron breathed, as Robert slid a hand onto his thigh. Liv’s door slammed shut, as the older lad pulled the younger lad closer towards him.
“No problem at all,” Robert muttered, lips finding his way to Aaron’s neck and jaw again. Aaron grunted, shifting as he pulled back. “Sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry. Too much?” Robert asked, as Aaron looked away ashamed.
“I just- I have a thing about, ya know.” He motioned, as Robert looked at him, amusement dancing in his eyes.
“No, but okay. That’s fine. We can go at your pace.” He assured Aaron, as the other boy muttered a thanks, blushing and looking down.
“Thanks.” He murmured, as Robert grinned, nodding.
“No need to thank me.” Robert smiled kindly at him, grabbing the TV remote. “How about we watch some TV?”
“What on earth is your problem?” Adam laughed, as Aaron groaned, face red as Holly giggled. “I thought you liked him.”
“I do,” Aaron insisted, as he looked down to the phone flashing with messages. Moira smiled from where she passed behind them in the kitchen. “I just freaked out.”
“No kidding. Come on, put the poor lad out of his misery.” He grinned, as Aaron sighed, opening back up his phone.
“I don’t know what to say.” He told them, protesting as Adam took the phone out of his hands.
“Trust me mate, I’ve got it.” Holly shook her head, as Aaron looked to Moira, who was reading over her son’s shoulders.
“Don’t worry love, he hasn’t sent anything bad.” She assured him, as Aaron shook his head at his best friend, the other lad grinning as he gave the phone back.
Sorry for not replying, had a rough couple of days. Thanks for the other night.
“So remind me, after you turned him down for sex, what did you do?” Holly asked, as Moira went back to join John in sorting the animals being shipped to their new farm.
“We watched a film with Liv. He cooked for us, and slept my room while I slept with Liv.” He stressed the last part of the sentence as Adam shook his head laughing.
“Mate, he must really like you.” Aaron rolled his eyes, flipping Adam off as Holly shook her head at him.
“At least he didn’t pressure you into anything.”
“Please, grumpy could thrash him.” Aaron protested at that, shoving Adam as he laughed.
“Thank you for the support mate, I can see why we came over here again.”
“You came over because Mum made you, nothing to do with me.” Adam pointed out, as Aaron rolled his eyes at him. “ Anyway, I can’t help that you just love me that much.”
“You’re not all that, Farm Boy.”
“Are you two coming back out to help today or just gonna sit gossiping like old women?” John teased, beckoning the two grinning lads back out.
“When are you back at the restaurant? I can give you a lift down there if you want?” John offered to Aaron, as the three walked over to the cattle trucks, helping with loading the sheep inside.
“Tonight, but I don’t mind. Me and Liv can get the bus.” Aaron said, as John shook his head.
“Don’t worry, I’ll take you with me.” Aaron smiled, muttering a ‘cheers’ to him as they finished up. It was going to be a long night.