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This Time Imperfect

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The thing about Aaron, the thing about him that his mum or his uncle or that nice lady down the road he'd sometimes passed when he was taken out for walks when he was still down in London when he had nobody but a wish is ; he craves. When he was a kid, it always came back to one singular point: his best friend.

And as Aaron sat in a small room, after a long journey. after a longer nightmare, he once again wondered why Robert never found him.

he was just here you idiot, he was just at your door, he was just

Aaron turned on his single bed and faced the wall, his imagination conjuring little pencils marks , memories once again invading his mind.

"Robert, this is stupid," he said, stood face to face with Robert on an afternoon, sometime in February his grown mind supplied, back against the wall and pulsing with something he didn't have the words to put to. "You're tall!"

They were body to body, stomach to stomach, against his bedroom wall, and he tried not to laugh as Robert's hand hovered above his head, confirming he was indeed half a head taller than Aaron so obviously at LEAST the same height as Ross.

"You said you barely even like Donna, why's it matter if she thinks she's glad she's going with a tall lad for once'?"

Robert winced slightly, but continued the height comparison, tongue between his teeth, a look of intense concentration on his face. "I don't like her, that's not even the point! The point is...."

"What is the point then, Robert? 'coz I didn't exactly ask you over for to measure me and cry about her."
Aaron pushed himself off the wall and flopped, a bit dramatically, on to his bed. Flicking on the TV, he was acutely aware of Robert standing to his side, somewhat shellshocked having being shoved away. The bed dipped.

Robert sat with him, knocking his shoulder with his own.

"It's just... Andy with Katie. Ross with Donna, what do I have?"

Aaron almost bit through his bottom lip.

"you've got m-"

"AARON, pot of tea and brekkie downstairs love. If you can be bothered."

Aaron stirred from his dream to the sound of his mother traipsing back downstairs, remembering the first time he wanted something he couldn't have.

***

Because of his dream, Aaron was thrown the whole day, but glass half full: 1) he never left the house, 2) he didn't intend on leaving the house and 3) well, 1+2=3. His mum and Cain were both out (Robert's not knocking at the door), he had a house full of food and booze. Which is how, a few minutes after midday, he found himself with a bottle of vodka, every snack from every cupboard and a free television in front of him. This was his time.

***

"Now, son," his dad had him by the throat, against the back door. "what does grounded mean?"

Aaron had really tried, after they'd left, he'd tried so hard. To be good, to go to school, to not fight. But you can't be good forever.

Every day he remembers arriving home that morning, full on something. He'd had a boyfriend then, not only that, he was in love with the boy he'd grown up with.

And then he was in a car, driving so far away.

His mother had left not long after they'd arrived (was it not long?), all he could see anymore was her (and Robert) in a wing mirror when he closed his eyes. Preservation kicked in, and he begged to gods he didn't believe in that he'd be listened to, but like so many times in the ten years after he'd unceremoniously been removed from his home, there was nothing.

His mum had left him, Robert never came to find him (me and you forever, yeah?), nothing.

He learned another lesson.

***

 

*THUDTHUD THUD*

Aaron startled awake, looking around at the devastation. Empty crisp packets everywhere, empty beer bottles scattering the floor. he glanced a look at the clock on the wall to see he'd only been passed out for a couple of hours, it was before 5pm.

"AARON LET ME IN!" came a shrill, distinctly female voice through the door.

*THUDTHUD THUD*

The banging on the door echoed around the banging in his head, and strangely that seemed to wake him up, at least enough to kick the empty lager bottles under the sofa. Scrambling to the door, he gave a cursory look through the fishbowl hole and opened the door.

Charity strolled in, swiping the bottle of whisky out of his right hand, taking a glug before handing it back.

"been hammering at them windows for half' hour now babe, nearly froze these off," she said, inclining her head at her chest, grinning in a way that Aaron felt he should take as a reciprocal joke.

he was just exhausted.

"nice to see you again, you look like crap." she said, staring down at him.

Slumping on to the couch, his back crying out in relief ("you're nearly a corpse you," he'd said back when Robert helped Val carry a large screen TV into the bed and breakfast, him doubled over laughing at Roberts distress over his "decimated" back in his bedroom. ), he asked outright,

"What?"

Charity looked older than he remembered, but more beautiful for it, and also no more grown. like time had made an exception just for her. He thought about how Robert had looked the other night, when he'd caught the slightest glimpse, golden, and raised himself from the sofa to get another beer from the fridge in the kitchen.

Pulling the tab, he wheeled, done with whatever dance they dancing already. His mum had sent her, or Cain, spying up on him, the weird shut in. He didn't expect her to say:

"I really thought more of you."

Aaron paused, can of lager half way to his mouth.

"Our Chas said you got up to all sorts back down south, said you needed keeping out of bother. told me to stay away as it happens, dunno what she meant by that...."

Aaron was incredulous, mostly because she didn't know what he'd been through while he was away. And that was his call, he'd explicitly told his mother and Cain to not say a word when they offered to bring him back to Emmerdale.

All Charity knew was that he was a player,

"but whatever she meant, doesn't matter to me." Charity strolled over to him, "but if you fancy getting in on a job," Aaron felt his palm being caressed, "ring that."

Charity left with a confident strut, taking her phone from her pocket as she closed the door.

Aaron pondered.

He was bored, out of his mind really, and he was free now. would it really count as bad if family was involved too?

The thing about Aaron is: he craves, and what he craves he can't have.

 

***

 

Charity took out her phone, and fired off a text.

 

***

 

It was 11pm and Robert was done, 100% done. just done. as if letting the love of his life go wasn't enough, hed been roped into housework. he's a working dad, with a VERY energetic kid, and he's deep cleaning the kitchen because his mother gave him the eyes that said. well.

For once he didn't know exactly what she wasn't telling him, he only knew that when she looked at him she wasn't telling him something that he thought he should know

"I'm going into town later, love" she'd said, taking her coffee as Robert was at the counter. making breakfast, trying to forget what he'd asked her to do. the shoebox.

"don't forget anything," he'd said, pressing a kiss to her head as he walked by to check on Tim, ignoring her obvious sigh.

 

it made sense in his head.

he wonders when life became this, this boring nothing. where his biggest compliment of the day is Pearl admiring his shirt instead of a gasp in his ear

(when Aaron left)

and shrugs his shoulder, knocking the little man asleep on shoulder awake. They'd been watching something, something on TV, Robert didn't know what but it had superheroes and Tim was happy.

And really, that's all that matters.

isn't it?

 

***

 

Settling Timothy asleep, Robert felt a vibration in his jeans. Making sure the little one was gone, he exited his room and looked at the screen.

CharD: Got a job, you on?

Robert smiled, in spite of himself. maybe the person he wanted to be couldn't happen, but, he could scratch the craving couldn't he?

"Yeah"