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I don’t even know why I fell in love with you

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Aaron pushes through the door after he tapped in the six-figure number code and the light switched to green.

He looks around, absolutely baffled. When Adam said ‘hey, let's spend New Year‘s Eve together in a cabin’ in the French Alps, Aaron thought of a tiny, wooden, two-bedroom-cottage. This, however, is nothing less than a freaking mansion with huge floor-to-ceiling windows and a living room that is bigger than Aaron‘s entire house . He stares at the c-shaped leather couch, where approximately 8 people could easily sit on, and the giant fireplace on the left. Next to the fireplace is not just one, but two fire extinguishers and a bucket with water… which, okay, weird . There is also a Christmas tree, a red and golden monster, with so many baubles and sparkling ornaments that Aaron wonders if there is an actual tree underneath at all or just a metal rack. On the right, behind the sofa is a passage to the kitchen. 

It isn‘t a ‘normal’ kitchen, it‘s one of those steel industry ones with pans dangling from the ceiling on thick chains.

It‘s all fucking stylish and expensive and what the fuck? Has Adam won the lottery and not told Aaron?!

“Hello?” he shouts, pulling his jacket off and throwing it on the couch. “Adam? Vic?“

He takes a few steps into the cabin-slash-mansion and strains his ears. 

Vic and Adam booked a flight to Lyon today, whereas Aaron entered the country with his car through the tunnel on Boxing Day. Firstly, he hates flying - if mankind was supposed to fly, they‘d have bloody wings - and secondly, he visited friends from his time in France with Ed. 

Aaron hears a door somewhere in the house opening and steps approaching. The smile on his face dies when he sees that the person entering the living room is definitely not his best friend or his fiancé. 

“Robert? What are you doing here?“ 

It’s Vic‘s older brother, who Aaron has unfortunately met a few times so far and he is an arrogant twat!

Adam never said a word about Smugden being here as well!

“I know the Dingles love to spend their days ankle deep in pig shit and it shows in their manners, but an ‘hello’ would have been polite, Aaron,“ Robert says with his typical high and mighty attitude that makes Aaron‘s blood boil in a nanosecond, before he adds sweetly, “especially since this is my house.“

Aaron stares at him and plots to kill Adam. He’s so gonna kill him for that. Robert’s eyes are slowly wandering over Aaron’s body and the smirk slips off his lips.

“Oi! You are ruining my carpet! What the fuck, Dingle!”

He looks down and hm, okay. Aaron is still wearing his boots and it is snowing outside, and so yeah. Sludge and snow and dirty water is slowly dripping from his shoes onto the off-white carpet. Who even would buy a off-white carpet? An idiot, surely, since it doesn’t forgive anything and even tiniest stains stick out. 

“Oops,” he says, not sorry at all and shrugs. 

It’s grade-A-arsehole behaviour, Aaron is aware. It’s just that Robert is pushing all his buttons. He slides out of his boots and kicks them towards the door. Robert is rushing past him and puts them on a plastic board to prevent further damage to his precious carpet and lets out a string of curses. 

Aaron can’t believe he’s got to spend New Year’s Eve with this moron, this will be the worst holiday ever!

 

 

“You gotta be joking, mate!” Aaron groans and rubs his forehead in frustration. 

He’s lying on his bed, well, his bed for the next few days, which is super comfy and snuggly but shall not stop him from being pissed off now at his so-called best friend, and he stares out of the huge window at the snowfall outside. Everything is so white and bright it hurts his eyes.

Adam just told him that their flight is being delayed because there is a bloody blizzard due to hit the region around Lyon. It’s also most likely going to hit the area where the Sugden cabin is located. 

“So sorry, mate,” Adam says and he really sounds like it.

He better be! Goddamn traitor!

“Why didn’t you tell me this is Robert Sugden’s house? And even worse, that he will be joining us?” he wants to know.

“You would’ve never said yes!”

Aaron groans in response, Adam’s logic gives him a headache. 

“Besides,” his friend adds, “the cabin is amazing, Vic showed me pics. It even has a fucking hot tub, mate. This is gonna be amazing, man. We’d never found something like that for the money.”

“He takes money from his own sister and his soon-to-be brother-in-law?!” Aaron asks incredulously and shakes his head. What a dickhead this Robert is. 

“For electricity, the cleaning and food only. Vic insisted. C’mon, you know how stubborn she gets,” Adam explains and hisses an ‘ouch’ a second later, because Vic probably just slapped his arm. 

Aaron sighs. “And what am I supposed to do until you arrive, huh? I’m here with fucking Sugden, Adam! Sugden!” 

There is a short silence on the other end and Aaron hears the typical noises of the airport in Manchester, before Adam starts talking: “Look, okay. You're not gonna like what I’m saying now…”

“Oh God, no. You’re right. I already don’t like it,” he growls.

As usual his mate ignores his warning. “You two could finally do something about all that UST you’ve got going on.”

“The what now?” Aaron probably doesn’t want to know.

“Unresolved Sexual Tension.”

Yep, he didn’t want to know.

Somewhere at Manchester airport, he hears Vic snickering like an old witch. 

If he didn’t know it better, he’d say his friends are doing this on purpose. His friends are setting him up. With Smugden! Oh for fucks sake. 

“There is no unresolved sexual tension going on between us,” he says grumpily and scowls at the Winterwonderland outside. 

“Yeah, sure,” Adam laughs. Idiot. “The sparks are flying, mate, seriously. You just need to kindle them.”

So, there might be a tiny, little, not really worth mentioning unresolved sexual tension between them. Since Aaron’s known Robert, he has also become familiar with the term ‘hate boner’ . Robert Sugden is attractive, maybe hot even, okay? Fine. There, he admits it. Aaron’s got eyes, he can appreciate someone’s looks. And someone’s hands and arse and thick-

Aaron groans. “You forgot the part where he’s a bigheaded twat.”

“He’s not as bad as you make him out, you know. He‘s nice, actually. I wanted to tell you in the cabin when we’re all together, but… don’t freak out…” After that intro Aaron knows he will freak out in a few seconds, it’s just a fact. “I asked him to invest in the scrapyard.”

“You did what?” Aaron jumps up from the bed and clutches the phone so hard he fears he might crush it. 

“C’mon on,” Adam begs, “you know, we need an investor, unless…” His friend leaves the rest of the sentence unspoken.

Aaron is pacing in circles and rakes his hand through his hair. “You knew I’d never agree to this! Sugden! Of all people! What did he say?”

“He basically agreed to jump in, but he wanted to do some research first. I dunno.”

“Oh yeah, I bet he loves this.” Aaron huffs and shakes his head. “He loves to mock the scrapyard and me being a scrapper and now you begged him for his damn money! I bet he’s laughing his arse off.”

No doubt Sugden will be insufferable the next few days and Aaron will never hear the end of it. It feels like a betrayal. Adam and him are business partners. Equals. Adam had no right to do this behind his back.

“No, he’s not, actually. We need an investor, because you know why!” Adam says, pregnant with meaning and Aaron swallows. “Vic’s brother got money. As I said, he was really nice about it and he’s willing to help out.”

Still, he doesn’t like it. Not one bit. Sugden surely won’t be a silent investor, Aaron can see it already. He’ll demand to have a say in the business and Aaron would be forced to work with him. And, what’s even worse, for him.

Fuck.

“We’ll talk about the deal when I get there. Nothing’s in the bag yet, alright? But since you two are alone for a few more hours, this is a perfect chance to get your heads out of your arses…” Adam pauses and Aaron uses the moment to prepare himself for the horrible, horrible pun that is coming right now. “And, I dunno, put something else there instead.” His soon-to-be ex-mate snickers. “UST, my friend, it’s a thing and it’s happening between you and Robert. I’ll call you when the boarding starts. Byyeee!”

Aaron throws his phone on the mattress and rubs his face. UST, my arse. No matter how hot Sugden may be, nothing will ever happen.

 “He’s still a moron,” Aaron mutters loud in his empty room to no one but himself. 

 

 

When he walks into the living room a little later, he finds it empty. In fact, the whole house is dead silent.

“Robert?”

No answer. Well, all the better. He flops on the couch and searches automatically for the remote - only to realise that there is no remote. 

Or a telly for that matter. Huh.

Aaron frowns and looks around. There is no TV, no screen.

He huffs and throws his hands in the air. Great. Why buy a house with a living room the size of the Woolpack and then not put a bloody telly up?!

For about 10 minutes Aaron‘s just sulking on the sofa, before he gets up and wanders aimlessly around. Now that Robert is gone and doing God knows what, he has the chance to snoop a little. The living room, as huge as it is, doesn’t offer much to do, except from the bookshelf on the opposite wall of the window front. There are lots of books from different genres, fantasy, horror, thriller…

Bit odd, having so many books in a vacation home, Aaron thinks and he even checks if they are real and not just some plastic shit you can buy for 5 pounds to look like an intellectual. Nope, these ones aren’t fake. 

A few spines are catching his eye for some unknown reason, maybe because they are on the top shelf, almost hidden. Or maybe because they are black and white with neon green titles. It looks like it’s a whole series. Aaron wonders what’s so good about them that made Robert buy them. He pulls them out to have a better look and whoah! Whoah!

There is lots of bare skin on the covers, muscled men with defined six packs in explicit poses. 

Ooooof, sweet Lord. 

Aaron quickly skims the text on the backside. These are erotic books. About two men fucking and falling in love. 

Robert reads gay literature. Or, well, LGBTQ literature, seeing one of the guys in the books is bi. And now Aaron does absolutely not imagine Robert in bed, reading those books, touching himself under the blanket…

Ok, he does imagine. Colorful, detailed pictures popping up in his head, pictures he never thought he’d have about his friend’s brother. 

Holy, effing shit. 

Before his mind can explore that equally fucking hot and also very disturbing path any further, the front door opens. Aaron shoves the books hastily back on the shelf, while he hears the sounds of Robert cursing and pulling off his shoes. Aaron whips around to witness how Robert takes a few steps into the living room, looking up and spotting Aaron. 

Robert‘s jacket is covered in snow, he‘s wearing a bobble hat that is completely white as well, his cheeks are pink, just like his nose and his lips are dark red.

Aaron‘s heart does something it definitely should not do, not at the sight of Smugden at least. 

But still… he looks gorgeous. Downright adorable right now. 

“Hey,“ Robert says awkwardly and straightens his back, “I was trying to clear the snow from the driveway for when Vic and Adam arrive, but it won’t stop snowing.“

Aaron rips his eyes off the other man to look outside the windows and huh. Yeah. There is an awful lot of white out there. So much more than when he arrived a few hours ago and it‘s still snowing like crazy. Giant flakes are fluttering down - so many, he can hardly look further than 20 feet. 

Aaron looks back at Robert who just peels off his bobble hat and reveals a floppy hair underneath. 

There are two things Aaron was always certain about Sugden. First, he always, always wears suits, even for a Saturday brunch at Bob‘s café and he probably even sleeps in them. Second, Robert spends an insane amount of time and money on his hair styling. When Vic wants to tease him, she tries to ruffle his hair and he legitimately hates it, always swatting her hand away like no one is allowed to touch his precious blond thatch. 

Who is this man in front of Aaron and what has he done to Robert Sugden?

“Forecast says it‘s gonna get worse. Maybe you can do the next round to make yourself useful for a change,“ Robert suggests in his typical attitude, all supercilious and Aaron feels his hackles rising. 

Ah, there is the Robert Sugden he knows. And that‘s why he can‘t stand that prick. Aaron’s mood does the quickest 180 in history. 

“Fuck you!“ he grits out before he turns around and walks away. Do your fucking clearing yourself, he adds in his head.

“God, you’re always so touchy. Manual labor, no brain needed, I thought that‘s your thing?“ Robert sneers behind him.

Aaron can only hope for Vic and Adam to arrive soon, because otherwise there might be some serious strangling happening.  

He swirls around on the spot and storms back to the blond man.

“You know Adam told me he asked you to invest in our scrapyard, but you can keep your goddamn money and shove it where the sun doesn‘t shine!”

The smirk isn‘t wavering for one second. “Yeah? Adam actually begged me to save your business.“ 

“And I say, fuck you! We don‘t need your money.“ Aaron is so done here and he turns around again to go to his room.

“Yeah, I found that interesting.“

Once more, Aaron turns around, slowly this time, eyes fixed on Robert Sugden. “What?”

“See, I did some research. I don‘t invest in something without checking, I‘m not an idiot,“ Robert says while lifting his chin and putting his hands on his hips. Aaron scoffs. “And so I called my friend at the bank and he said something very interesting to me…“ Robert‘s smirk twists into a wolfish grin and dread fills Aaron‘s belly.

“No.“

“Oh yes. Your ‘business’ -“ Robert gestures the quotes with his fingers in the air, voice dripping with sarcasm, “is… how can I phrase it politely… up shit creek. I knew that though because Adam‘s begging pretty much gave it away. No, the interesting thing is what my contact said about your bank account.“ 

Aaron shakes his head. “You-… you can‘t do that. That‘s illegal.“

There is a thing like banking secrecy, how could Robert get his hands on such confidential information? And which arsehole gave it to him? 

“As if that word means anything to you Dingles!“ Robert huffs, smug as ever. “Your scrapyard is struggling while you‘re hoarding a bloody fortune in your private bank account!“ Aaron just stares at him, staying silent. He wouldn‘t get out a word now anyway. “Does Adam know?“ Robert asks sharply. “Or are you screwing my sister‘s fiancé? Because in that case you are screwing her and I won‘t-”

He slams Robert so hard against the nearest wall, his head bumps with a loud noise against the plaster and finally the arsehole shuts up. Aaron’s fists are holding the fabric of the floral shirt in a death grip and his jaws are clenching. 

“You!” he sneers, raging with fury. “Had. No. Right.”

They stare into each other's eyes and Aaron hates him so much right now, but damn, Sugden is also so hot - which he shouldn’t be, at least not now, when Aaron is pissed off! The freckles and the little specks of brown in those green eyes are making him even more angry, because how dare this moron be so gorgeous! 

“Adam knows,” he growls. “And it’s… it’s a private matter.”

He swore himself to never touch Gordon’s money, he’d rather end up jobless and homeless than use one penny from him. His plan is to donate it to a few charities, but he hasn’t gathered enough courage to tackle this subject yet. 

It’s still too raw.

And of course, now that he thinks of the money, he thinks of Gordon as well. All those memories he buried deep in his mind threaten to come back to the surface. Aaron squeezes his eyes shut and shakes his head violently. He won’t let them. He won’t. 

When he opens his eyes, Robert’s expression has changed. Without being sure what the other man saw on Aaron’s face, it must have been something, because the aggressive arrogance is gone now.

“I’m sorry.”

At that, Aaron lets go of him, just wanting to finally go to his guest room and wait until Vic and Adam arrive. He just leaves Robert without another word and walks down the corridor. 

When his phone vibrates and he pulls it out, stopping right in front of his door, he sees it‘s a message from his best friend.

 

Flight canceled. Lyon shut down bc of the snow. Sucks mate ☹️☹️☹️☹️☹️

 

He stands there, dumbfounded, when he hears a phone in the living room binging. Like in slow motion he lifts his head and stares back to where Robert is holding up his iPhone, undoubtedly reading a similar text from his sister.

The green eyes snap up and for a moment they just look at each other, having the same  realisation n the exact same moment.

They are going to spend New Year’s Eve together. Just the two of them.

Fuck.

 

  • -

 

He thinks about leaving, just getting into his car and driving back to the next bigger city to book a hotel for the night and then tomorrow he could drive back home to Emmerdale - he’d be home for the celebration in the Woolpack. But one look outside his window is enough to kill that illusion. 

If anything, the snowfall is getting even worse, his car must be buried by now and Aaron doubts that the streets will be clear up here on the mountain. It’s slowly getting dark now as well. In short, driving is not an option. Leaving is not an option. 

He’s stuck. Stuck with Sugden. 

With a groan he’s pressing his face into the pillow. 

His initial plan to fall asleep and wake up from this nightmare isn’t working like he hoped it would, so Aaron tries to kill the time with some games on his phone. He can hear Robert outside, how he’s walking in the hallway, how he’s using the shower. 

Aaron does his best not to imagine him under the spray, but his best isn’t enough apparently, because he fails and gets horny instead. Why does this arsehole have to be so fucking hot, it’s unfair. 

He contemplates jerking off, but this is Robert’s house and Robert is just outside this door and it’s kinda weird. His paranoia that the other man might hear him, kills his boner eventually. 

30 levels of CandyCrush and his spotify 'running playlist’ later, Aaron is bored to no end and he just lies there and stares at the ceiling. He’s gonna spend New Year  in this room, trying to avoid his friend’s annoying brother, which is just bloody amazing. 

A. Maz. Ing. 

A knock on his door startles him.

“What!” he barks.

“I’m making dinner,” he hears Robert shouting.

Aaron’s stomach grumbles at the mention of food. He just had a quick stop at Maccies before he came here, that’s hardly proper lunch. 

“And?” Yeah, his stubbornness is bigger than his hunger obviously.

He hears a sigh and Robert mutters something that he can’t decipher. It’s probably nothing nice. “You know, if you don’t want people to make fun of how pig-headed the Dingles are, you should stop living up the myth.”

Aaron jumps up from the bed, his fists clenching and he glares at the door ready to rip it open. It’s always the same with Smugden - if it’s not an insult of Aaron’s intelligence or his choice of work, it’s always a remark about the Dingles. Their criminal record, their run-down farm, their general bodily hygiene… Robert’s slandering list is seemingly endless. 

“Whatever,” Robert says loudly. “Come if you’re hungry, or leave it. I don’t care.”

He hears Robert walking away and Aaron is alone again, but he scowls at the door for another 10 minutes.

Come or leave it… he leaves it.

 

 

In his defense, it wasn’t Aaron’s fault that he nearly burnt down Robert’s kitchen.

It was the fault of the goddamn microwave and the lack of an actual toaster. Seriously, who doesn’t have a toaster in their kitchen? It’s like basic equipment. 

It was half past midnight, when he sneaked into the kitchen with an angry growling stomach, straining his ears if there’d be any signs of Robert being still awake and hoping that he wasn’t! Aaron really wasn’t keen on another encounter with the other man.

He rolled his eyes when he discovered the giant double door fridge had an extra section for wine, but his foul mood didn’t last when he found the leftovers of Robert’s dinner neatly put away in tupperware. It was pasta and it smelled like fucking heaven. Aaron quickly shoved it into the microwave and switched it on.

“Yes!“ he hissed excitedly when he saw a loaf of bread on the counter, because every dish got impossibly better with a bit of bread, that’s just a scientific fact.

To his utter surprise though there was no toaster. Like, what the fuck. Well, there were pans, lots of pans in different sizes and Aaron was determined to get his bloody toast – toasted, with that slight roasted taste and crunchy consistency he loved. Of course Robert Sugden didn’t have a normal electric stove like normal people, no, he had a fancy schmancy gas thingy that Aaron had never used before. But really, how hard could it be?

Turned out: very.

Because when Aaron turned the knob nothing at all happened and it took an embarrassing amount of time until the thing finally produced a tiny flame – which is why he totally forgot about the stupid microwave!

To make a long story short: Aaron had accidentally hit 20 minutes instead of 2 and so his food exploded with a loud plop and made a huge mess in the tiny device that he had to clean up while cursing under his breath – which is why he totally forgot about the bloody pan on the stupid stove!

Aaron swears on his beloved Mitsubishi that the smoke came out of nowhere. From one second to the next the kitchen was smoke-filled. Because the pan was on fire, like actually on fire! The bread was shriveled down to two black lumps and looked like coal in the flames.

Above his head the smoke detector began to ring and a sudden panic hit Aaron like lightning, froze him on the spot and he didn’t know what to do!

Water!

Without thinking he grabbed the burning pan and threw it into the sink. Just when he reached for the tab, someone shoved him to the side, screaming: „No!“

Zwoooooosh!

Robert was there, pointing a fire extinguisher at the flames, white foam spreading in the sink and killing the fire. Then he pushed the window open and glared angrily at Aaron, his chest heaving because he was breathing like a bull.

 

The smoke alarm is still ringing and cutting through the awkwardness.

“In my defense…“ Aaron says slowly, „it wasn’t entirely my fault…“

“What the fuck! You nearly burnt down my kitchen!“ Robert roars at him.

“I’m sorry,“ Aaron mutters and now that the cold air is hitting him, the shock slowly wears off and leaves him feeling weak and small.

 “And also never use water to extinguish a fire in the kitchen! Every idiot knows that!“

Yeah, well, now that Robert mentions it, Aaron remembers that as well. He was in fucking shock, alright? People do unreasonable stuff when they are in shock. He wants to shout something back, because he so done with those fucking insults from Robert fucking Sugden, but all the words are dying on his tongue when his brain suddenly reminds him that Robert’s and Vic’s mum died in a fire, years ago when they were kids. God damnit, Robert still has a trauma or something like that according to Vic when it came to fire and now Aaron feels extra guilty and miserable.

“Sorry,“ he whispers and ducks his head. 

Robert seems to have expected another reaction, because he takes another moment to scowl at Aaron before he sighs, takes a step back and the tension leaves his body. And oh! Only now Aaron notices that Sugden is standing there topless, just wearing some worn out pajama pants that are riding dangerously low on his hips. Aaron does absolutely not ogle that sheer endless amount of smooth, tanned, hairless skin of Robert’s torso.

“What were you doing with the pan anyway?“ he asks and looks with a questioning frown at the mess in the sink.

Thankfully the alarm decides to stop making that awful noise before it could have caused an even more awful headache. 

“Toasting bread? Since you’ve got no toaster?“ Aaron says and when Robert gives him a long look that makes him squirm on the spot, he continues: "Seriously, who hasn’t got a-“ Robert wordlessly opens a cupboard and points to the device in there. “Oh.“ So, there is a toaster, great. “Well, who’s got a toaster IN the cupboard, are you serious?“ he says grumpily and crosses his arms.

Aaron knows he’s lost this round. He’s just too stubborn to admit it to Sugden. Seeing right through him, Robert rolls his eyes and shakes his head dismissively.

“Sit down.“

Taking orders, especially from Robert, isn’t Aaron’s strong point exactly, but it’s 1 am and he’s still fucking hungry and the shock is taking its toll, so he sinks down on a chair. The other man gets busy, opens the fridge, grabs another pan, switches the stove on.

“What are you doing?“

Aaron gets another look for that obviously dumb question. “What does it look like? I’m making you dinner.“

 

  • -

 

So Robert - arrogant Robert flaming Sugden, Robert posh twat Sugden - is making him dinner. In the middle of the night. Aaron stares at the scene in sheer disbelief and he hates to admit that it looks like Robert knows what he’s doing. How he’s stirring eggs and how the muscles on his forearm are twitching, how he’s adding milk in a swift motion, how he’s adding pepper with his right hand while he keeps jiggling the pan with his left one.

And has Aaron mentioned that Robert is shirtless?

Because he is. He is very, very shirtless.

It’s a distracting sight and so Aaron doesn’t even notice the pain at first. But once he does, it gets worse with every passing second. His hands are throbbing and Aaron raises them to inspect the damage. The skin on both palms is angry red and there are blisters as well and oh no, his empty stomach is tardily churning and he might get sick, here in Robert’s ritzy kitchen.

 He must make some noise, because suddenly Robert is right in front of him demanding to know what’s wrong.

“Ow,“ he whimpers weakly, not able to think straight with his hands hurting so fucking badly!

Robert’s cursing loudly and pulling him up from his chair. Aaron hobbles on legs that feel like jelly over to the sink where Robert is steering him.

 “Fuck, Aaron! Why haven’t you said anything?“ he mutters and switches on cold water.

Aaron is too busy to bite his tongue to keep himself from screaming when the stream of water hits his burnt skin to answer. He must have hurt himself when he fetched the pan of the stove, but he was in such a shock, his body pumped up with adrenaline, that he didn’t even realise.

The cooling is taking off the sharp edge of the pain, but the throbbing still stays. It’s aching with every heartbeat. He stares miserably at his damaged hands, questioning his life choices in the past 10 hours. Why didn’t he just eat that stupid dinner with Robert earlier? He could be sleeping sated and happy in his bed right now, but no, first the chaos and the fire and now this! What the fuck. 

“Open your mouth.“

The gentle command pulls him out of his thoughts, because… huh? Robert is holding up two pills he miraculously produced from somewhere and a glass of water. Aaron’s eyes flick from the medicine to Robert’s face – which is really, really close! – back to the pills. Painkillers, obviously, that Aaron literally can’t take himself, because right now he can’t take anything with his hands. Reluctantly he does as he’s being told, feeling slightly awkward as he parts his lips.

Robert quickly puts the pills on his tongue without actually touching him for which Aaron is grateful. “These are strong painkillers, I use them for my migraine, they should help quickly,“ he explains quietly, talking the awkward silence away.

The glass is being raised to his lips and Aaron has to crane his neck while Robert carefully tilts the glass. 

It‘s not like this isn‘t embarrassing as hell. 

But the weirdest thing is happening on Robert‘s face, because that smug expression is gone - huh, Aaron didn‘t even know this was a possibility - and now turned into something… soft? 

Using the words Robert and soft in one sentence. Aaron never thought he‘d see the day. 

One would think it can‘t get more awkward, but one would be wrong again. Because a moment later, Aaron is sitting again and Robert is kneeling in front of him, gently applying a cream on his injured palms. 

It burns like living hell, but Aaron is also massively distracted. Did he mention that Robert is kneeling in front of him? Aaron does his best to not let his mind get carried away with x-rated mental images, because Robert‘s face is literally on eye level with his crotch and those shorts Aaron is wearing are unable to hide anything! 

Talk about a whole new level of embarrassment!

He isn‘t keen on exploring how many levels he can master in one night.

“This is just a normal aloe cream. I don‘t have anything for burns,“ Robert says quietly, almost apologizing. 

He glances up with his green eyes through blond lashes and Aaron‘s breath hitches at how gorgeous he looks right now.

He snorts. “This is so bloody weird.“ 

His original plan was only to think that, but apparently his mouth betrayed him. 

“What is?“ Robert grabs a bandage from the first-aid-kit that‘s lying on the table and starts wrapping it around Aaron‘s right hand.

“You,“ Aaron clarifies, “not acting like a posh twat.“

He gets the stink-eye then, and Robert tugs a little harsher on the bandage when he puts tape on it, which makes Aaron flinch and hiss in pain. 

“You know, maybe it‘s just you treating me like I am one without even knowing me.“

Once again, Aaron feels anger rising inside him like bitter bile. “You mean, like you treat me like I‘m a thick-headed hick just because my name‘s Dingle and I own a scrapyard?“ he asks sharply. 

Robert looks at him and sighs. “Okay, look,“ he starts, starting to wrap up Aaron‘s left hand, “here‘s a suggestion. I think we both imagined the start into the new year a little differently, alright? But as it appears, we‘re stuck. Here in my humble abode. Together. So this can go two ways: either we avoid each other and spend the time mostly in our rooms like you did today, moping and fretting-”

“I was not moping and fretting!“ Aaron states and when Robert gives him the ‘don‘t be a brat‘ look, he rolls his eyes. “Go on then.“

“Or we bury the hatchet and try to make the best of it.“

Aaron just stares at him, thinking about the words. Urgh, he hates to admit that however a big moron Robert Sugden is, he kinda has a point. 

“Fine,“ he mutters with the most grumpy undertone he can muster, just to emphasize that he‘s really biting the bullet. 

Robert gives him a small smile that does not make his belly tingle. At all. Aaron focuses on his hands instead. The painkillers are finally working and the cream is soothing, so the throbbing ache is now reduced to a dull burn and itch. 

He lifts them after Robert is finished, only to see his hands wrapped up like giant mittens.

“Oh, you gotta be fucking kidding me!“

 

 

There is something more embarrassing than Robert letting him drink.

Namely Robert feeding him scrambled eggs 15 minutes later. With a spoon.

He tells a protesting Aaron that he only needs to wear the bandages until tomorrow, but he‘s cackling like a massive idiot, obviously enjoying the whole thing too much. 

Yeah, Robert may be nice now, but he‘s still a jerk.