A soulmate is someone who will make you be the most possibly ‘you’ than you can possibly be.
Aaron hasn’t spoken one single word since they got out of the building and into the car. Now, about 20 minutes later, they’re almost back in Emmerdale and Robert keeps glancing over to his boyfriend in the passenger seat. Just checking.
There isn’t much to see unfortunately, because Aaron has turned his head towards the window, avoiding Robert’s eye at all costs, so he shifts his gaze down instead on Aaron’s hands and sees him clenching them so hard the knuckles already turned white. The thumbnail is pressing into the flesh. Robert knows the nails are too short for it to hurt - Aaron started biting them again with today’s appointment approaching - but he reaches over anyway, puts his hand gently on Aaron’s and nudges the thumb with his own.
A second later Aaron’s fingers relax ever so slightly, but he still keeps silently staring outside.
It hurts seeing him like this.
It hurts being helpless.
Even Robert Jacob Sugden runs out of words occasionally. Especially in moments like this.
As soon as the car comes to a halt on the crunching gravel behind the pub, Aaron rips his door open and basically flees the vehicle.
By the time Robert removed the key and got out, his boyfriend had already disappeared through the back entrance. Robert sighs and walks into the house, he hears the loud bang of a door being thrown shut upstairs when he shrugs out of his jacket and hangs it on the coat hook.
Chas comes out of the backroom and Robert would bet this month’s salary that she was waiting for them on her couch for at least an hour. The noise upstairs probably got her moving. “How is he?” She looks at him through her long fringe with huge eyes.
“What do you think?” he snaps annoyed at the stupid question before he stops himself and closes his eyes for a brief second. “Not good,” he adds, calmer.
Chas nods. “So… how did it go?” she asks carefully.
“I dunno! It’s not like I was in there!” Robert glares at Aaron’s mum. Angry rather at his own uselessness than at her. “I was waiting outside because he’s asked me to and… he hasn’t talked yet.”
“Oh.” Chas looks crestfallen and Robert relates. “Maybe he should see his therapist, I could call-”
“No!” he interrupts her curtly. “No, you need to back off. No calls behind his back.”
“Stop telling me what to do!” Chas raises her voice, sadness quickly replaced with anger. “I’m his mother! I know what‘s best for him!“
Robert rubs his forehead and sighs exasperated. He’d rather go upstairs and look for Aaron instead of arguing with his mum downstairs. “Look, he’s old enough to make his own choices. If he wants to talk to his therapist, he’ll make the call himself.” Like, why has he got to explain the most obvious things to her? Robert would never doubt the love Chas has for Aaron, but nevertheless she sucks as a mother most of the time. The last thing Aaron needs right now is the pressure to talk to someone when he isn’t ready to do so.
Which is why Robert didn‘t fire all the questions he has at him.
Chas scowls at him, crosses her arms and raises her chin. “Fine. Okay. I’ll back off.” Then she stabs with her pointer at Robert‘s chest. “But you better get him to talk.”
Despite being together with Aaron for one and a half years now, it’s still tense between him and Chas. Robert isn’t quite sure why she never approved of him, maybe because he‘s a Sugden and she won‘t let go of the old feud between Dingles and Sugdens the village has seen for decades.
Now that she has to rely on Robert of all people to help her son? Oh, she must hate that.
Robert doesn’t bother with a reply, he just turns around and goes up the stairs. The tell-tale sounds of punches and harsh breathing are filling the hallway and so Robert is not surprised to find Aaron hitting his punching bag when he enters their room.
20 square metres of sanctuary in the crazy chaos of the village pub they call theirs. Robert basically moved in a few weeks after him and Aaron got together. It‘s not ideal, far from it, but it‘s still better than the tiny B&B room where Robert had lived since he had gotten back to Emmerdale in quite a dramatic long-lost-son-style. Of course they are looking for something of their own, away from nosey families and the noisy pub. Robert secretly has an eye on the Mill, but after a fire a few months ago the investigation of the stress analyst still remains.
Aaron is not looking at him and Robert hesitates to go over to him although he wants nothing more than to hug the man he loves.
Aaron doesn‘t stop punching the bag, quite the opposite actually, he speeds up and increases his force.
“Aaron,“ Robert repeats louder in case Aaron didn‘t hear him.
He gets no reaction, at least not the one he aimed for. Aaron just keeps boxing, not even using gloves or anything.
“Aaron!“ Robert has enough, he steps forward. “Stop! You‘re gonna hurt yourself! Stop it!“ He grabs Aaron‘s arm, at least he wants to, but he can’t get a grip of the sweaty skin and Aaron jerks his body away, his flailing fist accidently hitting Robert‘s jaw. “Ow, fuck!“
Robert stumbles back, trying to rub the pain away. Well, at least now Aaron is looking at him, his face blotchy red, his blue eyes huge and shiny with unshed tears. Apart from his ragged breathing it‘s silent for a moment, both just staring at each other.
“You can sleep in the B&B, I understand,“ Aaron says with a shaky, hoarse voice and Robert wants to bloody throttle him, because this is the first goddamn thing he says? Really?
Robert huffs and puts his hands on his hips. “I can go or you want me to?“
A series of emotions flicker on Aaron‘s face before he lowers his gaze and all the tension leaves his body. His shoulders drop and suddenly he looks extremely small and vulnerable. He shakes his head.
“Hug?“ Robert offers. When he gets a shy nod, a knot in his chest loosens and he steps closer to wrap his arms around his boyfriend.
Pulling Aaron close feels good. Robert presses his nose right against that warm neck, relishes the slight tickle of the scruff and takes a deep breath in.
“‘M sorry.” Aaron sounds like he is seconds from crying. “So sorry.“
“It’s fine,” he says automatically.
“No, it’s not!” Aaron pulls back, upset, gently cradling Robert’s jaw. A tear is falling from his eye.
Robert knows the guilt and self hate are eating him already. He wants to repeat that yes, it really is fine because it’s not even hurting anymore and he carefully takes Aaron’s hand away, glancing down and then gasping in shock when he sees the red knuckles. Everything he wanted to say is instantly forgotten. “Oh god, Aaron!” Fuck, there even are spots where the skin is completely rubbed off. “What have you done!”
Without further questioning he pulls Aaron into the bathroom right across the hallway, opens the cabinet and produces the little first aid kit that is stored there. He starts disinfecting the wounds as carefully as possible.
Aaron doesn’t flinch. Doesn’t move at all. Doesn’t look at him again.
“Don’t,” he mutters instead.
“Gimme a lecture.”
Robert sighs once more and throws the dabber away. “I wasn’t going to.”
He won’t deny that he thought of doing it. Aaron has to stop this. Whenever pressure gets too high, he eventually lets it out and gets hurt in the process. This isn’t the right way to handle things, but Aaron isn’t stupid, he’s aware and the lecture isn’t really necassary. Especially not today.
“So, will you talk to me and we deal with it together, ooor…?” Robert shrugs.
Aaron shakes his head, tears welling up again and Robert wonders if he shakes his head because he doesn’t wanna talk in general or if he thinks that Robert can’t help him with this in particular. He can‘t have either.
“Please,” he whispers and takes Aaron’s face carefully in his hands to wipe away the tears with his thumbs. “C’mon, cut me some slack, alright? I’m here.”
He watches Aaron struggling, fighting with himself and feels how the skin under his palms turn hot as a blush creeps up on Aaron’s cheeks and he tries to turn away in shame but Robert won’t let him.
“It’s just-... the looks I got!“ Aaron pauses and shakes his head as if to chase away the memory. “From the women in the waiting room… I’m a freak, Robert, I’m a fucking freak!”
“You’re not a freak.” He hugs Aaron again, holds him tight.
“I am though!“ Aaron shouts, upset. “Everybody says so, even my own grandpa!“
It‘s tough for Robert to stay calm and collected when he gets pissed off. “Shadrach was an old, drunken bastard. He doesn‘t count.“ He emphasises every word, hoping they get through to Aaron. Robert hated the old fella with a passion and he‘s not denying that he‘s glad Shadrach bit the dust two years ago. He hopefully rots in hell. “I count though, I‘m cute and I smell good,“ he jokes to coax out a little smile from Aaron. He even gets a sobbed out laugh, so he‘d say it‘s a win. “And I‘m saying you‘re not a freak, d’you hear me?“
Aaron stays silent, but he does hug him back just as tight and rests his head against Robert‘s shoulder. It‘s how they stand there in the small bathroom for a while until Robert finally asks the question that's been on his mind the whole time.
“And the… you know… How was the examination?”
Before he got together with Aaron, Robert didn’t know much about transgender, or well, just things like ‘born with the wrong body parts’ and that. He has learnt a lot since then.
For example, trans people, as long as they have an uterus and ovaries, need to go see a gyn.
For a gynaecological examination.
Although it kinda makes sense for health reasons, Robert can only imagine how horrific that experience must be. As proof, Aaron is shaking in his arms.
“I can still feel her hands on me.” It’s so quiet Robert nearly misses it and his heart breaks.
His eyes are landing on the bathtub and following a spontaneous idea, he lets go of Aaron and opens the hot water tab.
Aaron sniffs and rubs his nose. “What’re you doing?”
“We’re taking a bath,” he explains, putting the plug in and turning around to Aaron. “We’re washing her touch off.”
Aaron has dropped his shirt already and now he’s shifting on his feet and glancing at Robert. Wordlessly Robert turns around and waits until he hears a pair of jeans being pulled off and water splashing when Aaron gets into it. There are better days and worse days. Today is unsurprisingly one of those worse days.
The water is hot and perfect and although the tub is too small for two grown up men, they somehow make it work. Aaron leans against Robert’s chest and he can’t resist pressing his nose into the damp, dark curls.
“This is nice.”
Aaron only hums in response. Robert notices how his body is slowly relaxing, can feel the tension leaving his muscles as they’re both soaking. He starts massaging the shoulder part with a tender pressure of his thumbs and after a little moment, Aaron puffs out his chest, a message that isn’t hard to read, at least not for Robert. It's not just permission to touch, it’s a silent plea to do it already.
Yeah, Aaron can be bossy like that.
Robert loves it.
Aaron is all muscle, only two fading scars are reminiscent of the top surgery two years ago. Still, there are days where Aaron can’t stand being touched there. If he initiates it though, Robert is the last person to deny him, so he slowly strokes down until he reaches the two little buds that luckily stayed sensitive after the op.
“Yeah,” Aaron breathes quietly, with closed eyes, before he turns his head to search Robert’s mouth.
The kiss is a bit off, the angle odd, but Robert enjoys it nevertheless. Kissing Aaron will always be special and intense and just right.
Robert Sugden learnt the hard way and at a young age not to give a toss about other people’s opinions regarding his personal life and he doesn’t care what the villagers think of him and Aaron. He ignores their looks, their whispering and their downright fucking rude questions about them ‘doing it’.
None of that matters.
All that matters is here in his arms, squirming under Robert’s hands while he’s rolling the nipples between his fingers and licking into Aaron’s mouth. The sweet little whine he coaxes out of his boyfriend gets him hard in seconds. A strong hand sneaks around his right wrist and tugs, shy, and then Robert’s arm is being slowly pulled down. Into the water. Across Aaron’s belly.
When he feels soft hair tickling his fingertips, he makes a surprised noise and breaks the kiss. “Aaron!” Robert wants to move his hand back up, but Aaron stops him.
“No, can you-” Aaron rushes out, but then swallows. “You can. I want you to.”
They didn’t go there yet. Other things, yes. Plenty other things, but Robert touching Aaron there? Never. And his boyfriend made that very clear in the past.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Robert frowns.
Especially today, after what Aaron went through earlier? It’s not like Robert doesn’t want to, God knows does he want ever so badly to finally return all the many favours he got from Aaron. But his boyfriend is still in a shaky state, vulnerable, overwhelmed with emotions, and the thought alone of taking advantage makes his stomach churn.
“I wanna feel you instead of her.”
As to prove his sincerity, Aaron slowly spreads his legs in the sloshing water as far as possible and rests his right calf on the edge of the tub, his blue eyes never leaving Robert’s face. Sweet Jesus. Fuck. They are really going to do this.
With the foam and the bath additive, Robert can’t quite see anything. But he feels.
“Oh God, ” he whispers in awe and sucks in a harsh breath when Aaron’s whole body jerks and he lets out a quiet moan.
Robert isn’t sure if it’s the water that makes Aaron extra sensitive to the touch or if it’s just the fact that Aaron is extremely responsive anyway - because fucking hell, this is the first time he’s doing this! But damn, Robert is losing his mind at how amazing it is to witness his boyfriend come undone.
Aaron writhes in his arms, arches his back and Robert feels the muscles of his belly contracting every now and then which causes his whole body to tremble. Robert watches him biting his lip to keep the noises low and that needs to be changed.
“Let me hear you.” He kisses Aaron’s sweaty temple. “Your mum’s in the pub, no one will hear us, c’mon.”
“Don’t- ah! Don’t talk about my mum, when nnhg!”
Robert snorts and moves his hand faster, determined to loosen those brakes in Aaron’s mind. The reaction is instant. Aaron throws his head back against Robert’s shoulder and lets out a long, deep and filthy groan.
“Yes,” Robert breathes. “Fuck. Yes. So good. So hot.” Despite his cheeks reddening, Aaron preens at the praise and he lets out another moan. “I’m gonna make you feel so good, Aaron,” he promises right into his boyfriend‘s ear and sucks the earlobe in to nibble at it.
Robert hums, feeling close to coming himself with Aaron’s body pressing and rubbing against his cock just perfectly. Later, he can’t really explain where his next words are coming from, all he remembers is being totally lost in the sensation and head over heels for the man in his arms. “So good for me. So good. My good boy.”
Aaron stills and then suddenly convulses, face twisted in a silent shout and his body keeps shaking over and over. Letting out a broken sound that might be best described as a whimper, he slaps Robert’s arm away.
Only then Robert’s arousal-clouded brain is catching up with the situation. Aaron just came. And now he’s oversensitive.
Aaron hides his face behind both hands, his chest is heaving and he’s breathing like a steam train. Not really sure what to do next, Robert just sits there and tries to ignore his achingly hard, into the water leaking dick. He feels Aaron’s frantic heartbeat against his own.
“Oh God.” Aaron’s raspy voice is muffled behind his hands. “Oh God.”
“Robert is fine,” he opts for a weak joke.
Aaron drags his hands down and turns his head to look at him, half glaring, half amused. His pupils are blown wide, the cheeks rosy and lips red and swollen from the biting. He looks fucked out, because he is and it’s glorious and Robert thinks he’s the most beautiful person he’s ever seen.
“Bed.” Aaron almost growls. “Now.”
In the bedroom, Aaron, now wearing shorts and a tee again, is giving him the best blowjob of his life.
Having no gag reflex, he can take all of Robert until the tip of his cock hits Aaron‘s throat. Those lips wrapped around his dick and blue eyes glancing up through dark lashes is a sight that pushes Robert to the edge way too quickly.
“Not gonna last.“
Especially not with what just happened in the bathroom. Fuck.
Aaron pulls off with a wet pop . “Want me to fuck you with the vibe?“
Robert doesn‘t even need to think about it, as much as he loves that toy. “No, just you.“
The look he‘s getting from Aaron makes his heart flip. That look of love but also mixed with a sudden desperation, like he wants to say something, but when Aaron opens his mouth nothing comes out. Instead he moves up, comes face to face with Robert and kisses him fiercely.
Robert tastes himself on Aaron‘s tongue and it drives him absolutely crazy, he nearly comes just like that. Then Aaron starts jerking him and Robert strokes over his back and his arse, feeling that little pang of sadness that Aaron already covered himself with a shirt and boxer shorts. He wishes they could still be skin on skin like earlier.
A thought he doesn‘t get to dwell on, because Aaron‘s spit slicked fist is amazing to fuck into, providing perfect pressure and all the little twists that push him to his orgasm way too quickly.
“Aaron,“ is his wheezed out warning before he comes a moment later.
At some point he must have closed his eyes, because now Robert blinks them open, dazed, his brain still mush and his chest heaving erratically.
Aaron grins at him like the Cheshire Cat.
That makes him snort and he rubs over his hot face with shaky hands while his body is still processing the aftershocks of his orgasm.
He gets cleaned up carefully and thoroughly before Aaron curls himself against Robert‘s side and rests his head on his chest. Nobody is speaking, both just enjoying the moment of intimacy and togetherness.
Eventually Aaron breaks the silence. “Thank you.“
Instead of answering Robert just hugs him tighter and buries his nose in the dark curls. He can‘t help himself, Aaron‘s hair might be his favourite smell.
“You made me feel good again,” Aaron whispers. “You made it go away.”
“Happy to help,” he mutters against the damp hair and closes his eyes, relieved that he actually could help before Aaron fell further down the dark hole. And then, to lighten up the heavy emotion, he teases with a smirk: “Sooo, are we talking about that kink, oooor…?”
“Shut up,” is the quick response and Aaron hides his face, but Robert watches how the blush is spreading on his neck.
The smirk turns into a full blown grin at this interesting revelation. Who would have known Aaron Dingle was a kinky little grease monkey? The knowledge will definitely come in handy in the future.
“You know, I think it’s pretty hot,” Robert admits, getting a bit more serious again. He wants Aaron to know that it works for him too.
That he doesn’t need to be ashamed about it. Robert isn’t one for kink shaming.
Aaron doesn’t say anything back and so they’re lying in silence again, cuddled up as close as possible. Robert is about to doze off any second, when his boyfriend speaks: “I think I wanna do… uh, more .” He clears his throat, avoiding looking at Robert. “I wanna have sex.”
Robert, who was lazily drawing circles with his fingers on Aaron’s back, stills, suddenly awake again. “You sure?”
“Yes. I just need time.”
Well, time is not an issue as far as Robert is concerned.
It’s not like he stopped at that jeweller’s shop in Hotten a few weeks ago and he surely didn’t pick out two plain silver rings which he certainly didn’t buy already.
“You’ve got all the time you need,” he promises and smiles.
And if he’s eventually falling asleep dreaming about two little marcipan husbands on a cake and balloons with Mr&Mr written on them, well, then Aaron doesn’t need to know.