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"I'll remember that for when I stop being gay," Aaron said, and Robert's heart leaped even as Aaron strode away from him.

He hadn't really expected to find other queer people right here in the village, and in any case, Robert had decided, when they moved here, that he wasn't going to sleep with other people any more. He was going to be the faithful husband Chrissie deserved. But he had been getting a vibe from Aaron for days, and now here was the confirmation. This could happen. Aaron was gay.

He's gay, he's gay, he's gay.

Just once couldn't hurt anything.

 

-

 

"I'm trans, by the way," Robert said, while Aaron had his head buried in Robert's car engine. There was actually nothing wrong with it, he had just wanted to see Aaron again. Alone. "If that's a problem."

"It's not a problem," Aaron answered, quickly, but he looked like he was thinking, and Robert waited. It wasn't like him to wait. "So that means... Sorry, what does that mean?"

Robert sighed internally. He hadn't had to explain to anyone what being trans was for ages - years, maybe. He tended towards gay bars for one night stands, even though he was straight - at least there he didn't have to explain, even if some people didn't like it. Chrissie knew, obviously; but her dad didn't. Given how hard Robert had to work to earn even the smallest modicum of respect from him, Robert could only imagine how much worse it would be if Lawrence knew; if Robert constantly felt forced to prove his gender.

Now they were back in Emmerdale, Robert intended to fly under the radar, hoping that no one would remember the scrawny teenager who had been forced out of town over fifteen years ago well enough to connect with him, now. He had warned Andy to describe him as Jack's nephew, though it left him on edge to be under the power of such a secret. Katie would be the most likely sticking point, but Robert was sure that, even if she did recognise him, she wouldn't be quick to admit she had cheated on Andy. Especially since, although Robert had known he was a boy by then, she hadn't.

To answer Aaron's question, Robert said: "It means that when I was born, they looked at my body and decided it was female, but inside, in my brain or wherever it happens, I was always a man."

Aaron looked up from the car, nodded slowly. "So you're a bloke?"

Robert gave Aaron a truly filthy look, licking his lips slowly and dragging his eyes down Aaron's strong frame, over his arse, back up over his hoodie-covered arms. "Yep."

Aaron looked surer this time as he nodded, biting his lip. His cheeks had gone red, and it seemed like it was that simple for Aaron - as it should be.

"I don't want anyone else knowing I'm trans."

"Good job you just told me, then," said Aaron calmly, turning back to the engine.

"There's nothing wrong with the car," Robert said suddenly, blurting out his confession like an offering. "I made it up."

Aaron's brow furrowed. He dropped the bonnet to slam closed. "So, what, you just like wasting my time? Is that how you get your kicks?"

Surely he couldn't really believe that. "What do you think?" Robert said scathingly.

"I think I don't like being messed around." He turned to leave.

"Don't!" Robert said, hating how much he sounded like he was begging. "I'm - I'm not messing you around."

But he had made promises to Chrissie; he had made promises to himself, and in the end, he stopped it before it could begin. He stopped it after a kiss.

Aaron's lips tasted of something different than he'd had before.

It was terrifying.

 

-

 

Robert turned up back at the garage anyway. He couldn't seem to stay away. Just once couldn't hurt anything.

"I wanna know one thing," he told Aaron, and the lust in Aaron's eyes told him everything. Robert kissed him again, chasing that new, exhilarating flavour, even though it scared him to death.

Robert nudged Aaron into one of the cars, scrambling after him, hovering over where Aaron lay across the back seat. Aaron had already removed Robert's jacket and now pulled off Robert's shirt, stroking his hands over Robert's bare pecs with a quickly-stifled noise of approval. Robert smiled into the kiss. He was proud of his body; loved it. After a decade of testosterone therapy, he barely remembered that skin-not-fitting feeling that had plagued him when he was younger, and now revelled in the feeling of rightness. The joy of touch and pleasure.

When he reached for the bottom of Aaron's shirt, Robert was held back by Aaron's hands on his. He pulled back; Aaron shook his head slightly.

"Stays on," Aaron said simply, guiding Robert's hands towards his fly instead.

It would have been nice to see Aaron's chest, but as long as they got off, Robert wasn't too fussy about how it happened. He unzipped Aaron's trousers, pushed down the fabric between him and his goal, and stroked Aaron's cock, grinning as Aaron's head dropped back against the seat. Aaron's chest heaved with quick breaths as Robert touched him.

When Aaron was good and hard, Robert said, "I top."

A nod. "Got lube an' stuff?"

Robert pulled his wallet out of the pocket of his trousers, which he was still wearing, extracting a sachet of lube and a condom before tossing the wallet out of the car door and sending his trousers after it. He hurried through opening Aaron up, but judging by the tight grip on Robert's other forearm and the way Aaron was rocking against his fingers, he had no complaints.

"Do it," Aaron ordered after a few minutes, and he watched curiously as Robert pulled the firm shaft of his pack-and-play dick through the fly of his briefs. "That's not - attached to you, right?"

"Right," Robert confirmed, and pushed the front of his pants down along with his dick to show his own small cock underneath. "If it's a problem -"

"It's not a problem," Aaron interrupted. "Just gettin' my head round it. C'mon, do it."

He was so demanding, and Robert loved it. He lubed up, lined up, and pressed inside, hearing the way Aaron lost his breath at the sensation. He was so glad they were doing it in this position; it was incredible to watch Aaron's face changed by pleasure, intoxicating to be the one making him feel that way. When he came, Robert pulled out but stayed over him, watching him catch his breath. His eyes were closed, and, on an odd whim, Robert leaned in to kiss his cheek. When Aaron looked up at him, Robert couldn't move, caught up in those bright blue eyes, which were full of something unexpected and mysterious. It would take more than a one-night-stand to unravel their depths.

Aaron stroked a hand over Robert's hip. "Show me what to do," he said, his voice rough and his expression soft. He looked like he wanted more than a one-off, and Robert couldn't afford to give it to him.

Breaking their eye contact, Robert wriggled out of his briefs. Retrieving the sachet of lube, he squeezed the last few drops onto Aaron's fingers then pulled them with a gentle grip towards his cock. He watched Aaron's face, seeing bright intrigue and determination. Then he had to close his eyes as Aaron circled the sensitive head. God, yes. Everything became about friction and movement and more .

"Good?" Aaron asked. He sounded winded and vulnerable.

Robert realised that he had been groaning, and bit his tongue to keep it back. He didn't like to lose control like this, but all he could think was Aaron, Aaron, Aaron .

"Yeah," he managed to say. "Good."

 

-

 

He tried. He really, really tried. But he showed up to have a go at Aaron for stealing his wingmirrors and it turned into a very different conversation altogether and suddenly they were kissing.

"Right," Robert said when they parted. "Upstairs, now."

Was it a good idea? No. Did he have any power to resist it? Absolutely not.

He ran upstairs before realising that he didn't know which was Aaron's bedroom, and hesitated on the landing before Aaron came up behind him and tugged him into one of the rooms. It was painted dark blue, and not very large, and that was all Robert got to see of it before Aaron was pulling his shirt off. Aaron really seemed to like getting him topless. That was fine with Robert; he was happy to show himself off. He reached for Aaron's t-shirt, but Aaron stopped him again. There was a beat, and then Aaron was letting out a breath and tugging off his own top. At once, he stepped back into Robert's space, going for a kiss, but Robert wanted a proper look, and held him back.

He saw scars. Not two long neat lines like his own, but dozens of short ones all over Aaron's torso. They didn't look recent, but there were so many of them. Aaron.

"Just ignore it," Aaron said, his voice hard. "It doesn't matter."

And Robert had no idea what made him do it, but he breathed, " You matter," as pulled Aaron back into a kiss.

They stroked each other off together this time, lying face-to-face on top of Aaron's duvet. Something about Aaron's searching expression made Robert feel that he had never been properly looked at before.

"Before I knew I was gay," Aaron said afterwards, "I actually tried once, with a girl. I couldn't... get into it, feel anything for her. I didn't think I'd like..." His eyes strayed briefly downwards, towards Robert's cock. "But it's different, with a bloke. Completely different."

The moment felt too intimate, so Robert broke it with, "And this way you get to choose the size of dick you get fucked with."

Aaron rolled his eyes and sighed, like he was - like he was disappointed . He got up and started getting dressed. Robert stayed on the bed and watched, thinking that he had never promised Aaron anything, that he couldn't offer him anything, that he needed to get over that and enjoy what they had.

Because, yeah, there was no stopping this now.

 

-

 

"I just think you need to be careful," Robert heard Chas say as he headed towards the back room to see Aaron, supposedly about their new business partnership. He paused instinctively to eavesdrop, then properly froze as he heard: "Annie Sugden was a right little hussy when she lived here."

The pronouns and name didn't hurt as much as they used to; they were just weird , like Chas was talking about a different person. They certainly weren't comfortable, though.

"He's not like that any more," Aaron replied irritably, even though Robert was seeing him while still having a fiance. The man apparently had no sense of irony. "He's changed."

"I don't think a few hormones can -"

"I'm not talking about that!" Aaron interrupted. "That's got nothing to do with it. He's just different - he's not a teenager any more."

"But she tried to seduce Andy's girlfriend!" Chas insisted.

Interesting. Robert had had no idea that Chas might know about that.

"What, Katie?" Aaron scoffed. "She's never needed any seducing as far as I can see."

"Aaron! That's my best friend you're talking about!"

"And that's - my business partner," Aaron countered, losing steam on the latter part of the sentence, and Robert decided to interrupt before Aaron got him into trouble.

He made a noise by the door before opening it. "What's all this?" he asked, to make Chas squirm.

Mother and son looked at him with varying degrees of rabbit-in-headlights expressions. They were stupidly bad liars.

"Mum was just saying how glad she is that you're helping me and Adam out with the scrapyard," Aaron said pointedly.

Chas shot Aaron a very unimpressed look. "I'm going back to the bar," she said, and stalked off without another word.

Robert stifled his laughter so as not to give away that he had been listening. He went over to Aaron, drawn there instinctively. "Is she embarrassed that she can't give you the loan?" he asked, apparently innocently, but also hoping she would overhear it and take it as the dig it was intended as.

Aaron frowned at him.

"What?" Robert asked, unsettled.

"I just defended you," Aaron said. "So don't , alright?"

And once again, he looked into Aaron's face and thought, He sees me.

Robert really didn't know how to feel about that.