“This is all your fault, you know”.
Aaron shook his head in disbelief. “How is it my fault that you decked my date”?
“Yeah, well, I didn’t know he was your date, did I? And that cop wouldn’t’ve known I’d hit him had you not shoved me into his backside,” Robert seethed.
“Yeah? Well you’re the reason we’re handcuffed together in a cell,” Aaron said through gritted teeth. “If you’d’ve stopped banging on out there about your solicitors and your money, they’d’ve left us in the Processing Centre with everyone else”.
“Maybe you’re happy to hang out with the local chavs but I was a bit out of my element with them”.
Aaron scoffed. “Oh god, Robert. You’re such a snob”!
The two men sat in silence for several minutes.
“So why did you hit Luke in the first place?” Aaron asked softly.
“Because he was clearly drunk and up in your face. I thought he was gonna hurt you”.
“Well, I can look after myself, thanks very much”. Aaron balled his hands into fists, inadvertently tugging on Robert’s wrist with the handcuff.
“Watch it, will you? My hand still hurts from the punch”.
Aaron chuckled. “For as often as you get beat up mate, you’re awfully soft”.
Robert rolled his eyes and smiled. He leaned his head back against the cold cell wall.
“So how long have you and this guy been dating”?
“Why do you care?” Aaron asked, his voice tinged with anger.
“I don’t. I’m just trying to make conversation to pass the time”.
Aaron sighed. “We’ve been going out for about three weeks”.
“I bet he’s not as good as me in bed”, Robert replied with an arrogant grin.
“In bed? We hardly ever did it in bed, mate. On hay bales. On the floor of the Portakabin. In the backseat of a car…”
Robert couldn’t suppress a smile as the memories of the many varied encounters with Aaron rushed back. “We had some good times together, didn’t we?” Robert asked wistfully.
Aaron blushed and bit his lower lip. “Too bad the bad times outweighed the good”.
The men sat in silence again, lost in their thoughts.
“So come on. Tell me about this Lance bloke”, Robert said as he shifted to face Aaron.
Aaron shot him a look. “Luke, not Lance”.
Robert just shrugged in response.
“What’s there to say? I met him at Bar West. He’s a decent bloke”.
“Wow. He sounds impressive,” Robert said sarcastically as he rolled his eyes. “At least tell me that the sex is good”.
Aaron looked away. “It’s not all about sex, you know”.
“Oh god! You haven’t slept with him yet, have you?” Robert chortled.
Aaron yanked his hand away in annoyance, forgetting that he was still connected to Robert.
“Ow! I was only messing with you”.
“Sorry,” Aaron mumbled as he stared down at the floor.
“So go on then. Have you really not slept with this bloke?” Robert asked, rubbing his wrist.
“Yeah, ok. We haven’t had sex yet. Are ya happy”?
“Honestly? Yeah, I am. The guys seems like a prat. You can do better you know”. Robert covered Aaron’s hand with his.
“Robert, don’t”. Aaron shook Robert’s hand from his.
Robert looked wounded but kept his hand off Aaron’s.
“The thing is, Luke gets mean when he’s had too much to drink and he seems to drink too much every time we go out”.
“So dump him! Seriously, Aaron. You deserve to be treated better than that”.
“Yeah? Like the way you treated me?” Aaron snapped back.
Robert sighed. “Look, I know I was horrible to you”.
“You reckon?” Aaron interrupted.
“Ok. I treated you like shit and, yeah, you really do deserve to be with a bloke who respects you and wants to make you happy”.
Aaron looked down at the floor, surprised by Robert’s words. “So what were you doing out in Hotten tonight anyway”?
“Didn’t you know? I’ve been staying at a hotel here since Chrissie kicked me out. It’s not like I could move in with Vic and Andy and, well, Diane wasn’t about to let me move back into the pub, was she”?
“Oh,” Aaron said simply as he shifted on the uncomfortable bench. Suddenly, Aaron and Robert’s fingers touched. The two men quickly separated their hands but the momentary touch made their pulses race.
Aaron cleared his throat, wishing Robert didn’t still have this effect on him.
“I’m sorry Aaron”.
“It was just our fingers touching, Robert. No big deal”.
“No. I mean about us. About how I treated you. I’m really sorry”. Robert’s eyes welled up with tears.
Aaron had to look away to prevent tears from forming in his own eyes as well. “Why now? Because Chrissie’s done with ya?” Aaron asked, anger returning to his voice.
“No, Aaron. You’ve got to believe me. I’ve had a lot of time to think about things since Chrissie kicked me out. One of the things that I realized is that I loved Chrissie but I wasn’t in love with her. I was in love with you, Aaron. I still am in love with you”.
Aaron’s heart began to race. He rubbed his forehead with his free hand.
“How can I trust you, Robert? After everything you’ve put me through, why should I ever give you another chance”?
Aaron looked over at Robert and saw that his cheeks were stained with tears. Even after everything that Robert had put him through, Aaron still couldn’t bear to see Robert in pain. Without thinking about it, he took his free hand and placed it on Robert’s cheek, wiping at his tears.
“You once said that you knew me better than anyone else and it’s true. You’ve always been able to tell when I’ve held things back from you. So please, look me in the eyes now”.
Aaron momentarily closed his eyes, debating whether he wanted to hear the truth from Robert.
“Aaron, please”. Robert’s voice was desperate.
At last, Aaron opened his eyes and raised them to meet Robert’s. Robert took Aaron’s hand into his.
“Maybe this really does make me soft but I believe in the idea of soulmates: two people who are lost and fragmented until they come together to form a whole. Two people who know each other so well that they can communicate without words. Two people who have a connection that’s unbreakable, no matter what happens between them. Aaron, I know without a doubt that you and I are soulmates”. Aaron’s eyes flicked between Robert’s eyes and his mouth.
Robert continued. “I’ve spent my whole life trying to find somewhere I belong. I’d believed I’d found it with Chrissie and her family and the business but I was deluding myself. That life was fake, an illusion. But what I have with you is real. At the end of the day, I just want to be with you, Aaron. I want to be the man who makes you happy”. Robert paused while more tears cascaded down his cheeks. Aaron gently squeezed his hand.
“I promise you that if you give me another chance, I won’t let you down. No more lying. No more secrets. Just you and me, together against the world”.
“I mean, come on, it’s got to be fate that we’d end up handcuffed together in a cell: me pouring my heart out to you and you not being able to run away”. A sad smile played on Robert’s lips as he continued to gaze into Aaron’s blue eyes. Aaron smiled in return and moved his free hand back to Robert’s face, stroking his cheek with his thumb.
Aaron leaned forward and kissed Robert, tenderly at first but with growing urgency as Robert cradled his face with his free hand. Suddenly, Robert pulled back, a wide grin on his face.
“So is that a yes? Are you willing to give it another go with me”?
Aaron rolled his eyes and scoffed. “Yes! Geez, do ya want it writing”?
“I much prefer this form of confirmation,” Robert said with a smirk as he leaned in and planted a lingering kiss on Aaron’s lips.
A loud bang sounded at the door and the two men broke apart from their embrace. The police officer who had placed them in the cell strode up to them.
“Have you two had a chance to cool down in here”?
Aaron’s cheeks burned red while Robert bit back a smile and solemnly nodded.
“We’re gonna need you to sign some paperwork and then you’ll be free to go. I reckon you’ll be relieved to get out of those cuffs,” the officer continued as he fished out his keys. Aaron and Robert playfully glanced at each other and smiled as the officer removed their handcuffs.
Twenty minutes later, the men walked out of the police station. Aaron chuckled as he checked his newly-returned mobile.
“What’s so funny?” Robert asked as he checked his mobile as well.
“Luke dumped me. With a text message. Says I’m too much work and that I cockblocked him too many times”.
“Classy. Saves you the trouble of dumping him, I suppose”, Robert said as his eyes travelled over Aaron’s body.
“So, this hotel that you’re staying at, is it nearby”? Aaron swayed slightly from side to side, licking his lips.
Robert smiled and began swaying in return. “It’s a few blocks from here. Would you like an invitation to join me in my room, Mr. Livesy”?
“Well, if you insist. Who am I to deny my soulmate?” Aaron asked with a lopsided grin.
Robert boldly took Aaron’s hand into his and they began walking down the sidewalk, hand in hand.