Aaron smiled to himself, taking a sip of his pint and nodding at Dan who passed him and patted his shoulder.
"Great do, mate," Dan shouted over the music, quickly disappearing off through the crowd. Aaron leaned on the bar, keeping his eyes on Robert and Liv. They'd both refused to dance like the rest of the guests, including his mum who was mid head bang with Charity, and instead had found themselves at Aaron's favourite corner table, settling in as it grew closer to midnight. Liv was laughing, cheeks pink and eyes bright. She was teaching Robert to flip a beer mat and catch it, something he seemed to be struggling with even with hands like shovels. Oh, how Aaron loved those hands.
It seemed that Robert had managed to do it as Liv cheered, laughing as she leaned back with an approving smile. Robert was smiling too, shaking his head. He nudged her side with a comment Aaron couldn't hear but Liv's reaction told him all he needed to know - Robert was a little drunk, a little too nice and a whole lot affectionate. Aaron grabbed both their pints and Liv's Diet Coke and made his way over.
Robert's eyes found him in the crowd immediately, softening and with a smile, he took two of the glasses from Aaron's grip. "Thought you'd been cornered," he said, "we've done pretty well to hide over here for a bit, haven't we?"
Liv smiled, fiddling with her hair. She'd moaned all morning about having Bernice style it much to his mum's annoyance but he'd clocked her smile as she stood in the mirror all kitted out in her dress and the new heels she'd pretended to hate - she was happy. That didn't stop the fact she wasn't used to it and Aaron laughed to himself, she really was his sister.
"What you laughing at me for?" she asked, eyebrows raised but amused.
Aaron pulled a face. "Not used to seeing you all dolled up, it's still weird."
"Errrrr, I'm not all 'dolled up' thanks and you can talk," she moaned, jabbing her finger at his chest, "these penguins suits are hardly normal for you either."
Robert scoffed, rolling eyes. "These 'penguin suits' are tailor made and cost a fortune, I'll have you know and what did you expect us to wear to get married in?" Aaron laughed to himself. Never insult Robert's taste in designer clothing.
He'd hardly cared when they'd had the "what will we wear?" discussion, offering a shrug and the odd "it's nice" when he felt it was needed. They'd argued about it - obviously - Robert complaining that he was helping to run two companies, co-parenting a teenager 'who was like a third full-time job' and trying to plan a wedding, to which Aaron had snapped that if he and Liv were too much of a chore then why was Robert sticking around because he was pretty sure he didn't have to. They'd both gone quiet, both regretted their words and both given in shortly after, Robert reminding him that he'd never leave, never want to lose what they have and that he had grown to care quite a lot for Liv even if she did drive him up the wall. Aaron had played with his fingers, eyes downcast and agreed that he'd been too quick to dismiss Robert and that he knew they were in it for the long haul - a proper little family. They'd kissed and made up, Robert holding a little too tight and Aaron tucking his face into Robert's neck, eyes closed. That was it. All forgotten and a few minor cracks plastered over ready for the next inevitable onslaught. He liked their fights though, in a weird way; they didn't hide themselves from one another, they were up front and painful in honesty sometimes and were never ever afraid to hurt the others' feelings. It worked somehow.
Liv was eventually dragged off by Gabby whose eyes were unmistakably glassy and dazed. So, she'd found the champagne then. Great.
Aaron turned, angled himself towards Robert whose eyes were a little glassy and woozy too but who suited it a little more than a reckless teenager.
"I'm great," he replied, fingers resting on the seat, his index reaching to draw lines against Robert's thigh. He smiled. How did they get here?
"You pull penguin suits off pretty nicely, you know?" Robert grinned, swaying a little and resting his hand on the arm propped against the back of the seat. He looked devastating, the kind of hot and handsome that few could ever pull off and Aaron wanted to drag him away from the crowds and have him all to himself.
"Thanks, you don't look so bad yourself." Aaron moved a little closer, eyes swimming at their proximity but he smiled, slow and warm. "This is weird."
Robert let out a sharp laugh. "You're not the one having to come to terms with being at a party, the guest list of which is 90% Dingle. I'm lucky I've lasted this long without a punch."
Aaron grinned, fingers now smoothing at Robert's tie. The alcohol was clearly kicking in now because he didn't care if anyone saw them. "They wouldn't dare," he warned, "they'd have me to get past."
"Little bodyguard," Robert drawled, leaning close and dragging Aaron's lips into a slow drawn out kiss. Aaron felt the flash of heat through his chest and the way his skin flushed, he closed his eyes and lost himself in the moment, coming out of it a little dizzy at the loss of Robert's lips. Robert was grinning though, the devilish kind that Aaron loved so much.
After a brief silence and Robert' momentarily distraction of scowling as he watched Adam snog Vic's face off on the dance floor, Aaron leaned closer. "Can you believe today happened?" he asked.
Robert turned to him, edges of a frown still present. "Hmmm?"
Aaron rolled his eyes. "I asked if you could believe today happened? I mean, so much could have gone wrong and it didn't."
Robert smiled into the palm of his hand, the one it was propped on, eyes sparkling in the disco lights. "Maybe we were owed a good day."
"Yeah," Aaron smiled, warm inside, "maybe."
"I reckon we're owed a few actually, me and you."
Those words. Aaron closed his eyes on a smile. "Who are you and what have you done with Robert?" He opened them and was met with a gradual smirk, Robert's eyes sharpening and honing in. Damn. Aaron bit his lip against a smirk of his own.
"You know? Cheek like that could get you in trouble."
Aaron hummed, nodding and pressing his lips together. "Kind of counting on it, actually."
Robert laughed then, tipping his head forward to meet Aaron's. "Maybe not here though, yeah? I'm pretty sure Cain is giving me evils from the other side of the room and I reckon if I moved an inch closer he might just deck me."
Aaron turned his head to spot Cain in the crowd and, once spotted, grabbed his pint, raising it in cheers. Cain's face twitched into only the mere beginnings of a smile as he raised his own in return. "See," Aaron said, turning back to a still swaying Robert, "he's harmless unlike you who is definitely going to regret this level of PDA in the morning."
Robert looked affronted, leaning back with a frown. "You honestly think that?"
"Well, yeah," Aaron started, sliding his hand into his own jacket to remove Robert's where it had been wandering warm, wide and far too tempting for a room full of his closest family and friends, "because I'm pretty sure you don't want my mum to catch us at it on the couch or Vic to see you all over me."
"I don't care," was Robert's reply and Aaron flinched at the certainty in his words.
"You're full of surprises this evening," Aaron whispered, allowing Robert's hand to disappear into his jacket again, enjoying the way his skin tingled in its path. "I think maybe we should take this outside though because I've had too many pints, everyone keeps looking over because we are the reason this party's happening and I think you're about ten seconds from Kerry getting out'a phone to film us."
"Let her," Robert drawled, hand now running gentle lines up his side. Aaron shivered, hiding a smile. "Although she'd never share the profits and I think we'd do pretty well."
Aaron huffed out a laugh. "Yeah, well, we don't need tonight to be the night we learn about your voyeuristic tendencies, do we?"
A slow look of amazement crosses Robert's face and he leaned in close to Aaron's ear, whispering. "Keep saying long words like than and drop a couple in in French and you're in trouble."
That was it. They couldn't do this amongst the entire village in plain view but Aaron couldn't resist any longer. Robert looked like the devil in a tuxedo with hair the right side of messy and his tie starting to come loose. Aaron could exercise a decent level of self control but this was their wedding day and Robert was making it seriously fucking difficult.
"Ok, you. Come on," Aaron started, unraveling himself and standing up, "outside."
Robert appeared to blink out of a daydream, his eyebrows raised. "What? Why?"
Aaron leaned close. "Because, Robert. My self control is pretty much shot right now and I hate being the centre of attention so if you don't want to find a dark corner somewhere outside then fine, stay here and watch my mum neck another bottle of wine." He leaned back, raising at eyebrow at a seemingly speechless Robert whose tie was even looser and whose face melted into understanding, eyes sparkling.
It took them seconds to get outside, Aaron dragging Robert by the sleeve until he felt hands wide and warm against his back push him forward, tugging to turn him around and in one swift moment he was pressed against the wall, two silver barrels beside them and the music now a hum in the background. Robert's lips were at his throat and he felt like he was going to pass out.
"Steady on," he objected with absolutely no effort whatsoever, gasping and letting his eyes fall closed. "You can get arrested for less."
Robert groaned. "I'd like to see them try. I got married today, I think that means I'm pretty much untouchable right now."
Aaron breathed out a laugh, his hands dragging under Robert's jacket, enjoying the heat there and the way he was moving against him all firm and insistent. Robert continued kissing up his neck, lips dragging and hot at his throat. Aaron knew he was making noises that nobody would believe innocent but he didn't really care.
"Robert," he tried, his brain short circuiting, hands clenched in the back of Robert's shirt, holding tight. "Robert!"
Robert stopped still, leaning back and Aaron watched his eyes focus. He looked wrecked but Aaron watched the concern flood his eyes, sobering for just a moment. "What is it? Are you alright?"
Aaron breathed out, shaking his head on a smile. "I'm fine. I just - I -"
He didn't know how to say it, how to put into words what it all meant and how he desperately wanted to lose himself in Robert right now, to just disappear into the moment and allow himself to feel happy and content and pretty much lit up from head to toe...
"This is a lot," Robert said, snapping Aaron from his thoughts. "I know it is."
Robert stayed close, hands still at Aaron's hip but they were gentle now, thumb moving soft against the little patch of skin Robert had managed to expose. "It's ok if you need a minute."
"No," Aaron said immediately, anything to keep Robert close, to stop him from moving away. "No, I don't need a minute, I just - I mean did it feel like this when you married Chrissie? Is this what its supposed to feel like?"
Something crossed Robert's features and Aaron smoothed his hands down Robert's spine which worked instantly. Robert's brow knitted in thought. "I felt stuff for Chrissie, of course I did, its hard not to when you're marrying someone but not like this. Nothing like this."
Aaron felt his heart swell at the sight of Robert's eyes flooding with genuine emotion, the kind only he got to see. "How's it different?" He had to ask. Aaron felt like he was seconds from combusting, his heart moments from just giving up. He'd spent most of the day in a state of nervousness, embarrassment, overwhelming happiness and an intense kind of desperation that tugged inside and drove him insane. It wasn't a bad feeling, it just made him feel wild and every time he'd felt it, he'd tried to tether himself, to take a breath and think because nothing - nobody - had ever felt like this.
"I've spent the day in a room full of people who either don't know me, hate me, tolerate me or have at one time or another tried to kill me and there hasn't been a second when I've cared even a little bit." Aaron breathed deep, eyes fixed on Robert's. "If you even knew how much I'd put up with for you."
Aaron closed his eyes, heart hammering. When he opened them, he wrapped his arms a little further around Robert's back and focused on that breathing. "I don't want you to have to put up with stuff for me, I don't want us to be that anymore-"
"Hey-" Robert interrupted, nose brushing Aaron's for a second, "I just wanted you to know what I meant and how much you mean. You know-"
"I know," Aaron answered around a smile, laughing into it. "I just know how much we've both changed and how good we are together now and I don't want either of us to get lost in this, that's all."
"We won't," Robert soothed, "but today was always going to feel different."
Aaron's breath was shaky as he leaned further into the wall. "I never thought I'd ever get married, you know?" He watched Robert's brow crinkle.
He swallowed. It wasn't the easiest thing to talk about because teenage Aaron was a mess and then Jackson's face flashed in his mind. "I didn't think people like me got things like this," he blinked around the wetness at his lashes, "plus, I didn't think I'd ever meet someone I wanted to marry. Not really. I've seen plenty of marriages wrecked so..."
Robert leaned in with the slowest kiss Aaron had ever experienced, his toes literally curling in his shoes. Yeah, he didn't ever think he'd have this. After a moment, Robert leaned back, his lips a fraction from Aaron's. "I never thought I'd find someone I didn't have to pretend with." Aaron smiled feeling his eyes damp again and cursing the world for making him such a soft shit nowadays. "I know, in the past, I've made you doubt how I feel and I've done stuff I'm not proud of but you're everything." Robert kissed him again, this time his hands slid up to Aaron's neck, gentle and sending shivers down Aaron's skin. "I fought everything and everyone for so long because I didn't think I got to be me, I didn't think I deserved it and I've never really felt like I had a home but... you're it. That's why it feels different for me."
Aaron swallowed hard, smile teary as he allowed his hands to slide out of Robert's jacket and up into his hair, fingers splayed and scratching a little. Robert curled into it making Aaron grin, satisfied. "You are so drunk," he whispered and Robert laughed against his cheek.
"Pretty sure you're meant to be on your wedding day," he drawled.
Aaron rolled his eyes. "You know, for a non-Dingle, you don't half fit in." His breath got caught on a laugh as Robert batted at his side making him jump and squirm. "Sorry! Sorry. I take it back. But sometimes I wonder when I'm going to wake up, you know? Today has been weird."
"I meant it when I said you deserve to be really happy."
"We both do," Aaron offered, drawing out one of Robert's softer smiles.
"I don't know if I can go back in there, now I've got you to myself," Robert whispered into his ear, deep and breath hot. "You really do look great in a suit. Especially when I know I get to take it off you."
Aaron groaned, eyelids falling shut as Robert continued his mission to ruin him, his lips back at his neck. "We did today right, didn't we?" he managed to get out, Robert humming his agreement against Aaron's jaw. "Still can't believe we're married."
"Speaking of," Robert said as he leaned back, fishing in his pockets until he found what he was looking for, passing a small black box to Aaron with a soft smile. "Happy Wedding Day."
Aaron stilled, eyes on the box. He hadn't bought Robert anything except a little pre-honeymoon treat for them both to drive crazy expensive cars at a test track, a present he'd had to keep quiet from Adam to ward off any best mate jealousy. This was Robert, though. Whatever was in that box wasn't going to be insignificant.
"What's this?" he asked, feeling Robert's eyes on him, swimming in sincerity.
"Just open it."
Aaron took the box in his hand, sliding the lid off and feeling his heart stutter in his chest at the key that lay in the centre of it. He touched the ragged edge of it and looked up into Robert's eyes. "What is it?"
"Mill Cottage," Robert said simply, "it's symbolic incase you don't want it but I only need to sign a few things and it's ours. If we want it."
Aaron couldn't move. His eyes flickered up and down between the key and the twinkle in Robert's eyes, the one that told him everything he needed to know. "For us?" It was hard to keep the emotion out of his voice when being handed a whole house as a gift.
Robert took the key, placed it back into the box and rested it against the wall to their side. Once his hands were free, Aaron watched him sidle close and rest his hands on the wall either side of Aaron's shoulders. "For you, me and Liv. It's ours if we want it."
Aaron didn't think, just pulled Robert's face to him and kissed him with everything he'd felt all day, all the fear and want and hope and that miraculous feeling of desperation that just wouldn't go away. Robert's lips were soft and he melted under Aaron's touch, chest resting against Aaron's as Robert's hands snaked once more around his waist and held him close. It was all too much but Aaron closed his eyes on it, surrendering and not caring that he couldn't think straight or breathe normal.
After a moment, he felt Robert smile into the kiss, murmuring against his lips until Aaron pulled back a moment with a questioning frown. "What is it?"
"So is that a yes?"
Aaron tipped his head back against the wall, wrinkling his nose and knowing his lips were puffy and hair probably a mess. "Might have to think about it."
Robert's eyes flashed for a moment with panic until it registered and he smiled that big uncharacteristic unguarded smile that sent Aaron spiralling. "You ready to do the whole disgusting domestic thing? Tea on the table, arguing about who does the dishes, shouting at Liv to turn down her music and sex on the kitchen benches when she's at school?" Robert pressed his lips together in a smirk.
"What do you think?" Aaron answered back with a smile he just couldn't contain, the same smile that Robert kissed into hard and messy and everything Aaron had ever wanted in his life.