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When the pain starts dancing

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The roads were dark as the foggy fields looked like they’re about to disappear. It was that feeling of losing something without knowing what it is. Everywhere the emptiness was scary, you could feel the cold and it took your breath away, but then again Emmerdale always looked like this…this village always seemed to look scary, and depressed and lonely…but somehow, in all that darkness and all that cold Robert felt like home, felt like he could breathe again! This view was exactly what he wanted, what he needed! He never felt like this before, he always was scared of the dark, but not anymore! Now he felt empowered! Now he felt like he could rule the world…but only for a second!

He remembered the last time he was here, in the exact same spot…he felt it in his bones and on his spine, and only the thought of that view make his skin burn! The last time…how hard it was to remember that! Just a look outside the window of his car and he saw it all over again, he was still there, lost, confused, alone, sad and dead inside. He was once again 25 years old…just like that, on a blink of an eye…everything he tried to forget, everything he locked away, everything he fought to bury…it was gone! All he could see was his car, upside down, the broken shields, glass everywhere and blood…so much blood! How could it be so much blood?

And there she was…her white dress was perfect…the lace all over her arms, that lovely butterfly on her neck, and those shoes…God, she loved those shoes, even if it hurt her feet…and a smile came on his face remembering that…she was so beautiful, he never saw someone looking so beautiful in her wedding dress…he remembered that the only thought that he had in that moment was that he couldn’t wait to get home and get that dress off of her, and those shoes and kiss her like he never did…just kiss her! Taste her perfect lips, sent her smell, and hold her…hold her and never let go! He remembered looking at her hair, her red hair, how it shined in the lights of the cars passing by, underneath those jasmine flowers she had on her head…she looked like an angel…she was mesmerizing, and she was his! And then everything got black…he was lost and alone…everything hurt, he felt nothing…all he could see was blood and glass...everywhere…and her…alone, scared and broken…he never saw her like that…Miranda was always smiling, courageous and bold…she was a damn good lawyer, the best at her job, fearless, unstoppable…that is why he felt in love with her!...he was this stupid kid, shallow, lost, who partied more than he should, sleeping with everyone in his way, girls or boys, it didn’t matter if they could took his mind away of his boring job, of home, of family…and when he met her at this party one night everything had changed…she saw right thru him, thru his bullshit! Since that night he lived…truly lived! But not anymore…And he saw her lying there, he felt like the world has end it, like that was it…like his life were a book and this is it, this is the end…he didn’t want to live anymore. What for?...but she moved her arm and suddenly he felt like he had to breathe again…he crawled next to her, his body hurting like hell, but he never felt it, not the pain…just the fear…he held her had, flowers crawling out of her hair, and he couldn't breathe or speak…he just smiled…she was so beautiful…she lift her hand, blood on her wrists, whining at the pain and put it on his face, looking at him with those green eyes like he was the last thing she wanted to see…and she did…she took a deep breath and…those green eyes were gone forever…

Robert felt the pain all over again, it took his breath away like it happened just now…and a shiver of cold sweat past thru his spine…he then shook his head like trying to wake himself out from a bad dream and closed the zipper on his leather jacket…his wedding ring shined in the mirror…and for a minute he stared at it like he did numerous times this past 5 years since Miranda was gone…he never took it down…how could he? He was married…he still is…he is just alone!

He started his car and drove to the village…it was strange going back home…back home alone…he hasn’t been there since that night…5 years…and it still felt like yesterday! He never thought living in Home Farm again, not like this…all alone, no wife, no father, no real family…this past 5 years were so bad that sometimes he felt like giving up, just disappear. It would be so easy…and he could not be hurting anymore… but he could hear her disapproval and see her shaking her head: “You don’t just give up, Robert Sugden! You fight, and you crawl and clean as much shit as you can! And you do it with your head up, and with your heart open, and with a beautiful mind!...and with those gorgeous blue eyes”…and he blushed every time and smiled and gone thru one more day and so on and on for this past 5 years…and past his dad death and his brother leave, and his step mum cancer and treatment, and everything…just not past coming home…until now…he never understood why he came home…he just felt it! “Your angel is up” situation like Miranda always said when something like this happened, when you felt that you have to do something but not knowing why.

He stopped the car right in front of the door and took a deep breath before going out of it. He knew that at least for several hours this was all the quiet he would get…he knew Diane and Vic…he knew how glad they would be when they would see him, see him finally back home! And he was glad…he was glad that he still has them! And all those questions and all that happiness and noise is what he need it right now, ‘cause he felt Miranda death all over again, and he feared that he was gonna go dark again…and he couldn’t survive that, not this time!

He was just out of the car when the door shut open and saw this beautiful, beautiful young woman running to him with her arms open…Vic…how beautiful she was, her blonde hair all over the place but somehow perfect, her blue eyes shining, those red lips open in a big smile…his sister, his perfect little sister…how much he missed her! He felt her arms tight around him, and in a long time he felt safe! She was such a good hugger, he missed this! Her smell, her laugh, her face, everything…and most of all he missed her voice.

-"Robert! So good to see you!" She whispered in his ear while she hugged him really tied. He smiled because he never thought that his little sister would have so much strength.
-"Come on, love, leave something for me too!" he suddenly heard…Diane…so good to see her well and healthy…she went thru hell he thought, but now she looks really well.
- "I’ve missed you so much!" Robert said, and held them really tight to his chest! "Come on, let’s go inside, it’s freezing outside."
-"Adam is here too, even though he doesn’t like you very much!" Victoria said with a big smile on her face…"He said he missed you a little bit, and that he’s still gonna finish that car before you!"
-"Vic, it’s been 7 years…it should be ready ‘till now…don’t know why he’s never given up! Since I last worked on it, he never managed to do anything to it! I will always be a better mechanic than he is!" Robert looked down to his sister and winked!
-"Oi, you two…don’t you start already…leave that boy in peace…he’s a good lad!" Diane said suddenly with her hand in the air…

Robert and Victoria giggled as they got inside…the house looked exactly the same…lonely, big and HOME. It was so long since he felt safe. He looked at the table and saw his dad picture and felt sad. Diane saw him and put her arms around him. She knew…they all knew. Victoria was gone and he heard voices from living room: Adam…and Vic…and…? Was there somebody else?...He got thru the door and saw Adam who smiled while he step towards him:
-"Mate, so good to see you…you’re looking great!" And gave him a big hug…Adam looked bigger since last time he saw him…so long time ago, felt like ages…he was still in college he remembered, that’s where he met Victoria and after 2 years they’ve got married…before Robert, like everyone loved to point out. But it was that kind of love that never should wait…like him and Miranda… he studied mechanics while Victoria studied culinary art, and somehow they’ve met and since that day they’ve belong to each other, and Robert couldn’t been happy about it. It was the easy way to get rid of his sister, he thought at that time. But they were in love and happy and that was everything that mattered. Victoria was the only one in his family who never criticized him about his life back then, his life of “nothing good at it” like his dad told him every time they got together. He never approved of him being bisexual, he never understood it, and he never tried. Robert was lucky back then with Diane, who always was a common ground between them, she was maybe the only reason his dad accepted him at home and speak to him…even thou he felt his anger and almost hate every time he looked at him…but when he brought home Miranda, well everything chanced and Jake became his father for the first time.

-"Robert!"
The voice make him snap from his thoughts and raise his head…
-"Aaron?"

Chapter Text

Robert just stood there, not knowing what to do…he didn’t felt this way since, he couldn’t even remember, with everyone eyes on him, expecting a reaction from this, expecting to say something, but he couldn’t, he didn’t knew why…

-"So you do remember me, knowing my name even!" Aaron said and everyone eyes were on him now…"I was so sure you have forgotten, even put a bet with Adam here. Apparently I've lost 200 quids mate!" He smiled looking at Adam…"OK people, nice to see you but I have to go!" He then turn to Adam: "See you tomorrow about that thing?"

-"Aaron you don’t have to go, you promised you’ll stay for dinner!" Diane spoke a little bit sad…"I’ve made that stupid soup you love so much!"

-"Maybe next time, yeah? Promise!" And Aaron went through the door.

-"Well that wasn’t awkward at all!" Victoria giggled and turned to Adam: "I thought that he was over him by now, it’s been, what 7-8 years? Or is like some weird bond, being that Robert turned him gay!"

- "I didn’t turn him gay, Vic!" Robert was able to speak for the first time, "You don’t just turn somebody gay, it’s what you are, it’s what you feel, it’s what you want! I thought you knew all of this!" he went straight to the table and sat down. "And besides, Aaron always was gay, but back then he wouldn’t admit that yet to himself", Robert spoke mostly just for him to hear. "And what is about that amazing soup I’ve heard about it Diane? I’ve missed it so much! And I’m starving, so can we all get to eat?"

 

They’ve just sat there at the dinner table and eat and talk about everything, about Adam and Vic, about them trying to have a baby, or maybe adopt if everything don’t turn out like they want, about Diane health and about Robert. How he felt in London all this long, alone, only with work, what made him come back home, how he just quit his job, pack his bags and drove here. About Jack, and how hard it’s been since his death, and about Miranda…how good she was, and how much everybody loved her, and how much Robert missed her…

-"You should find somebody, it’s time!" Diane looked at Robert with sadness in her eyes. "Miranda would want you to. She was an amazing woman, she would want you to be happy…"

-"I’m married, Diane, I don’t need nobody…and beside, I’m happy, why wouldn’t I be? I’m home"…Robert said and looked around him!

 

Diane looked at him and at Vic, and she knew that this was it, she would speak in vain, Robert would never listen. He loved Miranda to much, she understood that, but she also wanted to see her son happy again, loved and not alone. Robert looked so alone.

They’ve talk more about work, Adam told him that he was working with Aaron at their scrapyard, but they need it more investment to put it back on track, how Diane owned half a pub with Chas, Aaron’s mom, and that she couldn’t go anymore there to help Chas, ‘cause she felt old, and sick and she wanted to sell, how Victoria worked there too in the kitchen, and that she is so close to open up a restaurant, and all of this make him even more tired then he was…but he listen, because he missed them all! He looked at Diane, her face looked tired and sometimes sad. Her battle with cancer left deep marks on her face, but still she was the same mom he knew for ages, safe and kind and beautiful. She was his mom and he loved her very much, since that day she came for the first time to their house and told him that from now on they will be mates, that he could tell her anything he wanted and that she will always listen to him. And she did. She kept that promise, she still is. And then he looked at Vic, he never saw her so happy, her eyes were shining, her hair like always, a mess, but so perfecly messy, her lips red like fire, somehow they looked alike, but different in so many ways. He was tall and firm, and everyone that knew him told him he looked scary and severe, just like Jack, and he hated that, but Vic was small, and girly and strong at the same time. And Adam, tall, dark and hot! He laughed at Vic sometimes telling her that as she blushed and told him that Adam is hers and only hers.

 

-"Sorry, but I’m really tired, it’s ok if I’m going to bed?" Robert said when it was almost midnight. "Promise will continue this tomorrow!" and he got up from the sofa and head it to the stairs.

 

He got to the first floor, right, to his room. It was the same room that he had since he was young, just different decorations, same pictures, same bed, almost everything was as he remembered. He sit on the bed and took a deep breath. This was it. His fresh start, his new life, his new beginning. Why it felt so wrong? He wasn’t that confident man on the road up here. He look around him, the pale blue walls looked like they were closing out on him, the bed looked smaller, the windows were dark, the curtains were blue, and in the dark they almost seemed black…
Black…black…like Aaron hoodie, and Aaron shirt, and Aaron jeans and sneakers. He looked so different after all this years, he was bigger, not the same skinny boy he knew, he had dark beard now, and his hair short and all curly, black, darker than he remembered. But the same blue eyes. The same big blue eyes that could take your breath away, like he did so many times before. But somehow bluer then he rememebered, it’s that possible? He wasn't that awkward boy anymore, he was this fit and strong and hot man now, all dark and handsome. But why would he think of him? He couldn’t! He shouldn’t! But he did!

***

Aaron just got home. He went through the pub, praying that nobody would stop him for a chat. Cain was there, so was Moira and Paddy and his mom, but they were busy laughing about something, so he passed straight through the middle of the pub, to the back stairs and into his room. He threw his hoodie onto the bed and collapsed in the chair next to it. There were clothes everywhere, but he liked his room messy, it made him feel safe and normal and at home. He knew were everything was in that mess, he knew all of it. He was part of that, of all of that. He left his head back and sighed. Why in the hell he felt like this? Why seeing Robert made him feel like this? He looked out the window and he suddenly stood up. He took his jacket from the chair and sneaked through the back door.

He always did that, disappear when he felt scared, cornered and alone. He had to do that again. But every time he finished in the same place, somehow his body was set on this, he did it not even thinking about it! It was something he did since he was 8 years old, for the same reasons, with the same sadness. He did it when his mom left him, he did it when his dad kicked him out of the house, he did it when he first kissed a guy and when he first fell in love and when he lost that love, when his mom came back, but mostly he did it after Jackson died. Jackson…how he missed him! Jackson knew every time what to tell him, he felt safe with him and at peace. He was his first relationship, a real one. First bloke he loved, he truly did, but Jackson was destined for something else, for something greater than him, and he left and let him behind, but he understood and even if he felt lost, alone, and sometimes he wanted to just give up, he knew that he was cursed to love him forever.

Tonight was no different night at all. He was all over again scared and lonely and sad. So he got back on that rock, top of the pier, near the see, just to look at it all. The sky, the stars and the water. He loved the water so much, his last good memory from when he was young it was by the see. How he wanted to go back then and there, to fell like that again. But he couldn’t. He just got to be here, to fell like he did, pain crawling under his skin, his heart crushed everytime he took a breath, his body burning all over! But he got used to it! It was the pain that made him go on…and tonight he just stood there thinking of Robert.

Chapter Text

The sun just came up and Robert was already awake. He always did this when he was in London, get up before the sun rise. He always loved the silence before the storm. But here, in Emmerdale everything was different. There were farm helpers all over the place starting the work already. He got dressed: jeans, shirt and sweater and took his leather jacket out of the closet. Even if he was back home and not in the offices of London he couldn’t stop dressing like this, it was his style, his habit, his nature. He came down the stairs and smelled fresh coffee, and when he entered the kitchen he saw Diane there:

"Diane it’s 5 in the morning, what are you doing up at this hour?" he leaned and kissed her on the cheek.

"Coffee, don’t you see? Your father was up this hour going back there at the farm, working. It just stuck with me, that’s all. It’s something I do to remember him. I miss him, you know?" she said looking down at her mug.

"I know mom", Robert hugged her, "I do too!" He always considered her his mom, but only a few times he called her that. But he knew that Diane wouldn’t mind, she felt the love from him.

"And where are you going all dressed up, love?" she asked.

"After breakfast I have to see Adam and then I was thinking going to the pub? If that’s ok with you? Maybe I can buy your half and help out a little?" Robert spoke as he went to the fridge.

Diane came behind him and pushed him aside hitting his hand: "You go on and sit at the table. I serve breakfast in this house!"

She came after few minutes and set the table for Robert: "You don’t have to buy my half, love, ‘cause that pub was your fathers and now if you want it’s yours."

"But father left it to you, not to me. So you can do what you want with it: sell it, donate it, what you want." Robert spoke as he drank his juice.

"Yes, what I want, and what I want is to give it to you, for free. Just go there first, see if it’s good for you and then we’ll see." Diane smiled at him.

 

After breakfast Robert got in his car and drove to the village. The road there was the same. In places sloppy and always wet. It seems that in this place the sun never saw the earth. He remembered how many times he drove to the village, sometimes sneaking around, other times with his dad and Diane. But always it was the same. For someone that wasn’t from here it would seemed that this village doesn’t even exist because he was right in the middle of a forest and you could easily pass by if you didn’t know, but for him it was like second nature, he knew it by memory. It was not London, it was not fancy, but still he would rather live here than anywhere else. So when he turned right to the main street he felt like home: trees everywhere, cars, only familiar places. He then drove by the cemetery and stopped instantly. He wasn’t here to visit Miranda grave in 5 years, or his dad’s. How could he? When he was in London he got in the car every month and started to drive, but after only a block he’ll turn around and run back to the house. But somehow, today it felt like something he had to do, felt like nature. He couldn’t explain to himself why he felt like this? Suddenly? Because this fear of failing everything stopped him coming home for his dad funeral, one thing to add to the long list of things he would never forgive about himself ever. He got down of the car, walked to the flower lady and bought this huge bouquet of jasmine and he smiled looking at it and then another one of daisies, his mom favorites and he went in. He felt nothing, he was numb, he couldn’t hear himself thinking, only his heartbeat and then he stopped. There they were: Sarah Sugden, Jack Sugden and Miranda Sugden. All 3 of them, and him standing there not knowing what to do.

"Hey princess", Robert said with sadness in his voice. He couldn’t cry anymore, he did that for a week without ever stopping and he was out of tears. He couldn’t cry since then, not even at the funeral. He remembered him standing, like now, without feeling anything, without crying, when his father came to him an put an arm on his shoulder: "I know how you feel. I understand you son. You feel betrayed, lost, confused, heartbroken. But it will pass. It may not seems so now, but it will pass. And after a while you will start feeling guilty because you will start to forget and then angry because you think you don’t care anymore, but then, one day that you will know nothing about, you will feel brave and at peace. That day will be the day you will loose your heart forever. But if you’re lucky and if you’ll deserve it, somebody will come to you and she will make you forget how damaged you are. She will not fix you or give back your heart, nobody ever could, but she will never try, because she will know that this is who you are. She will be patient, too patient and she will love you like you will never thought that you will be loved again and you’ll start loving her too. And you will loose yourself in her and she will take care of you forever." And Jack turned away and left. That was the first time he felt like he had a real father. And after that they never talked again.

And then he put the daisies in his mother grave, his birth mother, Sarah. He never knew her, but everyone told him she was perfect. He died giving birth to him, and his father somehow, without saying, remembered him of that everyday. He hated him for that for so long, until he started to hate himself out for killing his mom. He still is. He turned around to leave, unable to look away from Miranda grave, and when he finally glance up he saw him, right there, all black, with his hands in the pockets of his hoodie, head down, alone and sad: Aaron. He turned around and saw Robert, and looked away immediately and started walking.

"Aaron!" Robert found himself shouting. Didn’t know why and felt embarrassed.

Aaron stopped and turn around facing him. Robert started walking towards him and suddenly he felt nervous not knowing what to ask.

"Jackson? Is that some mate of yours? Did I knew him?" Robert asked and didn’t know why. It was like his mouth was speaking out of control.

"No, you didn’t! How could you? You were gone!" And Aaron was not even looking at him, his hands still in his pockets. "He died 4 years ago, in a car accident. Well actually not in a car accident, after, in the hospital." Aaron looked at his shoes, swinging from one foot to another nervously. "I don’t have to tell you how that works, don’t i?" and he nod to Miranda grave.

"No, you don’t!" Robert looked at the grave with grief.

They stood there in silence for a minute and then:

"What did she tell you before she died?" Aaron asked, still looking at the grave.

Robert was took by surprise by this question. Nobody asked him this before, not a single bit. But somehow he felt the need to answer it.

"Nothing…she said nothing. She couldn’t speak, she had blood in her mouth. But she held my face and she was gone." Robert turn to look at the ground, he felt like he could cry, he didn’t do it thou. He didn’t do that in 5 years.

"You are lucky then…I wasn’t…Right before he closed his eyes Jackson told me: “Don’t cry because I will forget you, and don’t cry because I’m leaving you. It’s time to go separate ways and time to say goodbye. Aaron, when fate decides to do so, it’s nothing, nothing we can do. It’s nothing we can do to turn back time and that great love we felt. So… you stay here and be happy and at peace. One love goes Aaron, but another comes and you will forget I ever loved you.” and Aaron turned and leave.

Chapter Text

Robert got in the car and drove to the scrap yard. He knew that Adam will already be there, they’ve talked about it last night. Robert promised that he will look at their books and give them some advice regarding the investments. The scrap yard was near the cemetery, right outside the village. And he got there pretty quick.

-Hey, finally. I thought that you changed your mind! Adam came to the car.

-And why would I change my mind? If I told you I’m gonna do it, I keep my promises. Robert smiled and pat him on the back.

-Maybe because of me?! Aaron stood on the door of the portacabin.

Robert looked up at him! Even if he saw him just a few minutes before Aaron seemed different. He was more confident now, less darker, he was looking right at him, facing him, it looked more like a challenge. All he could do is smile.
They all got inside, Adam gave him the books and him and Aaron went outside for work. Robert studied them and saw everything he needed to see and when he was over he glanced through the window and looked at the boys working. He couldn’t help to see how fit they were, and how good Aaron looked in that uniform. He was trying to get a door down and he pulled so hard but couldn’t, Adam was inside pushing. He saw Aaron arms, fit and muscular, he saw how the shirt was almost popping out and he had grease all over him, his hands and face, but those eyes…man, those eyes. He felt himself moving and in a second he was next to Aaron pulling hard with him.
Aaron was took by surprise and looked down, smiling only for him to know. He remembered Robert from when he worked that summer at Home Farm, on his college vacation, before Robert went for London for his job after graduation, fixing that damn car his dad found on a field and brought home. He was a really good mechanic as Adam pointed out to him several times, but he never understood why he abandoned that. But then again, it was Robert…the one that disappeared that summer and come back after 2 years.

-Thanks, mate! But we could have done it on our one. Aaron smiled.

-Yeah, I’m sure! …Hey, I’ve finished and looks pretty good actually. The finance part is ok you just need a quick investment now, and after that you can go for clients without hurry. Robert looked at them both.

-So, Adam frowned, If we find now some money, a investor we can breath again?

- Luckily, me being here, makes everything easy. I'll give you the money. I be your investor. Robert smiled with confidence.

-What? No way, thanks but we are just fine! Aaron shook his head and looked at Adam: Mate, we can do this on our on!

-Except we can’t, Aaron. We need this! You know that! Adam looked serious.

- Ok, look guys, I’m gonna let you two talk and you can tell me what you think tonight at the Home Farm, ok? You both come over, we’ll have some beers and talk more about this. But I have to tell you. You need to decide fast, because the business really needs it. And Robert turned around and got in his car.

 

He went straight to the pub, parked his car outside and went through the doors. It looked so nice, just like he imagine it would be, intimate and small. There were some people, and Chas at the bar. He remembered her from the village and from his dad, she looked almost the same, with her curly hair, and kind face, always smiling. She was so diferent from Aaron, but in some ways they were exactly the same.

-Chas?! Hey, I’m Robert, do you remember me? Jack and Diane son? Robert smiled at her.

-Yes love, of course I remember you! Come here! And she went for a hug. You look amazing! Diane told me you’ll come. She called me this morning. She then nodded to him to sit! That woman is up at the crack of the dawn, isn’t she?

-Yeah, she is! She could be really intense sometimes, but I’m just glad that she’s ok now! He looked down, worries going through his mind. But he snapped quick from it and turned to Chas:
- Look, I came here because she can’t do this anymore. She feels that it’s time to just stay home, resting, so I told her that I could come here and help her out…and you, of course…but, only if it’s ok with you, and your family. I don’t want you to feel like you are obligated or something, or that I want the pub or force you out, because…

-Robert…hey…breath honey…it’s ok! I would never think that! Why would i? …she put her hand on top of his…you are not your father! She smiled!

Robert look up at her, and blushed:
-Thank you!

-So, tell me…what do you have in mind? Chas went to bring him a glass of juice…I imagine you drove here?! looking at the glass.

-Yeah, thank you! I don’t know, what you want me to? The same that Diane maybe did? Or anything, actually. Robert started shouting a little bit, because Chas was in the back after something…I can go after supplies, or I will buy...and he stopped, feeling eyes on him. He turned and there he was, Aaron!

-What the hell are you doing here too? Aaron frowned at him with surprise.

-I was just telling your mom…Robert was interrupted.

-He’s gonna be my new partner. Diane is resting, baby! Chas said with a smile.

Aaron went dark and felt the rage bottling up, ready to explode:
- Hey, Robert, can I talk to you just a second? In the back?

Robert didn’t understood what was happening, but he went anyway. They were at the back entrance, away from anyone to see them…it was quiet and the view amazing.

-What the hell are you doing? Aaron shouted.

-What do you mean? Robert was confused, he didn't understand why Aaron was upset. He thought he at least liked him, or tried too. He didn't understand his reaction at all.

-You think you can come here dress like this, with your smug smile and all that business talk and get this from my mom? You think that if you start throwing your money around you will be welcomed back to the village like a big Sugden you are? Aaron looked right at him, his eyes sparkling with rage.

-What? What are you on about Aaron? I wasn’t throwing money around. I’m really fond of my money actually. Were did this come from? Robert sounded confused.

-And what have you to say about the scrap yard? Hm? What was that all about? We don’t need your money, mate!

-Well Adam didn’t think that, did he? Robert frowned. Look! Let’s just calm down, ok? Mostly you…because, boy you have a temper…I wasn’t trying to buy your mom half, I was trying to help, to replace Diane. They will still be together in this. And at the scrap yard, if you won’t want my money, it’s fine. You can search it in other places…but I’m telling you, you need this, and I want to invest. It’s a good business. You and Adam did really good. But, like I’ve said, come tonight, and we’re gonna talk about this more…maybe without shouting…and with some beers in our hands?

 

Robert turned around and left. And Aaron stood there, feeling like an idiot. What was wrong with him? What was that all about? Why he wasn’t able to control this rage he feels when he sees Robert? What it’s happening? He thought that he was pass this, he wasn’t feeling like this since he was 21 years old and in college. This was the state that Jackson found him. No, no, no, he couldn’t go back to that state…not anymore.

He turn and left.

Chapter Text

He found himself standing there, alone, staring at the house. Somehow it felt bigger since the night before, or it was him that felt small? He looked scared and he felt his hands shaking. But why in the names God he would feel like that? He was not a teenager anymore.

-Aaron, get your shit together, what the hell is wrong with you?! he whispered to himself, then he turned his head around.

He was not ready yet. He felt embarrassed about his reaction, he didn't understand it. If he felt so confused, imagine Robert thoughts. He felt himself moving, going around the house, to the back, because all of it seems so familiar. Passed the garage, back to the stables. He did that for about 3 months, 7 years ago in his summer vacation from college when he needed money to buy himself a car, and damn he loved those horses. Jack was kind enough to let him work there a few hours a day, he never expected to, Jack was always this strict guy, harsh on others and very intense, but probably Diane insisted. Those 3 months were perfect…but he couldn't help himself but feel pain thinking of those times and what it followed after. He shook his head and got back to the house, finally able to enter.

***

Robert saw Aaron from his window and understood. He lowered his head and felt the memories come through. He blocked them away for so long. He tried so hard to forget everything he felt 7 years ago, but there he was, once again, 23 years old, scared and rejected. He never thought that Aaron cared like that, that he could feel what he was feeling then, he never got to ask…and he turned around at the noises coming downstairs: Adam and Aaron laughing.

***

-Mate, finally, I thought that you’ll not come! Adam hugged him.

-Yeah, you’re right! We need this! Let’s just hope that Robert didn’t change his mind! Aaron hugged him back.

- I’m not! Robert interrupted, coming down the stairs. So boys, let’s talk business!

***

-Now that everything is over, I have to go make a baby! Adam stood up, smiling.

-Yeah, you do! Aaron winked at him.

-I’m gonna pretend that you two aren’t talking about my baby sister! Robert closed his eyes and shook his head. See you tomorrow! Shouted at Adam who was already at the door.

-I’m gonna go too! I have to call a cab! It is ok if I let my car here until tomorrow? I don’t want to drive after I've drank. Aaron took out his phone.

-Yeah, of course! Robert looked at him.

He felt proud of Aaron and happy that they would work together now. He smiled looking at him talking on the phone. He wondered if Aaron ever wear something else than black. When he was working here that summer he had the uniform, but at school and in the village he was always in black, and he smiled even more because he couldn’t picture him in other colors.

-Right! In 10 minutes I’m out of your hair! Aaron put his hands in his pockets and headed to the door.

Robert caught up with him on the steps outside:

-I know why you are mad at me, Robert finally said.

-Mad? Why would I be mad? And at you? What could you possible did to me? Aaron lifted his shoulders and turn around.

Robert grabbed his arm:
-C’mon, you clearly are still mad about 7 years ago…I never thought you cared back then…

-Care? Aaron turned around quickly, that rage that was feeling every time he saw Robert ready to explode. He had his fists closed really tied and Robert thought he is gonna hit him.

-Care? I didn’t just cared, you stupid! he sighed:

-You know, I’ve watched you for almost half a year, you and Andy were inseparables. I saw you two everywhere, here in the village, at Home Farm, everywhere…and I couldn’t stop staring at you… I was lurking in the back of the bar as you sat in front with Andy, laughing and surrounded with all the girls, watching you passing by, and thinking, wow, how tall he is, and that hair, he just have to wake up with it because it’s impossible to style it like that, and those clothes, always on point…and then at Home Farm, every time at that damn car, fixing it, all greased up, but I thought that you were still amazing…and I couldn’t understand it why I was thinking like that, feeling like that. You were a bloke, I was supposed to look like that at girls. I’ve always feared that maybe you saw me staring at you, and then that morning you came to the stable, called my name and pinned me to the wall…Aaron came closer to Robert face, forcing him to hold his breath and took a little step back…and then you kissed me! Really kissed me, on the mouth! In that moment I couldn’t feel my legs and my arms were numb, but still I’ve managed to get them up, clinging at your jacket, squeezing so hard, trying to find balance while I was feeling your lips press to mine and your tongue gently making space in my mouth, soft and warm. I couldn't breathe, I remember, but somehow I couldn't care less if I was to die…and then your lips parted mine and you were looking at me with those blue eyes, those stupid blue eyes! Aaron shouted now and pushed up one finger on Robert face…you told me: meet me here tomorrow at 6 in the morning and turned and left…and me, after you let go, I collapsed to the floor because my legs were numb and when I’ve opened my hands I had one button of yours in one hand because I've squeezed your jacket so hard…and the next day I was there, at 6 in the morning, and you never came…you never did, not that day and not for another 2 years when you came back with your fiance…

 

Robert just stood there, breathless, scared, sad and hurt. But he wasn’t like that for himself, he didn’t deserved that, he felt it for Aaron. As he looked at him he saw the hate in his eyes and the pain, he saw those tears trying to escape his eyes, but it never did…he tried to say something, the truth, but he couldn’t.
Aaron would never believe him anyways, so instead he said:
- I’m sorry, I really am!

-Yeah, I know you are! Aaron got in the cab letting him alone.

He never felt so empty before, not even when Miranda died. He couldn’t explain it. He just felt his heart shattered, he even thought he heard it, while he was looking at Aaron remembering that day and then he realized: that day he lost somebody that someday if it would have been necessary he would have given his life for him.

Chapter Text

Robert entered the house. He felt lost, sad. He couldn’t understand how this happened. All this years he lied to himself that Aaron felt nothing, that him leaving was the best. And why would he been thinking at Aaron if he was in love, married. No, he couldn’t. He can’t be this person. He sworn in front of God that he will love Miranda all his life, that he will be faithful and honest.
He winced when he heard steps behind him. Diane…looking at him with sad eyes, smiling. She heard everything, isn’t she?

-Oh, love! Come here! She opened her arms big so she can hold him like she did when he was 23 years old.

-Diane, what am I doing? What is this? I don’t want to be like this! I love her, I miss her, I want her back! Robert tried to cry but couldn’t.

-I know, baby, I know. But you can’t. I know you loved her so much, but it’s time! And you have to be honest with you. It’s ok to be scared, and it’s ok to move on. You are not forgetting her, you are not betraying her trust or disrespect her. You will always love her. But enough is enough. You deserve to be really happy, all your life. Not just one year. Do you remember how it is to be happy? Diane kissed his forehead.

- I’m scared. Robert let go of Diane.

- Yeah, that’s good! This is how you supposed to feel. You are supposed to fight and scream and cry, that is life, that is love. When you feel pain and fear and hope and desire. Not only for you, but for the person you love. Loving is when you make so many mistakes that you get scared that you will loose the other, but every time you remember that no matter how big you screw up someone he’s next to you, when you fight so hard for the one you love that you are constantly tired but somehow you go on, when you don’t need to find excuses for what he says, or does. I told you 7 years ago and I tell you again today: Don’t be afraid of love! Diane pet him on the back and left.

-Mom?!...Robert looked at her with so much love…

-You know where he is, love! Go! And she went to the kitchen.

Robert stood there trying to understand what he felt. His heart knew the second he entered this house yesterday night, but his mind couldn’t. He needed air, space to think, so he got his car keys and went for a ride. He just drove, paying just enough attention to the road, his mind elsewhere. And he stopped. …What? How he got there?! He got out of the car and looked around him. He wasn’t here in 7 years. Everything was exactly the same. He looked up and there he was, at the edge of the rock, Aaron. For a second he felt the need to get in the car and drove away. But his feet didn’t listen. He started walking to the back of the pier, going up.

-Hey! Robert finally said when he got there.

Aaron turned startled:
-Robert? How…why…what are you doing here? stuttered through his words…Did you follow me here?

-What? No, I didn’t! …he got next to him looking at the sea…Man, I forgot how amazing the view is! I’ve always loved the way it looked at night. Robert put his hands in the pocket of his jacket.

-What are you doing here? Aaron was still in shock!

-I don’t know. I just drove here. Robert turned and stood on a rock.

-No, I mean how do you know about this place? Aaron turned after him like a magnet.

 

Robert lowered his head and looked down at his feet. He closed his eyes, not knowing what to do. He felt scared, insecure, childish. Why he felt like this? What was so different about Aaron that made him feel like this. He was back in the past when we thought that he was over it. He fought so hard and so long to get past this, and now he is back there like it was yesterday. But he couldn’t anymore, he had to tell the truth. It doesn’t matter anymore if Aaron would believe him or not, he already hated him, so…

-I’ve seen you here one day 7 year ago, on the exact same spot, when I was driving home. I knew you from the village and the pub, so I’ve stopped the car, thought you’ll jump or something. I looked up and saw you crying, right here. I didn’t wanted to scare you so I’ve stayed down there, you know, in case you jumped in the water. You’ve cried and shouted for about 2 hours and then you’ve stopped and sat on this rock for 2 more hours. I wanted to go but I couldn’t. So I’ve stayed until you got down and drove to the village. The next day you came to Home Farm and started working for us. I was curious, wanted so much to know why you were so sad. So, I’ve watched you from my window every morning when you came, and when you were here I would come down, starting working on my car, trying to see what you’re doing. Every night from that night I came here, parking my car down there, to see if you are back. And you were, every night. At the exact same hour, crying and shouting and staring. Sometimes longer, sometimes just a few minutes. I never understood why, but I could imagine. Sometimes I’ve felt doing that myself. I remember seeing you right here, he pointed to the rock next to him, always dressed in black, and you seemed so unhappy, so broken. You seemed like you can’t breath, like your heart is shattered. You seemed so lost. I felt like that too. But every night you went back home, and so was i. One day, Diane entered my room, saw me staring at you on my window. She asked me if I liked you. I’ve blushed. I never thought about it like that before. It never occurred to me that I could like a guy, but then again I’ve felt so awkward around girls, like it was not my place. So I’ve started thinking of you, at your face, your eyes and I couldn’t stop smiling. And then that night you came here again and you started shouting, you didn’t cried and I knew that you were dried of tears, you couldn’t cry anymore and just like that I’ve started crying. I knew how much you were hurting and I wanted to help you with that pain. The next day Diane came to my room again and saw me once again staring out the window. “You have to tell him” she said “If you like him, you have to tell him. Don’t be afraid of love”. So I came to you and called your name, wanting to tell everything, but you turn around and I saw those blue eyes looking at me, they were so sad but they’ve sparkled, so I couldn’t stop myself and I kissed you. I told you to come see me the next morning so we can talk, I wanted to tell you everything. I got back in my room so happy I couldn’t walk, but my dad was there. He saw us through my window. He instantly packed my bags and told me that he is expecting me downstairs, that we are going to London. I’ve opened my mouth to tell him that I wont and he hit me. He hit me so hard that my lip blooded. “If you still want to be my son, you will come down those stairs in exactly 2 minutes and we will go to London.” he shouted at me. So I went…

Robert stood up from the rock, turned around and left.

Chapter Text

Aaron couldn’t sleep that night or the rest of the nights after that, for at least a week.

Chas was worried for him again. She didn’t know how to help her son because she didn’t knew what it’s wrong with him. Aaron was always this closed up kid who has done only what he wanted, she never could enter his world entirely, but she helped, she always helped. This days were no different. She tried to convince him to go to work or come help the bar, but he never wanted to. Then she thought it was about Jackson, but when she saw that he was not going at the cemetery she knew that is something else. She was desperate to help her son and Aaron saw that, and that’s why he avoided her so long.

When he got down of bed, the sun wasn’t even up. He took a shower and he saw his face in the mirror. His beard had grown, his eyes had darkened, his hair was a mess, he was pale. He couldn’t care less. He took a quick shower and he was off the door to the woods. There it was almost all these days, running. He could stay in those woods for days. He started running, his mind going places, to that night, those words, his face. He started running faster and faster as his mind was piecing together Robert face. He run so hard that he was breathless. He stopped and his mind was gone. Gone to Robert words, to his pain, to his fear, to the way he felt and then to his lips and eyes. And to those freckles he had and his jawline, and perfect hair. He shook his head trying to escape.

-What am I doing? He said, letting his head down.
- Jackson, what am I doing to you? he started feeling guilty.

His self hate was eating him alive. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t think at Robert. He sworn at Jackson grave that he would not love anymore, that he would be his forever. And now he couldn’t break that promise. And he wouldn’t. But it hurt, it hurt so much that sometimes he wished he never promised. He was thinking at Jackson, at what he would tell him now and for a second he had hope. He knew that Jackson will tell him that his promise is bullshit, that he deserved to be happy, to find love again, to stop feeling pain. That he needs to be brave and fight for what he wants, to be great at it and to allow somebody to love him back. He would tell him to smile more and be silly, and tell jokes and dream big again. He would tell him to kiss a guy on the streets and hold his hand. And he would tell him to get married and grew old with his soul mate. But he couldn’t…he couldn’t tell him that, because he was dead. So his heart hurt again, desperation growing in his mind. He wanted to shout and cry. He felt his skin burn and his chest crushing and he thought that he was having a heart attack. He started to breath harder and quicker and he collapsed to the ground. He felt dizzy and his vision was blurry. He stood there, on the ground, alone, thinking that he was gonna die. And he felt nothing but only solace. But then his mind flew back at Jackson, at his smile and his eyes, and he remembered how much he hated cowards. How much he fought for Aaron and how he hated when he would give up. He imagined that Jackson will hate him for being weak, that he would resent him if he was going dark again. So, instead he breathed deep and stood and started running again.

***

-Robert is a ghost again, Diane. What happened? Victoria looked worried. It’s Miranda again? Or is it dad? I know he told you!

-No baby, it’s not that. He told me, yes, bits of it. I don’t know much. You know how he is. Diane smiled.

-He is in real pain, I can feel it! I want to help. Victoria felt powerless. It’s Aaron, isn’t it? And Miranda…he feels guilty, isn’t he?

-We just have to take care of him. You know your brother. He will bury himself in work. He was at the scrap yard almost non stop, and when he wasn’t there, he was at the pub, or working again at that damn car. If he’s going like this, I don’t know what would happened.

Diane stood next to Vic, putting her hands on top of hers.

-Don’t know what happened, Aaron is a wreck too. Adam reckons it’s about him and Robert as well, and Jackson.

Victoria felt that she could cry.

-This boys, ufff…if they still have feelings for each other why don’t they allow themselves to be happy? Miranda is dead, so is Jackson. They both loved them very much, but it’s time. And they have history. If it wasn’t for dad…

-How do you know about that? Diane asked in surprise.

-Mom, I know everything, Vic smiled.

They’ve heard the door. It was Robert: his eyes on the ground, moving like a robot, he didn’t saw them. He went straight to his room, all greased and lost.

-I’m gonna go talk to him, Vic stood up and went to the stairs. Knocked at Robert’s room: Hey, can I come in?

-Yeah, Vic, come in! Robert said almost for himself.

-Hey, are you ok big brother? Vic asked, coming into the room. You look…not fine!

-Yeah, I’m ok! I just have to change to go to the scrap yard. Robert started looking for his clothes.

-But you will take a shower first and then you will eat something and after that if it’s time you will go, yeah? Victoria said on a demanding tone.

-No, Vic, it’s ok. I’m not really hungry. I will buy something on my way there. Robert nodded.

-From where? Middle of no where, across the fields? C’mon Robert, you know me. You will not get out of this. She put a hand on his back. Come here, sit next to me. Tell me what is wrong with you. She sat on the bed and stroked the bed right next to her.

-It’s nothing wrong, what are you talking about? Robert went and sat on the bed.

-Rob, it’s me…she looked him in the eyes. It’s Aaron isn’t it? You told him? And I guess it didn’t go well?

He sighed deeply:

-Yeah. But I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t believe me either, or forgive. I was a coward. If I’ve really cared I’ve said no to dad. For god sake, I was 23 years old, I could’ve done better.

-You had no choice. He made you choose. It wasn’t fair, but you chose your family. Aaron would not blame you for that…I’m sure he isn’t. Victoria looked at him.

-Yeah, if he doesn’t, then why I didn’t see him in 1 week? Robert asked.

-Aaron…well, Aaron is Aaron...he processes things differently. Like you, he had so much hate and pain in his life and fear. And for so many years he fought to find his balance. And when he finally did, when he knew who he was, Jackson died.

Victoria put her hands on Robert shoulder.

-But you have to fight for him.

-I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if I want to. Robert looked at her.

-Of course you can, and of course you want to. It’s ok to fall in love again, Robert. It’s ok to try to find love again. It’s ok to be loved again. Because, I’m sure that Aaron feels the same. Same fear, same terror, same guilt, same questions. Vic looked down.

-And if he doesn’t? Robert voice sound scared.

-He’s not the only guy in the universe, you know? Victoria hugged him tight.

-No, he’s not! Robert nodded. But he’s the only one that matters.

Chapter Text

Chas was in his room, waiting for him to come back from wherever he went. She tried so hard not to clean up the place, but she knew how Aaron would get, so instead she cleared a chair and sat on it. This time she would talk to him, see what’s wrong. She couldn’t get through another hospital situation like last time and she hoped she wouldn’t, because Aaron wasn’t that man anymore. She heard the door open, and Aaron came in, all sweaty and gasping for air. He looked terrible, exhausted, broken. He haven’t saw him like this since Jackson died and he spent 2 days in the cemetery, sleeping there. She felt shivers only thinking at that time, or of the last year of college when she had to hospitalize him. She didn’t want to get back to that.

-Mom, what are you doing here? You scared me! I thought that you are downstairs.

-Honey, we need to talk. What it’s wrong with you? You’re starting to scare me. I have to be concerned again?

-What? No, mom, of course not! I’m fine! Just had some hard days at work, that’s it!

-Ahh, you mean that work that you haven’t went in 1 week? That work? Aaron, it’s me! You know you can tell me anything, right? I’m hear just to listen. I promisse I wont tell anything, not one advice from this part. She put a hand across her mouth and winked.

Aaron smiled and sat on the bed, looking at his feet:

-It’s Robert! He looked up at her, waiting.

She smiled:

-What? I told you…nothing…here just to listen.

Aaron frowned:

-We kinda talked. Well, actually I did and then I left, and then he did and he left…he shook his head. Some night ago I went to Home Farm to discuss about the scrap yard with Adam and when I left Robert tried to talk to me and I kinda started shouting at him, told him everything that I felt 7 years ago, you know when he kissed me. And then I got up on a taxi and left, letting him there, but he came at the pier that night and he told me that he was watching me too and that he felt what I felt, and when he kissed me his father saw us and made him go to London. Aaron spoke breathless like he wanted to finish with it faster, and he looked at his mother:

-Mom, please, you can talk. I need you to tell me what to do!

-Love, I don’t have to tell you. You will do what you feel…And, how do you fell about what he told you?

-I don’t know! Aaron stood. I’m confused…and why should I care? I’m not gonna be with him or anything…

-And why not? If you like him, why not? He’s single, he’s really really hot…

-Mom! Aaron looked at her.

-What? He is! …all I want to say is that you can be together if you both want to.

-But he never told me that he wants to be with me, you didn’t listen? He just told me what happened 7 years ago, that’s all, and beside you know I can’t be with him…

-Why can’t you? Because of Jackson? Honey, Jackson is dead, it’s been dead for 4 years now. It’s time to move on.

-Mom, I’ve promised.

-Yeah, you did. When you were grieving. When you thought that your world was ending, when everything was lost for you. I’m not telling you to brake that promise, I would never tell you that, I’m just saying that you should think of the possibility that maybe you made a promise that you knew Jackson will never approve of, a promise that you could get out of it.

-What are you talking about? Mom, you’re not making any sense.

-Just think if Jackson were alive and you two were together and somehow, you would fall in love with somebody else, what he would do? Eh? What he would tell you?

-To be a man about it, and follow my heart, be happy, do only what I want and fight for what I want. Aaron answered immediately.

-See? I’m not telling you to just run to Robert and get married or hold hands on the streets, I’m telling you, if it is a possibility there, allow yourself to be happy, to try, that’s it. Chas got up and hugged him. You should go talk to him, I reckon he feels the same. He was non stop here and at the scrap yard and he looked so miserably, Victoria was really scared for him.

Aaron was took by surprise. He never expected Robert to be sad about it.

***

Robert took a quick shower, dressed and went to the village. On the road there he forgotten that he should’ve got to the scrap yard, instead he found himself at the pub. Involuntarily he came back here, pulled in like a magnet, hoping at least today he will see Aaron, from afar, or at his window, or in the bar, talking or anything. He just wanted to see Aaron. He didn’t for 1 week now, and he felt like he missed him. When did he got here? In this state? He was still in love with Miranda. Miranda…it was for the first time since he hadn’t had her in his mind for the entire time. She was the rhythm of his heart for so long, that beaten so deep, but so rarely every day. Suddenly his father words from the funeral started to make sense, just it wasn’t a “she”, it was a “he” that made him feel again. He stood there in the back of the pub, looking at Aaron room, hoping he’ll see him and asked himself what was Aaron doing while he missed him? He took a deep breath and went inside.

***

Aaron stood there, water poring over him, his head leaned back, across the wall. He thought of Robert, his heart racing and at what his mother said. Could he? Could he allow himself to love again? What it would be like? How it would feel to be happy again? And panic overwhelmed him. Thinking that if he got happy again, he would loose everything once more. No he couldn’t. He snapped from his thoughts and stopped the water. First he had to talk to Robert. Everything between them was to weird. They had to try to be at least mates, they were partners, he worked at the pub, they will meet everywhere. And if from this something will happened, then…the thought made him smile, so he got dressed and went downstairs.
He entered the pub with such confidence until he saw him, there, serving the bar. His heart started racing and he felt dizzy. What he would say? What he should do? Robert looked up and saw him too. He smiled.

-Hey, Robert?! Can we talk for a second? Aaron looked right into his eyes.

-Hiya! Sure! Do you want a pint? Robert hold up a glass.

-Yeah, thanks. I’ll wait for you. Aaron nodded to the corner of the bar.

-Let’s this time after we talk to talk some more, because all that leaving after saying what we’re thinking is overly dramatic, yeah?! Robert looked at Aaron and started laughing.

-Yeah, let’s do that. Aaron smiled back.

Chapter Text

They’ve talked that day for so long about nothing at all. Silly things, work things, Vic and Adam, Diane and Chas, coming back home and that’s about it. Nothing about what happened, about the past, about the kiss, Miranda or Jackson, nothing. It was like never happened. And that was all that was for several months. They were mates, drinking a beer, enjoying work, and that’s about it! Everyone was shocked at first, but then they got used to it and stopped asking when all they’ve answered was: “Nothing it’s going on, were just mates.” So, there they were, mates.

Robert was about to go to bed, thinking at Aaron, at how less progress he did with him. He felt like he failed. It seemed sometimes like they took a step at trying to be something more, but then they will get 6 steps back, for no reason at all, sometimes him, sometimes Aaron. They were always together, always talking, always having a beer. But they never talked about serious things. And he felt that Aaron was thinking the same. He felt Aaron tense body around him, his linger looks, his eyes on his lips, he felt this magnetic pull towards him, he felt like he couldn’t breathe if he didn’t see Aaron for a day.

And then the phone rang. A text message:
From Aaron: “Hey!”…and that was all. Robert frowned at his phone and didn’t knew what to do. He should call? Or just text? His heart started pounding. What had happened. He shook his head and texted back:
“Hey! Is everything ok?” after a few minutes he got a replay
“Can I see you?...at the pier?”.
Robert felt some pain in his heart, getting nervous, he couldn’t understand. He felt scared for some reason. This messages couldn’t mean nothing good. What is happening with him? He never felt this way. He put a hand across his chest, above the heart. He felt like his chest was crushing. What is this?
He texted back: “Be there in 5, ok?”
Aaron didn’t answered back. He got dressed really quick, throwing his jeans on and a shirt, he got his leather jacket and went down the stairs in a hurry. He drove as fast as he could, not being able to shake that feeling he had in his heart. When he got there Aaron was already on the top. He breathed with relief when he saw him and went up immediately.
-Hey, I’m here. Robert said going next to him. Aaron had his head down and a bottle with whiskey in his hand, half empty.
-You ok? he sat on the ground next to him.
-My father died... Aaron told without moving, taken a sip from the bottle...Do you want a drink? Apparently we’re celebrating!... He looked at Robert and smiled with tears in his eyes.

Robert looked at him not saying anything. Instead he took the bottle and took a sip. They just stood there not saying anything, Robert fighting the urge to hug Aaron and Aaron the urge to collapse in his arms and cry, just cry.

-You see, for almost my entire childhood I’ve hated my father, Aaron finally spoke, wiping his eyes with his hand... he was a terrible man. He was the reason my mother left. He drank all day long, that was everything he did, since I can remember. My first years of school I was so embarrassed that he was my father that I would lie that some friend mom is the one that brings me back home everyday just that he wouldn’t come after me at school. One day I found him sleeping on the steps of my school, right there in the yard, two teachers had to take him home. All the kids laughed at me. And at home he was even worst, sometimes he would hit my mom, but never me! He would shook me and told me: “Look at me! You should never became me!” and he would’ve collapsed on the sofa. When I started high school I’ve told all my friends that my dad had died, and that he was my uncle who was an alcoholic, and that my mom took pity with him and tried to help. Only Adam knew the truth. Those were the years that my mom left. He told me to come with her, he packed all my bags, she told me that we’ll come to Emmerdale at my uncle Cain and at her family, that here we’re gonna be safe. And then I saw him, crying, for the first time in so many years not drunk, begging my mom in his knees, swearing that he will not drink anymore, that he would change. When my mom told him that she doesn’t believe him and that we’re gonna leave, he hugged me really tight and begged me not to go, to stay with him, to not leave him alone because he will die. That he couldn’t loose me too. Don’t know why, I’ve felt my heart broke, I took pity for him, seeing him lost, broken like that. I’ve made him swear that he wouldn’t drink again, that he will go and get committed, seeking help. He sworn to me, so I’ve stayed. My mom cried so much then. But never insisted for me to go with her. Later on, I’ve realized I’ve hated her for not insisted, for given up on me that easy. I felt like he abandoned me. Of course my father never quit drinking, he drunk even more, he never left the house, always sleeping and drinking and repeating almost non stop:”she left me, she never loved me!”. Hearing that every damn day, I’ve started feeling it myself. If she left, knowing that my father will never change that meant that she didn’t loved me. So I’ve started drinking too. I was a kid, 17 years old. Starting to skip school, doing all kind of stupid things until police caught me! I did 1 year in juvie for destroying a bar. That time my dad, sobered up, don’t know how, but he did. When I got out he was already remarried. So, I hadn’t room in his house and life anymore. He had given up on me... Aaron smiled and tears started pouring out his eyes... I’ve stayed, and he had given up on me. I was 18 years old. Nowhere to go, so I’ve turned to Adam. Him and his mom, Moira accepted me in their house. They were going through a tough situation. Moira and Adam dad were getting a divorce, a messy one. So I got back on school, finished the high school, getting my head together. Adam helped me so much. He was my brother. He stayed one year home, before going to college just to wait for me. He was more then my brother for me. I think he was the first guy I’ve kinda loved somehow, but couldn’t understand yet what it meant. When Moira divorce finished she told us that she will move away, back home in Emmerdale. My heart stopped then, because my mom was there and I wasn’t ready to see her, to forgive her. But I also was relieved that we were gonna go to college, not home. I never saw my father, from that day I got out of juvie. He tried to call me several times, he send me money for school, he came one day in campus but when Adam saw him he throw him away before I came back to the dorm…and now he’s dead, and nobody cares, he said, crying like a child. And I’m scared, because I’m afraid I care to much.

Robert was looking at Aaron. He wanted to hug him so hard and tell him that he is here with him, that he is not alone, that he cared, damn it, he even wanted to say he loved him, because he did, even if it was only a few months than he saw him again, but he felt it, and he was sure about it. But he knew what Aaron felt, he knew that now is not the time, not for a hug, not for anything. He knew Aaron like he knew himself. They were so alike. When his dad died he felt the same. So instead he did nothing.
Robert finally said:
-My dad loved my mom with all his heart.

Aaron looked up at him, wiping his tears away.

Robert continued like in trance:

-She was perfect, you see. Or, at least that is what everybody is saying, I never met her, because I’ve killed her when I was born. It wasn’t my fault, of course, but my father hated me for it, even if he never told me, but I’ve felt it. And in time I’ve learned to hate myself too. When I was 2 years old, he remarried and had Victoria, but his wife, Vic mom, died of cancer. I was 10 and Vic only 8. Then when I was 14 years old he remarried Diane and that felt good. Diane was an amazing woman from the first day he entered in my life. But my dad wasn’t. I never felt loved or understood. All that he could do is reject me, making me feel unwanted. So he got himself another son, one that never killed the love of his life: Andy. I’ve tried to hate Andy, I really did, but I couldn’t. Diane made sure of that. I loved him with all my heart and he felt the same. My father hated that we got along. All I could fell when I was a child was that my dad wanted to get rid of me. If it wasn’t for Diane I don’t know what it would’ve had happened. Then I got in high school and all the good girls in Emmerdale started to look at me, and Andy did what he could to sell me like a peace of meat, Robert started to laugh…but somehow I’ve felt so awkward around them. I’ve liked them but not as much as Andy. But I saw pride in my father eyes, for the first time he started looking at me. He started given parties, buying me clothes, buying me cars, and I’ve started liking it. I felt like he could love me someday. After high school he sent me in London at the university, he told me that he was proud of me. I never heard him saying something like that before. After graduation he told me his friend came to the village with his daughter, Chrissie and maybe it would be better if will met. You see, they had money, just like us. But I didn’t cared about Chrissie, or another girl for that matter. And then…he looked at Aaron and took his bottle from his hand.
Aaron understood and he let his head down…
-And then I got scared…he got Aaron back his bottle.

They both looked down at the sea, standing there, not saying anything.

Chapter Text

They’ve stayed there almost the entire night. Aaron cried and then stopped and then cried some more. They’ve just stood there not saying anything.

-Ooo, the whiskey is out. Maybe we should get another, ei? Aaron tried to get up, but he felt right back.

-I think is time to get going, it’s almost morning, yeah? And I think you had enough to drink. Robert helped Aaron stood. I’m gonna get you home, yeah?

-No, not home. Please! Aaron looked at him. Mom is there. I can’t face her like this, not now.

-Ok, not home! Robert put a hand under him and started walking.

***

Robert stopped and got Aaron out of the car.

-Not your house, Robert! Diane is here. I don’t want to upset her by being so drunk. Aaron shook his head.

-It’s 4 in the morning, I’m sure she’s asleep. And if you are very quiet we’re not gonna wake her, ok? Robert looked at him and put a finger up to his mouth.

He carried him up the stairs. Aaron was so heavy, his body leaning onto Roberts. But he didn’t care, feeling him so close gave him strength and make him feel weak at the same time.

-I’m tired, Aaron smiled.

-You’re tired? Robert whispered. Come on, it’s the last room on the hall. We’re almost there.

-And what is your room? Aaron looked at Robert smiling.

-Robert is that you? Diane door opened. She saw Aaron and came out. Is he ok? she looked concerned.

-Uuuu, busted! Aaron winked.

Robert smiled:

-Yeah, Diane, he’s fine, just a little bit to much to drink, that’s all. But I’m gonna get him in the room and he’s gonna get a good sleep and he will be fine.

-A little to much to drink? A lot to drink. Aaron laughed.

-You’re funny, aren’t you. Robert looked annoyed at him.

Aaron lifted his shoulders and frowned.

-Ok, love. Take care of him! Chas is gonna kill us if we don’t, she smiled and entered her room.

Robert finally could get Aaron in the room, straight to bed. He was gonna get his sneakers off when Aaron shoved him aside:

-I can do that, I’m not that hammered! But failed miserably. Finally he gave up:

-You know what? I can sleep with my shoes on.

Robert rolled his eyes and started to untied them, he then but a blanket onto Aaron who looked that he was already asleep. He leaned in so he could get a pillow under his head and he heard slowly, just like a breath:

-You know you have 5 freckles on your left cheek and 8 on the right?

Robert gasped with surprise and then his body relaxed. He wanted so much to hug him, to kiss him, just to lay there with him, holding him into his arms, watching him sleep. He wanted to take his pain away and make it his. He wanted so much. But he just smiled and left.

***

Robert felt the sun onto his face and decided it’s time to get up, even thou he didn’t do much sleeping. He looked at the clock:11 am. He got up, took a shower, dressed and went through the door to Aaron’s. He knocked and entered. The bed was made and Aaron was gone. When did he leave? Why? He went down stairs and into the kitchen.

-Hey, Diane, did you see Aaron?

-Isn’t he sleeping? At thought he’s in his room. Diane looked at Robert.

-No, he’s not. I think he left. He sounded disappointed.

-It’s about Gordon, isn’t it? Gordon, his dad? Chas told me. When Aaron didn’t came last night home he imagined he’ll be here, Diane said.

-Yeah, it’s about Gordon, Robert stood at the table. Maybe he went home. I’m gonna go to the pub, see if he’s there.

***

When Robert entered the pub he saw Adam and Moira behind the bar.

-Hey. What are you two doing here? Where’s Chas and Aaron? I thought he came home, Robert asked.

-So, he spent the night with you, then. Adam smiled.

Robert frowned:

-He didn’t spend the night with me, I was with him. He drank to much so he slept at Home Farm.

-Thank you love, for taking care of him, Moira said.

-Always.

-They went to the funeral.

-The funeral is today? I didn’t knew. I hope they didn’t drove there. Aaron was not in a good state. Robert asked.

-No, of course not. Cain is with them, Adam responded.

-Ok…Moira, let me help you. Robert got behind the bar.

***

Aaron got home the next day and entered the pub:

-Hey Vic, have you seen Robert?

-O, hey Aaron. Good to see you. You look good! Sorry about your dad. She smiled a little. I haven’t but i know he’s at the movies.

-At the movies? Aaron frowned. He’s with somebody, or something?

Victoria smiled and squeezed his cheek:

-Look at you, playing all cool like that, you daft! A date? Why would Robert go on a date with somebody else than you?

-What are on about, Vic. It’s nothing going on with me and your brother.

-Yeah, nothing yet! She winked. Because you are two stupids, she smiled.

-So, he’s alone…he mumbled something to himself and went to the door:

-You know what? I’m gonna go to the scrap yard…see ya!

-Yeah, to the scrap yard! He does know that Adam is there and I can ask him if he come, right? Victoria told herself laughing.

-What are you smiling at, love? Chas just came in.

-At how stupid your son and my brother are.

-Ahhh, when they will stop this cat and mouse game and just allow themselves to be happy? It’s exhausting looking at it, Chas smiled at Vic. They both giggled.

***

Aaron entered the cinema and tried to figure out if he’s insane or just stupid. What he was thinking coming here. And what he was gonna do? Stay there in the back of the place like a stalker and watch Robert? See if he’s alone or not? And what if he wasn’t? What he would do then? When did he became this guy? That he will follow his lover and lurk in the shadows. Why is he so scared of letting go, why is he such a coward? And what he would tell him? …He got in the room. It was dark, the movie already started. He didn’t even knew what movie it was. And he saw him, right there, in front of him: last row, last place. Alone. His heart started beating out of his chest: he’s alone, he fought and felt such happiness. He felt himself moving towards him and he was just behind him now.

Robert felt him, standing there, looking at him, and he turned:

-Aaron? What are you doing here? he whispered looking up at him. When did you came back?

-I came to see a movie. Aaron felt lost, still thinking at excuses.

-And you’ll be watching standing there? On your feet?

-What? Aaron frowned and started coming next to him. No, I have a ticket, apparently right here, next to you, because my seat was already taken.

-Your seat? Robert looked curious.

-Yeah, that seat your sitting on. Is my spot when I came to see something. Last row, last seat on the row.

-You do realize that you can barely see from here and that this is the worst spot to watch a movie, right? Robert looked at him, still whispering.

-Then why are you on it? Aaron asked quickly.

-Because I didn’t came here to watch a movie.

-Exactly. Aaron nodded and looked across the room.

Robert smiled. He couldn’t believe how alike they were. He was so happy to see Aaron better than two days ago, it seemed that going to the funeral was a good idea. They’ve just stood there in silence for several minutes, both pretending watching the screen.

All Aaron could think about was how his foot was searching for Robert's, and when their knees touched, his fingers started looking for Robert's on the handle of the chair. Their hands were so close that Aaron could feel the warmth of it. They barely touched and electricity went through his body. His posture relaxed. He wanted so bad to kiss Robert, right there on the dark, their mouths searching for each other. But he couldn’t and he shouldn’t.

Robert felt Aaron tense next to him and then relaxed. He looked at their hands next to each others, barely touching and he imagined them holding hands and how it would feel having Aaron hand in his, their fingers intertwined. And then he looked at his face. He was looking at the screen, sometimes frowning at the light. He had shadows on his face, all dark sometimes, but other times full of light. Either way his eyes sparkled every time. At one point Aaron bit his lip and Robert felt butterflies in his stomach thinking how it would be if he would kiss him. But he couldn’t and he shouldn’t.

They’ve watched the entire movie, not knowing what it was all about, because they didn’t really saw it. They’ve just linger there after it was over. None of them wanted to go, break that small touch. They’ve just stood there, not telling anything for some minutes. But they knew what was all about. It was about Aaron telling Robert: thank for that night, for being there for him when he need it, and was Robert telling Aaron: You’re welcome and you can count on me for anything. Then Robert moved:

-Right, I think it’s time we go.

Chapter Text

On their way to the pub from the movies everything felt normal. Aaron was good, not happy, but good. Robert never asked how it went. If Aaron needed to talk about it he knew that he could tell, so instead they’ve talked about the scrap yard, how good the business got this past months, about the pub and about London. Silly things, stupid things, but they could talk about anything at all for hours. They were good like that.
They went inside at the same time, laughing about something they saw on the road here.

“Rob, good to see you! We have to go to Home Farm. Diane wants to talk to us.” Victoria said to him.

“Why, is everything ok?” Robert asked concerned.

“She said she’s ok, but she just wanted to talk to us... Baby, I’m gonna go with my brother. I’ll call to come after me, later, yeah?” Victoria kissed Adam and went for the door.

***

They’ve got to Home Farm pretty quick and entered the house. It was quite and they saw Diane in the living room, on the sofa. She looked like she was crying.

“Diane, are you ok?” Victoria asked, moving towards her.

“Yeah I’m fine baby! So good to see you two. Come here. Give me a big hug!” Diane opened her arm and stood there waiting.

Robert and Victoria looked briefly at each other and went smiling for the hug.

“I love you both so much! Like you are my own. What am I saying, you are my own. My two little babies.” Diane said, tears dropping from her eyes.

“We love you too.”, they’ve both said at the same time.

Then, Robert looked at the table and saw the papers. Envelopes with London General Hospital logo and he knew. He closed his eyes and squeezed them both harder.

“Come, let’s sit. We need to talk.”, Diane finally said.

Victoria and Robert stood on the chairs next the sofa.

Diane took the papers from the table, cleared her voice and started: “For the past few weeks I didn’t felt so good, so I went to the hospital to check if everything is ok.”

Victoria looked at Robert and started crying. Robert closed his eyes and let his head down.

“How bad it is this time?” He asked.

“Like last time.” Diane answered.

“We have to talk to your doctor immediately, to see what we have to do. I’m gonna call Chas to tell her that I’m not going to work for some days, put Marlon in my place…”Victoria started looking for her phone not making any sense.

“Love, love! Calm down. We’re not gonna talk with anybody. Not this time.” Diane put a hand on her shoulder.

“What?” Robert was finally able to talk. “Mom, what are you talking about. Of course we’re gonna see a doctor, the same as last time. We’re gonna go to London if it’s necessary.”

“I can’t get through what I’ve went last time. I don’t think I can win this time.” Diane cried.

“Of course we’re gonna win. We. Because this time you are not alone. I’m here, Vic is here. You are not alone, so this is not goodbye. Tomorrow we gonna go see your doctor and all 3 of us are gonna talk to him and see what we have to do.” Robert almost shouted at her.

“Yeah, this time we are with you, and we are gonna be there for everything.” Victoria hugged her. “I can’t believe that last time you didn’t tell us and went all by yourself. “

Diane stood there, surrounded by the persons she loved most in the world and for 2 seconds she felt hope again. She felt power and joy of life.

“Ok. Then tomorrow we’re gonna go all 3 of us.” Diane kissed them both.

***

Victoria just left, so, Robert got in his room. He stood on the bed, letting everything sink in. She couldn’t die, she couldn’t be sick again, she had to get better, he was not gonna be able to cope with her not being there for him. She was his mom, so she couldn’t die. He got his phone out of his pocket.

***

After Adam left for Victoria, Aaron went upstairs not in the mood of talking to much. Everybody was asking about the funeral and he was not keen of this conversation. He felt good, he felt at peace. He didn’t expect that going to see his dead father will help him so much. He felt pain of loosing him, but it was something that he could cope, considering their relationship. But still, loosing his father was hard. He wanted to take a shower and just go to sleep, but his phone rang. Text message. From Robert: “Hey”…Just that, nothing more. He got his car keys and went immediately out the door. He drove thinking all kind of things. Stupid things, of course, but still…and there he was, on top of the pier:

“Hy!”

Robert turned startled: “I thought you didn’t get my message. You never answered.”

“Well, for us nothing good starts with “hey”, so I’ve imagined that since this is the place of doom, you’re gonna be here.” Aaron smiled.

Robert turned his head back, looking down at the water. Aaron got next to him, not saying anything. This is how they were talking: with their bodies, with their thoughts, just being there and it was enough. Robert looked out of breath, thinking. Aaron could see his thoughts circling through his head, he felt the pain he was in, and he felt his need to cry.

Finally Robert took a deep breath and said: “So, Diane cancer is back.”

They haven’t said nothing for a while. But they knew. It was no need for words.

“I can loose her. She’s my mom and I can loose her…” Robert finally started crying… “I don’t know if I can get through this with her. She is so strong. I never saw a person so strong before in my life. She is fearless. I know that she will fight with every power she still has, but if this is not gonna work I don’t know if i will be able to cope. When Miranda died I was like a zombie for a week I didn’t heard nothing, I didn’t saw nothing, everything was black. But somehow, Diane pull me out of it. She came to London and she stayed with me until I eat again and talked again, and move, and breath. And after a while I was Ok, and able to look after me, so to speak. And she came back to Emmerdale. After a year my dad died and I wasn’t there for her. Because I was to scared to come back home, to see that stupid road, to see my father dead, to watch her cry, I was scared I’m gonna cry again. I was afraid of crying...So, instead I’ve missed my dad funeral, I’ve missed saying goodbye, but most importantly I failed supporting the most import person of my life, my mom! But she never mind. She understood…you see, she is gracious like this…But I couldn’t cope…no, how could i? Instead, I got drunk, really drunk. I was so good at that. When I thought I had enough to drink, I’ve got myself up from the kitchen table and went for my room, but I was so drunk that I’ve slipped, the bottle still in my hand, for a last sip before bed. I went down hard, cutting my hand"… Robert lift his sleeve and showed Aaron this nasty scar on his wrist… “The cut was so deep and it was so much blood, blood everywhere. And I just stood there, looking at it. It was so easy to give up. I wanted to so bad. I didn’t deserve to live, I was alone, I had lost everything, why not end it? And I’ve decided to just let go, stay there watching the blood pouring out of me, waiting. But something stopped me. Even now I don’t know what, I’ll never will. But I’ve picked the phone and call for an ambulance. They’ve patched me up and after a day I went back home.”

Robert wiped his face and felt Aaron looking at him.

“My days in the university were most of them good"…Aaron started talking…"I’ve come to terms of me being gay, I was having some fun, but then on my last year, I’ve decided to tell my friends, my colleagues. Of course Adam knew, but we were a small group of friends and I’ve told myself that they most know. Some of them received the news lightly, didn’t cared much, but some were harsh, telling me things, being very homophobic about it. In one week my entire year knew about it, and it was harder every day, fighting the looks, the questions, the laughs. One night we were invited to a party, and when we got there the host refuse to let me in, calling me all kind of names, laughing at me, insulting me, making fun. From all my friends, Adam was the only one that stood up for me, but you can imagine what was that like. They’ve started calling him my lover and all kind of stupid things. So, I’ve left, telling Adam I wanted to be alone. I went for a walk and ended up on a bridge. I remember looking at the water and wanting so bad to be here, so I could cry and shout in peace, making myself feel better. I never felt the need to jump when I was here. It was just like therapy for me. I could cry and shout and the sea could hear me. But that night, on that bridge, I wanted to jump. I wanted so bad to jump. But, fortunately, some couple past through and called the police. They’ve came and took me to the hospital. My mom came to see me. It was for the first time I saw her in years. She stayed with me and somehow I’ve started feeling better.”

Aaron stopped talking.
For them, being there in silence was more then enough. Aaron understood how down along the road of pain they’ve both been, and how dirty along the way they’ve got, but also knew that if they would have the courage to just give in to each other, they will make it clean. They wouldn’t mind broken things.

Chapter Text

For the next couple of months everything was about Diane. Robert and Victoria went with her to the doctor and they’ve all decided that is better she went to London for the treatment, so they’ve packed their bags and they went. They’ve stayed there for almost 3 months and when the treatment was over they’ve come back home in Emmerdale. Diane had only one round of chemo left, but she could do it in hospital next town.

In this time, Aaron and Adam took care of the scrap yard and Home Farm. They went there daily so everything was perfect when they got back.

They both were at the stable when they’ve heard the car pulling in front of the house. Aaron saw Vic first getting out of the car, hugging Adam and kissing him. They’ve looked so good together. She was smiling.
And then he saw Robert. Of course he talked with him on the phone almost every night, about Home Farm, the scrap yard, Emmerdale, anything he could thing to get his mind out of Diane pain, but he never imagine he would look like this, even if his voice sounded lost. He was a ghost, his hair messy, all over the place, he was unshaven, his eyes blank, he looked like he didn’t slept in 2 months. He got at the back of the car and went for Diane. He carried her in his arms, like some precious thing. She looked so weakened, her eyes closed, a scarf on her head, covered with a blanket. She had one arm around Robert neck and her head resting on his chest.
Aaron felt the need to cry, but he cleared his voice: “Robert, can I help you?”

He turned at him and tried to smile: “No, I’m ok! I’m just gonna go to her room.”

They all went inside, while Robert took Diane in her room, Victoria stayed with Adam and Aaron in the living room.

“Baby, can you go home and bring me some clothes so I can change? I need to stay with Diane this night, because I think that Robert is gonna collapse. He stayed with her every night for the past 2 months, sleeping just 2 hours a day, eating just so he could walk, he stayed with her at the hospital, sometimes sleeping on the chair. He wanted to stay every second with her. If it wasn’t for the nurses and me, I think he wouldn’t leave her.” Victoria looked at Adam and Aaron as she spoke.

“It’s been a long trip, Vic! You go and get some rest, come back tomorrow morning. I’m gonna stay here with Robert and make sure he’s going to sleep and eat tonight. I’ll watch Diane.” Aaron said smiling at them.

Vic went for a hug: “Thank you! I think that he will listen to you.” Victoria kissed him and her and Adam left.

Aaron went upstairs and knocked at Diane door and entered. He saw Robert on the sofa, barely holding his head up.

“Go and take a shower, have something to eat, take a nap, I’ll stay here with her.” Aaron said looking down at Robert.

“No, I have to be here if she needs anything.”

“Robert, I’m not gonna have it! Please, just go. I’ll stay here. And if anything happens I’ll come for you, you are next room.”

Robert looked at him and finally gave in. “If she moves you go closer to her and see what she wants. I put this bucket here in case she’s gonna throw up and if she’s cold I got a blanket over…”

“Robert! Go! I’ll do good and she will be fine, I promise.” Aaron smiled.

Robert finally left and Aaron stood down in his place and looked at Diane. She looked so fragile, so ill, but he knew that it was because of the chemo and she will start to feel better over night. He started reading some magazines he found in the room, paying attention at every move Diane made in case she need it help. He imagined Robert all alone in the hospital and scared, and in pain. After some time, he looked at his watch and saw that it was already almost 5 in the morning. He was there since 9 last night, but he didn’t mind and he didn’t felt tired. He looked at Diane and she seemed so much better. He got close to her and wanted to put the blanket back on her, over her hands.

She opened her eyes: “Aaron, love, what are you doing here?”

“Diane, are you ok? Do you want me to call Robert? You need something?”

“No, love, I’m ok. It’s getting better now. Last chemo, you know?!” she smiled…”And how in the world did you get Robert to leave? That knucklehead never listened to me in London. Did you saw how bad he looked?”

“Yeah! I’ve saw. I think he was just exhausted and he went for it!”

“No, love. Robert would do anything you’ll say him to do! Don’t you see? He loves you! He really loves you! And Aaron, if you feel the same tell him, please tell him. Don’t let the time pass you. And if you don’t, let him go! But other way, say something!” Diane put a hand on his face.

Aaron smiled and leaned in the touch. Diane was so good. He understood why Robert loved her so much.

The door opened and Victoria came in. “Hey, mom? Why are you up? Are you ok?”

“Yeah baby, I’m fine. Just here talking with Aaron.”

“I saw Robert in the kitchen. He is having breakfast, finally!” She smiled and kissed Diane. “Thank you Aaron. Thank you for staying here and for making Robert normal again.” She hugged him tight.

“Ok, I’m gonna leave you two.“

Aaron went down the stairs, thinking at what Diane told him, and he entered into the kitchen. He saw Robert eating. He looked different. He shaved, he looked rested. Not the usual Robert, but so much better than last night.

“Aaron! Thank you for last night! Coffee?” Robert stood looking at Aaron.

Aaron came close: “Why are you so patient with me?” Aaron looked up at him.

Robert was took by surprise. He didn’t expect this kind of conversation or reaction from Aaron. “When you came to me with your bad dreams and your fears I knew that you are broken just like me.” Robert looked at him.

“Sometimes I feel that I’m so broken that I can’t be fixed.” Aaron let his head down.

“You don’t need fixing. I like you broken.” Robert came a little closer.

“I feel that I’m in a airplane that is going down.”

“There are so many parachutes to go around. Don’t let your heart refuse to love again Aaron, or you ain't never going to shake this sense of sadness.”

“I’m sick licking the same wounds, Robert.”

“You have to see that we are different from others because we share the same pain. You are not the only one that had pain in his life, Aaron. You are not the only one that has lost love, true love. I had too, but somehow, I don’t know how and don’t know when I started fighting back, I started to care again. It’s time. It’s time for you to do the same.” Robert looked in his eyes and felt the need to hug him, but he didn’t.

Aaron looked at him with admiration. He was the most beautiful man he saw. His blue eyes were like nothing he saw until then, and his face perfectly symmetric, the freckles on his chicks were just to add beauty on it, his lips pink and soft. He could kiss those lips forever. He missed them, how they felt, how they tasted. He wondered if they taste the same like 7 years ago. He looked down at them and licked his lips. He wanted so bad to kiss them. He felt his heart going out of his chest, his hands trembling and he couldn’t move. So, instead he bit the corner of his bottom lip, staring at Robert. He saw him nervous too and didn’t understood why…

Robert took a step closer to Aaron, looking deep into his eyes. He could feel him tense and anxious. He lowered his eyes to Aaron’s lips, imagining kissing him. He started breathing hard, butterflies in his stomach thinking at the touch of their mouths, at the taste of Aaron lips, imagine their tongues touching, soft, easy and with desire.

But he couldn’t move. None of them could. Instead they’ve stayed there looking at each other until Adam came in.

“Hey lads!” He looked at them and raised his eyebrows “I hope I didn’t interrupt something?!”

“Don’t be daft!” Aaron took a step back. “We were just talking.”

“Right! ...You’re ready mate? I’m going to the scrap yard.” Adam put a hand on Aaron shoulder.

“Yeah, let’s go!” Aaron looked one more time at Robert who hasn’t said one word, smiled shyly, and left.

Chapter Text

Everything went back to normal. Diane felt better and the doctor said that he’s expecting good news from the tests she took after the chemo, and Robert slowly got back to work. He went to the scrap yard, the pub and back at the "game of nothing" with Aaron, but still he felt that he made a progress with him. He could wait, he wanted to wait, with Aaron he was very patient because he was worth it and he needed Aaron to make the first step, when he was ready.

***

At the pub, Aaron watched him all day. The way he smiled, how he cross his fingers through his hair, the way he was talking to people, how he frowned when he asked a question, his lips, his eyes, his chest peeking through the open buttons of his shirt, his hands, his long fingers, the muscle in his back while he would lift his hands, everything. He just watched and imagine all sorts of things, imagine happiness. He missed so much to just be happy. He stood there in the corner of the bar and just looked.

When the bell rang closing time he snapped from his world and get up from his chair moving through the back of the pub.

“Chas, I’m gonna close tonight. You go and have a good dinner, ok?” Robert shouted at Chas.

She smiled at him “Thank you, love! You are a bless!”

Aaron stopped and turned watching Robert closing the doors and the lights. The room was dark now, just the streets lights that shined through the window were able to make you see were to go.

Aaron took a deep breath and started moving. He went straight to Robert he turned him and pinned him to the wall. Robert’s gasp startled him. He looked deep into those blue eyes and he got lost. He looked at Robert’s face, half glowing from the outside lights, the other half dark, barely seeing it. He lift his hands, one to Robert’s face, the dark side, the other grabbing tight his shirt. He started moving his thumb slowly, caressing his face. Robert eyes sparkled and didn't said nothing.
Aaron got on his tip toes and leaned into Robert, closing his eyes, their mouths finally meeting. His lips were soft, and warm, tasting as oranges. Aaron smiled into the kiss when he thought of that. Then he moved his hand from Robert’s face into the back of his head, fingers moving into his hair while his tongue met Robert’s. The touch gave him shivers, his skin had goosebumps. He couldn’t hear anything, he couldn’t see anything, just his face, his eyes, his freckles, even if he had his eyes closed. He was able to let go of Robert shirt and started moving his hand on his chest, going up to his neck, starting to unbutton his shirt, slowly, without hesitation, enjoying every moment of it, imagining Robert’s bare skin. He moved his mouth to Robert’s bottom lip and he lick it slow and with desire and then he bit it, opening his eyes, expecting a reaction. When he was at the last button he moved his fingers up, touching Robert skin, he had goosebumps everywhere.

Robert was unable to move, his hands at his sides. All he could feel was Aaron’s lips and touch. His fingers onto his body, his tongue into his mouth and their lips together. When he felt Aaron arm going to his waist, he was able to move too, almost robotic, but knowing exactly where to go. One hand to Aaron’s chest, and another to his waist. He opened Aaron’s hoodie, letting the zipper slowly down and making space to his chest. He felt Aaron’s heart, beating a mile an hour, and he felt his warmth. He moved his head so he could kiss him better, full of desire, because Aaron bitten his lip sent bolts of electricity through his body. He let his fingers found Aaron’s skin, moving up his back and felt his muscles tense under his touch and he found himself wanting to bare his fingers into him, squeezing hard. Then he let go of Aaron and moved into his hoodie pulling it down. He immediately went for his t-shirt and he took that down too. He craved for Aaron hands on him when he let go of him so he could get his clothes down. There he was, half naked, more perfect then he could’ve imagine. He took his own shirt down and their chest touched when they went back into a perfect kiss. Their skins were fire and he thought that if Aaron will let go of him now, he will collapse.

“O my god! I’m so sorry!”

They've suddenly heard and when they opened their eyes the light was on.

“I came after a bottle of juice, because you guys have only wine.”, she pointed at Aaron.

“Victoria?” They both said at the same time.

She pressed her hand over her eyes: “ I didn’t saw anything, you can carry on, I’m gonna shut the light and just go, ok?” she turned and ran towards the door.

They could immediately hear her giggling. “Adam, baby, you can’t go in there. Robert and Aaron are there, half naked, all over each other. Finally!”

They felt like two children, blushing, collecting their clothes of the ground, dressing themselves quick.

Aaron smiled looking at Robert: “Do you know they listen through the door now, right?”

“Yeah, I know!” he smiled back, buttoning his shirt. “Look, I’m gonna go home, let you get back to your dinner.” Robert said after some time.

Aaron smiled. “Can we talk tomorrow? I’ll see you at the scrap yard?”

“Yeah, of course! See you tomorrow.” Robert didn’t knew what to do and he felt awkward, so instead he left.

Aaron got back at the dinner and the entire night he dreamed about what just happened. Adam and Victoria didn’t said one word, but they knew, they could see it.

***

“So, mate, you and Robert, ei?” Adam had a big smile on his face while he was struggling with a car door. “Victoria went mental last night. When we got home you two was all she talked about.”

“Yeah, I don’t know what to say about that.” Aaron looked down at his hands, letting go of the door.

“What are you talking about? Was that bad?” Adam winked.

“No, you idiot.” Aaron give him a piercing look. “I don’t know if I’m ready for this. I don’t know if I can do this. Me and Robert, maybe is not such a good idea.” He shrugged his shoulders.

“Mate, what are you on about? Of course you two are good for each other. You both went through so much. And we all can see the way you two act together. It’s mental, you’re like two magnets, always circling towards one another.” Adam said in one breath. “And, beside, it’s time Aaron.”

“Except, is it? Time, I mean?” Aaron looked serious at Adam.

“Time for what?” Robert asked.

They both turned at the sound of his voice. Then, Robert looked at Aaron and smiled. “Can we talk?”

“Hey, lads, I’m gonna go and buy us some coffees. And maybe I’m gonna stop to see Vic. You know…I’m gonna be gone for one hour or two.” Adam winked.

Robert smiled and blushed a little, the imagine of him and Aaron last night still on his mind. In fact that was all that he could think about. He was desperate to kiss Aaron again, to feel him close.

They both went inside the cabin and the second Aaron closed the door, Robert went for a kiss. Aaron took a step back, putting a hand on Robert’s chest. “Wait. I can’t do that.” Aaron let his head down.

Robert sighted and shook his head “Right, we’re gonna do this again. I thought that we are pass that, this game of , because, you see, you were the one that came to me last night.”

“I know I did!” Aaron said slowly.

“I’ve waited for you Aaron, I’ve waited for you to make your mind. I didn’t pushed you to do nothing. That came all from you.” Robert sounded frustrated.

“Yeah, it did. I know that.” Aaron whispered.

“Don’t do that. Don’t you close yourself up again. Talk to me, Aaron. I’m here. Let’s sort this thing together. Because you clearly care for me. I felt it. I felt it last night. The way you kissed me…” Robert took a step forward and just like that Aaron took a step back. Robert felt hurt by it. So, he turned and locked the door and took out the key. “We are going to stay here until everything is sorted. We are gonna talk and figure this thing out, and after this, we’re gonna leave together, or I’m gonna leave here and I’m gonna go back to London and leave you alone.” Robert looked at Aaron who was almost in shock.

They’ve staid there in silence for some time and then Robert finally spoke: “He’d dead Aaron.”

Aaron looked up in shock at how Robert knew exactly what he was thinking: “Yeah, he is. But in my head he’s still alive…he still lives.” He pointed to his head.

“Yeah, like Miranda lives in mine. And they’ll always be there. She had hold of me for so long, all this years since she was dead and I was so happy that she was still alive here, inside of me. It made me feel better, fell like home. But slowly she got smaller and smaller and I was afraid I’m gonna lose her forever, but also it felt right, you know? Because she was not gone, she just went in a corner of my mind and into a corner of my heart and she’s gonna stay there forever. I’m not gonna lose her from there. She got into a corner because you came. With that beautiful face of yours, and that breathtaking smile and made from my life a dream and from my dream a life. I feel like my skin hurts when you are not around me and I’m cold.” Robert spoke breathless. “Don’t be afraid to do the same with Jackson. I know you want to.”

“When I first saw you that night when you came back home I was so brave…not anymore.” Aaron looked into Robert’s eyes.

“Why are you so afraid of loving me?” Robert asked.

“I’m not afraid of loving you… I’m afraid I’m gonna screw up.” Aaron looked at him seriously.

“So what? Let’s screw this up. Let’s do it together.” Robert smiled.

“Why are you like this? Why do you care so much about me?” Aaron found himself talking out loud.

“I love you, you idiot!” Robert shouted, exasperation noticing in his voice. “Now you understand? Or I have to shout at you one more time?” Robert took one deep breath and said it again, this time quietly and calm “I love you…I do…but it’s that enough?”

“Say it again!” Aaron took a step closer. “Please, say it again!” He whispered just for him to hear.

But somehow Robert heard it too, so he leaned to his ear, grabbed the back of his head and: “I love you, Aaron Dingle!”

Aaron took a deep breath, closing his eyes, letting himself dream. Robert let go of him and he snapped back to reality.

“But Aaron, I have to know…me, loving you, it’s something that you can deal with?”

“Robert, I love you shameless, like some forbidden thing, and when I curse you and hate you I’m Ok, and when I don’t feel you near me, I’m dead! Do you understand that?” Aaron looked into his eyes. “So, yeah I can deal with that, because I feel the same. Don’t you see? I became voluntarily slave of your love, but I'm better dead than love you with fear.” Aaron let his head down.

Robert wanted to hug him: “Don’t be afraid of pain. I’m not. Not anymore.”

In that moment nothing mattered. They were in their world. And that world was perfect.

Chapter Text

“So, now that we kinda sorted things out, can I kiss you? ‘Cause that’s all I can think of.” Robert went close to Aaron and put his hands on his waist, smiling, breaking that silence they both were after finally recognize their love for each others. But he already felt Aaron’s body moving, his hand on his chin, grabbing hard at it and his lips pressed into his. He opened his mouth letting Aaron’s tongue inside and felt his heart racing. His body melted into Aaron’s and he went completely blank. All he could feel were Aaron’s kisses and his hands all over him. He couldn’t breathe but he didn’t need it to.

Aaron felt the room moving around him, he felt dizzy, so he grabbed Robert’s back with both his hands to steady himself, but when he heard Robert’s moan he couldn’t help himself and crushed forward, making Robert hit the table behind them. Their mouths parted for seconds just to catch breathe but all he could think is how to kiss those lips again. He felt Robert’s hand part the back of his neck and frowned, but he could feel him trying to make room on the table.

Robert cleared the table and sat on it, letting go of Aaron. He looked at him, just looked at him, into his eyes, those blue eyes that sparkled every time and couldn’t believe that this is happening, that finally he has Aaron. He lifted his hand and grabbed Aaron shirt pulling him closer, between his thighs.

Aaron licked his lips and he got his shirt off. He went for Robert’s buttons and got his shirt. His hands then began to descend slowly towards the belt and got rid of that too. He took his time, caressing every inch of Robert’s body and then he unbuttoned his pants.

All Robert could do is smile while he was grabbing Aaron’s back pulling him close, their chests collapsing into each others, just like the night before. He then felt Aaron pushing him across the table, onto his back, and his lips going down his body. He grabbed Aaron’s face with both his hands and pulled him up so he could kiss him.

For a second they’ve looked each other in the eyes and then fireworks were flying everywhere.

***

“I think I’ve lost the key.” Robert said while he was buttoning his shirt.

“The key, as the key to this door? The door that holds us trapped in here?” Aaron sounded panicked.

“We are not trapped” Robert smiled. “We are stuck here until we find the key, or Adam gets back.”

“Yeah, ‘cause him finding us here, with the door locked, it’s gonna be so fun.” Aaron rolled his eyes.

“Would you stop being so funny about it and help me found it.” Robert frowned.

“Yeah, after I get all this papers of the ground. Look what you’ve done here.” Aaron pointed to the floor.

“And I would do that again if I could.” Robert took a step towards Aaron, smiling and pulling him by the waist.

Aaron kissed him: “Except you can’t, ‘cause Adam’s here.”

“Hey lads, are you in there? Why is the door locked?” Adam asked looking through the window.

“We got stuck here by accident.” Aaron shouted while he heard the door being unlocked.

“Aaahh…that kind of accident.” Adam smiled looking on the ground at all that papers across the room.

“Now, that we’re out, you have to go to the pub, right?” Aaron asked Robert.

Robert looked at him in surprise and felt nervous. “Yeah, the pub. Where your mother is.”

Aaron started laughing while Adam spilled his coffee. “Mate, are you afraid of his mother? Now? What about last night?” Adam shoved Robert’s arm.

“Yeah, that’s what I’m thinking about.” Robert answered with his head down.

“I bet you are!” Adam winked.

Aaron smiled, while Robert rolled his eyes.

“Do you want me to come?” Aaron asked “Protect you from my mother? What do you think she will do?”

“I don’t know.” Robert’s hands went up the air in frustration.

***

They’ve got out the car and Robert really looked nervous.

“Oi, are you ok? Why are you so nervous? Aaron asked seriously. “You have second thoughts about us?”

“What? No, of course not. It’s just, I’m embarrassed. Last night we got carried away, here, in her pub. It was not right. I wanted to do this, I don’t know, different. Don’t want her to think that I’m that kind of block.” Robert looked down at his feet.

“Mate, she already likes you. Do you know how many times she told me to admit to you about how I feel? So, you don’t have to be nervous about that. Do you think that she doesn’t know what we can do to each other?” Aaron smiled at him, looking up and down to his body.

Robert kissed him deep and long so he could scare away his thoughts.

They’ve entered the pub, Robert not able to look in Chas direction. Aaron smiled: “Mom, can we talk to you? In the back?”

“Sure thing, love! Is something wrong?” Chas asked while she hold the door to them so they could enter the kitchen.

“Well…” Aaron talked…”Me and Robert, kinda started seeing each other and…” He didn’t finished the sentence because he saw Chas opening big her arm, squeezing them both real hard.

“I’m so happy for you two.” She kissed them both. “I’m gonna go and bring us some champagne.”

Aaron and Robert were left there in the kitchen looking at each other. Aaron finally said: “Well, I think that’s covering all.”

***

They’ve never felt better then now. Several months past and they were growing closer and closer. Everything they’ve done until now felt like nature, normal, steady, good. They were always surrounded by family, friends, so little time for themselves. They’ve found themselves sometimes stealing kisses between closed doors or after corners of the rooms, away from people eyes, just them. Adam was always there with them at the scrap yard, Chas at the pub, Diane and Vic at Home Farm, they were never alone. But they wouldn’t mind. Just stealing each other a kiss, or a touch, or sometimes just to make love on a rush, made everything more perfect.

***

“Sorry, I can’t do this.” Aaron stood from the bed.

They’ve finally got some alone time at Home Farm, and while they were in Robert’s room, things quickly escalated from just an innocent kiss to much more. They haven’t been alone, just the two of them in such a long time. Aaron just got back home from Liverpool after a business meeting, so they’ve owned each other some together time.

“Why? Are you ok?” Robert frowned.

“Your mom is next room, literally.” Aaron pointed at the door. “ And you want to…do that…” Aaron pointed at half naked Robert…”in here?” Aaron looked petrified.

Robert started laughing “Well, in the pub we can’t ‘cause it’s your mom, here, is my mom. We can’t just drive to the portacabin every time, are we? And beside, Adam is there almost all the time.”

“It’s not funny.” Aaron shook his head.

“It’s kinda funny.” Robert smiled. “We have only one more option.”

“I’m not going to a hotel, so stop all that dirty thoughts of yours.” Aaron rolled his eyes.

“Not a hotel…got it. Then, I think that we should buy a house. The two of us.” Robert looked serious this time.

“What?” Aaron turned looking at him. “That is not going to happen.”

“Like, not now, or not ever?!” Robert got up from his bed and got in front of Aaron. “Because I don’t know if I can resist you forever. I’m patient, but not that patient.”

Aaron smiled. He couldn’t believe this dork was his. “Well, I guess, you being so desperate and all, we can look for some place then…” He never thought he will hear himself saying something like that. Moving in with somebody. He never thought about it when him and Jackson were together, but with Robert he had nothing to think at, he just wanted it.

“I love you.” Robert whispered and put his hands onto Aaron face.

Aaron was took by surprise, but couldn’t stop looking at this gorgeous man, that was his. He felt the touch on his cheek, warm and soft, Robert’s fingers…without a ring on it. He bit his lip, closed his eyes and leaned into the touch: “I know.”