They had been back together for a while now, and it was good, objectively. Aaron would go so far as to say great. Robert was kind to Aaron - absurdly kind, strangely perfect. Perfect enough that even Aaron’s mum couldn’t say anything.
It was so perfect it felt like a trick. Aaron chafed at the mouth wondering if this was how Chrissie had felt. If she had thought that Robert was perfect and all the time he'd been fucking Aaron everywhere he could find.
Robert touched him gently, carefully, like he was breakable. Like he was broken, said a tiny and malevolent part of his mind - the part that told him to get knives.
But that wasn't Robert. Robert was too arrogant to choose something damaged for himself, to pick anything less than the best.
Weirdly, Aaron found that reassuring. It made him feel safe, secure in the understanding that despite what Robert had yelled at him across the scrapyard that day so long ago, the man was incapable of a pity fuck.
"Let's go away," Robert said. They were in the Woolpack, having dinner. Normal couple, the two of them. Nice enough after all that effort. "Just you and me."
Aaron stared at him. At the long beautiful line of him, at his sharp eyes and sharp mouth. Robert kissed him all the time now, put his arm round Aaron where everyone could see. He knew Aaron needed it and Aaron could be selfish with Robert in this, he thought, because Robert owed him this at the very least.
It was not that they hadn't had sex. They'd had sex; they'd had a lot of sex, since getting back together. And the sex was good, the connection as present as ever.
Just this morning, Robert had blown him when he had woken up, mouth hot and tight and wet. He had smiled at Aaron's hand in his hair and groaned softly when Aaron closed his hand around Robert's dick and let him spill across his palm. He had said, I love you.
It was just that Robert was careful with Aaron, now. He treated Aaron like he mattered. And that was good - that was great, that was what Aaron had wanted all those days of being slammed against walls and fucked in hotels, barns, the backs of cars. But he sort of missed it, the electricity, the roughness. Robert would never leave a mark on him now.
Aaron had always liked wearing Robert's marks. It was like something was competing with the marks he'd left on himself.
"Where to?" Aaron asked. "Don't say Manchester."
Robert laughed. He laughed a lot now, easily, gently. Aaron thought, often bitterly, that it was nice something good had come out of the mess with Gordon. But he also treasured it - the way Robert lit up, beaming. Because of Aaron. "Not Manchester," he said. "I don't know. We could do France if you fancy it."
Aaron threw a chip at him. "Do one."
Robert leaned across the table and kissed him. "Come on. It'll be fun, you and me, somewhere in the middle of nowhere."
Aaron snorted and dropped his voice. "Like a lodge?" He probably shouldn't be joking about it - it hadn't been so long ago, and he did have nightmares about it, still, but in the scheme of nightmares that made up Aaron's life it wasn't so bad.
Robert flinched, settling back in the booth. "Er," he said. "Maybe not, then."
Aaron shrugged. "Might not be so bad," he offered. "You're paying though, divorce settlement."
Robert tipped his head to one side, scanning Aaron's face: for sincerity, Aaron thought, for genuine hurt. He must have found what he was looking for because he smiled again, the particular luminous Robert smile that was only brought out for Aaron. "I'll book it, then."
“Somewhere nice," Aaron said, shaking salt over his remaining chips. "You owe me a nice hotel room."
"Whatever you want," Robert said, covering Aaron's free hand with his own palm.
Aaron liked when he said it. It always sent a shiver up Aaron's spine because Robert always meant it.
It was nice. A little cabin out in the woods, by a river. The air was sharp and clear and there were birds in the trees.
“Friend of a friend,” Robert explained, when he drove them up. “Owed us a favour.”
“You don’t have friends,” Aaron said, idly. Something was itching at his skin, a latent discomfort he’d been fighting for weeks now.
Robert looked at him out of the corner of his eye. Opened his mouth and then shut it. “It’s nice,” he said, after a minute. “You’ll like it.”
Aaron did like it. It was dead flash. Big and well-furnished, with two bathrooms, one of them with a bath big enough to swim laps in. He poked round all the rooms and knew the awe was showing on his face. It always showed. No matter what he did he’d never be used to these places like Robert was.
“You deserve it,” Robert said, softly, putting his hand on Aaron’s shoulder. “You deserve everything.”
Aaron knew he didn’t mean it like that - like a reward for getting raped, for being eight years old and terrified; Robert wouldn’t, ever, not even at his worst - but it still dug at him. At his palms, at the centre of his chest.
He shrugged. “That’s not what you said the last time we went away together.”
Robert flinched. Aaron felt it, all the way through him. “Aaron,” he said.
Aaron sat down on the expensive couch. It felt expensive. When he ran his fingers over the leather it made him think of Home Farm, that week when he’d let himself believe that Robert loved him. Right before Robert, yet again, yanked the ground out from under his feet.
His own fault.
“You almost shot me,” he said, idly. He'd been holding back the words for weeks but now they were in the middle of nowhere and nobody would hear. “Now you love me.”
“Is that-” Robert looked like he’d been kicked. “I would never, Aaron. I’m so sorry. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. And I’ve done a lot of stupid fucking things.”
“You expect me to trust you,” Aaron said. “Like Chrissie did, that stupid fucking cow.” He spat it out. He didn’t know why he was so bitter, venomous. He hated the way it clung to his veins. Hated the way it made his voice crack.
“Don’t,” Robert said. “Don’t talk about her like that. It was me. I did that.”
“Too right you did,” Aaron said. He wrapped his arms around himself, feeling ugly and small and ruined. “You expect me to just - accept this? Accept you? You’re perfect and I’m - what, community service?”
“I’m not perfect,” Robert said. He hadn’t let go of Aaron and somehow that helped. He squeezed his hand over the bone of Aaron’s shoulder. It felt very warm. “You know I’m not.”
“Stop acting like it, then,” Aaron said. His mouth had twisted into something ugly and he hated it but he couldn’t fix it. He didn’t know how, except with the aid of a sharp knife or a flame, and he had neither of those to hand. “I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, Robert, and it’s awful.”
Robert sat down next to him on the sofa, leaned in and put his forehead against Aaron’s. Even then he hesitated, giving Aaron a moment to pull away, but Aaron didn’t move. “You know what I am,” he said. “I’m mean and vain and I think I’m funny, but I’m not. I’m selfish. I love you. This is the most selfish I’ve ever been, being with you. If I was a good person I’d walk away; I don’t deserve you. But I’m still here. I still won’t let you go.”
“You almost shot me,” Aaron said softly. There was a little space between his knee and Robert’s. He closed it, bumping their knees together. “I almost died cause of you.” This time when he spoke it was free of accusation. Just a fact, like that the sun would rise, like his mum had left him and his dad had ruined him and he had given Jackson poison and watched him die.
“I killed Katie,” Robert said, shoulders falling; like giving up, like giving in. “I lied to Chrissie for years. I made you feel like dirt. I ruined Andy’s life over and over again. I shot Paddy. I killed Max King. My own father sent me away.”
“And now you’re here, with me.” Aaron said it almost gently, closing his hand over Robert's knee. Like a caress. He felt venomous. Like Robert, in the scrapyard, reducing him to nothing.
“I love you.” Robert closed his eyes. His lashes fanned out against his skin. The skin at the hollow of his throat was very pale. “I’m not a good person, but I love you. I’m trying my hardest to be everything you need because that's what you deserve.”
This, at least, Aaron could understand. He had done it for Jackson; had ripped himself apart trying to make up for what he’d done.
He wanted Robert like he wanted air. He couldn’t imagine a world where that wouldn’t be true.
“You can’t walk away from me,” Aaron said, exhaling, so some of the ire swept out of him and out the open window into the woods. “Not ever.”
“No,” Robert said, opening his eyes, turning to meet Aaron's. Solemn, honest, like the marker at Katie’s grave. “I swear I wouldn’t. As long as you want me, I’ll be here.”
The sharpness in Aaron’s body was shifting, evolving; less bitter, more - anticipatory. He rolled his shoulders and stretched out his fingers. He was so close to Robert; he could feel Robert’s breath. “Prove it, then,” he said. He felt his mouth curve into a smile,or something like one.
“Aaron,” Robert said. And then he swallowed. “Yeah?”
Aaron bared his teeth and leaned forward, savouring Robert’s instinctive shift towards him, the way Robert’s eyes flashed and went, immediately, to his mouth. “Yeah.”
Robert said, “You could have just said so,” low and faintly irritated. But before Aaron could snap back at him he had his hands on either side of Aaron’s face and his mouth was on Aaron’s mouth and they were kissing.
I love you, Aaron thought. After everything, despite everything. Because of everything. Robert had ripped Aaron to shreds and Aaron loved him. He had used to think he loved Robert like he loved a knife, but then Robert had held him together as he tried to claw himself apart, and now it was all different.
“This is what you want?” Robert asked. He was breathing hard. Aaron’s eyes dropped of their own volition to his mouth, already red from where Aaron had kissed him.
Aaron bit him. Just his lower lip, and not hard enough to draw blood, but hard enough to make him shut up.
He stood up and Robert stood too.
The morose irritation was gone, replaced entirely by a low heat that simmered through him, coiling in his gut. He felt sharp, on edge, like he could run, or fight, or - something else. He squared his shoulders and met Robert's gaze, head-on. Like a car crash. (Like a van into a train, all those years ago.)
“Fuck,” Robert said. His eyes had gone dark and he kissed Aaron again, slammed his whole body against Aaron’s and the momentum carried them both to the nearest wall, which Aaron’s back hit with a kind of delicious momentum, a solid thump that settled into his bones and anchored him.
Aaron caught his shirt, digging his fingers into the fabric. “Stop protecting me,” he said. “You know what I want.” Because you want it, too.
“I’m not -”
“You chose me,” Aaron said. “Don’t I get to choose you?”
“I don’t deserve you,” Robert said.
“I know,” Aaron said. He looked through his lashes at Robert and pushed his palms flat against Robert’s shoulders. And then shoved him, experimental but firm.
Robert staggered back.
Aaron raised one eyebrow. “Lost your touch?” He shrugged out of his hoodie, let it fall on the floor with a soft thump. He would have felt stupid with anyone else but with Robert he just felt powerful. “I guess I can handle this on my own.”
Robert licked his lower lip. Aaron watched it, the pink of his tongue, the red of his mouth. His eyes dragged down the length of Aaron’s body.
“C’mon,” Aaron said. He sounded hoarse, already.
Robert exhaled and went in again. Caged Aaron in with his arms, with his body, with the weight of him.
Aaron’s body shivered, buzzing. “Yeah?”
Robert dipped his head and kissed Aaron’s throat. Gently at first, but as Aaron gasped he brought his teeth out, dragging them across Aaron’s skin. His hands settled on Aaron’s shoulders, pinning him back against the wall.
Aaron groaned and clutched at Robert again.
“I want,” Robert said, biting his lower lip as his hands slipped against Aaron’s skin, pulling at his sides, at the waistband of his trousers, eyelashes lowered in concentration. “Up, c’mon.”
Aaron laughed at him. It wasn’t a nice laugh but he was breathless. He let Robert push him up onto the big table nearby, let Robert tug at his zipper, spread his thighs. “Gonna make me feel something, or?”
Robert ground the heel of his hand flat against Aaron’s dick, and then stepped back. “Watch it, Aaron.”
Aaron smirked. “Okay.” He spread his thighs even wider and watched Robert’s eyes drop. He was so fucking hard, but he wasn’t the only one; as he watched Robert dropped a hand to his own crotch, rubbing over the hard line of his dick, obvious in his own jeans, while he stared at Aaron.
Aaron shrugged and pulled off his own top. He ached for it - for Robert’s hand, for any touch at all - but that wasn’t the game he wanted. He didn’t want to get what he wanted. He wanted to know what it was that Robert wanted.
Robert breathed out, hard. Took a moment, like he was preparing himself, and then stepped forward, into the space between Aaron’s thighs. He tangled one hand in Aaron’s hair and held him, pulled back his head to expose the line of his throat.
Aaron grinned. He braced his hands on either side of him, on the table's edge. Let himself look at the ceiling, where Robert had forced his gaze. “Did you want something?”
“You know what I want,” Robert said, easy and heated. He dipped his head and kissed Aaron’s throat again, the hollow of it, where he had left a mark.
Aaron swallowed back a groan as Robert closed his hand over Aaron’s dick, rubbed his thumb under the head firmly. No warning. He kept the sounds behind his teeth while Robert played with him, his fingernails rough in Aaron’s hair, the twist of his hand hot and cruel on Aaron’s dick.
“You want something?” Robert asked. Toying with the head, running his fingers across the slit. Aaron fought back the urge, building in him, to push forward. Fuck, he just wanted Robert to stroke him. Get his whole hand.
Get his mouth, even.
“Yeah, could do with some chips,” Aaron said. Breathing hard. He forced his eyes open, strained down to meet Robert’s eyes. He was smiling, he thought. He could feel it at the edges of his mouth. “D’you think we could get a takeaway out here?”
“Aaron,” Robert sighed, “Aaron, Aaron, Aaron.” He bit down on Aaron’s throat and Aaron bucked up under him, couldn’t help it; he was a livewire and Robert was electric, fuck.
He grabbed Robert’s shoulders, digging his fingers into the meat of them. Pushed forward into Robert’s hands and the broad still-clothed span of Robert’s chest, hips, thighs.
Robert stepped back. He was breathing hard, shoulders rising and falling. The colour was up in his cheeks and he still hadn’t unzipped his trousers but they looked painful from where Aaron was sat.
Suddenly he wanted it - needed him, like air.
He kept himself still. “Looks like you need a hand,” he said.
“I love you,” Robert said. Staring at him. At the span of him, the way he always did: Aaron’s shoulders and chest and belly and scars. The vastness of the love in it made Aaron nervous, like always. There had to be a catch in someone who loved you when you were ugly like Aaron was.
“I know,” Aaron said. He rubbed his palm over the head of his dick.
Robert groaned, softly, like he didn’t notice himself doing it. “Don’t do that,” he said, and that sounded real, faintly hurt, faintly desperate. “I don’t-”
“Make me stop,” Aaron said. “Give me a better offer.”
Robert caught him by the hand and pulled him. Aaron let him do it.
The bed was huge. About eighteen pillows piled up by the headboard, soft silk sheets. The headboard was broad and solid - maybe oak. It looked like it wouldn’t budge much, at any rate.
Robert kissed him like it hurt. Aaron felt his lower lip opening and tightened his grip on Robert’s sides, digging in his nails, but it just made Robert kiss him harder.
“Wait,” Robert said. Pulling back, breathing hard. His eyelashes were damp. “Aaron, I-”
“I want you to fight for me,” Aaron said, like a secret, and then he shook his head. “Why do you always fight for me?”
Robert softened. “Because I love you,” he said. “Because you’d fight for me.”
“Would I?” The air cooled. Aaron’s hands balled up in Robert’s shirt.
“Every time,” Robert said. “Even when I wasn’t worth fighting for, you did.”
Aaron hid his face in Robert’s shoulder. Breathed in the scent of him: sweat and aftershave and himself. Something shifted in his chest and he stilled. “I’m a mess.”
“You’re perfect.” Robert said it like it was true. This was how he always said it. Unless he was saying the opposite, and reducing Aaron to pieces.
“You touch me like I’m gonna break. You love me now that I’m in bits.”
“No. No, Aaron. Never.” Robert swallowed. “Is that what this is about? You want- You want me to push you around?”
Yes, Aaron thought. But it wasn’t quite that. “I want you to remember that I’m not- he didn’t-”
I’m always gonna see you like that, Robert had said. I’ll always want you.
But it didn’t feel like that. It felt like things had changed.
Robert wrapped his arms around Aaron, held him close. “I’ve made a mess of things, haven’t I?”
Aaron looked down at their feet, bare against the carpet. “It’s not you. It’s me. Complaining about nice sex - what is that? I should be lucky that I’ve got someone to look after me but instead I’m just waiting. It feels like the other shoe’s gonna drop.”
Robert breathed out against Aaron’s shoulder and hugged him tight, then guided him to the bed. They sat down on the edge, Aaron tucked against Robert’s side, Robert’s arms still holding him close.
“You’re not fragile, you know,” Robert said. “You’re the least fragile person I know. I think you could make it through anything.”
“Why were you such an arsehole?” Aaron said, sighing. Why can’t I trust you now?
Robert winced, but he kept holding on. “I’m trying to make it up.”
“I know,” Aaron said. He turned his face and kissed Robert’s cheek. “I just- I want this to be like it was.”
“I don’t think Chrissie would let us use her bed,” Robert offered, attempting something like lightness but falling well short.
Aaron leaned against him. “Nah, Andy’s got that covered.”
“I want you, okay? Always, in every way.” Robert paused and took Aaron’s face in his hands, pressed his forehead to Aaron’s. “I’m sorry if I’ve done anything to make it seem like I don’t.”
Aaron kissed him. “I love you,” he said. “I know you love me.” And he did, despite everything. The truth of it was plain in Robert’s face, in Robert’s hands, in the way Robert’s body swayed towards Aaron when they were just - in the same vicinity, near each other. Robert loved him.
But Robert had loved Chrissie. And Robert had loved Aaron when he’d had him tied up in that lodge, and when he had been holding that gun.
Love made Robert terrifying. And Aaron didn’t mind that, so much as he minded Robert hiding it, pushing it aside. Protecting Aaron when it was the last thing Aaron wanted to be protected from.
Robert’s fingers were gentle on the sides of Aaron’s face. “I do.” He kissed Aaron, very soft, very light. “What’s the catch, Aaron?”
Aaron dropped his forehead into Robert’s shoulder again. The fabric of his shirt was so, so soft. Robert and his expensive fucking taste. “Why’d you always want me to talk?”
“Cause I love you,” Robert said, tucking two fingers under Aaron’s chin, tilting his face up. “Cause I want you. All of you.”
Aaron sighed. “Well, I want all of you,” he said. “Not just - the nice side. I want to push you and know you’ll push me back.” It was weird, saying it out loud. It sounded absurd.
Robert looked at him, solemn and serious. “You trust me?”
“Remember the first time, in the back of the car?” Robert on top of him, his weight holding Aaron down at the wrists, at the hips. Biting at Aaron’s throat, hissing at Aaron to be quiet even though Robert was the one making all the noise.
“When it was just sex,” Robert said, slowly, thoughtfully.
“It was good sex,” Aaron said. “You didn’t think I was about to start crying on you, then.”
Aaron raised an eyebrow. “What am I doing now, then?”
“Not crying,” Robert said. He smoothed the ball of his thumb across Aaron’s cheek, under his left eye. His touch was like a butterfly. Barely there.
Aaron punched him in the shoulder, just as lightly.
“I love you,” Robert said. He sighed, eyelashes fluttering as he looked away; like he was thinking, like he was making a decision. “And - okay, yeah. I can do that.”
“Not just because I want it,” Aaron said, insistent. That might be worse.
“Not just because you want it,” Robert said. Leaned in, kissed him. The kiss went on so long it felt like forever, and then Robert pulled off with a sharp nip to Aaron's lower lip. “It’ll be good. I’ll make it good.”
Aaron’s dick had gone soft but now it stirred against his thigh. Robert tightened his hands on Aaron’s face and tipped him back into the bed, straddled his thighs and paused there, draped over him, looking down with that look that he got, the one that said I love you truer than any time he had spoken the words aloud.
“You say stop,” Robert said, softly, kindly. “Anytime, you say it, and I will.”
“Yeah,” Aaron said. “I’ve got it.” He paused. “Er, you too. If you want.”
Robert paused. “Thanks.”
Aaron smiled up at him. “Get on with it, then. Not too late to call it off and get chips.”
Robert slapped his thigh - not hard, more reproving than anything. It stung, though. “Oi.”
Aaron wriggled underneath him. “Just saying.”
“Well, stop it,” Robert said. Leaned down and kissed him, fucking his mouth easily.
Aaron let him do it. Let himself enjoy it - the force of Robert, overwhelming. The hard masculine press of him.
Then he tangled his legs around Robert’s waist and flipped them. Robert was hard against him and that felt good, like the flush of temporary victory. “You’re wearing too much,” Aaron said, grinding down against him, as dirty as he could make it. “Get it off, c’mon.”
“Ask nicely,” Robert said, arrogant for someone lying on his back, pinned, but that was Robert always, that was the Robert Aaron remembered.
“Fuck you,” Aaron said, and got Robert’s top off. Dragged it along his chest, over his arms - Robert held ‘em up, looking half-lidded at Aaron, like he knew exactly what he was doing - and then leaned down to kiss Robert again, bare skin against bare skin, and the brush of it shot through him.
He pulled off for a moment to trace two fingers over the scar - the bullet, everything Robert had deserved but Aaron had never, ever wanted to see.
“Aaron,” Robert said.
“I love you,” Aaron said, suddenly aching, heartsick. “Don’t you dare leave me again.”
“Never,” Robert said. “I swear.” He angled his hips up and that hit Aaron like an electric shock; Robert putting himself on offer always did. “Help me out here.”
Aaron rubbed over the outline of his dick. It had to hurt, with the denim, but he did it anyway to watch Robert toss his head back, hair tousled, standing up all over. Then he dragged the zipper down and felt Robert through his underwear, hot and damp. The size of him, god.
“Fuck,” Robert said, gritting it out through his teeth.
Aaron felt the ripple of muscle, the roll of Robert’s long taut body. He settled his knees firmly into the mattress but it wasn’t enough; Robert surged up and pushed him down, wriggling out of his jeans as he kissed Aaron into the pillows. They flew somewhere away, landing with a thump on the carpet.
“Fuck you,” Aaron said.
“Yeah, that’s the plan.” Robert grinned at him and dragged Aaron’s wrists above his head while Aaron writhed underneath him - trying, but not trying especially hard. Doing it more for the feeling of it, the hard press of Robert’s bare skin against his own.
Robert dug his fingers into Aaron’s wrists. Harder than strictly necessary, enough that Aaron could feel it marking up.
He liked it, the idea of it, the reality. It made him flush all over.
“God, you’re hot,” Robert said. Looking down at Aaron, letting his gaze drag all over Aaron’s body: over the scars, over his mouth, over his dick pressed against his belly.
He dipped his head and kissed the skin over Aaron’s heart. Mouth soft, wet, warm. His dick dragged against Aaron’s thigh, bare and wet.
“You’re blind,” Aaron said.
Robert tsk’d and moved up, took Aaron’s nipple into his mouth and bit down, hard. It shot through Aaron’s body like electricity.
“Fuck!” Aaron yelped, bucking up. He tried to bring his hands down but Robert had them. “Jesus, Robert, fuck you.”
Robert laughed and did it again, worrying the sensitive flesh between his teeth.
Aaron felt his body arcing, back arching, whole body rolling with the sensation of it. The only thing keeping him down was Robert on top of him, solid and firm.
“Yeah?” Robert said, lifting his head. His lips were shiny and his eyes were dark.
“Yeah,” Aaron said, stilling himself. “God, yeah.”
Robert exhaled and bit down again, one last time, before he dragged himself up Aaron’s body again and pressed two kisses to the base of Aaron’s wrists. He shifted his grip to one and walked the fingers of his other hand down Aaron’s wrist, along the inside of his arm, pausing to score his blunt nails against Aaron’s skin at irregular intervals.
He was up on his knees, looming over Aaron.
“Open up,” Robert said, hotly. His fingers trailed along Aaron’s jaw, then across his lips. They felt huge, long.
Robert sat back on his heels and looked at Aaron, considering, calculating. Like he was planning a deal, figuring out exactly who to threaten to bankrupt to get what he wanted. His weight was heavy on Aaron’s thighs but the burn of it was good. Aaron would feel it the next day. Not like all the soft caresses Robert had pulled out in the weeks and months before.
Aaron grinned at him. All tooth. The sort of grin he’d mastered when was seventeen and running wild.
Robert said, “Say no and I’ll stop.” And then, telegraphing the movement, he pulled his hand back and slapped Aaron across the face.
He’d pulled most of the force, so it didn’t really hurt. It was the sound that was the most startling, really, the crack of palm against skin. Louder than Aaron had thought but enough to make his dick jerk, make his mouth fall open in surprise.
“Bite if you want out,” Robert said, and thrust two fingers into Aaron’s mouth.
Aaron didn’t bite. He licked Robert’s fingers instead, sucked on them like they were Robert’s dick.
Robert groaned and ground down against Aaron, a sharp stutter of his hips. His dick was hot and slick as it slid against Aaron’s thighs: Aaron sucked harder, thinking about it. The weight of it in his mouth, against his tongue; the way it fit inside him, uncomfortable at first, a harsh burn mellowing to a sweet glide, a perfect fullness. He worked his tongue over the pads of Robert’s fingers. In return Robert rocked them shallowly, in and out, sloppy, dragging spit across Aaron’s lips.
Aaron could hear his own harsh breath. He was so hard.
Robert put a knee between his thighs. Aaron ground against it helplessly, without shame.
Robert was searching for something in Aaron’s face. He kept going while Aaron moaned around him, while they both got steadily harder; Robert grinding gently against him, precome smeared across his thighs, his stomach.
Finally he found what he was looking for and pulled his fingers out, drawing them across Aaron’s face.
Aaron, shivering, let him do it. He felt boneless, as though gravity couldn’t touch him.
“Hey,” Robert said, punctuating it with a quick bite to Aaron’s shoulder, and a kiss to his forehead. “Hands on the headboard, okay? Hold em.”
Aaron blinked at him, dazed and floating. “What?”
Robert laughed, dragged his hands to the headboard and curled his fingers round it. “Hold on.”
Aaron swallowed. He remembered that part of him had wanted to struggle. “Why?”
“Cause I told you to,” Robert said. Kissed him on the lips he’d just fucked with his fingers. “Because if you let go I’ll take my fingers out and you wouldn’t want that, would you?”
“Ain't even in me,” Aaron said, rolling his eyes. Attempting to, at least. He was light with want.
That was all right. He could be like that here, in this bed, with this man.
He could be whatever he wanted.
“Anyone tell you you’re fucking demanding?” Robert said.
“You, all the time,” Aaron said. He spread his legs and dug his fingers into the headboard, though. “Hurry up.”
Robert knelt back. Dropped one hand to his own dick and gave himself a few strokes, root to tip, before rubbing at his balls.
Aaron felt his mouth water, wanting it. His lips felt bruised and his whole body was humming.
He wanted to say, touch me. But that wasn’t the game they were playing. He waited.
Robert smiled at him, loose, beautiful. He pressed his palm flat to Aaron’s arse, over his hole.
“Fuck,” Aaron said, involuntarily pulsing his hips down. “C’mon, get-”
“Shh,” Robert said, obviously not meaning it. He drew spit-slick fingers along the curve of Aaron’s arse, dipping in, working around the rim of his hole. “You want it?”
“Of fucking course I do,” Aaron spat, vibrating. “Robert, I swear to god-”
Robert laughed. Dipped his head and pressed a kiss to Aaron’s chest, above his right nipple, then paused to bite that too. Meanwhile he had pressed two fingers flat against Aaron’s entrance, so fucking close to where Aaron wanted them that he gasped. “Ask me nicely.”
“Fuck you,” Aaron said.
Robert hummed and clambered off him. The loss of his body weight - of his warmth, of his scent - Aaron gasped out loud. It was too much.
“Robert,” he said, and there must have been something in his voice because Robert’s eyes flashed, all of the tease gone, replaced by concern, and Robert was back, settled over him, long and heavy and safe.
God help him: Robert Sugden, safety.
Robert stroked a hand over his hair and kissed the side of his face. “I’m here. I love you.”
Aaron sighed, like a sob. “Just- for a second.”
“Yeah,” Robert said. “Yeah, I’m not going anywhere.”
Aaron was still holding onto the headboard. He didn’t let go.
“Okay,” Aaron said, flexing his fingers. “Let’s go.”
Robert beamed at him. That megawatt smile, the charming one. It’d get you out of your knickers but Aaron was already out of them so he smiled back. “Okay,” Robert said. Kissed Aaron’s cheek again, lips dry and light.
There was a familiar snap and then Robert was tracing around him again, fingers slick and careful. “Use your words,” he said.
“Robert,” Aaron said, pleading.
“Aaron,” Robert countered.
“I want it.”
“Want what?” Robert asked. He kissed Aaron’s shoulder, and dragged the fingers of his left hand down the inside of Aaron’s thigh, little darting touches leaving sparks in their wake. “Want me to touch you?”
“I want your fingers,” Aaron said. He felt tight all over; tossed his head, his shoulders. “I want them in me.”
“Was that so hard?” Robert hummed, smug and insufferable and horrendously good looking, and worked his fingers inside. One at first, then the second.
“Robert,” Aaron said, gritting it out. He tightened his grip on the headboard and tilted up his hips, trying to get Robert’s fingers where he wanted them.
“Shh, shh,” Robert said. He palmed Aaron’s balls with his other hand and skirted around the base of his dick lightly. It was too much sensation.
Aaron bit his lip, holding back the noises that threatened to spill out - little whines, little gasps. He didn’t even know why he was doing it. He just was.
Robert hummed and kissed his shoulder. “Love you.”
He shook his head. It felt like too much, all of it. Robert’s words and Robert’s hands and the endless force of him.
But this was what Aaron had asked for. He had told Robert not to hold back.
Robert worked a third finger in. It felt enormous, it felt like being fucked. Aaron rocked down, experimentally. He felt stretched and full.
Aaron bared his throat. “Robert,” he said. He didn’t quite know what he was asking for, but there was something, just out of reach. His body knew it, and he was sure Robert did, too.
“I know,” Robert said, playing at soothing, with that condescending, arrogant tone he got when Aaron was underneath him, when he was reducing Aaron to nerve endings and sparking feeling. Aaron had missed it. He stroked up and down Aaron’s dick and Aaron thrust his hips into it - but Robert’s fingers slipped out of him and he couldn’t bear that, so he rocked back down, caught between Robert’s fist and his fingers.
Robert laughed, a pleased little sound. His teeth had caught on his lower lip like they did when he was doing accounts, or something. Like Aaron was something Robert understood, like Robert had expected everything he would do and prepared accordingly.
“Robert,” Aaron said, demanding, like when it was Robert’s turn to cook tea and he’d forgotten.
Robert let go of his dick long enough to slap the inside of his thigh. Sharp, loud, not particularly painful; but Aaron was lit up enough that any touch ricocheted all through him, made him toss his head and roll his whole body. “Behave.”
Aaron snorted, tried to make it sound rude and unimpressed but halfway through it broke and he was gasping, as Robert fucked him shallowly at first and then harder, as Robert’s hand tightened on his dick and he felt like a rubber band snapping back and forth, or a magnet caught between two poles.
“Can you just,” he said, biting it out, biting his own lip.
Robert laughed, breathless, and leaned up to kiss him. Aaron wasn’t much good at kissing back, too busy feeling - but Robert’s tongue felt good in his mouth, just taking over, just -
He pulled off and Aaron hand to god whimpered - this desperate little sound, shit. He turned his face into the mattress to hide from it. He was close, burning with it, running to the edge.
“I’ve got you,” Robert said, pulled his hand away and tugged at Aaron’s balls for a second, the sharpness of it like an anchor, dragging him back.
“Fuck,” Aaron said, gulping for air.
Robert settled his hand on Aaron’s hip, pushing him back, and worked his fingers in harder, hitting his prostate this time.
“Is this good?” Robert asked. Almost kind, but there was a mean edge, a sharp sliver. “This is what you wanted, yeah?”
“Fuck you,” Aaron said, “you know what I want.”
“Say it,” Robert said.
“Do one,” Aaron snapped, dropped his own hand to his dick and got in three solid good strokes before Robert grabbed his wrist and yanked him off.
Robert was fucking big. Aaron didn’t often forget - not with the way Robert liked to put his arms round Aaron at every opportunity, remind him he wasn’t alone; make himself a wall between Aaron and the world. He wasn’t as hard as he’d used to be, as defined, but Aaron didn’t mind. He liked the softness at Robert’s belly, the way it contrasted with the long length of him.
He didn’t often use his height like this - not even when they’d been fighting. When they’d been fucking, yes. Putting Aaron where Robert wanted him. In a fair fight it would be Aaron who won, and Robert knew it.
This wasn’t a fair fight.
This was Robert, on top of him, with his hands on Aaron’s wrists and his gorgeous dick pressed against Aaron’s.
“Say it,” Robert said, low and hot and ruthless.
“Fuck me,” Aaron said, looking up at him, right into his eyes. “Fuck me. Make me come.”
Robert kissed him. Less of a kiss more of a fuck: his tongue in Aaron’s mouth, as insistent as his fingers had been inside Aaron. Robert, taking what he wanted.
Aaron groaned into it and strained up, kissed him back.
“C’mere, come on.” Robert rolled them both over. He pulled Aaron on top of him and Aaron, shivering and empty, let him do it.
Robert pushed and pulled him until they were arranged as he wanted; Aaron kneeling over him, thighs either side of Robert’s hips, Aaron himself extended awkwardly along Robert’s chest, off-balance, held up only by the grace of Robert’s hands on him. He dragged his nails along the bite marks he’d left and tangled one hand harshly in Aaron’s hair and ground his dick - the long flush of it, hot and wet and so fucking big - against Aaron’s thighs and cock and then his entrance, catching on the rim so Aaron said, “please,” and had to screw his eyes shut as he tried to rock against it.
“You know who’s in charge,” Robert said. He was trying for playful but he wasn’t there anymore, his voice was too low and he was too hard, his hands too tight on Aaron’s skin, his teeth pushed too deeply into his lower lip, the lines of his abs taut and strained underneath Aaron’s spread thighs.
Aaron huffed, like a sigh. Felt his eyes close half-way and let them do it. Robert wasn’t the only one drawn tight; he arched his back, pressing at the confines of his skin, straining against gravity. Everything felt too tight, but it was good. Like he was coming up on something big. Something important.
“Not you,” Robert said, and pressed a dry kiss to Aaron’s shoulder, and tightened one hand on his hip - so tight Aaron could feel his fingerprints, reveled in it - and with the other dragged his fingertips along Aaron’s arse, dipping back inside for one torturous moment, before he finally - finally - got his dick inside of Aaron.
“Jesus,” Aaron said, tossing back his head. He didn’t know what to do with his hands, with any of him. Robert felt impossibly big inside of him. At this angle, his dick couldn’t do anything but hit Aaron’s prostate. Every time he so much as breathed sensation pulsed through him.
“Behind your back,” Robert said, lowly. For a moment he looked as vulnerable as Aaron felt - biting his lip, the muscles in his thighs rippling as he held himself still. Then it passed and he was smiling, his easy Robert smile. Smug arsehole. Robert reached up and pulled at Aaron’s nipples with both hands; grinning as Aaron squirmed away from the sensation, rolling himself hard against Robert’s dick. “Don’t even think about touching yourself.”
Earlier, Aaron would have laughed at him and done it anyway, and Robert would have wrestled him down and bit him and kissed him, and pinned his arms so he couldn’t anymore. But now Aaron was all in, Robert the centre of the universe, the thing that made him alive.
He crossed his wrists behind his back and rocked down onto Robert’s dick and said, “I love you.”
This he had not been allowed to say, before. That was the thing that had been missing.
Robert dropped his hands to Aaron’s hips and guided him - dragged him up and up and up, till his thighs burned, and then pushed him down, so fast Aaron sobbed and Robert took a quick breath.
Aaron let him, moving with the unsteady urging of Robert’s palms. He kept his eyes open, even though his eyelids felt heavy, the heaviest. It was worth it to see Robert’s bitten lip, narrowed eyes, the colour in his cheeks.
“You're so good,” Robert said. His voice cracked, just a little, eyelids fluttering shut as Aaron clenched around him. His fingers dug into Aaron’s hips. There would be marks tomorrow and Aaron loved it, the feeling of it. The knowledge.
He felt entirely inside his own skin. His heart beat so loudly he felt it in his throat, in the pulse of Robert’s fingertips and his dick. He drew himself up, with Robert’s guidance, and fell down again, with Robert’s hands there to catch him. Over and over again, a dizzying blur of pleasure, of sensation, of Robert’s cock hitting him exactly where he wanted to feel it.
“Robert,” he said. His voice cracked. It didn’t sound like him: it sounded like someone from a long way away. He couldn’t bear it any longer; he reached for Robert, got his palms onto Robert’s chest, where his heart could beat insistently against Aaron’s own pulse.
Robert forced his eyes open. “Aaron,” he said, surging upwards and pushing Aaron back into the mattress. He got his hands on Aaron’s wrists, thumbs over the marks he’d left before and pushed down again, harder. “Aaron, the things you make me do-”
And then he fucked into Aaron once, twice, three times; a punishing, brutal pace, that made Aaron’s thighs just fall open, that made his breath get high and full of need - and then he came.
“Robert,” Aaron said, as Robert stilled, falling heavily on top of him. He was no longer restrained, there was nothing about him playing the game anymore; he just wanted, his whole body spiraling with it. “Robert, please-”
“Yeah,” Robert said, taking shallow little breaths, letting go of one of Aaron’s wrists to drag the heel of his hand over his mouth. He slipped out, shook his head, dragged himself down the length of Aaron’s body and swallowed him down.
“Robert,” Aaron said, tossing back his head, but then he had to draw it back because he couldn’t look away. It was Robert, malevolent and beautiful and unstoppable and his.
Robert got one hand round the base of his dick and sucked him hard at the head, looking up at him with those calm, cool eyes. He wasn’t calm, now. He looked as desperate as Aaron felt.
“Please,” Aaron said. He barely knew what he was asking for. Just something, anything.
Robert pressed his tongue hard to the vein and then he licked over the slit and then he pressed two fingers into Aaron’s hole, sloppy and open from where Robert had already fucked him open, first with fingers and then with his cock, wet from Robert’s come spilling out of him. Two fingers, then a third, and it was almost too much for Aaron to bear but it was Robert, a hurricane, a firestorm, a tornado that loved him, so it was all right, it was perfect.
“Robert,” Aaron sobbed. He looked down to see himself reflected in Robert’s eyes, and came so hard everything went black.
Aaron woke up to moonlight and the soft sound of Robert snoring, Robert’s arm draped across his stomach and Robert’s nose pressed to the back of his neck. He was clean, miraculously; he imagined Robert with a flannel and warm water, wiping him down and arranging him in the bed, pulling the blankets over him and then settling in behind. It made him smile.
He yawned and got up to use the toilet and when he came back Robert was sitting up, hair disheveled, eyes bright.
“Hiya,” he said.
Aaron kissed his cheek and got back into bed. “Hi.”
Robert bumped his shoulder against Aaron’s. “Missed you.”
Aaron tipped his head onto Robert’s shoulder and put his nose against Robert’s throat. Breathed in, breathed out. Robert smelled faintly of sex and sweat but mostly of Aaron.
After a little while, he spoke. “Thanks for that. I needed it.” He paused and lifted his head, rubbed his eyes. Looked down at his hands and back up at Robert and cleared his throat and looked down again. “I’m not fixed, you know. Cause of the court case and that. Him getting sent down, that's good, that’s what he deserves. But it's not - I’m still a mess. I’m always gonna be a mess.”
He didn’t want to look at Robert but he could feel the weight of him watching so he did, afraid of - he wasn’t sure what. Judgement, maybe. I’ll be going, then.
Robert just looked at him, sleepy-eyed, soft. His eyes did the thing, like Robert was just so in love that Aaron was the only thing in the world. Like Aaron was the world. “You don’t need to be better,” he said. “You’re the bravest, best person. I love you.”
It wasn’t entirely the right thing to say. Part of Aaron wanted to say, trade me in for someone else. Part of Aaron wanted to go and call his counselor. He would, later. A part of Aaron - small, now, and getting smaller - wanted to go for the razor in the bathroom. He wouldn’t do that. Not with Robert here. Not with so much worth keeping.
Aaron reached out for Robert’s hand and tangled their fingers together. When Robert squeezed his palm he let himself smile. “Okay,” he said.
“I am sorry,” Robert said, looking down at their joined hands. “About everything.”
“It’s over now.” It wasn’t, entirely. It was still in Aaron’s head. It would never leave, probably. But there was nothing Robert could do about it.
“It’s here,” Robert said. He tapped his heart and then Aaron's. “Always. I’m not a good person. I’ll try for you, forever, for the rest of my life. But- I’m not.”
Aaron sighed and put his face against Robert’s shoulder and breathed out. “I love you too.”
Maybe that wasn’t the right thing to say, either. Maybe he should have said, you’re a good person, or I forgive you. But he had not. Maybe one day he would be able to say them, but not now.
I can wait, Robert had told him, again and again. He hoped Robert could.
He hoped he could, too.
“I love you,” Aaron said, again. It was true. It was the truest thing he knew.
Robert put his arm round Aaron and held him close. His heartbeat settled against Aaron’s, steady and solid.
Aaron closed his eyes and leaned into him.