"I can do this"
Believing in yourself was good and all but unfortunately he'd been telling himself that for nearly two hours and the only thing that had changed from when he started filling out the profile to now was the amount of empty beer bottles littering the table next to his laptop. Sighing he raked his fingers through his hair a couple times before snatching up the remote from to couch cushion beside him in order to mute the TV convinced the weatherman and his warnings of snow was somehow jinxing his progress.
"It's just a simple profile Aaron, get it together." He huffed out.
Two seconds later he pinched the bridge of his nose at the realization he was talking to himself. Why was this so difficult for him? What about moving on made his brain seize up? His relationship had ended weeks ago and yet he'd done nothing but mope around Adam's with his head buried in the sand in between napping on the living room couch. Shoving his pillow out of his way with a jerky irritated motion he twisted his body around on the couch so that his legs draped over the back of it and his head hung off the seat cushion, blood rushing to his head, his eyes sliding back over to the TV where the muted weather man animatedly gestured at his map behind him.
As another frustrated noise escaped Aaron's lips his index finger began to tap repeatedly against the spacebar of his laptop as his frustration manifested in a more obvious way, his attention sliding back to the dating site questionnaire in front of him and for what felt like the twentieth time re-read the second question: Current Employment
It's not like it was a difficult question but it had stumped him and so he debated how to phrase it, how to spin his current situation into a positive one. Aaron wasn’t the best at words on a good day let alone when trying to summarize how he’d come to have no job because no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t see a way ‘I moved to a new city and then the prick cheated on me’ translated well on a dating site.
Five minutes later he was still staring at a blank answer box "Oh for fucks sake."
Currently fielding options
No that made him sound pretentious, he hated pretentious people, Ed’s friends had been pretentious. Sighing he clicked the backspace button until the box was empty and tried again.
He might as well stamp 'single loser desperate for companionship' across his forehead and move back in with his mother.
Scrubbing at his face he muttered another curse and glared hatefully at the screen. Why was he doing this anyways? He didn't need anyone. He didn't even want to date at the moment. He was about to call it quits finally when he remembered the look shared between Adam and Victoria over breakfast earlier that morning and his mouth tugged down in a scowl. He could deal with a lot of things but he didn't need or want anyone's pity and so he quickly moved his fingers across the keyboard.
Whether it was the reminder of Adam and Victoria or just finally getting past his block the rest of the questionnaire flew by easily and soon enough his profile was complete, picture and all. Before he could nose around the site though he heard the lock at the front door going and quickly twisted back around the right way up on the couch and closed his laptop before discarding it onto the coffee table and attempted to tidy up the living room, just managing to get the bottles into the trash and seem like he was nosing around for food as Adam made his way inside.
"Look at you bro, off the couch and actually moving around I'm proud of you." Adam said with a wide smile, his playful tone easing the sting of the jab.
"I do actually do things during the day you know." Aaron mumbled. He remained facing away from Adam though and dug around the fridge with no real intention of eating anything.
"Such as? I can't remember the last time you left the flat honestly, mate."
Aaron lifted his head out of the fridge to scowl at his best friend as the other man boosted himself up onto the counter not bothering to hide his amusement. "Do one."
"Could be a bit nicer to me you know, having crashed on my couch for weeks now." grumped Adam.
Aaron's scowl had dropped away instantly but before he could actually respond Victoria had appeared in the doorway of the kitchen, her hands on her hips, and an exasperated look on her pretty face. "You're meant to be getting ready, Adam, we're going out soon and what have I said about sitting on my kitchen counter!"
Adam had slipped off the counter before Victoria reached him saving himself from a slap to the arm and instead wrapped his own arms around her pulling her closer to press a kiss against her temple "Doesn't take me more than a minute to get ready, babe."
Aaron's laugh had Adam looking at him with a frown
"You take longer than anyone, Adam." Aaron supplied helpfully.
"I do not."
Aaron rolled his eyes and didn't bother to respond to that before heading back into the living room and dropping back onto the couch and reached for the remote prepared to unmute the tv finally when he realized Victoria kept stealing glances over at him while speaking in a hushed tone to Adam. She was planning something, couldn't help herself really. She liked to push people to do their best and she'd never bothered to hide the fact that she didn't think vegging out on their couch was Aaron's best. He pretended not to notice her glances but he also left the tv silent knowing now that it would be pointless and instead picked up his phone and started to look through twitter.
"So..Aaron." Victoria's soft voice broke the silence.
"Hm" It was a noncommittal sound and he didn't bother to look up from his phone but that didn't seem to bother Victoria.
"Adam was thinking, why don't you come out to the club with us?"
He waited a few seconds to at least pretend as if he was thinking it over
"Nah, I'm alright."
"You can't just hermit your life away in here. You've gotta get out, move on, find someone new."
"I'm not a hermit." he snapped out only to instantly feel bad, his shoulders slumping slightly, he shouldn't be taking things out on Adam or Victoria. He knew they were only trying to help him but he didn't need other people to tell him how to handle his feelings. He was twenty-four and Ed had hardly been his first relationship he'd move on when he was ready to do so. "I joined a dating site today."
The words were out of his mouth before he could even consider what he was saying but as he glanced up from his phone finally he found Victoria beaming at him.
"Aaron that's wonderful! See, you're already getting back out there so there's no reason not to come out with us." She'd reached his side and dropped down onto the couch next to him before she'd even finished the sentence and then gripped his arm lightly giving it a squeeze. "Oh please please please say you'll come with. It'll be good for you."
"You might as well just give in mate, she'll never give up now."
Letting out a sigh Aaron lifted a hand to rub at the back of his neck before sliding his gaze over to Victoria beside him. Her big eyes open wide as she pleaded with her best puppy face along with a hopeful smile curving up the corners of her mouth. How could he possibly crush that?
"Alright, yeah fine. One drink."
He was, in all honesty, shocked she didn't bust his eardrum with her happy squeal.
"Honestly Aaron, how did you lose your ID again?"
It was a valid question and so Aaron blatantly ignored the fact that Adam had spoken and instead shoved his hands into all of his pockets again hoping to come back with his wallet but like the first two times he came out empty handed and leveled his gaze on the bouncer. "Look, I promise you I'm old enough."
"Consider it a compliment."
"This is what he gets for trimming his beard finally, looks like a teen again doesn't he babe."
"You're still not helping." Aaron snapped.
Victoria was giving him one of those sad smiles of hers while Adam beamed at him his chin resting on top of Victoria's head but Aaron watched his friends happy mood falter at the exact moment a familiar voice sounded from behind him.
Aaron's body tensed and he sucked in a breath desperately hoping he'd be wrong. Luck though, was rarely on Aaron's side, and as he took a step to the right Ed moved up to the bouncer ID in hand and an easy smile on his face. He hadn't yet realized who had been blocking his way, no doubt captivated by his companion, so Aaron took the chance to rake his eyes over Ed's lanky frame. He looked good but then again Ed had always looked good. Polished and beautiful when off the field and Aaron had always felt like he didn't quite fit in his boyfriend's world. Ed must have agreed because the man at his side was taller than Aaron, with light brown hair, and an easy smile to match his clean shaven face. Maybe he was reading into things? Maybe it was a first date, a blind date even, maybe it was a complete chance that Ed was with someone Aaron's opposite in every way.
And for about three more seconds Aaron honestly believed that could be true and then Ed had turned his head to the side, a noise catching his attention, and he'd caught sight of Aaron. Aaron watched emotions flicker quickly across the taller man's face before he turned and ducked his head to mumble something to the man beside him.
"Oh? Are these friends of yours?"
"No-I.. David could we just-"
"He's not my friend." Aaron's tone was harsh, his sudden bad mood impossible to miss. Victoria stepped forward perhaps intending to do damage control but Adam's arm clamped around her waist and hauled her back against him as David and Ed turned their full attention to Aaron. Huffing out a strained laugh Aaron rubbed harshly at his face before throwing his hands out to the side in a show of exasperation. "Un-fucking-believable."
" Don't . Don't you fucking dare try and sweet talk me. At least you're still with him right? Least you didn't take a dump on our life for a one time thing yeah? Should probably make me feel better." Ed's lips turned down at the corner and the frown in some frustrating way made him more beautiful and that just flamed Aaron's temper higher because who looked pretty while sad? "I'm not doing this, just fuck off."
Shoving his hands into the pocket of his hoodie Aaron turned on his heel and stormed back down the street. Why couldn't he even enjoy one night out? Why couldn't he have one moment to actually feel good?
"Aaron, Aaron come on man wait up."
Halting in his steps Aaron waited until Adam was in front of him, breathing heavy from jogging, and a grimace on his face. Aaron knew what he was going to do, he was going to try and convince Aaron to come back to the club that they could enjoy themselves but he couldn't, how could he possibly have a good time knowing Ed was there, knowing that the person he'd been cheated on with was there.
"Go back to Victoria."
"Come with me." Adam tried.
"I'm not in the mood to be a third wheel." he ground out.
"You're not a third wheel, Aaron, never have been.”
"Of course I fucking am." The words exploded out of him and Adam pursed his lips knowing better than to interrupt. "All I do is crash your life. It's all I've done for weeks now. I moved out here because of him. I was finally doing something with my life. Out of Emmerdale and living the dream and now I'm what? Some pathetic shell taking up space on your couch. I'm going backwards, Adam."
"You'll figure it out."
Aaron's laugh was brittle and harsh as he wiped at his face, his fingers streaking snow and tears across his cheek, as he shook his head before his gaze dropped to his feet.
"You two ok?" Vic's voice was soft as she approached them from behind, like trying to soothe a wounded animal, and maybe to a degree that's exactly what Aaron was these days. When neither man said anything she moved closer and hooked an arm through Aaron's and then through Adam's before giving both of them a sweet smile. "Why don't we go back to the apartment and I'll make a snack, we can do a movie night."
"I don't want to ruin your plans." Aaron muttered.
Only to stumble slightly as she pushed her body against his side to nudge him "Don't be silly, you couldn't ruin anything"
"Come on, it'll be fun"
He worried his lip between his teeth as he considered it before shaking his head no. "You two had plans, I want you to keep them. I'll be fine on my own."
"I mean it, go back to the club. I'll figure something out." He stopped walking and turned to look at his friends trying to give them a reassuring smile and knowing from the looks on their faces he hadn't really succeeded. Thankfully neither one of them called him on it. He pulled his arm free from Victoria's grasp before tilting his head towards the club behind them. "Have a drink on me yea?"
"Fine, fine we'll go back but only ..." Aaron's eyes snapped to Vic's face. He knew that tone, he didn't like that tone, it was her I've got a plan tone. "If you promise to look someone up on that dating site for a one night stand."
He’d been home for almost two hours and things had not gone well. He’d finally started going through the profiles of the people who had peeked at his own only to find something wrong with each and everyone of them. Too tall or not tall enough. One of them had an entire paragraph on their profile dedicated to the problem with professional sports. Another played rugby, enough said there given Aaron’s past. One had an apparent passion for musical theater that reminded him of Finn back home and had him wincing as he backed out of the profile. He was about to give up completely and just close his laptop for the night when a chat window popped up in front of him.
Bristol86: Thank god I’m wearin gloves
Bristol86: youd be too hot to handle
He quietly closed the box without a response confident that wasn’t a person he’d have anything in common with but no sooner had it closed did another pop up.
MarkkP: Nice pic
SingleDingle: 22 Why?
“And that’s a dick.” clicking the conversation closed Aaron sighed before rubbing at his face. He wasn’t entirely shocked in all honesty, it was almost one in the morning. Who used a dating site at one am for anything other than dick pics and hookups and in fairness he was after a hookup.
He watched his phone flicker to life beside his laptop, seeing Adam’s name pop up on the notifications, and knew it was his friends checking on him. He knew the pitying looks he’d get it he couldn't even manage this, worse yet Victoria might try and set him up again, and so he ignored the phone and settled back into the couch cushions before scrolling quickly through the list of profiles he’d been matched with before picking one at random not even bothering to look at the profile picture. This was about getting laid, he’d deal with whatever he got dealt when the time came.
“Come on, the bar is set so low for you. Just be normal.”
RobertJS: Hello, you’re on late.
SingleDingle: lost my id and got denied at the club
RobertJS: So you slum it on here huh? Bit desperate.
SingleDingle: mate youre literally doing the same thing
RobertJS: I’m multitasking actually, job and personal. Also I could get into a club with or without identification as I look like an adult.
SingleDingle: excuse me?
RobertJS: Your pictures, you look fresh out of school. No wonder they turned you away.
“What a prick” Aaron blinked at his laptop screen before his fingers moved quickly across the keyboard to tell RobertJS exactly that.
SingleDingle: You’re a prick.
RobertJS: So you can capitalize and know what punctuation is? That’s good to know, I was starting to worry.
Scowling at the screen Aaron clicked the conversation box away only for it to instantly pop up again when the other man sent a second message not bothering to wait for Aaron to reply to his first.
RobertJS: Don’t you worry though, I’m attractive enough to be this rude. You’d know that already if you’d bothered to look at my profile. I’m assuming you haven’t given the lack of a notification.
Instead of replying Aaron set his laptop off to the side and headed for the kitchen. A conversation with Robert was clearly not something you could do while sober. Unsurprisingly there were several of messages waiting for him Robert clearly not used to being ignored.
RobertJS: Are you really only twenty-two?
RobertJS: You could at least appear offline if you’re going to ignore me.
RobertJS: Fine. Your loss.
Aaron was grateful he didn’t need to hide his amusement at Robert’s sulking. Settling his unopened beer aside he pulled the laptop back over before typing out a quick message before Robert logged off in a huff.
SingleDingle: Wanna get a coffee?
Aaron watched “typing” appear beside Robert’s name before disappearing at least four times before a message finally appeared.
RobertJS: I suppose.
Aaron had been sat in the coffee shop for nearly twenty minutes, a twenty-four our place situated about halfway from each of their respective homes, drumming his fingers against the tabletop. They were supposed to meet ten minutes ago and yet he was still sat alone picking at his napkin. Part of him wanted to open the dating app again and message Robert but the other man, with all his arrogance, had seemed so annoyed that Aaron never bothered to look at his profile he didn't want to give him the satisfaction. He'd give Robert another fifteen minutes and then he was bailing back to Adam and Victoria’s even if the thought of the pitying looks they'd give him turned his stomach.
“Can I top off your coffee?”
Aaron’s gaze lifted from his phone - a riveting game of candy crush - to find the barista beside his table with coffee pot in hand and a wide friendly smile on his face.
“Your business model normally to give away free coffee?”
It elicited a laugh from the other man and Aaron let his eyes flicker over him to take him in. He was tall and slim, with brown hair that did that natural sort of curl across his forehead that Aaron’s semi curly hair could never ever accomplish. His easy smile didn't slip at Aaron’s gruff question and if anything just got bigger.
“It’s only drip, but we actually do offer refills to students.”
“All my books and scattered notes give me away huh?” Aaron turned his attention to the empty table and then back up to the barista watching the other man’s cheeks pinkin with a faint blush.
“You keep checking the door and since it's nearly midnight I figured you'd maybe been stood up and could use another coffee.” When Aaron only raised an eyebrow in response the barista rushed on. “I'm Alex, in case you were curious.”
He hadn't been, not really, but that was less Alex’s fault and more the agitation at Robert standing him up. Holding his mug out he waited for Alex to finish filling it before trying to make the best of a night that continued to go worse and worse.
“If you're in need of company, my break's in ten.”
Aaron had just opened his mouth to respond when a new, supremely condescending, voice cut into the conversation. “If you've finished propositioning my date and plan on returning to your job anytime soon I’d quite like an Americano.”
If Alex had silently shouted posh the blond leaning against the counter screeched pretentious and entitled, but christ if he wasn't half gorgeous. Aaron let his eyes rake over the man - Robert - slowly, because there wasn't a doubt in Aaron’s mind that it was Robert.
He had dirty blond hair that had probably been styled before he’d left the house but was now windswept and messy, speckled with snow that also dusted his shoulders. He was tall, taller than Aaron at least, and had freckles scattered across the bridge of his nose and cheeks. It was paired with a smirk that leaned closer to cruel than it did friendly as his gaze shifted between the two men.
He wore a maroon jumper underneath a leather jacket and dark blue jeans that Aaron could tell already hugged his slender frame perfectly.
“Your mouth is hanging open, Aaron.”
Aaron snapped it shut and willed himself not to blush, failing horribly if the grin on Robert’s face was any indication, and promptly reminded himself that Robert was nearly forty minutes late and rather than appear even remotely apologetic about it was instead being a smug prick.
“Do I need to make the Americano myself?”
Aaron turned to blink up at Alex and watched him mutter something under his breath before heading back behind the counter a tight ‘customer service’ smile fixed in place as he rung up Robert’s order.
“Keep the change and bring it to the table when you're done.” Robert didn't wait for Alex’s reply instead making his way over to the table and dropped into the seat across from Aaron, that stupid smug smile still on his face.
“There wasn’t a need to be a prick to him you know.”
“He was hitting on my date.” Robert offered with a shrug.
“A date you were late for.” Aaron spit out.
Robert rolled his eyes but said nothing as Alex approached the table and set the coffee down with slightly more force than required and then turned to face Aaron again the warmth for earlier returning to his features as he smiled. “I'm off in a couple hours, just so you know.”
“He’s not interested.”
“I can actually answer for myself, thanks.”
“Are you saying that you are interested?” Robert grinned, though was hidden by his coffee, as he sipped at it not bothering to lift his attention to Alex, instead focused entirely on Aaron and Aaron made absolutely sure he didn’t squirm under the attention. Robert was already too cocky for his own good and Aaron wasn’t going to give him a reason to be worse.
“You’ll be the first one to know if my plans change.”
Alex smiled wide at that at the same time Aaron watched Robert’s smug grin fade away out of the corner of his eye. It’s what the arrogant git deserved, even if he was stupidly attractive, maybe even in spite of it.
Robert shifted in his seat and quietly waited until Alex was back behind the counter before leaning forward, arrogance coloring his tone even if he it didn’t quite reach his eyes. It reminded Aaron a lot of himself when he was younger, more bark than bite. “You're not going to ditch me to leave with him and we both know it.”
“Do we? ‘Cuz last I checked he didn't stand me up without an apology.”
“I didn't stand you up, I'm here aren't I?”
“Took your time about it though didn’t you? Do you not know how to tell time or were you just to busy staring at your own reflection? Genuinely curious by the way.”
Robert rolled his eyes but said nothing and instead rested his elbows on the table and cupped his hands around his coffee, presumably to warm his hands, and let his gaze wander across Aaron’s face. Aaron had the impression he was being studied, for what though he wasn’t sure.
“You don’t seem nearly as young in person as you did in your photos.” Robert commented after a bit.
“Disappointed then?” Aaron was, in truth, quietly relieved at the disgruntled look that flashed across Robert’s face.
“Just an observation, are you always this rude or is it just my sparkling personality that brings it out? Because if you are it explains why you’re on a dating site.”
“Tha-” Aaron stumbled over his words when Robert’s foot hooked the leg of his chair and tugged Aaron closer, but he recovered quickly enough. Didn’t really mind that it had happened. “That’s the second time now you’ve made fun of me for using the same site you were you know, I don’t see you having any pressing plans do I? I told you, I forgot my ID and got denied at the club.”
Robert pulled a hand away from his cup and let his fingers drum across the tabletop while watching him again, before shaking his head. “No one just forgets their ID when going to a club. I think you did it intentionally the question is why though.”
“That doesn’t even make sense.”
“Of course it does, were you avoiding someone? Or just people in general?” His fingers stopped their drumming so he could lift his hand and point an accusing finger at Aaron. “Forced out on the town I bet.”
“You’re a very annoying person, anyone ever tell you that?” But Aaron couldn’t seem to smother his own small smile nor did he mind when Robert’s foot nudged at his, wasn’t even embarrassed when he let his own foot nudge back. Couldn’t actually remember the last time he’d done that outside of secondary school. Which, honestly fit the moment because they might have spent the entire conversation bickering but it wasn’t out of dislike, he was fairly certain Robert was having just as much fun as he was.
As if to prove his point a grin had lit up Robert’s face. “Whether that’s true or not it’s obviously debateable but I’d rather be annoying than rude like you.”
“Mate, you were forty minutes late and awful to the barista. I’m the nice one between us.”
“You’re never going to let that go are you? Besides it's not like you didn't leave me waiting earlier.”
It wasn’t so much what he’d said but how he’d said it, an emphasis on the second half of the statement and Aaron’s gaze snapped up from his coffee at the same moment he kicked Robert’s foot away.
Robert seemed to realize his mistake instantly.
“Aaron wa-" Robert tried.
“You let me sit here thinking I'd been stood up because I didn't reply fast enough in our fucking messenger conversation?”
“No that's not what -"
Shoving away from the table Aaron glared down at the older man. “Go fuck yourself, Robert.”
“Would you just hold o- Aaron wait .” Robert scrambled to his feet quickly to follow after Aaron towards the front door. Reaching out he grabbed a hold of Aaron’s arm only to immediately get shoved back roughly into the table behind him.
“Don’t touch me.” The door slammed shut with a loud bang, cold air slapping him in the face as he shrugged his hood up onto his head and started back towards home.
He stood at the corner blowing warm hair into his clasped hands, as snow stuck to his eyelashes, while he waited for the light to change frustrated and upset. He should have stayed in bed. He definitely shouldn't have agreed to Victoria's stupid idea let alone tried to actually make it happen. Robert was clearly bored and looking to make a fool of someone and Aaron had just been unlucky enough and stupid enough to let it happen. Today was out to get him and all he wanted to do at the moment was go home and crawl under the covers and ignore the world for a few hours.
“Are you finished throwing your tantrum?”
Aaron spun around with a scowl to find Robert behind him trying to keep warm as the wind kicked up around them but Robert’s confident streak seemed to dissolve quickly as Aaron went to turn back around.
“I'm sorry alright? It was a stupid thing to do and a stupid thing to say. It's a habit, just ask my anyone who knows me. Come back to mine for a drink and I'll make it up to you.”
“Aaron come on, it'll be a waste of a night otherwise. You could do a lot worse than a drink with me. We were getting along, don’t let my dumb mouth ruin a good thing.”
Aaron didn't budge an inch until the crossing walk light changed and he went to step into the road.
“I’ll apologize to the barista.” Robert spoke quietly.
That pulled Aaron up short and he turned to look at Robert. The other man’s pale skin turning red from the harsh cold air and his hair going every which way but even now he was possibly the most attractive bloke Aaron had ever seen.
“Alright sure, apologize and I'll go back to yours.”
“Yeah, let's see it.” he bit down on his lip before just asking the question that wouldn’t stop picking at his brain. “Why though? You could just find someone else on the app. Someone you haven't pissed off.”
“You're fit.” his lips twitched, a ghost of a smile. “Besides, you're the only one who was any fun to talk to.”
“Argue with more like.”
This time Robert really did smile at him, a genuine smile and not the smirk he’d had in the coffee shop, and it nearly punched the air from Aaron’s lungs. “That's just foreplay, Aaron.”
“Fuck the doorknob, move.” Aaron grunted.
Robert had backed him up against the door as soon as they were through it, desperate to finish what they started outside as he’d unlocked the buildings door only to get interrupted by the three flights of stairs they’d had to climb up to Robert’s flat, and he'd managed to get a hand down Aaron’s pants about three seconds before they'd tumbled into the door.
Robert abandoned his grip on Aaron's pants and lifted his hands to twist his fingers in the fabric of Aaron’s shirt before he dragged him away from the door for a rough kiss. There was little finesse involved, noses bumped and Aaron winced but they figured it out in the end. Robert groaning into his mouth as he pushed him towards the other end of the room, maybe for the couch Aaron would guess, as their hands shoved and pulled at clothing. Both men in a bit of a hurry to get the other one naked. As if they'd suddenly lose the opportunity otherwise. Aaron winced against though when instead of falling on the couch they stumbled backwards and crashed back into the front door again and the doorknob stabbed him in the back for a second time.
“Bedroom or suck your own dick, Robert.”
“You're fucking needy.” Robert grumbled.
But he shoved Aaron towards his bedroom without much more complaint and they started to stumble across the darkened room with kiss smothered laughter and a few creative curse words when they slammed into something along the way.
As they made their way into Robert’s room, Aaron quickly took the reigns and this time it was Robert who winced and cursed as he was jabbed in the back with the doorknob. Whatever complaint he’d been about to make however was cut off by a moan as
Aaron dropped to his knees and mouthed at Robert through his jeans.
Robert's pants dropped to his ankles quickly after and his head dropped back against the door as Aaron wrapped his lips around the tip of his dick and slowly pressed forward taking him inch by inch until Robert hit the back of his throat, the younger man in no mood to drag things out.
Aaron smirked before bracing his hands on Robert's hips and started to bob his head up and down, tongue pressed flat along the underside. He felt Robert's fingers twist in his hair before the older man pressed him forward trying to control the pace. Slapping his hands away Aaron leaned back on his heels and glared up into the darkness towards Robert's face.
“Stop being so pushy.”
“Aaron come on..” He’d grabbed at Aaron’s hair again giving a firm tug and Aaron slapped at his hand a second, harder, time and Robert snatched his hand back with a complaint. “That hurt.”
“Stop being grabby, then.”
Robert muttered something Aaron couldn't make out before his fingers settled in Aaron’s hair again, flexing a couple times, before he gave a light experimental tug and Aaron hummed happily in response before taking Robert back into his mouth. Hollowing his cheeks and sucking on the tip with renewed eagerness. Robert seemed to have taken the warning seriously because while he continued to pull on Aaron’s hair - a move that elicited a whimper here and there from Aaron - he left control firmly in the other man's hands.
When Aaron felt Robert’s body go taunt, he pulled away and squeezed hard at the base of Robert’s dick not bothering to hide his laugh when Robert started to complain. With some colorful language Robert snagged Aaron by his elbows and lifted him back to his feet kissing him hard and his own hands went for Aaron’s pants.
They finally separated again but only long enough for the rest of their clothing to hit the floor and then hands exploring once more as they struggled their way up Robert’s bed, limbs inelegant and clumsy as they did. Robert eventually paying the price for it when Aaron’s elbow clipped his eye when he tried to climb over Aaron and reach for the side drawer.
He changed direction and started to reach over for the bedside lamp when Aaron’s hand shot out to grab his wrist. “Lights stay off.”
“You heard me.”
“You’ve nearly blinded me, I’m turning them on.” The fingers of Aaron’s free hand wrapped around Robert’s dick and stroked up the length of him, pulling a groan from Robert who hesitated for a moment before slapping his hand around for the handle of his drawer. “You better be worth a black eye.”
“You talk more than anyone I’ve ever met aside me mum.”
There was a moment of silence before Aaron felt a string of condoms smack him in the face. He heard a bottle of lube snap open a few seconds after but before he could comment on it Robert was manhandling him onto his face a hand placed between his shoulder blades to keep him there.
“Assh- fuck .” Robert had pushed his thumb against Aaron’s rim, flicking the tip of his finger back and forth , teasing mostly and Aaron felt his body strain back, trying to take more. Aaron’s fingers flexed against the sheets as he pressed his cheek against them. “You’re such… a prick.”
He could hear Robert’s smothered laughter behind him and muttered darkly as Robert started to ease his thumb in and out, going a little further each time, coaxing soft moans from Aaron as he did. Aaron felt his face heat in embarrassment at the whimper that left him when Robert pulled his thumb away completely only to clutch at the bed, scrambling for purchase when Robert replaced it with two fingers scissoring Aaron open, just the right side of rough. In a completely un-surprising turn of events as far as Aaron was concerned Robert turned out to be a talker during sex and by the time he had Aaron riding down on three fingers the younger man was ready to muzzle him if he was told ‘you fuckin like that dont ‘ya’ one more time.
As Robert pulled his fingers out and wiped them on the sheets beside them Aaron tried to turn over only for Robert’s hand to end up between his shoulder blades again keeping him face down as he pushed inside and for a brief moment Aaron’s irritation melted away as he felt Robert stretch his body.
Then he started talking again.
“Yeah, that’s right-”
“I fucking swear, mate, if you finish that sentence you can finish yourself off.”
He felt Robert’s fingers flex against his shoulder blade before focusing on anything became a bit of a problem as Robert absolutely went in on him. The room was silent except for the the sounds of their grunts and breathing. Aaron came first, his hand wedged between the mattress and his body, with a shout and all over Robert’s bed and distantly somewhere in his brain where it was still functioning properly he hoped on Robert’s side of the bed. Robert wasn’t far behind and actually slapped Aaron on the ass as he pulled out and stumbled to his feet to deal with the condom.
Rolling over and away from the wet spot on the sheets Aaron breathed out and blinked up into darkness,eyes squinting against the sudden harsh light off of the bathroom when Robert washed his hands. Aaron held up a hand and focused on Robert’s silhouette when the older man didn’t move.
“Nothing, shove over.” Robert had turned the light off before moving over to the side of the bed and nudged at Aaron’s shoulder.
“Not a chance, mate.”
“It’s your mess.”
“It’s called hospitality, Robert.” He grinned into the darkness as Robert climbed over him, complaining about it the entire time.
Aaron woke abruptly when a hand smacked him hard across the face, with a muttered complaint he knocked Robert’s hand away and turned his head to find the other man sleeping peacefully beside him. In the early morning light with his blond hair soft and his cheek squished into the pillow Robert almost looked sweet. Last night hadn’t been the best but it hadn’t been awful either and he didn't regret it. He’d had a decent enough time and Robert was frankly a looker. It did a great deal in numbing the hurt seeing Ed had drudged back up. Quietly slipping out of the bed Aaron snagged his discarded t-shirt off the floor and slipped it on as he headed into the hallway and eventually the bathroom, wincing at his reflection in the mirror we he caught sight of it, knowing he looked rough.
Splashing a little water on his face he ran his fingers through his hair greatful when it fluffed up into an at least semi presentable way. A breath check later had him wincing again and he helped himself to Robert’s poncy looking mouthwash before giving a final stretch and then padding his way back into the bedroom.
Robert was still spark out on the bed but had managed to roll himself into the middle now starfished out and eating up every bit of the bed with his long limbs. Rolling his eyes Aaron had to use a surprising amount of force to roll Robert back to his side of the bed and then climbed in only just laying back down when Robert’s head suddenly popped up off the pillow.
“Oh, it’s just you.” He dropped his head back onto the pillow, letting out a yawn as he stretched like a spoiled cat, the heel of his foot catching Aaron in the shin.
“Christ, Robert. You always have such shit beside manner or is this special just for me?”
Robert’s eyes narrowed and he quickly leaned into Aaron’s space forcing the younger man to lean back slightly in confusion before Robert lifted a hand and made a vague gesture towards Aaron’s face. “You used my mouthwash.”
“Kinda wish I’d used your toothbrush too after the attitude I’m getting.”
Aaron shrugged before burrowing back down into the covers his eyes starting to drift closed only to snap back open, his gaze focused on Robert, when he spoke. “Won’t your roommates wonder where you are?”
“They were clubbing remember? They won’t be awake until like noon at the earliest and it’s only near eight. Why?”
But he wasn’t just curious and his tone made that plain. It was faux concern and Aaron felt his mood sour because of it.
“No continental breakfast then yea’ I know I joked about it but your hospitality really is awful, Robert.”
“What?” He knew what though, it was all over his face and the way he refused to meet Aaron’s gaze.
“Fucking nothing, you prat.” Shoving the covers off Aaron climbed off the bed scowling as he looked around for his stuff not bothering to look back at Robert when he heard him shuffling up into a sitting position.
“I don’t see why you’re so mad.”
“Stop talking, Robert.” Finally he located his jeans on the floor beside Robert’s dresser and snatched them off the ground before tugging them on with jerky angry movements.
When he did finally turn back around Robert still hadn’t moved from his spot on the bed. The asshole sat relaxed with his back against the headboard and a bored expression on his gorgeous stupid face while watching Aaron wander around the room.
Understandably, it just pissed Aaron off more.
So he did the mature thing and stormed out of the bedroom, slamming the door behind him as he went. He'd just located his jacket when he heard the door open again and tensed at the sound of Robert’s voice.
“It’s called a one night stand, Aaron, you get in and you get out. You act like you’ve never done this before.”
“I don’t - I haven’t in a long time.”
“I doubt that.”
Aaron turned to face Robert slowly, not that the other man seemed phased, his anger etched across his face but his voice deceptively calm as he spoke. “ Excuse me.”
“It’s a bit obvious.”
“The only thing that's obvious is that I was an absolute idiot to bother with you at all. Especially since it wasn't even worth the aggravation,” he shrugged into his jacket angry at himself for even going along with the whole one night stand debacle. Victoria was going to owe him. “I should have been smart and took the barista home.”
Robert seemed annoyed, finally, if the scowl on his face was anything to go by.
“Are you implying he’d have been a better shag?”
“No, Robert, I'm not implying he'd have been a better shag I'm blatantly saying it, you prick.” Aaron snapped.
He'd just reached the door when Robert seemed to finally find his voice again. “You weren't memory worthy either just so you know.”
“Yeah? Well your dick is small.”
Robert scoffed behind him. “Fuck you, Aaron.”
“Fuck you too, Robert.”
He made sure to slam the door as he left.
He had his phone out of his pocket before he even reached the stairs, anger radiating from him as he called Adam and stomped down the three fights. Only Adam didn't answer so he'd looked down to end the call and shove the phone back in his pocket. Which was why he didn't notice anything before he slammed into the buildings front door.
Stumbling back slightly Aaron reached out to give the door a small push and then put all his weight against the door for a harder push when that didn't work.
Wiping his arm against the window he finally realized what as impeding the door from opening. Snow. There was snow everywhere. A good four feet of it packed up against the door and rendering him trapped. Leaning forward he practically pressed his face into the glass and peeked around into the early morning. There was nothing happening. No cars driving. No people walking. Just snow. Snow that was apparently still falling.
His phone vibrated in his pocket and he scrambled for it before he shuffled back to sit on the steps behind. “Hello?”
“You rang bro?”
Adam, finally, and it had Aaron breathing a sigh of relief “I need you to come get me.”
“No can do bud, have you seen outside? Where are you anyways? Victoria was proper proud when we realized you weren't home last night.” his best friends laughter did little to relieve Aaron’s currently skyrocketing stress levels.
“I never want to hear Vic’s proud of me being on the pull again first of all and secondly, I'm in fucking hell. He's awful. ”
Rather than reply Aaron could hear the two of them whispering and suddenly Victoria was on the line. “Hi Aaron.”
“Vic can y-"
“Are you sure you're not self sabotaging here?”
“Self..” He sounded incredulous, he was frankly. “Put Adam back on.”
He heard her make a tisk, like a disappointed teacher and sighed knowing full well it was just going to set her off. “No this is a serious discussion. You promise me you're not just trying to hate it because you think you should right? Did you run out before he woke or something? You promised me you were going to try.”
“Why are we assuming it's my fault?”
“I'm not! I swear Aaron, I'm just checking, please don't be upset." Victoria pleaded.
“I'm not you, Vee, I'm irritated with this whole situation and now I'm trapped in this asshole's building because the doors are blocked and I'm not going back up there to ask him for help.” he grumbled, going back upstairs wasn't even an option.
“Well it sounds like you're gonna have to.” she replied.
“We can’t come get you though, what're you going to do just sit by the front door all day?” Adam chimed in.
Great now he was on speaker. “Maybe.”
They were whispering between each other again and he was starting to feel like a burden. He wanted a break, just one, and instead life kept dumping on him. Standing he moved back over to the door and gave it a cursory shake unsurprised when still nothing happened and turned to lean against it with a mumbled curse.
“Look, just forget I called. I'll figure something out.”
“Don’t be like that.” Came Adam's voice in his ear again. “Soon as the weather clears we’ll come get ya.”
“It’s alright.” He looked up as he heard someone coming down the stairs. “I can hear someone on their way down, I'll see if they can help me.”
“Yeah, we’ll talk later.”
Hanging up the phone Aaron pocketed it and then stepped back over to the base of the steps to peek up for whoever was coming and watched a pair of socked feet appear. Then came a laundry basket and as Aaron opened his mouth to ask for some sort of help Robert’s face came into view.
“Oh for fuck's sake.”
Aaron leaned against the banister of the steps, arms folded across his chest, and a bored expression on his face as he watched Robert try and force the door open yet again. He’d been at it for nearly ten minutes now and if his desire to have Aaron not in his home wasn’t so obvious he might have found it amusing as it was he just found it annoying and he was tired of watching it. He was also cold, the hallways of his old building clearly not well heated. “Robert, give it up, it’s not budging.”
“This is fucking ridiculous, we never have storms like this. A little snow sure, but enough to shut down the city?”
“Global warming or summat.” Robert’s blank stare had him shrugging his shoulders. “The weather man’s been banging on about the bad weather for ages now. Anyways, can we head back up already I’m gonna get fuckin frostbite out here.”
Robert opened his mouth only to shut it again quickly and Aaron could tell Robert had almost said something ignorant, most likely about not letting him back up. He was almost impressed the other man stopped himself short, almost . When Robert stayed silent though Aaron rolled his eyes and simply turned and made his way up the three flights of stairs back to Robert’s flat without saying anything else.
Robert didn’t follow him and Aaron took advantage of it to snoop around the kitchen for food after his stomach gave a rumble halfway back to the flat, but after a thorough search of the cabinets it was clear the state of Robert’s kitchen was pathetic.
Wrinkling his nose in distaste at the options Aaron settled on Robert’s poncy gluten free toast with the last bit of butter he found and all bran before plunking himself down at the table and flipping through a two day old newspaper he found on it.. He was halfway through his cereal when Robert finally reappeared.
“Is that my food?”
Aaron didn't bother looking up from shoveling food into his mouth.“Nah, brought my own in my overnight obviously.”
“You’re the least mannered person I’ve ever met.” Robert huffed.
“Bit rich coming from you after this morning, this stuff is awful by the way.” He waved his spoon in Robert’s general direction splattering milk across the table.
Scowling at Aaron as he passed by Robert started to clean up the mess he’d left behind: tying the bread bag closed and shoving it into the cabinet, tossing the butter knife into the sink, and putting the milk back into the fridge. “Where you raised in a barn by chance?”
“Well in case you were wondering, it shows.” Robert replied.
“I wasn’t but ta.”
He smothered the grin that threatened to break loose and went back to reading the paper but he could feel Robert’s gaze on him the entire time and he sighed before sitting back in the chair and leveled his own gaze onto the agitated blond. Robert was resting against the counter, palms flat on either side of him and and the index finger of his right hand tapping against the counter in a clear sign of his his frustration.
“Stop sulking, this isn’t my fault. The only thing we can do is make the best of it, ‘cuz I can promise you Robert you don’t regret last night even half as much as I do this morning.”
Robert’s eyes narrowed slightly but in the end he just shrugged, aiming for indifferent Aaron guessed. “You’d be surprised”
“No, I really wouldn't. You made me wait on you, were a selfish shag, and practically tossed me out the second you could after insulting me and now I have to spend who knows how long here with you when you quite plainly don’t want me here. So maybe shove the fucking attitude for a bit Robert, I’m not in the mood for it.” Shoving away from the table he intentionally left his dishes where they were before stalking off towards the bathroom.
“You weren’t great either you know.”
“So you said earlier.”
And for the second time that morning, and third time since meeting him, Aaron slammed the door behind him to end a conversation with Robert.
In an effort to avoid Robert as long as possible and simultaneously make the older man’s day worse, Aaron turned the shower on, twisting the knob to hot in order to waste it all before Robert got the chance to shower, and then turned his attention to rifling through the medicine cabinet and then under the sink when that didn’t turn up anything interesting in the first location. Disappointingly the only thing he found under there besides cleaning supplies was a three month old Cosmopolitan and with nothing else to do but kill time, he boosted himself up onto the counter and started to thumb through it.
Fifteen minutes later he was seven signs into an ‘eighteen signs you’ll die alone’ article, scowl growing deeper with each sign he matched, only rip the page out and crumble it up when he reached ‘you made a dating profile and only three weirdos messaged you’ feeling a bit attacked and tossing the ruined article into the toilet. Reaching out with his foot he managed to catch the handle and flush it while flipping through the magazine again. Twisting around on the counter so that his feet rested on the lid of the toilet he tried to get a comfortable as possible considering he was sitting in a bathroom.
“Are you even using the shower?” Robert’s muffled voice came through the door.
“Nope.” he replied cheerfully before ripping out another article about dating and tossing it away like the first, once again using using the heel of his foot to hit the handle and flush that one as well.
“Can you stop wasting my hot water?”
“Doubtful.” He ripped another article out without looking at it and tossed it away, disposing of it in the same exact way as before.
“You’re acting like a child.”
When Robert didn't reply again Aaron assumed he’d stomped off to pout about it in the living room and tucked into an article about Love Island and wondered how much longer he could hide away in here before Robert tossed a full tantrum over it. If he was lucky he figured he could waste another twenty minutes or so. Was it childish like Robert had said? Absolutely. But it was entirely worth it given how awful the older man had been since they’d woken up. It wasn’t like Aaron was after a boyfriend but not being treated like trash was the least he’d expected.
And maybe, privately, his feelings were hurt a bit. He’d liked Robert, even if he had been pushy and a bit too selfish once they’d gotten naked. The poking and prodding while drinking coffee together had been fun, it had also been the most natural Aaron had felt in a long time, and Robert seeming interested in him had been.. Well it had been a nice change of pace. Ed had shaken his confidence in that regard and someone who looked like Robert, as shallow as that seemed, being interested had been the ego boost he’d been in need of for months. Only Robert was apparently a massive tool in the light of day and now Aaron was back to feeling like an asshole for even trying.
He’d lost track of time again and he glanced up at the door, noticing the uncertainty in Robert’s voice. Robert was probably worried he’d drowned himself in the shower or something.
“Can you explain to me why exactly water is flooding out into my hallway?”
Robert had ranted - mostly about how his hardwood floors were going to be ruined - and for a very long time and Aaron had been embarrassed enough to stand there and take it. He’d slipped out of the bathroom after scrambling to shut off the shower and assessing what exactly had gone wrong, figuring it out pretty quickly. He hadn’t actually let Robert into the bathroom though and he wasn’t in any real hurry to do so either.
“If you just tell me where you keep the plunger I can fix it, it's just a clog you drama queen.”
“What do you mean it’s clogged ?”
“Exactly what it sounds like? I dunno what about that was confusing. It’s clogged, I’ll fix it. So stop flapping about your floors and tell me where it is. I’ll toss you like towels or whatever and you can dry the floor up out here.”
Aaron watched Robert’s jaw tick, his frustration evident. “Will you just move.”
“It’s my bathroom.”
“And It’s my mess, so let me fix it you weirdo.” He held out his hand doing a little gimmie motion and watched Robert let out an agitated sigh before leaning forward as the older man mumbled something. “What was that?”
“I said I don’t have one.”
“You don’t...own a plunger.”
It was a foreign concept to Aaron, he’d grown up above a pub, and a plunger had been a necessity because punters were disgusting and you never knew what was going to happen in the Woolpack loos.
“Just - what the hell, Aaron.”
Robert had tried to reach around Aaron to get at the door handle only to catch a quick jab in the ribs by Aaron’s elbow and he stumbled back a step rubbing at the offended area. “That hurt.”
“I barely even touched you and besides I already told you, it’s my mess and I’ll fix it.” He blew out a breath before shaking his head and then slipped back into the bathroom shutting the door quickly in Robert’s face and locking it again. Then he got down to fixing his stupid mistake and ignored Robert complaining out the door.
The first thing he did was snag both towels from the rack beside the shower and squatted down to start drying up the water off the floor as best he could. Once those were soaked and useless he tossed them into the shower before snagging another from the cabinet under the sink to finish the job. Once the floor was taken care of he leaned down behind the toilet and turned the knob to shut off the water just in case either of them were stupid enough to forget and try flushing it again. Finally he chanced a look in the toilet bowl but he couldn’t see any sign of the magazine pages and breathed a sigh of relief. At least by the time Robert got his hands on a plunger he’d be long gone and never have to hear about the incident again. Chucking the Cosmo back under the sink as well Aaron took one more glance around the bathroom to make sure Robert wouldn’t have a meltdown over anything and finally opened the door again to find the irritating man on his hands and knees with a bucket and towels of his own.
“You doing okay down there Cinderella?”
Robert’s gaze snapped up to Aaron’s face and he just stared at him for a few seconds before climbing back up to his full height and shouldered past Aaron and into the bathroom. Peeking around the door he found Robert making a face at the wet towels in the tub of the shower. “I uh, turned the water off by the way.”
“I’m going to have to mop in here as well you know.”
“You own a mop?”
“Yes Aaron, I own a mop, as I wasn’t raised in a barn.”
Aaron made a face but said nothing instead just trailing after Robert silently as he stormed back out of the bathroom and tossed the towels into a laundry basket along with the ones he’d used on the hallway floor. He could practically feel the tension radiating from Robert and he let out a sigh.
“You sure are uptight.”
Robert turned to stare at him and Aaron felt his cheeks heat in embarrassment but did his best to shake it off, shrugging a shoulder at Robert’s silent condemnation.
“I’m sorry alright? I didn’t mean for that to happen and I only asked about the mop because you don’t have a plunger. How was I supposed to know. If you tell me where it is I can start mopping while you put the towels in the washer?”
“No thank you.”
While it seemed polite, his tone seemed more like ‘go fuck yourself’ and for about the fiftieth time Aaron regretted making that stupid dating profile. “Fine, then I’ll do the laundry and you can mop you big baby.”
He watched that jaw tick happen again and had the feeling Robert was about to lose it on him. Shaking his head he snagged the laundry basket from Robert’s hands and slipped out the front door before the older man could say anything in response. He’d just hit the landing for the second floor when he heard Robert stomping down after him. He couldn’t figure out what it was about Robert but he couldn’t seem to help himself when it came to pushing his buttons even though he knew he shouldn’t. Okay that was a lie, he knew exactly why he was still doing it. His ego was still smarting from earlier and he’d felt petty even when he knew he’d messed up and the least he could do was not antagonize the older man. But god, he was such a tool. What had he even been thinking when he’d agreed to that coffee?
The laundry room ended up being a dingy room located in the basement and was about three times colder than the stairwell. It set his teeth on edge and he settled the basket onto the nearest machine while cupping his hands over his mouth and blowing to try and warm them. Humming quietly to himself to try and fill the quiet he snooped around for a machine, lifting the top of few before finally finding one that wasn’t in use and turned to get the basket, startling slightly, we he found Robert leaning against the door frame and watching him with an unreadable expression.
Pulling the detergent out of the basket he set it aside before he started to toss the towels haphazardly into the washer.
“Stop that, you have to rotate them.”
Glancing over his shoulder he looked at Robert confused “What?”
“You’re useless you know that?” Pushing away from the door Robert moved across the room and nudged Aaron to the side slightly before reaching in to pull the towels back out of the washer only to lay them back in it alternating the towels back and forth around the center.
Aaron barely resisted saying something rude but settled for rolling his eyes before reaching across Robert for the detergent and unscrewed the cap. “Why does it matter?”
“The machines are old and if you don’t load them evenly they lose their minds and rattle the walls down. People complain and the bottom floor will literally stop the machine mid-cycle if they’re in a bad enough mood.”
“Ah, an entire building of dickheads, you must fit right in.”
Out of the corner of his eye he watched Robert’s lip twitch before he suppressed the smile that threatened to come out.
“Half a cap only.” and then quickly, as if worried Aaron would ignore him. “Please.”
Aaron poured as directed before dumping it into the washing machine and then went to screw the cap back on only for Robert’s hand to shoot out and stop him with a shake of his head. Before he reached forward and lowered the lid of the machine slightly, hitting the on button, and then once the washer was filling with water he tipped his head towards it and Aaron blinked at him in disbelief before slowly reaching in and rising the cap of the detergent off. Then because he couldn’t help himself made a big show of shaking it dry before putting the cap back onto the bottle and setting it down.
“Has anyone ever told you you’re very anal?”
“Do you ever shut up?” Robert replied, thought there was no heat behind it, and turned to face him.
The height difference wasn’t that much really but with standing this close together Aaron had to tilt his back slightly to look at him and then instead of answering simply shrugged his shoulder. As Robert made a face at him Aaron couldn’t help but make use of their close proximity and let his gaze wander across Robert’s face smiling at the freckles that dusted the older man's cheekbones, something had hadn’t noticed last night at the coffee shop.
“What? Is there something on my face?”
He’d been caught staring but remained quiet as he stepped away from Robert and backed up to the dryer behind them and booted himself up onto it. Twisting at the waist he turned the timer on and then hit start.
“Now you’re just being annoying on purpose.” Closing the lid he turned to face Aaron before lifting himself up onto the washer and leaned back just staring at Aaron. “Well?”
“I thought you wanted me to shut up?”
“It’s like you want me to stay mad at you.”
Aaron sighed happily as the dryer finally started to heat underneath him. He wasn’t entirely sure why they were hanging out in the freezing cold basement but he wasn’t in any hurry to head back upstairs. If anything he felt more comfortable outside of the apartment. But today would be a long and exhausting day if one of them didn’t attempt to salvage it so Aaron decided to be an adult about things...for now at least. “I am sorry, about the bathroom. I mean I meant to waste all the hot water yeah? But not flood the place. It really was an accident.”
Robert seemed to consider it for a moment, his own gaze tracking across Aaron’s face. Searching for something again, like he had at the cafe, before he waved his hand in a dismissive motion.
“It’s fine, I might have overreacted a bit. You just have a way of getting under my skin and I like things neat, something you seem absolutely incapable of, but at least you have being fit going for you.” The compliment surprised him and it must have shown on his face because Robert grinned at him, clearly pleased with himself. “This is where you tell me how attractive I am.”
“You’re well aware.”
It wasn’t not telling him and Robert didn’t seem bothered he didn’t do as asked or at least in the way he had asked for it. The lapsed into silence after that, though neither made any attempt to leave their seats let alone the laundry room.
He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket a few minutes later and pulled it out to see a text from Adam asking how things were going but quickly swiped the notification away without responding and went to slide it back into his pocket.
“The text, was it your boyfriend?”
“No, it’s my mate checking in on me, I sang your praises earlier obviously so he wanted to make sure I hadn’t mur - wait why would I be texting my boyfriend after spending the night here .”
“It was just a question.”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
Robert pushed off of the washer and shook his head at Aaron before moving over to washer further down and snagged the load he’d put in there this morning and then tossed it into the empty dryer next to Aaron.. “No, I don’t have one either. I wasn’t trying to upset you though it really was just a question. You just mentioned this morning you didn’t do this kinda thing often, was just seeing if that was maybe why.”
“I told you already, I was on the site last night because I couldn’t get into the club. You have a way of making a guy really regret not playing third wheel to his roommates though.” though Aaron was smiling as he said it.
Robert pulled a face like he’d sucked on a lemon. “You live with a couple? Christ that sounds dreadful.”
“They're good people, they’ve been a big help after Ed and everything. I feel bad about interrupting their lives as much as I do though. Besides, I knew them long before they were a couple. We’ve all been friends for ages.”
“Ed?” Robert asked.
“My ex, I moved to Paris with him a couple years back.”
“How long did you know this Ed before moving to Paris?”
Aaron groaned and scratched his cheek trying to figure out if there was a way to explain this that didn’t make him look like an idiot. “Like a month or so..”
“I’m sorry, you what? A month ? Aaron what is wrong with you. Christ, should I be worried I let you come back to mine? Are you going to claim squatters rights and never leave?”
“God you’re so annoying.” He lifted his hand again and shoved at Robert’s forehead with his index finger pushed the man backwards slightly before letting out an exasperated sound and knowing he’d have to explain more now. “My best friend was moving here, to the city, and so it was be stuck in the village I grew up in with me mum or take a chance and follow the attractive rugby player who didn’t seem to mind my terrible attitude.”
Aaron dropped his gaze from Robert’s face only to startle when Robert’s hand settled on his thigh and gave it a light squeeze. “And?”
Aaron wasn’t entirely sure why he was sharing any of this with Robert, a practical stranger, but it was hard to turn him down when Robert had that soft smile paired with those gorgeous eyes. So he continued on, embarrassingly with a voice that was a little shaky.
“It was good at first but Ed’s a charmer, lot of personality and people gravitate to him. It’s what snagged my attention. I wasn’t used to that and I’d only ever - but I’m not like that, I like a table off to the side and left alone kinda thing ya know?” But it only took one look at Robert’s stupidly handsome face to know he didn’t actually know what that was like.
So he trailed off with a frown, reminded of all the small fights they’d have before everything had truly gone sideways. He didn’t blame Ed, not entirely. He knew he played a part in it but if Ed had been that unhappy he should have told him not done what he’d done.
“Anyways the short version is I came home early from work one day and found him shagging someone on our couch. I didn’t really stick around for much after that. Just made sure to slam the door behind me so he knew I’d seen. We broke up. I moved back and ended up on Adam’s couch. It was good for the ol’ self esteem as you can imagine.”
Embarrassingly his voice wavered at the end and he rubbed roughly at his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt, did his best to cut the tears off before they could start, and forced himself to stay calm. It was the most he’d said in one go since meeting Robert it was also a lot of information Robert probably didn’t need or even want. Aaron figured in retrospect a lot less would have been better but it had felt nice to rant at someone who wasn’t his best friends and thus were almost obligated to be on his side. To be nice about everything all the time.
Robert still had his hand resting on Aaron’s thigh and at some point his thumb had started to rub it reassuringly and Aaron found himself watching that instead of Robert’s face, suddenly too nervous to see his reaction.
Robert’s voice was soft, coaxing even, but Aaron just shook his head no and kept staring at Robert’s hand on his leg and tried to remind himself what an awful prat Robert had been and that he definitely shouldn't enjoy comfort from him.
“Aaron, look at me.”
“I’d rather not if you don’t mind.”
He felt Robert shuffle closer and tensed, unsure what the older man had planned, when he felt Robert’s fingers close around his chin gently and then with a bit of force lift his face up to look at him again.
“I’m sorry for this morning, I should have been nicer about things. And the Ed thing? Sounds like a bit of a dick to me and I’m happy to dive into that topic in detail but I think for both of our sake we should probably do something first before we even attempt that.”
“I’m not having sex with you again.”
Robert just grinned at him, not a single hint of shame found in it and shook his head no.
“That wasn’t what I meant.” Aaron frowned not understanding what Robert was getting at and arched an eyebrow up in question silent question and Robert’s grin just grew bigger. “We should get high.”
Aaron sat on the floor, one of his hands resting behind him for support, and his head cocked to the side as he brought the joint back up to his lips and watched Robert filter around the living room. He had been on the couch but Robert had kicked him off it almost immediately muttering something about needing blankets. He’d never admit to it, because Robert would be unbearable, but this had been a pretty good idea. They’d both needed to calm the hell down and truthfully Aaron couldn’t find a single complaint about with his current view: Robert hanging over the back of his armchair, ass on full display, in his blessedly tight jeans fidgeting with something.
He probably shouldn’t be staring considering how dreadfully awful their hookup had gone and the fact that they definitely wouldn’t be doing it again but as his gaze lingered Aaron shrugged it off, besides it’s not like Robert could see him so what harm was it really?
Exhaling slowly Aaron watched Robert through the haze of smoke lean even further over the back of the chair before he nearly toppled over it a few seconds later.
“What’re you doin?”
“Building a blanket fort, obviously.”
“Obviously yeah, since we’re a couple of fourteen year old girls.” Aaron snickered.
Robert finally climbed off the chair and Aaron just managed to get his gaze somewhere more appropriate as he did. Just because he was relaxed enough to enjoy the view didn’t mean he wanted Robert aware of it.
Robert did as asked without argument for once and Aaron extended his arm out offering Robert another hit. Squatting down in front of him, Robert took it and inhaled while watched Aaron through hooded eyes before blowing the smoke back into face as he passed it back over before snagging the sheet from beside Aaron’s legs and moved back over to his construction project.
“If you’re gonna make me watch you be Rob the Builder or whatever can you at least turn on decent music?”
“I can’t believe getting you high just made you a nag and there’s nothing wrong with my playlist, go be useful and get us snacks.”
Pushing himself off of the floor with his free hand Aaron moved over to where Robert was before he bumped with his hip gently. “I’ve seen your snacks, they’re woefully disappointing.”
“Cabinet over the fridge, it’s where I keep the good stuff.”
“Holding out on me? I had to eat healthy cereal today.” Aaron pouted. Literally pouted. Robert glanced over his shoulder at him before rolling his eyes with a laugh and planted his hand in the middle of Aaron’s chest before giving him a light shove.
“Snacks, go. I’ve a masterpiece to finish.”
Grumbling under his breath about the unlikeliness of that Aaron wandered into the kitchen and spent a few minutes rifling through the cabinets again in search of bowls and cups before finally finding the snack cupboard and saying screw it and just gathered up the chip and candy bags into his arms along with as many cans as he could carry from Robert’s fridge and made his way back into the living room to find Robert standing beside his his finished project with a big grin on his face.
“It’s impressive, I know.”
“Cheers mate, my little sister would give it a solid seven.” He watched Robert stick his bottom lip out in an exaggerated pout when he didn’t receive the compliment he was finishing for. “She’s twelve by the way,”
“Shut up and get inside.”
Aaron arched an eyebrow up in question. “I never agreed to that.”
“ Aaron .”
“ Robert .”
Aaron watched Robert’s face scrunch up in annoyance before he sighed dramatically and wandered over to take the food from Aaron’s arms and then clambered his lanky self into the fort disappearing behind the ’door’ otherwise known as a t-shirt draped over the top of the fort opening. Its ‘structure’, and Aaron used that word loosely, probably came up to his waist and it looked a complete wreck from where he stood but it seemed like it might be sturdy. It was better than anything he’d have made but he still wasn’t going to give Robert a real compliment about it. Suddenly Robert’s blond head popped back out of the opening to glare up at Aaron who was still on the other side of the room.
“Just so you know I have the weed and the snacks now, so it's either get in or starve to death probably.”
Aaron was just stalling at this point to be a pain, his favorite activity where Robert was concerned. “Only if I can change the playlist.”
Robert seemed to consider it.
“You can add to it.”
“Shove over then.”
Walking over he dropped down and crawled through the opening of the fort to find what Aaron imagined was every pillow Robert even owned piled up against the bottom of the couch and Robert reclining back against it digging around in a bag of crisps and a big dumb smile on his face as he watched Aaron crawl in beside him.
“See? Not too bad huh?”
Ignoring him, Aaron picked Robert’s phone up from between them, and then even though he could easily ask Robert for the code or to unlock it himself he reached out and took hold of Robert’s hand before maneuvered it to settle his thumb over the lock button. Smiling when it opened to his spotify playlist while pretending he didn’t feel the tug in his chest at their skin to skin contact.
“Be useful and roll us another one.”
“You had a mullet ?”
“How is that worse than being a chav?! I can at least blame my mistakes on misguided youth, your fashion mistakes are recent.”
“Do you think Periwinkle is a real color?”
“Got a name don’t it?”
“Technically sure but it’s a purple-y blue, that doesn't count. That’s not its own color. Like Navy blue is a darker blue right? Sky blue is still blue but a purple blue? That doesn’t count.”
“Maybe it’s bluish purple?”
“Does this mean my entire belief system about Periwinkle has been based on a lie ?”
“You ever want a pet? I had a dog once.”
“I’m a cat person.”
“God you fuckin’ would be.”
“You don’t have any pictures up?”
“What’re you talkin' about, I’ve got art on the walls”
“Yeah art but not pictures, like family and shit.”
“Not close to my family”
“Okay but friends?”
“Do people from work count as friends?”
“What’s your favorite movie?”
“Easy, Rocky. We should watch that later.”
“Why are you so… I mean EDM and Rocky? You’re a literal nightmare, Aaron.”
“It was one song Robert and it only played because I was distracted by re-rolling the joint you butchered in the first place. I should have probably counted my blessings, shouldn't I?" You could have had a glittery bong in here to really complete your teen girl aesthetic. Nineties pop, blanket fo-”
“Give me back my jelly babies you don’t deserve them.”
They’d lapsed into silence about ten minutes ago both high and maybe a little tipsy and so Aaron didn’t fight it as his eyes started to drift closed, some cheesy pop song drifting out from Robert’s phone buried somewhere in the folds of the blanket beneath them and trying its best to lull him to sleep with its repetitive nonsense.
He shuffled around before tentatively resting his head on Robert’s shoulder unsure if the older man would mind but when Robert didn’t protest he let his eyes close, a soft smile on his face.
“You still awake?”
“Cool” and then after a slight pause “I’m glad the snow kept you here another day.”
Robert lifted his arm and Aaron felt him inhale and then exhale a few seconds later. Felt and then saw the tendrils of the smoke Robert had blown down across the top of his head. “So the Ed fella, he was why you were on the dating site?”
“No, that was Vee, they were gonna end their night early to go home with me. I had to promise to meet up with someone so they wouldn’t. She’s crafty like that.”
“Don’t let that ego get any bigger, you won by default. The other men I talked to on there were awful. Terrible lines and everything, even got myself a dick pic.”
Robert snorted before passing the joint back over. “You’re good looking so I’m not surprised.”
“I’ve seen - well no I haven’t seen you naked because you made me turn the lights off.” Robert huffed out an annoyed sound “but I’ve seen your face and felt your naked body so I think I’m a pretty good judge here, you’re fit.”
“Says the model.”
He poked Robert in the ribs letting him know it was his turn and Robert dutifty reached down for it but didn’t let it interrupt the conversation.
“Doesn’t change the fact that you’re fit. Take the compliment, Aaron.” Aaron shrugged instead preferring to drop the topic. Robert either didn’t catch on or was ignoring it and considering it was Robert it was probably the latter. “Ed to blame for your low opinion or?”
If only, but that wasn’t a conversation he was ever going to have with anyone, let alone his two night stand.
“I’m not interested in talking about Ed.”
“What are you interested in talking about then?”
“Maybe I don’t wanna talk at all.”
Aaron moved without thinking it through. Was it a bad idea to play a game like this? Probably, but here they were because one second his head was resting on Robert’s shoulder and the next he was straddling the other man’s lap. Robert’s eyes widening slightly before his brows knit together in confusion. Reaching down for Robert’s hand he lifted it up, turning it slightly so that he could lean forward and wrap his lips around the end of the joint, and never breaking eye contact with Robert before he inhaled deeply.
Aaron cut him off by blowing the smoke directly into his face on his exhale and watched Robert’s eyes shutter, felt him shuffle underneath him. Silently Aaron leaned forward and watched Robert’s lips part but stopped before they touched. Watched and waited for Robert to blink his eyes opened again. Their breath mingled and when Robert sat up to close the distance Aaron pressed a hand to his chest and kept him in place, grinned when frustration flickered across the other man’s face. This time Robert lifted his hand willingly and Aaron let his tongue dart out across his bottom lip before he wrapped his lips around the tip again and inhaled. This time he held it for longer, let his hand slide from Robert’s chest up to his shoulder to help balance and leaned in. Waited for Robert to figure it out. It didn’t take him long as the other man’s mouth opened while bis eyes clouded over with want.
This time Aaron blew the smoke directly into Robert’s mouth, their lips touching briefly, a whisper of a kiss. He grinned when Robert’s hands clamped down around his waist trying to hold him in place as he leaned back again. Robert once again chasing after his mouth.
“Let me kiss you.” It was a plea, probably as close to begging at the other man got.
Aaron pretended to mull it over before he started to lean in, smile growing when Robert’s eyes fluttered shut again, and his mouth parted in anticipation. Only to bypass his mouth completely to press his own lips against Robert’s ear.
He slipped from Robert’s lap with a laugh scrambling for the exit to the fort as Robert’s eyes flew open his expression incredulous. He quickly dropped the joint in one of their half full cans and went after Aaron. Aaron only made it halfway out of the fort before Robert got a hold of him, still laughing even as before Robert had trapped beneath him with his arms pinned above his head with one hand. “You’re gonna pay for that.”
“Robert don’t you dare, I mean it.”
“Don’t what? Don't do this maybe?”
Robert used his free hand to dance his fingers across the side of Aaron’s rib cage and Aaron’s body jerked in response, his please stumbling out around his laughter.
“Ro-Robert stop p-please.”
He relented, though not right away and Aaron was left panting when Robert finally shifted his grip so that he was pinning Aaron’s hands either side of his head
“Not even close” When Robert feigned like he was going to tickle him again Aaron’s eyes went wide but the older man just grinned before rolling off of him to lay beside him on the floor, breathing hard himself.
Tossing an arm across his face Aaron groaned up at the ceiling “I really wish you hadn’t done that.”
“Why?” Aaron could see him out of the corner of his eye. The older man had rolled onto his side, propped up by his elbow, so that he could look down at Aaron.
“Because now I need to fuckin piss and yours is still broken.”
Aaron really didn’t appreciate that the only reaction that garnered from Robert was laughter.
They were standing in the hallway just outside of Robert’s door, had been doing so silently for what felt like ages but was probably only a couple of minutes, and truth be told Aaron was a bit confused. When Robert had finally stopped laughing at him he’d climbed to his feet and then snagged Aaron’s by the wrists and tugged him up as well before with little explanation told him to come on. Only once the apartment door had closed behind them Robert seemed to falter in whatever he’d been planning.
Any other time he’d have probably let Robert figure out wherever had stalled him but the whole in dyer need of a piss thing wasn’t making him very accommodating at the present.
“Are we goin’ somewhere or?”
It seemed to finally kick start Robert again because the older started down the hall leaving Aaron to follow after him. Glancing around the as they walked Aaron noted that there were four apartments per floor, two on either side of the stairwell, and Robert seemed to be leading Robert to the one that shared a wall with his own. When they reached the door however Robert turned abruptly and Aaron stumbled back a step not expecting it.
“Jesus christ, Robert.”
“Look, just don’t touch anything alright?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Inside, Pollard’s a prick yeah? And if he ever finds out I did this he’s gonna get me tossed out of the building,” He turned away without waiting for Aaron’s response and pulled out his wallet before thumbing through it and a few second later he had a credit card in hand and was trying to jimmy the door open like some sort of criminal in a shit movie. Aaron barely managed to suppress his laughter. “His bird’s alright, bit of a flirt and full on which is weird since she’s ancient but I’d rather deal with her than him any day.”
Aaron heard the snick from the door opening a second before Robert turned to face him with a triumphant smile on his face.
“Done that before have ya?”
“Maybe once or twice, he takes vacations and sometimes I need like milk or whatever.”
“Proper adult you are.”
Robert reached for the door and started to feign like he was going to pull it closed again. “What’s that? You don’t need a working bathroom? Oh well, might as well head back to mine then.”
“Robert don’t you dare” He went to brush past him but Robert kept his grip on the door handle firm and his body blocking Aaron’s path, mischief in his eyes.
“Say ‘Thank you Robert, what would I do without you, and I promise not to touch anything.’ and I’ll move.”
“Move, you git.”
“Sorry, those aren’t the magic words.”
Robert’s grin had grown bigger while Aaron’s own eyes had narrowed and then they were wrestling which eachother in the doorway. Robert might have been taller but Aaron was stronger and unlike the tickling incident he wasn’t trying to scramble away on the defensive so it wasn’t all that difficult to bully his way past Robert and hightail it into the bathroom while leaving the older man to snicker by the front door.
After making sure to leave the bathroom exactly as he’d found it Aaron walked quietly back through the apartment to find Robert rummaging through the neighbors kitchen
“I thought you said not to touch anything?”
Robert startled, nearly dropping the glass in his hand, and spun around to glare at Aaron before grumbling as he turned back to what he was doing. “I said for you to not touch anything.”
“Oh yeah, human tornado I am.”
“Sorry, do you not remember my broken bathroom and the destruction of my kitchen? Because I do and I’m leaving nothing to chance.” and then he realized what Aaron was holding. “What you got that for?”
“I know you’re posh and all, but it’s called a plunger, Robert. Common folk use them to fix broken toilets instead of paying for someone else to do a simple task for them. Remember? We discussed them earlier.”
“Common are ya?”
“Bit obvious that, now stop wasting time and grab us something decent to eat so we can get out of here.”
He’d only just stepped into the living room when he heard Robert’s voice filter through the apartment, muffled by being stuck in a cupboard if he had to guess. “Don’t touch anything else.”
See, the thing about Aaron was that he didn’t react well when told what to do. As a teenager he’d been a fucking nightmare about it, given his family hell and then some but over time he’d mellowed…. Slightly. But if Robert was proof of anything it was that he invoked some of Aaron’s worse tendencies. That was how the bathroom had happened and that was how he was now facing his current problem.
It had been that last reminder of Robert’s, it had just pushed a little too much. Irritated him that tiny little bit so that he wanted to prove something. He wasn't a toddler in Tesco who needed his hand slapped because he kept reaching for the shelves. He was twenty-two, an adult. So if he wanted to touch something he would .
So he’d touched. He touched the couch. He moved a remote from one side table to another. He used his foot to nudge a plant back slightly. Small things that Robert would never notice that even the owner wouldn’t notice but things that made Aaron feel better about Robert’s nagging. Petty? Absolutely. But if Aaron had stopped at that then things would have been fine. Robert wouldn’t have had any idea because again it was minimal but Aaron sometimes pushed things too far and so when he’d reached up towards a picture frame on the top shelf of the entertainment center that surrounded the tv and that’s when things had gone wrong.
He’d lost his balance and braced his other hand on one of the lower shelves for support but he hadn't even realized he’d knocked into anything on that shelf until the vase had shattered against the hardwood floor. He’d winced at the sound, jerking around to look at the damage and driven the handle of the plunger straight into the tv screen, hard .
“Fuck.” He stumbled forward too nervous to look behind him at the tv but just knowing it wouldn’t be good. Knowing that Robert was going to lose it. “Fuck fuck fuck.”
That’s when he heard the second crash and his head lifted to find Robert staring at him, his horrified expression telling Aaron everything he needed to know.
The bottle of red wine that had exploded at Robert’s feet and was currently staining the nearby wall not to mention the white couch to his left definitely wasn't going to help his mood.
Robert hadn’t said a single word in nearly forty-seven minutes, Aaron had started keeping track when he’d returned to the apartment. Aaron had expected yelling or at the very least cursing, but it had somehow been worse when Robert had said nothing at all, remaining stonily silent the few times Aaron had attempted to apologize. Once he’d shaken off his shock he’d stormed over to Aaron and wrenched the plunger from his grasp and shoved the packets of instant noodles he’d been holding into Aaron’s arms before all but shoving him out of the front door. It had been another twenty minutes before Robert had returned him, slamming the door as he did, and stalked towards his own bathroom ignoring Aaron’s entire existence still.
And Aaron hated it. They’d been getting along and maybe if he was being honest he’d allowed himself to think that maybe this weird strange weekend wouldn’t turn out so bad after all. But now he’d gone and massively fucked things up, just like he always did. He lingered by the bathroom door hoping Robert would take pity on him but the older man could hold a grudge just as well as Aaron could it seemed and didn’t react to his presence at all. It made Aaron frown and he’d been about to try apologizing again when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket.
He hesitated before letting out a sad little sigh and leaving Robert too it and stepped into the bedroom to take the call in private. “Yeah?”
“Still alive then, didn’t die in a hallway or something.”
Adam then, not that Aaron knew what he was talking about. “You what?”
“You said we’d talk later and that was forever, mate. I was starting to worry about you.”
“It hasn’t been that long it’s only..” He pulled his phone away from his ear to squint down at the screen before blinking in surprise when he realized it was nearly four, where had the day gone? “Sorry about that, I hadn’t realized it had been that long.”
“Things goin’ good then? Someone was able to help ya?”
“Yeah I came back to his place.”
“You’ve been with the dude from last night this whole time?” Adam let out a whistle and Aaron rolled his eyes. “You dog, no wonder you never texted me back.”
“It’s not - shut up, it hasn’t been like that.” Aaron thought to Robert stewing away in the bathroom and let out a sigh. “It definitely won't be like that. Trust me.”
“That’s a defeatist attitude my man and if Victoria has taught me anything, it’s that an attitude like that accomplishes nothing. So I dunno what’s happened but I’m sure it’s fixable.”
‘It’s a one night stand, it doesnt need to be fixable.” Aaron winced at his own words, an echo of Robert’s comments earlier that morning banging around in his head. He hadn’t liked how it made him feel then and he liked it even less now. “Look, I gotta go, but we’ll talk later.”
He didn’t give Adam the chance to argue before he ended the call and pocketed his phone again. Slipping back out of Robert’s room he moved the short distance down the hall to peek into the bathroom hoping Robert’s temper had cooled off a little only for his eye’s to go wide and face to heat in embarrassment as he took in the sight of Robert standing there, a soggy ruined piece of paper pinched between his index finger and thumb, and even though the page was now a bit illegible after sitting in the toilet for hours the headline, mocking Aaron even now, was still readable.
Eighteen Signs You’ll Die Alone
He must have made a noise, though he’d go to his grave denying it was anything like distress, and it alerted Robert to his presence in the doorway. The older man slowly looked away from the soggy paper still held disdainfully between his fingers to level his gaze at Aaron. “Something you’d like to talk about, Aaron?”
Aaron did the only thing he could do in the face of an embarrassment of his proportion.
In fairness he didn’t run very far away and it hadn’t taken Robert very long to find him swallowed up by pillows and blankets inside their fort, he’d had hunkered down to peek in through the opening and taken one look at Aaron, current human burrito steadfastly refusing to look back at him, and then stood back up. Aaron didn’t know if he was leaving Aaron to his shame or what and he didn’t care to find out. He just wanted the ground to open up, swallow him whole, and end this awful weekend once and for all. He closed his eyes tightly and just … wished it all away, even though he knew it wouldn’t do any good. Eventually he heard Robert clambering back into the fort and nudge at him. Repeatedly. Until Aaron was forced to react in some capacity.
“Stop sulking and sit up.”
“I have noodles.”
Aaron peeked his head from under the blanket just barely, eyes scanning Robert’s hands to see if he was telling the truth or not.
“Uh, chicken mushroom and bombay.”
“That’s not the full name.”
Robert rolled his eyes and waved his hands around in a ‘get up already’ gesture, but carefully so not to spill anything, and Aaron sighed before finally pushing himself up into a sitting position and held his hands out for one of the cups not really caring which he got.
Robert waited until he was situated and had a mouth full of noodles before pouncing. “You going to explain why you flushed that article and tried your best to flood me out?”
Aaron choked on his bite before glaring at Robert and turned to cough lightly and then kept looking away before giving a half hearted shrug, ignoring the question to keep eating. Robert didn’t press and the two of them ate quietly.
“There’s more noodles in the kitchen for later by the way.”
He felt more than heard Robert sigh next to him, their arms knocking together.
“We could get high again if you want?” Aaron glanced over at him with suspicion, something Robert was quick to pick up on. “It’s not like we have anything else to do.”
“Yeah alright whatever, get us set up while I finish this.”
Robert was an awful dancer.
Aaron told him so bluntly and with a wide grin on his face as he’d laid half in and half out of their fort, joint in hand, watching the older man move around his living room almost in time to the beat of the song playing from the phone in his hand. Robert had pouted before calling him a liar and continued unabashed. Aaron was envious of that, the confidence Robert seemed to wear with ease. From their first conversation to the way he’d challenged the barista in the coffee shop for Aaron’s attention Robert didn’t seem to have anything trouble putting himself out there. Aaron had always struggled with that but that’s what a lifetime’s worth of pain and sadness before ever even become a legal adult could do to a person.
“Hey, no frowning allowed.” He blinked a couple times, taking a second to snap out of his daze and found Robert standing in front of him, hands on his hips. “That’s it, up you go, you’re dancing.”
“Not a chance.”
“I’m not asking.”
“I already told you that I don’t dance.”
“Who’s gonna see besides me?” He reached down and grabbed Aaron by his arms and tried to pull him up to his feet and Aaron did his best to deadweight and Robert struggled before letting out a sigh and letting for of him. “Come on Aaron, you owe me.”
“I owe you a dance? Says who?”
“You owe me whatever I want and you know it. Come on, dance with me, you know you want to.” Robert’s voice was soft, pleading.
Aaron peeked up at Robert through his lashes and felt his heart seize at the hopeful expression on the other man’s face. How was he supposed to tell him no? “I hate you, you freckled fuck.”
He stood up and stumbled slightly when Robert grabbed him by the hips and spun them away from the fort and Aaron opened his mouth to complain only to be rendered mute by the blinding smile on Robert’s face and simple accepted his fate at the moment. Truthfully to call what was happening in Robert’s living room dancing would be a stretch, especially given how little Aaron was actually participating, but Robert didn’t seem to mind. He’d forced Aaron to move with him before the song changed, something fast and poppy Aaron didn’t recognize, and he’d released Aaron to excitedly dance, see jump around like a maniac more like, again and Aaron found he couldn't look away. Instead he grinned and turned slowly to track Robert as he moved around him in a circle living his best life to this truly awful music.
He’d almost forgotten about the joint in his hand when Robert was suddenly inches away from him, their noses nearly knocking together, as the older man invaded his personal space and lifted his arm by the wrist again to take another hit. Aaron had expected him to blow it in his face again but Robert seemed full of mischief at the moment because instead he grabbed Aaron gently by his cheeks with one hand and pulled him forward before returning the favor from earlier in the night and slowly blew the smoke into Aaron’s mouth.
It made Aaron want .
He’d been telling himself all day there was no chance they’d repeat what happened but he knew now such an idea had been foolish. He stepped closer, closed that final tiny bit of space between them, felt heat across every inch of his body that was pressed against Robert’s and just gave himself over to it and then just before his lips pressed fully against Robert’s the older man stepped back eyes bright and Aaron stumbled forward slightly.
Aaron blinked confused, feeling rebuffed, when he noticed the grin on Robert’s face, and realized exactly what was happening. It was payback for Aaron pulling the same trick earlier and as Robert danced backwards and away from him again Aaron could only sigh. “I hate you.”
When Robert had tired of dancing he’d dragged Aaron back into the fort where they’d ended up sitting with their backs against the couch again until eventually Robert had shuffled down silently so that he could rest his head in Aaron’s lap. It should have felt weird when Aaron let one of his his hand drop down to comb his through Robert’s hair but it didn’t. They'd stayed like that until Aaron had lost track of time, until the light outside of their little fort dimmed around them, and Aaron found himself dozing on and off. When he’d started to tilt sideways his body jerked and he’d startled awake, Robert complaining from his place on Aaron’s lap when he was jostled awake as well.
“Stop movin’ I’m tired.”
Aaron’s hand was still buried in Robert’s hair and he gave a comforting scratch, but he wasn’t tried anymore and so after a moment he leaned down and spoke softly so as not to startle Robert. “I’m sorry about next door.”
“I did tell you not to touch anything.” Robert replied quietly.
He didn’t sound upset by any means, more tired than anything, as if Aaron’s nails scraping lightly over his scalp were taking their toll on him and dragging him back towards his sleep that had been disturbed.
“Yeah, I uh, I’m not great at being told what to do sometimes. You said...are you gonna get in trouble?”
“I’ll be fine, don’t worry about it.”
“Were you able to clean up at all?”
Aaron watched the top of Robert’s blond head shake slightly, a silent no. “Not much you can do about red wine and a busted telly. I didn’t bother to be honest.”
“But - “ He’d been over there for ages after shoving Aaron out the door. If he hadn’t been cleaning up the apartment to try and hide the worst of it, and in fairness Aaron realized that wouldn’t have accomplished much in the long run, what had he been doing? “Why did you take so long to come back then?”
“Angry.” He tilted his head back, so he could smirk up at Aaron, that same mischievous from before back on his face and making his eyes light up. Sleep apparently forgotten already. “Besides had to break the door in like a proper criminal didn't I?”
Aaron barked out a laugh before tugging at Robert’s hair gently, fondness impossible to miss in his words. “First ya’ pick a lock with a card and now you’re kicking doors down? What happened to the posh dick I met for coffee? I didn't think he’d ever even changed a tire let alone be a criminal mastermind.”
“Shows how much you know, I’ve even milked a cow before.”
“Well some of us grew up respectable and not running wild on the streets a terrifying chav.”
“ Swot .”
Robert let out gasp as he bolted up into a sitting position hand over his chest and his face a picture of fake offense. “You take that back.”
“I bet you even ironed your uniform daily.”
Aaron laughed as Robert lunged at him the two of them tumbling to the floor again and fighting for control. Robert eventually turning to cheating as he got his hand under Aaron’s arm and dug his fingers into Aaron’s ribcage in a crude tickle and Aaron jerked to the side, his leg kicking out and catching the support beam in the middle of the fort. Seconds later the entire thing came down around them, Aaron laughing into Robert’s shoulder as the other man hovered above him.
“ More destruction?”
“This was your fault.”
“My - you hit it!” He grumbled glaring down into Aaron’s face.
And suddenly Aaron was very aware how close they were. Aware that barely any space separated them and that if Robert bent his elbows even slightly they’d be pressed together from knee to chest. Watched Robert’s mouth part, tongue darting out to wet his lips, as he realized seconds after Aaron. It felt like it was happening in slow motion, Robert lowering himself, and Aaron knew he could just close his eyes and let it happen. Could blame it on being high and poor choices. He let his eyes flutter shut as Robert let his weight rest on Aaron’s frame. Felt his body shudder against it. Felt the spike of want again as Robert groaned against it himself. His own lips parted in anticipation.
And then he panicked.
Because of course he would.
That fear that everything would just turn into a repeat of that morning. That this Robert, the soft and funny idiot, who he’s spent all day with would disappear and the detached prick from earlier would return. The fear that all of this had just been Robert keeping himself amused with the problem he’d been saddled with and not because he actually liked spending time around Aaron. His anxiety slamming around and making so much racket it drowned out the small voice that said he was being stupid.
He shoved hard at Robert’s shoulders and caught him unprepared, sent him tumbling to the side with a startled yelp, and the blanket twisting around them even more. He fought with it, ignoring Robert’s confusion and finally extracted himself from the mess and stumbled to his feet backing away from Robert who surfaced out from under several sheets a few seconds later frowning up at him.
“What was that?”
He could be honest and just tell Robert what he was worried about but that meant leaving himself vulnerable. “We did all this before Robert, let’s not make a stupid mistake twice. We can save each other the headache.”
Robert blinked, tried to understand it, and Aaron knew he didn’t.
“..Right.” He watched Robert’s eyebrow draw together in confusion “Is this about that Ed fella again?”
Aaron gaped at him and tried to figure out in what world Robert could have gone from point A to point Z and skipped everything in the middle of it to reach that conclusion. “I don’t - What does Ed have to do with this?”
“Seems to me like this Ed has everything to do with most of this weekend. He’s the reason you live with your friends and why you went to that club. He’s even the reason you were trolling for a one night stand on that site.” Robert ticked off the points on his fingers not looking up at Aaron.
“No I told -”
Robert didn’t even pause for him to finish. “He’s probably the reason that article made you so mad and why you have this weird hang up on sex and were so weird about it last night. He really did a number on you didn’t he?”
“Will you -”
Robert pushed himself up to his full height and planted his hands on his hips while dragging an assessing gaze over Aaron finally. “It’s not like you were awful at sex, I mean you definitely could improve on a few things, but it wasn’t anything that’s a deal breaker.”
“ I could be better?!”
“I’m happy to give you pointers you know, if you just relaxed we could probably get you passed all your hang ups easily.”
Robert watched him with such an earnest expression that Aaron realized he was absolutely serious about everything he’d just said and his own incredulousness at such a revelation made him stumble through his reply. His fury nearly choking him. “My.. I-I’m sorry but do you think you were gold standard last night?”
At Robert’s blank stare Aaron let out scoff. “I told you this morning that you were average at best but you think that I need pointers from you ?
Robert’s mouth turned down in a frown while his eyes narrowed. “You don’t need to be childish about this. There’s no need to take shots at me because you’re embarrassed.”
“Do you hear yourself? Your ego is fucking unbelievable.”
“I’m trying to be helpful!”
Aaron’s hand flexed at his sides, his frustration visible, and he pinned Robert with a glare. They always came back to this: snipping and bickering at each other. So he opened his mouth ready to tell Robert they needed to keep their distance from each other for the rest of the night. That he’d get out of there even if he had to dig himself out by his own hands in the morning.
Only instead what came out was: “If you get to give me pointers then I get to give you pointers. Assuming you can handle it.”
Robert didn't even hesitate. “I get to go first.”
Aaron ended up sitting on the couch with his arms folded across his chest and a scowl on his face as Robert paced around in front of him muttering under his breath to himself and Aaron got the idea he wasn’t going to like whatever Robert decided to talk about first.
“Okay, the whole lights off thing. What was that about? You’re fit, I wanted to see you and instead we had to slap around in the dark. You nearly poked my eye out at one point.”
Aaron squirmed against the question before fixing his gaze just to the side of Robert. “It’s not important.”
“You agreed to doing this, Aaron.”
“Yeah, so I could tell you what a dickhead you are not so I could tell you my - just forget it I’ve changed my mind.” He snapped his mouth closed and glared angrily at the floor when he felt the couch dip beside him and felt Robert’s fingers wrap lightly around his knee, thumb rubbing at it gently. The way Robert could flip from harsh to soft so quickly was jarring and Aaron hated how unsteady it kept him.
“I’m not trying to be mean, I’m just trying to understand. If Ed gave you any reason to think you shouldn’t - I want to help.”
“Can you stop harping on about Ed, it has nothing to fucking do with him.” He smacked Robert’s hand away from his knee and sneered at him. Hiding behind his temper, feeling better for it as he did. “I wanted the lights off for personal reasons that are none of your, a relative strangers, business. If I’d wanted you to see me naked you would have so maybe consider it’s a fault of yours and not mine.. It’s not a hang up. It’s not something for you to fix about me. I’m not broken .”
“Alright.” Robert seemed to deflate beside him. “Alright, understood. I’ll leave you alone.”
Aaron watched him pull away, retreat towards his bedroom, and as the door closed behind him the anger that had made Aaron feel better seconds before fled him just as quickly as it had flared to life and he felt more alone then he had in weeks.
Robert startled when his bedroom door sprang open ten minutes later, knocking into the wall with a bang, the determined look on Aaron’s face the only thing that kept him silent. He stood there awkwardly in front of his closet watching Aaron who seemed to waiver for a second before he marched over to Robert and poked him hard in the center of the chest.
“You’re the most frustrating man I’ve ever met in my life. You’re selfish in bed and in general. You switch between being unbearable to kind and then back so fast I can barely keep track. I took a chance on you last night, even after the coffee thing, and you just … you threw it all back in my face. You made me feel so stupid. Like I’d fallen for some con of yours out on the street. So no it wasn’t Ed who made me flush that stupid article, it was you.
He poked him in the chest again, Robert stumbling back slightly at the force before rubbing away the sting, but keeping his mouth closed. “Because you’d made me think you wanted me in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time and then you tossed me aside like I meant nothing.”
He went silent after that and Robert blinked, a little shell-shocked if Aaron had to guess, before nodding. “Is that uh...everything?”
“You’re a selfish fuck.”
“Your dirty talk is awful.”
“That’s fair.” He smiled softly at Aaron.
“You’re a shit dancer.”
“You had to be wrong eventually.”
Aaron shrugged, not willing to concede anymore then he had yet, before shrugging one of his shoulders like he couldn’t care less about any of it. Not that Robert seemed too bothered. “Fair is fair, it’s your turn.”
Robert hummed in agreement before tossing aside the shirt that had been in his hands since Aaron stormed in. Hands moving to Aaron’s waist so that he could walk him back towards the bed. “I wanted to dump the coffee over that smug git’s head when I saw him flirting with you and worried I’d waited too long.”
Aaron titled his head back, gaze searching Robert’s face for any lies.
“It might have been a bit of a line in the street but it’s only because you were even fitter in person than you were in your pictures and I wanted you. I wanted you this morning even as you implied my dick was small and told me to fuck myself. I wanted you when we were in the basement doing laundry. I wanted you when you teased me with that kiss. Wanted you even as you destroyed my neighbor's place. When you refused to dance with me.”
He’d started to lean down towards Aaron, breath ghosting across his cheek as he kept talking. Inched his way closer to Aaron’s mouth. “There hasn’t been a time I haven’t wanted you today.”
“Then do something about it already.”
The smile Robert unleashed on him in response was lethal, should have probably come with a warning. It hit Aaron with the force of a train and stole the air from his lungs. Aaron sagged against Robert, let the older man shoulder his weight. Let his eyes fall shut as Robert nudged their noses together, trembled in the older man's hands when when they slid up over his ribcage and climbed higher yet to let those long fingers slide across his cheeks as his fingertips scratched light against his hairline. He felt weightless as Robert titled his head back to the angle he wanted it and then Aaron lost the capacity for thought period when Robert pressed their lips together.
If his brain short circuited his body came alive, every nerve ending on fire. Every where they touched felt like too much and not enough. Aaron’s hand scrambled for purchase. Tangled in Robert’s t-shirt as he moaned into the kiss, Robert taking advantage of it to press the kiss deeper. The kiss turns wet, tongues rolling together. Robert giving and taking in equal measure until Aaron feels wrung dry. When they pull apart to drag in air Aaron blinks his eyes open. Feels dazed. Content. Desperate.
This time he closes the distance between them, let’s his arms go around Robert’s neck and up onto his toes. Licking his way into Robert’s mouth and sucking on his tongue until Robert’s moaning himself, the action vulgar, an imitation of something even better coming soon. Those long fingers fall from Aaron’s face to tug at his shirt. Thumbs hooking under the edge as he tries to pull it up Aaron’s body. Aaron’s too far gone to know what’s happening until it’s too late. Until his shirts somewhere behind Robert and that blond head of hair is kissing down the length of his body.
The lights are still on and he feels the panic creep up, his body tensing for the wrong reasons, when Robert’s hands smooth down his side. Thumbs catching in Aaron’s waistband and tugging. He’s starkers before he can utter even a faint protest and as Robert licks past his navel his hands give a push and Aaron stumbles back, knees hitting the mattress, and drops to sit.
His dick is throbbing, practically bobbing in Robert’s face, but he ignores it. Sucks hard at the skin of Aaron’s inner thigh, harder yet aiming to leave a mark. Nips at the same spot when Aaron’s finger bury themselves in his hair and tug. Keeps tugging until Robert’s looking up at him with kiss slick lips and pinked cheeks. If he noticed why Aaron had been so desperate to keep the lights off last night, and there’s no way he couldn’t have, he doesn't show it.
Aaron wants him like he’s never wanted anyone.
“You’re wearing too many clothes.”
Robert’s smiling up at him and he doesn’t seem too bothered about that particular problem but it’s hell for Aaron. He wants to see the expanses of skin Robert’s hiding away from him. To see if the freckles dust across his shoulder like they do his cheek bones. He wants to taste and touch and take. He wants to wrap himself around Robert and lose himself. He uses his grip on Robert’s hair to tug again and this time Robert gives in and lets himself be pulled back up the length of Aaron’s body.
Robert laughs into the the kiss, his good humor infectious, and Aaron mumbles into their kiss “Shut up”
It comes out so soft, he’d be embarrassed in any other scenario, instead he finds himself whimpering into their kiss, pawing at Robert’s shirt, when Robert’s hand slips between them, knuckles brushing against the top of his dick. “Fuck don’t.”
He’s so close already, it’s ridiculous. He breathes out hard through his nose, fingers first bracing on Robert’s shoulders and then digging in with purchase as he tries to get a handle on himself. If he comes before Robert’s even naked he’s never going to live it down.
Robert’s grinning against his throat but Aaron can feel his fingers shaking against his hips, it’s the first sign that he’s not the only one totally gone. He doesn’t get to comment on it though because Robert moves quickly. Pushes up and over Aaron and it leaves Aaron’s thigh’s draped over Robert’s. Leaves Aaron open and exposed to Robert’s view but rather then press his advantage he finally gives Aaron what he wants and tugs his shirt off and tosses it aside. Aaron lifts a hand and lets his fingers brush across pale skin, covered in freckles like he hoped.
“Impressed?” Robert’s words are light, innocent even, but the look on his face is anything but.
Aaron’s words are barely a whisper across skin but his answer is stated loud and clear in the way his fingers curve around Robert’s arms to tug him back down. In the way he steals a kiss while they wrestle Robert’s trackies off his waist and down his legs. He feels empty when Robert suddenly moves away but it’s barely a moment before he can get his legs back around that slim waist. His arms around Robert’s neck to pull him down for another kiss. Chokes on their shared breath when Robert uses slick fingers to stretch him open. He’s mindless with it by the time Robert’s pulls his fingers away.
“ Please .”
He feels Robert’s mouth beside his ear, muttering something about how good Aaron is, before he’s pushing in deep. Sliding into Aaron like this is what they were meant for. It robs Aaron of the ability to talk, a low whine being pulling from his body instead as Robert pulls his hips away. His back arching as Robert snaps his hips forward again.
He feels like his brain is melting out his ears as Robert takes him apart. Robert’s whimpered praise quickly turns incoherent. His thrusting slightly erratic. Aaron tries to focus as his hands move to grab at Robert’s ass, squeezing to try and ground him, and gets rewarded by Robert shoving in hard. It takes him by surprise, makes him splinter apart around Robert. Practically sobbing his release out. Robert scrambles after that, manages to get a hold of Aaron’s hand and pins it above his head. Robert comes with their fingers intertwined, pressed as far into Aaron as he can get, and with Aaron’s little cut off moans in his ear.
Robert pulls away slowly, like moving is almost too much work, and he can’t quite remember how. He nearly falls off the bed when he tries to throw the condom away and Aaron can’t help but laugh as he catches him by the waist and hauls him back to the center of the bed.
He doesn’t think after that. Just lets his eyes close and gives himself over to sleep. Except he doesn’t think his eyes are even closed for ten seconds though before he hears Robert’s voice.
“Aaron, you awake still?”
“Yeah, you’re not that good.”
It’s an outright lie because he’d been seconds from sleep, fucked absolutely useless by Robert, and they both know it. He feels Robert twist onto his side and then the tip of a finger poking lightly at his cheek.
“Talk to me.”
“You always this chatty after sex?”
“Come on, the days almost over.” He cracks an eye open to stare unimpressed at Robert, unsure why that would matter at all. “Our two night stand is almost over.”
“Two night stands aren’t a thing.”
“Then what do you call this?”
He smacks his hand against Robert’s chest, shifting so that he can rest his head against it and closes his eyes again. It’s a dumb conversation and he doesn’t feel like thinking about it. Mostly because it means he has to leave soon and what if they promise to keep in touch and then don’t? It makes something ache in Aaron’s chest and he tries not to analyze it..
“Your ex was an idiot.”
Aaron kept his eyes closed, kept his cheek pressed to Robert’s chest, and focused on the way Robert had moved his hand so that he could run his fingers up and down Aaron’s arm. Voice low when he finally responded “It wasn’t all his fault. I never really fit in with his friends and I didn’t know anyone there outside of work, it wasn’t great for my self esteem and I dunno if I was just ignoring it or maybe I really didn’t see it at first but he started to pull away. I should have said something. Talked to him about it. Explained that I just felt lonely but in case you’ve noticed I’m not good at talking. I could have tried harder but…”
He trailed off burrowed his face into Robert’s chest more hating how pathetic this all made him sound. “They’re still together by the way, I found that out last night. Because I couldn’t just get turned away from the club could I? I have to get turned away and literally run into my cheating ex and his tall twat boyfriend who fits into his life a whole fuck of a lot better than I ever did. Still can’t decide it it makes it better or worse that he’s still with the guy, guess he didn’t cheat on me for nothing at the very least.”
Robert’s fingers stumbled over his arm but he didn’t say anything. Aaron didn’t mind truthfully, he’d been over the Ed stuff so many times with Adam he didn’t actually want to get into it much more than they already had.
“I don’t have any photos of my family up because I haven’t been to see them since I was nineteen. Sometimes I talk to my sister on the phone, but she’s busy with her life and I’m not out so it’s easier that way.”
It wasn’t what Aaron expected him to say.
“Your family doesn’t know that you...?”
“Like men? No, I probably wont ever tell them. My dad knew and that was more than enough.” The words were heavy in bitterness and Aaron knew without needing to ask what could cause that kind of pain.
He also knew it wasn’t really something you talked about after less than two days of knowing someone, so he let Robert know he understood that. “It’s their loss, I hope you know that”
“Yeah, I do.”
Aaron pushed himself up so that he was hovering over Robert and leans down for a gentle kiss before he drops down right back to how they’d been before, wrapped up together. “You’d better.”
They wake at nine but they don’t actually start making a move to leave the bed until nearly ten. The difference between yesterday morning and now is night and day. Robert’s warm and open, full of affection and laughter. When Aaron rumbles loud enough that it’s actually a bit embarrassing they realize how little they’d actually eaten after getting high that second time. “Go make us something yeah?”
“Why do I have to, I’m comfortable where I am.”
“Your place ain't it? Practice on that beside manner of yours. Don’t even think about bringing me noodles either, I want a proper fry up.”
“You’ve seen my kitchen, that’s not even remotely a possibility Aaron.”
“Guess you’ll need to get creative wont you then, go on get.” He pushed at Robert’s lanky frame with a laugh and watched him stumble out of the room complaining the entire way. Aaron remained where he was wrapped up in a warm cocoon of blankets and couldn't remember the last time he’d woken up in such a good mood. He could hear Robert banging around in the kitchen no doubt in search of something halfway decent to bring back and looked around for his clothes.
He found his shirt at the end of the bed and leaned over over to pick it up, hanging half off the bed to do so, and gave it a sniff and even he couldn’t help wrinkling his nose in disgust. It smelt like sex, weed, and as if he’d spent the past two days rolling around on the ground. Turning his head towards the open door he gave a shout so Robert could hear him. “I’m gonna borrow a jumper.”
“Top left drawer.” he heard yelled back helpfully at him.
Rolling off the bed, he padded over to the dresser, a small smile on his face as he tugged the specified drawer open only for face to go slack. Distantly, muffled by the blood roaring in his ears, he hears a pan clatter and Robert’s panicked shout “Aaron wait .”
Robert’s in the doorway when Aaron turns. Eyes wide and worried, nervousness practically radiating from him, and Aaron watches his gaze flicker from the open drawer behind him to the picture frame in his hand.
“Aaron I can explain.”
“I just bet you can.”
“No Aaron, listen to me, I swear it can ju-”
Robert jumps when the picture frame explodes into shards of broken glass and wood against the wall beside him. It wasn’t anywhere near his head but the crack of it against the wall startles him.
Aaron’s already turning back to the drawer and pulling out another one before flinging it towards Robert’s feet, a scowl turning the corners of his mouth down sharply
“Aaron, please , it’s not what you think.” Robert at least has the shame to winced when he looks down and sees a picture of chrissie and himself kissing for their picture staring up back at him.
“How many lies have you even told me this weekend? Is this some sort of weird fucking game for you?”
“No, christ, no look she’s - she’s my girlfriend alright but it’s n-"
Aaron turned away in disgust and found his pants jerking them on and dragged his dirty t-shirt over his head as well and went to barrel past Robert not wanting to hear the rest of his excuses and Robert pushed at his chest trying to keep him from leaving.
“Get out of my way, Robert, before I make you.”
“Would you just calm down for ten seconds and let me explain it to you.”
Aaron laughter was brittle and he shook free of Robert’s hands, he felt so stupid. He’d allowed himself to be swindled by Robert a second time even knowing what he was really like. He’d let himself think last night had actually mattered. He was so stupid. “Why would I believe a single thing you told me, I asked if you were seeing anyone and you said no. ”
“I didn’t though, you asked if I had a boyfriend.” Robert faltered, seemed to know whatever he was about to say wasn’t actually going to help him much.”I don’t.”
“Fuck you, Robert.”
“I know you’re angry but just - I’m bisexual. I like both, this isn’t - I wasn’t messing you around. Not like that. Chrissie and I -”
Aaron winced hearing her name before surging forward and bullied his way past Robert. Shoving at him hard and knew from the yelp behind him that Robert had probably slammed his shoulder into the door frame. It didn’t slow him down any though because Robert was on his heels talking as fast as he could trying to fix things.
“She’s breaking up with me okay? I was looking for something in the bedroom the other day and I found it in her side table. A note she’d written before she went on her business trip. A dear john or whatever. I wanted - I thought I could beat her to the punch and I didn't expe-”
Aaron turned on him, snagged him by the front of his shirt and shoved him hard up against the hallway wall. Robert’s words dying on his lips. “You thought you’d beat her to the punch ? Figured you’d what, Robert? Shag some random bloke in her bed and then shove it in her face before she could dump you?”
He shoved away from Robert trying to reign his temper in, not bothering to temper his disgust for Robert though. “Does she even know you like blokes? No, wait, that’s a stupid question isn't it? You’re not out, unless that was a lie too.”
“I never lied to you, I didn’t Aaron, I swear it.”
“Just avoided the truth didn’t ya? Expect me to rewarded that? Congratulate you? Maybe drop to my knees and blow ya again? Gonna have to pass on that, think two days at playing your fool was more than enough.”
Robert came towards him again, shaking his head no, hands hovering in midair but never actually reaching for Aaron which was probably best for his health. “You weren't - That’s what I’m trying to tell you if you’d just pay attention. Yeah that first morning I freaked a bit was a massive prick and I know and I’m sorry but yesterday? Yesterday was so good Aaron, we’re good. I meant everything I said to you. I can fix this. Just let me fix this.”
“There’s nothing to fix” He shoved Robert away again when the older man tried to grab his arm to keep him in place. “But I do know two things, Robert, you’re the worst mistake I’ve ever made and she was cleary right to dump you.”
He slammed the door shut behind him and hurried down the three flights of stairs as fast as he could, not trusting Robert to not follow after him. Slammed hard into the front door on the main floor, cursing when it only moved a few inches. But he could see through the glass the snow was low enough it could be done, so he pulled back and really put his weight into it and after the third try managed to pry the door open far enough to slip out of it and into the cold never looking back once.
He’d refused to tell Adam and Victoria anything once he’d gotten home. Started to outright ignore their questions when they didn’t seem to get the hint. He’d spent the rest of his afternoon eating junk food and looking for apartments on his laptop but all he really wanted to do was curse Robert and hide away somewhere. He looked up startled when he felt delicate fingers in his hair, his body for one second flashing back to the day before, tratiours thing that it was. But it It was only Victoria however and she smiled down at him softly though he could see the worry in her eyes. “I’m not here to ask about your weekend again, I swear. I just thought I’d let you know it’s nearly five and Adam’s invited people over. Blizzard of the century party or something. Thought you might want to get ready. He mentioned it earlier but I don’t think you were really paying attention.”
He hadn't been, too lost in his own misery. “Thanks Vee, I’ll get ready in a second, I’m just finishing this apartment app.”
She smiled again, a little brighter than the first time, but still not her usual. “You’re gonna be okay right?”
“Yeah ‘course I am.”
“I really did think a night out would be good for you, you know that right?”
He realized that’s what it was about, she felt she’d pushed into something, and now blamed herself for being his being upset or hurt or whatever he was that he wouldn’t explain to them. Reaching over he squeezed her hand and smiled back at her. “You’ve nothing to apologize for, it was good for me. Taught me some things I needed to learn. Cheer up, got a party to host don’t ya?”
“Had quite the weekend didn't you and I guess that means you like..”
“Both, yeah. Bisexual.” he shrugged, felt weirdly relieved to say it to someone else. Someone who’d known him for a long time but wasn’t looking at him any differently.
“That’s - It’s good that you can admit it. A small part of me wishes you could have told me sooner but I understand why you couldn’t.”
“It wasn’t personal, Chris.”
She smiled and squeezed his hand before it dimmed a little at the corners. “I know, bringing someone here was though.”
“Yeah, a real prick move trust me I know. I’ve been told already. Your note was a bit impersonal, two years and just ta thanks in a letter and it made me got a little stupid. But I’m sorry, you didn’t deserve that.”
She’d stood then, pressed a kiss to his forehead and ruffled his hair fondly. “You’ve always been a little stupid, Robert, don’t let it keep you from being happy now.”
He smiled up at her, he might not love her anymore and probably hadn’t for a long time really, but it didn’t mean he wouldn’t miss her. “Take care of yourself yeah?”
“I will.” She headed for the bedroom door then, her suitcase still packed and by the door after walking into the apartment to find Robert arguing with the dating site over the phone.
He’d been demanding Aaron’s personal information, needing a last name or a phone number to try and track him down. The dating site hadn’t seemed too understanding to his plight though and made it clear that if he wasn’t the police he wasn’t going to get anything and promptly hung up on him.
He’d not reacted well.
Chrissie hesitated halfway out of the room thought and turned back to look at him “Can I give you a piece of advice?”
“Yeah sure, probably the very least I owe you.”
“Probably.” But she didn’t say anything right away, just searched Robert’s face looking for something before nodding her head like she’d found it. “ This Aaron, you should probably keep looking for him. You’ve only known him two days and he’s made you be more truthful then I ever did in nearly two years.”
“I don’t know how to, he deleted his profile and I don’t even know his last name.”
“You’re Robert Sugden, darling. Do what you do best.” and with that she left him alone with one last smile.
He was miserable. He had been miserable all afternoon in fairness but ever since the party had kicked off him mood had steadily declined. The music was giving him a headache, the beer wasn’t getting him drunk enough, and Adam’s half brother couldn’t seem to take the hint that he wasn’t interested.
He was currently hiding in the kitchen with Victoria as she prepared an appetizer he’d already forgotten the name of because it had too many ingredients and he know he wouldn't eat it. He jerked when Vic jabbed him in the side and smacked her hand away.
“I said your name like three times.”
He shrugged a little “Sorry, did you need something?”
She let out a sigh before picking up a tray and setting it in his arms and then nudging him towards the doorway. “Take that to the guests and Finn’s not that bad you know.”
“You’re not the one he’s mooning over.”
“Just be nice to him, I mean it.”
“I have been, bossy cow.” She gaped at him and tried to smack him with her dish towel but he was too quick already carrying her food into the living room and tossed her back a cheeky grin that she playfully rolled her eyes at. Turning back around he looked around for Adam before dropping the food off on the table. He could get through this and once this weekend was over he wouldn’t look back.
“I think a neighbor might have been broken into on my floor….. I was coming back from doing my laundry and found their door kicked open…No, I didn't see anyone for sure but…..I had a date the day before off one of those dating sites real shady bloke…I kicked him out after I caught him going through my stuff…..no i don't know his full name…. Would his user name from his dating profile help at all? Im sure that site could give you his information…sure, I’ll hold."
Aaron was in hell, actual hell, stuck on the couch between Finn and one of Adam’s obnoxious work friends and nowhere to escape to. It was like he’d done something to personally offend the world and it refused to give him a break. Sighing he tipped back his beer disappointed to find it already empty. So it was only a combination of sheer boredom and wanting to be anywhere else then where he was that had him trying to beat Victoria to the door. He got there too late and was a few steps behind her as she pulled the door open blinking at the two uniformed men in confusion.
“Good evening ma’am, we’re sorry to disturb you, I’m PC Swilring and we’re looking for a Mister Aaron Dingle, he wouldn’t be about would he?”
Victoria glanced behind her at Aaron with worried eyes but nodded at the officer who had spoken. “That’s me.”
“If you wouldn’t mind coming down to the station with us son, we’ve got a few questions for you.”
“Questions about what exactly?” but Aaron could feel people turning their attention from their own conversations to focus on what was happening and his shoulders tensed at being made a spectacle of.
“Reports of a break in, so if you don’t mind coming down and making a statement.”
“Are you arresting him?” Victoria asked, her confusion growing.
“Not at the present ma’am, this is just a friendly chat.”
Aaron didn't say anything else, he wasn’t an idiot, giving any hint he knew what they were talking about would only incriminate him but he did know exactly what was happening and so help him god if he ever laid eyes on Robert again he’d kill him.
As Aaron turned to get his coat he realized Adam was hovering nearby as well and his friend was already shrugging into his own jacket. “We’ll meet you there”
“Thanks Ads, see you soon.”
Robert wasn’t stupid, he knew he shouldn’t be at the station as they hauled Aaron through the doors for questioning but he figured after would probably be okay. It’s not like he’d actually told the police anything incriminating and in the event they did try and charge Aaron for anything he was prepared to lie and keep him out of trouble.
He shifted in the uncomfortable, and frankly inhumane, plastic chairs in the hallway they left out for people, fingers drumming away on his knee, and the string of the balloon he’d stopped for on the way looped around his wrist. He’d make Aaron see reason, he’d make him understand that hey knew he’d been an idiot but that didn’t mean they couldn’t try.
He heard someone barrel through the doors, head popping up quickly to watch Aaron as he stormed into the lobby, the anger practically radiating from him. He’d been so hard to get a read on from the first time they’d talked but his temper had always been easy to understand and Robert was quickly starting to regret his master plan when those angry eyes fell on him.
“ You .”
Jumping to his feet Robert held his hands up in defense and tried to get a handle of the situation before everything blew up in his face again. “Look, I know you’re angry okay, but I just needed to talk to you.”
“ You told them I robbed your neighbor, Robert. ”
“I did not! I told them I had a date with a dodgy bloke around the same time, I didn’t provide any actual proof you did anything I swear.”
“You think that makes this better?” He moved quick, crowded into Robert’s personal space, and shoved a finger in his face. “Did you think I was going to thank you for this? Are you really that egotistical and dense?!”
“I’m trying to explain okay? I talked to Chri-” But that had been a tactical error because the moment he’d started to say her name Aaron shut down. Bottled his anger and shoved past him taking the steps two at a time. This time thought Robert was ready for him to try and run again and he quickly hurried after. “I broke up with her, Aaron. I told her everything. I could have lied, I could have pretended none of it happened but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to lie about you.”
Aaron wheeled on him and gave a hard shove, Robert almost falling backwards onto his ass and just managing to grab ahold of the railing to keep his balance. “No, you only want to lie to me. I don’t care about any of this. I don’t care about you.”
“ You’re lying .”
Aaron froze where he stood, eyes wide, body trembling slightly with his anger but kept his mouth closed, daring Robert to keep going.
“You and I were good together Aaron, we worked. I didn’t know how else to get ahold of you okay? Chrissie told me to do what I do best to find you and this - this is what I do best. I make terrible decisions but sometimes they work. In a surreal kind of way you have to admit it’s kind of a romantic gesture”
“Robert?” Both men startled, attention turning lower down the stairs to find Victoria and Adam watching them dual expressions of confusion on their faces. “Aaron, why are you yelling at my brother in a police station?”
“My sister is your roommate?” Robert looked shell shocked but he shook it off quickly glanced from Vic to Aaron and tried to find his bearings again. “Actually you know what, don’t answer that. I don't even care about that at the moment. I just want to fix us.”
That seemed to finally shake Aaron from his own daze, his temper flaring back to life. “So that you can make me a fool for the third time in two days? I don’t think so. Take the hint Robert, I want nothing to do with you. Talking to you on that site was a mistake. Meeting you for coffee was a mistake. Sleeping with you was a mistake. You are nothing but yet another mistake in a long list of bad choices in my life.”
Robert flinched but stood his ground.“Don’t say that. I know I messed it all up but I didn’t imagine it. It wasn’t mistake or anything like that. You’re angry and you have every right to be but just sit down with me, even if it’s just for an hour and let me - you have to let me try, Aaron. I promise this will all just be a dumb funny story we tell to people in the future at a party together. I know I don’t deserve it but come on, Aaron, don’t give up on us before we even have a chance.”
Aaron stayed quiet, seemed to consider Robert’s words, and for one second he thought just maybe things were going to be alright because Aaron closed the two step gap between them before he leaned in slowly and Robert’s eyes fell shut, mouth parting in surprise, and hoped.
Robert’s eyes popped open to find Aaron glaring at him with nothing but disgust on his face
“I tell you what though Robert, soon as I laugh at all of this? I’ll give you a call. But I wouldn't hold your breath.”
Robert nodded mutely before shoving the balloon he’d gotten into Aaron’s hands and maybe if he hadn’t hurried down the steps without looking back, ignoring his little sister as she called after him, he might have noticed how Aaron’s anger wasn’t anything more then a way to hide his sadness.
After Robert had left off he’d headed down to where Victoria and Adam were before dropping himself in one of the chairs in the lobby. Then he’d just sat there silently staring out the front door and into the snow covered street outside.
He could hear Adam and Vic whispering between themselves but he didn't acknowledge it. He didn't want to talk about Robert he just wanted to forget, but it seemed like he was the only one.
“Are you going to go after him?” He sat up straight, turning his attention across the hall at Victoria like she’d lost her mind, and watched her shrug at his scowl as she pocketed her phone.
Part of him got it though, Robert was her brother, she was going to have a soft spot for him even if he didn't deserve it. He shouldn’t she shocked though because of course even his one night stand that had ended horribly needed to be as extra complicated as humanly possible. Of course he'd pulled not just a raging dickhead but also his friends brother.
“He got me arrested.” Aaron replied flatly.
“Technically it was just questioning, mate.”
“You’re not helping, traitor.” He let his gaze swing from Victoria over to Adam who sat beside Vic holding her hand, just grinned at him before shrugging.
“I know I’m slightly biased here because he is my brother but honestly, Aaron, when's the last time anyone made you feel this strongly? About anything? You didn’t even stick around to argue with Ed but by the sounds of it you and Robert -”
“There is no me and Robert, there will never be one. And yeah you are biased and it’s the only reason I'm even entertaining this conversation. Your brother's a fucking demon, Vic. He lied to me about being single and then got me hauled in for questioning. Who does that? Somehow an “I’m sorry I called the cops on you” balloon doesn’t actually fix things.”
“That’s not what it says.”
“You what?” He glanced over at Adam again, pulling a face at the interruption.
“The balloon he gave you, that’s not what it says.”
“I don’t - I don’t care about the damn balloon.” As he said it he gave the string of the balloon a tug in exasperation and watched it jostle back and forth before the “I'm sorry” slowly rotated away from him to reveal.
“I’m an asshole.”
“Fuck.” He said it on a startled laugh. Leaned forward and put his head in his hands before saying it again as he realized what just happened. “ Fuck , I hate him.”
“I don't think you hate him at all and I think you know that you don't. It's why you're so angry with him.”
Sitting back with a sigh, Aaron folded his arms across his chest, and refused to meet Victoria's stare. “You're wasting your time.”
Vic went to say something only stopped by Adam’s hand on her arm and she frowned over at her boyfriend while Aaron tuned them back out until they were just indistinguishable white noise. But he couldn't shake Vic’s comments no matter how hard he tried because she wasn't wrong. He'd liked Robert as crazy as that seemed and beyond that even he'd trusted him. Maybe that was his mistake given how little time they'd known each other.
It had hit too close to his previous hurt so he'd used his anger to protect himself from anymore damage. It should have helped but as he sat there - as he let himself focus on his best friends again - all he felt was lonely, and the growing realization that the only time he hadn't felt lonely in months was when trapped in Robert's apartment “..fuck.”
He leaned forward, scrubbing his hands over his face, before reaching into his pocket for his phone to check the time. And that's when he saw it: a text message from an unknown number.
“If you change your mind I've got a table off to the side where we can be left alone at the cafe down the street.”
Aaron laughed in disbelief. It was from Robert then, Robert who he’d assumed hadn't understood what he’d meant. The same Robert who he’d been trying to convince himself that none of it had even mattered to him because then it might hurt less. But he had understood and Aaron didn't know what he was doing anymore.
He was up and out of his seat before Victoria and Adam could react, the balloon floating up towards the ceiling, as he sprinted out of the front doors and into the cold.
He shivered against the cold, ignored it to spin around slowly, and tried to figure out which way Robert went. But he couldn’t find him and he worried he’d taken too long. He was about to say fuck it just start heading towards Robert’s, prepared to bang down the door if needed, when he caught sight of a blond head stepping out of a cafe down at the corner.
“Rob” it came out on a breath, whispered against the wind. He took off like a shot. Tried again louder. “ Robert.”
He moved down the street quickly, dodging around people to try and get to Robert before he got away again “Rob wait -” he stumbled around an old woman, just managed to catch his balance. and just managed to snag Robert’s arm before he stepped into the street. Turned the older man to face him with a sharp tug and watched as Robert’s face creased in confusion.
“I laughed.” But Robert’s expression didn’t change, if anything he looked more confused.” Robert, I laughed.”
He watched as that confusion slowly turn into hope “You did?”
“Yes, you idiot.” He grabbed a hold of Robert’s jacket and tugged him closer. Fit their bodies together and stared up at Robert. “You’re the dumbest man I’ve ever met. You make the worst decisions. You don’t know how to do anything like a normal person.You’re always going to be the worst dancer I ever know but you make me laugh and I don’t wanna give up on that before even giving it a chance.”
“Then do something about it already ”
Aaron lifted his hands, let one wrap around the older man's neck for leverage, while the other hand pushed into Robert’s hair to tug him down closer and kissed him with everything he had. Grinned into the kiss when Robert’s own arms wrapped around his waist and hauled him closer. They pulled apart slowly, breath mingling, noses rubbing together, and in no rush to do anything more than they were doing now.
They had nothing but time now and as Robert leaned in for another kiss, Aaron couldn’t think of a place he’d rather be then where he was now.
Not bad for his first two night stand.