There are three things you need to know before you read this.
Life is absolutely, positively awful. It kicks you in the gut and stomps on your face while it’s at it.
Family is objective. How can you be a family if you haven’t seen them in years, when those who aren’t related to you care more, protect you more than they do?
You have to work for happiness. Yes, you can find it anywhere, at the bottom of a bottle, in the smile of your lover, but to keep happiness, to saviour it… you have to work hard.
These were the three things Aaron Flaherty knew, memorised and lived by. He knew that no-one else would save them. They would have to drag themselves up.
Shaking himself out of his thoughts, he smiled as he grabbed the tray placed in front of him, walking around to the window where Robert stood, grinning.
“Penny for them?” He asked, as Aaron rolled his eyes.
“Nothing. Do you have table 5’s order?” He asked, as the chef raised an eyebrow, pushing the plates forward. “Thanks.”
“Anything for you.” He winked, as the younger lad turned away, hiding a smirk.
When he and Sandra left, Aaron was around 9 years old. She had found out… and her immediate thought was to get her stepson out of there. Even though he didn’t want to at the time, she involved the police, and luckily was able to get her stepson help. Soon after, Liv was born.
Sandra may have her faults, but she loved Aaron and Liv, even if she couldn’t really cope being a single parent. And so, this is where Aaron picks up her slack, still feeling guilty about everything. His therapist tells him, it’s not his fault, he doesn’t deserve it, but he can’t help it. He smiled at the table, handing out their meals.
“Why does the guy at table 4 look nervous?” he asked Holly quietly as he passed her, her eyes on the same table.
“Argument, I think he's been cheating on her, but she's just sat eating calmly, not letting him leave.” The girl said in awe as she watched, Aaron smirking.
He tapped twice on the serving window frame, as Robert appeared, grinning at him.
“Two chef specials, thanks.” Robert nodded, grinning wider as he replied.
“Why don't you ask him out?” Holly asked quietly as Aaron threw her a look. “Seriously, you're gay, he's interested.” The waiter rolled his eyes.
“He's a big flirt, he probably doesn't mean anything.” Holly scoffed, but walked back to her area, as Aaron walked to his.
He couldn't help it but kept thinking about it through the rest of his shift, waiting for it to end. As they shut up shop, he waved the girl off, greeting her mother as he came to the door to pick her up.
“Hey love, do you want a lift home?” Moira asked Aaron, as he smiled at her.
“I'm good, but thanks.” He insisted, as she looked unsure but nodded. Robert appeared behind him.
“I'll make sure he gets home safe.”
“Alright, goodnight.” The mother and daughter waved, as Aaron raised an eyebrow at the older lad.
“I can walk myself.”
“Never hurts to have company though,” The blonde grinned, grabbing his coat and bag before nodding him through to the back door. Aaron shook his head, following as they exited, locking up behind them. “You never know who’s about.”
“Okay, so what’s the deal with you and Holly?” Robert asked as they walked.
“What are you talking about?” He asked, confused as Robert laughed.
“You both are always whispering to each other, conspiring behind the bar.” Aaron shook his head, laughing.
“Me and Holly are just mates. She’s not my type, mate.”
“Oh?” Robert encouraged, teasing. “And what is your type? Blonde bimbos?”
“Well, men, preferably.” He grinned at the surprise on the other lads face. “And blonds as well.” Robert chuckled. “So, Sugden, was this your plan all along? Walk me home and get me to confess my deep dark secrets to you?” Aaron snarked, as they reached his flat.
“More like wanted to get to know you. I do like you, Aaron.” He said, as the other boy threw him a nonplussed look.
“And what about when you get bored, and decide to move onto your next conquest?” He asked bluntly, as Robert looked at him seriously.
“I wouldn’t. You always bring out the best in me.” He grinned as the other boy blushed.
“Well, you can take me out for dinner tomorrow then.” He grinned, before turning into the flat. “Night.”
Walking upstairs, Aaron grinned, joy overtaking him. Maybe, just maybe, he could be happy. But, he forgot about Rule 1.
“Liv?” He questioned, coming into the flat where she was sat by the sofa, crying. “Hey, what’s up?” The boy took the young girl into his arms, cuddling her as she sobbed. A feeling of dread came into his stomach, as he saw Sandra’s bedroom door wide open, showing the room inside bare.