After one more coffee and one too many touchy feely moments between Adam and Victoria they boys decided or a drink of something stronger and followed Victoria into the pub as her shift started. Theirs plans to knuckle down and work flat out at the scrap yard were shattered as the prospect of large pint took priority.
Aaron was thankful for this day spent drinking with Adam and making fun out of Victoria's passion for cooking, it was normal and nearly made him forget about the absolute mess of his life at the moment. Chas caught Aaron's eye and smiled weakly as he walked across the bar and sat in a booth with Adam, Chas was beaming inside as she realised just how strong and together Aaron was being after having to hide this massive secret that could destroy everything.
Chas slowly closed her eyes as she thought back to the cries she heard from her son's room the night it all happened. She remembered the ache in her chest as she slowly entered his room and felt a desperate need to comfort him like a child, she was still panicked and not well herself but she didn't care about any of that. Not really. Not now she could see her son falling apart over her secret, a secret that could destroy him. Chas edged closer into his room and softly patted his back as he tried his hardest to fight back the tears.
"Love." Chas whispered as she continued to rub his back.
Aaron quickly walked away from his mum overwhelmed with shame as he realised that his mum didn't need to feel any worse about herself, "I'm fine..." Aaron said slowly rubbing his eyes and sighing as he looked out onto the village.
"No your not..." Chas said softly as she began to fight back her own tears, she couldn't believe what she had done to Diane, what she had done to her own son.
Aaron stared down at his hands that were trembling still, he had rubbed away the blood stained on them yet he could still trace where it had rested messily. Aaron ripped his eyes away from them and back towards the village, and then his eyes fell on the cottage ahead. Victoria's cottage.
His heart began to race as he imagined the fear and confusion they must have all felt as they travelled to the hospital. He even allowed himself to think of Robert. The man who he would always hate, but now felt slightly sorry for. His heart felt heavy with guilt as he heard his mum sob on his bed as she clutched at his sheets.
Almost instantly Aaron realised that he needed to be strong for her, "Hey listen." Aaron said softly walking over to his bed and gripping her hand, "It's going to be okay."
Chas shook her head, "How?" She snapped. "I stabbed Diane Aaron, I stabbed her.” She whispered.
Aaron bit his lip and forced back the tears, "Yeah I know...I know but we're gonna get through this okay. Trust me." he said trying his best to reassure his mum and almost blind her from the possibility that someone would find out. Chas looked up at her son and smiled weakly, she couldn't believe how brave he was being, it was her job to reassure him not the other way round.
Chas smiled softly, "My brave little boy." she whispered as she watched Aaron wipe away his tears.
"It's gonna get better mum." Aaron's whispered back, "Just try and keep strong for me yeah..."
Chas nodded her head and fell into Aaron's arms as he stroked her hair and told her things would be okay and that he would keep her safe.
Chas pulled away from the memory as she heard Aaron chuckle and slurp away at his pint. Then she caught sight of Victoria and sighed deeply. Some days Chas thought it was just better to tell everyone the truth, knowing that Diane would be okay was something she was grateful for and a small part of her wondered if her good health would be enough to silence the outrage of the family as she told them the truth.
The thoughts were often snatched away by Cain - who she had to admit - had been her rock throughout it all, yet sometimes she hated the harshness and the blunt advice her brother would give her about it all. In those moments she seeked out Aaron who was soothing and comforting when he needed to be, Chas couldn't help but feel guilty sometimes as she watched her son obviously struggle with Victoria or Doug as they offloaded their despair about Diane. She could see him fidget and look towards the ground as he almost turned away from them as they spoke. But now as she stared at him chatting away to Adam and sipping on a pint it seemed like old times, she didn't feel low and guilty today and by the looks of it neither did her son.
"I'm thinking about taking Vic somewhere for a few days." Adam said leaning over and whispering after carefully watching his wife pour a pint and then return back to the kitchen.
Aaron frowned softly, "Why? Oh god Adam what have you done now?"
Adam rolled his head back before playfully slapping Aaron's arm,
"Oi! Nothing alright." Adam smirked, "Well apart from be a good husband."
Aaron rolled his eyes, "Then why?"
"All this stuff with Diane...she's cut up about it man. And she's getting better, I just want to make her a bit more...more relaxed." Adam said sighing.
Aaron gulped as the guilt seeped through him, he knew Victoria looked more tired recently but he had managed to block out the way she would lean slightly on Adam fro support or the way she seemed to make excuses to leave before Adam even finished his pint. She had been there constantly for Diane over the past few weeks and Aaron couldn't help but admire her for it.
"Right." Aaron said nodding.
"And all this stuff with Robert-"
"Robert?" Aaron said quickly.
"Well yeah...I dunno but she's just all in his business about who he's with. Apparently he's been coming home late, staying out doing god knows what-" Adam said before looking up and seeing the worried expression on Aaron's face. "Mate sorry I —"
Suddenly thoughts filled Aaron's mind if he wondered if Robert was staying out late with someone other than him, instantly Aaron felt the need to ask Adam more questions about it all yet the realisation that Robert had been with him most nights recently coming back late from the pub yesterday and the time he saw Aaron nearly self harm and stayed for some time. It added up in his mind as he began to understand that Robert hadn't probably disclosed any information to Victoria which would obviously set his sister on edge as her nosiness got the better of her.
Aaron shook his head slowly,
"Eh...don't be daft." He said deciding to push Robert to the back of his mind. "Anyway, it's a great idea taking Vic somewhere nice, she deserves some peace and quiet."
Adam sipped at his beer and smiled "Yeah?"
"Course, I can manage the scrap yard." Aaron said before biting down on his lip and seeing Adam smile eagerly.
"Thanks mate...just a few days. Not anywhere far."
"Sounds good." Aaron said before lifting up his pint. Aaron couldn't help but feel happy for Adam who seemed excited about getting away and being with Victoria. Yet he couldn't help but feel sad, the selfish need for Adam and Victoria to be near and to keep him feeling normal was overwhelming him. As much as he enjoyed Robert's company lately he still felt a tight knot in his stomach whenever they got too close, he still felt this guilt he knew wasn't budging.
Aaron had grown to rely and count on Adam and Victoria to be free for a coffee or a quick pint in the pub in order to forget his worries and now he knew that the next few days wouldn't be the same. He couldn't turn to them when his guilt about Robert became too much to bare.
Aaron's thoughts were ripped away from him sudden to as he felt someone grip his shoulder hard. Aaron looked up and saw Cain standing behind him smiling wickedly.
"If ya looking for me mum she's doing a delivery." Adam said sipping on his pint and not noticing the tense atmosphere in the room as Aaron realised that Cain would probably want a chat.
"Yeah I know..." Cain said quickly before trying to Aaron, "It was you I was after."
Aaron gulped hard as he felt his heart race trying to figure out what to say,
Cain sighed loudly before laughing as he saw Adam realising the obvious problem,
"Isn't that what I said?" He said trying to ease the tension.
"What now?" Aaron said harshly staring at the pint in front of him.
Cain nodded before watching Aaron get up slowly and walk towards the bar leaving Adam bewildered by his best mate's distraction.
"You wanna tell me what's going on?" Cain said sharply.
Aaron hesitated before deciding to play it cool, as far as Cain knew things were fine between him and Robert and the investigation was almost over so there was no need for Aaron to panic.
"What do you mean?" Aaron replied sternly as he rested his arm against the bar.
"I mean." Cain edged closer "Sugden. Last I heard you were 'sorting things' and didn't want me to get involved." He continued.
"I am." Aaron snapped quietly before watching Cain smile at his obvious frustration.
Aaron tried his best not to fidget and draw attention to himself as he realised that he knew what question was coming next.
"How long do you need eh? Anyone would think you actually want to second time with the joke." Cain whispered as he edged in closer again.
Aaron gulped hard as Cain finally said what he thought he would, he couldn't take all the pressure and strain of the plan as Cain stood waiting for an almost definite date.
"How can you even say that?" Aaron snapped before moving back and looking around thankful that no one had really noticed his little outburst.
"Dunno, just seems like it's gone on for too long if ya ask me." Cain said before looking towards the bar.
Aaron nodded, "Yeah well it was you who came up with the whole idea! It's pretty hard tryna convince someone you want them when you've told them you hate 'em for the past few months!"
Cain nodded before looking towards the floor and then back to his nephew, deep down he felt guilty about the amount of pressure he was under yet the thought of Chas going into prison made him carry on.
"Look I'm given ya the rest of the week and then if he still wants to play Sherlock then he'll have to go through me!" Cain said before leaving the pub without seeing the look of agony and disappear written all over Aaron's face.
He only had five more days left, and then what?
He'd have to break his heart and watch him try and pick himself up all over again. A few weeks ago the thought of seeing Robert heartbroken managed to make the pain go away and now it only made it surface again.
After the tense conversation with his uncle Aaron was hardly in the chatty mood so he was thankful when Victoria's shift finished and her and Adam were leaving.
"Right I'm off." Adam said before downing his pint with speed and patting Aaron's shoulder.
"Yeah see ya tomorrow mate." Aaron said before walking behind the bar and trying to get some peace and quiet away from the busy pub in order to think about everything.
Just then Victoria marched in sighing deeply as she looked around the room in frustration, "You alright there?" Aaron said sharply causing Victoria to roll her eyes.
"Me flipping phone!" Victoria said before waving her arms around, Aaron peered over to the table near the kitchen and smiled at Victoria as she caught sight of her phone.
"Thanks." She said quickly before walking out the room. Aaron rested his head back in the sofa before hearing the familiar footsteps approach the room again, "And thanks again for being there for Robert, it means a lot to him I bet."
Aaron nodded his head, "No worries." He said before Victoria smiled brightly and turned back round again meeting Adam in the pub and leaving.
Aaron shook his head and sighed hating the fact that Victoria saw him in such a good light when he was only really using her brother in the first place, wanting nothing more than to protect his fragile mum.
Aaron felt sick as he tried to imagine how exactly he would just put an end to everything him and Robert shared over the past two weeks. The subtle looks at first developing into heartfelt speeches and cute messages, Aaron smiled to himself as he allowed happy thoughts of Robert to enter his mind. They thoughts quickly stopped though as Aaron realised that Robert was back from the hospital now that visiting hours had stopped, the thought of Robert being so near made his heart race.
Almost instantly Aaron realised that he couldn't keep up the fakeness of their closeness for a minute longer, how could he spent another few days in his company all the while counting down the minutes until Cain told him that the plan was over. Aaron began to feel dizzy as he accepted the fact that Robert would hate him as much as he thought he hated Robert.
It would end badly.