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Just a little distraction

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Aaron stomped all the way back to the scrap yard as he seethed with anger, it was overwhelming and unwanted. The sound of heavy metal hitting against a large blue van made Aaron jump as he approached the scrap site and walked straight passed Adam who was busy at work.

"Er you not gonna help me?"

"Later." Aaron mumbled as he walked towards his desk and rubbed his forehead softly.

Adam dropped a large metal door into the van and then quickly made his way inside, "What's happened now?" He sighed as he saw the tear stained look on Aaron's face.

Aaron shot his head up quickly not wanting to bore Adam with details about his so called love life and arguments with Robert Sugden.

"Nothing." Aaron said quickly. "I'm fine."

Adam sat back on his chair as Aaron rolled his eyes realising that his best mate wasn't going to let the conversation end.

"Is this about me taking Vic away for a few days cos-"

Aaron shook his head and smiled at Adam who was probably panicking about having to explain why he wanted to take his wife away again.

"Then what?" Adam mumbled growing worried for his friend who was obviously overwhelmed by something.

"It's er Jimmy yeah I saw him earlier and he was winding me up about this place not going anywhere." Aaron lied even convincing himself of the events.

Almost instantly Adam let out a sigh of relief and smiled brightly, Aaron could see how relieved he was that it wasn't anything too serious. Aaron didn't want to take that relief away and so played along with it all.

"Is that it? Jimmy being a dick?" Adam said half laughing and trying not to annoy Aaron too much.

Aaron bit down on his lip and let out a laugh, "Well yeah." He said before Adam patted him hard on the back and walked towards the door, "Alright I'm leaving ya to sulk for a few minutes then you're helping me shift the last of this." Adam called out as he opened the door and headed back outside. Aaron shook his head thankful that the conversation had managed to calm him down slightly, the hurt was still there.

Yet Aaron could hardly be too betrayed and shocked by Robert not trusting him, the irony of the situation was once again taking its toll.

Aaron suddenly got to his feet and walked to the door, hoping that piling metal on a van would be a welcomed distraction. Yet the sound of his phone buzzing, stopped him in his tracks.

Aaron picked his phone up from the table and wished that it wasn't a message from Robert, he was the last person he wanted to hear from. Well apart from:


> Investigating is tough work sometimes, hard to solve but times running out for you though - J

Aaron felt his heart race frantically, this message from an unknown number filled his mind with worry and dread. 'J' the initial sent shivers through his body and it didn't take long for Aaron to realise that it wasn't Jamie. It was Joel. Aaron felt himself begin to shake as he tried to understand and work out how exactly Joel had his number and why he was tormenting him. For days Aaron had tried to push Joel to the back of his mind, naively hoping that Robert had left things with him and cut all ties. He must have been wrong, Joel was obviously still finding things and trying his hardest to make sure Aaron payed for it all, for all the damage and pain. Suddenly Robert naively given out Aaron's details on that drunk night, filled his head with even more worry.

Aaron was struggling to keep it together as he heard Adam shout something to him, the walls felt like they were closing in on him as he stared down at his phone.

"Hard of hearing are ya?" Adam shouted as he walked back to where Aaron was standing still staring at his phone.

Aaron shook his head as if he was shaking the feeling out of his mind,
"Sorry...er what?"

Adam bit his lip, "Something happen?" He said as he pointed to the phone in Aaron's hand.

Aaron sighed loudly and decided that he didn't want to lie to Adam anymore. Shaking slightly Aaron passed over his phone to his best mate who was now cautious of what it meant. A minute or two passed as Adam read the message over and over again and frowned. Aaron stared at Adam as he tried to figure out what to say when Adam asked questions, he couldn't tell him everything and then expect him to lie to Victoria. It wasn't fair.

Adam looked up at Aaron, "What do they mean, times running out?" He snapped angrily.

Aaron looked away from Adam quickly.

"Aaron what have you got yourself into?"

'A shit load of mess'

Aaron hesitated before answering, "Nothing I can't handle."

Adam scoffed, "Yeah that's why you're freaking out over a message!"

"It's just somebody I used to know...holding a grudge." Aaron whispered.

"What when you used to do all that drug dealing shit." Adam said before shaking his head.

Aaron sighed as he thought back to the dodgy men he used to be 'owned' by as he sold their drugs. It seemed like the perfect scapegoat for Aaron who realised that Adam didn't need to know about Joel.


"Yeah it's fine though."

"I'm not letting ya handle this by yourself!" Adam shouted as he watched Aaron walk away from him. Aaron bit down on his lip and struggled to continue walking, he was touched by how badly Adam wanted to help him.

"And I'm not letting ya get dragged into this, Robert already knows-" Aaron shouted before stopping himself.

Adam shook his head quickly,
"Wait Robert knows about whatever is going on?"

Aaron nodded his head slowly.

"And he's not helped ya!" Adam yelled.

Aaron hesitated again,                                                                                                                                                            "Well...yeah but-"

Adam sighed loudly and went back to doing his work leaving Aaron stunned as he tried to work out what Adam was going to do.

"I need to clear my head." Aaron mumbled as he walked away from the site. "Don't do anything stupid yeah..." he continued thinking about Adam shouted his mouth off to Robert wasn't something he wanted. Right now he didn't want Robert acting like his Prince Charming and helping him bring down Joel when after their argument old feelings of hate had begun to resurface.

"Don't worry mate...I'll make sure Robert gets the message, without hurting him too much." Adam whispered as he watched Aaron turn the corner and disappear.

*^*

Robert chewed hard on his gum and bit his lip down as he tried to fight back his emotions. He couldn't believe how quickly things between him and Aaron could change, to think that yesterday they had finally found some sort of peace and now they were back to square one. Once again Robert was chucking accusations at Aaron and making him feel small and vulnerable. It was a talent of his of course, Robert shook his head wondering why exactly he always managed to mess things up. With self hatred and anger coursing through his body intensely Robert charged back towards his cottage and slammed the door shut.

"What's up with you?" Victoria shouted from inside the living room as she heard Robert stomp about angrily.

Robert rolled his head back the last thing he needed was Victoria's curiousness.

"Nothing. I'm fine." He shouted back as he tried to escape to his room upstairs. Victoria frowned before following her brother and calling after him.

"You hardly said two words last night, I didn't even get to talk to you about how Diane was-" Victoria said standing on the stairs as she heard her brother slowly come down them and face towards her.

"Who told you I went to the hospital?" Robert sighed realising that of course it must have been Aaron.

"Well I was chatting to Aaron and-" Victoria said quickly as she watched her brother walk past her and move into the living room.

"He told me that you spent the day together:" Victoria continued as she walked towards the living room with a huge smile on her face. Robert frowned realising that Aaron wouldn't just blurt out something like that, it was clear that Aaron obviously didn't want anyone to really know about them spending time together at all and Robert had grown to accept that.

"He told ya or you dragged it out of him?" Robert said loudly as he shook his head and cringed at the thought of his little sister trying her best to find out where he had been.

Victoria's silence told him more than enough as she bit her lip and hesitated.

Robert rolled his eyes,
"Why can't you just leave things alone?"

"I was worried that you were off with some random and I-" Victoria said waving her arms around and trying to make Robert see her side.

"So what if I was? You're not me mum Vic!" Robert shouted growing frustrated.

Victoria sighed before looking towards the floor, "I'm just looking out for you, it's not like Andy gives a toss."

Robert sighed slowly as he looked at his sister and couldn't help but feel touched by her concern, he could always rely on her Victoria to worry and want to know how he has.

It was something that he wasn't used to, the more he thought about it the more he realised that he had been taken her for granted for too long. Robert blinked slowly before sitting down and rolling his head back, "I know you are..."

Victoria bit her lip and sat down opposite her brother, "Aaron said that you were that you didn't really know how to handle Diane being in hospital that you were worried."

Robert nodded, "Yeah..."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Victoria said with disappointment in her voice.

Robert shrugged his shoulders, "Dunno...,"

"I'm glad you can talk to Aaron though, he's been there for you." Victoria said softly.

Robert scoffed and shook his head,
"Shame I can't say the same."

Victoria sat wide eyed, "What do you mean?"

Robert looked at her and then shook his head, unsure whether to tell her about heat he saw last night and how he felt about it all. Robert sighed before getting up and deciding that he didn't want to think about it anymore.

"Rob what happened? Robert...come back" Victoria shouted after Robert who was now walking in the kitchen.

“Forget it." Robert whispered as he heard Victoria footsteps.

"Did something happen between you two?" Victoria said slowly as she looked over at Robert with suspicion.

"No! No it's not a big deal."

"Robert just tell me.”

Robert sighed hard, tired of lying and ignoring his feelings, "I saw him last night...with some guy?" he said rubbing his forehead slowly.

Victoria tutted loudly, "Oh....doing what?" She whispered.

Robert turned to her, "Just talking."

Victoria let out a sigh of relief,
"Just talking? Then what are you worried about?"

"It wasn't just about them talking, they were close...this guy was practically holding onto Aaron."

"I think you're just jumping to conclusions. Have you talked to Aaron?" Victoria said quickly trying to reassure Robert.

Robert scoffed, "Yeah...he seemed more interested in knowing if I heard 'em."

"What else did he say?" Victoria said eagerly.

"That it wasn't what I thought, that he was just a mate..." Robert said suddenly realising that Aaron could have been telling the truth.

Victoria raised her eyebrows, "And why would he be lying?"

Robert sighed loudly, "Even if it wasn't something more...I thought he could talk to me...not some 'mate.'"

Victoria rolled her eyes and squinted her eyes, "Ohhh I see what this is about...you're hurt that he could have been opening up to someone else."

Robert gulped hard Aaron had said exactly that. Was it really just about his pride?

"I think you're getting your feelings mixed into it all." Victoria whispered.

Robert scoffed, ‘Of course my feelings are involved!' Robert shook his head and disregarded the thought not wanting to make Victoria know she was right.

"What feelings? Last night...it made me realise that Aaron is just a mate. Nothing more, and I can live with that." Robert lied.

Victoria stared at her brother wide eyed,
"Can you though?" Robert bit his lip hard and turned away from his sister again. "Look Vic a few weeks ago Aaron would have left any room the minute I came and now...now we're better...well before I made some big deal about him being with someone." Robert wanted to kick himself as he realised how stupid he had been, the amount of progress him and Aaron had made was something he could just take for granted. Aaron had listened, respected him and allowed Robert to know about things no one else did. To call Robert his mate made him lucky enough, asking or thinking of anything more was something Robert had to forget about.

"I know you want to see him happy Robert, but what about yours?" Victoria sighed suddenly overwhelmed with the thought of Robert trailing through his life pinning over Aaron as he watched him find happiness elsewhere from afar.

Robert began to think about a life without the comfort or Aaron, it felt lonely and bleak yet the thought of seeing Aaron happy and content with his own life was enough to make it seem bearable. Robert ripped his thoughts away as he replayed their last conversation.

"None of this matters Vic! I...we just had some stupid fight and I said things and he said things-"

"Like what?" Victoria said moving closer and trying to calm her brother down.

"I basically told him he ruined my marriage" Robert spat remembering his harsh words.

Victoria shook her head and sighed,
"Well that wasn't wise eh."

"Yeah no kidding..." Robert sighed, "I've ruined everything." He whispered as the sudden realisation hit him harder than he had expected.

Victoria stared at her brother and saw the tears forming in his eyes. The raw emotion he felt was endearing and enough to make her want to fix everything.

Robert looked up and stared at Victoria who was now almost smiling at her brother, "What?" He said with a distressed expression on his face.

"If you were okay with him being just a mate...you wouldn't be like this...this distraught about a fight. "

Robert blinked quickly, "It wasn't like the other fights...he said whatever we had...it was over."

"And what did you have?" Victoria asked softly.

Robert blinked slowly trying to answer the question. It was harder than he thought. What did they actually have? They had developed an understanding, a mutual respect and friendship.

"Respect, trust..."

"But...now it's ruined yeah? And you feel guilty...that's why you're like this...?" Victoria said before smirking softly.


Robert sighed knowing that Victoria was hinting at something more, she was well and truly fishing for bait but Robert wasn't biting.

"Yeah..."

"You're in love." Victoria said quickly causing Robert to sit wide eyed, "That's why."

Robert felt his heart explode as he stared towards the ground, he had known for a long time but now hearing someone else say it made him feel conscious wondering if Aaron had realised the deep level of affection. The love that hadn't faded ever.

Robert nodded his head slowly in agreement, "I love him Vic...I can't carry on pretending that I want to be there for him as a just a mate."

Victoria smiled, "You have to tell him!" She said giddily.

Robert smiled before shaking his head quickly. How could he confess his undying love to the man who he knew hated him deep down. Their argument had just proved that he obviously still harboured dark thoughts and bad memories about their relationship and despite the love he felt he couldn't deny the toxicity that came with it all.

"No for once Vic...I'm gonna put someone else first." Robert said before kissing Victoria's cheek and leaving their cottage. The cold air slapped him sharply as he looked down at the photo of Aaron sleeping silently again, it had managed to calm him down.