20 please 👀👀👀
also requested by @softrobertsugden :)))
things you said that i wasn’t meant to hear
Robert’s mostly asleep, curled up on the sofa as usual. He manages fits and starts most of the time, the ridiculous duvet he can’t stop wrapping around himself, the sound of the pub washing over him.
He can’t remember the last time he went in his room for anything other than clothes.
He’s drifting, somewhere close to conscious, when voices bleed through his vicious nightmares.
“-long has he been like this?”
There’s a soft hand in his hair, threading strands through familiar fingers.
“Months. Don’t think he could handle being upstairs, love.”
Robert recognises the voices. He knows them, he thinks, but he’s so tired, exhausted in ways he’s never been before and can’t bring himself to open his eyes.
“Is he asleep?”
There’s a silence that Robert’s not sure is real; maybe he’s still drifting in and out of sleep.
“He looks awful.”
Robert wants to protest, feels like waking up just for that. He’s doing his best; he’s trying to be strong, has to be for Aaron.
“I spent most of the time worrying about him. Every time he came in, he looked worse. I think that hurt more.”
Robert didn’t mean to be weak. He tried. He really tried.
The hand rests on his cheek, something soft and damp presses to his temple. A kiss, he thinks, and doesn’t know who it could be. His heart thumps in want when he thinks about Aaron doing the same. Chas has done it once, when she thought he was alseep, worried about you, she’d whispered. Vic’s never done it, even if he knows she wishes she could.
He shifts, lets out a slow breath, but can’t open his eyes. Part of him wants to stay here, warm and loved. He doesn’t want to wake up, to face the reality of being alone.
“Robert?” The voice sounds suspiciously familiar, something Robert wants, needs. “Hey, Rob, s’alright.”
Robert curls up deeper in the duvet, but there’s something warm next to him. He buries his face in it, the hand coming back to his head, massaging gently. He feels safe, comfortable and his chest feels tight.
“I don’t wanna wake him,” the voice admits. “What if we can’t do this, mum?”
“You will. You’re strong, both of you.”
Robert doesn’t feel it. He feels every day like another piece of him shatters and disappears. What if he’s not the person Aaron wants when he wakes up?
Robert whimpers, feels the hand tighten in his hair, then relax.
“I should let him sleep.”
“He’ll kill ya for not waking him up.” Chas, Robert thinks. Chas.
If Chas is there-
Robert jerks awake, body screaming to go back to sleep, to rest, but when Robert’s eyes open-
“Aaron,” Robert says, his vocie unrecognisable, more sob than word, and he drags Aaron in, presses his face into Aaron’s neck. “Aaron, Aaron.”
“It’s okay,” Aaron says, just as wrecked. “Rob, I’m home, I’m home.”
“I tried to be strong,” Robert says, knowing he wasn’t meant to hear but he can’t stop the words tumbling out. “If you thought I could handle it-”
“Hey,” Aaron says softly, kisses Robert gently, far more gentle than Robert deserves. “We’ll talk later, alright? I just wanna be here with you.”
“Yeah,” Robert says, leaning in, pressing his face to Aaron’s neck. “I love you so much, Aaron, I-”
“I know,” Aaron promises, kisses his temple. “I love you too.”