Ezra was seated in his car at a stoplight, his phone to his
ear, and his pulse beating it’s way into his throat. He knew that it was
ridiculous to be as anxious as he was, but there was no denying it: he was just
a big ball of nerves.
He heard the click of the phone being answered before he heard
her voice carry through the receiver.
“Hi Mr. Fitz, how was
your trip to New York?”
“Good,” he said, smiling through the phone. Her voice
instantly made his nerves settle and he was thankful for the ability to breath
again. “We’re not really going back to that title are we?”
“Why not? I thought it
was very… sexy… Are you on your way home? Spencer asked me to come over and I
was going to head out in a few minutes, but I can wait if you think you’ll be
here soon. I wouldn’t mind… giving you a warm welcome. I’ve missed you.”
“God that sounds good,” he said. “I’ve missed you too.” He took
his hand off the wheel and started to scratch the back of his neck. He couldn’t
even see her but he knew the exact look that was on her face at that very
moment, and… “You have no idea how badly I want that.”
“I bet I do,” she said.
“Then I take it back,” he said as the light changed, “I’m
sure you do.” He moved his hand back to the wheel and turned with the traffic
down the street. “Sadly, I won’t be home for another hour or so. Go ahead and
go to Spencer’s.”
He could hear a hint of disappointment creep into her voice.
“But, let’s go out tonight. I feel like I haven’t taken you
on a proper date in years.”
“That’s because it has been years.”
“Ouch, that hurts.”
“Sometimes the truth hurts.”
“I guess that’s true. Let me make it up to you.”
“I think I can allow
that…“ He could hear her take the phone away from her ear for a second. “Sorry, that’s Hanna on the other line. I
think she’s been having a rough time.”
“I can’t imagine why,” Ezra said, the bitterness he held at
the fact that they had all been dragged back into this A business crept into
He was reaching the end of the street and was quickly
approaching his destination. As he saw the house before him, the nerves started
to creep up again. Suddenly the realization that hadn’t taken Aria on a date in
several years seemed unbearably obvious. He hoped tonight would make up for
that. “Listen,” he said, “I cannot wait to see you. I’ll pick you up from
Spencer’s in a few hours, sound good?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.
I’ll let you know if we head anywhere else.”
He pulled into the driveway and threw the car in park,
taking his foot off the pedal and relaxing into the drivers seat a little.
“Please just don’t do anything risky. I need you in one
“Trust me, Ezra,”
she said, her voice the most sincere it had been since they started this
conversation. “I’m not going anywhere.
I’ll see you around seven. I love you.”
“I love you too, Aria.”
After a brief moment of dead air between them, neither truly
wanting to hang up, but both knowing they needed to, he heard the onslaught of
beeps that signaled she had ended the call.
Ezra pulled the phone away from his ear and opened a new
Thanks for keeping her
occupied. I’ll pick her up in a few hours.
As he got out of the car and made his way up the steps, he braced
himself for the conversation that would come next. Lord, he hoped this would go
better than the last time he came to them with something important. He was
about to knock on the door when his phone vibrated. Sliding the lock screen
open, a reply from Spencer popped up.
No problem. We’ve got
plenty to keep us busy. Good luck, Fitzy.
He closed out of his phone and shoved it into his back
pocket before reaching up and rapping his fist on the wooden door a few times.
At seven, he found himself standing on another front porch,
this time as he knocked on the door, he was much more comfortable and didn’t
think twice about his posture as he waited for someone on the other side to
When the door was finally pulled open, it wasn’t anyone he
expected to see.
“Mona,” he said, the surprise in his voice not well hidden.
“Hi, Ezra,” she said. She stood to the side, letting him
pass. “Aria,” Mona called through the hall toward the living room. “Fitz is
Ezra gave Mona a small nod. He was a little perturbed by the
way she decided to announce his presence. He knew she had given the girls a lot
of grief in the past, and he knew that for the most part, they’d all forgiven
her in one way or another, but he’d be lying if he said there wasn’t a part of
him that still thought she had something to hide. In reality, he thought it was
mostly an issue of trust, but the bottom line was, she was rarely nice.
He could hear commotion coming from inside the Hasting’s
living room and as he moved to enter the room, he was uncertain of what he’d
find. To his relief, the chatter was nothing more than conversation and Aria was
already on her feet.
“Hey,” she said, coming up and giving him a sweet peck on
the lips. He returned the gesture, placing his hand at the small of her back.
“Are you ready to go?” he asked. He was half worried she’d
changed her mind and wanted to stay back with the rest of them. He made a swift
move to look at Spencer and her face was a mixture of panic and apology. Having
everyone else over wasn’t a part of the plan and judging by the number of
people, it looked like something big might have come up. But, he could hardly
blame Spencer for allowing other people into her home after recent events, and
the plan was never to stick around at the Hasting’s house anyway.
“Yeah,” Aria said, not even noticing that Ezra had looked
past her for a few seconds. She lowered her voice and he could see her face
shifting. “I’d like to get away from the commotion for a little while. All of
this, everything with A happening all over again, it’s really starting to
stress me out. Can we go somewhere quiet?”
He nodded his head giving her a gentle kiss on the forehead.
The two bid the rest of the cohort goodbye, promising to answer their phones if
something with A should transpire before morning, but Ezra was silently hopeful
that their night would go by fairly quiet and undisturbed.
“So, where are you taking me on this date?” Aria asked,
playfully. She relaxed into the passenger seat and placed a hand lazily on his
knee. Ezra stole a glance in her direction and was absolutely taken with her
beauty. As they made their way down the street and turned onto the main road,
he took his time memorizing this moment: the warmth of her hand through his
jeans, the smell of her perfume consuming the air around him, the quiet
laughter that emanated from her chest when she caught him looking at her.
“You know, I really like your hair this length,” he said.
“Thanks,” she said, giving him a look.
“Nothing, you just seem tense.”
“I am tense,” he said, playing with her. “I think I’m
realizing for the first time that this is our first official date since you’ve
graduated high school.”
“That’s not true,” Aria corrected. Ezra gave her a challenging look. “No, we’ve
been out plenty of times since then.”
“Not like this,” he said. “Coffee and takeout doesn’t count.
And neither does anything book-related.”
She looked like she was about to make her case, but
something stopped her. Her dark brows knit together in the middle as she thought
and a small pout began to form on her lips. The guilty weight that settled in
the pit of his stomach told him it must be realization of the fact that this was
true. He took the hand that had been resting on his knee in his own and brought
it to his lips, kissing her knuckles.
“I’m going to make it up to you, don’t worry.”
“I’m not worried,” she said quietly. “Just sad that our past
is as messy as it is.”
“Well don’t be sad. I would not trade my time with you for
the entire world.”
She didn’t say anything back, but by the way she shifted to
look at him, let her head rest on the back of the seat, and just stared, he knew
that she agreed. Her gaze made him self-conscious, but he wouldn’t trade it for
the world either.
When they finally pulled into the parking lot, Aria gave
Ezra a funny look.
“You can’t be serious,” she said, laughing.
“Oh, but I am.”
“I thought you said we were going somewhere quite! Snookers
is not quiet!”
He turned off the ignition and gave her a sheepish grin as
he moved to open his door. “Stay there,” he said. As he got out and walked
around the car, he could see her laughing through the windshield. He reached
for the handle and pulled open the passenger side door. Throwing out his arm in
a grand gesture, he said, “My lady,” and flashed her a boyish grin.
Aria got out of the car without hesitating, feeling a
renewed sense of energy. All thoughts of A and Mary Drake and the drama with
Alison were gone, and it was just her and Ezra and Snookers and perfect
memories of perfect times, undaunted by any of the hardships they’d
Just as they were about to enter the building, Ezra took
Aria’s hand and turned her so that she was facing him. He pulled her close and looked
at her, his eyes darting between hers, something heavy on his heart.
“I wasn’t going to take you here, originally.” He stopped
for a moment, and she could tell he was choosing his words carefully. “I want
to start over. I want this to be our fresh start. Somehow, it feels appropriate
for it to be where we first met – in a place where neither of us expected to
find the other. For me this place is genuine. It’s ours. I hope that it means
the same for you that it does for me.”
There were people moving around them to enter the building
but Aria hardly noticed the glances they were getting. She knew that what he
was saying carried more weight than they seemed to.
She knew that this was his final apology for everything that
happened between him and Ali, and everything that happened in its wake. This was
his way of reminding her that when they met that first day, he hadn’t been
seeking her out, he hadn’t followed her to that bathroom because he knew she
was Ali’s friend and he was looking to get close to her. They’d had many
conversations about this in the past, but hadn’t discussed it for years. Aria
knew that it still weighed heavily on him and that this was his way of asking
for forgiveness for all of it – even though she’d given it to him years ago.
“I know,” she said. And the look in her eyes was enough for
Ezra to know that she meant it. “This place is special for me too. It means
more to me than any other place. Aside from maybe 3B.”
A small laugh escaped his chest and the tension that had
been building between them was happily dissipated. He was comforted by the fact
that she knew he meant every word he said – and all of the words he couldn’t
bring himself to say again.
Once they were inside and seated at the bar, Ezra ordered
them both a beer and the conversation flowed easily. They didn’t talk about A
or the book, or any of the things that had happened in the past. They focused
on moving forward. Ezra talked about his plans for The Brew and Aria talked
about all the other ideas she had for books – about how ironic it was that they
had written a book together, when the first time they were in this place they
discussed writing as an individual act.
When the bartender came back and asked if they’d like
anything to eat, Ezra looked to Aria first.
“Are you hungry?”
“Very,” she said.
She wasn’t looking at the bartender at all. Instead, her eyes
were locked on Ezra. The look she was giving him implied that she was hungry
for much more than food, and he had to admit that he agreed. He definitely had
an appetite for something else as well.
A small tinge started to creep over his cheeks at the
thought and she smiled. She turned her attention back to the bartender, who by
this point was looking kind of pissed at the amount of tension between them and
the fact that they were wasting his time.
“I’ll take a cheeseburger,” she said.
Ezra’s mouth dropped open.
“You’re kidding,” he said.
“I’m not,” she said, smiling. “It sounds really good right
“Are you not a vegan anymore?” he asked. In his heart, he knew
he’d be devastated if something like this had changed and he wasn’t aware. It would
signify all the years they’d spent apart and all the growing they’d done
without each other.
The bartender cleared his throat as he looked to Ezra. “Do
you want anything?” he asked. Ezra pulled his attention from Aria and looked at
the man on the other side of the counter.
“Sorry, I’ll have the same,” he said. “And a water when you
The bartender looked to Aria and pointed his pen at her
beer. “You want another?”
She shook her head. “I’ll take a water after this,” she said,
raising her bottle to indicate that she was done after the one in her hand.
When the bartender had finished jotting down their orders
and moved on to pester some other couple, Ezra directed his attention back to
“Please tell me you haven’t changed that much,” he said. He
was starting to feel like even after all this time they’d been spending
together recently, there were still a million and one things he’d yet to
rediscover about her.
“First, what would you expect a vegan to order at a bar?”
she asked, knowing the way his guilty conscious would react to realizing he’d
taken her to the home of all things meat and grease.
“I’m the worst,” he said, hanging his head. “Maybe coming
hear was a bad idea.”
Aria was either feeling an extremely early onset of her beer
or was delightfully blissful in this moment, because she chose to turn and face
Ezra, leaning her body so that her shirt spilled a little cleavage. She placed
both hands on his knees and let them slide up his thighs until her butt was
barely on the stool and her hands were dangerously close to sensitive
territory. She lifted her head until her breath was hot on his neck. Placing a
playful kiss below his earlobe, she moved upwards and whispered, “believe it or
not, that’s what I ordered the afternoon we met.”
Ezra threw back his head and laughed. He had been expecting
her comment to be something playfully sexy or incredibly kinky. (There was
really no middle ground for Aria, and Ezra had always loved that about her.)
But that was nowhere near what he expected to hear.
“I don’t remember that,” he said.
She leaned back, setting one elbow on the bar and resting
her head on her fist.
“I only remember because I never got to eat it,” she said.
“Ah,” he said, nodding his head. He took a drink of his
beer. “Became a bit distracted by the attractive young man a few seats down,
“Something like that,” she said, winking.
Ezra looked at her for a minute, enjoying the silence
“Do you know how much I love you?” he asked quietly.
Aria didn’t say anything at first. His words strung together
to make one of the hardest questions to answer. It might have been rhetorical,
but she felt he deserved some kind of answer. Of course she knew how much he loved
her. She wanted to throw the question back at him, ask if he knew the same, but
she feared the words would feel cheap and not as heartfelt.
She knew that leaving the question answered in silence
wouldn’t be right. He would still accept silence as a valuable response, but
Aria felt he deserved more. She settled for a simple answer, “yes,” and as she said
it, something unbelievable happened.
For the third time as she sat at that bar, thinking of the
man before her, a very particular song started to play from the jukebox behind
Ezra saw the way her eyes lit up and he racked his brain for
the words she said all those years ago. He knew it would be cheesy, but he also
knew that she would understand. He could see it in her face. “I love this
song,” he said, giving her a very knowing smile.
“B-26,” she said, knowing exactly what he was doing. “It’s a
number, it’s a song, it’s a girl…”
“I want to ask you something,” he said.
The words spilled forth from his lips before he could catch
them. Not that he’d take them back… he just wanted to make sure that what he
was about to say would come out perfectly. He’d messed enough up in the past.
This time he’d be damned if anything got in the way of their happiness. Of her happiness.
She didn’t say anything, just looked at him quizzically as
she chewed a little on her bottom lip. That little tick was enough to drive him
crazy. He wanted nothing more than to lean forward and capture her lips in his,
feel their soft curve between his teeth… and if everything went according to
plan that was exactly the way he planned on ending the evening.
He just hoped they’d be in his apartment rather than the
bathroom this time.
He figured it was now or never, and he’d much rather it
happen now than miss his chance all together. He’d wasted enough time and he’d
spent far too many nights wondering where she was or if she was okay to pretend
like he could wait another year, month, week, day, hour, second to ask her the
most important question he’d ever been faced with.
Aria watched as a million thoughts tumbled around inside his
head. She had no idea where this was headed, but he was starting to make her
nervous. She’d always been good at absorbing his anxiety. Some people were
sympathetic criers. Aria was a sympathetic worrier.
In hopes of calming whatever storm had taken over inside
him, she reached out and brushed her thumb against the side of temple,
smoothing back the grey that had started to peek up here and there. She made a
mental note to tease him about it later when the mood didn’t feel so serious.
He looked up at her when her hand made contact with his hair
and her smile calmed him.
“It’s just me,” she whispered. He could barely hear her over
the commotion around them, but her words gave him the confidence and the sense
of peace he was looking for.
He reached up and cupped her hand in his own, holding it to
his face. Her palm was warm and he placed a soft kiss at the space where it met
“You mean more to me than anything in the world, and I don’t
want a day to go by where you don’t know that,” he began. He couldn’t believe what
he was about to do. Where he was about to do it, in the middle of a bar, in the
middle of being harassed by a crazy cyber bully. “A huge part of me was missing
after you left for college, but I didn’t realize it until you came back.”
Having this conversation in this moment felt like such
unbelievably ridiculous timing that he couldn’t imagine it happening any other
“I want to wake up next you tomorrow, and I want to continue
waking up next to you until we’re old and grey and wrinkled and have to sleep
“Hey,” Aria butt in, laughing. “I don’t ever want to have to
sleep in diapers.” She gave him a playful pout.
“Shh,” he cut her off, giving her a look. “I was teasing.
“Okay,” she mouthed with a smile. She could tell that this was
a serious moment – much more serious than she had originally thought. He moved
her hand from where it was against his cheek so that it was resting in his lap.
Their knees were now meeting, brushing against each other in the space between
“Aria, I –“
“Here you go, two cheeseburgers and two waters.” The
bartender put two plates of grease before them and Ezra felt like he could
disappear into thin air. This was not at all going how he’d planned.
“Thanks,” Aria said for them. She was trying to hold back
her laughter at the unfortunate timing, but when the bartender had finally
walked away, she couldn’t help the small outburst that escaped when she made
eye contact with Ezra again. She knew that he was trying to say something
serious, but she couldn’t help the overwhelming happiness that had enveloped
her ever since she got in his car. It was the first time she’d felt completely relaxed
since being back in Rosewood.
His face had paled and the look of disappointment was
heartbreaking. She took a drink of her water while she watched him and then moved
her hand up to cover her mouth as the sip she took threatened to spill out.
She swallowed her sip and bit her lip again, looking at
Ezra, patiently waiting for him to go on. He opened his mouth, the corner
dipping up in a slight smile, and stared at her for a moment.
Two beats passed between them before he made up his mind.
She was too beautiful and this was taking too long.
“Oh, fuck it,” he said, scooting off the bar stool and
pulling her face to his. He crashed his lips against hers in a passionate kiss
that lit up the room around them. His right hand was buried in her hair, and
his left was pulling her toward him by the small of her back. She leaned into
the kiss with ease, almost falling off her stool, and he could feel her smile
against his lips.
They were standing now, between the bar stools, oblivious to
everyone and everything around them. “Marry me,” he whispered, his breath hot
on her lips. He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and dragged his finger
along her jaw line until it’s bent under her chin. “Please,” he breathed.
Aria looked between his eyes. This was definitely not how
she expected the evening to go, but she wouldn’t change a single thing. She didn’t
say anything at first, but leaned in for another kiss that was just as
passionate as the last. “Okay,” she said between soft kisses. Her smile was
She was full-on laughing by the time she pulled away,
unbelievably giddy, and the happiness on his face made her heart skip. She turned
to the bartender who had a look of utter distaste, which only urged her
laughter on, and said, “Could we get the bill? And a few boxes.”
He was all too happy to oblige. As he walked away, Aria added
quietly (for Ezra’s benefit), “I’ve got dessert waiting for me at home.”
Later that night Ezra got out of bed, leaving Aria snuggled
under the sheets. The chill that came with his absence sent goose bumps over
her sweaty skin. She watched him as he pulled on his boxers and dug through the
scattered clothes on the floor.
“What are you looking for?” she asked through a yawn. “Come
back to bed, it’s late.”
Eventually he found his jacket and dug one hand into each
pocket before finding what he was looking for. In the dark, Aria was unable to
tell what it was. She held back the sheets, and Ezra climbed in next to her.
“I’m realizing, in all the excitement, I forgot a rather
significant portion of the evening,” he said, reaching to the bedside table and
turning on a lamp. It cast a faint glow over the room and allowed Aria to see what
was in his hand.
There, before her was a small black box. She could tell by
the way the velvet was worn that it was old, very old. “Hopefully you don’t mind that we’re doing this in bed,”
he said as he opened the box. “It belonged to my great grandmother, and I want
you to have it.”
“Ezra,” Aria breathed. She pulled the sheet up up so that it
was covering her chest as she scooted into a sitting position and reached for
the box. “It’s beautiful. Are you sure?” She looked at him in disbelief. “This
is an antique.” Her heart was pounding. “It’s the most beautiful piece of
jewelry I’ve ever seen.
“Wes has been holding on to it for me. It’s all yours if
you’ll have it.” He looked at her with sincerity and picked up the ring,
sliding it onto her left hand. “Aria Montgomery, would you do me the honor of
becoming my wife?”
“Yes,” she said, letting the box fall to her lap and
reaching out for his face, bringing his lips forward to meet hers. When they
finally pulled apart, she looked down to the ring on her finger in disbelief.
“How long have you been planning this? Is this why you went to New York?”
“Yes. Wes was home from school for the weekend, and I had no
idea where he’d stashed it. I, uh… I asked him to keep it for me so that you
wouldn’t find it laying around.”
“I don’t snoop through your things, Ezra,” she said, giving
him a playful slap on the knee. “Maybe I used to, a little. But believe it or
not, I’ve grown up a lot since high school.”
“Yeah, well… that’s exactly the reason Wes was keeping it.”
“What do you mean?”
“You were a snoop sometimes…” His laugh sent vibrations
through the mattress and it warmed her heart. She had sincerely missed these
moments with him.
Her voice was hushed as she chose her next words carefully.
“How long has Wes been holding onto this?” she asked. She was nervous of his
answer. Nervous of what it might mean; nervous that it would answer a question that
had been burning at the back of her mind for a long time now…
“I guess it’s been close to six years at this point?” Ezra moved
his hand up to scratch the back of his neck and Aria looked at him in
disbelief. “I think you were around seventeen when I asked Wes to hang on to
it. I wanted to wait until you were older to ask you… but then things… changed…
and, well, it was always yours. It never felt right considering it for anyone
“For Nicole,” Aria said quietly. She mentally kicked herself
for mentioning her name at all, bust especially in front of Ezra, and at a time
like this, but his face didn’t change much and the unease that had started to
rise in her chest was quelled for the moment.
“She would never have taken your place, Aria,” he said,
reaching out and pulling her to him. She settled into his chest, letting her head
rest beneath his chin. Their breathing began to sync and for a moment, Aria wondered
if he’d fallen asleep. “I never stopped loving you, Aria,” he said quietly into
her hair. He placed a small kiss along her part and gave her a gentle
“I never stopped loving you either,” she said. A moment
passed and then she let out a light burst of laughter. “I can’t wait to tell
Ella and Byron. They’re going to kill us both. That or this will put them both
in their grave.”
“No worries there,” he said.
Aria leaned forward out of his arms and turned to face him.
“You didn’t,” she said in disbelief.
“Oh, but I did.”
“You asked my parents? And you didn’t walk away with a black
“Believe it or not, I think your dad might actually be
warming up to the idea of me. But just a little.”
“Man,” she said, leaning back into him. “You must really
“Aria,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her once
again. “I asked your parents for their blessing. I must really love you.”
I laugh every time someone complains about “filler episodes” in Star Wars Rebels. The entire series is filler between the star wars films, that’s literally all it is! If you aren’t interested in character development of the new characters then why are you watching??