only ezra

3

           PAY                                             YOUR                                       DUES

Guys, space pyjamas. Space pyjamas! 
They do exist!

I really hope Hondo and Maul meet again in Rebels

Maul: I don’t believe it. 

Hondo: *Nervous sweating* ah, my friend, my friend! It is good to see you!

Maul: No, I mean, I am legitimately surprised you haven’t been murdered.

Hondo: Well, you know me! How is your brother?

Maul:

Hondo:

Maul: *ignites lightsaber*

Ezra: HONDO RUN

An EngAgement

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.”

“All right.”

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 his voice.

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 piece.”

“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 text message.

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 answer.

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 here.”

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.

“What?”

“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 shared. 

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 now.”

“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 have time.”

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 Aria.

“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, didn’t you?”

“Something like that,” she said, winking.

Ezra looked at her for a minute, enjoying the silence between them.

“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 them.

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 her wrist.

“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 way. 

“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 in Depends.”

“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. Don’t interrupt.”

“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 them.

“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 uncontainable.

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 else.”

“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 squeeze. 

“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 eye?”

“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 like me.”

“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??