A/N: I know I usually do this at the end, but it seemed more appropriate to put it at the beginning in this story. The idea for this little fic has been bothering me since episode 1x18. What if Aria had gone to his apartment to end things rather than to fix them? I feel like I need one more chapter to tie things up—but no more than that. This song is based loosely of Taylor Swift's Song The Story of Us. Listen to it-it'll make everything tie together nicely and the next chapter is when the lyrics really come into play.
Because they may not be linked. Six little words had never cut so deeply. Ezra's pessimism after everything we'd been through was a bitter pill to swallow. We'd come so far in the two months since Hanna's accident. To dismiss a future together so easily was to dismiss every time we'd said I love you. However, the anger I felt towards him was little compared to the deep ache that settled in the pit of my stomach. And somehow, the second cut was the deepest.
Yet even so I refused to resign myself to grungy sweats and gallons of chunky monkey. This time around things would be different; they had to be. That evening, as the three of us lay together in Emily's bedroom I allowed myself the only tears I would ever shed over him. Spencer and Emily were supportive and in many ways I was grateful they'd found out about Ezra and I. Being able to spill my guys was far easier than trying to keep everything inside.
"What exactly did he say? I mean-are you sure things are over between the two of you?" Emily brushed damp strands of hair back from my cheek and handed me a tissue. My cell phone buzzed where it lay on the bed, but I didn't pick it up.
Spencer reached over to see who it was and groaned. "It's him—again." I sank lower onto the pillows; that was the sixth time he'd called in the past hour.
"I don't know what happened. One drink with my father and suddenly I'm leaving him for California. It just-I can't make sense of it. But you know something guys? Maybe this is for the best…and this time I'm going to be the one to end it. I can't let him break me again." I sniffled heavily and Spencer handed me another tissue. "I can't."
"Sweetie, I understand you're upset-but are you sure about this? There's just this spark between you two and I can't place it…something tells me that what you two have is rare."
I tossed the used tissues aside and wiped away smeared mascara with one fingertip. "Not helping Spence."
She sighed heavily and cleared the empty pizza box off the bed. "I'm sorry. I just think you should talk to him before you call it quits."
I shook my head in disbelief at her. "I don't want to talk to him, Spencer! I just-" Another sob escaped me and I curled my knees up to my chest.
"Spencer's right, Aria. You're going to hate me for saying this but I think you need to tell him how you feel-even if it is only to end things."
As my tears began to dry anger took the place of my despair. "Fine! Hand me my phone…I'll call him right now."
"In person Aria." Emily took my phone off the bed and tossed it over onto her nightstand.
"Guys, I can't."
The looked at me doubtfully. Emily was the first to speak. "You can and you will. Go take a shower and then you can borrow my car. "
I shook my head. "No…absolutely not. It's already close to one."
"Well, clearly he's still awake. And I'm serious about the shower before you go-you look like…what did Hanna call you the other day?"
A small giggle escaped me and Spencer smiled. "A strung out power puff girl."
"Yeah…you look worse than that right now. Now go!" The two of them shoved me playfully off the bed and towards the bathroom. "And don't stall-or we'll come in after you."
Half an hour later I stood outside his apartment, arms wrapped tightly around myself as I debated if I was going to go through with it. Every touch, every kiss, every word we'd ever shared flashed across my mind and I struggled to reconcile what I needed to do with what I wanted. For the first time in our entire relationship logic won out over my heart. With a deep breath and hands trembling I knocked on his door.
He opened it almost immediately, the relief on his face making what I was about to say even harder to get out.
"Hey, I've been leaving you messages."
"I know. I've been avoiding you." He moved aside and let me into the apartment.
"No. Don't—don't apologize. I just need you to listen and let me get this out."
The door shut quietly with a soft click and he moved to stand before me. "Alright."
My fingers itched to touch him, to smooth the crease from between his brows and kiss away the pained expression he was wearing. But I didn't—I couldn't.
"Ezra, we can't do this anymore—I can't do this anymore." I exhaled a shuddery breath and smiled forlornly at him. "I love you so much that it hurts, but this up and down that we're always on, the uncertainty, the risk, it just isn't worth it if-"
Tears stung my eyes but I blinked them away rapidly. Not here. Not in front of him. "I think it's best if we-" My eyes flickered closed from the pain of what I was about to say. "It's over. I feel like I'm always barely holding us together. Ezra, I can't fix this."
I'd done it. Strangely, the sense of accomplishment I'd been hoping for didn't come. Instead, I felt hollow. Somehow I was sure I'd given up the only thing that'd ever made me completely happy.
He stared at me brokenly for a few minutes, his eyes as glassy as mine. "Aria, you don't mean that. I was an idiot for what I said earlier. Please." He caught my hands within his own and tugged me closer. "I know that things aren't always easy between us, but what we have—we can't just give it up."
"I already have." Pulling away from his grasp, I reached up and drew a hand gently down the side of his face.
How he moved so fast I'll never know, but in seconds I was caught tightly in his embrace, kissing him as if my life depended on it. Suddenly I wanted to erase everything I'd just said and stay the night with him, but I wouldn't—I couldn't.
Breaking away softly, I smoothed an unruly curl back from his forehead, allowing myself one final moment with him.
"I love you." His voice was rough and the words were more of a plea than a statement. "Don't do this."
I shook my head and brushed a wayward tear from my cheek. "I have to." With a pained breath I pulled away from him completely and headed towards the door.
"Aria…" His voice cracked and I fought the urge to turn back to him.
"Goodbye, Ezra." Tears blurring my vision, I fled the apartment, the echo of my heels on the stairwell the only sounds in the dark night.