Title: Clarity by Assumption
: PG
: When A sends Aria a cryptic note, she jumps to conclusions, only to learn a big secret and to reveal one of her own.
: Aria Montgomery, Jason DiLaurentis, Spencer Hastings, A (with mentions of Ezra Fitz, Toby Cavanaugh, Alison DiLaurentis, Emily Fields, Hanna Marin, Melissa Hastings, Ian Thomas, Wren Kingston)
: Drama, Romance, Comedy
: Complete.
: As pre-warned, I'm continuing my naughty streak. So far, I've written six Jaria one shots, though this is only the second to be posted. And there will probably be more. I adore them, they're a welcome distraction for me right now, and nothing else is really brewing for the muse, so we're going to let her dictate what gets written for a while. Also, Happy Leap Day! I thought a new Jaria one shot would be an excellent way to commemorate the occasion. Enjoy!


Clarity By Assumption
A Jason and Aria One Shot

Aria really needed to figure out how she always managed to find herself in such ridiculous situations.

For some reason, when dealing with her life, the cause never quite equaled the effect. Take her present mess: A (Aria) plus B (typical Bitchiness from her favorite psycho stalker, A) should not have equaled C, Creeping around her best friend's back yard, but there she was anyway, dressed in cliched suburban spy-wear: a black hoodie, dark jeans, and flat boots which were supposed to be stealth but actually kept making an obscene amount of noise every time she stepped on a fallen twig or rustling pile of loose, leftover leaves. If she wasn't there trying to catch Spencer doing something illicit, then she would have been tempted to inform her friend that, for all the money she knew Mr. and Mrs. Hastings spent on having their yard professionally maintained, they needed to find themselves a new and improved gardener. Too bad Spencer would have been more interested in the fact that, apparently, Aria didn't trust her.

But she did – trust Spencer... only did she?

Thirty minutes ago, if someone would have asked her that question, she unequivocally would have responded positively. Of course she trusted her friend! Spencer had always been there for her, for all of them. They watched each other's backs, protected one another, but now she was watching Spencer for an entirely different reason, and it was all A's fault.

It was always A's fault.

Realistically, Aria knew that she should have immediately dismissed the taunting text. After dealing with A for months, she knew that their harasser could not be trusted. A was manipulative. A was a liar. A was vindictive, and cruel, and heartless. A was just like Ali, and, for a short time, she, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily had all been Ali's little clones, her minions, and perhaps that's why Aria found herself spying on Spencer that evening. It wasn't so much that she trusted A more than she trusted Spencer; she just knew that, beneath their friendship, they were all capable of things that were less than upstanding and kind. Plus, Spencer did have a past, a track record... as A's text had so glibly reminded Aria just twenty minutes before.

Dear Delusional Aria, Don't look now, but bestie Spencer is up to her old tricks again, only this time she's not stabbing Melissa in the back. Don't say I never warned you. ~ A

There were so many innocent explanations as to what A's text might have meant. Aria knew that. Hell, for several moments after reading the taunting missive, she had stood in the middle of her bedroom, listing them off in her mind. Plus, A loved to play games with them. She had no doubt that one of A's main goals was to eventually drive a permanent wedge between the four friends. Despite this, though – despite all the common sense in the world, Aria simply couldn't dismiss A's words. They rang in her mind as she called Spencer, wanting to check in with her friend only to have her call immediately directed to Spencer's voicemail. They pounded in her thoughts as she quickly changed her clothes, telling herself that she was just going over to Spencer's to make sure that the other girl was alright and not because she actually thought she'd catch her friend in the wrong. They cackled in her heart when she skidded to a graceless stop in Spencer's backyard after realizing the girl in question was home, passionately talking with / yelling at / fighting with / glaring at someone else who was in the room with her.

No matter what she did, though, Aria couldn't get a good look at Spencer's companion, and the Hastings' house was far too insulated and in too good of condition for her to actually hear anything through the shut windows. She slinked across the back yard, hidden in the shadows and using the cover of trees to further cloak her presence. For once, luck was on her side, the moon's milky illumination remained hidden behind a nasty, turbulent cloud cover. It was going to storm soon, and, if the heated confrontation occurring before her was any indication, Aria knew that the tempest wouldn't be limited to just outside... and that wasn't even taking into consideration who Spencer was arguing with. If A's text was to be believed – and the more Aria saw, the more convinced she was that Spencer was hiding something or, more precisely, someone from them, then her friend was now involved yet again with someone who didn't belong to her. Maybe the four of them were no longer under Ali's control, but that didn't mean that any of them had forgotten the lessons she had taught them. If they were wronged, especially by one of their own, there would be hell to pay. Aria just could't figure out who exactly Spencer had betrayed.

As she watched – cocking her head to the side, re-angling it in the hopes of getting a better vantage point, standing up on her tiptoes in the hopes that a few extra inches would make all the difference, Aria quickly went through a mental list of all the significant others in their lives. First, of course, for her, there was Ezra, but Spencer had a type, and sweet and innocent, laid back and (okay, she could admit it) slightly boring Ezra was not it. Then there was Caleb, but Aria knew that his relationship with Hanna was solid. Even if Spencer had a penchant for going after other people's boyfriends – alright, Melissa's boyfriends, that did not mean that Caleb would ever cheat on Hanna. Finally, there was Maya, but talk about not being Spencer's type...

Then again, Aria mused silently to herself, biting on her bottom lip, Spencer had been acting really strangely recent. Okay, so maybe not strange in an 'I suddenly like girls now' way, but she had been even more distant and closed off than normal. And then there was that whole week long slumber party at Aria's house, and Spencer had refused to explain to her just why she couldn't go home. But there were only so many options, and as far as she knew – unless someone in their group had a secret relationship going on the side, she had exhausted all of them.

"Four girls and only two guys," Aria whispered to herself, softly shaking her head in slight disbelief. "We really need to get out more."

And that's when everything changed. All of a sudden, Spencer was no longer shouting; she was crying. She transformed from an avenging Athena into just a tearful girl, just as vulnerable and scared as everyone else. For a moment, looking at her friend, Aria was taken aback. It had been a long time since she had seen Spencer so shaken, so... open and devastated. In fact, Aria wasn't sure if she had ever seen Spencer look quite so destroyed – not when Ali went missing, not when Ali's body was found, not even when they had been arrested. It was the proof she needed to finally convince her that A's text had not been in jest, because Spencer would never lay herself bare for just anyone. No, for Spencer Hastings, the ultimate act of intimacy was showing one's weaknesses.

Aria had barely recovered from her first realization when the second came barreling right into her, making her stumble backwards several steps as a searing, white-hot streak of jealousy flared low in her gut and then exploded outwards. Neck stiff and proud, spine ramrod straight, and fingers fairly trembling with unreleased fury, she watched as Spencer's companion finally was revealed as her best friend walked straight into the waiting, welcoming arms of Jason DiLaurentis.

She didn't need to see anymore.

Pivoting, Aria ran into the night, blindly disappearing into the woods of Spencer's backyard. She had no idea where she was going; she just knew that she couldn't stand there even a second longer and watch Jason and Spencer together. It – they– didn't make sense, but, more than that, Aria knew that, if she had remained, she wouldn't have been able to restrain her fury, and she would have confronted her friend, demanding answers... that is if she even would have been capable of speaking, something Aria wasn't too sure about at that point. More likely, she would have slapped Spencer across the face and then broken down in tears, the order of her reactions potentially reversed depending upon how long it would have taken her to make her way inside of Spencer's house.

"Aria," a voice from behind her asked – a voice she so did not want to hear in that moment. Then again, though, she realized as she glanced at her surroundings... which just so happened to be Jason's front yard, if she didn't want to talk to Jason, listen to Jason, confront Jason, why had it been her instinct to run to his house after fleeing from Spencer's yard? "What are you doing here?"

She whirled around to face him, and he could apparently read the anger in her gaze, because he took an unsteady step back. "I could ask you the same thing," she responded, refusing to answer his question. "After all, shouldn't you still be with Spencer?"

"How did you... were you spying on us?"

She huffed, snorting with derision. "You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Words were coming out of her mouth, and she had no idea from where they were originating or how to stop them. Her thoughts were all over the place, and her accusations were even more chaotic, even more ludicrous. Nothing made sense anymore. In a matter of seconds, Spencer and Jason had managed to tear down everything Aria had believed and replace it with... rage, self-doubt, and frustration, and the worst part was that her reaction shouldn't have been merited by the situation, but, at the same time, she felt totally and completely justified in her fury.

To make matters worse, in the face of her ire, Jason merely smirked, folding his arms – the same arms which had just been wrapped so securely around her best friend – across his chest. "Maybe."

"Maybe," she repeated, her voice loud and slightly shrill. Running quivering fingers through her hair, the digits catching in knots and pulling painfully against her scalp. The physical pain just seemed to reinforce the whirlwind of emotional turmoil she was struggling under, though. "Maybe! What the hell's that supposed to mean, Jason?"

"Well, the last time I checked," he replied smoothly, calmly, "maybe meant perhaps or possibly."

She stalked across the yard, stopping just mere inches from the smug man across before her. "Don't," she warned him, eyes wide and blazing with wrath. "Don't play games with me."

"I'm not the one who's supposedly unavailable yet at some other guy's house in the middle of the night."

"That's not what this is about," Aria snapped back.

"Alright then," Jason automatically agreed with her. "Then tell me what this is about."

"It's about you... and her... and me..." At first, she struggled to find the words to explain herself, but then, in a bitter torrent of animosity and resentment, they came tumbling forth, one right on top of the other so fast that it was a miracle Jason could even understand her.

"God, Jason, Spencer hated you. In her eyes, you were this... waste of space. And then you became her number one suspect. Everything you've done since you've moved back to town – hell, the fact that you moved back at all – made her suspicious of you. She thought you were dangerous, violent, mean. She thought that you were capable of hurting your own sister, that you were sheltering Ian, that you were going to hurt me. She used to watch you constantly, and even now, I don't think she trusts you... or, at least, I didn't think that she trusted you until tonight. And, poor Toby! She broke up with him to keep him safe, to protect him against... this mess that is our lives now, and what does she do? Five minutes later, she hooks up with you. He's going to be devastated! And don't even get me started on the fact that, of all the guys in Rosewood, she went after you, but I should have seen it coming. First Ian and then Wren, but they were Melissa's boyfriends. I never thought she'd do this to..." me.

As realization dawned, as Aria comprehended the fact that what she was feeling was the betrayal of a woman who has had her boyfriendstolen out from under her by her best friend, she stopped herself, hoping that Jason didn't finish her last sentence in his mind as well, because Jason wasn't her boyfriend. In fact, after she shot shot down his advances, they had barely spoken to one another, and now she was acting all possessive, all...

"You're jealous," Jason remarked, interrupting her thoughts. He was grinning widely, and, with his announcement, her eyes went wide and her mouth fell open in astonishment – not that he would jump to that conclusion but that he was right.

Before Aria could react, Jason sauntered towards her. His hands wrapped around her face, cupping her jaw; pushing her hair away from her eyes, from her cheeks; and tilting her head back so that she was forced to meet his gaze... only his eyes weren't looking into her own but, instead, were locked directly upon her mouth, a mouth that was only too willing for his touch which soon followed. There was nothing gentle, or soft, or even sweet about Jason's kiss the second time. He demanded her acquiescence, and she granted it easily. His lips were bruising in their intensity; his tongue quickly meeting her own as he taunted, tempted, and teased her into submission; and his teeth nipped at her lips, nearly drawing blood. Aria lost herself in his taste, in his flavor, and, as they continued to kiss, she knew that she never wanted to be found again. Jason stole the very breath from her mouth and locked it away deep inside of his own chest.

And then it was over.

He pulled away, ripping his lips from her own, and she nearly whimpered at the loss of him. Though he didn't remove his hands from her face, without his mouth taking her own over, and over, and over again, Aria suddenly felt cold. Breathing heavily, Jason placed his forehead against hers for a brief moment before lifting away and meeting her gaze. That infuriating, gorgeous, personality defining smirk of his was back on his kiss-swollen lips when he told her, "you're cute when you're jealous." He punctuated the statement by rubbing his nose against her own. "But you have nothing to worry about. Spencer's not my girlfriend," Jason assured her, taking one, then two, and then finally three steps away from her. "She's my sister."

Five minutes later, Aria was still standing in Jason DiLaurentis' front yard, her jaw slack with shock and dumbfoundment, hands hanging limply at her sides, his amused laughter from when he had walked away long before still echoing in her ears.

"Holy crap," she muttered to herself before finally starting the trek back home.

Suddenly, things had just gotten so much more complicated... and Aria wasn't just talking about the Hastings' family tree either.