I know it's been a year and a half since an update… But before reading, I suggest you read the authors note I put on my profile! Thanks! Also, as a refresher, read through the story again. I've edited the old chapters, improved upon them and such… Now enjoy the long awaited chapter of 5:00!
Later that afternoon
"James, grab me a beer!" Hardy called from Ezra's couch, to which James dutifully did. It'd been his job all afternoon to fetch beers for Ezra, Hardy and Toby when they called for it. The kid was delighted to be a part of a 'boys day' and to be the official 'beer grabber'.
Not to mention he'd asked when he could have his own beer. They all laughed and said he had to be at least twenty five before he could have a drink.
Ezra smiled; he knew that he spent a lot of time with his aunts, to be around this many adult guys wasn't something he was used to, and Jamie was loving it.
"I don't know who spoils him more," Ezra remarked, taking a sip of his beer. "Us, or the girls…"
Toby and Hardy laughed. They knew that they'd given him more chocolate than a four year old probably ever should have, and Ezra even let him have a little bit of root beer, something he and Aria normally tried to avoid.
But if the adults got to have some beer, than Jamie got to have something special too.
"Thanks Jamie." Hardy said as he got the beer.
The two got on wonderfully; all afternoon Hardy had been explaining how baseball worked. They'd been watching the Phillies versus Blue Jays and every time the guys cheered, Jamie wanted to know exactly what was good that had happened.
"It's going, it's going-"
"Gone!" Jamie shouted, waving his hands over his head.
The ball sailed into the stands, the second home run of the day, making it 7-1 for the Phillies.
Hardy lifted Jamie over his head, running him around the apartment in celebration. Ezra chuckled as he watched his son burst into a fit of giggles.
"Toby, no texting." Ezra said sarcastically. Toby and Hardy had given him shit earlier for responding to one of Aria's texts.
"Boys day", they'd said before proceeding to wrestle Ezra to the ground to take his phone. He could hear the occasional buzz coming from the other side of Hardy, but every time it did Jamie would shake his head fervently before adamantly stating that there were no girls allowed, even if they were texting.
Another buzz went off as Hardy put Jamie back down on the couch.
Toby chuckled sarcastically and tucked his phone in his pocket. "Why don't you take your own advice."
Taking a swig of his beer, Ezra shrugged. "I haven't texted back, not my fault."
"Daddy, you and momma text so much." James said, drawing out the 'so'. "I mean, me and my girlfriend don't even talk that much."
All three of the guys chorused sounds of surprise.
"A girlfriend, Jamie? Wow, when did you become a ladies' man?" Toby asked poking him in the stomach.
"Clearly not from his Dad." Hardy laughed. Ezra let out a sarcastic chuckle before taking another draught of his beer, effectively finishing it off.
"Well, me and her held hands once so I think she's my girlfriend. Plus we play together sometimes." A perplexed look came across the little boy's face; his eyebrows knitted together tightly and he looked at his hands. "You and Momma hold hands and kiss. I don't wanna kiss though. That's gross."
"Tell you what Jamie, let's not tell your mom about this. Keep this between the guys, okay? She'll have a heart attack." Ezra ruffled his son's hair. "And no kissing, you're right. Too many cooties for someone your age."
James furrowed his little eyebrows and nodded.
"Exactly. Like beer. No kissing till twenty five."
They all laughed, before turning their attention back to the baseball game and idly chatting. A few minutes later, Ezra's head snapped to the other side of the room when his phone started buzzing consistently.
"Now I know that we said no texting, but phone calls are different, okay?" He looked at Hardy and Toby who shrugged, and reached for his phone.
"Hi babe." Aria said sweetly on the other line. "How's your day been?"
Ezra leaned back in his chair, smiling at the sound of her voice. It never failed to make him happy to know she was back in his life.
"It's been great. We've spent the whole day doing nothing but catching up, drinking and watching sports. Typical guys day."
Aria laughed on the other line "You and sports? Really?"
"Hey!" Ezra said, mock defensively. "I watch sports. On occasion. Like today. This is an occasion."
Aria made a skeptical noise on the other line.
"Whatever you say Ezra." She teased. "Anyways, do you mind if I spend the night at your place? I can come by after Toby and Hardy leave? We can order Chinese? James will be thrilled."
Ezra's attention was momentarily distracted by the baseball game; Toby, Hardy and James all had their arms up in the air, cheering. Philadelphia was up another run. He smiled as James gave a high five to each Hardy and Toby.
"Sounds great, baby. I'll text you once we're done here, okay?"
"Okay, see you later. Love you."
"Love you." He said before hanging up.
A couple hours later, James and Ezra were cleaning up the apartment. James was in charge of cleaning up the empty beer bottles while Ezra was tidying up the empty pizza boxes and straightening out the living room.
"Daddy, you and Hardy are best friends, like me and Cooper, right?" James asked as he put the final beer bottle by the front door.
"Yep, we've been best friends since college. That was a long time ago buddy, in case you were wondering."
He watched as James walked over to him, a look of concentration on his face. For a couple moments, he didn't say anything; he just stood at Ezra's feet, pondering whatever his little head was cooking up.
"So, like Auntie Nan and momma, you guys have been friends forever. So… Shouldn't that make Hardy my uncle?"
Ezra smiled. James and Hardy got along better than he'd anticipated. Hardy had always been the stereotypical bachelor; never with a girl for longer than necessary, never thought about settling down and having kids. He was enjoying life, more career oriented than anything. Ezra couldn't count how many times he'd heard Hardy say that he never wanted kids.
Yet with James it was different; he favoured the little boy. Ezra didn't blame him; it was hard to not favour Jamie once he'd wrapped his tiny hands around your heart.
"Well Jamie, if you want to call him Uncle Hardy you can, I'm sure he's more than okay with that."
James nodded enthusiastically, a giant smile taking up his tiny face.
"Okay daddy!" With an excited jump on the couch he ran back over to the kitchen table and resumed work on the drawing he'd started before they cleaned up.
Ezra looked over; it was of him and Rex. The two were almost inseparable, it took James heavy convincing that no, they couldn't bring him grocery shopping, or to school, or to the movies. Tyrannosaurus Rex was pretty much housetrained by now; he was okay with staying by himself at the house, although this particular day he was staying at Ella and Byron's for the night.
Just like James, Rex was hard not to love.
Time went by quickly after the cleaning was done. Ezra sat down on the couch and pulled out a book while James coloured. Occasionally he looked up to watch his son at work. It was funny how he looked like Aria when she was doing something creative.
She always told him that James looked like him when he concentrated, but whenever he was focused, all Ezra could see was Aria's features in their son.
Ezra looked to the door as Aria pushed in, her hands filled with bags of Chinese food.
James ran to her and before giving her a hug, pulled one of the bags out of her hands to carry. Ezra got up as well and took another, splitting the work load.
He placed a kiss on her forehead before swinging the bag onto the counter. James was trying to reach, put his bag on top as well, but he wasn't quite tall enough.
"Hi little man! I heard you had a good day with the boys, watching baseball, must have been fun."
His attention diverted, James dropped the bag of food onto the floor. Thankfully it wasn't too far of a fall, and Ezra was able to pick it up quickly.
"Oh yeah momma, it was the best! Uncle Toby and Uncle Hardy and Daddy and I had so much fun! Uncle Hardy taught me all about baseball. Did you know…"
Aria gave Ezra a smile as she helped him unpack all of the Chinese food while James told her about every rule of baseball he had learned. She and Ezra worked in rhythmic silence, easily navigating around each other while they listened to James.
They worked flawlessly together, knowing exactly what the other needed without saying it.
Sneaking a look at James, who was back at work on his drawing, Ezra planted a quick kiss on her cheek.
"Uncle Hardy now, is it?" She asked in a hushed tone, amused.
Ezra shrugged. "James asked to call him that, don't ask me."
Grabbing three plates, two bigger, one smaller, Aria smiled. Whatever James wanted, she pretty much went with it.
"And if you touch the base before the other guy, he's out! Isn't that cool momma?" James shouted from the kitchen table.
"Very cool! Now, how about you go put that drawing on the desk and wash up for dinner, okay? By the time you get back, it'll be on the table. Ready? Three, two, one…" Without looking the pair of them knew James had taken off.
It was easy now for Ezra, to pick up on the routine that had been established for four years. He no longer had to ask what to do, or what something meant. He knew that countdowns before dinner were generally a common occurrence, or that if Jamie had a nightmare, Aria would let him sleep in her bed with her. Saturday nights generally meant movie night, and ninety percent of the time it meant having to talk James out of watching Finding Nemo, yet again.
It was all new and unfamiliar, but at the same time, it wasn't. To Ezra, it felt like this was always a part of his life. That being James' dad was just a staple of his day to day living. Not like it'd been just over a month of learning to be a dad.
He brushed a piece of hair over Aria's shoulder before grabbing his and Jamie's plates to take to the table.
Things with Aria and James just felt natural. They always had.
After dinner, the trio settled into bed; Aria had brought James his pyjamas and his stuffed dog, along with a pair of pyjama pants for herself. Ezra knew she was going to take one of his shirts, that was pretty much a given.
"I hope Rex is okay." James said sleepily as he cuddled in between Aria and Ezra. His eyes were already drooping; he'd had a long day, filled with excitement and both Aria and Ezra knew it was only a matter of time before he drifted off to sleep.
Aria played with his hair soothingly. "Grandma and Grandpa are taking good care of him, don't worry."
James nodded and curled up into a ball, letting out a small yawn.
Aria and Ezra stayed silent for a handful of minutes, just staring into each other's eyes while Jamie fell asleep.
No conversation was necessary. The silence said everything.
They were both lost in their own minds, waiting in order to talk. Once James was out, he was out like a light. The boy could sleep through a tornado.
Aria bit her lip, lost in Ezra's eyes. She was thinking about earlier in the day, when she'd taken that pregnancy test.
For a second she thought she'd wanted the kid. Another chance to do things right. Logically, she knew that wasn't an option right now, what with her new job and just patching things up with Ezra. Instead, she'd have the new Cavanaugh baby to dote on.
Whether or not to tell Ezra, that was the question.
Ezra on the other hand, was waiting for the perfect moment to ask.
It'd been on his mind all day. He knew that she'd probably say yes, but he was nervous about it anyways. He thought back to when the idea had first popped into his head, and the certainty that this was one thing he could do, something that had been left for him to fill even after Aria had left.
His eyes drifted down to James, who was fast asleep. His breathing even, his eyes were still. He was definitely out for the night.
"Aria, I have something to ask you." He whispered.
A confused expression came across her face, but she tilted her head, indicating for him to continue.
"You told me that James has no godfather, and that you thought that it was for me to decide, right?" She nodded. "Well, I was thinking if Hardy could be the godfather. Just seeing how he is with James… It brings out another side in him, and there's no one else I trust more. I mean, I know he's known Caleb and Toby longer, and if you're not okay with it-"
She cut him off with a smile.
"No, I can tell that Hardy is good for him. 'Uncle Hardy' kind of gave it away. Sure, that sounds perfect to me." She whispered.
Very carefully, Ezra moved his arm over James, and reached over to stroke her face.
"Thank you for that."
His thumb lingered on her cheek, feeling the smooth, cool surface of her skin. He loved the feeling; even at night when they were apart if he closed his eyes and focused, he could still feel that feeling. His eyes drifted down to her lips, which were parted slightly.
God she was beautiful, there wasn't a woman alive who could compare, he was sure of it.
When his eyes found their way back to hers, he could see something was wrong.
"Say it." He whispered. There was no sense in pretending there wasn't something on her mind.
Aria closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"I took a pregnancy test today."
Ezra's eyes widened, it felt like the air had been sucked out of him.
Aria shook her head. "It wasn't positive; I was just concerned, what with me being late, and sick for the past couple days. But I just thought that I should tell you. Honesty and all." Her free hand travelled up the length of his arm, settling on top of his. "I don't want to be keeping secrets, or omitting anything from you."
Ezra exhaled in relief. Truthfully the idea scared the shit out of him. He and Aria were always careful when having sex; they had one kid, and Ezra was just getting used to that. Judging from the last time, they needed to be safer than normal.
"It just…" Aria started, but faltered. She took a second to gather her thoughts before continuing. "I am really, really, in love with you Ezra. Things are falling back into place, and sometimes it feels like I never left, you know? Like this has always been the way things are."
"I know. I feel the same way."
Aria let out a quick burst of air. "I'm glad we're on the same page. It's kind of scary, sometimes."
"Sometimes, yeah, it is." Ezra smiled, feeling her rub circles on the back of his palm. "But worth it. Thank you for telling me, I appreciate your honesty. Really."
The knot in her stomach lessened. It was nice, being able to be so open with someone again. After years of lying about A, and then to people about James, or to herself, Ezra felt like a breath of fresh air. He was liberating, and for just a couple moments, she could feel the tension in her body lessen.
She thought about telling him about Spencer, but stopped. She'd reveal it on her own time, and that was one secret she was sure Ezra wouldn't be mad at her for keeping.
She leaned over to kiss him, but realized there was no way to do so without bumping into James.
"Tomorrow." She whispered, contentedly. There would be a tomorrow with Ezra. And a day after that. And a day after that.
Pretty much anything I've needed to say I put in the author's note on my profile, but in case you didn't read it, basically thank you so much for sticking with this story, and I will not give up on it. Drop a review guys, yell at me for not updating in so long, say hi, anything. I'd love your feedback, seriously!