Title: Her Knight in Black Leather ~Charlynn~
Summary: It's prom time in Rosewood. Spencer's dreading the big day, and Jason's jealous as hell that Aria's going with Ezra, but the event proves to be a bonding point for the new siblings... and a surprising fairytale for a jilted pretty little liar.
Characters: Spencer Hastings, Jason DiLaurentis, Aria Montgomery, Emily Fields, Hanna Marin (with mentions of Ezra Fitz, A, Aria's parents, Toby Cavanaugh, Alison DiLaurentis, Spencer's family, and Andrew Campbell)
Genre: Drama, Romance
A/N: Again, I'm posting this out of the order in which I wrote my Jaria one shots, but it felt like a fitting time to post it. Although the girls aren't going to prom in the season finale, they are attending a formal event, though, in this story, A's presence is really insignificant. Also, when I write stories about formal events, I tend to actually pick out real dresses for the characters to wear. Knowing that many people enjoy visuals, I've included pictures of the girls' dresses on my site. I tried to stick with their personalities when picking them out, yet give them something different and unique at the same time, something that we've never seen them in before. Enjoy the one shot and, in advance, thanks for reading!
Her Knight in Black Leather
A Jason and Aria One Shot
Prom: that seminal, magical event in every girl's life that she's supposed to look forward to, dream of, fantasize about, and then remember fondly until her dying day.
Spencer Hastings snorted in derision at her own sentimental and totally unrealistic thoughts, angrily pushing yet another gown's hanger as far away from her as it would move on the rack. She was rifling through the dresses without even actually looking at them, frustrated and sad, too, because nothing was turning out the way it was supposed to. And it wasn't just prom which was going to be a disappointment; her entire high school career was spiraling out of control, and she had no power to right it.
Of their small group, she was the only one who had yet to find her prom dress, who was incapable of mustering even the slightest bit of enthusiasm towards the big, end-of-the-year dance. Oh, she had a date. She was actually going with that worm Andrew Campbell who, with every distraction that came Spencer's way, was edging just that much more ahead of her in their race for class valedictorian, but, since she couldn't go with the one she loved – for she was still trying to keep Toby safe, then she'd go with the guy who was most advantageous to all her other goals. Maybe, just once, it would be Andrew who was distracted enough to fall behind on a few assignments. But that – going to prom with someone who wasn't Toby – wasn't even Spencer's biggest issue with the teenage rite of passage. No, what was really bothering her were her fears of A. Every time she closed her eyes at night to go to sleep she saw flashes reminiscent of Carriewith the four of them drenched in blood... only the blood wouldn't be from a pig; it'd be Ali's.
"So, prom, huh?"
Spencer screamed, clutched her chest, and willed her body to relax once again... or, at least, return to a state of mild anxiety rather than full-fledged panic. The voice which had sounded from behind her had been so unexpected and her thoughts so dark...
Whirling around to face the sudden arrival, Spencer railed, "don't do that to me ever again," punctuating the words with shoves against the older guy's chest.
His smile dropped, and his expression became quite serious – too serious, because now she knew he was worried about her. "Hey, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. Are you okay, Spence?"
Immediately, she defended, "I wasn't scared, just startled." Thankfully, he didn't press the issue, though they both knew she was now lying. "And I'm fine."
"Are you sure?" She just glared at him, cocking her head to the side in an impatient gesture. "Okay then." He moved to stand beside her, now mindlessly shuffling through the gowns as well. "I didn't realize you took this kind of stuff so seriously. It seems too... well, too superficial for you."
It was weird sometimes how well he already knew her, especially since she had been acting strange all week – ricocheting between being jumpy and being annoyed, and her parents and Melissa had all failed to notice. Yet, he was around her for thirty seconds and was already getting way too close for comfort. "How I feel or don't feel about prom is immaterial," Spencer declared, making it clear that the subject was closed. Then, turning to the guy beside her, she demanded to know, "what are you doing here, Jason? I highly doubt you're on the hunt for a last-minute dress for prom."
He chuckled, the gesture didn't reach his eyes, though, and he avoided her penetrating, curious gaze. Instead, as he talked, he wandered away from her, walking in between the various racks of formal wear, his hands shoved deep into his jeans pockets. She followed, remaining observant. "I was just, you know... driving by, and I saw your car out front. It'd been a while since we talked, and..." He stopped suddenly, making it so that Spencer nearly collided into his back. Spinning around, Jason faced her, "who's your date?"
And so they were back on thattopic. For a guy who had skipped his own prom, he was way too interested in hers. "Andrew Campbell." She narrowed her eyes, looking at him closely. "If this is you trying to pull the whole big brother routine, it's sixteen years and far too many poor decisions – not to mention joints – on your part too late."
"No, no, I know," Jason was quick to reassure her. Too quick. "I just..." He shrugged, looking sheepish. "What's wrong with me at least caring about what's happening in your life?"
"There's nothing wrong with it except for when I think your motivations aren't pure."
He ignored her and returned to his meandering trip around the store. "So, your friends are all going, too?"
At least he didn't refer to Hanna, Emily, and Aria derisively anymore like he had when they were younger and Ali was still alive. "Yes," Spencer answered.
"And they all have dates as well?"
"Yep," she replied sufficiently. "There will be four couples in our limo. Well, actually, there will be three. Aria's date is meeting her there."
Jason spun around to face her then, the action so harsh Spencer nearly rocked back on her heels. "So, that teacher's finally stepping up and doing what's right by her?"
She was pretty sure they had finally stumbled upon the real reason for Jason's impromptu brother-sister bonding session. Deciding to push him just a little bit further to see if she was right, though, Spencer taunted, "well, you know he is a professor now."
High color stained his cheeks, his green eyes turned nearly black with barely restrained emotion, and Jason tossed some trivial accessory he had been mindlessly fumbling with away as he snapped, "is that supposed to impress me or something, because, from where I'm standing, that guy is a creep."
"Don't let Aria hear you say that," she warned him, though her comment went unheeded, and her recently discovered brother started to rant.
"He hid their relationship for months and for what – because he was ashamed, because he was scared? What kind of man is that? And then, when the truth did come out, he backed down and continued to lie like the coward he is, allowing the woman he supposedly loved to be the one to fight for them, to be the one to confront the repercussions of his actions while he got a job promotion? That's not how you treat a woman like Aria. No, when you're in love, you don't hide your feelings, you don't run away, and you certainly don't allow the rest of the world to think that your girlfriend is available. A relationship is supposed to be a partnership, but that gutless piece of scum has put the entire weight of their actions upon her shoulders to bear alone." Jason shook his head then, his disgust for Ezra so consuming that he could barely talk. "He doesn't deserve her, Spence."
She would have laughed. To see Jason DiLaurentis so worked up, so passionate – and about one of Ali's friends, no less – was so out of character. But maybe not. Quirking her head to the side, she observed the man before her. Maybe this was the real Jason. The idiom 'still waters run deep' sprang to mind. Apparently, there was far more to her half-brother than she had ever given him credit for in the past, and, evidently, all it took was one quirky, artistic Aria Montgomery to bring that depth to the surface. No, she would have laughed – and she probably still would later at home when she recalled just how open and vulnerable Jason had allowed himself to be around her without even realizing it, but she wouldn't laugh in front of him. He did not deserve to be embarrassed over his outburst of honesty, and, quite frankly, he had brought up some relevant points. Sure, his diatribe was heavily laced with jealousy, but that didn't mean that he wasn't right at the same time.
Taking pity on him, Spencer softly revealed, "her parents still don't approve, and they're not allowed to see each other, but Aria convinced Fitz that her prom is worth the risk. I guess they're not going to be flagrant about it. Like I said before, he's meeting her there – and probably late, too. They're going to share a couple of dances, watch Hanna no doubt be crowned prom queen, and then skip out early."
"She shouldn't have to meet her date there, and she shouldn't have to miss even a single second of her own prom."
"You know that, and I know that, but, if Aria's okay with it, then there's nothing we can do."
"Why," Jason asked then, glancing up at her imploringly. There was a desperate note to his voice. "Why does she stay with him? Why does she think he's worth everything that she's sacrificing? Is she in love with him?"
Realizing that other shoppers were looking at them curiously, Spencer grabbed Jason by the hand and led him towards the back of the store. There, she took a seat, leaning against the wall, and he soon followed. Side by side, the newly revealed brother and sister pair continued to talk.
"Aria's been through a lot this past year," she told him slowly, picking and choosing her words carefully as she waded through the mess their lives had become. "We all have," Spencer added. "But Aria's so loyal, Jason... as you've probably already figured out for yourself, and I guess, in his own way, Mr. Fitz... Erza has been there for her. I think, for a while, he was her safe place, the place where she could hide when everything else in her life was falling apart. Plus, she pursued him, and, in Aria's eyes, he risked everything to be with her."
Jason snorted derisively. "Of course she was the aggressor in that relationship."
"Well, as you like to point out with your little nickname for him, he was her teacher. He could have lost his job, gone to jail."
"All things he was well aware of when he made the decision to continue their relationship," he argued. "If he wasn't prepared for the consequences, and if he wasn't ready to be the type of boyfriend that she deserved – one that would date her open and honestly, then he shouldn't have ever agreed to be with her in the first place."
She really didn't know how to respond to his final statement, and maybe that was okay; maybe there wasn't anything she could say. Dragging her from her silent thoughts, Jason stood then, holding out a hand to help her to her feet as well. Once they were both standing, he thoughtfully watched her for several moments before grinning sadly. "Wear red," he told her. "You're a beautiful, intelligent, compassionate young woman, Spencer. Don't hide in some drab color because you think it's more appropriate or because you think red suits one of your friends better. Be bold. Have fun. Give 'em hell."
Surprising neither of them more than herself, Spencer laughed – not because Jason was giving her fashion advice but because, for the first time since she and her friends had started even thinking about prom, she felt a smidgeon of excitement. Plus, she also recognized that his advice was Jason's way of thanking her for talking to him, for listening to him, for keeping his confidence without even having to be asked to. And she laughed because, illegitimate half brother or not, she was starting to suspect that he was the only person she was related to who actually cared about her. Combined, the three realizations left her feeling slightly unbalanced. She didn't know how to react, so she just laughed.
: / :
She was in red, Hanna was in gold, Emily was wearing orange, and Aria was in tears.
Oh, her friend was doing her best to play her disappointment off as nonchalant as possible, spending most of the evening off by herself in the bathroom or an empty classroom, but they all knew how crushed she really was. Aria just didn't want to ruin their night, too, but how were they supposed to enjoy themselves when one of their best friends had been stood up by her boyfriend, when Ezra had failed yet again to be the guy Aria gave him credit for, the kind of guy she really deserved? The bottom line was that, without Aria, they wouldn't have fun anyways, especially knowing how miserable she was.
So, Spencer had ditched Andrew – her plan to woo him into distraction a colossal failure, quickly filled Hanna and Emily in on her plan, and then hunted down the missing fourth member of their close group, a task which had proven easier said than done, for Spencer had hunted in all the places which might have reminded Aria of Ezra, only, instead, she found her in the gym, staring tearfully at the basketball she held clutched in her hands.
"Okay, who are you, and what did you do with my friend Aria?"
Aria didn't answer, didn't even acknowledge Spencer's attempt at humor... not that Spencer could blame her. Instead, she posed a question of her own, "he's really not coming, is he?"
She waited to respond until she was standing beside the shorter brunette, the only sound between them her high heels clicking against the wood floor of the old, practice gym. Side by side, shoulder touching shoulder, Spencer leaned over until her head was resting on top of Aria's in what she hoped was a compassionate, sympathetic gesture. "No, sweetie, he's not."
Aria sniffled. "He promised me, you know. And I realize that it shouldn't matter so much. It's just one night that never really lives up to any girl's fantasies anyway, but just once I wanted to be a normal sixteen year old in love with her boyfriend, you know? I wanted him to wear a cheap, rented tux, and I wanted him to give me some corny corsage, and I wanted him to fetch me punch while you, Hanna, Emily, and I gossiped together in a corner about everyone else's dresses and dates."
"We can still do that – the gossiping part," Spencer assured her. "And trust me, Andrew will make a good errand boy. He's... responsible, dutiful."
"Aw, Spence, you make him sound like a golden retriever."
She considered that for a moment. "That's actually a fairly accurate comparison." Finally, Aria laughed. Though she could still hear the sadness in her friend's tone, there was genuine warmth and humor there, too. Knowing that she could give Aria that made Spencer feel even better about herself than the kick-ass red dress she had picked out per Jason's advice. Speaking of which... "Hey, Aria," she posed, lifting her head and moving so that she could stand in front of the shorter girl. "Just why exactly are you in the gym holding a basketball anyway?"
"It's a long story."
"Well, then, give me the Spark Notes version," Spencer instructed.
Aria giggled once more. "Spencer, you've never read Spark Notes in your life. I'm kind of surprised you even know what they are."
"I'm friends with Hanna. Of course I know what Spark Notes are," she quipped. "And you can just fill in all the details later when you spend the night at my house."
"Wait, no," Aria immediately argued. "I don't want you to change your plans just because mine fell through."
"Please. Like I'd really want to go to yet another of Noel Kahn's parties and risk having someone spill beer all over my dress."
With wide, earnest eyes, Aria agreed with her, "it is an amazing dress." And then the two girls, in the way that only best friends can with each other... or so Spencer believed, giggled. After a moment, Aria continued, "I have to say, though, Spence, I was kind of surprised by your choice. It's so..."
"Bold," she supplied, smirking at the knowledge that she was using Jason's word choice.
"Well, I really can't take the credit for it. Someone actually gave me the idea."
"Really," Aria questioned, sounding slightly surprised. "Who?"
"Jason." Spencer expected for Aria to tease her about her revelation, perhaps even once more bring up the fact that she had kept the truth of her sibling connection with Ali's brother a secret for so long, but, instead, her friend turned a bright, obvious crimson, her dark, wide gaze quickly skittering away from Spencer's penetrating one. "So, that's why you're in the gym holding a basketball! It has something to do with Jason?"
Aria rolled her eyes, but she still explained. "Right after he came back to town, I ran into him at the park. He was... playing basketball."
"And I was looking for Mike... who, by the way, wasn't there."
"And what," Aria asked innocently. Too innocently.
"And, if Jason was just playing basketball and you were only there long enough to determine that your brother wasn't, then this memory wouldn't hold any meaning for you, and you definitely wouldn't be in the gym on prom night holding a basketball."
In a whisper, she revealed, "he told me he missed my pink hair."
Spencer had to acknowledge that what her half-brother had said to her friend had been sweet, and it probably meant even more to Aria because the pink hair had represented far more than just a phase in the shorter brunette's life. It had been Aria's way to individualize herself, to express that she was special, and unique, and original during a time when everyone else in their group was doing whatever they could to mold themselves into Ali's vision.
But that still didn't mean that Aria wasn't holding something else back. "And," Spencer pressed one last time.
"Fine," Aria tossed up her hands in defeat, the basketball going with them. Second later, it landed with a decisive thump against the gym floor, its subsequent bounces not nearly as loud. "He was shirtless. When I saw Jason playing basketball, and he complimented me, and we sort of, kind of, maybe flirted a little bit, he was shirtless. Are you happy now?"
Pretending to think about her answer, she bit her lip and looked briefly at the ceiling. "Actually, yes, I am." Aria shoved her then, playfully. "Come on," Spencer suggested, slinging an arm over her friend's shoulders and leading her out of the gym, down the hall, and towards where the pulsating prom music was blaring like a beacon, calling out to them. "Let's go see how much money we can make charging underclassmen for the privilege of hiding under your skirt."
"Okay, so maybe that was Hanna's idea, but I must admit that I was impressed by her entrepreneurial streak."
They giggled together until they walked back through the doors which led to the strobe lights, gyrating bodies, and the overabundance of perfume and cologne that was prom, and it was like suddenly the power switch inside of Aria had been turned off. Spencer watched as her best friend immediately teared up again, her shoulders drooping, though she was quick to chastise herself.
"No," Aria denied her own emotions. "I've wallowed enough. I've allowed Ezra to ruin my relationship with my parents, to jeopardize our friendship, and to practically steal from me my entire junior year of high school. But no more. He can't have prom, too."
"Hey, now, that's the spirit," Spencer cheered her on.
Aria turned back around to face her, pointing to her slightly smudged makeup and puffy eyes. "Help," she begged. And immediately the two of them set to work, Spencer opening up her tiny yet expertly packed clutch to reveal an entire arsenal, everything and anything Aria might need or want to hide the evidence which revealed how she had spent the first part of her evening. As Aria worked her magic, Spencer held up a small compact mirror for her friend, the two of them hidden in the shadows of an out of the way corner.
"Oh my god."
"What," Aria asked, sounding worried. Spencer couldn't answer her, though. She was too stunned, too excited... and too proud to talk. "Spencer, what? You're scaring me here. Is my dress ripped? Did a bird poop in my hair earlier, and I just didn't notice it? Did my..."
"Shut up, give me my bag, and smile."
Aria stood up straight, caught off guard by Spencer's short, staccato demands. "Excuse me?"
"I can't believe... I just..."
Her best friend stage-whispering her name in such a desperate tone finally brought her back to the present. Meeting Aria's equally curious and frightened gaze, she grinned widely. "Hold onto your glass slippers, Cinderella, because Prince Charming just made it to the ball."
Immediately, Aria spun around, and Spencer slipped off so that she could watch her reaction without intruding. The nod she received in recognition of her gesture was all the thanks she needed... or, more accurately, it was the first genuine smile of the night upon her friend's lips which really made everything – stepping aside, even her own crummy prom night – worth it.
She watched as Jason leaned down, his face naturally fitting along the side of Aria's neck as he whispered, "you look beautiful." And he was right, too. While Aria was always pretty, and while her dress was amazing, it wasn't until Jason showed up that her true, inner beauty started to shine through that night. It made Spencer question if their connection had been there all along and that she, Hanna, and Emily – but mainly her – had been so quick to judge and condemn Jason that they had never realized just how good he and Aria were and could be together. To think that her friend's pain from that evening could have been avoided if they had all been just a little more supportive of her relationship with Jason... Well, it yet again made Spencer ashamed of how she had treated her half-brother for so long.
She was so lost in her own thoughts that she missed seeing her friend and recently discovered sibling make their way unto the dance floor, but, when she looked up, she found them totally engrossed in each other. Aria had her arms wrapped around Jason's shoulders, her fingers curling through the hair at the nape of his neck, while Jason had his arms circled low around her waist, his own digits finding the silky smooth, bare skin of Aria's back, and even from a distance Spencer could see that he was lightly caressing her as they swayed slowly together to the music. They weren't talking. Instead, Aria's head was resting right about where Spencer imagined her friend could faintly make out the rhythmic stirrings of Jason's heart beneath her ear, and Jason's face had once more found its place in the crook of Aria's neck.
"Spencer, your phone's buzzing," a newly arrived Emily informed her as both she and Hanna joined Spencer in watching Jason and Aria dance together.
Hesitantly, she reopened her clutch, fearing that, when she pulled out her cell, the short-lived bubble of bliss would be popped by a text from A. So, when she found that, instead, she had received a text from Jason, she sighed in relief. Then, when she started to read the message out loud, she chuckled, realizing yet again how well he knew her.
"I knew the three of you – you, Hanna, and Emily – would be dying to know what had happened, so I figured I'd text you before I come inside. I found Henry Higgins..."
She snorted in laughter, while Hanna complained, "who the hell is Henry Higgins?"
"I'll explain later, Han, but I guess that's Jason's new nickname for Ezra. Anyway," and she returned to the text. "I found Henry Higgins with his nose buried in some dusty book while he waited in line for his chinese food, sweater vest and all. When I confronted him about Aria and prom, he blustered that it wasn't any of my business, that I should just leave her alone, and that it wasn't the right time for them to be so open with their relationship, and that Aria understood. So, I punched him, cancelled my own order, and now I find myself nervous as hell standing outside the school. I didn't even go to my own prom. Now, here I am crashing my little sister's."
"Well," Hanna remarked in her typical snarky, Hanna fashion. "That explains the t-shirt, jeans, and leather jacket. Couldn't he have at least stopped at home to change first?"
Emily piped up. "Aria doesn't seem to mind."
"Of course she doesn't," Spencer agreed, smiling widely. She was happy for her friend, impressed by Jason, and more than slightly terrified of the future make-out sessions she was no doubt going to unwillingly be made witness to thanks to the couple dancing before them. "Because her knight in black leather arrived just in time."