Chapter 17:

"Aria, please pick up," Ezra breathed into his cell phone as he looked out of the window, watching the rain pour down onto the ground. He had fallen asleep a few hours ago, which was when he had last seen his wife. He was woken by the rattling of the house due to the thunder outside. It was beginning to storm horribly outside, and he didn't know where she had gone or how long she had been there. He let out a shaky breath, "I'm starting to really worry, baby, and I need you to call me back as soon as you get this. I love you, Aria." He pressed the end button on his phone and tossed it onto the counter, bringing a hand to his forehead. His hand reached for the remote, flipping to the news channel. Severe storm warnings were flashing back and forth across the screen, detailed with photos.

"Please call me," he whispered to himself, wishing she would drive up in the driveway right now, but she was nowhere to be found. "Please," he looked outside once more, but nothing had changed. His feet shuffled throughout the house as he made his way down the hallway, ready to check on his son. David's eyes were still closed, and his rocket ship blanket was clenched tightly in his fists. Ezra exhaled softly, happy that David was sleeping through this weather. He ran a hand through his soft hair, listening to him breathe deeply as he dreamt. "Buddy, I just don't know what to do anymore," Ezra whispered to his child's sleeping body, "It seems like things have been falling apart around here. I know we will get through it, but I just wish you and your mother wouldn't have to go through all of this stuff. I know she is hurting. I know you are hurting. It hurts me to know you both are hurting. Just a complete mess if you ask me." Ezra touched David's cheek and smiled, "I love you, son."

Aria stuffed her key into the lock of her mother's house, violent tears streaming down my face. The large oak doors creaked as she pushed it open, the cold night air mixing with the warmth of the house. She softly tip toed into the cozy home she had known for years after her parents had split. Now, at age twenty-three, she is coming home to her mother for her to hold her in her arms like a small child, but that is how she feels. The stairs softly squeaked as Aria walked carefully up to her mother's room. The light was off and deep sighs were coming from her direction, but who could blame her? It is, after all, two o'clock in the morning. Who would expect their grown daughter to drive forty miles from her own home in the middle of the night?

"Mom," she whispered as more tears fell. She continued to sleep, due to the fact that her voice was barely audible. Aria gave a soft sigh and found her way to the side of the bed. Her fingers lightly tapped her shoulder, "Mom?"

She opened her eyes and squinted at her daughter, "Aria? Hey, sweetheart. What are you doing over here?" She sat up a little straighter and turned on her bedside lamp. After her eyes adjusted to the brightness, she saw the wetness on her face.

Aria took a deep breath, ready to explain everything to her, but all of her emotions overpowered her, causing only a loud sob to escape. She climbed in bed next to her as she wrapped her arms around her, letting her get it all out. Her fingers ran through Aria's hair a few times, soothing her like she did whenever she was sick or hurt. Guess things never really change. "I'm sorry for coming here, Mom, but I just didn't have anywhere else to go."

"Baby, you are always welcome here," she cooed to her daughter, wiping her eyes, "Always. Now, tell me what's wrong."

"I feel like my life is falling apart," Aria whimpered as she continued, "I'm just so worried about Ezra and David."

"Oh, sweetheart," Ella whispered, rocking Aria back in forth in her lap, "It'll all be alright. This is one of those tough moments in life. You are one of the strongest girls I have ever met. You can handle this."

"What if I can't," she sobbed as more tears fell, "Mom, I don't know if I can handle this anymore. I just want everything back to normal. I want Ezra to not be sick, I want David to not have to worry, and I want us to be bringing a new life into this world." She sniffed as she realized what her life would be like without all of the mess. "It shouldn't have to be this hard."

"But honey," Ella ran her fingers through her daughter's hair, "You cannot give up. Trust me, Aria, you will make it through. This is not the end." Aria nodded her head, and then snuggled into her mother's chest. Ella kissed the side of her head softly, "Just give it time, my angel. Give it time, and I will guarantee that everything will work out just as it is supposed to be. Now, let's get some sleep, okay? We will talk about this in the morning." They lay back onto the mattress as Aria curled into Ella's side. Aria fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow. Ella smiled to herself as she thought of all the times when she was little and they would take long naps together. She had really missed having her baby girl in her arms. "I love you, Aria. To the moon and back."

The morning came, casting a shadowy light across Rosewood. It had stopped storming earlier in the morning, and now all that was left was a light shower drizzling down over the Fitz house. Ezra had finally given into sleep around two o'clock in the morning, unwillingly of course. Currently, he was spread out on the sofa with a phone clutched tightly in his hand. His hair was a mess from tossing and turning all night long, and his body was tensed up from worry. A small hand tapped on his shoulder, causing him to wake. Ezra's eyes opened slowly as his son's face swam into his vision. "Good morning, David."

"Daddy, where's Momma," David asked with a sad face.

Ezra sat up, pulling his son into his arms, "I don't know where your mother is right now, Dave. I'm pretty sure we will be getting a phone call from her at any second."

"Are you sure she didn't leave like you left her a couple months ago," David wondered innocently.

Ezra's heart ripped into pieces, "No, David. I can promise you that your mother would never leave us. She loves you way too much. She might've gone to Aunt Hanna's for a sleepover or something."

"If you say so," David said, placing his head on his father's shoulder.

"I do say so," Ezra confirmed, kissing him on the head, "Don't you worry." David nodded his head in response as he wrapped his arms around his father's neck. Ezra closed his eyes and sighed, wishing everything would be okay. He looked down at his son, "How about I go and cook us some breakfast and put on a movie for you to watch? How does 'The Lion King' sound?"

David smiled up and his dad, "Will you watch it with me?"

"Of course," Ezra exclaimed, "You want to help me make breakfast so I won't have to miss any part if it?"

David grabs Ezra's cheeks and places his forehead to his father's, looking him in the eyes, "Best. Day. Ever."

Ella ran her fingers lovingly through her daughter's hair, wishing she could take all the pain she was feeling away from her. Aria was still sighing softly in her sleep, hopefully dreaming of happy things. Ella was just trying to soak up this moment as much as she could. It had been a while since they had had mother/daughter time, let alone cuddled together. She just wished that the reason for their time together was under different circumstances. Aria began to stir slightly as Ella rubbed her arm softly, "Good morning, baby girl."

Aria sighed softly as she opened her eyes to be greeted by her mother's loving face, "Good morning, Mom." She rubbed her eyes gently and looked out of the window, frowning at the grey sky. "This has been the rainiest summer I have ever had."

"I know," Ella agreed, "The weather has been pretty nasty."

"Mom," Aria looked back to Ella a few minutes later.

"Yes, sweetheart?"

"Do you ever miss the way things used to be," Aria asked, "Do you ever wish you could go back and change the way things worked out between you and Dad?"

"You know, Aria," Ella explained, "I've thought about it. If I could go back, I mean, and a couple of years ago, I would've said yes. However, I have come to realize that it happened for a reason. Sometimes you have to accept things as they are and learn from them. Your father and I did love each other, don't get me wrong, but as time moved along, I realized the man I was married to wasn't the man I had fallen in love with, and to me, he shouldn't have to pretend he is someone else to please me. I didn't have any control over that. Most things in life, you have no control over. You just have to deal with them, and move on, which is exactly what I did. Looking back now, I wouldn't go back, because I wouldn't be who I am today. Everything I have gone through in my life has made me, me."

Aria let her mother's words soak in before speaking once more, "I think I need to go home and talk to Ezra. I'm pretty sure he is really worried about me with the storm last night and all."

"I know you will be fine, Aria," Ella smiled at her daughter and kissed her forehead. "I love you."

"Thanks, Mom," she smiled and hugged her mother, "I love you, too."

Note: I know. I know. It has literally been FOREVER. I have no valid excuses, except for writer's block and preparing my sister's wedding. However, I still should've found time to write. I am very sorry for the wait on this chapter. I know it isn't the most exciting, but it is all I could muster up. It's been so hard for me to write lately. Thank you for being extremely patient. I love you guys.