A Jason and Aria One Shot
For Spencer Hastings, summer break used to mean internships at local newspapers and reading her way through all the recommended and classic book lists, but nothing in her life was the same as it had once been. Now, if she wasn't helping her sister prepare for the arrival of her niece, then she was studying... anatomy, practicing her French, or putting her many yoga lessons to good use. Not only was she and her friends finally free of A – not that she didn't feel horribly for Hanna who was still struggling with Mona's deception and Emily who was still mourning for Maya, but Spencer's parents were even more absentee than usual, distracted with their own issues and Melissa's impending single-parenthood. For once, she was the good daughter, and she was lapping up what that meant: complete trust and an utter lack of supervision.
"Hey, Spence," a voice – a male voice, a very familiar male voice – called from outside her partially closed bedroom door. Moving on autopilot, she scrambled out from underneath the body that was resting in the cradle of her hips, searching frantically for the shirt she had been wearing at some point that day. That was something else that was different about her life, for much of her time was now spent living under the clothing optional rule. "I saw Melissa outside, and she told me you were up here working on baby shower stuff." It was too late, though. Her shirt was officially missing, and her partner in crime was awkwardly looking for a place to hide and coming up empty-handed. Jason, Spencer's newly discovered half-brother, entered her bedroom, totally oblivious and then immediately embarrassed. At least she wasn't the only one. "She said I should just show myself... oh shit!"
Jason immediately swiveled around, facing away from her, and Spencer held an oversized pillow against her bra-clad chest, but, still, the moment was painfully uncomfortable. "I'll just... go," Jason offered, gesturing towards the now open doorway.
"No, stay," Spencer contradicted him. "The damage has already been done. Just let me find my shirt..." Her boyfriend, who had located it, tossed it back to her. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for his shirt, so he had to remain in just his loose-fitting cargo shorts... but it wasn't like his naked chest was something Jason had never seen before, unlike her own. Plus, Spencer's boyfriend wasn't related to Jason either which made a huge difference.
"Uh, hey, Toby," Jason greeted, rubbing his neck in an agitated manner, but her red-faced, mortified boyfriend – why he was more embarrassed than she and Jason were, Spencer was unsure – said nothing in return. "Enjoying your lunch break, I see."
Her half-brother chuckled, turning around when he apparently assumed that she was once again dressed, which she was. "Sorry, sorry," he apologized, though the smirk on his face showed that he was anything but remorseful about the teasing. "It's just, other than filming a how-to video for your sister's guests to show them just how babies are made, I'm not exactly sure that what the two of you were doing would count as working on the shower."
Standing up, Spencer fisted her hands on her hips, pursed her lips in agitation, and glared at Jason. "You better not tell Melissa about this."
"Trust me, the last person I want to talk to is Melissa. The only reason I braved her wrath once already was because I really need to talk to you."
Agitation immediately gone, Spencer asked, "why? What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," Jason was quick to reassure her. "I actually have a favor to ask of you."
"Maybe I should...," Toby gestured towards the door and moved to leave, but Jason stopped him.
"Don't go on my account. This won't take long, and, besides, you still have fifteen minutes of your lunch break left. My house isn't going anywhere." Once Toby stayed put, her newly discovered brother turned back to address her once more. "Anyway, because of my job tutoring at the school and because I'm the only DiLaurentis left in town, I get roped into a lot of different charity events and functions. I don't mind helping out and participating, but it sucks being the only person at these things by himself. So, I was wondering if you wouldn't mind coming with me sometimes? I'll even spring for new dresses for you – whatever you want."
Tilting her head to the side, Spencer observed the man before her, the man Jason had, against the odds, turned out to be. If someone would have told her years ago that the two of them would be having this conversation, she would have accused them of being as high as Jason used to get, but her half-brother had somehow turned his life around, and Spencer was actually glad she had him. And the idea of spending some time with him outside of the rest of her family and away from the pressure of Ali's death was appealing, but, at the same time...
"I have a better idea," she told him, a smug smile curling up the corners of her mouth. "It's one that I think you'll find intriguing as well."
"I'm listening," Jason responded, taking a seat on the back of her red leather chair – a matching, conspiratorial grin lighting up his face.
"Well, you see, you're not the only one stuck attending events stag this summer..."
| \ \ |
She was up in her room, rifling through her closet and looking for something to wear that morning when she heard her mother call out for her. "Aria, can you come here for a minute, please?"
Without protest, she obeyed. Although she and her parents were currently living under a tense yet very much welcome temporary cease-fire, it was tenuous at best, and Aria knew that, if she wanted to maintain at least a modicum of freedom, then she had to toe the line and pick her battles wisely. Disrespecting her mother and refusing to adhere to her command was not one of those battles.
Although she had already showered, Aria had simply tossed her pajamas back on temporarily. Her wet hair was thrown up in a towel, and her face was free of the makeup she would soon paint it with. Barefoot and silent, she moved from her bedroom into the upstairs hallway, from the hallway to the stairs, and then down the stairs where she found her mother waiting impatiently in the entryway, a large, fancy box clasped in her arms and resting against her left hip. If only the expression upon her mom's face was half as intriguing as what was inside of the recently delivered package, but, instead, Aria could easily read the annoyance upon Ella Montgomery's countenance, and she struggled to place just what she might have done to incur her mother's wrath.
Deciding to meet the confrontation head on rather than in a circumventing manner – not only would it save her some hassle, but she also had to be ready to go in less than an hour, Aria asked, "what's that," nodding towards the pretty package.
"That's what I'd like to know," her mom answered.
"Well, then, open it," Aria suggested, emphasizing her flip response with a shrug of her shoulders.
"I would, only it's not addressed to me."
Still confused, Aria asked, "was it delivered to the wrong house? I can run it over to Mrs. Patterson in a little while if you want me to." Turning around to head back upstairs, she added, "just let me finish getting ready..."
"Stop right there." Aria did as she was told. "This box doesn't belong to Mrs. Patterson; it belongs to you."
"What," Aria questioned, spinning around, shocked.
"You heard me," Ella said, her irritation still very much present. "I thought your father and I told you that the credit card we gave you was only for emergencies. I don't care what Spencer's parents allow her to do or how many new outfits Hanna buys, you..."
"Mom, I didn't use your credit card," Aria interrupted. "Whatever's in that box, I didn't buy it."
"Oh," her mom deflated somewhat, moving into the dining room and placing the large box flat upon the table. With hands on her hips, she looked down upon it. Aria followed her into the adjoining room. "Well, then, I'm sorry."
In the past, her mother would have insisted that she was wrong for jumping to conclusions and blaming Aria for something she wasn't guilty of, but those days were gone... along with the trust between them. While Aria didn't regret standing her ground over her feelings for Ezra, hindsight had shown her that she had handled the entire situation poorly, especially trying to blackmail her parents with the truth of her father's own affair with his grad student. And, now, with Ezra gone most of the time, looking for a job and trying to put his life back together after Aria's father had trashed it – after sheand her relationship with for the former professor had trashed it, she sometimes found herself wondering what was going to happen next. She still loved Ezra – after all, he was her first real boyfriend, so she'd probably always love him in a way, but the rest of her life was in shambles because of their relationship, and, now, she didn't even really have him anymore.
Shaking off her thoughts, for nothing was going to be solved that morning, and the only thing brooding would manage to accomplish would be to make her late, Aria suggested, "is there a card or anything?"
Ella searched the box but found nothing until she opened the lid. There, on top of a diaphanous pile of softly scented tissue paper, rested a note addressed to Aria in very familiar handwriting. "I do believe this is yours," her mother relented even more. There was even a small smile playing upon her lips.
Quickly, she opened the envelope, eager to now see what awaited her inside of the box. Clearing her throat, she read the card out loud, knowing that her mom wouldn't let her go upstairs and finish getting dressed until both of their curiosities had been satisfied. "Aria, before Spencer turned me down flat and then suggested that I'd have more fun going to these events with a friend – about which she was absolutely right, I promised her a new dress for every party we went to. There's no reason why you shouldn't get the same deal, especially since you're doing this favor for me. And don't worry. Spencer helped me pick this out. Yours, Jason."
Before her mom could even react, Aria was carefully tearing her way into the box, pulling back the layers of tissue paper to reveal not only the promised dress – and a stunning one it was at that – but coordinating shoes and jewelry, too. "I can't believe..."
"That's stunning," Ella murmured, whispering her fingers over the delicate fabric of the designer cocktail frock. "And it certainly fits your style, too. Spencer and Jason know you well."
Sensing that her mother wanted to say something else, Aria took her eyes off Jason's generous gift and turned to look at her mom. "What," she queried. "There's something else you want to say... or ask."
"I just...," Ella started and then stopped. Tilting her head to the side, she observed Aria closely – almost too closely, for Aria started to feel the urge to squirm and fidget. She didn't, though. "Before you react, just listen to everything I have to say, alright?" She nodded her head in acquiescence. "I want you to be very clear on what you're doing, Aria. While nothing would please me more than for you to decide that you want to be with Jason instead of Ezra, I know you too well. You're not fickle. What's more, you're stubborn – like me. But, because we're so much alike, I know you better than you think I do, and I see the way you look at Jason. You're attracted to him, and he definitely has feelings for you. I just don't want you agreeing to be his date to these events and end up confusing him. He's been hurt enough already... as have you. It's wonderful that you want to be his friend, but just be careful, alright?"
Wanting to reassure her mother, Aria reached for, grabbed, and held Ella's hand as she replied. "Mom, don't worry. Jason and I talked about... this a while ago. He knows that I'm unavailable. He's accepted it. And, besides, I'm sure he moved on long ago."
"If you say so."
"Can I ask you something now?"
Aria let go of her mother's hand. "Why would you and dad be so quick to accept Jason when you're so against the idea of Ezra and I? He's only a couple of years younger."
"Yes, but we've known Jason for most of his life." When she went to protest, her mom held up a placating hand. "And I know that Jason has made his fair share of mistakes, but he's also turned his life around, and he's never been anything but upfront about his past. While these things might seem trivial to you, they matter to a parent." Pausing heavily, Ella's tone of voice shifted, became more somber.
"Meanwhile, Ezra is a stranger to us. We know nothing about him, and he has been anything but upfront with your father and I. More than that, he deliberately misled us, going so far as to befriend us while, at the same time, secretly dating our underage daughter behind our backs. I know that you were the one who pursued him, but he wasn't your victim, Aria; he made a conscious decision to allow you to pursue him, and then he returned your affections, all the while continuing to work as your teacher and deceiving not only your father and I but this entire community. Do you think that we'd be the only Rosewood parents upset if word of your relationship with Mr. Fitz spread around town? He'd probably be sued, and he'd definitely be investigated, and you'd be ridiculed and labeled so many ugly things – not so much for the age difference between the two of you but because of the situation, and, as an adult, as a teacher, Ezra should have known better."
"He tried to end things, but I wouldn't let him."
"A person can't make someone do something that they're really unwilling to do. If Ezra had really wanted to end things with you, Aria, he could have."
Trying one last objection, she added, "but he loves me."
"Maybe he does," Ella acknowledged, "but your love for each other is just going to hurt, maybe even destroy you both... more so than it already has. Sometimes love just isn't enough. Now," her mother sighed, clapping her hands together to signal the end of their discussion. "You better go and get ready, or Jason's going to get here, and you'll still be wearing a towel in your hair. And come and find me before you leave. I want to see you in your new dress."
With that, her mom walked away. Though she may have left the room and left Aria alone, her mother's thoughts and words were still very much with her, nipping at her heels as she went back upstairs to get dressed.
| \ \ |
This evening was Aria's sixth formal event with Jason, though they had been spending more and more time together as the summer progressed. But summer was almost over, and she would soon be returning to school. They would still be friends, but everything else was changing. Regressing. Going back to the way it used to be. And Aria wasn't sure what she wanted anymore.
Her hair was up, and the top of Jason's convertible was done, and they drove in companionable silence, the sound of the wind whipping past them and the cars around them filling the early evening air. While Aria wasn't sure what was on Jason's mind, she couldn't help but think back over the past couple of months. Her mind should have been on the text she had received that morning or on the boyfriend who was returning to town to be with her, but it wasn't. Instead, she could only think about the man beside her, but, under the anonymity of the night, she felt safe to indulge.
In a way, each event Aria had attended with Jason was represented by the dress he had given her to wear to the party, or dinner, or gala. The very first had been the safest, Jason and Spencer obviously both aware of her penchant for pushing the envelope fashion-wise. Knee-length and baby pink with hundreds of slightly iridescent butterfly appliques, its edge had come from the plunging neckline and wide, leather belt. She had worn that one to an awards brunch, an event which should have been a study of staid dullness, but, instead, she and Jason had spent the time playing silly childhood games like hangman and MASH, using anything they could get their hands on as writing material – their programs, the dinner napkins, even the tablecloth. It had been a shockingly good time – not because of what they were doing but simply because she had been doing something so innocent, so normal, so public. He didn't even hold her hand, yet it was the closest thing Aria had had to going on a date since she had returned to Rosewood.
A couple weeks later, Aria had found herself in Jason's company once again, attending a dinner party hosted by some of his fellow Ivy-league alumni. Like the time when she had met one of Ezra's college friends, she had expected to be talked down to, laughed at, and, in general, ignored; rather, she had been the belle of the ball so to speak. It had started with the dress Jason had given her – a tight fitting, violet hued crepe number with plisse organdy wrapped across the right shoulder in an oversized bow and then angled over the bodice that hit her well above her knees. The dress had made her feel confident and powerful. That combined with Jason's insistence upon including her in the dinner conversation and the fact that he was obviously pleased to have her beside him instead of ashamed and embarrassed as Ezra had been had proved to be all the encouragement Aria had needed to shine. She had enthralled her audience with tales of living in Iceland and with cute, anecdotal recollections of Jason from when they were growing up. In turn, he had mentioned her pink hair, and, by the end of the evening, Aria had found herself more than curious about her next outing with Jason; she had been anticipating it.
The next event turned out to be a yacht party to celebrate the fourth of July. Despite the fact that she had been dressed in a thin strapped, coral bandage dress, while she and Jason had been on that boat, Aria had felt the most free in years. During the day, they snuck away from the party to watch sea-themed movies together in one of the below-deck cabins, and, after it became dark, they went back up on deck to eat ridiculously saucy barbeque food and watch the fireworks. Jason had even scrounged up some sparklers for Aria to play with. That night, he had made her feel like a child and a woman all at once, something that being with Ezra – despite his age, the seriousness of their relationship, and the fact that they had eventually become intimate with each other – had never made her feel.
Somewhere between the fourth and fifth events – a horse race, Aria started to spend more and more time with Jason. During the day, she'd go shopping with him for his house, using the excuse that friends couldn't let friends make bad decorating decisions, and she and Spencer would randomly show up with snacks and cool drinks for Toby and Jason who oftentimes worked side by side on Jason's house. Then, at night, she and Spencer seemed to inevitably end up right back at the DiLaurentis house, sitting on the floor of Jason's living room, eating one form of take out or another with him and Toby. Sometimes the four of them would work on the house afterwards; sometimes they'd put on music, light a bonfire, and roast marshmallows. Spencer and Toby were great about making sure that she and Jason – the pair who were spending their time with a couple but were not a couple themselves – never felt awkward. There were moments, though, when Aria believed the effort on her best friend's and best friend's boyfriend's parts to be unnecessary, for she never felt uncomfortable around Jason – self-conscious sometimes because, when she least expected it, her attraction to him would flare up, but never uncomfortable.
Her dress for the races – complete with a Kentucky Derby style hat – had probably been her favorite. It had been a white two piece ensemble with gold stud detailing both on the spaghetti strap top and knee-length, pencil skirt, a sliver of her abdomen peeking out above the high waist. It had been Grace Kelly meeting Gwen Stefani, and it had made Aria feel exquisite, though not as special as the feeling being with Jason that day had given her. Rather than gambling on the horses, they had placed wagers with each other on which jockeys were the shortest, betting with drink umbrellas they had snagged from the drinks of those who were already too drunk to notice, the winner – Aria – getting driving andmusic privileges for the way home. Plus, she had kept all their gathered umbrellas, determined to do something, make something with them. Aria just wasn't sure what yet.
Then, two weeks before, the two of them had attended a charity function at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, the Natural History Museum in Philadelphia. The event had been held to raise money for an after school program Jason supported, but the evening had been designed like a scavenger hunt with the clues hidden around the museum to encourage those in attendance to actually explore the marvels surrounding them. And, if nothing else, being tortured by A for an entire school year had made Aria quite adept at deciphering clues, so, in her short, black, and strapless sheer-waisted, tulle-skirted dress, she and Jason had not only had fun together that evening, but they had won the scavenger hunt as well. If only she could go back to that night again...
Although Aria had been becoming more and more confused about her feelings over the course of the summer – after all, it was nice to spend time with someone her parents approved of, someone her friends were comfortable around, someone who wasn't ashamed of her, someone who liked taking her out and showing her off... not in a possessive way but simply because they had a good time together, nothing compared to her near anxiety that evening. They were supposed to be at a wedding, but, at the last minute, the nuptials had been called off, and, so, instead, she and Jason were already on their way back to Rosewood. But that wasn't what was bothering Aria. No, what was bothering her was the text message she had received just minutes before Jason had picked her up.
Enjoy tonight while it lasts, Cinderella, because, when your curfew clock strikes twelve tonight, your glass slipper just won't be lost; it'll be shattered. Your REAL boyfriend's back, so you'll either have to give your fake one up or break up with the man who sacrificed his career to be with you. And don't worry. If you try to have your cake and eat it, too, I'll be there to poison the whole, damn bakery.
I'm back! Did you miss me?
Oh, and who am I, you ask? I'm the new and improved A, bitch. And don't you or little lying friends forget it.
Ever since Mona had been arrested, it had been all quiet on the A front. Oh sure, she, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily still received plenty of fake, prank texts from the idiots who had read all the articles and seen all the news reports and thought it'd be funny to taunt them, but there had been something eerily familiar and accurate about the text she had received that evening that had Aria on edge. While she knew that Mona was locked up, far, far away from a cell phone or computer, after the terror of the last school year, everything – finally discovering who A was and then Mona's subsequent admission to a high-security psychiatric facility – had just seemed too easy. Plus, maybe she didn't feel like she deserved any peace.
"Hey," Jason startled Aria out of her thoughts. Despite the fact that his voice was just loud enough to be heard over the noise of the road, she had not been expecting him to talk. "Sorry about tonight."
"What," she questioned rhetorically. "You have nothing to apologize for. How were you supposed to know that the bride would stop the ceremony halfway down the aisle? Besides, it was kind of exciting. I've been to a lot of weddings before but never one quite like that."
"Yeah, but you went through all the trouble of getting dressed up..."
"Are you implying that it took a lot of work to get me to look like this," she teased him, laughing when Jason flushed.
"You know what I mean."
"Well, what about you? You bought me my entire outfit, and you drove us all the way here."
"Trust me when I say that neither of those things were a hardship, especially with how you look in that dress."
That comment wasn't the first time in recent weeks that Jason had flirted with her slightly, and Aria would be lying if she said that she didn't flirt back with him and sometimes even initiate it herself. It was just fun, and she and Ezra had never really flirted with each other. They had met, they had made out, and then things had immediately become so complicated between them. Plus, Jason was right. Her dress that night was hot if she did say so herself. It was a flounced skirt, tangerine chiffon short halter dress, and her back was completely bare.
"Well, Spencer has good taste."
Jason blushed an even deeper shade of red. "Actually, I picked that one out myself."
"You did," Aria asked him, not waiting for him to answer before she added. "You did good. It makes me want to dance."
"And what if I don't dance," Jason playfully challenged her.
"Oh, with me, you would have."
For a moment, he took his eyes off the road and looked at her. They were out of the city and, once more, on their way up the Main Line, the road practically empty and the suburbs whizzing past in a blur of wide, green lawns and big, expensive homes. So, when Jason abruptly cut the wheel and all of a sudden took them off the main highway and onto an old, dirt road, Aria was startled. She didn't question him, though. Instead, she watched him curiously as he watched where they were going, eventually pulling the convertible off into a secluded picnic area. Leaving the car on, Jason said, "come on," indicating with a nod of his head that he wanted her to get out. She did so, leaving her stilettos behind and waiting for him in the bright beams of the burning headlights. And, when Aria heard the first strains of The Ronettes' "Be My Baby," she tossed her head back and laughed, her earlier cares disappearing. Then Jason was there, spinning her around, her skirt lifting, and twirling, and floating around her in the night breeze, and, suddenly, Aria didn't need a text from a potential new A to tell her what to do; she knew what she wanted.
Clasping her arms around Jason's neck and lifting herself up on her tiptoes, she kissed him softly. After pulling away far enough so that she could talk, Aria said, "this summer with you, it's been amazing."
"But nothing. I just... I don't want it to end."
"It doesn't have to," Jason murmured tenderly, rubbing their noses together as he barely restrained himself from kissing her again.
But she didn't want his restraint; she just wanted him. "I'm starting to realize that," Aria whispered. And then she kissed him again.