A/N: A few quick notes... Again, this story was written before 3.01, so keep that in mind. Secondly, there's a slight knock against Caleb in this story, but that's from the characters' perspective, not mine. I like him and his portrayer. You'll also notice that this tale features some different perspectives and even a little first person narration. After all, I have to keep you all on your toes, right? And, finally, this is the last Jaria story that I had in reserve, meaning that, unless inspiration strikes my muse again for these two, there won't be another Jaria fic from me any time soon. Thanks and enjoy! ~Charlynn~
Seizing the Opportunities
A Jason and Aria One Shot
Sometimes an opportunity presents itself, and you just have to take advantage of it.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Have you ever noticed how the world underestimates those with disabilities? As someone who was disabled for a few years, I can attest to the fact that this is frustrating and demeaning, but it's also probably our best advantage over those who aren't disabled. Because I'm blind... or, at least, I was blind – not that anyone in Rosewood knows the truth yet about my successful surgery, the people around me automatically assume that I can't seeanything – that I can't smell someone's unique cologne when it approaches; that I can't feel the vibrations of their steps; that I can't hear when their breathing becomes labored because of lust, or fear, or anger, but, in fact, because of my former disability, I can do all these things and more better than anyone who has never been denied one of their senses before. And now that I can see again – secretly, of course... behind my dark sunglasses...
Well, let's just say that I'm certainly not lacking in blackmail material.
You see, because everyone automatically dismisses me as a threat, for they still think that I am blind, they're more likely to do things in front of me that they wouldn't somebody who they know can see. Even Ali's little bitches underestimate me. They should have known better than to believe that I had forgiven them for blinding me, and just because Hanna dragged me out of that burning house, that does not make us even. They took years of my life from me, not to mention all the suffering I endured because of their sheep-like allegiance to Alison DiLaurentis. I wonder what they would say if they knew just how threatened I had made their queen bee feel.
But all that's in the past, because Alison is dead, and I have more important things to do than play games with her friends. And it's not like I don't have my own little way of still one-up'ing Ali: I date men who never would have been interested in her, men whom she wanted but never got. I use them to my advantages, twist them up in knots, make them devoted to me, and then I drop them for someone else, someone better, someone more capable of serving my purposes... of which I have many. This is what brought me to my current opportunity.
I'm bored with Noel, and, with Mona gone, dating him has lost its appeal. It was actually the fire itself which gave me the idea for my next conquest: Jason DiLaurentis... only, after observing him and looking for a way into his life, I realized that I couldn't have Jason – no one could, because he's in love with Aria.
Usually, I don't care about those bitches' love lives... well, other than Spencer's, because, whether I'm with Toby or not, he will always be mine, but Emily's into girls which I'm definitely not, Hanna has that greasy Caleb – so not my type, and Aria is supposed to be with that dork of a sweater vest wearing professor who holds absolutely no appeal to me whatsoever. Even the thought of stealing him from Aria isn't tempting enough to make me go for that, but Jason on the other hand... Jason represents the ultimate prize. I can just imagine Alison rolling over in her grave at the very thought of her older brother dating me. It doesn't matter whether Jason and Ali got along or not; he still belonged to her, and, in dating him – even now that she's dead – I'd be taking him away from her. I can't do this, though – not with Jason currently obsessed with Aria, but, if I could just manage to get her out of the picture...
And I can. Do you know why? Because someone tried to kill me, and it wasn't the first time I had been burned.
] - [
The scary thing was that Aria was starting to get used to police station. Somehow, it had become commonplace in her life to be taken in for questioning, suspected of committing horrendous crimes, and getting arrested. It seemed like, every few months, she found herself in the interrogation room with Detective Wilden – cold and scared, accusing eyes burning into her through the two-way mirror, the lights dimmed to a threatening level. But Aria had thought all of that was over now that Mona was behind bars. Apparently, though, she had been naïve to think that her life could ever go back to the way it was before A. To make matters worse, this time, Aria was in trouble by herself... not that she wanted her friends to get arrested again, too, but it had been a comfort before to have them there with her. They, however, had alibis and records of smoke inhalation to prove their innocence; all she had was a flimsy story about flying a plane. No one – not even her parents – believed her.
Worried, Aria sat there on her sterile, metal chair, her hands gripped tightly together in a nervous clench. While her friends were out looking for Duncan – hoping he's agree to come forward and clear Aria's name, his phone number had been disconnected, and they knew so little about him. Perhaps she was being fatalistic, but Aria just knew that Spencer, Hanna, and Emily would come up empty on their search. Just like with everything else about the case against her, Duncan's disappearance felt deliberate... like a setup. With A gone, though, Aria had no idea who wanted to hurt her, so she had no idea who she was up against in her latest fight.
Tears sprang unexpectedly to her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. She didn't want Wilden or any of the other cops to see her upset. Fear could be construed as an admission of guilt, so, instead, she had to remain cool and collected, calm. Biting her lip, Aria refocused her mind and once more started to replay the night Jason's house was set on fire, attempting to think of something or someone she could use to clear her name. The airstrip had been vacant – no other pilots or passengers there before or after her flight with Duncan, and, other than her friends, no one knew about her trip to meet the mystery man from Ali's past – not her parents, not her brother, no even...
For a brief moment when the door to the interrogation room opened, Aria thought the police were coming to process her, but, when she saw that it was Ezra instead, she immediately forgot her resolve to not show any emotion, for her relief was simply too great to deny, and she sprang from her chair – nearly knocking it over – and ran straight into his arms. Never once did she stop to question why the cops would be allowing her boyfriend in to see her; never once did she wonder why her parents were okay with Ezra visiting her. Instead, she was just too grateful to see a sympathetic, kind face. If anybody was going to believe in her innocence, it would be Ezra.
"I'm so glad you're here," she murmured emphatically into his chest where she had her face buried in Ezra's dress shirt, his clean, fresh scent making her feel even more safe. "You have no idea how scared I've..." Aria allowed her words to fade when she felt her boyfriend push her away. Once he was holding her at arms' length, Ezra observed her closely for several seconds, his face an impassive mask. There was a wall between them, his emotions shuttered away behind empty, unfeeling eyes. "I don't... what's going on?"
"We need to talk, Aria," he announced, stepping away from her and taking a seat opposite of the one she had just been occupying. Wordlessly, she followed his lead and retook her own chair. Once she was seated, he immediately demanded, "why?"
Confused, she asked, "why what?"
"Why did you do it?"
As if he had just slapped her, she gasped and stumbled from her chair, rapidly walking backwards until she painfully hit the wall behind her. "Excuse me? I... I don't understand. You think that I tried to..."
"Hurt Jenna – kill Jenna," Ezra supplied for her harshly. Aria realized then that his eyes weren't empty like she had previously thought; rather, they were filled with accusation and recrimination. "Again."
The tears she had previously stymied fell without warning, but she quickly dashed them away. "I can't believe you would say that to me, that you could think this of me. You're supposed to love me, Ezra!"
"And you're supposed to be honest with me, Aria," he countered, shouting. Quickly, though, he bottled up his anger and became stoic in his disappointment and animosity once more. "I know about your past; the cops know about your past, too. After it was revealed that the police found fireworks hidden in your room..."
"Wait! I didn't have any fireworks..."
But Ezra just talked right over Aria's self-defense. "... Jenna came forward with the truth about what really happened the night she was blinded. She told the police that she doesn't want you or your friends charged for that evening, because she knows that it was Alison's idea and that your friends never meant for her to get hurt, but the fire at Jason's is a different story. Now that she knows it was you who tried to kill her, she's afraid of you."
"That's ridiculous," Aria emphatically denied. "I would never set Jason's house on fire, I didn't buy any fireworks – let alone have any hidden away in my room, and I don't want to kill Jenna. Yeah, she might creep me out a little, but so does Noel Kahn, and Lucas, and a dozen other people around town."
"Oh, I wouldn't put it past DiLaurentis to be in on this with you," Ezra scoffed, his disdain and jealousy towards Jason shining clearly through his ugly, accusing words. A moment later, though, he switched gears. "Fine," he announced, though he certainly didn't sound like he believed in her anymore than he had when he first walked into the interrogation room. Standing up, he asked, "then where were you the night of the fire?"
Tilting her head to the side, Aria observed the man across from her. Her tears were long gone, and she was seeing everything so much clearer now... as though the saline drops had washed away the rose tinted haze she had been living in for nearly a year. Then and there, she realized that it didn't matter what she said, because Ezra wasn't going to believe her. Before he had even come into the room to talk to her, he had made up his mind that she was guilty. Not only did it confirm that she had made the right decision in keeping A from him for all those months, but it also now told her that, even if her friends could somehow locate Duncan and clear her name, she and Ezra were over. She even wondered if Ezra had agreed to talk to her for the cops. Maybe they had sent him in to get a confession from her.
Steeling her expression, she met his cold gaze with an equally icy one of her own. "I'm not saying another word until my lawyer's present. Goodbye, Ezra."
He didn't even have the decency to return her salutation before he left, quietly shutting the door behind him.
] - [
"What the hell are you doing here?" Before he could respond, Mona scoffed, "please don't tell me they sent you to counsel me. Now, that would be a joke."
"Even if asked, I would refuse the job."
"Well, that's not very charitable of you," she pretended to pout, carelessly observing her nails. That was probably the worst thing about the hellhole she currently found herself locked up in: a lack of proper beauty supplies. How was she was supposed to look fabulous attired in a hospital gown, sporting flat, lifeless hair, and wearing absolutely no makeup? "I thought you were, like, reformed or something."
"After what you did to my sister..."
"Wait," Mona interrupted him, glancing up. "I didn't kill Alison."
"And I'm talking about my other sister: Spencer." Flabbergasted, she stared at Jason, eyes wide with shock. How had she not known about that? She was supposed to know everything!
Quickly, though, Mona shuttered her surprise. "And don't forget about your precious Aria. I know all about how you were her guy on the side there for a few weeks."
"I'm not supposed to be embarrassed about that, am I? In fact, maybe I should even be thanking you for giving Aria and I reasons to spend time with one another and grow closer together in the first place?"
Annoyed that her digs were getting her nowhere with him, Mona snapped, "just get to the point, Jason. What the hell do you want?"
He sobered immediately. "I need your help."
"Ha," she barked out a fake laugh sarcastically, rolling her eyes. "That's SOnot going to happen."
But Jason continued undeterred. "Someone is setting Aria up for the fire that happened at my house – the fire I think we both know that you set. They planted fireworks in her room, and now Jenna has come forward about what really happened the night my sister blinded her."
"Well, I guess you have your answer then, don't you? It's that bitch Jenna who is setting Aria up and allowing someone else to take credit for myhandiwork. There," Mona then waved dismissively, insinuating that Jason should leave. "I helped you solve the case. Now leave."
"I didn't come here because I wanted to know who was setting Aria up; I came here because I want you to confess to setting the fire yourself."
This time, when she laughed, it was genuine. "And why would I do that? I might hate the fact that Jenna is using something I did to her advantage, but I hate Aria more."
"So, there's nothing I can say or do that will convince you to help me?"
Finally, their conversation was getting interesting. Perking up, Mona smiled crookedly. "Well, now that you mentioned it, there is one thing that I want."
] - [
She never really thought that Jason would be able to keep up his end of their deal, so, when Hanna came to see her the very next morning, Mona was shocked. For several seconds, she could only stare at her best friend. But then Hanna shuffled her feet nervously, and Mona snapped out of her astonishment, rushing across the room to give the blonde a hug only to be held back before she even got within a few feet of her bestie.
"You know the rules, Miss Vanderwaal," the burly orderly reprimanded her. "There's no physical contact with visitors."
"I'm sorry, Mona," Doctor Sullivan chimed in, though Mona did her best to ignore the shrink. "Maybe if you would be more cooperative in our therapy sessions, then you'd be able to earn some allowances."
"Just say whatever it is that you want to say to me, so I can get out of here," Hanna instructed her bitingly. "This places gives me the creeps."
Mona nodded sympathetically. "You and me both." But Hanna just glared. Suddenly, Mona was nervous. For weeks, all she had been able to think about was what she would say if she ever got the chance to talk to her best friend, but now here Hanna was standing before her, and Mona was at a loss for words. She could see it in Hanna's eyes that her best friend wasn't ready to forgive her, that she was still under the control of those other three bitches, but maybe she'd be able to plant a few seeds of doubt in Hanna's mind, and, if she played her cards right, she'd get some more chances in the future to win her best friend back and away from Spencer, Aria, and Emily.
"I just... I never wanted to hurt you, Han – you know that, but then Aria came back from Iceland, and all of a sudden you forgot about me, our special bond, our pact. It was like junior high all over again. Maybe I wasn't dorky anymore, but you still shunned and excluded me. Suddenly, because you were friends once again with your old group, I wasn't good enough for you anymore." Barely managing to hold onto her tears, Mona pleaded for answers. "Why did you do that to me, Han? If you just would have stayed my friend, none of this would have happened."
"Alright, that's enough," Jason announced, startling her. Almost instantaneously, Mona's emotion disappeared, and she pivoted around to glower at Ali's older brother. "I kept up my end of the deal. Hanna came here, she listened to what you had to say, so now you have to tell the police the truth."
Mechanically, she confessed, "I sent Jenna that text which got her to go to Jason's in the first place, and I set the fire. The bitch knew too much about what we were doing, so I had to get rid of her." Twisting around, she glared at her best friend. "Too bad Hanna had to betray me – again – and save her. And that whole scared little victim routine is totally Jenna's MO. She played you," Mona told Wilden, allowing a note of disdain to enter her voice, "like the weak, easily misled idiot that you are... just like she planted the fireworks in Aria's room. Before this, there were only a handful of people who knew about that night, and, if we weren't the ones to use it against Aria, then that leaves Jenna."
Smugly, the detective crossed his arms over his chest and smirked. "How am I supposed to trust you, Mona? Mr. DiLaurentis could have easily coached you, telling you exactly what to say to me."
"Oh come on," Jason exploded, yelling loudly at Wilden, but Mona's own quiet, snide voice quickly drowned out the two bickering men.
"Please," Mona scoffed. "What kind of idiot do you take me for? Do you honestly think that I would allow anybody... least of all Jason DiLaurentis of all people... to tell me what to do?"
"And do you actually think that your ego is submissible evidence, Miss Vanderwaal," the cop taunted her.
"Well, it should be."
"But it isn't," Wilden snarled.
Mona smiled prettily. "What about the fact that hair spray and nail polish remover were used as accelerants?"
Shock registered openly on the detective's face. Taking several steps forward, he whispered dangerously, "how the hell do you know that? We haven't released that information to the press nor have we told Aria and her family that yet either. We were hoping to find some credit card receipts in her name to prove that she purchased several bottles of each right before the fire."
"Oh, I don't know," she mocked, tossing her hands up in the air. "Maybe I know about the accelerants, because I SET THE FIRE, YOU IDIOT." By the time she finished, Mona was screaming.
"I think this visit has gone on long enough," Doctor Sullivan announced, nodding towards the orderly who immediately stepped forward to lead Mona back to the cell they considered her room.
As she passed through the door, she glanced back over her shoulder just in time to see Hanna remove the hood she had oddly been wearing only to reveal that she had headphones in and had not heard a single word Mona had said to her.
She had just been played.
] - [
She had been in lock-up now for more than twelve hours. The night before, after Ezra left, Wilden had sent in a uniformed cop to process her arrest, informing her that the judge had denied giving her a late-night arraignment. She'd spend the night at the precinct and, in the morning, she'd have her bail hearing... only the morning didn't bring her parents, a suit, and the honorable Judge Thomas but a stale donut and an even more stale cup of lukewarm coffee – breakfast, the same police officer had informed her. Apparently, her bail hearing had been postponed. But that was it. The cop wouldn't tell her anything else, and no one came to visit her. So, with only her own thoughts and fears to keep her company, Aria simply sat in her cell, waiting for the worst to happen.
"You're free to go," a familiar voice announced as she glanced up to find her cell door open. Wilden looked furious.
Standing up slowly, Aria approached the detective. "I'm not under arrest any longer?"
"The charges have been dropped, we've issued a statement to the press clearing you of any wrongdoing, and your ride is waiting for you out front."
So, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily must have located Duncan... not that she was going to say that in front of Wilden, however. The last thing Aria needed was to arouse the cop's suspicions again just as she was getting released from jail. Despite this, though, as she scurried past him as quickly as she could, down the hall, and out into the squad room which led to the entrance of the precinct, Aria couldn't help the small smile which quirked up the corners of her lips. And, as she burst through the doors of the station and out into the fresh, spring afternoon air, that release of pent up humiliation, pain, and anxiety bubbled forth in an exuberant laugh.
Like Wilden had said, her friends were there, waiting to take her home. Rushing forward, Aria threw her arms the best she could around all three of them. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love you guys so much; you're awesome. I can't believe you found Duncan."
"As much as I love praise – and you know I do," Spencer quipped, earning a small giggle from Aria. "I can't take credit for this."
"Neither can I," Emily chimed in.
Looking at Hanna, Aria waited for her friend to either take or deny credit. "Well, I was there, but I didn't listen to anything that crazy psychopath had to say. Your real hero is over there," Hanna told her, nodding at someone behind Aria. Quickly, she swiveled around to find Jason casually leaning against his car, his hands shoved deeply into his pockets as he watched the four of them interact. "If you really want to thank someone, I'm sure Jason would take one of those hugs. He got Mona to confess to setting the fire."
Speechlessly, she walked towards him. "I don't... I mean, how... how did you know that I was innocent?" Spinning back around, she asked her friends, "did you tell him about Duncan?"
"No," Emily answered, smiling. "We didn't tell him anything. He went to Mona all on his own."
"You didn't really expect me to believe that you set my house on fire, do you," Jason asked her, recapturing Aria's attention.
"Well, Ezra did," she remarked darkly.
From behind her, Aria could hear Hanna mumble, "ouch."
As if to impress his sincerity upon her, Jason stood up straight. "You're capable of a lot of things, Aria Montgomery, but you're also one of the only people in this town who I know wouldn't try to hurt me on purpose, and burning my house down, making it look like I tried to kill Jenna, whoever did that definitely wanted to hurt me."
With a mischievous grin upon her face, she teased, "and why didn't I hear you say anything about how you don't believe I'm capable of murdering someone either?"
"Because you might be little, but you're big."
"Hey, I said that, too," Spencer chimed in, snickering.
"Well, this is great," Aria said, glaring back and forth at the newfound sibling pair. "You two just found out you're related like... what? – a month ago, and now you're already ganging up on me?"
"Hey, pipe down there, pipsqueak," Jason taunted her, smirking. "After all, we just saved your bacon from the fire. A little gratitude would be appreciated right about now."
"Oh, I'll give you gratitude," Aria warned, advancing towards him with narrowed eyes.
Before she could even think of what she wanted to do, though, Jason reached out with one hand and yanked her towards him, pulling her up so that her body was flush against his. Then, further to her surprise, he kissed her. It was a deep, hard, possessive kiss which made Aria's toes curl and her stomach clench in anticipation and want. By the time Jason released her mouth, she was breathless and oh-so-thankful for the lack of the air.
"Umm," she sighed deliciously, still not opening her eyes in fear that everything around her would disappear – the sunshine, her friends, and most importantly Jason – and that she'd be back in that disgusting cell once again. Licking her swollen lips, Aria quietly moaned, "thank you."
"Now that's what I wanted to hear," Jason's seductive voice whispered into her ear, his lips brushing lightly against her neck as he did so.
Finally opening her eyes, she stared at the man in front of her. Without looking away from him, she told her friends, "we'll see you guys later, alright?"
Right then, she and Jason had an opportunity to seize. Together.