Disclaimer: I do not own Pretty Little Liars…

A/N: Ok, so this will probably be a one-shot, or eventually a bunch of them – but I want to kind of focus on ATR… but I just had this rolling around in my brain too long… anyways: while I love the show, I do get slightly annoyed that they just scoot right over the summers.. because they have a lot more time and a lot more reason to get into a bit of trouble and such so… I guess this will be an area I'll update when I can with oneshots of the summer break between Season 2 and Season 3… This first one is directly after they found Maya's body... Read. Enjoy. Review.

The Space Between
The Reckoning


I sat in the back of an ambulance as it sped toward Rosewood Memorial, the EMTs were giving Emily, who was on the stretcher in front of me, oxygen and a couple light tranquilizers. Her mom was following the ambulance, and she had Spencer and Hanna in the car with her. We had just gotten back from busting A, who turned out to be Mona. We had just spoken to the cops, given them statements and they had seemed to believe us. But, I had a feeling that after we got Emily checked out at the hospital, we would be right back in the interrogation rooms we had become so used to for the second time in one evening

It had taken everyone, Hanna, Spencer, me, Emily's mom, to get Emily to calm down enough to even get her near the ambulance that had arrived to get her. It had been quite clear that it would be a necessity the second that Emily had heard that it was Maya that they had found in the backyard. What was it with murderers and backyards? Why couldn't they go for the much more classic roadside ditch? It was harsh, but at least no one lived there and had to look at it everyday.

"You ok, Em?" I asked, they had given her enough of something so that she had stopped struggling, and they had an oxygen mask over her mouth..

"Mmm," She said simply, there was a light or something missing from her eyes and I gave her a sad smile as I took her hand and squeezed it.

"We're all here for you, Em," I told her soothingly, "We'll get you past this, ok?"

Just as I said it, my phone went off in my purse, which caused Emily to jump, and the EMTs to run back to her side. I gave them an apologetic look, and opened the message that was waiting for me from Ezra. Oh, shit – Ezra. I had left him at the ball telling him that I would be right back, an hour and a half ago. A picture popped up in my head of him standing by a table, looking as fabulous as he had as everyone left the ball. I took a deep breath and looked down at the message.

Hey, where'd you go? The Ball's over… I guess I'll just head back to the apartment, call me when you can. I love you so much. ~Ezra

My heart sank, I felt awful, but I didn't know what I would have been able to do differently. I had to text him back right away.

I'm so sorry, I'll explain later - lots going on… on the way to the hospital with Emily… Maybe I'll be able to stop by after… I'll text you when I'm leaving the hospital…I love you. ~Aria

Ok, I hope everything's ok with Emily… ~Ezra

Once we got to the hospital, they ended up admitting Emily, and all of our parents gathered in the waiting room. They sat across the room, speaking with the cops. Or rather, the police and Mrs. Hastings were doing most of the talking. From the faces Aria saw, and the looks on her mothers face – the police were filling them in on what had happened earlier in the day. Aria was thrilled – once again that her father wasn't home. He was at yet another conference – maybe this one was on how to deal with daughters who were hopelessly in love with their ex-teachers. I pushed the thought from my mind. That wasn't what I was supposed to be worry about now. But, Emily was in the very capable hands of therapists and had a hospital full of people to help her. I, like Hanna and Spencer had already been doing started to strain my ears to hear what they were talking about.

"…Mona, Vanderwall?" Hanna's mother sounded like she must have confused what the police had said – she hadn't.

"Yes, Ma'am," The police officer closest to her replied, "Now we've taken her into custody, and she'll spend the night in jail before we transfer her to Rosewood Sanitarium. Now, on this case of Miss Jermain, we don't believe that your girls were involved. So, we'll ask you to take care of them this evening, and bring them in to the station for a light round of questioning tomorrow afternoon. Let them get some sleep."

"Thank you, officer," Mrs. Hastings replied, and the group on the other side of the room dispersed.

The police headed out the door, and I assumed they were headed back to the station to start work on Maya's case. They wouldn't find out who did it, not until they found out who killed Alison, and I was nearly certain that they never would. It would be us before it would be them. Maybe that was what the killer wanted, maybe they were planning on picking us off one by one until there was no one left, no one that cared who really killed Alison. I shivered, I didn't want to think about it anymore.

Our parents swooped in on us, and despite our desperate gripes to stay for Emily. Our parents told us we could come back before the police station and get her before we headed over. This seemed ok to us, we were exhausted. I got into the car with mom, and put my feet up on the dashboard.

"I can't believe all the things that you've been through this year," Mom started off, and I just kind of nodded, clearly her mind was blown finding out all that I had been dealing with, "Is there anything you want to do? Do you want to go somewhere and talk? I'm sure you don't want to talk… Are you hungry? I could swing through and get you some fast food. Oh, you probably just want to go home and sleep… if you can sleep—"

"Could you just drop me off at Ezra's?" I asked – surprised my voice was working - and she stopped abruptly.

"I thought he went to New York," She replied, neutrally.

"He came back, earlier tonight," I told her, staring blankly out the windshield as she drove, "He showed up at the ball, saying that he couldn't stay away. Then I told him I'd be right back and ran off with Emily and Hanna to save Spencer from Mona. I just want to see him for a little while, get a hug, and explain what happened."

I looked over at her, expecting to see an angry look to find a hurt one.

"You want to talk to Ezra about it?" She surmised and I nodded, "Ok. I would rather you talk to me, but I understand with all that you've been through the past year that you want to talk to him about it. But, I just want to make sure that you do talk to someone about it."

"Thanks, mom," I said, and she nodded as she took a turn to head towards his apartment.

"It's late," She said, looking at the clock that was telling us it was now nearly one in the morning, "Why don't you just stay over there. Your father's home tomorrow afternoon to have Ezra drop you off at ten tomorrow. That way you can be ready and get to Emily in the morning."

"Thanks, mom," I was surprised with her kindness, and had already begun texting the plan to Ezra, "Why're you being so cool about this?"

"None of what happened to you tonight, or in the past year has been something you deserved," She replied, "But to have a choice in who you're with, and to be happy – like I know you've been with him. No matter what I think of the relationship – you're happy, and if he can do that. If he can make the unspeakable better, I can't keep you from him if that's what you want."

"I love you, so much mom," I told her and she nodded, a tear falling from her eye as she pulled into the parking lot near Ezra's building.

"I'm just so upset that it's gotten to this point, Aria," She replied, "I hope eventually we can have our relationship back."

"We will mom," I assured her, and she nodded.

I looked out the window towards the building, and saw Ezra walking out in sweatpants and a blue t-shirt towards the car.

"Go," Mom said, "Before I change my mind."

"Thanks mom," I smiled weakly as I got out of the car.

As soon as I stepped out, Ezra wrapped me up in his arms, and mom sped away. I stood there, letting him just hold me out in the parking lot, and he kissed the top of my head. For the first time that night I began to tremble, I could feel the tears coming, and my legs wanting to give out. All of a sudden I was up, off the ground and Ezra had me in his arms, bridal style – he carried me into the building, kissing the top of my head as he set me down on his couch.

"I'm sorry I left you at the ball," I said, as the tears started to fall, "That was a really rotten thing to do, especially after you came back for me, and that kiss."

"It's fine," He replied, sitting down next to me, and putting his arm around me, "I've honestly gotten a little used to it, but that dress, you looked amazing."

"Thanks," I managed a smile as I dabbed my eyes with a tissue.

"So what happened tonight?" He asked and I took a deep breath.

"Too much."

"It's ok if you don't want to talk about it tonight," He replied, kissing my cheek affectionately.

Except I did, A , the black swan, Maya, and everything else were swimming around my head so fast that I thought they would start a whirlpool. I was bursting to tell him about everything, to finally be a hundred percent completely honest to him about what had gone on.

"Do you want to get out of the dress? It can't be comfy," He said, and I nodded – I was useless, "Here, why don't you go get into some of my sweats, and I'll get you some tea? If you wanna talk we'll do it then."

"I do wanna talk," I said, and he smiled as he headed off to make tea.

Once I got back from changing, my dress was hanging on the back of the bathroom door, and I was in my favorite of his flannel PJ pants and t-shirt I curled up on the end of the couch. He brought over a steaming cup of tea from the kitchen, and sat down next to me. I left the tea on the coffee table, and snuggled up against, him. He put his arms around me, and kissed me softly as I basically snuggled myself into his lap.

"Where do I start?" It was a question that was mostly rhetorical.

"Where ever you can," He replied.

I took a deep breath, and just exploded. I told him all about A, and how we had all been getting texts since Ali's funeral, I explained how they used what they knew about us to blackmail us into doing things. I even used the example of what had happened with Jackie, how A had threatened to destroy him, and kill Dr. Sullivan if she didn't blackmail her with the paper she plagiarized.

"Please don't hate me for that, I didn't see another option," I told him, sure that he would never love me anymore, "It was terrible, and while I wouldn't have minded if she disappeared, that was not how I wanted it to go down…"

"Aria, calm down," He replied, "I'm not mad – Jackie wasn't the greatest to you anyways, and I should have recognized that. I was with you, I love you, and if she was being like that I had no business speaking to her. I was under the impression that we could be friends, but clearly we can't. I understand it wasn't your idea, and what was at stake. Finish the story – what happened tonight?"

I continued my story, explaining all of the mess that led up to being invited to the ball. The creepy doll hospital, the plane ride, the fire at Jason's—everything. Finally, I got the hotel, and explained to him about the room situation. How Spencer, Hanna, Emily, and I had been snooping around there, trying to figure out what Ally had been doing up there. I told him about chasing the black swan, and how Then, I got into Mona tricking Spencer to go out there alone, and how Mona ended up being A, how she had tried to kill Spencer and how she had almost died herself.

"But what happened to Emily?" He asked, "Why is she in the hospital, is she ok?"

"I'm getting there," I said, "We were walking home from the police station, and we saw a bunch of cops and flashing lights. We went right over to see what was going on, and Emily's mom came out and told us it was Maya. They found her in the backyard. So then Emily went nuts, and we just had to have her admitted for the night so she would be able to sleep, drug induced, obviously."

"Oh my God," Ezra replied, he looked shocked, but he pulled me in close and squeezed me tight, "I don't know what I would do if something had happened to you. If I was in Emily's place – it would take a lot more than – any sort of drug to keep me going."

"But I'm right here," I told him and he nodded.

"All I could think of the whole time you were talking was the fact that I had no idea that any of this was going on," He said, "Well, I knew something was going on—but I never, You went in a plane with some guy named Duncan that you had never really met before?"

He was clinging to me like he would rather die than let go of me, and I was clinging back. I loved the way his muscular arms formed around me, and the way that I fit just perfectly so that my head could rest on his shoulder, snuggled right into the side of his neck. He reached in and wiped my tears off my face, I wasn't entirely sure they had been there. He kissed my forehead, and shifted us so that he way lying down, and by default I was lying on top of him.

"I'm sorry I had to keep all this from you," I said, "But I was so terrified that you would get hurt, somehow. Or if A – Mona – didn't hurt you, that you would think that I was too much trouble than I was worth, and you'd go."

"Aria," He said sweetly, holding me impossibly tighter, "I would never leave you. I will never leave you, and I'm sorry for the short time that I did. I love you, and I don't care if I have to end up selling tires in this nutty town – I'll do it as long as I can stay here with you. When you figure out where you want to go to college, if I can't find a teaching position nearby, I'll start looking for one again near your college. All I know is that I need to be near you, and I can't not hold you, not kiss you – it's too painful."

"Mmm," I mumbled, reaching up and playing with the side of his hair, fixing it and sending it back behind his ear.

"You're exhausted, aren't you?" He replied, and I nodded, my eyes already closed, "C'mon."

I didn't even bother to open my eyes, or protest as he sat up, and carried me to the bed, where he set me down. He pulled down the covers, then reset me so that I was under the covers nicely, just to climb in with me and wrap me up in his arms. I don't think I was conscious for another five seconds before I was out cold.

I was walking down a shadowy street and there was no one with me. I kept seeing shadows from the trees in the streetlights, they made me jump with every step I took. Then suddenly I looked over my shoulder and saw the dark shadowy figure of A running at me, right out in the open – and I couldn't move. I rotated around so that I was facing the monster that was approaching me. But, then I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came out. I couldn't scream. This was it, I was a goner, and wondered briefly who's backyard I would be buried in,

"Aria," I heard Ezra call for me and I jolted awake, sending my arm flying and whacking him right across his face, "Ow."

"Oh," I said, putting a hand right onto where I had hit him, and kissing it softly as I began to stroke it softly.

"I'm fine," He smiled at my concern, "What was going on there?"

"Nightmare," I said simply, "A chasing me down the street, and I couldn't move, I couldn't even scream."

"Aria, I will never let anything happen to you," He replied, like it was that simple – but it was comforting, "And A's very safely locked up tonight. You don't have to worry, I'll keep you safe."