A/N As promised here's the sequel/continuation of my story "We Fall Together." I am so thrilled to get to share this with you, and to know it will be just as admired as the previous one. As always, I can't thank you enough for all of your response with the last one, and so I do expect to learn what you think of this story so far.
DisclaimerI don't own any part of the Pretty Little Liars franchise. With good reason. I do own Cooper and any other original characters!
-These are the days
Never before and never since, I promise.-
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR COOPER, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!" Belted Hanna, Caleb and Ashley.
"Buddy, how many candles did Mom put on your cake?" Asked Caleb from behind the camcorder. Cooper squinted with confusion.
Hanna leaned over the dessert, plunging a cake knife into it and cutting a slice."Honey, how old are you? Count your candles."
"One, two, fr-three, fouh, five." The tiny child struggled to pronounce the numbers through the amount of icing in his mouth. He'd been sneaking some out of the can as his mother iced the chocolate cake.
"Good job, Coop." Ashley encouraged the boy.
Hanna stopped licking the frosting off of her fingers before asking. "What'd you wish for, baby?"
"Momma," Cooper stressed. "If I told you what I wished fow, it wouldn't come twue. Duh!"
"Okay, mister. You need to quit spending so much time with your Aunt Aria." Caleb laughed and ruffled the kid's thick, dark tufts.
"Hey, I resent that!" Poked Aria herself, as she entered the flat, a bag of gifts in hand.
"Aunt Ari!" Cooper cried.
Hanna gaped. "You liar! You said you'd be out of town until tomorrow!"
"Ezra's book tour ran short. The Starbucks in the Barnes and Noble in Jersey had an incident with their espresso maker and had to close for the rest of the day, so we hopped on the train." She explained.
Caleb butted in quickly. "Where is he?"
"Downstairs dropping off the bags."
Cooper then climbed down from his booster seat, running over to the tiny woman. He peeked in the bags she had set down by the fireplace. "What did you get me, Aunt Ari?"
"Cooper Collins!" Scolded Hanna.
Aria giggled, also taking part in ruffling the adorable boy's hair. "Well if you can be patient and wait for Uncle Z, I will let you open them when he comes up."
"Okay! I'll be patient." Cooper explained, sitting down at his little oak desk he'd gotten earlier in the week from his Uncle Toby and Aunt Spencer. It was really a cute little gift. Toby had built it, of course, and Spencer had painted it green and put Cooper's initials on the top face in little brown letters under the indention for writing utensils. When they had asked the boy what he wanted for his big day, he had simply said a desk. He was quite the artist. Nothing impressive yet, but nothing that couldn't be encouraged. Hanna always thought he was going to grow up to be an architect, the way he was so precise with it all.
"I can't believe he is already five!" Cried Aria as she sat with Hanna and Ashley at the kitchen table.
Ashley took a sip of her wine and a thought came to her. "Ari, when are you and Ezra going to give Ella a little one?"
"As if I don't hear that every day, already!" Aria groaned.
"Hold on, Mom, she's only been married for a minute!"
"Three years." Corrected Ashley.
"Still, some couples like to be alone before starting a family. Remember, you had me after four years."
"I got married at twenty-two, and that's only one more year. Times were different then, four years was an eternity."
Before either woman could argue, Ezra and Caleb burst through the front door, Caleb with a medium sized cardboard box.
"Daddy, what's that?" The boy asked from his seat at the desk.
"It's a surprise." Said his mother.
"Happy Birthday, C-Man!" Ezra exclaimed as Caleb set the box down on the floor.
"Oh my Gosh!" The child screamed, crawling to the floor. He giggled maniacally as a tiny puff of a dog jumped out of the box and into his owner's lap.
"Oh that's so darn cute, Mom get the camera!" Hanna cried.
"You like him, buddy?" Asked Ezra.
"I love him! Thank you!" He then stopped for a second, looking at everyone in the room. "Are you sure Mom won't think he's too messy?"
The room erupted with laughs and Hanna smiled guiltily. She often could be found scolding her young son for being too reckless with his washable markers and too sloppy with his spaghetti.
"No, he's alright." Smiled Hanna. "But don't thank us, this is all from Nana Claudia."
"Yeah?" Asked Cooper as he rubbed the puppy's belly.
"Mhmm, Uncle Jamie and Uncle Clay picked him out." Caleb informed his son. "He's a baby cairn terrier, but he doesn't have a name." He then got down to floor level with the kid. "What do you think we should name him?"
Cooper stopped for a minute, pausing to think hard for a name. "Can I name him Poop?"
"No, you cannot name him Poop." Said Hanna, stifling a laugh.
"Okay then," he looked down at the little white fur ball and sighed. "What about Happy?"
Ashley giggled "Why happy, honey?"
"Because that's what this present makes me!"
"I think Happy is a great name, Coop." Hanna told him, leaning over and running her fingers through the dog's golden fur.
"Yay, Happy! You're going to love it here!" Exclaimed Cooper. "We're going to play lots of games and read so many books together! And if you're good, I bet Momma would let you sleep in my room."
"Don't get too excited, buddy. He brought his cage with him for a reason." Caleb reminded the boy.
Later on after the presents were finished, the men took Cooper and Happy on a walk before bed. The women stayed in the cramped apartment while Aria shared stories from Ezra's book tour over wine.
"What was it like to meet his fans? Did you get jealous?" The blonde inquired.
Aria shook her head, swallowing her beverage. "He didn't have a lot of those kinds of fans. I sat right beside him. If any came too close, all I had to do was flash the big boy!" She said in reference to her large diamond ring that Ezra had proposed to her with. Since he had plenty of time to wait before proposing, he saved a large amount of dough to pay for the almost two carat rock.
"I know how that works." Ella mumbled, taking a long swig of wine.
"Mom, stop." Hanna said. She looked to Aria. "What are you and Ezra planning to do when the tour subsides?"
"Actually, we were thinking about moving back home to Rosewood around Christmas or the new year."
"Wait, you're not staying in the city?" Hanna freaked.
Aria shook her head and smiled. "I'll find work somewhere part time while Ezra teaches back at Hollis. He was offered the chair position in the English department. In the meantime he hopes to continue writing, which will be easier in Rosewood where it's quiet."
Ashley smiled. "That's wonderful, I'm sure Ella will adore the idea."
"She's really excited about the prospect of having us around more. Especially with Mike at UCLA, it's been a lonely year for her."
"I'm happy for you, Ari. It sounds like everything is falling into place for you guys." Hanna replied, running her finger along the rim of her glass.
"Is something going on at work, Han?" Ashley asked.
"Uh, nothing is wrong. Caleb's been with his same people at RCA downtown, which is fine. But I know he's been wanting to move forward with his career, and nothing's really happening in that area. No one is really hiring right now." She explained. "But I still have my spot at Glam, and I do love it there, but I feel like I am missing out on my son's life." She turned to Ella. "That tooth he was so pumped over loosing? His babysitter pulled it out on Wednesday after lunch. And she didn't even have the decency to text me and tell me it happened!"
"Then come back home. You can move back in with me. You can spend as much time with your son as you want before he's off to grade school." Her mother suggested.
"No, mom. We have worked too hard to throw this away. Besides, I like where we are."
Aria squinted "Even if we're all in Pennsylvania?"
"You'll only be a day trip away. It's not like we live in Montecito."
"Well I think that Ezra and Aria are right for moving back. It will be perfect when they start their family." Ashley concluded.
"You know, speaking of adding to the bunch, are you and Caleb trying for another soon?" Aria asked.
Hanna blushed. "No way, are you kidding? The time just isn't great."
"Okay, but soon?" Asked her mother. Hanna glared at her. "You saw Cooper with that dog, he was smitten! Imagine him with a little sister."
"No, we're not having anymore anytime soon and that's final." Stressed the blonde.
"You never know, one look at Spencer's little girl and you could be changing your mind." Aria sang.
Spencer and Toby had surprised everyone at Easter with the news of a new baby. The two hadn't yet set a date for their wedding. It came as quite the surprise to their friends. Spencer was in her fourth year at UPenn, planning on enroll ing in law school the spring after He gave birth.
"Maybe you will get baby fever then, too!" She mocked her friend.
"Seriously though, you should think about it." Ashley retorted.
"I will not THINK about it. Not for a while anyway." She grumbled, sitting back in her chair.
"Are you going in for an interview at Siemens tomorrow?" Hanna asked her husband as she pulled back the throw pillows on their bed and climbed under the covers.
He shook his head shamefully. "No, they couldn't get me in until next Thursday. It's been busy there, and since their system's down, the repairs are too expensive to be hiring so quickly."
"It's not your fault. Don't worry tok much."
He climbed in next to her and pulled the covers over himself."But I do worry, Han. I should be able to keep a steady income."
"Caleb, stop it. You've still got your internship, they kept you after grad, and that's great. It doesn't happen to a lot of students. We're really lucky." She said, cuddling into him.
"Yeah, but now that I've been graduated for a year, I should start looking for a more permanent position somewhere else. My job is great, but it's not really a flexible position. And I want a position with the correct salary that I'm qualified to earn. I wouldn't have gone through all that school if I wasn't focused on the salary. It's a big one, and we deserve it."
"Yes we do, but you deserve to slow down." She rubbed the back of his hand, lacing their fingers together. "Don't stress yourself out. It's not like the corporation will go down. We can last."
"I know, but that doesn't mean I can't keep an eye out."
"No, it doesn't. So don't worry about it. If you find something, that will be wonderful, but for now you need to focus on the important things. Like me and Coop."
"I know," he sighed, kissing her forehead and snapping off the bedside lamp.
As Hanna turned herself over and closed her eyes, she silently became overcome with worry. Despite what she had told her mom, in reality her job was awful. The hours had increased and the minimum pay wasn't ideal either. When Cooper had been a toddler, most of his milestones happened around either her or Caleb. She wasn't enjoying the parties on the weekends because they messed up her entire family schedule. Quitting just wasn't an option.
Do you like this? Should I continue? Please tell me what you think! And if you want to see anything in this story, please don't forget to mention it in your review! Don't be shy, either, I'm really curious for any ideas.