I haven't updated in a while and I know I suck, I'm sorry.
Oh and I'm going to pretend Aria grew up in a town called Rosewood too but it's in NY not PA.
Ezra tossed his coat onto the couch in his living room, smiling to himself as he watched Aria hang hers up. No matter how many times he told her it she could just throw her jacket wherever, Aria insisted she would do no such thing and would proceed to tell him something like a messy house equals a messy mind.
"I know what you're thinking," Aria smirked as she looked at Ezra from around the coat rack as she zipped up the zipper to her jacket on its hanger.
Ezra flashed her a boyish smile before collapsing onto his couch and putting his hands behind his head.
"Glad to be home?" Aria asked as she took in Ezra's relieved demeanor, his legs now stretched out in front of him.
Ezra nodded and spread his arms out signaling he wanted Aria to join him. Aria gave him a small smile before sliding in next to him and curling up to his side.
"To be honest I'm glad we're back too," Aria admitted. "Rosewood holds a lot of memories I'd rather not remember."
Ezra lightly moved his finger back and forth on Aria's side his head finding a place to rest on top of hers. "Well we're here now and it's just the two of us," he reminded her before moving to brush his lips against her hair.
Aria closed her eyes for a moment focusing on the whisper of a touch Ezra's mouth was leaving behind before it quickly moved to another spot on her head. She could slowly feel her consciousness slipping the day's events having worn her out completely. Between everything with Matt and saying goodbye to her family, saying she was emotionally and physically exhausted would be an understatement.
Even though Aria had slept a lot in the car, Ezra could tell she was extremely tired by the fight she was putting up trying to keep her eyelids open. Ezra lightly moved his hand through her dark brown tresses knowing she found it relaxing as they just laid together in each other's arms.
Ezra felt himself getting drowsy too, Aria's body wrapped around him providing just enough warmth to make the position they were in very comfortable. Soon he could feel his muscles becoming heavier and his breathing more steady as he eventually drifted off to sleep along with Aria.
As the week went on Aria and Ezra gradually were able to get back into their daily routine, Aria finding it easier and easier every day to come to peace with everything that had happened. For the first time in a really long time Aria finally felt like she as in a really good place.
Aria pressed the button for the elevator her eyes trained on the illuminated circle. A sharp ding soon sounded indicating the doors would open momentarily. She quickly stepped inside, leaning against the wall as other people who lived in the apartment building filed in. Hanna had just dropped Aria off after driving home from work together, as Aria felt bad having Ezra drive her every single day. Ezra swore it didn't bother him at all but still Aria felt like it was unfair to him.
Soft chatter filled the small metal chamber, every so often one or two people stepping out to go to their floor. Finally it reached the level Ezra's apartment resided on, and Aria squeezed her way through the remaining people to get to the hallway.
Ezra had spent most of his day lounging around like usual when he didn't have Aria there to occupy his time. He was beyond happy that she had a job but he never realized how boring his life was until he finally found something or rather someone that made it interesting.
All that changed though when he heard a knock on his door followed by the infamous voice of Hardy calling out "Z!"
Ezra chuckled lightly and shook his head at his friends' use of his college nickname before hopping up from the table he was sitting out to open the door.
"What did I say about not being a stranger?" Hardy gave him a pointed look and thumped his hand against Ezra's chest before seeing himself in.
Ezra playfully rolled his eyes and shut his front door before following Hardy into his kitchen. His best friend had already opened up his fridge and was rummaging for something to eat as if it were his own house he was in.
"Seriously though, we haven't talked in weeks," Hardy said as he took a bite of an apple he had found.
"I've just been really busy," Ezra sighed as he brought his hand to rest on the back of his neck.
Hardy gave him a "really" look before walking over to Ezra's couch and sitting down with is feet resting on the coffee table in front of it.
"What is this?" Hardy asked as he held up a woman's scarf he had found near the foot of the couch a knowing smile on his face.
"Oh um that's that friend I was telling you about a while back right after I ended it with Jackie," Ezra explained. "We're sort of together now."
"The hot one?" Hardy clarified.
Ezra scowled at Hardy before replying, "Yes the hot one."
"Is she coming here soon?" Hardy asked his eyes lighting up and a grin spreading across his face.
"Yes but please don't be a perv," Ezra pushed on Hardy's shoulder before sitting down on the couch next to him.
Hardy held his hands up as if he were innocent before saying, "I just want to see the girl that has my best friend so enamored," he laughed.
"Nice vocab word," Ezra teased. Hardy had definitely not been very scholarly in college so hearing him say words like that still sounded weird to Ezra.
"Funny," Hardy scrunched up his face before falling back onto the cushions of the couch and grabbing the remote that rested on one of the side tables.
Aria finally made it to Ezra's apartment door as she fumbled around in her coat pocket for her key. She eventually grasped the small piece of metal in her hands and pulled it out before sliding it into the lock. She heard two male voices and what sounded like a basketball game coming from inside as she walked further into the apartment.
Hardy and Ezra looked up from the T.V. as Aria stepped into the living room giving a small wave to the two of them.
"Is this her?" Hardy smiled as he looked over to Ezra. Ezra nodded before looking back to Aria giving her a look that said "sorry" to which Aria just giggled.
Hardy strode across Ezra's apartment and lightly grasped Aria's hand before pressing a soft kiss to the top of her hand. "Very nice to meet you," he grinned.
Aria could see Ezra rolling her eyes at his friends behavior as he walked over to join the two of them. "Aria this is my friend Hardy," Ezra introduced him. "We met in college," he explained.
"Well it's very nice to meet you too," Aria laughed as she bit her lip and looked up at Ezra's friend.
Hardy gave her an award winning smile before asking, "Can we all go out?" as he glanced between Aria and Ezra. "I need a beer and Ezra," Hardy stressed his name and lightly hit his chest, "doesn't have any."
Ezra shrugged and looked to Aria for her approval to which she smiled and gave a small nod.
"You're driving," Hardy told Ezra as he grabbed his coat and started walking out the door. Ezra shook his head and chuckled before grabbing Aria's hand and following him out.
"So Hardy's quite the character," Aria giggled as they walked a couple of paces behind said person.
"That's one word," Ezra reasoned. He looked down at Aria and smiled before lightly pecking the top of her head. "I swear I don't know how we became friends sometimes," he laughed.
"Heard that," Hardy called out. He turned around for a moment and scoffed at Ezra before turning back.
"You were meant to," Ezra teasingly retorted.
"You want something while I'm up there," Hardy jutted his thumb towards the bar he was headed too while Aria slid in next to Ezra at their booth.
"I'll just have whatever you're getting," Ezra said.
"I'm okay," Aria held up her hands and lightly shook her head.
Hardy nodded before pulling out his wallet and making his way over to where the bartender was standing.
"You sure you don't want anything?" Ezra asked as he interlocked their hands together on the top of the glossy wooden table.
Aria nodded and gave him a soft smile before reminding him technically she wasn't even old enough to drink.
Ezra still couldn't believe she was so young and would continually forget this detail as she acted so mature all of the time. It hit him like a ton of bricks to be reminded that she was only recently turned 19.
He stared down at Aria who had luckily turned her head to watch some live performance, his eyes trailing the features of her face. He had to admit she looked young, perhaps even younger than she was, but the second she opened her mouth it was obvious she was much wiser than her years.
"Maybe you should get up there," Aria smiled as she pointed to the stage where someone was now reading a poem they wrote.
"Maybe you should get up there," Ezra laughed.
"Fair enough," she shrugged. Aria flashed him a smile before leaning into his chest, Ezra's arm now draped around her shoulder. Ezra's fingers lightly coiled a piece of Aria's hair around themselves before releasing the locks only to repeat the process.
Soon they could see Hardy barreling through the crowd drinks in hand a huge grin plastered across his face.
"One for you," he slid Ezra's mug of beer towards him, "One for me. And I got you one just in case you changed your mind," Hardy told Aria as he slid her glass near her. "They said a waiter would be over soon if we wanted to order anything else not from the bar," he explained.
Aria politely smiled and thanked him even though she had no intention of drinking it, not wanting to risk getting caught and getting Ezra and/or Hardy in trouble.
"So I hook up with her in the library, but you can't get serious in the sociology stacks right?" Hardy took a swig of his drink before leaning back and continuing his story. "So I take her back to my dorm room-"
"I can't believe you're telling this story," Ezra interrupted as he sighed.
"Let him finish I want to hear," Aria laughed. She lightly bumped shoulders with Ezra as she rested her hand on his knee.
"She wants to hear," Hardy held up his hands. "So I get her back, he," Hardy pointed his finger at Ezra, "is sounds asleep of course."
Aria giggled at Hardy's small jab actually finding it adorable that Ezra was probably one of those really nerdy college kids.
"I get her shirt off things are happening, life is good and then this geek right here starts laughing in his sleep," Hardy laughs. "And he's done this before but this chick would just not believe he was asleep."
"Which I was," Ezra said.
"You laugh in your sleep?" Aria asked followed by a nod from Ezra. "Why haven't I heard it before?"
Ezra shrugged his shoulders, "Maybe you weren't listening hard enough," he proposed.
"That's cute," Aria smiled as she slid the tiniest bit closer to Ezra.
"Well enough about us, have any good college stories Aria?" Hardy asked completely oblivious to the small moment Aria and Ezra were just having.
"I actually didn't go to college," Aria admitted. A light blush tinted her cheeks, the fact that she hadn't gone to college or even finished high school for that matter always a bit of an embarrassing topic for her.
"Oh," Hardy look surprised. "Well no shame," he waved his hand and smiled. "Truthfully if my parents hadn't forced me to go, I wouldn't have either," he confessed lowering his voice as if was some huge secret.
Aria smiled back at him and laughed softly, grateful for his non-judgmental reaction.
"We should all go somewhere, I really like you," Hardy said nodding and pointing at Aria. "Somewhere fun."
"Sounds good to me," Aria looked up at Ezra and smiled to which he agreed as well.
"Want to go to that club on 5th?" Hardy suggested. "The one with those really cool chairs in the back," he clarified looking at Ezra.
Aria's stomach dropped slightly at the mention of club, knowing pretty much all of them checked for I.D. And if she remembered correctly this was one that required you to be 21+.
Ezra glanced toward Aria quickly and back at Hardy, not sure how to approach the situation.
"I'm gonna go pay for these real quick first," Ezra motioned towards the beer glasses on the table as he pulled out his wallet. "Can you come with me?" He said looking to Hardy.
"You really can't spot me just this once," Hardy teased as he gave Ezra a jokingly disappointed look.
"Just come on," Ezra said laughing lightly. He began walking towards the bar as Hardy reluctantly slid out of the booth and followed him.
"I think we should pick somewhere else," Ezra explained as he fished around in his wallet for the cash he needed.
"Oh the one on 9th?" Hardy proposed.
"No," Ezra shook his head, "I mean not a club." Ezra handed the bills to the woman who had been waiting their table, telling her he didn't need any change. He turned back to Hardy who lips were pursed, his head slightly shaking back and forth.
"Dude," Hardy sighed. "What are you doing?"
Ezra furrowed his brow and cocked his head to the side. "What are you talking about exactly?"
"How old is she?"
Ezra inhaled as he looked around before mumbling, "19." He could see a disapproving expression flash across Hardy's face causing Ezra to become irritated. "It's not like she's under 18," Ezra defended himself.
"No," Hardy agreed, "she's not. But you are 7 years older than her," he reminded him.
"So," Ezra replied. He ran his hand along the back of his neck as he inconspicuously glanced back at Aria.
"So, you're at completely different stages in your life," Hardy clarified.
"She's actually really mature for her age," Ezra snapped. He sighed, annoyed at himself that he was reacting so intensely. He could see Hardy was slightly taken aback by his tone of voice but he didn't understand why he was questioning him about this all of a sudden.
"Exactly," Hardly merely stated. "She's 19 and acting as if she's 30. Don't you want her to experience being a child instead of settling down with you before she's even 20? And I know she's living there with you so obviously it's not some fling and is pretty serious."
"Why are you doing this?" Ezra asked. He exhaled heavily as he dragged his hand down his face.
"I'm just looking out for you," Hardy explained. "She's young and who knows what she's going to want in a couple of months and I just don't want you getting hurt if she realizes this isn't it."
Ezra swallowed thickly as Hardy's words continued to burrow themselves deeper and deeper into his head. Was he preventing Aria from enjoying her life by expecting too much of her at such a young age? It'd never really crossed his mind before but Hardy was right in that Aria had never had that teenage/young adult experience that he remembered was one of the fondest times of his life. He wanted Aria to have the chance to explore the world but he wasn't sure he could just pick up his stuff and go anywhere with her. His publisher was in New York City, his apartment was in New York City…his life was in New York City.
He hated to admit it but Hardy did have a valid point. Even still though, the last thing he needed was a lecture from the one guy who was notorious for inappropriate hookups. His mind was swarmed with these thoughts as him and Hardy walked back over to where Aria was at the table an awkward silence developing between the two of them.
"Did I miss something or?" Aria looked between Hardy and Ezra a concerned expression gracing her features as the two guys refused to meet each other's eyes.
"It's nothing," Ezra dismissed. "We should probably get going though. We'll have to all hang out another time."
"Ok," Aria said, the confusion and apprehension still very prevalent in her voice.
"It was nice to meet you Aria," Hardy looked up at her and gave her a small smile accompanied with a wave.
"You too," she smiled back as she held out her hand for him to shake which he did.
Ezra gave Hardy a nod as some type of acknowledgement before taking Aria's hand and leading her out of the restaurant.
"Don't we need to drive him back to your place?" Aria wondered as Ezra continued to pull her towards his car they had parked on the side of the street.
"He can walk," Ezra said his tone completely indifferent. "Or take the subway."
Aria nodded not wanting to press the issue further since Ezra had already told her it was no big deal. She hoped he felt that he could talk to her and if not eventually maybe he would learn too.
Ezra pulled his car keys from his pocket, pressing the unlock button a sharp beep sounding signaling they could get in.
"I had a lot of fun today," Aria said as she and Ezra each shut their doors. She gave Ezra a soft smile as she rested her hand on his arm before dragging it down to his hand. She gave it a light squeeze and leaned over the console to brush her lips against his cheek.
She moved her lips over slightly about to press a kiss to his lips but she could have sworn she felt him turn his head even if it was just a fraction of an inch.
"Ezra is something wrong?" Aria pulled back from his lips and looked at him worriedly. "Did Hardy say something?"
"You're 19," Ezra stated.
Aria looked at him quizzically before nodding and saying, "Yes I am."
"And I'm 26."
"Yes you are."
"Aria," Ezra looked down at the floor of the car before bringing his eyes to meet hers. He grasped her hands in his, resting them on the arm rest between them. "These past few weeks have been some of the best in my entire life and I'm being completely honest when I say that." He swallowed and looked at their intertwined hands before looking back up at Aria's face. "You're so young…" he trailed off, a pained expression flashing across his features.
Aria scrunched her nose up and leaned back slightly a tightening feeling beginning to form in her throat. "Why does it feel like you're breaking up with me?"
"I'm not," Ezra assured. "I'm not." He repeated. "It's just…I'm not sure where you see this going in the future. It would kill me knowing I was keeping you from doing things that you want."
Ironically it was killing Ezra right now to see the way Aria was looking at him, her eyes beginning to water and mouth forming into a pout.
Ezra could feel his heart constricting as a tear cascaded down the soft skin of Aria's cheek, running towards her chin before falling onto the upholster of his car.
"Age has never been an issue before," Aria mumbled, as a sob escaped her throat.
"When it's just the two of us," Ezra said. "But being out with Hardy and listening to him tell you that college story made me realize everything you've missed out on and will continue to miss out on."
"I don't care," Aria whispered. "I just want you." She stared back at Ezra trying to convey how she felt to him.
"I want you to," Ezra murmured, "Believe me." He trailed the tips of his fingers along her jawline before moving his thumb across her face wiping away the tears that had settled there. He withdrew his hand and put it in his lap before looking back at her. "But I don't know how this is supposed to work out."
Hope you guys liked this! As you can tell it was very heavily influenced by episode 1x05 haha. Also the whole age thing is my favorite part about ezria so I really wanted to incorporate it somehow and this will become something they struggle and deal with as a couple. I promise I will try to update soon and it definitely won't be as long of a wait.
Please please review and tweet/follow me on twitter (proudofhale) :)