I really wanted to get this up before the episode it's based off aired so I'm pretty happy right now... got it up with five minutes to spare :P


"You're a good Dad, Ezra," Aria said, once he'd re-joined her in the living area of his apartment. He took Malcolm's now-vacant side of the couch, leaving a small gap between their bodies. She looked up to see Ezra smile with pride, and gave him a small smile of her own. She dropped it a moment later. Baggage.

Ezra's smile dropped as soon as hers did and he muttered "Thanks."

It was silent for a moment and Aria wondered when it was that they forgot how to speak to each other. Although she knew they still needed to talk about more important things, she decided she needed to do something to break the unnatural tension.

"I mean," she continued on from her previous sentence, "I had my doubts seeing as you can barely open a tin of Spaghetti-O's without ending up in A&E with a sliced up hand."

"Hey, that was one time!" Ezra argued jokingly, and Aria noticed he began to trace the scar on the side of his hand. She rolled her eyes and shoved his shoulder playfully – was she still allowed to be playful with him?

"I mean it though, you're really good with him. You compliment each other."

"Thank you, Aria," Ezra said, sliding a bit closer to her on the big brown couch, "But I didn't ask you here to talk about my parenting skills."

Aria nodded slowly, knowing exactly why it was that Ezra had invited her over (and even more so why she'd agreed) but wanted him to say it, she needed him to say it because she could still hear the word baggage echoing around in her head.

"Why did you ask me here?"

Ezra was quiet for a moment before his warm hands grabbed Aria's, forcing her to look up into his big blue eyes. Baggage, baggage, baggage…

"I want you back," he answered honestly, his eyes never leaving hers. Aria swallowed, tears prickling at the back of her eyes for reasons unknown. She honestly thought that hearing him say that would make it all easier, but it hadn't – it just made her sad because she didn't know how to get back to what they had once been, she didn't know how to pretend not to be hurt, not to feel used. She didn't know how to be his girlfriend anymore because all she felt like was baggage.

"Ezra…" she began but trailed off, unsure of what she wanted to say to him. Could they still be friends? Could they slowly build up a relationship again? But then there's Malcolm. She couldn't be a stepmother at her age, she wasn't ready for her serious relationship to become even more adult because as much as she liked to consider herself to be an adult, she wasn't one, she was seventeen, she hadn't even had a legal drink yet. "Everything is so different now." She pulled her hands away and Ezra sighed, rubbing his hands together as if to warm the place where Aria's hands had been.

"I know, Aria," he agreed, nodding his head, "I know you're scared."

"I'm not-" Aria interrupted but Ezra gave her a look as if to say 'don't even try and pretend' and she went quiet.

"I understand that it's hard to wrap your head around everything, heck, I can't even get my head around it!" He smiled and moved closer once more, their knees were now brushing together. "But we can do it together, Aria. Please."

"We can do what together, Ezra?" Aria snapped, "Raise a son?" Ezra sighed and looked down. "I'm sorry but I can't pretend like I'm okay with this when I'm not." Ezra nodded and moved further away. "And what you said…" She spoke softly, knowing that her hurt was almost palpable from her words. "The way you looked at me…"

"I'm so sorry for how I acted, Aria, I mean it. I wanted to take it back as soon as I said it. You're not baggage to me, you're my rock. I love you." Aria looked down at her hands, twisting her fingers into knots. She loved him, too, and that's why it hurt so much. "But I'm not gonna pretend either," he continued, "I don't understand how you could have kept something like that me or how you let Maggie cloud your judgement."

Aria looked up at her ex-boyfriend's face and answered honestly, "I was scared." Her voice was quieter than she'd meant it to be but she wanted him to believe her. If she walked out of this apartment tonight as a single woman, she wanted to at least have the knowledge that he forgave her.

"Of my reaction?" He asked.

"Yes," she said with a nod, "And for what it meant for Malcolm, what it meant for me, for us." Ezra nodded and Aria couldn't help but notice that he had slid closer to her once more. She moved closer to him. "Maggie practically blackmailed me into not telling you."

"You should have told me," Ezra said firmly, "But I understand what you're saying. I'm sorry I yelled at you before, especially infront of everybody."

"I'm sorry I slapped you," Aria giggled softly. Ezra let out a chuckle himself and rubbed his cheek.

"That was sore, I'll have you know," he joked, "How somebody so small can pack that much force, I'll never know." They laughed again but the mood soon returned to the serious one it had been before.

"I am sorry, Ezra," Aria repeated, referring to the information she had withheld from him, "I should have found a way to tell you."

"I forgive you," Ezra said, placing a hand on her knee. Sparks flew up Aria's body at the simple touch and she was suddenly trying very hard to remember why it was she wanted to stay away from him. Baggage. Oh, yeah. "Can you forgive me?" Ezra asked quietly. Aria's eyes snapped up to his, her heart telling her one thing and her head telling her another. His blue eyes held so much emotion as she started into them, but there was one emotion more clear than any other, and it was love. He loved her, she knew he did. "Please."

And suddenly, the ringing stopped. All she could hear was him breathing, all she could feel was his breath on her face. She knew she wasn't baggage to him; he loved her just as she loved him. They were meant to be together, they were Aria and Ezra, they defied odds and social norms, they loved each other fiercely and irrevocably, and nothing could tear them apart – not Jackie, not her father, and certainly not a seven-year-old boy.

She released a breath she didn't know she was holding and nodded, tears escaping her eyes and dragging mascara down her cheeks.

"Yes," she cried, "Yes, I forgive you."

Ezra let out an exalted laugh before grabbing her face in his hands and pressing his lips to hers in a passionate kiss. It was salty with Aria's tears but it didn't matter. Aria wrapped her arms around his neck, allowing him to pick her up and carry her towards his bed.

They knew that they still had along way to go but they were sure they'd get there together.

Fin.


As per usual, I have NOT read over this so I apologise for any mistakes.

Please review :) I might (MAYBE) do another chapter as an M rated alternative ending. But, let's face it, you'll probably be waiting a while so don't get your hopes up. :P

-K