A/N: I pray this is realistic enough. I'm pretty much a sucker for realism and not all this fluffy, gooey alternate universe stuff I see around in fandoms. So, I hope you enjoy this longer chapter! And remember, reviews make my day extra special!
Pulling into Spencer's polished driveway, Aria sniffled quietly and peaked at her reflection in the rearview mirror. Horrified, she noted how the makeup adorning her large, hazel eyes had drawn dark streaks down her green-looking cheeks with her tears. After receiving that coldhearted piece of blackmail from A, she worried for herself more than ever before—maybe because a living, breathing being was growing inside her. (Well, living, at least. She had taken bio class last year, and knew perfectly well that the baby didn't even have functioning lungs yet.)
A few minutes later, she found herself still huddled in the driver's seat, eyes wild and mesmerized, hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly, her already pale knuckles flushed whiter.
"She's here, you guys!" Aria heard someone—Hanna—call from the front door, which was gaping open. How long had she been standing there, watching Aria drown in her sorrow, sickness, and worry? After glimpsing at Aria's dazed expression, however, her peppy air soured, and she put a concerned hand on her hip, cocking her head; her eyebrows raised and formed troubled creases all along her spotless forehead.
"Aria?" she called, striding haphazardly to her parked vehicle. Meanwhile, Aria had to remind herself to keep breathing, though her gut felt like all air had been punched out of her. "Aren't you going to come inside?"
Inside? I don't even know what I'm doing here.
Shaking her head like she was in her own fantasy land, she blinked her dry, crusted eyes a couple of times and wiped her wet nose, unladylike, on her equally parched hand. "Oh? Yeah, I'm fine." But then a rapid tidal wave of nausea flooded her throat, and she put a cautious hand on the door handle. "Actually, I have to go to the bathroom," she sputtered quickly, praying she wouldn't blow chunks all over Hanna's evident new pair of Jimmy Choo slippers. When Hanna made no move except to stare strangely at her, one eye bugging wider than the other as though she was insane, Aria shooed her with her tenuous hands. "Move. Now."
As she vomited promptly in the nearest toilet in Spencer's welcoming house, Spencer, Emily, and Hanna stood guard, worrisome at the door. "Is she all right?" Emily asked anxiously and uncertainly, horribly confused about what was going on.
"Does she seem fine?" Spencer snapped rudely, apprehension for her best friend's health getting the best of her. "Team Sparia is out, and the doctor is in," she then joked, but it was more to comfort herself than anyone else.
Emily, not the least bit offended by Spencer's snide remark—in fact, she was used to it—turned to Hanna, her big brown eyes crinkled from the overwhelming sense of stress. "What did she say, Hanna?"
Now Hanna, feeling accused, lifted her hands up in defense as the attention was turned to her. "All she said was that she was fine, then she pushed me aside and ran to the bathroom."
There came the sound of a toilet flushing, followed by a miserable sniffle emanating from behind the door. A couple of gasps later, and the noise of running water blocked Aria's whimpers. The trio felt sympathy tug at their heartstrings when they realized her friend was crying, the faucet having been turned off.
At first, the three of them did nothing but glance at either each other, the wall, the ceiling, or the floor. Spencer studied the Victorian portrait hung above a perky vase of flowers more than she ever did before, realized she was being silly, and presumptuously knocked on the bathroom door, hesitant for a split second, but by then the deed was done. "Aria?" she murmured reluctantly. "Can we come in?"
When no reply came, Emily confidently took ahold of the handle and pushed it open. And there, a lump on the plush rug, was Aria, shakily wiping her wrecked makeup off her pale, sweaty face. Hanna embraced the ugly, sorrowful sight in front of her and pushed past Emily and Spencer, who were standing in the doorway, speechless.
"Oh, sweetie," she murmured, kneeling next to Aria and dabbing under her swollen eyes sympathetically, a small whimper escaping Aria's horrible-tasting throat. "What's wrong?" she asked kindly, handing her the tissue Spencer had retrieved from an open box on the counter. "Are you sick?"
Noisily Aria blew her red, itchy nose after accepting the nice offer from Hanna, and shook her head. "No," she croaked, while Spencer and Emily joined the duo on the cold ground. "It's…worse."
"What do you mean?" Emily inquired—panicking about the worst, such cancer or the stomach flu—before shutting her mouth. Spencer shot her a glare that told her to stop prying. "Sorry…"
Aria's wobbling hazel eyes danced to and from each of her friends' faces, their round, shimmering, anxious orbs of various colors pouring into hers. And she knew that even if she wanted to, she couldn't hide her secret from her friends—not now, not ever. Baggy shirts could only conceal it for so long before she had to fess up to someone.
"I have to tell you guys something," Aria started, sniffling through her clogged nasal passages, "but can we move this to the living room?"
After a few minutes of tension-filled silence, the four friends had set up fort on the couch, blankets draped over them, especially on Aria, who was, at that moment, attempting to gulp away her gnawing nerves. However, the still air eventually became too much, and Spencer's voice made it tremble.
"Are you feeling better?" she asked Aria, hoping their questions didn't create the sense of a police interrogationg. Or, from how Aria was acting, her fidgeting increasingly becoming worse, a parent investigation.
"Yeah," Aria responded automatically as though she was embarrassed to admit she'd been feeling under the weather at all. "It's not the first time…"
"What do you mean, not the first time?" Emily chimed in, always the frantic one. "This has been going on for a while?"
When Aria nodded, almost as though it was impossible for her to move, everyone was stunned silent. "Why haven't you seen a doctor?" Hanna asked the big question everyone was wondering: Why hadn't she?
At first, Aria didn't answer. In fact, she didn't want to. But these were her friends, and they were worried about her, and it was killing her to seem so confused and ignorant, all because she had been the foolish one. "Because," she replied, wishing so badly she could just shrug it off like it was nothing. "I'm scared of what I might already know…what they'll confirm."
"And what's that, Aria?" Spencer's heart was pounding so hard in her chest, she was afraid that it would jump out of her mouth. Listening intently, she waited for the moment all her jumbled worries would become focused on Aria and whatever problem she was going through.
Sighing heavily, Aria decided it wasn't worth keeping it a secret. So she glanced at her friends—after this, they would no longer be oblivious to what was happening in her love life—and dug into her bag, dragging out the two positive tests and handing them to Spencer, whose expression resembled that of pure confusion—or maybe foreboding.
As soon as Spencer saw the positive sign and recognized the device, her heart stopped, and she gave a start: Her mouth opened in a gawking O-shape, but no words came out. "A-Aria," she stuttered, brows creasing fearfully, "are you…pregnant?"
Startled, Emily lunged for the tests a split second before Hanna did, and the two girls squeezed into the same seat as they studied them, lips parting. And they figured out about it before nasty A could turn them against each other.
"Aria...," Emily began, but she didn't even know where to begin. Meanwhile, silent tears ran down Aria's face, but she hastily swiped them away. She was tired of crying and feeling horrible about her baby. "Does…does Ezra know? Do your parents?"
"No!" Aria snapped, a bit too soon and roughly. "I mean…no. They don't. And I have no idea how I'm going to tell them." Again, she had to bite her lip just to salvage what was rest of her makeup and prevent another mental breakdown. Eventually, though, she couldn't hold it for long. "Guys…" One, two, three tears spotted her cheeks. "I'm…I'm terrified." With that, she broke down and sobbed. "What did I do?" she whispered, mumbling her words.
Calmly, Spencer wrapped an arm around Aria's shoulder, laying her head on Aria's shaky one. "It's all right," she soothed while rubbing her back. "Everything will be okay."
"How could I tell them their little girl is pregnant?" Aria cried as Hanna and Emily joined the feeling circle. "I wasn't even supposed to be seeing him. He's been tortured by my family enough. Now, my dad's probably going to send him off to some remote island in the middle of nowhere for ruining his daughter."
"Aria, calm down. Calm down, sweetie, it's okay," Hanna pacified, giving Aria a brief hug. "Let's just talk this through for now, okay? We could figure out how to tell your parents later."
As soon as Aria plugged up her tears and managed to stop shaking as much, they all formed a circle around her like eager, obsequious servants—but they all knew that this was very serious. "First's thing first, I guess," Spencer piped up, clapping her hands. "You have seven or eight months to think about whether to keep the baby or not. But as of now, someone needs to know what you're going through, and it can't be your three teenage best friends who know nothing of childbearing."
"What Spencer means by that," Hanna cut in, rolling her eyes, "is that you need a doctor, Aria. And we can help you find one."
For the first time that day, Aria was able to crack a smile, her lip twisting up at a corner.
"And then you'll need to tell someone you care about," Emily stated, the sternest of the close group. "Like Ezra. Or your parents."
"I thought we were going to talk about that later?" Aria grumbled while she moaned and collapsed backwards on the couch, limp hair spreading out around her head like a fan. "But they need to know…"
"Yeah…," the other three murmured in agreement. The room settled down to the point that it was so silent, the tick of an antique clock on the wall could be heard echoing in the living room.
And, just like that, the thought that Aria was pregnant wasn't so big of a deal anymore. They could get through this, as friends, just like the many other times they squashed huge situations and made it look like a piece of cake. The only difference was: this time, an actual life of an unnamed child was in their hands.
Spencer let out a small giggle, remembering the picture of Aria and Ezra kissing that A had sent her. Then the thought of kooky, amazing Aria hooking up with their ex-English teacher was too awkward to handle, and she burst out laughing—and loudly.
"What's so funny?" Emily asked like Spencer had committed a sin.
"It's just—" Spencer wiped away a stray tear, the stress melting away with each sputter "—you and Mr. Fitz? It's never been able to process in my head."
She only had reason to chortle additionally when Aria's jaw dropped open, low and metaphorically to the floor. Soon, Hanna joined in, and Aria launched a pillow at the two of them, thanking Emily for not choosing sides—even though there was a long, bright smile on her face.
"Stop!" Aria laughed, shoving Spencer playfully as her thoughts roamed to Ezra's handsome, understanding face. "If you had been there…"
However, just with that word—understanding—her giddy reminisces were tainted. As her friends continued with their fun, Aria had to put on yet another façade, hoping that this time they wouldn't see through it—not until she told him about their baby.
But was he as understanding as she thought he was?