This is a re-upload of a story I posted over a year ago. I was never fully happy with it so I rewrote the ending and now I'm much happier. Enjoy :)
Last time I checked, I didn't own PLL. Pretty sure it's still true. Also, lyrics from a Delorentos song called "Bullet In A Gun".
"I was four, when you left me,
And the sky fell down upon me.
But hey little boy, you know it's just life,
Some gotta leave so some survive.
Father passes to his son,
It's a bullet in a gun that makes the man run."
"But you can't call here anymore."
Words can do many things. In those books to which I cling, they can move me in a way that no film or television drama could ever do. They can offer solace at the end of the day when all I need is a pen and paper to make the world around me fade away. Words can bring people together and bind them forever. Words can leave you breathless, make you forget your own name and bring you back to life. With the right words in the right order, everything can change.
Words can tear you apart.
In the hours following my quick and cold break-up with Aria, I did nothing with myself. The pile of beer bottles and scotch glasses piled up around me until any sudden movements would send a mass of trash tumbling to the floor. Papers I had left to grade lay ignored on my desk since I'd abandoned them to take her call. That was eight hours ago. It was four in the morning and my white shirt, which had been crisp and immaculate hours earlier, was now marred by beer I'd drunkenly sloshed.
I was on my way into an alcohol-induced coma, but I didn't care. At least if I blacked out, the image I'd conjured up of her devastated face would stop appearing behind my eyelids every time I closed them. If I wasn't conscious maybe the sound of her disbelieving gasp would fade away and the words of a furious Byron Montgomery could dissolve into nothingness.
The police. He'd threatened to call the police. I expected the coldness, the fury, the venom, but I never truly believed that he'd threaten to hand me into the police if I went near her again. And what did I do? Run away like a coward.
In my mind I'd always pictured giving a big, valiant speech about how age doesn't matter and that I'd never think about hurting her and that if they just gave us a chance to explain that what we had wasn't a perverted, disgusting mistake but a caring, loving partnership they'd see that we were meant to be together. But all of that had vanished, slinked away to the back of my mind the second I'd seen the sincerity in Byron's eyes.
There had always been a part of me which knew how wrong what we were doing was, a part of me aware that it could all come crashing down to our feet at any moment. Truth be told, it's a wonder we lasted so long with so much against us. I'd never tell her, but just because it feels right, doesn't exactly mean that it is right.
But, I loved Aria enough not to care. It was worth being ridiculed so long as I had her beside me. At least, it had been before the police became a very tangible factor.
Sometime around six a.m., when I'd drank enough for at least three people; I lost consciousness, falling into the black abyss of dreamless sleep.
I awoke on my bathroom floor, having no recollection of how and when I'd gotten there.
My lips were cracked and dry and I could still taste the foul regurgitations on my tongue. With a groan I forced myself into a sitting position, my head was aching and I couldn't determine if it was the room or I spinning. Whichever it was, I hoped it would stop soon as I could feel my stomach turning once more. I tried to remember just how much I had drank last night but thinking made my head hurt, so instead I pulled myself up off the floor and traipsed into the kitchen. I could practically feel the alcohol sloshing inside of my stomach and gagged.
I grabbed a two-litre bottle of water from the fridge and chugged as much as I could, relishing in the feel of the refreshing mineral trickling down my throat. There were some Advil in the cupboard so I popped two of those before picking up my phone, planning on ringing Aria to tell her not to come over till later as I needed to get my apartment into order.
The realisation that I couldn't call her was staggering. I leant against the kitchen counter, trying to comprehend how everything I loved about my life suddenly had no meaning. Aria, my beautiful girlfriend, my awe-inspiring muse, my best friend, was out of my life. As I looked around the apartment I couldn't see any part of it that didn't remind me of her. The centre of the room where she'd first confessed her love for me, the couch where many breath-taking, heart-stopping make-out sessions had taken place, the kitchen where we'd cooked together – well, she cooked, I watched – and the dinner table where we'd stack our food before tucking in on our date nights. The paper masks she'd made were still atop my bookshelf and I could see the stories she'd written for me sticking out from the shelf above my desk.
Aria made up so much of my life; I didn't know how I was supposed to cut her out of it. I didn't know if I could cut her out of it.
My stomach was still churning and along with the heartache it was enough to send me rushing to the bathroom, reaching the toilet just in time before the acidic contents of my stomach were emptied into the bowl.
I groaned and slumped against the side of the bath, wondering how I ever became this guy. I was never a huge drinker and I especially never got drunk by myself in my apartment. Not even after Jackie. My stomach lurched again and I barely reached the bowl in time.
I should have fought for her. The words swam around and around in my head as I slipped back into an uneasy sleep on the cool, tile floor.
The next time I awoke it was with a slightly clearer head. I glanced at my watch and was alarmed to see that it was five in the afternoon. My stomach rumbled and I knew it was in my best interest to get some proper food into me seeing as all I'd had was alcohol for nearly twenty hours.
There was nothing in my fridge or cupboards; I knew that without having to go check. And ordering Chinese would be too depressing without Aria to steal my chow mein, so that was off the list. I decided to get dressed and go out to the grille, I hadn't had a meal out in so long.
So I showered and dressed before grabbing a book and heading out to the ambient restaurant I'd so often dreamed of taking Aria to.
It was relatively empty for a Saturday night so I got a seat straight away. At this point I was starving, having not eaten for a full day. The waitress placed some dips on the table with a flirty smile. I gave her my order, barely even acknowledging her presence and I felt bad after she'd walked away with an off-put frown on her face.
I picked up a chip and munched on it with a satisfied groan. I reached for another and turned to my unopened book. That's when something outside the window caught my eye.
The Montgomery family were standing outside the door, their eyes displaying their shock at seeing me out and about. I, however, had only eyes for one of them, the short, beautiful girl in the middle – Aria.
Her eyes met mine and immediately I felt myself get lost in them, even from across the room. I rested my head in my palm, desperately wishing that I could go to her and sweep her into my arms, hold her so tight that we merged into one being – never to be separated again. I hoped she knew how much I wish things could be different, hoped that she knew how hard it was to say those things to her yesterday.
Byron and Ella walked away, leaving her there on the step. Our intense gaze didn't break and I tried to convey how much I wanted to be with her in a single look. A moment later, Aria looked away and stepped out of view.
"You must give up the life you had planned, in order to have the one that is waiting for you."
The words came to me suddenly and a second later I was after her. I left my book and jacket behind as I raced into the street. I could see the three of them, just about to turn around the corner and out of sight.
"ARIA!" I yelled after her, running towards the one woman I'd risk it all for. She turned and a huge grin made it's way across her face.
My heart soared as she began to run, too, our bodies colliding halfway. I picked her tiny body up in my arms, spinning her around with the force from our collision. My stomach churned again and I was forced to put her down.
I could hear her parents yelling in the background but all that I cared about was her tear-stained face.
Throwing caution to the wind, I pressed our lips together, never wanting to part from this wonderful, wonderful woman. We pulled apart after a moment, muttering our love for one another.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I breathed the words over her skin, desperately trying to fix our awful situation. "I love you, I'm sorry." How could I have been so stupid? Isn't this what we'd been fighting for all along? Wasn't this the very reason that we existed? We were soul mates, destined to be together but whatever force in the universe dictates love.
"I love you, too," she said with a smile. I kissed her again, softer this time.
"Here's your meal, sir. Enjoy."
I blinked and found myself back in the Rosewood Grille. The window where Aria had been standing was empty.
I'd let her go again.
Totes devo, right?