Title: The Greatest Mistake
Fictable Prompt: #049 Mistakes for Ihearttvsnark
Word Count: 1,878
Summary: Aria realizes not all second chances are a good idea.
Aria pressed her foot harder on the gas as she drove away from Hollis, her eyes burning with tears. It was Thursday night and she had gone by the college to surprise Ezra with some coffee because he’d told her that he’d be on campus late grading papers. It had been a couple of weeks since they told her parents about their relationship, but it hadn't fixed things like Aria thought it would.
She hadn’t intended to get back together with Ezra, not after all the time she’d spent with Jason over the summer, but after he willingly put himself out there and told her parents, Aria felt like she owed it to him to at least try and make the relationship work now that it was public knowledge. But it had been a mistake.
Aria hadn’t wanted things to go back to normal, she was confused and her feelings for Jason hadn’t helped, but after tonight she was done. She had walked down the hallway in the college and when she got to Ezra’s office, the door was half open. Aria went to push it open fully and caught sight of him and Jackie, their lips fiercely fused together as tongues dueled and hands shoved clothing aside.
She was frozen for a good minute before the sight made her sick to her stomach and propelled her into action. Aria had abruptly turned on her heel tossing both coffees in the garbage and practically ran back to her car. Her chest had been tight, it still was, but she wasn’t sure if it was hurt from the fact that he was cheating on her, or disappointment in herself for not going with her original instinct that she and Ezra had been over months ago.
Aria had wasted so much time trying to repair something that she didn’t want when there was another option; someone who understood her, who cared about her, who would never cheat on her. She had made a lot of mistakes in her life up until this point, most of them involving Alison, but this one was on her. The greatest mistake she’d ever made was not giving Jason a chance when she knew that was what she’d wanted all along since their talk after the fashion show.
What if he didn’t forgive her? When she told him a couple of weeks ago that she was giving Ezra another chance he had gotten quiet, told her if that’s what she wanted he was happy for her and that was it. Aria wasn’t sure what to make of it. He hadn’t acted any different with her since and it wasn’t like they’d been dating over the summer, but she couldn’t help feeling like she’d hurt him and she desperately wanted to make things right.
Aria could feel a stray tear slide down her cheek and she brushed it away angrily, not sure why she was even crying. She didn’t love Ezra anymore. She wasn’t sure when things had changed, but she was pretty sure it was around the same time Jason kissed her. There had been a shift inside of her and despite her friends disapproval she’d continued to spend time with him, getting to know him, not as Alison’s brother, but as a friend maybe even more.
The light turned red in front of her and she slammed on the breaks making her body jerk forward, her heart slamming into her throat as a car horn honked. Aria swallowed hard. She hadn’t been paying attention and for some reason that only made the tears in her eyes come faster and harder. Her vision grew blurry and when the light turned green she took her foot off the brake, but this time she made sure she wasn’t speeding. There was no need to; she was close to her destination.
She turned the car down her street and kept driving right past her house. She drove towards the end of the block and pulled over at the curb of the DeLaurentiis house, parking and shutting off the engine as she sat inside the car, trying to control her emotions. The last thing she wanted to do was ring the door bell looking like some kind of hysterical teenager.
Aria took a few deep breaths before pushing the car door open, shutting it behind her and walking purposefully up the porch steps and to the front door. She lifted her hand and knocked sharply on the door as she took a deep breath and waited.
Jason was in the kitchen just shutting off the whistling tea kettle when he heard the demanding knock on the door. He glanced over his shoulder towards the long hallway wondering who would be knocking on his door. He shifted away from the stove and walked out of the kitchen and towards the front door pulling it open slowly.
He frowned at the sight of Aria outside his door. Her tear streaked face glanced up at him and he reached out and tugged her gently inside the house by her arm before shutting the door behind her. Worry creased his brows as he ran his hands up and down her arms searching for injuries of any kind before placing his hand beneath her chin, tilting her head up. “What’s going on Aria? Are you okay?” He asked, his chest tightening as he brushed away some of her tears.
She sniffled the feel of his hands on her calming her slightly as she held his gaze. The look in his eyes was intense and she felt herself relaxing as she swallowed hard and nodded. “I’m okay,” She said her voice soft. “I’m sorry for just showing up here.” She paused watching him for a minute before telling him everything that happened before she got there.
She told him about the coffee and about Ezra and Jackie, she told him about the drive over and the almost accident, but most importantly she told him how she had been wrong. How she never should have given her relationship with Ezra a second chance because that wasn’t what she had wanted, not really anyway. It was just what she had thought was the right thing to do at the time. Aria stood there waiting as she watched Jason’s face closely for any sign of what he was thinking.
Jason pursed his lips and nodded towards the kitchen. “I was just making some tea, why don’t you come sit down and have some?” He said lightly as he turned and headed towards the kitchen pausing only to see if she was following him. Once he was in the kitchen he pulled out two mugs and poured two cups of tea. He didn’t typically drink the stuff, it was his Mom who had always been the tea drinker, but he’d had a long day and he had been trying to wind down and tea was apparently the way to do that.
Aria walked into the kitchen and sat down as she watched him making tea confusion on her face. Her heart was practically leaping out of her chest as she tried not to think about what it meant that he hadn’t said anything about what she just told him. The sound of the mug being placed in front of her knocked her out of her thoughts and her hands automatically curved around the mug. “Thanks,” She said softly.
Jason nodded and sat in front of her. “No problem.” He lifted his mug and blew on the tea as he watched her over the rim. He took a sip and, the nervousness on her face tugging at his heart. He saw her mouth open, but before she could speak he cut her off. “I like you Aria,” He said pausing, “You know that.” He pursed his lips as his brows furrowed. “But I’m not a second choice. I don’t want to be your consolation prize because things between you and Ezra didn’t work out.” He told her carefully.
Aria shook her head as she reached out covering one of his hands with hers. “You’re not,” She stressed, “Jason don’t, don’t say anything.” She told him quickly. “You aren’t my second choice. Ever since the night you kissed me I’ve had these feelings and before Ezra came out and told my parents about the fact that we had been in a relationship, I fully intended to act on them. I swear.” She pleaded with him to believe her.
Jason cocked his head to the side as he studied her face. “Then why did you come here so upset? If what you’re saying is true and you don’t still love him Aria, why are you so upset that he was with Jackie behind your back?” He asked her quietly.
Aria paused at his question as she tried to get her thoughts together so she could explain to him what she was feeling. “After Ezra told my parents and Mike hit him and my Dad threatened him…I felt guilty. He risked his career for me…he risked going to jail,” She said, “So I felt obligated to give our relationship a second chance. So I pushed aside what I felt for you and got back together with him.” She explained quietly, not proud of what she’d done, but not able to change it either.
“I’m upset because I gave up what I really wanted for someone who didn’t even care about me enough to be faithful to me. I feel humiliated and embarrassed and I know we weren’t even together yet, but I feel like it was heading in that direction and I just ruined it. So I feel stupid and that’s why I’m so upset because I don’t want to lose you…even though I’m not sure I actually have you to lose,” She whispered as tears built in her eyes again.
Jason watched her, his chest tightening as he stood up and pulled her off the seat and into his arms, hugging her tightly. He felt her cling to him and he rubbed her back soothingly. “You haven’t lost me Aria, I’m right here, but we’re not doing this tonight.” He said softly. He pulled back and placed his finger over her lips when he heard her starting to protest.
“If and when you and I start a relationship, it’s going to be because we’re both ready and we both want it. I don’t want him to be a part of it.” He said cupping her cheek and brushing his thumb beneath her eye. “When I kiss you for the second time, the only person I want on your mind is me,” He said with a grin, “I’m selfish that way.” He told her softly. “We all make mistakes; as far as this one goes…things could be worse.” He told her.
“Spend the night. Let me be your friend and in the morning, we’ll go from there.” He said watching her face for any sign that she didn’t like his idea.
Aria swallowed heavily her chest filling with warmth. “Okay,” She said softly as she once again took his hand and threaded their fingers together letting him lead her towards his bedroom, as she thought how much better the night was ending than it had started.