Banner By: Stacy
Title: I Wanna Feel What I Thought Was Never Real
Fictable Prompt: #015 Audience for Ihearttvsnark
Word Count: 2,268
Follow up To: The Greatest Mistake
Summary: Jason and Aria finally take their relationship public.
Aria sat on her bed, bending over slightly as she zipped her boots up over her knee highs that came up just above her knee. She tilted her head in the direction of the clock and she bit her lower lip. He’d be there soon and then they’d made their way towards the center of town for the end of summer festival which was actually several weeks later than normal this year because of rain dates.
School had been in session for over a month already, but Rosewood did things their own way anyway. The town was as unique as the people who lived in it. Aria paused when both her boots were on, her eyes drifting towards her closet again. Maybe she should change. She shook herself from her thoughts and stood. She couldn’t keep changing, this was already the third outfit she’d put on.
Aria walked over to her mirror and glanced at the dress she wore. It was blue and slightly fitted at the top, but the skirt flowed. She had a thick brown belt wrapped high on her waist, the color matched her boots. She ran a hand through her hair; she’d left it down and wavy. A light knock on the door made her head turn quickly, the long dream catcher like earrings she wore rocking with the movement. “Yeah?” She called out as the door was pushed open.
Ella leaned against the doorframe and smiled at her daughter. “You look nice.” She commented as she took in Aria’s outfit. Her daughter smiled before turning back towards the mirror.
“Thanks, Mom.” She said before running her hands over her outfit one more time. “Is he here yet?” She asked lightly trying not to betray how nervous she felt, which was just ridiculous to begin with. She’d known Jason forever and even now they spent whatever time Aria could manage together.
Ella nodded as she rested her arms against her chest. “He is, your Father is talking to him downstairs.” She told her lightly as she watched her daughter move away from the mirror and fuss over putting things in her purse.
Once Aria got everything together she turned around to see her Mom watching her and she paused, her brows furrowing. “Are you sure you and Dad are okay with this? Me going out with Jason?” She asked knowing after everything that happened with Ezra, things had been tense between her and both of her parents.
Ella smiled. “Yes, Aria. Your Father and I are okay with this. We’ve known Jason since he was a kid, we know what kind of a person he is despite some of the things that have been said about him in the past. We’re just glad you’re making better decisions and that you trusted us enough to come to us with this new relationship.” She told her softly as she kept the smile on her face.
After they found out about Ezra, their trust in Aria had been shaky at best, but she’d been doing her best to rebuild it and coming to them with her feelings for Jason had gone a long way in convincing them that she had learned her lesson and was being honest with them again.
Aria grinned and moved forward pulling her Mom into a hug. “Thanks, Mom that means a lot.” She said quietly and it did. When she and Jason first decided to take things to the next level and start dating they’d gone to her parents first to make sure they didn’t have a problem with it. They had been confused at first, especially since just a few weeks before Ezra had been in their living room telling them that he loved her and she’d back him up.
But Aria had explained why she said that and what happened and after an honest conversation that had taken longer than she would have liked they had agreed or rather given her permission to date Jason, not that she needed it, but it was nice to have. She pulled herself from her thoughts and from her Mother’s arm sending her a large smile before practically bouncing out of her room towards the stairs.
Jason glanced up and away from Byron at the sound of footsteps on the stairs. His eyes widened and a warm smile broke out on his lips as Aria made her way down the stairs, Ella following behind her. “Wow, you look amazing,” He told her softly as he shifted and brought his other hand out from behind his back.
He held out a single orchid and Aria practically melted as she reached out to take it. “Thank you,” She said genuinely not expecting him to bring her anything. She grinned as her eyes trailed over him. “Are you ready to head out?” She asked before turning towards Ella. “Mom can you put this in some water for me? I don’t want it to get ruined at the festival.” She said as she handed the flower over to her Mother.
Ella took it and nodded. “Sure, you kids have fun, don’t be too late,” She told them as Byron moved next to her and wrapped an arm around her waist.
Jason held out his hand for Aria as he smiled at her parents. “Don’t worry Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery; I’ll have her home by eleven.” He said as he waited for Aria to take his hand. When she finally did he threaded their fingers together and pulled open the front door leading her outside as her parents told them again to have fun before closing t he door when they were halfway down the porch steps.
He sent a sideways glance in Aria’s direction as he tugged her lightly to his side. “That wasn’t so bad,” He said lightly knowing she wasn’t really worried about her parents. “So, you ready for this?” He asked while pausing at the passenger side door of his car and releasing her hand so he could open the door for her.
Aria smiled and ran a hand down his arm as she nodded. “Yeah, definitely,” She said before leaning up slightly and pressing a light kiss to his lips. It didn’t last long and it wasn’t as intense as the few they’d shared before, but it was enough to make her stomach flutter. When she pulled back she sent him a bright grin and got into the car.
Jason closed the door and walked around the convertible a light smile pulling at his lips. He pulled open his door, got in, started it and pulled slowly away from the curb. The festival was in the center of town and he knew it wouldn’t take long to get there. He glanced at Aria out of the corner of his eye and he could see her glancing out the window and fiddling with her hands.
He reached out and took one of them in his, threading their fingers together and bringing her hand to his lips before placing their joined hands between them as he continued to drive down the road. Jason knew she was nervous about telling her friends about them and he understood why. After everything that had happened over the past few months he could see how he might come off to them, but he was hoping he’d be able to change their opinion of him eventually because he knew how important Aria’s friends were to her.
Aria relaxed against the seat at the feel of his thumb brushing over her skin. The car was filled with companionable silence, some soft indie rock band floating lightly through the speakers as they got closer to the town square. She could see people milling about, parents with children, acquaintances from school, teachers.
It looked like the whole town was out and about. Jason turned down a side street and pulled the car into one of the open spots before shifting gears and parking the car. He turned in his seat and watched as Aria undid her seatbelt. She paused and glanced at him with an arched eyebrow.
Jason smiled. “You ready?” He asked as he reached out and brushed a piece of hair behind her ear. He knew this was a big step for them, that people in Rosewood talked like they did in any town, but sometimes it felt like their town was in a perpetual state of gossip.
Aria nodded. “Ready as I’ll ever be and don’t forget,” She pointed at him, “One of your goals is to demonstrate you strength and win me the most unique stuffed animal at the festival.” She teased lightly as she watched him get out of the car and move around to her side. Her expression softened when he pulled the door open for her again. “You know you don’t have to always do that.” She said lightly.
Jason shrugged as he shut and locked the doors once she was out. “I know that,” He said while once again taking her hand, “But I like doing it and don’t worry I plan on winning the largest prize here.” He joked as he led her towards the crowd. People were already starting to look at them, some eyes widening, some gazes reprimanding, but mostly all of them whispering.
Aria swallowed hard and she felt Jason’s hand tighten around hers. This shouldn’t be a big deal. She had never cared what other people thought and she certainly wasn’t going to start now. She held her head hi and leaned slightly into Jason as they made their way towards the center of town where there were booths and other stands set up. She paused when she spotted Spencer and Hanna with Toby and Caleb near one of the beverage booths.
She saw them turn and look in her direction, confusion on their faces. Aria tilted her head in Jason’s direction. “Are you ready?” She asked softly and when he nodded and smiled at her she tugged him forward. It didn’t take long for them to walk across the screen and close the distance between them and her friends.
Aria could see Spencer and Hanna watching her and she briefly wondered where Emily was before she cleared her throat. “Jason, this is Caleb, Hanna’s boyfriend and you know Toby.” She said motioning towards the men at her best friends sides.
Jason reached out his hand and shook Caleb’s before doing the same to Toby’s. Caleb glanced at Hanna sensing the tension surrounding the girls. He pursed his lips and nodded his head towards the food tent that was a few feet away. “What do you guys say we go grab some food for the ladies?” He asked.
Toby nodded sensing the tension as well and leaned over placing a kiss to the side of Spencer’s head. “We’ll be right back.” Caleb did the same while Jason squeezed Aria’s hand and leaned down pressing a quick kiss to her lips before walking away with Caleb and Toby.
She watched them for a minute before glanced back at her friends. They shot questions at her almost immediately and she inwardly sighed as she answered them. Aria knew her friends were worried about ‘A’ and Jason’s connection to what happened, but they didn’t need to and she wished that she could tell them what she knew, but just like she couldn’t tell him about ‘A’ she couldn’t tell them his secrets.
It took her close to fifteen minutes to get them to agree to just give him a chance and by that time the guys were already making their way back over. The six of them took some time to eat before moving further into the crowd. Ten minutes later Jason watched as the three friends laughed as they spoke animatedly while walking ahead of them. It was the first time in a long time he’d seen all of them together and happy. The sound of Aria’s voice knocked him out of his thoughts and he arched an eyebrow in her direction. “What?”
She rolled her eyes good naturedly and pointed to the booth. “Now’s your chance to prove you strength,” She told him as Hanna and Spencer called over Caleb and Toby. “We’ve got a bet on whose boyfriend can win the biggest prize.” She explained as she wrapped her hands around his arm and tugged him over to the booth.
Jason’s chest warmed at her words. He was pretty sure this was the first time in a long time that he’d felt content, at peace with his life. He glanced at the other two men and they all sized each other up before grinning. Everyone loved a good competition. He pulled Aria towards him and kissed the side of her head before moving forward. “You got it,” He said lightly as he took his position next to the rest of the guys.
Aria yelled along with her friends as they each cheered on their perspective boyfriends, laughter and small grunts filling the air around them. It had been a long time since she had seen that look on Jason’s face. He looked happy. The smile pulling at his lips was contagious and she couldn’t help feeling like this was what being in a relationship should be like.
That feeling that Spencer and Hanna were always describing, a feeling that she thought was never real, had finally taken up residence in her chest. Jason made her happy and that was something real. They gave each other a place to belong and Aria planned on making sure that place would always be there.