The Quads, children.
Aria set the tray down on the coffee table and plopped into the chair next to her couch, her swollen stomach pressing against the fabric of her dress. She was due in a month; She was pregnant with her next set of donor babies. She had recently hit 71 babies with Dylan's quads and couldn't believe how close she was to completing her challenge.
One thought stayed on the surface every now and then when she wasn't pushing it away. What happened when she was done? She had been fully expecting to marry Levi and get her happily ever after.
That definitely wasn't happening now.
Mila groaned, rubbing her fingertips over the scar that was still puckered and new traced across her throat.
"This thing makes me feel so ugly."
Aria clicked her tongue and grimaced. "Mila, would you stop that. You're beautiful no matter what and you know it."
She grabbed a shiny red apple from the tray and tossed it at her sister, who caught it, staring with contempt at the food in her grip. She hadn't been eating much since Rene attacked her. She wasn't sleeping either. Aria wondered vaguely why she hadn't moved. Luckily, Aria had shortly before the whole thing went down.
She sighed, rubbing her extended midsection with one hand, looking up at Mila. She thought about broaching the subject of moving. She knew Mila loved Starlight Shores, but she assumed that she might want to be closer to Aria and Carter. She pulled her bottom lip into her mouth and decided now was a better time then any.
"Mila, what would you say if I asked you to move to Riverview? I feel like you would be much safer closer to me and that one guy who likes to call himself a cop."
Mila snorted at her joke, finally taking a bite of the apple.
"What is he gonna do, pull out his toy gun and shoot all the bad guys. Please." She responded, winking at her.
She chewed slowly, thinking it over before finally nodding. "I think that's a perfect idea. The babies and I can come and look at houses next week sometime if that works for you. Can you hook me up with your realtor?"
Aria grinned broadly. Having Mila in her town would be amazing. Now if only she could convince Willow... Nah, that would never happen.
"Of course I can." She replied, shifting her weight a little in the chair she was sitting in. Her stomach felt tight, and a little crampy. She brushed it off though, knowing this couldn't be true labor. She wasn't due for another 3-4 weeks.
She winced as another cramp made its way through her stomach and Mila raised a curious brow.
"You okay Ar? You look like you're about to pop. Maybe we should have this conversation at the hospital." She joked, taking another bite of the apple.
Aria shook her head. "I'm no where near due yet, it's probably just Braxton Hicks contractions."
Mila seemed slightly unconvinced, but she let it slide for the moment. She quietly finished eating and waited patiently as Aria did too. When Aria returned from the kitchen, carrying bottles of water for the two of them she blurted out a question she had been holding onto since before the attack.
"Why didn't you tell Carter?"
Aria stopped in her tracks, confusion and then realization dawning on her face. She set the bottles on the couch cushion next to Mila where they steadily dripped condensation into the printed fabric. She shrugged, tucking a piece of her raven colored hair behind her ear.
The thing was, Corbin's threat still echoed in her mind. The fact that she had told Mila and Willow was bad enough. She knew telling Carter would probably be one of the stupidest things she could do. Although, when he found out.. That was not going to turn out very well either.
That's why she planned on him NEVER finding out.
She sat back in the chair she had been perched in before and looked at the floor.
"I.. I don't want him to get hurt."
Mila scoffed, twisting the cap off of the bottle and taking a drink, setting the unopened bottle on the table so the ever growing water spot on the seat next to her would discontinue.
"Why would you even be afraid of that? We both know Carter can handle himself. He didn't become a police officer because of merit, Aria."
Aria shook her head, panic clawing softly at her insides.
"Just drop it. Carter doesn't need to know about that. Ever."
Mila glared at her. "So, you can tell Levi what happened with Corbin, but not Carter, your best friend?"
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
Both girls started, jumping slightly. Aria turned around, her eyes falling on Carters. She hadn't even heard him come in.
"What does Levi know that I don't? And what does it have to do with that vampiric asshole?"
Aria and Carter stared at each other for a long tme. Neither one of them said a single word, just locked gazes. Mila cleared her throat, standing and walking towards the door.
"I think this is where I should make my exit. I love you Ar. I will see you next week."
Aria stood to walk with her, when she felt a searing pain in her stomach and doubled over, her eyes squeezing shut. Well, damn. Looked like it was time to have this baby after all.
Mila rushed over to her, taking her hand.
Carter still just stood there, staring at her with distrust.. and something else.. worry maybe? in his eyes.
"Mila, you should get her to the hospital. I have somewhere I need to be."
Aria's chest filled with anxiety which escalated with the labor pains and she moaned in discontent, clutching her sisters hand in a way that was probably way too tight.
"Where is he going, Mila?!" She demanded, her voice echoing through the room.
Mila shook her head, her shoulder rising slightly.
"I don't know Aria. What i do know, is you're having this baby and we're going to the hospital. Now."
"What the hell are you doing here?" Levi snarled, itching to slam the door he had opened in Carter's face.
Carter scoffed, his arms crossed over his chest. "Calm down, I am just here to talk."
Well, that wasn't entirely true, but it was true enough. He was lucky that Carter hadn't shown up the night before, with all of things running through his mind.
Levi looked behind him, shutting the door and stepping outside.
He cracked his knuckles and leaned his weight into one leg, raising an eyebrow.
"So what do you want?"
He wasted no time, uttering the question without a second thought.
"What happened between Corbin and Aria?"
Carter didn't know what he had been expecting, but it definitely wasn't the smile that etched itself onto Levi's face.
"You mean she didn't tell you?"
Carter instantly felt dread in his chest, but kept his face blank.
"Tell me what?"
Levi barked out a harsh laugh, running a hand through his hair.
"Well, she came to me with a sob story about how he did to her what happened between Sparrow and I."
Carter froze and his heart stuttered. Anger crawled its way up his chest and into his veins.
"Are you saying that this guy raped her?"
Levi shrugged, a smirk still in place.
"That's what she says. I say she probably asked for it."
As soon as those words left his mouth, Carter snapped.
The sharp sound of fist connecting with bone was cacophonous. Carter shoved him roughly against the door, his voice shaking with anger as he spoke.
"Levi. You need to listen to me, and listen close."
The fury in his voice was murderous.
"If you ever come back to Riverview, I will kill you. I will put a bullet between your eyes and no one will ever know that it was me.
If you even /try/ to contact Aria again, I will make sure that you are gone. Do you fucking understand?
You're lucky that I don't give you what you deserve after what you have done to BOTH of those girls."
Each word came out in a growl and it took everything Carter had not to punch him in the face until he stopped breathing.
The smirk Levi usually wore was wiped from his face and blood pooled at the side of his mouth. The fact that he wanted to retaliate was written all over his body language, but he, once again, did nothing.
"Only a fucking coward would say the shit that you have Levi. She deserved so much better then you." He roughly released the grip he had on his shirt and balled his fists at his sides.
"I mean /every/ word I said. Don't you ever fucking come back into her life. "
He turned, making his way to his Hummer without looking back. The last thing he needed was to be around this fucking asshole. He got inside and threw the gear into reverse, speeding away.
Aria brought the babies home from the hospital, 3 Babies, named Joshie, Amy and Blake.
She tucked them into their cribs, taking the steps downstairs two at a time. She rounded the bottom stair, her hand on the banister, when she slammed into a solid figure, screaming in fear, shielding her face with her arms.
"Aria, it's me." Carter said quietly, gently pulling her arms out of her face.
Aria relaxed a little, her pulse threatening to shatter her heart.
His face was so mixed up that she had no idea what was going on. The conversation they had had with Mila moments before she went into labor had completely slipped her mind in the chaos of the brand new babies.
Her worry instantly pulsed through her body in waves and she closed off, her eyes going blank.
"You really need to lock your door, Aria." Carter said softly, staring at her.
He had her arms in his hands still and he looked so incredibly sad that Aria knew right away that something wasn't right.
She looked at the floor, her heartbeat maintaining its anxious speed.
"You know, don't you?" Her voice broke and his grip tightened slightly.
"Why wouldn't you tell me?" Carter's response was shaky and the question twisted Aria's stomach in knots. She swallowed, her throat constricting around the responses she didn't quite want to get out.
"I just.. didn't want to hurt you." The answer fell on the air with a stagnant pause to follow. His face was etched with so many thoughts she couldn't quite put her finger on just one.
"You know I'm going to have to kill him right?"
This wasn't really a question. It was a rhetorical statement and he meant it.
Aria fumbled for words, suddenly filled with panic.
"No, Carter. You can't confront him. He will kill you." Her voice quivered with the fear she could feel seeping into her stomach.
He pulled her against his chest, lifting her chin so she would look in his eyes.
"You should have told me." His words echoed hurt, and she could see guilt in his eyes.
"I should have been there to protect you. All of those things I said.. Aria, I'm so sorry." He brushed his thumb over her lips and shivers cascaded down her spine.
When he leaned towards her, his lips inches from hers, she could almost feel them touch, remember the way his hands held onto her like they would never let her go. The way he used to look at her like she held his heart in her hands.
She inhaled sharply, her eyes burning..
And turned her face away.
"Aria?" He pulled away, confusion in his tone.
She shook her head, tears still threatening to fall. "You can't do that to me. You can't keep touching me and holding me.. And what the fuck was that?" She removed his hand from her waist and stepped away.
"You tried to kiss me."
He looked stunned at her reaction. He stood motionless for a moment and then shook his head as if the thoughts would just disappear if he did.
He didn't say a word, just shook his head and turned away, as if to leave.
"So that's it?" She managed, still holding back her tears.
He faced her, his expression questioning. "What's it?" He asked, his voice almost a whisper.
Aria stood there, her heart slowly sinking.
"I'm just your friend remember? Friends don't kiss."
The quiet was all encompassing and it pressed in on them, the only sound the soft tinkling of lullabies from the mobile in the nursery.
"You're right." Carter finally said, nodding curtly. "Don't worry about it. Won't happen again."
His voice was staccato, sharply cutting into her.
She watched him leave, finally letting herself cry when the door settled shut behind him.
She wasn't even sure what she was expecting him to say. Or even what she wanted.
All she knew, was nothing was certain anymore.
She had absolutely no clue what was going to happen next.