Babiesss first <3
"Maybe you shouldn't drive Aria, I mean.. you drank me under the table last night. Are you sure that you're okay?"
Aria scoffed, clicking the unlock button on her keychain. "I'm fine Danielle. I've driven worse. I'll be fine. It's not that much of a drive from Sunset Valley."
Danielle bit her lip, swaying a little in her heels. "But maybe you should have Ephrem come and get you-"
Aria cut her off, holding a finger to her lips.
"I'm fine. He would be pissed. It's okay Danielle. I'm okay."
She could feel the lies roll off her tongue as easily as they used to. Who the hell was she even becoming at this point?
The last at least 12 hours were a blur. She could hardly remember anything before waking up in Danielle's bed. Which, oddly enough, was something she had never done before.
The night before was like a blank. Everything was as if she blacked out.. She still felt intoxicated when she woke up. But she would be okay to drive.
Danielle looked like she wanted to say something else, but before she could, Aria turned around and entered her car, shutting the door behind her with a sharp click.
The engine purred to life and she waved at Danielle, sending her a reassuring smile. Sometimes her beautiful gray eyed friend worried about her too much. Not that she hadn't given her plenty of reasons to.. But, still. She had been fine, or gave people the impression that she was fine, for months.
Danielle had just lost a child. The last thing she needed was to worry about Aria.
Aria blinked the thoughts of Cas and the tragedy away. She knew how much agony Danielle was in. She had lost a child too. She knew how much it hurt. Danielle never drank. But she had with Ar. She had tried so hard to drink at least some semblance of okay back into her life.
Aria was pretty sure it didn't work. At least not for her best friend. Aria was used to doing it. Pretty often as well.
She backed out of the driveway, watching Danielle enter her house.
She hit the connecting highway to Riverview in ten minutes and relaxed. The highway would be a long one, but more than likely at this time, there wouldn't be many cars on the road. Aria's vision was still slightly shaky, but straightaways and only slight turns couldn't be that hard to accomplish even slightly tipsy, right?
[My game glitched out and turned her car black, we will just pretend it's pink. Okay? >_< ]
She reached into the passenger seat for her phone, slipping the headphones in her ears. She unlocked the screen, glancing down at her playlist when her eyes fell on the words 'One New Text Message'.
She could feel her heartbeat racing. It was a number she recognized. Her hopes fell quickly though when she realized her happiness had been misplaced. It wasn't who she wanted it to be at all.
It was Dylan.
What the hell do you want?
She scowled, dragging her thumb across the screen.
Those few seconds of inattention were too much.
She heard the sound of breaks before she saw anything. The telltale screech of tires on asphalt. She slammed on the pedal just a few seconds too late. The last thing she remembered was the airbag inflating and her head hitting the drivers side window.
52 Hours After-
"No, no. Ryleigh. It's FINE. Thank you for being there for me as much as you have, but I can make it out to the car by myself."
Aria smiled, running a thumb over the healing abrasion on her lip. Ryleigh had been her nurse during her duration in the hospital and possibly the easiest person Aria had ever connected with in her life. She seemed very mama-bearish as well, which was amazing, but not something Aria was used to.
Most people got sick of protecting her.
Ephrem held the front door of the hospital open and she passed through it, hesitating for a second.
Her car. What kind of condition was it even in? Had she totaled it?
She saw Ephrem's car idling in the spot in front of the doors and she glanced over at him, tucking a piece of her hair behind her ear.
Ephrem shook his head, sighing.
"It's done for. Completely destroyed. You hit the back end of an SUV going 50, you're lucky to be alive, your car was not so lucky."
Aria groaned. She had some money left from her inheritance, but having to spend it on a new car was not something she had planned on. She should have known better than to get in her car drunk. She should have fucking known. She wondered if everyone else was aware she had been drinking.
There hadn't been any consequences for it.. Which made her wonder in turn if-
Nah. Not in his nature.
His words from last night echoed in her head, confusion spinning the syllables in several directions. She couldn't just let that go.. Even though she had Ephrem, she needed that closure.
God, she was selfish. Selfish and stupid and so stuck on her own feelings and thoughts that nothing and no one else mattered.
He deserves better than you. They both do.
Ryleigh's voice broke Aria's thoughts and she turned to face her, forcing a soft smile onto her features. She felt Ephrem's hand find hers and it made that sinking feeling in her stomach worsen just a little.
She loved two men. Two. Didn't that just figure? The moment a guy who was actually worth something found his way to her, she became that idiot girl who couldn't make up her mind..
Her voice shook a little in her response to Ryleigh, who walked towards her, tucking a piece of paper into the pocket of Aria's jeans.
"That's my number. And you better call me. Or you will face the consequences."
She grinned and Aria couldn't help but echo it back to her. She had a feeling she and this girl were going to be very, very close.
Ryleigh winked and went back inside, leaving Aria to her thoughts again.
"Yeah, she's terrifying. Those consequences will be dire."
Ephrem's voice sounded in her ear, startling her slightly. His familiar sarcastic grin on his face. She stuck her tongue out, smiling as Ephrem pulled her to him and pressed his lips to hers.
She had such an amazing thing here.. If only she could just get rid of that piece of her that ached for her old best friend.
76 Hours after-
She fought that voice in her head. The one who told her she needed to know. The one that said if she didn't she would never forgive herself.
Eventually, though.. It won. And she ended up in the place she had been so many times before. On the steps to his house.
Aria hesitated, her knuckles inches from the door before rapping once, twice, light enough to not echo but loud enough to be heard.
She heard a small shuffle and the door swung open in less than five minutes, those familiar green eyes locking onto hers.
"What.. What are you doing here, Aria?"
Aria took a deep breath, not really knowing exactly what to say. She was so caught up in her thoughts only one really came to the surface. She reached into her back pocket, pulling the small pieces out.
Her hand shook as she held it forward, waiting to see the look that would likely cross his eyes. In the palm of her hand were the fragments of a broken key. They looked so strange, broken apart. No long pieced together the way they should be. It almost felt like it represented how Aria felt on the inside.
"I know you gave this to me. I know it was you. I think I have always known."
Tears pulled their way onto her face, over the cuts and the bruises. Into the mess of her dark hair.
"I wish I could have told you that a long time ago. Even though it's too late now, I'm sorry that it's broken. That we are broken."
She clenched her hand closed around the pieces one more time before setting them calmly on the edge of the fence surrounding the porch. She could feel the beginnings of the thunderstorm drop onto the abrasions on her face as she turned to go, taking a step down.
She turned around, a small flicker of hope rising in her chest. She looked into his eyes, not exactly knowing what to expect. His face fell and he spoke to the ground when he continued.
"How did you know it was me?"
She shook her head, the action making it ache where it had connected with the window.
"That... Is hard to explain. But if I had thought it was anyone else, I wouldn't have worn it."
He still wouldn't look at her. His eyes never left their placement on the ground.
"I'm leaving Aria."
Aria felt that tiny glimmer of hope dissipate in an instant.
It really was time to go. But...
"You.. Why are you leaving? What? I don't-"
He cut her off.
"No Aria, I'm leaving. As in Riverview. As in, YOU."
The word left his mouth with much more malice then Aria was used to hearing. The word was so coated in honesty that Aria could feel it in the very depth of her soul that he meant it.
"I don't understand, Carter. What you said.. In the hospital. Didn't you mean it?"
He sighed, shoving his hands in the depths of his pockets, his eyes piercing into hers.
"I meant every fucking word."
He turned, taking the steps toward his door softly, his hand rested on the doorknob for just a second, long enough for Aria to realize there was hesitation, and then he turned it, stepping inside.
"I just didn't mean for you to hear them."
And then he shut the door behind him without a backward glance.
Aria could feel her chest explode with sensation, So many things at once. She was confused, she was hurt, scared. There was also the overwhelming need to keep him here. She couldn't let him leave, not after all of this. Not after he showed up last night. Not after he said what he did.
She couldn't let him leave..
But she had to..
She had to.
He was through, and she was falling in love with someone else. She had to let him go.
She said his name with despair, it was whispered and caught on the wind, disappearing long before it could ever reach his ears. It didn't matter though, because she had something to say she was going to make sure that he never heard.
"I love you."
78 Hours After
The door to her house shut softly behind her, the numbness long since setting in.
As she made her way through the kitchen, she caught the familiar scent that preceeded him. Ephrem. Her first actual boyfriend since the Levi disaster.
The guilt ate at her stomach in waves.
Why wasn't it easy to just, let him go? Put Carter in the past and focus on the present that was developing. The one that made her happier than she had been in months. Maybe even years.
The one that put real smiles on her face. Sure ones.
Well. Now she had next to no doubts that she could. That was the end.
The finality that she needed.
She dropped her keys on the counter, turning around and leaning against it as she heard footsteps descend her stairs.
His voice quickened her pulse as it always did. That undeniable pull towards him settling somewhere in the bottom of her chest.
He walked towards her, stopping a few feet away.
Such a simple question... Such a complex answer. Was she okay? Completely and hardly. At the same time.
Her words seemed to cascade into one another. When she opened her mouth to speak, no sound escaped. She stood there, staring into the eyes of the man she was falling in love with, and just froze.
The silence stretched for minutes. Finally, he broke it with a sigh.
He walked over to her, tucking a piece of her hair behind her ear, something Aria couldn't quite comprehend in his eyes.
"Aria, you can't be stuck in your head day after day trying to decide between who you want and who you need. You love me or you don't. The choice is yours. I won't walk away, but I won't stand in your way, either. So you need to choose. Right now."
There was no shock. It was as if she had expected this. Exactly this. Deadpanned, without a second thought, Aria's voice sounded. Tainted with the hint of irresolution...
"I choose you. It's you, Ephrem."
The relief that flooded his face made every ounce of hesitation vanish from Aria's heart. The goodbye she had just had, was just that. Goodbye.
Why shouldn't she move on? Why shouldn't she be happy with the man standing in front of her. The one who would give anything to see her happy. To make her smile.
The one who would never in a million heartbeats make hers ache.
And yet.. There was that stupid voice locked away in the back of her head that told her she was making the wrong choice.
Babies 93, 94 and 95 were a complete surprise. She had no idea how they even came to be. She assumed that while in Sunset Valley she had had an impulsive donor implantation.
They were beautiful, carrying three sets of very familiar gray eyes...
Names: Taralynn, Izabel and Kat
So save your breath, I will not care.
I think I made it very clear.
You couldn't hate enough to love.
Is that supposed to be enough?
I only wish you weren't my friend.
Then I could hurt you in the end.
I never claimed to be a saint...
Ooh, my own was banished long ago
It took the death of hope to let you go