Scavenger, an Austin and Ally oneshot

I do not own Austin and Ally. This is for Rach's second prompt. Please remember to review!

Removing her key, she takes the mail from her box. There's only one thing, a postcard.

It's from Austin.

She contains her curiosity until she reaches their apartment. Then her bag is dropped, and her eyes pour over the note.

Been counting every secondof the day and dying to be seeing your face (Chasin' The Beat of My Heart). Ally, it's felt like forever since I last saw you. I cannot wait to come home. Love, Austin.

She smiles to herself. Yesterday was his last stop on the tour. They stayed the night in the city, and they'd left late this morning. He'll be back sometime tomorrow.

She can't wait either.

Flipping the note over to see the reverse side, she finds the number one in the corner. It doesn't seem to be part of the design. Fields of buffalo don't have numbers hiding in them.

Going back to the words, she notes that one of them is underlined. Why 'second?' What makes that word so special?

Time passes as she sits at the kitchen table, examining the postcard for clues.

She looks at the clock to see how much.

Weird, there's something stuck up there. Climbing the counter, she reaches to collect it. Her knees wobble.

Nobody is there to catch her. She focuses her energy on maintaining her balance, then diverts it to the picture when her feet hit the ground.

I think about you every evening when I turn out the lights (I Think About You). I miss you in our bed. It's lonely without you. Love, Austin.

Another underlined word. And there's a number two in the corner, this time on the side with words. The picture is hard to make out, as the kitchen window doesn't supply all too much light. She's spent the day away with Trish, and the late sunshine is causing her eye strain.

She walks over to the light switch. There's something dangling off it.

It's a picture. The light goes on, and she takes a look at the second note. Turns out it had been a picture of them snuggling at the campfire, back when they had gone camping with their friends. An unexpected rainstorm was overhead, and he had pulled her close to keep her warm.

The tent provided privacy, hardly shelter.

The picture in her other hand, marked with a three, was of her piggybacking on him. Her legs were wrapped around his waist.

What she would give for a little human contact now.

Specifically Austin, as her hand brushed the cashier's as he handed her back her change, and she felt nothing. (There was a strong urge to wash her hands, as the quarter was sticky, but that's not the sensation she was hoping for.)

On the reverse is a note.

It's like I'm hanging by a thread but I'm still gonna push ahead (Don't Look Down). Three weeks really is far too long to be apart. Promise me we'll never do this again? Love, Austin.

There's something important about these underlines. Seconds for the clock. Lights for the light switch.

Thread. What's that meant to mean?

Guessing, she opens the hall closet to find the sewing kit. There's no picture on the outside of the box. Defeat washes over her.

It catches on the shelf as she tries to replace it. Falling, the contents spill out.

There's a picture.

They're dressed as chess pieces, her the queen, him the king. It had won them best couple costume at the party last year.

Like pieces of a puzzle, without each other, we're in trouble (Better Together). It's fun and all being on tour, but I miss you. A lot. More than I care to admit. Love, Austin.

Setting the picture down with the others, she reaches two shelves up to pull out their jigsaw puzzle. She bought it months ago with the intention of doing it. He had looked at her, then the piece count, back to her, and laughed.

She's glad to see it's finally getting some use.

Even if it's only a prop for her next picture.

Step right up on the stage, free yourself from the cage. (Illusion). I wish you were onstage with me. A fan requested one of our old duets, and it wasn't the same without you. But I know you had to stay home to work on your album and watch Staccato. Has he stopped peeing on the carpet yet? Love, Austin.

Appropriately there's a picture of their bulldog from when they adopted him, his pink tongue licking her ear.

She can't say it's the first time that someone's done it.

Cage. The dog's carrier cage. It should be in their closet.

Maneuvering past the pile of laundry that needs to be done, she finds the cage buried in the back. Dragging it out, Staccato jumps off the bed, wiggling his way underneath it.

He whimpers. She pauses to console him. Then, with her free hand she removes the photo from the cage.

"Daddy sent me on a scavenger hunt. You're not going to the vet." Stroking the dog, she reads the note.

I don't quite understand a manicure, but you're the only friend I'd take a shower for (Not A Love Song). These rest stop showers sure are short. I can't wait until I'm home with my own shower, and shower buddy. Love, Austin.

The picture is of them covered in paint after repainting the bedroom. She had a red splotch across her cheek, and he said he would help her clean up. Their first shower together.

Certainly not their last.

Staccato peers up at her, and she rubs her nose against his.

Ugh, he needs a bath.

Later, after she follows this clue.

It leads her to her nail polish supply. A photo is stuck to one of the bottles.

Like a glue that takes your broken heart and puts it back again (You Can Come to Me). One of the winners of my meet and greet had just broken up with her boyfriend. She was asking for advice, and I told her about the time you helped me get over my ex. You mended my heart, and I kissed you, and Dez caught it on camera. I can still feel the sparks. Love, Austin.

It's the actual picture. Her eyes were half open in surprise. They hadn't stayed like that after the camera went off.

She really misses him right now.

But glue, she should be looking for the glue.

Going through the kitchen drawer, Ally finds a picture stuck to the glue bottle. It's the most recent so far, of their goodbye. Or, as he had called it, their opposite of bad hellos, because he refused to say goodbye to her.

She said opposite of bad hello right back.

A tear falls down her cheek, and she wipes it away so it doesn't smear the words.

The perfect picture of an angel's smile from a magazine (Steal Your Heart). I stuck a picture of you on the wall of my tour bus. It's right by the door so you're the first thing I see getting on and off. It's the closest thing I have to you being here. Love, Austin.

This isn't good. They don't have any magazines. What's the point of reading celebrity gossip about your friends? It grows tiresome so quickly.

Flopping onto the couch, her head hits a book.

She did not leave that there.

If I could stop the world tonight, I would freeze this moment in time (Better Than This). It's cold in New York. When I get back, we're going to the beach. Love, Austin.

The bathing suit in the picture, one from the day they entered that sandcastle contest, doesn't fit anymore. It's stretched and faded with the wash.

Squeezed beneath is another's handwriting. I couldn't find a magazine, so I improvised. -Dez

That explains how all these notes got here. It also explains why Trish kept her out all day. They must be in cahoots.

For what though?

The answer will be in the freezer.

Stuck to a carton of ice cream, she removes the note.

Would you want it if I stood up above the crowd, got up on a chairand if I shouted your name aloud (Heartbeat). I wrote a song, and I've been dedicating it to you. I can't wait for you to hear it, but I want to do it in person. Patience is not my strong suit. Love, Austin.

At this point, it isn't hers either. She wants her boyfriend back in her arms, like in the picture. Their bodies entangled, crammed into her dad's arm chair.

Tomorrow seems forever away.

The note has to be on a chair. There's four in the kitchen, another in the bedroom. Where to begin?

Crawling on the floor, she conks her head. Shrinking back to rub her head, she sees the note.

We're headed for the top, we got it on lock (Can't Do It Without You). Your search is almost over. If you've gotten this far, you're a good detective. Or Dez has failed and you've taken all the pictures from him. Either way, the end is near. Love, Austin.

Ignoring the pain in her head (he may not have failed his best friend, but he could have done a better job at placing the clues, perhaps somewhere where she'd be less prone to injuring herself), she walks to the front door. There's a picture above the lock. How had she not seen it before?

She ought to start locking the door behind her.

My world just got a whole lot brighter now that I can see you face to face (Face 2 Face). Open the door. Love, Austin.

Open the door? She's come all this way to open the door?

Taking a final look at the picture, one where they're kissing under the mistletoe in the doorway, she obeys the command. There sitting on the floor of the hallway is her boyfriend, strumming at his guitar.

He's here. Early.

"Get it? Because now we're face," he stands, bringing her to him, "to face."

She loops her arms around him. "You're early."

"We drove straight through the night. My bus driver is exhausted." He draws her closer, as if that's possible.

When they finally separate, her fingertips sliding down his back, she feels them hit a piece of paper. This time it's not a picture. It's a simple two words.

Marry me.

He unzips a compartment of his guitar case and takes out a ring box.

"You planned all of this, for me?"

"Kira helped me come up with the idea. And Dez and Trish agreed to help me." He watches her take the box from him, study the ring.

Taking the box as she hands it back, he frowns. All of this work for rejection.

"Aren't you going to see if the ring fits?" She holds out her hand.

It does. Perfectly.

"It's good to be home."