So many of you wanted a second chapter and I was leaning so far towards adding another one that you guys just pretty much just helped tip me over in that direction. I've really wanted to try my hand at explaining Ally's stage fright and her lack of a mom on the show and since it's mentioned in the first chapter, I figured this might be a pretty good place to try it.
Austin wakes up to the sound of coughing. It takes his groggy brain a few seconds to process where he is and why someone is coughing. And then his brain realizes who is coughing and his head snaps up so fast that he nearly bumps heads with Ally who had been trying to shake him awake before she'd started coughing.
He gets on the bed beside his best friend, rubbing her back until her coughing subsides. "Hey," He brushes some hair that has fallen into her face back behind her ear, "how are you feeling?"
"A little better." She admits, smiling lightly. "I still kind of feel like I got run over by a truck, but at least it feels like a smaller truck now."
Austin laughs lightly, placing his hand on her forehead. "You're fever feels like it's gone down a little too. That's good. We're still keeping the store closed tomorrow though so you can keep resting." He fixes her with his best "stern parent" glare incase she decides to argue.
She doesn't. "That's probably a good idea." She pulls her hair back, lifting it from the back of her neck. "I'm going to take a shower, I feel kind of gross."
Austin nods and stands up, heading towards the door. "Okay. I'll go make you something to eat. Just come down stairs when you're done."
"I don't know." She looks at him nervously. "I'm not really hungry and I don't want to end up throwing up around you."
"You need to eat something, Ally. It's definitely not good to go without food when you're sick. And besides, if you do puke, won't it be better to have someone around to hold your hair back?"
She shakes her head, but smiles at him and he think his face might be heating up and he's not quite sure why, he must be getting sick too, he reasons. "Thanks Austin. I'll be down in a few minutes."
"Good." He sticks his head back in the room and smiles. "I'm glad you're feeling better." He tosses her a wink and then disappears again, bounding down the stairs and singing Without You loud enough for her to hear.
Ally arrives downstairs fifteen minutes later, her hair down and still soaking wet, dressed in sweat pants and an oddly familiar hoodie. "Is that mine?" Austin asks, as he stirs the pot of soup on the stove.
She glances down at the aforementioned hoodie, looking thoughtful. "Um, maybe? It's weird, I don't remember buying this, but I don't remember how I would have gotten it from you either. You can have it back."
Austin laughs, placing a bowl of chicken noodle soup in front of her as she slides into a chair at the table. "Don't worry about it. I sort of forgot I even had that hoodie until just now. It went missing like four months ago."
Ally groans and Austin thinks she might be blushing, but her face is already so flushed he can't be sure. "I can't believe I stole your sweater and don't even remember doing it."
He laughs again and pushes the bowl of soup towards. "Don't worry about. It looks better on you anyways. Now eat."
Ally does as she's told. Closing her eyes, she enjoys the sensation of the warm soup sliding down her throat. When she was little, nothing could make her feel better than chicken noodle soup when she was sick. She doubts that Austin knows this though, but she's still glad for the coincidence. "Thank you, Austin."
"Don't worry about it." He reaches across the table and squeezes her hand. "I'm always here to take care of you, you know that."
She smiles shyly at him, before eating some more of the soup. Austin's hand still rests atop hers and he begins to rub his thumb absent-mindedly over her wrist. "How's the soup taste?" He asks, not quite sure why he sounds shy all of a sudden.
"It's great. Just like my mom used to make." Her eyes widen as she lets the words slip.
Austin's eyes widen as well. This is the first time he's even heard Ally speak about her mother before. He can see that she's struggling for words and that breaks his heart more than not knowing the truth does so he gives her hand another gentle squeeze, smiling softly at her. "It's okay." He tells her reassuringly. "You don't have to tell me until you're ready."
He hates not knowing, but he reminds himself about what Trish said about her be able to sing in front of him, and only him, and it makes him feel better almost immediately.
She shakes her head suddenly though, surprising him. "No. I mean, thank you." She smiles gratefully. "But you deserve to know. You're my best friend, Austin," Her eyes soften as she stares at him, "and I hate keeping these huge things from you. It's such a part of who I am and if there's one thing I know, it's that I can trust you with everything."
Austin successfully manages to keep down the ecstatic grin that wants to split over his face (he's thrilled that she's finally ready to tell him, but he knows this is a serious story and he doesn't need to be smiling for it). "Thanks, Ally. That really means a lot. Wait…things? There's more than one?"
Ally nods solemnly. "My mom and my stage fright…they're linked."
His eyes widen in shock again. He'd honestly never even considered the possibility that her mother's absence might be connected to her stage fright. He nods at his best friend encouragingly. "Okay."
She takes a few deep breaths and he's pretty sure she's giving herself a pep talk in her head. "I've never told anyone this before." She confesses softly after another few minutes of silence. "Trish and my dad only know because they were there."
Austin reaches back and tucks more hair behind her ear. "You don't have to tell me Ally-cat."
He's surprised to find her eyes water at the nickname. "My mom used to call me that." She tells him, smiling despite the tears in her eyes. "And it's okay. I want to tell you. I just-it's hard to talk about."
Austin nods again. "Okay. Take your time."
They sit in silence for another few minutes while Ally takes a few more timid bites of her soup. Finally she stops and looks up at him. "When I was in second grade I was in my class' production of Peter Pan." She smiles fondly at the memory. "I was Wendy and I was so excited about it. It was my favorite movie as a kid and my mom and I would always watch it together. My mom was really excited to see it, but I noticed that she never came and neither had my dad. My next door neighbor picked me up from the school and she took him to the hospital."
Austin's pretty sure he knows what's coming next, but he doesn't speak. Just wraps her hand even more tightly in his own, offering his support that way, rather than with words.
"When we got there my dad was a wreck. My mom had been running late to the performance and she'd been trying to get there as fast as possible so she could see me," her voice caught and Austin's heart cracked. "She lost control of the car and ended up in a really bad wreck. S-She didn't even make it through the night." Tears start rolling down her cheeks, dripping off her chin and landing in the now lukewarm bowl of soup.
Austin gently pulls her out of her seat and slides them down to a sitting position on the floor, keeping his arms wrapped around her as she cries. He kisses the top of her head gently, rocking her a little like his mother used to do for him when he was younger and upset. "It's okay Ally." He rubs her back soothingly. "It's going to be okay."
They stay like that for a long time, but Austin doesn't mind. Ally needs him and he'd come to terms with the fact that he'd do just about anything for Ally a long time ago. About the time when he jumped on stage and sang The Butterfly Song even though he was positive Tilly was going to destroy his career (it's funny, he realizes, how much actually comes back to The Butterfly Song).
Ally eventually manages to stop crying but she doesn't move from Austin's arms, which makes him ridiculously happy. He loves having her there, holding her, protecting her, being the one she trusts to be completely and totally vulnerable around. And when did he turn into such a sap? Oh right, it might have been about the time he hobbled under a table and told his best friend how awesome she was, even though he was supposed to be singing for Emilio. She rests her head on his shoulder and there's a few more seconds of silence before she starts speaking again.
"I signed myself up for the talent show the next year." She tells him. He's confused by this seemingly random statement, but before he can say anything she continues. "I tried to sing a song I'd written, about being able to fly with the right person showing you how and, you know, with some faith, trust, and pixie dust." He can almost hear a smile in her voice and he kind of, really wants to hear the song, but he knows that's one thing that will probably never happen. "I couldn't do it." She whispers, all traces of happiness or a smile gone from her voice.
"Why?" He asks. "Everyone loved The Butterfly Song, why wouldn't they like this one?"
Ally shakes her head. "It wasn't that. I got up on stage and I just froze. I just kept seeing my father's face as he me told my mom had been really hurt on her way to see me perform. I couldn't even get the words out. I just sort of collapsed onto the floor and started crying because I couldn't see my dad in the audience and I was so afraid he was being hurt too." She shudders, as if she's reliving that fear. "I kept yelling for him until he made his way onto the stage and had to carry me off. Turns out he was in the audience the whole time, just in back and that's why I couldn't see him."
Austin pulls her a littler closer subconsciously. His hand has been rubbing her shoulder since she'd started talking and he doesn't stop his ministrations as he waits patiently for her to continue. "After that, well you know how little kids could be. I got teased so bad I actually ended up switching schools. And ever since then I just haven't been able to get on stage. I don't even want other people looking at me. It's just too frightening."
Austin's heart completely breaks at this and he pulls her back into a proper hug, burying his face in her hair. "Oh Ally…I'm so sorry."
She returns the hug, and when she speaks he can hear a small smile in her voice. "It's okay. It actually feels good to be able to talk about it with someone." They pull apart and Ally leans up to kiss his cheek. "Thank you, Austin."
He turns as she says his name, and instead of his cheek, her kiss hits a little (a lot) more than just the corner of his mouth. They both jerk back in surprise at the surge of electricity that they feel at the contact. Austin is starring at her, unable to tear his brown eyes away from hers. He kind of thinks he might understand exactly what Trish was talking about now because he's pretty sure this feeling is what he's been missing his whole life. "Ally-cat…" He whispers, still refusing to take his eyes off her.
"I never thought I'd ever want to hear that nickname again." She tells him, speaking just as softly. "But I really like hearing you call me that." A genuine smile blossoms onto her face.
He reaches his hand towards her, burying it in her chestnut locks. They stare at each other for a few more minutes in absolute silence. The next thing he knows he's kissing her with a reckless abandon. She tastes like chicken noodle soup and tears and Ally and damn it all if it's not the best thing he's ever tasted in his entire life. Even better than pancakes. He pulls her onto his lap and it vaguely occurs to him that they're practically making out on her kitchen floor. But he doesn't care. He just wants to fall into Ally for as long as he can.
She pulls away eventually, leaning her forehead against his. "Wha…?" He's too dazed to actually get anything coherent out and it makes Ally giggle.
"Sorry," she apologizes, "but I need to breath."
Breath? Who needs to breath? Austin doesn't. Not when he can be kissing Ally instead. How has he never realized that this is exactly what he's always wanted. He reaches for her again, trying to bring her face back to his when she turns her head so fast that she whips him with her hair and sneezes.
She turns back to him and they both break out into laughter. He leans up and kisses her lightly on the lips. "I completely forgot you were sick."
"Me too." She admits and she sounds breathless and her cheeks are rosy and Austin's pretty sure it's just from her cold anymore. The thought makes him grin.
"You have to get better soon." He tells her. At her quizzical glance he elaborates. "I can't take you on our first date if you're not feeling well."
She beams and presses her lips to his once again. He closes his eyes and grips her hips, trying to pull her a close to him as possible. He thinks briefly about The Butterfly Song and destiny but pretty soon his brain is consumed with AllyAllyAlly and he's not really thinking much after that.
He wakes up the next morning and the light is too bright, his head is pounding, and he's freezing despite the fact that it's summer time in Miami. He turns his head to find Ally standing next to the couch where he'd fallen asleep, looking apologetic and holding out a box of tissues and some cold medicine. He sneezes violently and can't help rolling his eyes. Maybe kissing Ally yesterday, while she was sick, wasn't his smartest idea.
But Ally comes back into the room with a wet wash clothe for his forehead and the promise that she'll look after him as she brushes his bangs out of his eyes. He grins up at her with the same dopey look he couldn't keep off his face yesterday as he'd talked to Trish.
On second thought, it was totally worth it.
And there's my attempt at explaining Ally's stage fright and her mother's absence. Hopefully it was too out there or anything.
Well, let me know what you thought. I love this show and I love this fandom and I love to know what you guys think. :)