A/N: Please forgive any errors, this hasn't been beta'd.
Disclaimer: I own nothing and make no claim to. The writing is mine, the idea is mine, and Nana Dawson is mine, but the rest goes to Disney.
"I need you to be my fake boyfriend!"
Austin Moon stares at his brunette friend in confusion. When he had entered their practice room at Sonic Boom that particular sunny afternoon, he was expecting a slightly different response when asking, "So, where do you wanna go for lunch?"
"And don't say no because I sort of already lied to my dad and said we were dating so there's no way to get out of it." Ally says quickly.
His jaw drops. "What? Ally! Why?"
The girl looks at him nervously before explaining.
"My dad doesn't approve of Dallas. Apparently his dad and my dad were like sworn enemies back in high school or something. So when he mentioned the family picnic, he said I could bring the boy I've been hanging out with and obviously I can't bring Dallas so..."
"So bring Dez!"
Ally frowns and looks at him pointedly. "I'm sorry, have you met Dez?"
He sighs. It's not that he doesn't love his best friend like the brother he never had, but Dez wasn't exactly the type you brought home to impress the family. Especially when the relationship wasn't even real.
Ally continues. "Besides, my dad already sees you at the store all the time, so he believes it." She rolls her eyes. "He thinks we act like a couple, which we so DO NOT."
"Us? Act like a couple? No way!" Austin laughs as a random thought pops into his head. "Hey, are we still on for dinner and the movies tomorrow?"
"Just as long as you're not late again."
He groans. "Oh, don't start!"
"You know I have a problem with tardiness!" she exclaims. "Especially after what happened last time!"
Austin rolls his eyes. "You're overreacting."
"WE MISSED THE FIRST HOUR OF THE MOVIE!"
He shrugs. "That was the boring part."
Ally shakes her head and sighs. "Ugh! What were we even talking about?"
"We don't act like a couple." He reminds her.
"Oh right. My dad is so clueless."
Austin nods. "Totally."
"So, will you do it? Please? Please, please, please, please, please?"
"Alright, fine!" he finally shouts, if for no other reason than to shut her up. All of this wasn't really even necessary in the first place because they both know he'd do anything for her, but the bantering is always fun. "I'll be your pretend boyfriend."
Ally grins and kisses his cheek. "Yes! Thanks Austin! You're the best!"
He shrugs. "I know. Now let's get go eat!"
The next night they're walking home after pizza and a movie. Because the weather is so warm they've politely declined his mom's offer to drive them, instead choosing to wander along under the stars as their arms occasionally graze. After a leisurely discussion about the movie's perfect mix of romance for her and stuff getting blown up for him, she finally glances toward him and gets serious.
"So, we should probably go over what's going to happen tomorrow at the picnic."
Austin nods. "Yeah that's probably a good idea." He notices her let out a nervous breath before smiling.
"Okay. Well, um, since you're going to be my boyfriend you should probably hold my hand a lot."
"That makes sense." He agrees. "What else?"
"Um, well, maybe you could… give me a kiss on the cheek every once and a while?"
He grins. "We do that now." And he does so as if they need proof. "Next!"
Ally thinks for a minute before continuing. "Oh! There's usually music. So maybe we could dance together?"
Austin nods. "I'm okay with that. Just as long as there's nothing big that could fall on my foot."
Ally nods, guilt written all over her face. "Yeah, sorry about that again..."
"Ally, it's okay. I'm kidding." He assures her quickly, and smiles so she knows he means it.
"Oh right." She smiles sheepishly. "Sorry."
Austin grins. "What else?"
After thinking about it a little more, Ally shrugs. "That's pretty much it I guess. Just, be a boyfriend. You've done that before, right?"
Austin scoffs quickly. "Right. Of course. Obviously I have. Duh." He smiles at her in what he hopes is a convincing matter, but Ally's eyes go squinty which he knows means she's thinking really hard.
"You have been a boyfriend before, haven't you?"
He laughs. "Of course I have! I'm Austin Moon! I've had a million girlfriends!"
Ally nods, still doing the squinty eye thing which after a minute makes him sigh and hold up his hands in surrender.
"Except… not really. Okay, the truth is… I've never had a girlfriend before."
He's sort of surprised to see the shock on her face.
"Really? Why not?"
"I don't know. I guess I just never found the right person." he shrugs.
Ally stares at her shoes as they continue to walk. "Oh. Well now you can get some practice, I guess."
"Yeah." He sighs and turns to her. "Ally, what if I'm not good at this? I don't want to be a bad fake boyfriend. What if I embarrass you?"
Ally doesn't waver even a little as she responds. "You won't embarrass me Austin. You'll be great. If you get stuck just think about what they do in movies and on TV."
Austin nods, the confidence in her voice soothing his nerves. "That's not bad. Thanks Ally."
"You're welcome." Her voice drops some and he has to strain to hear what she says next. "And just for the record, I've never been a girlfriend either."
"What? But what about Dallas?" She talks about him so much all the time, he thought for sure they were a thing.
Ally shrugs. "I mean, we're friends and he's cute, but we've never done anything that couples do. Mostly we just talk when I go by the cell phone accessory cart. It's kind of awkward. I mean, I'm no expert, but I don't think relationships are supposed to be like that…"
He nods. "Yeah, I get that."
"Its' not like with me and you." She tells him. "I mean, I know I can tell you anything. It's not weird. You're one of the most important people in my life."
He's kind of shocked to hear her say this. Best friends? Sure. But being that important to her? It's not what he expected. But it's not a bad thing either, and it makes him smile.
"Same here." They've reached her house at this point, which kind of sucks because he doesn't really want to leave her side but he knows he has to. "Well, I should let you get inside. Rest up for our big day tomorrow and stuff."
Ally nods. "Right. Absolutely. Thanks again for doing this. And thanks for tonight, I had fun."
"Don't you always?" He grins and leans in to hug her, letting their foreheads rest together for a minute so he can take in her distinctly unique smell. Eventually though, he kisses her cheek and reluctantly pulls away. "I'll see you tomorrow Ally."
"Yeah. Tomorrow. Bye Austin."
And as Austin walks off down the street Ally can't help but stare after him, her stomach feeling like it does when riding the Tea Cups at Disneyland: happy and warm and excited, but jumpy and flip-floppy also; somewhat terrified, but at the same time exhilarated and amazing. It's confusing, but if nothing else Ally Dawson is sure of one thing: tomorrow can't come fast enough.
The next day Austin shows up at the door five minutes past twelve, which is actually pretty impressive since he's normally at least twenty minutes late. Ally had told him the night before that the picnic was a casual thing, so he's wearing a clean yellow t-shirt and shorts with his sneakers. He did brush his teeth though, but drew the line at combing his hair. It wasn't a wedding or a funeral or anything, after all.
Ally opens the door almost immediately after he's knocked, which makes him wonder if she was waiting for him. She has on a pale blue tank top thing that goes down past her waist so the bottom of her tan shorts just barely stick out. She's got white flip-flops on her feet with a matching headband in her hair and it takes him a minute to fully regain his ability to speak when he first sees her.
"Hi Austin. Come on in."
"You- I mean, uh, you look… good." He sputters.
Ally smiles. "Oh, thanks. So do you." She steps back from the doorway so he can walk inside. "My dad left about an hour ago to help set up, but I figured since it's not very far we could walk." She grabs her purse from the kitchen counter and glances at him. "Ready?"
Austin snaps out of his stupor and manages to nod. "Yeah. Let's go." They walk outside and pause momentarily so Ally can lock the door and then head off towards the park. Just as they reach the end of the street Austin reaches over and grabs her hand. "I figured we should get into character now." He explains, a wave of relief rushing through him when she smiles and squeezes his hand.
They spend the rest of the walk to the park talking about random stuff like how nice it is outside and whether or not Dez will show up with a farm animal for the next video shoot. They talk about Trish's new job at the nail salon and her newer job at the exotic animal store and her latest job at the office supply store, all of which she's probably already been fired from since it's been nearly a day and a half since she was hired.
When they finally reach the park Ally follows her father's instructions and leads Austin along a path before they arrive at the correct spot. Several picnic tables are covered in checkered tablecloths with all kinds of food filling them, and multicolored streamers and balloons decorate the trees. There's also a large sign stuck to the biggest tree proudly announcing THE ANNUAL DAWSON FAMILY PICNIC. Dozens of people of all ages mill around in the grass, some eating from paper plates, some playing with various sports equipment, and some just hanging out enjoying the sunshine as pop music plays from a radio in the background.
"Wow." Austin finally says after a moment of taking it all in.
Ally shrugs sheepishly. "Yeah, we kind of go all out."
"No, it's awesome." He assures her. "It looks like fun."
"Really?" When he nods Ally lets out a small breath of relief. "Okay. Good. Um, I guess we should go say hi to everybody and then we can eat."
"Sounds good." Austin nods dutifully and allows her to guide him over to where her dad and a bunch of other people are standing. Upon her sudden appearance the adults immediately stop their conversation to greet and hug her. She smiles and gestures to Austin with the hand that isn't still firmly grasped with his.
"Everyone, this is Austin. My uh, boyfriend. Austin, this is my Aunt Sally, Aunt Maura, Uncle Lester, cousin Lindy, and Nana Dawson. And obviously you already know my dad."
Austin knows he's never going to remember all these people's names, but smiles anyway and waves. "Nice to meet you all. And it's nice to see you again Mr. Dawson. It looks great out here."
Ally's dad smiles and claps him on the shoulder. "Thank you Austin. It's nice to have you here. Everyone's been looking forward to meeting the special guy in Ally's life."
Austin smiles anxiously. "Yeah, that's me. Ally's special guy. Because we're a couple." He lifts their linked hands up as if for proof.
"So Austin, we hear that you like music." One of the aunts (Melly? Mandy?) says, and he nods.
"Yeah. I love it. That's actually sort of how me and Ally met. My friend Dez and I were trying to shoot a music video at Sonic Boom and we met Ally."
"You make music videos?" Uncle Lester asks.
"Well, I mean, I'm in them. Dez does all of the technical stuff, I just perform." Austin tells them. "But none of it would be possible without Ally. She writes all the music."
"You help me." Ally protests, but he just shakes his head.
"Not really. You're the brains of it all. I wouldn't be anywhere if you weren't my partner."
Ally looks kind of shocked at this declaration. "Austin…" she says softly.
"Face it Al, you're the best thing that's ever happened to me." Austin says simply.
"I've seen you on the internet before." Ally's cousin speaks up. "You're really talented."
Austin smiles. "Thanks. I couldn't do any of it without Ally though."
They talk about school for a few minutes and then Ally pulls him away so they can get something to eat. She takes some of the pasta salad, regular salad, a veggie burger, and a large serving of pickles while Austin helps himself to a hamburger and hotdog, mac-and-cheese, baked beans, and pretty much everything else on the table. They each grab a can of soda from the cooler before sitting down at an empty picnic table in the shade.
He's just about to pop the tab on his root beer when Ally hugs him tightly and kisses the corner of his mouth.
"I- uh, w-what was that for?" he mumbled, wrapping his arms around her and squeezing back.
"What you said about me earlier, it means a lot." She tells him quietly. "Nobody has ever said anything like that to me before."
"Well, that's crazy. You're awesome." He says seriously. "And I meant it all. I do owe everything to you. You're the reason everything's worked out so well Ally. It's because of you and your talent."
Ally shakes her head and focuses down on her plate of food, making him chuckle.
"What? Tell me." He reaches over to tickle her. "Tell me!"
"Later." She promises, and he can tell from her tone that she means it. So he drops it for now and digs into his food, but he doesn't miss the smile she gives him when he reaches over and steals a pickle from her plate.
The next few hours are filled with activity for the two teens. They play kickball with a bunch of Ally's cousins, which makes her smile because some of them are worse then she is, and talk to more of the adults. Austin decides rather quickly that Nana Dawson is his favorite Dawson after Ally, because even though the woman is eighty-six she acts like she's no older than he and Ally are. She tells them stories about the pranks she played when she was their age, and he and Ally tell her all about Trish and Dez and the adventures they've been on together. Nana gives Ally a sweater she's knitted for Nelson because the last time Ally visited she told her grandmother about the piano lessons she gave to the little boy, and apparently a sweater from Nana Dawson is her way of initiating you into the family. According to Ally Trish has one as well, and by the time their conversation is through Nana has taken Austin's measurements and promised to have his sweater done within a week, so Ally has to promise that she'll bring him along the next time she visits.
"But first you have to play us a song." Nana says sternly. Austin freezes. Normally requests to perform make him happy, but this isn't just a normal crowd- this is Ally's family. He doesn't want to embarrass her.
"Oh, um, I really can't. See, my throat is hurting so it probably wouldn't be a good idea to sing-"
"Weren't you and Ally yelling and chasing the younger kids earlier?" Nana interrupts, causing him to go red.
"Uh, yeah, which is why my throat is sore. So maybe next time-"
"Come on boy, Randy has his guitar so he can play for you. Performers are always trying to improve their craft, even on short notice." The old woman stands up and grabs her cane. "You stay right here and warm up while I go find Randy and gather everyone."
Austin is sweating slightly at this point, his heart beating wildly in his chest. "Quick! What's the plan?" he says desperately, turning to Ally.
The brunette stares up at him, confusion written all over her face at his sudden tone of panic. "You're…. going to perform." She tells him slowly, as if talking to a child.
"In front of your whole family? Without any warning? Are you insane?" He practically screeches.
"Austin, you'll be fine. My family isn't that scary-"
"They're not scary, they're just… I can't do this Ally. What if they hate it?"
Ally frowns. "Why would they hate it? You know you're talented. And you perform in front of huge crowds of strangers at the mall all the time. You performed on the Helen show and millions of people were watching then."
"Yeah, but that was people I didn't know or care about. This is your family Al. It's different. This time it's personal."
"Why do you care so much?" Ally questions, not sounding mean.
Austin sighs. Out of the corner of his eye he can see Nana Dawson approaching with who he can only assume is Randy and his guitar, followed by the rest of the family.
"I'll explain it later. Right now I need you to stop me from freaking out." He tells Ally quickly.
Luckily his partner accepts this answer and snaps into go-mode. "Okay, listen to me." She puts her hands on his shoulders so they're locking eyes. "You've got this. You're Austin Moon, you've performed in front of all kinds of people before- this is nothing. You're the most talented person I know and you can do this. And if you're still nervous, just focus on me. Block everyone else out and just pretend like we're in the rehearsal room at the store- it's just me and you."
Austin nods nervously. "What song am I singing?"
"The Ladybug Song." She replies immediately, successfully making him smile. Ally giggles. "Just kidding. You're singing Not a Love Song." Ally decides, knowing that giving him direct orders will work best right now. "It sounds just as good acoustic, and I'll pull the guitar chords up for cousin Randy on my phone so he can play it." She leans in and kisses his cheek. "Remember, it's just me and you."
"Just me and you." Austin repeats, nodding his head bravely.
He waves slightly to Nana Dawson as she takes a seat in a lawn chair and briefly discusses the song with Randy before handing him Ally's phone with the chords and moving to the front of the small crowd. He nearly freezes right there on the spot, however luckily at the last minute his eyes land on Ally sitting in the center of the group. She nods supportively and points two fingers at her eyes, where they instantly lock gazes.
"Hi everybody. I'm Austin Moon, Ally's- um, I mean, I came here with Ally." He begins nervously. "Nana Dawson has asked me to perform, so this song is called Not a Love Song, which Ally wrote. I hope you like it."
He takes a deep breath and sends a nod to Randy, focusing all of his attention on Ally and begins to sing.
Always on my mind,
I think about you all the time.
Let's not talk about it,
Drama we can live without it.
Catch a wave if we're bored,
There's a clock we'll ignore,
Find a way around it.
Gradually he's starting to loosen up, moving a bit as he sings and steadily getting louder without ever breaking away from Ally's gaze.
Hey girl I can tell there's something,
Even when you say it's nothing.
When you're playing with your hair,
Like you just don't care,
It's a tell
By the time he reaches the chorus Ally's family is clapping to the beat, and as the end nears Nana Dawson is waving a lighter above her head and singing along.
But once the song finishes Austin can barely even acknowledge the wild applause from the crowd, because while singing he's come to an abrupt realization.
It's not a love song- except it is. And he doesn't love Ally Dawson- except he does.
He's in love with Ally.
Huh. When did that happen?
After a moment, he's shaken from his stupor by members of the family coming up to compliment his performance and marvel at how well he did. Austin politely thanks everyone and tries to scan the surrounding area for his partner without any success. Eventually only Nana Dawson is left and pats him roughly on the back.
"You did good." She leans in to hug him and then quietly adds, barely above a whisper, "Glad you finally figured it out." Austin is beyond confused at this point- how did she know? He's about to ask when Nana pats his cheek gently and says she'll see him soon before hobbling off, giving him no time to argue.
Ally reappears a few minutes later as everyone begins heading home, giving both teens hugs of farewell and reminders to keep in touch. Mr. Dawson tells his daughter that he's staying to help clean up and reminds her that curfew is 11pm sharp, kissing her on the forehead and shaking Austin's hand before sending them off as well.
Austin offers her his hand once again and smiles nervously. "Wanna go for a walk?"
Ally stares at him for a brief moment and then grabs his hand. "Sure."
They take off down the path leisurely, admiring how beautiful everything is under the dimming lights of the sky.
"So…" he finally drawls. "Today was fun. Your family is really nice."
Ally smiles slightly. "You were great. They loved you. You were the perfect fake boyfriend."
The last two words make his heart sink. Truthfully, he'd been having so much fun over the last few hours he'd sort of forgotten about that part.
"It was almost like…"
Austin's head snaps as she lets her sentence drift off. "Almost like what?"
"Nothing." She chuckles. "It's dumb."
"Ally, you couldn't be dumb even if you tried." He says seriously. "Tell me."
They come to a stop beneath a cluster of large trees, and despite it being a Saturday they seem to be the only ones around.
"It's just… it was almost like you were really my boyfriend." She says quietly. "It was nice."
Austin grins. "For me too."
He nods. "Yeah."
"I sort of… lied." Ally confesses, confusing him. "Well, kind of."
"What are you talking about?"
"I didn't tell you to play Not a Love Song because it sounded good acoustic. I mean, it does, but the main reason I picked it was because it's one of my favorites." She's whispering at this point, and if they weren't so close Austin wouldn't be able to hear her at all. "The look in your eyes when you sing it… I can see your love for the music."
Austin barely thinks at all before blurting out his response. "It's not the music I'm in love with."
All of a sudden he's leaning down towards her before he can control himself and she's stretching up to him. After what seems like a year their lips connect and it feels like time has stopped.
Ally's lips are soft and she tastes like strawberries and pickles, which sounds gross but is actually kind of perfect. They keep kissing for a minute before she eventually pulls away, which sucks but is sort of necessary considering they have to breathe and all.
Austin smiles as he looks at her, with her red cheeks and heavy breathing. He wants to say how amazing she makes him feel, to tell her that this has been the best day of his life and that finally, finally everything makes sense. But before he can get the words out, tears well up in Ally's eyes and she steps back.
"I have to go." She says suddenly, causing Austin to panic.
"I can't be here right now."
He frowns. "No! Why?"
"I can't do this. I'm so sorry Austin." She shakes her head. "I'm so sorry."
And then she's running. Naturally, he chases after her, shouting her name and begging her to please stop, they can talk about this, don't go but she only runs faster, so eventually all he can do is stop and watch her go.
He's pretty sure this is what having your heart broken feels like.
Austin's mom is pretty confused when he walks in at eight thirty that evening, having expected him to break his curfew like usual. But Austin can't even look at her. Instead he mumbles some lame excuse about bad egg salad and locks himself in his room without another word. Normally Mrs. Moon is one to pry, but at the crestfallen look on her son's face she instead chooses to deliver a plate of cookies and a mug of cocoa by his door and leave him be.
That night he sends twelve text messages, four emails, and leaves five voicemails. Ally ignores them all.
He's never felt more pathetic in his life, and worst part is that he doesn't even care anymore.
The next morning Austin parks himself in front of the television in nothing but his boxers and eats dry cereal out of the box while watching cartoons. His mom is out at the market or something, so he's kind of surprised when the back door opens and Trish walks in.
"First of all, you're going to have to put some clothes on. Because I can't talk to you while you're in nothing but your undies." She says briskly before taking the remote and turning off the TV.
"Hey! I was watching that!" he protests.
Trish glares at him. "Clothes! Now!" And so with a heavy sigh he has no choice but to push himself up from the couch and slink off to his room. When he returns a few minutes later in a t-shirt and basketball shorts Trish is still standing in the middle of the living room.
"What do you want Trish? And how did you even get in my house anyway?" he asks as the thought strikes him. His mom always keeps the doors locked.
"I worked at a key place once." Trish answers simply. "But that's not the point. The point is that you had a fight with Ally."
"First of all, I didn't have a fight with her. Sort of the opposite actually. I don't even know what happened." He says. "And second, how do you know about this?"
"Dez told me."
It suddenly strikes him that his best friend hasn't called or contacted him at all since he's been awake, which is strange. "Where is Dez?"
"With Ally." Trish answers, as if this is obvious. "He went to the store this morning to tell you guys about some new idea he had for a music video and Ally was upset. So he talked to her and then called me and I came here to knock some sense into you."
Austin is now more confused than ever. "Why do I have to have be knocked? I don't even know what happened! Everything was great until she ran off."
"Austin, Austin, Austin." Trish's tone is similar to when speaking to a toddler. "Have you ever met Ally before?"
He's growing aggravated now and her belittling tone isn't helping matters. "Just come out with it Trish."
"She got scared." His friend says, moving straight to the point. "You know Ally's never been good with confrontation. You guys were in the moment and everything was happening at once. So when she got startled, she bolted."
"But that doesn't even make sense!" He exclaims, sitting down on the couch and putting his head in the palms of his hands frustratedly. "If she doesn't feel the same way she should have just said so!"
"Does it physically hurt to be that clueless?" Trish snaps. "She loves you, you big blonde idiot!"
Austin glances at her with wide eyes. "What?"
The dark headed girl sighs in aggravation. "Why do you think she asked you to come to the picnic?"
"Because she couldn't bring Dallas. Her dad and his dad were enemies when they were kids." He answers, to which Trish immediately shakes her head.
"Mr. Dawson has never even met Dallas's dad. She's told her family about you since the beginning."
No. She has to be wrong. "But-"
"She didn't say you were dating. Her family kind of just assumed and then it got so out of hand there was no point in trying to fix it." Trish continues. "And 'Not a Love Song'? Come on Austin, it always has been."
Austin is quiet for a minute as he lets this new information sink in. Finally he looks up at Trish with newfound determination in his eyes.
"So what's the plan?"
"See? Wasn't having lunch together awesome?" Dez grins as he and Ally walk inside of Sonic Boom a few hours later.
"Um, yeah. It was a lot of… fun." The brunette answers, trying to get the image of him devouring nine hotdogs each topped with a different flavor of jelly out of her mind.
Dez nods happily. "Oh hey, I forgot to tell you! Earlier when I was upstairs in your practice room there was a weird smell. Sorta like something burning…"
Ally's eyes go wide. "And you decided to wait until now to mention it?"
"I didn't think it was important!" She's flying up the stairs as Dez calls after her.
"Dez, how could you not tell me about this? Something could be seriously wrong! What if there's a f-" she stops immediately when she notices Austin standing in the center of the room. Ally turns back just in time to see the door slam shut and hear the distinct sound of a key turning a lock on the other side, then silence.
"He didn't smell anything." She realizes, causing Austin to nod in confirmation.
"It was a set-up." Another nod.
"I assume Trish is in on it too?" A third nod.
Ally sighs. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because we need to talk." Austin takes a seat on the couch and gestures next to him until she takes it, knowing there's no way Dez and Trish will let them out any time soon.
"You've never liked Dallas." It isn't a question, but Ally answers him anyway.
"That's not true. I thought I did, at first. And it was a nice distraction from…"
"From me?" Austin shakes his head. "Ally, why didn't you just tell me?"
"I don't kn-"
"No, no more lies! I need you to be honest with me!" he says, getting frustrated at her attempt to hide. "You had feelings for me and you didn't tell me. I want to know why."
"Because I couldn't do that to you!" she exclaims. "If I said something it could destroy our friendship and our partnership, and losing everything because of my stupid feelings isn't worth it! Your career would go down the drain and we'd never be the same again. You deserve all the good things that have happened to you Austin. I won't let myself be the one thing that ruins it."
Austin stares at her for a moment in shock.
"You really don't get it, do you? Since the day we met everything in my life has gotten better. Before we started working together I didn't have any inspiration, I just knew I wanted to play music." He explains. "My dad has always thought it was a waste of time and it really bummed me out, but then you gave me that boost of confidence I needed. I was messing around on my guitar the other night in my room and my dad walked by. And you know what he said?" When Ally shakes her head he smiles. "He said it sounded good. And I know that isn't much, but from my dad it's the biggest compliment he's ever said to me about my music before. That's never happened."
"You're getting better at guitar. He was bound to notice sometime." Ally tells him, still a bit confused.
"Al, I was playing a song you wrote." This gets her attention. "Even my mom has noticed that I'm acting different. I help out more around the house and I try to not break as much stuff. And she said I'm happier than she's seen me in a long time. That's all because of you." He sighs. "Look, you're an amazing song writer. The best one I know. But even without your music you mean a lot to me because you make me want to be a better person."
"It's true." He insists. "I'm always thinking about you and it freaked me out at first. But then I realized I was freaking out because I liked it. I like thinking about you, I like hanging out with you, and I like being your best friend. I even like annoying you because you're cute when you get mad." Austin shrugs. "I like you Ally, and I like everything about you. A lot. I might even love you. In fact, I'm pretty sure I do. And if being with you means putting my career on the line, then that's what I'll do. Because you're worth it Ally. We're worth it." He gives a final nod, signifying the end of his speech. Trish had told him to speak from his heart and be honest, and he did. He has nothing left to give. It's all on Ally now.
The brunette girl takes her time thinking it over. Austin can practically see the wheels turning in her brain as she works everything out. But she finally does speak up.
"I'm sorry I lied." She says finally. "And I'm sorry about running away last night at the park. I just got scared."
"It's okay to be scared." He assures her. "It means you have something to lose."
Ally smiles. "When did you get so wise?"
"Actually, I read that on a fortune cookie the other day." Austin admits, making her laugh.
She's quiet for a minute, but eventually looks up from her lap. "Hey Austin?"
Ally shrugs, almost as if she can't help the next words that come out of her mouth. "I love you too."
The grin that appears on his face is almost too big to handle. "Awesome. So does this mean things can go back to the way they used to be?"
His face falls when Ally shakes her head, but there's a smile in her eyes as she leans in to kiss him. "Things are going to be even better."
Ally was right, as usual. Things are even better than before. They still hang out all the time, but now he can kiss her whenever he wants to (and he wants to a lot). The impromptu jam sessions they've been having at Sonic Boom has resulted in more customers, so Mr. Dawson is happy too, and even Trish and Dez are fighting less. It's nothing short of a miracle. Austin's new sweater is sent over a few weeks later from Nana Dawson, along with a note that says Welcome to the family which is kind of freaky but still really nice. And it turns out that Nana Dawson's sweaters are like the softest things on Earth, so Austin ends up wearing his frequently. Over time they eventually take Dez along when they go to visit, and Ally informs them weeks later that Nana Dawson couldn't stop grinning when she received the picture of the four of them all strutting around the mall proudly in their sweaters.
He performs countless times as the years pass, but it's not until today when he takes his place on the stage that he feels those same nerves he felt at his first Dawson Family Picnic.
"Hi everybody. I'm Austin Moon, Ally's husband." He says with a bright smile. It's so cool to finally be able to say that. "And this song is for my wife and my best friend in the entire world. I love you so much Al."
Ally is a vision in her long white dress and blows him a kiss from her seat. She smiles warmly at him before pointing two fingers at her eyes and then towards her new husband, the signal they've used all this time that assures they've got each other's sole attention.
It's impossible to wipe the grin from Austin's face. "This is called Not A Love Song…" He announces proudly, chuckling as he strums his guitar. "But really, it always has been."
Thanks so much for reading.