For Keeps, an Austin & Ally one-shot

Disclaimer: I do not own Austin & Ally. This is a combination of two different ideas, so hopefully you all like it. Review saying what you think, and remember requests are open for Auslly and Klaine!

Ally stands upon the very tips of her toes, wrapping her arms around his neck. It's a common occurrence, her reaching up, and him crouching down, enveloping each other. And as much as she loves the feeling of his arms around her, she can only last so long on the tips of her toes.

That afternoon she heads over to the shoe store.

And as she counts out her change she can only wonder one thing.

What has she gotten herself into?

The next morning she rolls out of bed. She goes through her usual routine. It's the same cereal, the same shower and blow dry.

She fiddles with her hair. In the front. Behind the shoulders. In the front.

She's starting to think it isn't the placement that needs changing. Maybe a new haircut? Straightening? Dying it purple?

Okay, it was definitely not the last one.

She leaves it down, shaking it out. May the strands land where they may.

Except for that one in her face. It's got to move.

She returns to her bedroom, where the bag from the shoe store is still sitting in front of her closet, right where she left it last night. With a nudge of her foot, she moves it out-of-the-way.

The switch gets flicked on. She looks at all of her clothes. Sorted by type. Tops left, bottoms right, dresses center. Sorted by style. Formal to casual to oh-my-gosh-it-is-too-hot-for-clothes-right-now.

And of course, sorted by color.

Just to be thorough.

Normally this is a good thing. She knows what she wants, and where to find it. But today, it is not a good thing.

It's a terrible thing.

Because she knows what outfits go with what shoes. Every pair, lined up along the wall. Every pair but this pair.

She goes back into her room to get the shoes out. The box slides out of the bag. It falls to the ground with a thud. The receipt follows.

Maybe she should just return them.

Then again, they would go perfectly with her blue skirt.

She pulls off the price tag.

The page breaks here.

Instead of going straight to the mall, she stops by the hair salon. The walls are covered in pictures. Bleach blondes. Asymmetrical bobs. Cornrows.

It's enough to make her want to turn around and leave.

"Can I help you?"

Drat.

"Um, yes. Can I have a haircut?" She asks, checking the clock on the wall. It's still pretty early.

"Come with me." The hairstylist drops her pen, and gets up. She ducks down to spit her gum in the trash. Ally takes it as a good sign. Better the trash than in her hair.

She lets the stylist sit her down and wrap a smock around her. The chair gets raised. "So what are you looking to do with your hair today?"

Ally looks at her reflection in the mirror. She had wanted something new. A new her. Now she's not so sure.

"Just a trim," she sighs. Her shoulders droop.

"You don't sound too sure about that," the stylist replies, stepping in front of her.

She thinks for a second. This is a start of the newly improved Ally. The Ally that takes risks, and steps outside of her comfort zone. The Ally who is not returning her new three-inch wedges, despite the fact that they are a full inch taller than the rest of her collection and she will probably fall on her face.

"I want to do something new, but I don't know what," she explains. She takes a deep breath, and with it, a leap of faith. "How about you surprise me? Just nothing too out there."

The stylist takes out her scissors. "Just close your eyes, and I'll let you know when it's all over."

The page breaks here.

When the stylist turns her chair towards the mirror, there's that feeling of apprehension. Her heart races and she questions why she gave a complete stranger free reign over her. She opens her eyes.

Oh, that's why.

"Do you like it?"

"I love it," she replies as the stylist removes the smock.

She can only hope her friends like it too.

She finds Trish, who's filling out a job application at one of the tables.

"Hey Ally," she says as she sees her nearing the table.

"Hey Trish." She places her hands on the back of the chair. It's not like she doesn't want to talk to her best friend, but she's already an hour late, and she hates to keep her dad waiting.

Trish pulls out a stack of papers. Her resume.

"You're later than usual this morning. Your dad was looking for you."

She knew she was right. "I should probably get going then. I'll see you later?"

"Later," she calls out to Ally's retreating back.

No mention of hair or shoes.

Well, she had been busy. Maybe she hadn't noticed.

She makes her way to the Sonic Boom. Her dad is talking to Austin and Dez.

"Sorry boys, I haven't seen her since breakfast." Mr. Dawson shrugs. "Wait, there she is now."

They turn around. Dez scratches his chin.

"There's something different about Ally."

"She got her hair done." He steps towards her, pulling a strand from her face to examine the color.

Dez shakes head. "No that's not it."

She smiles. At least someone had noticed.

"I know, she's taller!" He measures her height against Austin's. Three inches taller.

"It's the shoes," she comments, sticking out her foot. She nearly loses her balance, and he reaches out to catch her.

That's when she sees it. Or rather them. The two brown eyes, blinking back at her. She's not on her toes. She's flat on her feet, and if she tilts her head up ever so slightly, and him down, everything lines up. Their eyes, their noses.

Their mouths.

She ignores that last detail.

He isn't letting go of her. His hand is still on her back, his other in hers. She needs to say something, anything.

"You were looking for me?"

"Yeah." He slowly retracts the arm around her back. She hangs onto his hand.

This new Ally has more courage than old Ally.

Maybe Austin was starting to rub off on her.

The page breaks here.

It's summer again. And Austin is so glad. No more tests or pop quizzes. No more waking up early to shower (which he does, but at a more humane time of the morning) and go to school.

No more study dates with Ally.

Well, not dates really, since they aren't together, for some reason he has yet to discover. Because he refuses to believe the reason is that he is to chicken to ask her out. Which he is, but she has just as much right as him to ask him out. And so far she hasn't, so either she is chicken, or she doesn't like him the way he likes her.

It's easier not to think about it.

Each day, there had been a fun fact. One thing that he had learned from their study date. Henry the Eighth married six women, three Catherines, all of different spelling. 3,4,5 was the smallest Pythagorean triple. Fairies can fall in love with donkeys, at least if Shakespeare was writing the play.

And now, school has been out for seventeen hours, and he's awake, looking up fun facts on the internet.

Why?

Because fun facts actually are fun.

Not that he'd ever admit that to Ally.

She's organizing the display of CDs, so he sneaks up behind her. He presses his hands against her sides. "Morning Ally."

She jumps.

"Austin, you scared me."

"Sorry." He pauses and wraps her in a hug. "Did you know Cherophobia is a fear of fun?"

She pulls back. "What?"

"Cherophobia. The fear of having fun. Y'know, not being all uptight all the time." He lets her go.

"I am not uptight." He taps a cd so the stack goes crooked. She frowns at it.

One second, two.

She straightens the cd.

"That doesn't prove anything." She crosses her arms.

"I know." He smiles, unwinding her arms.

He always has fun with her.

The page breaks here.

The next day he comes to Sonic Boom with two boxes of animal crackers. He sets them on the counter.

She's with a customer so he doesn't interrupt her. He opens the package, pulling out a camel.

"What's with the animal crackers?" she asks once the customer is gone.

"There are eighteen different animal shapes in the Animal Crackers cookie zoo," he recites from memory.

He pushes a box towards her. "Really?"

She has no idea why he's mentioning this. But she missed breakfast, and she's not going to question it. She opens her box, struggling with the package.

"Yeah. Pretty cool, right?" He lines his crackers up on the counter, sorting by animal. "I only have thirteen."

She narrows her eyes at the package. It should not be this hard to open. "Austin?"

He takes the package from her. He opens it with ease, dumping them onto the counter.

"Ooh, you got the koala!" It gets lined up with the others.

"That was not what I meant," she mutters.

His zoo is almost complete, save for the zebra. She picks up a bear. There were two of them. Surely he wouldn't miss one.

She decapitates it.

Still hungry, she looks at the camels. Perhaps she could take the one that had lost its leg?

She stuffs it in her mouth as Austin's camera phone goes off. A guilty look crosses her face.

"Ally killing my animal cracker zoo," he says as he types his latest Tweeter update.

She swipes his only rhino. He grabs her wrist.

"What are you two doing?" Trish asks, walking in on the situation.

"Nothing," they both say all too quickly.

She eyes them. "Okay... oh, you have animal crackers!"

Now neither of them get the rhino.

Thanks a lot Trish.

The page breaks here.

"A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21-inch tongue."

Not a hello. Not a how's it going. Not any kind of precursor. He just walks right in and says it.

"Austin, are you still doing fun facts? I told you that you didn't have to do them anymore." She's caught on by now. It's the third week he's done this, sharing some irrelevant factoid she hadn't known before.

He won't admit it. He won't admit how he wakes up, searching for something she doesn't know to impress her. How fun it is for him to learn.

Looking back, he doesn't see how he thought giraffe tongues would impress her.

"I know. But come on, you have to admit that's pretty impressive."

She smiles at him.

It's always worth it. To wake up early, just to find something to say. Something to make her smile that heart melting smile.

He grins back.

The page breaks here.

Her head hits the piano keys. They had been out late the night before, at a concert.

He still got up early to find her a fun fact.

He sets an apple in her palm. The other two get set on top of the piano.

"What? What's this for?" She lifts herself up and he sits down next to her on the bench.

"Fun fact: Apples are more efficient than caffeine in keeping people awake in the mornings." He bites into his own apple.

She polishes it off on her shirt. "Thanks."

They sit quietly munching for a few minutes.

He swallows.

"So, what are you doing up at the piano so early for anyway?" He snaps the stem off.

"I had an idea for a song. What are you doing here so early? I figured you would have slept in after last night." She takes another bite, feeling more alert.

He gets up to throw his core out.

"Someone called my mom this morning. Phone woke me up." He used to roll over and fall back asleep when this happened. But it was already time to be up. Time to find the fun fact to make Ally smile. Not that she needed to know that.

She nods, chewing at her apple. He sits and waits for her. Finally she throws out her core. "So the song?"

"I think you're going to like it." She starts to play the melody, her arm up against his.

He's wide awake now.

Somehow, he doesn't think it has anything to do with the apple.

The page breaks here.

On his way to the Sonic Boom, Austin makes a big decision. He had spent breakfast scrolling through fun facts. But none of them had really jumped out at him this morning. He had settled for some fact that really wasn't all too fun for a fun fact.

And now he was completely changing his mind.

"Hey Ally." He's nervous, and he has to remind himself not to look down. It's a normal day, and Ally is a normal girl that he normally talks to. By looking straight in the eyes. Eyes that are not on the ground.

She hands the bag over to the customer. "Oh, hi Austin. What's up?"

He strides over to her, leaning over the counter.

"Fun fact of the day," he replies, looking her dead in the eye.

"Alrighty then," she says, wondering why he's gotten so close and serious. She leans in too.

This new Austin has more nerves than old Austin.

Maybe Ally was starting to rub off on him.

"Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean in 1492."

Okay, so new Austin definitely had more nerves than old Austin. At least in the Ally department.

She frowns. "I already knew that."

She begins to back away. He takes her hand.

"That's not what I wanted to say."

"Then what did you want to say?" He looks down, despite what the inner voices told him.

"You don't want to know."

She lifts his chin. "Oh come on. It couldn't have been that bad."

She has no idea.

But since he's already dug himself a hole, and the only other fun fact he can remember has to do with pink hippo milk, he needs to tell the truth.

"Fun fact of the day," he starts. He takes a deep breath. "Fun fact of the day: I love you. In a more than friends kind of way."

There are customers buzzing around her. Dez and Trish could come in at any minute. Her dad could come in.

Somehow none of this bothers her nearly as much as it should.

"Fun fact of the day," she echoes back.

"Yeah," he answers lamely. He drops his head again, but her hand is still there, and all he gets is a face-full of her palm.

She adjusts her hold on him and tilts his head up for a second time.

"Fun fact of the day: I love you too." She kisses his cheek.

The page breaks here.

So in the end, they've learned the only way to find yourself is to get lost. For if nothing is lost, how can it ever be found?

He loses a bit of himself. That self-assured, popular self. She loses a bit of herself. That nervous girl who isn't sure of herself. And sure, they're still those people, but they've grown so much from that. He's that popular guy that thinks about others before he acts. She's that nervous girl who goes for it anyway. Because they've rubbed off on each other. Because they found what the other had lost and kept it.

Maybe she hadn't known that it was lost to begin with. But it was, and now she had found just what she was looking for.

It was wrapped right around her, whispering in her ear.

And for Austin?

It was right in his arms, being told how much it was loved.

Fun fact of the day: 40% of people who are rejected in romantic love slip into clinical depression.

Not that he'll ever know.

Because she said yes.

This one's for keeps.