Squish the Bunny, an Austin and Ally oneshot

I do not own Austin and Ally. This is by special request of Naada. Reviews are greatly appreciated.

Relationships aren't supposed to be like this. You're not supposed to fall in love at such a young age. And you're certainly not supposed to miss out on growing old together. Old being eight in this case.

Perhaps he should explain.

Back in kindergarten, they were making Valentines Day cards. He was at the boys' table, drawing dilapidated hearts for his mother.

That's when her crayon broke.

"Can I have that red crayon?" she had asked, pointing to the one by his elbow.

"Yeah, sure."

That's when their hands brushed.

That's when he fell. Hard. So hard that he was afraid he'd skinned his knees, and that he'd come home, with Hello Kitty bandages (the nurse had run out of Spiderman) and his mother would wonder what had happened.

'Well, I was making you a valentine...'

'And?'

'There was this girl...'

He planted his feet firmly on the ground. He couldn't fall if he never got out of this chair.

"Lunch time!" the teacher had called.

And off the chair, straight into the ground he went.

Man, he knew he should have gotten velcro sneakers.

She had helped him up. Then she'd kissed his cheek, all shyly, like she wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. "Do you need help tying your shoe?"

"Okay." He himself had learned last month, but he wasn't going to stop her. She made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

"Bunny crosses his ears, and goes under the bridge. Squish the bunny, squish him!" She yanks the strings tight. He's pretty sure that's not how the rhyme goes. "Loop and wind and back through the tunnel. Squish him, squish him!"

"Who taught you how to do that?" The rhyme, not the shoe tying. He left her to figure that one out.

"My big brother. He just taught me last week." She grinned proudly.

His stomach churned, from being late to lunch or that smile, that he could not determine, so he took her hand. "Come on. They're going to leave without us."

He grabbed his lunchbox, a hard plastic Ninja Turtle case.

Grabbing her own lunch, which was in a simple brown bag, she let him lead her to the back of the line. The single file line, where he continued to hold his hand behind his back so she could hang on.

Yeah, you could have called him smitten.

"Ooh, cool Thermos," she had said, mouth full of peanut butter.

"I got it for my birthday." He quickly took out the napkin and stuffed it in his pocket.

"What was that?"

That time, she had the decency to swallow first.

"Nothing."

"It was definitely something."

"Nope." He opened the Thermos, digging beneath his juice box to find his spoon. Distracted, he didn't notice until it was too late that there were a pair of blue glittered hands reaching for his pocket.

She cleared her throat. "Happy Valentines Day sweetie! Love mommy and daddy."

He was blushing darker than that red crayon.

Snatching the napkin from her, he balled it up. So his parents liked to write him notes in his lunch. They loved him.

Her bag crinkled as she took out her own napkin. She gave it to him.

"What's this for?"

"Read it."

"Mallory, steer clear of Cupid. He's nothing but trouble. Like Sherman." He set it on the table. "Like Sherman?"

She used it to wipe her mouth. "My brother says love is gross."

He nodded.

Her brother was so wrong.

(the page breaks here)

For her seventh birthday, he got her a ring. Nothing too fancy. Just something from a gumball machine that would probably break within a week.

It didn't.

Not in a week. Not in a month.

"Hey Mal." He took a seat next to her, pecking her cheek.

She blushed. She always blushed.

"Hi." Wiping her mouth with her napkin, he noticed the note.

'Mallory, mom's picking you up early for the dentist. Remember to floss! Like Sherman.'

"How come it's always your brother writing your notes?" He peeled back the lid of his pudding cup.

"Mommy's not home in the morning."

"What about your dad?"

A tear ran down her cheek. She wipedit away, leaving a streak of marker pen. "Daddy's gone."

He dropped his spoon.

Great. Now he had a dirty spoon and a crying girlfriend.

"I'm so sorry." His arms found their way around her, elbowing whoever else is around.

"S'okay. He just moved down the street with his friend Miss Jones." She blew her nose into the napkin.

"Come on. Let's get you washed up." Austin raised his hand. The monitor came over.

This girl was broken.

It was about time someone came around to pick up the pieces.

(the page breaks here)

He tied his shoes, her voice echoing in her head.

'Squish the bunny, squish him!'

"You ready to go sweetie?" His mother smoothed down the front of her black blouse. Then she fixed the her son's hair.

"No." One is never prepared to go to their girlfriend's funeral.

He followed his parents to the car.

That's how he lost her. A car. She'd been out riding her bike, and some lady who was too busy applying her lipstick to notice her had hit her,

He hoped she ruined her lipstick.

After all, he had ruined her life, and his by default.

"I'm sorry for your loss," he had said to her brother.
He was sorry for his own loss, but some things are better left unsaid.
(the page breaks here)

He wasn't supposed to be this lucky. He wasn't supposed to get a second chance at love.

"Austin, are you coming?"

Her hand in his.

He wasn't supposed to feel the tingles again. There was a girl, wearing a gumball machine ring buried six feet under.

"Just a second." He walks her over to the fountain, where there's a man on his phone. He approaches him.

The man ends his conversation and shuts his phone. "Austin."

"Sherman."

"It's been twelve years today."

"I know."

He lets her go to hug the crying man in front of him. The tears spread.

Patting Sherman on the back, he releases.

"This your wife?" he asks, nodding to her ring.

"Not yet," he admits. He shouldn't have to feel so guilty about marrying someone else. Someone who isn't dead.

"She'd be happy for you." He wipes his tears with the back of his hand. Ally takes a tissue from her pocket and passes it to him.

Austin pulls her into his side. "So what brings you to Miami?"

After Mallory's death, they had moved away. It's easier to escape the memory when there isn't that constant reminder.

Sherman pulls a magazine out of his shopping bag.

"Saw this." There they are on the front cover. "There was something I needed to give you."

"What is it?"

He checks his left pocket, then the right. "Ah, here it is."

In his hands is a napkin. Austin cautiously takes it. Noting that there was writing on it, he looked closer.

'A- I love you. -M'

He's not going to cry again. He's not going to break down in the middle of the mall. He refuses.

Thank you Ally, for offering such a wonderful shoulder to dispose of his tears on.

"When did she do this?"

"When we took her to the hospital, she kept asking me for a napkin. So finally I gave her one, just to shut her up, and she wrote that. She made me promise I'd give it to you once you had finally moved on and found a new girl to love."

If he's crying on Ally's shoulder, whose shoulder is she going to cry on?

"Thank you for bringing me this," he says. It's muffled with the tears and shoulder in the way, but that doesn't matter.

Sherman understands.

(the page breaks here)

He tucks the napkin into a drawer at home. It's been a long, hard day, and right now, he just wants to get to sleep.

"You going to be alright?" Ally asks, ruffling his hair.

"Yeah. I'll be okay," he says as his face betrays him.

She envelopes him in her arms, burying her head into his chest. She knows better.

A few moments pass before she says anything.

"How about we invite Sherman to the wedding?" It may not be his sister up at that altar, but he's important to him. That's what matters.

"That'd actually be really nice."

She knows that she can't be Mallory. She can't be his first love.

But she can hold him tight and let him know that everything is going to be okay.

It will be, because they're in this together.

It's not enough to pick up the pieces. You have to glue them back together. Stay and wait a while. Let them know that you won't let them shatter again.

She may not be his first love, but one things for certain.

She's his love ever after.