Few Notches Lower, an Austin and Ally oneshot

I do not own Austin and Ally. For prompts of: plastic umbrella, seashell, carnival, pizza, magazines, and chocolate milk. Please remember to review!

This is not a date.

This being her hand sliding across his, taking the warm Styrofoam cup from him.

This being her side pressed into his.

This being the rain pouring down around them while they keep that same slow pace.

"I'm glad you're over your fear of umbrellas," Ally says. She takes a sip of her tea.

"Me too." He looks up. It's a clear plastic umbrella, and through it he can see the rain pouring down. It's kind of beautiful.

Then again, so is the girl next to him.

It is not a date. It's simply two best friends who may possibly feel romantically inclined, at least on his part, to each other taking a walk in a downpour under their new see through umbrella in order to find inspiration for the song they'll write, where his hand will inevitably touch hers on the piano, causing his body to shiver in delight.

Oh yeah. Real simple there.

"Want some more tea? You're shaking."

It's not because he's cold.

It's not because a car has sped by, splashing water at his feet.

It may have something to do with how beautiful she had looked, staring up at the rain.


Just to let their hands brush again.

(the page breaks here)

If Monday wasn't a date, then today is not their second date this week.

It's not their first date either.

"You dug the moat crooked."

"How do you know it's not the castle that's crooked?" he counteracts.

Stepping back another inch, she tilts her head. "Nope, it's the moat."

Austin drops his shovel on the sand. What, was he going to use a ruler?

He spots a seashell down the beach. It's small enough that it might just work.

"Hold on a second."

She waits patiently, kneeling down at the castle. Maybe she could make a few adjustments while she waited.

He returns, catching her reaching for the shovel. His hand lands on top of hers.

The shell gets placed in the empty space.

"It's a guard shell, in case somebody crosses the moat."




Well, now it doesn't really matter what it was. Crooked moats can't protect the castle from Dez.

"Ow! What was that?"

Guard shells, on the other hand, take their job very seriously.

He still hasn't let go of her hand.

(the page breaks here)

This is their third not-date this week. A part of him is happy that they're spending all of this quality time together. But is it too much to ask to eliminate those first three letters?

"Choose your prize," the apathetic carnival booth worker tells him.

"Ally, which one do you want?" he asks, recapturing her attention. She averts her eyes from Ferris Wheel.


"Anything off the top shelf," the worker explains.

Scanning the shelf, she tries to make a choice. The koala is cute, but there's something endearing about the raccoon with the big brown eyes.

She points to the raccoon. "Him please."

The worker passes it over the counter. Hugging it to her chest, she kisses Austin on the cheek.

Maybe she won't notice his blush under the moonlight.

"You want to go on the Ferris Wheel?" he offers.

"Can we?" The raccoon gets squeezed.

"Come on."

Taking her to the back of the line, he doesn't let go of her hand. Not that she seems to mind.

"Thank you," she says.

"Did you name him yet?" He takes a step forward, remembering the last time he was on this ride. He'd been stuck with Kira and her bad breath.

"Milton," she replies, and he scrunches his nose.

Bad timing.

Once he gets that under control, the timing, not the scrunching, he'll ask her out. She doesn't deserve less than perfect.

And right now, that's more than he can afford.

(the page breaks here)

He shouldn't even be considering why this isn't a date. All they're doing is eating cold pizza and drinking chocolate milk.

Which has given Ally a mustache.

It's enough to make him almost choke on his pizza. It's not right to laugh, but she looks too cute.

"You okay?"

"Fine," he replies, clearing his throat. "I just always thought I was the man in this relationship."

Okay, that was not the right word. This friendship. This partnership. This chair.

Because yes, they're both sitting on the same oversized armchair with Milton right now.

But not relationship. That implies something that he'd really like too imply, but will refrain for purposes previously stated.

i.e. He's flawed.

She wipes the milk away. "Very funny."

A small smile crosses her face. Either she's okay with the term, or is too distracted by the mustache to care.

As long as she isn't dumping that milk on his head, he doesn't care.

Maybe just a little.

Maybe just a lot.

(the page breaks here)

He could convince himself that they weren't dates.

The press, not so much.

"Austin, did you read Cheetah Beat yet?" The magazine sits in front of her on the counter. Her eyes are glued to it.

"No, why?"

She turns the book around so he can see it. "Look at this."

"Are You Just Friends or Something More? It's a quiz, Ally. I don't see what the big deal is."

Running her finger down the page she points to the results section.

And then he sees exactly what she's talking about.

"Where'd they get that picture?"

"They labeled us as 'something more,' and your first question is where they got the picture?"

A few notches lower on the volume would be better.

Quit staring people. Go back to minding your own business.

"Calm down. So some magazine thinks we should be together. That doesn't mean we have to be." She takes the magazine back to study the picture. There's that plastic umbrella. "Looks like they took the picture Monday."

Yanking the magazine from her grasp, he tosses it aside. "Ally, focus."

"I am."

"Not on the magazine."

"Why does it bother you so much that someone thinks that we should be dating?"

Somebody get the duct tape before he tells her the truth.

"Because they're right."

So they can all listen in on his conversation, but none of them can bother to get the duct tape?

Thanks guys, you're a big help. Now please go away while he makes an even bigger fool of himself.

"Did you-" she begins, getting cut off by an impatient Austin. He's waited too long to tell her this. Audience or not, these words are getting said.

"The umbrella. The beach. The carnival. The cold pizza. Are you going to tell me that it meant nothing to you?" His hands hit the counter determinately. It stings, but he goes on. "I like you a lot, more than I should."

"There's a quota on our love for each other?"

It takes a moment to sink in.

And when it does, all feelings of pain and anxiety subside.

"Our love?"

"Our love," she confirms.

That's all he needed to hear.

He accidentally steps on the magazine when he leans to kiss her. It'll leave a shoe print, right over their smiling faces.

Well, one smile for another, he supposes.

And this one's going to last a long while.

Maybe forever.