Jar, an Austin and Ally one-shot

I do not own Austin and Ally. To fulfill a prompt. This is set after Jack's Flaps, for any of you that have read it. Please enjoy and leave reviews!

(March 2, 2013)

For it being eight in the morning, she sure looks bright eyed. They shine brighter than that plaque Marge stuck to the table.

It's been three weeks since they've gotten together. One would think that's he's memorized every inch of her face by now. There's no reason to stare at her and wonder what she's so excited about.

Except that she's beautiful, and his girlfriend, and he loves her, and he wants to know what is so gosh darned fantastic about the world today.

He can't stand to watch her eat her buttermilk pancakes anymore.

"So, what's up?"

"What do you mean?" She steals a bite of his blackberry short stack.

"Ally, you're practically bouncing in your seat." He leans across to set a hand on her shoulder. His arm evades the pool of syrup on her plate.

She sets her fork down. "My mom's coming back from Africa this weekend. I haven't seen her in so long."

He met her on webcam once, for a brief moment before she had to flee to take care of the gorillas, but never in person. He's known Mr. Dawson for a while now, but the whole 'meeting the parents' stigma is making him suddenly nervous. What if she doesn't like him? What if she thinks Ally can do better, and convinces her of that?

Here's the thing about love: It's not necessarily about doing better, where everyone has a rank in an intangible list of human credentials, and you can only date within a certain range of acceptability.

Rather, it's about being happy, and doing what is best for yourself. Sure, you can pick someone who is the perfect guy.

But if he's not perfect for you, what's the point?

He'd like to think he's perfect for her.

He should stop thinking about it. She's going to love him, as Ally is now reassuring him, and they're going to live happily ever after.

Besides, his pancakes are getting cold.

(September 24, 2015)

There is no greater test of manhood than opening a pickle jar.

Come on jar, don't let him down. He needs to prove his manhood to Ally.

Does it count if he smashes it against the counter top and reaches through the shards of glass to salvage the pickles? Putting himself in harm's way sounds pretty dangerous.

Pretty manly too.

Cleaning up the spilt vinegar solution on the floor with a mop, not so much.

"This is impossible," he grunts, twisting the lid.

"Here, let me try again. Maybe you loosened it." She sticks her hand out.

He clings the jar to his chest. "No. I got this."

All she wanted was one pickle to go with her sandwich. It was not that much of a request.

It's not like the plea he made to the greater being this morning that he could get over this fear of proposal.

He could perform for an audience of thousands. He could give a best man speech for Dez (who hopefully would return the favor someday).

However, he could not find the nerve to ask her to marry him.

And apparently, he could not find the strength to open a stupid jar of pickles.

"Really, it's fine." She chews her grilled cheese. Cheese has calcium for strong bones. It'll be like supercharging herself for opening the jar.

At which point, he will feel more defeated than anything.

Which may be why he let his secret slip.

"No. I have to prove my manliness, or you'll never marry me." He drops the jar out of shock. Those words were never meant to form sentences. Not in that order.

She jumps back as the glass shatters.

All those pickles wasted, just like his chances.

"Where did you get an idea like that?"

"Arthur," he mumbles, feeling ridiculous. He should have known that he would lead him astray. He's been after Ally for months now.

Too bad he doesn't get the girl in the end.

Later that afternoon she calls her grandmother. "Hey, grandma. We accidentally broke one of your canning jars today. I'm sorry. But guess what?"

Surprisingly, she gets it on the first try.

"Austin finally proposed to you?"

"How'd you know?"

"Doesn't that ring look at all familiar to you?"

Her grandma (the one that smells like cabbage, according to her fiance, a word that sounds so right to her ears) passes down a family necklace. Looks like her grandma (the one that makes yummy cookies, according to her fiance, because that word still sounds so right) got in on the action.

That's her grandma's ring on her finger.

Well, now it's her ring.

"When did you go see my grandma?" she asks, putting her hand over the receiver.

"I wanted her permission to marry you."

"Her permission?"

"Yeah. I mean, I already asked your parents, but I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing." He shuffles his feet on the carpet. Normally he jumps into things head first. This time he'd dipped his toe in about half a dozen times before taking the plunge.

Hand off the receiver, she wraps her mind around the situation. "You gave him your ring?"

"Don't tell me it doesn't look perfect on that hand of yours."

That's a fact she can't argue.

(February 14, 2016)

Moving into their new home may be the least romantic way they've ever spent Valentine's Day.

"You hungry?" His stomach growls. Whether she says yes or not, he's getting something to eat.

"Starving." She gestures toward the newly hung calendar. "But it's going to be packed. We didn't make any reservations, remember?"

They'd agreed that it was best not to, with not knowing when they'd be done unpacking.

He picks up the car keys. "It doesn't hurt to check."

Especially when he's already called ahead from the apartment parking lot, and knows for certain that there's a booth available.

Taking his hand, she lets him lead her to Jack's Flaps.

"I thought they closed at six thirty," she remarks, sliding into their booth.

"We do," Marge replies, setting a stack of heart shaped buttermilks in front of her. "But we thought we'd change things up tonight."

She goes back into the kitchen to grab Austin's pancakes. "How'd you do it?"

"Marge loves me." He grins as the plate is set in front of him.

"That and he promised to try my new recipe." She rubs his back for a moment, then leaves for them to enjoy their meal.

He can tell that she's watching them from behind the napkin dispensers (some habits never die) but he takes her hand and lets her have the first bite. Apple.

She hums contentedly.

They're playing corny love songs over the radio, and when he kisses her, because the song did suggest it after all, they hear a shriek come from the kitchen. He laughs, eyes landing on the sole decoration left on the table.

A. M. 2

Huh, they do have the same initials. First and last anyway. She still refuses to tell him what her middle name is. What could be more embarrassing than Monica?

"What's your middle name?" he asks, as if she's been following his inner thoughts.

She smiles around her fork. It's rude to talk with her mouth full.

He'll never know.

(August 5, 2016)

It's hot out, and this baby is heavy, and she is starving. Six months pregnant, she wants nothing more than a jar of pickles. She's been craving them all morning.

Yet again, Austin can not get the jar open.

"Does she glue these things shut?" He groans, elbowing himself in the stomach.

"Yes. She glues them all shut, just to bother you," she deadpans.

"Got it!" he exclaims after an audible pop. "Pickle for m'lady?"

She plucks one from the jar. The baby kicks in delight.

Her eyes widen. She will never get used to this.

"What? Too hot? I made sure not to get the hot ones this time." He panics, checking the label on the jar. It says sweet pickles. Please say she didn't mislabel them.

"The baby kicked."

He puts the lid back on the jar and sets it in the middle of the counter. There is no way he's going to knock it over and break another canning jar.

It may be almost a year later, but he's not pressing his luck. She gave him the ring.

Ally's fingers are swollen, and he doubts it's coming off any time soon.

Good. That's how he likes it. No, not stuffed like a sausage (though she could be, and he wouldn't bat an eyelash, until he had to blink, but it would have nothing to do with her weight). He likes that it's a symbol of his love, scaled down to size.

There's no way a life size symbol would fit in their apartment.

There's no way it'd fit in this galaxy.

(February 10, 2066)

It's their fiftieth anniversary, and she feels as old as dirt as the workers their son hired hustle around her.

She approaches her husband, kissing him on the cheek. "I'm glad we finally agreed on doing a brunch."

"I know, right? Pickles and pancakes." It was a compromise that their son had come up with. He knew his parents were not the type to relent. They would fight it every step of the way. Just like growing old.

She may be a bit slower, and grayer, but she's not going to lose her mind. She has too little life left to forget who her husband is. Would there be time to fall in love all over again?

"Pancakes are still better," he whispers, because he knows it gets under her skin.

"Pickles all the way," she counters.

"We'll see about that."

He had planned on comparing the buffet leftovers at the end of the event.

The way she proved him wrong was more of a genius move than he could formulate.

One kiss.

"Maybe pancakes are better than pickles," she remarked, tasting it on his breath.

"No way. Pickles win, hands down."

She laughs.

He smiles.

They're never going to agree on this, are they?

One more kiss.

Nope, never.