Duck, an Austin and Ally one-shot

I do not own Austin and Ally. This one is for BatFink, as a thank you for that wonderful note. Reviews and prompts are always welcome.

You know those moments when something should be simple and easy and take a matter of two minutes tops, but you're so afraid to do it that you put it off for ages, making up scenarios in your head of every possible failure that could occur, complicating the whole thing into a giant mess of emotions?

Yeah, this is one of those moments.

It's been a week since the fliers were posted. Seven days of her heart tugging him closer while her brain tells her how wrong it is.

"Hey Ally, want to go to Phil's Fun Town tonight?" Austin slings his backpack over his shoulder. It sags, and he tries to lift it while maintaining eye contact. His hand can't find the bottom of the bag.

She zips her own bag closed. "Sure. That'd be really great."

Her stilted voice may not sound like it agrees with her words, but it's only as result of her shock. Was he asking her on a date?

"Cool." He shyly smiles.

"Cool."

The backpack falls off, but he can't stop smiling.

(the page breaks here)

They're at the top of the ferris wheel when she spots a familiar patch of red hair.

"Is that Dez?" she asks, leaning forward. The seat rocks.

Gently pushing her back, he nods.

Not that he needed to, considering that he called out to them, "Guys, we're here!"

We're, plural? Trish appears at his side. And since the two don't like each other like that, or so they say, that means they aren't on a date. Which means this is a group outing, not the double date she wanted it to be. Wait, make that single date, because she wanted to get him alone, ask him to the Sadie Hawkins dance.

Talk about a downgrade.

That isn't to say that hanging out with her friends is a bad thing. She loves her friends. Just maybe she'd love them a tiny bit more if they didn't intrude on every romantic moment she has with him. But that's such a vague descriptor. It could be him sharing his toothpaste, because he cares about her oral hygiene, to those moments where he stares at her, and she thinks his lips are going to make a connection. On the cheek, the forehead, dare she say the lips?

The wheel moves, and within minutes they're on the ground again.

"Trish!" she says, feigning excitement. Would it be wrong to ask her what they're doing there?

"Dude, I read your Tweeter update. Why didn't you tell me that you were coming here tonight?" Dez holds up his phone, showing him the evidence.

There's no way of getting around that.

"I must've forgot." He shrugs in a way that signifies his clumsiness, contrary to his true emotion.

It should not be this hard to get some alone time.

He really needs to stop updating his Tweeter.

(the page breaks here)

They're at the Throw It & Blow It stand, trying to knock down a stack of bottles. He makes contact, and they rattle, but do not fall.

"Seriously?" He jams his hand in his pocket for two more tickets.

"Austin, it's fine. I don't need the duck." She places her hand on his to prevent him from giving the man his tickets.

"I know, but you wanted the duck."

"Why don't you just give her your duck?" Dez stuffs the rest of his corndog in his mouth, cheeks puffing out.

Some things are a matter of pride.

(the pages breaks here)

The thing about pride is that it can often lead to one's downfall. He's moved on to the darts, and for some reason, his aim sucks tonight.

Ally giggles at something that Trish tells her.

He's not one to pass the blame, but he's pretty sure he knows what's distracting him.

"You are aware that there aren't any ducks at this booth, right?" Trish asks as he sets down another game's worth of tickets. The operator snatches them before he can take them back.

Angered, he throws the dart, popping a balloon. He hurls the other two darts at the board, having them bounce off and onto the ground.

"Here ya go, kid." A tiny toy spider is deposited into his hands. He passes it off to Dez.

Now to find the nearest duck.

He needs to win that duck.

(the page breaks here)

They locate another duck at Squirt a Clown. There's a few younger kids. His eyes fall on one in particular, with his mound of prizes next to him.

Handing over his tickets, he grabs a gun.

That clown is going down.

Three games in, he's not so sure. That boy keeps winning.

"Why don't you let somebody else win for a change?" Trish complains, taking a gun as another sore loser leaves the game.

"I'm a paying customer. I'm not going to pay to lose." The brat wrinkles his nose at her.

After winning another game, to prove his point, he asks for the duck.

Tonight is just not his night.

(the page breaks here)

Tuesday morning, Austin is called into the principal's office.

"Am I in trouble?" He sits across from him, leaning back uneasily. Surely he wouldn't get called down for sending one text in math class, to tell his mom that he'd be home late, because he had to stay after to talk to his teacher.

"On the contrary," he begins, causing Austin's ears to perk up. "I'd like to ask you to perform at the Sadie Hawkins dance this weekend. It seems our DJ came down with a case of bronchitis."

"That's awesome! I mean, not the bronchitis thing, but I'd love to perform." Provided he gets time for at least one dance with Ally.

If only she would ask him.

(the page breaks here)

Trish walks out of the dressing room, robed in a printed dress.

"Come on Ally, you have to try something on." She inspects herself in the mirror.

"What's the point? I can't even work up the courage to ask him to go with me. And now he's going to be performing, so it's not like he'll have time to dance anyway." She tugs at the shoulder of the dress to fix the neckline.

"Then ask somebody else. Or you can go with me and Dez." She blushes slightly, stepping away from the mirror.

"Thanks, but I don't want to be a third wheel," she tells her back as she goes through the curtain.

Trish's head pops out. "We're just going as friends. You don't think I actually like him, do you?"

It used to be so much easier to answer that question.

(the page breaks here)

They're seated at the piano penning a new song. She closes her eyes to think and upon opening them sees a terrifying sight.

Jumping off the bench, she points and mutely screams.

"What's the- spider!" He cowers behind her. Attempting to be brave, he approaches it, ready to pick it up and fling it out the window.

It's that darned rubber spider.

Well, now he feels foolish.

"Dez must've left this here." He picks it up, only to find a very real spider underneath it. The most unmanly of shrieks escapes him.

They'll just pick this up later. The spider, the song, his cool factor, which has dropped about ten points in ten seconds.

After all, they still have two days.

(the page breaks here)

Ally comes over Friday after school to work on the song. Except his mother says that he has to clean his room first. Chores before career.

"I'll help you. That way we can get done quicker, and maybe we'll think of some lyrics while we're working." She tugs at the corner of the bed, pulling the sheets to where they belong. He takes the other side.

"You sure?" He takes Dougie off the pillow, tucking him into the pit of his arm.

"I'm sure." With the bed straightened, she stoops down to pick up a stack of clothes. "Where do you want these?"

His thumb points her in the direction of the closet. "You can put them in the hamper."

From his spot at his desk, he can hear her giggling. It's a sweet sound that lifts his spirit, to send it crashing back down as he realizes that she's laughing at something in his closet. What was in that pile of clothes? Not the toy truck boxers, not the boxers, not the-

"So that's the duck that Dez was talking about."

She found the collection.

(the page breaks here)

Laying in the middle of a pile of stuffed toys, they stare at the ceiling. There's no way he can make eye contact at this level of embarrassment.

"So you don't think it's lame that I'm so attached to them all?" He absent mindedly rubs his hand along the stuffed duck on her stomach.

That was not the stuffed duck.

How was he to know her shirt was riding up?

"No. I think it's sweet." Her hands let go of the duck to tug her shirt down.

"We should finish cleaning. All that's left to do is put the dirty dishes in the kitchen. And putting these guys back." He says this, but doesn't try to move. His mind is still stuck on how he's too old to be hanging into all these stuffed toys.

She offers to take the dishes for him. Once he's alone, he falls back into the pit of animals.

Why is it so hard to say goodbye?

(the page breaks here)

She returns to the room to find a stack of stuffed animals blockading the entrance to the closet.

"I thought you were putting them away."

"I decided to get rid of them. I'm not a kid anymore." Clinging onto Dougie, he squeezes him tight.

"Austin, you don't have to do this." She steps over the animals to join him.

"I want to."

He doesn't let go of Dougie.

He's too special to let go.

(the page breaks here)

The pile in his closet is smaller now. A few of them, sitting in a semi-circle, with their unwavering smiles of victory. The others are huddled together by his bedroom door.

The duck, tucked between Dougie and the wall quacks as Austin accidentally presses down on him.

"Is it that late already?" he asks as he catches the time on his watch as his hand jerks away.

"We still didn't finish the song."

"We can pull an all nighter. Call your dad and let him know you're staying over. By the time we're done, it'll be too dark for you to walk home." He picks up his guitar, sitting on the edge of the bed as she dials.

It's going to be a long night.

(the page breaks here)

By the time they wake the next day, it's after noon. The dance is in five hours.

"So, what are you going to wear to the dance?" She cuts into her pancakes.

"Nothing too fancy. I can't really dance in a suit jacket." He pours the syrup into a puddle. "What about you?"

"I don't have a dress. I'm not going."

"Why not?"

The piece falls off her fork. "I don't have a date."

"I'll be your date."

"What about all those girls that asked you to go with them?"

"I said no."

"Because you're performing?" She spears the piece again. This time it makes it to her mouth.

"Because they're not you."

(the page breaks here)

She's in a red dress, the same one she wore to Trish'squinceanera. His tie matches.

Austin's hand is sweaty, but she doesn't pull away.

In fact, she pulls closer. Close enough to engage in activities that let every other thought fade away in his mind to make room.

She kissed him.

Way to point out the obvious. After all, that's not his lip gloss on his lips.

"I'm glad I came with you tonight."

So is he.

(the page breaks here)

Passing his house on the way home, he asks her if they can stop for a minute. She agrees, watching him run inside.

When he comes back out, there's a duck in his arms.

"I want you to have Dennis Quack."

"But you've had him since you were little. I can't take him from you."

"Ally, I want you to have him. I know you'll give him a good home." He gives her the duck. "Besides, I'll be over to visit."

She hugs the duck against her chest. "Me or the duck?"

"Both."

"Oh."

"Mostly you though."

"Oh."

He brings her close, and just as he goes to kiss her, the duck quacks.

He kisses her through the laughter.