Under the Absent Mistletoe, an Austin and Ally one-shot

I do not own Austin and Ally, or the italicized lyrics from Hedley's album Wild Life. Please enjoy and review!

Burn that guitar, you can never be a star. (Anything)

His eyes bulge in disbelief as the words hit his ears.

"You suck at singing." A five year old boy, with a voice too big for his age, and a hat too big for his head, looks smug. The other children around him gasp. A kindergartener challenging Santa? They could intervene, say that he's wrong. Or they could munch on their popcorn, the kernels they have strung onto to the tree, and watch the scene unfold.

"Ho ho no, that's not very nice." It's been difficult to keep this deep voice up all morning. The least he deserves is some respect.

And another gingerbread cookie. The last one had a broken arm.

"Neither was your voice."

"I think somebody might end up on the naughty list this year."

The child, not skipping a beat, smiles at him. "Goody. Coal is the last rock I need to finish my rock collection!"

Ally, dressed as one of Austin's elf plucks him off his lap, directing him over to the other elves.

The next child, a bit chubby, to the point where he doesn't fit on Santa's lap, sits down.

"Don't listen to him. You're a great singer." The crumbs of his cookie fall in the fake beard. Ignoring the rumbling in his stomach, he lets the crumbs stay. All he'd have to do is pick them out of his beard and eat them, but he'd seen that kid's fingers up his nose during Jingle Bells, and the only green thing he wants to see at this fundraiser is mistletoe. Right above Ally's head. Without the children around. Otherwise they'll think Santa is cheating on Mrs. Claus with an elf.

A really cute elf.

He could listen to the kid, go home and burn his guitar, give up music. Or he could go home and burn the candle at both ends, finish writing that song for her.

The one where he says she's all he wants for Christmas.

Wait, isn't there already a song about that?

Fifteen hours and counting.

Take control, please own me. Only love can save me. (Crazy for You)

Ew, ew, gross.

This costume smelled bad enough when he put it on at 9:30 this morning. It smelled worse by 10:30 when the heat kicked in. Miami and wool pants do not go together. It's like hot cocoa and gingerbread. You think you can get away with doing it, but an hour in, you realize you can't.

In Austin's case, his face turns red. A nice rosy glow for a magical man.

In his little friend's case, his face turns green.

And then Santa's beard brown.

He chose the wrong time to check up on arts and crafts.

"Au- man. Santa got something in his beard? Come with me Mr. Claus, and we'll get everything cleaned up." Ally takes his gloved hand, leading him away. She whispers something to a fellow elf, to make an announcement. Then they're back to their hurried pace.

Inside their changing room, she inspects the chunks.

"Please say there's a spare beard back here." He is jerked forward as she tugs at his chin hair.

"Unfortunately not. But most of the chunks are near the bottom, so we can cut them out and tell the kids that Santa had to trim his beard." Rummaging through the box of spare crafts, she takes out a pair of scissors. "Hold still."

He'd hold still for hours if it meant her hands on him for eternity. He should get barfed on more often.

Uh, he takes that back. There must be some other way to get Ally's hands on him.

Right now, he's not going to think about it. He's going to let her take control, do what she has to do. Then he's going to go do what he has to do. For another hour.

Fourteen hours and counting.

But it's not about the falls. It's how you stand. (Got Love)

Smelling of lavender, as it's the only air freshener he could find, he walks back out to the children.

"Santa, you're back!" They drop their crafts to hug him. Too many little bodies.

Thud.

Ow.

"Fat man down!" the brat calls from the table. He can't even bother to look up from his gingerbread house.

Ugh, gingerbread. Don't remind him.

Security comes to break things up before the kids start trying to help. All it takes is one tug of his beard. Then chaos would ensue.

Because the mob of children freaking out over the possibility that they may have injured Santa Claus on the night of his deliveries is not chaos at all.

"I'm okay," he says in his normal tone.

"Santa, there's something wrong with your voice!"

"Told you."

He's surprised the mob has not chased that kid out of the party by now. He's more surprised that his mother has done nothing to reprimand him.

One brave soul walks up to his seat, demands his attention. "You're lucky I want a new dump truck for Christmas, or I'd smash your house to crumbs."

Austin's sure that Santa could forgive him for one misdeed. Heck, he'd buy the child a dump truck himself if he smashed this brat's house.

He should have learned after last year's mishap not to volunteer for charity.

"Just got the wind knocked out of me." He waves it off.

"Quick, somebody knock the wind back into him!"

"How, how?"

"I'm okay," he repeats. "Now, who wants to show me what they made?"

Thirteen and a half hours and counting.

I'm still alive, wide-eyed and choking. (Mexico)

In the last few minutes of the party, as the children are saying their goodbyes, a girl brings him a sugar cookie angel, covered in red candies.

"My mommy says that we're putting out carrot sticks for you tonight, because you're going to get sick eating all the cookies, so I want you to have this." She shoves it at him.

"Thank you." Austin sets it on the arm of his chair.

"You're going to get frosting on your elbow."

"Snowflake!" he calls out Ally's elf name, hoping she'll grab the cookie and set it aside for him.

The little girl shakes her pigtails. "Eat it now, silly."

He is rather hungry.

Holy holly leaves. Those red candies are hot. Those red candies are going down the wrong way.

Eating that cookie in one bite was not his best plan. And now his mouth is too full to ask for water.

"I made Santa cry!"

Thirteen hours and counting.

You can't restart. (All the Way)

It has been a rough morning. How rough?

The highlight was having Ally cut predigested gingerbread out of his fake beard.

"I'll see you later, okay?" She folds her costume into a neat square, placing her hat on top.

"I thought we were going to lunch." He gingerly places the beard on the table. Stripping out of his pants, he enjoys the coolness of the room.

"I think you should take a shower." Fixing her hair in the mirror, her eyes drop to his legs. "And put some pants on."

She can't see his blush through the crimson of his overheated cheeks.

He can see hers.

Sniffing himself, he grimaces. "You're probably right."

She leaves, humming carols to herself. He recognizes the tune, starts singing along as the door shuts.

Take that, kid with oversized hat. Austin Moon can sing.

He hopes that kid gets a dirty tissue for Christmas. He doesn't deserve coal.

Knowing that kid, he'd make an origami swan out of it and sell online for millions of dollars. A million dollars for Christmas.

His parent's party starts in four hours. Time to get hustling. One can only get their tinsel in a tangle for so long.

He knows who he'd like to tangle in tinsel.

No, not the brat.

Ally, tied up against him, under the absent mistletoe.

Maybe the Christmas store is open.

Better hurry. These hours keep on counting down.

If I don't lose my mind, I'll be with you. (I'll be With You)

This may officially be the worst Christmas Eve ever. He's been sat at the childrens' table, due to a lack of adult elbow room. Elbows nothing. What about his knees?

He shouldn't have asked. He's sitting on a pillow.

Rudolph's face is under his butt.

There has to be some bright side to this. Other than the reindeer's nose.

"More turkey sweetie?" His mother kneels down to fork some onto his plate.

"May I be excused? I still have to work on Ally's present." All he has is a tune, no lyrics.

"It won't be that much longer, I promise."

Her promise broke more easily than those glass ornaments on the tree. All two of them that are left. It's not his fault that he dropped the box. Dez had startled him.

Lucky Dez, on vacation for the holidays. Somewhere where there's snow on Christmas, and nobody sticks peas up their nose.

Why is there a pea in the gravy? Did that shoot out of one of their nostrils?

Seven hours and counting.

Find a better place to be safe with me tonight. (Wild Life)

He sneaks out after dinner, once the party has died down. The beach isn't too far, if he runs.

Her house happens to be en route to the beach.

Stopping by to wish her any early yuletide greeting couldn't hurt, could it?

"Miss Dawson, merry Christmas." There's holiday music coming from the stereo.

"You parents just called, asking if you were here." Taking a sip of her hot chocolate, she continues. "Come on in."

He enters, looking over to Ally crouched over a jigsaw puzzle. "We're piecing your workshop together."

"Very funny, Snowflake." He rolls his eyes. Plopping down next to her, he picks up a piece. It doesn't fit.

Tossing the piece back in the pile, he turns to her mother. "You're not going to call my parents, tell them I'm here?"

"They'll call back." She shrugs it off, producing another cup of cocoa.

It burns his tongue.

But it tastes so good.

It's like his friendship with Ally. He loves her hugs, but it hurts to know they're platonic.

He goes back for a second sip.

He'll always go back, no matter how much it hurts.

Six hours and counting.

I got everything, and everything is mine to lose. But I don't want anything but you. (Pocket Full of Dreams)

His parents send his aunt over to get him. The crazy aunt, who turns into the wrong side of the road, without her blinker on. The one who goes twenty on a fifty road and fifty on a twenty.

He'd tell her she can go faster, but he doesn't want to go back to that party.

"They didn't want to start the present exchange without you." Her lipstick falls to the floor, and she stoops down to get it.

The wheel. That's where his hands land. "Whoa!"

"Get your hands off my wheel boy." Slap. Applying her lipstick to the rest of her frown, she stops the car.

"Why'd they send you to get me?"

"I was parked behind everyone. Last to come, first to leave." They pull into her parking space. "Let's get this over with, so I can go home."

Austin hates Dirty Santa. Absolutely loathes the game. Started out with the best gift, a box of chocolate reindeer (sadly, yes, that was the best gift), got swapped for a bath loofah, and then for a giant pink eraser, for life's biggest mistakes.

That eraser will not make a dent in his day.

He doesn't want this stupid eraser. Nor the headache he's developed from his cousin crying over the loss of their chocolate reindeer.

All he wants for Christmas is Ally.

It's getting too late to write her that song. How creepy would it be for him to sing her a song written for a girl?

Maybe he'll just bake her cookies in the morning.

Four hours and counting.

I got problems but I got melodies to solve them. (Headphones)

He plays his wordless tune on the Sonic Boom piano. Taped inside the lid is a sprig of mistletoe. He's learned from past interruptions. Place the mistletoe where nobody can walk through.

Hold on. If it's taped to the inside, how will they end up under it? They'll be next to it, unless they sit on the keys.

It's best to move the mistletoe. The issue is figuring out where.

Untaping the sprig, he spins around. Holds it to the left, no. To the right, Ally.

"Ally."

"Why are you holding a mistletoe above my head?"

"No reason." He carelessly tosses it behind him.

"Alrighty. I'm going to go get the Buche de Noel from the fridge." The confused look remains on her face as she climbs the stairs.

When the door shuts, he spins back.

The mistletoe is gone.

Oh little green plant, where did you go? The holiday store is closed today. He can't go get another.

Here comes Ally. Act natural.

Um, how does he do that again?

He plays the melody to keep his fingers occupied. Looks left, right. That sprig is gone.

"Austin, you want to cut the cake?"

He'd like to find that mistletoe. "Sure."

Christmas has begun.

God did good with you, but what good would telling you do? (Dreaming's for Sleeping)

She's perfect. From the jingling bells in her ponytail that sound every time she moves, to the ugly sweater that's incredibly soft, resulting in two hugs, solely to enjoy its touch. And the touch of the girl wearing it.

The latter she is not privy to. He can't decide if he wants to tell her or not.

Bouncing onto the stage, jingle jingle, she welcomes her guests to the party. Her sights linger on Austin. Is there cake on his face?

"We're going to start some karaoke. Give it up for Kira Starr!" Stepping down, she takes a spot next to him. "You have chocolate on your chin."

He wipes it with a napkin. "Better?"

She nods.

Jingle jingle.

It's too cute. She deserves to know.

Someone with less sweaty hands should tell her.

Even if he did tell her, who's to say she'd believe him? There's the chance she could blow the news off as friendship speaking. Worse, she could welcome the news, wishing they came from another mouth. Perhaps Buddy elf? He saw the way he was eyeballing her yesterday.

"I want to go next," he whispers to her. Karaoke seems like a pretty legitimate reason to borrow a set of lyrics.

Hopefully she gets the message.

Christmas only lasts one day.

I swear that we can make it anywhere. (Heaven in Our Headlights)

He's found the mistletoe. It was up on the ceiling. Above their heads. The entire time.

"You do realize you've been standing under the mistletoe for the past half hour, right?" Trish asks. She should know.

She's the one that had it hung there.

That explains why that one guy dancing on the counter was so terrible. He wasn't dancing at all. He was hanging that sprig.

"How about that." Ally tilts her head back to look up.

"We shouldn't break tradition."

"Of course not." Her head snaps back, jingling all the way. She glances over to Trish.

"I'm going to go look for the other bottle of eggnog."

Best Christmas gift ever. There's no way he's trading this one in. No more games of Dirty Santa. Not for all the chocolate reindeer in the world.

He pulls away, grinning. A song passes, and he turns to her. "You know, we're still standing under the mistletoe."

One more kiss.

Yeah, they're going to be just fine.