A/N: Someone forwarded me a link to this one-shot competition so I thought I'd give it a try. I've never done a competition before so, why not? I hope this pleases you guys because it's a little more common than my usual stuff. I hope my writing can still make it interesting for my readers!

Disclaimer: I don't own anything!

Distance

She must have thought that he couldn't pick up on the space she was putting between them.

But he could.

Austin was almost insulted really. Did she honestly think the fact that she never had time to practice with him and that she wouldn't be in the same room with him alone would go unnoticed? Especially by Austin.

He may not have paid attention much in school, but he always paid attention to Ally.

When it first happened, he blamed it on coincidence.

Maybe she really was busy? It wouldn't have been the first time and Austin doubted it would be the last. She had a new cd coming out soon and maintaining her grades, career, and relationship with Gavin. So it was only natural that her time with Austin would take the hit.

But weeks went by and the pattern continued.

He'd show up to the store and she'd go on break instantly, making excuses about some project or appointment she needed to work on. So, he'd leave, promising to come back when she had more time, to which she'd smile oddly and nod.

Then, he'd show up during her dad's shift or on her day off and head to the practice room. She'd be there, but so would Dez and Trish. And once they left, she'd make some excuse and leave.

Gradually, it got worse.

She'd start skipping his shows and planning every available moment of her free time. Whenever he tried to tag along, she'd claim that she needed the alone time to write new songs. She didn't answer his calls or his texts until suddenly, it felt like he hadn't spoken to her in months.

He tried everything.

He brought flowers, serenaded her, picked up little gifts for her, convinced that he'd made her upset with him. When it became clear that he hadn't done anything wrong, he tried to get her alone, going as far as showing up at her house only to be told that she wasn't there by Ally's apologetic father. They both knew that she was home and neither of them knew why.

He begged Trish to tell him what was wrong, but she had no answers for her friend's strange and unexpected indifference. He asked Gavin, but again received only confused shrugs and surprised looks. He hadn't even noticed that there was a problem. He asked Piper for advice, but all he received from her was a simple, "Give the girl her space."

He tried not to show her how much that answer bothered him.

Why could no one understand how much she meant to him? He couldn't give her space. He tried, but he couldn't. He needed her. It hurt to be without her even more than it hurt to see her with Gavin. He'd attempted to distract himself from her absence with his friends and Piper and Dez, but nothing worked.

He couldn't understand how he'd ever managed without her in the first place. How had he done this every day? Not see her, spend time with Dez, not see her, date some girl, and not see her.

Well, one day, he'd had enough of this.

He walked into the practice room like every day and was pleased that it was full of people because it meant that she wouldn't leave. She was holding Gavin's hand and laughing at Trish and Dez's banter when he entered. Once he took note of how her eyes dropped when she noticed him, he lost his temper.

"Everyone out," he barked, earning more than a few surprised from his friends. Even Ally looked surprised.

"Excuse me?" Trish asked, taken aback by his rudeness.

"You heard me. I need everyone out of here," he ordered, his eyes never leaving Ally's, "Except for Ally."

Her face showed only mild surprise before it was replaced with understanding and irritation.

Trish opened her mouth to argue with him, but quickly shut it when she saw his expression. She frowned determinedly before grabbing onto Dez's shirt and booming, "Alright. You heard the man. Everyone out."

"Trish!" Ally exclaimed, her eyes wide in shock.

"Sorry, Als. You two do need to talk," Trish explained, giving Dez a yank towards the door.

Gavin lingered, his eyes resting on Ally as she scrutinized Austin. Letting out a reluctant sigh, he gave Ally's hand a squeeze and stood to leave.

"Gavin? Don't leave," Ally pleaded, her eyes begging him not to leave. Austin tried not to feel too hurt by this.

"You two need to work this out, Ally," he concluded, heading to the door. He paused to give Austin a look of pure distrust before leaving and shutting the door behind him.

Ally crossed her arms across her chest and tried her best to feign confusion as she asked, "What do you want to talk about?"

She really was a bad actress.

"C'mon, Ally. Don't do that. Just talk to me about what's wrong. You can tell me anything."

She opened her mouth hesitantly and snapped it shut, obviously changing her mind. Wordlessly, she shrugged and made a face of confusion.

"Are you mad at me?" he asked, running a hand down his face in frustration.

"No," Ally denied, standing from her position.

"Okay. Did Gavin ask you to stop spending time with me?"

"Of course not."

"Did I do something wrong?" he asked, his voice getting louder.

"No!"

He scanned her face, paying attention to the paleness of her face and the anxiety in her eyes. Her small hands were balled into fists so tightly that her knuckles were white. She looked terrified.

"Well, if you're not mad at me and I haven't done anything wrong, then why are you ignoring me?"

"I'm not ignoring you," she argued, her pretty face twisted into a frown.

"You're right," Austin replied sarcastically, "To ignore me, you'd have to be in the same room with me. You won't even do that."

Her face became a mask of guilt as it became clear to her that she couldn't pretend that this wasn't happening.

"I-I didn't think you'd notice," she stammered awkwardly, looking down.

Well that hurt.

"Why wouldn't I notice that my best friend doesn't want to see me anymore? How would I not notice that? Please Ally, enlighten me on how I'd simply not notice a piece of me being ripped away?" he yelled, angrier than he could ever remember being.

Ally flinched at his tone, but Austin couldn't bring himself to regret its harshness. He needed for her to understand.

"I-I thought that since you had Piper now that you wouldn't notice if I distanced myself a little bit," she muttered, her voice getting quieter with each word until it was just a whisper.

"I noticed. Why did you want distance in the first place?"

She didn't reply immediately so Austin urged, "Does it have something to do with Piper? You should know that she'll never replace you. No one will ever replace you."

Ally smiled at him weakly, but her expression remained miserable. Why was she so miserable?

"Ally please, tell me what's wrong," Austin begged desperately when she didn't reply.

When he was met again with silence, Austin exclaimed, "If you want this relationship to end, just say so."

Her expression quickly morphed into one of pain as she yelled, "No! Of course not!"

Austin released a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding and his shoulders slumped forward in relief.

"So you still like me then?" he asked, needing the confirmation.

She shook her head and smiled wistfully while muttering, "Not liking you isn't the problem, Austin."

He frowned at her and squinted in confusion, waiting for her to elaborate.

"I'm a bad person," she whispered, almost to herself. Her expression was a mixture of shame and sadness.

Austin approached her slowly, stopping just short of reaching her. He didn't know what was happening and her reaction was more than a little disturbing.

"No you're not, Ally. You're the best person I know."

"That's because you don't know how awful I've been lately."

"Not the Ally I know. The Ally I know is the kindest girl in the world," Austin said softly, reaching out and placing a hand on Ally's cheek. He felt a selfish kind of pleasure when she leaned in to his touch.

"Talk to me, Ally," he begged for what felt like the hundredth time.

Sighing, gently, Ally replied, "I'm jealous of Piper."

Austin was not expecting that.

His jaw dropped in surprise and Ally let out a sad laugh.

Her eyes watered as she continued, "See? There it is. I'm so selfish because I'm jealous of Piper. And not because I think she'll replace me. I know that I'll always be important to you. I'm too selfish for that. I'm jealous of her because," she paused, taking in a deep breath for strength, "I have feelings for you. Stupid, selfish feelings. So that's why I've been pushing you away. I'm jealous and I have feelings and I just want them to go away."

Austin wanted to say something. He wanted to fix this. He wanted to be charming and clever and perfect for her, but he didn't know what to tell her. He couldn't speak; couldn't move. He just stood there, frozen in place.

Ally laughed again pitifully and took a step away from Austin.

She studied his face for a moment, her warm brown eyes taking in every detail, and whispered, "I'm so sorry. I should try to be less selfish."

She left him there, frozen in surprise in the practice room.

He wasn't sure how long he stayed there, thinking about her words and how much they must have meant to her. She didn't usually make big declarations like that, so clearly it had been bothering her for a while.

He felt like he should've been more conflicted about his choice. He and Piper had been going out for nearly two months and things were going really well. Piper was great and exactly the type of girl that a guy like Austin should be with. They had a lot in common.

But Ally was Ally. There was something there that Austin didn't care to ignore. No matter what he felt for Piper, what he felt for Ally was stronger and more important. Ally would always win out in the end.

Eventually, Piper came looking for him and she found him in the practice room, sitting on a couch, alone, in the dark.

"Hey," she greeted curiously, flicking on the lights, "What's up with you?"

He blinked wearily and replied, "I talked with Ally earlier."

She smiled at him but her eyes lit up with concern.

"Really? How'd that go? Why's she been avoiding you?"

"She has feelings for me," Austin stated simply. He was already deceiving her to some degree about his feelings, so he felt no desire to keep this from her.

Piper nodded slowly, like she'd seen this coming and slowly, wordlessly took a seat next to him on the couch. Her face didn't show any surprise, only a hint of sadness.

She smiled at him sadly and asked, "And you feel the same way?"

He turned to look at her, taking in the tears in her eyes, and began, "Piper, I-"

She shook her head at him and interrupted, "Please, Austin. It's okay. I kinda figured that this would happen pretty quickly after we got involved."

He cocked an eyebrow at her in confusion and she let out a laugh before explaining, "Oh come on! You can't seriously be surprised by that. Everyone can tell. I figured out after only one look at the two of you together," she paused, shutting her eyes calmly, a small smile on her face, "The way you look at her is the way that every girl wants to be looked at," Her eyes opened and she looked at him intently, "There's so much adoration there."

She let out another sigh and added, "It was only a matter of time before something like this happened and I knew that. I hoped that I was wrong because you were just so, well, great, but I knew that I wasn't and I'm a fool for even trying to get in-between the two of you."

"I'm so sorry, Piper. You're a fantastic girl," Austin apologized, sorry to have hurt such an amazing girl.

Her eyes began to water and she offered him one last smile before exclaiming, "Alright! Enough with your blubbering. Go get her."

Austin smiled and gave her shoulder a light squeeze before bolting out the door to find Ally.

Once he was gone Piper slumped into the couch and let herself cry.

Despite this, she hoped that Austin found Ally.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

When Austin showed up at Ally's house this time, he didn't bother with the door.

Instead, he found a tall tree and climbed it. Carefully, he eased himself onto a branch and inched onto the balcony outside of Ally's room. Once safely on the balcony, he peered through the glass doors to her room.

He was taken aback at the sight of her crying. He had very rarely seen her cry and he wasn't keen on seeing it now.

He tapped on the door gently and her head shot up. His eyes met her bloodshot ones and he offered her a soft smile.

She didn't smile back, but she did stand, which Austin took as a promising sign.

She stopped in front of the door and moved to open the door, but her hand hovered over the lock as her eyes studied him.

"Let me in, Ally. We need to talk."

She frowned at him and wiped at her eyes before turning the lock slowly. He didn't hesitate to slide the door open and engulf her in a large hug.

She wrapped her arms around his torso and started crying instantly, seeking his comfort.

He led her into her room and slid the door shut before sweeping her legs out from under her and carrying her bridal style to a chair next to her bed. He sat down, pulling her with him so that she was perched on his lap.

He let her cry on his shoulder for as long as she needed, not uttering a word to her.

Finally, she whispered, "I broke up with Gavin today. I had to stop being selfish."

Austin smiled and placed a kiss on the top of her head.

"I broke up with Piper," he answered.

She lifted her head to look at him in disbelief.

"She's great really," Austin continued, "there was just something she was missing."

"What's that?"

Austin smiled widely at her and replied, "She's not you and that's a deal breaker."

Ally smiled sweetly at him and that was all the encouragement Austin needed. Without further thought, he placed one hand behind her head and guided her mouth to his in a scorching kiss.

"No more distance. M'kay?" Austin whispered against her lips.

He felt her lips turn into a smile and she answered, "We'll see."

He pulled away to give her a look of surprise and placed a hand over his heart in an attempt to feign hurt.

"That hurts."

"Oh shut up," Ally teased before pulling him back and kissing him soundly.

He didn't need to be asked twice.

A/N: I have no idea how this is going to go over. I've never done an Auslly one-shot and I've certainly never aimed for cuteness in my Auslly stuff. I usually aim for different and suspense and stuff. I hope this is good. Please review if you're reading this! I probably won't win the competition, but it'd be cool if I did. Anywho, help me improve my writing!