A/N: I'm SO sorry for the wait, guys. I kind of put off writing this for a little while because I just wasn't ready to say goodbye yet. I hope this epilogue meets your expectations, and I hope it gives you as much closure as it's given me. Thank you all so much for reading – really, your reviews are always so sweet and kind and it just makes me so incredibly happy to think that I've made so many of you happy.
Special thanks to Maddie who is brilliant and shining and helped me through writer's block (and helped me dilute the sap by suggesting I include innuendos), and to Cassie who was always eager to headcanon with me. I love you guys :D
Word Count: 10 382
The stadium was filled with screaming and cheers and the smell of sweat and hormonal teenagers as Austin Moon finished his final encore of his concert. The sounds of the electric guitar tinkled out amongst the screaming, his hand clenched in a fist and poised in the air as he finished the last song. His eyes were closed as he savoured the loud cheering and whoops from his fans in the audience, never tiring of the sounds of enthusiastic screams after a concert. Although he was only recently graduated from college, Austin was swiftly becoming well known in the music community as Jimmy Starr's favourite recording artist. The young man finally caught his breath and dropped his hand, screaming a 'good night Miami' into the microphone, before he waved and jogged off of the stage.
As soon as he got off the stage, he felt two familiar arms wrap around him from behind and squeeze him tightly. Austin relaxed into the warm hug, his grin only widening before he turned around and gave a proper hug.
"You were amazing tonight," said Dez, pulling away from the hug before bumping his fist against Austin's in their classic handshake. "What up?"
"Thanks, buddy," Austin grinned.
Trish looked amused at the exchange and shook her head with a small smile. "Good job, Austin," she said. He stepped forward to hug her, but she put her hand up and shook her head, looking grossed out. "No thanks. You're gross and sweaty. If I didn't hug you every other night of your tour, I'm not going to break my streak and hug you now."
"But – but it's the last show!" He whined, pouting at his manager.
"No," Trish sang, rolling her eyes and poking him in the chest sternly.
Austin glared at her before he sighed and let the smile slip easily over his face again. "Where's Ally?"
"Behind you," Trish said, pointing.
"Trish! You ruined it," Ally complained, stamping her foot like a small child throwing a tantrum. She turned to Austin and smiled sheepishly. "I had to pee. Too much Mountain Dew."
"Gross," Austin said. "I didn't want to know that."
Yet, even though he was gross and sweaty, and she was flustered and had just peed, the couple found themselves in a warm embrace, where he kissed the top of her head for a moment and let his arm circle her shoulders casually as they turned back to their friends, before Trish rolled her eyes and grabbed his wrist, pushing him into his dressing room and yelling something about an after party.
It had been two good years for Austin and his friends. He had landed his record deal, graduated college successfully, and begun his slow rise to fame. Trish had started off as his manager, but after changing her degrees multiple times throughout college, she was now halfway through a business degree and preparing to open her own managing company. After Dez had finished filming his film in LA two years ago, with Carrie as his leading lady, his career had really taken off and the couple had often been compared to Tim Burton and Helena Bonham-Carter – except without a Johnny Depp or awkward divorce. Ally had finally gotten over her stage fright, and had recorded a debut album, but ultimately decided she preferred writing to performing. She still worked with Ronnie Ramone, but also had her own secure place on Jimmy Starr's label as Austin's official – and only – songwriter.
"Austin! Are you ready yet?" Trish called, annoyed, from the opposite side of his dressing room door.
"No. I'm going to take a shower," he said stubbornly, ignoring her annoyed protests as he stepped into the bathroom of his dressing room.
When he emerged from his dressing room later, clad in dark skinny jeans and a plain red tee, Trish rolled her eyes and thrust a white leather jacket into his arms.
"You're promoting this designer tonight," she said to him as they walked through the corridors towards his limo. "You don't need to say the designer name, otherwise people will think you're promoting it on purpose. I'll do the talking. You just wear it and look pretty. Ally has a matching purse. Please don't be that annoyingly gross couple that are matching."
"But you're the one who made us matching," Austin said, puzzled.
Trish rolled her eyes and continued to pull him along. "You're already late, but that's okay, because – "
"Because I'm fashionably—"
"Austin Monica Moon, if you dare finish that cliché sentence, I'm going to kick your ass."
Austin gulped and held his hands up in surrender, before she impatiently shoved him into the limo and climbed in after him.
"It's okay that you're late because I've already sent Ally and Dez ahead without you, but we'll show up later. You just have to mingle for a bit, socialise and whatnot." Her expression softened slightly and she gave him a sympathetic glance. "We don't have to stay for long. You just have to make an appearance, stay for at least twenty minutes, and then you can go. I know it's your anniversary tonight, that's why I wanted you to hurry."
For a moment, Austin's eyebrows furrowed in confusion before they shot up. "Crap," he muttered, running a hand over his face. "I forgot it was my friend-iversary with Dez! I didn't get him anything!"
Trish chuckled and pulled out a neatly wrapped package from her purse. "New camera. Ally wrapped it. He can afford it, but figured it would be silly to get it since he has access to better cameras – but we all know he wanted it. I used your credit card to get it. I also got myself this purse to hold it in for you. With your money."
Austin rolled his eyes but he smiled. "Thanks, Trish. I don't say it often, but you really are the best manager ever."
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Shut up, you big tree, I'm not done talking yet," she said briskly, but he could tell from her embarrassed smile that she was really quite flattered. She continued to brief him on the things he had to do at the party and what Dez had planned for the two of them after the party, but Austin began to tune her out, just watching the lights of Miami pass by as he stared out the window.
Yes, he thought. It had been a good two years for he and his friends.
The sensation of a small body wriggling about in Austin's arms as the early morning sunshine filtered in through his bedroom window was something he had grown very accustomed to over the past two years. He liked to sleep in sometimes, but generally preferred to get up early in the morning, whereas Ally almost always slept in, but also preferred to get up early because – as she always said – she was 'wasting daylight'.
In any case , he certainly didn't mind spending a lazy Sunday morning in bed with Ally, and since they each had a day off, he knew she wouldn't get upset and grumpy that he hadn't woken her up earlier. Instead, she really seemed quite content as she continued to wriggle about until she was comfortable again, her back pressed against his chest, before she let out a noisy, happy sigh. Austin smiled and pressed a small kiss to the back of her neck, right below where her hairline began, and then nuzzled her hair. He knew she was awake, but also knew she preferred silence until she was fully awake.
Well, it was his duty to make sure she was fully awake, wasn't it?
Austin began to press noisy, smacking kisses against the side of her neck. His fingers pressed into her stomach, but instead of skating his fingers below the hem of her – well, his – shirt and dancing his fingertips along her smooth skin until she gave up and rolled over to kiss him passionately, he did almost the opposite. He wriggled his fingers against her stomach for a moment, and she let out a small, pathetic grunt of warning, as though she were completely aware what he had planned. With a small smirk, Austin began the tickle assault, and Ally squealed, before attempting to roll away. However, he was much stronger than she was, and easily kept her pinned to him as he continued to tickle her with a careless grin plastered to his face as she squirmed and writhed against him.
"Austin!" She laughed, attempting to pull away. He couldn't see her face, since her back was pressed against his chest, but he could feel her stomach muscles clenching against his hand as he held her securely, the opposite hand freely tickling up and down her sides.
"Does this mean you're awake?" He asked cheekily, his lips pressed to her ear.
Ally squealed once more before nodding. "Yes, you dufus, it means I'm awake," she surrendered.
"Perfect," Austin smirked, finally stopping the tickle attack, before he smoothly and swiftly moved so that he was hovering over her and she was on her back, her mouth forming a perfect 'o' in surprise. "Because that means I can do this," he said, before lowering his head and kissing her soundly on the lips.
For a moment, Ally melted into the kiss (as usual) and her hands found his shoulders and gripped his shirt there, before she made a surprised noise and pushed him away.
"Ew, Austin, I haven't even brushed my teeth yet!"
"Neither have I," he pointed out, feeling quite disgruntled. All he knew was that he was significantly colder and his lips were no longer fused to his girlfriend's, and he was very unhappy about that.
"Ew," she muttered. "Every morning we do this," she said in exasperation, grumbling more things under her breath as she sat up and moved to get out of bed, before she was suddenly pulled back down into Austin's arms, a firm pout on his face.
"I know. And I'll keep at it until you're okay with it," he said stubbornly, pulling her into his chest.
Ally let out a vague huff of protest, but relaxed in his arms and shuffled in closer, despite her grumbling. "You're lucky you're cute," she said murderously.
Personally, Austin thought she was lucky that he happened to find her grumpy-pants attitude every morning incredibly adorable, especially considering how cheerful she normally was during the rest of the day. Instead of dignifying her grumpiness with a response, Austin simply pulled back slightly and cupped her cheek, running his thumb over her lips affectionately, and gave her a charming smile, complete with the bat of his eyelashes.
"Put your face away, Moon. You're only allowed to use that thing twice a week," she grumbled, biting her lip in her efforts not to smile.
"That's so unfair. I can't help it if I have a face that makes you forgive me instantly."
"Beauty fades, love," she countered. "Enjoy it while you can."
Austin's jaw dropped in mock shock. "That's so untrue, Ally."
"How so?" She challenged, raising an eyebrow in a manner that was way too seductive for someone with such bad morning breath.
"Because I happen to think that you could be hideous, but every time you give me the puppy dog eyes, I would still fall for them, because the eyes are the window to the soul. And the beauty in your soul doesn't fade," he announced dramatically, in a pompous tone.
Ally rolled her eyes and swatted him with a fond smile. "You're such a dork."
Austin grinned. "Love you too, Als."
The bell at the front of the coffee shop door jingled as the front door swung open, revealing a smug-looking blond and a peeved-looking brunette as they entered the café. Austin practically skipped over to a comfy-looking booth and Ally plodded after him with a mildly annoyed expression, before she sank down into the spot beside him. His arm automatically draped over her shoulders and pulled her into his side.
"Aw, don't be grumpy," Austin teased, turning his head to grin down at her.
Ally rolled her eyes and put her hand to his face, pushing it away. "You totally cheated."
"Did not!" He protested, grabbing her hand and pulling it into his lap so that she couldn't push his face anymore. "You're just a sore loser."
"Yeah – well – you know that you're faster than me! This whole thing was rigged."
"C'mon, Ally, it's just one coffee," he laughed.
"One coffee that you cheated me out of," she grumbled.
"You're just mad you lost the bet."
"It was a dumb bet," she snipped back.
Austin smirked and settled down comfortably into the booth. "You agreed to the bet," he sang smugly.
"You came up with the bet. I mean, not only do you know that you can run faster than me, but you also have longer legs than me and you're not wearing heels."
He held his hands up in surrender. "Peace, dear one," he joked, tapping her on the nose. "A deal is a deal. I bet that I could beat you to the coffee shop, you said loser buys the winner coffee. Pay up, Dawson."
Ally groaned and pouted at him, but he simply gave her a smug look, letting her know that he wasn't going to give in. With a resigned sigh, Ally stood and waddled over to the counter. He watched with a bemused expression as she grumpily took out her wallet – she was still using the new, white wallet from the afterparty after his last concert – and bought Austin his coffee, before returning to him with a little number on a stick.
"You literally just had a nationwide tour with an album that made millions, and you're making me pay for your coffee," she huffed, sitting down beside him.
Austin rolled his eyes. "What about you? This is – what – the fifteenth album you've helped write?"
"…Sixteenth," she muttered.
"Sixteenth," he laughed, ruffling her hair with a hand. "And we all know songwriters make more."
Ally let out a discontented grumble, but the way she cuddled into his side spoke a completely different story. He threw her a smug look, complete with a suggestive eyebrow waggle, and she rolled her eyes before swatting him lightly in the chest, her palm smoothing over the area she had just hit as though to heal it.
"You know, you're really freaking cute," Austin laughed, affectionately rubbing her arm with his thumb.
"I know, you tell me all the time," she teased, her grumpiness now dissipated as she let out a content sigh and leaned her head against his shoulder.
"I've noticed that you don't tell me very often that I'm adorable," he pointed out, pouting at her.
Ally turned her face and rested her chin on his shoulder, her eyes sparkling in an impossibly coquettish way that made his heart stutter and think that maybe she was too adorable to even notice other people being adorable.
"You're very adorable," she said flirtatiously. "So adorable, in fact, that if I was to tell you every time I thought you were being adorable, your ego would overinflate and explode." She made a little finger gun and clicked it at him before winking.
Once again, Austin's heart stuttered. He resisted the urge to remind her that she was adorable.
"Oh, trust me, that's not going to happen any time soon."
"No, no. Your ego is already filled with so much hot air that I just can't risk it. Besides," she added with a coy smile, her chin still resting on his shoulder and her eyes sparkling with flirtatious intent. "I would have thought you'd prefer a more manly compliment, like sexy or hot or – or – um –" she broke off, her eyes widening as she attempted to come up with a third 'manly' compliment.
Austin chuckled. "…or?" He prompted, smirking at her.
"Or – um – a really great dancer?" She squeaked, before her eyebrows furrowed together and she looked confused. "Wait, that's not a very manly compliment."
"Oh, just shut up and kiss me," he laughed, cupping her jaw with his hand and pulling her lips to his. Ally responded immediately, her hands sliding up his chest and resting on his shoulders, seemingly content to kiss him despite the weird angle they sat at.
The couple was so wrapped up in one another that they didn't even notice two cups of coffee being placed on the table before them, slowly growing cold as they kissed and teased each other throughout the rest of the afternoon.
"That's officially the last box," Ally declared, wiping her hands on her jeans as she emerged from the guest bedroom. "We are ready to part-ay."
Just before Austin had left on his tour, he and Ally had bought a house in Miami. (She took credit for the idea, but it was Austin who had suggested it. He didn't mind letting her take credit.) It wasn't too far from where either of their parents lived, and they had gotten all of their things shipped over from their apartment in New York just before they had left. The last show of his tour had been in Miami, so the couple had been able to return to their new house that night, and since then, had steadily been unpacking all of their boxes.
"Is a housewarming party really plausible when we've technically owned this house for, like, four months?" Austin asked casually, wanting to see her genuine opinion.
Ally tutted. "Yes, especially considering we've only been officially moved in for a week – Mr Nationwide Tour. I think it's fine. Besides," she added with a toothy grin, "Dez and Carrie believed it, and they're the only ones who think that it's a housewarming party."
"Mhm, alright," he laughed, sitting up from where he was sprawled on the couch. "And you're sure they still think it's a housewarming party? They have no idea that it's a – uh – surprise baby shower?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.
His girlfriend nodded happily, brown curls bobbing around her face. "They have no idea."
"They're not the only ones," Austin muttered under his breath.
"Hm?" Ally asked, glancing up.
"Uh – um – why don't you join me?" He spluttered, patting the spot on the couch beside him. "You've been cleaning all day. Give your feet a rest," he suggested. "C'mon, I'll even rub them for you."
Ally threw him a suspicious glance, but she complied and sat down with her back to the armrest, her feet in his lap. Austin gave her a small smile and gently pulled her socks off of her feet, before pressing his thumbs against the arch of her foot. Her toes wriggled for a moment before they relaxed, and she placed her hands neatly in her lap.
"You know," Ally said suddenly, tilting her head curiously at him. "It was really nice of you to come up with a surprise baby shower for Dez and Carrie."
"Mm," he hummed dismissively, his tongue peeking out between his lips in concentration as he gently circled his thumbs against the underside of her feet. "You saw how offended he was that I didn't throw him a surprise engagement party. It's the least I could do."
"So, it's not really a surprise if Dez is expecting you to throw a surprise party, is it?" She teased, quirking an eyebrow. "Mm, wait, go back, that felt really nice," she said, reaching down to grab his hands and move them back to where they were.
Austin chuckled and complied easily, before he shrugged. "It's definitely a surprise," he smirked.
The truth was, the party was a surprise. Perhaps not to Dez and Carrie – after all, they had helped him organise and plan this, even offering Carrie's baby bump as an excuse to throw a party – but definitely to Ally. She had no idea what the real party was for…
"Definitely a surprise," he mused thoughtfully, throwing her another cheeky grin.
"I know. You just said that," Ally said, giving him a suspicious look. "You're being weird."
"No I'm not," he said quickly. "You are."
"You seem way too excited for the party," she said, her lips pursed. "I mean, I'm pretty excited too, but it seems like you're hiding something. What's this really about?"
"Nothing, you're just paranoid," he said gruffly.
Ally opened her mouth to argue, her eyes lighting up with amusement, but Austin gave her a shove and pushed her off the couch before she could say anything. Once more, her mouth opened – presumably to protest – but Austin swung himself off the couch and put a knee on either side of her, before leaning down and kissing her.
Her protests were swallowed by his mouth, as he kissed her ardently, hoping that she would drop the topic and wouldn't press the issue. Austin knew that if she continued to question him in regards to the party, she would find out the real reason they were throwing it, and then his entire surprise would be ruined. Luckily for him, Ally seemed perfectly content to lie beneath him, with her hair fanned out and her lips fused to his, and any questions that she had were clearly forgotten as he kissed her into oblivion.
He really liked that he had that effect on her.
Austin couldn't help but smirk as her hands latched onto his hips, tugging at them until he was no longer kneeling and bent at an awkward angle above her, but instead hovering over her with his whole body covering hers. She was just so small that sometimes he couldn't help but worry that he would break her, that the sheer force of how much he loved her would snap her in two. But Ally was strong, and as her hands finally managed to pull his hips close enough to hers to hook those impossibly long legs of hers over them with a content sigh, he was reassured that breaking her was unlikely.
Despite the fact that he had originally kissed her to shut her up and distract her, he found himself unable to detach his lips from hers. Ally had always been an addiction of his, something about the way her body moulded to his and the sensation of her smooth skin beneath his fingertips that always drove him maddeningly insane in the most infuriatingly pleasing way. He rested his arms on either side of her head, his fingers threading through the hair that was strewn like a halo around her head. His lips felt almost rough against hers, and without much more thought, he pulled away and kissed down the side of her neck.
"Woah, hey, slow down there," Ally giggled, one of her arms wrapped around his waist and one of her hands tangled in his hair. "Someone's eager."
"Only when it comes to you," he murmured, grazing his teeth against the junction where her neck met her shoulder.
"Well, that's – mm – good, because -"
"Goddammit," Austin muttered, his face dropping to her neck as he let out a groan of frustration.
"We should answer that," Ally giggled, petting his hair. She threaded her fingers through his hair, her fingertips grasping the longer locks before releasing and gently massaging his scalp.
"It's probably just Dez," Austin argued, placing open-mouthed kisses up and down her neck.
"Whoever it is, they're being quite patient. C'mon, Austin, we gotta answer the phone," she laughed, placing her palms against his chest and gently pushing him. With another frustrated groan, Austin rolled off of her and watched dolefully as his girlfriend stood and walked away to answer the phone, her hips swaying in the most infuriatingly enticingly way possible.
When she returned, phone in hand and a bored expression on her face as whoever she was talking to rambled, she raised an eyebrow at him, since he hadn't moved from his position on the floor. Austin pouted at her, pointedly running a hand through his messed up hair.
'Later,' she mouthed.
Austin smirked. Not only had he managed to distract her from almost figuring out the real reason for the party, but it seemed to him that he would be rewarded for his distracting powers fairly soon.
The backyard was finally set up to Austin's tastes, and Ally was still setting up inside, oblivious to what he had been doing in the backyard. He had told her that he was going to water the plants and tidy up the hedges, and she had wrinkled her nose and gone 'ew, physical work,' leaving him to it. A few times, he had seen her look out the window curiously – he had a feeling that she was trying to get a glimpse of him working in his shirtless glory, but he had been careful to keep his shirt on so that she would grow disinterested and continue working. He tried his very best to look unsexy and unappealing so that she wouldn't watch him – he really couldn't have her see what he was doing. Luckily, she had stopped peeking through the blinds after the first few minutes, having decided that he was either too boring to watch, or realised that she really did need to finish setting up the inside of the house for the party.
A circular table with a white tablecloth sat in the centre of their garden, decorated with tea light candles, and two of their chairs facing one another. He had put up a little sign beside it that had the name of the café where they had first met scrawled across it in his messy handwriting, and he had set up fairy lights around the garden and fence. Austin had considered renting a booth to imitate the style of the café, but he had realised that that was far too extravagant for somebody like Ally, and while he had the money to do that, he didn't want to squander it on unnecessary purchases.
All that remained for him to do was find a way to get Ally out of the house so that he could shower and get ready for the party tonight without worrying about her looking outside again and seeing what he had done. He had thought far enough to close all the blinds before he had started working outside, and the large curtain that covered the sliding door was also closed, so when he stepped back inside he awkwardly danced with the curtain and the door before he managed to get inside, close the door, and disentangle himself from the curtain.
"Aus?" Ally called suspiciously, having heard the commotion. She walked down the stairs, half-ready for the party with her hair and make-up done, but still in her pyjamas.
"Yeah, it's just me," he confirmed smiling at her as she entered the kitchen, where he still stood by the door that led to the backyard.
"Are you finished in the backyard?" She asked, resting her elbows on the counter and propping her face in one of her hands, watching him as he moved around the kitchen.
"Yeah, I just gotta shower and get dressed before everyone gets here," he said, opening the fridge. "Ooh, salmon!" He exclaimed, reaching for the glass dish.
"Austin!" Ally exclaimed. "Don't touch that! You know it's for the party tonight."
He turned and pouted at her, but apparently his puppy dog eyes weren't good enough. With a small sigh, he turned back to the fridge and looking in it contemplatively. He looked at the carton of milk, and a small plan formed in his head. Lifting the half-full bottle, Austin made a face.
"It's empty," he lied, pouting at her. "Can you go out to the store and buy some milk?"
"The party starts in an hour, Austin. Can't this wait until then?" She sighed, standing up straight and pouting right back at him, looking impossibly adorable with her hair and make-up styled to perfection, but her pyjamas being cute and unicorn-themed.
"What if we wanna offer our guests tea or coffee or something?" He argued, setting down the carton on the counter and hoping she wouldn't lift it – she would realise that it was half-full if she did that. He moved to stand in front of her, putting an arm on either side of her and leaning on the counter to cage her in. She turned to face him, her back to the counter.
"Why don't you just go get the milk?" She grumbled, crossing her arms across her chest and pouting.
"Because you're almost ready," he pointed out. "And I have to get ready."
Ally threw her head back and groaned exaggeratedly, before she sighed, a hand dramatically draped over her forehead. "Fine, I'll go get the milk."
Austin smirked. Success. Before he moved away and let her leave, his eyes lingered on the exposed column of her throat. A few minutes wouldn't hurt his plan, right? With a suggestive smile, he tilted his face towards her neck and pressed an open mouthed kiss against her skin. Ally let out a surprised squeak but relaxed immediately.
"Didn't you want me to go get the milk?" She asked quietly, gulping heavily as he delicately skimmed his lips down her throat.
"I think that can wait a few minutes," he murmured, pressing her more firmly against the counter as his lips fell to her collarbone and began to pepper kisses along it.
"Austin, c'mon, don't be like that," she laughed, placing her palms flat against his chest and pushing him lightly.
He relented and took a step back, holding his hands up in surrender and giving her a small smile. "Fine, fine. Go on, get that cute little butt of yours to the store," he said, making shooing gestures at her.
"I'm going, I'm going. Geez, you're the one who held me up," she said pointedly, poking her tongue out at him before she scuttled upstairs to get dressed.
Austin followed her, hot on her heels, and sat down on their bed as she rifled through their closet. She pulled out a dress – it was one of those pretty, multi-coloured ones that clung to her body and drove him absolutely insane – and turned around, her hands on her hips. Austin cocked an eyebrow and motioned to the dress.
"Don't be shy, you can get dressed in front of me."
Ally rolled her eyes with a smile and grabbed his hands, pulling him off the bed and pushing him out the door. "Go shower, you perv."
"Will you join me?" He called through the door, a goofy smirk on his face.
"I'm getting milk," she said, but he could hear her giggling.
"Next time, right?"
"Oh, shush. We'll have plenty of time to discuss this tonight," she said, opening the door and emerging, fully dressed. (Austin felt slightly disappointed, despite the fact that the dress looked amazing on her.
"Well, would you look at you," he teased, his hands settling on her hips and pulling her to him. "Setting the bar impossibly high. I'm supposed to bring the good looks into this relationship, you know?"
"Shh," she giggled, her cheeks colouring slightly as her hands settled on his shoulders. "You bring in plenty to this relationship."
"Nuh-uh. Good looks is my thing. You have being smart and nice and talented," he whined, a goofy smirk tugging at his lips.
Ally smiled and pecked him on the lips. "I'll be back soon, okay? Stay pretty," she teased, tapping him on the nose.
"Ally, wait," he said, grabbing her wrist.
"Love you," he said cheekily, throwing her a winning smile.
Ally's eyes softened. "I love you, too," she said, turning on her heel to kiss his cheek.
He wiped away the lipstick smudge she had left on his cheek with a small smile, watching her as she left, before he went to shower. Mentally, he ran over everything he needed for the night. He had set up the backyard, he had gotten Ally out of the house, and he had given Trish the house keys so that she could get everything set up inside while he was entertaining Ally outside.
And, of course, there was the small matter of the ring hidden in a very specific place…
A sudden rush of nervousness flooded through him. What if he was being too sappy? Would Ally laugh at him at his valiant attempts to give her the romantic proposal he knew she always dreamed of? Trish had refused to tell him what they had always imagined when they were kids – she had said that his proposal would be special because he had thought of it, not because it was what Ally had always imagined. Austin had hated that he agreed.
Then, Dez had helped him. His red-haired friend had asked what was something special to both of them, something that could be romantic. Austin had answered, without a doubt, that the coffee shop was a special place for them. His friend had simply smirked and raised an eyebrow, before whispering 'the love whisperer', to which Austin had promptly responded 'nobody calls you that'.
In fact, the party that they were hosting that very evening wasn't a baby shower. Dez and Carrie had agreed to let Austin throw them a fake surprise baby shower so that Ally wouldn't realise that it was actually a surprise engagement shower for the two of them. He was confident that she would say 'yes'.
But… what if she said no?
All his friends knew what his plans for the evening were.
If she rejected him, they would all know.
He would be a laughing stock.
Would Ally laugh at him?
Suddenly, Austin found it hard to breathe. He cleared his throat and hit his chest with his hand, trying to regain composure – control, even. He knew that Ally loved him just as much as he loved her, and he knew that she wanted marriage. It was something they had discussed on multiple occasions, vague promises that one – one day – they would have a big white wedding. An engagement was something that she had all but agreed to already, with whispered promises at three in the morning, or presumptuous comments of how their future child would not be allowed to have pancakes for breakfast every morning. He knew that she wanted this – wanted him. With all the 'yes', why was he worried that she would say 'no'?
He figured that he was freaking out over nothing. Austin stepped out of the shower and dried himself off before rummaging through his wardrobe to find something appropriate to wear. A suit? Too fancy. A t-shirt? Too casual. His eyes fell upon the dark blue button-down he had worn on their first date, contemplating it before he shook his head. Too cliché. The moment had to be perfect – nothing could go wrong.
What if she said 'yes', but he stuffed up the proposal?
She would giggle, roll her eyes at him, and tell him he was an idiot.
His heart would soar because she had said 'yes', but it would sink because it hadn't gone as planned.
Austin shook his head, before he decisively grabbed a light purple button-down. It matched Ally's dress. Moments later, he stood in front of the mirror, inspecting himself from every possible angle. Finally, he was satisfied with his appearance, and slunk down to the kitchen to make a cappuccino – skim milk, no sugar. That was Ally's favourite, and he could remember warm Monday mornings where she would bounce into the coffee shop, order a medium cappuccino with skim milk and no sugar – and of course, there was the chocolate chip muffin that she would order almost every day for breakfast. She would turn around and smile at him, where he already sat, waiting for her to join him. Of course, once they had started living together, they would go down together, until they fell into a routine where Ally would bounce into the coffee shop, sit down in their favourite booth, and Austin would place their orders.
He smiled. Hopefully, the coffee wouldn't be cold by the time she got back. That sent another rush of panic through him – what if the coffee was cold by the time she was back? What if he made the coffee wrong? What if she came home before the coffee was even finished brewing? What if he spilled the coffee all over that pretty dress she was wearing?
Calm down, Moon, his inner voice reprimanded. Austin chose to ignore it, instead anxiously looking between the pot of coffee and the clock on the wall. He loosened his tie – were the walls closing in on him? Before he knew it, the coffee was done, and he had made the cappuccino, and he quickly walked outside to set it on the table. He walked around the backyard, trying to figure out what it was that he had forgotten, before it suddenly hit him. The ring. He had forgotten the ring!
Without another thought, he turned back into the house and made his way up to the guest bedroom as quickly as possible. He knew that Ally rarely checked the guest bedroom, except to vacuum and dust occasionally, so he had figured it was the best place to hide it. He practically ripped open the drawer that he had hid the ring in – or, at least, he had thought the ring was there.
"Austin, I'm home!"
"Shit," he swore under his breath. "Uh – c-coming!" He called, awkwardly rifling through the other drawers. Where had he put it?
"Wha—hey! You lied!" Ally called from the kitchen, sounding peeved. "We have, like, half a carton of milk left! Why did you make me go to the store?"
"Fuck," he swore again, turning to the bedside table, and tearing the drawer open.
"Austin?" She sounded concerned. "Are you alright?"
"J-Just peachy!" He called back, shutting that drawer and opening the next one.
His gaze fell to a well-worn wallet, the very same plain, black wallet that he had been sitting on, on that fateful day that he had met Ally.
"You don't sound peachy," she argued. Her voice sounded closer, and he could hear the distinct clacking of her shoes on the staircase.
Austin's grin widened almost manically, and he grabbed Ally's old wallet, stuffing it into his back pocket, despite the fact that it was a woman's wallet, and half of it stuck out the top. She hadn't used that black wallet for a while now, instead opting to use the prettier, fancier wallets that Trish often gave to her for promotion reasons – which made it the perfect hiding place for the ring.
"Aus? Where are you?"
His manic grin dropped, and he whipped around quickly. She would get suspicious if he was in the guest bedroom, so he bolted out of there.
"Ooft," Ally exclaimed, her eyes widening with surprise as he ran straight into her, and they both tumbled to the ground.
"Ow," Austin winced, rubbing his chest. He lay hovering over Ally, his breathing erratic and the wallet still sticking out of his back pocket in a ridiculous manner.
Ally looked surprised, her wide brown eyes fixated on his as she tried to process what had just happened. Her hands settled on his biceps, braced on either side of her head, and her cheeks turned a pretty shade of pink at their new position. "Oh. Hi," she murmured, biting her lip shyly. "I thought we were going to continue this later tonight."
It was Austin's turn to look embarrassed. "S-sorry," he said to her, standing and offering her his hand. "That was – that was an accident. Oh, god, it's going all wrong!" He wailed.
"What's going all wrong?" Ally asked, smoothing out her dress before looking back at him with concern in her eyes.
Those damn eyes. They were always so wide, so full of emotion. Whenever he looked into those doe eyes of hers, he felt like he was reading a novel. There was always so much emotion in Ally's eyes that sometimes it was hard to discern which emotion he was supposed to notice. Concern shone through, though, and it soothed the ache in his heart a little bit – he was freaking out over nothing. She wouldn't say 'no'. But… but…
But what if she did say 'no'?!
"The thing! The party! I don't know! It's going wrong!" He wailed again, looking very distressed.
Amusement flashed in Ally's eyes very briefly before she very carefully schooled her features back into a neutral expression, and placed a hand on his cheek. "Hey, it's just a party, Austin. Okay?"
"But – but what if the surprise is ruined?! What if it goes wrong?" He placed his hand over hers on his cheek, closing his eyes briefly, before opening them again and pouting at her.
Ally pursed her lips, before her spare hand found his and gave it a small squeeze. "I think you need some air," she decided, lacing her fingers through his and gently guiding him towards the stairs. Somehow, she managed to walk backwards down the stairs as she carefully tugged him towards the backyard.
"W-Wait!" He exclaimed, eyebrows snapping up in alarm. She couldn't take him to the backyard – that was where everything was set up!
"It's okay," Ally laughed, pausing in the kitchen, her back to the door that led outside. She tipped her head to the side, puzzled. "This is about more than just the party, isn't it?"
Austin's eyes widened even more in distress. What could he say without blatantly lying? Without wasting another second, he closed the distance between them and glued his lips to hers. Ally let out a muffled squeak of surprise, her hands hesitantly wrapping around his neck. He could sense hesitance in her response, before she relaxed slightly and kissed him back sweetly. Her kiss soothed him, stamped out the smouldering fire of panic, and his arms circled her waist, pulling her towards him as he kissed her lazily.
"Thanks," he murmured, breaking the kiss and resting his forehead against hers.
Ally smiled, and patted his cheek. "Do you feel better now?"
"A little," he admitted, gulping quietly.
"Do you still wanna go outside for some air? I mean, I have to heat up the food tonight, but that can wait until you feel better. Let's just go outside and sit for a little while, okay?"
It seemed as though he had the perfect opportunity to get her outside without seeming suspicious. With a small smile and a slight nod, he walked her backwards to the door. "Yeah. Sounds good," he said, sliding the door open with one hand, the other still wrapped firmly around her waist and his eyes still boring into hers.
Ally didn't seem bothered by the way he gently guided her outside, seeming to trust him to navigate her. Her hands slid down the front of his chest before they wrapped around his waist, smiling up at him as they stepped outside, pausing just outside the door. Austin smiled at her, cupping her cheek with one hand and affectionately running his thumb across her lips, before he replaced his thumb with his lips in a chaste kiss.
"How long have we known each other, Ally?" He asked her quietly, leaning his forehead against hers again.
"Mm… Almost three years," she mused thoughtfully. She grinned. "Feels like longer."
"Two years, seven months, and six days."
"That's how long we've known each other for."
Ally looked touched. "You remember it to the day?"
"I worked it out this morning," he admitted sheepishly.
"Why did you do that?" She asked, tipping her head to the side quizzically.
Austin shrugged. "I wanted to do something special for you. You deserve something special."
The brunette bit her lip and gave him a bashful smile. "That's very sweet."
He rubbed his nose against hers, a smile tugging at his lips at her giggle. "I have a surprise for you."
"Is that what you were working on in the backyard?" She asked curiously. "Because when you didn't take off your shirt, I kinda figured you were trying to make me stop looking outside – I thought you must be trying to surprise me with something, so I stopped looking out the window."
Austin's jaw dropped. "You knew? I sent you to get milk for nothing?"
Ally shrugged. "I didn't know until just then when you confirmed it. It was more of a suspicion," she said cheekily. "All I know is that you're planning something, and it's probably cheesy and romantic, but I'm definitely going to love it. You always seem to know what I like," she added, punching his chest playfully.
A relieved smile spread across his face, and he cleared his throat, feeling much better. "Then I suppose I can cut the sappy speech and just show you," he decided, placing his hands on her hips with a coy smirk, and gently turned her around.
His hands slid from her hips, pressing flat against her stomach, and pulled her backwards into his chest. Austin rested his chin on her shoulder, his fingers tightening against her stomach anxiously as she took in the view. The sun sat low on the horizon, orange light washing over the fairy lights that twinkled along the fence and bushes. Some of the tea light candles had blown out, but most of them were still lit, adorning the circular table in the middle of the backyard – but most importantly, the handwritten sign with the name of the café was still perfectly intact beside the table, and the cup of cappuccino sat proudly in the centre of the table.
"Austin," she breathed. "It's… This is… I –"
He turned his face, his cheek now resting on her shoulder. He watched as her eyelids fluttered, close enough to count each long lash, and her lips stretched into a happy grin. He pressed a lazy kiss to her cheek and then nuzzled his nose against the side of her neck.
"Do you like it?" He whispered in her ear.
Ally nodded, seemingly unable to form coherent words. He took her hand and pulled her to the table. He pulled out a chair for her to sit down, and she gave him a goofy grin before curtsying in an exaggerated manner, and settled into her chair. Austin shook his head with a smile as he sat opposite to her.
Her cheeks coloured, although it was hard to see it in the gathering darkness. The setting sun cast a glow to her cheeks, shadows dimpling across her collarbones and cheekbones, dancing across her skin enticingly. Austin wished it was his fingers dancing across her skin, not the shadows, but he refrained. They would have the rest of their lives for him to do that later.
"What's all this for?" She asked in wonder, looking adorably confused.
"Um… You... You have bad news, so you wanted to make me happy before breaking it?" She suggested.
Austin snorted. "No, no. It's good, I promise."
Ally grinned. "You got a promotion!"
"Uh… Not quite."
"You… you got us a pug? Is there a pug somewhere? Austin, did you buy us a pug? Oh my god, I love pugs. Is there a pug hiding somewhere here? Here, puggyboo," she whistled, looking around excitedly.
Austin stifled another snort. "No, I didn't get us a pug – although, I know what I'm getting you for Christmas now," he joked. Internally, though, he was freaking out. Would she have liked it better if he had gotten her a pug and tied the ring to the hypothetical pug's collar?
But it was too late for doubts, now. With a quiet gulp, he pushed the cup of coffee towards her. "It is something we'd share, though," he mused.
Ally still looked confused, and mildly disappointed now that she knew she wasn't going to get a pug today. She took the coffee and took a sip, biting her lip with a smile. "Tastes good," she praised.
"You gotta pay for that," he said, raising his eyebrows. "You don't really think they let you have coffee for free here, do you?" He teased, motioning to the makeshift sign.
She pouted. "Austin," she whined.
With another quiet gulp, trying to calm his hammering nerves, Austin reached into his back pocket and pulled out the well-worn, plain black wallet that Ally used to use. Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion and she stared at it. One look at her face told Austin that she was trying to figure out what he was doing, and was frustrated that she couldn't figure it out.
"I have a very specific payment method in mind," he said, wetting his lips.
Ally tipped her head to the side, puzzled.
"Ally… do you have any idea how much I love you?"
Her eyes lit up and her cheeks puffed out in a happy smile. "Mmhmm. Because it's how much I love you," she sang in a pretentious tone.
"I… fuck," he laughed, running a hand through his hair, still clutching the wallet tightly. "I feel like I have a lot to owe this wallet," he said, waving it about frantically. "I mean… this is the reason we met."
"I remember," she said warmly, reaching across the table and taking his free hand between hers. "That's the only reason why I haven't thrown it out yet," she admitted shyly.
Austin's heart stuttered in his chest. "Do you remember what you said to me? The day we met?"
"'Can I have my wallet?'" She quoted herself, biting her lip in an effort to stifle her wide smile.
He shook his head. "Not that bit. A different bit. When you were lecturing me."
"Uh… 'What makes you think women can be sorted into types?'" She guessed.
Once more, he shook his head. "'How would you know that I'm not your type?'" he quoted quietly. He could remember each word she had said. "'I could be your type.'"
Ally smiled. "I guess I was your type, then," she teased.
Austin lifted the wallet contemplatively, thumb tracing over the coin pouch, where he had hidden the ring. "I guess so too. But maybe you're not my type."
"Fuck! Wait! I didn't mean it like that!" He exclaimed, his eyebrows shooting up in surprise again. "I – I meant – fuck – I meant – maybe – maybe 'my type' is you. B-because, y'know, it never felt… right with anyone else. I could never imagine a future with anyone else."
Her eyebrows knitted together. "Your type is me, but I'm not your type? Austin, that doesn't make sense."
"No, I mean – fuck. I mean, like… like, you're the only person who I could ever… y'know, have, like, a future with. I could never – I could never imagine a future with anybody else. B-but, Ally… with you… with you, I can imagine a future. I – you make me want… I mean, we can… I'll always have pickles," he blurted, before breaking off and looking confused. "Like, I mean, I'm always ready to give you a good pickle?"
There was silence, where Ally looked at him with wide eyes. The silence was broken when she snorted loudly, and she quickly covered her mouth with a hand. "Always ready to give me a good pickle, huh?"
It took Austin a moment to register her words, before his own eyes widened. "Y-You – y-you're dirty!" He spluttered, incredibly flustered.
Ally looked amused. "Aw, what's the matter, Aus? Got your pickle in a twist?"
"Ally!" He laughed, clapping a hand over his forehead, before he smirked. "Would you help me out if it was?"
"Like how?" She asked, resting her elbows on the table and leaning her face in the palms of her hands, her eyes twinkling.
"You like eating pickles, right?" He asked, voice dripping with flirtatious intent.
"A-Austin!" Her cheeks coloured, and she swatted at him. "Whatever. Go back to what you were saying before. Something about the future, you were talking about the future."
He smiled and bit his lip. "I was talking about our future," he said, meeting her eyes. After their light-hearted teasing, he felt much better. It was as though their playful teasing had made things feel normal again, and he felt his usual confidence settling back in.
"Our future?" She murmured, a hopeful smile sliding over her face.
"Mhm. We can wake up every morning to each other. We can start a family. You'd be one of those mothers with an endless supply of Tupperware, and I'd be the 'fun parent' who always gives the kids ice cream. We can grow old together. We could be… well, forgive me for quoting one of our songs, but… we could be timeless."
She gulped, her eyes widening and her smile struggling to grow even wider. "You really think about that kind of stuff?" Her tone was quiet, timid even. It was as though she found it hard to believe.
"Yeah. I do. Because of this wallet, this crappy, broken wallet, I have… everything. You helped me make my career dreams come true. And I'd really like it if you could help make all my other dreams come true, too."
"Like… like the family? With the Tupperware and ice cream?" She asked, her voice hushed.
"Yeah. Those dreams," he responded, meeting her eyes earnestly. "With the Tupperware and ice cream." He got up from his chair, moving to stand in front of her. "Ally, ask me that question again."
"Which question?" She asked, tilting her head up to look at him. She seemed suspicious, as though she knew what were about to happen but was too afraid to believe it.
"The one from when we first met."
"Oh," she said, her eyes glued to his, as though she were in trance, unable to look away. "C-Can… Can I have my wallet?" She whispered.
Austin dropped to one knee before her, and her breath hitched. "Yeah. You do have to pay for the coffee, after all," he said cheekily, putting the wallet in her lap.
Ally gave him a suspicious glance, but he simply raised an eyebrow in challenge. Her nostrils flared – she was never one to back down from a challenge.
"Three dollars and ninety-eight cents," he said cheekily, tapping the coin compartment.
With another suspicious look, Ally unzipped the pouch. Her eyes bulged out of her head and she looked back up at him, as though waiting for confirmation that this wasn't a dream. Wordlessly, Austin took the ring out of the pouch and set the wallet back on the table.
"Ally," he breathed, taking her left hand and skimming his lips across her knuckles, his eyes fixed on her face. "Will you marry—"
He was unable to finish his question, because Ally had pushed him to the ground and was on top of him, her lips practically sewn to his. She was clumsily straddling him, her hands spreading across his chest as she tried to push herself as close to him as possible. She didn't seem to mind the fact that he was probably smudging her make-up, or that she was getting grass all over her, as her lips continued to attack his ravenously. She broke off, pressing sloppy kisses up and down Austin's neck, and he chuckled slightly.
"Ally," he laughed, grabbing her by the shoulders and pulling her into a sitting position. She continued to kiss his neck, nibbling and sucking in all the right places. "Ally," he repeated with another chuckle, sitting up with her still in his lap and her lips still attached to his neck, her tiny fingers working at his tie.
"Yes, yes, yes," she whimpered. "Yes."
Austin laughed and managed to pull her face away from his neck, before his hand found her left hand. "You sure?" He teased. "You sounded a little uncertain."
Ally swatted him with her free hand, her eyes trained on the ring between his forefinger and thumb. "Asshole," she muttered. "Of course I want to marry you."
Something about the way she said it so matter-of-factly, as though she were confirming that all his freaking out and nerves from before had just been silly made Austin feel a lot better, and he leaned forward to press one final, chaste kiss to her lips. "I love you," he said to her, eyes flicking down to her left hand as he slid the ring onto her finger. "Hah. Look at that. Perfect fit."
"I love it," she breathed, her eyes fixed on the ring, before they flickered up to meet his. "I mean – I mean, I love you," she added hastily. "But – but you're right. Perfect fit. It slid on so easily!" She exclaimed enthusiastically.
Austin snickered. "I slid it in lovingly," he said slyly, smirking at her with raised eyebrows. "Slid in so perfectly. It fit so perfectly. Slid in so easily."
"Ew!" She laughed, swatting him again. "I'm here, trying to have a romantic moment with my fiancé, and you're sitting here making dirty jokes."
"Fiancé," he repeated with wonder. "I'm your fiancé. And… and you're my fiancée."
Ally blushed. "We're engaged," she said shyly, meeting her eyes.
"C'mon," he laughed, motioning she stand. "I have another surprise."
"Another surprise?" She asked, her eyes wide as she stood and helped him up.
"Mhm. You didn't forget that we're having a party tonight, did you?" He asked cheekily, and her eyes lit up even more, clearly excited to show off her shiny new ring to all their friends. He grabbed her hand following her inside.
The lights were off, which was a clear sign to Austin that everything was in place. He led Ally into the living room, which was also dark. He stood behind her, his hands on her hips, and flicked on the light.
"Surprise!" Their friends exclaimed, all jumping up from behind the couch.
Ally let out a surprised squeal, falling backwards into his chest. "B-But g-guys! You got it wrong! It's just me and Austin, not Dez and C—"
Dez appeared from behind them and tapped Ally on the shoulder. "Hah, joke's on you. The surprise party is for you, not us."
Carrie nodded emphatically from beside her husband, her hand on her baby bump. "Happy engagement, Ally," she cheered.
This triggered all of their friends to surround the glowing couple, and Austin found himself pressed tightly against Ally as their friends hugged them tightly (not that he minded).
"Ally, we're so happy for you," Trish exclaimed, her hand linked tightly through her boyfriend's hand. She shot a sneaky glance at Jace before looking back at Ally with a wink. "You have to tell me all about the proposal later," she said, before casting another sneaky glance at Jace. "I love proposals."
Austin chuckled. He knew that Trish had been 'subtly' dropping hints to Jace that he should propose – but he also knew that the brunet had his own proposal in the preparation stages, and judging from the exasperated smile he threw his girlfriend, he was well aware that she wanted him to propose.
Before Ally could reply to Trish, one familiar face made their way over to them, through the crowd of their dancing friends.
"C-Cassidy?" Ally exclaimed, her eyes lighting up. "Oh my god, it's been way too long!" She exclaimed, pulling her into a hug.
Cassidy laughed and hugged her back, pulling Austin into the hug as well.
"Austin flew me out here," Cassidy exclaimed. "Als! You're engaged! I was always rooting for this loser," she said, slapping Austin's chest affectionately.
"I – I can't believe you're here! How is everyone? How's Elliot? How's Piper? Is she still dating Miles? I don't think I've spoken to you properly since before Austin's tour!"
The strawberry-blonde laughed again and shot Austin a sly smile. "Well, Elliot better be happy," she said, with a wink. "He finally grew the balls to ask me out, so I sure as hell hope he's happy. Piper and Miles are still dating, and they send their wishes. Actually, Piper wanted me to give you this," she said, looking through her purse before pulling out a small box.
"It's… an egg," Austin said, looking confused.
Ally smirked and looked at Carrie. "Carrie and Piper owed me an egg," she explained, with a mysterious smile.
Two years, seven months, and six days, and Austin still didn't know what the fabled 'Ally always has eggs' comment was supposed to mean. He assumed that he would never learn the truth behind that story.
In any case, Austin was happy. He looked at the glowing girl beside him, refusing to leave her side all night, despite the many people that tried to whisk her away for a dance, insisting to Austin that he'd have many more chances to dance with her throughout their lives. His gaze constantly fell to the ring sitting on her left hand, gracing her delicate, tiny hand, before it flitted up to her smile, shining more brilliantly than the expensive diamond on the white-gold band.
When their guests had left, and only Austin and Ally remained dancing alone in the living room, he pulled her close. "I love you," he whispered into her hair, swaying her back and forth, despite the fact that the music was upbeat and fast-paced.
"I love you, too," she mumbled against his chest, before she tilted her head up and rubbed her nose fondly against his.
His fingers laced through hers, his smile growing as he felt the cool metal of the engagement ring against his skin. They continued to dance into the night until they fell into bed with a completely different kind of dance, and eventually fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning, with glowing smiles and vague ideas for wedding plans underway. As their breathing slowed and they cuddled into one another, neither Austin nor Ally remembered the plain black wallet and discarded cup of coffee that lay on the table of their makeshift café.
It didn't matter, though. Only good things seemed to happen when Ally accidentally forgot her wallet in the café.
Once again, thank you everybody for reading. To quote A Very Potter Sequel: "I don't wanna see you go, but it's not forever, not forever. Even if it was, you know that I would never let it get me down – 'cause you're the part of me that makes me better wherever I go. So, I will try, not to cry, and no one needs to say goodbye."
Thank you all for your amazing reviews. You all constantly blow me away with your kind words and encouragement, and I just want you all to know how much it means to me. Thank you.