Disclaimer: let me live

Word Count: 12 875

A/N: WOW. This is an incredibly long chapter. I hope that the 44 day wait was worth this! Stay hydrated, folks. (Also, shout out to Maddie and Faith for putting up with me while I went through writer's block and spammed them with clingy messages of how much I love them.)

Also – a guest who went by the pseudonym "hello" pointed out to me that my story is a google search suggestion. What?! That's so cool! I just typed in "and it smells" and one of the first options were "and it smells like coffee austin and ally" like WHAT?! That's INSANE. GUYS.

Without further ado, I present you with the final chapter of And It Smells Like Coffee.

Ally was having the nicest dream about waffles. Oh, and Austin was there too. But it was mainly the waffle thing that she was happy about.

In fact, the dream was so good, that she could practically smell the waffles. Austin danced up to her, but he looked like a waffle. She wondered if he tasted like waffles, too. Waffle Austin looked like her Austin, with Austin's face and Austin's legs and Austin's arms – oh, gosh, Waffle Austin had fantastic arms – but Waffle Austin cut off Ally's inappropriate thoughts about his arms.

"I like you too! I think that I might even be in lo—"

"Waffle Austin, you smell good," Ally interrupted. It seemed that she couldn't stop thinking about what he had called out to her the night before, not even in her dreams.

Waffle Austin was still dancing; he was dancing for her, his every move somehow bringing himself impossibly closer to her. She would have swooned if he didn't look so ridiculous – after all, Waffle Austin was no more than a waffle with Austin's arms, legs, and head.

"Ally," Waffle Austin said once more. "I think that I might even be in lo—"

Ally interrupted him again. "Smells so good," she mumbled dreamily, wrapping her arms around Waffle Austin. She had expected him to feel sticky and be warm, like a waffle, but he wasn't. Instead, he felt like a pillow and was soft like one too. He didn't even smell like waffles – he smelled like vanilla and old books instead of leather jackets and potato chips. If Waffle Austin wasn't going to smell like waffles, shouldn't he at least smell like her Austin?

"Ally," Waffle Austin murmured, and his voice sounded closer. She wondered if it was because her ear was pressed against his waffle-y chest.

"Waffles," she mumbled, hugging him even tighter.

"Ally, wake up," he laughed. She found it weird that his chest didn't seem to shake when he laughed. Ally liked her Austin more than Waffle Austin – when she hugged him, and he laughed, she would be able to feel his whole chest moving, hear his laugh reverberating through her ears and filling her whole body with the sensation of being lost in him. Waffle Austin just felt like a pillow.

Instead of replying, Ally simply buried her nose further into his chest, feeling calm. She felt a hand on her shoulder, gently nudging her, and reluctantly, she pulled her nose away from his chest but her eyes remained shut.

"Wake up," he said again, and she yawned.

When Ally opened her eyes that morning, she hadn't been expecting a plate of waffles to be on her bed beside her face, or a pair of dark brown eyes staring intently at her.

"Ah!" She screamed, rolling in the opposite direction. Ally misjudged the distance and rolled too far, however, and found herself lying on her back on the floor with an acute yet dull pain in the back of her head. It felt like there was no air in her body, as she took in a shuddering gasp and placed a hand over her heart, attempting to soothe the racing beat.

A moment later, that same pair of brown eyes were peering cautiously over the edge of the bed at her, sprawled out over the floor.

"Ally?" He repeated again hesitantly.

Normally, Ally would have felt angry and would have snapped at him to leave her bedroom – after all, she was not a morning person – but he looked so cute, dammit, with just his nose and eyes peeking out over the edge of her bed, and a vulnerable expression in his wide eyes. Instead of yelling or getting mad, she groaned and threw an arm over her eyes dramatically, trying to focus on how to get rid of the pain in her head.

"What do you want, Austin?" She said after a moment, letting out another pained noise as she sat up slowly. She leaned back on her elbows, her legs still strewn out in front of her, before she glanced up at him.

Austin sat up from his place on her bed as well, and she watched with amusement as he wriggled off her bed, grabbing the forgotten plate of waffles, and scurried around the bed to sit in front of her. He sat down, cross-legged, and set the plate between them. "I made you try-hard pancakes," he said.

"I can see that," Ally said, raising an eyebrow. She tried her best to look unimpressed with him, but she knew that there was a small smile on her face – and she wasn't upset with him, even though there was still a dull throb in the back of her head and she was still vaguely grumpy that he had woken her up early in the morning to give her waffles – but he just looked so… happy, and she couldn't find it in herself to be upset with him when he just wanted to impress her with his waffle-making abilities, even though she knew he preferred pancakes and thought that waffles were just 'try-hard pancakes'.

There was an awkward silence where neither of them said anything, and Austin rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably before he looked at her with a grin. "It's morning! Let's talk now!"

"We're already talking."

"Shut up! You know what I mean."

Ally was silent, though an impish smile spread across her features. When it became clear that she wasn't going to respond, Austin's brow furrowed in confusion, until a look of understanding washed over his features.

"Ha, ha, very funny," he griped. "I didn't literally mean 'shut up'."

"You're sending me mixed signals, Austin," she said cheekily. "First you tell me you want to talk, then you tell me to shut up, and then you tell me you didn't literally mean 'shut up'," she mocked.

"You promised we'd talk in the morning," he said petulantly, pouting at her.

Ally's stomach grumbled before she could say anything else, and she raised an eyebrow before standing.

"Where're you going?" He asked, picking up the plate of waffles and standing as well, although it was clear that he was having trouble keeping his eyes focussed on hers. Ally bit her lip to stop herself from laughing in amusement as his eyes roamed up and down her bare legs while she looked through her wardrobe for a pair of sweatpants.

Perhaps she should start wearing pants to sleep – just to torture him a little.

"I have to brush my teeth, don't I?"

Austin's face scrunched in confusion. "Why don't you eat first and then brush your teeth? Your delicious try-hard pancakes are just going to get cold otherwise."

"They're not try-hard pancakes, they're waffles," Ally muttered, pulling on the pants.

"Just brush your teeth after breakfast. Your teeth are just going to get all icky again after you eat your try-hard pancakes," he smirked.

"Ew!" Ally exclaimed, wrinkling her nose with distaste. "Then I'll have the gross teeth-fuzz taste in my mouth while I'm trying to enjoy my delicious try-hard panca—waffles! They're waffles."

"Try-hard pancakes," Austin sang.

Ally rolled her eyes. "Let me live," she moaned dramatically, before she kissed him on the cheek, which effectively rendered him speechless as he began to splutter and stutter and turn red in embarrassment.

Hm, she thought, as she walked past his tomato-red figure and made her way to the bathroom. A new way to shut him up.

A few moments later, while Ally was brushing her teeth, she saw Austin standing in the doorway of the bathroom through the reflection of the mirror, sans waffles. She rolled her eyes before raising an eyebrow at him, and he shrugged before he moved to stand behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist, resting his chin on her shoulder. He met her eye in the reflection of the mirror and gave her a small smile. Ally, with her mouth filled with toothpaste and foam, simply raised an eyebrow and gave him a look as though to ask 'what the hell are you doing?' because she was brushing her teeth, and whilst she found the gesture cute and definitely enjoyed the feeling of his chest against her back, it was still kind of weird that he would just hug her while she was brushing her teeth.

"Au-shan," she mumbled, trying not to let any of the toothpaste dribble out of her mouth. "Move," she added, before she attempted to lean forward and spit out the toothpaste.

"Ew!" Austin exclaimed, recoiling as she rinsed her toothbrush and her mouth, gargled, and then spat back into the sink.

"Well, Austin, I was brushing my teeth," she snapped, putting her toothbrush away before turning around with her hands on her hips. "What else did you expect? That I'd melt into your arms and kiss you, all the toothpaste magically gone?"

"I just wanted a hug," he mumbled, pouting at her. "I got all lonely waiting for you."

Oh, goodness, she couldn't resist the pout.

"You're so goddamn clingy and you haven't even asked me out on a date yet," she muttered, swatting his chest before she stepped towards him and gave him a hug to take the sting out of her words. "Better?" She teased, tilting her head up and grinning at him.

Austin smiled and bumped his nose against hers. "Much," he said, and his lips were suddenly on hers before she could even come up with a snappy retort.

It was all too easy to melt into his kiss, and Ally's hands slid up his chest and up to his face. She rubbed a hand along his jawline, tracing her thumb back and forth against it, marvelling at how it moved as he kissed her. The other hand traced past his collarbone and neck to fiddle with the longer bits of hair at the nape of his neck. She felt him smile into the kiss as his arms tightened around her waist, before he seemed to give up on that and instead placed his hands against the small of her back and literally pressed her into him, as though she wasn't close enough and he needed her to be closer. Ally mentally thanked their chosen careers as musicians, because it meant that they had both spent their whole lives training to breathe in a certain way, so as to maximise lung capacity, so she didn't have to pull away to breathe for a very long time. She suddenly understood what Piper meant when she said that Austin's lips were delectable.

Eventually, they broke apart, but Austin stole another quick kiss before he rested his forehead against hers, sporting the dopiest grin she had ever seen on anybody in her entire life. His gaze travelled through hers, before he moved one of his hands up from her back and gently cupped her jaw, stroking his thumb over her swollen lips. His other arm encircled her entire waist, securing her against his chest while she marvelled at how his arm was big enough to circle her whole waist. Austin didn't say anything for a long time, as he just continued to gaze down at her, as though admiring the way she looked after he had thoroughly kissed her, with her lips swollen and her cheeks flushed, and then he bit his lip. (Ally wished she was the one biting that lip.)

"So, Ally," he began, moving his hand away from her face so that he could play with the tips of her hair. "Can we have that talk now?"

Ally raised an eyebrow tilted her head to the side, feigning confusion. "What talk?" She asked innocently, moving her hands away from his face and neck to gently rub up and down those glorious arms of his.

"The talk about how you like me and I like you," he said with a pout, clearly not in the mood for her teasing.

"Hmm, doesn't ring a bell," she said, still feigning innocence.

"Allyyyyyyyyy," He whined, pinching the bridge of his nose with exasperation – but he kept a secure grip around her waist with his other arm.

"You know, I think my waffles are going cold," she said, wriggling out of his grip, before she gave him a coy smile and traced her hand from his upper arm to his wrist. "C'mon, let's go eat the waffles before they get cold," she added, before she pulled him out of the bathroom.

"They're try-hard pancakes," Austin grumbled, but he allowed her to drag him to the kitchen nonetheless.

"You're so immature," she laughed, humming as she picked up the plate of waffles that Austin had made. There was a large stack of them, and they had gotten cold – he had evidently woken up early to make them and had forgotten that she liked to sleep in – so she popped them into the microwave before she wandered over to the fridge to pull out a bottle of juice. Once that was on the table, she smiled at him and then leaned against the counter, her eyes on the microwave and counting down the seconds. "Let's eat first, and then I'll be ready to talk."

Immediately, Austin was in front of her, a hand on either side of her and gripping the counter to essentially cage her between his body and the counter behind her. Ally raised an eyebrow and folded her arms across her chest, giving him her best unimpressed look, but he simply smirked and casually pressed himself closer to her. He dipped his head and she almost thought he was going to kiss her again, but suddenly his lips were against her ear and a pleasant tingle shot down her spine.

"I'm ready to have that talk now," he insisted, his voice deep and husky.

Ally blinked, trying to clear the hazy feeling that was clouding her senses, and cleared her throat. "Uh – um – I –"

"You promised we'd talk in the morning," he added, his lips brushing against her ear, and his warm breath washing over her neck.

Just as Ally thought that perhaps she had gotten control over the butterflies and tingling sensations dancing up and down her spine, she felt his teeth on the shell of her ear, lightly tugging it before he trailed a line of kisses from her ear, down the side of her neck, all the way to the junction where her shoulder met her neck.

"Oh," she breathed, tilting her head back slightly to expose more of her neck to him, her hands sliding up his chest to comb through his hair, keeping that talented mouth of his right where it was.

She felt him chuckle against her skin, and before she could even feel indignant at his obvious amusement to her reaction, the microwave beeped loudly. She flinched at the sudden noise, but Austin didn't move – if anything, he pressed himself further against her, preventing her from moving away to collect the food from the microwave. She rolled her eyes and wriggled, attempting to pull free so that she could collect the food. It was as though he knew that she would use the microwave as an excuse to pull away and avoid the talk, because just as she felt as though she had wriggled enough to get out of his grip, his lips suddenly attached themselves to her collarbone and she let out another breathy oh as she threw her head back, which only caused her collarbone to protrude even further and allowed him to pepper it with even more kisses.

Once he seemed satisfied that he had rendered her speechless, his lips travelled up the column of her throat and then met her lips again, where he kissed her thoroughly and she found herself gripping his shoulders pathetically and muttering incoherent praises of his talents in the kissing department. If he was that good at kissing, she wondered what else he was good at…

Before her thoughts could continue to travel in an alarmingly perverse manner, he tipped his head back and smirked at her, every inch of his body still pressed against hers. She bit her lip and looked at him with dark eyes. The microwave had gone silent by now, since they had left it too long without opening the door, and the thought crossed her mind that she might have to heat those waffles up again.

"So, Ally," Austin said, raising an eyebrow and still using that same husky voice on her.

"Uh – um – hmm?" Ally managed to get out, blinking at him stupidly.

"You wouldn't do this with just anyone, would you, Ally?" he teased, raising an eyebrow at her.

Again, all Ally was able to do was make incoherent splutters and shake her head, her heartbeat and breathing still erratic. It almost made her feel ashamed, to know how easily he could turn her into a stuttering pile of goo.

He smirked, clearly pleased with her reaction, before he leaned in again to whisper in her ear once more. "Ally," he hummed, "will you be my girlfriend?"

"Um – uh-huh, mm," she said, nodding awkwardly, still not entirely sure to phrase a coherent sentence – especially not when he gave her that look or said her name like that.

With an incredibly smug look still plastered to his handsome features, Austin casually pulled away from her, his smirk only growing when she let out a pathetic little whimper at the loss of the feeling of his body pressed against hers. She watched him with wide eyes as he casually hustled and bustled about the kitchen, preparing their waffles and setting the table, before he sat down and began to eat.

Once Ally was able to breathe again she shot him a glare. He paused, his fork poised halfway to his mouth, and his mouth open. He raised both his eyebrows, before setting his fork down and tipping his head to the side, clasping his hands together and holding them to his lips.

"What?" He asked, looking slightly scared.

"You tricked me," she grumbled, shuffling over to the table, before she plopped down into the chair opposite to him and cut into the waffles with vigour. "You can't just seduce me and then ask me to be your girlfriend."

Austin smirked. "That's so funny, because I'm pretty sure that that's exactly what I just did."


"Hey, that's no way to talk to your loving boyfriend," he mocked, before he reached across the table and grabbed her hand, running a thumb over the back of it soothingly and giving her a small smile. "I'm really happy that you agreed to be my girlfriend, but I promise that if you don't actually want to be my girlfriend, there won't be any hard feelings. I just want you to be happy, okay? I'm perfectly fine sitting in the friend-zone, if me being in the friend-zone is what makes you happiest."

Ally felt her heart warm at his words. It made her feel safe, to know that he wouldn't bitch about being placed in the fabled 'friend zone' if she so wished it, and that she wouldn't lose him even if she got scared about their relationship taking on a new level. However, she also knew that she liked him a lot more than she had ever liked anybody else, and that she wanted this just as much as he appeared to want it. With a shy bite of her lip, Ally gave his hand a little squeeze and smiled at him. She stood up from her chair and wandered over to his side of the table, before she sat down on his lap, side-saddle style, and leaned her head against his shoulder.

"You're the cutest boyfriend ever," she declared, and his face lit up when she referred to him as her boyfriend.

"And you're the cutest girlfriend ever," he responded back quietly, burying his face in her hair for a moment, his arms wrapped around her tightly. It wasn't long before his lips found hers, the try-hard pancakes long forgotten.

Ally was running late. She always felt horrible whenever she was running late, because being late meant that she had lied when she said she would be there at a certain time, and she always made an effort to be early. Since she was normally early to work meetings, and was generally a good employee, she knew that Ronnie wouldn't mind if she was late, but it was the mere principle of being late that she despised.

It wasn't her fault at she was running late. It was clearly Austin's fault, since he was the one who had walked into her bedroom at eight in the morning. He was the one who had wrapped his strong arms around her. He was the one who had mumbled something about not being able to sleep when he knew that his girlfriend was sleeping without cuddles in the very next room. He had been the one to mope and pout when she eventually pulled herself out of bed, protesting to Austin that she had to meet Ronnie at precisely eleven because he said he had some kind of surprise for her. He had been the one to grab her wrist and pull her back into their apartment, press her against the door, and kiss her until she had forgotten that she even had a meeting with Ronnie in the first place.

So, yes, Ally was running late – but no, it was not her fault.

When Ally eventually made it to Ronnie's office, she looked into the room and found him sitting at his desk, checking his watch impatiently. A flood of embarrassment rushed through her and she waved at him awkwardly, feeling like a high school student who had stumbled late into class on a Monday morning.

"Ronnie, hey, I'm sorry I'm late," she said, sitting down in the chair opposite to him.

Ronnie looked up and raised an eyebrow, before he smiled and shook his head. "It's alright, Ally. You're normally early, anyway. I think I can excuse you just this once."

With a sigh of relief, Ally nodded and ran a hand through her hair. "Thank you."

"Right, well, let's get to business then, shall we?"

Once again, Ally smiled and nodded. Ronnie shuffled through some papers on the desk, before he procured a CD case with the word DEMO – Single #4 and Ally's employee ID number written neatly across the case. She realised immediately that it was the demo she had handed in all those months ago, with the song that she and Austin had recorded. Confusion painted itself across her features and she cocked her head to the side, waiting for Ronnie to expand.

"Does Mr Moon still wish to sign with a label?" He asked, cutting to the chase.

Ally's jaw dropped and she nodded rapidly, unable to articulate a coherent sentence.

Ronnie smiled and handed the CD case to her. "Well, an associate from Starr Records has recently informed me that they're looking for a new artist. I forwarded the demo along to them, and they agreed to give Mr Moon a chance. The business card is in the case," he explained.

"Thank you so much!" Ally exclaimed, standing up and leaning over his desk to hug him. "Austin's going to be thrilled!"

Ronnie laughed and patted her awkwardly on the back. "Wish him luck for me, will you?"

Ally's grin grew even wider. "I will!"

"Austin?" Ally called hesitantly as she stepped into the apartment. He had told her earlier that he would be studying at the library for his upcoming college exams until late tonight, so she wasn't sure if he would be home. When there was no reply, she decided that he mustn't be home yet, so she hummed cheerfully to herself as she shrugged off her jacket and hung it neatly on the hook by the door, along with her purse.

Over the past four days since Austin had declared himself her boyfriend, she had found that she hadn't had the apartment to herself. She loved living with Austin, but now that they were dating she wondered if it was weird that they were still roommates – but then again, she reflected thoughtfully, they still had their separate bedrooms, even if Austin had snuck into her room each morning to cuddle her before she had to get out of bed. That meant that they weren't really 'living together', right?

As Ally walked through the apartment, she noticed Austin's laptop open on the coffee table, although the screen was black as though he had left it open and it had gone into sleep mode. She also noticed open folders of sheet music and notes, an empty coffee cup (without a coaster, dammit!) and a plate with crumbs on it on the table. Feeling very suspicious, Ally tiptoed across the room to the couch and peered over the back of it, and her suspicions were confirmed when she was greeted with a shock of blonde hair pressed into the couch cushion, and the shapely sight of Austin's shirtless back. She stifled a giggle, figuring he must have decided to study at home instead of the library – she knew that sometimes he felt uncomfortable in libraries since they were so quiet – and he must have fallen asleep. He was still wearing jeans, and Ally found it unusual that he would take off his shirt to be more comfortable, but not his jeans. The first thing she normally wriggled out of when she wanted to get comfortable was her jeans – not that she was complaining, though, because she was definitely enjoying the sight of Austin's exposed back, just plainly there for her to see. There was a bonus that he was asleep with his face pressed into the cushion, because he couldn't see her leering at him.

After a few more seconds of admiring the contours, dips, and curves of his glorious back muscles, Ally smiled and shook her head before ambling into the bathroom to take a shower. As she hummed and shampooed, she contemplated that perhaps dating her roommate wasn't as bad or as weird as she had initially thought. She had been worried that being in the same apartment all the time would fill the air with sexual tension which would lead to awkwardness between the pair, especially considering they had made a mutual decision to take things slowly. She had also worried that they would get sick of seeing each other every single day, but if anything, seeing each other each day only made her happier than usual. Nothing had really changed in their friendship, except that now Austin would sneak into her room early in the morning to cuddle her in bed, even when there was no thunderstorm, and they would often sneak up on each other and surprise the other with a kiss. Sneakisses, Ally liked to call them. Whilst they had only been officially dating for four days, she had a feeling that things were going to be just fine.

By the time that Ally had dried her hair and changed into her pyjamas, it was almost time for dinner and Austin was still asleep. If the crumbs on his plate were anything to judge by, Austin had already eaten, so Ally warmed up leftovers from the night before and ate in silence. She wondered if she should wake him up, since sleeping on the couch all night definitely wouldn't be comfortable, and she figured that he would probably want to at least change into his pyjamas. Once she had finished washing up, she wandered into the living room and crouched in front of the couch.

Austin was still asleep, with his face buried into the cushion. She smiled at the sight of his nose crushed awkwardly against the cushion, but the rest of his face appeared relaxed. Ally placed a perfectly-manicured hand on his shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze.

"Austin?" She whispered, squeezing his shoulder gently again.

He mumbled something incoherent against the pillow, and lazily made shooing gestures at her without moving the rest of his body.

Ally laughed slightly and rolled her eyes before she gave him another gentle squeeze. When he still didn't response, she rolled her eyes and gave him a not-so-gentle shove, and he groaned before he lifted his face from the pillow, wincing slightly as the light of the room suddenly entered his vision.

"What?" He sighed, rolling onto his side and draping an arm over his eyes.

"I – um…" She trailed off awkwardly. Her eyes were downcast and she bit her lip, feeling silly now. If she had just let him be, he could still be resting peacefully – surely sleeping on the couch wasn't that bad, was it?

After a few more seconds of awkward silence, Austin moved his arm away from his eyes and squinted at her. When he recognised the look she wore, the one she always had on whenever she was embarrassed or nervous, his eyes softened and he shuffled closer to the back of the couch before patting the free space. He held his arms open and cocked his head expectantly, and Ally bit her lip again before smiling shyly at him and crawling onto the couch beside him, mirroring his position and lying on her side. Immediately, his arm draped over her waist and pulled her close to him.

"Hello," he murmured to her, dropping a kiss against her hairline. "How was your day?"

Ally smiled at him, her cheeks distinctly warm from his affection. "It was okay. On the way home from work, I saw a squirrel! It was so cute! Oh! Oh, and I have a surprise for you," she said happily, absently running a hand up and down the front of his chest. She found it a little unusual that his chest was mostly hairless, yet he still had a fine trail of hair from his belly button that disappeared enticingly under the waistband of his pants. She briefly wondered if he ever waxed his chest. She wouldn't be surprised – she sometimes felt as though he put more effort into his appearance than she put into hers.

"Oh?" He smirked, although it was a sleepy smirk. She hated how adorable she found it.

"Yup," she responded easily, popping the p at the end. "But I'll tell you about that later. How was your day?"

"Well," he drawled lazily, raising an eyebrow. "This morning I woke up and realised that my girlfriend was sleeping without cuddles in the very next room. Absolutely horrifying, right?"

Ally giggled, her palm flattening against his stomach, continuing to gently rub up and down. She liked how his stomach muscles clenched beneath the movement her palm. "Horrifying."

"And then, after I hauled my perfect ass out of bed and gave her the cuddles she deserves, she tried to ditch me! For another man," he said dramatically.

Again, Ally giggled, and she swatted his chest lightly with the hand that had been rubbing it, before she moved her fingers back to his lower stomach. She curled her fingers against the thin hair there, biting her lip and enjoying the way goosebumps popped up under her delicate touch. "Ronnie Ramone does not count as 'another man'," she protested lamely. "Although, I can't deny that your ass is perfect," she sighed wistfully.

A devilish smile spread over Austin's features and he leaned in close. "The world should be jealous of us, then."


"Because we have the world's most perfect asses," he said, before one of his hands moved from her waist and gave her butt a little squeeze. "Especially you."

She yelped in surprise before she glared at him. He grinned back, completely unapologetic.

"What? It's true."

Ally rolled her eyes and stuck her tongue out at him childishly. Austin shook his head with a small smile, before he tilted his head towards her and kissed her. As usual, Ally melted into his kiss, her hand sliding up his chest and over his shoulder, gently rubbing up and down his upper arm. His hands slipped under the hem of her shirt and sat low on her waist, and just the warmth of his hand on her skin was enough to send tingles all over her body and make her smile into the kiss. She liked the way his muscles moved beneath her hands when he held her tighter. His thumb rubbed back and forth against the small of her back, and she giggled slightly because she was ticklish, but instead of flinching away as she normally would when she was tickled, she only pressed herself closer to him.

"Mm," she sighed happily when they eventually broke apart. "So," she said, nuzzling her nose affectionately against his neck, "d'you wanna hear about that surprise now or later?"

Austin chuckled and pressed a kiss to her cheek and then began to kiss along her jawbone, apparently not finished with his kisses. He always seemed to be most affectionate when he was sleepy. "You decide," he mumbled against her skin. "Is this a fun surprise or a scary surprise?"

Ally giggled, partially from his words and partly because his hair was tickling her ear. "A fun surprise."

"Ooh, a fun surprise," he hummed, his lips connecting with the spot between her jawline and her neck. "Does this fun surprise have anything to do with me, or is it a fun surprise for you?"

"It's a fun surprise for you," she said, her fingertips circling around his bellybutton. She felt him inhale sharply at her actions, before he let out the breath just as quickly, and continued to pepper the side of her neck with kisses with a bit more vigour than before.

"What kind of surprise?" He asked, although his voice sounded breathy.

She suppressed a smile and circled her fingers around his bellybutton again, and this time she was unable to suppress the smile when he gave her the same reaction as before. "It involves a very specific career… opportunity."

"A career opportunity?" He asked, finally drawing his lips away from her neck to raise an eyebrow at her.

Ally nodded and bit her lip. "Yeah," she said quietly, meeting his gaze with a small smile. "Ronnie says that Starr Records want to meet with you."

"I – he – seriously?" Austin exclaimed, his eyebrows shooting up with surprise. A shocked little smile spread over his features, and Ally nodded again, sucking her bottom lip between her teeth in a failed attempt to suppress her own grin.

"Mhm. And – and I got Trish to call Starr Records and she arranged for Jimmy Starr to come see you on Friday. She's – she's really good at, um, well talking to people, and I was going to do it myself but I got kind of nervous, y'know? But it was okay, because Trish has organised it and she said she doesn't mind doing it again in the future so I guess that kind of makes her your manager or whatever and, uh…" She trailed off, not really sure what else to say, but she had a tendency to ramble.

"You're – wow," Austin laughed, putting one hand to his forehead and laughing before he looked back at her and pulled her close to him. "You're just the best girlfriend ever, you know?"

"I don't know about the best girlfriend ever," she said modestly. "Maybe the best girlfriend you've ever had, but the best girlfriend ever?You flatter me, Moon."

"You're just… the best," he finally decided.

Ally giggled. "No, you're the best," she joked.

A wicked smirk formed across his lips as he gently pushed her onto her back, twisting his body awkwardly so that the bottom half of his body remained where it was, but his torso covered hers, and he dipped his head to trail a line of kisses across her collarbone. Ally let out a breathy noise of contentment as his lips skimmed over her skin, and somehow her hands found their way into his hair, messing it up even more than it already was. Another breathy noise fell from her lips as one of his large hands suddenly found her hipbone and gripped it, his thumb tracing the groove there. His lips travelled up the column of her throat before he pressed three chaste kisses along the side of her neck. Then, he scraped his teeth gently against the junction where her neck connected with her shoulder and it was when he began to suck the skin gently that Ally just about lost it. "I'm definitely the best at this," he whispered cockily against her skin, clearly pleased with her reaction.

As he continued to thoroughly ravish her skin, Ally found that she couldn't disagree.

"Austin Moon, how would you like a deal with Starr Records?"

Needless to say, Ally was ecstatic. Jimmy Starr had watched Austin's regular gig at the coffee shop that evening, and after an interview together while the patrons of the café slowly began to trickle out, and Cassidy began to close up shop, Ally found her hand being gripped tightly underneath the table as Austin attempted to conceal his excitement over Jimmy's offer. The blond nodded coolly, although it was plain to see that he was euphoric, with his eyes alight and his grin so broad that Ally was almost worried his jaw would fall off. She hoped his jaw didn't fall off – that would mean that he wouldn't be able to kiss her anymore, and she quite liked being kissed by him.

"Excellent. We'll be in contact with your manager and begin making arrangements for a debut album," Jimmy said, before he continued to discuss with Austin what his new career would entail. Ally sat quietly and listened, because she was only there as the girlfriend, not as the girl who helped get him this job.

After Jimmy left, Austin and Ally left soon after, and as they walked back to their apartment hand-in-hand, an impossibly broad smile spread over the blonde's face as he pulled Ally into his side with his arm draped around her shoulders and squeezed her tightly as they walked.

"I'm being signed onto a record label," he murmured to her, his eyes shining.

Ally grinned and likewise wrapped an arm around his waist as she attempted to keep pace with him. "We always knew it would happen someday," she pointed out.

"Thank you."

She blinked. She hadn't been expecting any sort of thanks or praise, but she appreciated it and turned her head slightly to smile up at him. "You're welcome." She said.

His smile only seemed to grow, and with his hair glowing in the moonlight and shadows dimpling across his cheekbones and collarbones, Ally couldn't help but wonder how she managed to land someone like Austin. He seemed to sense her staring at him, because he suddenly looked down at her and raised an eyebrow questioningly, and she looked away in embarrassment. She heard him chuckle slightly, and rubbed his hand soothingly up and down her arm.

"It's okay to stare at me. There's plenty to admire," he pointed out.

She smiled. It wasn't as if she could argue with that.

When Ally emerged from her shower later that evening and entered her bedroom, she hadn't expected to see a shirt folded neatly at the foot of her bed with a note on top of it. Her eyebrow inched its way up her forehead suspiciously as she clutched the towel to her chest with one hand, and reached for the note with the other, half expecting Austin to jump out from some kind of hiding spot and scare her.

Put these on and then come cuddle me. I also got you a gift. I hope it fits. I had to guess your size. – xoxox the best boyfriend in the world

Ally rolled her eyes and smiled to herself, and picked up the shirt he had laid out for her. It was one of his old, well-worn t-shirts with a faded Queen logo across the front, and underneath it was a cute pair of cotton underwear that she had never seen in her life. It had cartoon strawberries spread across the fabric, and each cartoon strawberry was beside a speech bubble that said "I'm berry sexy." With another roll of her eyes and an amused huff, she pulled them both on and then shuffled about the apartment to hang up her towel before she made her way to Austin's bedroom, the hem of the shirt brushing against her mid-thigh with each step she took.

"Knock knock. I hope you're decent," she said, opening the door and peeking her head through with a hand covering her eyes.

She felt Austin's hand gripping her slim wrist and pulling it away from her eyes, and was then greeted by his smiling eyes and amused smirk. Fortunately – or unfortunately – he was decent, with a pair of sweatpants sitting lowly on his hips and an old pyjama shirt clinging snugly to his chest.

"Would it really matter even if I wasn't decent?" He joked, pulling her into his room and then shutting the door behind her. Before she could answer, she was pressed against the door, with his strong arms on either side of her braced against the door, and his lips against hers.

"I suppose not," she managed in as coy a tone as she could possibly muster, resting her hands on his shoulders as she grinned up at him after his dazzling kiss.

Austin smirked again and then fiddled with the hem of her shirt. "Are you wearing the thing I got you?"

"Yeah," she said, with a slight blush. She felt ridiculous that she felt so embarrassed, because it was just a pair of cotton underwear – it wasn't even sexy or anything, it was simply silly and childish, but still, she felt embarrassed.

"Can I see?" He asked, looking shy for once, and his shyness gave her a slight confidence boost.

"Yeah," she replied, biting her lip nervously before she lifted the hem of the shirt just enough so that he could see the pun-themed garment.

Austin's face lit up and he grinned, clearly pleased that he had guessed her size correctly. "They look nice," he said happily, his gaze slowly sliding down the length of her body, before he bit his lip and looked back at her eyes with a sheepish grin. "Sorry. Got a little… lascivious there. D'you like them? The underwear, I mean."

"They're very punny," she said standing on her tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "So, yes. I like them a lot. Very cute. And good job on guessing my size."

He threw her a very smug look and switched off his light before he grabbed her by the wrist again and pulled her to his bed. She followed him warily, afraid of tripping over miscellaneous items on his bedroom floor, guided only by the faint moonlight filtering in through his window. Finally, they made it to his bed without any form of injury, and before she knew it, she was cuddled under the quilt with her back against his chest and his face nestled against her neck, his arms around her waist with his hands clasped together. She hummed quietly as she rubbed her hand back and forth against his forearms for a little while, before her hands slid past his wrists and rested on top of his considerably larger hands, and shuffled backwards slightly to snuggle even closer with him.

"Good night, Ally," Austin whispered, nuzzling his nose briefly against her hair before he returned it to the junction between the back of her shoulder and her neck.

After a few moments of lying there in silence, Ally thought Austin had fallen asleep, and closed her eyes in content. She liked these moments, where it was just the two of them and she didn't have to think about anything else. It wasn't often that they made a conscious decision to go to sleep together, but Austin had earlier insisted that it was his night and he deserved celebration cuddles with his girlfriend. Ally hadn't been able to find it in her to refuse.

Half an hour later, Ally found that she was still awake. She couldn't sleep, which was unusual, because although she had only fallen asleep with Austin a handful of times, she had always slept blissfully when she had done so.

"Aus, are you awake?" She eventually whispered, when the boredom became too much to handle. She squinted at the digital clock on his bedside table.


"Austin?" She whispered again, tapping her hands restlessly against his. "Are you awake? Austin?"

When he didn't reply, she sighed and closed her eyes again, wriggling about in an attempt to get comfortable again. She let out another loud sigh, and then felt Austin move slightly behind her.

"Mm?" He murmured sleepily, lazily pressing a kiss to the nape of her neck.

"I can't sleep," Ally replied shyly, suddenly feeling silly for having woken him up.

She felt him smile against her skin, and he began to leave a trail of warm kisses along the line of her spine. (Right. She had forgotten how affectionate he got when he was sleepy.) "What time is it?"

"Just past midnight."

Austin chuckled slightly, and he pressed one final kiss to the indent between her shoulder blades before he nuzzled his face back to where it was. "Roll over," he said, moving one hand to grip her hip and tug at it.

Ally obliged and wriggled about so that she was facing him. His eyes looked almost black in the darkness of the room, but his hair was illuminated, an awkwardly bright patch of light in his otherwise dark room. She gave him a shy smile, and his lips curved into a small smile as well before he gave her a slow yet chaste kiss.

"Why can't you sleep?" He asked, his voice low.

"Dunno," Ally said biting her lip. Her eyes flickered between his two eyes, before she shrugged and twisted slightly in his arms, so that she was lying on her back with his arm trapped beneath her, but her hips and legs remained where they were, intertwined with his. She pushed the quilt over to his side, because it was too warm, ignoring his slight whimper at the loss of her warm body snuggled up against his.

"Anything I can do to help?" He asked, settling more comfortably on his side. He pushed the quilt away from them with one hand before he used that same hand to rub up and down her stomach gently

"Dunno," she said again, before she turned her head to look at him. "Sorry for waking you," she added guiltily.

Austin chuckled. "I don't mind."

They lay in a companionable silence for a little while, before Austin's hand stopped moving on her stomach. She almost thought he had fallen asleep again, but then she felt his fingers wriggle and slide down to her hip, and she turned her head lazily to look at him again. His eyes were openly scanning up and down the length of her body, lingering unapologetically on her legs before slowly making their way back to her face. He offered her an impish smile and raised an eyebrow at her.

"Did I mention that you look really good in my shirt?" He asked casually.

"Did I mention that you're a pervert?" She countered, with an amused lilt to her voice.

"What? How?" Austin asked, his eyes wide.

Ally giggled. "You didn't even lay out any pants for me to wear. Just a shirt and some underwear. Really, Austin?"

"Wha—hey! I could have been worse," he protested. "Besides, I didn't put any pants out, because I know you don't like sleeping with pants anyway, so hah."

"How could you have possibly been worse?"

Austin smirked and his fingers slipped under the hem of her shirt, tracing the band of her underwear. "I could have been very inappropriate with my gift," he pointed out, before he leaned his head in closer to whisper in her ear as his thumb slipped just under the elastic to trace her hipbone. "Or I could have laid out just the shirt."

Ally let out an annoyed huff and slapped his hand away. "Like I said," she grumbled, "pervert."

"This is the thanks I get for buying my pun-loving girlfriend a pair of pun-themed underpants," he complained. "I thought you'd get all excited and say I'm punderful. Besides," he added with a pout, "I agree with the little cartoon strawberries. You're berry sexy."

"That was a berry bad pun," she argued stoically.

"You're being berry unreasonable."

"You're being berry repetitive."

"You're being berry rude." He pouted, his nose scrunching up cutely and his eyebrows furrowing.

"You're being berry uncreative."

Austin sighed in exasperation, and drummed his fingers against her thigh. "Come closer. I feel all lonely," he said eventually.

"You're so needy," Ally said, raising an eyebrow at him without moving from her position. She wouldn't admit it, but lying in the weird twisted position with her back flat against the bed but her hips on their side and her legs tangled with his – although relieving at first – was beginning to hurt her lower back.

"No, you're just not needy enough," he grumbled, before his hand slid from her thigh, to her hip, and forcibly tugged her towards him. "Plus, you're the one who woke me up just because you couldn't sleep."

With another exaggerated sigh, Ally cuddled in closer to him until her nose was brushing his and her whole body was enveloped in his arms. She blushed slightly and rolled her eyes. "Shut up! I already feel bad about waking you up," she said guiltily.

Austin smirked, and gave her a look that made her feel like he knew something that she didn't. "Hey, Ally. Ally, Ally, pst, hey, Ally," he whispered, widening his eyes and looking alarmingly akin to a small child about to tell a major secret.

"What?" She whispered back in a similar fashion, trying her best to look annoyed, but she knew that she just looked amused.

His lips curved into a cheeky smile. "What time is it?"

"Uh…" Ally gave him a weird look, and then twisted slightly in his arms to look at the alarm clock behind her. "12.54am," she said, settling comfortably against him before giving him another confused glance. "Why?"

"Because I want you to remember this moment," he said.

"What moment?"

"This one," he responded, quirking an eyebrow.

"What's so special about this moment?" She protested.

"There's nothing special about this moment. It's the moment that's coming that's special. Brace yourself. Are you bracing yourself?"

Ally rolled her eyes.

"I'm going to take that as a 'yes, Austin. You're so handsome, Austin.'" He said, imitating her in a high-pitched voice.

"That's so not what that meant," she deadpanned.

"I'm going to take that as a 'oh, golly gosh, gee whiz! My boyfriend buys me adorable pun-themed underpants! Oh my, he's so sweet and charmin', and I just wanna kiss him all over for being such a pun derful boyfriend!'" He continued to squeak in a high-pitched voice, now adopting a Southern Belle accent to accompany his ridiculous imitation of her.

"I don't talk like that!" She pouted.

"No, you don't," he agreed, with an amused lilt to his voice. "C'mon, give me a kiss. You know you wanna. It'll make this moment special.

"Nuh-uh," she argued back childishly. "You kiss me all the time, so that doesn't make this moment special. It just makes this moment nice."

He didn't say anything, and simply cupped her cheek fondly. He traced his thumb over her lip gently before he gave her a look filled with so much affection that she was genuinely afraid he might spontaneously combust. Ally cleared her throat and gave him a shy smile, half-expecting him to kiss her, but he simply continued to look at her, his eyes shining and teeth glowing in the moonlight as he gave her an open-mouthed grin.

"Well? Are you gonna kiss me or not?" She asked eventually, biting her lip when he still made no move to come closer.

"I love you."

Ally froze, her eyebrows shooting up in alarm as she scanned his face, trying to discern whether or not he was being serious. "Like – like, as in, you love me the way you always say you love me, or as in you're in love with –"

"I'm in love with you," he said, and although his tone was serious, his face was still set in an easy, charming grin.

There was an awkward silence where neither of them said anything. She felt incredibly embarrassed, because whilst she knew that she felt something very special for Austin, she wasn't sure that she felt confident enough in herself to say that she loved him back. His easy smile slowly began to droop turn into a nervous lip bite as the awkward silence stretched on, until Ally cleared her throat and gave him a small smile. "Good."

"Good?" He asked, his eyes lighting up as he raised an eyebrow with an amused smile.

"Good," she confirmed, kissing the tip of his nose.

His nose scrunched up and his smile only grew, before he rolled his eyes and gave her a proper kiss. "I told you this moment was gonna be special," he said. "And now you'll always know that it was exactly –" he paused, and lifted his head to look over her shoulder and squint at the clock, " – 1.07am the very first time I told you that I love you."

"You're such a dork," Ally muttered, but she bit her lip and rubbed her hand soothingly against his arm. "But you're a very sweet dork. And I – I mean – I think that maybe I lo—"

Austin cut her off with a finger to her lips, and gave her another easy smile. "Don't say it until you're ready."

She smiled gratefully at him, before her eyes flickered away from his self-consciously. She cleared her throat, and attempted a flirty smile. "Well, Austin, you have to earn my love," she decided.

"Oh? I have to earn it, do I?" He asked back, equally flirty. His smirk turned dangerously coquettish, as he gently pushed her onto her back and hovered over her, gently pressing his lips to hers, before he kissed her cheek and slowly began to make his way down her neck.

Ally rolled her eyes, but smiled despite herself, and allowed her hands to assume their regular positions, entangled in his hair and clutching the fabric of his shirt. "Yeah. You have to earn it."

"Then maybe we should start with me taking you out on a real, proper date," he said, pulling his lips away from her neck momentarily to cock an eyebrow at her.

"You don't have to do that," she protested. "I was just teasing!"

Austin rolled his eyes and kissed her gently. "But I want to," he said sincerely. "You've been my girlfriend for a little over a week, now. It's only fair that I take my amazing girlfriend out on a real, official date. So," he smirked, tilting her head towards her so that his lips would just brush hers with each word he spoke. "Ally Dawson. Will you go on a date with me?"

"You have to earn it," Ally managed to squeak out, her eyes widening as he gently nibbled on her bottom lip.

"How do I earn it?" He teased, his voice low as he began to press kisses along her jawline. He wasn't kissing the parts that he knew turned her into jelly, and Ally was genuinely afraid of why he wasn't. It meant that he had something bigger planned – as if he were going to kiss those specific spots at just the right time to make her compliant and agree to anything.

"You – um – uh –"


She bit her lip before composing herself. "Well, maybe, we'll go hang out. Not a date – just hanging out. Wherever that big romantic heart of yours wants to go, we'll go. And maybe – just maybe," she added sternly, "—we'll end up making out. And may—oh," she sighed, tilting her head back.

Austin smirked against her skin, his lips at the exact spot that always turned her to jelly. "Just maybe?" He asked huskily, pressing open mouthed kisses languidly up and down the side of her neck.

"Okay, definitely," Ally amended, her ears turning pink.

"Victory!" He squealed suddenly, rolling off of her with a triumphant grin. He gave a little wriggle, his arms flailing about in the air, as though he were doing a victory dance on the bed. Ally rolled her eyes with a small smile and shuffled in so that she could lay her head on his chest. "Ah. Is this my trophy for winning?" He teased, peering down at her with his eyebrows raised.

"Yes," Ally mumbled childishly.

"I'm not sure I want this one. It's not even gold," he joked, before he wrapped his arm around her and traced up and down her arm. "Although, it does smell good," he added, turning his head to take in a deep breath against her hair, before pulling back with a goofy grin. "I guess I can accept it."

"Good. You're not getting any other trophies," she grumbled good-naturedly. "Now where was I? Oh yeah. So, maybe, we hang out wherever you wanna go, then maybe, at the end of the night, we end up making out –"

"Definitely making out," he pouted.

Ally rolled her eyes. "Definitely making out. And then, maybe, we'll see if you've earned my love."

Austin grinned. "Challenge accepted," he decided, kissing her forehead.

They were quiet for a little while, and Ally attempted to try sleeping once more. She felt soothed by the steady rise and fall of Austin's chest, and even more soothed by the sound of his heart beating beneath her ear. She liked to fantasise that each steady thump was for her. Just when Ally thought that Austin had fallen asleep, and that she was doomed to stay awake forever, he stirred slightly, and she felt herself being pulled impossibly closer.

"Love you," he mumbled sleepily, rolling onto his side again and nuzzling his face into her neck.

Ally smiled. Before she knew it, she had fallen asleep.


Date night.

Surprisingly, Austin had spent the majority of the day ignoring her. After they had gotten out of bed that morning, he had casually asked her where she wanted to go for their date whilst drowning his cereal in milk. She had no ideas, but apparently he had a whole list, because after breakfast, he had grabbed the phone and locked himself in his room to start making arrangements. She hoped he wasn't doing anything too extravagant, because she highly doubted that it would take that long to make a reservation at a nice restaurant, or wherever it was that he was taking her, and somehow, she had pegged Austin as the romantic kind of person to go to great lengths to impress somebody. It wasn't until after lunchtime that Austin acknowledged her presence again, when he had sat beside her on the couch and told her to dress casually and be ready by seven.

At precisely seven, Ally heard a knock on the front door, just as she was touching up the final parts of her make up.

"Austin, can you get that?" She called. When he didn't reply, she stepped out of her bedroom, fiddling with the clasp of her bracelet around her wrist. "Austin?" She called again, louder, kneeling beside the front door and looking through the specific shoes that she wanted. "Can you get that?"

"No!" He called back cheekily, although he sounded too close. It sounded like he was on the other side of the front door…

"Uh… Okay…" Ally mumbled, before she stood, relinquishing the search for her shoes momentarily and looked through the peephole suspiciously.

Lo and behold, Austin stood outside their apartment door, holding a bouquet of lilies and chrysanthemums and looking devilishly handsome as usual. She stifled a giggle and opened the door before she folded her arms across her chest, leaned with her shoulder against the doorframe, and crossed one leg over the other with a bemused raise of her eyebrow.

"Hello," he said, adopting the persona of a nervous person. "I – I got you these flowers Ally – they're your favourites – I –" he broke off with a bashful shrug of his shoulders, turning his head away and holding the flowers out to her.

Ally stared at him for two moments, before she keeled over in laughter. Several ungraceful snorts erupted from her, and she could hear Austin chuckling slightly. "Very cute," she managed to wheeze out eventually, leaning heavily against the doorframe with one hand clutched to her stomach and the other dabbing delicately at her eye to stop the tears from ruining her make up.

Austin simply grinned at her smugly, clearly pleased that he had been able to reduce her to this laughing mess, before he smirked, all traces of fake-nervousness that he displayed earlier entirely gone. "So, you ready?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.

"One sec," she said, holding up a finger to motion he wait, before she took the flowers from him and stood on her tiptoe to kiss his cheek. "I gotta find a vase for these. Can you pick out a pair of shoes for me?"

He rolled his eyes. "It's only our first date and you already have me doing errands," he complained half-heartedly, but he handed her the flowers nonetheless and looked at her outfit critically before kneeling in front of the shoe rack and looking through her various pairs of shoes.

When Ally returned, the flowers now sitting in a glass vase on their small dining table, and her handbag now slung around her shoulder, she was greeted with Austin enthusiastically holding up a pair of high-heeled black ankle boots.

"It has shoelaces!" He exclaimed in excitement, before he dropped to his knees and grabbed her foot suddenly. Ally keeled over in surprise, waving her arms in a circle to gain her balance before her hands came to rest on his shoulders for support. She shook her head with a smile as he tenderly slipped each socked foot into the boot, tucked her jeans into it around the ankle, and then laced up each shoe for her.

"Thank you," she said, giving him a one-armed hugged when he stood back up, before she grabbed her keys off the hook, turned off the light in their apartment, and forcefully shoved him out the door.

"You're slightly taller now and this scares me," he mumbled, now eyeing the boots sadly. "This is devastating. They make your legs look even more amazing than usual, and yet they make you taller. I'm feeling very conflicted right now!"

"You're still taller than me," she pointed out easily, slipping her hand into his and lacing her fingers through. "So, where are we going?"

"It's a surprise," Austin said mysteriously as they stepped into the elevator, before he reached up with his free hand and flicked the collar of her button-down shirt. "I like your shirt. Button-downs look nice on you. And we're kind of matching!"

"My shirt is white. Yours is dark blue. That's not matching."

"But we're both wearing jeans! And they're both button-down shirts."

Ally giggled. "I guess you're right. Where are we going?" She added again, not satisfied with his earlier answer.

"It's a surprise!" He whined, and as soon as they were out of the apartment block, he held up a hand to motion she wait for a moment, before he produced a silky scarf from his back pocket. "Close your eyes," he said.

"Kinky," she commented, raising an eyebrow at the scarf.

"Shut up!" He complained, before he tied the scarf gently around her eyes. "Can you see anything?"

"I can see the scarf."

"That doesn't count!"

"You asked me if I could see anything," she countered, pouting slightly. "I can see the scarf. It's red. And very silky. But keeping my eyes open is kind of giving me a headache, 'cause the fabric is too close to my eyes."

"Then let's get going," he decided, placing a hand on the small of her back to gently guide her.

"Wait, this is ridiculous. You really want me to walk somewhere blindfolded?" She asked, dumfounded.

"Yeah! It's a surprise. Just shut up and do it, okay?"

"Fine, fine," she laughed, before she reached for his free hand to lace her fingers through it again and allowed him to guide her, his other hand still resting in the small of her back to guide her.

Once they reached wherever it was he had planned for them to go, he pulled away for a moment and she heard him fiddling with his keys before the door swung open, and a little bell tinkled. When they got inside, she felt him standing very close behind her, his fingers against the knot of the makeshift blindfold.

"Are you ready for your surprise?" He whispered in her ear, his chest pressed against her back.

Ally gulped quietly and nodded, biting her lip. She felt the blindfold slacken before it fell away from her eyes, and she blinked rapidly to adjust to the light. As soon as she could see again, her jaw dropped and she covered her mouth with her hands to stop herself from squealing. She felt Austin's arms snake around her waist, and his chin rested on her shoulder.

"Do you like it?" He asked, sounding almost nervous.

"Yeah," she managed to breathe, her eyes still wide as she took in the sight before her. She eventually managed to tear her gaze away, and she turned around in his arms, her arms looping around his neck. Austin smiled at her and met her halfway, his lips pressing quickly and chastely against hers before he released her and led her to the table.

It was clear to see that he had put a lot of thought in planning this. He had taken her to their regular hangout at the coffee shop, and since it was after closing hours, he was able to alter their set up slightly. A nice, white tablecloth covered the table at their favourite booth, and a chilled bottle of root beer sat fancily in a wine cooler beside the table. It wasn't sickeningly cliché – she was glad he hadn't scattered rose petals or set up candles – and was very simple, but it was the sentiment behind the set up that made her insides feel gooey.

"Well, shall we order, m'lady?"

Ally blushed and nodded, settling in comfortably to the squishy booth. Austin had sat opposite to her, on the regular hard chairs, and it made her heart warm even more to know that he had sacrificed his favourite spot on his booth to let her have it. She picked up the menu and snorted immediately, because it was a large and fancy menu but there was only one option written inside.

"I guess I'm having the ravioli," she said with another little giggle.

"What a coincidence! So am I!" Austin exclaimed, grinning at her.

"My favourite," she sighed happily.

"I know," he said with a smirk.

Before she could reply, Cassidy entered the coffee shop, carrying something in a plastic bag. She waved at them, and then went behind the counter. Ally could smell the ravioli from where she sat, and her stomach grumbled loudly. She flushed in embarrassment, but Austin only smiled and shook his head, as though he found her endearing. Moments later, Cassidy approached them with two bowls of ravioli and an apron tied around her waist.

"Hi, I'm Cassidy, and I'll be your server for tonight," she said, winking at Ally before she set down their meals and poured them each a glass of root beer. After that, Cassidy only approached them again to take their plates and clear their table, and again later to present them with the chocolate brownies that hadn't been sold in the café earlier that day, and then she left them alone. Ally felt bad that her friend had to do all that work, but she knew that Cassidy didn't mind and that Austin had probably paid her – and if she hadn't accepted his money, she had no doubt that he would give her a generous tip the next time she was working.

Ally wasn't entirely sure when, but at some point, Austin had abandoned his chair and joined her on her side of the squishy booth, his arm easily draping over her shoulders and his fingers laced with hers.

"Did you have fun tonight?" He asked her, resting his cheek on the top of head.

"I always have fun when I'm with you," she replied closing her eyes in content and snuggling further into him.

He didn't reply, and Ally was almost worried that she had creeped him out, but then she felt him turn his head and press a gentle kiss to the top of her head, before he relaxed again and assumed his previous position with his cheek pressed against her head.

"Should we head home now?" He asked her quietly.

"Yeah," she mumbled. They sat there for a little while longer, before Ally stood up and stretched, stepping away from the table and waiting for him to stand too.

Austin smirked and waggled his eyebrows, folding his arms across his chest.

"What?" She asked, looking confused.

"Forgetting something?"

Her eyebrows furrowed together with confusion, before she saw her purse beside Austin and immediately felt embarrassed. He looked incredibly smug and continued to stare at her with that stupid handsome smirk of his, clearly waiting for her to make the next move.

With a sultry grin, Ally cocked her hip to the side and crossed her arms. "Well?" She asked, raising an eyebrow and gesturing to her purse. "Can I have my wallet?" She teased.

"Oh! Oh, right, yes, of course," Austin spluttered in his best imitation of their first encounter, before he rolled his eyes and picked up her purse for her. "Oh yeah, and don't smile at me like that," he added, lacing her fingers through his before he started to pull her towards the door. He gave her a crooked smile as he locked the café before grabbing her hand again. "It's way too seductive."


"Seductive," Austin repeated, bumping her hip lightly with his. "Don't you remember the cartoon strawberries, Ally? You're berry sexy."

"Oh, shut up," she laughed, nudging him back.

He grinned at her and swung their hands back and forth exaggeratedly. "You know you love me," he teased.

"Yeah, whatever," she muttered. She knew that she loved him, really, she did, and she didn't know why she was so afraid to tell him. He made her feel safe and secure, and but more than that, he made her feel confident and sure of herself – so why was she holding back? With a cheeky grin, she thought of how he had told her his feelings, and then looked at him. "Hey, what time is it?"

Austin raised an eyebrow, and checked his watch. "Just past nine. Why?"

"Because I want you to remember this moment," she said, stepping in front of him and facing him. She bit her lip and gave him a shy smile, grabbing both of his hands.

Immediately, Austin's face lit up and his eyes searched hers. "Really?" He asked her.

"Yeah," she whispered, meeting his gaze evenly.

"I love you so much," he said, leaning down and capturing her lips in a kiss. It was clumsy and desperate, as he bowed her body into his and clutched her tightly. It didn't seem to matter to him that she hadn't said the words I love you, because she had said it in her own way.

When he eventually broke the kiss, Ally had a moment of embarrassment upon the realisation that she had just shared an excruciatingly long kiss with her boyfriend in public, but when he smiled at her like that, she found that she didn't care as much. They rested their foreheads against one another and stood there for a moment, before she gave him another quick peck and then pulled away, grabbing his hand again and swinging it as they continued the walk back to their apartment.

"So, I'm assuming I've earned it, huh?" He asked casually, one hand in his pocket and the other tangled with hers.


"Your love. Have I earned your love?"

Ally grinned and held up her free hand. "Let's see. We hung out as friends," she said, putting down one finger as though making a checklist, "but it turned into a date. Check. We ended up making out. Check."

"Wait; that was the make out session?" He pouted. "No fair. I was expecting something much more intense."

"Perv," she muttered, nudging him with her hip.

"You love it."

"I hate that I love it," she agreed, before she rolled her eyes. "Quit interrupting. You're so annoying."

"Quit interrupting, you're so annoying," he mocked.



She laughed and shook her head. "In any case, we checked all the boxes. So, yes. You earned it."

Austin smiled. "Good," he said quietly, before he draped his arm over her shoulder.

They continued to walk home in an amiable silence, and it wasn't until they reached their front door that either of them broke the silence.

"This was fun. We should go on more dates," Austin said as they stepped inside.

"Technically, we go on dates all the time," Ally pointed out, hanging her purse on the hook and taking off her shoes. "We just don't label them as dates because it's weirder to say 'hey, wanna go on a date later?' as opposed to 'hey, wanna hang out later?'"

"That's… yeah, I guess you're right," he laughed, shaking his head. "Then allow me to rephrase. I had a very nice time with you tonight, Ally."

Ally shrugged bashfully and followed him through the dark apartment. "I know," she joked. "But, really, Austin. The whole date was very sweet. Thank you for tonight."

"You know how we can make tonight even better?" He said, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.

"With good night cuddles?" Ally responded innocently.

Austin chuckled and nodded, pulling her to him for a moment to kiss her on the head. "Exactly. I'll meet you in your bedroom, 'kay?"

As promised, moments after Ally had settled into her bed, she felt the mattress dip beneath Austin's weight, and then felt his arms slip around her waist. She was pulled into his chest, and she felt him press a small kiss to the side of her neck.

"Hi," he mumbled.

"Hi," she responded, her tone equally hushed.

She felt him smile against her skin, before he began to press gentle kisses up and down the side of her neck. Austin stopped after a moment and then nuzzled his face against her neck. His breathing steadied and she could only assume that he had fallen asleep, but there was still one thing that was niggling at the back of her mind, something that stopped her from falling asleep. She still hadn't said those three special words, and even though she had made it explicit, she still thought he deserved to hear them.

"Hey, Austin?" Ally asked quietly.

"Two nights in a row, Ally," he responded immediately, feigning grumpiness, but she could feel him smiling against her neck. "Two nights in a row you've woken me up."

"As if you were asleep. You replied immediately," she pointed out, turning in his arms to face him.

Austin chuckled and rested a hand on her hip, slipping his thumb under the hem of her shirt and gently stroking her hipbone. "Okay, okay, you caught me. What's up?"

"I love you," she declared, happily nestling herself in his arms and burying her face in his chest.

"I know," he laughed, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

He was trying to act nonchalant, but Ally could hear his heart beating rapidly under her ear. She smiled and snuggled closer to him, feeling as safe as she could possibly be. In that moment, she realised that it didn't matter what they encountered – crazy ex-lovers, distance, sadness, happiness – none of it would change them. They would develop and grow together, but every night from this point on, they would find their ways back to this spot, where they could whisper declarations of love in the wee hours of the morning, despite whatever else had happened that day.

As they fell asleep with smiles on their faces and music in their hearts, Ally found herself thinking that she had never been more grateful that she had accidentally left her wallet in a café.

A/N: Oh my goodness. It's finished. Thank you all so much for reading, for putting up with me, and for giving me feedback so that I know what to work on. I love ALL of you. I will be posting an epilogue, so stay tuned! :D

As a general reply to all who review and tell me how much they like my story – thank you SO much. It's those reviews that keep up my motivation to write the next chapter, so thank you all very much. I'm feeling the love :*

Replies to my lovely children:



Guest: Oh, goodness, my heart actually hurts a little bit. I'm going to miss this story so much. I hope the epilogue is a nice way to get closure.

Dont-Stop-Believin: Well, if that was your reaction to a kiss then I have a feeling that you're DEAD after this chapter.


maddiegirl56: ew did I give u permission to read my story

rauraR5fangirl: SCREAMING! IS! FUN! I also can't believe that this is ending! Oh gosh. I'm really hoping the epilogue brings us ALL some closure.

BeShOrR5: I hope this brought enough cuteness for you ;)

laurasbxbe: WhaT?! You heard about this because of Twitter? DUDE. Your whole review had me blushing, seriously. Thank you so much, it means so much that you like my writing. My writing is like, a creative outlet, ya dig? It makes me really happy to know I was able to make so many people happy with this fic.

Nkled567: Your FAVOURITE? WHAAAAAAAAAAAT, that's so sweet! :D

Frackinawesomeninja: You love it more than Austin loves Ally? Omg that's a LOT

Lollypop: Don't worry! I have lots more fics planned :D I'll be posting one soon after this one, so keep an eye out ;)

Guest: HAHA, I don't know! I just describe what I envision in my head and put it to words.

HeartSoulForever: I try to keep it real. Also, I physically cannot bring myself to continually make Ally a damsel in distress, because I'm too much of an angry feminist for that, so I like to subvert the clichés a bit ;)

Chubby bunny: That review is actually so sweet, thank you so much. I'm feeling this love. You're one of my favourite reviewers! :D

hello: Ack, thank you for the good wishes!

Iliv3bymu5ic: That's so cute omg thank you HAHA. It annoys me how much I love writing this story.


phia514: Holy crap, the length of this chapter has actually slayed me. I don't think I would ever be able to match this length EVER. I think the epilogue will probably go back to my standard 5000 word chapters.

HollywoodHeightsLuver: Hey! You're back! I was missing your presence in the reviews section. Oh gosh, those were some of my favourite parts too :D I really love when people quote back their favourite bits to me omg :D