no, i haven't given up on this story.
i know you guys are mad and stuff cuz i haven't updated this story since april and now its 2017 (woah...) and i'm really, really sorry. i'm an avid procrastinator and i tend to lose motivation a lot - which i don't get, cuz i love writing, but whatever, life's weird - and i'm also really hard on my writing, so i spend ages trying to prefect the word placement and events and all that ish, so yeah i'm really sorry. i'm not making any promises, but i really will try to update more frequently.
i love you guys so much and i hope you enjoy!
"Hey, can you see where the nearest McDonald's is? I'm starving."
Ally turns away from the window and looks at Austin, arching an eyebrow. "You ate a stack of six pancakes, and half of mine, like two hours ago."
He nods slowly. "Yeah...And your point?"
"How are you starving?"
"I'm a growing boy, Als."
She scoffs. "More like a growing pig."
"My ego has shattered," he pouts, placing a hand over his heart dramatically.
She shrugs, scrolling through her phone. "Good. You have too much of an ego anyway. There's a McDonald's about five minutes away. Take the next exit."
Austin nods, humming along with the radio.
"This song sucks."
"I happen to like it."
"You have horrible taste in music," Ally comments, reaching forward to change the station, but Austin swats her hand away.
"Uh-uh. No changing the music. Driver's in charge, remember?" he reminds her with a smug smile.
Ally glares at him, gives him a slight 'hmph', and then turns back to her window. Austin starts singing along with an obnoxiously high voice to annoy her even more. She ignores him and continues to admire the scenery outside the car.
Austin pulls into the McDonald's parking lot moments later and the two get out, stretching themselves.
"You're driving next," Austin grunts out.
"Great. Then I can choose the music."
They walk into the mildly crowded restaurant, instantly hit with the smell of greasy fries. As they waited in line, they scanned their options on the menu boards, even though they already knew what they were gonna get.
"Hi, welcome to McDonald's! What can I get you?" the guy behind the counter, who seems to be college-aged, asks.
"Two Happy Meals, please," Austin chirps.
The guy's smile falters. "Um...aren't you two a little too old for the...er, Happy Meals?" he asks, knitting his eyebrow.
Austin scoffs. "Excuse you - " he looks at the the employee's name tag. "Jeremy, but we are under the age of 21, therefore, no, we are in fact not too old for Happy Meals," he tells Jeremy matter-of-factly, Ally nodding her head in agreement beside him.
The guy - Jeremy - stares at them, before slowly nodding. "You've got a point there, dude." He types on his computer and gestures Austin to slide his card. "Your Happy Meals will be ready shortly," he informs them with a smile.
The duo heads over to an empty table and engage in conversation.
"Hi!" A head pops up behind Ally, startling the two. "I'm Faith."
Ally smiles at the girl. "Hey. I'm Ally and this is Austin."
Austin nods to her. "Sup."
Faith rests her arms on the bench, laying her head on top of them, her brown curls sprawling over her arms. "So are you guys visiting?"
"Yeah, sort of. We're doing a cross-country roadtrip thingy. Georgia's our first stop," Austin tells her.
"Oh, that's so cool! What have you guys seen so far?"
"A beaten down bathroom shack." At the girl's confused look Ally explains further. "We couldn't find a hotel last night, so we had to stop in the middle of nowhere."
"And we almost got attacked by bears," Austin adds in a suspenseful manner.
Ally shakes her head. "There weren't any bears."
Ally presses her lips in a tight line. "Okay."
Austin nods, satisfied, turning to Faith and starts telling her about their summer plans. As Austin was distracted, Ally shares a look with Faith, silently shaking her head, assuring her that they're weren't any bears present. Faith giggles in response.
"So, we're on our way to Atlanta."
"Oh, well while you're here, you should definitely explore a little bit," Faith advises. "Savannah's a really pretty town."
Austin perks up. "Really?"
She nods, coming over to their table. "Yeah. There's this park - Forsyth Park - about, like 10 minutes away from here. And then there's all these little squares in the historical district - they're so pretty - and - "
"Wait, hold on. What're these 'squares'?" Austin asks, scrunching his eyebrows. "Do they have triangles, too?"
Ally facepalms, as Faith giggles. "No, they don't have triangles. The 'squares' are like little parks, I guess," Faith explains. "So, there's the huge historical district, right? And then there's all these roads and streets passing through the district, which breaks down the area into smaller areas, and since they're enclosed by roads on all four sides, it resembles a square. So I guess that's why they call them squares."
"Ohhh, I get it now!"
"Yeah, okay. Anyways, um...what else?" Faith bites her lip, trying to think of what else to tell them, and begins tapping on her phone. "Okay, so..." she trails off, drawing a map onto a napkin, copying the directions from her phone. "Okay, here you go. Sorry for the messy handwriting and stuff. But basically, just drive straight until you get to Park Avenue and that's the south part of the park - there's a water fountain on that side. And then if you walk north, to the other side of the park, there's Bull Street and you can take a trolley tour or just walk, and there's a tons of the squares and a bunch of other historical stuff, like the Colonial Cemetery and the Cathedral of St. John, but I'm not sure where those are exactly," she finishes, leaning back.
Austin and Ally examine the map she'd drawn.
"So you wanna check it out?" Austin asks Ally.
She nods. "I think it'd be fun. Thanks Faith."
"Faith!" a voice calls. "We're leaving."
The three turn to see a woman waving to Faith, gesturing her to come over.
"Well, I gotta go," she tells the two, standing up. "I hope you have a great trip."
"Thanks. It was nice meeting you."
"And thanks again for the directions and everything," Austin adds.
"Your welcome." Faith smiles and waves them goodbye, before leaving the restaurant with her family.
"She was cute. I liked her," Ally comments.
Austin snorts. "You think everyone is cute."
"That's because everyone is cute."
"Especially me," he says, batting his eyelashes.
She rolls her eyes. "Everyone, but you."
Before Austin could continue their bickering, the guy calls out their order number, indicating their meals were ready.
"Ooh yay! Chicken nuggets!" Austin giddily runs over to the counter and returns with the two Happy Meals. He hands Ally hers and opens his. "Oh my gosh," he gasps, peering inside the box. "No way! Ally, look! I got a My Little Tiger mini figure!" he exclaims, holding the figure out so she could see.
She gives him a dry look. "You have twenty of those."
"Uh, no. This is the deluxe, one-of-a-kind, glittery Bengal Beauty tiger. There's only like 10 of these in the entire world!" He scoffs. "You know nothing."
"Austin, it's a McDonald's," Ally deadpans. "Nothing here is deluxe or 'one-of-a-kind'."
He sits down, frowning. "Whatever. Whaddya get?"
She opens her own box and pulls out the small package. "Aw, it's a little puppy," she coos, taking the toy our of the plastic bag. "Aw, Austin, look at him. He's adorable!"
He rolls his eyes, smiling a little. "Yeah, he's cute." He pulls out his phone and looks at the time. "Hey, it's 12:20. Should we eat here or eat on the way to the park?" he asks.
"Hmm...I think we should eat on the way. That way we won't waste time."
He nods and the two get up from their seats.
"We needa take a selfie!" He opens up the camera on his phone and snaps a quick picture.
"Wait, what about out mark?" Ally reminds him.
"Oh, right. Um..." Austin bites his lip, thinking.
She snaps her fingers, as she gets an idea. "How about our Happy Meal stickers?" she suggests, picking the sticker off her box.
"That's not a personal mark, though."
"So, we'll make it personal." Ally pulls out a Sharpie and doodles a tiny sun on her sticker. "See? A sun for 'Daw-son'. Now, you draw a moon," she tells him, handing him the Sharpie.
He nods and draws a tiny crescent moon. He peels off the sticker and sticks it next to Ally's on the corner of the table by the window.
"Y'know, they'll probably take 'em off when they're gonna clean the tables, right?"
She shrugs. "Eh, whatever."
About 15 minutes later, they find themselves standing in front of a huge, incredibly detailed water fountain.
"Woah," Austin awes, staring at the intricate carvings on the white stone fountain.
Ally nods in agreement, snapping a picture. "Look at the little swan statues in the water. They look so pretty."
"Look at all the coins in the water," Austin says, peering over the iron fence that was surrounding the fountain. "Your dad would faint if he saw this."
Ally stands on her toes, stretching herself so she could look into the fountain, the base of which was covered in scattered silver and copper coins, gleaming in the sunlight.
She laughs. "No doubt. Last week he went berserk over finding 37 cents in the mall fountain."
"Wow. We should make a wish too. I heard that if you make a wish in a different state it comes true for sure."
She raises her eyebrows. "Yeah? Where'd you hear that from? Dez?"
"Hey, give him some credit," Austin defends. "He's right about a lotta things, y'know. And he's definitely right about this one. Once, when he went to Virginia he made a wish that he'd get toast for breakfast and guess what?" he says, pausing for dramatic effect. "The next morning he got toast!" he exclaims, his mouth open wide, representing the unbelief and shock the story was intended to express.
Ally rolls her eyes. "Eating toast is common, and Dez carries toast and a toaster everywhere anyways. You know how much he loves toast."
"Yeah, but still!"
"Okay, whatever." She digs through her purse to find a penny, while Austin pulls one out from his wallet.
She nods and they silently make their wish before throwing the coins into the fountain. The two stay silent for a moment, before Austin starts swaying on his feet, attempting to whistle, but he just ended up making weird blubbering sounds.
(One of the few things the Oh So Great Austin Moon couldn't do was whistle. And Ally teased his all the time, because she could whistle, and hey, when your best friend can't do something and you can, you have to rub it in. Its basic best friend 101.)
"So...whaddya wish for?" he asks casually, trying not to sound too eager.
"If I tell you it won't come true."
"I'm not telling."
"Fine. Then I'm not telling you mine either," he declares, closing his eyes and raising his nose in the air, crossing his arms stubbornly.
Ally smiles. "I never even asked you." She pauses before turning to him worriedly. "Just please don't tell me you made some ridiculous wish like you did for your 5th birthday, because that one actually did come true," she reminds him frantically, referring to the ice cream incident, where Austin, Ally, Trish got trapped in an ice cream freezer and Dez had to rescue them.
(Yes, five-year-old Austin wished to be trapped in a freezer full of ice cream. He really should've wished for a pony.)
He opens his eyes and gives her a dry look. "Nooo. I'm not stupid. This wish is awesome! You'd really wanna know it."
She shrugs. "Okay."
"You're not gonna tell me, are you?" he asks, narrowing his eyes at her. She shakes her head, a teasing smile on her face, taunting him. "Hmph. Fine. Let's check out the rest of this place."
They walk around the park, admiring the breathtaking scenery. About an hour later, they reach the north entrance of the park and continue their adventure, exploring the historical district of Savannah.
After walking around for a few minutes, Austin suggests taking a quick break in one of the squares. He then makes Ally pose against the trunk of a old tree with hanging branches, the leaves making a whimsical canopy.
"Ooh, sit on the bench!" Austin tells Ally, gesturing to the stone bench under the tree.
Ally obliges, following his orders on how to pose. She spreads her legs across the length of the bench, bending her knees, one higher than the other, imitating the models she had seen in magazines. She places her left arm behind her on the bench, putting all her weight into her hand to support her as she leans back.
"Okay...just a little zoom...and..." Austin trails off, fussing with the viewfinder.
"This is actually really uncomfortable," Ally comments. "Why do models pose like this?"
"I dunno, dude. Okay...and - "
Austin was seconds away from capturing the photo, when Ally's hand slips, throwing her off balance. She tumbles of the stone bench, landing onto the brick pathway with a 'thud'.
Austin snickers, lowering his camera. He leans over the bench to make sure she's fine.
Ally raises her head, rubbing it as she groans. "I think I broke my arm," she says, lifting her arm to show Austin her scabbed elbow.
He rolls his eyes and grabs her arm, pulling her off the ground. "I think you'll live. Its just a little blood."
"But now all these germs and bacteria are going to invade my immune system and take over my body!" she cries out. She places a hand on her forehead, raising her head into the sunlight dramatically. "I'm too pretty to die!"
"And they say I'm the dramatic one," Austin mutters. "C'mon, get back on the bench. I still have to take your picture."
Ally eyes the bench with hatred, before a sly smile slowly appears on her face. "Actually...I have a better idea."
She makes Austin get on the bench and copy the position she had done.
"Wow, this really is uncomfortable."
"I know, right. Okay, ready? Smile."
He gives an exaggerated dazzling smile and bats his eyelashes, channeling his inner feminine side.
Ally laughs as she takes the picture.
Austin scrambles over to her, taking the camera from her hands. "Woah. I am a handsome woman!"
"Yep. Just like Dez's Great-Aunt Ruth."
"So shall we continue our expedition?"
They get directions to the cathedral from a nearby stranger and start heading the way he had told them.
"We forgot to call our parents, didn't we?" Austin asks slowly.
Ally's eyes widen as she turns to Austin. "Oops. They're going to be so mad."
"Guess we're about to find out." He pulls the vibrating phone out of his pocket and holds it up to his ear. "Heyyy Mom."
"Austin Monica Moon!" Mimi yells through the phone, causing Austin to wince and pull the phone away from his ear. "Where are you?!"
"Uh, in Georgia," he replies in a 'duh' tone.
"Neither you nor Ally bothered to call; we were worried sick," Mimi says, her voice returning back to her usual motherly tone.
"We're fine, Mom. We just...forgot to call. I mean, we almost died and then - "
"You what?!" Mimi exclaims, the frantic worrying seeping back into her.
Ally rolls her eyes from beside Austin, muttering "Not this again," and snatches the phone from him.
"We're okay, Mimi. We had to spend the night at an abandoned rest area in a woodsy area, because we couldn't find a hotel and Austin was thought there were bears. There weren't. We're perfectly safe and unharmed."
Austin pouts. "There were bears," he mutters stubbornly, crossing his arms over his chest like a child. "No one ever believes me."
Ally ignores him, focusing on Mimi.
Mimi breathes a sigh of relief. "Oh, thank goodness. But are you sure you two will be alright? You're traveling across the country all alone and you're practically babies," she worries. "Maybe this roadtrip wasn't such a good idea..."
Ally laughs. "We'll be fine, Mimi," she reassures. "We're 18. Not exactly 'babies' anymore."
"Oh, sweetheart, you two will always be my little babies. So where are you guys right now?" she asks.
"In Savannah, Georgia. We're in the historical district right now. It's a really pretty town. The scenery is so luscious and breathtaking. You'd love it."
"Oh, that sounds lovely. Be sure to send pictures and - "
Austin interrupts their talk, taking his phone from Ally.
"Okay, we love you and all, but we really have to go. We'll call later, okay? Love you. Bye." He hurriedly ends the call, placing the phone back in his pocket.
He feels Ally's stare on him and turns around, raising an eyebrow. "What?"
She looks at him with disapproving hard eyes, her hands on her hips. "You just hung up on your mother."
"Uh no. I said 'bye' and that's an indication that the call is about to end."
"Austin Monica Moon! You should be ashamed of yourself!" she scolds.
He rolls his eyes, continuing to walk. "I'll call her when we're back in the car. I just wanna enjoy every moment we have here."
"Still. That was rude."
"I'll apologize," he promises.
She nods and they continue their sightseeing.
An hour later, they've seen all the local landmarks, including the Confederate Monument and a bunch of old Victorian houses. On the way back to the car, they stop at a small shop and buy dainty key chains as souvenirs.
Once they're settled in the car, Ally checks the rear view mirror and carefully backs out of their spot.
"Careful. If you drive any faster we might crash into a bike," Austin drawls sarcastically.
"I just like to take precautions, unlike some people."
"There's such a thing as being too cautious, y'know."
"There is no such thing," she argues.
"Just shut up."
Austin obeys, popping a lollipop into his mouth, and pulls out his phone, as Ally stops at a red light. She rummages through the center console and pulls out a CD, inserting it into the disc drive. The light turns green and Ally starts driving again, humming along happily with the song.
"Ugh. This singer is so annoying. Her voice is all high and squeaky," Austin complains, lollipop still in his mouth and his face scrunched up in disgust.
Ally looks at him from the corner of her eye, her mouth gaping open. "That's me, you jerk."
He tears his gaze from his phone and looks up at her, pulling the lollipop out of his mouth, plastering a cheeky grin on his face. "I know."
As kids, Austin and Ally dreamed of becoming world famous pop stars, but their parents had pointed out to them the harsh reality of life and how there was 'a bazillion in one chance' of actually making it in the music industry. Austin and Ally were crushed, but realized their parents were right and instead pursued their dream as an offside hobby. For fun, they would write songs together and then record them, make music videos, and perform for their families and friends. Trish often encouraged the two to post their music videos online, claiming that they could be overnight internet sensations and their musical talents could be discovered by some huge name in music, but they refused to do so. For one, Ally had intense stage fright, and Austin just thought it'd be pointless. Trish had debated a few times whether or not to secretly post something anyways without either of them knowing, but decided against it, not wanting to go behind her best friends' backs and disrespect their wishes, even though she was trying to help them. So for now at least, the world was deprived of the legendary talents of Austin and Ally.
"Weren't you going to call your mom?"
"Do I have to?" he whines.
Ally nods. "Yes. Or I'm going to kick you out and leave you stranded here."
Austin snaps his head up, narrowing his eyes eyes at her. "But its my car."
"Yes, but I'm driver. And your parents love me more than they love you."
"First of all, that's so not true, and second of all, what does that have to do with anything?"
Ally sighs deeply as if she's annoyed. "Because," she drawls out, "then they won't have any problem with me leaving you stranded here."
"You're so mean."
"And you have no respect."
Austin doesn't respond, and taps on his phone, bringing up to his ear. He sticks his tongue out at Ally, as the phone dials, and Ally sticks her tongue out in return. He motions her to be quiet, placing a finger on his lips, as he begins talking to his mom.
She chuckles softly and looks ahead on the freeway, an easy smile lingering on her face. She thinks back to the wish she had made earlier at the fountain.
Oh, my wish will definitely come true.
"Are we there yet?" Austin asks for the umpteenth time.
"No," Ally grits out, her grip on the steering wheel getting tighter.
They were both worn out and tired, lacking patience, after not getting a restful sleep the night before and being stuck in the car. Cars aren't the most comfortable place, especially when you're in one for almost the entire day.
"I'm bored," he whines. "How much longer?"
"We're still about an hour away from reaching Atlanta."
Austin groans, as he fidgets in his seat, Douggie flopping around in his lap. "Seriously? We've been driving for like three hours. I'm tired," he complains.
"Then sleep or text Dez or something."
"Ooh, good idea." Austin grabs his phone from where it was attached to the charger on the dashboard. He opens up the groupchat and sends Dez and Trish the pictures they had taken so far. He drums his finger on the armrest, anticipating a reply. Their phones beep a moment later, indicating a response.
"Aw, Trish misses us," Austin informs Ally.
"Oh, and apparently aren't 'wumblry' enough." He huffs, shoving the phone in Ally's face. "Can you believe her? My pictures are ah-mahzing!"
"Yes, they are," she assures him, craning her neck to keep her eyes on the road. "Move your phone. I can't see."
Austin retracts his arm, slumping back into his seat, and types out a response.
"Tell Trish I miss her too and to call me before she leaves for Spain."
"Doesn't she leave tomorrow?"
"Yeah. At like 4 a.m."
Austin turns to her, furrowing his eyebrows. "I thought her flight was at 6."
"It is, but her parents like to get to the airport early, because the earlier you go, the less fussy the staff is, so everything gets done without any hassle."
The car's silent for a few minutes, save for Austin's consistent tapping and the beeps coming from Ally's phones. Austin suddenly bursts out in laughter, causing Ally to give him a strange look.
"Dez just sent the funniest GIF. Oh my gosh. You have to see this!"
"I'm driving," she says, but Austin shows her anyways, and Ally blinks.
"It's a man...wearing a white lion head...giving a thumbs up...um..."
"It's so funny!" he giggles, averting his attention back to the conversation.
"I have the weirdest friends."
"Annnddd, we're finally here," Ally announces, pulling into the parking lot of the hotel.
Austin deeply sighs in relief, jumping out of the car. "We get to sleep in a real bed tonight!" he squeals.
They take their bags out from the trunk and make their way into the hotel's lobby. Approaching the front desk, they set their luggage on the floor, leaning against the counter.
The lady behind the front desk offers them a warm smile. "Good evening. How may we help you?"
"We'd like a room, please. For just tonight."
She nods, typing on her computer.
"Oh, and two beds, please," Ally requests.
She nods again and looks up. "Your credit card?"
Austin pulls out his credit card and hands it to her.
"You two make such a lovely couple," the receptionist comments, as she works on their reservation.
Austin and Ally exchange looks before bursting into fits of laughter.
"Me and her? A couple?" Austin laughs, shaking his head.
"We tried dating once - it didn't work out."
The lady stares at them strangely.
"We make a terrible couple."
"Yeah. We're just best friends. Best mates. Best buddies. Good ol' chumps. Y'know."
They stop laughing, catching their breath. Ally thinks as a realization comes to his mind.
"We'll I guess you could call us a couple... I mean, we're two people, and 'two' makes a couple, so yeah, I guess we kinda are a couple. Just not the regular kinda couple, cuz we're not boyfriend and girlfriend," she says.
The lady nods slowly. "Okay. Um, well then here's your credit card and room keys," she says, handing Austin his credit card back along with a little card holding the room keys. "The elevators are right over there. The pool and gym is on Level G and the business center and laundry is in the Basement. And there's an ice machine and vending machine on every floor. Also, the complementary breakfast is from 6 a.m to 10 a.m.," she informs. "Let us know if you need anything. Have a great stay!"
"Great. Thank you!" Ally chirps, and they head off to the elevator.
They find their rooms easily. Austin opens the door, allowing Ally to enter before him.
"Aw, it's such a cute room. The walls are a little...distasteful, though," she says, eyeing the dark burgundy walls.
Austin snickers, placing his bags on one of the beds. "Who says 'distasteful'?"
"I do." She opens her bag and begins taking out her clothes. "I'll shower first. You take really long showers."
"Hey, it takes time and effort to make my hair look this good," he defends, pointing to his perfectly messed-up hair. "Do you wanna go out or should we just stay in and order pizza?"
Ally glances at the clock. "Well, it's already 8 and by the time we're done showering and stuff it'll be like 9, and I think the major attractions are probably gonna be closed. Plus, we're really tired. How about you order pizza and we can watch a movie, and then afterwards if we're feeling it, we can go walk around downtown or something."
Nodding, Austin lays down on the bed, sighing in pleasure."Man, this bed is really soft," he comments, closing his eyes. "So just cheese, right?"
"I know you so well." Austin opens his eyes, watching Ally as she gathers her things, pulling her shampoo and conditioner bottles out of her bag. "I still don't get why you brought your own own shampoo."
"Have you seen the shampoo bottles in hotels? They're so small. Nobody can shower with that much shampoo."
"Yeah, but that's why you ask the housekeeping people for more. And then you tell them you forgot your toothbrush and other stuff and they give you mini toothpaste, and a toothbrush, a deodorant, even those sewing kit thingies with the tiny scissors!" he tells her giddily, propping his head up against his arm.
"My dad gave you advice again, didn't he?"
"Yeah, okay." She walks into the bathroom as he calls the pizza place.
They ended up spending the night cuddled up together on the bed, all cleansed and relaxed, watching one of their all time favorite movies - For the Love of a Dog.
"Ally! Als, wake up! Alllllyyyy! Ally! Wake up!"
She's rattled awake, two strong arms shaking her and an over-enthusiastic voice disturbing her sweet dreams. She groans in response and turns the other way, hoping he'd go away.
"Ally," he whines. "Wake up."
"No," she grumbles, pulling the covers tighter around her. "Go away."
"Its 6:45! Do you know what that means?"
"That its way too early for you to be bothering me."
"Uh, no. It means that the free breakfast downstairs started forty-five minutes ago and if we don't go soon, all the good things will be gone!"
"They'll replace them. The breakfast doesn't end until 10," she replies tiredly, wishing he'd let her sleep.
"But what if they don't?! Ally, c'mon!"
Giving in, she groans as she sits up, rubbing her eyes. "Fine, fine. I'm up."
"Yay! Now hurry up," he instructs, pulling her out of bed.
She yawns, dragging herself to the bathroom.
He waits patiently, but eventually can't take it and starts banging on the bathroom door. "Hurry up!"
When she finally gets out, they make their way down to the breakfast nook, not caring that they were still in their pajamas. Exchanging smiles with the few people that were also taking advantage of the breakfast, they pick up their plates and go around the nook, observing their options.
"They ran out of the mini pancakes," Austin grumbles, glaring at Ally. "See? This is all your fault," he tells her, mumbling incoherent words under his breath as he scans through the wide selection of yogurt cups.
"I'm sorry. But hey, look, they have a waffle maker. They're practically the same as - "
He snaps his head up at her, dropping the Peach Passion yogurt back into the tub of ice, and cuts her off with a hard look. "I dare you to finish that sentence," he threatens.
She rolls her eyes. "Austin - "
"Those...those...things are not the same as pancakes!" he exclaims exasperated, throwing his arms up in frustration, receiving concerned looks from fellow hotel guests. He sighs and runs a hand through his disheveled hair. "How many times do we have to go over this?"
"Alright, I'm sorry. No waffles," Ally apologizes. "But you had pancakes yesterday; eat something else today. Like... They have cereal, scrambled eggs, toast..." she trails off, listing his choices.
"But I want mini pancakes today," he pouts.
"Look, they have Trix," she says, pointing out his favorite cereal.
"Hmm, I do like Trix..." he agrees. "I guess I can go without pancakes for one day."
They fill up their plates with an assortment of food and then sit down at a table.
"So look what I found?" Austin says, his mouth full of cereal.
"Don't talk with your mouth full," she reprimands, as she bites into an apple.
He ignores her nagging and shoves a brochure in her face. "Look! I found it in the lobby. Its a museum all about Coca-Cola!"
She nods, taking the brochure from him and reads over it. "Cool."
"We have to go, Als!"
She looks up. "But I thought we were going to go to the aquarium. Its the world's largest!"
"But its Coke, Ally! The world famous soda!"
"But the aquarium has so many different species of marine animals. Like dolphins, belugas, otters, manatees... Austin, we have to go to the aquarium."
"Aquarium," she argues, narrowing her eyes.
He leans in closer to her, also narrowing his eyes, their noses brushing together. "Coke."
She huffs, leaning back. "Fine. We'll go to the stupid Coke place."
"Yes!" he cheers, pumping his fist in the air. He stands up and heads to the tub of ice, deciding he does want the Peach Passion yogurt he abandoned earlier. "I'll make it up to you," he promises, ruffling her hair as he walks past.
"You kinda have to. The aquarium's on the List," Ally calls after him.
Back in their room, they start preparing for the day
"What time does the Coca-Cola place open?" Ally asks as they gather up their things.
Austin pauses what he was doing and reaches for the brochure, glancing over it. "Uh...Oh, 10."
"Okay, so the Martin Luther King Jr. site opens at 9:30, so we should go there first and then the museum."
Austin nods, agreeing. "Sounds like a plan, man."
"So are we ready?"
"Yay! Let's go!"
"That was actually really cool!" Austin exclaims as they drive away from the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. "Honestly, I thought it'd be really boring and education, but it was education in a good way! I didn't even know that was possible!"
Ally giggles. "It was really interesting, wasn't it? We got to see the Ebenezer Church where he was baptized and where he was a pastor, and we got to see his childhood home, and we got to learn all about his acts during the Civil Rights Movement in such thorough detail! Ah, it was amazing!"
"All this time I thought he was just some person who had a dream, like Rapunzel," Austin confesses, "but he made the world a better place! Can you imagine living in a world like he used to live in? Its so sad what people had to live through back then," he muses ruefully, thinking over what he had learned today.
"It is sad," she agrees. "But Martin Luther King Jr. took a stand and fought for what he believed in and eventually racial equality was born. And now look - we have an African American person as our president! That would've never happened if it weren't for him."
Austin nods, before furrowing his eyebrows. "Wait. So that Rosa Parks chick - was she like - "
Ally cuts him off, appalled. "Did you just call Rosa Parks a 'chick'?"
"Oh, sorry. I mean 'lady'. Yeah, so was she Martin Luther King Jr's wife or something? They fought for the same thing, right? She was the one who was taken to jail because she refused to give up her bus seat for a white person, right?"
Ally nods, impressed. "Wow, you actually remember some of the thing we learned in school! Good job, buddy! And to answer your question, no, she wasn't his wife or in anyway related to him. And she wasn't the first person who refused to give up their seat. They lived in a time of extreme segregation, and a lot of colored people refused to give up their seats and sit in the back of the bus like they were required to. But the reason why Rosa Parks is known for that, is because she was the secretary of the NAACP - the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - and so because she had such an important job, many people knew her. That's why her refusal gained so much attention." Ally takes a deep breath before continuing her speech. "So then Martin Luther King Jr. heard about it, and he encouraged people to boycott - to refuse riding the bus. It took about 381 days for the boycott to work, but eventually on November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that the law saying that black people had to sit on the back of the bus and give up their seat for white people was illegal, and that's where things started to change."
"Ohh." Austin nods, taking in everything Ally just told him. "I'm glad they fought for their beliefs and raised awareness. "I can't bear the thought of growing up in a world like that. I mean, we're not colored people, so we wouldn't have to go through any of the horrible things they did, but we'd probably be raised thinking that people different from us aren't safe or worth it or whatever, and we'd be the ones harassing them. That's so wrong."
"Yeah. But... Even now, our world isn't all rainbows and sunshine. There're a lot of people out there who still think people of different races and cultures aren't worth it and are dangerous threats to our society. Bullying is still a normality in schools, and people get killed all the time just for being a little different. People get called names and hurt over something they can't control. Its disgusting."
Austin frowns. "Why can't people just accept everyone for who they are? Its the differences we all have that make us special. And its just so much nicer than it is being rude. Why can't people understand that?"
"I dunno, Austin," Ally sighs. "Some people just don't."
She hums in agreement.
They near the Coca-Cola museum and get out of the car.
As they walk up to the building, Ally looks up at Austin with a soft smile.
"You're gonna make the world a great place someday."
He looks at her, returning her smile. "You really think so?"
She nods. "You're a good guy, Austin."
Austin beams. "Thanks, Als." He studies her. "I guess you're pretty okay, too," he teases.
She smiles and shoves him playfully. He laughs, slinging an arm around her shoulder, pulling her closer, as they walk into the museum.
Entering the building, they're greeted by gigantic, colorful Coke bottle statues, all decorated with different colors and materials.
"Welcome to the World of Coca Cola!" the friendly employee greets, as Austin and Ally approach the counter. She hands each of them a guest pass and a map of the facility. "The tour will begin a few minutes," she informs them. "You're free to walk around until then."
Austin grins, bursting with excitement, observing the lobby. He drags Ally over to one of the life size Coke bottles.
"I needa take a picture of this to send to Dez! You know how much he loves giant props. He would love this!"
Just as they finish taking pictures of all the giant bottle statues, the tour guide appears, and all the tourists scattered around, gather into a small huddle around him.
"Hey guys! I'm Jay," the tour guide introduces.
The group choruses a synchronized "Hey Jay!"
"So are you guys excited to learn all about the exclusives and experience the magic of Coca-Cola?"
Pumped up, the crowd cheers in response, implying that they are in fact excited.
"Great!" Jay says, rubbing his palms together. "So this here is the Lobby," he starts, spreading his arms wide to showcase the main entrance. "All the bottles were created for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Artists from around the world were invited to come and express their country's cultures and traditions by decorating these bottle sculptures." Jay goes on to explain the history of Coca-Cola, informing them of Dr. John S. Pemberton, the creator of the famous caffeinated drink.
"And he invented Coca-Cola in 1886," Ally supplies. The entire group turns their heads, surprised at her knowledge.
"Yes, that's right," Jay comments. "How did you know?"
"I read the plaque next to the statue outside."
Jay nods. "Ah, right. Not many people find interest in read plaques. Now, continuing our tour, we will be heading over into this next room..." He turns around and starts walking, the group following.
"There was a statue?" Austin asks quietly, as they move along with the group.
"Uh, yeah. The huge gray guy holding a gray cup of Coke...?" Ally reminds him, quirking an eyebrow.
"Huh. Didn't see it."
"It was right there!"
"My mind was on Coke, okay!"
"But how did you not see it?!"
"I just didn't!"
Their whisper argument comes to an end when they stop with everyone else and Jay starts speaking again. "This is the Loft. The Loft holds nearly 200 artifacts that represent more than 125 years worth of Coca-Cola. Also, more than 30 different countries are represented in this room, including Korea, France, and Zimbabwe."
Ally glances around the room. Framed paintings and old, vintage posters cover the top half of the black walls, along with more Coca-Cola advertisements, featuring different languages and an abundance of red hang above silver beams that go along the width of the room. Behind Jay, two massive glass cases are built into the wall, filled with products relating to Coke, including vending machines, bottle caps, and other historic artifacts. On top of the glass cases, five TV screens line across the remainder of the wall.
"Coca-Cola was the first to invent the six-pack," Jay says, gesturing to the six-pack container sitting inside the display case.
Austin's eyes widen. "Coca-Cola was the first to invent the six-pack?!" he repeats in a form of a question. "That Dr. John Pemeberton dude had abs? Woah, I didn't think old people had abs."
Ally rolls her eyes and swats his arm. "They didn't invent six-pack abs, Austin; they invented the six-pack packaging system."
Austin's face falls, slightly disappointed. "Oh. Ah, well."
"This is the Coca-Cola Piggy Bank," Jay tells the group, pointing to a small Coke dispenser. "For every five cents you put in there, you'd get Coke."
"Woah... That's so cheap! It's only five pennies!" a little kid exclaims, causing the adults to laugh. "I have five pennies!"
"In our time, yes, it is," Jay agrees. "But back then, it wasn't so cheap."
He moves on and starts talking about the Coca-Cola syrup urn made in 1869 and hip-hugger bell-bottom pants from 1972 that customers would receive in the mail with a purchase of $2.84.
"Don't worry. Just because they're old doesn't mean you can't have a pair just like these. They sell these in the gift shop, if any of you want to buy them," Jay jokes, referring to the bell-bottom pants.
Austin nudges Ally, snickering. "You should get the pants. You'd look hot."
Ally laughs. "I would, wouldn't I? But seriously, you should get them, and then you could wear them at your concerts when you're all famous and stuff."
He scoffs. "I'd never get famous if I wore those."
"Hey, Elvis wore bell-bottoms and he's a legend, so..."
"Did he ever wear Coke-style bell-bottoms?" Austin counters. "Yeah, I didn't think so. Besides, bell-bottoms were actually cool back then. Y'know what's cool now? Skinny jeans and messy hair."
"Bell-bottoms are making a comeback, though," Ally singsongs, teasing him.
Austin shakes his head. "I wouldn't be caught dead wearing those pants. Although, Dez could probably make them work."
"He would," Ally agrees.
Jay finishes telling little historic tales about a few more artifacts, then leads them into the Coca-Cola Theater.
"Now, you all will watch a six-minute video: Moments of Happiness. Please take a seat as we get the video started."
Austin and Ally make their way through the aisles of the theater, sitting down in the red velvet seats. The lights dim and the movie begins playing, showcasing major milestones in people's lives.
"So... Do we not get popcorn?" Austin asks, quiet enough so only Ally hears.
"It's six minutes, Austin," she deadpans.
"But its a movie, in a theater... there needs to be popcorn. It ruins the whole effect! This is so un-American."
"Okay, Austin, okay."
After the video ends, everyone files out of the theater and follows Jay into the Vault of the Secret Formula.
They step onto the tiled floor, enclosed by steel walls. A short presentation plays, the voice-over telling the vacationers about the history of how the formula for Coke was kept secret.
"And now you guys know how the formula was kept safe all these years," Jay says, as the presentation finishes.
"Okay, so we know how the formula was kept safe, but I wanna know what the formula is," the little kid from before says.
Jay chuckles and bends down to the kid's height. "Ah, but if we told you, it wouldn't be a secret, now would it?"
The little kid pouts. "That's not fair."
"It isn't fair!" Austin agrees. "I want to be able to make my own Coke."
A few other kids agree with Austin, and Jay smiles as he stands up.
"Lucky for you, you can!" He begins walking, gesturing the group to follow him. "This is the Virtual Taste Maker," he says, waving his hand across the exhibit. "Moving these dials, you can create your own mix by adding flavors and then taste it. This is how the early pharmacists and inventors used to do it."
While waiting for all the kids to finish experimenting with the flavors, Ally reads through the history written on the walls and in pull-out drawers. After the kids move on to something else, Austin and Ally take turns creating their own mix, before moving on to the Bubble-izer.
"Hehe, there's bubbles on my face," Austin giggles. He captures a picture of his face being transformed into a fizzy version, posting it onto his Tweeter.
Then they are lead, along with the rest of the group, into a virtual attraction, where the screen moves, making it seem like as they are moving through the rooms instead of just standing still, leading them through all the locations the secret formula was kept.
Afterwards, they get to see how the company of Coca-Cola expanded as they walk through the Milestones of Refreshment exhibit, which features a soda fountain like the ones they used to have in the 1880s, and Chevrolet delivery truck from 1939 that delivered Coca-Cola in Buenos Aires. They also learn about the fame of the unique Coca-Cola contour bottle and how it impressed everyone.
After seeing the bottling process of Coke (which was insanely cool, Austin had mused, and Ally eagerly agreed), hen they head into the Pop Culture Gallery. Paintings by Andy Warhol, James Rosenquist, and other artists lined the walls.
"You will also find original paintings by Haddon Sundblom," Jay tells them. "He was the artist behind the Coca-Cola Santa. Prior to 1931, there was no consistent form of Santa, but after Haddon Sundblom was consulted, the jolly Santa that we see on our Coke advertisements til this day, was created."
"Woah... Is that the sofa from American Idol?" Austin asks, his mouth gaping open as he sees the familiar couch.
"Indeed, it is," Jay says. "This is the actual couch they used in season four to interview guests on. You're more than welcome to sit and take a picture."
Austin hurries over to the couch, Ally following, sitting beside him. They snap a quick selfie and get off, allowing other people to sit.
"That's so cool! We got to sit on the same couch Carrie Underwood sat on!" Ally exclaims in awe. "Woah."
They walk around the gallery, admiring the Coca-Cola pop art.
"And this concludes our tour," Jay says, when he stops in front of an entryway, with a sign on top saying 'Taste It!' "This is the tasting room. You can walk around and taste Coke samples from all around the world. Enjoy!" He gives them one last smile and then head off, leaving the group to wander on their own.
Austin drags Ally into the room, stopping as everything comes into view.
"Oh my gosh," he gasps. "There's so many different types of Coke!"
Getting over the shock of seeing all the various flavors of Coke samples, Austin pulls Ally over to one of the tasting stations.
"Look! There's Coke from Africa! That's where your mom is!" Austin says excitedly, grabbing a plastic cup from the slot and putting it underneath one of the dispensers, filling it up. "This one's from Uganda!"
Ally follows his actions, filling up her own cup.
"Be careful. You know how you get when you drink too much soda," Austin warns. She rolls her eyes, sipping the drink. "That's only when I get stressed or upset. Oh wow. This actually tastes good."
"It does! Let's go check out other ones!"
"Oooh, Ally, try this one! Its from Sweden. Its called Ligonberry!"
Ally takes the cup from Austin and brings it up to her lips, taking a swig. "Ooh, I like this one the best so far!"
"Let's go over to Latin America," he says.
"Inca Cola..." Ally reads, pressing the button to fill up her cup. She takes a sip, considering the flavor. "Ooh, this tastes like bubblegum."
Austin scrunches his face as he empties the soda from his cup into the tray beneath the dispensers. "Ick. That one was spicy; it tasted like chili. Ew." His eyes gaze over the name of the soda he just drank. "Ohhh, its from Chile. Makes sense. Gimme some of the bubblegum soda."
They go around the stations, sampling the variety of soda featured from all around the world - Germany, Italy, Brazil, Costa Rica, Korea, Thailand, Bahrain, India, China, Turkey, Zimbabwe, even a place called Djibouti (Austin didn't believe it was a real place, resulting in Ally to pull up a map of the world that she kept handy, because Austin and geography didn't mix very well.) After they're done tasting all the exotic flavors of Coke - including limited time flavors - they head out of the museum, not before they receive a souvenir bottle of Coca-Cola.
"Guess we won't be buying anything from the gift shop," Ally says, looking at the glass bottle she holds in her hand.
"I guess not. Man, I really wanted to buy the bell-bottoms."
Ally laughs, stopping when she hears Austin takes a sharp intake of breath. "What?"
"Its a giant bear!" Austin gasps, pointing to the white polar bear, also known as the famous Coca-Cola bear.
"Austin, its rude to point," Ally tsks, but he doesn't hear, because he's already hugging the costumed person. Ally sighs and walks up to Austin, tapping him to try to get him off.
"Okay, you're gonna cut off the bear's supply of oxygen. C'mon, let go."
Austin snuggles deeper into despite Ally's request. "But he's so soft."
"Seriously. Just hug him."
She sighs, but hugs the other side of the bear anyway, instantly feeling warmth and softness. "Ah, this feels so good," she exhales, closing her eyes and snuggling into the bear's side.
The guy in the bear suit shifts uncomfortably, trying to get them off. "Uh..."
Kids come up to the bear, wanting a turn to hug the bear, but the two older teens don't notice and keep nuzzling into the fur. Eventually, a few employees take notice of the situation and pry them off, resulting in sheepish looks from Austin and Ally.
"Sorry...but say 'Coca-Cola'!" Austin says, quickly snapping a selfie of the polar bear sandwiched between him and Ally. "Thanks! Love you!"
"So... What are we gonna do now?" Ally asks, as they sit in the car.
"Well, for starters, I wanna get lunch. I'm starving."
"You're always starving. But I am too, so lunch sounds good. I saw a diner on the way over here."
They drive over to the diner and instantly fall in love with the cute, rustic restaurant.
"Well, aren't you two just precious?" a middle-aged woman with chocolate skin coos, as they walk up to the counter and sit down on the attached spinny stools. "What can I get you darlings?"
Ally smiles at the lady. "Hi. Uh, what would you suggest?"
"I suggest the Grilled Cheese Supreme," a middle-aged man, also with chocolate skin, says, walking past them. "Rosie here makes a mean grilled cheese." He throws a wink at the woman, who they now know as Rosie.
She bats an arm at him as he disappears into the kitchen, before turning back to the two.
Observing the interaction between the two, Ally guesses they're probably husband and wife.
"Ray's right. I - "
"I always am," Ray calls out from the kitchen, causing Rosie to roll her eyes.
"Not really," she whispers to the teens, her tight black curls bouncing as she leans down to them. "He's mostly always wrong." Austin and Ally laugh, enjoying the couple's bickering. "But yeah, he's right on this one. I do make a mean grilled cheese."
"Well then, I guess we'll have two Grilled Cheese Supremes and - "
"With a side of onion rings. I'm really craving onion rings right now," Austin adds.
"With a side of onion rings," Ally repeats, "and two milkshakes - chocolate and strawberry.
"Wait, do you guys have a pancake flavor milkshake?" Austin asks hopefully.
"Nah. Sorry, doll. Never really considered a pancake milkshake before..." Rosie says, writing down their order.
"No one ever does," Austin replies sadly. Ally consoles him, patting his shoulder.
"Your order will be ready in a jiffy. Sit tight, darlings." And with that Rosie scurries off to the kitchen.
Austin and Ally spin around on the stools and engage in a mini sword-fight with straws as they wait for their lunch.
"And here we have two Grilled Cheese Supremes with a side of onion rings, a chocolate milkshake and a strawberry milkshake," Rosie recites, sliding the plates across the counter to Austin and Ally. "Enjoy, darlings." She throws them a wink, heading off to help another customer.
"Mmm," Ally moans, taking a bite of the sandwich. "This is so, so good."
Austin attempts to take a bite too, but instead ends up wincing and reaching out for his milkshake. "Ah! That's so hot! I burned my tongue! I'm gonna die!"
Ally rolls her eyes, her mouth full of food. "You are the dramatic one," she says, remembering their conversation from yesterday.
They finish up their meal, savoring every bite and leave, thanking Rosie and Ray for their amazing food and hospitality.
"What time is it?" Austin asks as he drives away from the diner.
"Shoot. We needa get to the hotel. Late checkout is until 3."
Ally raises an eyebrow. "I thought we were gonna extend our stay for another day... We haven't gone to the aquarium yet."
"Uh, yeah...about that..."
"Austin! Its on our List!"
"Don't worry, we're gonna go there," he assures her. He fidgets in his seat so he can pull out a brochure from his back pocket. Ally looks at him curiously, taking the brochure from him as he hands it to her. "They have a happy hour thing from 4-5, where the admission is half price, so I thought we could today, instead of wasting a whole other day. Is that okay...?"
She glances up at him and sees that he's looking at her with apologetic eyes. She gives him a smile in assurance. "Yeah, that's fine. I just wanna see it; it's okay if we don't see the whole thing."
Austin breathes out a sigh of relief. "Okay, good. I didn't want you to be mad. You're pretty scary when you're mad."
"Uh, yeah you are. Not as scary as Trish, but pretty close."
Upon reaching the hotel, they clear up their belongings from their room and head down to the lobby to return their keys.
"Sorry we're a little late," Austin says sheepishly as he hands the key to the guy sitting behind the desk.
"No worries," he says with a smile. "How was your stay?"
"It was wonderful," Ally tells him.
"I'm glad. Have a great rest of your trip,"the receptionist says, waving them off with a grin.
"So, we have about an hour until 4? Wanna walk around downtown?"
And so that's exactly what they do.
"Ally! Ally! Ally! Look, there's the dolphin exhibit! Let's go over there!"
"Wait, hold on - oof."
Austin pulls Ally away from the manatees and to the dolphins, giddy like a child.
"They're so cute," he coos, his face pressed up to the glass panel. "Look, Dougie. That's your great-great-great-great-great-grandpa," he tells the stuffed dolphin in his arms, bringing him up closer so he could see.
"Aw, look at that one. He's smiling!" Ally exclaims, looking at the dolphin adoringly.
They spend the next 20 minutes cooing over all the dolphins, before heading over to the gift shop.
"Okay, we needa hurry up. It closes in six minutes," Ally warns Austin, as he gazes over the selection of souvenirs.
"I want the seal!" he exclaims, pointing to a life-size stuffed seal.
"Austin, we can't buy a giant seal. We don't have room and we're on a budget."
He pouts, but picks up a smaller seal wearing a t-shirt with the aquarium's logo. "Okay, I want him instead."
They purchase their souvenirs - his seal and her overrated keychain - and then head out to the car.
"I hereby proclaim his name George!" Austin declares, putting the seal on top of the dashboard.
"Yeah, cuz he's from Georgia, so George," he explains, placing Dougie next to his new stuffed marine companion. "Okay, Dougie, meet George. George, this is Dougie. Now you two are gonna be roadtrip buddies and best friends for the next three months, so be nice, okay?" he tells them, and then moves their heads in a nodding motion with his hands. "Good."
Ally shakes her head, watching the scene."You're ridiculous."
"You're just jealous Dougie likes me better than you."
"Not true. I raised him. I'm his mother."
"And then you gave him away. Wow, abandoner."
"I did it for a good cause! You're the one who got him!"
"And under my supervision and loving care, he's grown up to be such a fine dolphin." Austin raises a fist to his mouth, looking at his stuffed animals with teary eyes. "I need a moment."
"They grow up so fast," Ally says, fanning herself with her hand.
"We make such good parents, Als."
"We do, Austin. We really do."
i'm probably gonna add more to this chapter later, but for now...that's it, i guess.
lol i just got really annoyed at not updating, so i just decided to post whatever i had.
so i hope you guys all enjoyed and that this was worth the long, annoying wait. i'll try not to take so long on the next chapter, but well, school and life and ick...
speaking of the next chapter, if you knowing anything about south carolina, hit me up in the reviews or in a private message. i'd really appreciate it!
i love you guys! thanks for reading! =)