As soon as he kisses her again, he knows. He knows, without a doubt, that he will never feel like this with anyone else, and he doesn't even want to feel like this with anyone else.

They've only kissed once before—during their weird, week-long relationship he always felt too awkward to try to kiss her again, so all he's had to hold onto was their first kiss after she conquered her stage fright. But now, he has this. Even though they're supposed to be 'acting' and he was furious at her five minutes again.

When she runs off afterwards, he has no choice but to run off too. And he hates it, because all he wants to do now is be around her, but she clearly wants to be as far away from him as possible and he has to respect that. Even if it kills him.

But he can only last so long.

After a sleepless night where all he can think about is her and that kiss, he walks into Sonic Boom the next day with a renewed determination. Even if she's still mad, even if she wants nothing to do with him, they have to at least talk about it. That's what normal people do, right? At this point, he's willing to use any excuse to make sure it even happened.

He marches up to the practice room, and when he hears the faint sound of the piano through the door, he walks in and shuts the door behind him. If she's surprised that he's here, she doesn't show it. All she does is pause and write something in her book.

"We have to talk about it," he says as he watches her from the middle of the room.

"We said it was acting. We should leave it at that." She doesn't even look at him.

"Are we still in a fight?" he asks her.

"No."

"Then why do I feel like I'm the last person you wanna see?"

"Because you're trying to talk about something that I really don't wanna talk about." She plays a few notes, then frowns and plays a few slightly different ones that still sound wrong. He sighs and walks over to sit next to her on the piano bench, and then he plays a melody similar to hers, but with a slight change to make it sound better. She purses her lips, but she plays his melody again and then writes it in her book.

"But—"

"We kissed for the movie. That's it."

He sighs, clenching his fists in frustration and then relaxing his hands. "So is that just how it's gonna be now?" he asks her. "Something happens between us every six months and then we act like it never happened?"

She finally looks at him, and his breath catches. He expected her to look annoyed, or tired, or apathetic—all emotions he got from the way she was talking to him. But in those big brown eyes he's learned to read better than any book, he sees a reflection of what he's feeling. Pain. And then it all makes sense.

"Oh," he says softly, feeling like a complete asshole.

"I'm not…I'm not mad at you," she says. "I'm not trying to—I didn't wanna hurt your feelings or anything, I just—I can't do all this again."

"Ally," he tries, "I don't think we'll ever be ready to be a couple. We're never just gonna wake up one day and know the timing's right."

"I never said that."

"But I think that's what we were both thinking when we broke up." She swallows when he actually says the words. "That we'd know when we were ready."

She doesn't say anything, and he starts feeling guilty. This was probably a bad idea. All this conversation seems to be doing is hurting her, and he'd rather eliminate pancakes from his diet than hurt her.

He takes a deep breath. "Look, we broke up in the first place because being together was getting in the way of us being us, right?"

She nods. "We were so awkward. And we couldn't even write songs."

"Right. We had an awkward first date and then freaked out and broke up after a week because things had changed between us." Ally nods again. "But Ally, if we're ever gonna be together, things have to change between us, you know? I mean, if being a couple meant nothing changed, then it wouldn't make any difference whether we were together or not."

"But things changed in a bad way," she reminds him.

"Okay, sure. We were super awkward and we felt weird criticizing each other after we got together. But don't allcouples do that? I mean, have you ever heard of a first date that wasn't awkward?"

She thinks about it. "I guess not…but it was bad."

"I think we blew it out of proportion because things are usually easier between us. I wasn't expecting it to feel any different when we went on dates instead of just hanging out as friends."

"Neither was I."

He nods. "Right, so when it did feel different, I think we both kinda freaked out and started overanalyzing everything."

"I mean…I guess that makes sense. But the reason why we were so awkward doesn't change the fact that we were."

"Yeah, for a week. We probably would've gotten the hang of it, but we panicked and broke up at the first sign of trouble. If anything, I think that's why we weren't ready to be a couple yet."

She looks back down at the piano, which definitely isn't a good sign. He's about to apologize for bringing back all this pain when he probably should've left it buried, but she finally speaks up. "I was afraid that if we stayed together, I'd be awkward around you forever. I mean, you know how I get with guys I like." She looks at him again, and he smiles a little.

"Yeah. You forget how to talk and you dance all stupid."

Her cheeks turn pink, and she squeezes her eyes shut. "It's so embarrassing." She opens her eyes again, but she looks down at the piano.

"But you never did that with me. We were both a mess."

"The point is, I couldn't handle it if we were just awkward around each other forever."

He sighs. "I think our problem was that we were so worried about not changing things in our friendship that we pretty much set ourselves up for failure."

"Okay, but even if that's true, what does that have to do with last night?"

He raises his eyebrows. "It has everything to do with last night."

"How? We kissed. It was acting."

"It wasn't acting."

She rolls her eyes and stands up, and he stands up with her. "What do you want me to say, Austin? Yes, obviously the kiss wasn't just acting, but that doesn't mean we should get back together!"

He watches her. "Do you still have feelings for me?"

Her eyes go wide. "What?" she splutters.

"Do you. Still have. Feelings for me."

She swallows and crosses her arms, avoiding his eyes. Her red cheeks are a dead giveaway. "What do you think?" she asks through gritted teeth.

"Okay, great. I still have feelings for you, too. But the past six months have been fine. We've had about a million awkward moments, but we just laugh at ourselves and move on. So why can't we do that if we're a couple?"

"Because…" She trails off as she tries to find an answer. "Because being a couple changes things!"

"Good!" he says. "I want things to change! I wanna take you on dates and buy you stuff and tell you you look pretty without having a panic attack and be able to just, like, kiss you without our friends watching! Because that's getting really fucking uncomfortable! Like, if your friends clearly have some issues they need to work through and they're just, like, making out in front of you, that's your cue to fucking leave!"

He takes a deep breath, letting out a nervous little laugh in spite of himself when he sees the way she's looking at him: wide eyes, pink cheeks, her mouth slightly open in that cute little smile she gets when her mind is racing too much to hide her emotions. But her eyebrows scrunch at that last part.

He blinks and shakes his head, frowning. "I got off point. What was I saying?"

"Um…wanting things to change?" she offers, albeit a little high-pitched and breathless.

"Oh. Right. What I'm trying to say is that changing things doesn't mean we have to lose what we already have, you know? It doesn't have to be one or the other. No one said we aren't allowed to laugh at each other for being awkward and stupid just because we're on a date instead of writing a song."

"If you laughed at me for being awkward on a date, I'd probably pass out."

"Why though? What's the difference between that and me laughing at you because you're a terrible dancer?" She frowns at him. "I'm serious. What's the difference? Both are just me laughing because you're being cute and dorky, so why does it have to be the end of the world if we're dating? I mean, does it make any difference to you whether you're laughing at me for making it weird by petting your hair or you're laughing at me for making it weird by accidentally shoving jelly in your face on a date?"

She giggles a little at the memory. "I…I guess not."

"Exactly. And same thing goes for writing music. Just because we're dating, doesn't mean criticizing each other's ideas has to be this big deal."

"It just feels different, telling you I don't like your ideas when we're a couple."

"It shouldn't, though. And it'll probably still be weird at first, but if we both go into it knowing that, then there's no reason to freak out again like last time."

He can see it in her eyes that she's starting to understand him. He tries not to get his hopes up too much, though, because he doesn't want her to see him so hopeful and think she has to get back together with him just to make him happy.

He takes a step closer to her. "I do want things to change between us, Ally. But I want things to get even better, and build on what we already have."

She tilts her head up to keep her eyes on his. "You really think it could be that easy?" she asks.

He shakes his head. "I don't think it's gonna be easy. I'm sure it's still gonna be awkward for a little bit at the beginning, but I think it'll be a lot less scary if we go into it with more realistic expectations."

"You're making too many good points. You never make this many good points all in a row like this."

"I've been thinking about this." He glances down at her lips and then swallows and meets her eyes again. "A lot."

"You have?"

He nods. "I wanted to say something sooner, but…I didn't know how to bring it up. And I didn't even know if you still liked me or if we still had something. But then we kissed last night, and…"

"In front of Trish and Dez. Again. While being filmed. Super romantic."

He knows she's making a joke, but his heart is hammering in his chest and he isn't sure he has it in him to joke right now. So instead of making a joke back, he just smiles a little and amends what he was originally saying. "We kissed last night, super romantically, and we obviously still had chemistry, and I was gonna say something then but Trish and Dez were there and you ran off."

She bites her lip. "So…you really wanna get back together? You think we're ready?" she asks quietly.

"I really like you, Ally. And I know I'm super bad at, like, communicating my feelings or whatever, so I don't have some big romantic speech, but I do really, really like you."

She swallows, searching his eyes, and he really hopes she likes whatever she finds. But then she smiles a little and gives him a small nod. "Okay. Let's…try this again."

He grins and goes to hug her, but she tries to shake his hand, and all he can think is, Shit shit shit it's already happening. But before they can do their awkward switch like usual, she wraps her arms around his waist and kisses him. Now, all he can think is, Holy shit holy shit holy shit.

When they pull away, he meets her eyes, feeling like he's floating. "What was that for?" he asks.

She smiles. "I wanted to kiss you without our friends watching, too, you know."

His grin widens, and he wraps his arms around her again. "This was a great idea. One of my best."

She laughs a little, still sounding a little nervous. She wraps her arms around his neck. "I hope so."


On their first date redo, he tries taking her to a movie this time. A more casual first date might make it a little less awkward, and she's been dying to see this new romcom since she first saw the trailer.

"Now, remember," he says, taking her hand and intertwining their fingers as they walk into the theater lobby, "if things get awkward, no big deal."

"Right. No big deal." she says, sounding like she definitely thinks it's gonna be a big deal.

As if to test the theory, she immediately trips on some loose carpet and yelps, nearly pulling him with her as she stumbles forward. Luckily, he pulls her back instead to prevent her from falling over.

"Are you okay?" he asks in between giggles.

She nods, her cheeks tinting pink.

"I'm sorry," he says, trying his best to stop giggling. "It's just—you said—and then—"

"I get it," she says. He's worried she's mad at him, but he notices the little smile on her face and realizes she's trying her best not to be embarrassed.

They order their concessions and then go find their seats in the theater.

He looks over, and in the dim lighting he can still see that her cheeks are red. "You know, Ally, I've seen you crawl around with a drum on your head and singlehandedly destroy the set of the Helen Show."

She groans and buries her face in her hands. "Why would you bring that up?"

He laughs and gently pulls her hands away from her face. "To remind you that I saw you at your most embarrassing pretty much right when we met. And you still became my best friend and I still fell for you. I laugh at you when you do dumb stuff because it's cute, you know that, right?"

"I thought it was just because I did something dumb and as my best friend you're obligated to make fun of me for it."

He shakes his head, still smiling. "Your dorkiness is what I like about you, Ally. I promise you can relax."

"How are you not nervous right now?" she asks him.

"Oh, I'm plenty nervous," he says. "I nearly hyperventilated on the drive over. But I'm trying to constantly remind myself that even though it's a date now, I'm still just hanging out with you. I just get to do stuff like this now." He drapes an arm over her shoulders.

She hesitates, but then she laces her fingers through his where his hand is hanging off her shoulder. "You're right," she says with a sigh. "Things are only changing for the better, and this time around we are gonna kick dating in the butt."

He raises an eyebrow and laughs a little. "I hope that's a good thing."

"We're gonna be really good at it this time around," she amends.

The lights in the theater go out as the trailers start. So he tries his best to balance the popcorn on his legs between them so he can eat it with his only free hand. Ally seems to be struggling too, with her only free hand bent at a weird angle because of how she's leaning into him.

"I don't think this is working," he whispers with a quiet giggle, grabbing the popcorn bag with his free hand so it doesn't fall over.

Ally giggles too, lifting her head. "I think you're right. Maybe we should eat first, snuggle later."

Someone shushes them aggressively.

They look at each other, wide-eyed, as he removes his arm from her shoulders. Then they fall into another bout of silent giggles.

About halfway through the movie, they run out of popcorn, and Ally comes up with the brilliant idea to put up the armrest between them. Now, when he drapes his arm around her again, she can snuggle as close as possible with nothing in her way. And that's exactly what she does, resting her head on his shoulder.

After a few minutes, she goes to change positions, but then she freezes.

"Austin," she whispers, "my earring is stuck on your shirt."

He snorts. "Of course it is," he whispers back, reaching up with his free hand to try to fix it, even though he can't even look down to see what he's doing.

"Ow," she whispers with a wince.

"Sorry. Hold on." Carefully, he takes her arm off her shoulders—in between more wincing from Ally—so she can have better use of her hands to try to help him.

"Ow," she says again.

"Shhh!" someone says.

"Ally, stop moving!" he whisper-yells, ignoring the shush-er.

"I'm not moving, you're moving. Ow, ow, ow," she says with more wincing as they keep trying to fix her earring.

"How did this get so stuck?" he asks her.

"I have no idea!"

Finally, she manages to just get her earring out of her ear, and then she sits up and gets it unstuck from Austin's shirt. But before they can go back to enjoying the movie, an usher comes over and asks them to leave.

As soon as they're out of the theater, they both burst out laughing.

"That was so bad," she says in between giggles.

"It was just one thing after another!" he agrees. "I was so sure that there was no possible way anything could happen at the movies."

"Anything's possible, I guess."

"When I said I knew I could do anything as long as I'm with you, that wasn't what I had in mind."

Their giggles die down as they walk outside.

"Ice cream?" he asks her.

"Always."

They start walking to the ice cream shop across the street, and he intertwines their fingers. "Despite the…hiccups, I feel like this date is going a lot better than last time," he says.

"Me, too. Who knew just laughing at ourselves would make such a difference?"

He smiles and bumps her hip with his, and then pulls her back over to him with their intertwined hands. "I told you so," he tells her, draping his arm over her shoulders now. She wraps her arm around his waist, and for the first time ever he feels like they're actually a real couple. His heart flutters.

"You told me so," she agrees. She takes a breath like she's gonna say more, but then she doesn't.

"What?" he asks, looking down at her.

She shakes her head, smiling softly as she looks up at him. "I just…forgot how nice this is. I guess I was so focused on why we broke up, I forgot about all the good things about being a couple and I didn't realize how much I missed being with you."

"And you were only with me for a week, so there wasn't all that much to miss."

She shrugs. "I dunno, I just mean the little things. Like how affectionate you are."

He frowns. "Doesn't that mean candy?"

Now she giggles. "Babe, that's confection. Affection is, like, showing you like someone. Like how you get all touchy."

He raises his eyebrows, grinning ear to ear. "Did you just call me babe?"

She knits her eyebrows, thinking about it. Then she looks at him, eyes a little wide. "Oh my god, I think I did."

"You know what this means, right?"

"What?" she asks, her eyes sparkling.

"This is real now."

She raises an eyebrow, laughing a little. "Oh, is it?"

"Mmhm. I'm your boyfriend now, babe. Get used to it."

She laughs more and stops him a few yards away from the ice cream shop. They're sort of hidden around the corner of the building, so the people inside and out front can't see them. She wraps her other arm around his waist, and as he wraps his other arm around her too, he wishes he could freeze this moment just so he can keep that look in her eyes forever.

"I'll try my best," she says, and then she kisses him.


i don't love this but i hope you enjoyed reading it anyway! love you all!