This one's basically just fluff but I have to set the scene before any drama can happen, ya know?

Chapter 2

The four of them stood around the pile of stuff their parents had left them in the main room of The Music Factory. Trish was the first one to break the silence.

"Well I'm going to take a nap," she said, heading for the stairs.

They all looked at her in confusion, but Ally was the one who spoke up. "Trish, you literally woke up like two hours ago."

"So?" Trish said, then continued up the stairs.

The door to the practice room closed behind her. Austin rolled his eyes and then said, "Dez, you up for some Zalien 2: Final Showdown?"

"Duhhhh, I'll get the controller!" Dez exclaimed and together they headed for the big screen on the wall and the comfy chairs in front of it.

This left Ally alone with their pile of belongings. She sighed and shrugged, not surprised at this turn of events. She dragged all the groceries to the kitchen and started loading them into the fridge and pantry. She figured that it would be enough food for about a week, but their parents would need to do a second delivery. Looking at what they had purchased she had already started planning their meals for the week. Then she took the air mattresses and sleeping bags to the individual practice rooms. Since Trish had already claimed the upstairs one she put one air mattress and one sleeping bag in there, figuring the two of them could share the large room. Trish was still snoring loudly, so Ally knew she didn't wake her. The other sleeping bag and mattress she put in separate small practice rooms on the ground floor for Austin and Dez. She put all their respective suitcases in the spaces she had selected for them to sleep in, as well.

Somewhere in the middle of all her cleaning activities, all their parents stopped by outside the store to wave at them. Ally, Austin, and Dez gathered by the window and waved back. Trish's parents looked confused but when the three of them mimed sleeping through the glass her parents smiled and nodded, completely unsurprised. None of them could say much to each other, but it was a nice relief just to see everyone okay and healthy, for both the kids and the parents.

Then, once she had finished sorting and cleaning, Ally didn't know what to do. She cleaned the kitchen quickly, removing all the dust that had accumulated during their travels on Austin's tour. But even that line of productivity ran out soon, so, several hours after they had first entered The Music Factory, she grabbed her songbook and went into one of the practice rooms that had a piano. She started tinkering with the song she and Austin had worked on during the flight. She had incorporated a harmony part into the bass line when the door opened.

She looked up and saw Austin in the doorway. He smiled at her and stepped into the room, coming to stand behind her with his hands on her shoulders. "Whatcha workin' on partner?" he asked.

"Oh, just the song we started on the plane. Wanna hear what I've come up with?" she asked. He nodded and then moved to drape his arms over her shoulders so his head was next to hers. She only found it mildly distracting.

She played the melody and harmony together while he softly sang the words as he read over her shoulder from her song book.

"Try going even slower. I know it's counter-intuitive given my whole past pop discography but I think it'll sound cooler," he suggested. He may have started out trying to flirt with her, but when music came up they both slipped into work-mode and best-friend mode. He slid onto the bench next to her and they played it a few more times, while she tinkered with bits and he tried different vocal styles.

After the fifth time she looked at him and said, "That. That was it. I know it. You agree?"

He grinned back and said, "You know we always agree. But yes, I think that was exactly what I was looking for." He leaned sideways to nudge her shoulder before saying, "Another incredible performance from Austin and Ally."

"This really feels like it could be the beginning of a new direction for you." She paused for a moment before saying, "How were games with Dez?"

"Great. It's good to be home again, and to do something that feels normal. Not that song writing with you doesn't feel normal, it's just that we've done that literally all over the world. I only ever play video games with Dez when we're home, so it made me feel… normal, ya know?"

"Yeah, I get that. I'm glad you're coming down from the high of being on tour."

At this point they were face to face, only inches apart sitting on the piano bench. Neither of them noticed that Dez was filming through the glass around the practice room.

"Hey, Ally, I noticed you put away all the groceries and set up and stuff, so, thank you. You really didn't have to do that, we would have helped after we had a little downtime. Or at least I would. But I do really appreciate it."

"Oh come on Austin, you know by now that I can't relax until everything else that needs to be done is done. I'm never more type A then when I get home from a trip. It was no big deal, honestly."

He laughed and then said, "You're right, I do know that. We've done enough tours together at this point."

She looked at him and sighed. "We really have done a lot together haven't we? It's kind of crazy. We're only 18 but… we've done so much stuff. And all the good stuff has been together… at least I think so."

He pulled her into a tight hug as he whispered into her ear, "There's no way I could have done any of it without you."

They held on longer than necessary, but the normal amount of time for an Austin and Ally hug. Austin felt himself slightly melt against her as he smelled her shampoo in her hair and felt her arms around his neck. But he pulled away before it got weird.

"So, um, we should start making dinner," Ally suggested when Austin didn't say anything.

"Mmkay! What did you have in mind?" he said cheerfully.

"Nothing too complicated, just some pasta and veggies and cheese."
"Cool! Let's get Dez and Trish, it'll be a cooking party!"

Ally smiled, slightly wishing it could have stayed just the two of them. She was always at her most comfortable and happiest when it was just her and Austin, but that's how best friends were supposed to be. But it would be fun with Dez and Trish, too.

It was a tight squeeze to fit all four of them in the tiny kitchen. It really only had a microwave, a sink, a fridge, and single burner, but Ally knew she could pull off simple recipes with the equipment. She had spent a lot of summers cooking with her mom and was excited to revisit those skills. So, naturally, she wound up directing activity in the kitchen. Dez sat on the floor in a corner with a cutting board on his knees, chopping zucchini and tomatoes. Austin was tasked with watching the pot of water until it boiled and adding the pasta. Trish made the Italian spice blend, and Ally herself minced the garlic. Before long they had a delicious dinner that they ate sitting on the couches in the main room.

"It's so weird being here like this. Doing things we do at home but in The Music Factory. Weird way to blend our worlds," Trish commented.

"Well, some things we do everywhere, like sleep," Dez said, looking pointedly at Trish, who simply rolled her eyes.

"Two weeks is a lot of time," Austin said. "I haven't had two full weeks off of work for, well, years."

"Yeah, summer vacations and even the school year have been pretty packed, haven't they?" Ally answered, agreeing with him.

"I don't know if I even know what to do with that time," Austin mused.

Dez immediately said, "What are you talking about Austin? There are so many things to do! Like build bird houses out of popsicle sticks or read picture books or repaint the ceilings or learn how to make a four layer cake!"

Austin laughed at Dez's ideas of what to do but did acknowledge, "I mean you have a point. I could do anything. But the problem is I've literally had so little time the past few years I haven't even had time to imagine what projects I would do if I did have free time. Hard to both spend time coming up with the best things to do and actually do them in two weeks.

Dez shrugged and seemed like he was about to list another twenty things Austin could do with his time when Ally jumped in and said, "Oh come on Austin, you know you're not going to be able to not do work for two weeks. Even on the plane you wanted to work on writing songs. You love it too much, even when you're relaxing you'll wind up playing music or dancing."

Austin grinned ruefully at her. "You're probably right, who am I kidding."

The four of them kept talking for a long time that night.

"You know, we were together so much on tour but we never really just hung out together, the four of us," Dez commented later in the evening.

"Tour is just so crazy. I know for me especially but you all have so much to do to support me, it feels like we never get a chance to just breathe and enjoy it all," Austin responded.

"It's the same for Boynado. That's why they have trouble getting along because they never get a chance to relax together," Trish added.

"Well I'm grateful that we get times like this… even under the circumstances," Ally added.

"Yeah! There should be more pandemics!" Dez exclaimed. They all looked at him with eyebrows raised, and Dez made a sheepish face, realizing what he had said. "Okay, not, like, pandemics, but you know, times where we get to hang out together… YOU KNOW WHAT I MEANT!" he exclaimed.

They all laughed.

Not long after that Trish yawned, then Austin yawned, then Ally, then Dez. Collectively, they decided it was time to sleep. After a big group hug they went to their individual rooms.

Ally found it hard to sleep. The pandemic was weighing on her, like a looming terrifying creature in a horror movie. It seemed so unknown and unprecedented, at least within her lifespan. She wondered when, if ever, they would be able to go on a world tour like Austin's again. She heard Trish snoring long before her eyes closed, but eventually she did fall asleep. Downstairs, Austin and Dez were already sound asleep.

Let me know if you like it and if I'm doing okay with the relationship dynamics between each of the characters! My previous stories have been very very Austin and Ally focused, so I'm trying to do a little more with the Trish and Dez characters.