We Build and We Break
This is rather...well, you'll find out.
They pretend they don't notice. They pretend they don't notice how his visits are becoming more and more rare. How he seems distant. How he seems to smell like alcohol all the time, even though he's too young to drink. They pretend they don't notice how when he visits, he hardly ever pays attention. How he pays more attention to the girls walking by than the lyrics in his songs. They pretend they don't notice how he always seems to have something in his hands, whether it be a can of soda with whiskey inside or a bar of that chocolate he's always loved. They pretend they don't notice that he smells like sex after a party or that his eyes are wide and red. They pretend they don't notice how he's becoming more and more of a spitfire.
They pretend they don't notice because they care about him, because they know the stress of stardom is getting to him and if he has to weigh it down with sex and beer and chocolate, then so be it. They do it because they care, not because they're scared. They aren't scared of being kicked off Team Austin. They aren't scared of his cantankerous temper. They aren't afraid of the words he might spit in anger. They aren't afraid of him, or his ability to kick them off Team Austin as quickly as possible. They weren't afraid of losing him to the ferocious tempers of Hollywood, not any more as they already had. They weren't afraid.
But each time he comes around—only once every two weeks, now—he snarks around like an angry shark, ordering around everyone excluding the beautiful girls with the "amazing asses." He would point at Dez and ask if he was done with his video yet, or snap at Trish to see when his next gig was, or yell at Ally to rush his next song along. It isn't healthy, they know. They know they should stop him, before he went deeper and deeper into the dark abyss of fame.
But if sex and beer and chocolate and angry help him get by with the vexing demands of stardom, then where's the harm?
They see where the harm is; they're just too afraid to help.
Austin storms into the Sonic Boom, a cloud of anger and booze trailing behind him. The tingling bell above the door makes an angry sound, much like birds fighting over a mate. Ally jumps, dropping the change she was about to give her last customer. The store had been closed, and the only people with the key are Trish and Austin, although Ally had been debating taking that key away from him, but she can never bring herself to.
The stench of booze fills the store and Ally blushes deeply, apologizing to the tuba player that has still to receive his change. She presses the quarters into his hand, probably giving him more change than is owed, but not caring. She shooed him out.
"Ally!" Austin shouts. He isn't used to waiting, not anymore. Now he expects to be acknowledged first thing, for everything else to be put behind him, because he is Austin Moon and everyone else is just another person. His breath stinks of booze and anger.
Ally winces, her nose wrinkling slightly, at the smell. She takes a deep breath, trying desperately to ignore the stench oozing off of him. She pretends she doesn't notice. She's become good at that, pretending. It's the only thing she can do nowadays. "Yes, Austin?" she asks, wondering what's gotten him so upset. A tabloid? One of his girlfriends? His team of managers? A party? She's worried.
Austin crosses his arms over his shirt; it's white and wet, making Ally think he was, indeed, just at a party. He likes showing off; a wet t-shirt contest is just another way to do that. He probably won, too, because he's just that muscular. "What the hell was that song you wrote?" he shouts at her. His face turns red and irritated. His blonde hair looks pale against the darkness of his flush.
Ally blinks. "What?" she asks, confused. She hasn't written any new songs; she likes waiting until they're together to write. It's the only time she gets alone with him anymore. When she's alone with him, locked away in the silence of their practice room, she can see slivers of the Austin he used to be, slivers of the happy blonde he used to be. She misses that Austin, she misses him so much. "I didn't write a new song."
It's almost as if smoke is blowing out of Austin's beet-red ears. "Dammit, Ally, don't lie to me! I hate being lied to!" he howls. He's been lied to enough by more than enough people; he doesn't need any more, not from her, not from his Ally. The veins in his eyes are red.
Ally crosses her arms over her chest. She's been yelled at a lot by him recently, for everything from songs to wardrobe malfunctions that she has nothing to do with. She's Ally Dawson, so she keeps her mouth shut, smiles at him, and takes it, because she's Ally Dawson, Austin Moon's songwriter, girlfriend, best friend. She surpasses even Dez, now, because she takes all the shitty treatment with a smile on her face. Dez has taken his fill long ago. Even Trish hardly wants to talk to him anymore. But Ally takes it with a smile, and she doesn't know why. "I'm telling you the truth, Austin!" she yells back, but she can't manage the right amount of venom and it makes her sound like she's pleading.
Austin growls, sounding more like a beast than a human. His hands snap from his sides to grab Ally's arms. He's strong, and suddenly her arms sting enough to bring the prickles of tears to the back of her eyes. She suddenly wishes Trish hadn't found him such a good personal trainer. "Don't. Lie. To. Me," he hisses through his teeth. He's too close to her and his breath is wafting down to meet her nose; it stinks of booze, sweat, and just a dash of sex.
Ally wonders, not for the first time, what kind of sexual diseases he might have. She wants to tell him to get himself checked, but right now doesn't exactly seem like too good a time. And if she admits to herself that Austin has slept around, then she has to admit to herself that she's not his only one, that she's just as replaceable as all the others. "I swear! I didn't write anything!"
Anything for him, anyway. Every time she sees him—smelling like he does, looking half dead and half drunk—she feels so, so bad. Every time she sees him, she hears the boy he used to be. She hears his happy greeting of Hey, Ally! and her heart aches for it. Now all she gets is an shout of her name, if anything. That greeting, or lack thereof, stirs up so many unhappy emotions that she can't keep them inside herself; so many that she cries herself to sleep sometimes. She can't help herself; sometimes, absentmindedly, she writes poems, sometimes songs, because she can't help him, just like she can't help herself.
Austin's hands tighten around her arms, and she knows he's going to leave a bruise the size of his hands that she's going to have to explain to her dad. She's made so many excuses to stop her father from freaking out; some of them freak him out, nonetheless, but a considerable amount less than if she told him the truth. Austin's eyes are red and his pupils are large; Ally can't see his brown irises.
"Ally," he says, as if she's the most important thing in the world. His hands squeeze tighter, because he's prone to violence now and he doesn't want to hurt her. He really doesn't, despite all the times he's pushed her around and into walls and other things. He hates himself for all those things, but only distantly. He's Austin Moon, he has more important things to worry about than a few bruises. He feels slightly buzzed, but he knows he isn't drunk—but god he wishes he were. If he were, he wouldn't care about what those lyrics said, he wouldn't care about anything because he'd be deep inside some whore, groaning like the animal he's become. All he could have thought could be compromised into three little sentences: That feels good, I wonder how old she is, and I'm Austin fucking Moon. If he hadn't gotten his fill with some whore, he would have gone to Ally and made sweet slow love to her like only he could, forgetting for the night everything wrong he's ever done to her. "Ally, just tell me."
He isn't used to adding please anymore. Maybe if he were, she would put forth the effort to try to figure out what he's talking about.
One of Ally's brown eyes twitches. She feels all the abuse over the past three years—the shouts, the screams, the bruises, the pushes, the scrapes, the burns. She's angry, suddenly. She's not confused or worried—she's angry, she's pissed. "I told you, I don't know!" This time there's more than enough venom in her voice, enough to poison an elephant. The sting of his fingers around her slender arms was painful.
Austin's eyes narrow. The stench of his breath is coming through the clenched spaces between his teeth. He thinks of all the reasons he hates himself. Of all the times he physically hurt her. "'I don't know you / But I know what you did to her / She told me and / I happen to believe her too'? That doesn't sound familiar? You didn't tell anyone?"
Ally bores her brown eyes straight into his, glaring at him as if he were the dumbest person on earth, because right now she doesn't understand. "Get off of me, Moon," she snaps at him, because suddenly being touched by him hurts more than the bruises he's leaving. Instead, his hands tighten around her. Ally winces. "You come over to yell at me for a song I didn't even write for you. Get. Off. Me. Moon."
She feels as if she's lost it, as if she's ready to snap, ready to lose upon him all of the anger, ready to feed his abuse back to him one smack at a time. Only she knows she can't, because if she did all they'd worked for would swirl down the toilet.
Austin shakes her. "Of goddamn course it's not for me!" he yells. He's shaking now, horribly, with anger and sadness and hatred and fear. He doesn't want to go to jail. He wants to sing, he wants to dance, he wants to hang out with Ally, Dez, and Trish. He wants to go back to three years ago when he was sixteen and didn't hate himself. But he can't stop himself from doing what he does. The booze calls to him and calms him when nothing else can. "Who did you write it for?" The simple thought of her writing for someone else made him tighten his grip on her. She was his, dammit, his. "Who did you tell?"
Ally wants to get out of his grip, wants to turn away and never see him again. But she can see that sixteen-year-old boy in the depths of his eyes, crying, begging for help. Ally wants to help him, but she can't help herself. "I wrote it for myself," she cries out. She feels as trapped as the forgotten Austin. "Or did you forget that's what I do?"
"I—" He doesn't know what to say. He'd stormed in here, buzzed and angry, wondering who the hell it was that knew about his violence, wondering who would turn him in, because it wouldn't be Ally. There's a pregnant moment of silence. Then, in the voice of that forgotten boy, Austin Moon said something Ally never thought she'd hear again: "You should sing it—with me— I mean, we could duet. I...I miss singing with you."
Ally remembers when they used to sing together in the privacy of the practice room. She misses that too. Maybe if they start it up again, that boy screaming to get out will make a reappearance. Maybe if things just went back the way they were... Anger melts away and suddenly Ally feels so sad, so, so sad. All she wants to do now is hug him, however awkwardly, and cry. Sob and sniffle and cry. She wants the old days. She wants Trish to be coaching her over Dallas, Dez and Austin eating sandwiches out of tubas. She wants everything that happened before the fame and fortune. Because of that want, she looks up at Austin and smiles, forgetting everything. Forgiving him for everything.
Someday, she'll look back on this self-destructive relationship and hate herself for it—for forgiving him for repeatedly cheating on her, for repeatedly hitting her, for repeatedly destroying himself and her. But at the moment, she can't bring herself to care, because Austin's bumbling like the shy teenager he never was and he's doing his best to apologize, something he never even tries to do anymore. And even though he smells like alcohol, he's sweaty, and she knows he was rolling around in the hay with some girl that hadn't been her, she smiles at him as he lets go of her arm; she feels the sting of her blood returning to her and it hurts more than when he was hurting her. Yes, there will definitely be a bruise there soon.
Still, all Ally wants is to be inside his embrace. "I'd like that," she says softly, raising a pulsating arm to brush the softness of his damp blonde hair. There are bags under his brown eyes, and Ally frowns, standing on her tiptoes to press her thumbs to the bags. Her fingertips are soft on his skin, making Austin smile awkwardly, like that boy somewhere inside of him. Somewhere, Ally promised herself.
This is my first Austin & Ally. So. Whatcha think?
Oh, yeah, DISCLAIMER: THOSE LYRICS? THEY BELONG TO THE FRAY. DON'T SUE ME.