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After Now

By skwirelygurli


After Now

After Now, an Austin and Ally oneshot

I do not own Austin and Ally. Based on a tumblr prompt. Please enjoy and review.

They never specify when they say "happily ever after." After what? After he kisses the girl for the first time? After he realizes she's the wrong girl and packs his bags?

After he moves back home to Miami with hopes of rekindling what he lost with the right right girl? The one he gave up on ten years ago, because she was dating some country star, serenading her with a banjo and lyrics that waxed so poetic that everyone would slip and fall on them.

Fall straight into love.

He'd met her while she was on vacation. She had ordered a strawberry smoothie, and had turned around at the precise moment that Austin had caught the frisbee.

Her bikini stained pink. The drink slipped through the gap and dripped onto her stomach.

"Sorry. Let me get you a new smoothie."

"I don't have the time. My parents are on a 'tight schedule.' Can I take a raincheck?" She wiped at herself with a napkin.

Eying the growing line, he nodded. "Yeah, sure."

He hadn't planned to kiss her that night when he followed through. He was going to buy her a smoothie, invite her to join him and his friends for the beach club concert. But Ally had caught the attention of the new kid in town, that waxy country guy, whose name he refuses to recall, and he had gotten jealous.

She wasn't a terrible kisser.

She tasted like strawberries.

Austin liked strawberries.

When she had returned home to Orlando, they had agreed to go their separate ways. She had failed at a long distance relationship before, and his heart was still set on a pretty brunette.

They'd bumped into each other when he went to visit Disney World. This time it was ice cream that had spilled.

It felt good. The cold against the heat (that he'd somehow have to perform in later that night), her eyes connecting with his.



Three hours wasn't that long of a distance.

Three seconds was even shorter when they moved in together that following year.

Goodbye heartbreak.

His heart kept him filling the gas tank, going back to Miami. He'd pop in and visit, sleep over at Ally's apartment.

Some days he swore he left his heart behind.

They wed on the first day of summer, in the midst of a rain shower. He didn't think it would be an omen of things to come.

Nor a symbol for all the tears Ally didn't shed. (The ones that pricked her eyes, begging to be set free.)

Her eyes had focused on that empty chair in the seating area, where her date was noticeably absent. All that poetic that he had waxed was just that, wax. Something that filled her ears.

(flash forward)

The disk jockey turns on their song, a blast from the past. The station is doing their Flashback Friday, playing the top ten from ten years ago.

His song was in spot one for thirteen weeks.

She clicks the radio off, hears a knock at the door.

"Austin? I thought you weren't coming in until this weekend." They were going to throw him a birthday part to celebrate him turning thirty. The balloons were still deflated, the cake mix still in its box. Peering over his shoulder, her face shows her confusion. "Where's Abby?"

"Things didn't work out between us."

Her heart leaps for half a second, comes down with a thud. "That's too bad."

All those phone calls, those texts lately, distraught over how much ambivalence he had towards his wife. There was no love, not on his side. Just a healthy dose of indifference.

How is she going to allow herself to give in to her emotions if she knows her fate can replicate the outcome, that she'll be left out in the cold?

He sweeps her up in a hug, squeezing hard.

"It's fine. I'll be staying with my parents until I can find somewhere to live." They'll only be eight minutes away, if he speed walks.

He'd break out into a run for her.

Another knock at the door.

"Moon, I thought you weren't getting in until Saturday." A hand clamps over his shoulder, wrenching him away from Ally. He gives him a hug.

"Rory, hey," he says, annoyed. She's been living with him for two years now, purely platonic (so he says, though he recognizes the way he looked at her from years of personal experience) and every time it's like this. And of course, she's blind to it all.

Which is why when they go for lunch the next week, he tells her.

"Every time we're together, he gives me the death eyes."

"Rory wouldn't do that."

"He does!" He leans forward, careful not to get ketchup on his shirt.

She shakes her head. "I better get going. I have to get ready for the latchkeys' piano lessons."

They don't talk about it for another two weeks, until he shows up at the recreation center, guitar slung on his back. He says he's volunteering to teach, now that he's settled into his apartment. The kids flock to him, and he lets them play.

"What are you doing here?" she asks him while they toy with the instrument.

"I ran into Carmen at the grocery store yesterday, and she said that she's exhausted from taking care of her baby, work and volunteering, so I told her I could teach for her." He shrugs.

Right, because it's not torture watching him be wonderful while she tries to convince herself that she shouldn't fall in love with him.

Piece of cake.

Cake that has been choked on, spat out and trampled on the floor, only to be swept up with a linty broom.

This would be a lot easier if they weren't friends.

This would be a lot easier if her car didn't break down seven weeks later, and he didn't offer her a ride. She could record from the makeshift studio she had crafted in the old practice room, an easy fifteen minute walk.

There was no way she'd make it to the recreation center without a good pair of running shoes.

On the ride home, their song comes on. He glances to her, switches the radio off.

"You didn't have to turn it off, y'know." Her hand dangles off the armrest.

"I know." He takes her hand for a moment, then plants it back on the wheel, suddenly brakes.

She catches her breath. "What was that about?"

"I didn't want to hit the squirrel."

Good Lord, he brakes for squirrels.

Why did her heart just flutter over that?

It must be residual feelings from the hand holding. The five seconds that made her heart race.

She rolls down the window.

That window stays open for three days. It's too hot sitting this close to him, shut out from the rest of the world. The way he always leans across her to reach into the glove box for his sunglasses, breaking her bubble.

"Thanks for the ride." She steps into the parking lot of the car repair shop, smiling through the window.

"See you tomorrow, four?"

"You don't need to drive me tomorrow."

"I know." He blushes. "I want to."

She lets him. She lets him drive her, lets him hold her when Rory tries to make a move, lets him turn off the radio every time that song comes on.

Week fourteen, he doesn't turn off the radio. He turns it up.

It's his song.

"Doesn't it hurt you to hear this song, now that you're not together with Abby?"

"The song was never about Abby."

She listens to the lyrics.

"Who's it about?"

"You." He watches her swallow. "I wrote it the night before I got married."

Ten years. He waited ten years to tell her he was having second thoughts?

She's not going to wait to tell her his.

Her thoughts don't come with words, just actions.

The car behind them honks, because they've been at the stop sign far too long, but he doesn't care. He keeps kissing her.

The car passes him, wails on the horn.

He's too dazed to care.

Checking both ways, he puts his foot on the gas.

So what does happily ever come after?

Happily ever after now.

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