Five Hash Marks
Five Hash Marks, an Austin and Ally oneshot
I do not own Austin and Ally. This is to fulfill Kim Crawford's prompt. Please enjoy!
There are some days where you trip down the stairs, or forgot the lyrics while you're loudly singing along to the radio in the car. There's the days that your shirt will tear when it gets caught on the hinges of the door.
And then there are those days where all of the above, with a few circumstances altered and added will happen, all while being filmed on live tv.
Today is one of those days.
Mockery follows tomorrow. Multiple tomorrows after.
It's been a couple months, and they're still treating this like current news, dissecting how much of it was premeditated.
Put away your scalpels, boy. None of this was premeditated. If it was, she wouldn't be smudging her words in her tears.
"I'll be back in a few years when things die down. I love you guys." While the duration of leave may seem extreme, it could be that she hasn't disclosed the full truth. At any attempt to redeem herself, there's been a heckler, one who she swears looks like Tilly, in whatever disguise du jour. There's more to the story, but it's too hard to tell the tale choking back a sob as she boards the plane.
"I guess she doesn't love you, Trish," Dez says once they discover the note.
"What are you talking about, you doof?"
"It says 'you guys,' and you're a girl." He eyeballs her, tacking more on. "I think."
She launches at him, or attempts to. An arm blocks her way. "Guys, can we just focus on the fact that Ally is gone?"
Austin pulls his phone out of his pocket and dials her number.
'The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected.'
He could say the same thing about his heartstrings. Tugged too hard, and they're yanked right out. He can't breathe.
He can't lose Ally.
Or, as her nametag reads three years later, stacking books back on the shelf, Annette. She's adopted the surname of Lune, french for 'moon.' A little bit of wishful thinking. A lot a bit of refusing to forget her past, home.
They've probably forgotten about her. They wouldn't recognize her now. Blonde bob, blue eyes, and a slight accent from her stay in Paris. She's put on a few pounds from all the pastries around her. Upon arrival, she had eaten her sorrows. Twenty five years in, you would think she would have learned that you can't bury your problems in sugar.
Twenty eight years in, and she's running. It clears her mind, and she's tired of these love handles her roommate has sworn she's adopted.
More like hate handles.
She places a book on the solar system on the shelf. Smiles at the moon.
There's no way they miss her. No way that Austin's looking at the calendar, marking down another year of her absence.
"How long is a few?"
(Not the fastest crayon in the box
or the sharpest car in the street
oh I can't get my words straight
cause there's a void I just can't sate
without you here with me
I need you here with me)
There's another two hashes added to the calendar before she considers going back again. Her roommate is done with her stint in culinary school, and she's begging Ally to make the trip overseas to offer her services as a personal chef. If she doesn't, she'll be forced to find a new mate, and having her nose buried in books for the past five years, chances of that are slim to none.
"Come on, it's America, the land of opportunity," her roommate goads her as they run past a boulangerie.
Opportunities to be recognized.
Catching her flushed reflection in the storefront window, she takes it all in. The girl looking back is strong. She's not the Ally she used to be.
She's Annette now.
"I don't know. Where were you considering moving to?"
Her heart leaps, and she pictures her friends on the beach, laughing without her. It would be too painful to see. Even if she confesses her identity, she's missed five years. She's read that Austin quit the business two years ago, buying Jack's Flaps instead. Music was their bond. With both of them having let it go, what is there to pick up?
'Wow, that's quite the flapjack.'
'Thanks. How's your book?'
Still, Claudine is the only friend she has. She can't lose her too.
"Okay." She'll pack her bags and quit her job and sweat off these last three pounds in fear. She'll go back and see her friends, as a stranger. Just to make sure that they're doing fine. To reassure herself that staying these extra two years wasn't a mistake.
She'd be feeling much more reassured if she didn't see him scrambling around to find a songwriter during breakfast this morning. He had checked on them during their meal, and Claudine had freaked out.
"You're Austin Moon. Annette, it's Austin Moon." She drops her fork to fish her camera out of her bag. "Take a picture!"
She obeys, lets the flash go off in his eyes.
Yup, still that same beautiful smile.
"Are you ladies enjoying your pancakes?" he asks, straightening his tie.
"They're delicious Mr. Moon. But why are you making pancakes and not music?" Her roommate bats her lashes. It looks more like something is stuck than flirting.
"It wasn't the same without my songwriter Ally."
These pancakes aren't nearly as delicious when choking.
She wipes her mouth. "Couldn't you find a new songwriter?"
He gives Ally the strangest look, shakes it from his face. "That's what I've been trying to do these past couple days. I miss making music."
Resisting the urge to rub the back of his neck, he leaves the table. When he comes back, all that's left is cash and a business card, on which Claudine has scribbled 'call me!'
It takes a week of run-ins, i.e. Claudine ordering the same apple pancakes and leaving her business card, for him to call her. He might as well give her food a try, or she's not going to stop. Just yesterday she ordered a side of bacon, cutting it so that it read 'please?' when she left it behind.
The girls come to cook for him and his new songwriter. He figures he should feed him a good meal, and all he has is peanut butter in the house.
Ally's cutting into the onion, trying not to cry. It isn't the terribly cliché lyrics making her eyes water.
That doesn't stop her from singing her own words once the melody sticks in her head. She sets appetizers on the table, singing under her breath.
Returning for the dirty dishes, she grimaces at the lyrics. New words form under her breath.
He catches her by the apron strings when she brings out the entrees.
"What were you just singing?"
"It was nothing."
"I'm not letting you go until you tell me."
She lifts the apron over her head and walks away. He walks after her.
"Annette, why aren't you wearing your apron?" Claudine scolds her, softening as Austin enters the room.
"He wouldn't let me go." She reaches for it, and he holds it above her head.
"Not until you tell me what you said." Her gaze does not move from the apron. He forces her eyes to meet his. "Look, I'm trying to get a girl back, and my new songwriter isn't very good. The record company sent him over. I'm willing to try anything to get her back."
Who put the onions under her eyes?
Those aren't onion tears threatening to pour. He's moved on to someone else, and he wants her. She knew coming here would be a mistake.
"I can't write lyrics." It's been years since she picked up the pen.
"Everyone can write. Not everyone can write good."
"Well. Not everyone can write well."
"So you agree to help me."
"I-." She looks at the apron. "Fine. I'll help you."
Satisfied, he loops the apron over her head, tying it on. He takes a seat on the stool at the counter, swiping a piece of cheese off the cutting board.
Mouth clear, he dives into the conversation, telling her about the most beautiful girl in the world. It's been five years and he wants her back. He's tired of this cycle of failed relationships. No one can measure up to her.
It only took him a matter of days to get over her? It hurts, yet she has to know.
"What's her name?"
Some answers are better received without a knife in hand. Luckily it's only a nick.
The blood squirts out, and he rushes to get a bandage, telling the impatient songwriter, who he had forgotten about, that he's free to go. Ally misses the dirty look he gives her. Her mind is going is too many directions. She should tell him that she's Ally.
Who would believe her? She doesn't look like the same girl, and she didn't have this accent when leaving the states.
"Austin Moon is tending to your wounds," Claudine squeals.
In that case, she should direct him to her heart.
(Like always untied shoelaces
I would fall for you everytime
cause that smile and that dress
put me on cardiac arrest
I won't heal 'til you're mine
I need you to be mine)
It takes four days, three cups of coffee, one being split after the fourth spilled, eight peanut butter sandwiches and seventeen balls of paper missing the garbage can to finish the song. It only takes two to become a radio hit.
Beaming, he cut away from a group of elderly customers to meet her at the doorway.
Things not to say to a girl when a romantic song that is secretly about your relationship but not really because you're in disguise plays?
"It's our song."
"On the radio. The song we wrote. It's a hit Anny!" He swoops her into a hug, and it feels all too familiar.
By the look of things, he senses it too.
He searches her eyes for something.
"Can we get some more napkins over here?" He nods to the customer and breaks eye contact.
"Let's celebrate over dinner. Are you free around six thirty?"
"I'm working until seven."
He grabs a new napkin dispenser from the counter. "It's a date. Meet me at Little Shop of Hors D'ouevres."
She turns around, walks out. She'd come for breakfast, but the word 'date' is getting her stomach in a series of knots. She needs to convince herself it's only an expression.
The expression on her face is somewhere between panic and splendor.
The panic worsens when the waiter leaves, having taken their order. He hasn't had much time to learn about her, having spent all their energy on the song. Now he's asking about life in Paris.
She gives him the details, and when she accidentally lets it slip that she's not native to France, he asks her where she lived before.
Thank goodness for crazy fan girls.
"Can I have your autograph? Your music got me through labor."
That's a new one for him. The compliments vary from normal to practically insane. With his new single out, the flow has started getting heavier. "Sure."
Dinner saves her from finishing the story.
Insisting that it's out of his way for him to take her home, as she now lives in the opposite direction, she opts to walk home. Her brain is pulsing, from the panic, from him kissing her forehead.
A car pulls over. Trish rolls down the window, shouts across the street.
"Need a ride?" She can't see her face, but she recognizes that voice. She had run into her yesterday, when Austin had invited her and Dez to lunch, made by Claudine. She suspected that he had booked them to see her again. The food was great, but the look her had given her once they'd finished the song. It was like he was torn between the girl of his past and the girl beside him.
"I'm fine!" she shouts across the dark. The car did a u-turn.
"Ally, get in the car." The doors unlock, and she thinks about playing dumb. She doesn't.
"How did you know it was me?"
"I'm your best friend. You may have changed your hair and put in contacts, but you're still you." She does another turn, heading back in the right direction.
Ally tightens her seatbelt. "You're the only one who's noticed."
"Austin told me you remind me of you. Er, Ally. He still thinks you're Annette."
"Are you going to tell him?"
She shakes her head. "Your secret's safe with me."
The answer disappoints her more than it should. It would have been easier for Trish to tell him. Then she wouldn't struggle with coming clean.
If only he could see the real her.
(Wanted posters with your visage
anything to bring you back home
well love, how many heartbreaks
can all the lonely hearted take
those seeds of love you've sown
those seeds have hardly grown
A week passes, and he knocks on their door, having gotten the address from Claudine. At this point Ally has had to have heard the song. She's not coming back. He needs to move on.
No one answers. He slowly opens the door, hears the shower water running. His feet carry him to the bathroom. That's where he hears singing.
She's singing Redial. It's been years since he heard the song, but he swears that she sounds just like the original track.
He picks the blue contacts off the counter.
Ally trips, seeing her contacts is his hand, and he catches her, towel and all.
"What are you doing in here?"
In the same moment, "Ally, are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I-."
Between the brunette roots, and the now brown eyes peering up at him, the voice echoing off the walls, the sparks he had felt at that piano, it all makes sense. Annette is Ally. Ally is in his arms.
His arms are not letting go.
"Why did you hide from me?"
"You deserved better." More than a thirty year old has been failure wrapped in a short towel.
"I don't care about what I 'deserve.' I care about what I want. I want you." He draws her closer. She lets him steal a quick kiss, steals one back for herself.
"I should put some clothes on."
"You don't have to," he teases, refusing to let go. He has five long years to make up for. Five hash marks on a sticky note stuck to the calendar.
She thinks she'll let her roots grow out.
It's time to be Ally again.
(My heart's in a valise
begging you darling please
you're the one I adore
I'll search for you forever, ever more)