Partridge Had the Tree
Partridge Had the Tree, an Austin and Ally oneshot
I do not own Austin and Ally, or their song Christmas Soul. Based on an AU prompt from Kim Crawford. Please enjoy and leave a review!
This mustache has got to go. Along with the Salvation Army bell ringers, the fruitcake his six year old neighbor left in front of his door, and the giant tree someone put up in the office in an attempt to bring some yuletide cheer to Starr Records.
But first the mustache.
"Just this?" she asks, running the disposable razor across the scanner.
"Yeah." He checks his phone. He wants to get out of here, to somewhere where Christmas music isn't blasting from the radio.
Turning down the opportunity to give a dollar to charity, he swipes his credit card through the machine. Shaven face, here he comes.
She hands him the receipt. "Happy holidays!"
Her smile falters. The man walks away, pressing his phone to his ear. She should have known. Business suit and tie, a missing smile, disgust at the sound of Jingle Bells. It's obvious.
He's a scrooge.
A really cute scrooge.
One that will probably never come back. She hasn't seen him before. That could be because she usually worked mornings until Trish went on maternity leave. So there is the possibility of seeing him again. There's still time to make this scrooge a, uh -insert holly jolly Christmas person here.- He's too tall for an elf, too lean for a Santa.
The kinks will get worked out later.
(I always love this time of year )
When he comes into the store the next afternoon, he's buying coffee. In bulk.
She's singing a duet by herself.
"Hello." Shake it off. There was no way he caught her singing about it was cold outside. Even if it is seventy out, because they are in Miami.
"Hey." He gives her a slight smile.
He totally caught her singing. Barely, but he did.
Grabbing for the coffee, she tries to make conversation. "How are you?"
"Good." His tie gets loosened, as if it's choking him. Remaining in business mode, he asks, "Yourself?"
"I'm pretty good. I just finished my Christmas shopping this morning." Into the bag the coffee goes. He swipes his card.
As the receipt prints out, he stuffs his card back into his wallet.
"Did you finish yours yet?" She tears the receipt off.
"My assistant is sending muffin baskets to my clients." He takes the bag from her. "I have yet to find a gift for my assistant."
She laughs, though he hasn't said anything particularly funny. Call it a nervous habit.
He shouldn't be making her nervous. She works with customers all the time.
Nobody this cute.
"I'm sure you'll think of something."
He nods. "See ya later."
One step closer to holly jolly. Title still in the works.
(White snow and reindeer, heh, yeah)
Day three and he's behind an elderly woman, with a roll of toilet paper in his hand.
"Happy holidays," she tells her, once the groceries have been loaded into her cart.
"A blessed Christmas to you too Ally." Wheeling her purchases away, he moves closer to the cashier. The cashier that is apparently named Ally.
Passing her the roll, he starts the conversation. "I was thinking about getting Dez a video camera."
"Who's Dez?" She clicks no to bypass the donation question.
"My assistant that I told you about."
"The one that's sending out all the muffin baskets."
"Yeah, that's him." His card is stuck in his wallet, but he doesn't have any single bills, and he doubts she has change for a hundred.
"Sorry, you never told me his name." Come to think of it, she doesn't know his name either. Which may be for the best. Otherwise she'll be daydreaming about him, and his name will tumble out of her mouth. That's pretty hard to recover from.
"Oh, my bad." He gets the card to come out, sending it flying at her. She fails to catch it and it clatters to the ground.
Austin Moon, she reads.
He stoops down to help her pick it up.
Crap, he made eye contact. He's not retracting.
"So a video camera?" He snaps out of his stupor and they stand up.
"He's an amateur director, and they just came out with this new model that's really awesome. Bunch of megapixels and stuff." Megapixels and stuff? That was very intelligent sounding.
"I heard that they were selling out fast. You better hurry." The receipt spits out.
"I'll order it online. I hate Christmas shopping."
And, as the case seems to be, Christmas. She refrains from mentioning it.
"Have a good day Austin." The name slips out accidentally.
"You too Ally."
Hers has already been made.
(That special something in the air)
Rocking around, the Christmas tree- make that cash register. With a customer approaching her lane.
A cute customer with a basket filled with microwavable pancake pouches.
"How's it going today?" She starts scanning them.
He grins, at the pancakes, at her wiggle dance she'd been doing. "Terrible. I hate Christmas."
"It's the most magical time of the year. How could you possibly hate Christmas?" Setting a bag behind her, she resumes scanning.
"I got cut off three times today, and I just witnessed two ladies fighting over a doll. There is nothing magical about Christmas." He carefully extracts his card from his wallet. He's not going to hit her today, nor make mind blowing eye contact.
Scanning the last pancake pouch, she shakes her head. "I'm going to prove you wrong."
"I doubt it." He swipes his card, signing his name.
She passes him his receipt as her manager passes. "Enjoy the rest of your holiday sir."
He thinks he'd rather just enjoy the pancakes.
(Friends and family everywhere, ooooh)
All she wants for Christmas is him. Or so she sings as he nears the cash register.
"I'm starting to think you're buying things you don't need just to come see me."
"Hey, I needed all that stuff." He's made a reasonable dent in the coffee, his back end is properly cleaned, his freezer fully stocked. His face was shaved. Now he has stubble, and should probably shave again.
After he buys this very important pen.
"Tomorrow is my day off." She scans the pen, debating if she should put it in a bag.
"You sure there isn't anything else you want to buy today?" He swipes his card. He didn't even want this pen. All he wanted was an excuse to see her again. There's something easy about her.
In a completely clean way.
He means that he can talk to her and not worry what she's going to think. There are so many people at the office that he puts on a face for. The 'you're living out the dreams that I never got to, because Santa isn't real and doesn't grant the wishes of little boys and girls unless they want a new baseball bat or dolly.'
"Austin?" She hands him his receipt.
"What are you doing for your day off?" He crumples it and tosses it in her trash can.
"I promised my dad I'd help him hang the lights on the house. I don't want him to fall off the ladder."
"Fun," he notes sarcastically. "I'll see you Thursday then?"
"The day after tomorrow."
"So you are coming just to see me."
"I clearly needed this pen." He tucks it into his pocket. "Important documents to sign back at the office."
Can he see all of her teeth yet? She's smiling so wide, he can probably see where her wisdom teeth used to be.
She can see his too.
(When everybody's singing)
Singing Feliz Navidad would be much easier if she took Spanish as her elective instead of French.
It'd also be easier if Austin would stop coming in her line when there are other open registers, with cashiers who aren't singing along to the radio.
"Did you figure out why Christmas is magical yet?" He leans against the counter. There's nothing for her to check out.
With the register that is.
"It's all about being with the people that you love."
"My parents are in New York, and I don't have the time to go visit them." He skims the candy display, picking up a pack of gum.
"They could come visit you." Tidying her register, Ally tears a plastic bag.
"They just moved out there this summer. Besides, they're too busy with their business. You know how huge mattress sales are this time of year?"
Tossing the bag away, she shrugs. "No, how huge?"
He sets the gum down. Picks up another one.
"I have no clue." He smiles at her. "Citrus mint. That's disgusting."
"Like when you brush your teeth and then drink orange juice."
"Exactly." He shelves it. Setting a box of Tic Tacs on the counter, he readies his card.
She hands him the mints and the receipt. "Don't you have anyone else to spend the holidays with? A girlfriend perhaps?"
He looks so sullen by the admission that she makes her own confession.
"Me too. As single as the partridge in the pear tree."
"The partridge had the tree though."
She almost tells him that he has her. Almost.
He places the crumpled receipt in her hand, and she can feel the skin on skin contact.
Stay strong Ally. Don't scare him off. Not until he falls in love with Christmas.
She just hopes she doesn't fall for him first.
(My heart starts jing-a-lingin' )
When he doesn't show up Friday, she feels disappointed. It's the end of her shift, and as she's turning her register light off, she hears his voice.
"Miss me?" He fiddles with the card in his hand.
"You're later than usual." Checking to make sure no one else sees her, she quickly checks him out.
"I had a meeting with a client. We had to talk about his new Christmas single." He pauses, taking his pen from his pocket to inscribe the card. "It sucks."
"You have a bias against Christmas."
Stuffing the card on the envelope, he tucks the flap in. "True, but it really did suck. My song writer quit on me, and now I have to fix this mess so his song can be released on time."
"Ugh. Good luck with that."
Walking away, sticking his pen back into his pocket, he calls to her over his shoulder.
"See you tomorrow Suzy Snowflake!"
He heard her.
Can snowflakes turn red?
(There's something 'bout those December nights)
Austin looks a bit bedraggled when he comes into the store the next afternoon. He throws a dish towel on the counter.
"Don't tell me you're throwing in the towel already," she kids in an attempt to make him smile.
"I was baking cookies yesterday night, and my dish towel caught on fire." He runs his hands through his hair, dropping his head into them when they're through.
"You only have one dish towel?"
He takes a candy bar off the display and sets it down. "Most nights I get takeout."
Bagging the candy and towel, she lets him swipe his card.
While they wait for the receipt to print, she notices that he has a piece of lint stuck in his hair.
"Hold still." Her fingers work at his bangs.
"Ally, is this your boyfriend?" Eileen, her fellow employee, waltzes up to the register.
She nabs the lint. "Just a friend."
A really cute friend.
"I'm Austin." He shakes her hand, the lets go to look for his candy bar.
"What are you doing tomorrow night Austin? I'm having a Christmas party if you want to come."
Frustrated, Eileen sets a hand on her hip. "Ally will be there."
"Sorry, I'm busy. I have to find a new songwriter by Monday or I'm screwed." He takes a bite of his candy bar.
"You didn't tell him?"
She gets hushed. Austin swallows. "Tell me what?"
All the head shaking in the world can't stop Eileen from what she says next.
"Ally writes music. She sings it when she thinks nobody is listening, but I've heard her. She's really good."
"I'm nothing special."
He'd be quicker to negate that if his mouth wasn't full.
"Don't lie." She waves off her friend's comment. "I've seen her songbook. She gets all in a huff if people touch it."
As Ally opens her mouth to respond, he cuts her off.
"Do you have any Christmas songs?"
"Yes she does."
"Well you do."
This is all she needs, for her crush to read her lyrics and think that she's lame. As if the red tee shirt and name tag doesn't set her back as it is.
"Do you think we could talk about this, over coffee?" The two of them, drinking coffee by the candlelight.
Good thing he bought in bulk.
Then the moment never has to end.
"She gets out at seven," Eileen provides. The manager walks by, and she picks up the baskets at the end of the register. "I better get back to work. Nice meeting you Austin."
He bids her farewell. "So, what do you say?"
"I'm helping my dad decorate Sonic Boom tonight. You can stop by and I'll have the sheet music ready for you." A customer walks into her lane.
"You're really afraid of him falling off a ladder, aren't you?" He peels the wrapper off the rest of his candy bar.
She greets the customer.
"I'll see you tonight."
She is both terrified and excited for seven to come.
Hopefully taking this burden off his shoulders will re-instill the holiday spirit in him.
(Today's the day)
By the time she gets to her father's store, Austin is already there. Up on a ladder.
"Sorry I'm late. I got caught up in traffic." She cranes her neck to get a better look at what's going on.
"Not a problem sweetie. Your friend Austin was happy to help. He even brought cookies." Her dad points to the counter where the plate sits.
Those cookies he burnt his dish towel on were for her?
He comes down to greet her.
Since when did their greetings involve hugging?
"My songbook is upstairs." Gingerly, she pulls away. She could stay like that forever, if she let her emotions get the better of her.
"Let's go take a look." He follows her into the upper room.
With the door closed, she says, "I thought you were anti-Christmas."
"Yeah." He takes a seat on one of the chairs. "You know, I never told you the real reason I'm so against it."
"I thought you hated all the fighting." She sits next to him.
"I do, but there's more to it than that. When I was little, all I wanted was to be a popstar. Every year I'd write Santa a letter, asking him for a guitar, or a set of drums, to play in Times Square on New Years Eve. But all I ever got was footballs and books I never read. My parents said that I had a one in a billion chance of becoming a famous musician. But I kept asking until I found out the truth." He slumps in his chair, sending a cascade of wrinkles into a frenzy on his shirt. He'd changed since leaving the store.
She didn't think it was possible for him to get cuter.
"So you're bitter because you didn't get the gift you wanted?"
"I was. But once I knew it was my parents, I was even more angry, because I told them I didn't want to play football, or read books. I wanted to make music. But every year, they'd still insist on getting me them. So I told them if they weren't going to get my anything good, not to get me anything." He turns to look her in the eyes. "That next year, my stocking was empty."
"Your parents didn't get you anything?"
"They told me that they got me a savings bond, which I'll be able to have in, oh, another eight years."
"What happened the next year?" She tugs at the hem of her shirt, and he notices she's changed since work. Something more form fitting.
He likes it.
He likes her.
He likes the idea of Christmas, with her.
"Savings bonds. Lots of savings bonds." He leans forward at the same time she does, and their eyes connect.
"All because you wanted to be a musician."
"Yup. And now I make everyone elses' dreams come true." He struggles to smile. "Now, how about that song?"
She opens her songbook, showing him the page.
"It's not much."
"Sing it for me?"
Is that her heart in her throat or vomit? Her performance anxieties are taking over.
"You sing, I'll play." She leads him over to an old piano in the corner of the room. Sitting at the bench, her fingers play the introduction. He slides onto the seat with her.
It takes all of three minutes to get through the song.
It takes all of three more minutes for either of them to speak.
"You should have never given up on your dreams," she tells him. His voice is beautiful.
He could say the same for her. The lyrics, the melody, her face. Take your pick.
He's picking all of the above.
There's a sound of crashing, and she jumps up. Please let that not be her dad falling off the ladder.
She lets out a sigh of relief when it isn't.
Too bad the moment is lost.
Is it too late to find it again?
(Let's celebrate with that Christmas soul)
Having solved his song dilemma, Austin agrees to go to the party with Ally.
On the way over, he turns down the radio, which had surprisingly been tuned into a Christmas station. "Thank you."
"For showing me that Christmas isn't the worst holiday ever." After they finished decorating Sonic Boom, she led him around the mall, explaining all the Christmas displays in the shop windows. How she'd always sit with the giant polar bears in the ice cream shoppe when her parents were getting divorced, and Mr. O'Neill would carry her back to her dad's store. The first Christmas after he died, she brought a new polar bear for the window.
It's still there.
She showed him the surf shop, with the elves on the waves, getting tans. The Santa stand with the giant chair, where she had asked for him to take away her stage fright. She'd gotten a violin that year. It hadn't been what she asked for, but she loved it all the same. Someone had cared enough to give her a gift. Someone wanted to better her future. Just like how his parents wanted him to read and play a sport, have money. They didn't want him to crash and burn in the flames of his dreams.
Somehow, hearing that made him feel guilty and relieved at the same time.
"Told you I'd get you to see the magic of Christmas."
"I never said it was magical. I just said it wasn't horrible."
How could it be, with her by his side?
(Feel that Christmas soul)
He feels the magic.
He's standing under the mistletoe, with Ally on her toes, and he can feel it coursing through him.
He'll tell her when his mouth is free.
Goodbye lone partridge, hello two turtle doves.
Or some other Christmas duo, because he has no idea what a turtle dove is. Hopefully something that lives happily ever after?
He can't wait to find out.