When David goes back and performs on Idol, it's on a results show. Allison cheers him on from the wrong side of the stage, giddy like she's not in danger of being eliminated. David thinks America might be crazy or something.
Every year David tries hard not to pick favorites, because everyone is usually really good and he wishes no one ever had to go home (okay, most of the time), but this year he can't even pretend that Allison isn't his favorite.
So he uses the advice his publicist gave him when she figured out he was really bad at lying; he talks around it in interviews and blogs and stuff. It's true, anyway; this season is full of talent and he likes Adam and Kris and Matt and Allison and everyone.
Allison hugs him when he's done singing, right onstage in front of the audience and Ryan and Anoop, which would usually freak David out a little bit since they only met in real life about three hours ago. But he doesn't mind, not this time, because Allison is so fun and funny and spunky and completely dorky like David and. Yeah. He doesn't mind.
America turns out to be not crazy and Allison is safe. She's extra hyped up after the show, and wow, does David remember how the excited relief of Wednesday night feels. They talk while everyone runs around the red room getting their stuff together, about how weird Idol is compared to high school (and the other way around).
Then somehow David has his iPhone out and he's showing her a picture of his fish. She's the one who asks to see it; David doesn't even bring up the fact that he has a fish. She teases him for having a picture of his fish on his phone but then shows him pictures of her dogs in all kinds of funny clothes to make up for it.
They talk for way longer than David realizes and then suddenly they're the only ones left in the red room and Allison's mom pokes her head in to say the van is leaving for Anoop and Lil's farewell dinner.
"Okay, so um," David isn't so good at this part of making new friends. Allison has already been his Twitter friend for awhile, so David says, "You should definitely Tweet me if you ever want to say hi or talk or anything."
Allison rolls her eyes and grabs for his iPhone without asking. David kind of stares while she taps on the screen a few times. Then her phone buzzes to life, Take another little piece of my heart now baby. She puts a phone up to each ear and grins goofily at David.
"David Archuleta's phone, Allison Iraheta speaking. How may I direct your call?" she says all business-like into David's phone.
"Oh hey, girl! What's up?" she says, like herself, into her phone. "Is David around?"
"Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm. I see," she nods, speaking all seriously into David's phone, and then pauses dramatically. "One moment, please." She holds David's phone out to him. "It's for you. Some crazy girl. I can get rid of her if you want."
"Oh, no!" David says, laughing, and grabs the phone, but Allison's already hung up her side.
"I think she knew I was onto her. There, now I have your number," she declares, grabbing her backpack and standing up to go find her mom. David stands up too. "I'll call and text you all the time. It'll be awesome; you'll get so sick of me."
David's pretty sure that isn't possible. "That's, um. Okay, yeah."
"Alright. Gotta jet, man," Allison leans over for a one-armed hug that David doesn't even realize is happening until it's over. "Later!"
He stares at the door for a minute after she leaves because he doesn't really know what just happened. Then he saves her phone number in his Contacts before he forgets.
(Like that'll ever happen.)
About ten minutes later, after he's gotten a big hug from Debbie and said a round of goodbyes to the rest of the stage crew and everyone and he's getting into the car back to his condo, his phone buzzes with a new text.
just left and i'm already buggin you lol. sick of me yet?
David replies right away:
Nope. I guess you better keep trying. :)
* * *
David's up way before the rest of his family (even his mom), like he always is when he's at home. His mom calls him an early bird and his brother calls him a weirdo but he likes mornings. There's time to go for a run and have breakfast and think before he has a million things to do all day. And the first show of his Christmas tour is in two days and David's so excited it's not like he could have slept in even if he wanted to.
He's sitting at the kitchen table trying to tie his running shoes, but his sisters' cats keep weaving under his arms and poking their noses into his fingers.
"Okay, okay, you want food?" David gives in and walks with one shoe untied across the kitchen to the cabinet with all the pet food. The jar of fish food is in front, so his fingers are around a pinch of flakes when his phone buzzes in his pocket.
It's Allison, and that's weird, because they've been texting and tweeting and talking a lot over the past few months since they met in person and David knows she doesn't ever wake up before eleven if she can help it.
The text says:
y are there so many meetings????
Her album comes out in a little over a week and it's barely 8 am in California, so she must be locked in a conference room at JIVE or something. David tries to think positive for her since he's good at that.
At least you got a break?
nope. in meeting now. never gonna endddddd.
The cats are practically knocking him over now. One jumps up on the counter and starts eyeing the fish bowl, so David types another message quickly and gets out the cat food.
Oh gosh! You shouldn't be talking to me!
The three bowls filled and the cats ignoring him completely now, David reads her reply:
naw, its cool. they don't need me right now, but i cant leeeeeave tho.
He remembers those kinds of meetings. They're definitely his least favorite part of making albums, especially the ones where everyone talks around him like he isn't there.
Well at least the chairs are comfy at Jive?
She texts him back a bunch of messages right in a row, so fast he doesn't have time to answer until she's done.
and yeah dude. they ARE lol. niceeee!!!
comfy but still bored. what r u doin today?
bsides talkin 2 me, which is the most imprtnt thing? ;)
It kind of is, actually, and he forgets to even think about maybe saying something cooler instead of telling her what he's really doing:
I'm feeding my fish and my sisters' cats. But I'm not feeding my fish TO my sisters' cats, haha.
Though, one of them did try to serve herself. David should probably move his fishbowl.
lol! wow very busy day.
One of the cats is batting at his untied shoelace again, so he points her back to her food. He goes back to the kitchen table to finish tying it before he trips on himself, which he's totally done before.
Haha. Then I'm going running before tour rehearsal. Dinner with my sibs and my mom. Then I get to actually sleep in my own bed!
David loves being at home. He's not so sure he wants to live here all the time anymore like he used to, but it's really good to visit when he can. He likes California more and more these days.
want to trade?
It doesn't happen a lot, but David actually thinks of a reply that's a joke and starts typing fast so he won't talk himself out of it:
You want to have dinner with my family and sleep in my bed?
Allison doesn't answer right away. He knows the joke is lame, but she usually laughs at those and makes lamer ones. Which is really cool because none of the other girls David's age that he knows do that.
i meant rehearsal lol. and i don't think u meant that last part how it sounded lollllll.
David reads back over what he sent her and realizes with absolute horror that he totally asked if she wants to sleep in his bed.
OH MY GOSH! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean THAT.
But Allison is really pretty and awesome in all kinds of ways, so it's not like the idea of that is awful or anything. But he basically made it sound like it is.
I didn't mean THAT either. Oh my gosh.
David squeezes his eyes shut for a few seconds. This is why he doesn't make jokes. His phone buzzes and he can't not look.
hahaha. i gotcha. i say stuff like that alllll the time. we gotta watch out for each other lol
David smiles as he types a reply.
that would be good haha.
There's a minute or two of nothing from Allison, and then:
ok they need me again. talk later?
She doesn't say anything back and David waits for a few minutes just in case, because it would be pretty rude to ignore her if she does since she had been kind of counting on him to entertain her.
He keeps his phone in his pocket on vibrate while he's running, just in case.
* * *
After his run, David goes to the kitchen, pours a huge glass of orange juice, grabs a dish towel to run over his face and neck, and sits at the table with his phone. He doesn't have any texts, so he checks his Twitter while he finishes his drink.
DavidArchie Went for a long run. Feels good, but I'm so thirsty now haha. Rehearsal and family time today. :)
David skims his friends feed and sees that Allison snuck onto Twitter too:
AllisonIraheta Hungryyyyy and lunch isn't til 2. No good snacks hereeee. :( :(
Jive does have pretty bad snacks. David lucked out because a few weeks into recording, he found a vending machine in the lobby that had Nutter Butters. That vending machine was a life saver.
Though once Gary figured out why he took breaks all the time and came back with them, he ordered like, a whole big case that he kept in his office for when David was there. It's one of the first totally weird things about having a record deal that David remembers.
Allison probably doesn't even know they can do that. Gary or someone could get anything she wants for snacks, probably. David opens up the Contacts on his phone.
He figures he'll probably just ask Gary to ask Allison about what she wants, because David doesn't really know, but then he remembers those Flamin' Hot Cheetos Allison really likes. He tried them once at a party at Cook's and he didn't get how she liked them at all because they were crazy spicy and kind of gross. But then again, Michael doesn't like peanut butter and wouldn't ever help him eat the, oh gosh, millions of Nutter Butters the fans brought him on tour that there was no way he could eat all alone. So he guesses everyone has different tastes.
Gary's cool about it. He promises to send someone out for them right away and tell them to write Allison's name on the top so no one else eats them.
David secretly doesn't think anyone would anyways, but he doesn't say that.
* * *
A few hours later, they take five at rehearsal to adjust a light setting on Alex. It's just for a few minutes, so David pulls his phone out to look around Twitter.
AllisonIraheta the Good Snack Angels dropped in or sumthin! they knew what i needed. today is 45964 times better now. yumMmMm. who are you, Snack angel??
Whoever Gary had go get the Cheetos must not have told her, or maybe Gary didn't tell him or her in the first place. It doesn't really matter, David thinks, as long as she got them.
And it's weird, but David's kind of glad in a way that Allison doesn't know he asked for them for her. He can sing in front of thousands of people but he gets embarrassed a lot when one person says something nice about him.
Besides, it's kind of fun to be on the other side of a secret.
* * *
It's the first show of the tour, and David needs a distraction from all the nervous energy and excitement buzzing in the air. He already went running and sang through the set list in his head and ran some scales on the piano and did everything there is to do in his house.
All of his family and practically everyone he's ever known in Utah is coming to the show so he'll see them all in a few hours. He tries calling Benton and Demi and Jason and leaves a few rambling voicemails. He checks all his email and writes a blog for his website.
And then he's back on Twitter, which he really loves today especially, because it's being updated all the time.
DavidArchie First show tonight! So excited! Been bouncing around my house all morning haha.
After that, he reads fan @replies for while and then goes back to his friends' feed. A new Tweet shows up from Allison:
AllisonIraheta my purse is too small for all my stuff!!! guess i gotta go shopping for a new 1 soon?????
David's first thought is: Oh gosh, her album comes out in a few days; when is she going to have time to go shopping?
David has time right now and he's definitely looking for a distraction.
It's something he normally would have no idea about, but his sisters are always pretty specific about what they want for Christmas and birthdays and stuff. 'Shameless' is what Michael called it when Jazzy emailed him a detailed wish list with web store links during the Idol tour. But David understands and thinks it's totally helpful when they do that, because he has no idea where to find the things they want on his own and he knows they know that, so really, they're just looking out for him.
Anyway, he remembers Claudia sent him that website in her Christmas list with the huge section just for purses and bags and things. After a little searching, David finds the email, clicks the link and wow, he doesn't even really know where to start when he's not being told where to go. He needs to think about this.
Allison said that her purse was too small, so David goes to the section with the tote bags, and that narrows his choices down a little. He doesn't think she'll like something just plain or really flowery and pastel, so he skips those. There's a section with all these crazy graphic prints and bold colors that look really cool and totally remind him of Allison, so he opens it up and just hopes he can pick out something she'll like.
And then there on the third page right in the middle, David finds the perfect one. It's black with pink and white and silver making up a kind of relief image of Janis Joplin with her head thrown back and her hair fanned out, wide mouth open mid-note to a raised microphone.
Grinning to himself, he checks 'Add to Cart'. He doesn't even need to make a new site account, and he reminds himself that he really loves his sisters.
Since he's going to be in a different city every day and Allison's in LA rehearsing, David figures it's easiest to have it shipped to the Jive offices. He sends it Express and as a gift so it'll be addressed to her.
There was a little place to put a gift message, but after staring at the blinking cursor for a few minutes, David chickens out on writing anything personal and just types: For all your stuff. I hope you like it! and signs it with a colon-and-parenthesis smiley face. If she says she likes it, then he'll totally tell her it's from him.
* * *
David's starting to get nervous that the tote bag won't make it before Allison leaves for her album release day stuff in New York, but then Friday afternoon this pops up on his Twitter feed:
AllisonIraheta Check out my new bag! I loveeeeee it! Yeah, you're jealous. Oh shnaaaapppsss. http://bit.ly/...
It's a picture of Allison holding the bag up right under her chin and making an excited face at the camera.
David is always happy when people like the presents he gets them, but the look on Allison's face makes him feel way different than when Amber squealed at that Littlest Pet Shop cat thing, or his mom cried at that necklace, or Cook laughed until he almost fell over at that Travel Scrabble set.
* * *
On Monday David's getting ready for the show in San Francisco when his phone starts playing "Cry Baby".
He scrambles over to answer it. Allison is all the way across the country in New York and her album comes out tomorrow and he didn't think he'd get a chance to talk to her until maybe Wednesday. He remembers how crazy that day was for him, how there were a million people he wanted to talk to and about three million different people that wanted to talk to him.
"'Sup?" Allison says. "I'm not bugging you right now, right?"
"Oh, no!" David says, catching his breath and buttoning up his shirt, because it makes his ears go red to think about talking to Allison when he's half naked, even though she can't see him. "I'm getting ready for the show, but I don't go on for like, an hour or something. How do you have time to talk right now?"
"I escaped, son!" she declares, and then she must read David's mind because she adds, "I finished all the interviews and stuff I had to do today, don't worry. I just talked my way out of dinner and came back to my room for a one-woman room service junk food party and comfy clothes and maybe a little freaking out about tomorrow." She laughs a little. "And so then I called you."
"Me?" David asks, a little confused, because everybody knows he's practically the last person to go to for actual help in a crisis.
"Yeah you," Allison says again, but she doesn't sound annoyed or anything. Just kind of... like she thinks it's funny he was surprised? David can feel himself blush.
"Oh," David says, because that doesn't help it make sense. But it sends a weird, good sort of prickly rush through his stomach so he's not complaining. "That's cool. I just. Um. Me?"
"You get it, you know?" Allison sounds a little more serious now, a little softer, and just like that, David does get it. "I could have called Kris or Adam, I guess, but it's like. Last year I was just skating by in Algebra, man. And now I have an album coming out? I'm singing on freaking Good Morning America tomorrow. Holy sh- cow," David bites his lip to hide his smile, even though she can't see it. He secretly really likes it when Allison tries not to curse around him even though he never asked her not to. She's really not good at it and it's kind of funny, but he'll never tell her that in case she stops. "Holy effing cow, you know what I mean?"
David nods along as she talks because he totally gets it and it's nice to know neither of them is alone.
* * *
They talk about that for a while until Allison is laughing and not freaking out anymore, and then move on to other things. Both of them have crazy brains that jump from topic to topic without anything in between and mostly they can follow each other, but when they can't, it's fun too.
David's been watching the clock like crazy, because he really doesn't want to get off the phone but he only has about four minutes until he really, really has to go finish getting ready for the show.
"Oh hey! So remember that picture I tweeted of that sweet tote bag I got a couple days ago?"
"Um," David says, because he totally, obviously does. "Yes?"
"It's crazy, man! I don't know who it came from," Allison doesn't sound mad or upset about it or anything, more like she's happy and. Curious? "It just showed up at Jive with a note and no name, addressed to me."
He thinks about just saying it was him and wonders what she'd say. Happy and curious are good, and she definitely looked like she liked it in that picture. Maybe he could just-
"Oh snap! Hey! Hold on!" Allison says suddenly and David cuts off his thoughts like he's clamping his mouth shut. "Remember that day last week that I was really hungry at Jive and all the snack food sucked?" David nods like she can see him, and she goes on like she did. "Those Cheetos, like, fell from the sky. No note, no Return to Sender info."
"That's. Weird. Maybe, um," David has no idea where he's going with this, because he has no end to this sentence that isn't the truth and he feels weird saying that right now. "Maybe you-"
"I knew it!"
"You," David is afraid to ask, "did?"
"Someone is leaving me anonymous presents, David," she says patiently. "It's almost Christmas. Put that together and you know what you got, right?"
He knows what they mean separately, especially for him, but he doesn't really get what they have to do with each other. "No?"
"I've got a Secret Santa, dude!" Allison says, happily. "This is so cool."
* * *
So David turned himself into a Secret Santa for the girl he- for Allison.
He didn't even mean to; he was just doing some nice things for her. That were maybe gifts. Which he didn't exactly say were from him.
Anyway, the point is that he doesn't want to stop, but now that he knows what he's supposed to be doing there's all kinds of pressure and he has no idea how to do it right.
David can't ask his mom or Claudia or even Brooke because they'll just tell him how cute it is or something and want to talk about it forever and this is already embarrassing enough.
He loves his friends from school and church, from before Idol. But they won't really get it. The advice he's heard them give each other doesn't really apply when you can't talk to the girl you like after Calculus or something because she's across the country doing press for her album.
Carly will turn this into Operation: Make Allison David's Girlfriend before he even finishes explaining it, so no way is he asking her (even though he'd maybe kind of be okay with that end result).
Jason and Benton won't get why he can't just tell her and David can't even explain that to himself, so.
Michael and Cook will tease him forever, oh gosh. But in a million years when he stops laughing, Cook will actually probably give helpful advice, so David calls him.
"Archie!" Cook answers, thank goodness. David is not good with voicemail when he's nervous or hyped up about something and he's both right now. There's no one on the other end to stop him from just talking and talking. "What's up, man?"
"Hi Cook. I'm good." The automatic response just slips out, because, well, he usually is. "Hey, uh," and David really wants to catch up with Cook since they've been so busy the past few weeks, but he knows he won't be able to concentrate on anything else until he just figures out this Allison thing already.
So David blurts out the whole story. And Cook laughs, yeah, but a lot less than David was expecting him too, so that's nice.
"You sure have yourself a predicament here, Archie," Cook says, very seriously. "A conundrum. A quandary. A sticky wicket, if you will."
David has no idea what that last thing is, but it sounds pretty confusing, so he guesses that he does. "I know?"
And then Cook snorts a little, and oh gosh, he's teasing him again. David is finally getting good at noticing when he does that but this whole Secret Santa thing is jumbling up his brain.
"Cook," David says, sternly. "Oh heck, stop it."
"Sorry, man. It's just," he responds, and David hears him stifle down more laughter. He coughs and finally collects himself, but David can tell it's just barely. "Okay. Let's figure this out. I'm pretty sure I already know the answer to this question, but since it's you I'm talking to, I'm going to come right out and ask just in case I'm wildly misreading the situation."
"Um," David panics a little.
"Easy, this'll be painless, I swear," Cook assures him. "You like her, right? Like, you like her. Right?"
"I," David hasn't even said this out loud before. "Yes."
"Okay, good. Making sure you knew that. Makes this way easier, trust me."
"It does?" David already feels a lot better. "Cool."
"Yeah, man. With this Secret Santa thing going on, you already have an in. You play the rest of your cards right and you're golden."
"The rest of my cards?" David asks because he never played any cards. Did he?
"I have got to say though, I am impressed by your game plan thus far, my man." David wants to interrupt and remind him that none of this was planned at all and that's kind of the problem, but Cook just keeps going. "Girls love a little bit of romance and mystery and you've got both going on in spades here. We can work with that."
Cook goes on a little more about using the mystery to his advantage and infusing romance into small things by choosing them just right, and David's starting to get worried again.
"I don't know if I can..."
"Hey, listen. You have a good heart, Dave," Cook says. "Whether you can find a way to use my advice or not, just as long as you don't do anything that doesn't feel right for you, you'll be fine. Got me?"
"Got you." That, he can do.
"Allison's a lucky girl, you know."
David smiles. "Thanks, Cook."
"Good, okay. So." Cook clears his throat and when he starts talking again, it's with a low, fake-tough voice, "Never speak of this conversation to Neal, alright? Crap, or Andrew or Johns. I got a rep to protect."
David laughs, because most of Cook's rep is that he's a big mushball and everybody knows that.
* * *
When he thinks about it, Cook's advice is great and really helpful and David really wants to use it and everything, there's just one problem: he has no actual idea how to do that.
He's so distracted in the morning that he drops oatmeal on his shirt at breakfast. He has to run back up to his hotel room to change and he's almost late for a radio station interview. But he makes it on time and he only gets a little more flustered than usual when the DJ asks if he has a girlfriend yet, so overall, that makes up for the oatmeal thing.
Allison calls in the afternoon while David's on the bus getting ready to go into the venue.
"Hi!" David's happy because all that other stuff is fading out of his mind now that he's actually talking to her.
"Hey David," she says, which is completely unlike how she usually answers the phone by jumping right into a story or something.
"Hey, are you... okay?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. Just," Allison takes a deep breath and makes a frustrated noise. "No, I'm not. I'm so mad at my manager. Ann knows I really wanted to go to dinner with like, my whole, big, extended family tomorrow, right? But she scheduled this long phone interview for me anyway. I was in New York for the album release yesterday and then back to tape for Ellen's show this morning and I just want to go to dinner with my family and..."
Allison sounds as close to crying as he's ever heard her. David knows how it feels; the stress and all the non-stop rushing around can really get to him sometimes, and it was extra hard at the beginning. He wishes he was with her, because it's one of those times he's completely sure the other person really needs a hug and he's okay being the one to give it.
"Can you ask her to try to reschedule it?" David tries, hopefully. "I'm sure she will if she can and she knows you really want her to."
Allison laughs, a little meanly. "I know she can, but she says she won't, because this is a 'crucial time frame' and the reporter 'always gives us such great press'." David can tell she's quoting Ann. Allison sighs. "That is true though, and Jim's really cool and I want to do the interview. Just. Not tomorrow."
"Jim?" David asks, remembering caroling in the MTV offices and giving away CDs and a promise to do it again soon without the itchy sweaters. "Jim Cantiello? From MTV?"
"Yeah," Allison says. It sounds a little wet, but at least she's not at the edge of crying anymore. "He's really fun, right?" David blushes, remembering what he said about Allison in front of the MTV cameras. She teased him a little after that, texting him all day with random thoughts and asking if they were spunky enough for him.
They totally were and that's when he really figured out that, yeah, he was in trouble.
Allison goes on, "I almost might say he's-"
"Oh my-!" David says over her.
"-gosh, Allison!" David finishes over her cackling, but he doesn't really mind because she doesn't sound so sad anymore.
David beams into the phone while she laughs and then he gets an idea. A really, really great idea.
He pretends to have an extra early soundcheck and promises to call back while Benton's onstage later. Then he calls Jared (because his dad will probably ask lots of questions) to get Jim Cantiello's direct line and then David calls him.
* * *
Allison texts him an hour later, when it's almost actually time for soundcheck, just like he was hoping.
OMG guess WHAT? jim called ann and HE asked to reschedule. How weird is that?
David's still a little shocked that his idea actually worked.
Like they'd planned at the end of the interview with the caroling, David already actually had a phone interview of his own with Jim scheduled for next week anyways. So he just called Jim and asked if there was any way they could move it to tomorrow around dinner time instead. David was really, really sorry but tomorrow was the only day he could do it. If Jim could find any way at all to switch, it would be great, because otherwise he'd probably have to cancel and reschedule for maybe next month...
But he had to make sure Allison wouldn't find out what he did. He knows how Jim is about interview teasers, so when Jim rushed to agree right away, David added that if Jim could maybe not tweet about it or anything and keep it a secret from the fans it would be a really cool surprise.
David texts back to Allison:
So weird! That's so lucky! Yay, dinner with your family! :)
David successfully told a little white lie, and that's kind of a big deal all by itself, and it didn't hurt anyone at all and made Allison really, really happy in the end.
* * *
The first week sales numbers for Allison's album are going to be announced tomorrow.
He didn't honestly pay all that much attention to the specific numbers when his came out (and he still really doesn't) because, if he thinks about it, anything that's more than the family and friends he can count off the top of his head is pretty much amazing. To think about thousands, and now after a year, even hundreds of thousands of people buying his record? Wow. He'd go crazy if he really thought about that.
Allison and him talk about this a lot and they both agree that the point isn't the actual number, but that they get to make music as their job and people get to hear it and people want to hear it and charts and ranks and counts don't even matter at all.
But still, the day his first week sales were announced was kind of a big deal for everyone else around him who did so much that it was practically their record too, and it's probably going to be like that for Allison too. He thinks that tomorrow might be a good day for her Secret Santa to surprise her with another gift.
Cook's advice comes back again: Romantic, mysterious.
As far as romantic, David only really knows what he's seen in a few PG-13 movies and heard about from his siblings and friends. He doesn't think chocolate or candy would be a good idea. He doesn't even know what kind she likes best and besides, he already got her Cheetos and that's a lot of food. Flowers? Flowers could maybe-
Flowers would be good.
Flowers are romantic and there's not really a way to do flowers wrong. And as long as he just doesn't sign the card I really really like you, David (Your Secret Santa), it's also still mysterious, so.
David opens up his laptop and searches for florists that deliver near Allison's house in LA. He finds one where he can customize everything, which is really cool. There are a bunch of roses in every color of the rainbow in a big list with links to look at all of their meanings.
This is a little more complicated than he thought and maybe he can do it wrong. But then he remembers what else Cook said, to not over think it and trust himself.
So David just goes with his gut and picks out the colors that remind him of Allison; mostly dark burgundy, with some deep blue and purple ones mixed in. He decides on a dozen, because that's the number roses are supposed to come in for some reason that David doesn't know, and he likes the little ones that are just about to bloom.
He signs the card:
Congrats on a big week!
-Your Secret Santa
Then, after he puts in his payment for overnight delivery to Jive and there's officially no way he can change his order, he goes back and looks at the meanings of the rose colors he chose, and he's secretly proud of his himself.
* * *
The next day Allison is crazy busy and so is David, but she texts him right before he's about to finally go to bed.
ahhh, today was SICK! ur prob sleepin. tell you all about it 2moro maybe?
Almost asleep. Definitely talk tomorrow. Congrats!! Goodnight!
He puts on his pajamas, brushes his teeth, gets into bed and then, because he can't help it, he checks Twitter on his phone one last time.
AllisonIraheta to my frnds&fam&fans: THANKS!!! ur amazing & its NO secret. big hugs tonite! <3 allikat http://bit.ly/...
The link is a picture of some of the gifts she must have gotten today. Half cut off on the side is a vase full of hot pink daisies with a yellow Jive balloon and mylar one that says Superstar! tied around the middle. There's a bottle of sparkling cider and a plastic cup, a teddy bear with a red wig and sunglasses, a purple inflatable guitar. And right in the center are David's roses.
* * *
The Minnesota show is canceled for bad weather, which is really sad. They end up flying in to Chicago a day early and have two days off there instead of one.
Since he isn't supposed to be there yet, David has no press or anything scheduled on the first day, though he does ask to set up a few phoners out to the radio stations in Minnesota in the morning because he feels really bad about the cancellation.
So he has the whole rest of the day free now and a big group of them are going to go explore downtown in a little bit. David's all ready to go but no one else is yet, so he calls his mom and makes a video blog and then goes on Twitter.
DavidArchie Sad that the Minnesota show today had to be canceled :(. I hope I can get there and make it up soon though!
On his friends feed, Allison's Twitter picture always jumps out at him right away. It can't be just him; it's the Kool-Aid Man with her face on it; there's no way anyone would miss it.
AllisonIraheta "There's something about the melodies of Santa Claus and Christmas trees" Good song stuck in my headddddd.
It's stuck in her head, which means she's thinking about it, which means she's thinking about him. And they haven't even talked today, so it's not like that reminded her of the song, which totally happens to David all the time after he talks to Demi or Jason (or Allison) or anyone.
He scrolls a little bit more and sees a tweet from Cook.
thedavidcook @AllisonIraheta Yeah, that @DavidArchie and his catchy songs. He's pretty awesome, right?
And then, like right away after:
AllisonIraheta @thedavidcook Tooooooootally awesome!!!
Oh gosh, he's so glad no one's here yet because he's kind of grinning crazily at his computer and it would be pretty hard to explain. After a few minutes, he can think enough to check his Direct Messages and sees this:
Direct Message from thedavidcook: Hey Romeo, she just called you awesome in front of the entire internet.
There's another from a few seconds later:
Direct Message from thedavidcook: (You're welcome, by the way.)
David direct messages him with Oh gosh! Thank you thank you haha! and Cook answers back right away. For someone who didn't want to do Twitter for so long, Cook sure checks on it more than anyone else David knows practically.
Direct Message from thedavidcook: Hey she was already thinking it, man. I just nudged her into saying it where you could see.
And that totally makes David blush. Because in this case, Cook's logic is actually the same as normal people's logic (Carly sat David down and had a long talk about that very early in the Top 10, so he can mostly tell the difference now) and that means.
It means David kind of walks around in a happy sort of daze for a couple days, and the next show is the best so far and David feels awesome.
* * *
David gets the idea for Allison's next gift during the Kansas City show, right in the middle of Joy to the World, and he can't believe he didn't think of it sooner.
The song is rising up around him, weaving through and between the notes of the melody he sings, and David closes his eyes and thinks about how when he's surrounded by music, he never feels closer to God, to peace, to happiness. To love.
After the show, he gets hugs and handshakes and pats on the back from Cook's family. It's really great to see them and it makes him miss his family a little less, though he's sad Cook himself is up in New York. David calls him after they leave, because Andrew says he should ask Cook about 'The Peoria Incident'.
"Never you mind about that, Archuleta," Cook says when David asks, after he tries to stop laughing for about five minutes. "Andrew Cook is a horrible human being. Can't take him anywhere, I tell you."
From Cook, that means he loves Andrew and would take him everywhere if he could. David doesn't really get why they do that, but he totally gets what it means.
"Hey, so how are things going with your secret lady love, Mr. Awesome?"
"Oh! Actually!" David says, and tells Cook about his idea of sending Allison music as his next gift. "But I don't know how I'd do it without her figuring out it's me, because you can't give anonymous gifts on iTunes."
"iTunes," Cook says, sadly. "It's a tragic world we live in that has completely foregone the ultimate romantic gesture that was the good, old-fashioned mixed cassette tape."
"The what?" David asks, and then, because it sounds like Cook's going to go into a pop culture lesson based on the squawking sound he makes, David rushes on. "So I need to find a way to send it, and you have to have a good idea, right? You always do."
"For the record, I see what you did there, Archie," Cook says. "But I'm going to let it slide, because I'm impressed that you did it."
David beams, and then he admits, "Me too, haha."
"Alternatives, hmm. Oh, I got it," Cook says after he thinks for a minute. "There was this website that the guys and I used a few months ago to send each other-" He cuts himself off. "Um, very specifically genre'd short films." He coughs. "Anyways, the point is, you can send anonymous emails through the site, so the person you're emailing doesn't know who it's coming from. Just like, put 'From your Secret Santa slash Admirer slash Man of Your Dreams' in the subject line so she doesn't delete it by mistake and you're home free, man."
David's composing the track listing in his head before he even gets off the phone with Cook. He gets all the mp3s together in between shows and appearances and phone interviews over the next couple days, goes to the site Cook emailed him, and puts it all together. He types a little about what he was feeling onstage that night (and every night) about music being all the best feelings in the world put together practically. It feels only right to end with a song lyric, so he signs it:
And I'm singing this song for you,
Your Secret Santa
David stares at the screen for a long time, then very carefully deletes Santa, types Admirer and clicks send.
* * *
It's been a few days since David sent the music email and he hasn't heard anything specifically about it from her. Not that he should, really, because it's kind of the point that she doesn't know it's from him.
But still, he found out through Allison's happy texts, gossipy phone calls, and Twitter updates how she felt about all the other gifts so far and he just. He really wants to know what she thinks of all the songs. If she likes them; if they mean to her what they mean to him.
If she noticed how he signed it.
He can't take it anymore, so he calls her later that day, and hopes he can figure out a way to bring it up when he isn't even supposed to know it happened.
David's done a lot of stuff he didn't think he could do since he started all this, so he feels brave and maybe a little bit hopeful.
"Oh, hey, did you get anything new from Santa?" he asks, when they're mostly done talking about how happy Allison's dogs were to see her when she got back from New York this last time. David has always secretly thought that his fish swims a little faster when he first gets home and he told Allison, who didn't even think that's weird.
"Oh snap! Big news!" she says and kind of... squeaks a little? But it's a good-sounding squeak. "Santa likes me!"
"That is big news," David agrees, hoping she'll say more.
"He's now signing the gifts as my Secret Admirer officially, or at least I hope, 'cause there's only been one so far. But if the next one comes signed 'Admirer', I swear, I'm planning the wedding, dude. 'Cause all of his gifts have been freakin' sweet."
David smiles down at his shoes.
She tells him about the anonymous email with all the music and goes into detail about every song. David bites his lip and tries not to say much, because he's afraid he might burst with what wants to come out.
* * *
"Hey, you should go to bed," David says, when Allison yawns for the third time since they started talking. "You sound tired."
"Yeah, soon," she agrees and then sighs. "Touring sucks. No, not touring. Touring. You know what I mean?"
"Oh yeah, totally," David does know. They both love performing and would never, ever not want to tour. It's just all the people everywhere and the traveling and never being still and all the-
"All the noise," Allison reads his mind. "It's so hard to just find somewhere quiet for like, five freakin' minutes, ever."
"Yeah," David says, and they both fall quiet. "It's nice to have someone that I. It's nice that I can talk to you and you. Get it."
"You too," Allison agrees, and it makes David feel really good to know. "Now you're officially never-" she interrupts herself with a big, noisy yawn, "-never getting rid of me."
"And you officially need to go to bed," David can't stop smiling. "Sleepyhead."
* * *
There has to be something he can give her to help her escape for just a little bit when she needs. But every venue's different, and there are buses and planes and vans and green rooms and dressing rooms and David can't think of anything that will work no matter where she is.
But then the next night, when he's putting the new Alicia Keys album on his iPod, he figures it out.
The SkullCandy website (thanks to his sisters for this one too) has this really cool pair of noise-canceling headphones with black, white, red and pink swirling together all along the headband into a crazy burst of color on the earpieces, and a tiny red heart right at the center. David stops looking when he finds this one; it's pretty much perfect.
He has the package shipped to the House of Blues venue in Orlando, where Allison's going to be singing in a few days. If it gets there early, they'll hold it for her, but this way he knows she'll get it for sure.
There's no option to send a message with the gift shipping this time (just a 'from' name, so David types S. Admirer) and he's kind of secretly glad, because he's running out of things to say that aren't Oh, hey, it's me.
The tour is almost over, four more shows over five more days now, and he thinks that by the time he's back in California (she'll be back in California by then too) he might be ready to say that.
* * *
David's never planned a date before.
David's never really had a date before, actually, not a real one. Not one where he asked a girl out and she said yes (she would say yes... right?) and he planned out a whole series of date activities and he picked her up and they went on a date.
As helpful as Cook's advice has been so far, David doesn't even mention it to him, because he feels like he should do this on his own. It's not hard actually. He knows so much about Allison now, and the list of things they could do on their date keeps growing because David keeps thinking of new ideas.
He thinks he'll ask her in a letter or maybe another anonymous email, as the Secret Admirer still, so she'll (hopefully) say yes for sure. Because maybe she's at least curious to find out who he is. And then when he shows up to pick her up, if she's surprised or disappointed or something then at least she's already at home and he can just... leave.
David decides not to think about that part. There's so much planning he has to do, oh gosh.
* * *
Backstage is pretty crazy, not that it usually isn't. But it's the last show of the tour, so everyone is hugging and laughing and saying goodbyes on top of all the regular pre-show running around that's always going on.
David's going to miss them all so much; it was great to see everyone again and meet all the new people, so he stays backstage with them and waits to go into his dressing room to get ready for a lot longer than he usually does.
He's nervous and excited and happy and sad and very distracted, apparently, because he doesn't notice that there's someone sitting on his couch until she say his name.
And, uh. It's Allison.
David opens and closes his mouth a couple times like a fish, before he smiles so hard he feels his face splitting in two. "Oh my gosh! Hi! Why are you-? Hi!"
"Hey!" she jumps up and hugs him really tight and for a lot longer than the last time they hugged. But then she pulls away kind of suddenly and takes a step back and twists a piece of her hair in her hand with a weird look on her face like she's nervous. David's not always good at figuring out how people are feeling just by looking, but he thinks that maybe she looks like she's... not happy about being there?
David feels a weird, cold slide through his stomach. She must have figured it out and. And she doesn't like it and. She wants him to. Stop.
"You're here to- oh," David really doesn't want to do this now. Or ever, but especially not right now, when he has to go perform in a little bit. Already he can feel a tight knot of something forming at the back of his throat.
He thought he was doing it right and she liked it and maybe liked him and. He had a list of so many things to do on their date that he was hoping there would be more dates so they could do them all. David rubs a hand across his chest.
"I'm in NYC for some stuff again. I got tonight off and sweet talked them into getting a car to drive me all the way out here to see your last show. I wanted to surprise you." For the first time, David kind of wishes Allison weren't so awesome. She frowns a little and twists a piece of her hair. "But you seem... Is it okay? That I'm here? I wasn't sure, but I thought-"
David really needs this to be over so he can go somewhere and try to make his throat stop trying to close so much before he has to go onstage.
"You figured out that I sent you all those Secret Admirer things," he says, staring at her Janis Joplin tote bag on the couch because he can't look at her. Oh gosh, what if she brought it to give it back? "You figured it out and you-"
"Whoa, hey," Allison interrupts him. "Wait. What? It was you?"
David's confused now and he lets himself look at her. Her eyes are wide and she's just kind of staring at him. "Um, yeah. Isn't that why you're really... here? To tell me to. Stop?"
"I came to surprise you for your last show, dude. Like I said." She rolls her eyes. The corner of her mouth is beginning to turn up on one side. "Really? It's you?"
"Really." The bigger her smile gets, the more David feels like he can breathe. But he has to ask again, "You just came to surprise me? Really?"
"Really," Allison echos. She holds her hands up like she's surrendering. "And I swear I didn't know 'til you said that. Smooth, by the way." She punches him in the arm lightly.
They stare at each other for a minute. Allison didn't move away too much after they hugged and David couldn't move at all, so they're still really close.
"Do you want-" David blurts out, at the same time as Allison says, "You know, I wanted-"
They laugh down at their shoes and, always a gentleman, David says, "You first."
Allison's smile turns a little playful, and it's pretty much the best thing David's ever seen. "Can you keep a secret?"
"Um." This is probably that kind of question he doesn't actually have to answer, but just in case, he says, "Yes?"
Allison laughs, but then she says, like she means it, "I really wanted it to be you."
That's. That's awesome.
"Okay, your turn," she pokes him in the shoulder.
David takes a deep breath and knows the question he's about to ask will be easy.
* * *
So Allison doesn't tell him to leave when he comes to pick her up for their date.
And they do a bunch of the things from David's list and a few from Allison's. Because apparently, all this time? She was making a list, too.