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More Than A Little True

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The magazine said
You look too old
You're kind of a slut and
Offered you ten tips for smaller pores

"So, what does your mother want for you?" Colin asked, around a giant mouthful of sandwich. Ally gave him a look. He raised his eyebrows, swallowed well before he should have, and licked his fingers.

"If I could tell you that," she said, "I wouldn't be so crazy, right?"

"Well, but, I mean, does she want you to marry rich so you'll be financially secure, or for the prestige of the thing? Does she want the networking opportunities, or does she just think you and Jake Adams looked pretty together?"

"Do I have to think about this?" Ally asked, stuffing her mouth with fries. "You and me look pretty together."

"You did say you wouldn't be so crazy if you knew what she wanted. I'm not sayin' give it to her. I'm just sayin', if you know, then you can spin," Colin said.

"Spin."

"Yeah, like how -- you think my dad likes that I'm a musician?" Colin shook his head. "But I spun it, I told him I'm learning about business and marketing from it. It's like an MBA but with cooler gigs."

Ally stared at him. "Why didn't I think of something like that? That's brilliant."

"Thank you, I'm aware," he said smugly. "And it's not a total lie. I know more about verbal contracts than a lot of law school students. So. Back to your mommy issues instead of my daddy ones. What does she want? Money, prestige, networking?"

Ally thought about it. "Can't be money. It's not like we're poor."

"Was she poor before she married your dad?"

Ally cracked up laughing.

"Guess that answers that," Colin said, amused. "So it's not money, she's never had to care about money. Is it prestige?"

"She did get super-excited when she saw the article about me and Jake in People Magazine," Ally said.

"You were in People Magazine?"

"What, your Google Alert didn't catch that?"

He sighed. "Google Alerts died when they killed their RSS reader. Totally worthless now. I'm relying on other, creepier means of finding out information about people in the building."

"Oooh, are you wiretapping? Because 5C, I think he's having a gay affair."

"So is 5C's wife," Colin said. "Marriage of convenience, they're not fucking each other at all. So! It could be prestige. But it sounds like she knows the family already, so definitely not networking."

"Has it occurred to you that my mom may not know what she wants either?" Ally asked. "She might just like shiny things."

"I want to meet your mom," Colin announced.

Ally choked on her sandwich.

"Slow down, Tex," she managed, once he'd helped her cough up a half-chewed piece of bread. She reflected that classy was not a word she and Colin were going to be defining anytime soon.

"No, like, not as your boyfriend meet the parents," Colin explained. "I mean, I follow your dad on Twitter, I feel like I already know him better than I ever wanted to. Did you see his colonoscopy Vine?"

"Why do you follow my dad on Twitter?" she rasped.

"Nosy creeper," he reminded her. "Also your stepmom is bangin'."

"God, you're gross."

"But I'm your gross," he reminded her.

Ally gave him a mistrustful look. "If you sleep with my dad's girlfriend I'll shiv you."

"Fair bargain," he agreed.

And that seemed to be the end of that.

Unfortunately for Ally, Colin had a police detective's attention span paired with a frat boy's radar for trouble.

***

Your best friends say
I'm the guy you date before
The guy you marry and
You shouldn't let me in the back door (back door)
[Note: Raspberry Beret riff]

[Okay did you just write me a song about whether I should let you do me up the butt?]
[Yes but only if you wanna]

Also unfortunately for Ally, her mom had more or less pressganged her into arranging the baby shower for Daisy.

"So, I think," Mom said, sitting amidst the remains of lunch and massive heaps of baby-themed stationery, "We should go with the Autumn Harvest theme."

"Autumn Harvest," Ally repeated.

"Yes, dear."

"For a baby shower?"

"Is there something wrong with that?" her mother asked, with the breathtaking lack of self-awareness Ally hoped she hadn't inherited.

"You don't think it's a little B-horror-movie?" Ally asked, but she trailed off a little from the biting wit she'd intended, because she was being watched. By a guy in a ball cap, who looked suspiciously like Colin, and was aiming some kind of death ray in their direction.

When he saw her looking his way, he gave her a little wave. She made a horrified shoo, go away motion under the table, but he stayed put.

"What I think is a horror movie is your ongoing treatment of Jake Adams."

Ally saw Colin stiffen out of the corner of her eye. Oh, God, the death ray was a microphone.

"Dear, he pines for you," Mom went on. "He's called several times. He says he doesn't have your home number."

"Who has a land line anymore?" Ally asked.

"Does he have your cell number?" Mom countered.

"Mom, I'm not calling Jake back."

"Why not?"

"Because he's an obnoxious jerkoff and I have a boyfriend."

Mom compressed her lips together tightly. "That...musician."

Ally waited for Colin to stand up and come over and introduce himself. She waited for his yelp of outrage. But when she looked over, he was just sitting there. She thought he might be smiling.

"Yes, Mom, the musician," she said finally. "The musician who thinks I'm cool even if I'm not a virgin -- "

"Ally!"

"Well?" Ally said, suddenly impatient. "Mom, why did you want me to be dating Jake?"

"Because he'd be so good for you, sweetheart -- "

"Yeah but why? Because like. I just told you he wasn't that good for me. He thought my sculptures were stupid and that I was immature."

Her mother gave her a look.

"Seriously, Mom. Why were you so excited for him, in specific?"

Mom looked actually a little confused for a minute. "We're not here to discuss that. We're here to plan the baby shower."

Ally sighed. "Okay. Well, what if we went with Autumn Leaves instead of Autumn Harvest? Little less...scythe-y."

***

But of all the people you know
I'm the one telling you I'd go
To the moon and back for you
And you know it's more than a little true
I'd share my ribs from Charlie Changs with you

"Have you considered becoming a party planner?" Colin asked her that evening, as he stirred a pot of pasta sauce on the stove.

"Have you considered not stalking me?" Ally retorted, dumping the bag of swatches on his couch and flopping down.

"I'm serious. You're very calm about parties, which is weird, because as a person, calm is not what you are," he said, stepping away from the pan to drop a kiss into her hair. A cloud of garlic and basil enveloped her, and she sighed.

"Why were you eavesdropping on us?" she asked.

"Nothing better to do."

"Mmhm. Why didn't you come over and say hi? I mean, you heard what Mom said about you and Jake."

"Look, I said I wanted to meet your folks, not that I wanted to force myself on them without warning you. There are limits to my creepiness, distant though they may be," Colin said, returning to the stove. "Your mom interests me as a student of human nature."

"Oh, is that what you are."

"Hey, I'm the number one wedding band frontman in Boston right now. I am totally gainfully employed."

"And I'm not, I know."

"Aw, baby, I didn't mean it that way," Colin said, giving her sad eyes. "I'm telling you, party planner. If you can deal with your mom wanting to call your sister's baby shower a HARVEST, you can conquer the world. Think of all the cake you'd get to eat."

"Can't I just whine professionally? I'm so good at that."

"Nah, you have to be a talk show host or a Republican or something." Colin tasted the sauce, humming thoughtfully. "You were right. She doesn't even know why she wanted you hooking up with the Stepford Boyfriend."

"Do you?"

"Not yet," he said cheerfully, pouring a vat of steaming water and pasta into a colander. "I'll figure it out."

"Well, when you do, shout," she said, taking down dishes from his cupboard while he mixed everything up and pulled some garlic bread (store bought; Colin's cooking skills were impressive but limited) from the oven. He caught her around the waist and kissed her hair. "You know it has nothing strictly to do with you, right?"

"What doesn't?"

"The eavesdropping and digital spying. I mean it's not like I'm suspicious of you. I'm just a nosy fuck who has no self-control."

She laughed as he let her go. "Well, I'm the neurotic slut dating you, so."

"Ally, I mean it," he said, voice dropping into his very rare 'serious' voice. "I mean, a, if you want me to stop, I will, and b, it's a habit, not motivated by suspicion. If you want me to leave your mom alone, just say the word."

"No, it's fine, whatever," she said, setting out the plates. "What if you actually figure her out? Do you know what Daisy would pay to know the secret of Mom's madness?"

"We could be hundredaires," he whispered excitedly.

***

I'm the guy who finally
Dropped the bullshit games
I'd been drowning in
The week that I met you on the stairs

The band had rehearsal that evening, which Ally had discovered made Colin almost unbearably horny for some reason. He never got that way after actual gigs, which were coming in at an increasing rate all the time, but for some reason rehearsing really set him off. She generally benefited from it, but she supposed if there ever came a time she didn't want mindblowing sex, she should probably make herself scarce on rehearsal days.

If they broke up, which -- dear God -- she hoped they wouldn't, Colin would definitely go down in history as 'the horny musician'.

At the moment he was just plain going down.

"Ugh -- Jesus Christ, how are you so good at this -- don't answer that," she added, panting, one hand grasping his headboard and the other buried in his hair.

"Practice," he hummed against her clit.

"Ah -- ah!" she gasped around a laugh, hitching her hips up just enough to change the angle of his tongue, coming in a shuddery, sweaty heap on the bed. He kissed her just above her bellybutton and slid up to flop next to her, licking his lips.

"You good to go, or you want to cool down first?" he asked, grinning smugly.

"If I told you to just go ahead and put it in, would that suck the romance out of the relationship?" she asked.

"No," he said eagerly, and rolled over on top of her, big hands spreading her thighs, sliding up her hips to pin her down. For all everyone had said about Colin, for all she'd said before she knew him well, both to his face and to her friends, she couldn't deny that he was at least a fucking grownup about sex. Colin was never going to magically pull a guitar pick from her vagina or screw around with puppets or pretend that fucking outdoors was some kind of spiritual thing when really he just wanted to fuck outdoors. And if they did fuck outdoors they'd do it on the futon on the roof of the building like civilized people.

Colin was focused and wholly unpretentious about sex, which meant he sometimes looked ridiculous, but she never felt like she was taking second place to his kinks.

"Hey," she said, mouth going before her brain could shut her down, "what kinda kinks do you have?"

Colin, panting, stopped mid-thrust and opened his eyes.

"Right now, you want to have this conversation?" he asked breathlessly. "Are you, uh, are you bored, should I -- "

"No! No, it's one of those thoughts. Sex thoughts. Stray thoughts. You're doing great," she said, and then added, "Champ."

She tried to make it sexy, despite the fact that nobody in the history of time had ever made "champ" sound sexy.

He looked oddly constipated for a second, not like his usual sex face, and then he broke down into truly undignified breathless giggles. After a second he rolled off of her, onto his back, and threw his arms over his head, still grinning.

"Did I ruin the moment?" she asked, curling up against his side.

"Yes," he said solemnly, then giggled again. "Oh my God. Champ."

"I just kinda, I was thinking about how you're such a grownup about sex, like, I'm not here to be your kink provider, I'm an actual person to you -- "

He looked more serious at this, lowering one arm to pull her close. "Of course you are, Ally. Look, all those girls you saw -- like, there were a lot of them, and I'm not ashamed of that, because I might have ditched on them in the morning, but when we were together they were whole people to me. I would never use you for sex. Unless you asked for that or something. Some of them did, you know."

She kissed the side of his chest. "You can put it back in if you want."

He shook his head, reaching across his stomach to pick up her hand, moving it to his dick.

"Colin, you know I'm not good at -- "

"Practice makes perfect," he replied, eyes half-lidded, his fingers still curled around hers. "Yeah, I mean, everyone has kinks, you know. Mine aren't anything spectacular."

"Yeah?" she asked, trying to sound throaty and seductive. "Like what?"

"I dunno. I have a stripper fantasy or three -- "

"Pig."

"Verbal humiliation, oh baby," he groaned, teasingly.

"I'm not pole dancing for you."

"Who said you'd be the one dancing? And um," his eyes slid fully shut, and he groaned. "Little bit of exhibitionism. I guess. Mm."

"You have a lot to show off."

"And uh -- huhh -- " his voice rose, hand tightening around hers. "I uh -- "

He didn't manage anything else before he came, arching, head tipped back and throat corded taut; she watched, enjoying the view, until he came down, a goofy smile spreading over his face. She loved that moment, both of them wrapped up in warm, golden, fuzzy endorphin clouds --

"Have you ever tried anal?" he asked.

Ally squawked in surprise and jerked back, nearly tumbling off the bed. Colin rolled to catch her, arm shooting out, and the bed shook briefly.

"Guess not," he said, and kissed her.

"What is it with guys and anal," she groaned.

"We're a giving people," he said. "We see a hole, we want to fill it."

"Colin! Ew!"

"Okay, it's not a big deal," he soothed. "I'm just saying if you were ever curious, there would be no need to dance around the subject. All you'd have to say is Colin, I want it in the butt."

"If it's so great, why don't you do it?" she asked.

"Why, do you own a strap-on?"

"No!"

"You don't need to sound so offended, lots of nice girls have their own dicks," he said. "One lady of my passing acquaintance carried hers in her purse."

"Oh my God -- "

"Ally," Colin said, kissing her. He kissed her a few times -- lips, cheeks, forehead, until she felt herself relaxing. "Ally, Ally."

"Mm."

"Would you hold it against me if I told you I wanted it in the butt?"

She opened her eyes. "Is this a ploy to get me to admit I want it in the butt?"

"Nope. I mean it's not my absolute favorite, but it's fun to shake things up." He was grinning at her. "Look, it's not a vital aspect of my sexual identity. You don't want butts coming into the equation, no butts. But I like butts."

"Okay, well, I'm putting a pin in that, and next time I'm mad at you, maybe."

"Oh, that's your kink?" he asked, eyebrows raised, and she shoved at his face, rolling her eyes. He grinned and cuddled, which was another nice thing about Colin: he had no sense of personal space.

***

Wasn't your ex-boyfriend, wasn't
Someone with a good job,
Wasn't nice or rich
Never thought I'd be anything more

"So, do I get to come to the baby shower?" Colin asked, as Ally stuffed the millionth baby shower invitation into an envelope. He took it from her and licked it (he liked licking them; he was probably getting a meal out of it) before sealing it.

"Boys don't come to baby showers," she told him.

"Why is that? Are dudes not supposed to like babies?"

"Do you like babies?"

"I fuckin' love babies."

"Well, it's girls only. We'll probably talk about vaginas."

"I also like vaginas," he said somberly.

"How does the word 'discharge' strike you?"

"Discharge? Really?"

She nodded. Colin looked thoughtful.

"Okay, you can have your all-girls baby shower," he sighed.

"Good call."

"Hey, you want to watch trashy TV and eat brownies with me tonight?"

"I have to take the invitations to the post office," she said. "Then I can. Want me to pick up some beer?"

"You are the greatest," he replied, and kissed her, and for extra effect stuck his envelope-gluey tongue in her mouth. "Don't forget the grandma gift!"

"How could I forget the grandma gift," Ally groaned.

***

But of all the people you know
I'm the one telling you I'd go
To the moon and back for you
And you know it's more than a little true
I'd even go to a Yankees game for you
[Note: Sweet Caroline riff AW YEAH]

[Oh my god am I going to be a baseball widow?]
[Did you just propose marriage to me?]
[NO]
[Don't worry, sweet cheeks, I can take being the proposee.]
[I didn't propose!]
[I believe I have it here in writing. Anyway you won't be a baseball widow, I can't fucking afford Sox tickets.]

Mom, for some reason known only to her, had wanted to be the one to mail the invitations, despite letting Ally do all the prep, so they met for lunch somewhere near a post office but still where Mom would agree to be seen with her. Mom brought Daisy, who looked weary.

"So, I thought, before the big party, I'd give you my present early," Ally said, offering Daisy a present (wrapped in the pages of a nickel-bin comic book featuring women with unlikely waists and big guns; Colin had strange passions). "And Mom, we got you something too. A grandma gift."

"A grandma gift!" Daisy repeated. "That's so sweet!"

"We?" her mother asked.

"Colin and me," Ally said fearlessly, suspecting what would follow -- but Daisy ran interference, speaking before their mother could.

"Mom, open yours first," she ordered.

"No no, sweetie, you go first," Mom said, but her fingers dug fractionally into the paper. Ally didn't even know what it was; Colin had insisted she be surprised too. She had her suspicions.

"No, go on, Mom," Daisy urged, winking at Ally. Mom hesitated, then ripped the paper open, pulling the lid off the small brown box inside.

"Oh, Ally, it's...lovely," Mom said, lifting out a little silver brooch in the shape of a bumblebee. It was really pretty; apparently Colin had good taste, even if her mother didn't think so. "Thank you, darling."

"Go on, Mom, put it on," Daisy said, as she ripped into her gift. Ally had selected these presents personally; fresh new copies of Everyone Poops, The Gas We Pass, All My Friends Are Dead, and Go The Fuck To Sleep.

Daisy looked down at them, smiled with a lip wobble, and burst into elegant, touching tears.

***

[BRIDGE MOTHERFUCKERS]

Ooh gonna spend my life
Reminding you you're beautiful
Ooh hope you spend your life
With me, my beautiful girl

[MORE BRIDGE MOTHERFUCKERS]

Later, flopped over on Colin with a beer in one hand and like four brownies gone, Ally sighed and asked, "Did you bug my mother?"

Colin petted her hair, which was nice. "Yes I did. Are you mad?"

"No. She'll never wear it so it probably won't matter."

"Why wouldn't she wear it?"

"I gave it to her, and it's tasteful."

"Thank you," he said. Ally wriggled a little, shoulders digging into Colin's chest. "I bet she does. There has to be a method to her madness."

"There really doesn't. I'd have found it by now," she said, and then, thoughtfully, "I feel weird."

Colin took a sip of his beer.

"Do you feel weird?" she asked, tipping her head back to look at him. He tapped her on the nose. "Oh my god, did you spike the brownies?"

He sat up a little. "Wait, did you not know I spiked the brownies?"

"How would I know you spiked the brownies?" she asked, trying to summon annoyance and failing.

"Do grown people eat brownies that don't have pot in them?" Colin asked. "I mean, don't you just assume…?"

"No! Grown people eat normal chocolate brownies. College kids who don't want to smell funny eat pot brownies! Cancer patients and college kids!"

"And me!" he said brightly. "And you."

"Oh my God, Colin!"

"What? It's not like we have somewhere to be tonight. I mean were you planning on taking the MCAT or something?"

"I ate four!"

"You are really intense for someone who ate four of my pot brownies," he replied. "Look, I'm sorry. I would have told you if I thought you didn't know. I thought the marijuana was implicit."

"Well, don't do it again. I'm also allergic to sage!" she added, waving a finger under his nose. He caught it and kissed it.

"No sage or pot in the brownies from now on, got it," he said, wrapping a blanket around them both. She did feel warm and relaxed and, for once, not as though she was about to inherit her mother's weird complexes.

"Well, you CAN," she said, and he laughed. "Just warn me. Hey, do we have any taquitos?"

***

Cause of all the people you know
I'm the one telling you I'd go
To the moon and back for you
And you know it's more than a little true
I'd put on a suit and tie for you

Two days later, while she was buried deep in paperwork for the new party planning company she was really just filling out paperwork for, not with any intention of filing it, or getting a loan or like, designing business cards or anything, she heard voices in the hallway. Any excuse to run away from paperwork being a good excuse, she opened the door and found herself staring at Colin, in his underwear, talking to her dad, who was in a business suit.

"Dad!" she yelped, and then "Colin!"

"Oh, hey sweetheart!" her dad said. "I knocked on the wrong door! Look at this fella!"

"I'm dating that fella," she replied, crossing her arms. Her dad made an "oh!" face and turned back to Colin.

"You're the musician!" he said, delighted. "The one who stole her from the guy with the stick up his butt!"

"Oh my God," Ally whispered, covering her face. Then she stopped, because she couldn't look away. Her dad said, "Selfie!" and held up his phone, leaning in so that Colin could get into the picture. Colin beamed and winked at the camera.

"Dad, what are you doing here?" she sighed, as he instagrammed it. "Come inside before you blog the whole building."

"Oh! Hey I'll come too, hang on," Colin said, and ducked back into his apartment.

"Hurry before he comes back," she hissed, reaching out to drag her dad away.

"But I thought you were dating -- "

"Okay!" Colin announced, bounding across the hall, now wearing jeans and a shirt that read Whale Oil Beef Hooked.

"Dad, what are you doing here?" Ally asked, trying to ignore him.

"I can't come visit my baby daughter?" he asked, poking around the apartment. He'd only been there once before, when she'd moved in. "Hey, all your sculptures have mood lighting!"

"I did that," Colin announced proudly. Her dad gave her a peculiar look.

"You can, you just...haven't," she pointed out, ignoring Colin.

"Sweetie, I just wanted to see what you were up to. And I got to meet -- "

"Colin," Colin supplied, throwing himself down on her couch. "Don't mind me, I never listen to people, have whatever father-daughter conversation you need to have."

"My life is filled with men who are not quite crazy enough to get kicked out of my home," Ally said. Her dad's smile crinkled his eyes. "Come on, Dad, spit it out," she added, sitting down at the kitchen table and shuffling the paperwork under a convenient placemat.

"Well, your mother called me," he said. Ally saw Colin's head poke up over the edge of the couch, wide-eyed.

"Mom. Called you," she repeated.

"She's worried about you, hon," Dad said.

"If this is the boyfriend thing again…"

"No, it's just...you've been out of work for five months. And I mean. She's worried you're not working, but I just thought, well, do you need help?" he asked. "Do you need rent money? Do you..."

"Yes, Dad?" she prompted.

"Do you have a secret job?" he whispered. "One you can't tell your mom about? Because you can tell me, you know, I'm cool and I won't even tweet it."

Ally thought about it. And she thought about what level of shame she was still capable of feeling. And she thought about how her dad would not just cheerfully but gleefully undermine her mother's plans for her to be a celebrated socialite or a high-achieving MBA.

"Actually," she said, leaning in and taking the paperwork out from under the placemat, "I could use some help. With my secret job."

Her dad's face lit up. From the couch, Colin clutched his mouth with his hands, eyes rolling in crazy delight.

***

Still not nice to know
But oh I charmed your sister
Daddy and I know
One day I'll make your mother laugh

The Autumn "Leaves" (her mom insisted on calling it Harvest, but Leaves went out on all the invitations) baby shower was a huge success, for the most part. Until the ambulance and the hospital and the emergency room, anyway. Ally preferred to think of it that way: as if the end of the party had just intruded on the rest of it without any relationship to it at all, like a bird pooping on a birthday cake.

Dad had written her a check, as #1 investor in the newly formed Parties My Darling, that enabled her to immediately and without digging in her couch cushions for change order a shitload of super-classy business cards. She stuck unusually close to her mother, despite all that implied, and every time someone asked her mother who she'd had to plan the party, Ally held out a business card. From the looks of it, she was going to be planning a lot of Autumn Leaves baby showers and, according to one woman Ally didn't know well but would like to, an Autumn Harvest Divorce Party. Ally didn't know you could throw Divorce Parties. She was thinking of specializing in them.

Daisy was perfect, of course. Ally sometimes wondered if Daisy just lived her life like a pharmaceuticals ad, always dressed perfectly in flowing, pastel clothes and walking along a beach or holding hands with her husband or arranging dried flowers in an immaculate gardening shed and definitely never farting.

It felt bitter to think about that, but Ally was slowly coming to the understanding that she wouldn't even enjoy arranging dried flowers in an immaculate garden shed, and she liked farting too much to never fart again.

Then, as if God was punishing Ally for being a mortal human with feelings of jealousy, Daisy said goodbye to the last guest, drifted back over to the table full of presents, smiled --

And doubled over her swollen belly with a sudden, sharp cry of pain.

***

Here's a song for
Darling Ally, perfect
as she is, I'm saying
Fuck Vogue Mag and Marie Claire
After all it's a little hard to care
[Dramatic Pause!]

Ally didn't remember calling Colin, later, but she must have, maybe even before she called Dad, because he beat Dad to the hospital. He'd clearly had to beg out of a gig -- he was in his Wedding Band Suit, the one she really liked -- and she'd never been so relieved in her life.

"Hey, are you okay? Is Daisy?" he asked, grabbing her into a hug.

"I'm fine. They won't tell us what's going on with Daisy," she said, her voice rising. "I called 911 and the paramedics got there really fast but -- "

"Hey, it's okay, I'm sure you did great," he said.

"Mom's freaking out," she said, pointing at her mother, who was losing her shit all over some poor intake nurse.

"Okay, divide and conquer," he said.

"I'll take Mom -- "

"No, you're an actual relative, you have to talk to the doctors. I'll handle your mom."

She blinked at him.

"Hey, I've been spying on her for like, half a year, I got this," he said. "Trust me?"

"Such a mistake ever saying hello to you," she said, and he kissed her forehead.

"Go kick some doctor butt, I'll get your Mom sequestered," he said. "Hey I need two bucks."

"Two bucks?"

"Coffee machine only takes cash."

She dug in her pocket and handed him a wad of dollar bills.

"What, were you going to a strip club later?" he asked, eyeing it. "Without me?"

"We were playing this baby shower game and -- just -- please. Whatever it takes."

"I got your back," he said, and bravely went to confront her mom.

She didn't actually see how he coaxed her mom away from the intake desk, only that five minutes later she was standing there, smiling as charmingly as she could and apologizing for Mom, who was just really worried about her sister, Darling, Daisy Darling, she came in with abdominal pain, mega-pregnant...

The nurse, who seemed mainly relieved to be dealing with someone who wasn't shouting, promised she'd find out and call her over the waiting room intercom as soon as they knew anything. Ally gave her name and drifted over to the waiting room, stopping in the doorway to search out her boyfriend and her mother.

Mom was sitting in a corner, clutching a styrofoam coffee cup. Colin had pulled a chair around and blocked off her view of most of the rest of the room; he was hunched over, talking quietly, elbows on thighs, hands sketching out shapes between his knees. He looked serious, not his usual fast-talk-and-a-cheap-grin expression at all, and Mom was nodding damply, wiping her eyes with...was that a handkerchief?

***

Cause of all the people you know
I'm the one telling you I'd go
To the moon and back for you
And you know it's more than a little true

"Here," Colin said, when he finally managed to detach Ally's mom from the nurse's desk. "It's probably really awful coffee, but you need to keep your strength up."

Her mom sniffled, but she took the coffee and sat down. "You're Ally's boyfriend, aren't you?" she asked. "The...musician."

He offered her a handkerchief. Ally was going to shit herself laughing when she found out, but he played a lot of weddings, it always paid to have one in his pocket for the weepers (and, late in the festivities, the drunks). She dabbed carefully at her eyes.

"It's just -- she's so young to die, and the poor baby would have to grow up motherl...l...less…"

Oh my God, he thought.

"I'm sure she's fine," he said.

Oh my God if she dies all this crazy's going to land on Ally, he thought, and then felt really awful.

"I mean, you got her here super-fast, and she's healthy and I'm sure, you know, it's Daisy, she probably took all the vitamins you're supposed to take but nobody does," he said.

"She does take vitamins," Ally's Mom allowed. Colin knew her name, he had a dossier on this woman, but in the moment he could barely remember his own name, let alone hers. He really liked Daisy, even if she was a snob about his wearing pants in Ally's apartment.

"She'll be fine. And Ally's gonna take care of finding everything out, so just take a minute and breathe," he said. "Ally's got it covered."

"Normally that wouldn't reassure me," she replied with a weak smile. "But she did do a lovely job on the party."

"Ally's great. She's totally on top of things when it matters."

"Well, you have to say that, you're her boyfriend."

"Yeah, but I only have to say that to her to score points. I don't have to tell you unless it's true," he said, and got another smile out of her. "Seriously. Everyone underestimates her. I did. Only made that mistake once."

"It is a mistake to underestimate a Darling," she agreed.

"We've got big plans now, though," he said. She blinked. "Ally's doing that party-planning thing, and I basically do nothing but party gigs now, so I can get her name out, and then she can get me hired..."

This wasn't exactly how he'd intended to pitch himself as Ally's Best Boyfriend Ever Even Better Than The Rich Douchebag, but he had, at least, finally worked out what her mother wanted, and he'd known for a few weeks now how to handle it when the time came.

"At the end of this five-year-plan she's got, we're gonna own Boston," he added confidentially.

"A five year plan," her mother said in a hushed voice.

"Anyway -- hey! Ally!" he called, glancing up to find her watching them from the doorway. "Any news?"

"No, they'll call when they know," she said, kissing him on the cheek as he stood up to offer her his chair.

"I'm gonna go get something for you guys to eat, and keep an eye out for your dad and uh. Uh."

"Eddie," Ally supplied.

"Yeah! Okay. You stay there," he said, and kissed her, and retreated towards the cafeteria, because Ally and her mom needed food and also he was starving and he loved hospital cafeterias.

"So," he heard Ally say, as he left, "That's Colin."

"He's beautiful," her mother said. Colin, hiding just outside the doorway, preened. "He looks very nice in his musician costume."

"I think it's just a suit, Mom."

"I like him," Ally's mom whispered, and he heard Ally choke on a sip of coffee.

Mission accomplished.

***

Cause of all the people you know
I'm the one telling you I'd go
To the moon and back for you
And you know it's more than a little true

So then Ally became an aunt, a month early.

It was four in the morning by the time they convinced Dad to stop instagramming the baby (who was tiny but healthy) and Mom to go home instead of calling everyone she knew and Eddie to stop freaking out and let poor Daisy sleep. And so it was five by the time they wearily climbed the stairs, Colin hauling his guitar and amp, Ally carrying her shoes and limping. He followed her brainlessly into her apartment, fell down on the bed while she was still undressing, and groaned with pleasure at finally being horizontal.

"I'm too old for this," he mumbled, as she took off her dress.

"Was that a handkerchief you gave my mom?" Ally asked.

"Weddings," he slurred. "Everybody cries. Gets me big tips."

"Hmf," she managed, tumbling over onto the bed, burying her head in his shoulder. "Why does Mom like you?"

"Scuse you."

"I just! I mean!"

He laughed and rolled over, curling up around her. "Because I finally figured out what your Mom wants."

"Oh God, it's too early in the morning."

"Yeah I'm gonna sleep till like...January."

"Noooo you have to tell me, now I can't sleep until I know."

Colin pulled her in close and kissed her hair. "Your Mom wants someone who knows what he's doing."

"Well, that's filthy."

"Not like that. Although, of course, I am that too."

She wanted to punch him in the kidneys but he was all warm and his kidneys were hard to reach.

"All she really cares about is that whoever you're dating sounds like he knows what he's talking about and nothing he does can ever fail."

"You don't have a plan. You have a guitar and a really good pot brownies recipe. You fail all the time."

"Fake it till you make it, baby."

"When has that ever actually worked?"

"Worked on you."

"Asshole."

"Whatever you do, don't turn into your Mom."

"Asshole!" she laughed.

He hummed cheerfully. "I do have an idea. I'm gonna write you a song."

"A song?"

"Yep. I'm gonna write a dumb pop song and get rich, and then we'll be fabulously wealthy rockstar slash party planners and have lots of adorable punk babies."

"You're right," she said.

"About what?"

"You do almost sound like you know what you're doing."

Cause of all the people you know
I'm the one telling you I'd go
To the moon and back for you
And you know it's more than a little true

Ally, I wrote this dumb song for you.

[And close with a Three Times A Lady riff.]

That was "Pop Song" by former wedding band 6A out of Boston, topping the charts again this week. 6A frontman Colin Shea is on his honeymoon this week with new wife Ally Darling, so we're making sure he gets his royalties anyway. Let's have a classic by 6A from their demo tape days, "Weddings F***ing Suck"!