Chloe sat slumped in her chair at the kitchen bench, watching as Aubrey attempted to cook lunch in an effort to cheer her up. Chloe knew for a fact that Beca had made her own way home last night, since Jesse had apparently got lucky and landed the role of the best friend in a big movie coming out early next year. He'd packed up and moved to LA in what was apparently a "temporary" arrangement. The door to Beca's alcove had remained locked for the rest of the night and Aubrey had insisted it was best to leave her to think for a while. 2:30 had finally come around but when Chloe went to check on Beca again, the door was open and her stuff gone.
"Honestly Chloe, pull yourself together. We've got more important things to worry about that than that stupid girl." Aubrey slid a plate of steaming noodles across the counter to the redhead, who sighed. "As long as she's still spinning for us I don't see what the problem is."
"She's not stupid." Chloe muttered as she fiddled with the charm on her wrist and ignored the food. "I really like her."
"You and me both, she's making us rich." Aubrey replied.
"You know that's not what I mean." Chloe grumbled.
"No, but it's what you should mean. I'm telling you, there's nothing good that can come of chasing her."
"Like you can talk," Chloe snapped, "How long has it been now since you've dated a guy for longer than a month?"
The blonde bristled in response to the barb and Chloe quickly tried to backtrack. "No look, sorry, I didn't mean that Bree. Last night really shook me up."
"And you think moping around like this is going to fix anything?" Aubrey raised her eyebrow as she took a bite from her own plate.
"What are you talking about?"
"I mean Beca. Have you done anything about her since last night? Texted? Rung?"
"You told me to leave her for a bit." Chloe frowned. Aubrey's sudden mood changes could be so confusing.
"That was last night, she's had time to think since then! If she hasn't done anything until now then the ball's back in your court."
"Since when do you use sport metaphors?" Chloe asked in bemusement.
"I pick these things up." Aubrey brushed the comment aside, "And speaking of which, I've been thinking of adding a weekly zumba class to my schedule on top of my usual pilates session, you should join. I've heard it's good for stress."
Chloe had to swallow her tongue to keep from pointing out that Aubrey was the stress head, not her. The blonde girl's good moods were so rare though, it wasn't worth biting at the small comment and ruining it.
"I'll think about it." Chloe agreed.
"Great." Aubrey smiled widely, "I'll add it to our weekly planner. Now, as for your lady situation, I've got an idea. I think she likes you, so that's not a problem. From what you've told me, it seems like she can't figure out what she's meant to do next, and unless you do something, she's going to keep waiting."
"But I already tried to kiss her." Chloe pointed out.
"Yes, and how well did that work out for you? I know the type, she's afraid of commitment and then feels sorry for herself when nothing works out. She needs to realise on her own that you're too good of a catch to let slip by. She doesn't know yet what she's missing out on." Aubrey paused for both breath and effect, "She needs to be smacked in the face with her feelings for you."
"So what do you suggest then?"
"Easy." Aubrey smiled wickedly, "We'll make her jealous."
Beca was late again, and once again blamed her lack of transport. She didn't burst in the door this time though, and walked over rather awkwardly. Her makeup seemed to stand out even more than usual and she averted her eyes from Chloe's as she slumped into one of the chairs Aubrey had set out for them, over near Amy.
"Woah girl," The large blond exclaimed in response to Beca's dark appearance, "I know it's your style thing, but you really gotta keep that gunk under control! You look like some kind of racoon. Either that or you got head butted straight in the face. Now neither of those options is a good look and I should know, I was a semi-professional make-up artist back in Australia. Had great practice on a couple of the drop-bears I kept in my room. Now I can see here you're going for the natural look, but I just don't think it's working for you."
"Ahem." Aubrey cleared and throat and interrupted Amy from the front of the room, "I appreciate you trying to help out your fellow team members Amy, but maybe you could find a more suitable time. Now, as you all know I've called today's meeting to discuss the limited success we've been having with the walkie talkies. Lily if you could bring me yours please, I think I've found a way to adjust the volume…"
"We could have taken you." Chloe spoke quietly, leaning to her left and studying Beca's slouched form.
"Sorry." Was Beca's only response, her eyes not lifting from the floor.
"I need to speak to you." Chloe tried to beg the smaller girl, but her words were drowned out by the commotion at the front of the room.
"AMY NO! These are expensive pieces of equipment!"
"Stress less Blondie." Amy held the walkie talkie in her hand away from the jumping Aubrey and a confused looking Lily. "I used these all the time when I owned a trucking company in Tassie, we just pull this dial off and… oh fu-."
At 11:30, the time Aubrey had set, Chloe made her way over to the bar, the designated meeting point. Despite her insistence on punctuality, the blonde wasn't anywhere to be seen, so Chloe moved round to the side of the bar and slumped against the doors.
"Having a long night babe?" Stacey chirped, continuing to serve customers as she spoke.
"Just tired," Chloe replied, somewhat truthfully.
"Oh tell me about it," Stacey nodded, "I haven't had a night off from sex all week. It just gets too much sometimes."
"I'm sure it does." Chloe grimaced, "Got anything strong for me?"
"Try this." Stacey handed her a drink coloured a funny red, "It's been working for me all week, you're in good hands. Oh, here comes Aubrey, quick, look like you're doing something important!"
With that Stacey spun around and promptly resumed pouring drinks, flashing the approaching Aubrey a bright smile over her shoulder. Aubrey strode towards them and pushed through the swinging doors to the bar, grabbing a drink straight from Jessica's hand and drinking half in one gulp.
"I needed that one," She exclaimed a second later, setting her unfinished glass down on the bench, "How are you?"
"Nervous." Chloe wrung her hands, eyeing off her own drink that tasted just as funny as it looked. "I've got a bad feeling about this."
"It's the oldest trick in the book, it'll work." Aubrey replied, waving her hand airily. "Have you picked your target?"
"My target?" Chloe almost giggled, "No I haven't seen anyone."
"Honestly Chloe, you've been looking all night and haven't found anyone? There, look, he's perfect."
Chloe looked to where Aubrey was pointed and saw who she meant. A tallish guy with brown hair, he was wearing a simple shirt with nice jeans. He was good looking too, probably someone she would have gone for a couple of years ago.
"What do you think?" Aubrey prompted impatiently.
"He looks fine, I guess."
"Of course he does, I picked him. Right, step two then. It's currently-" Aubrey checked her phone, "11:40. Think you can do it by 12?"
"Yes but, I just- I just don't know if this is the right thing to do Bree. I don't want to hurt her."
"Don't be stupid, you're not chickening out now are you? Trust me, she'll be all yours after tonight, I've done this hundreds of times."
"And you're single." Chloe muttered under her breath. Suddenly there was a crackle from under Aubrey's jacket and a faint voice could be heard. Aubrey grabbed the walkie talkie out and her it to her ear, furiously turning up the volume dial.
"Honestly!" She exclaimed, "Right, I've got to go, Lily needs me for something. At least I assume she does. I'll be ready at 12, good luck!"
With that, she strode off again, and Chloe was left standing alone with her awful drink.
"This better work." She sighed to herself and quickly gulped the rest down.
Tom was his name apparently, he was 25, and studying marketing. These were just a few of the facts Chloe had learnt about her 'target' in the last 10 minutes that she'd first spent introducing herself, and then trying to keep his hands off her.
'Only five more minutes,' she thought to herself desperately, as she did a little shimmy to dislodge Tom's hands, which were placed firmly on her sides, and moving upwards.
"I love this song!" He shouted at her, and Chloe had to keep herself from gagging at the smell of his breath.
"Same." Chloe replied, and she really did like this song. It was one of Beca's remixes, a 'Beauty and a Beat' remake. "I know the DJ." She blurted.
"Really?" Tom looked impressed, "She's good."
Chloe nodded and resumed her half-hearted dancing, with Tom pressed close to her. Up in the alcove she could see the top of Beca's head, with her headphones planted firmly planted over her ears, but still no Aubrey. What was she doing? It was 11:58 already, in two minutes she was meant to be up there with Beca. They, or rather Aubrey, had decided that she would point out Chloe at midnight, pretending that the redhead had sent Aubrey with a request for a song.
One minute to go, and still no blond hair.
"I'm going to get another drink." He said suddenly, allowing his hand to trail over Chloe's lower back as he moved.
"Wha-No, wait!" Chloe stuttered; Aubrey had finally appeared in the alcove.
"What?" Tom replied, raising his voice over the music.
"I'm not thirsty." Chloe lied desperately. Aubrey was talking, and the headphones had disappeared from Beca's head.
"But I am-" Tom started, but Chloe had seen Aubrey point from the corner of her eye and closed the gap between Tom and herself, screwed her eyes shut and kissed him, latching onto his jumper. The boy eagerly kissed her back, and Chloe tried unsuccessfully to push the thoughts of what Beca would be thinking right now from her mind. When Tom pulled back after a few moments to announce with a grin that he could probably go without that drink for a while, she glanced up to the alcove and felt a pang in her stomach when she saw both Beca and Aubrey gone. In a second Tom was leaning again, and any chance of finding either of the girls in the next few minutes was lost.
"Thank God." Chloe breathed out in relief, joining Aubrey in the bar. "That took way too long to get away, he wanted me to go home with him."
"How'd you get away?" Aubrey asked, and offered her one of the funny red drinks, "Here, have this, you look like you need it."
"No they're gross, I had one before." Chloe shook her head, "He went to the bathroom, so I bolted."
"How was he? He looked hot."
"Horrible," Chloe started to giggle as she remembered, "He kissed like a washing machine."
Aubrey grinned, "How does someone kiss like a washing machine?"
"I don't know," Chloe laughed, "But he did! How'd it go with Beca?"
"All fine, I pointed you out, and you kissed him right then. Perfect timing."
"Was she suspicious?"
"No idea, she put on the song that I had said you wanted right away, and then left for the bathroom. I haven't seen her since. I'm sure it worked though, you were really going for it out there."
"She's not back," Chloe realised, ignoring what Aubrey was saying.
"What?" The taller girl frowned, following Chloe's gaze up to the DJ's alcove, where Beca was nowhere to be seen. "She has to be, her music's still playing."
"No," Chloe muttered, trying to stop the panic rising through her, "No she can queue songs."
"What are you talking about?"
"She can put her songs on queue Aubrey! They just keep playing even though she's not there. Listen, she's not mixing anything."
They were both quiet, and sure enough Chloe was right. There was a remix playing at that moment, but without any of the usual effects Beca added while she was working.
"I'm sure she's fine," Aubrey soothed the redhead, though she was frowning herself. "Wait, I'll ask the others."
Chloe watched as Aubrey pulled out her walkie talkie, though she knew already the blonde wasn't going to get the answer they wanted. Fat Amy's voice crackled out of the speaker in response to Aubrey's question.
"Beca? Yeah she left out the back, said she'd only be a minute."
"Did she say what she was doing?" Aubrey asked.
"Yeah, said she was grabbing something from her car."
Aubrey breathed a sigh of relief and turned to Chloe with a smile.
"See, what did I tell you? And you doubted me."
The taller girl's bright smile faltered at the look on Chloe's face.
"She doesn't have a car Bree."