Disclaimer: I do not own Pitch Perfect or any of the characters! I also do not own the show that this story is a spin off of. Or those characters. Basically, I own nothing.
Beta'd By: Vanamo! ...I also had some help from the wonderful OccamsRazr!
A/N: If you know what show this story is based on, props for you! If not, sit back and enjoy the ride! ...and keep in mind that feedback is HIGHLY appreciated. I'm trying out a new writing style and I'm quite insecure about it, so be honest but kind, please.
Warning: This fic will be dark (though not quite like the other fics out there). But if you only like fluff, turn back now.
Come up to meet you,
Tell you I'm sorry.
You don't know how lovely you are.
I had to find you,
Tell you I need you,
Tell you I set you apart.
"I still don't understand why you think being five minutes early to something is considered being late."
"Because you're supposed to be fifteen minutes early, Chloe." Aubrey grunts and yanks her oversized black suitcase out of the trunk of the car then sets it down on the asphalt. "I've told you this a million times." She pulls up the handle of the suitcase and shuts the trunk door with a loud thump that temporarily silences a flock of noisy seagulls then double checks it to make sure it's closed. Her lips press together and her shoulders tense as she turns to face Chloe and relays the explanation in a confident, scripted tone. "Anything earlier than fifteen minutes makes you look too eager; anything later makes you look like you don't care." She's been trying to engrain that knowledge in Chloe's head for years now, mostly just to keep her from continuously being two hours late to everything she attends. But considering they nearly missed their plane and were thirty minutes late to pick up their rental car, the efforts were still proving to be futile. Sometimes Aubrey still gets calls from Chloe's job (since Chloe is terrible at remembering to take her phone off silent) that consist of not-so-friendly reminders that Mrs. Thompson in Room 103 does not particularly enjoy Chloe's first graders and that Chloe really needs to learn to call when she's going to be late if she wants to keep her position. If Chloe didn't look like a kicked puppy while being lectured, Aubrey has no doubt that she'd be unemployed. She sighs and counts their luggage to make sure they have everything.
"Beca's not going to think we don't care because we're on time," Chloe argues with an almost amused tone that makes Aubrey shoot her a look. Chloe locks the car doors with a button on a key ring then hoists the strap of the smallest of her two bags up over her shoulder. "I think she'll understand. Since when has Beca ever been early for anything?" She looks up at Aubrey and clutches her carryon bag against her body.
"Never," Aubrey answers flatly. She leans down and picks up her own shoulder bag, which is the same color as her suitcase – unlike Chloe's bags which are a mix of clashing light blue and deep purple. She meets Chloe's eyes as she's straightening herself back up and holds her gaze. "Because she doesn't care." She pauses briefly then adds, "That's why she doesn't have a job." She knows she's almost daring Chloe to try to argue with that last comment. It seems like all she hears about is how 'cool' Beca's job is. Her lip curls and she adjusts the strap of her bag so it's not digging uncomfortably into the collarbone. God, she can't believe she let Chloe talk her into this. "Fifteen minutes, Chloe," she tries to reinforce the point of the conversation again, but unfortunately she knows that the topic has already switched to the one person she doesn't want to talk about and the one person that Chloe can never shut up about. It's been over four years since they've graduated, and everything still seems to revolve around none other than Beca Freakin Mitchell. She's slowly beginning to accept that she'll never escape that woman. But that doesn't mean she has to like her.
"What are you talking about?" Chloe furrows her brows and shakes her head. "I told you she's a DJ in LA. Just because she doesn't have a job in her major doesn't mean she doesn't have a job, Miss Intern for a Lawyer Attorney at Law. Plus," she smiles and straightens up, letting her bag fall so it's hanging at her side, "we're going to a wedding, not work. We don't have to think about work for a week, Aubrey."
Aubrey thinks that's easy to say for someone who plays with finger paints all day. "I'm not thinking about work," she lies smoothly. She presses her lips together again and turns to look out over the docks as she tries to not think about everything she's going to miss while she's away on this 'vacation'. It's hard. She likes work. She doesn't like the rickety wooden walkway that stretches out over a choppy bay that she's looking at. And she especially doesn't like the idea of sailing across that water. The last time she was on a boat, it was a ten story, capable cruise ship that was well equipped with a jacuzzi and surround sound in the Bahamas. The boats she's looking at now could be paddleboats compared to that one. She turns her nose up at them. "I'm just saying maybe if she had a job in her major, she could have rented a yacht and picked an island that doesn't smell like fish to get married on." She makes a hand motion to their surroundings and not-so-subtly scowls at the waiting ferry that is assaulting her eyes. The briny air does equal damage to her nose, and it leaves a salty aftertaste in her mouth as the wind tries to blow away her ever-stylish straw hat. She lets go of the handle of her suitcase just long enough to press it back down on her head. Being so adamant about her disapproval eases some the heavy anxiety that weighs down on her chest.
"Aubrey, all islands smell like fish," Chloe says in a tone that Aubrey suspects she talks to her students in, "They're surrounded by ocean." She takes a few steps toward the ferry then stops abruptly and turns to face her with an excited grin. "You know, I was teaching my kids about marine life the other day and-"
"Hawaii doesn't smell like fish," Aubrey cuts her off with a petulant retort. It's the first thing that popped into her mind. She already knows all about Chloe's adventures in teaching about marine life. Their refrigerator is covered in first grade drawings of fish (each with a barely legible fact) that make Picasso look like he only ever did Realism. She can barely read any of them, but she can't even get a glass of water without at least noticing the one that says 'seehorsis are not reely horsis'. (And, okay, so maybe it always brings a smile to her face, but that's not the point.)
"You've never even been to Hawaii," Chloe bites back lightly, "It could smell like that weird pulp mill on the way to the mall that you always take the long way around so you don't have to pass it, for all you know."
Aubrey makes a moue and steps forward then stops beside her. "That's still not fish," she replies without bothering to hide the bitterness in her tone, "And I still don't want to be here." She yanks on her suitcase and walks toward the ferry without bothering to look back at the car. If she gives it one last glance, she knows she'll give in to the desire to drive it straight back to the airport. "Plus, Hawaii smells like Coconut Leaves and Berry Sangria," she announces.
"That's Bath and Bodyworks' summer collection," Chloe corrects her. Aubrey just ignores her and keeps walking.
"Aubrey, wait," Chloe calls after her. Aubrey stops several feet away and turns to make sure that Chloe is following. Chloe pulls on her suitcase where one of the wheels is caught in a crack in the sidewalk. It doesn't budge. She looks back at it and gives it a hard tug that nearly sends her sprawling but she stumbles and catches herself before she falls. She gives Aubrey a sheepish look then takes several swift steps to catch up with her again. Aubrey shakes her head and keeps walking. "Come on, this is going to be fun!" Chloe insists convincingly and gives Aubrey a good-natured swat on the arm. The keys jingle in her hand and Aubrey rubs where they hit her elbow. "It's going to be like that movie Bridesmaids or something," she continues.
Aubrey stops again and turns to face her. "Chloe, have you ever seen that movie?" she inquires with a shake of the head. "If it turns out like that, I am not even getting on this boat."
Chloe halts just before she crashes into her then pauses. "Okay, that was a bad example," she admits. She chews on her lower lip and makes an expression that Aubrey has come to realize will be followed by a notoriously bad attempt to save herself. "But it's still going to be really fun!" She grins at Aubrey, who just gapes at her as though she's grown a second head then turns around to continue her reluctant trudge toward the ferry. Chloe speeds after her again. "It has to be fun. It's a wedding!"
That it is. Aubrey lifts her gaze to look at the decorated ferry, complete with streamers and a large sign that reads 'There Are Millions Of People In This World, But In The End It All Comes Down To One'. Jesse's doing, no doubt. Beca has been texting Chloe for the last several weeks about how the entire wedding was turning into one of those sappy romance movies that she really hates. Aubrey doesn't see why she would have a problem with it being sappy when she should have a problem with its location. Some island off the coast of Seattle? Really? She knows Beca argued the matter for a few months, but Jesse's desire to return to some old vacation spot from his childhood won out. She doesn't really understand how Beca and Jesse work, but then again, a lot of people say the same about her friendship with Chloe. They never agree on anything. She's torn from her thoughts by Chloe's persistent encouragement.
"I promise it's going to be great, Aubrey, okay?" Chloe insists again.
Aubrey glances back at her. "You said that about the ICCAs during our junior year of college too," she reminds her. She lifts her suitcase up onto the ramp that leads to the ferry then steps aside as one of the crew members steps in to assist with their luggage.
"Well, maybe you won't puke on the boat," Chloe replies optimistically without missing a beat. It doesn't seem to occur to her until after she opens her mouth and Aubrey is giving her a look that encompasses everything from disgust to exasperation that she said the wrong thing. Her teeth clench and she diverts her gaze to the ground as she kicks at a nail sticking out of the ramp.
"Real nice, Chloe," Aubrey admonishes her.
"Let's just find Beca, okay?" Chloe looks up and offers an apologetic smile. She abandons her luggage near the ramp and takes Aubrey's arm. Aubrey realizes that once this boat leaves the dock, there is no getting out of this. Chloe seems to realize this too because she half-drags Aubrey on board and away from the ramp. "This is exciting. We haven't seen Beca in like two years now," Chloe gets back to the reason they're there.
"By choice," Aubrey reminds her and scrunches her forehead. She's careful not to trip as Chloe keeps pulling her then comes to a stop next to a table. She eyes the refreshments, which at least look decent, and the typical pastel colored decorations. Nothing about this screams 'Beca' at her. But who knows how much a person could change after two years.
"By your choice," Chloe corrects her rather sorely.
Aubrey snaps her head to the side to look at her when she registers her tone. "She hurt you," she defends her decision without a hint of regret.
"People get engaged," Chloe replies with a tight smile, "I got over it."
Aubrey just shrugs her shoulders and chooses not to think about the whole situation. She turns away from Chloe to look around again, this time at the people. Either there is a small guest list or she and Chloe are two of the first people to arrive. Given that Beca isn't exactly timely, she assumes that the people she socializes with are the same way. She doesn't even recognize any of the people that are already there, aside from Beca's dad and his wife. They're grinning and whispering to each other on the other side of the boat. He brushes her hair out of her face. Aubrey sighs and just hopes to the aca-gods that she and Chloe aren't the only Bella alumni that Beca has invited. She got wind from Chloe that Jesse had invited the Trebles, and Aubrey will be damned if she is spending a week on some crummy island with Beca Mitchell and a bunch of egotistical dirtballs. They were all probably fat and balding by now though. She smirks. Aca-men aged prematurely. Aca-ladies, on the other hand, stayed flawless for years to come.
She stares longingly out over the dock at the rental car. She could leave. Beca wouldn't care. Aubrey already knows that Beca only invited her because of Chloe – and, apparently, because she couldn't think of anyone better to include as a bridesmaid. Beca seems to be as enthusiastic about this whole wedding thing as Aubrey is about recent music. She knows if she leaves, she's going to eventually have to deal with Chloe's tears though. She swears that Chloe makes herself cry sometimes because she knows Aubrey can't stand seeing her upset. It's not fair. She plants her feet flat on the deck. "I don't get why they're even getting married to begin with," she groans.
She doesn't expect the disembodied reply of, "I heard I'd get better health benefits."
Aubrey turns to the side where Beca is now standing and doesn't bother to hide the disgusted look on her face. Beca may have helped her win the ICCAs, but Aubrey won't forget the bad terms that they ended on afterwards. She won't forget the heartbreak that Beca Mitchell caused. Beca has no idea how many nights Aubrey stayed up holding Chloe as she cried over her or how Chloe's Tequila-tinged hazes always somehow lead to one-sided conversation about what could have been. She folds her arms and purses her lips together as she stares down her nose at the bride-to-be without uttering a word. She wants to gag at how much Beca still looks like she did when they were in college, ear monstrosities and all.
"She's kidding," Jesse informs them from where he's standing beside Beca. He glances down at her. "You're kidding, right?" His insecurity almost amuses Aubrey. It's no secret that Beca is a flight-risk. She won't be surprised if Beca never shows up to walk down the aisle.
"I'm kidding," Beca assures him and shoots him a perplexed look. She faces Aubrey and Chloe again and musters up the worst welcoming smile that Aubrey has ever seen then lifts her arms and slaps them back down against her sides. "I'm shocked you came," she admits.
"Of course, we came," Chloe answers softly. Her tone reminds Aubrey too much of when they had waited up for Beca after she was arrested years ago. "Even if I wasn't your maid of honor, I would still be here." Chloe steps forward and wraps Beca in a hug, still completely oblivious to Beca's need for personal space. If Aubrey wasn't so uncomfortable standing there alone, she might smirk. Instead, she just crosses her arms tightly across her chest and eyes Chloe as if she might need to jump in and save her at any given moment. "Aubrey would be here too," Chloe adds with too much confidence for Aubrey's taste. The corners of Aubrey's lips twitch.
Beca awkwardly pats Chloe on the back and waits to be released before she turns to face Aubrey. "Aubrey," she greets her tersely.
"Beca," Aubrey matches her tone. They two of them eye each other in displeasure and Aubrey thinks that if they hated each other any more, they'd probably be rolling around on the floor trying to kill each other. Not that killing Beca would be worth rolling around on a dirty floor for.
"Uh, Fat Amy," Amy says her own name and steps off the ramp and onto the boat, successfully cutting straight through the tension. "Is this like Bellas role call? No cardio, right?"
Aubrey can feel a real grin spreading across her face. "Amy!" she exclaims with a grin and turns to face her. She can see Chloe sighing in relief at her sudden change in demeanor.
"Hey," Fat Amy greets her with a grin and tries to do a fist bump, which Aubrey hesitates to return then completely fails at. Amy turns to fist bump Beca too. Beca is much better at that than Aubrey is and Aubrey scowls to avoid blushing.
"Congrats on the whole wedding thing," Amy comments and glances around the boat.
"Thanks," Beca replies with forced enthusiasm as Jesse squeezes her shoulder.
There's an awkward silence and Amy turns to face Aubrey again. Aubrey knows that for once someone is talking to her because they just have a better connection with her than with anyone else instead of because they're trying to keep her from blowing up. Not many ladies from the Bellas really kept in touch after graduating, but Aubrey and Amy still speak. "Didn't know you were going to be here," Amy states and punches Aubrey's shoulder, "Thought you'd stay at home being a big shot lawyer or something."
"It's just an internship," Aubrey dismisses the comment but she can't help but feel smug that she has a job in her major and Beca doesn't. She knows that Beca has the job that she wants to have, but a smile tugs at the corners of her lips nonetheless. She rubs her shoulder. There is still an awkward silence going on between Chloe, Beca, and Jesse, but Aubrey is content to ignore that and engage in conversation with Amy. "I didn't know you were going to be here either." Aubrey tries to keep in touch with Amy regularly, but with their busy schedules, their friendship has been rather intermittent for the past several months. That being said, she's still probably one of the best friends, aside from Chloe, that Aubrey has. Unless that other intern which she occasionally has coffee with but never really speaks to counts. They sit in the café and read law books together in silence. Chloe never really understands that when Aubrey talks about it, but Aubrey enjoys it.
"I'm glad to see you," Aubrey says with a grin and leans forward to give Amy a light, one-armed hug. It's probably not her best idea. She makes an 'oof' noise as Amy engulfs her in a bone-crushing embrace that nearly squeezes the air out of her. She gives an awkward laugh that sounds a lot like the word 'ooh' when Amy releases her. She backs up a few steps and runs smack into Chloe, who grabs Beca's arm to steady herself. Aubrey quickly straightens her pink blouse and tries to look presentable again. Even with Amy there, she still just wants to go home. Chloe lets go of Beca and places both hands on Aubrey's arm as though she senses the thought.
Bumper boards the boat behind Amy and looks at her and the other guests. "I didn't come with her," he states and points to Amy. Aubrey narrows her eyes at him as he turns and makes his way toward a cooler of beer.
"Did he?" Aubrey mouths to Amy in disgust while at the same time Chloe mouths the same words in excitement.
"He did," Amy answers with a nod and a wink. Chloe looks elated while Aubrey gives Bumper a look of repulsion as he cracks open a beer.
Beca heaves a sigh that directs all the attention back to her. Aubrey refolds her arms and leans against Chloe as they all turn to look at her again. She wishes that she could somehow forget that Beca is even there. It would be quite a challenge since it is her wedding, but Aubrey still plans to at least try. "I thought everyone was supposed to be here by now," Beca says.
"Relax," Jesse says cooly, "They'll be here." He leans to the side and speaks through the corner of his lips, but Aubrey knows he's not bothering to hide it when he says, "You're starting to sound like Aubrey."
"Aca-scuse me?" Aubrey blurts out. She doesn't even bother to see what kind of look Beca makes at Jesse's comment. Chloe immediately slides an arm around her waist as a gesture to cool her down and Jesse looks innocently off to the side. Of course this is how it's going to be. She looks down at Chloe and breaks away from the embrace. "I'm not staying if this is what's going to happen, Chloe." She's sick of still being the one that no one respects. Jesse mouths the word 'wow' and she shakes her head at him then walks several feet away to grab a drink. She's relieved to be followed by Amy. From the corner of her eye, she can see Chloe sighing as she watches her go. But of course she doesn't jump in to defend her when Beca still has so much of her loyalty.
Aubrey grabs the bottle of beer that Amy hands her and twists it open with her bare hands. She knows that she's probably going to be whining to Chloe about the scratch it leaves later, but she doesn't care right now. Her eyes are trained on the trio in front of her.
Jesse leans down and kisses the top of Beca's head. Chloe's expression is unreadable, but Aubrey can see the hurt in her eyes. She suddenly wishes that bottle cap had been Beca's head. She fumes as she tosses it in the trash then takes a sip of beer. She's not used to the bitter taste but it isn't completely disgusting. She takes another drink.
"I'm going to go mark their names down in the guest list," Jesse says, his eyes not leaving Beca. "You gonna be okay here?"
"I don't know why I wouldn't be," Beca retorts with that forced smile again. She stares at his back as he walks away.
Chloe looks at Aubrey then furrows her brows and looks back and forth between Beca and Jesse. "Everything okay?" she inquires at Beca, her voice laced with typical Chloe-concern. Beca could have done a lot worse than break her heart and it would be just like Chloe to still put her above herself. Aubrey keeps a close eye on them.
Beca lifts her hands and hits her sides with them again. "This whole marriage thing is bullshit," she admits when Jesse is out of hearing-range. "The things you'll do for love, right?" She shakes her head and walks from Chloe, moving toward the less populated end of the boat.
"Beca!" Chloe calls after her but Beca doesn't turn around. "Right," she whispers and has that kicked-puppy look again that makes Aubrey want to make whatever hurt her pay. Chloe rubs her hands against her jeans and temporarily looks like she doesn't know where to go before she quickly turns and retreats back to Aubrey's side. She grabs the bottle of beer from Aubrey's hands and takes a long swig of it. Aubrey clenches her jaw and rests a hand on Chloe's lower back. If they have to attend this wedding, there is no way that she'll let Beca get away with making it worse than it already is.