Author's Note: I have this split into four parts, and it's already all typed up. Let me know what you think!

Beca knows it's weird.

Okay, it's beyond weird. It's fucked, and insane, and mostly it's just miserable. But she can't help it.

And Beca's tried to help it. Like, a lot. All the time.

But she can't help it, because when she falls in love with Chloe – falls in love with her constant invasions of personal space and kindness and pure, raw talent – she doesn't know. She doesn't know that the overly affectionate ginger is already in love with someone who's not Beca. Beca doesn't know that she doesn't have a chance in hell with the girl who never leaves her fucking head.

So Beca thinks, maybe. Maybe she could try out this ever-insisted upon concept of opening up, because, really, Beca already has no one. So what's left to lose, right?

But… wrong. So, so wrong.

Because it takes some time for Beca to get used to the idea (and she's not actually sure that she ever does, because it still feels like it takes a hell of a lot of effort to even begin to give herself to Chloe). But Beca thinks… pieces. She can do it in parts.

So when Chloe asks to study in Beca's room after practice one day, Beca swallows thickly and rotates in her rolling office chair, breaking away from a really intense (-ly boring) essay for her Philosophy class, and awkwardly asserts, "This is nice."

"What is?" Chloe asks absently, and Beca watches her eyes track another line in her Anatomy textbook before she looks up and grants Beca her full attention. And Beca knows it's stupid, but she doesn't think anyone's ever focused so intently on her before, so her words lodge hard in her throat.

Beca squirms a little and rolls her USB drive between her fingers, before she sweeps her hand in Chloe's direction and tries to specify, "This. Us. It's nice."

"Studying?" Chloe laughs teasingly, but her eyes are glinting in that knowing way she has about some things, and Chloe's waiting for more. Beca realizes that Chloe wants her to say it, even though her freaking eyes tell Beca that she probably doesn't need the verbal confirmation, anyway. So Beca huffs, tosses the USB drive onto the desk, and unwittingly scoops up her pencil to replace it, tapping beats against the edge of the wood.

"Friends," Beca manages eventually, adding a would-be-casual shrug that is actually anything but, because Beca knows she's been working up to giving Chloe some intimate knowledge about her life for weeks now, and she's nervous. "I've never really had any before. It's… nice, dude," Beca repeats, and can't help but think that it's incredibly lame.

But Chloe smiles soft and slow and sweet, even if Beca thinks there's some spark in her eyes that should definitely be there, but isn't.

"Yeah?" Chloe inquires, biting her lip. "I guess I'll be your first, huh?"

And she grins mischievously, making it seem somehow incredibly filthy to Beca, so she flushes bright red and avoids looking at Chloe for a solid twenty seconds. But then Chloe giggles (and Beca thinks it sounds like music), and when Beca looks up at her, there's something sincere in Chloe's eyes that just bleeds with understanding, and Beca knows that Chloe gets it. Chloe knows that Beca's taking a step in her direction. And Beca's exposed, now. But, oddly, she doesn't feel like she's waiting for the other shoe to drop. So Beca keeps working on her Philosophy and decides to roll with the punches. Because Beca's good at that.

But when Beca (somewhat antagonistically) asks at practice the following day if Aubrey always treats her friends like they don't have voices (and, okay, maybe Beca's a little pissed that Aubrey keeps shooting down everyone's ideas), Aubrey spits something back about how Beca wouldn't know how to treat a friend anyway, because she's never even had one. Aubrey immediately clamps her lips shut, and Beca's pretty sure that the entire rehearsal space is so silent that she can even hear Aubrey's teeth clack together.

Chloe immediately nudges her elbow sharply into Aubrey's side, and, to her credit, Aubrey looks a little remorseful and shamed and really apologetic, but Beca doesn't care. Because Beca's kind of mad, and storming out of the theater. But, really, she's furious. Because Chloe shouldn't have said anything about that to anyone, but she especially shouldn't have told the blonde dictator who already hates Beca's guts.

And maybe Beca's hurt, some, too, because… because that was a secret. And Beca doesn't share secrets. Except with Chloe, and that's still new for Beca.

Beca stays mad for two days, and ignores Chloe's texts and calls, despite that they just breathe apology. But Beca knows that Chloe means it, so when she's done fuming, she can admit that, yeah, maybe she likes that Chloe thought something about Beca was important enough to tell her best friend. And, okay, so maybe it's kind of nice that Aubrey relayed her utmost regret, too – even if it was only in a Facebook message.

So Beca invites Chloe over via text, and, when Chloe doesn't reply right away, thinks that maybe she'd gone too far, and maybe she should have thought to use her big girl words and just asked for space, instead of avoiding the cause of her discomfort.

But Chloe shows up at her door ten minutes later, frowning hard and serious, holding up a peace offering of vanilla latte with extra whip (and Beca internally swoons a little, because it's her favorite kind, and Chloe remembers).

"What's this?" Beca asks, tilting her head curiously and accepting the paper cup dutifully, closing her fingers around it and shoving the door open with the back of her knuckles, gesturing with her free hand for Chloe to come in.

Chloe's big, baby blues lock in on Beca's eyes, and Beca's pretty sure that words are forming on the edges of those perfect lips, but she can't hear them at all. Because, damn it, her eyes, and Beca's distracted.

So when Chloe looks at her expectantly, nervous and now suspiciously silent, Beca clears her throat, cringes at her own lack of grace, and croaks, "What?"

But somehow Chloe mixes in amusement with all that solemnness (in a way that, Beca's convinced, only Chloe could manage so effortlessly), and repeats, "It's an apology. I shouldn't have said anything to Aubrey, and, Becs," and Beca will deny that her breath hitches, because she so should not be this happy that she's close enough to Chloe for nicknames, "I'm really, really sorry."

"I overreacted," Beca shrugs, taking a seat on her bed and scooting back until she can rest against the wall. She motions for Chloe to join her, but the redhead still looks hesitant, and sits precariously at the edge of the mattress, instead.

"But you didn't," Chloe disagrees, shaking her head in denial, and Beca knows that, but she's made Chloe feel guilty enough, and red strands of hair are drifting to cover parts of her face, so even if she wanted to, Beca couldn't stay angry with her. So Beca opens her mouth to say that she isn't mad, and is unceremoniously cut off by a rambling mess that is so atypical of the redhead that Beca's a little stunned. And it might be a little incredibly fucking cute that Chloe's so eager to defend Beca's two days of avoidance, even while she's trying to bring that avoidance to a stop. "You're a very private person, Beca, and I know that. You don't trust easily, and I know that, too. So I really shouldn't have run home to tell Aubrey those things that you trusted me with.

"But it made me really… sad," Chloe struggles to find the word, and Beca's not sure why, but Chloe keeps going like the hesitation never happened, so Beca tries to ignore that it did, "to hear that you'd never really had anyone that you could count on. And Aubrey noticed that I was… sad," and there's that hesitation again, but it goes ignored a second time, and Beca doesn't question it, "and she asked why, and, I swear, Beca, it was just like… word vomit. I couldn't even help it!"

Beca barks out a laugh, both at the phrase and the frantic, pleading look in Chloe's eyes. So she smirks, and replies, "I already forgave you, Beale. You can stop justifying yourself any time you're ready." And she bumps her shoulder against the redhead's when she finally relaxes, pushing herself up against the wall to mimic Beca's position.

"I'm glad we're friends, still, Becs," Chloe murmurs softly.

"Me too, loser," Beca laughs quietly. And she meant it, which Beca thinks is weird, because maybe (probably) she should still be mad, but it's Chloe. And that means something to Beca.

But, Beca thinks, it's Chloe. And keeping secrets isn't really her thing. So if Chloe's trying this for Beca, maybe she can try something for Chloe, too. Give and take, right?

So Beca clumsily adds, "And maybe it's okay if you tell Aubrey some stuff. If, you know, you really can't keep it to yourself."

"What?" Chloe asks, jerking her head up in surprise, but Beca's pretty sure that she heard, because her eyes are sparkling bright and happy, and she's biting her lip against a grin (which is sexy, Beca thinks), so Beca rolls her eyes.

"Just Aubrey," she emphasizes. "Sometimes," she stipulates. "And only when you have to, Beale."

Chloe beams (and Beca thinks that's just blinding, and she a little bit wants to close her eyes, because it's kind of exactly like a beam – a high beam from an oncoming car, and it hurts your eyes, but you can't look away, because, hi, potential oncoming collision here, and Chloe Beale is definitely collision-y), and the ginger latches onto Beca's arm and leans in close, nuzzling her face against Beca's shoulder. And Beca's almost positive that her organs all simultaneously leap and resettle in all the wrong places, because Chloe's breath is hot on Beca's skin, even through the flannel of her plaid shirt, and this girl is so… disarming.

Yeah, that's a really good word for Chloe. Way to go on the vocab, Mitchell, she commends herself.

And right then, with the warmth of Chloe's touch and breath (that's really, really putting the heat of her coffee to shame), and the tickle of red hair against her neck, Beca thinks, maybe. Yeah, maybe loving Chloe Beale isn't so bad, right?

But… wrong. So, so wrong.

Because when Aubrey appraises her the next day at practice with suspicion and just a little bit of approval (which, okay, wow, doesn't actually look so bad on the normally rigid blonde), Beca's insides twitch a little with discomfort. And she doesn't actually mind that Aubrey knows things about her, because Beca's given her rights to the knowledge now, and that's okay. And she thinks maybe Aubrey might get that Beca's taking a step in her direction, too.

And Beca isn't really sure why she takes that one at all, but it feels kind of nice. So Beca decides to roll with the punches. Because it's already been determined that, yeah, Beca's good at that.

So she offers a tentative smile, and Aubrey grins (downright grins at Beca), and Beca knows she's not the only Bella who thinks that's strange. Even Chloe launches herself into Aubrey's arms and presses a wet, sloppy kiss against her cheek, and Beca doesn't really have time to feel jealous, because Aubrey's still grinning at her over Chloe's shoulder, and Beca's still smiling.

But Beca thinks that Aubrey's grin is also a little disarming, so she strips off her coat for cardio and tries not to think about the encouraging slap to her ass that she (exclusively) gets from Aubrey during her third lap around the stadium seats and instead focuses on the way that Chloe's front presses against Beca's back when she helps her with the routine, and the flutter in her stomach when, somehow more intimately, Chloe's fingers tighten promisingly against her wrists once she gets it right.

When Chloe sneaks up behind Beca's chair three months later (after barging into Beca's room unnoticed, throwing her arms around Beca's shoulders) and all but rips the headphones off her ears in her eagerness to hear Beca's often-discussed mixes, Beca shuffles uncomfortably and can't take them back. Because she can just picture in her head the hurt look on Chloe's face, and even the mental image of that makes Beca infuriatingly, pathetically depressed. So she sits. And she watches.

She watches Chloe's brows furrow with her concentration, and she watches Chloe frown a little as she listens to Beca's newest mix (which is definitely, humiliatingly Chloe-inspired), and Beca twists against the rings on her fingers and thinks she should avert her eyes. But she doesn't. She can't. Because Chloe doesn't know it, but she's pretty much just ripped out Beca's soul and, keeping with the metaphor, she's walking around it and scouring it up and down for flaws (of which Beca is sure there are many) and Beca's helpless on the sidelines, awaiting final judgment.

But after three minutes, the redhead just as eagerly whips off the headphones, and looks down at Beca with something that looks a lot like awe, and she mutters meaningfully, "You're incredible, Becs."

"Yeah?" Beca asks, because, alright, Beca's kind of really insecure. Especially where Chloe is concerned.

"Yes," Chloe nods emphatically, and leans down to softly whisper her cheek across Beca's, before she's brushing a kiss against the dimple that just magically flickered to life at the edge of Beca's mouth.

Beca's face flames red and she fumbles with the cord of her headphones for a second before she gathers herself and grins (stupidly, Beca will privately concede) and mumbles an awkward but grateful, "Thanks."

Chloe shifts around anxiously for a minute, and Beca raises her brow and folds her arms over her chest. "Out with it, Beale," she demands, because obviously Chloe wants to say something, and Beca thinks that maybe Chloe's so awful at keeping secrets because even her body is against her keeping them.

"I just think," Chloe says slowly, licking her lips and outright stalling, so Beca tries her best to wait patiently (even though patience has never, ever been a trait in Beca's admittedly limited emotional arsenal).

But her patience, or lack there of, wears thin when Chloe simply fidgets some more and moves her eyes across the room for a distraction. "What is it, Chlo?" Beca sighs.

"I think that maybe I could show these to Aubrey," Chloe says quickly, and when Beca's lips part to voice her discomfort – because obviously Chloe doesn't understand what these mixes mean to her – Chloe cuts her off pretty suavely for someone who was so hush-hush about the subject a moment before. "I think maybe it might help her get you," Chloe rushes. "And I think it might help."

"Help with what?" Beca demands incredulously, because, really, she and Aubrey had been doing so much better over the last months, and arguments really only happened, like, once a week now. Which Beca thinks is pretty impressive, in comparison to the multiple daily debates that they'd engaged in before. And more of those strange interactions had been happening, too. Like, Aubrey would smile more, and Beca was even pretty positive that she'd received a few appraising glances from the blonde – and Beca might've warmed under one or two of them (i.e. turned embarrassingly almost-purple, because, actually, those looks weren't as subtle as Beca thought they could be). But then Aubrey would criticize Beca's cardio work, or the way she hit a note wrong, and they would argue again.

And, yeah, so maybe Beca thought the blonde was kind of staggering when she was angry – like a pent-up whirlwind of emotional release that was drawn toward Beca for reasons she couldn't understand. But she loved Chloe, so she bickered with Aubrey and repressed the hell out of anything else.

"I just… I want my girlfriend and my best friend to like each other," Chloe explains, and she doesn't even bother to look uncomfortable with the fact that she just revealed that, no, she's not totally straight like Beca feared. "Not just tolerate each other," Chloe finishes, and it's like there's something deeper lying in there, but Beca can't begin to grasp at what that is, because Beca's confused.

She's pretty sure that she would know if she was Chloe's girlfriend. No, Beca knows she would know that, because, seriously, it's Chloe fucking Beale, and Beca spends all of her time not spent with Chloe analyzing all of the time that she did spend with Chloe, and Beca would remember that conversation. But – oh. Oh. Beca's not the girlfriend in this scenario.

Well, fuck. That… explains a lot. And confuses her a lot, too, actually, because even though she didn't expect that Chloe could ever reciprocate her feelings (even if she'd hoped for it), Beca would be really, really upset (read: jealous) if she was dating Chloe and the redhead acted as affectionately with someone else the way that she does with Beca.

She wonders how Aubrey doesn't hate her more. And she's pretty thrown off when she remembers again that they had actually been getting along really well the past few months. So she has some trouble wrapping her head around that dynamic, too.

"Beca?" Chloe asks, nervous, now, because Beca's been awkwardly silent. "Is that – is that okay? I mean, not about the mixes, but… you know," she flutters her hand weakly through the air like that would somehow help her point materialize in front of Beca without her having to give voice to it, "about – about me and Aubrey?"

Chloe looks hopeful and curious and a lot of things all at once, but Beca can't really focus much on it, because despite her bemusement, she's pretty sure that she can hear the echo of her heart cracking, and that… well, that sucks.

So Beca nods, and turns around in her chair, honing in on her computer. "Whatever floats your boat is cool with me, Chlo," she says honestly.

Because, God, Chloe thought Beca was upset that she's gay? Fuck. No. No, no, no. Beca is upset, but only because Chloe is already taken. And Beca's hurt, when she has no right to be. So she has to be a good, supportive friend. Because that's what she is. She's Chloe's friend. Chloe's best friend, according to the ginger's assertion. So Beca can be that, if she has to be.

Chloe beams at her again, and Beca can't see it, but she can feel it heating against the back of her skull. Beca tries hard to ignore it and works on her mixes, pleased when Chloe determines that now isn't the time for further inquiries about her music. And the redhead settles comfortably across her stomach on Beca's bed like she fucking belongs there, and spreads her books out in front of her to study.

Beca a little bit wishes that she would leave, because she kind of feels like crying. But she's also glad that she still gets to have Chloe around, so she can't kick her out. So she mixes, instead, and ignores the painful roar of her heart thumping too hard against her ribs. But when Chloe leaves and presses a kiss a little too close to Beca's mouth for it not to be heartbreaking, Beca slams the door shut and buries her face in her pillow.

Beca Mitchell doesn't do heartbreak. But she knows what it's like now, and it fucking hurts.

When Beca waits for the rest of the girls to file out after practice three days later, she has to remind herself that even if she can't have Chloe, she wants her to be happy. And when Chloe gives her a curious look, Beca shakes her head and walks past her, but she can feel that stare of intrigue following her, and Beca hopes that her friend wasn't wrong, and that this will help something, even if she isn't sure what Chloe's goal is. Because Beca's feeling vulnerable enough after Chloe's recent revelation, and this won't help that feeling at all. But it will make Chloe happy. So Beca reminds herself again that she desperately wants that.

Aubrey smiles softly, but obviously with a little skepticism once she notices that Beca is waiting up for her, and not for Chloe.

"Beca?" Aubrey asks, shuffling sheet music in her arms.

"Here," Beca blurts ungracefully, and promptly blushes until she can feel it in her ears, because Aubrey's giving her that up-down look again, and, seriously? Beca already feels exposed. Because of Chloe. And because she's doing this for Chloe. And because, a little bit, she feels like Aubrey's stripping her bare – and while that's crazy uncomfortable, it also leads to thoughts about Aubrey stripping her naked, and that's a little bit turning Beca on, until she remembers that, fuck, that's Chloe's girlfriend, and, damn it, she really needs to get laid. But, fuck again, because no. She wants Chloe.

Fucking catch 22s.

"What's this?" Aubrey queries gently, shifting the papers to one arm so that she can reach out and accept the USB drive that Beca unceremoniously shoved in her face.

"Music," Beca replies, wrangling again with the rings on her fingers, until she notices that she's doing it and scrapes her fingers through her hair instead, then tucking them into the back pockets of her jeans before she finds something else embarrassing to do with them. "My music," she clarifies.

"Beca," Aubrey hesitates and casts a short glance over Beca's shoulder where Chloe's standing, but Beca can't look at Chloe. Beca can't look at either of them, really, so she averts her gaze to her Chuck Taylors and toes the crack in the floor while she waits for Aubrey to ask, "Why?"

Beca's eyes shoot up and her brows dip inward. Beca thought Chloe would have mentioned it. But maybe she didn't. So Beca huffs, and clears her throat until she can think of what to say.

Aubrey snorts. "I'm not going to bite, Mitchell. Use your words."

And just like that, Beca's angry and defensive, and a little relieved that she's been given a reason to be both of those things, so she snaps, "If you don't want it, don't listen to it, Posen."

Beca thinks she hears Chloe calling after her, but she can't be sure, because above the throbbing of her blood rushing in her ears, she can't actually make out that much sound. So Beca shoves her headphones over her ears and blasts up the music until she can't hear anything else and fights off the sting of tears in her eyes as she plows through the crowd of the student body to get back to her dorm.

Because, alright, Chloe had sort of just taken Beca's music without permission. And she was Chloe, so that was fine. But… Beca had voluntarily handed over her precious soul to Aubrey, which was maybe a mistake, because Beca felt somehow more rejected by Aubrey's lack of interest than she had felt by Chloe when she'd found out that she was already dating someone. And that was bad, because she'd pretty much spent the past three days sniffling over that, much to Kimmy Jin's frustration. But it was also terrifying, because now Beca's pretty sure that the shit she's been repressing the hell out of for Aubrey might actually mean something, and that's overwhelming and just as bad, because Aubrey's dating Chloe.

And Beca thinks she's screwed. Or a masochist. But, both, probably. Yeah, definitely both.

When there's a knock at the door the following day while Beca's trying (and, dude, totally failing) to distract herself from emotion with her Biology work, Beca frowns. Chloe doesn't knock. Kimmy Jin isn't here. And Jesse knows better than to come to Beca's room, after a very harsh (but equally necessary) rejection two months before.

So she gets up and answers, and feels herself heat with twin mindsets of anger and humiliation when Aubrey fucking Posen is outside her door.

"Beca," Aubrey requests carefully, "can I come in?"

Beca wants to say no. She really, really does. But… Chloe would know about it. And Chloe would be so disappointed, and Beca really can't face that right now. Not with everything else. Plus, she thinks Aubrey looks a little pale and maybe like she might get sick, and Beca really doesn't want that, either. And she kind of hates that Aubrey's so uncomfortable. So she nods and widens the door, sitting at the edge of her bed with her hands tucked under her thighs, and she waits expectantly for Aubrey to speak.

"Listen," Aubrey starts cautiously, still standing and folding her fingers together primly, and Beca fights off the quirk that itches at the corner of her mouth because, okay, maybe the formality is a little endearing, if insanely ridiculous – because, hello, this is Beca's dorm, not a business meeting. And Aubrey brought herself here of her own volition. Isn't formality a little over the top? But not for a Posen, Beca suspects, so she doesn't poke at it. "I didn't really understand what was going on yesterday," Aubrey admits, "and I had to listen to the tracks a few times, but I think – I think I get it now, okay? And I get that these… mixes are really important to you. And I don't think it was necessarily fair for Chloe to ask you to show them to me."

Beca nods and ducks her head, but thinks that maybe it's a little significant that Aubrey understands when Chloe didn't. It isn't that Chloe doesn't pay attention, Beca knows. It's just… Chloe doesn't understand privacy, really (Exhibit A: awkward shower duet – but the thought of that makes Beca smile, anyway), which means that, while she understands Beca's reluctant to do it, Chloe actually can't understand why sharing her music with other people would be hard for Beca. Because Beca's private about a lot of things, but about her music more than anything else.

"And… thank you," Aubrey says softly, lowering her head to meet Beca's eyes until Beca's neck arches to follow Aubrey's pools of green upward. "Okay?"

"Yeah," Beca swallows. "Yeah, okay."

But Aubrey frowns. "Beca…" And she stops, so Beca swallows again and tips her head to the left to indicate her confusion. "Beca, have you been crying?"

Beca scowls. "I don't cry, Posen."

And that's probably one of the biggest lies that Beca's ever told, because, yeah, she'd cleaned herself up for rehearsals to hide it, but she's been crying for four fucking days now. Aubrey frowns deeper and moves forward, sitting beside Beca and turning toward her, and Beca's positive that she doesn't want that so she slides away and glares from the corner of her eyes, refusing to shift her body to face the blonde, because this. is. not. okay.

"You did this for Chloe, right?" Aubrey asks, and Beca's surprised that Aubrey isn't accusing her, because, yeah, Chloe asked her to – but people have asked for a lot of things from Beca, but that doesn't mean that she actually does them. So obviously the blonde knows that it means something that Beca gave so much of herself over to Aubrey's inspection just because Chloe asked her to.

So Beca nervously squeaks, "What?"

But Aubrey smiles something sympathetic and warm and sad, and Beca thinks that maybe it should look strange on the normally composed and often-strict face of Aubrey Posen, but it doesn't. It's nice. And, okay, yeah, it's pretty, too. "It's okay, Beca," Aubrey murmurs quietly.

But it isn't. It so many kinds of isn't. And she thinks that Aubrey knows what she's feeling, and she feels raw and vulnerable all over again, so she looks to the ceiling and tries to compose herself, because no. fucking. way. will she cry in front of Aubrey Posen right now.

"Look, I'm sorry, okay?" Beca struggles, and she can hear the strain on her own voice. Because, yeah, Aubrey definitely knows how she feels about Chloe, and that's fucking humiliating, on top of all the other humiliations she's suffered this week. And Beca wants to throw Aubrey out and isolate herself from the world, but Aubrey was… kind of sweet to come here and apologize (and Beca knows that Aubrey's pride probably suffered for it), and Aubrey even went so far as to tell Beca that she understood, so throwing her out would be rude. And Beca tries not to think about why she feels like she can't be rude to Aubrey anymore, because she's already super screwed, but Beca thinks she might be a little in love with the blonde, too.

And, okay, it's beyond weird. It's fucked, and insane, and mostly it's just miserable. But Beca can't help it.

Beca knows that she owes Aubrey some sort of justification, because Aubrey fucking knows that Beca is in love with Chloe, and that's the least that Beca can do, so Beca tries her best. "I didn't know you guys were… whatever, okay?" Beca explains, and she's frustrated, and sad, and, yeah, a little close to crazy from overexposure – because Beca Mitchell doesn't do this shit, but lately she's done nothing else. "I didn't know until this week, or I wouldn't have – " Beca sighs. That might not be true. "Or I would have tried harder not to," she amends helplessly, locking her eyes in her lap.

"I know," Aubrey nods comfortingly, and Beca sees her palm stretching out tentatively through the air, and she knows that she should stop it from progressing, but Beca's lonely and kind of wants the contact to happen, and she's also the offending party in this scenario, so she thinks she should let Aubrey do what she wants. So Beca lets it flutter against her arm and unknowingly shifts a little closer when Aubrey's fingers offer a soothing squeeze that warms at Beca's wrist. "I know, Beca. It's okay."

"It's not, though!" Beca fumes, launching upward and scowling, even though she can feel a tear tripping across her cheek, and she furiously swipes it away, because, fuck, didn't she just say that she wouldn't do this? "It's not okay," she whispers weakly, and she just deflates, her shoulders slumping and her chin dropping to her chest. "Nothing about this is okay, Posen," Beca says, and she cringes at the way her voice cracks.

"Come to dinner with us," Aubrey suggests abruptly, standing, now, too.

Beca barks out a short, incredulous laugh, and stares at her like she just said that Miley Cyrus was now the sole proprietor of every fucking music label in the country, because, seriously? "Seriously?" She echoes aloud.

"Yes," Aubrey confirms. "Please, Beca? It'll help…" But Aubrey trails off like maybe that isn't true. "Just," Aubrey sighs, "think about it. We may not always see eye to eye, Mitchell," she offers an ironic smile, "but I do – care about you," she says, and averts her eyes like maybe she wanted to say something else, before she straightens her shoulders and resumes. "I wouldn't ask you to come if I thought it would make this harder for you, okay? Just… think about it."

"Fine," Beca says wearily. "But I – might not be able to – you know…"

And Beca feels inarticulate, but she doesn't care, because she's tired and emotionally exhausted, and she really needs to cry some more, and she thinks Aubrey understands that she means she might not be able to handle that.

"Yeah," Aubrey smiles that sad smile again and nods. "Yeah, I know."

But then Aubrey does something really unexpected and folds her arms around Beca's waist, tucking her chin against Beca's shoulder. And Beca thinks her hair smells nice, even if it's definitely different than Chloe's, and, after a brief moment where Beca tenses up, she relaxes and takes comfort from the offered embrace.

"I know this is Chloe's thing," Aubrey chuckles warmly against Beca's ear, and Beca maybe had to suppress a shiver, and, Jesus fucking Christ, because this was just ridiculous, "but this is pretty okay, Mitchell."

"Yeah. Yeah, it's pretty okay," Beca agrees hoarsely, but she thinks her heart cracks a little more, because, yeah, it was pretty okay. But this was all she'd ever get from either one of them, and Beca feels like maybe she might break.