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Beca wants to say that she’s getting the hang of this college thing, but there’s little higher education actually involved in her day-to-day life. Really, the only thing she’s learned so far is that maintaining her sanity is a game with three key rules:

  1. Avoid her dorm when Kimmy Jin has friends over.
  2. Reply to her dad’s texts several hours late whenever he mentions having some free time.
  3. Show up to acapella practice before the scheduled start time, but with blatant disregard for Aubrey’s “recommendation” to be ten minutes early.

The last one is less of a rule and more of a choice, but she enjoys following it nonetheless. If she arrives any later, Aubrey would have a conniption and a legitimate excuse to rage at her, but arriving a minute before rehearsal starts means that she’s technically still early. It also gives Aubrey no time to argue before she has to proceed with her regimented practice schedule, so Beca basically gets a free pass for being a little shit.

There should be no good context for gloating while practicing flight attendant fingers and making heart hands, but Beca manages it on an almost-daily basis.

Things usually go pretty smoothly when she follows her rules.

Usually is the key word.

She figures the universe is conspiring against her for actively participating in collegiate acapella. She’s committed more than her fair share of sins, but that’s the worst offence by far. Probably worth a thousand bad karma points or whatever.

Kimmy Jin is apparently hosting the whole Korean Student Association in their dorm, and her dad is hinting heavily towards grabbing coffee if she’s near the campus library – which she is, because Baker Hall is literally a five-minute walk away from the library, and she knows that her dad knows this.

Escaping to the radio station is out of the question because it’s Jesse’s shift and she’s running out of ways to cleverly rebuff his advances. She can’t tell whether he’s a genuinely nice guy or just one of those Nice Guys, but she’s not interested either way.

It’s too early to head to rehearsal, but with no other compelling options, that’s what she ends up doing.

Because Chloe is a chronic over-sharer, all the Bellas know that Aubrey likes to get to the auditorium a half-hour early to prepare the room, but Beca arrives at T-minus twenty-nine minutes until rehearsal and the hall is empty. She pokes around, but no one comes out of hiding, so she concludes that she’s alone.

She considers pulling out her laptop and working on a mix, but she doesn’t want to get into a groove and then come crashing back into her aca-depressing reality when Aubrey inevitably arrives.

Beca doesn’t know what possesses her to drag a chair in front of the grand piano. She uses her MIDI keyboard almost religiously when she makes music, but she hasn’t played an acoustic piano since she stopped taking lessons as a kid.

She presses down on middle C. Her MIDI’s plasticky keys are all she’s known for so long, and she wrinkles her nose at the unfamiliarity of the weighted piano keys. She runs a few scales and taps experimentally at the foot pedals, just trying to get a feel for the instrument again.

It takes a few bungled notes, but her muscle memory is better than she gives it credit for, and soon enough she’s plugging away at some classical piece she thought she’d forgotten.

She doesn’t remember what the song was called, but she does remember what it sounds like; with her ability to play by ear, that’s enough for her to go on. She can only remember so much – just the first couple minutes – but she plays it a few times over to try and jog her memory.

She knows she could just Google the sheet music, but she’s got a weird competitive streak (or an annoying inability to concede defeat) and what could be better competition than her own mind?

Caught up in her own musings, Beca doesn’t register the sound of footsteps coming closer.

“Oh, it’s you.”

Beca turns so fast that she whips herself in the face with her own hair. She rolls her eyes at the sight of Aubrey standing a few feet away. If she wasn’t holding onto a binder stuffed thick with pages, Beca imagines she would have her arms crossed.

“You’re lucky I’m not incontinent, otherwise we’d be in a category five hurricane situation right now.”

It sounds like less of an insult and more of a self-burn now that Beca thinks about it, but Aubrey really did startle her. Aubrey doesn’t respond, thankfully, just grimaces and rounds the piano to put her binder down on the closed lid.

“I didn’t think it was possible to get here earlier than you,” Beca comments. Unable to resist the opportunity, she adds, “I assume Hell fell apart while you were sleeping, so you had to duck back down to restore order?”

Aubrey flips the cover of her binder open, not even looking at Beca as she riffles through the pages. “I don’t suppose there is enough room in your tiny body for much of a brain. Did it take you all night to come up with that?”

Beca hums sympathetically. “A short joke? That’s low-hanging fruit, Aubrey. Are you sure you’re feeling up for rehearsal today?”

Aubrey shrugs and continues turning pages. “You started with a Satan joke. If anything, I was just following your sad and uninspired lead.”

It’s a decent save, so Beca allows it. She glances between Aubrey and the piano keys, not sure if she should offer to help prepare the room since she’s already here.

They may argue a lot, and Beca can be a real dick sometimes, but she can be a courteous dick if the situation calls for it. Sitting in a corner and letting Aubrey set the room up alone wouldn’t be fun for her.

She wants to poke the bear, not watch it go about its normal routine from outside the enclosure walls – even if it means, on occasion, getting verbally mauled or saddled with extra cardio.

(Beca is well aware that she’s not the most pleasant person to interact with, but she pushes people away because leaving is easier than being left, and she’s been doing it for so long that she doesn’t know how to not do it anymore.)

Besides, she’s used to one-sided banter, especially with people like Aubrey. As long as her side is the one having fun, then the consequences are generally justified.

“I didn’t know you could play piano.”

Aubrey’s tone catches Beca off guard. She doesn’t sound disdainful like usual, just genuinely surprised.

“Uh, yeah,” Beca manages, remembering that social conventions dictate a response. She’s a little lost because they’ve never really exchanged words that aren’t snarky, so there’s no precedent for this. “Neither did I, to be honest.”

Aubrey seems busy sorting sheets into different piles, but she pauses to regard Beca with a confused frown.

“I took lessons as a kid. Didn’t follow them through,” Beca explains stiltedly. “But I remember some stuff.”

She starts playing the song again to demonstrate. Even though she doesn’t look up from the keys, she can feel Aubrey staring at her the whole time.

When she leaves the last note ringing and draws her hands into her lap, Aubrey clears her throat.

“That’s-” she begins, but then hesitates. Beca wonders if she’s trying to come up with a witty retort, until she finishes with a seemingly sincere, “You’re not bad.”

“Thanks,” Beca replies. She sends a tight-lipped smile in Aubrey’s direction, unable to bring herself to make direct eye contact.

She doesn’t know if she’s imagining the strange tension in the room. There’s always some tension between them, because they’re Beca and Aubrey, but this is a different kind than she’s used to.

Their mutual existence is usually contingent on Chloe acting as a buffer. Neither of them is programmed to be nice – much less nice to one another – so she supposes their emotions are going haywire trying to adapt to this new playing field.

There’s an awkward beat of silence, during which Beca realises that Aubrey is just shuffling the same piles of paper over and over again. Aubrey keeps looking towards Beca’s fingers, and Beca concludes that she’s equally distressed about their moment of reciprocal niceness.

Not wanting the awkwardness to bleed into Bellas rehearsal and throw off her insult game in front of an audience, Beca does what she does best: she tries to defuse the situation but accidentally escalates it instead.

“I can teach you, if you want?”

Aubrey looks as shocked by the proposal as Beca feels. Beca is about to rescind the offer, because it’s actually really dumb in hindsight (not that she used much foresight either), but then Aubrey is nodding.

Well. She nods. Once. A singular nod. A single, solid, determined nod.

Beca didn’t expect it to come to this. Her eyes flicker around the room as she tries to figure out her next move. The actual piano bench isn’t anywhere nearby – not that Beca could see, anyway – so she rises from the uncomfortable folding chair that she dragged over, giving it up to Aubrey.

Not wanting to lean over Aubrey’s shoulder the whole time, Beca hoists herself on top of the closed piano lid – avoiding Aubrey’s carefully shuffled paper piles – and sits cross-legged before her new student.

In retrospect, she realises she could have just grabbed another folding chair.

“Don’t make it weird,” Beca says immediately, despite this possibly being the weirdest thing she’s ever done.

“I wasn’t going to,” Aubrey responds. Her fingers brush over the piano keys and she continues nonchalantly, “I imagine you can’t see much of the world when you’re only four feet tall, but just so you know? Your current view is what it looks like from the height of an average person.”

Another short joke? Aubrey is definitely pulling her punches, Beca thinks.

But at least there was an attempt at an insult. That’s their usual game; she can roll with that.

“Five-foot-two is within the range of average heights, thank you very much.”

Aubrey tilts her head ever so slightly. “For hobbits, I guess.”

Yeah, Beca can see that she’s clearly lost this round. She redirects the conversation by pointing down at a few keys, and for once, Aubrey lets it go.

Beca discovers that getting along with Aubrey isn’t as hard as she thought it would be. It’s weird as fuck, sure, but not hard. Apparently ‘overbearing’ isn’t Aubrey’s entire personality, and she can actually take criticism fairly well when it’s constructive (and completely unrelated to the Bellas setlist).

For her part, Beca tries not to be deliberately antagonistic and attempts to smile without habitually devolving into a smirk.

“Just- no, wait- yeah, like that. Cool. Don’t worry if you can’t do the transition really fast yet, because this is actually a really hard song to start learning as a beginner? We should probably do something easier-”

“No, I’ve got it.”

“Are you- oh. Yeah, okay. You’ve got it.”

Beca is honestly surprised that they can go more than two minutes without fighting, but here they are, a whole five minutes in and there hasn’t been a single attempt to passive-aggressively one-up each other.

If she was forced to describe the moment, say, under oath or at gunpoint, she might even admit that they were enjoying one another’s company.

Maybe the mild insults were a good social lubricant. Or maybe Aubrey just isn’t the terrible person that Beca thought she was.

Whatever it is, Beca has definitely been thrown off balance.

There’s no time to unpack her feelings though (thank god) because Chloe’s chirpy voice starts echoing through the hall and breaks whatever mood they had cultivated. It wasn’t exactly cordial, but it was far from the outright hostility that they usually share.

A glance at her phone reveals that it’s ten minutes to rehearsal, and Beca slides unenthusiastically off the piano. Aubrey is quick to stand and start hastening around the room, pulling the rolling dance mirrors into place.

Beca grabs a few folding chairs before crossing the floor and setting them up in front of the whiteboard. Aubrey gives her a grateful nod and then starts scribbling down their agenda for the day.

Beca sinks heavily into her seat as Chloe and a handful of the Bellas walk in, chattering away like they didn’t see each other just yesterday. She sends her dad a photo of Aubrey, whiteboard marker in hand, and belatedly texts him that she can’t meet for coffee.

***

She comes ridiculously early to their next rehearsal, just out of curiosity.

Aubrey isn’t there yet, but the missing piano bench is.

Beca runs a hand lightly over the worn leather, contemplating her options. There’s no sense in waiting around, she thinks, so she starts ambling away towards the nearest coffee shop, wondering how close she can cut her return to rehearsal without sending Aubrey into cardiac arrest.

***

Nothing changes after their brief, civil interlude. Not in front of the Bellas, anyway.

Aubrey still needles her about everything under the sun – sloppy footwork, poor diction, her careless attitude – and Beca grits her teeth and gives it right back.

Everything is the same as it always was, but try as she might, Beca can’t forget the way it felt to sit atop that piano with Aubrey looking up at her from beneath her lashes.

***

Her dad drops by her dorm unannounced.

It was only a matter of time, she reasons – he hasn’t given her a moment of peace since she set foot on campus, and she’d been screening his calls and texts for the better part of two weeks.

Beca hates his newfound saviour complex, how he thinks that he’s saving her future by offering her college tuition on a silver platter. She makes her childhood’s worth of resentment known through constant reminders that she’s doing him the favour by coming to Barden.

The most frustrating thing about him though, Beca thinks, is that he sees right through her.

When she cuts class to spite him, he smiles at her excuses and wisecracks and reminds her when her next class starts. When she starts picking up more shifts at the station and forgets about a paper she was supposed to hand in, he says she can make it up by doing well on the next one. When she accuses him of abandoning her as a kid and not thinking about how it would damage her, he tells her that he’s sorry and that he was a coward for leaving.

He accepts all her harsh words, and he just keeps coming right back.

Beca hates that, and she hates that she can’t make herself hate him. It was easier to hold onto a grudge when her memories painted him as some heartless monster.

After he left, pushing people away became her specialty. But there’s a part of her – a small part – that doesn’t want to change who she’s become because of it, doesn’t think she can change. She doesn’t know who she would be without this bitterness inside her, doesn’t know how to operate without being driven by her inherent anger at the world.

These swirling emotions are why, when her dad comes knocking at god-knows-how-early-in-the-morning, Beca greets him with a murderous glare. He overlooks that (and her messy bedhead) and hovers awkwardly in the hall.

“Hey,” he says, offering up a travel mug.

It’s the only reason Beca says what she says next instead of biting his head off for coming unannounced.

“I can’t talk right now, I have to get to a Bellas rehearsal,” she says blandly, downing the coffee in three gulps and thrusting the mug back at him.

It’s still a whole hour before rehearsal starts, but he doesn’t need to know that.

“Come on, Beca-” he tries, taking the mug back.

“I have to get dressed,” Beca insists, one hand white-knuckled on the edge of the door. He’s leaning forward enough that she can’t close it without beheading him. “I’m sorry,” she adds, hoping that that will get him to move.

Thankfully, the apology does carry some shock value – he sighs and steps back, giving her a chance to finally start closing the door.

“You can’t avoid me forever,” he tells her. “I’m trying here, Bec.”

“I know,” she says, and she really does mean it. She may hate him for leaving when she was just a kid, but he’s still her dad and she understands what he wants. “I get that you’re trying to make amends, okay? But I’m just not ready to talk to you yet.”

He acknowledges that with a nod and lets her close the door fully.

After stewing in annoyance for a few minutes, Beca ends up getting ready for rehearsal, because her dad is probably waiting downstairs to see if she really does leave her dorm. She wishes he hadn’t started the helicopter parenting routine when she was already a fully-fledged adult; she needed a parent when she was eight, not now that she’s eighteen.

When she gets to the auditorium, Aubrey is already there at the piano, and Beca tries to let go of the residual frustration from her dad’s unexpected wake-up call.

“You making a habit out of this, Posen?” Beca teases, swinging her messenger bag on top of the piano.

Aubrey frowns, easing up on the sustain pedal and cutting her last note short. “No, I was just-” she scrunches her nose. “-practicing.”

Beca doesn’t feel up for a debate, not even their usual banter, so she lets the opportunity slide.

“You remember what I taught you last time?” she asks instead. “Want to learn more?”

Aubrey considers her for a long moment. Then she nods. Beca tries to smile at that, but she can tell that it falls flat; it’s not easy for her to supress the childhood memories and sadness that her dad tends to incite.

Aubrey slides over, wordlessly making room for Beca on the piano bench. She doesn’t ask if Beca is okay, but Beca thinks she might be able to tell she’s in a bad mood, because she doesn’t yell at her once during rehearsal.

***

Beca doesn’t mean to keep coming to rehearsal early, but between her roommate and her dad, Aubrey ends up being the lesser of three evils.

She doesn’t teach Aubrey piano every time – more often than not, Aubrey has important Bellas-related reasons for coming early – but she does get to show her a few new things, and Beca is reluctant to admit that she finds it enjoyable.

Aubrey is an attentive student, and Beca is better at teaching that she thought she would be. Maybe it’s the combination of both that makes their semi-regular “lessons” so surprisingly mellow.

They still argue, of course, but they mostly save that for during Bellas rehearsals. Their time alone in front of the piano becomes a rare moment of peace, a mutual ceasefire that Beca grows to appreciate.

***

Beca jokingly slow claps when Aubrey nails a challenging riff that’s been plaguing her for the last three sessions.

“Good job, butter fingers,” she announces. “I thought you were gonna keep sliding down off that A-sharp forever, but you finally held it.”

Aubrey scoffs and knocks her shoulder against Beca’s. Unfortunately, Beca is already perched on the edge of the piano bench, so she ends up slipping off and hitting the ground with a grunt.

Aubrey leans over, probably to check that Beca hasn’t died. Upon seeing that Beca is just lazing on the floor, she shoots back unapologetically, “At least it’s not as embarrassing as having to practice making heart hands. Your hands are supposed to be shaped like hearts, Beca, not squircles.”

Beca climbs back onto the bench with a breathy laugh. It must be a sign of growth, the fact that she doesn’t tear into Aubrey for pulling a stunt like that. They’ve reached a new milestone, one where they can make fun of each other without taking everything to heart.

“Squircles?” she questions obliviously. “What the fuck is a squircle?”

Aubrey squints at her, like Beca is the one that’s insane for not knowing what a goddamn squircle is.

“A shape that’s an intermediate between a square and a circle,” Aubrey says, like it’s common knowledge. “I thought you would be able to make an educated guess, based on the portmanteau. Or is that too complex a challenge for you?”

“You-” Beca pauses and shakes her head in disbelief. “You know how nerdy that sounds, right?”

Aubrey shrugs and turns her attention back to the piano. “I’m the dictionary definition of a nerd, Beca. That descriptor doesn’t faze me.”

Owning what others intend to be an insult, the ultimate power move, Beca muses approvingly.

“Okay, nerd,” she concedes, and if they weren’t Beca and Aubrey, her tone might almost come across as affectionate. “You work on the A-sharp and I’ll work on the squircles. An eye for an eye, or whatever.”

Aubrey smiles wryly. “You really hate the heart hands, don’t you?”

God, yes,” Beca says, throwing her head back with a low groan. “They’re corny as fuck. I would love nothing more than to do literally anything else.”

“How about making a giant heart on stage using our bodies?” Aubrey offers. She botches a chord when Beca shudders beside her, accidentally nudging her arm.

“That’s… that’s even worse, Aubrey,” Beca says, blinking hard to erase the mental image of Fat Amy with her legs spread in the air, forming the bottom corner of the heart. “Why would you even suggest that?”

Aubrey hums nonchalantly and continues playing the piano. “I guess I know what we’re practicing today.”

“No,” Beca says, shaking her head vehemently. “Absolutely not.”

Aubrey’s piano playing comes to a halt as she pins her with a critical expression. “You’re the one who said you would do literally anything else-”

Beca rolls her eyes so hard that her head reels along with the action. “You know I didn’t mean it like that.”

“And you know how I feel about illogical colloquialisms,” Aubrey returns emphatically.

“Ugh, whatever,” Beca says, accepting that this loss is on her. She throws a thumb over her shoulder and starts to stand. “I’m gonna head out, grab a coffee.”

Aubrey’s stare is flinty-eyed as she swivels to look at her. Beca smirks to herself.

“Rehearsal starts in fifteen minutes,” Aubrey says sternly.

Beca frowns, pretending like she’s not enjoying watching Aubrey squirm at the potential disruption to her meticulous rehearsal schedule. “Okay, so I’ll be back before then,” she says placatingly, backing slowly towards the door.

“Beca…” Aubrey begins warningly.

Beca sighs and stops in place. “Have I ever been late before?”

The question is rhetorical – they both know that she’s never once been late to rehearsal. She’s pretty sure that Aubrey is barely refraining from punting her across the room right now.

“For future reference, it’s five laps of the auditorium for every minute you’re late,” Aubrey informs her pointedly.

Beca’s eyes widen in disbelief. “I’m sorry, what? Amy’s been late three times this week, but I haven’t seen her run a single lap! That’s some double-standard shit right there.”

“I don’t make the rules,” Aubrey sing-songs, turning away from Beca as she rises from the piano bench.

Beca sputters uselessly at her back. “You’re the captain; you literally make all the rules.”

Aubrey tosses a smug smirk at her from over her shoulder. “Remember that the next time you pretend to mess with my practice schedule. Good use of the word ‘literally’ though.”

Beca closes her eyes and huffs a laugh through her nose. “Okay, you got me,” she deadpans with a plastic smile, turning and starting her beeline towards the exit. “I’m going to get that coffee now.”

Aubrey just hums in acquiescence, which makes Beca freeze in her tracks and whirl back around.

“What?” she says through gritted teeth.

“Five laps for every minute you’re late,” Aubrey reminds her airily, not even bothering to look up as she consults her ever-present binder.

“Seriously?” Beca exclaims, loud enough for Aubrey to shoot her an unimpressed look. “Did we not just cover the injustice of that rule, since Amy is apparently exempt?”

“Have you ever tried to tell Fat Amy to do anything remotely physical?” Aubrey asks bluntly, halfway through turning a page. “Sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war, Beca.”

Beca wrinkles her nose at the condescension dripping off Aubrey’s words. “I am getting that coffee now,” she says resolutely. “And if I’m back late, then I’m blaming it on the insinuation that competitive acapella is comparable to war. I’ve lost precious brain cells. Your priorities are literally garbage.”

“Literally?” Aubrey questions, faux innocently.

Beca spins on her heel and starts stomping away. “You know what I mean!”

Aubrey’s smug expression haunts her all the way to the coffee shop.

***

Despite the surprising strides they’ve made in their acquaintanceship outside of the Bellas, it does little to ease the tension between them during rehearsals. The main point of contention is, as always, the songs in their setlist. Neither is willing to back down on their opinion, so the strain continues to simmer, omnipresent even when they’re not debating it openly.

But by some strange miracle, some unspoken agreement, their pre-rehearsal time remains untainted by their recurring argument over the setlist, and any squabbles remain pleasantly light-hearted.

Beca didn’t think she would enjoy it as much as she does, having someone who refuses to retreat when she pushes them, someone who pushes back.

***

Beca scrunches her nose as she consults the sheet music on her laptop, which is propped on the piano lid. “Uh, so this part is supposed to crescendo up to fortissimo, which is probably loud as fuck on a grand piano? For the sake of everyone around us, I think we’re just gonna play it up to mezzo-forte.”

She positions her fingers on the keys, and watches Aubrey copy her a couple of octaves below.

“Like this?” Aubrey asks, glancing between their hands.

Beca hums in agreement. “Yeah. Your left hand is basically just doing octaves during this bit, so you should get used to making that shape, with your pinky and thumb stretched out. But you should also avoid locking your hand in that position – ‘cause you’ll end up tensing your whole arm and that makes it hard to move quickly between chords.”

“If you keep everything relaxed until like, the second you’re about to strike the keys,” she runs through a major scale with her left hand in the octave-shape to demonstrate. “That should help you get through chord progressions more smoothly.”

Aubrey nods along thoughtfully. They work through a few measures together before Aubrey’s phone pings.

“I have to get the room ready for rehearsal,” Aubrey says with a sigh, and then starts standing up slowly. Beca thinks she sounds strangely reluctant, but she doesn’t know whether it’s something she should ask about, or something she should just leave alone.

Of course, because she’s socially and emotionally inept, she goes for the latter.

“Right,” Beca says, bobbing her head. “In that case, I’m gonna go get a coffee.”

She expects Aubrey to protest because rehearsal is starting soon, but Aubrey doesn’t even bat an eyelid.

“You’re really not going to say anything?” Beca asks dubiously, closing her laptop and sliding it back into her bag.

Aubrey’s answering expression is sceptical. “Is it going to stop you?”

Beca pretends to think. “No,” she admits eventually. Then a small smirk plays at her lips and she adds, “But it’s more fun for me when you do.”

Aubrey raises her brows at that, and Beca rolls her eyes when the realisation dawns on her.

“And now I’ve made it fun for you by admitting how much I enjoy messing with you,” she shakes her head lowly and pretends to be disappointed. “You got me, you sly son of a bitch.”

Aubrey presses her lips together in a tight smile. “Checkmate.”

Beca accepts the loss and starts heading out, leaving Aubrey with her underhanded victory. She’s barely out of the auditorium when she hears it – the faint sound of tinkling laughter, Aubrey’s laughter – and it echoes through her mind the whole way to the coffee shop.

***

Beca thinks they might actually be friends now. She’s never been the type to hang out with other girls – or anyone at all, really – so she doesn’t know what friendship is supposed to feel like.

Her blasé attitude has always kept everyone at arm’s length. But she’s not violently opposed to the idea of having friends, not anymore, not if it’s anything like what she has with Aubrey.

***

Sitting atop the piano with her legs crossed, Beca watches Aubrey play, noting the deftness of her fingers and the- oh, no, she winces, that note was a bigger mistake than Bumper’s parents’ decision to have a child- oh Jesus, there’s another one… and another, yikes-

Aubrey has both hands frozen above the keys, fingers bent back as far as they can go, like any sudden movement will spur another cacophony of incongruous notes.

(Her mortified expression is weirdly cute, Beca thinks. Not that she would ever admit that to anyone; it’s probably just a by-product of enjoying watching Aubrey squirm.)

Aubrey has been trying to play the same section for days now, but she just can’t get it right. Beca is familiar with the process that often follows, the train wreck that happens when you’ve been practicing for too long – where a single mistake snowballs into a million more and then the whole piece becomes an unsalvageable mess.

Sure, practice makes perfect, but over-rehearsing has its dangers too.

Beca is officially calling it.

“Okay, you’re done.”

Aubrey, rather predictably, tries to protest. “But I’m so close to-”

“No buts,” Beca says firmly, taking her laptop and closing the tab with the sheet music. “You’ve burnt yourself out over this piece, and you’re taking a break.”

Aubrey has the audacity to roll her eyes, like Beca isn’t actually doing her a favour. “I don’t need-”

Beca ignores her and pulls up another piece, something easier, a palate cleanser of sorts.

“Here, try this.”

Aubrey stares blankly up at her, not even sparing a glance at the new sheet music, but Beca doesn’t take the bait. It’s for her own good, she reasons. Nothing is more discouraging than putting time and effort into something, only for it to fall apart by your own hand.

She won’t let Aubrey psych herself out over this, not when she’s already doing that with the Bellas.

Aubrey must realise that Beca isn’t going to budge, not on this, because she purses her lips and finally deigns to look at the laptop screen.

Beca smiles to herself when Aubrey starts plodding away unenthusiastically at the new piece. She watches her scowl when she plays the wrong note or messes up the timing, catches the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it upturn of her lips when she gets something right the first time around.

It’s endearing, honestly, how much Aubrey just wants to get things right, with this and with the Bellas. Beca can respect that level of determination, even though she’s exceeded her quota for Ace of Base songs a dozen lifetimes over.

Maybe several dozen lifetimes over.

“No, don’t move your right hand,” Beca advises, when Aubrey struggles to find where she’s going wrong. “It should maintain the same octave throughout the whole measure-” she twists her head and curses when Aubrey’s playing doesn’t start to sound any better. “-shit, sorry, your other right. And then your actual right hand does- yeah, that dun dun, with the accent on the second chord, just like that.”

Aubrey runs through the measure as instructed, and Beca nods approvingly from her position on top of the piano. She lets Aubrey continue solo for a while, content to let her figure things out herself, until she glances at the time on her laptop.

“It’s like, ten minutes until rehearsal starts,” Beca informs Aubrey.

Aubrey pauses to look up at her, and Beca is overcome with a weird itchiness all over her face and chest. Her skin starts feeling hot and prickly and she’s suddenly worried that she might be breaking out into hives.

Sure, she’s not even allergic to anything, but she had chicken pox as a kid so it can’t be that. It has to be hives, right?

But Aubrey isn’t staring at her like anything’s wrong, just like she’s waiting for Beca to make a point.

“Do you… do want help setting up the room or whatever?” Beca asks, unsure of herself amidst her mild internal panic.

Aubrey eyes her curiously, but she declines the offer and starts getting to her feet. “We’re working on performance vocals today, so we’ll be standing the whole time. We shouldn’t need anything.”

Beca slips down off the piano with an exaggerated gasp. “Not even the whiteboard? What am I supposed to do without a visual reminder of your thirty-point plan for the day?”

Aubrey smiles sardonically, and Beca feels her nerves begin to settle at the normalcy of it. “I know you’re making fun of me, but it’s a twenty-three-point plan and I actually have it written in the notes in my binder.”

Beca chuckles, because that’s such an Aubrey thing to do. “Anybody ever tell you that you’re a huge nerd?”

Aubrey shrugs lightly, heading towards the front of the auditorium, “You know you like it.”

Beca whistles lowly as she follows along. “Damn, Little Miss Prim has sass? Were you always this cocky, or did I finally inspire you to pull the stick out?” she pretends to think, but then shakes her head. “No, I feel like I did this. You’re welcome, world.”

Aubrey clicks her tongue and looks to the entrance, where some of the Bellas are starting to trickle in. “Most people have layered personalities, Beca. I’m sorry that your personality is a singular half-baked layer, but you can’t take that out on every being that’s more complex than you. There’s just not enough time in the world.”

Beca mouths an ‘oh my god’ and stares at Aubrey in disbelief. “That was a pretty solid burn,” she concedes. “Where have you been hiding these jokes? Do you write them all down, is that why your binder is so thick?”

Aubrey attempts to maintain the indifferent façade, but Beca can see how hard she’s trying not to smile.

Beca uses the boisterous arrival of the rest of the Bellas to hide her own smile, and just like that, everything is okay again.

***

They never talk outside of rehearsals or pre-rehearsals. Beca wonders whether it would be so weird if they did.

***

Aubrey is busy scribbling in a legal pad on top of the piano, looking alternately from the whiteboard to her binder, and Beca has free reign over the piano. She’s not up for playing anything elaborate, not after the morning she’s had. She settles for embellishing some common chord progressions, just to give her hands something to do.

If asked whether she and Aubrey could sit in companionable silence, the Beca from a few weeks ago would have said an emphatic no. But here they are now, having exchanged nothing more than greetings, existing comfortably within three feet of one another.

Beca tries not to let it, but her mind keeps drifting back to this morning, and the distraction causes her fingers to slip to the wrong note. Exasperated, she slams her hands onto the keys and they strike a jarring sound.

Aubrey pauses her writing to arch a brow at her.

“Sorry,” Beca says with a sigh. “I’ve… got a lot on my mind.”

She thinks any other person would ask if she wants to talk about it. Though most people mean well, those words only serve to make her feel like a burden; without fail, she’ll instinctively sweep her emotions back into their corner, plaster on a smile and tell them that it’s nothing important.

Aubrey doesn’t ask though, just purses her lips and waits for Beca to spit it out.

The tactic is surprisingly effective, Beca discovers.

“My dad ‘ran into me’ outside my dorm building this morning,” she discloses unenthusiastically, making the implied quotation marks with her fingers.

“He’s a professor here, isn’t he?” Aubrey asks, to which Beca nods. Beca actually appreciates that she doesn’t devote all her attention to the conversation, continuing with whatever notes she’s writing, because it makes the air feel less heavy. “You’re not on good terms, I take it?”

Beca laughs flatly. “No. He’s so… frustrating. My parents split when I was a kid and he just disappeared. Ten years later, he turned up at my mom’s front door spewing platitudes and bullshit like ‘I care about you and your future’ and then he dragged me to college,” she shakes her head. “From ages eight to eighteen, all I got from him was a card on my birthday, and he thinks he still has the right to parent me.”

“I’m sorry you had to go through that. Growing up without a father must have been difficult,” Aubrey comments, glancing at Beca and then returning to her legal pad. “Was it just you and your mom after he left?”

Beca hums in affirmation. “She tried dating after the divorce was settled, but nobody really stuck, so she just stopped,” she swallows the uncomfortable lump growing in her throat. She remembers hearing her mom cry in the bathroom sometimes, after a bad date or a when a new relationship inexplicably fell apart; remembers how those times grew few and far between, until they never happened at all. She bites her lip, unsure whether to share her next words. “I think him leaving is a big part of why I am the way that I am.”

Aubrey pauses, pen in hand. “I understand what you mean,” she says slowly, like she’s similarly reluctant to share her story. “My family was military, and Dad could only come back once a year. When I was young, he used to stay for about a month. But over the years, it dwindled down to a couple weeks, then those weeks became days. It wasn’t long until he stopped coming home altogether.”

“I’m sorry,” Beca offers sincerely. “You were just a kid; you didn’t deserve such a shitty deal.”

“Neither did you,” Aubrey points out, and Beca grudgingly tilts her head in agreement. “All that time to yourself, and you can’t help but wonder why you weren’t important enough to come back to.”

“We’re not all that different, are we?” Beca asks, reaching up and flicking Aubrey’s pen playfully. “Just a couple of kids with daddy issues,” she says sarcastically.

“Mine refuses to be a part of my life, but he still tries to control me,” Aubrey says with an eyeroll, swatting at Beca’s insistent fingers. “What I do, how I act, how I should feel. Like I’m just a troop under his command.”

Beca winces sympathetically, her hands falling back to the piano. She absentmindedly plays a few chords, letting them ring out. “Mine is trying to be part of my life, but I still haven’t forgiven him for leaving in the first place and letting me become such a hot mess.”

Aubrey raises her brows in surprise. “Has he apologised?”

“Over and over,” Beca admits, easing up on the keys. “I’m not saying he’s completely at fault – I probably could have chosen to not be an asshole – but maybe I wouldn’t have turned out as bad. I’m like…” she breathes a laugh; she’s never confessed this to anyone, and right now is the first time she’s ever wanted to. “I feel disconnected from everything. Everyone. I think my abandonment issues spiralled and morphed into commitment issues, just so I could avoid the possibility of being abandoned again.”

Aubrey spins her pen idly between her fingers. “That’s rough. I can understand why you’re still upset with him.”

Beca can sense the but, and she hopes her expression says exactly that.

“How many times has he tried to reach out to you?” Aubrey asks knowingly.

“I don’t know,” Beca answers confusedly. “A handful of times this week, maybe?”

“My dad hasn’t once tried to redeem himself, but your dad has tried so many times that you’ve lost count,” Aubrey rationalises, pen tapping against paper as she looks absently out across the auditorium. “I’m not saying you have to forgive him, but if his efforts speak for his intentions…”

Beca instinctively shakes her head, but she allows herself to dwell on the words. Her voice is smaller than she’d like when she asks, “What if he just leaves again?”

“What if he doesn’t?” Aubrey counters reasonably, her gaze swinging back to Beca. Beca could laugh at the idea that Aubrey is the more optimistic person between the two of them. “It’s not always fair to define people by their mistakes. At least he’s trying to make up for his.”

Coming from anyone else, it would probably sound like mindless drivel, a generic inspirational quote to convince her to give him a second chance. But Aubrey says it like it means something, and Beca feels inclined to actually believe it.

***

Beca’s leg bounces restlessly under the table. She deliberately sat with her back to the front of the café, but she still finds herself looking over her shoulder every time the doorbell chimes.

She tries to busy herself with her phone, eventually landing on some clickbait listicle about the ethics of the exotic pet trade. Naturally, the one time she doesn’t check the door is when her dad actually arrives.

“Hey Bec,” he says cordially, rounding the table and settling into the opposite seat.

Beca greets him with a curt nod and puts her phone down.

“Have you ordered?” he asks, glancing around the room. Most of the surrounding tables are empty; at this hour, the majority of patrons are in line for to-go cups.

She shakes her head in the negative and he signals at the nearest server with a polite smile. They relay their coffee orders, and then fall into an awkward silence when the server departs.

Beca doesn’t know what to say. Her last text to him was impulsive and brusque: 8am tomorrow at the café on the corner of Main street and Barden drive. She decides that the invitation was contribution enough from her side, so she waits for her dad to say his piece.

He takes the hint pretty quickly.

“I wasn’t sure you’d give me a chance,” he admits, his interlaced fingers coming to rest atop the table.

Beca shrugs. “You didn’t give me much choice,” she replies dryly. But that’s not the only reason she’s finally acquiescing, and she acknowledges as much. “Someone convinced me to do this, actually.”

His answering smile is genuine, if somewhat disappointed. Beca feels a little guilty for it.

“In any case,” he continues, and for the first time, Beca notices the wrinkles around his eyes and how he looks older than she remembers. “Thank you for meeting with me.”

Beca doesn’t know how to respond to that without opening up old wounds, so she doesn’t respond to it at all.

“You’re paying for coffee, right?” she deadpans, and her dad chuckles.

“Oh,” he says, almost inaudibly, when he realises that she isn’t laughing with him.

Beca holds her blank stare for a few more seconds, then quirks her lips to show that she’s joking. He smiles back warmly when he catches on, and Beca directs her own small smile towards the wall behind his head.

“I’ll pay, Beca,” he promises. “I will.”

She can tell that he wants to reach for her hand or arm, to impart a well-meaning touch that underlines the weight of his words, but he doesn’t. It’s a little late for him to finally start recognising her boundaries, but she appreciates it all the same.

***

Beca doesn’t realise how far gone she is until she goes a week without seeing Aubrey outside of rehearsals. She has a decent relationship with her formerly-estranged father now, and a circle of friends that she genuinely likes, and Aubrey is central to all of it – a fact that she’s only just comprehending.

She feels strangely untethered on the days that she doesn’t get to hang out with her.

In her naivety, Beca reasons that it’s because Aubrey offers structure and the right amount of opposition, can deliver words of wisdom that would be dismissed as trite sayings if they came from anybody else. She balances Beca out and gives her what she needs – a kick in the ass on some days, a placid companion on others.

So willing to accept this explanation, she’s slow to recognise that she might actually have a crush on Aubrey.

Beca has never been in love before, but she’s never had close female friends either; she honestly doesn’t know the difference between growing close to someone romantically versus platonically, so she can’t tell if she has a crush on Aubrey or just likes her as a friend.

Every argument that she makes for it being a romantic interest – enjoying her company, being comfortable around her, wanting to spend time with her – also falls easily into friendship territory, and it’s driving her crazy trying to push each justification towards one side.

The more she thinks about it, the more complicated it gets, which is the cherry on top of her freshly-baked cake of interpersonal ineptitude.

She starts losing sleep because of the whole situation and its frustrating lack of coherence. After the third night of tossing and turning, Kimmy Jin throws a blister-pack of sleeping pills at her head and threatens to make her sleep if she doesn’t do it on her own soon.

Feeling truly helpless for the first time, she texts Chloe to meet her at the nearest 24-hour café, ASAP. She grabs whatever clothing is folded over her desk chair and slips on her boots, apologises to Kimmy Jin and then heads out the door.

Chloe arrives startlingly soon, despite the late hour.

“I dragged you out at midnight, food and drinks are on me,” Beca offers apologetically, when Chloe enters the café looking flustered, wearing flannel pyjama pants and a silky bathrobe and mismatched shoes.

Beca probably doesn’t look any better herself, with the dark bags under her eyes, drowning in a ratty sweatshirt that’s seen better days. Chloe waves her off though and orders herself some tea. Beca is about to reflexively order coffee, until she remembers why she’s here in the first place.

She orders a blueberry muffin and water instead.

“So what’s the big emergency, Bec?” Chloe asks, concern washing across her face as they take their seats at a table far from the other late-night customers. They look like beleaguered college students too, and don’t spare Beca and Chloe more than passing glances. “Are you okay?”

It’s unfortunate how Beca realises, only now, that Chloe is Aubrey’s best friend.

“Um,” Beca stalls. She makes a quick decision, then and there, to circumvent the romantic undertone of her confession – because she can’t just tell Chloe that she might like-like her best friend, but she sorely needs to vent. “I’m having a slight emotional dilemma?”

“Oh?” Chloe says, perking up. She raises one eyebrow slyly. “Does Beca Mitchell have feelings for someone?”

“What? No,” Beca says, forcing a laugh. “Not like, feelings-feelings. Just, y’know. Regular feelings.”

Chloe tilts her head questioningly, and so Beca tells her about the pre-rehearsal piano sessions with Aubrey. She talks about how they’ve been hanging out a lot, that it’s actually been fun, and how she’s still not sure whether they’re even friends.

She should have anticipated Chloe’s reaction, honestly – hands clasped under her chin, dewy eyes staring at Beca like she’s a child that’s done something precious.

“I think it’s cute how making a friend counts as an emergency for you,” Chloe teases.

Beca grimaces at the sentiment. “Shut up. I’ve never had friends before. I don’t know how it works.”

Chloe’s tea arrives, as does Beca’s muffin and water. She slices the muffin and offers half to Chloe, who accepts it with a wide smile.

“You’re obviously not bad at being a good friend,” Chloe says meaningfully, taking a bite. “Plus,” she adds, through her mouthful of blueberry muffin. “I have noticed that Bree’s been less tense lately. I suppose we have you to thank?”

Beca flat out denies that. “No, that’s probably not- uh, I’m probably not the reason.”

Chloe hums doubtfully and then starts blowing at the surface of her steaming teacup. She doesn’t press though, just says, “You must be a really skilled pianist if Aubrey wanted to learn from you,” and takes a careful sip of her drink.

Beca frowns, asking why that is. She’s no better than the multitudinous piano teachers on YouTube. Chloe laughs at the question though, which makes Beca frown deeper.

“Aubrey has been playing piano since she was like, three years old,” Chloe says airily, like that fact should be obvious. The sky is blue, the grass is green, and Aubrey is a pianist. “It’s just one of the instruments she knows how to play – there’s also the cello, violin, classical guitar, flute and… French horn? The big, round- yeah, pretty sure it’s French horn,” she nods to herself. “I think there’s more, to be honest; those are just the ones I remember off the top of my head.”

Beca is stunned by the news. It takes a moment to process properly, to go from ‘Aubrey knows how to play piano?’ to ‘Aubrey knows how to play piano’ and finally come back to her senses.

“But you didn’t know that,” Chloe says slowly, presumably connecting the dots after reading Beca’s face. “Why wouldn’t she tell you?”

Beca shrugs, toying with the condensation dripping from her water glass. “I have no idea,” she answers truthfully.

***

The information weighs heavy on her mind, but Beca sits on it for a while, unsure what to do now that she knows. She sits beside Aubrey at the piano and watches her play during their sessions, looks for signs that she’s better than she shows.

She doesn’t find any, so she’s left to wonder when – and why – Aubrey became such a practiced liar. The lie stings even more now that Beca has come to the undeniable conclusion that her feelings for Aubrey are romantic.

Aubrey is working on a new piece, one that Beca chose specifically to challenge her, and she’s clearly playing a note that’s off. Beca takes a second to figure out what it is, and she shifts uncomfortably in her seat when she starts contemplating whether the mistake is purposeful or genuine.

Beca observes Aubrey for a while longer, but she continues playing the same wrong note over and over again. Eventually, Beca sighs and leans across the keys to adjust her fingering.

“It’s not an E. At that part, you need to-” she nudges Aubrey’s errant finger down by one white key. “You want the D.”

Aubrey makes a muted noise of protest, and Beca registers what she’s said.

“Gross,” she mutters, wrinkling her nose in distaste. “Not like that. What are you, twelve?”

But Aubrey is giving her a somewhat expectant smile, glancing at her lips like she’s waiting for Beca to smile back. Beca can’t remember the last time she actually did.

She’s been particularly sullen for the past few days, now that she thinks about it. Aubrey must have noticed the change in her mood and is trying to cheer her up with a terrible joke.

Beca offers a quick upturn at the corners of her mouth, a small consolation for her efforts (her insides were probably writhing at having to point out the double entendre), and Aubrey’s smile relaxes as she turns back to the piano.

When the distinctive sound of Chloe’s voice comes into focus, Beca checks her phone – fifteen minutes until the official start of rehearsal – and announces that she’s ducking out to the coffee shop. Aubrey nods resignedly, used to the routine by now.

Before Beca can get too far though, Aubrey calls out her name.

“I don’t, by the way,” Aubrey says when they lock eyes.

She’s nervous, Beca thinks; her pitch is a little higher than usual, and her tone has a wavering quality that usually only appears in the lead up to a performance.

“Don’t what?” Beca asks obliviously.

Aubrey gives a breathy little laugh and directs her focus somewhere over Beca’s shoulder instead. “I don’t want the D,” she clarifies.

“Oh,” Beca says, stunned by the turn this conversation has taken. “I mean… okay. Thanks?”

Aubrey just nods and tells her to be quick. Beca spins on her heel and breezes past Chloe and Jessica (or maybe it’s Ashley?), flashing them a bland smile.

She hears the resounding clunk of discordant notes, like someone has slammed their forehead against the piano keys, and the dissonance follows Beca as she walks out.

***

Beca can’t pretend for much longer. The weird tension between her and Aubrey is always present now, and it’s not the good kind of weird. It’s awkward and uncomfortable, and Beca just wants everything to go back to normal, to the way it was before her conversation with Chloe.

Whatever romantic feelings she has for Aubrey have been undercut by Aubrey’s deception, and now she’s swimming in a state of confusion and discontent.

Today is the day, Beca decides. When she walks into the auditorium before rehearsal, she’s going to confront Aubrey about her lies, and she’s finally going to clear up this whole dilemma.

(She has to, because this thing between them has become too important to just throw away, and she needs to know whether it can be salvaged.)

Her heart is racing from the second she steps into the room, but she barrels past her initial discomfort. Aubrey is sitting on the bench, as per usual, so Beca rounds the piano and stares down at her with a determined frown.

Aubrey raises a brow at her expression, not intimidated in the least.

Beca wavers for a second, but she continues on.

“Why didn’t you tell me you could already play piano?”

To her credit, Aubrey doesn’t seem surprised that she knows. She hesitates for a long moment though, her gaze flickering between Beca and the piano keys. Beca unconsciously leans in, awaiting her answer.

“I enjoyed not arguing with you,” Aubrey admits eventually. She draws her hands into her lap and offers Beca a sad little smile. “And I wanted a reason to be around you.”

The confession pulls at a stopper that Beca didn’t even know was inside her chest, blocking the wave of affection that’s now flooding through the rest of her body.

She’s pretty sure she knows the reason, but she has to ask anyway. “Why?”

Aubrey breathes a laugh, shifting closer to her. “Do I really have to say it?” she counters, gazing pointedly down at Beca’s lips.

But Beca doesn’t ease up, just raises her brows expectantly. A smile is tugging at the corners of her mouth though, and she’s sure that Aubrey notices, since that’s where her stare is directed.

Aubrey sighs fondly and her eyes travel back up to meet Beca’s. “I like you, okay?”

Beca doesn’t say it back, because she hopes that her mutual interest becomes clear in her next question. “Do you want to maybe… not-argue over coffee instead?”

Aubrey’s radiant smile is all the answer she needs. “I thought you'd never ask,” she says, her smile becoming crooked as she stands and smooths down her skirt. “Literally. I didn’t think you were getting the message, at all.”

Beca scoffs lightly, leaning against the piano and crossing her arms over her chest. “Shut up, like your messages were any good. I don’t want the D,” she mocks playfully. “Very helpful.”

Aubrey sniffs, shuffling out from between the piano and its bench. “It’s not my fault that you’re oblivious. I can’t believe I even had to drop such a crass hint.”

Beca’s arms fall limply to her sides. “I’m oblivious?” she echoes, straightening up.

Aubrey gives a bark of laughter. Beca doesn’t miss the way her eyes briefly flicker down her body.

“We’ve been flirting for weeks now,” Aubrey points out.

Beca twists her lips into a disbelieving frown. “That’s flirting? I was flirting?” she questions. She takes a small step towards Aubrey and feels her frown melt when Aubrey matches the movement.

“Oh my god,” Aubrey groans. Her gaze turns skyward, as if asking the gods whether Beca is being serious. “I’m going on a date with an actual idiot.”

The mention of the word date makes Beca feel almost giddy, and she dares to slide forward a tiny bit more, pleased when Aubrey continues to follow her lead. She watches the dwindling distance between them with a muted smile.

“I guess we complement each other well,” Beca concedes when they’re standing closer than they’ve ever been before. Her smile gives way to a teasing smirk. “A nerd and her idiot.”

“That's disgustingly cute. Please never say it in public again,” Aubrey responds without missing a beat. The words carry no weight though, and they both know it.

She inches forward in the ensuing silence, and Beca swallows heavily. The backs of their hands touch, skin grazing against skin. Beca is the one to make the final move, tangling their fingers and bringing their palms together. Her eyes flutter shut as their bodies continue to gravitate closer.

“Do you want to get out of here?” Aubrey murmurs, nose brushing over Beca’s.

Beca shivers when Aubrey’s breath washes hotly over her cheek. But her eyes spring open once she registers the words, and the heady feeling dissipates.

“Get out…?” she repeats confusedly. “What- are you serious? Rehearsal is supposed to start soon.”

There’s a pregnant pause, and then Aubrey laughs lightly, her head falling to the side. The sound rings pleasantly in Beca’s ear, but it does nothing to dispel her confusion.

“What?” Beca asks, leaning back to try and meet Aubrey’s eyes, to get in on whatever joke she missed. “What did I say?”

“The right thing,” Aubrey assures her. Their hands stay connected, but she steps far back enough that Beca can see the way her lips have curved into a smirk.

“Oh, come on,” Beca protests, though she doesn’t let go. “That was a test?”

Aubrey hums, watching their hands swing lightly between them. “I just wanted to make sure that the Bellas still take priority, even if we decide to explore a romantic relationship.”

“Wow. Way to undermine a romantic moment, you big acapella nerd,” Beca deadpans, tugging her close again despite her words. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

Aubrey shrugs flippantly. “Did you expect anything otherwise?”

Beca doesn’t even need to think about it; she just shakes her head fondly.

The typical clamour of a gaggle of Bellas filters through the auditorium and causes Aubrey to look away towards the entrance. Beca takes the chance to study her, to take in the soft smile playing across her lips and the warm twinkle in her eyes. She considers how that same mouth used to say things that pushed her to breaking, how those same eyes were once critical and cold.

They could almost be different people, the Beca and Aubrey from a few weeks ago, compared to who they are now.

Beca recalls the moment that changed everything – the way Aubrey looked up at her from beneath her lashes as she sat atop the grand piano. That was her first taste of something special, and she honestly doesn’t think she’ll ever stop wanting for more.

***

Beca amends her self-determined rules for maintaining her sanity throughout college. Rules one and two are mostly the same, but rule three is almost the opposite of what it was. They read as such:

  1. Avoid her dorm when Kimmy Jin has friends over.
  2. Reply to her dad’s texts only a few minutes late whenever he mentions having some free time.
  3. Show up to acapella practice before the scheduled start time so she can hang out with her girlfriend.

Of course, rule three is still her favourite rule by far.