Aubrey stared at her friend. Chloe knew her since forever, so she knew by the look in her friend’s eyes that she was “measuring the situation”. “No.” she said flatly.
“Chloe, you asked me to listen to you and I agreed. I however, didn’t agree to say yes.”
The redhead huffed. She’ll do anything to get Aubrey to go to her girlfriend’s party, even… Oh, she thought to herself when the idea hit her. This could work. “I’ll drive you to school.”
Aubrey raised her eyebrows. “You already do.”
“I’ll drive you back home then.” Chloe offered quickly, holding out to take Aubrey’s hand in hers. The blonde would have normally pulled back, but she had known Chloe for years. Her touch didn’t freak her out anymore. “I’ll be your slave, I swear. Please, Bree, this is special for me. I… I really like her, and I want you guys to go along with each other.” She said with a hopeful tone Aubrey didn’t like so much.
See, it wasn’t that she avoided people per se, it was more like, damage management. Aubrey was a perfectly normal teenager. She liked board games and to read while her mom was baking cookies. She liked walking around, and even though she didn’t feel hyped when it rained, it didn’t bother her either. She had a weird (this she could admit, it was weird) taste in music. She liked hanging out with her best friend for life and neighbor, Chloe Beale.
And she was good at many things; but going to parties on Friday nights, especially high school's ones, was not one of them. Apparently, this must be different because the host was none other than her best friend’s girlfriend.
Aubrey knew Beca. They have crossed paths continuedly since the redhead began to date her. Occasionally, she would just acknowledge the blonde by nodding politely when they saw each other in the halls; Aubrey nodded back, as if silently thanking her for not pushing any further interaction.
She also had seen her band play. They were good, but she already made up her mind about her favorite member. Even her and her weird music taste could recognize The Bellas were good. The best at this shitty town, maybe. Of course, her opinion on their music wasn’t based on the crush she developed on the drummer. No, Aubrey could separate feelings from honest opinions. Or so she liked to tell herself.
That was, until the puppy she had for a best friend decided to change their whole dynamic. Aubrey paused for a bit, thinking about the things Chloe did for her and only her. Since they met several years ago, she always tried her best, always tried to understand her.
Suddenly, a dumb party seemed like the right thing to even the balance.
“Half an hour.” Chloe’s eyes immediately lighted up, pulling her into a hug. A long hug, Aubrey counted five Mississippi’s. She had a feeling she might end up regretting her decision.
“You’re the best, Bree.” She said, pulling back. The blonde watched her friend collect her stuff and head out to the door. Then she stopped in her tracks, like suddenly she remembered something. “Also, Emily will be there. Bye!” Chloe rushed out her house, leaving a really stunned Aubrey on the inside.
Oh, she was so going to regret this.
Friday night came quicker than Aubrey would have liked it to. She spent most of the day convincing herself that it couldn’t be that bad, except when she headed inside Beca’s house and Chloe left her by herself so she could go and find her girlfriend, she realized it could be, and it was.
The blonde looked around, already feeling anxious by the amount of people that were stacked in the rather small house. She decided to head to the kitchen, because it seemed the less crowded room.
That’s when she tripped over her.
Emily Junk, drummer of The Bellas, and the girl Aubrey not so conveniently had a crush on, stared at her with a charming smile. She wondered if the brunette was surprised to see her.
Well, now Aubrey was in deep trouble. She had been training herself to handle drunk boys stumbling around her, not a conversation with Emily freaking Junk.
Her body instantly went into her default mode, eyes looking around nervously. Because looking at anything else was more comfortable than facing the other girl's stare. Don’t get her wrong, Emily was really nice. In fact, Emily was one of the nicest people Aubrey has ever met, and Aubrey was smitten to the cute face she made when she didn’t understand a math problem in class. Perhaps that’s part of the reason she couldn’t think straight right now.
That, or she was on the verge of losing it.
“I’m not a big fan of crowded rooms either.” The brunette said. Aubrey directed her attention towards the girl. That didn’t make sense.
“You’re in a band” Aubrey answered almost too fast.
“I play the drums” she crunched her nose while she chuckled, looking down at the almost empty cup in her hands. “It’s not like I get a lot of attention. Not like Beca or Stacie do, at least.” Soft brown locks fell down her face and Aubrey started playing with her hands, reminding herself that reaching out to push them back would have been crazy. She shook her head and decided to keep the conversation.
“I think you’re good.”
Emily looked surprised, “You’ve seen us play?” The blonde shifted from one foot to another. This night was not going like she planned, and where on earth was Chloe? She made a mental note not to talk to her friend on their way home. She also decided this was the last time she let herself be coerced by the redhead. She was way too nice.
Her attention drifted to a couple of feet away from her, where another brunette, Stacie from her Chem class more specifically, was sucking a boy’s face. Aubrey’s disgust must have shown, because Emily followed her gaze and laughed. “Come on, I’ll take you somewhere else.” She offered. Aubrey measured the girl for a minute, wondering why the sudden interest. Didn’t she notice something off with her? The bumbling conversation didn’t tell her anything? Or maybe, Emily thought she was just socially awkward. “Don’t worry, I promise to take you back to Chloe whenever you’d like to go home. I just, want to know you, I guess.” Aubrey detected shyness on her tone. Maybe she should give it a shot.
“Yes, Emily. I’ll follow.” The blonde fixed her skirt.
Emily brightened up, her red solo cup long forgotten somewhere in the kitchen. The brunette reached out to take Aubrey’s hand, and while she didn’t find it completely hideous, she flinched, moving a bit so they couldn’t touch. Emily looked at her with curiosity written in her face, but she didn’t try again, nor did ask about it. She treated it like it was not a big deal. Instead she smiled at her and gestured upstairs with her head. Aubrey followed, just like she promised.
They were friends, at least Aubrey thought they were.
They spent the lunch period together, usually on the large gardens their school had, by Emily’s petition. Chloe and Beca often joined them (if they weren’t busy making out somewhere in the girl’s bathroom), and even the other Bellas rolled around from time to time.
And yeah, Aubrey had never been particularly good at making friends, but Emily was sweet, and she never pushed too much on Aubrey’s nerves. The blonde had even grow used to Emily constantly invading her space. Sometimes a little bit too close that Aubrey’s heart would threaten to get out her ribcage.
This, of course, had nothing to do with Aubrey’s crush on the drummer.
It was obviously a heart condition. And Aubrey had google to prove it.
Things were great, until one girl came to their table (on Thursday, because on Thursday they ate inside) on the cafeteria and started to talk with Emily about a Bellas’ performance they did on the school meeting just the weekend before. She ignored absolutely everyone else on their table and Aubrey thought it was rude, but Beca and Stacie didn’t seem to care. Chloe however looked the exchange with curious eyes.
The girl touched her hair a lot, smiling weirdly. Aubrey thought that smile didn’t look real, or at least, it didn’t seem natural. She also touched Emily’s hand on purpose, and while the drummer pulled back politely she still had a hard time reading her friend’s expression. She was clearly not into it but didn’t put an end to their conversation. Aubrey furrowed her eyebrows, she didn’t understand, if the brunette didn’t want to talk to her, why she just didn’t say so?
Beca cleared her throat and the blonde turned to see her. The short girl was still holding the book she had been reading for the past hour. And she was smirking, as if she knew something Aubrey was hiding. She wasn’t hiding anything. So she looked back at her food and decided to ate in silence while the pretty girl talked to Emily.
She couldn’t quite place how she felt about it. She was not angry, Aubrey had learned a lot of time ago to difference that one feeling. No, she felt… Helpless? She didn’t like how easy was for the intruder to talk to Emily. She didn’t feel like it was fair, how it took her a lot of effort to even feel comfortable with initiating conversation with her, and suddenly this girl, out of the nothing could catch Emily’s attention.
Later, when she confessed this to Chloe, she got an “I dunno Bree, maybe you’re jealous” for response. Aubrey’s mind went blank. Jealous?
Once she was at home, she took her laptop, opened google, and typed:
“How does jealously feel like?”.
She found out by Chloe that the girl, the cute brunette who talked to Emily the week before in lunch period, had asked her out. Aubrey’s stomach did something funny, and she tried not to sound too interested when she asked if their friend said yes. Emily didn’t.
Aubrey breathed again.
Chloe didn’t look at her, she was busy fixing the books she didn’t need on her locker when she spoke. “Bree, why don’t you ask her out?”
The blonde hugged her books closer to her chest. “Take her on a date, you mean?”
“Well, yeah. You totes like her so I don’t see why not. Maybe she likes you back!”
Aubrey seemed to be thinking about it, biting the inside of her cheek. Chloe tried to give her space to think, but really, she had seen her friends interact and it was obvious Emily was interested in Aubrey in a more-than-friends-way.
“I’m not sure…” The blonde played with her fingers while avoiding contact, a nervous habit Chloe learned her friend did when she felt exposed. Usually when she was talking about… “She doesn’t know.” Aubrey shook her head no, looking kind of desperated. “I haven’t told her yet, Chloe. What if she thinks I’m weird? Or, what if she doesn’t understand what is like?”
Chloe tilted her head, listening cautiously to her friend. When she saw nothing else was coming from Aubrey’s mouth, she decided to speak. “You’re talking about it like is some evil disease Aubrey, which it’s not. And besides, is Emily really that kind of girl?” she asked. Chloe knew this was a touchy subject and she didn’t want her friend to feel pressured, but God. She was so sure Emily liked her. And she knew Emily would be good for her. “Look, I’m sure she already picked up some traits of your personality by now, and I think she’s mostly fine with it. But, if you’re really worried about it, why don’t you tell her? See how she reacts to it, and you go from there.”
The bell rang, giving no time for Aubrey to answer.
Paying attention to her classes was nearly impossible. She couldn’t focus on anything else that the conversation she had with Chloe earlier that day.When she was younger, her daddy always said that if she wanted people to understand her, she needed to talk. But she would be lying if she didn’t admit she wasn’t afraid of Emily’s reaction.
But, if she wanted to be friends or whatever with the drummer, she needed her to know.
So as soon as the last bell rang she sprinted out the classroom. She needed to find Emily, hence why she made her way over the auditory. Aubrey knew Emily went there on her last period to arrange things for her music class, and to write her own music if she was feeling like it. She pushed the heavy door and felt relief when she distinguished Emily’s silhouette sitting on the stage floor, music sheets messily gathered around her. Aubrey would take care of it later.
“I need to talk to you.”
Emily’s head shot up instantly, clearly not expecting visitors. She relaxed when she saw it was just her. “Oh my stars, you nearly gave me a heart attack.” The brunette laughed. Aubrey smiled, while the expression didn’t make sense to her, she had learned over the years that people used it to show surprise.
“I didn’t mean to, I just needed to talk to you.” She repeated. Emily stood up, brushing her hands on her jeans. Aubrey couldn’t help but notice the brunette’s outfit. Jeans, and a white tank top that showed her toned arms. Her hair was loose, and messy. Aubrey's hands itched.
“Right here or...”
“I have Asperger.” The blonde said in a rush. She avoided looking at Emily’s face, instead focusing on the papers around her. Emily really needed to tidy up a bit.
“Oh.” The drummer furrowed her eyebrows. “I’m not sure I know what that is?”
“It’s uh, a syndrome. It falls on the autism spectrum.” Aubrey started, simplifying all the information she knew to something that let the message out and clear. “It’s not necessarily autism though, but I was born with it and there’s not really a cure. I’m not sick, and it’s not bad. I mean I’m normal.” Emily stared at her with curiosity. “But, there are certain things that are difficult for me, things that other people usually do with no effort.”
The brunette tilted her head, concentrated. “Things like, looking people in the eye?”
Aubrey nodded, an unintended laugh leaving her lips, she somehow found funny that of all things she was bad at, Emily picked that one. “That’s part of it yes, and I’m particularly bad at it.”
“Oh I know, but until now I thought you were...” Emily didn’t look like she was judging her, rather she seemed to be searching for the right word.
“Weird?” she proposed.
Emily narrowed her eyes, “I was going to say shy.”
“And now? Do you… think it’s weird?” Aubrey just had to know. Because if Emily didn’t understand, then she was going to be heartbroken. Romantic feelings aside, she had been through enough to realize that she couldn’t stay friends with someone who treated her like she was stupid, or who was too afraid to try to have a normal relationship with her.
“What? No!” Emily took a step closer to her, watching the blonde wrap her arms around herself. She looked vulnerable. The drummer thought about the amount of people that reacted badly at Aubrey’s… Condition. She didn’t know a lot about Asperger. Okay, maybe she only knew the things her friend just told her, but she knew Aubrey. And Aubrey wasn’t weird.
“Sorry, sorry I just…”
“No, please don’t apologize.” The taller girl reached out to take Aubrey’s hand, until she remembered it most likely would make the other feel uncomfortable. “Can I take your hand?”
Aubrey looked at her, and after thinking for a couple of seconds, she nodded.
Emily grabbed her hand slowly, as if waiting for her to change her mind. She didn’t. “This asperger… thing, is part of you, and while I don’t fully understand what it is about, I want you to feel safe with me. I’m not judging you, I couldn’t do that. I like you for who you are, and if I need to spend the night on Wikipedia learning everything about it then so be it.”
Aubrey wanted to cry, part of it because she felt a lot of things she couldn’t quite place, and the other half was because Emily was looking at her like that.
“Thank you, Emily” she simply said, squeezing the brunette’s hand softly.
Emily needed to see someone. She needed to talk about it to someone.
So she visited Chloe.
“Aubrey told me.” She said as soon as the front door opened. The redhead seemed surprised at first, but she nodded and gestured her to come inside. Emily thanked God Beca didn’t seem to be around.
Chloe waited until the drummer sat in the red couch, a hand roaming through her hair. “Does it bother you?” she asked. Emily knew she needed to be careful because she didn’t want to give the wrong idea, but it felt like too much.
“No” she shook her head. “But I mean, this changes things, right? Not necessarily in a bad way but still.” Emily groaned, putting emphasis on the last word. “I don’t know how to be around her. I don’t want to hurt her, Chlo.”
Chloe stared at the troubled brunette before her. She could recognize the feeling she saw in her friend, after all she had felt the same way back on the beginning of her friendship with the blonde. She was always careful around Aubrey, just in case she was too shy or stubborn to let her know something was bothering her. “I think you shouldn’t change how you treat her. If there’s one thing I know about my best friend is that she hates when people patronize her.”
Emily nodded, that made sense. “Yeah but, what if I mess up? I don’t mean to be weird around her, but now I feel like I need to put way more thinking into what I say or do.”
“Well that’s on you, I guess.” Chloe smiled sweetly. “I don’t want to lie, being friends with Aubrey means changing a lot of stuff. Not because of her or the way she is, but because of you. You’re gonna need to tell her everything, and I mean, everything. She’s not gonna understand what you mean unless you say it, loud and clear. And you need a lot of patience, because the kind of relationship you and I have, for example, is not gonna work for you guys. Being friends with her means being willing to learn and rebuild yourself, every single day.” The brunette let the words sink in, wrapping her mind around what was happening.
“What if…” Emily started, feeling suddenly nervous. “If I don’t like her just as a friend?”
Chloe beamed. “Then you have even more reasons to try.”
It was a cloudy day, and Emily had asked her to go for a walk. Aubrey enjoyed being outdoors, and while she used to do it by herself, she didn’t mind when her friend kept her company.
They had been hanging out a lot. Ever since Aubrey told Emily, the brunette made her mission to learn everything about Asperger, or more specifically, everything about Aubrey.
She learned how the green-eyed girl had a hard time with keeping eye contact, but she was able to once she warmed up to the person. She knew Aubrey had a special attachment to country music, Disney movies, and that she wasn’t very fond of, or rather, she couldn’t put up with certain smells. (Emily stopped wearing perfume once the blonde shyly admitted it made her feel nauseous).
She learned how Aubrey liked to sit on the first row on every class, usually taking the middle seat. She knew of she placed her pens; red, blue and black, and while the blonde didn’t mean to be a total bitch, it made her feel annoyed when someone grabbed them, with or without permission. She liked to wear her hair on a tight bun, which often caused headaches; so she wore it loose, sometimes asking Chloe to do something new with it. Emily would tell her she looked beautiful each time. Because she really, really looked beautiful.
Her room was painted in white and she had a strong distaste for orange.
Also, Aubrey played with her fingers and fixed her skirt when she felt uneasy.
Emily had been too caught up in her own thinking when Aubrey broke the silence between them. “Emily, may I hold your hand?”
The brunette couldn’t help but grinned at her. It caught her out of ward the first couple of times Aubrey asked the very same thing, but she was used to it now, and she thought it was cute. “Sure, love.” Her heart fluttered and once Aubrey’s hand was on her, she intertwined their fingers and resumed their walk. Aubrey had been more and more open to her, constantly telling her new things about herself, what she liked and why. She was fond of the easiness on their friendship, and she prided herself on being a special person in the blonde’s life. Still, there was something she needed to ask.
“Aubrey?” The green-eyed girl hummed in response, too lost admiring the trees before her. “Would you like to go on a date with me?”
Aubrey turned her gaze. “A date?” Emily chuckled, she knew what the blonde was too afraid to ask, so she clarified.
“Yeah, the “I have romantic feelings for you, please have dinner with me” kind of date.” Aubrey let go of her hand, and took a step further, turning to face her.
“You like me?” she asked.
“Yes.” Emily answered in a heartbeat. “Do you like me?”
Aubrey looked at the ground, but she could see how a light blush spread through her cheeks. “I do.” The brunette smiled wide, her hands finding the empty pockets in her leather jacket. She shrugged.
“Then go on a date with me.”
Emily arranged everything. She called Mrs. Posen to know what her (girl?)friend liked to eat, and when the woman even offered to cook, Emily thought about it. On one hand, she wanted to make something nice for Aubrey, on the other hand, she also knew it could make her feel weird. She decided it was a better idea to accept her help since she didn’t want Aubrey to get anxious about the food.
At the end it wasn’t exactly a surprise, but she hoped the blonde liked it.
She spent Friday evening cooking with Aubrey’s mom, while the blonde was at the support group gathering she had once a week. ("Aspies only", Aubrey had said in a tone that had drummer thinking about it as a joke.)
Chloe dropped some supplies she needed and helped her preparing the backyard. The redhead wished her good luck on her date and told her not to be so nervous “You both like each other, just have fun.” Then she left the Posen’s house.
When Aubrey came in, everything was ready. The blonde looked around, smiling at the effort Emily clearly put into setting this. She did notice a few things off, but she decided it was better to ignore them. The best she could.
“How was your meeting?” Emily asked nervously.
“It was good, we have a new member now. That makes 7 of us.” The brunette nodded, biting her lip. Aubrey reached out to touch the girl, trying to assure that it was alright. “I like what you did here.”
Emily’s face brightened while she let out a breath. “Your mom helped. And Chloe.”
That way, conversation seemed to flow between them. It wasn’t awkward, some things Emily got used to, and the more time they spent together, the more Aubrey felt like she could speak freely with the other girl. It also helped that she knew the brunette had feelings for her, there was no unrequited crush, no pressure.
There was a point in their evening when Aubrey couldn’t help but stare at Emily.
She was laughing, and the way the lights hit her face made her seem even more pretty. Aubrey found it was one of her favorite sounds. Her eyes trailed to the other girl lips, and she felt a weird thing in her stomach, something she could only recognize from when Emily confessed her feelings to her.
She wanted to know if her lips were as soft as they looked, she wanted to… Oh. Realization hit her suddenly. She now remembered vaguely talking to Chloe about it. “Just go for it!” her friend had said excitedly.
“I want to kiss you.” She uttered, remembering herself to look up and search for Emily’s eyes. Emily looked, surprised. But not weirded out, more like she was sorting things out, maybe wondering how to answer.
“Then kiss me.” The brunette said simply. Emily could feel her own heart go faster as Aubrey took a step closer. Aubrey gulped, and her hand hesitantly reached to Emily’s cheek.
Emily sensed the other girl's tension. The drummer wondered if this was too much for her, the proximity, the warmth. Brown eyes searched for green one’s. Aubrey was nervous, and she was about to pull back, to tell her that they didn’t need to do anything she wasn’t ready for. Then she felt another hand touching her waist and Emily saw it in her eyes, Aubrey wanted to kiss her. And she wanted it too, so it was her turn to make her feel safe.
“Hey, it’s okay.” She reassured, her own hand covering the blonde’s, hoping to calm the other girl a bit. “I’m nervous too.” Emily smiled. Aubrey, despite her concentrated gaze and the evident nervousness, smiled too.
Then, Aubrey was kissing her. Emily’s eyebrows shot up in surprise at the sudden contact, and if her heart couldn’t stay steady before, now she felt like it would never be back to normal. It took her a second to kiss Aubrey back, wanting it to be sweet, not pushing too much. Aubrey’s hand stopped shaking, and it made Emily smile.
The kiss didn’t last long, Emily knew even if the blonde wanted to be intimate with her, it would take time for her to get used to the feeling. The brunette wasn't discouraged at all, if anything, she felt flattered. Aubrey had picked her, she trusted her, and she wasn’t about to disappoint the blonde. She'd rather die than make her unhappy.
When Aubrey pulled back, she was also smiling.
“So?” Emily asked, reaching to move a strand of blonde hair out of Aubrey’s face.
Aubrey still had her eyes closed, as if processing what just happened between them. She fought the urge to touch her lips; instead, she opened her eyes. The brunette's heart flutter when she noticed how they seemed brighter. “I really, really like you.”
Emily couldn’t help the giggle that escaped her mouth.
“I really, really like you too.”