“Beca.” Chloe half chided, half soothed. “You’re just tired, love.”
Beca slumped in the chair at the desk in her hotel suite. “I am not. It’s still fucking freezing here.” She resolutely ignored the fact that she’d just been rubbing her eyes like a toddler. She could clearly see the concern in Chloe’s face over their sometimes fuzzy Skype video chat and she wanted to stop whining but it was just too much effort.
At first being on tour had been fun and amazing, except all her girls had jobs and couldn’t take a nine month sabbatical to travel the globe with her. Still, the excitement of the crowds and the energy had been enough to keep her going, along with the frequent video chats whenever they had time, individually or together. She was home for a week or two every couple of months for R&R, but after the first six months the novelty was wearing a little thin once the concert was over for the night.
Then Theo had starting pushing on her to maybe extend the tour since she was doing so well, add a few more months to the end which would extend it to almost a full year of travel. At first he was subtle about it, but then it became almost daily; if it wasn’t directly after her concerts than it was the following morning when they were getting ready to fly to the next stop.
“How can I help?” Chloe asked gently.
“You can’t.” It came out petulant and she knew it. “You’re more miles away than I care to think about.” Just the memory of Chloe’s arms around her, something she hadn’t felt in a month, was almost enough to bring her to tears. “Theo is being an annoying turtle, no one can make a decision without my input and I just want them to leave me alone so I can rest.” The whine was in full force but she couldn’t stop it; she knew her voice was cracking and the absolute last thing she wanted to do was have a tantrum about being on fucking tour when she knew it was the at least the fourth best thing to happen to her. (The first was Chloe, the second was Staubrey and third was the rest of the Bellas if anyone had cared to ask her.)
“Oh, Becs,” Chloe whispered and reached out to touch her laptop.
Beca flinched and realized that she’d been incorrect before; the absolute last thing she wanted was for Chloe to be sad and not have any way to comfort her. Of course, the fact that she was directly responsible for making Chloe sad made her feel even worse.
‘Jesus Christ, get your shit together,’ she told herself harshly. ‘Boohoo, you’ve got a top ten selling album and people are paying to see you sing every two to three days. Cry me a fucking river.’
She shook her head and forced herself to sit upright. “I’m sorry, Chloe. I’m fine, really.” Chloe’s expression didn’t change and she knew she hadn’t fooled Chloe in the slightest.
“Tell that to the dark circles under your eyes.” Chloe put her elbow on the desk and propped her chin on her hand.
Beca sighed and felt pathetic as she muttered, “Bed’s too bigsmall.” It was the curse of being used to a nine foot bed filled with three other bodies; it was also definitely one of the worst things about being on the road. She’d tried sleeping aids but all they did was make her groggy for a good fifteen hours, no matter how much sleep she’d gotten the night before. She was making do with melatonin but she still tossed and turned. It was getting just that little bit harder to work up the level of energy she needed to maintain for her concert and it wasn’t like she had a full ninety minutes of twirling around a stage like some artists.
‘Seriously, how the hell does P!nk do this shit for over a year?’ Beca wondered for the nth time since she’d left home.
“I know the feeling.” Chloe said softly. “We miss you.”
“I mis-” Beca stopped when there was a soft knock at her door. “God fucking damnit!” She slammed her hand on the desk. “I told them I didn’t want to be disturbed!”
“Beca,” Chloe sat up and leaned forward. “Don’t-”
“No.” Beca said as she glared at the door across the room. “I specifically told Theo I didn’t want to see him tonight. That I needed to get some sleep. He fucking chucked me under the chin and told me ‘You do look a bit knackered. Get some rest.’”
“I know but…” Chloe started with a sigh; Beca had bitched at his audacity at least twice in the hour they’d been talking.
“And… Okay,” Beca kept going, already launched past her tired frustration into actual anger. “Maybe I shouldn’t have yelled ‘what the fuck do you want’ when room service came by –”
“No, you shouldn’t have.” Chloe murmured. She’d been witness to it and forced Beca to call down to the desk to both apologize and ask that she be undisturbed for the rest of the night.
“So…” The knock came again. “Sonofabitch.” She stood up so hard the chair almost tipped over.
“Beca!” Chloe said but Beca was already stalking to the door.
“I said,” Beca snarled as she ripped open the door, “I do not want to be dis-…” She blinked three times, sure she was hallucinating. Maybe even having a stroke or something. Maybe she had brain damage. Because Aubrey could not be standing in front of her. In her hotel. In Vienna. Aubrey was at home. Being an amazing lawyer. With Chloe and Stacie.
Except Aubrey was there. Standing in front of her. Wearing faded and ripped blue jeans, a rumpled t-shirt that looked suspiciously like one stolen from Beca’s closet, a leather jacket, her hair in a ponytail and a gym bag slung over her shoulder. And, Beca’s eyes dropped from where she’d been staring into the tired face smiling gently at her, Beca’s Stitch onesie in her hand.
When Beca stood frozen in the doorway, Aubrey gently nudged her backward until she could step into the room and close the door behind her. The second Aubrey dropped the gym bag Beca’s paralysis broke and she threw herself at the blonde, wrapping her arms around Aubrey’s waist. With a soft oof when Beca collided into her, Aubrey cradled her close and tucked Beca’s head under her chin as she stroked her back. Immediately Beca felt warmer than she had since they had landed in Austria a week ago. Aubrey’s warm body relaxed her but it was nothing compared to the warmth of ‘home’ that Aubrey’s scent brought her.
“Baby.” Aubrey whispered.
Beca lifted her head and found Aubrey’s lips already waiting. The soft kiss soothed the last of Beca’s frayed nerves and she felt almost lightheaded as the tension left her. She parted her lips and Aubrey slipped inside, deepening the connection; reassuring more than building the fire that was always banked between them.
When they broke apart, Beca sighed and rested her ear against Aubrey’s heart, listening to the strong comforting beat. “I’ve missed you.”
“Me too, love.” Aubrey squeezed her again. “Chloe sent me.” Aubrey pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Stacie sent this.” She jiggled the hand holding the onesie.
“Oh shit!” Beca jerked upright. “Chloe’s on Skype!” She stepped back, taking Aubrey’s free hand and tugged her over to the desk where she found Chloe waiting patiently with a happy smile and a single tear running down her face. Sometime in the last few minutes Stacie had appeared behind her, her chin propped on Chloe’s shoulder. “You guys… I…” She went to sit but Aubrey beat her to it then pulled Beca into her lap. “I can’t believe you guys didn’t tell me.”
“Can’t ruin the surprise, B.” Stacie blew a kiss at her. “Plus Chloe tells me that you might need a lawyer anyway because you’re going to kill some innocent hotel staff person for doing their job.”
Beca winced. “Not one of my finer moments.”
“No.” Chloe agreed but smiled to take the sting from it. “But this is still new and strange and while you’ve come a long way from the ‘I don’t even sing’ girl we met years ago, sometimes…”
“Change and I don’t get along.” Beca sighed as Aubrey rubbed her back. “I still can’t believe you stealth sent Aubrey like a cuddle ninja.”
“And now that she’s there,” Chloe looked past Beca. “You’re gonna put our girl to bed so she can stop being a cranky pants about sleeping alone.”
“To be fair,” Aubrey laughed. “I remember you being disgruntled the last time none of us could stay overnight at one of your competitions.”
“I have no memory of this. You must be super jet-lagged.” Chloe said innocently. She stuck out her tongue when Stacie poked her in the side.
“We’ll talk again tomorrow,” Stacie said. “We’re going to hang up on you now. I’ve gotta get back to work, but I came home to see the big reveal when Aubrey texted us she landed.”
Beca checked the clock. It was almost 9pm in Vienna so it was only 1pm back home. “I love you guys.” She reached out and pressed her fingertips to her screen. “Thank you.”
“Have a good rest of your day, loves.” Aubrey said, her hand resting over Beca’s on the monitor.
“We love you both.” Chloe smiled gently.
“Maybe now that you’re in good hands, you can sleep.” Stacie paused and Beca knew what was coming. “Or not sleep because you’re in good hands.”
“How long did you take to think that up?” Aubrey asked affectionately.
“Just now.” Stacie shrugged. “I’m good with my mouth.”
“You mean with words.” Chloe half turned to look at her.
“That too.” Stacie shrugged and looked back at the monitor. “It’s killing me to do it, but I really am going to disconnect now.” She smiled gently. “You really do need to get some sleep, Beca. Let Aubrey take care of you. I love both of you.”
“I will.” Beca promised, feeling sleep eagerly tugging at her for the first time in what felt like months. ‘Probably since the last time I was home,’ Beca mused.
“Love you too.” Aubrey said just before Stacie hung up.
They sat there a moment more, Beca having turned sideways to cuddle, before Aubrey’s yawn startled them with its suddenness and volume.
“Oh Bree,” Beca reluctantly stood up and offered a hand. “You must be exhausted. It’s like, what, thirteen hours if you’re lucky to get a direct flight?”
“I may have had dad help me with the arrangements.” Aubrey took her hand and rose to her feet and picked up the onesie she’d draped over the chair. “Plus I got a few hours’ sleep on the plane, but… yeah. Sleeping sounds really good about now.” She held out the outfit. “Stacie says you have to sleep in it since you’ve been cold. She doesn’t want to lose any of your important bits to frostbite. She says, and I quote, ‘I’m too fond of her goodies to risk it.’” She pursed her lips. “Personally I think it’s because of that day you told her it made you feel like she was hugging you.”
Touched at her girls’ thoughtfulness, Beca laughed and took it. “Alright. C’mon, bathroom is over here.”
Aubrey followed her, detouring to grab her bag from beside the door. “This is a pretty nice suite they’ve got you in.”
Beca shrugged one shoulder, still not used to having a multi room suite just for herself. “It’s too much for me. I generally just stick to the bedroom or curl up on the couch when they get me these.” The room was nothing compared to the opulent setup that Khaled had had back on the USO tour, but they generally had a separate bedroom and master bath, a sitting room and sometimes a secondary room that was usually set up like an office. “I feel stupid complaining about it… ungrateful maybe.” She rolled her eyes at herself and voiced her earlier thoughts. “‘Oh boohoo and woe is me. I’m quasi famous and people pay to watch me sing.’”
“But you don’t even sing.” Aubrey flashed a smile at her that Beca couldn’t help but return. “But I can see how it could be lonely,” Aubrey offered as they walked into the bedroom where she set her bag down and began unpacking it. “I’m sorry we couldn’t be with you sooner.”
“Sometimes the band comes up.” Beca shrugged as she watched Aubrey pull out clothes that were still somehow neatly folded even though they had come out of a duffle bag. “Theo and a few of the other brass types make an appearance.” She smiled fondly as Aubrey put her clothes in with Beca’s in various drawers. “We haven’t lit the place on fire yet though, so I don’t know if that counts as a rager by your standards.”
“Pfft.” Aubrey said as she folded the bag and set it on top of the dresser before grabbing her toiletry case.
“You want to shower before bed?” Beca asked as they walked into the bathroom where Aubrey whistled at the size of the walk in shower and the whirlpool bath.
“As heavenly as that tub looks,” Aubrey said wistfully, “I think just want to wash my face, brush my teeth and curl up in that small bed with you.” She opened up her case and began to unpack it just as efficiently as she had the duffle, lining her things next to Beca’s.
Beca chuckled. “Aubrey, that’s a queen sized bed.”
“Right. Small.” Aubrey looked at Beca through the mirror and smiled. “Someone’s gotten me used to something bigger.”
Beca shrugged. “Guilty.” She moved over to the counter, setting her designated pj’s on it. “I must be tired because I know I should be turning that into a super dirty innuendo but I don’t have the energy.”
“I’ll say it tomorrow.” Aubrey offered as she began to wash her face. “Stacie would be disappointed in us both if we let it go.”
“You do love me!” Beca joked as she did the same.
“You’re my moon,” Aubrey said simply after she’d rinsed and Beca felt the threat of tears swelling at the back of her eyes.
“You’re our Earth.” Beca stroked Aubrey’s arm, still partially unable to believe she was actually there.
“Sap.” Aubrey sniffed slightly but Beca could clearly see her own emotions reflected back at her.
They finished cleaning up after the long day, brushing their teeth and hair, before changing into their pj’s: Beca in her Stitch onesie, though she left the hood off, and Aubrey in a pair of sleep pants that looked like ones Chloe had worn in college and… Beca laughed when she realized what Aubrey had pulled on. “Is that my Boob Man hoodie?”
“Maybe.” Aubrey turned off the bathroom light and Beca turned on the lamp beside the bed. For Beca’s 24th birthday, post Fourth of July drunken party videos, Stacie had gotten Beca a hoodie that said “I’m A Boob Man.” Aubrey had put her foot down on including a picture of Beca’s hands on her chest even though Stacie had promised to leave out their faces.
“I wondered where that went.” Beca turned off the main overhead light, watching as Aubrey pulled back the covers and crawled into bed with a grateful sigh. “Should’ve known.”
“Probably.” Aubrey settled into the middle of the bed and looked up expectantly. “Well?”
Beca slid into bed and half curled, half sprawled on Aubrey’s left side. “I still can’t believe you’re here.” She wiggled until she found the right spot and Aubrey’s arms closed around her.
“You needed me.” Aubrey shifted and pulled Beca closer.
“As if it were that simple,” Beca said, thinking of all the planning that had to have happened. Even with General Posen’s help it would’ve cost a pretty penny… though, Beca reminded herself, with the tour sales as well as the album still getting decent numbers, money wasn’t something they had to worry about when things like last minute flights came up.
“It was.” Aubrey’s hand gently stroked her back through the fabric. “You needed us. I was able to come.”
“How long did work let you go for?” Beca asked, not wanting to admit how much she wished Aubrey could stay with her the rest of the tour. She lifted her head when Aubrey hesitated and the smallest bit of tension went through the body under her.
“I…” Aubrey took a deep breath. “I quit.”
“What?” Beca pushed herself up. “You what?”
“Quit.” Aubrey reached up and brushed aside the hair that had fallen into Beca’s eyes. “You know I haven’t been happy there since we got back.”
“Yeah but…” Beca trailed off. “Aubrey, please tell me you did not quit because I’m being a big baby over the fact that I am alone on my tour?” Her brows drew together. ‘Jesus I sound like a spoiled brat.’
“I did not quit because you actually are alone on your first tour since none of us have been able to come with you.” Aubrey met her eyes. “Beca, I haven’t…. Oh I don’t know.” She sighed. “It’s… too routine.”
Beca snorted. “I never expected to hear you say something like that. You’re the Posen with the plan.” Aubrey’s brow arched and Beca said quickly, “Which is important because I never have one and sometimes I need to be kept in line.”
Aubrey’s mouth quirked. “Nice save.”
“Thank you.” Beca watched her, worried. “But to quit?”
“You know when I’ve had the most fun doing deals lately?” Aubrey waited and Beca shook her head. “Negotiating your contract with Khaled’s label. Finalizing the details of your tour.”
“You were kind of amazing at it.” Beca mused.
“It was something new, something other than just getting the most out of an artist for your old label.” Aubrey’s eyes had gone distant but now they focused back on Beca. “And I was wondering if you’d… maybe allow me to be your manager full time.”
“Yes.” Beca said without hesitation. She was currently on her fourth – or was it fifth – manager through the agency recommended by Khaled and she already knew the two of them didn’t mesh and it wasn’t going to last. “I would love you to be my manager, Bree. No one else can boss me around like you can.”
Aubrey laughed. “I don’t think that’s exactly the way it’s supposed to work…”
“Fine, you can boss Theo around for me and keep me from calling him Turtle Man when I get pissed at him.” Beca leaned down and kissed her. “But only if you’re sure.”
“There’s obviously going to be some things we’re going to have to figure out, like… do I need some sort of license or to form a company or…” Aubrey trailed off as she yawned so wide her jaw popped. “But we can talk about it tomorrow.”
“I think you just want to be your own boss.” Beca said as she rolled over to turn off the light before snuggling down again. “But I don’t envy you coming up with a company name.”
“BCS Talent.” The reply was so quick it was like she’d known Beca was going to say it.
“Of course you already have a name. You don’t do anything until you’ve covered all the angles.” Beca laughed and lifted her head again to smile down at her.
“Since you’d be my only client, I pondered ‘Mitchsen Talent.’” Aubrey’s eyes twinkled at her. “But I didn’t want to keep answering questions about why I mashed our names together.”
“Because we mash ourselves together as often as possible.” Beca said, kissing her.
“Yes, but I don’t want to tell strangers that. But this way…” Aubrey stroked her fingers through Beca’s hair. “It’s named after what matters most in my life.”
Beca inhaled deeply through her nose. “I hadn’t… I should’ve… put that together.” She inexplicably felt like crying again, touched beyond all measure at how much thought Aubrey had put into it already.
“Stacie took some convincing. Something about the last time she let me go out of her sight and into another country... But she came around. Chloe took less, once I explained why I wanted to do it.” Aubrey tugged a lock of Beca’s hair. “She has never trusted that your managers had your best interests at heart and not just their own.”
“Probably.” Beca said lightly. “I’ll fire Kas tomorrow.”
“Beca!” Aubrey laughed. “We need to talk first.”
“No, we don’t. You’re my manager and that’s final.” Beca put her head back down on Aubrey’s chest, happier than she could’ve dreamed possible.
“Then as your manager, I’m telling you that we’re going to sit down and talk logistics.” She put her hand over Beca’s mouth as she drew in breath to answer. “Tomorrow. After a giant breakfast that’s going to fill the massive table in the other room.”
Beca nodded and Aubrey slowly removed her hand. “Alright. Whatever you say… manager.” She grinned as Aubrey let out an overly exaggerated sigh. “Bree?”
“Thank you for coming to Vienna.” Beca felt Aubrey’s hand on her chin and let her head be tilted up until Aubrey’s lips met hers. When they parted again, she said softly, “You’re not a dream, right?”
“I’ve got you, love.” Aubrey said and kissed her again. “I promise I’ll be here when you wake up.”
“I love you, Aubrey.” Beca kissed her one last time, a lazy comforting stroking of tongues and lips.
“I love you too.” Aubrey’s fingers slipped from her jaw to wrap lightly around the arm across her waist.
Far quicker than she’d gone to sleep since the last time she’d been in their arms in The Expanse, Beca felt herself drawn into slumber, the steady beat of Aubrey’s heart matching her own.
Aubrey woke to gentle kisses. They were placed delicately at the corner of her mouth, along her jaw, her eyebrow and even her closed eyelid once Beca knew she was awake. She sighed in contentment at the weight resting against her side and the hand drawing designs on her stomach.
“You kept your promise.” Beca said before kissing the tip of Aubrey’s nose.
Aubrey smiled but kept her eyes closed. “A Posen-Conrad always keeps their promises.”
“You guys are good at that.”
Aubrey opened her mouth to answer but Beca’s lips covered hers in a kiss far less chaste than the ones they had exchanged the prior evening. She gave out a happy purr as Beca licked down into her mouth, languid but passionate; unhurried but definitely an indication of how the rest of the morning would go and Aubrey felt desire coiling as the rest of her body woke up.
At least until she opened her eyes, intending to wish Beca what was apparently going to be very good morning and found Beca leaning over her, all sleep tousled and warm…
With the Stitch hoodie pulled up over her head.
Aubrey began to laugh.
Beca propped her head on her right hand, watching as Aubrey fell apart every time she took in the blue ears on top of Beca’s head. Aubrey laughed so loud and so long that she snorted, which caused her to giggle even while she was mortified, but then she’d catch sight of Beca’s patiently waiting face, surrounded by blue fuzzy alien, and she’d lose it all over again. When she’d almost exhausted herself, Beca merely pursed her lips when Aubrey took a peek at her and snickered.
“Yes?” Aubrey let out a giggle, keeping her eyes closed.
“Stacie has made love to me in this onesie.” Beca hadn’t stopped tracing designs on Aubrey’s stomach since the first giggle and now she curved her fingers around Aubrey’s hip. “I don’t see what the problem is.” Her tone was nothing but pure amused affection and despite the fact that she just can’t, Aubrey felt herself melt.
“That’s because you guys are aca-pervs.” Aubrey giggled again, high pitched and borderline hysterical at the image that formed and she knew at some point she and Chloe would have to watch them re-enact that. ‘Would you like to be pot, or kettle?’ she mentally asked herself and snorted again.
“Guess you’ll just have to take it off me.” Beca said silkily in her ear and Aubrey’s laughter tapered off into a moan as Beca’s hand moved up to cover her breast.
“Yes please,” Aubrey breathed as her back arched into her lovers touch.
Beca kissed her. “Let me properly thank you for saving the rest of the team from a very cranky artist.”
“I think, and I mean this from the very bottom of my heart, that the pleasure is about to be mine.” Aubrey’s hands slid over Beca until she found the row of buttons on the onesie. “After I get you out of this and naked.”
Beca smiled at her as Aubrey slowly undid them one by one, humming in anticipation with each inch of skin exposed.
“I love Vienna.”