"You're staring again" I feel Aubrey's presence beside me and I don't even have to turn, my mind's eye shows me the face belonging to the voice. A look with a mix of worry and slight disapproval.
My answer is a short "I know" followed by a deep sigh.
"It has been years, Chloe" though it's a statement, I can clearly make out from her voice that she is practically begging and I can't say I don't understand. This is the first time in over ten minutes that I finally tear my eyes from their favourite sight and really look at Aubrey's features. I haven't seen her in person for a while and I notice the small changes to my mental image - like a little scar on her jaw (that must have been a bear at least, I can't imagine anything else getting close enough to her), or how tanned she got from spending so much time outdoors - but the facial expression itself is an exact match. Four years of living together does that to you.
With her brows furrowed she continues "she clearly loves you, that was never a question, even in the first year. I was so jealous of that little punk. But you know it's never gonna happen. Why keep on?"
"I am probably in love with suffering just as much as I am with her" I admit wondering how broken does it make me.
"But why do you deserve all this suffering?" I love that she indulges me with all my emotional hardships and it seems she actually learnt to do that without any sight of judgement since she's been working in the resort. The answer comes more easily than I expected.
"Because I don't know anything else" and it's true. I really don't. In all my years I only have seen one relationship that was healthy, and that wasn't mine. As I say this out loud, I see my dearest friend's eyes water and a moment later I find myself in her loving embrace. She always wanted to protect me, even from myself. It took her a while to accept that she can't. I can't count how many times has she apologised for her behaviour in her senior year and so we worked it out.
I feel tears rolling down my face I have not consent to, but my heart has a habit of doing things without it anyway. So I hold on to Aubrey for a few minutes, then after I feel my body calming down I let her go.
"Something else is up too though. What is it?" she asks softly. Well. I stayed but I know she wouldn't.
"She's slipping away, Bree" it's the short answer but she understands it just as well.
"Maybe it's not such a bad thing. I know it's terrifying but there is a life outside of the Bellas. Life that might even include someone who will love you just as much as you love them"
"I know. But I'm just not ready for it yet" meaning I wish I believed it. At least Beca is there, something solid, something I can anchor myself to. But it's not good to tie myself to a sinking ship, even if I can't deal with uncertainities when it comes to my love life.
Aubrey sighs, letting it go for now.
"And what will you do now?"
"What I always do. I flirt. I smile until it hurts. And hope the hurt inside will not be that much worse," and I start to make my way to the tent but suddenly turn back as another thought comes to my mind "and maybe... Just maybe. After the Worlds... I'll let her go. For my sake."