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i will not give you up (it's the one good thing that i've got)

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Seven years. Seven long, gruelling, revelation filled years. That’s how long Beca’s been in love with Chloe. Not that she had been privy to that fact for the whole seven years. Definitely not. In the rare moments that Beca decides to be completely honest with herself she knows that she realised it in senior year. The love, that is. She was acutely aware that she found Chloe attractive since she was accosted in a lukewarm shower with nothing but soap to cover her up.

But the love...

That snuck up on her.

In hindsight it really started in the pool. There had been butterflies in rehearsal when she couldn’t quite nail the choreography and Chloe wrapped her up in her arms to help her. There had been skipped heartbeats when Chloe cared enough to ask about her music and linger behind the rest of the girls to listen to some of the things Beca had created (and less delighted heartbreak when, despite Chloe telling Beca it was awesome, she didn’t stick up for her at the semis).

But the pool. The pool had been something else entirely. The pool had been a cacophony of emotions all culminating into one single thought -‘fuck’ - and then Beca had completely ignored it for three years until she was graduating, and worlds was approaching, and it suddenly occurred to her that things with Chloe would never be the same. No more late night talks or impromptu sleepovers. No more co-captaining or semi-parenting their messes of friends or aca-carolling that she always pretended to hate but secretly loved.

No more Beca and Chloe.

No more Bellas - not in the way it was anyway. And in the face of losing everything that had made her who she was in her adult life, Beca had panicked. Panicked herself into a revelation - she loved Chloe Beale - and then she’d just sat on that knowledge for a further three years in silence because she was terrible with feelings (though she got the sense Amy definitely knew).

So here she was, three years into being hopelessly in love with one of her best friends, who was just amazingly also her roommate who she happened to share a bed with. Three years into a job that she hated more with every day that passed, with every new white boy rapper with money and minimal talent. Three years into a job that she just quit - which felt absolutely fucking amazing until her unemployment crashed down on her like a tonne of bricks. A tonne of bricks that seemed to double in weight every time Amy said the word ‘fired’, which she definitely wasn’t.

She really did quit.

She did.

“So...fired, huh?” Chloe asks after Amy disappears to freshen up her lady garden (her words, not Beca’s). A phrase which, after this long of living together, they all know means she’s going to vanish for at least three hours and then return with absolutely no explanation and not even remotely closer to being ready to leave than when she first went.

“I swear I quit,” Beca groans, following Chloe’s lead as she flops onto their bed with a content sigh and pats the vacant space beside her for Beca to join. It’s the same thing she did every time Beca came home complaining that she hated her job - AKA every day she met a client instead of just making music in isolation - but why mess with what they both know works? Even if Beca did continue to pretend she didn’t enjoy Chloe’s impression of a clingy koala that inevitably followed.

“Why this time?” Chloe asks with genuine curiosity and it’s a fair question seeing as Beca threatened to quit at least twice every month (sometimes three if the coffee machine broke). But she never actually did - partially because she still loved making music, and partially because they actually needed to pay rent sometimes and there was no way Amy was chipping in.

“He wanted me to leave the track the way it was and like, I hate most people, but not enough to make them listen to the death of good music.” It was about integrity really and also a little bit about the fact that she felt like she was stuck in some shitty cycle – think about quitting, don’t quit, think about quitting, think about telling Chloe you love her, don’t tell her, think about telling Chloe you love her, don’t. Frankly she was tired of it (not that she was going to do anything about the latter; quitting her job was enough of a life mix-up for one day).

“The death of good music? That’s a big statement.” But not an incorrect one.

“It was genuinely worse than the time we heard Bumper and Amy having break up sex.” Beca shudders just thinking about it. She’d gagged at the time. Even Chloe, who wasn’t remotely shy about sex, had looked traumatised as they quickly spun away from the apartment door and hid in a bar for a few hours doing way too many shots.

“The one with all the-“

“Yes,” Beca cuts her off quickly. She knows that Chloe finds it hilarious now, especially because it’s a foolproof way to make Beca blush but she really didn’t need that much of a reminder. She was very happy to vaguely mention it to a therapist in twenty years time.

“That is bad,” Chloe concludes and Beca hums in quiet agreement. “Well, if you put on your old Bella’s uniform in the next ten minutes I’ll let you drown your sorrows in the good alcohol.”

“The stuff that cost more than ten dollars?”

“You know it.” Beca begins to jump up, way too excited by the prospect of upper-lower shelf vodka, when Chloe catches her arm and pulls her firmly back to the bed. She doesn’t hesitate to wrap her arm around Beca’s waist and rest her head gently on her chest, and it’s a testament to how far they’ve come that Beca doesn’t flinch at the contact anymore, doesn’t even question wrapping her own arm around Chloe’s body to keep her in position.

“The counter obviously starts after we’ve cuddled,” Chloe says, her arms tightening ever so slightly.

Obviously,” Beca replies with a mocking voice but a genuine smile on her face as she shuffles until she’s reached optimal comfort, which is arguably too much comfort if the way they fall asleep is any indication. They only wake up to sound of Amy shouting something about how Beca needs to get dressed instead of having ‘lesbian fun times’ and how she’s the ‘only responsible one in the apartment’ (Beca would’ve argued if she wasn’t so busy blushing and avoiding everyone’s eyes).

Beca doesn’t even have to put the stupid scarf on by the time she’s shoved from the apartment and into a car that she will never forget was bought from a police auction because of a murder which, well, pretty much summed up their lives following college.

At least the reunion would be fun.

Maybe.

Hopefully.


 

It was not fun.

It was the opposite of fun.

It was disheartening to say the least. Awkward in reality. They were all just standing there, in full regalia, watching the younger, more composed, versions of themselves jump about like they actually took the cardio tip seriously and also managed to sound beautifully polished without having to first go through some vomit-soaked circle time ritual (not that Beca didn’t find that hilarious in retrospect, because she definitely did – mostly because she wasn’t present for the actual vomiting).

But Beca has to give it to them that it’s a pretty solid arrangement, and Emily had definitely grown into herself as a leader, and it’s not that she’s jealous. She just feels... obsolete and she was kinda having a day where she could’ve done with one of them accidentally breaking something in the aquarium and releasing a dolphin or some shit. At least a small shark. Hell, she’d take a large fish.

They could’ve at least sounded a little flat out of courtesy.

Chloe, on the other hand, looked depressed, which was to be expected considering how excited she was for them to all sing together again. She hadn’t shut up about it the whole ride over, to the point where, at the end of the journey she actually almost had Amy and Beca on her level. Not that they were going to admit that, but her enthusiasm was nothing if not infectious.

Unfortunately that also went for her upset.

All in all, it sucked.

It sucked so hard that they immediately bailed once the girls had stopped singing and found themselves in the closest bar, tempting each other into more drinks than necessary. Or just enough drinks necessary for them to all admit that life after college was super hard and it kinda sucked having to act like an adult and be responsible.

So life was hard, and Chloe was upset, and the girls had a really bad habit of riffing off of one another. Those are all the reasons Beca will cite for agreeing to go on a singing army tour before she openly admits to everyone that she missed the rush of being on stage. Specifically with them. All of them. Including Lilly who was doing some real freaky stuff behind the bar, and Jessica and Ashley. Whichever one happened to be which. She was still a little unsure on that. But really that was their fault for always being huddled so close together and basically forming one entity.

Regardless, the point is that she agrees.

She agrees so hard.

And then she continues to pound drinks like it’s her job, which it could very well become considering her recent bout of unemployment and her crippling fear that she was actually going to have to do something with that minor in philosophy she got just to annoy her father a little bit more. Although that would all debatably be worth it just for the memory of that new vein on his forehead she discovered that day. She could’ve sworn it almost burst. It was awesome.

What was not awesome was the hangover she was going to have tomorrow, or the vaguely disturbing stories she knew she’d have to be tuning out as Amy sent them all winks and disappeared with some guys who looked vaguely like one of the revamped Wiggles - that story had been weird enough the first time.

Thankfully Amy’s goodbye seemed to set off a chain reaction of semi-excited Bella’s rushing off to sort their lives out in the middle of the night in order to drop everything to sing, which just left Beca and one (or maybe two?) Chloe’s that she was all but holding up to complete their very special night out ritual.

“You have pizza grease all down your chin.” And somehow she still looked beautiful. That was the true wonder of Chloe Beale. She could literally slap the entire pizza slice around her face and manage to look like she should be at some fine arts museum.

“No you have pizza grease all down your chin,” Chloe retorts with a satisfied grin and Beca can’t help the smile that spreads across her face. The goofy one. The one really goofy smile that definitely says ‘I’m in love with this complete dork and I’m not even mad about it’. The one goofy smile she hopes Chloe hasn’t realised says all that. Her wishes might come true on that one, at least for tonight, while Chloe seems more interested on seeing how far the cheese on her pizza will stretch.

“Wow, you really got me with that one,” Beca deadpans and then watches as the sarcasm flies clear over Chloe’s happily smiling head.

“I so did.”

“You still have grease everywhere.” And, once again, she was still somehow working it. But that could also have something to do with the fact that Beca’s head felt super floaty.

She should’ve expected it really, that’s what you get when you let Amy make you a concoction she called a ‘dingo orgy’ (which Beca was pretty sure was just vodka topped off with absinthe and a little lemonade) and then allow her to talk you into downing the whole thing. She was too powerful. Almost as powerful as Stacie who had pulled the same move on Aubrey with nothing but a smile and had received half the pushback. Beca at least questioned it.

“Done?” Chloe asks after a moment of somehow wiping her napkin everywhere but still managing to miss every single bit of mess.

“No, you-- here.” Beca won’t claim it’s the first time she’s found herself wiping food from Chloe’s mouth. Honestly, this part was as much a drunken ritual as the pizza itself. She will concede to it being the first time she’d ever held her breath. The first time her hand had stopped altogether until it was just resting on Chloe’s cheek as the redhead sleepily nuzzled into it. The first time Beca realised, as stupid as it sounded even to her, how intimate the act was. The first time she thought about, she means really thought about, what pizza tasted like on Chloe’s lips, even if Hawaiian was Satan’s creation.

“Anyone ever told you that you have really pretty eyes?” Chloe breaks the moment with a lopsided smile and Beca knows they need to be back in the apartment in the next twenty minutes or she’ll be attempting to fireman’s carry a drunk Chloe home.

“You, actually. Last week when you wanted half of my croissant.”

“Oh, that was delicious!” It was. It really was. Beca might even go as far as to say that it was the best croissant she’d ever had. And yet, the moment Chloe batted her eyelashes and asked for the remaining half, Beca had handed it over without a second of hesitation. It was to be expected really. She had a history of not being able to refuse Chloe anything (see: the unorthodox Bella recruitment technique - there’s no way Beca would’ve been flipping some yellow cup around and doing her best impression of  a flight attendant if she’d be accosted by Aubrey while naked).

“You’re something else,” Beca whispers as she collects the remains of their feast and reaches to pull Chloe to her feet.

“Something good?” Chloe inquires, slipping her hand into Beca’s and intertwining their fingers when she receives no resistance. Beca’s squeezes in reassurance as she notes the genuine curiosity in Chloe’s almost quiet tone.

“Yeah, Chlo. Something good.”

Definitely something good.

Something great.


 

Beca hates flying.

For starters it’s not safe. It’s literally an unnatural event for a whole chunk of metal to be soaring through the sky with actual people inside. It’s bumpy and there’s always that one dip that makes Beca think she’s about to live through that one episode of Grey’s Anatomy that Chloe forced her to watch in her sophomore year that scarred her for life. And don’t even get her started on commercial flights. If she wanted to know about the life of some random white woman she could just turn her music off in the line at Starbucks.

And what about the fact that whole planes literally went missing? Beca didn’t do a first grade presentation on Amelia Earhart just to forget the most important lesson - avoid aviation.

Flying was awful. Flying with Chloe next to her was maybe a little less awful. Not that she still wasn’t internally terrified that she was going to die a horrible, fiery death. But at least it would all happen with Chloe’s hand in hers as she regaled Beca with a story about her hand literally being inside a birthing cow.

Beca will admit that she mostly focused on the soothing tone of Chloe’s voice and not the reality of that particular story, which was frankly disturbing. It did have her heart rate down though, enough so that she could sit back and enjoy the comforting circles Chloe’s thumb was drawing across the back of her hand.

So Chloe made flying a little more bearable. She also made Aubrey’s pointed looks at their hands a little more bearable too, and the vague sexual gestures Amy and Flo were throwing her way because unfortunately it hadn’t taken any of the girls long to figure out Beca had somewhat of a crush. Even Emily had attempted to sneak a wink at her at some point.

What Chloe did not make more bearable was meeting the army version of an Abercrombie model. That she actually made totally unbearable, with her adorable smile, and her ‘that guy is cute’ eyes.

He wasn’t even that cute. Sure he probably had abs and a good relationship with both parents but Beca had stuff going on too, like killer eyeliner game and the ability to climb into really tiny spaces when things got lost or Amy was looking for money.

“He’s cute,” Aubrey says from beside her and Beca knows the words are meant to rile her up. Sure, they were friends now, but their friendship stemmed from a mutual enjoyment of mocking one another between compliments.

Plus, Aubrey had barely even glanced their way, instead deciding to spend her time watching the way Beca watched Chloe watching them. It was convoluted, but it had apparently helped her arrive at the exact right conclusion. Beca was jealous. Legitimately jealous of some random dude who had said like a sum total of three sentences, none of which they had even actually heard. It’s the ludicrous jealousy she blames for the comment she throws back.

“I bet Stacie would think so.” Beca smirks at the way Aubrey flushes, mentally patting herself on the back. She really hit the nail on the head with that one.

“I don’t see what that has to do with anything,” she replies curtly, staring ahead like Beca will forget her reaction if she wills it hard enough. Thankfully for her Beca is a little preoccupied with her own problems of unrequited love to rehash the whole ‘just admit you like Stacie’ thing. That doesn’t mean she won’t be coming back to it later, preferably with the more persuasive Chloe in tow.

“Is he actually cute?” She doesn’t really mean to ask. She doesn’t even think she really wants to know. But she maybe needs to. She kinda maybe really needs to. Aubrey must sense that because she immediately drops her cold shoulder to assess the man in front of her.

“If you’re into that sort of thing, sure,” she decides upon. It’s really not all that helpful.

“Is Chloe?” She could be. He was tall and handsome she supposed. Square jawed like that guy from the shower incident. She knew nothing about him other than he thought she had a nice voice and he liked jamming his tongue down Chloe’s throat. He disappeared around the four month mark of Beca’s freshman year and Chloe said nothing about it, hadn’t said anything since.

In fact, Chloe hadn’t really said anything about any potential boyfriend, or girlfriend, since.

Not to Beca at least.

“Stop being so obtuse, Beca,” Aubrey says with a sigh and a headshake reminiscent of the early days. Oddly enough it still works in making Beca feel like she’s being admonished by a parent. It also works in making her wholly more confused than she was in the first place.

“So...no?” Beca won’t admit that she runs a little when Aubrey wanders off to follow the group with giant strides, but she definitely does. Not that it matters when she gets pulled into an impromptu riff-off and becomes annoyed enough with Chlamydia and her friends to almost forget why she was so uncomfortable in the first place.

The key word being almost.

She still needed Detroit or whatever to back away from Chloe by like three steps.


 

“All separate rooms?”

“Well these two are adjoining.”

“Dibs!”

She really should have known this was how her night was ending the moment Chloe’s obvious confusion and slight disappointment slipped into a grin and she felt a key smack into her face (which hurt way more than she expected it to). This being the girls clearing out of her room at midnight in the hopes of having fresh faces for the day ahead of them, Chloe in tow, only for Chloe to reappear back in Beca’s room ten minutes later and slip into the bed beside her like there wasn’t even a question it was happening.

Not that Beca was really going to question it.

Except, for appearance sake, she definitely had to question it.

“What exactly are you doing, Beale?” Beca asks as Chloe settles in. She stops just shy of Beca’s pillow with a smile that Beca knows she’s going to give into in less than five minutes. She always does. It’s how she ended up sharing a bed with Chloe in the first place instead of each having a single. Well, that and Amy was a known sleep fighter. Get nunchucked in the throat once? Unfortunate. Get nunchucked in the throat twice? You’re a god damn fool.

“Sleeping.”

“In my bed,” Beca points out needlessly, flinching when Chloe presses her freezing cold toes to Beca’s calves. She really should’ve seen that one coming too. For such a warm hearted person, Chloe’s circulation was complete garbage (but also the perfect excuse for Beca to allow the late night cuddling and seem like she was just doing her bit for the community).

“Technically it’s the hotels bed.” Beca sighs. She’d spent too much time with Chloe. Taught her too much. And whilst it was no doubt a little bit hot, Beca really didn’t need this much power stacked against her in an argument. Her sarcasm plus Chloe’s puppy dog face was a sure fire win - hence why they never caved into Stacie’s naked routine in one of their lower moments in senior year, even when she got a surprisingly good amount of backing from the others. But thankfully Chloe didn’t bring it out all too much, unless she was avoiding something.

“Chlo,” Beca tries, laughing quietly when Chloe mumbles half-heartedly into the pillow. “I literally heard none of that.” Unless it was something about nachos. In which case, she definitely heard, and she could definitely eat some.

“I couldn’t sleep in my bed,” Chloe finally admits into the open air.

“I’m sure it’s the same bed.” Given it wasn’t the best bed Beca had ever tried to sleep in but it-

“But you weren’t in it.”

“Oh.”

Oh.

“We’ve been sharing a bed since we moved in together, Becs. You remember when you went on that weekend trip and you came back and so kindly said I looked tired?” Bed nods mutely at the question, unsure whether or not she’s actually supposed to drop herself back into that mess. It wasn’t exactly her finest hour. “I was tired. So tired. But I couldn’t fall asleep without your snoring.”

“Hey, I don’t snore!” And maybe that’s not the part she’s supposed to be focusing on. Maybe Beca was supposed to think about what it meant that Chloe couldn’t go a night without her. Maybe she was supposed to think about the fact that she was a little bit glad that was the case. Instead she focuses on the snoring which was, at best, some light heavy breathing.

“You so do. It’s super cute,” Chloe laughs, her finger poking Beca’s face tauntingly until she finds it slapped away quickly.

“I don’t snore. But if I did, it’d be super badass.” Why was she even arguing this? And why in the hell was that the argument she was going with? When Jesse told her she snored she’d told him he better shut up if he ever wanted to sleep with her again. That ultimatum hadn’t really seemed to have a losing side at the time. She wouldn’t dare try it now.

“It’s adorable.”

“I hate you,” Beca sighs with absolutely no sign of malice.

“You don’t, but it doesn’t matter ‘cause you’ll let me stay anyway.” Damn her inability to say no to pretty redheads. Or just that one pretty redhead in particular. And also that one pretty redhead’s, redheaded mother who always sent Beca gifts in Chloe’s monthly care package. That woman really knew her way around a snickerdoodle.

“I was really tired that weekend too,” Beca says after a moment of silence, hoping Chloe knows what she means. Hoping she knows that Beca tossed and turned for hours without Chloe by her side, that it had made her way grouchier than usual until Chloe’s appeared at the airport and every ounce of tension leaked from her body.

“I know, I could tell, but unlike you I keep mean opinions to myself.” Beca doesn’t even fight back on it, just chuckles lowly at the comment and let’s Chloe curl around her back and press her toes more firmly onto Beca’s legs. She’ll gladly accept her place as the little spoon, though she will vehemently deny it if anyone ever asks.

(And yes, that includes when Amy uses photo evidence to fight against her.

She has a reputation to uphold).


 

She thinks she’s being hit on.

Beca is almost a hundred percent sure she’s being hit on.

At first she thought maybe this Theo guy really did just think she was talented, but then there was all the watching. The watching her sing, and perform, and then just the plain old watching complete with a load of attempted heavy eye contact that Beca wasn’t feeling all that okay with. It reminded her of the way Jesse was when he was first attempting to convince her movies were awesome and so was he. But, like, creepier. What really nailed it in though was the fact that the girls wouldn’t stop saying she was being hit on - even Beca, in her oblivious ways, couldn’t ignore that one.

That doesn’t mean she wasn’t still arguing back that he wasn’t interested in that way. Unfortunately that was a real rookie move because of course it only made the girls joke harder, and more frequently, until all Beca could really do was roll her eyes as another quip was thrown her way. Sometimes she really wondered why she let herself get so attached to these losers.

It takes her a while to realise that one Bella in particular was refusing to join in, seemingly as unhappy with the situation as Beca was. She’s surprised it took her so long to be honest. A whole three hours to realise that Chloe was missing out on her favourite pastime - making Beca awkward and flustered (a game which Chloe was undoubtedly the champion of because of her very vague understanding of boundaries and Beca’s even vaguer enforcement of them when it came to Chloe).

But, in the end, it’s kind of hard not to notice that she’s not involved when she interrupts the jokes with a sharp, “Why won’t everyone just stop talking about him?” The question has its intended effect. Everyone does immediately stop talking and turn towards the quietly seething redhead, and whilst Beca really can’t seem to figure out why she’s so annoyed, everyone else must, because they lift themselves from their various perches in Beca’s room and start heading towards the door.

“Hey, Chlo, chill,” Beca says and then promptly starts regretting it when everyone’s feet start moving that little bit faster.

“Chill?” Chloe questions and Beca calculates how screwed she is by how many of the girls all but run from the room. The result is very screwed. The fact that even Aubrey hightails it out, tugging Emily sharply along with her makes her think that ‘chill’ was probably the worst word she could have chosen.

“Oh bad move, shortstack,” Amy chimes in before quickly joining the rest of the Bella’s in fleeing. Trust Amy to drop a comment and then leave Beca to deal with the mess. She was so good at emotional crop dusting... and also apparently the more literal crop dusting. God damnit, Amy.

“We’re supposed to be singing together and having fun but instead it’s all Theo this and Theo that. Who even cares about a man that looks like a turtle?” Beca really stands by that comment. He totally did look like a turtle. Like if that one from Kung Fu Panda grew a beard? Theo.

“Is that really what this is about?” Beca hadn’t witnessed Chloe snap like that since she was worried about the entire institution of the Bellas being besmirched forever (her words, not Beca’s). Those were incredibly dark times for all.

“Of course it is. What does he keep talking to you about anyway?”

“Music mostly.”

“Your music?” Chloe asks incredulously and honestly Beca’s not decided whether or not she should take offense from that. It wasn’t that farfetched that he would want to talk about her music. In her opinion it made way more sense than him wanting to talk about how attractive he found her and how they should date. She literally said like one thing that wasn’t offensive to him. She looked him in the eye and called him a turtle and she fully meant it. She wasn’t exactly on the charm offensive.

“He thinks I’m talented.”

“At least he has some taste,” Chloe scoffs.

“He’s not going to get in the way of us,” Beca says, partially because she thinks it’s what Chloe needs to hear, and partially because it’s what she needs to say, what she needs to make herself believe. It’s not until Chloe’s head snaps towards her that she takes a moment to think about what she just said, what she was admitting with so few words. “The Bellas, that is. Obviously.” Nice save, Mitchell.

Obviously.”

“We’re solid, you know? Completely air tight. You may all be absolute nerds but I love you.” She often wondered why - mostly when she somehow managed to catch the tail end of something Lilly whispered and found herself scarred for the rest of the day, or when Flo came out with some new story that genuinely made Beca worry for her safety and the safety of everyone else around her. She was almost sure they were all going to be abducted at some point. She was so small and weak. It would be so easy to just take her.

But that wasn’t the point.

“You love... us.” Them. Yes. All of them. All of them which definitely, and most importantly, included Chloe. Whom she loved. Casually. Like the rest of them.

“Yeah. Besties for life, right? Or was that charm bracelet you gave me a lie?” She lifts her arm to emphasise the point. She was actually pretty sure the dollar store metal gave her a rash whenever she put it on but she powered through the itching for the smile she received. She’d even withstood mockery from random people at work whose names she hadn’t bothered to learn for it. She once saw David Guetta whilst wearing it and had dived into an empty office to avoid him even catching a glimpse.

“Definitely not a lie,” Chloe assures her, showing off her own bracelet with a smile.

“Good because you’re stuck with me now. I don’t tear down the emotional walls for just anybody you know. Took a lot of time putting those up.” Walls made from years and years of emotional torment built upon the foundations of a messy divorce and abandonment issues. She was almost proud of those. Maybe a little bit more proud that she let people in though. It had worked out pretty well. Scratch that. Chloe was full body hugging her. It had worked out really well.

“Being stuck sounds nice.”

It did.

It really did.


 

Group work had been Beca’s biggest enemy for the longest time. Pair work was the bane of her entire existence. She used to flinch at the idea, even more so at the scrape of chairs as people rushed towards their unspoken designated person. She’d never really had a person. Nowadays she had multiple choices, multiple people. But she always chose the same one. The same one who thankfully always chose her too.

Chloe.

Chloe who was Beca’s dance partner during every Bella rehearsal. Chloe who decided from the moment she jumped into Beca’s shower that they were going to be best friends. Chloe who grabbed her hand the second the idea of splitting up in the casino was thrown out to the group. Chloe who seemed to have decided she was some kind of fucking spy and had shoved Beca behind a random tree to hide (one that Beca would like to note offered up like zero actual cover).

Chloe who was cupping her boobs and... playing with them.

“Dude, what is - what is this about?” She means for it to come out confused, and it does, it’s just tinged with a little too much exhaled air and a pinch of genuine enjoyment that she hasn’t managed to properly squash.

“Just two girls casually hiding behind a bush.” Somehow the hiding part wasn’t exactly what she was referring to. It definitely wasn’t the thing that was making her stomach swirl dangerously or her palms start sweating like she was back in tenth grade realising she might like girls for the first time. But now she was a grown ass woman, hiding from a turtle-like man, losing her mind because her best friend was currently feeling her up and she may or may not have dreamt about it before. Not in this oddly specific context though obviously, or, like, maybe once.

“You’re weighing my boobs like they’re peaches at that farmers’ market you love.” The one Beca found herself at almost every weekend, buying fruit that she was probably never going to touch, just because Chloe held her hostage with that one way too charming smile.

“They’re a lot bigger than peaches,” Chloe notes absentmindedly, her gaze steadfastly aimed where her hands seem to be having the time of their life. If anything Beca’s comment makes Chloe pay more attention to what her hands are doing and Beca pay more attention to what Chloe’s hands are doing because Chloe’s hands are still doing the thing they’re doing. The thing that Beca was quickly forgetting she was supposed to be pretending she wasn’t very much enjoying.

“You don’t think this is odd?”

“No. Here, look.” Beca’s not sure what’s happening at first. And then reality comes crashing back down on her. The reality in which Chloe grabs her flailing hands and plants them solidly on her boobs before putting her own hands right back on Beca’s. So now they stood. Just two girls. Groping each other behind a presumably decorative tree.

“What’s going on here?” Aubrey questions, somewhere outside Beca’s dream circle, her voice immediately sobering Beca up. She shifts away as quickly as she can; shielding her boobs like that’ll somehow make the girls forget that’s where Chloe’s hands literally just were.

(Beca won’t be forgetting anytime soon).

“Nothing!” It’s said in tandem, quickly, and with way too much protest to even remotely come off as honest, but Beca throws the unspoken questions off with a sharp shake of her head. It was nothing really. The best moment of Beca’s entire trip here and maybe the best thing since the rush she got when she quit her job and told that stupid kid his music sucked ass, but still, nothing.

She continues on with the whole ‘stalk Theo’ plan after that because it’s easier. Easier than looking Chloe in the eye. Easier than going back to the bed they share. Just easy. Easy like the way her hands drift over the nicest sound equipment she’s ever seen, let alone touched. She won’t pretend she doesn’t produce something fire in the time she’s at the party, which is unfortunately cut short by the fact that the other girls (otherwise known as Aubrey, which Beca was never going to let her forget) started a literal fire.

Any maybe Beca has to be practically dragged from the fiery room.

And maybe her distraction has nothing to do with the sound equipment and everything to do with Chloe’s equipment.

But no one can prove that.


 

Apparently being distracted by turtle guy and velvet tracksuit dude was becoming a thing now. A thing that was becoming increasingly more annoying, even with their incredibly flattering offers, considering all of her friends had apparently now been kidnapped by Amy’s crazy father and were being held for an undisclosed ransom. Beca couldn’t even begin to comprehend how this had become her life. It literally made no sense. But, then again, few things that involved Amy made sense and by this point she was just rolling with the punches.

It was easier.

What was not so easy was paddling through the god damn ocean towards a yacht literally called the ‘Fat Dingo Bitch’, all the while trying not to freak out like crazy because Chloe was on that stupidly named, stupidly huge boat and Beca hadn’t stopped being chicken shit enough to admit she liked her. To her face. When she was sober. And awake. (And don’t judge, telling a sleeping Chloe that she loved her was so much easier than telling the very awake with very open, very blue eyes Chloe. It just was. It was simple psychology).

So Chloe was on that boat. And Aubrey who she still needed to goad into admitting she liked Stacie more than platonically. And Emily who hadn’t yet had life beat the crap out of her and was still so full of promise. And Jessica and Ashley who she had placed a bet on and was really hoping to see the money come through when they inevitably admitted they were dating. And the other awesome nerds she needed to fully round out an arrangement (mostly Cynthia-Rose who was the only one who could pull off a genuine rap).

She had a lot on the line.

A lot.

Mostly Chloe.

“Don’t freak out,” is the only thing she whispers when she sneaks in behind them all. They don’t catch onto her plan as quickly as she’d like but it’s not like most of them were known for their academic prowess. Ultimately she’s just glad Aubrey made them learn a whole arrangement and routine in the event that they did win the competition. She really owed her on that one - yet another thing she was going to keep to herself (owing Aubrey was never fun).

It’s actually a pretty solid performance. She knows her own is hindered a little by her inability to take her eyes off of Chloe. She stumbles more times than she’d care to admit in her attempt to always have the redhead in her sights but, if she’s actually going to die on this fucking boat, she’s at least going out with a solid as hell view.

Thankfully it doesn’t come to that. Unthankfully it does come to jumping off a boat as it genuinely explodes mere feet away from them.

Once again, how in the hell was this her life now?

Last month she’d spent an hour trying to get a Cheeto stain from her bed sheets and now it was like she was in those terrible movies with the completely incorrect titles and the short guy who jumped on chairs, shouting about love. Oh and she was supposed to open for DJ Khaled.

Alone

Shit.

How in the hell was she supposed to tell-

“Beca!” A body crashes into hers before she’s even had a chance to fully turn around. She almost complains defiantly until she realises it’s a familiar warmth. A calming warmth. The kind of warmth you could easily fall in love with. The kind of- It’s Chloe. Chloe had thrown herself into Beca’s personal bubble like usual, and also like usual, Beca immediately sinks into the feeling.

“Chloe,” Beca breathes, taking a moment to revel in the warmth of Chloe wrapped around her. It’s a thousand times nicer than the scratchy blanket she was handed and not just because Beca is addicted to her familiar scent of strawberries (Beca still can’t help but smile at the thought of a tiny Chloe Beale running around, refusing any other kind of shampoo because if people were going to call her Strawberry Shortcake, she sure as hell was gonna smell like one).

“Don’t you ever do that again!” Chloe admonishes, pulling back to slap Beca on the chest to add to the chastisement. It’s half-hearted as best, mostly because she’s trembling so much she can’t really put any strength into it, but Beca appreciates the sentiment.

“Save your life?”

“You don’t get to be a smart ass right now.”

“After saving your life?” Beca smirks and earns herself another slap to the chest in the same second. Not that she can bring herself to feel bad about it. Chloe was alive. They all were.

“After risking your own.”

“Amy had a plan,” Beca defends.

“That’s not comforting,” Chloe argues immediately and she’s right. Of course. Throughout the three years of them all living together, Amy had voiced a lot of plans. A lot. A solid ninety-eight percent of them were immediate no-go’s. The other two percent were the kind of plans you went for when you really, truly hit rock bottom and were drunk enough to think you could actually pull it off.

“Yeah I felt that as the words were coming from my mouth.” Chloe hugs her again then, as Beca sheepishly rubs the back of her neck and wonders what might have happened if Amy hadn’t have pulled some Liam Neeson level crap.

The hug is tighter than before. Tighter than usual. Even tighter than the one Beca received the day they’d finished packing up the Bellas house. The time before they knew they would end up sharing a bed in the same cramped apartment. The time before they knew they would still end up being Beca and Chloe even if it wasn’t to the backdrop of acapella and ‘the-one-for-now’ boyfriends. Beca felt like Chloe had been genuinely trying to morph them into one person that day, and yet, this somehow felt like more. Maybe she should give almost dying a go more often.

“Thank you,” Chloe whispers in Beca’s ear, dropping a kiss to her cheek in the next second and successfully setting Beca’s heart racing for the second time that night - strangely, yet not actually that strangely at all, it makes her heart beat way faster than jumping from a burning yacht did.

She was such a sap these days.

“That’s a sharp change of tone,” Beca says on a deep exhale, willing herself to pull her shit together before Chloe pulled away and took note of the glazed over look in her eyes and the dazed smile spread across her increasingly reddening face.

“You’re still a reckless idiot.”

“Noted.”

“Come on, the girls are inside.” Chloe pulls away from the hug but she never lets go of Beca. Even as they sit down with the others, Beca can feel the steady weight of Chloe’s hand in hers resting on her lap. Ever present. Comforting. It makes her feel both steady and unsteady. Completely invigorated and utterly calm. It makes her feel a little bit crazy; the same way Chloe always makes her feel a little bit crazy. But in a good way. The best of ways.

Beca can’t help but tighten her grip when Chloe announces she got into vet school, can’t help the beaming grin on her face that practically screams I love you and I’m so happy you finally got what you worked so hard for, can’t help the shine of pride in her eyes when Chloe looks over to her like her approval actual matters.

Just like she can’t help but search out Chloe’s own smile when the girls tell her to go for it, to push herself to do something solo, to chase after a dream she never really let herself have. It’s the reassuring smile Chloe sends her that pushes her to believe what they’re all saying. It’s that same smile that makes Beca want to push herself to do something even crazier. Like actually tell her.

She was going to tell her.

She was.


 

“Chloe, I’m in love with you.” As confessions go, it’s not the best. She practically forces it out between stuttered breaths and nervous hand swipes down her legs to rid herself of a ridiculous amount of excess sweat. In actuality, it’s possibly the worst confession ever.

She’s never actually said it out loud before. Has never gotten something out even remotely along the lines of the truth. She’s actually gotten really good at avoiding that particular brand of honesty. At this point it’s something of a special skill. It feels good though. More than good. It feels pretty fucking amazing actually, despite the way her heart is pounding in her chest and her blood is rushing through her ears and, in the immortal words of Chloe, how she could just crap herself right here.

But she said it.

And now she’s just nervously awaiting the verdict.

“Really? You’re just going to go straight for it?” Aubrey asks incredulously.

“What’s wrong with that?” Beca thought it was a good move. Concise. Succinct. Way less room for her nervous mouth to start running itself off and going so off book that she forgot what the actual point was and ended up telling Chloe she liked her new top that wasn’t even new (and yeah, that was completely based on  a genuine example of her emotional incompetence).

“Nothing, if you like bland and predictable.” And now Amy had decided to chime in. Just great. Why in the hell did she come to them first? This was literally the only way this was going to end up.

“I’m sorry I don’t have a boat to paddle over a lake,” Beca snaps back immediately, ignoring Amy’s whispered comments below her breath that Beca wouldn’t be able to pull off a love confession that required that much style anyway. Honestly she was probably right. Beca would definitely hyperventilate half way and then fall into the water (she reckons Chloe would probably manage to actually find that charming though, in the awkward kind of way).

“You could sing her a song?” Flo chimes in.

“Nah, she’s done that one already. She can’t recycle love confessions.” And she was immediately shut down by Stacie. God, she really made a miscalculation here. Honestly, she’s glad that Stacie and Aubrey finally decided to talk about the huge ‘we like each other’ elephant in the room, super inspiring, but she really didn’t need another person to gang up on her - especially not one that was going to rehash her freshman year boyfriend forgive me song.

“Oh, what if she did one of those cute treasure hunts and each card could say something new she loved about her?” So Emily was still precious. Beca will at least let her go tit punch free tonight. The other not so much. Aubrey could take Stacie’s. And maybe another one just for enjoying Beca’s embarrassment so much.

“Cute, but is it Beca?” And now they were fully talking about her like she wasn’t even there. Super.

“Good point. Fireworks display?” Does she even want to question the logistics of her pulling that one off? And how exactly was that even a confession? Was she supposed to find fireworks that spelt out-- you know what? She wasn’t even going to entertain it.

“She could always do the Tasmanian Tango. All she’d need is a ring of fire, six uncut red roses, some whipped cream and a tricycle.”

Oh my God.

“Why are you talking about tricycles?” Beca loves Chloe. She really does. But this, this is the moment in which she is the most in love with her that she has ever been, because she really did not want to hear any more about whatever fresh hell Amy had concocted now.

“Just Amy being Amy,” Beca brushes off.

“Yeah we totally weren’t doing any secret plotting,” Amy offers in aid, the rest of the girls jumping to immediate agreement with way too vigorous head nods. Honestly just super subtle. So subtle.

(The tit punches were no longer a vague mind threat. She was totally doing it).

“Talking about your big performance?”

“Yep. That’s exactly what we were talking about because that’s a thing that’s happening later today. Oh my God that’s a thing that’s happening later today.” A thing that she completely forgot about because she was distracted by that other huge thing. But what if she bombed? She could totally bomb. She could bomb harder than vomit-gate and then what would she do with her life? Shit. Holy mother of fucking sh-

Chloe pulls her in for a hug.

Breathe, Becs. You’re gonna be amazing. Like always.”

She hopes so.

God does she hope so.


 

It went well.

It actually went really well.

Well enough that she’s not worried she’s let her family down. Well enough that she’s feeling a little smug and more than a little confident. Well enough that she’s feeling crazy enough to do something that is potentially the stupidest thing she’s ever done. Well enough that she puts her entire body weight into pushing her way past a grown ass man who definitely knows how to kill people. Well enough that she gathers the courage to catch Chloe’s smiling, but highly confused, face between her hands and kiss her without warning.

(She maybe should have warned her considering today’s socio-political climate but she was maybe a little afraid that even the slightest second of hesitation would stop her from doing what she really, really needed to just finally stop being so scared and do).

She kisses her.

She kisses Chloe with a fervent mouth forged by years of wanting her so badly it seemed to physically hurt. She kisses her with soft lips that hold a little too much apprehension and an apology under the surface - both for waiting this long and thrusting it on the redhead all at once. She kisses with gentle persistence and curious hands that slip into tumbling tresses.

Beca kisses Chloe with so much blind faith and last chance feelings that she almost doesn’t notice Chloe is kissing her back. Then Chloe groans, hands gliding across Beca’s hips, settling on her back and tugging her closer. Fingers press into flesh and tongues tentatively breach new territory and Beca would question the boundaries of public displays if she wasn’t so bewitched by Chloe’s mouth and how it tilts into her own with such practised ease it’s like she’d thought about it a hundred times over, just like Beca had.

Beca kisses Chloe until they’re both grinning too hard to continue. She kisses her until her heart is steadily skipping beats. Until she thinks she’s suitably got her message across and then kisses her once more just for good measure.

“I really thought you were never gonna do that,” Chloe admits, breathless and reverent, her eyes still firmly closed when Beca’s finally flutter open. She can’t help but linger in Chloe’s orbit, unwilling to separate their lips by more than an inch. She’d waited long enough for this to even happen. She wasn’t going to be moving anytime soon.

“Been waiting have you?” Beca tries to come off suave. Cocky. Like she isn’t having a complete internal freak-out because she finally grew some lady balls. She doesn’t. Instead she comes off equally breathless and utterly curious as she all but paints the words onto Chloe’s lips.

“I don’t keep intense eye contact in abandoned pools with just anyone you know.”

“So when you said about experimenting?” Beca remembers that night with distinct clarity. Somehow even stuck in a cramped tent that was hotter than Satan’s asshole, she managed to feel the warmth crawl up her neck and spread across her cheeks.

Her reflex had been to call Chloe weird but, in her defence, with Lily pressed against her back, Beca hadn’t really been feeling in the right mindset. That mindset being one where she knew how to verbalise that she might actually be into that at another time and place that wasn’t the Lodge of Fallen Leaves in a tent that Amy had wiped with.

“I really laid myself on the line with that one. Figured you weren’t interested.”

“I thought you were joking. I spent that entire night acutely aware of your body pressed against my back, feeling like I was seconds away from literally exploding.”

“So you’ve got a toner for me, huh?” Chloe grins, enjoying the awkward twist of Beca’s face a little too much if the twinkle in her eye is anything to go by.

“That’s still not a thing but yeah - the hugest of toners.”

“Good."

“Good,” Beca echoes.

“You know... we still have separate rooms,” Chloe mentions slowly, her eyes drifting towards Beca’s lips, along the slope of the jaw, watching the harsh bob of Beca’s throat as she thinks about the subtext of that comment. Thinks of the very empty room with those lovely things called locks and incredible walls made of actual brick instead of a too full clothing rack.

“We do,” Beca replies lowly.

(She was personally a huge fan of where this is going).

“We could-“ Chloe starts, petering off into a squeal when Beca cuts in to pick her up and drape her over her shoulder in a fireman’s lift - she’ll chalk the insane new lease of strength onto the crazy amount of adrenaline pumping through her veins. Adrenaline that surges that little bit more as Chloe searches for something to grab a hold of which ultimately turns out to be Beca’s ass.

This was a great day.

Beca smirks at the Bellas as she passes them, offering them up a little salute as she disappears (one that is perhaps a smidge too smug as she catches sight of Chicago beside them). She waves Theo’s praise off with a hastily mumbled ‘talk later’ and even hastier feet.

She didn’t have any time to waste.

They had a lot to make up for.