Actions

Work Header

Last Call

Work Text:

“So, Chicago, huh?”

Beca’s voice is cool as she takes the bar stool beside her. Chloe blushes, although it’s not as if they’d been super discreet about it. She had grabbed the guy in the semi-public backstage and attacked his mouth with her mouth, after all. A kind of full-frontal armoured incursion, she snickers to herself, and in the back of the mind she hears Fat Amy make an off-colour joke about his tactical assault unit .

“Yeah,” Chloe  says, unable to keep a smile from her face. She looks at her drink, not at Beca. For some reason, she doesn’t get the feeling Beca iss super approving. Which isn’t really fair, honestly. She never said anything about Jesse always hanging around, right? And she hasn’t dated anyone in forever. Not since…

Well, not since well before then, anyhow.

Anyway, she’s been committed to the Bellas since Aubrey first recruited her. Between singing and studying for vet school and then working at the clinic there hasn’t been a lot of time for a love life. So what if she finally found a guy who makes her knees all weak? Shouldn’t her best friend be happy for her?

“He’s cute. Good job,” Beca sums up, in her cool Beca way. Chloe envies that; she always has. Beca has a way of seeing straight to the core of something (or someone ) without all the jumble and mess that ties Chloe in knots. Like with her music. Chloe’s always been so concerned with choreography and tone and pitch, all the little components that have to sit together just right but that always spiral in different directions, until it’s so much easier not to try at all, to keep it safe, to not think too hard. For Beca it’s just… simple. No overthinking required.

Aubrey might be happy never to perform again. Everyone might well be moving on, and of course she’s ecstatic that Beca’s got this amazing opportunity. The world should see how awesome she is. Everyone should know how lucky they are when Beca Mitchell chooses to share a moment of her day singing to them.

Chloe talked the talk along with the rest of them. She walked the ‘moving on with my life’ walk too: she got into vet school; she made out with the hot soldier (who even now is waiting in her hotel room); she booked her flight home. She’s done everything you’re supposed to do when a part of your life ends, and it’s time to move on.

She’d just… never thought moving on from the Bellas would mean moving on from Beca .

Or rather, that Beca would move on from her .

She guesses Beca warned her about this way back at the beginning of things. She’s gonna miss her when she’s gone.

“Hey, you okay?” Beca’s voice breaks Chloe out of her thoughts.

Chloe smiles, and tries to mean it. “Yeah,” she nods, “I’m just so happy we got to do this. I really missed you guys.”

Her voice is a little choked and oh, God, she hates how much she cries these days. She hates that every time she says she loves them, it gets harder to believe this will really last. She hates that vet school isn’t the dream it used to be. She hates that her heart belongs irretrievably to people whose hearts are all somewhere else.

“Yeah, it’s been fun,” Beca laughs a little, smiles - one of her proper smiles, the ones Chloe notices because they’re so rare. That music producer guy – the cute one who hangs around Beca like a fly to honey and whose name Chloe never bothered to learn – never gets those smiles. Chloe knows how to get them: the only way to break up Beca’s stoicism is blunt-force emotion.

A full-frontal, armoured incursion, if you will.

Beca ducks her head, her hair falling in her face for a moment. She’s taken it down since the show, and Chloe can still see the little stiff curls that come from pinning it that way. It’ll be a nightmare in the morning if Beca doesn’t wash it tonight. Which she won’t because she’s Beca and she doesn’t care , except she does care so she’ll be up at six in the morning to shower and put it right.

It’d be easier and quicker if she’d just do it tonight. But if she did that, if she planned ahead, then she wouldn’t be Beca.

“Where is soldier-boy anyway?” Beca asks, looking around. “Don’t wanna break up a date if you’re busy.”

“Oh, I sent him upstairs,” Chloe waves a hand, like she does this all the time, like their hole-in-the-wall in New York was cluttered with a stream of eligible, hot guys just lining up to sleep with her. “He’s waiting for me.”

“Nice,” Beca grins, but it doesn’t meet her eyes. It’s an odd moment, another in a series of odd moments that she’s supposed to ignore. Chloe waits for Fat Amy to come up behind Beca, taking her cue to make a dirty comment about Chicago already being her bitch, or probably just the whip-crack noise.

It doesn’t come. Even Fat Amy needs a little time to herself after everything that’s happened.

“Yeah,” Chloe nods. She tries to feel the happy rush she felt a moment ago, at the thought of that sexy, sweet, all-American hottie lying on her bed, waiting for her to come join him. It doesn’t come. She guesses there’s a reason she sent him away to have a drink by herself before joining him. “How about you?” she asks, not really wanting to talk about it anymore. “Where’s DJ Khaled’s guy?”

“Theo?” Beca asks.

Chloe shrugs: his name isn’t super important, right? He’s the next in the string of hot, dark-haired, tall, soulful music guys to follow Beca around: first Jesse, then Robbie, then a guy known only as G, and now this one. Beca has a type.

“I guess DJ Khaled needed him, I don’t know. I’m not his supervisor.”

“I just assumed… I mean, you like him, don’t you?”

Beca shrugs. She’s looking Chloe in the eye – which is rare enough, since Beca’s still got that socially-awkward artist thing going on – and it’s kind of weirding Chloe out. It’s nice, though. Beca’s got such intense dark eyes.

“I don’t know,” she admits. “He’s… he’s fine, I guess. Yeah, he’s fine. He’s great. He works for me now, I guess, which is cool. I don’t know.”

“He’s cute,” Chloe supplies. What the hell is going on? When Beca doesn’t like someone, she has a way of dismissing them in a single comment: ‘Smiles too much’, or ‘not enough to say’, or just ‘not my type’. When Beca likes someone, she’s straightforward then, too. She goes right to the heart of the issue, like an arrow from a bow, straight to target.

Beca doesn’t ramble. Beca never rambles; that’s Chloe’s job.

“Yeah,” Beca agrees, finally looking away, to Chloe’s relief. “He’s cute.”

“Yeah,” Chloe nods. Beca’s drink arrives; she takes a grateful sip while Chloe finishes her white wine. “He likes you,” Chloe blurts, and wishes she hadn’t. Great move there, Chloe, she thinks, that wasn’t awkward at all. “I mean, why wouldn’t he? Like, duh ! But yeah, if you didn’t know, he really likes you. You should totally go for it.”

Why was that last part harder to say than the rest? She’s exhausted, and nervous about Chicago waiting for her upstairs, and she should really, really stop talking.

“Yeah, I know,” Beca replies. She doesn’t elaborate, doesn’t explain which part she apparently knows. She leaves it there. How come Chloe’s cursed with this apparent need to fill every damn silence with as many words as she can, while Beca can sit there totally chill after saying barely anything at all?

“So, do you think you will?” Chloe asks. “Go for it, I mean?”

“Jeez, does it matter?” Beca asks. Her voice is crisp, sharp. An unexpected slap in the face.  

Chloe reels back. “You’re my best friend,” she says, a thing she shouldn’t have to explain because of course she cares! “I want you to be happy.”

Beca sighs, her shoulders sagging. For a moment – a brief moment – she looks as small and young as she actually is. Beca carries the weight of the world on her shoulders, and she’s genetically hardwired to never show weakness. Chloe’s always felt immensely privileged whenever Beca’s willing to be weak in front of her, even for just a few seconds.

“I’m sorry, dude,” she says. “Long day. You shouldn’t be sitting here caring about me. You have a steaming deep-dish pizza waiting upstairs for you.”

Chloe can’t fight a smile at that. “He’s actually from Georgia, you know,” she says. “I made that joke and he didn’t get it.”

“What?” Beca blinks. “Come on! He’s gone around his whole life calling himself ‘Chicago’ and he didn’t even get that reference?”

Chloe laughs, and feels a knot of tension release in her chest. “No!” she giggles, “And then he lapsed into like, his entire life story, like I swear to god, I could have listened to the whole Hamilton cast album in the time it took for him to answer ‘so how did you get here?’. Thank god he’s cute, it’s distracting.”

Beca laughs, a proper laugh, helpless, “Oh no!” she cries, a hand over her heart. “Oh god he’s one of those hot boring guys? The ones who never had to be smart or funny because they were always handsome?”

Chloe stops laughing, blinks, and oh god, she’s right. Shit .

“Chloe?” Beca’s hand on her arm makes her jump, and she braces herself against the little shiver she feels there, the same feeling she gets every time Beca touches her. It’s just because it’s so rare, she thinks. Rarer still since that night.

“I mean, he’s not funny funny,” Chloe defends, as much to herself as to Beca. “And he’s not like, Harvard alum, but he’s not stupid .”

“Dude, I didn’t mean that,” Beca says.

“I just mean we don’t all have to go for guys who’re constantly cracking jokes, and think they like, invented gravity,” she says. “We weren’t all crazy about Jesse for an inexplicable number of years.”

“I know,” Beca withdraws (Chloe’s arm is cold without her hand on it) and shrinks in on herself. “Woah, where did that come from?”

“It just kind of feels like you don’t approve,” Chloe says, and there goes her big mouth again, writing cheques her body can’t sign. “Like, Chicago doesn’t have to be the smartest guy ever or a stand-up comedian, he like, defends our country. He’s a good guy, and at least he hasn’t been following me around like a sick puppy for the whole tour!”

“Woah,” Beca says again, holding up her hands. “I can’t keep up, are you mad at me now?”

“No,” Chloe shakes her head. “No, why would I be mad?”

“Because I’m not dating Theo,” Beca continues. “He’s my boss now or, like, I’m his boss? Either way it’d be weird and gross, especially since he got me in that room with Khaled. It’d be like a total Harvey Weinstein thing. And Jesse and I grew apart; you know that. I never said Chicago wasn’t a good guy-”

“You basically said he was stupid and boring,” Chloe snaps. Beca’s eyes narrow.

“No, you said that, with that comment about the Hamilton album,” she corrects.

Chloe can’t answer that: Beca’s right; she did. Her mouth opens to reply anyway, then closes again.

“Why’re you even down here?” Beca asks, then. “Why not go play war with your soldier?”

“You’re right,” Chloe agrees. “I honestly don’t know why I’m not with him right now. At least he’s not going to abandon me.”

She doesn’t know why she said that. She stands up, slams down a five euro bill, and marches out of the bar without a backward glance. Beca calls something after her but thankfully, the music drowns her out.


It’s late.

Like, ridiculously late. Late as balls . Are balls late? Can balls be late?

Beca snorts to herself: if she were still rooming with Fat Amy, that last question would be accompanied by a quip about erectile dysfunction. But Fat Amy’s down at the beach, staring at the water. For all her dumb antics and carefree façade, even she needs a little time after everything that’s happened.

It’s past midnight and quiet. Beca should be sleeping. Or if not sleeping, she should be working. DJ Khaled signing her is just the beginning: they’re talking about having an album drop in the next year, and that means original work. She’s got ten tracks that all need a major overhaul before anyone can hear them, and if she’s not going to sleep then she should grab her laptop and headphones and get to it.

Her laptop stays charging by the window. She lies back on the bed, and runs a hand through her hair. It’s a little twisted, curled awkwardly from her on-stage style. Chloe would scold her and tell her to shower so it doesn’t set in overnight. If Chloe weren’t mad at her for some reason, and busy banging GI Joe like a screen-door in a hurricane.

Good for her, Beca thinks. Chloe’s love life is non-existent and she’s been openly crushing on Chicago since the tour began. Why shouldn’t she get to have some fun?

She just hadn’t thought Chloe would actually go for it. Chloe goes on dates but they never last, she never likes any of them enough to keep them around. Any time Beca’s made fun of Chloe’s past almost-boyfriends, Chloe’s laughed along. She never usually gets defensive. She must really like this one.

Maybe that’s why Beca’s got this weird tension in her gut. She can see them now: the All-American dream couple, beautiful and smiling with their white picket fence, with a golden retriever and two kids.

Annabelle and Riley, Beca remembers: the baby names Chloe’s already picked out for her future son and daughter.

Of course, if she thinks about it, Beca knows why Chloe is mad: this isn’t just the Bellas parting ways; this is their ending too. Chloe’s vet school is in Michigan, and Beca will be on tour with DJ Khaled, and then back to New York or LA, wherever the label needs her to be. Neither of them will be returning to live in their little box apartment in Brooklyn. No more nights singing and drinking on the stoop, waiting for Fat Amy to stumble home with an incredible (hopefully false but probably true) story. No more scented candles left by the tub (Beca can’t bring herself to buy them: they’re too tied in with her mom in her head. Chloe doesn’t comment when Beca uses hers); no more special soup when she’s sick. No more laughter; no more warmth.

Beca’s going to miss Chloe too, more than anything. But it’s not like she’s mad at her for something neither of them can control. This is what happens: everything ends. No use being mad about it.

What she is mad about is Chloe basically finding a rebound at the first opportunity. Not that what they are – whatever it is, best friends she guesses – is anything anyone would rebound from. Friends stay friends, it’s not like when she moved to New York and Jesse moved home to Columbus, and they had to choose between being together and ending it for good. Friendships aren’t like that. Friendships don’t require an either/or choice.

You can not see friends for years and still love them. You don’t miss friends like a piece of you ripped away.

But that doesn’t give you a license to jump on the first Ken doll with a pulse you see the moment you feel that separation coming either. And Beca’s not sure how many more people she can lose to suburbia and dogs. Jesse was hard enough.

Chicago is totally wrong for Chloe, anyway. He’s so clean cut, Beca can’t imagine he’s interested in just hooking up while they’re in France, and Chloe never does that anyway. So it’ll be a relationship, and they’ll be sweet and nice and hug puppies and take picnics together, and it’ll all be like a Hallmark card.

They’ll be happy and safe together, and it will make Chloe boring. He’ll slowly kill the part of her that strives, that fights, the part of her that made her barge into a stranger’s shower cubicle stark naked and demand she sing in public. He’ll make her soft, and sane, and sweet, and take away all that wonderful crazy and ambition and chaos that make her so awesome.

Chloe is soft; Chloe is sweet. Chloe is sunshine and kindness and basically a Disney princess come to life. But that is not all Chloe is, and Beca worries that the wrong man will take that part away.

That’s all she was thinking, when she saw the two of them making out and felt a little sick. That Chloe was making a mistake, and Beca wouldn’t be around to save her from it.

Not that he was a lucky bastard, having her kiss him like that. Not that Beca remembers what it feels like when Chloe kisses like that.

(They were drunk, it was late, it was only a kiss, it didn’t mean anything)

If Beca’s looking for a refrain to her first hit single, she might have hit on a winner there. It’s a shame Mr Brightside has already been written, although a hip-hop update is long overdue.

Of course, Mr Brightside is about jealousy. Beca’s not jealous. She’s just thinking about it a lot these days. That night when two bottles of wine had been drunk, and Fat Amy still wasn’t home, and they’d half-carried each other to that tiny bed, Chloe’s soft body pressed against hers. A perfect fit.

Chloe’s hands had been on her chest and for once Beca hadn’t said anything.

Her hands had felt nice, actually: softer and smaller than Jesse’s had been, and god she had missed Jesse then. Jesse had made things simple, easy. Ironic hipster boy meets introverted indie girl, just like a movie. Just like the movies he made her watch. But they don’t make movies about wanting your best friend’s hands under your shirt, instead of over it. They don’t write songs about how soft her hair is, or how badly you need to know whether kissing her would feel different from kissing a boy you can’t stop thinking about.

Or maybe they do, but Beca doesn’t really like movies, and she doesn’t listen to ballads. Lyrics are someone else’s job: she’s happy to let the beat speak for itself.

It keeps her awake at night sometimes, thinking about Chloe’s tongue in her mouth and her soft hands in her hair, and the feeling of familiarity, how right it had felt to lie there, with her, kissing her. It had felt like coming home, and it had been so easy to just let go and bask in Chloe’s sunshine, to stop fighting it and let it wash away all the empty irony and shadow in her stupid little soul, to just… feel. It had felt like making music, like singing together: effortless, and all consuming.  

Then they’d slipped awkwardly, and one of them had started laughing and then the other, and then Fat Amy came barging in and no one had ever mentioned it again.

Chicago’s a lucky man. That’s all Beca’s saying.

 


 

Chicago never even got his shirt off.

Chloe’s angry about a lot of things, but that’s what she’s angriest about: the hot, perfect, chivalrous, beautiful soldier boy never even got his shirt off. She’ll never know what his chiseled abs look like up close, never run her tongue over his pecs. All because stupid Beca and her stupid big mouth made it impossible to even look him in the eye.

She told Chicago she had a headache, and he needed to go. He looked puzzled, bewildered, like a dog kicked off the bed, but he went without a fight. Chloe’s mad about that too. When it came to it, he couldn’t even give her a good reason why he should stay.

But, she reminds herself as she marches down the corridor, that’s not his fault. No one ever demanded he be Einstein or Jimmy Fallon: all that was ever required of him - until Beca opened her mouth - was that he be honourable, handsome, and willing to follow orders.

Aubrey would say those are the only qualities required of a soldier, and of a husband. No, Chloe corrects herself, she’d say her father always said that.

She’s rapping on Beca’s door before she knows what she’s doing. The nerve, the audacity , to rip apart a man who’s been nothing but loyal and kind and protective of the Bellas, who saved them all from drowning in the bay after Fat Amy’s psychotic father nearly killed them all. And who was she to judge, anyway? It’s not like Beca’s boyfriends have all been so stellar.

“G didn’t even have a name!”

The end of her train of thought comes bursting out of her mouth, as Beca opens the door and blinks in the light of the hallway. For a moment, Chloe swears Beca smiles a little, like she’s happy to see her. She looks tired, but Chloe doesn’t think she’s woken her up. Beca’s hair is sticking out in all directions. Chloe was right: she hasn’t showered, and now her hair’s set that way.

“What?”

“Your last hook-up, G?” Chloe launches right back in because she’s on a roll. “Yeah, he didn’t even have a name , and he smelled like Cheetos. The only reason he was funny was that he was baked all the time, and whenever he came over the apartment stank of marijuana!”

“Would you keep your voice down?” Beca demands, looking furtively left and right down the hallway . Then Chloe is being dragged into Beca’s room and the door is slammed behind them. “ What is your problem?” Beca demands.

Chloe shrugs, trying not to enjoy how Beca’s hands are still clenched around her forearms, and how her body’s close from hauling  her in. Things always make more sense, when they’re close like this. It’s as if Beca’s clean, calm aura sinks into her skin, and it makes the world make sense for a while.

Everything makes more sense the closer she gets to Beca. Like she gets to stand in the shade for a while and let the world go cool and still.

“You ruined Chicago for me,” she accuses, but quieter, because she doesn’t think she wants Aubrey, Fat Amy, and all the rest to descend upon them for a night of bitching about boys. She doesn’t want to talk to them. She wants to yell (or hiss, but angrily) at Beca.

“I’m sorry?” Beca blinks, and again, Chloe has no idea what that means.

“You’re sorry you ruined Chicago for me, or you don’t understand how you ruined Chicago for me?” she demands.

“I… both, I guess?” Beca says, and she lowers her arms but she doesn’t step away. “What happened?”

“I got in there and all I could think about was how you said he never had to be smart or funny because he was hot,” Chloe rants. “And that wasn’t fair, because I never said a word about how Jesse was an aimless lost puppy who had no personality outside of the Trebeltones and his favourite movies-“

“Hey!” Beca interjects, looking a little pissed off now, which Chloe thinks is good because join the goddamn club . “Jesse wasn’t perfect but he doesn’t deserve that!”

“Well Chicago isn’t perfect but he didn’t deserve your criticism!”

“You started it!” Beca cries. “You came in with the comment about him not getting the pizza joke then rambling on his boring life story! I didn’t think I was out of line just jumping off of that.”

“I just wanted something simple!” Chloe snaps. “For once, I just wanted to want something that wasn’t difficult and complicated!”

“What?” Beca’s brought up short, her brow furrowing, clearly trying to find the meaning behind all Chloe’s garbled accusations. Chloe wishes her luck: she sure as hell doesn’t know anymore. “But… you got into vet school,” she says, her voice going from mad to soft and kind in a moment. “Dude, you’re doing fine.”

“I got into vet school in Michigan , where I know nobody,” Chloe replies. “And being a veterinary nurse was disgusting and sad and…”

She trails off, swallowing hard. God, she’s tired, and stressed, and so ridiculously sad . Nothing makes sense anymore. Everywhere she turns is just more confusion and loss.

“Yeah, I remember Nibbles,” Beca murmurs, giving voice to the memory caught in Chloe’s throat. She takes Chloe’s arm again, her eyes deep and dark. Chloe nods, swallowing hard.

They’d stayed up all night that night: all three of them in black, holding a vigil for the rabbit Chloe had had to put down. The first animal she’d ever had to mercy-kill, and she still sees his ghost in her dreams sometimes. She’s haunted by the thought she couldn’t save that poor scared, innocent life, and the tears in the eyes of the little boy she’d had to apologise to after, hugging his mom’s leg and not understanding what was happening.

“I have no idea if it’s right for me,” Chloe admits. “And the Bellas are all going our separate ways, and I don’t… I know I like Chicago. I know he’s good and strong and would be a good boyfriend. Why couldn’t you just let me have that?”

Beca blinks at her slowly, her thinking face. She’s measuring her words, like she always does, and for once Chloe wishes she’d just say the first thing that came into her head, just blurt something out. But then, she wouldn’t be Beca.

“You didn’t want that,” Beca says, at last. “You were in the bar drinking alone while he waited for you. You made those comments; I just backed you up. If you want him so much why’re you here, not with him?”

Chloe can’t answer that question.

(Yes, she can.)

“You made me not want him anymore.”

“And vet school?” Beca’s eyebrows rise. “I didn’t say a word about that.”

“It’s okay for you,” Chloe says, avoiding the question and its accompanying quicksand. “You know what you want to do and you’ve been given this awesome opportunity to do it. You’re great at the thing you love. Everything’s always so simple for you.”

Beca rolls her eyes and steps back, walking away from her. “It’s not simple, Chloe,” she sighs.

It’s Chloe’s cue to leave, or change the subject, to do something to stop them falling into this hole she’s dug for them both.

Instead, Chloe moves away from the door and goes to sit on Beca’s bed. She knows this look on Beca’s face: she’s pacing, and organising her thoughts, and she won’t say anything until she knows what to say. This might be the last night they ever have to talk like they always have, before the world shifts on its axis and everything changes forever. She’ll stay up all night, and fight back against the dawn, if it prolongs this golden age just a little longer.

“Chloe, less than a month ago I quit my job in New York because the music industry is the literal worst,” Beca says at last. “And… God, I’m fucking terrified about working with DJ Khaled. I mean: I never planned to be a soloist! I’m not like Emily, I don’t write my own songs. I have nothing to say on my own – I’m gonna fall on my face without the Bellas! I felt so much better tonight once you guys were up there with me. What the hell do I do when I have no one to hide behind?”

She finishes her rant, breathing hard, and her eyes meet Chloe’s, wide and beseeching, almost as if she’s looking for an answer. For just a moment, Chloe watches Beca’s calm face break, and the tide rushes in. It’s comforting, in its own way, to know the grass isn’t quite so green. She loves being the one Beca can be weak in front of.

“You don’t believe in you but everyone else does,” Chloe replies, softly. “You always work it out in the end. Maybe it’s time for you to stop hiding, and let your light shine through.”

Beca stops, her head tipping to one side like a bird, her eyes dark and piercing like she’s trying to figure something out.

“I know this is an amazing opportunity,” she says, at last. “Like, better than anything in the world. And it’s not like I have a job waiting for me – the timing’s pretty much perfect, you know?”

“So… are you just scared you won’t make it?” Chloe asks, frowning. “Because like, your talent speaks for itself. Even you can’t believe you’ll end up nowhere , even if it’s not where you expect.”

“No, I… it’s not about that,” Beca shakes her head, her eyes closing for a moment as if bracing for impact. “I can’t stop thinking about how we’re not just gonna go back to New York. Like, our apartment is now Fat Amy’s apartment. That life is just… over, and I didn’t get to say goodbye.”

“Oh.” Chloe can’t think of what else to say. Once again, she’s running in confused circles and Beca sees right to the heart of the matter. It’s just so hard to hear her say it, and know it’s really true. There’s no way out of it this time; this is the end.

“Yeah,” Beca murmurs.

“Well, I mean, it’s just like graduation,” Chloe swallows around a lump in her throat, trying not to succumb to the tears caught in her throat, trying to stay bright and positive. “Things end, it’s natural.”

She doesn’t say that Michigan might as well be Mars, and that she’ll be lost without that cupboard to come home to. Without Beca to come home to.

“It was good while it lasted though, right?” Beca says. Chloe nods: yes, it was. It was the best. She’ll miss those years forever.

If she dwells on that black hole, she’s going to cry. She forces herself to look forward, to think of happier things. “But this is good. I mean, you’ll be on tour, you’ll be… you’ll be making music, and showing the world how special you are. That’s where you should be.”

“And you’ll be in Michigan,” Beca replies. “And the next Nibbles will make it, because you’ll be there to save him. You’ll make the world a better place; that’s way better than putting ooh’s and aah’s under someone else’s lyrics.”

“Music makes the world a better place,” Chloe chides, gently. Maybe she isn’t mad anymore. Maybe she never really was. Beca slumps down on the bed beside her and lies back, her leg pressed against Chloe’s. Chloe tries to ignore the tingles, the Beca-shivers she gets whenever they touch. She’d rather be here bickering with the woman she loves more than anyone else in the world, than making out a hot soldier.  

“I’m not exactly Paul McCartney,” Beca says, her voice muffled from her hands over her face. “I’m not going to stop any wars with the ‘Bend Over’ remix.”

“Your music made my world a better place,” Chloe says, quietly, so quietly she doesn’t know if Beca even hears it. She doesn’t know why she said that; she didn’t really mean it. What she meant to say was ‘ you made my world a better place’, but it felt too heavy for such a delicate moment, as if too much pressure would break it apart.

What might have happened, that night, had Fat Amy not barged in? What if their helpless giggles had subsided, and she’d gotten the nerve to kiss Beca again?

They’re not drunk now. They have no excuse. She has no excuse, although she’s never needed one before to get close to Beca. Personal space was never really a concern for Chloe: Beca was always the one who needed something to hide behind. Chloe had thought she’d made it obvious: for all her excuses, all her deflections, one push from Beca and she’ll break.

She waits for the deflection now, for the ‘shut up, dude’, or the ‘yeah the Bellas are awesome’. She waits for it to be about the group, not this one girl who changed her whole life.

“Without me, you would have been singing old showtunes until graduation,” Beca says. There it is, Chloe thinks: there’s her hiding spot. Now she retreats, and they pretend once again, both of them, that they feel nothing more than sisterhood. But then, for the first time, Beca continues, “I’m so glad you busted into my shower stall that day. You’ve been pushing me toward this place since the day we met.”

“I always knew you could do this, Beca,” Chloe tells her, and means every word. “You just need someone to drag you into the light.”

“Into the sun,” Beca murmurs, something poetic, so unlike her.

Chloe nods. “Yeah.”

There’s a long silence. Neither of them move. Chloe waits for something to break, for her to say something dumb (or unspeakably true) or for Beca to laugh it off, or for Fat Amy to barge in and make things normal again.

Nothing happens. The silence becomes a heavy thing, breathing with a life of its own, smothering.

“So, what do you think of Chicago?” she asks, at last. Beca breathes out a gusty sigh, and hauls herself up to sit beside her.

“I don’t know Chicago,” she says. “I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with him. I mean, he’s hot, I guess, in that All-American Beefcake kind of a way. Seems like a good guy. He’s not exactly my type, though.”

“No,” Chloe snorts, “He’s missing a soul patch.”

Beca laughs through her nose, and shoves Chloe’s arm, hard. “Oh my god, that was one time .”

“What about that photographer at the AMA’s?” Chloe pressed, snickering.

“Doesn’t count,” Beca shook her head. “Half an hour is not long enough to be added to the list.”

“I wouldn’t know,” Chloe sits up primly, folding her hands in her lap. Beca rolls her eyes.

“Okay, Sister Chloe,” she says. “Whatever.”

Chloe laughs. What does she say to that? That she hasn’tbeen on more than three dates with anyone since college? Beca knows that: they’ve lived together since Beca’s sophomore year, in one form or another. It was way easier when the Beta-Phi guys threw parties every weekend, and no one noticed if you were missing for half an hour. Dating as an adult requires planning, or reckless disregard for planning. Chloe hasn’t met anyone she felt like planning for, or anyone who made her feel reckless.

Well, almost.

The silence grows again, Chloe feels it creeping in. A glance at Beca finds her eyes drifting downward at just the wrong moment, and for a split-second she could swear Beca’s eyes were on her lips before she flicked them back up.

Beca knows Chloe’s not an inexperienced, virginal little lamb. Beca knows first-hand.

But they don’t talk about that.

“If you don’t know him, why didn’t you want me dating him?” Chloe asks, then, a question she needs an answer to. Beca’s eyes settle safely on her hands. She shrugs.

“I don’t have an opinion,” she claims again. “I just thought you didn’t want you dating him. Sorry for misreading signals.”

“Okay,” Chloe nods. It’s not an answer. She knows Beca too damn well. But she also knows her well enough to know when a conversation is over. Beca’s closed ranks; the walls are safely up, and Chloe’s on the wrong side, yet again.

She makes to stand up. Beca’s hand (stunning; unexpected) holds her wrist. She sits back down.

“I guess…” Beca starts, “I guess I figured he’s not the right kind of guy for you,” she says, at last. “I mean he’s great and all, but you’re too nice to be with someone that nice.”

Chloe frowns, completely confused. “What?”

Beca sighs and rolls her eyes, “I mean I don’t want to see you vanish into some guy’s life, you know? I mean, you’re beautiful and sweet and kind,” (Chloe’s heart stops). “You’re like, the ideal wife, right? But you’re also a beautiful psycho and someone like Chicago… I don’t know. I don’t want to see you with someone who wants to put you in a box.”

“You think I’m beautiful?” Chloe can’t help the words – clichéd and far too telling – coming out of her mouth.

Beca rolls her eyes, but there’s the faintest blush on her vampire-pale cheeks that Chloe knows she’s not imagining. “Come on dude don’t go fishing. It’s not news.”

Chloe snorts through her nose. “You also think I’m a psycho,” she says. Beca shoves her.

Also not news,” she says. “Come on, only the mentally deranged would spend this much time with the Bellas.”

There it is again: Beca always makes it about the sisterhood, the group, spreading the sentiment to cover them all, and diluting it in the process. Chloe does too, she supposes. It’s got to stop, now that the group is technically over. Now that tonight is all they have left.

“Yeah,” she murmurs. She doesn’t know what else to say.

“And being the Bellas group mom,” Beca continues. “Making sure we make the bus on time, and have enough hotel rooms, and know our choreo. We’d be lost without you, dude.”

“So I’m a wife and a mom now,” Chloe surmises. Beca gives her an odd look.

“Well, yeah,” she says, like it should be obvious. “I mean, in the good way. You’re the reason I joined the Bellas in the first place. You were the first person to ever give a shit about me, you know?”

“You have your dad,” Chloe objects, her heart racing. Now, maybe she’s the one who needs the situation diffused, a break from the sudden intensity in Beca’s eyes.

“My dad and the step-monster?” Beca scoffs. Chloe rolls her eyes.

“Act your age, not your dress size,” she scolds. Beca laughs, and it’s beautiful.

“Okay, my dad’s not so bad, and maybe Irene isn’t actually a Cyclops, but still. I didn’t know that then. But I knew that if I joined the Bellas, you would help me. You’d stop Aubrey from trampling me and kick my ass when I started acting like a spoiled brat. I kind of just… I knew if I followed you, you’d make it all okay.”

“You thought I was a pyscho perv after the showers,” Chloe points out around a furious blush she’s thankful Beca can’t see. “I remember you telling me that.”

“Yeah, but when I showed up to rehearsals after you conscripted me in the showers, Aubrey and everyone were glaring at this dumb, apathetic asshole who was half an hour late and didn’t know the song, but not you. You were just happy I showed up at all. I was this close to booking it, but having just one person in the audience who wanted to hear me sing made me do it.”

Chloe smiles, not knowing how to take that. “I’m the world’s best pushy stage mom,” she jokes. Beca doesn’t laugh.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” she says. She hauls herself upright, and takes Chloe’s hand in both of hers. Chloe feels sparks shoot up from her hand, and she can’t look away. This has never happened before. “I mean that like… shit, I don’t know. I’ve never really seen a functional family, you know? But you know how to look after people. You love people. You… looked after me.”

“Yeah,” Chloe breathes. Of course she did: there’s a light in Beca that she’s seen since the moment they met. All she’s ever wanted is to be closer to it.

Beca’s eyes rise, meet hers, and there’s something in there, a decision being made as those dark eyes flick left and right. Beca’s hands reach just a little upward to cup her face. It’s slow, deliberate. For a moment Beca just holds her there, and it’s the best moment of Chloe’s life.

“I was jealous of Chicago,” Beca admits. It’s small, soft, a petty confession; it’s everything .

“Why?” Chloe asks, although the answer is in the question. She just needs the confirmation, she needs Beca to say something or do something concrete, something that isn’t just long looks and meaningful pauses, something real .

She leans forward just a little, swaying like a sunflower toward that light. Beca’s hands tighten, and pull her the rest of the way.

There’s no ambiguity this time: Beca kisses Chloe deliberately, soft lips gentle and warm but sure. It’s as sweet and wonderful as Chloe remembers. It’s better. This time it’s not Chloe pushing their boundaries, Chloe opening a door she knows will be slammed shut. It’s not Chloe wanting what she cannot have, something difficult and complicated but perfect nonetheless: it’s Chloe being wanted .

She moans softly into Beca’s mouth, kissing her back,  as her hands come to Beca’s waist, . She parts her lips, and Beca’s tongue slips gently inside, coaxing and caressing hers softly, tenderly. She feels one of Beca’s hands slide back into her hair, fingers tangling, holding her still. She can see lights behind her eyes, her whole body fizzing and burning, incandescent.

She leans forward, her hands moving up to hold Beca’s shoulders, bearing her back onto the bed. The kiss doesn’t break, but she can feel Beca smile against her lips.

Eventually, they have to part for breath, Chloe braced over Beca, her hair falling all around them, blocking out the dark bedroom. “Is this okay?” Beca asks, as if she has to, as if there can be any doubt.

Chloe nods, biting her lower lip. It’s more than okay. It’s better than she could have dreamed of.

She ignores the creeping sadness lingering in her mind, the knowledge that she’s headed back to the States in two days, and Beca’s off on the rest of the USO tour. It might be months before they see each other again.

“I love you,” Chloe says. It’s too soon, too heavy, too blunt and honest and naked for this soft, tentative moment. If this is the end of seeing Beca every day, if this is the end of this era of their lives, she’s not going to let it pass unmarked.

Beca swallows hard, and doesn’t reply. Instead, she hauls Chloe down for a searing kiss, plundering Chloe’s mouth until she’s gasping, her hand like a claw in Chloe’s hair. She takes control, rolling them both over, so Chloe’s on her back with Beca looming over her. Beca’s mouth doesn’t let up: when she has to breathe again, her lips and teeth work their way down Chloe’s jaw and neck. She sucks at Chloe’s pulse point, and Chloe moans embarrassingly loudly.

“Dude!” Beca’s head pops up, her hair mussed and face flushed. “Keep it down!”

“You don’t want Aubrey to hear what we’re up to?” Chloe teases. Beca glares at her.

“I don’t want Aubrey, Lily, Fat Amy, and Flo to all come in here and demand details,” Beca retorts. “Or Cynthia-Rose to think it’s time to give advice!”

Chloe breaks into helpless giggles at that: she can picture it now, Cynthia-Rose with diagrams and explicit gestures, trying to show them how to do this right.

Beca rolls her eyes, and kisses Chloe to shut her up. “We’re really doing this then?” Chloe asks, between kisses.

Beca gives her a look. “I mean, I’m on top of you, aren’t I?” she challenges.

Chloe has to concede the point: they’re in the middle of the bed now, and Beca’s straddling her hips with one knee on either side. It’s not a position you can end up in for any innocent reason.

“I just mean… are you sure?”

Beca’s mouth closes around another sensitive spot on Chloe’s neck; Chloe gasps, her question forgotten. Her toes curl. Everything is bright light and Beca’s hot, soft mouth on her throat. She’s had this dream before, and hopes to God she won’t wake up.

 


 

Chloe’s spread out beneath her, and she’s a goddamn work of art.

Beca can’t stop staring: her auburn curls spill everywhere, like molten copper; her cheeks are flushed and her lips are swollen from kisses. From Beca’s kisses. She did that. She made Chloe’s eyes dark and bright, hooded and glazed all at once.

She leans in and kisses her again. All of a sudden (the same as ever, really, just more acute) she can’t get enough of Chloe. She wants everything she can get her hands on, every little piece she’s been pretending she doesn’t want for years now.

Her hands are the ones going under Chloe’s shirt, pushing it up, thankful Chloe has changed into fewer layers since the show . Their legs are tangled together, and when Beca shifts Chloe’s thigh is suddenly between hers and it feels ridiculously good, soft and warm and tight all at once.

Chloe surges up at that point, her hands no longer passive, tangling in Beca’s hair and hauling her down for another kiss. Chloe nips at her lips, her mouth soft and hot but her teeth sharp. An embarrassing little moan leaves Beca’s throat. That feels so much better than it has any right to – almost as good as the feeling of Chloe’s breasts under her hands, covered now only by the non-existent barrier of her lacy bra.

Chloe makes a little noise when Beca squeezes a little, experimentally. She can feel the tips hardening against her palms, and attempts a little motion to rub the lace against Chloe’s nipple, something she knows she’d enjoy. Another addictive little noise is her reward, and she does it again and again, until she’s too distracted by Chloe’s attempt to plunder her mouth to keep up any finesse.

“Too many clothes,” Chloe gasps. Beca’s tempted to laugh: isn’t that where this began, really?

Instead, she nods. They sit up a little, and between them they get Beca’s pyjama shirt and Chloe’s loose tunic off. Beca’s suddenly extremely aware that she was in bed, and therefore not wearing a bra. Chloe’s eyes run over her and Beca feels a corresponding shiver, as if the look itself where a physical touch. For all she keeps reminding herself they’ve lived together for years, and Chloe’s seen her naked plenty of times before, her hands come up to cover herself nonetheless.

Chloe’s hands take her wrists, and lower them down. “Come on, you’re not getting shy on me now, are you?”

“Well, if you’d stop staring at me!” Beca retorts. Why is she so uncomfortable now? She’s never wanted anything more in her life, and yet now it’s real, it’s too real. One false move and it’ll all fall apart, and there will be no second chances.

Chloe rolls her eyes. She reaches behind her, and unclips her bra, casting it aside. “Well,” she says, “I mean, I’m super comfortable with all this.”

Beca’s startled into laughter. “I know,” she agrees. “You absolutely should be.”

It’s meant to come back teasing. It comes out breathy: now she can’t stop staring.

Chloe is beautiful, soft and pale and perfect, the ends of her hair just brushing the tops of her breasts, and Beca suddenly forgets to be self-conscious. It’s dark, but she can swear she can see the soft blush on Chloe’s cheeks extend over her skin. She’s beaming, that smile Beca can’t resist. That smile that feels like sunlight.

“I love you,” she says, the words she couldn’t choke out earlier. It’s a weird moment to say it, as if the sight of naked breasts forced it out of her, but it’s really nothing to do with that. It’s the fact that her urge to hide, the desperate need to build a hundred towering walls between her vulnerable little self and the outside world, completely fell apart with a word from Chloe. It’s as if to her, the walls aren’t stone but paper.

Her eyes flick up to meet Chloe’s. Her heart is in her throat. She doesn’t remember the last time she said that to another person, and felt it as deeply as she feels it now. It was probably Jesse, and that was years and lifetimes ago, when she was a whole different person.  

“I love you too,” Chloe says. It’s perfect, magical, beautiful . It makes Beca’s heart ache.

Because what good does it do? Regardless of how they feel about each other, the facts are the facts, and the life they might have had is behind them. This is the final reprise of a song that’s already over. They deserved better, she thinks, than a gasping last verse. But what is she going to do? Throw out her whole career for a relationship that’s ten minutes old? Ask Chloe to abandon her dreams and join her on the road? There’s no ending where they stay together, and yet she can’t help herself.

They crash together, kissing with a desperation, an urgency that says Chloe, too, is well aware of their limited time. Suddenly, they are both all motion: her pyjama pants are kicked down and off; Chloe’s leggings end up tangled around her ankles, and then discarded on the floor. They crawl up the bed, entwined together, and there’s so much of Chloe’s skin pressed to Beca’s that she can barely breathe for it. Everything is soft, and hot, and there’s a fire growing in her.

Chloe’s kissing her neck, biting and sucking and leaving hickeys Beca won’t be able to explain tomorrow, and her thigh is back between Beca’s legs, pressing against her and making her twist and tremble. She finds herself bucking her hips, trying to get closer, to get more. Chloe’s hands are leaving sparks across her skin. When Chloe suddenly takes her nipple into her mouth and sucks, Beca has to bite the inside of her cheek to keep quiet.

She hauls Chloe back up by her hair, and Chloe goes willingly, her mouth replaced by her hands, and Beca takes the opportunity to kiss her breathless, and tug at Chloe’s underwear.

It’s a struggle, ungainly and a little awkward, to get two pairs of panties off and onto the floor. For a moment, Beca feels out of her depth: she’s never done this before, only had it done to her. Sex with a guy requires less creativity: as long as he gets inside, he’s happy.

She rolls Chloe onto her back, trying to go by instinct. She’s arrested again for a moment by the sight of the woman beneath her, all hooded eyes and tumbling curls. Like a Disney princess, she thinks, but naked and definitely not G-rated. She doesn’t know where to look, or what to do next. Everything is skin and beauty and little breathy sighs, and her brain is totally scrambled.

“Touch me,” Chloe moans, part request and part command, and Beca swallows her nerves and reaches down. She’s stunned to find Chloe soaking wet and hot as hell, and she rubs experimentally, trying to think what she would want done to her. When Chloe moans at a rub of Beca’s thumb against her clit, Beca decides to stick with that, as her fingers slip lower and brush against at Chloe’s entrance.

The first touch of a finger inside makes Chloe gasp, her hips bucking. “Ah!”

“That okay?” Beca asks, hating how hesitant and unsure she sounds. Chloe’s eyes are squeezed shut, her lush lower lip caught between her teeth.

“Uh-huh,” she sighs. “I… ah! It’s been a while.”

Beca nods, swallowing hard. Chloe’s so hot and wet around her finger it’s hard to think straight. She adds a second finger, pushing deeper, keeping up the pressure on Chloe’s clit. Chloe moans, low and deep. Beca feels a tremble down her spine, and squeezes her thighs together, trying to alleviate some of the pressure building there.

She starts to thrust a little, shallowly, keeping up the pressure and friction with her thumb. Chloe kisses her, but it turns to a sigh, her mouth opening against Beca’s as she bucks and whines, and when Beca crooks her fingers just a little she moans again. “Right there,” she gasps, “yes, please!”

Beca feels herself clench at hearing that, Chloe’s voice broken and begging, pleading for more, close to the edge. She grits her teeth and tries to focus on Chloe, and on staying quiet. They’ll wake the whole hotel at this rate, but it’ll be worth it.

She thrusts her fingers in deeper, harder, swirling the pad of her thumb around and around, and she feels it, the moment Chloe’s body goes rigid and her channel clenches hard, and Beca smothers her cry of completion with another kiss.

Chloe trembles with aftershock, as Beca slowly slides her fingers out, wet and sticky with Chloe’s pleasure.

For a moment, everything is silent, punctuated only by heavy breathing. A moment ago, Beca couldn’t bear to look away from Chloe’s radiant face. Now, she can’t meet her eyes.

What the fuck are they doing?

“Beca?” Chloe’s soft voice catches her attention, and she looks up automatically, drawn like a flower to sunlight. It’s a mistake: Chloe is glowing, beautiful, everything Beca pretends she hasn’t dreamt about. Even Chloe’s eyes seem to emit some inner light, and it almost hurts to look.

It does hurt to look. The walls they built between them kept both of them safe, kept that happy status quo in place. Now, she will miss this too. Now she knows how it feels to have every inch of Chloe’s soft, warm skin pressed to hers, she’ll never stop needing it.

“You should go.” The words are out of her mouth before she even thinks them, surprising them both. The sweet smile on Chloe’s face turns to concern; her brow furrows. Please believe me, Beca silently begs, please don’t see through me.

“Why?” Chloe asks, “This is where I want to be.”

A lump forms in Beca’s throat, her heart hammering. The right thing to do would be to kick Chloe out, to call it a moment of weakness, to slam the door in her open, lovely face the way she has a hundred times before. Because Chloe challenged her but Jesse was safe; because falling in love is like drowning, and friendship is a life ring, keeping her head above water.

Love requires some falling, but I’m afraid of heights.

“I…” the words catch and stutter on her tongue, ashy and bitter and false: I don’t want you here . She has to be the strong one here, right? That’s how they work: Chloe is soft and tender and open, and Beca is hard and firm and closed. Chloe comes to her door in the middle of the night, and Beca stops them from ruining everything.

She has to fix this. That’s what she does. If she pushes Chloe away now, everything can be as it was.

“Beca?” Chloe pushes again. Beca sits up, closing her eyes and shaking her head. She shifts off of Chloe, to sit beside her, her knees crunched up and her back turned. She wipes her fingers on the bedspread, and runs a hand through her tangled hair.

She’s an idiot, and she’s let herself get addicted to something she’s about to lose.

“You’re going away anyway,” she says, at last. “You might as well go now.”

It’s not enough, she knows that. For all the harshness of her words, her tone doesn’t match. She wants to sound cutting and bruta but she comes out small, and lost. Like she’s begging Chloe to stay, even while she’s telling her to leave.

Chloe sits up next to her. “You’re leaving too,” she reminds her, softly.

“Why did you come here?” Beca asks, her voice barely above a whisper. For the first time in years, she feels like she might cry. She swallows hard. She isn’t that girl.

There’s a long pause. Beca waits for Chloe to take up her mantel, to be the one putting the distance between them. She waits for this to be about this evening alone, about Chicago and their spat at the bar. The more trivial it feels, the easier it will be to forget.

“I wanted to see you,” Chloe says at last. “I always want to see you, and after we leave tomorrow I won’t be able to. It may be our last night on the same continent. I don’t want to spend it apart.”

Beca nods. That lump in her throat is still pressing on her windpipe, crushing her to death.

“Me too,” she admits.

“I… I don’t want it to be like this, either,” Chloe says. A tentative hand comes to Beca’s shoulder, skin to skin. “I don’t want it to be sad.”

Beca has to wonder then if maybe she had this all wrong. Maybe Chloe is the strong one.

She can’t speak. She doesn’t know what to say. In the end, she doesn’t have to.  Chloe’s hand on her cheek pulls them face to face and whatever she might have said is swallowed in the softest, sweetest kiss she’s ever felt. There is a world of love in that kiss, of acceptance and tenderness, and something more enduring even than that. Something that reminds her that despite all the boys, and the bars, and the emotional walls and the abandonment issues, she’s never felt anything before like what she feels for Chloe. Maybe she never will again. Maybe Chloe is irreplaceable, and so maybe it doesn’t matter how far apart they are.

What are a few years and a few thousand miles compared to this?

She kisses her back, her hands coming to cup Chloe’s face, urgency and desperation lost in the deep, swelling feeling inside her, like ripples on the tide. Chloe’s body is pressed against her, and her hands slip down, arms coming around to hold her close, pressed tight as can be. Something hot and sweet settles into her bones, a need for more, and closer, and for this to never, ever end.

She is eased back onto her back, Chloe’s body covering hers. It feels as though her hands and her mouth are everywhere: on her neck, down her throat, across her collarbones and her breasts, lower.

The first brush of lips and tongue between her legs sends her head spinning. She can’t think or move or breathe; her rushing blood is a rhythm she can’t escape. It’s like the moment the chord hits the beat, and for a moment she can’t think of anything but the sparks skittering over her skin

Instinct drags her fingers into Chloe’s hair, and she feels Chloe’s smile rather than seeing it. They fumble a little, that perfect first moment belied by a sudden, accidental scrape of teeth a moment later that makes her yelp, and a muttered “Sorry!” against her thigh. Neither of them knows how to do this, but they’re in it together, and there’s nowhere else in time or space Beca would rather be.

She has to bite the inside of her lip to stifle a moan when Chloe experimentally pushes her tongue between her folds and up, finding her clit and lapping at it. She’s embarrassingly wet, her body reduced to fried nerve endings and tense, shaking muscle. Her mind has gone somewhere else, drowned out in a tide of sensation, burned away by the fire Chloe has set in her. However warm she might have felt just sitting beside her is nothing compared to this. Beca finally understands why they tell you never to stare directly at the sun.

Beca doesn’t do lyrics. Right now, she figures she could write a fucking sonnet to the sensation of Chloe’s tongue on her pussy.

Emboldened by her response, Chloe does the same again, and again, and then she’s sucking on Beca’s clit while slipping a finger inside and oh, God, Jesus, fuck, it’s been a while for Beca too, and she’s clenching hard around that finger, reeling and spinning at the thought that Chloe is inside her .

Another finger, and Chloe’s tongue is lapping frantically at her folds, as if she can’t get enough. Beca’s hips buck involuntarily, her back arching to get closer, and Chloe’s hand takes hold of her hip to hold her steady. Beca feels herself clenching, once, twice. Her eyes squeeze shut, her breathing hitching around a stifled cry. Her climax comes rushing over her in glorious waves, fireworks bursting inside her, her fingers tensing into claws against Chloe’s scalp as she rides it out.

“Holy shit,” she breathes, as her body sags back into the bed. She can’t keep a stupid, goofy smile off her face. Her hands slump back onto the mattress; Chloe’s usual beaming smile is more than a little smug as she crawls back up to lie beside her. She slings an arm over Beca’s stomach and spoons up beside her, pressing a kiss to Beca’s bare shoulder.

It’s the most natural thing in the world to arch closer, to cuddle in, and let herself be held.

“I always figured I’d be the big spoon,” Beca murmurs under her breath, exhaustion finally taking her, sex and sleep loosening her lips. Chloe makes a soft noise against her shoulder.

“You thought about it?” Chloe asks.

Any other time, Beca would lie and say she meant generally, with anyone, but every wall she had has been blasted apart and she hasn’t the bricks to rebuild them. She didn’t mean that, and they both know it.

“All the time,” Beca sighs. “I… I should have told you. We could have been doing this for years. I was just… scared, I guess. I don’t know.”

Chloe nods. They lie in silence for a long time, until the feeling of Chloe’s chest pressed to Beca’s back, their legs tangled under the sheets so Beca can’t tell what’s her and what’s Chloe anymore, and the soft brush of her breath against her neck, are as familiar as music or the dark surrounding them.

“What happens now?” she asks, into the darkness. She half-hopes Chloe is asleep, that she won’t hear. It’s a rhetorical question. What happens now is obvious: the dawn comes crashing in, and everything has to end.

“What do you want?” Chloe replies, unexpectedly.

“What I want is to stay here,” Beca mutters, knowing she sounds like a child, pathetic and weak.

“Me too,” Chloe admits. Beca holds her breath, hoping she’ll say more, provide some wonderful answer to their future that isn’t terrifying and lonely, an alternative to tomorrow where no one gets on a plane. The silence stretches.

Anything Beca thinks to say – I only want you, please don’t fall in love with someone else, please wait for me, please don’t leave me – everything feels too heavy, like it will shatter this delicate moment.   

“I love you.” Chloe says, at last, her voice soft and against Beca’s neck. It’s the only thing that makes sense anymore. It’s the only thing that feels right.  

“I love you too.”