When Beca wakes up the next morning, her legs tangled loosely in bed sheets and her arm flung across someone’s warm stomach, she panics. Before she even has time to process what’s happening and where she is, she’s scrambling out of the bed, limbs flailing as she staggers to her feet. Her jaw drops in horror as her gaze lands on the smooth sleeping body sprawled across the bed, pretty face pressed into the pillow.
So that’s what happened.
(Well, more like who.)
Glancing at the clock on the nightstand, Beca realises it’s only 6AM and sighs in relief; there’s no way Madelaine? Marilyn? Maisie? — she has no idea — will wake up this early. It’s practically still night. In fact, she can even see the fucking stars in the sky. Clutching her arm across her chest, the brunette fumbles around for her discarded shirt and bra, holding her breath as she trips into the edge of the bed. “ Shit .” The curse word kind of slips out, as they always seem to with Beca, but the girl doesn’t stir -- thank god .
After yanking on her jeans and throwing on her shirt, Beca stumbles from the apartment, clutching her shoes in one hand and her bra in the other. Her phone starts blaring from her pocket, the irritating ringtone piercing the frosty silence. The brunette slides her phone into her hand and squints down at the screen, cursing silently under her breath as the name swims into focus. She can’t see shit without her contacts in.
And then she blinks, and she can just make out the Caller ID: Aubrey Posen. Fuck.
Leaning heavily against the wall in the foyer of the woman’s apartment building, Beca swipes her thumb across the screen and raises her phone to her ear, mentally preparing herself for the words of probable anger that are about to come. “Hey Bree, what’s up?” Somehow, her casual tone hides her hammering heart and the lump in her throat that won’t fucking go away, no matter how many times she swallows.
“Beca, are you okay? Where are you? You left last night with someone and you didn’t answer mine or Stacie’s calls.” Beca’s surprised to hear Aubrey’s concern floating through the receiver, and not the rage she’d pictured in her mind. (She really is awful at reading people, even after all these years. Perhaps she should do some research, or maybe even—) “Beca? Are you there?”
“I’m here, sorry. It was just a hookup, I’ve already left,” the brunette explains, cramming the phone between her cheek and shoulder so she can awkwardly fiddle with her watch and wish the conversation away.
Aubrey sighs through the phone, and Beca can literally hear her rolling her eyes. “A one night stand? Beca, those aren’t healthy, especially not for you. Mindless sex can’t heal you, you know,” the blonde scolds, her voice hardening as her mind drifts to an image of Beca working herself into the deep depths of depression with her unhealthy lifestyle. She shivers. She really doesn’t want that for Beca, the woman deserves so much better. The brunette is a good person underneath all that eyeliner and her tough facade.
“Dude, you’re the one who forced me to come out with you and Stacie. Don’t come yelling at me for having a one night stand. I’d have happily stayed in, but apparently that’s not good enough for you either. I won’t fucking bother next time.” Beca knows she’s being snappy, but it’s 6:15 and she’s not in the fucking mood to endure a forty-five minute rant from Aubrey about the importance of genuine social interaction.
(And no, extensive moaning and dirty talk do not count.)
Beca hangs up before the blonde can make any half-assed excuses and pulls up her keypad to dial for an Uber. She needs a fucking shower and another four hours of sleep.
All Chloe can think about is the deep-rooted chill in her bones, and the fact she hasn’t eaten in a week. Her stomach hurts , and she doesn’t think she’s ever been so cold. The air is frozen lace upon her skin, decorating the pale expanse like a detailed map, carving roads and trenches into the cracked landscape. It’s hardly surprising that she has a cold -- her nose is stuffed up, her throat is sore, and she’s pretty certain that sucking on snow for water isn’t exactly helping matters.
Chloe doubles over, her cough wracking through her thin frame, her heart rattling in her rib cage as her breaths form wisps in the cruel night. As people walk past, arm in arm with loved ones, laughing delicately as they rush into the nearest building, desperate for warmth, Chloe almost (read: really) hopes that someone will take pity on her.
But every time she dares to glance up, dares to even make eye contact with one of the stylishly dressed women prancing down the street, she’s met with cold eyes and curled lips. They take no pity on her, they have no feeling. They assume it’s her fault she’s out on the streets, her life ruined by drink or drugs, her money wasted on cigarettes and booze.
They just turn away, gloved fingers tapping at their phone screens, eyes cast across the street, fighting the spark of guilt that threatens to rise inside them. It’s squashed, just like the faint promise of a warmer day or decent food discarded on the street.
Chloe’s given up by now, too focused on searching the darkest depths of her mind for some semblance of a happy memory to cling onto. She doesn’t know what’s stopping her from staggering to the nearest bridge and throwing herself off into the abyss. Perhaps the hope still flickering in her chest, the knowledge that one day things could get better. Maybe her parents will forgive her, come back for her, tell her they love her.
The redhead knows it’s not true. She knows by now never to put faith in anyone; they’ll only let her down, cruel smiles stretching across their lips as she breaks down once again.
But it’s all she has. What else does she have to cling on to?
Beca’s at the club again.
She doesn’t know why — don’t ask her — but she suspects it has something to do with the seemingly permanent ache in her chest that has a fooled into thinking she craves something more. (She absolutely doesn’t.)
Aubrey and Stacie don’t know she’s here, which is probably for the best. She’s actually dancing today, ignoring the uncomfortable thumping low in her gut as she allows herself to be pushed from body to body, sweat dripping down her neck.
Before she really knows what’s happening, there’s a confident arm wrapped around her waist and she’s being tugged back into a woman’s — judging by the impossible softness — body. Beca doesn’t think about how little she wants to be here, doesn’t want to think about how unhealthy this is, she just throws herself back into the woman and grinds to the beat of the music.
She spins around, winding her arms around the— wow . The woman is seriously hot . Her rich, golden curls cascade onto her shoulders like honey, and her startling blue eyes twinkle like stars in the pulsating lights of the club. For a brief moment, Beca feels the breath knocked out of her, before she lets herself fall back into Hot Woman’s arms and allows herself to get caught up in the moment.
It’s probably (read: definitely) not a good idea to drown her loneliness in alcohol and a stranger’s soft, warm body, but sue her, she’s hurting . Beca thinks she has no reason to be in so much pain , but clearly her heart has another ideas. (Stupid ideas, stupid stupid ideas.)
They still haven’t spoken, which Beca thinks is probably for the best — she doesn’t want the woman to open her mouth and make her regret getting caught up in the moment. (The brunette has a rather annoying habit of going off people when they reveal their intelligence doesn’t match their beauty.)
“You wanna get out of here?”
Beca, of course, agrees.
They’re just leaving — after Beca hurriedly downs a few shots to try and convince herself that leaving with this stranger is a good idea — arms linked, breath mingling as they stumble out into the frosty night. Beca’s not that drunk. Sure, she’s tipsy, but she can (just about) think coherently and she still knows right from wrong.
(Ever since her first glass of wine when she was seventeen — she was at home, don’t come for her — she’s prided herself in being able to hold her liquor better than most.)
So when she walks into something that feels suspiciously like a body, Beca doesn’t assume it’s just her mind playing tricks on her. The street isn’t lit very well, but when she looks down she can clearly make out the outline of a woman, slumped over to the side.
Beca’s not good at affection. She’s not good at touching or being close to people in general. She even thinks she’d be an awful mother — she can’t take care of herself, let alone a dependent baby — but, like she said, she knows right from wrong. The brunette knows that stopping to check that this woman isn’t dead is definitely the right thing to do, even if the blonde woman is tugging at her arm to try and pull her away.
Glaring in the drunk blonde’s direction, Beca yanks her arm out of the suddenly tight grip. Wobbling ever so slightly, crouches down and presses two warm fingers against the (hopefully) sleeping woman’s neck. The pale skin is icy to the touch and her frail shoulders shake violently with shivers every few seconds.
There’s a pulse. It’s faint, barely fluttering beneath her fingertips, but it’s there , and that’s all that matters.
Beca supposes that taking the unconscious woman to the hospital is the next logical course of action. Successfully sobered, the petite brunette rises and moves to pull her phone from her pocket. She doesn’t want to further put the woman’s life in danger by driving to the hospital herself — if it was just her life in her hands she would probably risk it — so calling for a cab seems like the sensible option. (She thinks Aubrey would be proud.)
“Heyyy, wh-what are yous doiiinggg?”
Shit. Beca may or may not have forgotten about her.
“I have to take her to the hospital, she’s barely breathing. She could die if she stays here much longer.”
“So? She’s a filthy whore. Look at her out here; it’s her own stupid fault,” she blonde says, her lip curling up into a disgusted grimace. She tries to reach for Beca, her slender fingers curling around the brunette’s wrist, but she doesn’t manage to keep her grip for more than a few seconds.
Beca easily snatches her hand back to her chested and snarls at the blonde. “How dare you? Get away from me,” she hisses, glaring sharply before turning her attention back to her phone to call for a cab.
“Noooo, lookkk, just come home w-with me. I knnnow you waaant meeee.” The tall woman leans forward in an attempt to be seductive and pulls her bottom lip between her teeth. But Beca can’t see the golden hair and doe eyes she once had back in the club. All she can see are those harsh words scrawled across her face like a disease.
“I’m not coming home with you. Either leave or let me call you a cab to take you home.” The drunk blonde — finally — takes that as her cue to leave, and she stalks off into the night with one last longing glance at Beca.
The brunette wastes no time in dialling for a cab before scooping the redhead — she thinks, anyways — into her arms. She’s lighter than she looks, and weighs almost nothing, which Beca supposes checks out if she’s homeless. (Judging by the matted hair and threadbare coat, Beca has no doubt that she is.)
Swallowing thickly, the petite woman cradles the body in her arms and gently brushes tangled hair away from sunken eyes and hollow cheeks. She allows herself to cast her gaze down over cobwebbed eyelashes, stiff with the frost, to sharp collar bones peeking out from the woman’s thin jumper. There’s absolutely no doubt that the redhead is beautiful , despite the dirt streaked across her face and the smell of smoke and trash wafting from her torn clothes.
There’s a childlike innocence about her — whether it’s aided by her flushed cheeks and bright pink nose, Beca would rather not comment.
When the cab arrives ten minutes later, Beca’s freezing. She’s only in a thin black tee and a leather jacket — she hadn’t exactly anticipated sitting out in the cold. Everything is still a little hazy when she pulls the redhead onto the backseat — rather awkwardly, she might add — and mumbles the address to Brooklyn Methodist.
Beca spends the journey gently stroking the woman’s cheek and trying to warm her up with the hot air blasting from the tiny fan in front of them. And once she tells the driver to “hurry the fuck up” because she’s got a “dying woman in her arms” they actually start making some progress.
After an estimated fifteen minutes — Beca’s never been any good at Math, let’s be honest — the brunette thinks she’s become unexplainably attached to the redhead. She doesn’t want to be, trust her , but there’s this feeling stirring low in her gut and honestly she’s not too sure what to make of it.
Beca has, in fact, made a list of what she thinks of the current situation.
- The redhead is a complete stranger.
- She’s a complete failure when it comes to love.
- She has extreme abandonment issues.
- She doesn’t know how to even do relationships.
- She snores.
So yeah, it’s all a bit of a mess really.
She thanks the cab driver and shoves some dollar bills into his hand before pushing the door open and hauling the limp redhead into her arms. Now, the brunette prides herself in being stronger than she looks — she takes self defence classes and she even lifts weights (occasionally) — but she isn’t sure she’s strong enough to carry a dead weight all the way into the hospital.
And she also doesn’t know where the fuck she’s meant to go with a dying woman. She assumes the Emergency Department is her best bet, but it’s not like she frequents any hospital, let alone Brooklyn Methodist, so she supposes it’s up to her and her mildly foggy brain to find the way.
Ignoring the sharp ache at the bottom of her back, Beca walks quickly through the car park with the redhead cradled in her arms. The automatic doors slide open as they sense her presence, and she rushes forward into the brightly lit room, the overwhelming stench of bleach suddenly crashing into her. The brunette squints, because she doesn’t like light on a good day, let alone when she’s tipsy.
It’s clear karma is on her side — for once — because there seems to be some kind of reception desk ahead of her. She ignores all weird looks directed her way in favour of shuffling forward towards the robotic woman — she doesn’t fucking have time to care about judgement right now.
“Excuse me? I have someone here who’s probably dying and—” Beca looks up from Chloe’s angelic face to see the receptionist on the phone in front of her, not even looking up as she absent-mindedly taps away at her computer keyboard. “Hey, lady, I have a dying woman in my arms. Fucking help me or find someone who can,” she yells, pulling the redhead’s frail body closer to her chest as the receptionist suddenly springs up from her chair and dials a number. (Beca just hopes it’s a helpful one.)
“I’m sorry Miss, I was just—” She’s cut off when the person on the other end of the phone picks up and then everything becomes a blur.