It’s been a week since Beca brought home a reluctant Chloe to her apartment, and a week since their (romantic?) dinner. A week since Chloe’s almost-death, too.
Beca knows Chloe has found her neurotic fussing a little much, but the brunette would never forgive herself if things went south all because she neglected to take proper precautions.
Despite the rigorous demands of her job, Beca has taken to working from home more often, only popping into the studio if absolutely necessary. What good is being famous if she doesn’t have flexibility over her work? Theo has been a bit of a dick about it, but she’s his boss, and ultimately has the last say (much to his dismay).
Chloe has been angelic - there’s no other word for it. The young woman has not a fault about her, Beca’s sure of it. She listens to her when she insists she needs to lie down and keep off her feet, but whenever she’s out, the redhead takes it upon herself to cook, clean and do sweet - but wildly unnecessary - things for Beca.
Most notably, Chloe went out and bought snacks (with permission to use Beca’s credit card, of course), then built a blanket fort to surprise Beca with once she got back from work. The brunette had teared up on the spot and was barely able to restrain herself from sweeping Chloe up and kissing her on the spot.
But it’s been a week, and although Beca doesn’t want to admit it to herself, Chloe is technically well enough to leave. She can’t let her, though. What kind of person would she be if she let a woman back onto the streets in the middle of New York’s coldest winter on record?
It’s with this in mind that Beca pulls into the apartment complex driveway and switches off her engine. It’s 10pm; later than she’d planned on arriving home. She’s been so absent from the studio this week that Theo had managed to persuade her into making an appearance for a large chunk of the day.
She’d promised Chloe she’d be back at 8pm at the latest, yet here she is, two hours late. She had texted the redhead - yes, Beca bought her a phone as soon as they’d gotten back from the hospital, ignoring Chloe’s protestation - and had received a don’t worry, see you soon!! :)) in response, but she still feels bad.
Beca knows they need to have a discussion about what the future holds; Chloe had attempted to bring it up over dinner last night, only to be shut down with the promise that it would be spoken about soon.
If she’s honest with herself, Beca’s terrified of Chloe wanting to leave. She doesn’t think the redhead wants to be homeless again, but she also worries that she doesn’t like staying with her. What if living with Beca is so bad that Chloe is desperate to leave?
(The rational part of her brain says that it’s very unlikely, but still.)
If she was just a normal young woman, perhaps she wouldn’t be so afraid of Chloe leaving. But she’s not normal - she’s touch-starved and wrought with abandonment issues.
Oh, and she may be in love with Chloe.
The feelings had snuck up on her like a thief in the night, catching her unawares until two days ago when they’d been sat on the couch watching Mrs. America . When Beca glanced over to her, Chloe had been laughing, face illuminated by the TV screen, eyes sparkling, and all of a sudden the brunette had been hit by an overwhelming wave of emotion.
It had been so bad she’d had to excuse herself to go to the bathroom, wiping frantically at her eyes as she freaked out over liking the relative stranger that was currently living with her. She almost wished she’d never gotten involved with Chloe, but the thought of leaving the woman for dead on the sidewalk didn’t sit right with her.
What the fuck is she supposed to do with these feelings? Burying them seemed like the preferable option at the time, because it’s common knowledge that Beca Mitchell doesn’t do relationships, but Chloe . Beca now, after nights of lying awake with her thoughts spinning around her mind, thinks she would do anything for Chloe, including try a relationship.
Trudging up the stairs to her apartment, Beca wonders if she can justify putting the conversation on hold another night. But she can’t make up another excuse, and so she steels herself for what might be a painful night.
When Beca opens the door, she’s met with the sight of Chloe curled up on the couch, eyes glued to the TV screen. Some shitty reality show is on - apparently the redhead enjoys them; Beca couldn’t disagree more. The sound of the door catches Chloe’s attention, though, and she looks up from the TV.
Upon seeing Beca, a wide smile breaks out upon her face. “You’re back!”
“Hey, sorry I’m so late,” Beca says, dumping her keys on the side and kicking off her shoes. She pads across the room and sinks down into the couch beside Chloe.
Chloe pauses the show and turns her full attention to the woman beside her. “It’s okay. There’s a plate of food for you on the side. I ate mine already, sorry.”
“Oh my god you’re a star, thank you,” Beca says gratefully, pushing herself up to go and heat up the food. She’s starving, and hasn’t eaten since breakfast - not that she’ll tell Chloe that, the woman would have a fit.
“So, how was work?”
“Very busy. Though I don’t see how any of the stuff that needed doing required me to go to the studio. I wish I could have just worked from home and stayed with you instead.” Beca doesn’t really think about what she’s saying, and doesn’t consider the fact that she’s practically just admitted to loving Chloe’s company. (Which, as Stacie would joke, is “a bit gay”.)
“Mm, I wish you could have stayed home too,” Chloe says, cheeks flushing slightly. Beca isn’t looking, though, too caught up in her own inner turmoil.
Neither of them speak while Beca puts her chicken pie in the microwave. The machine hums and then beeps after two minutes, prompting the brunette to pull the plate out, muttering a soft curse under her breath as she touches the hot ceramic.
She once again takes a seat next to Chloe, then turns to look at her. “We need to talk,” she says slowly, stomach churning.
Immediately, the redhead’s face falls and she visibly draws into herself. She crosses her arms across her body in a protective manner, as though they will shield her from the coming conversation.
“It’s not— Please don’t worry, okay? I’m not mad or anything,” Beca reassures, pained to see the difference in Chloe’s manner. She definitely should have approached this more tactfully, but how else was she supposed to bring it up?
All she gets in response is an imperceptible nod. Chloe won’t even look at her now; her eyes are trained on her lap. The redhead bounces her leg slightly, another sign of her anxiety.
“It’s just that, you’ve been here for a week now, right? And we both know that you’re better. So, I’m not sure what you want to do now.” Beca has no idea what she’s doing - how is she supposed to successfully navigate a conversation like this when she has no practice? She also has no idea of Chloe’s life circumstances and how she ended up on the streets; she doesn’t want to stupidly say the wrong thing and upset the woman.
Chloe barely even looks up, but the bouncing of her stops, and Beca sees it tense up. “You want me to leave?”
“Um,” the brunette begins, trying to work out how to articulate that no, she doesn’t want Chloe to leave, but without revealing that she’s head-over-heels in love with her. And then she realises that she’s paused for way too long, because Chloe is shifting further away from her and into the back of the couch.
“It’s okay, I’ll be gone tomorrow morning.” Chloe’s voice is small and Beca thinks her throat may be choked with tears, but she can’t really tell because she has little-to-no experience of anything like this.
How was she supposed to learn about basic human interaction when her mum abandoned her at age six, and her dad was painfully absent her whole childhood? She grew up taking care of herself, forging signatures for school, keeping to herself with only her music to turn to; how was she supposed to learn what having a relationship with someone - platonic or otherwise - was like? It wasn’t until Stacie forced herself into her life, of course bringing along Aubrey, that Beca even had any friends.
“Wait, Chloe, no, that’s not what I—” Beca tries, desperate to right the wrong she’s just made.
“Bec, stop. I get it.” Chloe looks up then, and Beca can see the formation of tears in the corners of her eyes and her stomach lurches. She feels incredibly stupid; of course she’s said just the thing to make the redhead cry.
In her frustration, it takes a long moment for Chloe’s use of the nickname to circle to the forefront of her mind. She almost softens at it, her heart melting with love for the woman sitting beside her, but then she remembers that she’s just made her cry , and anger washes over her. “No, you don’t,” she grits out, desperate to make Chloe understand that the last thing she wants is for her to leave.
There’s a moment of silence. And then, “What?”
“I don’t want you to go,” Beca affirms, clasping her hands together tightly, rubbing her thumb forcefully across her skin.
“You don’t?” Chloe looks so terribly confused, unshed tears shining in her eyes; the sight makes Beca want to sweep her into her arms and rock her to sleep.
For a moment, a smile flickers at the redhead’s lips, and Beca begins to feel somewhat triumphant. But then Chloe’s lips drop, and she frowns. “But I can't really stay, can I?”
“Because— Because I can't afford to pay you rent or anything. I’ve already been intruding. I can't just move in .” She says it as though it’s such a wild idea, one that someone of sane mind wouldn’t even consider. Beca doesn’t dwell on that, though, because she doesn’t care whether the notion of Chloe, a woman she’s known for only a week, moving in is a deranged one. She just wants it to happen.
“Chloe, I don’t care. You can move in. If you want to, of course.” Beca pauses and licks her lips anxiously. “I won’t stop you leaving if that’s what you truly want, but the offer to stay is there.” It feels like she’s holding out a hand, reaching out for Chloe, waiting for her to grasp it and tell her that she’ll never leave her. Beca knows that’s not how life works, but she doesn’t care.
“I do want to stay, Beca, but I can’t just move in without giving you something in return.” Chloe is actually looking at her now, ocean eyes wide and imploring, seemingly begging the brunette to understand where she’s coming from. Beca shakes her head.
“You do give me something. You give me a lot of things, actually. This place is too big for one person, you can see that; you keep me company, you make me feel less alone. You cook and clean for me - that saves me hiring someone to come and do it for me. You do give back, Chloe. Just because it’s not in monetary form, it doesn’t mean it’s less valuable.” Beca doesn’t realise that she’s reached for Chloe’s hand until she feels warm, clammy fingers slip into hers. She grasps them tightly.
“Are you— Are you sure? I just feel so useless if I’m not paying you back. I wouldn’t be able to bear it.”
“If it means that much to you, you can owe me and pay me back once you find work and earn enough money, yeah?” At this offer, Chloe seems to brighten a little. “But seriously Chlo, I don’t want any money from you. I’ve got enough, I seriously don’t need more.” It’s the truth - Beca’s a millionaire. She doesn't even need half of what she’s got; taking any money from Chloe would feel like theft.
“Thank you, Beca,” Chloe says sincerely, offering a tentative smile.
“Of course, love.”
“Love?” Chloe questions, brows furrowing.
Beca wonders if she really is with it, because this is the second time she’s had no idea what she’s done until it's too late. Calling Chloe love ? It’s an almighty slip-up that she has no idea how to recover from.
So she does what she’s done her whole life, and what she does best; she runs. It’s definitely not what the situation calls for - she should be able to sit down and talk through this like the adult she is, but she can’t.
(The more that happens, the more Beca wonders if she needs therapy.)
“Oh shit, um— I gotta go. I’m tired.” Beca rises abruptly from the couch, her chicken pie barely touched. She dumps the plate on the side and walks swiftly across the apartment.
“Wait, Beca—” Chloe starts, turning around, confused. But by the time her gaze lands on where Beca had been standing, the brunette has disappeared, leaving only the sound of hurried footsteps in her wake.