Moving to LA had never really been a part of Chloe’s plan; the sprawling city and faux Hollywood glamour had never really appealed to her. She’d always envisioned herself moving to some small, sleepy beachside town, spending her days riding her bike by the beach and her evenings watching the sun set over the ocean. Maybe somewhere in Oregon, or North Carolina. Somewhere where she could settle down and spend her days singing in a quaint, quiet beachside home. Beyond the image she’d formulated in her brain, she hadn’t really given much thought to what she’d be doing post college. Post the Bella’s. Post Beca.
She had majored in English literature simply because she had enjoyed it. Being a student was comfortable for her. Being a Bella was comfortable, too. Whenever she would take a moment to consider what she would do with herself once she had received her diploma, and stood on the stage with her sisters for the last time, she was usually sent into an immediate, blind panic. The kind that made her heart thump in her throat and her chest press uncomfortably inwards until she was gasping for breath.
So her solution to these feelings were to fail Russian lit. Three times. She has actually lost count of the amount of times she’s read Anna Karenina at this point. The ironic part is, it may actually be one of her favorite books.
So one night, after their classes have finished and she had aced her Russian lit final, Chloe’s perched on the edge of the Treblemakers pool, bare toes lazily skimming the water as she nurses a red solo cup of vodka cranberry. The flurry of activity from their aca-graduation party happens all around her and she sighs whimsically. She’s on her third drink of the night and it has turned her uncharacteristically quiet and thoughtful. She spares a moment to think about how ironic it is that instead of enjoying her last few days of being in college, she’s found herself caught up in trying to commit every moment to memory instead. Looking down at the mini whirlpool she’s created with her toes, she smiles remembering back to the beginning of the year when she’d pulled off her shirt and dove into this very pool, attempting to convince the others to join her to no avail.
Taking a sip of her drink, she’s knocked out of her reverie by a small hand resting against her shoulder. Beca is pressing heavily into her all of a sudden, using Chloe’s body to slowly lower herself to sit alongside her.
“Hey weirdo,” Beca breathes out as she sits cross legged on the edge of the pool, placing her beer bottle down beside her, “What are you doing out here?”
Chloe smiles at her, bumping her shoulder against the smaller girls as she tilts her head and shrugs one shoulder, “Just trying to soak it all up, you know?”
Beca nods, understanding.
Other than Aubrey, Beca is the only other person who has truly seen her in one of her complete panic meltdowns.
After a long beat of silence that is filled with gentle smiles, Beca picks her beer bottle back up, staring at it as she begins to peel the corners of the label. Chloe can tell by the crease marring her brow that she has something she wants to say, but isn’t sure how to approach it, so she angles her body back around and continues drawing patterns along the surface of the water with her toes as she waits patiently.
“Are you,” Beca pauses and Chloe can almost hear the cogs turning over in the younger girl’s brain, “Do you have your flight back to Tampa yet?”
Chloe sighs, not looking up from the ripples dancing concentrically along the water.
She’d spared enough thought about graduation to decide that she could go home, and then actually make a decision there. It was just another way in order to delay the inevitable, but she wasn’t going to admit that to herself.
“Not yet,” she fiddles with the ring on her thumb momentarily before quietly pressing on, “I didn’t want to make it real, yet.”
“Anyway,” Chloe shakes her head, “My parents will be here for graduation then we still have a few days before we need to be out of the house so I’ll probably just talk to them about it when they get here.”
“Yeah,” Beca’s quiet.
Chloe shifts slightly, her thigh coming into contact with Beca’s knee, “What about you?” she smiles, eyes gleaming with something imperceptible, “Are you ready to move to LA and take the music world by storm?”
Beca snorts, “That’s the plan.” Her tone is laced with something quiet and sullen.
Chloe doesn’t pick up on it though, she just hums softly before closing her eyes and tilting her head backwards, “It’s nice,” she murmurs.
Beca shifts, “What is?”
“You,” she replies dreamily. Pausing as she smiles, “Having a plan.”
Beca’s quiet for a long moment, she doesn’t really know how to respond to that. She’s just about to ask what exactly she means when Chloe tuts quietly.
“I’ve never had a plan,” it’s inflected with a kind of quiet anguish that Beca’s not used to hearing in her friend’s voice, “I’m just kind of… here.”
Beca knocks Chloe’s thigh with her knee purposefully, “Come on dude,” she smiles gently, “That’s why we love you,” the way she stumbles over the word ‘we’ is lost on both of them.
“Because I’m a flake?” Chloe smiles as she says it, but her tone is self-deprecating at best.
“No,” Beca says pointedly, “Because you’re…” she taps her index finger against the neck of her bottle, thinking of the perfect words to encapsulate her best friend, “You’re… Chloe.” She says, “You’re a free spirit.” She feels like an idiot at the cliché phrasing but accepts that she’s really never been the best at expressing her feelings, especially those pertaining to a certain red head, but she never dwells too long on that specific.
Chloe glances sidelong at her, lip quirked slightly as though she knows Beca is mentally berating herself.
“What’s got you so melancholy, anyway?” Beca questions, feeling hot under Chloe’s silent gaze, “You’re not usually one to dwell.”
Chloe huffs, “It’s just all coming up so quickly.”
Beca smirks, “You’ve been here for seven years, dude.” It’s teasing, but delivered so gently that Chloe knows there’s no malice behind it.
Her mouth still drops in faux offense though, and she kicks her foot toward the brunette, sending a splash of water in her direction that brings about an uncharacteristic yelp. “I know,” she giggles despite herself.
There’s a pause where the mood palpably shifts back to serious as Beca rubs at a now damp patch on the thigh of her jeans and Chloe gathers her thoughts.
“The future is scary,” she settles on, “I don’t really know who I am if I’m not here, if I’m not with the Bella’s,” If I’m not with you.
Beca lets a long breath out through her nose, before angling her body so that she’s facing Chloe straight on. “Chlo, look, you know I don’t…” she pauses, reaching out to grab one of Chloe’s hands in her own, and that action in itself really is a testament to how much time she’s spent around Chloe in the past four years. “I’m not good with this stuff, but you have so much to offer. You’re going to be fine.”
Chloe’s eyes are glassy when she turns her head and looks up at her through her lashes. “I’m really gonna miss you, Becs,” she murmurs, smiling despite the tears about to spill.
And Beca’s never really been good with tears, or emotions, or comforting people. She’s also been spending most of the past month ignoring the fact that missing Chloe right back would be a reality soon enough, and that verbal acknowledgement had dropped an anvil so heavily in her gut that it almost winded her. So maybe that’s why the next few words tumble from her mouth unfiltered.
“Come with me.”
It’s rushed and whispered, and Chloe looks perplexed, like she doesn’t fully understand. “What?”
Beca feels a giddy sort of glee buzz through her the more she thinks about it, why hadn’t she thought of it earlier? “Come with me.” She repeats, “To LA.”
Chloe’s mouth is hanging open and her eyes are wide and glassy, still.
“I,” she begins before snapping her mouth shut, and nodding slowly, “Okay.’
There’s a beat of silence between them as Beca squeezes her hand tighter, “Okay?”
A slow, gleeful smile seeps across Chloe’s face as she pulls one leg out of the water to cross and turn to face Beca, “Yeah, okay.”
The following few days had been a flurry of activity. From graduation, and packing, and family flying in, Chloe had barely taken a moment to consider the implications of her decision to move across the country with her best friend. She had decided to wait to tell her parents in person that she no longer intended to return to Tampa for the summer like she had originally planned, and they had been supportive and not nearly as surprised as she had originally expected.
Beca’s father had held true to his word even four years later and had agreed to help Beca move to Los Angeles. They’d already set up a lease on a two-bedroom apartment before Chloe had agreed to join her, so everything was already waiting for them to arrive a week after graduation.
Saying goodbye to the other girls had been a teary affair. Before they’d even left the house they were looking at schedules to plan a reunion. Chloe had suggested returning to The Lodge of Fallen Leaves and Beca had scoffed and shoved her shoulder so hard she’d momentarily lost balance.
So they’d moved to LA, together. Beca had got a job at a recording studio, it wasn’t anything phenomenal but it was a definite step in the right direction. Chloe had flitted around for a while, using her free time to explore the city, before beginning to teach singing lessons a couple of times per week.
One night over wine and take out, after Chloe had learned that one of her students had scored a lead role in a local production of In the Heights, she had gushed to Beca about how much she loved teaching voice lessons; how rewarding it was and how happy it made her to see her students improve.
Beca had simply smiled languidly, listening intently as she leant back against the soft cushions of the couch with her feet resting in Chloe’s lap. She felt warm and fuzzy from the wine, and Chloe’s infectious enthusiasm. “You’re so good at it,” Chloe smiled impishly behind her wine glass at the compliment as Beca’s face suddenly turned thoughtful, “Why don’t you teach?”
Chloe cocked her head attentively, “I do.”
“No,” Beca sat up a little straighter, “Why don’t you do a teacher prep program, actually do it full time. Teach music, or English.”
“Oh,” Chloe hummed thoughtfully before a light appeared to go off in her eyes, “Oh. Yeah,” Her words are stilted, as though there’s a direct connection from the thoughts appearing in her brain to the words she’s speaking. “A teacher. Becs, that’s an awesome idea, I should look into that.” She’s become so exuberant her wine is threatening to spill over the rim of her glass, “What would I do without you.”
It’s rhetorical, mostly.
So she does the teacher prep program and becomes a high school English teacher. She expresses her interest in teaching music too but they’re fully staffed in that department so she continues teaching vocal lessons on weekends and around school when she can. It keeps her busy but in the best possible way. She feels fulfilled and happy.
Beca’s gentle prodding and guidance had always been a theme for their friendship. Chloe muses that if she had never met Beca, she’d probably still be floating around aimlessly in the clouds. Looking back on it, she’d never have believed this is where life would take her. Living in Los Angeles with her best friend, moulding young minds, and for the first time in her life feeling truly content and rewarded with her place in the world.
That’s exactly how she’s feeling when she melts into the soothing warmth of their bathtub. A glass of red wine sits by her head alongside a portable speaker that is playing a slow, lilting tune from her relaxation playlist. Every inch of her body seems to melt like butter as she sinks deeper into the water, smiling softly to herself as she feels every errant shred of tension accumulated during her week seep from her pores.
It’s a Friday evening and she has crept through Beca’s bedroom into her master bathroom to light some candles and run the water. She’d received a disgruntled message from Beca earlier letting her know she’d be home late because they’re running on a deadline and that the guy she’s working with has some really fucking unrealistic expectations.
Chloe had shot back a gentle ‘Aw Becs don’t work too hard! Xxx.’ She was aware that Beca had been under a lot of pressure at her job these past few months, and she really wished there was something she could do to alleviate her friend’s stress.
Beca didn’t mind Chloe using her tub, the main bathroom opposite Chloe’s bedroom only had a shower so it had quickly become understood that Chloe could use it when she pleased. Plus, it would be downright criminal to deny her those jets.
A gift pack of essential oils and bath bombs that Beca had given her for her last birthday sat beside the tub, and her half burned vanilla and jasmine candles still rested along the trim from the last time she’d indulged in a soak.
Reaching over, she delicately unwraps one of her favorite bath bombs and smiles softly as she drops it into the water. Colors and glitter bleed from the fizzing shape and Chloe bites her lip, unable to stop herself from gently pawing at it as it bounces around. Inhaling deeply, she lets the soft, relaxing aroma of the candles and bath bomb soothe her as she takes a generous sip of her wine.
An indiscernible amount of time passes then, filled only with the low volume of music from the portable speaker and the rippling of water whenever she shifts. The dim lighting radiating only from the four candles she has bracketing the tub has lulled her into a calm, meditative state as she slowly skims her fingertips across the insides of her thighs.
It’s then, as she’s fully considering taking her relaxation to the next level, that she’s pulled jarringly from her tranquil bubble by the blinding, obtrusive overhead light of the bathroom being switched on.
She jumps so suddenly and violently that her elbow knocks one of the candles and it wobbles perilously for a few moments before she wraps her fingers round it and steadies it, her breaths coming in a rushed gasp as she attempts to stall her rapid heartrate.
Beca is standing in the doorway, eyes wide and burning as her mouth falls open. She has one hand held against her chest as the other reaches up to pull her headphones around her neck. “Jesus, Chlo...” she breathes, face flushed, “I’m sorry I didn’t know you were in here. You scared the shit out of me.”
“Beca,” Chloe whined softly, “You’re not the only one.” She lets her arm rest against the edge of the tub as she twists her body slowly to face her friend. Only her shoulders, and one of her knees, visible as they broke through the surface. The rest of her body remaining obscured by the deep, rich blue of the water, helpfully coloured by the bath bomb. “I thought you weren’t supposed to be home for a few hours.”
Beca huffs, scratching at the back of her neck before she pulls on the headphones and sets them on the bathroom counter. There’s a long, drawn out moment of silence between them where Beca just looks at herself in the mirror before turning slowly and resting her hip against the sink. “Yeah, I um,” she laughs a little ruefully to herself, “I kind of, quit? I guess.”
Chloe’s mouth is agape. She’d sat up a little straighter, the tops of her breasts perilously close to the surface of the water as she leans forward. Beca’s eye flitting downwards for the briefest of moments before she smiles sheepishly and shrugs one shoulder.
“Beca you – what, why?”
Beca’s head tilts back, looking toward the ceiling for a moment as she bites her lip, “I don’t know,” she shakes her head, “I just-,” she groans, “While this guy was arguing with me for the fiftieth time about how to mix his shitty EDM track, it just hit me,” she holds her first to her forehead, shaking her head, “What the hell am I doing?”
Chloe watches Beca in rapt attention, as she gestures wildly and begins pacing the room. There hadn’t been many occasions during their friendship where Beca had unleashed this sort of nervous, manic energy in front of her. Besides her outburst at The Lodge of Fallen Leaves in their senior year, and her storming off after a competition in their first year together, Beca had always been quite rational and guarded with her feelings and reactions. She had always been more of the shoulder to cry on, the calm and collected presence, the rock to cling to.
“I’m not-,” Beca continued, “I mean, it’s just not working. I haven’t produced a single thing I’ve actually been proud of in over a year. I just,” Beca stumbles, her voice wavering dangerously, “Maybe I’m not cut out for this, I don’t know.”
Chloe’s brows are knitted together and her eyes are suspiciously glassy. She’s always been an emotional person, but something about seeing Beca’s own glistening eyes makes a vice grip immediately constrict around her insides. She reaches out, making silent grabby-hand motions into the empty space between them as she wordlessly requests for Beca to come closer.
Almost immediately, as though attached to an invisible tether, Beca takes the few steps separating them and crumples to her knees in front of the tub. She can feel wetness seeping through the material of her jeans, but pays it no heed as she keeps her eyes trained on the flickering candle that’s sat slightly shy of Chloe’s collar bone.
There really should be something uncomfortable and weird about crying on the floor in front of your naked roommate while she’s taking a bath, but Beca muses that they’ve probably spent most of the friendship hovering around the realm of ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘weird’ so it’s really not something they balk at.
Suddenly Chloe’s fingers are trailing over her cheeks affectionately, wiping away tears before skimming higher to weave through hair and tug it backward, away from her face. Beca closes her eyes at the contact and lets out an amused breath, biting her lip as she shakes her head at herself.
“Becs,” Chloe has to take a moment to reign in her own unsteady breath before pressing on, “You are the most talented person I have ever met in my entire life,” she’s smiling softly despite the tears threatening to spill from her own eyes. “You’re wonderful, and hardworking, and what you can do with music is honestly unbelievable.”
Her fingers dance across Beca’s temples, tucking errant strands of hair behind her ears before they trail downward and rub a soothing pattern over her shoulders as she watches the girl sheepishly meet her eye.
Chloe presses on, “Maybe you just need a moment like we had at The Lodge of Fallen Leaves to rediscover your sound?” she suggests.
Beca scoffs, sniffing as she brings the back of her hand up to rub at her nose and under her eyes, “If you start singing Cups right now I’m moving out.”
They both grin at each other before bursting into laughter
“I got my…” Chloe begins to singsong mirthfully before Beca’s leaping toward her, covering her mouth with the palm of her hand.
“No! What did I just say?” She’s laughing too hard to really express any of the intended outrage.
“Okay, okay,” Chloe concedes, chuckling as she tugs at Beca’s wrist and laces their fingers together, “No Cups, but I still think this will be good for you. Work on your own stuff again, maybe collaborate with likeminded people, call Emily again and see what she’s been working on.”
Beca nods slowly, “You’re right.”
Chloe just hums and shrugs one shoulder, drawing her lips into an adorably smug pout as though to say, ‘I know’.
“God,” Beca breathes out in awe, one side of her lip quirked upwards as she searches Chloe’s face ardently, “What would I do without you?”
The phrase seems so loaded and heavy, a stark contrast to the way Chloe had breathed it so many months ago on their couch in a moment of breezy adoration. There’s something heavy lingering in the space between them and suddenly Beca’s hand feels weighty and hot in Chloe’s own; the fingers she has pressed against the younger girl’s neck burn. Her gaze keeps drifting south toward her lips of their own volition and she feels her face flush with heat when she notices that Beca’s have done the same. By this time the bath water has run well and truly tepid, but Chloe can’t help but feel as though all of her senses are fogging up.
“Are you…” Chloe breathes, the space between them shrinking by the second, “I,” Chloe’s cut off by Beca squeezing her hand firmly and nodding harshly as she cups a hand to her cheek.
Beca’s breaths are shallow and their faces are so close now that their noses bump, “Do you want to?” her voice is impossibly quiet, but it still reverberates around the room as well as through Chloe’s entire consciousness.
Chloe just nods tersely before releasing Beca’s hand to frame the girls face as they both lean forward to close the distance.
There is the briefest of moments when their lips touch where everything seems to pause; where they’re both impossibly still as they simply absorb the moment. But then, almost like a record kicking back in or like coming up for air, everything shifts. Beca chokes on a moan in the back of her throat and Chloe surges forward, sliding her lips over Beca’s gently as she runs her thumbs over the girl’s jaw with tender affection.
Beca tastes of vanilla chapstick and coffee, and every soft moan and sigh that escapes her lips rattles through Chloe’s brain until she can’t even hear her own thoughts.
Beca’s fingers idly play with the loose tendrils of hair framing Chloe’s face that had liberated themselves from the girl’s bun as her tongue presses, the most feather light touch, against the crease of the other girl’s lip.
A strangled gasp escapes from Chloe’s parted lips and Beca nips at the girl’s lower lip gently before once again soothing it with her tongue and a tender press of her lips.
It’s simultaneously gentle, and yet fervent; tender, and yet bold. Chloe can’t get enough of the way Beca tastes, the way she feels, and all of the little noises she makes. She thinks she’s going to spontaneously combust. A small part of her wishes they were anywhere but here. Wishes she were clothed, and not dripping wet (not in that way, though maybe), wishes that she could pull Beca flush against her body so that no space separated them, wishes that she could touch every available inch of the other girl’s body.
She settles for running her palms from her elbows to her shoulders, then over and across her shoulder blades before trailing them up into her hair and across her cheeks to her jaw. It only serves to ignite whatever is burning deep inside of her, sending flames licking over every inch of her; scorching from the inside out.
It is Beca who recedes first, tugging at Chloe’s swollen bottom lip with her teeth, causing the girl to chase her lips for a moment in desperation before they both concede, pressing their foreheads together as they breathe deeply.
After a long pause, only filled with the sounds of their heavy breaths, Beca licks her lips and exhales, “Well,” her voice is low and husky, and there’s an amused lilt to her tone, “I never envisioned I’d get you naked for our first kiss.”
Chloe hums, pulling back only far enough to look into Beca’s eyes, “You’ve thought about our first kiss?”
Beca tenses suddenly, a blush rising to her cheeks as her eyes skitter nervously, “I mean, I… Maybe? Kinda.”
Chloe just chuckles, pressing a chaste kiss to Beca’s lips as she twirls a lock of brunette hair around her index finger, “So,” she bites her bottom lip coyly, “does this make us girlfriends then?”
And there’s a few moments of silence, long enough for Chloe to bite the inside of her cheek in anticipation of Beca’s next words, as panic slowly oozes through her stomach.
Almost all of the nervous tension leaves Chloe’s body though when Beca’s face slowly transforms into a bright smile.
Chloe can’t contain the grin that spreads across her own face as she searches Beca’s eyes “Yeah?”
Beca nods, eyes glowing as she leans forward to brush Chloe’s lips with her own. With a breathy sigh, she whispers against them, “Yeah.”