Chloe wakes slowly to the feel of featherlight touches trailing down her bare back. She’s lying on her stomach, face pressed into the pillow and turned toward the person sprawled next to her, one arm down at her side, and the other curled under her chest. She’s cozy and comfortable, and not at all ready to wake up yet.
She keeps her eyes closed and allows herself to simply exist.
She feels Beca’s warm and reassuring presence beside her, feels where the mattress dips to make room for her form. She hears Beca’s steady and calming breaths, feels where each exhale stirs the air over her shoulders; she pictures Beca propped up on an elbow and watching her as her other hand strokes lightly between Chloe’s shoulder blades. It’s not weird – Chloe has watched Beca sleep so many times that it’s not at all strange for Beca to be watching her now.
Beyond the warm cocoon of their bed, the apartment around them is quiet and still. Moving across the hall from Amy had been the best decision Amy had ever made for them. Their new apartment is still small, basically a mirror image of the old one they’d shared with Amy, but now they have an actual double bed to themselves instead of a crappy pull-out couch bed.
The soft hum of their refrigerator permeates the quiet, accompanied by the gentle whooshing of heat pouring through the apartment’s vents. Beca’s bedside clocks ticks the seconds away, and the telltale slosh of the pipes betrays the water running in the apartment next to theirs.
The scent of pine, mixed with the vanilla of Beca’s lotion, wafts over the entire apartment and makes Chloe drowsy again. She takes a deep breath, both to take in the smell and to let Beca know she’s awake. The gentle fingers over her back don’t stutter in their motion, only continue to lightly trace her skin, gliding up and down along her spine.
The touch brings memories of the night before, of needy kisses, of soft whimpers and sharp gasps, of lips pressed to bare skin, and of limbs tangled together; memories that make Chloe’s body heat up and heart beat faster in her chest. She stretches out her limbs slowly and takes another deep breath. The touch on her back pauses, and Chloe cracks open her eyes a millimeter to see Beca – propped up on an elbow, like she’d imagined – watching her, deep blue eyes heavy with sleep and a tenderness that makes Chloe’s chest ache. Beca’s hair sticks up in weird places and a small purple mark dots her porcelain skin just below her collarbone, a proud remnant of the night before.
She’s absolutely perfect.
Chloe’s lips lift into a small smile of greeting, one that Beca returns. The touch on her back lifts away completely as Beca raises that arm into the air a few inches, an invite to move closer.
Feeling her smile widen even further, Chloe scoots toward Beca, lifting herself from her stomach to instead lie on her side facing Beca. Beca drops from her elbow, sliding that arm under the pillow to recline on the mattress, tangling their legs together when Chloe gets close enough. Beca’s other arm wraps around Chloe’s back securely and bends, fingers playing with the fine hairs at the base of her neck, and Chloe slides a hand along Beca’s sleep-warmed stomach to curl around her ribcage. Chloe burrows in even closer, loving the feeling of their bare skin sliding together. She bows her head to brush her nose along where Beca’s neck meets her shoulder, pressing a single kiss against the bruise she’d left the night before.
Settled in Beca’s arms, she closes her eyes again and inhales the familiar scent of Beca’s skin, contentment filling her chest. Beca’s lips press against her forehead lightly before lifting away to rest her chin on the top of Chloe’s head. Beca’s touch trails over the back of her neck, massaging lightly into her hair.
Chloe exhales slowly through her nose, already feeling herself drifting off to sleep again. If this is a dream, she never wants it to end.
(It’s not a dream.)
When she wakes again, she can tell at least an hour has passed; the apartment feels brighter even with her eyes closed and she can hear more movement and running appliances in the apartments surrounding theirs.
Beca’s arms are still wrapped around her securely, though by the way Beca’s breathing, she can tell she’s asleep or at least dozing. The arm Chloe has sandwiched between them is starting to feel stiff, so she extracts it slowly, careful not to wake Beca. After a moment of indecision, she determines that the only place she can really put it is above her. She raises it to rest her wrist against the top of their wooden headboard, fingers trailing along the windowpane above their bed. The glass is damp with condensation, hinting at the chill outside. Idly, she draws a heart on the foggy glass, perfectly content to wait for Beca to wake.
Pulling away slightly so she can see Beca’s peaceful face, she thinks about this time a year ago, when she’d woken up in the same bed as Beca under very different circumstances. They’d been just friends then, and Chloe remembers how she’d struggled with giving anyone a Christmas list for herself when everything she’d wanted had been lying next to her, completely oblivious. If anyone had told her how things would have changed over the year, she never would have believed them.
She wouldn’t change a single thing. Not when everything in her life has accumulated to this moment.
Beca’s nose wrinkles and she huffs quietly, the puff of air stirring Chloe’s hair. Chloe grins to herself when Beca’s hand twitches on the back of her neck. It means Beca’s starting to wake up. Sure enough, a few seconds later, Beca’s nose wrinkles again and her eyes flutter open. Chloe watches as Beca blinks, her eyes struggling to focus at first. When they do, though, Beca smiles sleepily at her, pleased they’re awake at the same time.
“Merry Christmas Eve, Chlo,” Beca whispers, her voice a little hoarse.
“Merry Christmas Eve, Bec.”
Chloe tilts her face up (she doesn’t have to move far) to meet Beca’s. They share their first kiss of the morning, mouths warm and a little dry from sleep, but Chloe doesn’t mind. She only moves closer, sliding her hands into Beca’s long hair.
What starts slow soon turns heated and builds into something more, their sleep-laden bodies waking up to the familiar dance. Their movements are languid, assured, and loving, and soon Beca’s guiding Chloe onto her back to press even closer.
It’s Chloe’s favorite way to wake up.
It’s Beca’s idea, actually, that they go to Central Park. She suggests it after they’ve finally gotten out of bed, showered, dressed, and sat down at their (still small) kitchen table for a breakfast of eggs, toast, and coffee.
When she says it, Chloe’s a little surprised; Beca, wanting to leave their nice, warm apartment in favor of chilly morning air and a few inches of snow on the ground? But then Beca says, “I think it’d be fun to make a snowman together, like last year,” and Chloe’s surprise melts to nothing but affection for her favorite person in the world. Never mind that last year’s attempt had ended somewhat badly; if Beca wants to make a snowman together, who is Chloe to deny her?
They clean up breakfast, then bundle up for the outdoors. New York actually has a white Christmas this year, something neither Chloe nor Beca really got to see growing up. They throw on their winter coats, wrap scarves around the lower half of their faces, tug on mittens (for Chloe) or gloves (for Beca) and jam their feet into clunky snow boots. Despite Beca’s, “I feel like the abominable snowman,” Chloe has her trudging out the door, past Amy’s apartment (currently vacant, as she spends the holidays with “not Bumper”), and down the many steps of their apartment building in no time.
When they arrive, Central Park is less crowded than Chloe thought it would be. She supposes the colder-than-typical weather and holiday, combined with the still relatively early hour, are keeping people at bay. She and Beca had already agreed to steer clear of Rockefeller Center for the next two days because of the crowds, so she’s glad Central Park isn’t busy. Besides, there are still some decorations in the park, with many trees wrapped in lights, but it’s harder to tell in the daytime. Nevertheless, the snow coating the ground and surrounding tree branches like thick, white icing still works to bring Chloe some Christmas spirit.
Beca leads Chloe further into the park, presumably looking for the perfect snowman spot – not that Chloe’s entirely sure what that might entail. What does eventually catch her eye, though, is a large patch of untouched, pristine snow covering the ground only a few feet away from the cleared sidewalk. Chloe stops abruptly and stares at it, thinking of something she’s only seen other people do but never done herself.
“How d’you… hang on,” she cuts herself off, stepping from the sidewalk to sink her boots into several inches of snow as she makes her way to the spot.
“What’re you doing?” Beca calls after her, her voice amused.
Chloe reaches her intended destination and turns on the spot to see Beca watching her curiously. With a grin, she kneels, then throws herself backward to land on her back with a satisfying whoomp from the cushioning snow under her.
“Snow angels, Bec!” she shouts gleefully to the sky, flapping her arms through the snow and scissoring her legs side to side.
“Oh, um –”
“Come on, try it!”
There’s a pause, but Chloe keeps on making her snow angel. She already knows what’s going to happen.
And soon enough, she hears footsteps heading toward her, crunching the snow underfoot. “Okay,” Beca agrees, appearing in Chloe’s line of vision after a moment. Chloe can only beam up at her; she knows she’s the only one Beca would voluntarily throw herself backward into a pile of snow for.
Which is exactly what Beca does a moment later, landing a few feet away from Chloe with a muffled whoomp of her own. Then, Chloe hears the shuffling sound of Beca’s limbs moving through the snow. She picks her head up enough to glance over, and there is Beca Mitchell, self-proclaimed badass extraordinaire, lying in Central Park and making snow angels for the whole world to see.
The sight draws a bubbling laugh from deep in Chloe’s chest, which only makes Beca look at her and raise an eyebrow questioningly. She doesn’t stop moving her arms and legs, though, causing Chloe to laugh even harder until Beca’s smiling and laughing right along with her.
And it’s a little ridiculous, honestly, when they do carefully climb up from the ground to examine their newly-made snow angels, how much more in love with Beca she feels herself falling with every second.
After staring at their snow angels for a few moments, Beca snaps a quick picture and tugs on Chloe’s arm. “Come on, weirdo,” she says, “let’s go find that snowman spot.”
Chloe allows Beca to lead her, arms linked, even further into Central Park. As they walk, the temperature seems to drop further and the clouds above them take on a gray hue. Chloe glances up, trying to remember if it’s supposed to snow, when Beca stops abruptly, their linked arms working to drag Chloe to a halt as well.
It’s immediately obvious that Beca has found her spot. They’ve stopped in front of another miraculously untouched patch of snow, this one larger than the one where they’d made the snow angels. By the way Beca grins at it and then turns to her, Chloe knows they’ll be there for a while.
It takes more than an hour, copious sweating, and a decent amount of swear words for them to have accomplished their goal of snowman creation. If Chloe’s honest with herself, she knows it’s actually a pretty poorly done snowman; it leans to the side precariously and is really more of a continuous column of snow rather than three separate snow boulders stacked on top of each other. It turns out that making snowmen is harder than it looks in movies, and neither of them has ever really made one beyond their lame attempt last January that had ended in a pile of ruined snow and tears (Beca’s). This year, though, they actually manage to keep it upright, and Beca even finds some twigs to use as arms and a few rocks to give it eyes and a smile.
All in all, it’s not half-bad, and Chloe finds herself strangely attached to it.
As they stand there admiring their hard work, the first few flakes of snow drift down lazily around them. The flakes are big ones, fluffy and wet, and before long, they’re falling heavily. Chloe’s just about to suggest they seek shelter and a hot beverage before the weather gets too bad when Beca reaches to touch her arm.
“Wait, stand there for a sec,” she urges, pointing at a spot next to the snowman.
Curiously, Chloe moves to where she’d pointed, and turns to see Beca half-jogging away from her. She spins back around when she’s a little way away, phone in hand.
“Smile!” Beca calls, raising the phone to take a picture.
Chloe does, and Beca snaps the photo quickly before walking back to join her.
“It’s like a snow globe or something,” Beca says, showing Chloe the picture of herself standing next to the snowman as white flakes swirl in the air around her.
“Mmm,” Chloe hums in agreement, “but you aren’t in the picture.”
“That’s okay, I –”
“Sush,” Chloe says, pulling out her own phone. “And smile.”
She raises her phone and tugs Beca closer so that they can take a selfie together with the snowman in the background. Chloe has to admit; with their bright eyes, rosy cheeks, and the snowflakes caught in their hair, it does look like something out of a holiday card. She examines the photo happily, already planning to set it as her lock screen.
They spend a few more minutes there, watching the snow fall as the park gradually becomes more crowded with time. Chloe debates scooping up a handful of snow to launch at Beca, but after a while, her toes start to burn with cold and it seems like a good time to leave. Hands linked, they head out of the park and back toward home.
Chloe curls up in their bed again, blankets wrapped around her securely as Beca stands at the stove, making them both hot chocolate. Beca doesn’t cook often – when she does, the fire alarm tends to start squealing – but hot chocolate is her specialty. She uses milk and real chocolate, not powder from a package.
They’d plugged in their Christmas tree, the colored strands of lights wrapped around it throwing a warm glow over the apartment, darkened by the snow still falling outside. It’s only a small, plastic tree set up in the middle of their living room, but it’s enough; Beca had managed to find pine-scented decorative sticks that she’d hung strategically in the branches among the other ornaments, so that sometimes Chloe forgets it isn’t a real tree from the smell alone. A homemade picture ornament showing all of the Bellas has the prime spot on the tree, so it’s the first one seen when walking through the door. Another string of multicolored lights hangs around the window above their bed, also plugged in and casting light into the apartment.
The domesticity of it all, of Beca at the stove and Christmas decorations abounding, makes Chloe happier than she can describe. It feels so perfect and right that she again wonders if it’s some kind of dream. If it is, she never wants to be woken up.
It can’t be a dream, though, because even in her imagination she could never come up with something as wonderful as this.
Beca finishes making the hot chocolate; she turns off the stovetop and walks over, two steaming mugs in hand. She passes Chloe one with a smile.
“Are you still cold?” she asks as she sits on the bed next to Chloe.
Chloe stirs the hot chocolate delicately with the candy cane in the mug (Beca’s signature touch), not wanting to splash any of the liquid onto their white bedsheets. She takes a sip, the rich flavor and perfect temperature soothing her and radiating warmth from her stomach to the rest of her body.
“This helps,” she replies, licking away the foamy mustache she feels gathered on her upper lip.
“I could make a fire,” Beca suggests, placing her own mug on her bedside table and standing up again.
Unless Beca’s planning on burning the tree down, Chloe doesn’t see how she’s going to be able to make any kind of fire. It’s a cheap New York apartment; they don’t have a fireplace.
Beca doesn’t respond but merely waggles her eyebrows and grins mischievously. She reaches for her laptop, opening it and typing something after a couple of seconds of it booting up. She spins it around and rests it at the foot of their bed so Chloe can see the screen. When she does, she rolls her eyes; Beca had pulled up an online video of a yule log fire, complete with softly playing Christmas music in the background.
“You’re such a dork,” Chloe snorts, because it’s true.
“I’m your dork,” Beca replies easily, returning to the bed to cuddle into Chloe’s side.
“Yeah,” Chloe sighs overdramatically, “what did I do to get stuck with you?”
“Just lucky, I guess.”
“Very,” Chloe murmurs, absentmindedly reaching out one hand. They sit in silence as she first traces the lines of Beca’s grasshopper tattoo, then the arch of the headphones inked into her wrist. As she does, Beca leans into her side further to press barely-there, almost ticklish kisses to the side of her neck.
The Christmas music playing from Beca’s laptop shifts from Josh Groban’s rendition of “O Holy Night” to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.” At the change, Beca’s lips trail up to land at Chloe’s pulse point.
A quiet, “Come dance with me?” is whispered against her skin, lips brushing against her earlobe and making her shiver.
Chloe’s heart stutters in her chest as Beca Mitchell somehow manages to sweep her completely off her feet yet again. She bites her lower lip and nods, setting her still-steaming mug off to the side on her own bedside table. Beca winds their fingers together and helps her up from the bed, once again looking at her with so much care that it almost makes Chloe want to look away; it’s a cliché, but Beca looks at her like she put the stars in the sky.
They end up standing in the small space between their Christmas tree and their kitchen table. Chloe’s right hand lands in Beca’s left, and she curls her left arm around Beca’s back to rest her hand on a shoulder blade. Beca slides in even closer, her free hand wrapping around Chloe’s waist, so that it feels like the most natural thing in the world for Chloe to step forward and rest her chin on Beca’s shoulder.
The dance is a slow, pivoting one, the kind where they revolve slowly on one spot. Beca’s head tilts against hers briefly, the same vanilla scent of her lotion again grounding Chloe to the fact that this is her life, at home in Beca’s arms. Every day, every hour, every minute, and right this second, it sinks in further that Beca is her forever person.
“You love me,” she whispers, turning her face into Beca’s neck.
She feels Beca nod once as the hand in hers gives a gentle squeeze.
“I do,” Beca murmurs, turning to press a kiss to Chloe’s temple.
As they continue to dance, Chloe again surveys their small but homey apartment, filled with decorations, pictures of their friends and family, and love. The quiet Christmas music still coming from Beca’s laptop, combined with the snow falling outside and the glow of the lights inside creates an image of seclusion.
In that moment, they’re the only two people in the world.
“That’s good,” Chloe breathes into Beca’s neck, “because I’m in love with you, too.”