retrouvailles (french, noun): the joy of reuniting with someone you haven’t seen in a long time.
Jet-lag is a bitch.
Beca lets out an umpteeth sigh as she lies on her back, fingers drumming against her stomach while she stares at the ceiling. It's four AM and she's wide awake.
Also, being alone sucks.
Her mind keeps skipping back to Chloe and the moments they spent together over those two months.
Looking back, it's as though she stepped into another dimension during her time in France. As cheesy as it sounds, everything felt... right.
She now sort of gets the hype about being in love and finding the person that loves you back just as much. It still feels odd and unsettling to think about how a person is the reason behind the happiness lighting up her mind and body.
The mere thought of Chloe makes her insides feel giddy. There’s a stupid smile on her face, despite the fact that it’s the middle of the night and she’s wide awake, and most likely looking at a ten hour session in the studio today.
The chime of her cellphone on her bedside table stirs Beca away from her thoughts. Reaching out, she grabs it and squints at the screen. That smile morphs into a grin on its own accord upon seeing it's a text from Chloe.
Swiping her finger across the screen to open it, Beca gulps when her eyes fall into big baby blues. Chloe is pouting at the camera, as she lies in bed (Beca recognizes the floral pillows) wearing Beca's plaid shirt.
Chloe [4:03 AM]
Woke up to an empty bed this morning :( :( :( miss you like crazy, already.
Beca's heart both aches and flutters as she runs her eyes over the picture. Instead of typing out a reply, she taps on Chloe's name and hits the video icon on the top right corner of her screen. As it connects, she reaches out to turn on her bedside table lamp.
There's a shuffle and the image is shaky for a few seconds before Chloe's face lights up the screen.
“Hey,” Beca replies, clearing her throat from its layer of leftover sleep. She can tell Chloe's walking in the street, the movement and the bustle and hustle of the Parisian busy life adding to the background noise.
“Yeah. And you know, that picture you sent me is not going to help me fall back asleep.”
Chloe laughs and sends her a wink. “Sorry?”
“Yeah, right,” Beca rolls her eyes.
“Does it help in anyway to know that the shirt was the only thing I was wearing last night?”
“Fucking hell, Chlo,” Beca growls, her eyes slipping shut momentarily, just to let herself be basked in the images materialized by that sentence in her mind. She opens them again to a smirking Chloe and inhales sharply, sticking her bottom lip out into a pout. “Not fair.”
Chloe giggles. “Sorry, couldn't help it.”
Beca hums with a doubtful scowl. “On your way to the gallery?”
“Yeah! I need to develop some film and then probably going for a street hunt after lunch.”
Chloe's excited tone makes Beca smile fondly. Beca tucks a hand under her head to get more comfortable, smiling at the screen. “What's your assignment this week?”
“I haven't thought about one, yet.” Chloe purses her lips and then her eyes light like they do each time she's struck with an idea. “Ooh, wanna give me one?”
Surprised, Beca raises an eyebrow. “Me?”
Chloe chuckles. “Yes, you.”
“Okay,” Beca thinks about it for a few seconds. “Music.”
“Yay! I was hoping you'd say that.”
“Am I that predictable?”
“Yes. It wasn't hard to guess, since music is all you think about.”
“That, and you.”
Chloe visibly falters, blinking in surprise. She narrows her eyes once she has regained her composure. “Who are you and what have you done to my awkward girlfriend?”
Beca's tongue feels swollen as the term echoes in her head. “Girlfriend?”
“Well, yeah,” Chloe shrugs, lips curving into a smile. An amused laugh flits through her lips when Beca doesn't answer right away. “Are you okay?”
Beca really has to get used to that new sensation doing strange and concerning things to her body. Like organs shifting or something, as if her insides were trying to accommodate something bigger than her.
“Bec,” Chloe says sweetly, eyes filled to the rim with affection. “I didn't mean to throw you off. We don't have to put a label on it, I just... I thought that's what we were.”
It dawns on Beca just then how much they let themselves drift away in those few weeks of bliss and never really addressed those things.
“No, no, I'm sorry, I,” Beca sighs and counts to three, trying to give her jammed-up thoughts time to untangle. “It is. It just feels weird to hear it out-loud. Good weird!” she adds quickly when Chloe looks at her quizzically.
God, she sucks at this relationship thing. She herself knew that, but wanted to delay that realization for Chloe as long as possible.
“I want to be your... girlfriend. I don't want to see other people and I don't want you to see other people. And I hate how patronizing that sounds, but yeah, I don't– I don't want to share you.”
Beca stops to take a breath; she's well aware her face is flushed from embarrassment. She feels like she has just finished running a hurdles sprint and painfully caught a few of those with her knees.
“Well, I'm glad we agree on that.” Chloe says with a playful grin. “You're cute.”
Beca grunts and throws her forearm over her eyes. “You've definitely reached strike three. Well, more like strike eleven or something, but I let the other ones slide.”
“So what you're saying is I need to be punished?”
“Is there some sort of BDSM fetish you'd like to share with me, Chlo? Cause you seem very inclined to being punished.”
The words alone make her face burn and it of course doesn't go unnoticed by Chloe.
Chloe smirks wickedly. She's stopped walking and Beca guesses she's at a stop light. “I wouldn't say fetish, but I wouldn't be opposed to, y'know, handcuffs and other toys either.”
Beca can't believe Chloe is having this conversation on a crowded street. It's in English, sure, but still. The straight face she manages to maintain is impressive and something maybe Beca hopes to achieve someday when talking about anything remotely sexual.
Chloe winks at her again as she resumes walking, and Beca isn't sure she'll be able not to do anything about how hot her body is running, once the phone call ends.
“It's Chloe.” She snickers, visibly strumming from her effect on Beca. “I need to let you go, babe, I'm about to go down into the Metro and I won't get any cell reception.”
Beca scoffs. “Sure, leave me to hang out and dry.”
Her words play back in her head only when she catches Chloe's pursed lips and twinkling eyes, as though she wants to say something dirty but refrains. Beca squints at her.
“I hate you.”
“Nah, you love meeee,”
“Ugh,” Beca rolls her eyes. “You're infuriating. But yeah, I do.”
“I love you, too. Try and get some sleep, sweetie. Talk later?”
Chloe blows a quick kiss towards the camera. “Bye.”
When sleep doesn't come after an hour of tossing and turning, Beca gets up, takes a (cold) shower and decides to get a start on making breakfast.
By seven, the time her roommates usually get up to get ready for work, a teetering mountain of pancakes, bacon strips and scramble eggs are waiting on the table, along with fresh coffee and orange juice.
Both Jesse and Stacie falter in the doorway upon taking in the uncharacteristic sight.
“So, can I have Chloe's number to personally thank her for making a decent human being out of you?” Jesse mumbles through a mouthful of pancakes a few minutes into the feast.
“Gross.” Beca mutters from her spot against the counter, nose scrunching up. “And no, you may not. I'm going to try and keep her clear from you two weirdos as much as possible.”
“Told you she was still the same grumpy short-stack,” Stacie directs to Jesse, grinning into her mug as her eyes cut to Beca, who is nursing her own cup. “She's just a grumpy short-stack in love, now.”
Beca purses her lips, pushing off the counter. “Wow, this is the first and last time I'm cooking breakfast for you ungrateful jerks.”
“No, Becaw,” Jesse whines with a pout. “We love you! And we're very glad you finally met someone.”
“Yeah, it was not healthy to be sexually inactive for as long as you did.”
“Oh my God,” Beca's eyes roll to the ceiling. Somehow, she can't find a reason to contradict her, because sex with Chloe definitely did wonders to her state of mind. It's been about twenty-four hours and she's already experiencing some sort of withdrawal. “Please shut up.”
Jesse chuckles. “Seriously though, your story with Chloe is totally rom-com material. Can I like, use it as inspiration for a script?”
Beca pulls a face. “Absolutely not.”
She never thought she would be that girl whom she once rolled her eyes at in those romantic comedies Jesse convinced her to watch back in the day.
The girl that falls in love nearly at first sight and lets herself be swept in the romance of it all; the wine, the food, Paris, and well... the guy's (girl's in her case) undeniable charm.
Yet, here she is, helplessly in love with that girl and achingly waiting for the next time she gets to see her again.
An unexpected wave of heat washes over New York at the start of September and reduces Beca into a puddle each time she has to go out.
She spends most time in the studio, where the AC is working, unlike in the bachelor pad she shares with her two roommates.
“Please tell me the guy called back,” Beca whines the second she steps through the door. She can see the top of Stacie's head sticking out from over the back of the couch.
“Nope, nada, zip. Tried calling again five minutes ago,” Beca groans, dragging her feet to the living room.
“Ugh. I'm getting a hotel room for tonight.”
Plopping unceremoniously onto the leather surface (which is probably not a good idea in hindsight, as she might just end up getting stuck to it), Beca lets out a sigh and allows her eyes to slip shut.
“Long day?” Stacie mumbles around the lollipop in her mouth.
Beca hums, rolling her eyes towards the ceiling. “This album is slowly dragging me to my grave. Is sleeping still a thing?”
“Aw,” Stacie lets out sympathetically. Out of the corner of her eye, Beca sees her lean over to reach for something on the coffee table. “This might make you feel better. Arrived from France today.”
An item is set on her stomach and Beca frowns, craning her head to take a better look at the package. Sure enough, she recognizes Chloe's cursive in the addresses. She smiles and sits up in a flash.
“I'll see you later,” she lets Stacie know as she rises from the couch in direction of her bedroom. She tosses the package onto her bed and changes into something more comfortable than the denim shorts sticking to her skin, before settling down on the mattress and ripping the cardboard open.
Pulling the contents out, Beca eyes the framed photo and the note stuck on the glass.
Thought you would like to see how the assignment you gave me turned out ;)
Smiling, Beca un-sticks the paper to take a better look at the black and white photograph. The main subject, just off center of the picture, is a street musician playing the cello. His head is tilted back slightly, eyes shut as he plays. His bound with the instrument and passion for music are undeniable even through the frozen frame. The movement around him almost distracting; blurry silhouettes zipping by the musician without paying much attention.
Chloe's watermark C.Beale is tucked in the right bottom corner.
Beca lies back against her mattress and grabs her phone to text Chloe and thank her for her gift. She's surprised when Chloe calls her just a few seconds later.
“Hey,” Beca replies as she traces her fingers over the picture back and forth. “Thank you for the picture. I love it.”
“You're welcome. I was wondering when you would receive it,” Beca can hear the smile in Chloe's voice and it spreads one onto her own face.
“How come you're up? Isn't it, like, one a.m. over there?”
“Yeah, but I couldn't sleep. I've been looking at flights.”
Beca pauses before she gets too hopeful. “Flights for New York?”
Beca's heart does a tiny somersault.
“I'm going back to Florida around Christmas to spend it with my folks, and I thought I could come visit you just before. Would that be okay?”
A little bit more than three months from now. That seems so far away, but Beca knows time will fly as she finishes her album and prepares its release.
“Is that even a valid question?” Beca smiles. “Of course it is. You'll love New York in the winter.”
“I'm sure I'll love New York just because it has you.”
Beca snickers. “Corny.”
“Eh,” she can picture Chloe shrugging. “I'll book it later, it's not every day I get to have you on the phone.”
Beca winces; they haven’t been able to talk on the phone in the last week because of her busy schedule and their conflicting hours.
“I know, I'm sorry. The album is kicking my ass.”
“I didn't say that to make you feel guilty, Bec,” Chloe says softly, and Beca hears shuffling in the background. “How is it shaping up?”
“Okay. We're canning the vocals throughout next week.”
“That's good. Are you surviving? Drinking enough water and getting eight hours of sleep?”
Beca rolls her eyes, even though it's useless as Chloe can't see it. “Yes, mom.”
Chloe giggles through the phone. “More like your concerned girlfriend.”
Beca wonders when the butterflies will stop waking up at the mention of girlfriend. For now, they are still out of control and flapping away relentlessly every time Chloe calls her her girlfriend.
She is about to reply when the music in the background is a tune she knows all too well, because she came up with it.
“Are you listening to my album?”
“Yes?” Chloe says somewhat bashfully. “I was missing you and put a song on. That was eight songs ago.” She laughs awkwardly. “Is that weird?”
“No, it's not weird. I've been staring at your picture for the last fives minutes. I feel like I'm closer to you just looking at it, because it has your signature all over it.” Beca smiles and closes her eyes briefly, burrowing her body deeper in the mattress. “I can picture you lighting up when you caught sight of that cello player, snap several pictures, then frown at the viewfinder because you don't really like any of them but in the end it turns out amazing, because it always does.”
Beca is met with uncharacteristic silence on the other end, to the point where she pulls her phone away from her ear to make sure the call hasn't cut off.
“Sorry, I... I just,” Chloe sighs. “I really miss you.”
Beca smiles sadly and picks at a loose thread from her tank top. “So do I.”
Chloe clears her throat, like she's not trusting her voice to work properly. “What are you doing?”
Beca grunts, having almost forgotten about the insufferable temperature she is trapped in. “Attempting not to melt.”
“That bad, huh? AC still not repaired?”
“No,” Beca whines. “I'm down to a tank top and underwear and I'm still too fucking hot to function.”
There's another beat of silence on the other end of the line, this time heavier, followed up by a deep inhale, and then more silence.
“Oh don't give me that concerned tone, you minx. You know exactly what you're doing.”
Beca laughs, splaying her free hand onto her covered stomach. What she said wasn't meant to sound sexy, just a plain description of how she was feeling. Playing her words back to herself, she realizes she would melt into a puddle (well, a bigger one) if Chloe said the same thing about herself.
The sexy pictures Chloe slipped inside her suitcase without her knowing pretty much had that effect when Beca stumbled upon them as she unpacked.
“Are you, like, turned on?”
“Yeah.” The blunt answer makes Beca's breathing hitch. “Imagining you all sweaty, clothes clinging to your body will do the trick. Add that to a month without that mind-blowing sex and you'll have me squirming... which is what's happening right now.”
Beca gulps, images of that particular scenario working their way into her already reeling brain.
“Mind-blowing?” She echoes to make sure she heard correctly.
“Mmm. Best I've ever had.”
Beca's eyes widen. If her body felt slightly hotter than before until now, it just burst into flames.
“Do you...” she flushes at her own question and takes a discreet, shallow breath. “Do you want to do more than imagining?”
More silence, stunned this time, broken seconds later by a throaty moan that makes Beca shiver.
“Shit, Beca. Are you serious?”
Beca feels her heartbeat pick up to reach an uncontrollable pace. She's afraid Chloe might hear it through the phone, given how loudly it drums into her ears. Desire trickles down to form a pool in the pit of her abdomen.
“Yes?” she offers skeptically, wincing at how awkward she sounds. “I don't – I've never actually done it before.”
“What, phone sex?”
Beca thinks she might just die from mortification. Or arousal. Or both. “Yes. That.”
“Well, are you comfortable to try? It's totes fine if not.”
If Beca wasn't abruptly so turned on, she'd smile at Chloe's kindliness. But it's been a month. Thirty freaking days since Chloe's hands were last on her; so she'll take what she can get.
And she knows for a fact Chloe's voice coupled with thorough imagination will do the trick.
“Fuck, yeah. Yes. Yes, I am.”
“Baby,” Chloe's tone drops down a notch, giving away how aroused she is. Beca swallows again. “I wish it was your hands on me right now.”
Well, fuck. Chloe isn't beating around the bush. Then again, she rarely is when it comes to... everything.
“Are you,” Beca's tongue suddenly feels to big for her mouth. Her fingers curl into her shirt to keep from drifting south. “Are you touching yourself?”
“Mmm,” Chloe hums in the affirmative. “Just my boobs,” she fucking giggles and follows up with, “for now.”
Beca vividly remembers how Chloe's breasts felt, full and smooth in the palm of her hand. The throb between her legs considerably intensifies as she lets her eyes slip shut and that hand slide down until it's resting over her underwear, completely still.
“I wish I was the one touching them,” she murmurs, feeling the nerves gradually peel off her body and dissipate in the thick air around her.
“What would you do?”
Beca shudders at Chloe's breathy timbre.
“I would curl my hand around it, relishing the way it fits perfectly in my palm,” her hand drifts lower and she's now cupping herself, exhaling shakily at the bolt of lust it shoots down her spine. “Then I would squeeze gently, before running my thumb over your nipple. Then I would swirl my tongue around it and take it into my mouth.”
“Bec,” Chloe's broken whimper takes things to another level. Beca's fingers start to move over the drenched fabric of her panties, hips arching off the bed in search of more friction. “Are you touching yourself?”
A guttural sound leaves Beca's parted lips. “If you keep cursing like that I won't last long, Chlo.”
There's a pause at the end of the line. “You like it when I curse?”
Beca can picture Chloe biting her lip. “Fuck, yeah. That and you speaking French. Biggest turn-ons.”
The only thing Beca can register over the next handful of seconds is her panting breaths, matching the ones echoing on the other end of the phone.
“J'aimerais que ce soit moi en train de te toucher,” Chloe starts bluntly, and Beca is slightly concerned about yet another wave of heat washing over her. She might just not make it through the evening. “J'aimerais sentir tes mains sur ma peau et tes lèvres contre les miennes.”
The next thing that happens seems to unfold in slow motion. Beca registers the knock at the door way too late, and then said door flying open.
“Hey Beca, have you seen my- Oh my god!”
“Dude!” she shouts, her hand flying away to anywhere else besides between her legs, while the other one lets go of the phone pressed to her ear in shock.
“Shit,” Jesse mutters, his own hand scrambling up to cover his eyes. “I'm so sorry. I'll be, um,”
“Right,” Jesse utters, hitting the frame of the door as he blindly backs up, while Beca is already looking for an object to chuck at his head. “Sorry.”
When the door finally closes, Beca buries her face into her hands and groans.
“Shit,” Beca mutters as she grabs her phone from where she dropped it on the mattress. “Sorry.”
“Are you okay?”
“No. I'm about to painfully die from mortification. Jesse walked in and my hand was... well, you now where my hand was.”
She expects some sort of sympathetic reassurance from her girlfriend, but only a cackling sound comes from the end of the line.
“Chloe, this isn't funny! My ex just walked in on me masturbating while on the phone with my girlfriend. This is a nightmare!”
“I'm sorry,” Chloe lets out a giggle but it's cut short, by her biting on her lip, Beca guesses. “I'm sorry.”
Beca only lets out a string of huffed grumbles in response.
“Soooo, I guess the phone-sex thing is a no go for tonight?”
“Yeah, I'm not too much in the mood anymore.”
She knows damn well her pout can be heard in the petulant tone of her voice.
“Beeeec,” Chloe whines. “Don't be mad, please, I really didn't mean to laugh.”
“I'm not mad at you. I'm going to kill Jesse, though. What's the point of knocking if you don't wait for authorization to come in?”
Chloe chuckles. “Okay, well, you go deal with that, I'm going to... deal with myself.”
Beca gapes. “Seriously?”
As much as Beca wants to, she really can't now that she knows Jesse knows. She lets herself plop on the mattress dramatically.
“I'm kidding, baby. I'm going to sleep. And I'll buy my flight tomorrow, K?”
Beca huffs again, before smiling. “Okay. Love you."
“Love you, too. Bye.”
After taking a few minutes to compose herself so she doesn't do something that might get her arrested, Beca slips on some shorts and stomps out of her room.
“Jesse Swanson, I'm going to strangle you!”
With canning her vocals and producing her album and other artists' at the same time, time does fly. She and Chloe talk on a regular basis, trading messages during the day when they can and calling each other at least once a week. Friday nights are Skype date nights.
They randomly send each other little somethings here and there; flowers, take-out and even snail mail. Jesse told Beca it was underrated and Chloe would love it.
Sure enough, Chloe swooned when she received a letter from Beca mid-October, and Beca made a note to herself to ask Jesse for more advice from time to time, because he seems to have a degree in romance.
Their second attempt at phone-sex is more successful. Beca waits until she has the apartment to herself one night and locks her bedroom door as well, just in case. It releases some of the tension bottled up over the last six weeks spent apart.
The month of December is hectic with Beca finishing her album and making her debut on talk-shows to promote it when it comes out in January, a month after the planned date.
Chloe [12:45 PM]
So I hear you're taken, huh? Who's the lucky one? :p :p
Beca laughs as she reads the message. She's going to be stuck in the make-up chair for an hour and could use some entertainment. She guesses Chloe is referring to her interview with Meyers a week ago, who grilled her about not being single anymore.
Beca didn’t share anything more than the fact that she was in a happy relationship and was thankful when the host didn't pry.
Beca [12:46 PM]
Yeah, there's this obnoxiously bubbly redhead that I can't seem to shake.
Chloe [12:46 PM]
Ugh, the worst.
Chloe [12:46 PM]
But I hear she's great in bed ;)
Beca laughs and shakes her head.
Beca [12:46 PM]
Yeah, she's alright. Very humble, too.
Chloe [12:47 PM]
Chloe [12:47 PM]
Are you at the studio?
Beca [12:47 PM]
No. About to go on Stephen Colbert.
Chloe [12:47 PM]
* GASP * IT'S TODAY!!!
Chloe [12:48 PM]
I love him!!! Say hi for me? :)
Beca makes a note to get Chloe a shirt from that show, too, since she already got an extra one from Seth Meyers. And maybe have Colbert record a message for her.
Chloe [12:48 PM]
And send me a pic of your cute face :) :) :)
Beca [12:49 PM]
You're awfully demanding.
Chloe [12:49 PM]
Yep, I'm a very high-maintenance girlfriend. Thought you had figured that out by now. ;)
Beca has never been one for selfies, but she's had to work with that since this long-distance relationship thing works through screens only. She isn't anywhere close to get to Chloe's level and send her dirty pics, though. She doesn't mind (read: digs) receiving the ones from Chloe, though.
Her hair is curled around rods and she's got dark circles under her eyes because the make-up artist hasn't done his magic yet, but she complies anyway and snaps a quick picture of herself.
Chloe [12:48 PM]
Adorable ❤ ❤❤
Beca rolls her eyes but her cheeks warm up over the compliment.
Chloe [12:49 PM]
Stop blushing :p
Chloe [12:50 PM]
Look, I made a new friend :D
There's a picture attached of Chloe holding a puppy to her chest. The puppy is licking her chin while Chloe laughs and Beca’s heart flutters in her chest because her girlfriend looks absolutely radiant.
Beca looks up when her hair stylist walks into the room and sends her a quick smile in greeting, turning back to her phone the following second.
Beca [12:50 PM]
Beca [12:50 PM]
Is it weird that I'm jealous of that pup?
Chloe [12:51 PM]
Don't worry babe, I'll let you lick me next time.
Beca chokes on her saliva. Literally. She gets into a coughing fit that has her team rushing to her in concern. She drinks some of the water extended to her and tells them she's fine.
Beca [12:53 PM]
Fucking hell, Chlo.
Beca [12:53 PM]
You nearly killed me.
Chloe [12:53 PM]
Beca [12:54 PM]
Yeah, right. I can see your Cheshire grin all the way from here.
Beca [12:54 PM]
Where are you anyways?
Chloe [12:54 PM]
At Aubrey's. We're about to go to that fashion show wrap party.
The best friend. Aubrey works in fashion and was traveling the world for her job during the summer, so Beca didn't meet her, but heard a lot of stories from Chloe and saw pictures around Chloe's apartment.
Beca frowns, re-reading Chloe’s last text message.
Beca [12:55 PM]
Fashion show wrap party?
Chloe [12:55 PM]
Yeah, I told you about it the other day :)
Beca doesn't remember that. She thinks she would remember if Chloe told her she was going to a party reeking with insanely gorgeous people.
Beca [12:56 PM]
I don't think you did.
Beca [12:56 PM]
So like, a party with models?
Chloe [12:56 PM]
Beca hates it, but it's definitely jealousy trickling down her veins. The insecurity she's managed to tame down over the last few months is suddenly back and thriving. She sets her phone in her lap and flexes her fingers several times to try and shake that feeling off, because she knows she’s being ridiculous.
It doesn't help that three people are now surrounding her to work their magic. She's always been wary about people working so close in her personal space but has learned that it comes with the industry. Right now, though, it makes her breathing hitch unpleasantly.
Her phone chimes again after three minutes of radio silence on her part. She knows Chloe is onto her.
Chloe [1:00 PM]
Chloe [1:00 PM]
Can I call you?
Beca [1:01 PM]
Now is not a good time. I'm being poked around by three different sets of hands.
Chloe [1:01 PM]
Beca takes a deep breath and slowly releases it, berating herself for snapping.
Beca [1:03 PM]
I'm sorry. I just, feel insecure?
She quietly groans when she realizes she's pressed send. Opening that door is never a good idea.
Beca [1:03 PM]
Ugh, never mind. It's stupid. Forget I said anything.
Chloe [1:03 PM]
Beca finds it both unsettling and amazing how such a simple word takes some of the anguish away. She imagines Chloe saying it with that soft voice and concerned eyes. The ache in Beca's chest to see her reaches a suffocating size.
Chloe [1:04 PM]
It's not stupid. I'd rather you tell me these things than keep it to yourself.
Chloe [1:04 PM]
Why do you feel insecure? Because of the models?
Beca [1:04 PM]
Ding, ding, we've got a winner.
Beca screws her eyes shut before shooting Chloe another text.
Beca [1:05 PM]
Sorry. I'm being a bitch.
Chloe [1:05 PM]
I don't care about them or this party, you know. If I could, I'd rather be with my gorgeous, insanely talented and sexy girlfriend in NYC. I'm like, crazy in love with her and my favorite place to be is wherever she is.
Beca puffs out a breath and lets her shoulders drop. Ridiculous, indeed.
Beca [1:05 PM]
You're only saying that because I'm going on Colbert :p
Chloe [1:05 PM]
Chloe [1:06 PM]
Chloe [1:06 PM]
You believe me, right?
Beca [1:06 PM]
Yeah. I'm sorry for being... me.
Chloe [1:06 PM]
Stop it right now
Chloe [1:06 PM]
Do I need to get on a plane and knock some sense into you?
Chloe [1:07 PM]
Never apologize for feeling things.
Chloe [1:07 PM]
I love you. Go be amazing on national TV. Can't wait to see it.
Beca [1:07 PM]
I love you too. I can't wait to see you in two short weeks.
Chloe [1:08 PM]
Beca chuckles to herself and lets out a sigh.
Beca is trying to concentrate on the music she's listening to, she really is. She went on a talent hunt for the label and now has some new song samples to listen to make a selection out of the fifteen contestants.
The thing is, Chloe is getting here in about seven hours (who is she kidding, in exactly six hours and fifty-three minutes) and her mind is set on red curls, cerulean blues and cute dimples, not figuring out if this girl from a small town in Ohio has more potential to become the country's new rising star than the boy with the raspy voice she listened to just before.
Her phone lights up with a next text from Chloe that won't make things any easier.
Chloe [11:36 AM]
On my way!
Chloe [11:36 AM]
❤ ❤ ❤
Focusing more than five seconds in a row is impossible after that, to the point where Beca considers going for a run to shake off the sudden rush of energy her body is experiencing.
“Would you simmer it down? I can't concentrate,” Stacie grumbles from her spot at the dinner table an hour later.
“Simmer what down?” Beca asks, brow furrowed in confusion from where she's sitting on the couch. Her knee stops bouncing momentarily. “I'm not doing anything?”
Rolling her eyes, Stacie laughs, then goes back to ticking things off on the form she's filling out.
“Your excitement. I can feel it from here. I know Chloe's getting in in a few hours, and if you really just can't tame it down, go to the airport and camp out there or something.”
Beca grins sheepishly, falling back against the couch cushions with a frustrated sigh. “Sorry, I'm just eager.”
“Eager to have sex again? Yeah, I know the feeling.”
“Ugh,” Beca grunts and straightens. That's it, she's going to the airport. This waiting thing is testing her, her whole body feels electrified and she feels like she needs to pace, or something. “Can you at least try to tame it down when Chloe's here? The constant sex talk and embarrassing me?”
"Fine." Stacie pouts exaggeratedly as Beca puts on her shoes. “Did you make a sign?"
Beca straightens, brow furrowed. "What sign?"
Stacie grins. "Well one that says Chloe's name with a bunch of hearts around it."
"I'm not doing that."
Stacie's shrug makes her doubt. "Suit yourself."
Beca worries her bottom lip in thought. "Should I?"
Stacie hums and goes back to ticking. "You did want to sweep her off her feet right?"
"Yeah, but isn't that like, super lame?"
"I don't think so."
Beca huffs. "I really can't tell if you're fucking with me or not. I'm gonna go with yes, and besides, the airport will be reeking with paparazzi and I don't need pictures of me with a sign with fucking hearts."
"You're no fun."
“Yeah, I'm the worst.” She grabs her coat, keys and waves at Stacie on her way out. “Bye, weirdo.”
Several hours later, after spending sometime in the studio to try and occupy herself some more, Beca pushes her way through the crowded space outside of baggage claim (sign-less), her heart hammering in her ears as her eyes squint to try and spot Chloe in the distance.
She sees Chloe before Chloe sees her.
She looks adorable with her gray beanie screwed on her head and her face half-hidden in her woolen scarf.
Her eyes are also restless and hopeful to catch a glimpse of Beca. When they do, they light up like twinkling stars and Beca lets out a watery laugh, her legs mindlessly carrying her the rest of the way until she meets Chloe in a bone-crushing embrace.
Chloe laughs into her neck, wrapping an arm around Beca's shoulders as Beca's slip past her open coat and wind around her waist. Beca's heart settles down into her chest and her lungs soar, as though finally getting the oxygen she's been deprived off since she got into that plane home four months ago.
“I've missed you,” she breathes into Chloe's scarf, her shoulders dropping with a content sigh when Chloe's hold tightens around her.
They remain laced there for long minutes, wrapped in their own bubble and oblivious to the Christmas time hustle and bustle of JFK airport going on around them. Eventually, Beca backs away and almost leans in to kiss Chloe, her brain momentarily fuzzy and forgetful about the paparazzi lurking near the doors.
Catching her slight hesitation, Chloe gives her an understanding smile and says, “It's alright. I haven't kissed you in four months, I think I can make it until we get to your apartment if it means getting more privacy.”
“Okay,” slipping her gloved hand into Chloe's bare one, Beca shrugs on Chloe's carry-on and leads her towards the exit and into the freezing December air. Her car chirps alive when they near closer and she lets go of Chloe to run ahead and open the passenger door for her.
“After you,” Beca says cheekily, gesturing towards the inside of the car with a flourish.
“Thanks, baby,” Chloe replies with a wink and a playful curtsy. After lifting Chloe's suitcase in the trunk along with her carry-on, Beca jogs around the car and slides in. Chloe is already fiddling with the radio, and it has Beca stifling a laugh. “What?”
“Nothing,” Beca murmurs, locking her fingers onto Chloe''s once she's pulled the car into drive and Chloe has found something she likes. “I just can’t believe you’re here.”
Chloe leans across the console and presses her lips to Beca's cheek, rubbing her nose in the nook of her cheek. “Me either, but I’m so happy to be.”
The five stories seem never-ending when they get into Beca's apartment building. Beca's whole body is strumming with eagerness and slight apprehension of being close to Chloe after so long. Sliding the key into the lock, Beca pushes the door open, a little nervous as to what that unveils.
She hopes her two roommates are not standing in the living-room grinning like two fucking idiots to formally introduce themselves to Chloe.
Instead, she finds a paper bag adorning her favorite Chinese place logo on the table and a note stuck to it. Beca shares a confused look with Chloe and walks to the table.
We hope Chloe likes Chinese, too. Enjoy the apartment to yourselves, lovebirds!
Beca recognizes Jesse's handwriting and smiles at the thoughtfulness behind it. Her eyes skim to the next sentence, no doubt from Stacie.
PS: use protection! ;)
Slender arms snake themselves around her waist, Chloe propping her chin over her shoulder, snickering as she reads the note.
“That's nice of them,” she muses, angling her head into Beca's neck to press her lips against her warm skin. Giving it to a shudder, Beca remembers they haven't had a proper reunion kiss yet, and spins into Chloe's arms, draping hers over her shoulders. Chloe squeezes her waist, her smile reaching her blue orbs. “Hi,”
Eyes flicking back and forth between Chloe's to her lips, Beca slides one hand along the back of Chloe's neck to hold her jaw and tug her down to meet her mouth. She hears Chloe inhale through just before their lips meet, and air surges into Beca's lungs at the realization that Chloe is really here and no longer thousands of miles away.
She is standing in Beca's living-room, her lips moving with Beca's with a sense of familiarity that anchors Beca down. They have each other memorized, no matter how long they have spent apart.
“God, I've missed you so much,” Chloe whispers, nipping at Beca's bottom lip one last time before pulling away completely. Beca whimpers at the loss, chasing Chloe's mouth in another, this time shorter kiss. Chloe hums against her lips, smiling sheepishly. “We can heat up the food in the microwave, right?”
“Fuck, yes,” Beca husks out, already tugging Chloe towards her bedroom, her squeal echoing down the hall.
Balancing several cardboard containers on a tray and a bottle of wine tucked under her arm, Beca pushes the door open with her shoulder and slams it shut with her foot once she's slipped inside her room.
Chloe is fiddling with Beca's computer to find something to watch while they eat, and Beca gets momentarily dizzy about the fact that there's this beautiful woman in her bed, only clad in one of her tees.
It's not like it's a regular occurrence for her, or an occurrence at all, to have a woman in minimal clothing in her bed.
Chloe's eyes slide up to meet hers. “Bec, are you okay?”
Beca blinks and clears her throat, nodding as she makes the rest of the way to the bed.
“Stole my shirt again, I see?” she teases, setting the tray with food down on the mattress.
“Is that a problem?” Chloe fires back, eyebrow arched as she sets up the computer in position.
“No,” Beca murmurs, hand falling to the inside of Chloe's bare thigh. “Especially when that's all you're wearing.”
“Okay, tiger,” Chloe chuckles, pulling away before Beca can kiss her. Beca pouts in disappointment. “As much as I would like to go all night, my mind is still five hours ahead and is screaming for food and then sleep. I want to be rested to make the most of your city tomorrow.”
Beca grunts and dramatically flops back against the pillows in resignation.
Grinning, Chloe leans in to brush a light kiss on Beca's lips. No the kind of kiss she is craving, but she’ll settle. “We're still doing that, right?”
“Sure, I can just drop you off at an hop-on, hop-off bus stop and pick you up five hours later,” she deadpans, batting Chloe's hand away when she starts tickling her side.
“Bec,” she whines, holding Beca by the hip and lightly biting her shoulder in reprimand.
“I'm kidding,” Beca sighs, running her hand up and down Chloe's arm. “Don't complain when I make you fall in love with New York City to the point where you don't want to leave.”
The playfulness in her tone disguises the longing in her heart. It's what she'd selfishly wish for, but she knows she could never ask that of Chloe; for her to abandon her dream in favor of her own, to abandon her life as she knows it and start anew to move across the ocean for Beca.
If she does and they somehow don't work out, Beca would never forgive herself.
Besides, they have only been together six months.
“Mm, now you've just set my expectations for this guided tour really high.”
Beca smiles, hand drifting down to meet Chloe’s and lazily waving their fingers together. “American food can't really compete with the awesomeness of French wine or French cheese so I feel like I'm starting off with a handicap, here.”
“Well, I wish I could have smuggled some cheese in the territory but I guess you'll just have to come all the way to France to get some.”
Beca gives in to a sarcastic eye-roll. “Ugh, the pain.”
Chloe hums and dips in for another kiss. “I know, right? Nothing interesting there.”
Beca's hand hikes up to cup Chloe's face, keeping her there for a moment longer. Chloe's body stirs into hers gently when the kiss grows longer, pinning Beca against the bed as Chloe moves to straddle her thigh. Beca wonders how she managed to do that without tipping over either the computer or the Chinese food resting between them.
Berating herself for asking herself trivial questions, she focuses on kissing Chloe back instead.
“What happened to just eating and sleeping?” Beca butts in between gentle tongue strokes when Chloe's hand greedily disappears underneath her shirt, a clear indication that this is bound to go further than just kissing.
“Changed my mind. Complaining?”
Beca grins against Chloe's lips, her own hands slipping past the waistband of Chloe's underwear to rest on her ass.
“I'll shut up now.”
Beca wakes up to chatter coming from the kitchen.
Mind still hazy with sleep and other things, she does wonder if Chloe was here last night or if it was a figment of her imagination when she pats at the spot next to her and comes up empty.
Chloe's shirt and pants laying discarded on the floor by the door (what? Four months) are concrete proofs that her girlfriend indeed flew in last night and is now in New York.
Her heart settling back in her chest after its two-second panicky ride, Beca remains in bed a moment longer, giving her mind and body time to wake properly. Chloe's unmistakable laughter drifting from the kitchen makes her smile.
She realizes just how thin the walls are in this apartment and is thankful for Jesse and Stacie leaving last night so she and Chloe could be alone and thoroughly... enjoy their reunion.
Eventually, she decides to leave the comfort of the warm cocoon to investigate about her girlfriend's whereabouts; hopefully far away from her roommates' shenanigans.
The scene that greets her when she steps into the kitchen is slightly unsettling. Chloe is cooking something that smells heavenly good at the stove while trading conversation with Stacie and Jesse as they sit at the table, each nursing a cup of coffee.
She doesn't know when they got in last night, and hopes it was once she and Chloe fell asleep because she's not sure she could look them in the eye ever again if they heard her while Chloe was going down on her.
“Hey, look who's up!” Jesse exclaims, face lighting up like a Christmas tree upon seeing Beca hovering by the doorway.
“Finally! Fell into a sex coma?” Stacie asks, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively. “Which wouldn't surprise me given how vocal you were last night.”
Well, there goes Beca's last bit of self-esteem. She really doesn't have the required amount of coffee to deal with these idiots.
“I'm moving out,” she grumbles, making a beeline for the coffee machine and pours herself a cup. Sliding an arm around Chloe's waist, any ounce of grumpiness vanishes from Beca's body as she comes to a stop next to her and kisses Chloe's shoulder in greeting. “Morning.”
“Morning, baby,” Chloe says softly, turning her head for a kiss that Beca gladly grants her, flipping off her friends when a chorus of aw's erupts from behind them.
“Alright creeps,” Beca says when they break apart to find Stacie and Jesse staring at them with massive grins on their faces. “Show's over.”
Backing away, Beca peers into the different pans. Bacon, eggs and pancakes.
Yep, this girl is definitely marriage material.
Beca nearly chokes on air and weakly scolds herself for letting her thoughts run away from the rational part of her brain once more.
“Why are you even feeding these idiots?”
Chloe shrugs. “They did leave us the place to ourselves last night, which was appreciated. And I was up early anyway. Jet-lag.”
“We love her already,” Stacie pipes up from her spot at the table with that same shit-eating grin. Beca turns around to face her roommates, cradling her cup of coffee. “And I'm still wondering how you managed to make her fall in love with your grumpy ass.”
Smiling shyly, Beca meets Chloe's eyes and holds her gaze as she bumps her hip against Chloe's. “Yeah, I ask myself the same question every single day.”
Dipping her head down, Chloe manages to hide her blush under her curtain of hair.
“Okaaaay, no eye-fucking over our food, please.”
Chloe giggles and pecks Beca's lips before going back to her task at hand.
Beca stands there, watching the side of Chloe's face discreetly, as she in fact finds herself wondering how in hell she got this lucky.
“Oh, baby, let's go ice skating!”
Beca's eyes follow Chloe's line of sight towards the outdoor ice rink nestled by the south entrance of Central Park. “Uh, no.”
“Because I suck at it?” Beca offers matter-of-factly. “And I don't think spending half-a-day in the emergency room is your idea of a romantic time in New York.”
“You can hold onto me,” Chloe says, turning on her heels to walk backwards and tug Beca along. “I promise I won't let you fall.”
Beca wonders exactly how many more miles away from her comfort zone Chloe will make her go.
Minutes later, after triple-checking her laces, Beca stands on wobbly legs and waddles to the rink entrance, shooting Chloe a wary look. Gripping the edge of the gate, she steps onto the ice, standing as still as possible once both feet are on the slippery surface.
“Oh my gosh, it's like watching Bambi learn how to walk,” Chloe comments, earning herself a glare.
“Hey, you promised not to make fun of me,”
“Nuh-huh, I said I wouldn't let you fall, not that I wouldn't tease,” Chloe smirks, easily gliding to Beca and holding out her hands for Beca to take. “Lean forward a little bit so you don't put all your weight back and fall on your ass when your balance gets precarious.”
“Okay,” Beca takes a deep breath and lets Chloe lead her around the rink as she skates backwards, easily gliding past other people. Beca gradually relaxes with each lap, kicking the ice ever so often. “Okay, it's not too bad.”
“Told you. Wanna try on your own?”
“No!” She nearly shouts and grips onto Chloe's arms harder just in case Chloe does let her go without warning, drawing a few amused stares. Beca clears her throat and attempts to maintain a semblance of pride as she adds, more quietly, “No, I'd rather not.”
“Okay, sorry,” Chloe smiles and slows down to a stop, holding onto Beca's hips to keep her upright when she nearly collides into her. “Easy there, babe.”
“Is there any other talent of yours I should know about?” Beca asks, feeling a tiny ounce of confidence peaking through as she manages to let go of Chloe's wrists to snake her arms around her waist without ending up with her ass on the ice.
“What happened to keeping a little bit of mystery?” Chloe replies, winking at her. “But no, not that I can think of.”
“Good, cause I'm starting to feel under-skilled, here.”
Chloe rolls her eyes good-naturally. “Says the girl behind America's future platinum album.”
Despite the biting temperatures and the freezing breeze numbing Beca's limbs, Chloe's words, coupled with the unwavering admiration and faith dancing in her eyes manage to spread a blanket of warmth over her whole body.
“You've got to stop doing that,” she mumbles, breaking eye-contact to try and reign in her flustering blush. “Showering me with compliments.”
Chloe tilts her head to the side, eyebrows knit together. “Does that make you uncomfortable?”
Beca shrugs. She would gladly escape from that conversation but that would mean risking falling to her death.
“I just...” she sighs, letting her shoulders drop. “I'm not – I'm not used to it.”
Chloe purses her lips and remains silent for a while.
“Did you mean what you said earlier? About wondering how I could fall in love with you? Were you serious about that?”
“I... I guess. We're so different you and I. You're this bubbly, beautiful, amazing woman and I'm awkward and asocial and grumpy most of the time. I know it's possible that opposites attract but still, it's... you're like, the definition of sunshine and I'm a rain cloud. It's sometimes... hard to wrap my head around the fact that I'm with you." Beca lets out a tiny laugh that lacks humor. "Or rather that you are with me, of all people.”
Chloe shakes her head, a fond smile playing at her lips. “You really have no clue of how incredible of a person you are, do you?”
Beca feels like the question is rhetorical, so she doesn't voice any reply.
“Bec,” Chloe's tone if soft, almost inaudible. One gloved hand slides up from Beca's waist to rest on her cheek, the velvety material soft and warm as it brushes across her cold skin. “I fell in love with you because your grumpiness and awkwardness, or whatever else you want to believe are faulty, are actually very much endearing. I fell in love with you because you second guess most of the things you do in fear of messing up and end up outdoing yourself in the end.”
Beca wasn't expecting a list; her breathing is starting to become shallow, especially because it doesn't look like Chloe is done enumerating things.
“I fell in love with you because you don't give a fuck about what people think about you. Because, underneath the mask you like to carry around in fear of getting hurt, there is a selfless, kind and beautiful soul.”
Chloe falls silence, letting her words echo within Beca. And they do, with so much force that Beca thinks they might just knock her off her feet lest Chloe wasn't holding her around the waist.
“And I fell in love with the way you look at me, the way you listen to everything I say even though I talk a lot, but most specifically, because of the way you love me. Raw and untamed and whole,” Chloe pauses, clearing her throat while Beca stumbles for breath. Chloe shrugs and lifts her gaze to meet Beca's. “I fell in love with you because since you came around, I'm the happiest I've ever been.”
“Chloe,” Beca whispers, eyes widening when tears pool inside Chloe's. Panic bubbles in her chest; she doesn't know how to deal with tears.
“Sorry, I didn't mean to get all emotional on you,” Chloe laughs, shaking her head again as she blinks her tears away. She clears her throat, the hand at Beca's waist squeezing her hip. “Do you believe me now?”
Beca nods. “I do. And I feel extremely grateful to be the person that makes you happy.”
She doesn't care about who might see them. She leans in and pulls Chloe into a kiss; the kind of kiss that's slow and tender, but still ignites something in a part of her -her heart, her mind, whichever- and makes her float a few inches above the ground.
“And you know,” Chloe's smile explodes into a wide, teasing grin. She rubs her pink nose against Beca's cold one. “I kinda like this whole, I'm the sunshine, you're a rain cloud imaginary. Because together, those two things make a-”
“Please don't say it.”
“Oh my God,” Beca groans, letting her head fall back. “I need to get away from your sappy ass before you rub off on me.”
“I don’t think your sappiness has anything to do with me,” Chloe smirks, dipping down to kiss Beca's lips quickly. She peels herself away, holding her hands up by her head. “Go for it, I'm not stopping you.”
Accepting the challenge with a roll of her shoulders, Beca eyes the exit gate. It seems easy, especially when a kid that is knee-high to a grasshopper skids past her like he's been doing this his whole life.
“Want me to hold your hand?” Chloe asks after a stretch.
“Oh, shut up,” Beca growls, then sighs dejectedly after a few seconds spent pondering on how serious the injuries could be were she to fall. “But yes, please. Get me off this death rink.”
Chloe only laughs, pressing her lips to Beca's cheek endearingly.
Beca takes Chloe to the Met later that morning, and they spend most of the rest of their day there. Beca likes art, but to an extent, while it turns out Chloe loves it and drags Beca from room to room excitedly, even providing information on some of the pieces.
“Chloe, this is a museum,” Beca hisses when Chloe tugs her into a secluded corner right next to a Greek sculpture. Chloe grins against Beca's lip, pinning her to the wall.
“I just want to kiss you,” she murmurs, letting go of Beca's hips to sink her fingers in her dark hair and pulling her into a deeper kiss, one not exactly appropriate given their surroundings.
Beca is still creeped-out about making-out with all these stone naked dudes around them; she feels like they're watching them. She also lost track of the museum guard’s whereabouts and is afraid he might spring up on she and Chloe and ask them to leave.
Which, in hindsight, wouldn't be such a bad thing.
“We could just go home and do more than kiss, y'know.”
Chloe pouts. “But we still have to see the Egyptian Art room.”
Beca swallows back a groan and presses her lips hard to Chloe's, rewarded with a particularly loud sound that echoes in the high-ceiling space. Either that guard is asleep, or deaf.
“Okay. Take your hands away from under my shirt, then.”
Backing away, Chloe giggles and does just so. “Oops.”
Beca rolls her eyes at Chloe's feigned innocence. “Yeah, oops.”
She leans up to brush her lips against Chloe's once more, because she can't resist her. Chloe tangles her fingers with hers as they shuffle out of the room and into the next.
Darkness already fell on the city by the time they step out into the brisk cold. They stop to get hot dogs and eat them on a random step, huddled close to brave the biting temperatures. They catch the subway home, and it takes them double the time because Chloe stops at their connection to take pictures of the underground hustle and bustle and they miss the next three trains.
“Sorry,” Chloe whispers into Beca's ear after the train doors close just before they can step on it. Smiling, Beca shakes her head to dismiss the apology and pulls Chloe along so that they are standing by the wall of the platform as opposed to near the train tracks. She rests against a pillar and tugs Chloe to stand with her back against her front, slipping her hands into the front pockets of Chloe's woolen coat.
“Love you,” she breathes out into Chloe's neck, placing a kiss just below her ear before propping her chin on her shoulder. “Now show me those pictures that made us miss that train. They better be good cause I thought I would have you in bed by this time.”
Laughing, Chloe raises the camera hanging from around her neck so that Beca can look at the screen, and starts to show Beca the array of pictures she took today. Most are from the last hour, some from the Met and a few of Beca in the street and riding the subway.
“How do you do that?” Beca asks. “Take pictures of me without me noticing.”
Beca's hands slide away from Chloe's pockets and rest on Chloe's hips as she turns around.
“Well, it's kind of my job. As a street photographer, my goal is to capture people's expression without them noticing, because most of them are uncomfortable when it comes to being photographed.”
“Yep, can vouch for that.”
Chloe hums and drapes her arms over Beca's shoulders. “And if they do notice me, the raw, unfiltered emotion I was going for in the first place becomes strained. Emotion is beautiful, it's the essence of a photography and without it, the picture loses its meaning; its story.”
They are probably bound to miss the next train, but Beca wouldn't dare interrupting Chloe. She doesn't want to, simply because it's still as enthralling hearing her talk about photography as the first time.
“So how do you manage to preserve the emotion during photo shoots, where people actually pose for photos?”
Beca spent a fair amount of time staring at the pictures of that homemade photo shoot back in Paris. It was weird, looking at herself without really recognizing the person staring back at her; she seemed more natural and carefree than in any other photo shoot.
“It's called being sneaky,” Chloe says with a lopsided smile. Beca raises a questioning eyebrow. “I'm guessing you're referring to our photo shoot.”
Beca nods, now even more intrigued than before. She figured her natural expressions came from the fact that she trusted Chloe, not because of a specific technique Chloe adopted without her noticing.
The train approaching has them both snap their heads but Beca tightens her hold on Chloe's hips.
“We can catch the next one,” she says. “I want to hear about the being sneaky thing.”
She's well aware they can talk on the train, but she doesn't want to stray away from their bubble.
“Okay,” Chloe agrees with a small laugh, fingers playing an elegant dance on the back of Beca's neck. “I don't know if you've noticed in your pictures, but I know that the best ones are the ones I captured right after the shot you were expecting. When you let go of that breath you were holding or relax that smile that may have been a little bit forced without you meaning to. The key is to snap the shot the moment your body falls into a more natural, relaxed state.”
Beca hums. "I get it."
“A photographer can give their subjects direction all session long, nothing beats a natural pose. And sometimes, that can only be found during those “in between” moments. So I always try to anticipate the next move, before my subject gets there, to look for the natural beauty rather than the forced one.”
Beca nods. “That makes a lot of sense. A lot of so-called photographers in the business could learn a lot from you.”
Chloe shrugs. “Every photographer has their own technique. Mine has worked well until now and it taught me to read people better.” Chloe rolls her eyes. “But I told you all about that already and I feel like I've been talking your ear off for the last ten minutes, so I'll shut up now.”
Shaking her head, Beca pulls her flush against her and smiles. “I love hearing you talk about your passion. There's this spark in your eyes when you do that could light up a starless sky.”
A tiny, drown-out whimper flits through Chloe's parted lips. She takes a deep breath and shakes off a shiver. Holding Beca's face with both hands, she closes the gap between them to capture Beca's lips in a kiss that leaves Beca lightheaded.
“God. I love you.” Chloe's breathes out across Beca's mouth. She meets Beca's gaze, eyes darkened and intense, and Beca is the one to whimper this time. “Let's go home.”
Beca rolls onto her side and finds Chloe standing by the window wearing one of her shirts. She looks amazing, hair disheveled from sleep, one arm around her waist and knee bent as she stares out the window.
“Hi,” Beca rasps out, blinking the remainder of sleep away. Chloe's head twists towards her and they share a small, gentle smile.
“It's snowing,” Chloe murmurs, turning her gaze back to the window. Shuffling out of bed, Beca comes to a stop behind her, arms loosely coming around her mid-section.
A thin blanket of white powder covers the street and the roads are uncharacteristically quiet; it's beautiful and calming, much like Chloe.
She lies a kiss on the back of Chloe's neck, breathing her left-over perfume and enjoying the warmth emitting off Chloe's body pressed against hers.
“I haven't had a proper snow day in a long time.”
Laying a hand on top of Beca's on her stomach, Chloe turns her head slightly. “You think it'll snow enough for us to have a snowball fight? Oh, and build a snowman?”
Beca grins, nudging her nose against Chloe's before closing the gap to kiss her. A slow, languid kiss that wakes all her sense at once.
“Hmm,” Beca rubs her lips together when they part, eyes half-lidded. “When I said snow day I was more thinking along the lines of going back to bed for the rest of the day.”
Chloe arches a curious eyebrow. “And what would we do in there all day?”
“We could... build a pillow fort, get some snacks, cuddle and watch a movie.”
“A movie and cuddles?” Chloe twists into her arms, hand drifting up Beca's side to rest on her forehead. “Are you feeling okay, baby?”
“Haha, very funny,” Sticking her tongue out, Beca peels herself away, catching Chloe's hand before she's out of reach. “C'mon, I'm starving.”
Shortly after breakfast, the snowfall gets heavier. After putting on enough layers of clothing, they step outside, crossing the street to the park located across from Beca's building.
They make a snowman, lie down on the ground to make snow-angels, make-out a little in the snow, until Chloe sneaks some into Beca's collar and thus a snowball fight ensues.
Bodies shivering from the cold, they run up the five flight of stairs and barrel through the door in their haste to get warm, both breathless and flush.
“Ugh, I'm freezing!”
Shrugging off her coat, Chloe lets it pool onto the floor of Beca's bedroom, kicks off her shoes and starts to unbutton her pants.
“You were the one who insisted we should go outside,” Beca reminds her, struggling with her numb fingers to unfasten her own jacket.
Chloe flashes her a bright smile. “No regrets!”
Shimmying out of her soaked jeans, Chloe then pulls her sweater over her head and jogs to the bed, slipping under the covers with a content sigh.
“Come warm me up,” Chloe's voice is muffled by the comforter that she's pulled over her head.
“So demanding,” Beca complains playfully. Chloe's head pops out from under the mountain of covers, bottom lip jutted out in the most adorable pout Beca has ever seen.
Holding out a hand, Chloe bats her eyelashes a couple times. “Baby.”
“I'm coming, I'm coming,” Beca laughs lightly, taking off her shoes once she's managed to free herself from the five layers she put on to brave the cold.
She sinks into the mattress seconds later, letting Chloe pull the covers back over them before she melts into her body, drawing Chloe as close as physically possible.
“Much better,” Chloe breathes into her neck, draping her arms over Beca's shoulder and a leg over her hip, hanging onto her like a koala to its tree trunk. It gets increasingly hot under the pile of blankets and Beca thinks she might experience a heat stroke soon, but she wouldn't change it for the world, especially when Chloe murmurs a, “Je t'aime.”
Beca presses her smiling lips into Chloe's shoulder. “I love you, too.”
Over the next couple of days, the snow turns into a heavy blizzard that shuts down most airports. The day before Christmas Eve, Chloe calls her parents to let them know she won't be spending Christmas with them this year.
Selfishly, Beca is thankful for the storm. She wasn't ready to say goodbye after just a week. A blissful week spent exploring the streets of New York, going places Beca has never been to before because she has never really taken the time to be a tourist in her own city, even after five years living here.
“Were they upset?” Beca asks when Chloe shuffles back into the kitchen after making the phone-call.
“A little bit. But they're glad I get to spend it with you.”
Beca falters as she stands at the stove, attempting to make French toast. She sets her spatula down and turns around. “Your, um, your parents know about me?”
“Of course,” Chloe replies lightly. She slips her hands into the pockets of her sweatpants and pads over to Beca, leaning back against the opposite counter. “It's not like you're kept a secret. My mom asks about you every time we talk over the phone and wonders when they get to meet you.”
Beca's eyes grow to the size of saucers and she chokes on her saliva. “Meeting your parents? Like, in real life?”
Chloe giggles and steps closer, sliding her hand down Beca's arm to tangle their fingers and swing their now joined hands back and forth between their bodies. “That's usually what meeting means.”
Beca's eyes roll. “Thanks, smarty-pants.”
Chloe sighs and squeezes her hand. “I'm sorry. I didn't mean to freak you out. I'm just letting you know that they'd like to meet you, but it doesn't have to be anytime soon.”
“I'm not freaked out,” Beca counters, surprising herself the most. She curls her free hand around Chloe's hip and smiles. “Just surprised.”
Chloe returns her smile, dropping it a second later when she glances over Beca's shoulder. “Your french toast is burning.”
“Shit!” Beca hisses, rushing to take it out of the pan while Chloe cackles. “Hey, you should be the one making them, it's the meal of your people.”
“It's not.” Chloe laughs. “I didn't grow up on french toast. Especially not for dinner.”
They spent the day lazing in bed and watching a sitcom as the storm raged outside, limiting their activities to lounging around Beca's apartment. Nighttime was already falling over New York City by the time they decided to get up and cook something.
“Besides,” Chloe resumes, looping her arms around Beca's waist. “You're apparently more French than I am.”
Beca hums, setting a piece of egg-soaked bread into the pan. “That's right, you're just a scam.”
“Hey,” Chloe pinches her waist, making her yelp and bat the offender away. “I still have the French citizenship.”
“Okay, but you're still a crook. You not being French certainly takes away some of the romance of us meeting in France.”
Chloe gasps, backing away while Beca snickers. “A crook! I played fair and square, you knew I was American from the start, so screw you Beca Mitchell.”
Beca raises an eyebrow and turns around. “Is that something you plan on going through with? Cause I wouldn't be opposed.”
Matching Beca’s cocked eyebrow, Chloe tugs her flush against her to pull her into a heated kiss that leaves Beca craving for more.
“Maybe.” She chuckles, “Dinner is burning again.”
“Dammit!” Beca turns off the stove and groans, waving her hand dismissively. “Get away from me dude, I can't function when you're this close to me.”
“Oh, it's my fault, now?” Chloe husks into her ear, her front pressing into Beca's back. Her hand slips beneath the material of Beca's Ramones t-shirt to dance along her stomach while her lips drop to Beca's neck, leaving a trail of light kisses up to Beca's jaw.
“Y-yes,” Beca murmurs shakily, grasping Chloe's hand before it can venture further south past the waistband of her cotton sweatpants. Chloe sheepishly grins into her neck at being caught. “Your libido is concerning.”
“Says the girl who wanted me to 'screw her' a second ago.”
“That's still the plan,” Beca lets her know without missing a beat. “Let me just try and salvage dinner first.”
She expects Chloe to make a joke about coming up with another type of dinner, but to her surprise, Chloe's heated embrace morphs into a sweet one. She presses a quick kiss on Beca's shoulder, then rests her chin over it.
“I'm really happy to be stuck in New York.”
Beca's lips break into a smile as she covers Chloe's hand resting on her stomach with her own. She might be reassured that Chloe feels the same way.
“Yeah. I've never had a white Christmas before.”
Turning in Chloe's arms, Beca tilts her head to the side. “You haven't?”
“Nope. Didn't snow in the South of France or in Florida, rarely does in Paris and never at Christmas time.” Chloe kisses her for no reason, shortly, sweetly. “And getting a snowy Christmas with my favorite person is kind of magical.”
Beca agrees; it's pretty magical.
Beca chances popping one eye open. The excited grin and sparkling orbs she's met with are nearly blinding.
“It's still dark outside,” she grumbles, turning her head into the pillow as she lies on her stomach. Warm lips press a kiss to her cheek, then to her tattooed-shoulder and move towards her spine. Chloe is half-laying on top of her by the time Beca finally accepts her fate and rolls onto her back. “You're lucky I love you.”
“I know,” Chloe whispers, the ends of her hair tickling Beca's chest as she leans in to kiss her softly. There's a lack of playfulness in her tone that has Beca pondering on that for a while; the fact that Chloe feels lucky to get to be loved by someone like Beca.
It makes her heart swell in her chest to the point where it almost hurts.
She slides her hands up to Chloe's cheeks before she can pull away, moving her lips against Chloe's languidly. The kiss slowly pushes her mind into the light, her body coming to life with each stroke of Chloe's lips against hers.
Backing away, Chloe smiles and nuzzles her cheek. “Merry Christmas, Bec.”
Beca lazily trails her fingers up Chloe's spine, closing her eyes briefly to bask in the comfort. The moment is so simple, yet Beca can feel it leave permanent fingerprints over her soul.
“Merry Christmas, love.”
She manages to bargain ten more minutes of light slumber before Chloe's giddiness gets too contagious to ignore.
“I need you to let me up so I can get your present, babe.”
Chloe attempts to tame down her squeal as she sits up. It comes out as a small squeak that has Beca stare are her adoringly and wonder how someone can be this cute.
“Right,” she says after a beat when Chloe raises an eyebrow, silently questioning why Beca hasn't moved yet. “Presents.”
Standing up, Beca throws on her sweatpants and a loose tee, and walks to her dressing to retrieve her gift from one of the drawers. It's messily wrapped because she didn't cut enough wrapping paper the first time and had to add an extra band to cover the bare part.
Beca frowns as she looks down at it. In hindsight, it really looks like a six-year-old wrapped the gift. She shuffles back to bed and plops down on the mattress, sitting cross-legged in front of Chloe.
“You go first,” she says with a fond smile, pushing the gift into her hands. She wants Chloe to open hers now because she's afraid her girlfriend might burst from excitement if she has to sit through Beca unwrapping her gift, first.
And in all honesty, she can't wait to witness Chloe's reaction to hers.
Chloe doesn't say anything about the poor state of wrapping; she tears it in mere seconds, anyway. Beca feels her heart pick up in apprehension as Chloe lifts the lid of the cardboard box and peels off the paper covering the item.
Chloe freezes with her hand mid-air, her jaw dropping as she stares at the gift for a good five seconds, then glances at Beca, then back inside the box.
“Beca,” her voice sounds far away, lost somewhere she can't reach. Looking up to meet Beca's eyes, Chloe blinks away the tears gathered in hers. “You remembered.”
Exhaling discreetly in relief, Beca nods, her lips curving into a smile. “Of course I did.”
It goes back to their time in the south of France. She and Chloe had stopped in a picturesque village to browse the market and the few shops. They had stepped into an antique shop called La Caverne and Chloe had immediately been drawn to this old, strudy-looking camera behind the glass showcase.
A camera from the late eighteen hundreds, Chloe had told her as she examined the contraption with rapt attention. She couldn't afford it, and while Beca thought of offering to buy it for her that day, she was certain it would seem a little forward to spend $800 on a gift for a person she had known for only five days, at the time.
Chloe still has to pick up her jaw as she lifts the heavy camera from its box. “How did you even...?”
“Later that same day when we were browsing the market, I told you I had an important phone call to make that would last a little while?”
“Yeah, so that was a lie, I actually went back to the shop to buy it and asked it they could hold it for me and ship it at some point when I decided when I wanted you to have it.”
“But that was... what, a week into us starting what we started?” Chloe asks, having a hard time to shake herself from her shell-shocked expression.
Beca nods. “And I didn't know where it would lead us so that's why I wanted to wait. I would have given it to you anyway, obviously, even if we had decided not to give this,” she motions between their bodies. “a chance. I would have had it shipped to you after I left or...” she didn't have the opportunity to think it through, because thankfully things took another turn. “I don't know.”
“But we decided to try this long-distance thing and I almost forgot about it until you told me you were coming for Christmas. I called the guy and asked for it to be shipped out here.”
“Oh my god,” Chloe shakes her head in awe, focusing back on her new, old camera. “I don't know what to say, I...”
Beca smiles and lies a hand over Chloe's leg. “Do you like it?”
“Do I like it?” Chloe echoes with a teary laugh. “Baby, it's probably the most wonderful present anyone has ever gotten me. Not to mention expensive.”
Pausing, Chloe frowns heavily, then delivers a light slap to Beca's arm.
“Hey, what's that for?” Beca laughs, keeping herself out of reach.
“You spent $800 on a gift for me!” Chloe cries out in bewilderment. “Are you crazy!?”
“Crazy in love with you,” Beca replies smoothly, her thumb running over Chloe's knee. Chloe exhales slowly, shaking her head. “It was certainly a challenge, going back in there and explaining to the owner of the shop what I wanted to do. He didn't speak much English and I was afraid you would walk back in to look at the camera again.”
“God, I can't believe you did this,” Chloe mumbles, but the stubborn smile tugging at her lips indicates she's anything but mad at Beca. “But I love it. It's going to look great in the gallery.”
Beca grins and leans forward to kiss her cheek. “That's what I thought, too.”
With another sigh and a head-shake, Chloe pulls her into a quick kiss. “Thank you, sweetie.”
Beca hums, smoothing a hand over Chloe's hair. “Merry Christmas, Chlo.”
“So, um,” Chloe starts after a minute admiring the object while Beca watched on fondly. “Do I have to give you your presents? Cause I feel slightly self-conscious about them, now.”
“You flew all the way out here to see me, babe,” Beca laughs. “I think that present tops everything else.” She pauses, pursing her lips as she replays Chloe's words. “Hold on. Presents? As in plural?” Beca sits back and furrows her brow. “But I only got you one.”
“Oh, shut your face,” Chloe glares, shoving her as Beca laughs lightly. “You got me a $800 present, you ass-hat.”
“Keep it up with insults and I might just take my gift back,” Beca playfully threatens.
“No,” Chloe clutches the camera to her chest with a pout. “It's mine.”
“Okay, gimme my presents,” Beca demands, waving her hands towards herself. She tries not to stare too much when Chloe stands up in her tank top and underwear to rummage through her suitcase.
“Open this one first,” Chloe says, extending an envelope to Beca as she settles back down in her spot. The other present, thin and rectangular -a frame, Beca is pretty sure- is tucked under her arm.
With one last glance to her girlfriend, Beca opens the envelope and takes out its contents. Tickets for a show, she knows without having to look, given the size and thickness of the paper.
“You got me tickets for David Guetta?” Beca asks quietly. “Like, the David Guetta?”
Nodding, Chloe chuckles. “Pretty sure there's only one of those, baby.”
“How did you even manage that? They must have been sold out ages ago!” Beca exclaims, nearly examining the ticket to make sure they are legit.
“I have some connections,” Chloe offers cheekily. “It's in April, at the Stade de France. You think you can make it?”
Beca has always wanted to see David Guetta live, but never really had the opportunity. While she's excited, she's even more so now that she knows it means going to Paris.
“Yeah, I'll make sure I can. I love it,” Beca kisses Chloe soundly. “Thank you.”
Chloe hums in response and hands her the other present which, Beca can tell from her expression, Chloe is shyer about.
Beca tears the paper away and turns it around to find a black and white photograph of the two of them. While she's surprised to have never seen it before, she's even more surprised that neither of them was the one to capture the moment.
She knows from the surroundings and Chloe's flower-patterned dress that it's from her gallery inauguration in Toulouse. They are both standing in a corner, Beca's eyes trained on Chloe as Chloe tells her about one of her photographs hanging on the wall.
Her eyes stop taking in the picture as a whole to focus on herself. The look in her eyes in the suspended scene makes her heart ache even more than before; it bleeds with affection and love, even though she was unaware -or in denial- that she was already head over heels in love with Chloe at that time.
Swallowing, Beca then clears her throat to make sure her voice is steady. “Who took this?”
“A photographer friend of mine. At the end of the night, he told me we made a beautiful couple and I didn't really correct him, probably because that's what I wanted us to be. I didn't want you to be just a summer fling but I didn't have the guts to tell you that.”
Beca nods, finding it difficult to tear her eyes from the photo and the compelling, intimate aura wrapped around their figures.
“I... It's...” Beca blows out a breath and finally looks up to find Chloe smiling at her. “I love it. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Bec,” Chloe murmurs, taking the frame out of her hands to set it to the side and move into her lap. She drapes her arms around Beca's neck, Beca's looping around her waist. “So, so much.”
Beca laughs happily as Chloe peppers her face with a bunch of short kisses.
Christmas just might become her favorite time of the year if it means she gets to spend the next ones with Chloe.
Beca's heart feels particularly heavy when she wakes up the morning before Chloe's departure to the sound of a suitcase being zipped-up.
She knows she should feel grateful that she got to spend more time with Chloe than planned, but it doesn't make it easier to see her go.
Rolling on her back, Beca notes that Chloe is already showered and dressed. A glance to the alarm-clock tells her she has to leave for the airport soon. The ache in her chest starts getting greater and her breathing gets more difficult with each passing second.
“Oh, hi,” Chloe murmurs as she stands up when she realizes Beca is awake. “I was just about to wake you up.”
The only words on Beca's tongue are don't go, but she painfully swallows them back before they can make the leap past her teeth. She doesn't want to call out the bitterness of the situation and end their beautiful time together on a sour note.
Beca eventually stands up and pads to Chloe. Not daring to say anything lest it's something as selfish as what nearly made it out of her mouth, she burrows herself into Chloe's body, arms slipping past the opening of her cardigan to snake around her waist.
Pressing a kiss to Chloe's pulse point, Beca buries her face into her neck and closes her eyes. She feels Chloe's throat bob up and down in a difficult swallow before her own arms wraps themselves around Beca's shoulders.
Chloe starts to sway gently from side to side and Beca lets out a teetering string of breath because Chloe is real, and while she's leaving today, she's not walking out of Beca's life. Beca chooses to focus on that rather than on the overwhelming pain in her chest and mind.
“I need to go, baby,” Chloe says quietly, after maybe a few minutes, or half-an-hour, Beca can't be sure.
“I'm guessing you called a cab and you don't want me to drive you to the airport?” she questions as she slowly backs away, sliding her hands along Chloe's back until they curl around her hips.
Beca grunts and closes her eyes. “Is it April, yet?”
Letting out a quiet giggle, Chloe kisses her lightly. “It's going to fly by.”
“I know.” Beca sighs. She hopes so, at least. “You better have that fridge stocked up with cheese when I get there cause I might want to stay cooped up in your place the whole time to get my Chloe-cuddles fix.”
Chloe smiles affectionately, pushing a strand of disheveled hair out of Beca's face. “Do your fans know how much of a softie you are?”
“No. And I intend to keep it that way, Beale, so no posting compromising pictures online,” she semi-jokes.
“Yes ma'am,” Chloe says mockingly, but Beca knows she is aware she needs to respect that agreement if they want to keep their relationship away from the spotlight.
“Kiss me,” Chloe requests quietly, the weight of her emotions visible in her troubled blues. Beca obliges, tilting her head up to kiss Chloe gently, slowly, as though to print the feeling in her mind for the time apart to come. A whimper escapes Chloe's mouth, but she pulls away before the kiss can skid out of control. “Okay.”
Beca inhales sharply and steps away, gaze falling to the floor. “Right.”
Chloe shrugs on her coat and puts on her shoes while Beca takes her small suitcase to the door. Chloe bids a quick goodbye to Jesse and Stacie who are hanging around in the living-room, then follows Beca down the stairs.
After a shorter embrace and a few more kisses, Chloe drives off, with a promise to text Beca when she lands in Paris and call her the following morning.
Beca slowly climbs up all five flights of stairs, the tears she's managed to keep at bay until now growing more insistent with each step. Opening her front door, she slips through the space and closes it behind her, laying her forehead against the wood to try to bypass the oncoming storm of feelings unleashing in her chest.
The first tear falls down her cheek, followed by bolder ones. She tries to breathe through them, closing her eyes to focus on anything else but the images of Chloe floating in her mind.
Once she's more or less composed herself, Beca turns around and walks to the couch, settling down between Jesse and Stacie and drawing their attention away from the TV.
“So, um, I'll kill you if you tell any of our friends about this but,” Beca stops to bury the sob itching to get out and glances briefly to her right to Stacie, then to her left to Jesse. “I could really use a hug right now.”
They both barrel into her as soon as the sentence is uttered and Beca laughs tearfully, their tight embrace warm and healing.
“We love you,” Stacie whispers into her hair, dropping a kiss on her head. “Even if you're a pain in the ass, sometimes.”
“Yeah,” Jesse agrees quickly. With what, Beca isn't sure. “And April is going to be there before you know it.”
Her phone chimes in the pocket of her sweatpants and Beca bats her two friends away to be able to reach it. It's unsurprisingly from Chloe.
Sliding her thumb across the screen, the message opens up to a photo. It's the selfie they took inside the cab on their way to see Anastasia on Broadway. Beca is grinning at the camera as Chloe kisses her cheek.
Chloe [10:03 AM]
A bientôt, mon amour <3
Beca takes a deep breath to avoid another meltdown and feels Stacie bump her shoulder with her own.
“Wanna be left alone or watch the stupid flick Jesse picked out?”
“Hey!” Jesse berates weakly from Beca's other side.
Clearing her throat, Beca reaches out to pat her cheeks dry. “A movie sounds nice.”
“Sweet, I'll go make the pop-corn.” Jesse announces, springing to his feet.
“And I'll get the alcohol,” Stacie says in turn, following after him.
Beca chuckles and draws her knees in to tuck them into her chest, the realization of how lucky she truly is to be surrounded by such amazing people spreading warmth over her whole body. She takes a smiling, teary-eyed selfie and sends it to Chloe.
Beca [10:05 AM]
See you soon, love.
Beca freezes mid-step, her blood running cold at Chloe's tearful tone. She's on her way home from her album release party. It's pushing on four am and all she wants to do is curl into a ball in her bed and sleep off the next three days.
Mid-way up to her apartment, a phone-call from Chloe went through.
“Chlo? Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I... your album came through the mail today.”
“Oh,” Beca lets out and spins around to sit on the top-step of the third story. Her heart starts beating faster in apprehension of getting Chloe's feedback. She didn't want her to listen to it before it was completely done, because it had to be perfect.
It had to reflect the muse behind the lyrics. And as far as Beca is concerned, only that person's opinion on it matters.
So when Chloe still hasn't said anything on the other end of the phone, Beca jumps to the conclusion that she doesn't like it, and her palms start to sweat.
“Sorry.” Chloe clears her throat. “It's amazing, Beca. No, more than that, I just can't come up with a word for it.”
Beca releases a long breath and leans against the wall. She smiles, an invisible weight lifting off her shoulders.
“It's mostly about you, you know. About us.” She says quietly, picking at a loose thread in her scarf to have something to focus on other than the weight of her words. She knows Chloe must have figured that out, but she wants to make sure. “About how you changed my life.”
She hears Chloe's sharp inhale and feels tears prick behind her eyes.
“I've never told you this, but before I got on this crazy journey to Paris, I was struggling with a lot of negative feelings because my label was riding me too hard, but also because there was something missing. I felt empty, or... not completely whole, anyway. Like there was something missing but I couldn't really figure what it was.”
Beca pauses to take a deep breath, smiling through her tears.
“And then I found you, when I wasn't even looking for you. You came out of nowhere when I least expected you to, and I honestly don't know how I got this lucky. That's what track ten, Serendipity is about.”
Beca chuckles when nothing but stunned silence follows up. “Have I actually managed to render the Chloe Beale speechless?”
A sob rings out on the other end and Beca wishes she was in Paris to hold Chloe tight and pepper her face with kisses.
“You wrote a song about us meeting. A song, Beca,” Chloe blows out a breath. “This is probably the most incredible thing anyone has ever done for me and I still can't believe it. I finished listening an hour ago but as you can tell, I'm still a blubbering mess.”
“I'm so relieved you like it. I... I don't really care about the fan's opinions, or the press, I just... Your opinion is the one that matters the most.”
“Like it? Baby.” Chloe laughs tearfully. “Past the whole 'there's a song about me out there' thing, your sound is amazing, Beca. Your words, they're... striking and so relatable. In a breathtaking way. It's going to be a giant hit and I can't wait to watch that happen, because you deserve every bit of it.”
Beca exhales shakily and pads her cheeks dry with the hem of her scarf, only to have more spill out. “You have no idea how much your words mean to me, Chlo. I... I wish you were here, or I was there, or just... somewhere on this earth together.”
Chloe's sniffle only makes Beca cry harder. “So do I. I miss you so much.”
“I miss you, too.”
Chloe clears her throat once more. “How was the party?”
“It was alright. I'm not one for parties, so I can't say I had a blast either. Lots of pictures and fake smiles and people I'm glad I don't see on a daily basis.”
Chloe giggles. “Are you going to spend the next few days sleeping it off?”
“Yep, that's the plan.”
“Good. I need you in top form for when you come over here, baby.”
Beca closes her eyes. She's considering taking a cab to the airport right now, because they have only been apart for two weeks and she doesn't know how on earth she'll manage twelve more.
“Why? Is there more of Paris I need to discover?”
“There's always more to discover,” Chloe says. “But I was more thinking along the lines of activities that don't require leaving the apartment.”
Beca groans. “Okay, I'm going to hang up now because I know for a fact you need to get to work and I won't let you get me worked up.”
Chloe laughs. “Fair enough. I do have to go. I love you and I'll talk to you soon, K?”
“Okay. Have a good day at work. I love you too and I'll hold you to that.”
Falling back in her routine is harder than Beca thought it would be. Time flew while she was preparing her album, but now that it's out, it's as though the days drag on longer that they are supposed to.
It doesn't help that most of the artists she's producing are not that interesting. Except for Emily.
Emily is Beca's young protegée and Beca loves every minute of listening to her song ideas or recording them.
“That was great, Em,” Beca speaks into the microphone, sharing a beaming smile with Emily through the glass. “Let's take five?”
“Do you think I should belt it out more in the second chorus?” Emily asks as she plops down in the seat across from Beca.
“I personally like it the way it is, but you can always give it a go and we can compare both.”
“Okay, let's do that.”
Beca's phone chimes alive with Chloe's face and Beca can't hold back the smile that spreads over her face.
“I'll be back,” she tells Emily quickly, springing to her feet to step into her office and accept the video call. “Hi.”
Beca laughs at the excitement on Chloe's face. Chloe appears to be in her car, the epitome of cute with her glasses on and a messy bun sitting atop her head. It's already night time over there. “What's up, Chlo?”
“Your song! It's on the radio!” Chloe reaches over to turn it up, Beca guesses, because the sound gets louder. “In France! You're on the French radio!”
Beca finds herself beaming more at Chloe's childlike excitement than at the fact that her song made it across the ocean.
“I hear, babe,” Beca says fondly, then frowns. “You're not driving, are you?”
Chloe shakes her head. “No. Well, not anymore. I pulled over when I heard your voice and called you. Should I be concerned of fans stalking me out here, now?”
Beca snickers. “That's unlikely. They don't know who you are.” Realizing it's very belittling, Beca stumbles over her next words. "I mean-"
"I know what you meant," Chloe assures her with a wink. “I have some news.”
There's this small smile tugging at Chloe's lips in excitement.
“I got a call this morning. I may have been nominated for Best Monochrome photographer of the Year?”
Chloe is biting down on her lip with that expression that shows she can't quite believe what she's saying.
Beca's jaw drops. “What?! Chloe!”
“Yeah, I'm... I still need to wrap my head around it.”
“When is the Award ceremony? Is it in Paris?” Beca is already opening her computer to check her calendar.
Chloe smiles and shakes her head. “There's no... ceremony per say, it's online or something, I guess. It's not that much of a big deal. But it's my first nomination ever, so.”
She finishes off with a shrug, as though it really wasn't incredible news.
“And you've waited five minutes to tell me this? It's not a big deal? Chlo, this is amazing and so deserved.”
“Thanks, sweetie. I was going to call you, I was just excited about hearing you on the radio.”
“I can't believe you sometimes, Chloe Beale.” Beca glances at the clock and sighs. “I have to go. Emily is waiting for me. We still on for that Skype date tomorrow night?”
“Of course. Looking forward to it.”
“Me, too. Love you.”
Chloe blows her a kiss. “Love you too. Bye!”
Chloe [1:18 PM]
Beca [1:19 PM]
Chloe [1:19 PM]
You sent me flowers and chocolate!!!
Beca [1:19 PM]
Mmm. I guess I did.
Beca [1:20 PM]
It's not every day my talented photographer of a girlfriend wins an award.
Beca [1:20 PM]
And I'm super proud of you. You deserve this recognition, and many more down the road.
Chloe [1:20 PM]
Chloe [1:20 PM]
You're going to make me cry.
Chloe [1:20 PM]
Thank you ❤
Heaving out a deep sigh, Beca slumps back into her seat.
It's mid-February. The weather in New York is cold and biting and depressing, and Beca misses Chloe to the point where it's starting to be insufferable.
Beca nibbles on her bottom-lip as she thinks about whether it's a good idea. She doesn't have any event for the next five days, only appointments and meetings she can push back if she did decide to give in to her crazy idea to get on a flight to Paris tomorrow.
Beca [1:25 PM]
Any plans for the weekend?
Beca starts to fiddle with the zipper on her hoodie the second she's pressed sent. Maybe her question isn't subtle enough, but she doesn't want to impose on Chloe if she has other plans or if she's spending the rest of the week down in Toulouse.
She stops working all together to look at flights for Paris, her fingers drumming against the wooden surface of her desk as she waits for a reply.
Chloe [1:27 PM]
Nothing too exciting. I'll be at the gallery tomorrow.
Chloe [1:27 PM]
And it's really cold outside so probably Netflix and Chill for the rest.
Chloe [1:27 PM]
She finishes choosing her flight and typing it her credit card information before pondering on how blatant she wants her lie to be that Chloe will never guess she is on her way to see her.
Beca [1:32 PM]
Fitting for the Grammys
Chloe [1:32 PM]
Chloe [1:32 PM]
I want pictures!! :)
Beca [1:33 PM]
I'm technically not allowed to, but I guess I can make an exception.
Chloe [1:33 PM]
You better ;) ;)
When she gets home, Beca packs a light suitcase, asks Stacie if she can drive her to the airport tomorrow (Stacie squeals and nods) before she settles into bed, not able to catch a wink of sleep in excitement of finally getting to see Chloe again.
“Je descends dans un instant !”
Two months. Two long months since Beca last heard that voice unfiltered. Although her mind can't register what was said, it still buzzes from excitement and slight apprehension.
She steps further into the space, intending to have her back turned when Chloe comes down the spiral staircase to add to the surprise.
It's mid-afternoon in Paris; Beca landed a little over an hour ago after 5480 miles of travel in the air.
Chloe's gallery is the same as she remembers it to be. A few pictures have been replaced or added, and the camera she got Chloe for Christmas is proudly displayed on a shelf on the far wall.
The atmosphere is very Chloe; a tranquil, soothing warmth, while the light pouring in through the large windows gives it a vibrant touch.
Soft music is playing from the speakers and Beca loses herself in Chloe's world for a moment, almost forgetting that Chloe has no idea she is here.
The sounds of footsteps over the ceiling about ten seconds later draws Beca out of her musings, her heartbeat in sync with each step that brings Chloe closer to her.
“Comment est ce que je peux – “ Beca turns around to catch Chloe falter in shock. She gapes at Beca with wide eyes. “Beca?”
“Surprise?” Beca manages a sheepish grin and adds, “April was just too damn far away.”
“Oh my God,” Chloe whispers, seemingly frozen to her spot. She snaps out of it a handful of seconds later and takes quick strides towards Beca, throwing her arms around her frame. The force of the embrace makes Beca stumble backwards and has her laughing in Chloe's neck as she lifts Chloe off the ground a few inches.
Beca's eyes slip shut as she breathes in Chloe's scent and squeezes her tighter against her.
Pulling away, Chloe grips the lapels of Beca's coat, eyes relentlessly skipping over her face. “You're really here?”
Beca chooses to tug Chloe down into a searing kiss instead of replying, a kiss that hopefully translates how much she's missed her. Chloe responds eagerly, her fingers cupping each side of Beca's neck to draw her in even closer.
Chloe whimpers at the first stroke of Beca's tongue and Beca feels the sound echo deep within her. She tilts her head to deepen the kiss, her fingers curling into Chloe's shirt.
The kiss grows bolder with each passing second, dangerously threading with something Beca won't be able to tame if they keep going at this pace. A part of her brain is well aware one of Chloe's customers could very well walk in any moment.
“Chloe,” she husks out, wrenching herself away to catch a breath.
“I need you,” Chloe replies quick as a flash, staggering back from the kiss. The sudden darkness in her eyes makes Beca short of breath. “C'mon.”
Peeling herself away, Chloe slips her hand into Beca's in directions of the stairs. She stops by her desk before they can reach them.
“What are you doing?” Beca asks in a whine of impatience, nipping at Chloe's earlobe to show her just how impatient she is. She watches as Chloe writes something in sharpie on a sheet of paper.
“Telling any customer that wants to come in that I'll be back in ten minutes.”
“Ten minutes? That's all?”
Chloe smiles cheekily, giving her a pointed look. “We haven't touched each other in more than two months, Bec. But I love how ambitious you are.”
She scribbles over the 10 and replaces it with a 20, under Beca's satisfied eyes.
For good measure, Beca kisses her hard to let her know that she intends to make those twenty minutes she's granted with, worth it. Chloe lets out a quiet noise into the lip-lock, and once she's shaken herself out of her daze, walks to the glass door to tape the message on it and lock it.
Slightly dizzy from running up the spiral staircase, Beca sets both hands on Chloe's hips to steady herself and pins her against the nearest wall once her feet are on even ground. Her dizziness isn't helped by how good Chloe's lips feel against hers, warm and smooth as they move swiftly, in perfect sync with Beca's.
She gets lost in the sensation, her mind steadily losing any ounce of rationality as the low fire burning in the pit of her stomach grows bolder.
“God, I've missed you,” she whispers as she gathers herself, pressing her forehead against Chloe's to thread some air.
Beca's eyes slide open, finding those familiar baby blues she fell for all these months ago in that same very place staring right back at her with an intensity that makes her already irregular breathing falter.
“Beca,” Chloe whines when she remains too long without moving for her liking. Her hips find Beca's, and the simple pressure makes that fire burst into high flames, consuming Beca entirely.
Taking Chloe's hand into hers, Beca tugs her along, past the curtain separating the work-space from the darkroom.
“I've always wanted to do it in here,” she murmurs somewhat bashfully when Chloe gives her a quizzical look. She comes to a stop in front of one the work spaces and sets both hands on Chloe's hips. “Since that day you taught me how to print film.”
A small noise low from Chloe's throat flits through her lips. “Really?”
“Yeah. Watching you share your knowledge and your passion about photography was really hot. And...” Beca breaks eye-contact for a second to gather her bearings as the memory alone makes her body strum. “It was also in this very room that I realized what I felt for you was so much more than just a fling.”
“Really?” Chloe repeats, this time more quietly.
Beca hums in affirmation, letting her hands drop as she glances at the table laden with high-tech material.
“Now as much as I would like to be the 'sweep everything off the table and lift you up on it' kind of girlfriend, that shit looks expensive, so I'm not going to do that.”
Chloe nods, teeth tugging her bottom lip in to stifle a laugh. “Good call.”
After clearing the table, Beca feels the nerves tickle her limbs from stirring herself out of her comfort zone.
“So should I lift you up or do you want to climb up, or?” Chloe's giggle makes her freeze and wince. “Did I just totally ruin the moment?”
“No,” Chloe assures her with a tiny laugh, cupping her neck to kiss her. She climbs onto the table and hooks both pointer fingers into the loops of Beca's jeans to tug her in between her legs. “But you are very cute when you get embarrassed.”
Beca's glare is wiped away by a smile when Chloe's lips brush lightly against hers. “God, I've missed you so fucking much, you have no idea.”
Chloe wraps an arm around Beca's shoulder to draw her even closer. “I think I do, if it's any degree similar to how I've missed you.”
Beca snickers before she can help herself. “Are we one of those disgustingly cute couples now?”
“Beca?” Chloe's voice drops to a serious timbre sprinkled with impatience. Beca hums, eyes flicking up from where they've been locked on Chloe's lips, to find impossibly dark orbs staring back at her. A chill runs down to the tip of her toes. “Twenty minutes.”
“Right,” Beca shakes her head to refocus, but still dares a smug, “Good thing I changed your mind about the ten minutes, huh?”
“Beca,” Chloe is the one to whine this time. “I swear. Kiss me before I burst.”
“Jeez, okay,” she mutters good-naturally. “You're bossy.”
Just as she's about to grant Chloe a kiss, Beca straightens and extends her arm to the left. She fumbles with the light switches for a few seconds, smiling in satisfaction when the room is plunged in red light.
Grinning, Beca nudges her nose against Chloe's and captures her lips into a bruising kiss as her hands slide along Chloe's waist, past her shirt to draw patterns on the small of her back.
The atmosphere tips from goofy to thick as the warmth of Chloe's skin under her fingers sparks a bolt of lightning down her spine, scattering into tiny shocks to every corner of her body.
Beca steps closer until the edge of the table prevents her from going any further. They both inhale into the kiss and Chloe's fingers tangle into Beca's hair as she tilts her head to deepen it, her tongue running over Beca's bottom lip.
As they break apart to draw some air back into their empty lungs, Beca takes a moment to compose herself and look at Chloe. Reaching up, she brushes a strand of hair away from Chloe's face, her fingers drifting down her jaw to hold her chin. Her lips are red and swollen, and the blues of her eyes saturated.
She looks breathtaking, and Beca still has to pinch herself to make sure this is all real, that Chloe is her girlfriend.
“You're so beautiful,” Beca whispers, rubbing the pad of her thumb over the dip in Chloe's chin. “Sometimes I can't believe I'm yours and you're mine.”
“Baby,” Chloe whimpers, locking her legs behind Beca's thighs as her hips surge forward and into Beca's, wrenching a groan out of her. Beca nods in silent agreement, dropping her head down to Chloe's neck to trail her lips down her skin, alternating between light sucking and teeth grazing.
Chloe is already quivering in her arms as she skips over her chest and covered stomach. Dropping onto her knees, Beca runs her hands over Chloe's thighs to lift up her skirt. Her fingers find the elastic band of her tights and she pauses to glance up at Chloe.
“Fuck, yes, please.”
Desire trickling down her veins, Beca turns her head to the side to gently bite Chloe's thigh through the fabric. “I love it when you curse.”
“Bec,” Beca nods and gets to work before the twenty minutes are up, moaning when she gets to taste Chloe for the first time in two months.
It's sort of exhilarating, having a time set to cross the finish line. She does with a handful of minutes to spare, having drawn out Chloe's pleasure enough for her to beg but not too much for it to become torture.
Smirking in satisfaction at Chloe's half-lidded and hazy eyes when her body slumps against the wall behind her, Beca rises to her feet.
She kisses Chloe gently, before looking at her wrist as though she had an invisible watch.
“Landing was smooth and without a hitch, you have exactly three minutes to recuperate before the doors open.” She does a mock salute. “Captain Beca out.”
Snickering, Chloe straightens and grips the collar of Beca’s shirt to pull her in for another kiss. “You're such a dork. Let's go home.”
“Home?” Beca echoes skeptically. “What about the gallery?”
“My girlfriend just flew across the ocean to surprise me, so I couldn't care less about the gallery right now,” Chloe pauses, hopping down the table and sliding her tights back up her legs. She pulls Beca closer to kiss her, tugging at her bottom lip. “All I care about is taking you home and fucking you senseless. Got any objection?”
Beca's jaw hangs open for a beat or two, her heart reaching a thundering speed in her ears.
“Good,” Chloe kisses her for good measure. “Let's go, then.”
She makes a note to herself to surprise Chloe more often in the future.
Beca hums and leans up to kiss Chloe's chin. “Whassup?”
Chloe's chest vibrates with laughter against Beca's cheek. “You plan on staying in bed until tomorrow morning?”
“Yes,” she replies, tightening her hold on Chloe's waist and throwing a leg over one of Chloe's to make sure she doesn't move away. “And I plan on making you stay, too.”
“That won't require much convincing,” Chloe murmurs, her nails lightly trailing up and down Beca's spine.
“What time's it?” she mumbles, Chloe's heartbeat steady into her ear slowly lulling her to sleep.
“Just after five.”
Beca knows she shouldn't fall asleep for another handful of hours, but her body is spent and her mind still has to land from the clouds.
“I'm actually supposed to have dinner tonight with some friends and I'd like you to meet them, if you feel like it.”
“Sure,” Beca agrees without having to think much about it. She glances up to meet Chloe's eyes. “Is Aubrey going to be there, too?”
“Yeah, it's actually at her place.”
“Uh, oh. Should I brace myself for the best friend talk?”
Chloe chuckles. “Probably. Knowing Aubrey, she might be cold at first. She's like that. We called her General Posen in college because she was a tough coach.”
Beca frowns and sits up, holding the sheet to her chest as she pivots to face Chloe. “Coach for what?” she wiggles her eyebrows. “Were you a hot soccer player?”
“Sorry to burst your fantasy bubble, babe.” Chloe leans up to kiss her quickly. “I was in an A Capella group.”
“What!” Beca grins at that piece of information. “How am I only finding about this now?”
Chloe shrugs. “Never came up, I guess. It was fun. We never won Nationals, but we had the time of our lives.”
“There are videos, right?” Chloe's bashful expression answers the question for her. “I wanna see.”
After a bit more convincing (not with words), Chloe slides out of bed to get her computer. Beca immediately laughs upon seeing their flight attendant costume.
“Sorry,” she whispers sheepishly upon catching Chloe's glare. “I'll be good.”
Chloe shows her several of their numbers, and Beca feels less nervous about meeting Aubrey now that she saw her puke her guts out in front of hundreds at a National event.
“So, um,” Beca starts as Chloe puts her computer away. “Do you still have that flight attendant costume?”
Chloe raises an amused eyebrow as she lies back. “I thought you found it ridiculous?”
“On the other Bellas, maybe. Looks kinda hot on you.”
Pushing at Beca's shoulder to have her lie down, Chloe swiftly moves to straddle her waist. Beca attempts to focus on her eyes and not the rest that is now left uncovered, but fails, letting them roam over Chloe's body. Chloe's red strands of hair are beautifully framing her face as they cascade down her shoulders and Beca feels short of breath.
“Only kinda?” she aks, leaning down to trace Beca's jaw with her lips.
Beca's hands find Chloe's hips to keep her exactly where she is. “Fine. Extremely hot.”
Chloe grins against her skin, moving down to her neck and lightly biting at her pulse point. “I think it's at my parent's, back in the States.”
“Too bad,” Beca manages through a moan when Chloe sucks on that spot that drives her crazy. “I was ready to join the mile-high club.”
“You haven't?” Chloe asks as she pulls back, and Beca bites back a whine at the loss.
Beca isn't sure she wants to know the extent of the wild things Chloe has done, especially when those weren't with her.
“No, but it's on my sex bucket-list.”
Beca's eyes widen before she can help it. “You – you have a sex bucket list?” Chloe nods, expression sheepish. “Holy hell.”
Chloe shrugs. “It's just bunch of fantasies.”
Beca takes a deep breath; her body temperature abruptly went through the roof. “Like what?”
“Doing it in a dressing room,” Chloe starts, then purses her lips in thought. “Or in any public place, really. There's a thrill about playing when you can get caught.”
A chill washes over Beca's entire length. “Damn.”
Chloe giggles and winks. Beca wonders how someone can be so cute and sexy at the same time. “Being tied-up and being the one to tie my partner up.”
“I knew it.” Beca drawls out with a squint, squeezing Chloe's hips.
“What about you? What are your fantasies?”
Beca knows she's already red in the face just hearing about Chloe's, and can feel the heat move down to her neck and chest when it runs out of space.
“Well,” she clears her throat when it comes out squeaky. “The dark-room was one of those and fuck, it was even better than what I imagined. And I spent a lot of time doing that. Maybe um... being blindfolded?”
Chloe lets out a tiny whimper. “What else?”
“Don't make fun of me?”
“I'm a huge comic book nerd.”
“And I, uh, I've always found Catwoman very attractive.”
“Oh,” Chloe grins wickedly. “That can be arranged.”
Beca is the one to whimper this time.
“Come on, we need to get ready,” Chloe announces then, just when Beca's body is really getting on board with whatever Chloe wants to do to it. Beca gapes as Chloe starts to move off her, and grips her waist.
“Can I change my mind about dinner?”
“Nope. We're going.”
“Not fair,” she grumbles petulantly. “You go and ask me about my fantasies while straddling me, completely naked might I add, and leave me hanging?”
“Well, I was going to propose we take a shower but that's up to you, if you'd rather stay here and mop.”
“Fine,” Beca mumbles. “I guess all I can do is accept that bargain.”
“Ass.” Chloe snickers, pinching Beca's waist before she flies out of bed, Beca hurrying after her.
Dinner is nice. Aubrey is indeed a little guarded at first but gradually warms up to Beca as the evening progresses. Chloe's group of friends is very international, and different languages flow around the table, along with delicious wine and mouthwatering food.
She realizes during the board game they are playing how comfortable she's acting with Chloe, even around her people she's just met. How her hand naturally comes to rest on Chloe's thigh when she sits back after rolling the dice or how she finds herself kissing her cheek several times in the few hours spent at Aubrey's.
“Your friends are really nice,” Beca tells Chloe when they get back to her place. Chloe tosses her keys in the bowl by the entry and smiles. “I'm glad I met them.”
Chloe walks over to where Beca stands in the living-room and sets her hands on the lapels of her jacket. “So am I. And they loved you, I could tell.”
Beca chuckles, tugging Chloe closer by the hips. “Even Aubrey?”
“Especially Aubrey,” Beca raises a surprised eyebrow at that. “She's never warmed up that quickly to any of my past boyfriends.”
Chloe clears her throat. “Most people I dated turned out to be bad news. She has a hunch for these kinds of things and it took me a while to trust it. Could have saved me a few heartbreaks.”
Beca hums, her brain stuck on wondering just how many times Chloe got her heart broken.
“So you've been in serious relationships before?” she asks instead.
“Yeah. Just once. His name was Tom. We met at Barden, he was in the basketball team. Typical jock, with typical jock behavior and Aubrey never understood why I started going out with him in the first place. I still fell hard and fast and I was stupid enough to think we had a future, that maybe he was the one.”
“We broke-up after three years together. I confronted him because we barely saw each other anymore and he didn't seem to care. We had a huge fight; he said I was clingy and insecure. I knew our relationship couldn't remain healthy if he didn't want to spend as much time with me as I wanted with him.” Chloe shrugs. “So I left him. I realized I deserved much better. It was hard but I know I made the right decision in the end. I learned a lot about myself during that time and it made me grow as a person.”
“I'm sorry,” Beca says softly. “Well, no. I'm not sorry you left him, because he sounds like a prick. I'm just sorry you got your heart broken in the process.”
“It's okay. My heart healed a long time ago and it's now the fullest it's been in a long time.”
Beca smiles; she knows from the way Chloe's looking at her and the talk they had back in New York that she has something to do with that.
“And Aubrey noticed that tonight. She witnessed how happy you make me so you won many points there. The fact that you're funny and smart didn't hurt.”
Chloe confirming that fact doesn't hurt, either. Beca's heart does that fluttering thing in her chest and she leans in to kiss Chloe, her hands sliding from Chloe's hips to meet behind her back and pull her closer.
“I'm glad I passed the best friend test.”
“Beca?” Chloe husks against her lips a few seconds into another kiss. Her fists curl around the leather of her jacket. “Were you serious about this fantasy of yours to be blindfolded? Cause I may not have a full-body leather suit on hand, but a blind-fold?” Chloe hums. “I can come up with something.”
“Fuck.” Beca utters, fingers digging into Chloe's hips.
“Do you trust me?”
Beca nearly rolls her eyes at the obviousness of that answer, but still appreciates Chloe asking. “Of course I do.”
Chloe is dragging her to her bedroom the second Beca acquiesces, and Beca's body follows on auto-pilot, her mind still foggy over the fact that she gets to fulfill two fantasies in the same day.
Beca rouses from her slumber to a soft voice drifting from the living-room. It's speaking in French, and she doesn't understand any of it, but she knows it's definitely Chloe.
It sends a handful of butterflies in her stomach, and while she didn't get enough hours of sleep and her brain feels mushy from the jet-lag, Beca wants to make the most of the few days she gets in Paris.
After freshening up and throwing one of Chloe's fluffy blankets over her shoulders, Beca pads barefoot on the hardwood floor and sits on the couch, settling against Chloe's left side.
“I won't be long,” Chloe whispers as she tucks the phone away from her mouth and brushes her lips across Beca's forehead, her arm coming around Beca's back.
“ 'S okay,” Beca mumbles, resting her head in the crook of Chloe's neck after pressing a light morning kiss below her ear.
She slides her left hand along Chloe's stomach to curl it around her right hip, fingers dipping under her shirt to rub her thumb over smooth skin. Her eyes slip shut as she sinks further into the soothing timbre of Chloe's voice and the warmth of her body.
Beca lifts her head, blinking several times. She didn't even notice Chloe had ended her phone-call and figures she must have dozed off.
Chloe smiles and kisses her softly. “I'm really happy you're here.”
Beca grins through her sleepiness, chasing Chloe's lips for another kiss. She ends up on minutes later on Chloe's lap, with both hands under her shirt, tracing the muscles in her lower back as they trade languid kisses.
Beca backs away, laughing when her stomach growls. She rubs her lips together, gazing at Chloe. “What are we doing today?”
“Depends, did you get your cuddle fix already?” Chloe teases.
“Shut up.” Beca mutters, breaking eye-contact as red rushes to meet her cheeks.
Laughter bubbling in her chest, Chloe throws her arms around Beca's frame and squeezes her tight.
“Chloe,” Beca whines, trying to squirm away. “You're squishing me, this isn't a legit Chloe Beale hug. I demand a refund.”
Chloe lets her go and kisses her apologetically.
“I want to discover more of Paris,” Beca says after another minute spent kissing. Her stomach is growing impatient but she ignores it for the time being. “I'm sure you have plenty of awesome places under your sleeve.”
“Well, I've always wanted to visit the Parisian sewage system,” Chloe replies with the utmost seriousness. Beca recoils with a frown.
“Are you high?”
“No.” Chloe giggles and kisses her shoulder, “It's an underground museum. Tells you a lot about how Paris was built the way it is today.”
Beca's nose wrinkles up. She's suddenly not too hungry anymore. “Thanks, but I'll pass.”
“I've also wanted to visit the old prison from the Revolution.”
“First the cata-thing with the skeletons last summer, now the prison?” Beca scolds. “You really know how to sweep a girl off her feet.”
“Well, I did, didn't I?” Chloe grins into her shoulder.
Beca rolls her eyes. “Yeah, but not with that.”
Chloe pulls away to look at her. “With what, then?”
Beca kisses her, for no other reason than simply wanting to. She clears her throat and attempts to pull her thoughts from the thick fog Chloe's kisses created in her brain.
“The way you choose to see the world was a pretty big factor; how you read people and how open and understanding you are about your own feelings and those of others.” She smiles and pushes a lock of hair past Chloe's ear. “Your passion for photography was and still is another one of those reasons. It's truly compelling to hear you talk about photography, it makes me want to learn even more. The way you tell stories and unveil emotions through unmoving frames is disarming and mesmerizing and shows just how talented you are.”
Beca pauses and shrugs, because every little thing she loves about Chloe is obvious to her now as opposed to when she was still struggling to acknowledge her feelings last summer.
“All that added to your kindness, your contagious bubbliness, adorableness, and the fact that you are one of the most beautiful person I've ever laid my eyes on, I really didn't stand a chance in trying to resist you. I was in from the first few days.”
Chloe remains silent for a long stretch, staring so intensely at Beca that she feels her eyes trace her soul.
Eventually, she lets out a stunned laugh and captures her lips in a long kiss. “You're quite something, Beca Mitchell.”
“Right back at you,” Beca murmurs, dipping in for another kiss before they share a lasting, heart-melting embrace. “Okay, enough sappy stuff. Come on,”
She springs to her feet and holds both hands out to help Chloe up.
“Teach me photography,” Beca requests when Chloe is level with her. “I wanna walk in your shoes. How you choose what you want to capture and all that stuff. Unless it's sealed information.”
Chloe's eyebrow knit together. “Sealed information?”
“You know, like magicians who won't share their tricks. Are you one of those?”
Chloe's confusion morphs into amusement. “Well, no, I'm not a magician to begin with.”
“Mm, could have fooled me,” Beca ponders for a second, then tugs Chloe closer by the hips and lightly brushes her lips against hers. “Cause you're pretty magical.”
“Oh my gosh,” Chloe rolls her eyes, draping her arms over Beca's shoulders. “How long have you been waiting to to say that?”
Beca grins slyly, winding her arms around Chloe's waist. “A couple minutes.”
“Okay, you dork, get some actual clothes and let's go, then.”
“It's light,” Beca observes out loud, weighing the small camera in her hands with a frown. It's one of Chloe's five cameras, but she has never held this one before.
“If you're gonna do that, can you do me a favor and put the strap around your neck, sweetie?” Chloe requests softly, and Beca's eyes widen slightly, before she scrambles to do just so. “Sorry, it's not that I don't trust you, but it's my baby.”
“Yeah, no, I understand. I don't let anyone else use my headphones.”
“You let me,” Chloe points out with a tilt of the head.
“Well, yeah. Probably because of the same reason I'm holding your camera right now.” They share a small smile at that, before Beca glances around at their surroundings.
Chloe decided to take her to Montmartre as it's one of her favorite place to people-watch. Beca leans back against the street railing behind her; it's a pedestrian-only area, and Chloe is standing ten feet away, in the middle of the street. “So what am I taking pictures of?”
“You decide,” Chloe tells her with a confident nod. “Walk around, see what you can see, think about what type of emotion you want to capture. This is going to sound extremely corny, but you gotta observe the place you want to shoot first with your heart, and then with the camera.”
Beca hums to herself and pretends to look around, before raising the camera to her face and snapping several pictures of Chloe the second she turns her gaze away.
“Why are you taking pictures of me?”
Beca grins cheekily. Chloe did say to shoot what her heart was set on. Or something along those lines. She isn't sure, she tends to black out whenever Chloe talks about her passion. The sudden light and sparkle in Chloe's eye when she does is always so endearing and distracting.
“Well, you just said – “
“Oh my gosh, Bec, when did you become so cheesy?” Chloe interrupts with a shake of the head.
“You like it,” Beca states confidently. Chloe's resigned sigh tells her she's right. “Besides, there are never pictures of you. And since you've made the awful mistake of lending me your camera, I'm going to change that. Now smile, dammit.”
Predictably, Chloe sulks, then sticks her tongue out at the lens.
“That's the spirit,” Beca deadpans, lowering the camera. She walks over to Chloe to kiss her pout away. “Sorry, I'll be a good student from now on. Promise. I just need a few pointers on how you choose what to shoot.”
“Okay,” Chloe tugs her along for a short distance and stops when she spots something. “See, this is a very cute square,” Beca makes a sound of approval. It's surrounded by small, colorful cafes or bistros and looks straight out of the Amelie Poulain movie Chloe made her watch the last time she was in Paris. “You can take a photo of it and it will be a nice picture, but it won't convey much emotion. Emotion, or a feeling, is what can bring a snapshot out of obscurity and make it shine.”
Beca nods along to Chloe's explanation, eyes flitting between her girlfriend and their surroundings.
“And emotion can be evoked through many things; movement, spontaneity or mood. See that couple over there?” Chloe jerks her chin discreetly to a pair talking over a cup of coffee in the café by the corner of the square. The woman has her head thrown back as she laughs while the man, her boyfriend or husband watches on with a fond smile. Beca finds herself smiling at the exchange. “There.”
Beca glances away to find Chloe staring at her. Her mind feels miles away from the current situation. “What?”
“You smiled upon watching them, right?” she asks and Beca nods without really meaning to. “It triggered something in you so I guess it's worth photographing.”
Beca nods again, not daring to tell Chloe why it made her smile. While watching the couple, a part of her mind drifted to imagining how amazing it would be to do that with Chloe; get coffee and croissants each morning at the cafe in Chloe's street before they go to work.
It's such a simple thing, having a routine with the person she loves. Yet it's what Beca's heart longs for when she thinks about how she has to leave Chloe again in just a few days.
She knows deep down this isn't something they will get to have any time soon. It's more likely to take a few years and that thought alone makes Beca's head spin.
A few years. She is already struggling with the long-distance after a few months. The realization strikes her out of nowhere, like a sucker-punch to the gut; how little they have figured out and just how long this installment, going back and forth from New York to Paris or from Paris to New York is most likely to be their future.
A warm hand slips into hers, drawing Beca away from her increasing anxiety.
“Where did you go?”
“Sorry.” Beca shakes her head to dismiss those tinted thoughts and gives Chloe a strained smile. “I was just thinking about what you said about emotions and how true it was.”
Chloe stares at her another for another stretch, as though she wants to say something, but her better judgment decides otherwise.
They spend most of the day snapping pictures and acting goofy, Chloe even indulging in being Beca's model for a whole hour. They stop when the cold is too biting to continue, finding shelter in a small cafe tucked around a corner of one of those small, cobblestones streets.
It's Sunday afternoon, and unlike outside, the café is warm and cheery, bustling with patrons of all ages. They find a small table in a corner, so tiny that their knees touch under the surface.
Chloe orders two hot chocolates with whipped cream and sprinkles on top and somehow manages to have her phone ready at hand to snap a picture of Beca with a mustache of cream after her first sip.
Beca glares, Chloe giggles, and presses a sheepish kiss to the apple of her cheek as her hand settles atop Beca's in the middle of the table.
They stop to get take-out on the way home and watch it in front of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Chloe laughs at every joke while Beca spends most of the episode endearingly gazing at her from the corner of her eye and doesn't really register any of them.
They shuffle to bed when the droop of their eyelids becomes too insistent, and slip under the covers, bodies stirring towards each other like magnets.
“Can we stay in tomorrow?” Beca whispers, hand falling to the dip of Chloe's waist. Chloe hums and brushes a lazy kiss across her neck.
“In need of cuddles?”
Beca grunts. “I should have never told you about this.”
“We can do whatever you want, babe. I'm not picky as long as it means I get to spend time with you.”
Beca draws in a discreet breath. “Yeah.”
Chloe's eyebrows knit together as her eyes trace Beca's features. “You've got that look in your eye again. What is it?”
“Nothing,” Beca lies. She doesn't want to ruin the remaining time they have together by voicing her stupid feelings. “I... it's nothing. I'm just happy to be here.”
Chloe's frown dissipates and she drops another kiss on Beca's skin. “So am I.”
Beca begs her mind to let go of her oppresive anguish and step into lighter subjects. “Thanks for the photography class today. I wasn't the most disciplined student but you are a great teacher.”
“My pleasure,” Chloe murmurs. “We can pick it up where we left off next time, if you want to.”
“Next time?” Beca echoes.
“Next time you visit, yeah.”
Chloe's tone is light and confident, and Beca starts to wonder exactly how long Chloe sees this long-distance installment last.
She remembers Chloe’s promise that they will figure something out, but nothing feels figured out at all, simply because the future of their relationship has never been addressed.
Chloe reaches over to turn off the light and drapes an arm over Beca's midsection. “Goodnight, baby.”
“Night,” Beca replies absentmindedly, her fingers running up and down Chloe's forearm on their own accord.
She takes a deep breath to try to alleviate the weight pressing on her chest and closes her eyes.
Sleep doesn't come easily.
The next couple days are mostly spent in Chloe's apartment, lounging around and making the most of their time together.
(and cuddling. Lots of cuddling.)
They dance around the talk they definitely should be having, or at least the one Beca believes they should.
Chloe doesn't show any inclination to initiate it. Beca doesn't know if it's because Chloe is just being her overly optimistic, positive self, if she is good at pretending, or if maybe, this whole long-distance and the goodbyes that come with it are not as heart-wrenching for her as they feel for Beca.
And that last hypothesis, encouraged by that nagging voice in a corner of Beca's brain, has been knocking down everything in its path ever since it managed to make itself heard when Beca woke up this morning.
She has been thinking about it so much in the last few hours that her brain hurts. She's leaving for the airport in the morning and knows she needs to talk to Chloe before she bursts; she knows damn well it’s the only way to get past her irrational insecurities.
Somehow, Chloe beats her to it.
“Okay,” Chloe announces as she plops down on her bed after washing up. It's pushing ten PM in Paris and Beca has yet to pack up her suitcase. “Do you want to talk about what's been going on in your head since that afternoon in Montmartre a couple days ago?”
Beca looks up from her sitting spot against the headboard, surprised.
Chloe smiles sadly at her expression. “Baby. If you think I can't tell something's wrong, you still have a lot to learn about me.”
Beca focuses back on picking at her nails. “I was just thinking.”
“I know that,” Chloe sighs and shuffles up to lie on her side beside Beca. She props her elbow on the mattress, nestling her chin in her palm. Her other hand stills Beca's fiddling ones. “What about?”
“About us,” Beca shrugs, finally glancing at Chloe. “About this long-distance thing.”
Chloe takes a cautious pause. “Okay?”
“About how difficult it gets sometimes, especially when we don’t know where this is going.”
Chloe visibly swallows and takes a while to reply. “Are you- are you having seconds thoughts about this? About us?”
Her tone is tainted with that same vulnerability as the last time Beca brought it up at the end of their summer together. She suddenly feels ridiculous and incredibly guilty for thinking that Chloe isn’t hurting as much as she is whenever they have to part.
“No, of course not,” Beca is quick to assure her. She wraps her fingers around Chloe's and brings their joined hands to her mouth to lay a kiss across Chloe's knuckles. “I was just... I miss you a lot and the time we get to spend together is so short compared to our time apart. It’s not - it's not easy.”
“I know,” Chloe admits, falling silent for a beat as her thumb draws soothing patterns over the back of Beca's hand. “I wish we could spend more time together, too.”
The words are out of Beca's mouth before she can lock them down.
“Have you, um, do you see yourself living in New York, someday?”
Chloe is silent for long seconds, her expression unreadable. Beca regrets asking that question the second it gets out and wants to backtrack.
“Nevermind, I- It's stupid.”
“No, no,” Chloe sits up and shakes her head. “It's not stupid, and I've thought about it. Quite a few times, actually.”
Beca clears her throat to keep her voice steady. She knows there is a but coming and it’s already tearing at her chest. "But?"
This should reassure Beca, but it doesn’t. She isn’t sure how many more goodbyes and months apart her heart can take.
She gazes down to their linked hands and swallows down the lump in her throat. “Right.”
Chloe lets out a patient sigh. “Beca, look at me.” Beca does, tentatively. “We – we haven't been together for a year and I...” Chloe closes her eyes briefly, weighing her words. “I feel like, giving it some serious thought might be um, too soon? I mean, it’s a big step.”
Beca groans and runs a hand over her face. Chloe is right. Beca doesn't know when she became the one in the relationship to burn steps. It's not like her; she's always been the one to back-up in a corner whenever things moved too fast for her liking.
Yet, here she is, asking the woman she has been dating for less than a year to think about moving across the ocean for her.
Yet here she is, requesting something out of Chloe she promised herself she never would.
It dawns on her how Chloe must feel and Beca realizes how utterly stupid of a question that was to ask. She knows she would be running for the hills if she were in Chloe's shoes, yet Chloe's understanding and gentle expression shows her just how well she gets her, how she knows the question was fueled by Beca's fears.
“I’m sorry,” Chloe says softly, squeezing her hand. “I just don’t want us to launch into something head-first and risk causing either of us heartache because we moved too fast. It's a very big decision to make and there are a lot of things to consider.”
“No, I’m sorry,” Beca counters quickly. “You’re right. I don’t know why I want to burn steps, I just…” she closes her eyes in frustration when the appropriate words can’t seem to form in her brain. “Can we forget about the whole thing?”
“No,” Beca frowns at Chloe’s small smile. “Because I’m glad to know that you’re thinking about the future. I wanted to talk to you about it but I kept chickening out."
Chloe squeezes her hand and draws in a lungful of air.
"Listen, I… I don’t know what lies ahead for us but one thing I know for sure is that I love you and I want to make this work just as much as you do.”
Beca nods. “I’m sorry for being insecure and shit.”
“Stop apologizing,” Chloe requests softly, leaning in to kiss Beca and placate the other string of muttered apologies ready to fly out of Beca's mouth. She settles back besides Beca in much of the same position as before and sets her free hand over Beca's stomach. “Are we – Are we okay?”
“Yeah,” Beca nods once more, trying to ignore the overwhelmingly bitter taste on her tongue. Stating that they're okay feels more like a lie than a truth. She's not okay. She can't pinpoint what's happening, why her heart suddenly feels like it's being squeezed, even though Chloe has given her enough proofs to believe in their future. She wills herself to pack-up the leftover doubt in the corner of her brain. Chloe has faith in them, so she should, too. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.” Chloe smiles, but it's not as bright as it usually is. Her eyes are fleeting, as though reading Beca's conflicting thoughts. “And maybe, I was thinking I could spend the summer in New York?”
Beca blows out a relieved breath and kisses Chloe softly. “I'd love that.”
Saying goodbye the following morning is just as difficult as the two previous times. Chloe cries, and Beca cries and the only thing that keeps Beca from completely breaking down is the knowledge that she'll be back in France in less than two months.
As she steps inside the cab, Beca tries to think about that indescribable sensation of happiness that overcomes her body every time she reunites with Chloe, rather than acknowledge how beat-up her heart feels walking away from her one more time.
Her phone chimes in her pocket mere seconds after the cab drove off.
Chloe [11:33 AM]
I love you
Beca closes her eyes. The three little words manage to worm their way past the many layers of overwhelming emotions crushing her chest and nestle right into her heart, mending the cracks one by one.
Beca [11:34 AM]
I love you, too
She makes the promise to herself to hold onto that whenever the pain of being apart becomes all too much.