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I’m just going up for a shower.” Chloe signed, and Beca nodded, a calm smile on her face. She watched her girlfriend slip from the seat at the kitchen table, Chloe heading out of the room.

She saw the way her father had watched the young woman go, clearly wondering where she was headed, but Beca simply answered for him, “She’s going for a shower.” and her father nodded then returned to his task of filling the dishwasher with cutlery.

Beca took a deep breath. Now was probably the best time to tell him. Every year it was tradition for the two Mitchell’s to go to the local church for the Christmas Eve service. Free mulled wine and Christmas carols - Beca never really minded. In more recent years it had become tradition to go to one of the church-goers’ house for dinner before walking down to the church. But Beca didn’t want to go this year..

Slipping from her own seat, she picked up her empty breakfast plate and slowly headed towards her father, trying to gain the confidence she required to begin a sentence. As she handed it to him, she cleared her throat, then took the plunge.

“Uh, Dad? I don’t want to go to Sheila’s then the Christmas Eve service this year…”

Beca watched as her father turned to look at her, his brow furrowed.

“Oh.” came his reply and Beca could see why he’d be confused. It did seem fairly last-minute to be telling him. No doubt Sheila would’ve bought enough food for all the guests she invited each year. But then Beca figured, what was one less guest? “Any particular reason?”

“Look, it’s not that I don’t enjoy it,” she began, her father slowly standing upright and closing the door of the dishwasher, “it’s just…this is mine and Chloe’s first Christmas together and I’d really like to commemorate it by cooking her a meal. Just the two of us. Pleeease?”

Beca watched with baited breath as her father paused to let out a heavy sigh. She felt a little bad about the suggestion. Christmas Eve service had been ‘their thing’ ever since they’d moved here from Seattle. But Beca had seen how interested her father had been in Sheila - the lowly widow from church. If anything, him going alone would be the perfect opportunity for him to get to know the woman a bit better without having to worry about his daughter’s needs.

Dr Mitchell bit the inside of his cheek, deep in thought. He was a sucker for his daughter’s big dark blue eyes. Any time they gleamed up at him, seemingly begging for him to side with her, he always caved. Always. And now was no exception.

“Okay.”

———

Sat in the lounge, late afternoon, Chloe furrowed her brow as she watched Beca’s father leave the house in a very smart outfit. Clearly the man had made an extra special effort. She turned to her girlfriend and gently nudged her with her elbow to gain her attention.

I thought we were going with your Dad to Sheila’s?” she signed and to her surprise, Beca shrugged then smiled softly.

We were, but Dad’s said we can have this evening to ourselves.”

Chloe’s eyebrows rose while she processed exactly what this meant. Two days ago she and Beca had discussed having sex for the first time. Beca had asked that they wait a couple of days so that she could make it special. And it looked like a couple of days had passed.

The two young women shared a smile, then turned back to the TV, squeezing each other’s hands in excitement.

———

Beca stepped back from her bed, hands on her hips as she looked at the fairy lights she’d spent time meticulously unknotting overnight last night, and had now spent time hanging over the headboard of her bed. She couldn’t exactly say she was stalling, but there was definitely an element of her that was taking longer than the ‘five minutes’ she’d told Chloe she’d need to put the finishing touches to her room before they both…you know…‘got intimate together’. Beca grimaced at the terminology, her face screwing up as she took a sharp inhale of breath.

She shouldn’t be nervous. Chloe should be the one to be nervous. This wasn’t Beca’s first time. It was Chloe’s. Chloe, who Beca cherished more than anyone in the whole world. Chloe, whose life Beca desperately didn’t want to ruin by screwing up their first time together. The time Beca spent cooped up in her room making it look presentable only served to make her more nervous. Not exactly an ideal scenario..

Suddenly she jumped, twisting on the spot as she heard three clear knocks on her closed bedroom door. She knew it was Chloe. Chloe was the only person to knock like that. Just like Chloe was the only other person in the house right now.

Beca took one last fleeting look at her beautifully made bed, the bouquet of flowers she had on the side for her girlfriend, and the fairy lights that created a dim glow over the head of the bed, then headed slowly over to the door while releasing a heavy exhale of nerves. As she opened the door her heart seemed to skip a beat.

Chloe stood before Beca, picking nervously at her cuticles while a coy smile poked from around her gently bitten bottom lip. Her heart hammered against her chest, but her nerves settled when she saw her girlfriend’s shoulders sink slightly - physically revealing the way the woman let out a heavy breath - and a broad smile swept across Beca’s face as she signed “Wow. You look really beautiful.

Chloe chuckled gently, taking a step forward and wrapping one arm around Beca’s waist while keeping her other hand free to sign. She’d be lying if she hadn’t used Beca’s ‘five minutes’ wisely - putting a bit of makeup on and doing her hair. Then, after five minutes had passed, she’d headed from the guest bedroom of Beca’s father’s home, down the hallway, and up to Beca’s closed bedroom door.

Well I gotta make an effort for you.” Chloe signed in response with one hand, her other tightening around Beca’s waist while she enjoyed the feel of her girlfriend holding her in return.

Beca shook her head gently, a soft smile on her face, moving one of her hands into view so she could sign back.

You never have to make an effort.” she assured, “You’re perfect.” And her eyes lit up as Chloe let out an embarrassed huff of air, the woman cupping her own cheek to try to hide her flushed skin. But it only made Beca’s smile broaden.

That’s a smooth start.” Chloe signed in a flustered motion, and Beca couldn’t help the grin on her face.

Yeah?

Yeah.

And with that they both chuckled, swaying slightly on the spot while looking into each other’s eyes. Chloe’s heart thumped against her chest as she watched her girlfriend’s eyes drift down to her mouth, and her own eyes wandered down, admiring the way Beca bit gently on her bottom lip as she clearly contemplated something. Something that Choe decided she’d help Beca come to a conclusion over.

With a gentle intake of breath, Chloe reached up and delicately cupped Beca’s cheeks, pulling the woman into a long, soft kiss. Chloe hadn’t ever really envisioned what her ‘first time’ might be like. Well, not until she’d started dating Beca. The occasional blissful make out sessions over the weeks’d had her wondering what it might be like. Had increased her curiosity and temptation to broach the subject with her girlfriend. Chloe had to admit, she was relieved Beca hadn’t freaked out - it was a lot to ask of someone. But it was a natural step to take when in a committed and meaningful relationship…right?

Beca brought her arms from around Chloe’s waist and reached up to gently take her girlfriend’s hands. Slowly stepping backwards, she guided Chloe into her bedroom, a soft smile on her face as she saw Chloe biting her bottom lip with a smile of her own. A smile that shifted to a look of sheer delight the moment Chloe caught sight of the beautiful layout around the bed. The fairy lights and the flowers and the fresh bedsheets.

Is it okay?” Beca signed as soon as Chloe looked back at her, and she felt a swoop of relief when her girlfriend nodded enthusiastically.

Beca it’s amazing!!” Chloe signed in response, her attention drawing over to the beautiful flowers beside the bed, “I can’t believe you did all of this.

Beca reached out, taking one of Chloe’s hands again but keeping the other free. This was what she loved about being with Chloe. This was what she’d always loved - even before they’d started dating. Being able to make Chloe smile like that. Being thoughtful and putting her first. In a way, Beca had cared about Chloe for most of her life.

I told you I needed to make it special.” she replied with her hands, her heart warming as her girlfriend reached out to take one hand while signing a reply with the other.

You didn’t have to.

Okay, well I wanted to.

They both smiled affectionately at one another, both fully aware of the next big step they were about to take together. A huge step. But as they stood together they quickly conceded to themselves that it didn’t feel like a huge step. Which was a testament to how solid their relationship and friendship was. How much they trusted each other. How much they loved each other. And it was that trust and love that was going to make this moment a very special one indeed.

So…” Chloe began with a quick swoop of her hand, her soft smile skewing slightly, “…how are we going to do this?”

‘This’. Beca knew exactly what Chloe meant by that. The physical acts that were about to happen weren’t going to be the complicated part of this evening. The complicated part would likely be communicating during. But Beca had thought about some specifics..

“Well this is a big deal…” Beca began, then paused as her eyes widened in horror. God, what was she doing? Was she trying to freak Chloe out?? “…not a big deal but…” she paused again, her nose scrunching while she tried to devise a logical sentence to sign to explain the best method of going about having sex for the first time. Together. “Okay. I thought if you kept hold of my hand while I…you know…” she saw the way Chloe smiled kindly at her while nodding gently, and it gave Beca the confidence to continue, “…then if what I’m doing feels good then you just keep hold of my hand, but if it doesn’t feel good for you then you just squeeze my hand and I’ll know what’s good for you and what isn’t. Does that make sense?

Chloe’s heart warmed as her girlfriend signed the end of her sentence, the woman’s arms dropping to her sides. Ever since they’d been kids, Beca had always been so mindful of Chloe’s experience of things. Back in Elementary School, Beca’d learnt sign language so they could communicate together, becoming fast friends as a result. In High School, Beca had always got the bus with Chloe so they could experience ‘independence’ from their respective parents. And now, here Beca was, coming up with a way for Chloe to truly be comfortable during her first experience having sex.

That’s a great idea.” Chloe confirmed, her hand and fingers moving fluidly while she signed, smiling affectionately at her girlfriend. Her eyes drifted down to Beca’s chest just as Beca took a swooping breath of air, clearly relieved that Chloe was okay with her suggestion. “I trust you.” she added, taking a step towards the woman before her, and reaching out with her free hand to curl her arm around Beca’s waist. “And I love you.

———

Beca had to admit, for someone who’d never had sex before, Chloe was surprisingly good at it. Beca had started the proceedings, with Chloe laid back on her bed. Then a little later, the two lovers had switched positions. Whilst Chloe had been a little tentative at first, once Beca had assured her that she would squeeze her hand if something didn’t feel right (just as Chloe had squeezed Beca’s hand a couple of times earlier), Chloe had seemed to settle on a rhythm and pattern with her tongue that had not only suited her method but had also brought Beca to satisfaction very quickly.

Chloe always had been in touch with other people’s feelings. Had been able to sense the mood in a room even without being able to hear. It was her attention to people’s body language or facial expressions that gave her the advantage. Beca had never been so observant. Well, not unless it was Chloe. She’d always been mindful of Chloe’s feelings.

Like right now, as they both laid back on Beca’s bed, naked and breathless, with broad smiles on their faces… Beca’s hand immediately reached for Chloe’s, and the two entwined their fingers. Beca’s eyes fluttered closed, and she relished the moment of belonging she felt as Chloe nestled into her side and lolled an arm across her stomach.

Sex had never meant to be something that bound them together. Had never meant to be something that would make them feel closer. They’d always been close. They’d always felt bound to one another. And yet somehow, laying naked in bed together after sharing the most intimate of activities that two adult people could share, Beca and Chloe felt closer than they’d ever felt in the past thirteen years that they’d known each other. Somehow they truly felt as though now they were one.

———

Chloe jolted awake as she felt Beca’s naked body flinch beneath her cheek. Her brow furrowed as she sat up, peering through the dim light from the fairy lights while Beca scrambled for a nearby lamp.

My Dad’s just got home!” Beca hastily signed, and Chloe didn’t need telling twice. She almost levitated out of Beca’s bed, scrambling for her clothes that had been discarded across the floor, hours earlier. How long had they been asleep??

As she shoved her sweater over her head and pulled it down, she felt her hair go static. But she didn’t care. If Beca’s Dad found out they’d had sex while he’d been out, there was no telling how angry he’d be. Dr Mitchell had been kind. Really kind. He’d been supportive of Chloe’s relationship with his daughter. He’d allowed her to stay here for the holidays so she and Beca could spend time together. So to ruin it all now would be a horrible thing to do to the man who had always been so nice to Chloe.

Is he still downstairs?” she signed before stooping down to slip her panties back on. She watched as Beca scrambled off her own bed to throw some nearby pyjamas on.

Yeah. But he won’t be for long!

It was times like these that Chloe wished she could hear. Like the way Beca might’ve been breathing loudly, such was her panic. Or the tone of Beca’s voice if she’d actually whispered those words to Chloe instead of signed them. Or perhaps even the thud of the footsteps from the staircase that would’ve filled Beca and Chloe with the dread of being caught.

Instead Chloe had to settle for signed updates from Beca. As usual.

He’s coming up the stairs and has just called out to us!

Chloe watched as Beca launched down to her hands and knees, and pulled something from under the bed.

Quick!” Beca manically signed, “Sit on the floor!

Chloe did as she was told, fumbling to put her last sock on and completing her challenge of getting dressed in record time. She watched on in surprise as she realised that the thing Beca had pulled from under her bed was a board game. What was more, it was a board game that Beca must have set up earlier in the day.

She accepted a bunch of cards that Beca slapped into her hand, and followed her girlfriend’s motion by fanning the cards between her hands, as though mid-way through this board game.

Beca reached to pick up a dice (having just scrambled to stand several pieces of the game upright). Her heart was in her throat. She’d only set this board game up on an off-chance that her Dad might come home early and she and Chloe needed an excuse to still be together no matter the hour of day. But with a fleeting glance at the clock across her room she realised it was just before midnight. How long had they dozed off for??

“Hey Beca.”

Beca’s attention shot over to the door of her bedroom and she saw her father approach it with a tired smile on his face. He looked different. Perhaps…content? And very much on the tipsy side.

“Oh.” Dr Mitchell added when he noticed that not only was his daughter’s guest still in her room, but that the two young women were playing a board game of all things.

Beca watched in mild panic and mild amusement as her father attempted to sweep his hand before him from left to right, palm facing Chloe.

“Hello Chloe.” he said slowly. He’d been working hard trying to find some basic sign language to help his communication with his daughter’s girlfriend. Beca had to admit, he was pretty rubbish at it, but it was the thought that counted she supposed. She turned to glance at her girlfriend whose flustered expression revealed a polite smile, and Chloe signed “Hello” back.

“She uh…she says hello back.” Beca replied, signing for Chloe’s benefit while she did. Dr Mitchell looked pleased,

“See, your old man isn’t too old to learn something new.”

Beca really didn’t have the heart to tell him that not only was ‘Hello’ a really easy sign to sign, but that he hadn’t actually done it right. So she gave him a purse-lipped smile and a thumbs up.

“Well done Dad.”

There was an awkward pause where all three inhabitants of the house looked to each other. Then with a stretch and a yawn, Dr Mitchell gave Beca and Chloe a thumbs up in return.

“Right, well, busy day tomorrow.”

Chloe turned to Beca for a translation which Beca had automatically begun signing.

“Chloe should really go back to her room, Beca. You know the rules.”

Beca nodded gently while her Dad began slowly stepping backwards out of the room. It wouldn’t be long until he crashed for the night. She could tell by how tired he looked. He must’ve had a very good time at Sheila’s party…

“I know Dad.” she replied and signed, “She will.”

She didn’t want to take advantage of her father’s good nature. But she was also bitterly disappointed to have to let Chloe go so soon. Even if it was only for a few hours before they woke for Christmas..

Sorry,” she signed, unspoken, while turning to her girlfriend, “Dad’s said you’ve got to go. Curfew.” To her relief, Chloe smiled affectionately at her.

It’s okay. I understand.” Chloe leant over the board game, placing a brief and gentle kiss on Beca’s lips, “I’ll text you when I get to my room.” she added, bringing a huge smile to Beca’s face.

Okay.”

Beca lunged towards Chloe, placing a chaste kiss on her girlfriend’s lips before grinning. She heard her father clear his throat awkwardly, and she turned to see him still loitering in the doorway.

Goodnight.” Chloe signed while rising to her feet, enjoying the way Beca grinned at her. She couldn’t wait to be reunited with her again in the morning. Christmas morning.

“Sorry I’ve still gotta lay down the law, Beca.” Dr Mitchell said once Chloe had gone to her room. He watched as his daughter cleared the board game away. He couldn’t help but feel guilty that he was keeping the two young women apart overnight. If Chloe’s mother wasn’t so strict about her daughter and Beca’s…affection…then he would’ve had no problem letting the two share Beca’s bed and would’ve definitely not given them a curfew.

“It’s okay Dad.” Beca replied, perching on the edge of her bed and looking over at her father with a shrug, “I know what Sandra’s like. Better to stay in her good books.”

“Exactly.” Dr Mitchell said, pointing at her with his index finger and smiling. He was pleased that he got on so well with his daughter. They’d been through a lot over the years. The least he could do was keep supporting her.

Beca’s attention flicked to her phone, which buzzed briefly on her bedside table. She knew it was Chloe sending her a text, and she was itching to get over to it and to text her back.

“I’ll uh…” she heard her father begin, and she watched him slowly make his way backwards out of the room, “…I’ll let you get some sleep. You don’t want to be up when Santa comes by.”

Beca chuckled with her father. He said the same joke every year. She used to find it annoying. Now she found it endearing.

“Goodnight Dad.”

“Night Beca. Sweet dreams.”