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how 3am turns into forever

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One.

One cloudy evening in the quiet din of the Bella seniors' apartment, Beca realized the strangest thing.

Chloe Beale was her person.

There, in the dim lighting of the Beale and Posen apartment, body filled with more coffee and energy drinks than water or blood, Beca realized that somehow, someway, Chloe Beale had broken through all her walls and shower stalls and jail cells and become someone important to her.

She figured it was because the redhead had seen every part of her (both figuratively and literally) or because the senior had the warmest, most calming blue eyes she'd ever had the privilege of seeing. Because something about the senior made the brunette trust her.

There was just something about Chloe Beale that made it easier to talk to her, to open up to her—to breathe.

Somehow, being shower-invaded by the redhead had turned into going out on a limb and auditioning for some stupid fucking acapella group. Then, that turned into being space-invaded during one of her mixing sprees, which turned into bumping into each other after her radio shift and being dragged to cheap ass cardboard pizza. That quickly turned into getting coffee after Bella rehearsals, which then lead to making each other playlists of songs they found interesting during the week and then sharing it every Thursday night when they'd go out to eat ice cream at Chloe's favorite gelato place.

Throughout the semester, Chloe had made every effort to get to know the little DJ and Beca found herself giving in more and more at every full-lipped pout and wide, blue-eyed plea. 

She didn't know what made Chloe Beale so special or why she felt so drawn to the senior, but Beca found that she couldn't quite stop (or seem to care).

It was strange, trusting someone so much after having years of closed-off solitude.

Not that Chloe ever made Beca feel weird, but it was different.

Chloe Beale was different.

Beca never felt pushed or pressured about anything in her friendship with the redhead. It was this easygoing charm and simplicity that led Beca to ever-so-slowly open up to others aside from the senior—to Fat Amy, to Stacie, to Jesse, and even to Aubrey (though that was still a work in progress for both women, for sure).

Chloe Beale made her a better person. 

Because Chloe Beale was her person.

"Becs?" Steely blue eyes rose tiredly from her laptop screen to find warm blue looking down at her full of care and fondness and concern. "The pull-out bed's ready for you."

"Right," the freshman nodded, eyes falling back to her screen. "Give me five minutes."

Beca missed the soft chuckle that slipped past the redhead's lips as the senior shook her head and padded over to the kitchen island the brunette was sat at. "Nope, time for some sleep, Becs. We can finish all this tomorrow morning over a nice cup of coffee and some muffins."

"With the double chocolate chunks?" Beca tiredly gave in, slowly closing the lid of her laptop and tucking it under her arm.

"We'll even stuff more chunks in if you change into your pj's in five minutes," Chloe teased and Beca rolled her eyes as she half-heartedly checked the redhead's shoulder. 

She scowled tiredly as she grumbled, "I'm not fucking five, Beale."

Chloe replied with an easy grin and a peck to the brunette's temple before she handed the freshman some spare pj's and ushered the girl towards the bathroom as she waited by the foot of the prepped bed for the DJ to return.

Aubrey was already asleep in her room, having left the pair to work on the Bella's set list and choreography because of an early morning test she had to prepare for. It was well past two in the morning when Chloe had decided they needed to sleep and had left the brunette at the kitchen island to prep the pull-out bed in their living room.

It made the redhead grin every time she saw her favorite blonde and brunette trying to bond. It was awkward and kind of really weird, but they were trying and that was all Chloe had wanted from the start. It definitely made her melt a little whenever she saw Beca try sharing her music with Aubrey to introduce her to the songs she’d want in the set list, especially since she knew first-hand how picky the brunette could be about who listened to her music.

Chloe found the brunette's dedication, passion, and drive both endearing and admirable. Though Beca wasn't as strict as Aubrey, the two did share a purposeful sense of confidence and perfectionism about the things they loved and believed in. It made the redhead giggle just thinking about the similarity (she could hear the two arguing about being anything alike in her head already).

Beca emerged from the bathroom in her old Barden sports shirt and some exercise shorts she'd outgrown in her second year. The brunette looked a little too tiny for her clothes but Chloe couldn't stop her grin from growing at the sight. How cute

Beca rolled her eyes once she noticed the redhead's grin, slipping into bed and pointedly ignoring the senior sitting at the foot of it. 

Chloe chuckled, turning off the kitchen lights before turning off the living room lights and relying on her three years of living there to guide her through the furniture. "Night, Becs. Great work today."

The redhead had already turned off the lights and was halfway to her room when the brunette finally replied. "Chlo?"

The senior stopped to turn towards the silhouetted lump on the bed. "Yeah?"

Beca's words were a quiet admission, sincere and palpable and thick enough to choke on. "Thank you. For never giving up on me."

"Of course, Becs. I always knew you had it in you." Chloe paused by her doorway, thoughts passing her mind before slipping past her lips. "Do you think the girls are ready?"

Beca pursed her lips thoughtfully before shaking her head (despite the fact that Chloe couldn't see her). "With you keeping us together?" Chloe could barely make out Beca's grin I'm the dim moonlight. "Always."

Beca's words echoed in her thoughts when they lifted their first ICCA trophy for the first time.

Chapter Text

Two.

Two years of knowing Chloe Beale meant that Beca probably should have gotten used to all the physical affection and bright-eyed smiles—but she hasn’t.

Chloe Beale was kind of an overwhelming force and it still bowled the brunette over every time the redhead chose to cuddle up with her or spend any second of her day with her. As if Beca were a bright ray of sunshine that could somehow bring warmth to the literal fucking sun and cosmos that was Chloe Beale.

Which was why she was taken completely off guard when a pair of warm tan arms snaked around her stomach and a strong chin dropped softly on to her shoulder. Pale shoulder tensed as Beca craned her neck, only to find two ocean orbs staring at her in quiet amusement.

“You okay there, Bec?” With a deep, steadying breath, the brunette nodded—her shoulders shifting slightly as she tried to untense.

“Fine,” the DJ managed a smile, letting the warm weight nestle comfortably around her. Contrary to popular belief, Beca didn’t hate physical contact. She was just… picky with who she received it from.

She let Stacie use her head as an armrest, even if the taller brunette sometimes teased her by dropping all her weight on top of her. She let Amy give her those stupid confidence hugs even if she felt suffocated halfway through most of them. But Chloe? Chloe could get away with practically anything.

Holding her hand? Chloe could hold two and swing them as they waited for their food. Looping their arms? Chloe would lean her head on her shoulder or chest sometimes when she felt extra lazy to walk. Hugs? Chloe always got the longest hugs from her. Cuddles? Beca was strict in following her Only Chloe Beale™ rule on that.

So Chloe was her exception—not to everything, just, to many things.

Chloe made her feel comfortable in her own skin. She never felt pressured by the redhead, Chloe as patient as a saint whenever she noticed her discomfort with certain things. Sure, she was more or less comfortable with the redhead’s physical affection now, but it took months for her to even hold eye contact with the supersenior.

She was patient and gentle and would ask Beca if anything she did made her uncomfortable before trying anything—which surprised the DJ considering how she met her co-captain. So Chloe was touchy—yes. But she wasn’t invasive. Even during rehearsals, she’d always warn the brunette if she was “coming in” and ask if touching her in certain places was okay over and over again. Chloe was gentle and sweet and the redhead’s never-ending thoughtfulness was enough to eventually break through Beca’s stubborn walls and let the older Bella in—emotionally and physically.

Linked pinkies went with after-class walks to the coffee shop just to catch each other up on their days (alone, without the rest of the Bellas leaning over them to listen), looped arms were for drunken nights peppered with whispered giggles as they tried to get home (silly secrets and tucked away memories filling the gaps in between), and intertwined fingers were for pre-performance jitters (the only ritual Beca has before any performance).

The Bella captain tuned back in to the conversation, her co-captain’s warmth becoming a familiar weight around her shoulders.

“So Fat Amy and I will get the booze—”

“No,” the co-captains chorused tiredly, Beca feeling the slight twitch in the supersenior’s jaw.

Resting a pale hand on the redhead’s tan arms, the sophomore gave it a reassuring squeeze before taking the lead before Stacie could suggest anything crazier.

“Jessica, Ashley, you’re in charge of drinks. Cynthia Rose, you and Denise can help me get the auditorium ready. Stacie, you’re with Chloe and Lily—don’t let Chloe do the collecting,” Beca smirked at the light scoff that clicked by her ear and the offended little tug warm arms around her shoulders gave in reply. “Amy, you’re on Treble duty. Don’t let Jesse do that thing he did in training camp again.”

“Aye aye, cap’n,” Fat Amy saluted as the other Bellas nodded at their roles and spread out to do their assigned tasks for Hood Night. As the girls started slipping away, Beca could feel the steady weight on her shoulders ease and an empty chill replace the redhead’s warmth.

Cold blue eyes followed the blinding grin on full pink lips to meet warm ocean orbs. Her co-captain winked at her, Beca’s knees locking slightly at the confidence and mischief in warm blues. “Ready to smash it this year, Bec?”

The brunette blinked.

Once.

Twice.

Beca grinned, slow and sure and warm. “With you as my co-captain? Always.”

Chapter Text

Three.

Three little words Beca holds close to her chest—hides it, even. Places them under such heavily guarded lock and key that she hasn’t heard them leave her lips since that accidental slip at the ICCA finals. She was on a high, then—nervous and excited and buzzing with the thrill of being able to perform with the strange motley of women she’d come to call family.

But she hasn’t said it since.

Not that the tiny brunette didn’t feel it, but words were never really a necessity for Beca to understand people and situations. For her, words were words. She’d been promised many things as a child, words flowery and sweet—all just words words words.

Empty words. Disappointing words. Sharp words. Hurtful words.

Beca didn’t really trust words—not even her own.

Words were flimsy and fleeting and so so so easy to break. They were brittle in ways the physical could never match. Easy to throw away but impossible to take back. Break them once and you’ll never be believed again.

Beca knew the power of words—the weight it could leave behind no matter how long ago they were said.

So she held her words close—gave as few promises as possible, kept her opinions to herself, held her tongue when she could (walked away when she couldn’t).

The DJ had learned to find other ways to get her words and intentions across. Origami flowers accompanied by a store-bought birthday card, personalized mixes given over hot cocoa and gingerbread cookies, incorporating iconic movie songs into ICCA setlists in lieu of an apology, letting her best friend keep he favorite hoodie despite the years of sentimentality and memories sown into each thread.

And maybe—maybe if Beca were even the tiniest bit honest with herself, she’d admit that she’d scared.

Scared of three little words she’s heard her entire life.

Scared of three little words she’s heard over and over again but stopped believing in after the first plate fell. After hissed words and slammed doors. After broken plaster and echoing sobs. After stomping feet and quiet houses.

Scared of three little words she didn’t know how to believe in again.

But maybe she didn’t need those three little words to get her point across. Maybe she could use some other three little words. Words like:

“Eat some breakfast.”

“I’ll join you.”

“Are you cold?”

 “I got you.”

“I’m right here.”

“I trust you.”

“You’re so strong.”

“Are you okay?”

“You are amazing.”

Or maybe—maybe she could use the words she’s found rolling off her tongue easier and faster than her brain can even process. Words she’s found set off a little spark in ocean blue eyes. Words she believed in more than she believed in herself. Words she said as a fact—a promise. A prayer.

“With you? Always.”

Chapter Text

Four.

Four ridiculous attempts at getting her to go with them—but only the simplest and last try had her caving.

“Why didn’t we bring out the blue eyes and baby pout in the first place?” Stacie whined as she trailed behind the group, long legs dragging childishly at her half-hearted complaints.

“I wouldn’t be much of a secret weapon if I came first, now would I?” Chloe teased, blue eyes shining with a hint of victory as she winked at the leggy brunette before turning back to her favorite co-captain, looping their arms together. She leaned in to the DJ with a grin, “And I promise it’ll be fun.”

Beca rolled her eyes, fighting back the smile tugging her lips. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

“I know,” the redhead shrugged, grin still bright—unwavering. “Which is why I promise it’ll be fun.”

(Beca didn’t even notice she was smiling until Fat Amy started teasing her.)

 

 

Fat Amy’s bellowing cheer made Beca cringe despite the smile quirking her lips (it hasn’t left her face since her co-captain’s promise). Denise’s groan and Cynthia Rose’s curses mixed softly with the Australian’s raucous volume. Stacie could be heard explaining the rules to Jessica and Ashley in between the other Bellas’ noise, Flo telling Lily some crazy story from her homeland blending easily into the fray. The entire store rang with the sounds of her Bella family livening the room.

Chloe slid easily into the space next to her, warm ocean orbs shining brightly under the bright orange light.

Beca had never been a very social person. The few parties she’d gone to before the Bellas were purely DJ gigs, and even after she’d joined the Bellas, her parties didn’t stray far from the a capella circles. Even with Stacie and Chloe’s combined efforts, the DJ was still wary of going out (especially when too much socializing (and too little alcohol) was involved).

High school was always just a countdown to graduation, the DJ’s only friend having graduated a year earlier than her. They’d lost contact after Beca had stopped doing gigs for his frat, but there was no love lost on the brunette’s side. The Bellas were really the first group of (girl) friends she found herself wanting to keep for life. The girls in her hometown had always isolated her for many reasons, but the Bellas were such a strangely diverse puzzle set that somehow fit together perfectly (despite the strange looking pieces connecting each other).

Denise was an amazing listener despite her lack of personal opinions—she was the perfect peacemaker. Jessica and Ashley (Beca never mentions them apart because she’s not quite sure who’s who. Sometimes she thinks the blonde is Jessica and the brunette’s Ashley, but then she calls one of their names, and both of them reply—so she’d rather be safe than wrong) were observant and witty. They didn’t speak up much, working quietly but smoothly in the background, but when they did voice out their opinion it was always full of charm and humor.

Lily kept Beca on her toes (both figuratively and literally). It was both terrifying and exciting to be friends with the quiet Asian because the DJ never knew what version of Lily she’d get when she was around the woman (and it soothed the Bella captain more than she’d ever admit to know that Lily was on their side and not anyone else’s). Flo was as concerning as she was smart. Whenever the Guatemalan would share some horrid story from her home, Beca didn’t know if she should laugh or cry. Yet despite the foreign student’s grim past, she was always smiling and sharing everything she knew to the DJ—remaining patient no matter how long it took for Beca to understand what she was being taught.

Cynthia Rose was the music sister she never knew she wanted. The rapper was one of the first people she’d go to when she wanted her mixes checked or her setlists smoothed over. Cynthia Rose even understood the terms and technicalities Chloe couldn’t grasp (but that never stopped Beca from sharing her work with the redhead first. Chloe would have her head if she didn’t). Fat Amy was honestly the most surprising person Beca’s ever befriended. The blonde was a whirlwind of bold, loud, and crazy adventures, but she was amusing in that way that endeared you instead of annoyed you (most of the time, at least). Beca learned later on in their friendship that Fat Amy was actually really observant and caring—the Australian just chose to show her support through making others laugh and giving them weird (if not slightly amusing) distractions.

Stacie was her first friend in Barden, and one of her best friends even before she’d stormed away from the Bellas freshman year (even during the radio silence she’d given Chloe after her outburst. She could only take so much spam texts in a day before giving in to the taller brunette). Stacie had been the first person to compliment Beca after her auditions (The DJ didn’t count Fat Amy’s, “Sweet pipes there, shortstack, but your technique needs a little Fat Amy pizazz if y’know what I mean.” Instead, Beca chose to ignore the blonde for the racing brunette giant who squeezed the life out of her before gushing about her voice). Stacie was honest with her—blunt in ways that made sure Beca didn’t get away with her bullshit, but soft enough to be the first (and only) shoulder she cried on after Aubrey had accepted her back into the Bellas (she’d never tell the other girls, not even Chloe, but she was terrified that Posen would reject her right on sight). Stacie had never bothered to chip at her walls, choosing to brazenly shout over it and toss rocks until Beca opened up instead (it worked for them).

Chloe was her rock. If Stacie cut away at her pride and brought her ego back down to earth, Chloe was her boost of confidence—the one who didn’t let her belittle herself and always saw Beca as the sun and stars. Chloe brought life into everything the DJ thought she killed. She believed in her more than anyone in the universe and understood her on a level that even Stacie couldn’t reach. After her audition, Chloe had become her constant. The redhead had gotten her number during Hood Night and the only time she’d never received a text from the supersenior was during the fallout after semi’s in her freshman year. Little by little, Chloe chipped at Beca’s tall, steel walls. Chloe never forced her to change, instead, the redhead made her want to be better. Everyone knew that the Bellas wouldn’t be who they were today without Chloe.

Beca wouldn’t be who she is today without Chloe.

“Having fun?” As if reading her thoughts, her co-captain nudged her lightly in the ribs, lips splitting into a dazzling smile.

Beca ignored the familiar flutter in her stomach when it came to the redhead, thin pink lips lilting into a soft, fond grin. “With you? Always.”

Chapter Text

Five.

Five days of slowly unpacking and rearranging their furniture saw the brunette laughing and smiling and giddy in ways she never thought she could be.

The apartment was tiny and bare and the only furniture they’d managed to set up in the past few days was one bed, two shelves, and a desk so tiny even Beca felt claustrophobic using it. They couldn’t afford a second bed (or any other furniture, really) so they’d agreed to share it until they could find another one (not that either of them were complaining).

Today had seen the pair unpacking their last box, the stacks of records and books finding as much space as they could fit in their gifted-by-Beca’s-dad bookshelves. In celebration of “officially” moving into their new home, Chloe had ordered their favorite takeout with every intention of feasting on their bed while laughing at Netflix originals they refused to accept as cancelled.

While Chloe rummaged through their kitchen drawers for the takeout menu, Beca was busy coming up with a playlist for the evening because she knew the redhead would tire of staring at a screen in a dim room and ask her to play her latest mixes or songs eventually. Saving the playlist on to their shared Spotify account, cold blue eyes rose from the screen on her lap to follow the humming redhead in the kitchen.

Sometimes, she still couldn’t believe this was her life.

She’d never be able to tell when things had changed, but as far as Beca knew, one second they were friends and the next she was falling.

Chloe was an indispensable fixture in her life. From the moment the redhead had texted her about the Bellas getting re-qualified for the ICCA finals, she knew that Chloe would be a permanent part of the rest of her life (it just took her a little longer to realize what kind of part she wanted the redhead to play).

When Chloe had bounced into her room a couple days before graduation, her warm blues sparkling excitedly under the lowlight, Beca knew that whatever the redhead was going to ask of her, she’d say yes.

“I found a place,” was Chloe’s opener, bare tanned feet skipping their way to her bed. “In New York. It’s not much but it’ll be mine, and I’ve found some job offers around the area, too. I don’t really have much planned out after that, but my family’s on board with it and everyone’s pitching in to help.”

“I—” Beca’s throat felt empty and dry as the stream of words settled slowly into her system. She hadn’t thought much about graduation and what would happen After™ (after all, she had a world a capella competition to win and an award-winning music producer to impress), but she’d always assumed Chloe would be somewhere in her future. Somewhere certain in her future. Some place and time in her future she could always turn to for anything and know that she was loved and safe and supported.

But Chloe was moving to New York and Beca didn’t know where the fuck she was going next aside from Copenhagen.

Los Angeles was still an option. Despite their awkward breakup and the quick rekindling of their friendship in her sophomore year, she knew Jesse would still be down to sharing an apartment or townhouse with her in sunny California. She could also stay in Barden another year and, if it all goes well with Sammy, take on a job at Residual Heat and climb her way up to respectability from there. Or—or, she could take a deep breath and listen to the warm buzz settled deep in her bones and trust that some adventures are worth taking when taken with the right person.

Beca cleared her throat, lips curling into a dimly affectionate grin. “I’m so happy for you, Chlo. I’m sure you’ll take the city by storm.”

Cold blues watched full pink lips purse in pause before Chloe fell into the spot next to her, settling into her bed and leaning into the brunette just as Beca did the same. “It’ll be a long way from home.”

“Nothing you can’t handle, Red.”

“A new, foreign city.”

“Just means more new things for you to try.”

“I’ll miss you.”

Beca paused, heart squeezing and breath catching before pale, cold fingers wrapped tentatively over tanned wrist. “Well…” Beca could feel her heart climbing slowly to her throat, could hear the faint pounding in her ears as she gulped down her nerves—pushing away the fear and uncertainty and insecurities nipping at the back of her thoughts (tamping down the tiny voice in her head telling her that there were other options—safer options, without-Chloe options). “Maybe you won’t have to.”

Beca could feel the moment her words finally hit the redhead. Warm ocean eyes turned to her with a faint shimmer of hope and—and something. Full pink lips hung open as the redhead tried to find the words—any words—to push through. “I—You—Bec, you—what?”

Taking in a shuddering breath, steely blues softened at the trust and giddy hopefulness swimming in ocean orbs. She knew, somewhere deep in her gut, that she’d move mountains if it meant she could keep that blinding glow in Chloe’s warm gaze.

So she knew, even before she really knew that she knew, what she had planned for her future. “You think your swanky new place has room for a roommate?”

And so, less than two weeks after winning Worlds, Beca found herself here, grabbing pillows and blankets and anything remotely soft and fluffy and throwing them on to their empty living room floor. It wasn’t a big, romantic gesture by any means, but if it made full pink lips curl gently under the kitchen light, she’d take it.


 

Takeout littered the floor as the pair lay on the fluffiest blankets Beca could find while the pillows she’d found were spaced out evenly enough to feel surrounded despite their laughable collection. Beca’s laptop was loading up the next episode of their latest binge by their tangled legs, Chloe snuggled into Beca’s side as the popcorn bowl Chloe had pouted at Beca to make lay forgotten off the side of their it’s-the-effort-that-counts pillow fort.

Beca’s arm was growing numb under the weight of Chloe’s warmth, but she couldn’t find it in herself to ask the redhead to move. She knew Chloe would be asking her to move on to her playlist soon enough anyways and would roll off her eventually, but for now, she had this. This moment in space and time where only the two of them existed. This moment in the universe that was simply the sound of the opening credits playing by their feet as Chloe breathed softly into her neck. This moment of steady heartbeats and warmed souls and soft stares and wishing time could stand still for the rest of their lives.

“I wish,” Chloe’s lips brushed lightly over her neck, Beca holding back the shudder in her bones. “I wish every week could be like this.”

Beca could feel Chloe’s breath ghosting her neck, could feel warm tan fingers brushing lightly over the waistband of her shorts. She could feel her heart climbing to her throat as she managed to mumble, “With you? It always is.”