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dj, turn the radio up

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It’s not that Chloe’s annoying. In fact, she’s quite the opposite. She’s probably the most caring person Beca has ever encountered in her life. She’s attentive and intelligent about things that Beca can barely bring herself to care about. Things like ensuring everybody’s tea is an appropriate temperature. Or that everybody is appropriately bundled for a chillier mid-winter evening.

And somehow, Chloe manages to do it all without coming off as a mother figure – or in Aubrey’s case, a dictator, from what Beca can tell. Chloe is friends with everybody. Beca thinks that she can’t go anywhere with Chloe on campus because people are always stopping her to say hello or worse – to flirt with her.

Beca’s not jealous, not at all.

It’s just kind of an inconvenience, especially when Beca suddenly has to push through no less than two broad-shouldered seniors who are just dying to hang out with Chloe.

“I’m going to class,” Beca tosses over her shoulder, not caring to see if Chloe responds.

 


  

How they become friends is kind of an accident.

Friends is probably a strange way of putting it.

 


 

Beca has been vying for the coveted evening supervisor position for the school radio station and she thinks she’s busted her ass enough to deserve it over the course of the semester.

So it’s kind of a surprise to her when Luke greets her one evening with a very happy Chloe Beale standing by his side.

Beca vaguely recognizes her as the girl who interrupted her shower and tried to make her sing an impromptu duet.

And further tried to make her join an acapella group.

Beca dodged a bullet there, but she must have really pissed off somebody in the past because Chloe is standing in front of her, looking entirely too pleased with herself.

“Chloe’s going to be taking over for me tonight.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Beca says angrily.

Chloe looks startled at Beca’s sudden burst of anger, but collects herself quickly enough. Luke looks unphased. Beca almost wishes Jesse were there to look appropriately scared.

“Chloe’s a good friend of mine,” Luke says lightly. “She–” 

“I’m sure she is,” Beca mumbles. She’s mostly grumpy that Luke obviously still doesn’t trust her enough to let her oversee the radio station by herself. Granted, it has only been a few weeks. She doesn’t care that Chloe is ridiculously pretty or that her eyes are somehow the clearest possible shade of blue. It is just incredibly annoying that Luke refuses to let her take the reins, even just for a little bit–

“I know you,” Chloe says, interrupting Beca’s inner tirade. She clearly decided to weather the storm of Beca’s personality. “We sang in the shower together.” Chloe’s brow furrows then. “You didn’t show up for auditions.”

Luke splutters incoherently. Beca’s blush rises up to her cheeks and possibly her forehead. Chloe grins.

Bitch, Beca thinks, without any real bite.

 


 

 

Maybe in another life, she would have been given the opportunity to get to know Chloe the old-fashioned way. Beca’s favorite way: where her walls are sky high and people struggle to climb over them.

Maybe in another life, Chloe would have been her friend first. A leader of sorts, maybe.

Maybe

Beca’s just counting her lucky stars that she didn’t join that acapella group. That would have been as lame as she originally suspected.

Lame, mostly because what woman bursts into another woman’s shower only to ask about her singing?

The memory of Chloe’s voice still rings through her mind.

“How high does your belt go?” Chloe had asked, too focused and too serious for Beca to think of this situation as anything other than a literal recruitment attempt. Beca had stifled the disappointment, then subsequently the confusion that followed.

Mostly though, Beca had barely remembered to respond because she was too busy trying to focus on not letting her eyes wander inappropriately, though the time for inappropriateness had long passed. “My what ? Oh my God.”

So maybe in another life, she and Chloe would have come together in more ways than one.

 


 

Okay, Chloe’s attractive. Like almost unfairly so. She’s all unrestrained smiles, blue eyes, and gentle waves of the prettiest shade of red Beca has seen in her life.

Beca has eyes and enough of a grip on her own sexual preferences to acknowledge that she’d probably flirt hard with Chloe (maybe awkwardly) if Chloe weren’t so damn happy all the time. Or so into acapella.

She’s not against sleeping with Chloe, she thinks. That alone is enough to startle her out of her reverie and she quickly stacks the remaining CDs before Chloe can catch her staring at her from behind the shelf. That would be–

Too late.

Beca narrows her eyes at Chloe who is smirking at her from behind the glass of the booth, oversized, worn-out headphones on her head.

She shouldn’t look that good, considering she’s hellbent on ruining Beca’s life.

She makes sure Chloe can see her eye roll.

 


 

Chloe Beale is most annoying whenever she brushes past Beca to grab a CD off the stack or shelf, clearly intent on messing up Beca’s hard work.

It has nothing to do with the way Chloe’s breath ghosts hot and sure against her ear. Or the way Chloe’s breasts feel pressed against her arm or back, even for the briefest of moments.

It’s incredibly annoying. Frustrating, maybe.

(And to be fair, Beca plays dirty when she needs to. She knows what she’s doing when she’s bending over in full view of the booth. She knows what she’s doing when she takes off her plaid shirt and ties it around her waist, leaving her shoulders bare and her neckline more visible.

Her father would be devastated to know that student funds are going into this decrepit radio station so Beca can shamelessly rile up her supervisor.

Oh. Is that what she’s doing?)

 


 

 

“Beca, come here.”

“Freshmen aren’t allowed in the booth,” Beca parrots back at Chloe, crossing her arms. Chloe leans against the doorway, an eyebrow raising in a somewhat challenging manner. Still, Chloe somehow manages to make it look pleasant.

As Beca nears, she wills her heart to stop beating so quickly and finds herself wondering if Chloe is doing the same. If Chloe is struggling with her own internal turmoil.

It’s subtle, but Beca catches the way Chloe’s gaze drifts to her chest. 

Checkmate.

She only barely resists smugly pushing up her breasts higher by tightening her arms, but she figures Chloe actually does have something she needs to talk about and she’s not about to risk getting into Chloe’s good graces if it means Chloe will eventually talk to Luke for her. 

Beca can be rational. Beca can be focused enough on her career.

Her ‘career’, she repeats in her mind, her father’s disdain in his voice filling the empty spaces where her own voice fails.

Beca,” Chloe says, voice sharp with something akin to warning.

Beca obeys, walking into the booth.

“I get the feeling that you’re…” Chloe twists in her chair, facing Beca. “Annoyed or upset about something.” She fixes Beca with a sincere, concerned expression, which is surprising enough that tension flows out of Beca in response. “And that something might be me, So I just wanted to...apologize,” she continues, in the same genuine tone. “I wanted to also apologize if I made you uncomfortable back when...you know. Shower.” She gestures vaguely and openly.

Beca swallows hard.

Chloe makes her anything but uncomfortable.

(Okay, maybe a little uncomfortable, but it’s Pleasant.)

Chloe stands from her perch, with enviable poise. “Friends?” she asks, extending a hand, though that’s hardly necessary with how little space there is between them.

Surrounded by stacks of CDs and cassettes, Chloe seems to glow.

A strange, sad thought flits through Beca’s mind: you don’t belong, she thinks. Chloe could never belong here - alongside the dust and the outdated music. Chloe is the kind of person who shines beyond reason. This much, Beca knows. She knows it to be true, as true as her instinct allows her to believe.

So, Beca opens her mouth and for once, honesty slips out. “We can’t be friends,” she says, noting the sudden spike in temperature. Was the booth always abnormally warm? Beca wonders.

Chloe raises an eyebrow, the motion slicing right through her thoughts. “Why not?” she inquires with a hint of confusion and a dash of sadness, like the thought of Beca not being her friend will plague her for the rest of her days.

Because I’m insanely attracted to you and I haven’t stopped thinking about you since that day.

She kisses her instead.

 

 


 

 

“Fuck, fuck, shit–” Beca scrambles to find her footing because Chloe is suddenly lifting her onto a tiny desk in the corner of the booth. Beca’s hands spread out on the hard wooden surface, knocking pens and papers to the ground as Chloe’s tongue pushes into her mouth. 

“Language,” Chloe murmurs, leaning back an inch or so. The way her eyes just about gleam in Beca’s direction is almost enough to send Beca over the edge.

“Shut up,” Beca retorts, but she doesn't mean it and Chloe knows. She pulls Chloe in for a harsh kiss that almost immediately softens the moment their lips touch. 

Chloe is all about soft curves and gentle caresses, despite the very obvious strength she has over Beca. Beca is a mess of hard edges and roughly drawn lines. She barely has time to process it all, but she’ll start with the way her breast fits neatly into Chloe’s hand, her nipple hard and insistent against Chloe’s palm.

Or maybe she’ll start with how eager Chloe is to feel Beca’s hand beneath her dress and how easily Chloe’s thighs part for her. 

There are too many beginnings and not enough rope for Beca to fully immerse herself in each one, so settles on how well they fit.

But, the fact is, they fit.

 


 

That’s the first night.

Well, the first night they kiss and touch and do other things–

It’s probably about a week into Chloe supervising Beca, and all things considered, Beca thinks that it’s probably surprising that they don’t jump each other sooner than that. 

Chloe gets a call soon after their heavy-handed make-out and they basically spend the rest of the night clearing their throats from opposite ends of the booth.

Beca tries not to think about how Chloe’s lip gloss tasted like mangoes. And how her tongue tasted like peach.

So she thinks instead of how damp Chloe’s underwear had been – like she too had been waiting for this for a long time.

 


 

“What the hell?” Luke asks, seeing a mess of pens and papers on the floor that they had forgotten to clean up. 

“Oh, you know how Chloe is,” Beca responds after a moment. She shrugs and turns around so he can’t see the blush spread across her cheeks.

“Unbelievable.”

“I know, right.”

 


 

 

Beca’s not sure when she’ll see Chloe again when Luke returns from his mini-break.

She’s almost relieved, but realizes that she’ll miss her. How unfortunate.

She catches glimpses of red hair on campus sometimes, but she never quite makes out the face properly. She doesn’t know that much about Chloe in all honesty. Just based on snippets of various conversations at the radio station, she knows that Chloe is the youngest of four siblings, that Chloe is majoring in Philosophy but wishes she had studied Literature instead, that Chloe ties her hair back into a ponytail when she’s stressed, that Chloe hums when she thinks nobody’s listening, that Chloe’s smiles are all different somehow–

Shut up, Beca tells herself.

It’s not that she’s looking for Chloe Beale, Beca just hates unfinished business.

She doesn’t have to wait long however, because Chloe is grinning at her from across the room at a house party Luke invited her to and God, Beca’s drawn in immediately. She had hoped Chloe would be there, hoped against hope, but something tells her to bottle that sentiment up and keep it close to her chest. 

“Hey you,” Chloe greets happily. Beca notes that she’s alone. “Didn’t expect you to be the fraternity party type.”

“Same could be said about you,” Beca shoots back. She takes in Chloe’s surprisingly appropriate attire that isn’t a cheerfully bright shirt or a sundress. It is instead an appealing combination, most pleasing to Beca: black jeans and a snug, well-fitting tank top. “Don’t you have some acapella performances to arrange?” she asks, pulling her eyes up from Chloe’s chest. “Or whatever it is you do,” she amends quickly when Chloe’s eyebrow rises. “I don’t care.”

Chloe clicks her tongue and pours two cups of beer from the keg nearby. She peers at Beca. “How old are you?” she asks, ignoring Beca’s mild snark.

Beca shakes her head. “Nineteen, but I don’t like drinking anyway.” She says this oddly – at least to her – like she feels the words don’t quite fit. She’s nervous, somehow. Does Chloe think she’s young ? Does Chloe think she’s too inexperienced? Questions drift in and out of Beca’s mind while she watches Chloe’s expression with rapt attention.

Chloe looks oddly pleased to hear that and not at all judgmental, though Beca can’t imagine Chloe judging her for anything. Or anybody for that matter. It’s refreshing. “Good to know,” Chloe states, shoving the cups of beer away to a passing boy. “I don’t need to drink either. Want to dance then, Bec?”

“Not really,” Beca says. Chloe bats her eyes. “Okay, fine.”

Chloe pulls her close and for a second Beca thinks she’s about to kiss her. Instead, Chloe is pulling her, pulling her, pulling her until they’re in a space that Beca assumes used to be a living room. There’s a broken, but still brightly lit disco ball above their heads. The music is loud and reverberates through the floors. People are faceless and numerous. Beca can’t imagine looking at anybody else, not at this moment when the light catches on Chloe’s face at random intervals. 

Chloe is serious about dancing apparently. She pulls Beca close by the belt loops on her jeans, stepping into her orbit again.

Beca never really got the appeal of dancing on makeshift dancefloors. Of being in such close proximity to various drunken bodies.

It makes her shudder at the thought. Recoil in disgust.

Usually.

Now, however, Chloe’s breath is hot against her face - so similar to how Chloe had felt brushing up against her at the radio station.

“How’s it feel?” Chloe asks, leaning in so her lips graze Beca’s ear. “Dancing with your boss.” She hisses on the last word, like it’s a private little inside joke.

Beca shivers. Chloe’s hips are tantalizing and graceful and rhythmic all at once. Beca finds herself enraptured by the beat of the music and the sway of Chloe’s body against hers. She imagines, for a split second, Chloe teaching her how to dance. She imagines that Chloe would be a good teacher, attentive and responsible.

She strikes that thought immediately because she can’t imagine Chloe being her teacher.

“Could be better,” she finally manages to say, quiet enough that she’s surprised Chloe catches it over all the noise. "Since you're not my boss."

Chloe’s raised eyebrow - that damnable eyebrow - spurs Beca into action.

She presses one hand against the small of Chloe’s back, bringing her closer than before. The slow movement of Chloe’s hips shifts so it matches Beca’s. Chloe’s legs brush her own and almost immediately, Chloe’s thigh slips between her own, solid and firm unlike anything Beca has felt before. She suddenly craves that skin-on-skin contact. She wants to feel exactly what Chloe’s thigh feels between her own thighs. Exactly how soft Chloe’s skin must be.

She tries not to let it show that Chloe is affecting her - that Chloe’s body is eliciting all kinds of responses in her own body. 

But she’s sure it’s obvious enough. It's in the way Chloe’s hand comes up to the back of her neck to pull Beca in for a kiss. 

 


 

 

Beca gasps out a shuddering breath against Chloe’s neck, unable to help herself from coming alongside Chloe’s orgasm. Her fingers twitch and flex inside Chloe, snug and warm. She hesitates in pulling them out, determined to make Chloe feel every last movement until she tells Beca she’s had enough.

“God,” Chloe murmurs, lazily sliding a hand into Beca’s hair. She tugs and Beca moans immediately, lifting her head obediently to meet Chloe’s lips in an equally lazy kiss. Chloe’s thigh presses up against the seam of Beca’s jeans and she’s once again reminded by how wet she is. How wet her jeans must be – damp at least – considering her underwear is completely ruined. “I knew it would be like this with you.” 

Beca doesn’t know what to say to that, but finally has the sense of mind to remove her fingers from Chloe.

She has the strongest desire to taste Chloe, so with her eyes fixated on Chloe’s half-lidded gaze, she lifts herself up on her elbow, just so she can hover above Chloe. Then, she brings her fingers to her mouth and does just that. She swirls her tongue repeatedly around wet fingers, cognizant of how hard her heart pounds in her chest.

Chloe’s gaze flashes with renewed desire. She sits up and pulls Beca close and astride her lap completely. Beca barely has time to remove her fingers from her mouth to grip tight to Chloe’s shoulders or to tangle her fingers in Chloe’s hair. The messy waves feel thicker somehow, easier to hold on to. The strong grip Chloe has on her back, paired with the sure hand creeping up her thigh. Heat spreads beneath her jeans. Chloe is quick in how fast her hand navigates beyond the waistband of Beca’s now-uncomfortable jeans, but her wrist twists and flexes and suddenly she’s so close to where Beca aches for her.

Beca moans - not caring how desperate she sounds anymore - into the kiss and her hips jolt forward of their own volition. 

A sharp rap on the door startles them out of their moment ( their moment, Beca thinks gleefully), just as Chloe’s fingers are mere inches away from Beca’s aching clit. Her hips rock forward again, even more impatient and more eager than before, trying to speed Chloe along.

“Impatient,” Chloe rasps, voice low and strained. She doesn’t sound like she thinks that’s a problem at all. Beca grasps her jaw and tilts her head up for searing kiss, aiming to distract her. It works for a few moments and Chloe’s hand is almost there–

“Hey, who’s in there! This is my room.”

Chloe curses under her breath – Beca, loudly – and just like that, her hand is gone. Beca almost whines at the loss.

Suddenly, Chloe is helping her re-button her jeans and readjusting her own clothes and they’re slamming the door open. They lift their eyes to meet a surprised-looking frat boy with boring wind-swept hair and an equally boring polo.

“Were you guys…” He grins, though without much malice or leering. He mostly just looks amused. “In my room?”

Chloe rolls her eyes, pulling Beca behind her as they beeline their way out of the house. “None of your business, Brandon,” she calls over her shoulder.

(Because of course Chloe is on a first name basis with everybody at school. Friends with frat boys and acapella girls alike. Everywhere all at once. Perhaps it was inevitable that Beca got swept up in her orbit, helpless like the rest of them.)

Whether he makes a noise of derision or not like Beca expects him to, she finds that she doesn’t really care and the fleeting thought of what they just did in a random bedroom dissipates.

They can’t get out of there quick enough. After a brief stop in the bathroom to rinse her hands, her face, and to let Chloe’s lips trail up and down her neck lazily, Beca thinks she feels a million pair of eyes on her in the house. Almost like they can tell she’d just spent the past little while getting Chloe Beale off in a nondescript frat boy bedroom. She’s not upset about the fact, not at all. Just amazed that this is the turn her life took when she decided to acquiesce to her father’s request that she attend school for at least a year. 

Chloe’s fingers twitch in hers and suddenly Beca is no longer present. The memory of Chloe coming apart beneath her fingers. Chloe’s hair sprawled in many directions across plain navy blue sheets, in every direction like the way Beca’s heart suddenly bled with unexpected desire and passion.

“Wait,” she calls, as they round the side of the house, the sounds of the party finally dying. Her fingers flex in Chloe’s hand. 

“Are you okay?” Chloe asks, pausing. She isn’t ready for an armful of Beca - of the way Beca all but throws herself at her, lips and hands exploring desperately and suddenly. She moans, long and low, into Beca’s mouth, sure hands coming up to grip Beca’s hips.

How long they kiss like that, in the shadows next to a house party, is a mystery to Beca. She focuses on how soft Chloe’s lips are - how soft they had been when she had been buried in Chloe’s pussy, two fingers deep.

Chloe’s whispered “more” echoes in her head. Her underwear dampens more at the memory.

She’s drunk on Chloe, she’s sure. She’ll never be curious about alcohol again, not when Chloe satisfies her so wholly and fully in a comparable intoxicating manner.

“Your place,” Beca breathes. “P-Please.” She hates the stutter in her voice.

Chloe lifts her head from Beca’s neck, eyes dark beneath mild eyeliner and full lashes. “Yeah?” she asks, like she needs Beca to be certain.

Beca is half tempted to shove Chloe’s hand between her legs to just feel how certain Beca is.

“Yeah,” she chokes out instead. Chloe’s chest heaves against her own. “Yeah, please, Chloe.” Beca feels desperate enough - so close to combusting again - that she pulls Chloe in for a hard, fast kiss. Their teeth nearly clash, but Chloe props herself up against the side of the house - one hand on hard brick, the other tangled in Beca’s hair.

 


 

 

Chloe’s apartment is cozy. Beca almost feels calm.

Almost.

Almost, because Chloe, at some point, decided that it was her mission to give Beca reasons to have consistent heart attacks. She exhales hard against Beca’s skin, all warm breath and barely-there touches. “Careful, don’t wake Aubrey,” Chloe mumbles, lips pressed tight against the curve of Beca’s jaw. She then lets her keys clatter against the bowl and Beca jumps, pressing herself tighter and closer against Chloe’s body on instinct. Chloe snickers. “Kidding, she’s away for the weekend. You’d like her,” she comments, like she’s not about to fuck Beca well into the night.

At least, Beca hopes that’s what is about to happen or she’s going to need to take a shower immediately.

By some great stroke of fortune that Beca does not at all anticipate or eagerly hope for, Chloe reads her mind. She tugs Beca towards the bathroom. It is small and cozy like the rest of the apartment, warm highlights and comfortable bath mats. If Beca is going to venture a guess, she’s going to assume that Aubrey – assuming that was the other young woman Chloe was with that day at the activities fair ( Why are these memories so vivid? ) – did not have a say in the decor.

Beca doesn’t have time to dwell because Chloe drops her hold on her wrist and works on shedding her jeans, then her underwear. Beca blinks, trying to let her brain catch up with her. “Are we taking a bath?” she blurts, a little slow from sudden fatigue, though perhaps more accurately stated, slow from the sight of new skin suddenly visible to her.

Chloe pulls her tank top over her head before responding. “I’m going to take a shower because I need to get that house off me.” She wrinkles her nose. “But you can feel free to use the shower after me.” She steps into the shower. “Or…” Chloe’s tone implies that Beca has some catching up to do.

Beca doesn’t need to be told twice.

When she steps in under the warm spray, she blinks up at Chloe taking in the sight of water dripping off her forehead and nose.

Chloe’s hands come up, surprisingly soft and intimate, to stroke her cheeks and her jaw, like she’s committing some part of Beca to memory. “Okay?” she asks, finally speaking after a long moment of staring at Beca with undisguised desire.

It sends the most pleasant thrill up Beca’s spine. Mine, she thinks abruptly and without warning.

Beca nods, swallowing back the heat that rises and threatens to escape in the form of something horribly cheesy, but words erupt before she can help herself. “This is familiar,” Beca comments, unable to help one last bite of snark before Chloe completely overwhelms her senses. She prides herself on waiting at least two seconds before her eyes drift below Chloe’s collarbones. “Are we going to sing now?”

“Are you ever not annoying?” Chloe asks. She presses Beca right up against the wall of the shower and kisses her hard and suddenly Beca can’t remember anything else. 

Chloe’s tongue is deft and sure, pushing into her mouth to explore. 

 


 

They’re doing everything out of order, Beca thinks.

She was never one for order anyway.

There is no order, not when Chloe’s hands drift up her thighs, her lips following the same path. Not when Beca can only crumble against her touch, like the ruins of a fortress long gone.

 


 

Texting enters the rotation of things they do together.

Wish you were here, Chloe texts from out of town. 

She knows Chloe is at some acapella competition. Beca shudders. Lol where? Beca texts back.

here, Chloe replies. And Beca can almost hear her voice - the smooth timbre of it. Especially paired by the very vivid photos Chloe sends her.

 


 

 

Luke’s rule is simple enough: no sex on the desks. He slaps a desk cheerfully sometimes whenever Beca is sitting, minding her own business (often trying not to think about what Chloe looked like the previous night, errant strands of hair plastered against her sweaty forehead. Sweaty perhaps because of the utmost concentration on her face, lips pulled between white, even teeth. Sweaty, most likely because of how hard her hips grind into Beca, their centers meeting repeatedly and deliciously and over and over again until Beca comes apart–). She fixes him with a reproachful expression and ignores Jesse’s delighted laugh.

None of that matters though.

It turns out that Chloe is the very reason for that rule from a time before Beca.

She smirks at Beca when Beca asks her about it. It is unfortunately the first question out of Beca’s mouth when she sees Chloe push through the glass door, before she is confused by Chloe’s presence.

“Are you jealous?” Chloe asks nonchalantly, dropping her bag next to Beca’s. Chloe is somehow at the radio station even though Luke is there and Beca is there and nobody told Beca that Chloe would be coming.

“No,” Beca replies immediately, frowning for good measure. “Gross.”

Chloe laughs.

Beca realizes she doesn’t want to know, not at all. Her stomach rolls unpleasantly.

“Get to work,” Chloe tosses over her shoulder, climbing up into the booth to greet Luke.

 


 

 

Chloe’s radio style is all fun anecdotes and cheesy lines. Chloe speaks to everyone at once, inclusive and vibrant. It’s not that Beca wants to like them at all because Chloe’s anecdotes completely go against everything she thinks this station should be – 

(“Beca, it’s just like five kids out there listening to this, and they’re all probably high.”

“So?” Beca grumbles back. “They deserve quality content.”

“Oh?” Chloe chirps with interest. “They do, do they? So you don’t think the story about how I got my scar is quality content? You were laughing about it last night.”

She tries not to completely melt at the affection in Chloe’s eyes.)

– it’s just that Chloe is annoyingly adorable sometimes and Beca hates that she wants to keep listening to Chloe’s voice whenever she can. Almost in a greedy, selfish way. She wants to hear Chloe’s voice directed at her more often than not.

 


 

 

Sometimes Chloe sits on Beca’s tiny school-sanctioned bed and recites Russian Literature aloud while Beca fiddles with her latest mixes. Beca pretends not to care, until she realizes that she had been listening to dead air through her headphones for the past fifteen minutes, if the timer on her computer is anything to go by, just to listen to the sound of Chloe’s voice.

She glances at Chloe out of the corner of her eye, comfortable in her oversized sweater and gray leggings. Without looking, she knows Chloe is donning a pair of Beca’s cabin socks and for some reason that makes Beca shift in her seat uncomfortably and clear her throat.

Chloe’s reading doesn’t falter, but Beca finds herself wishing that Chloe would focus on her for just a moment.

 


 

 

Car sex is somehow both terrible and fulfilling.

Beca feels various limbs nearing dangerous cramping territory, but she can’t bring herself to care at the moment. She can’t. Not when Chloe’s tongue is unforgiving between her legs, pushing through wet folds and pulling almost-foreign sounds from Beca’s chest.

“Say my name,” Chloe rasps suddenly, breath hot and heavy against Beca’s bare center. Her eyes glitter up at Beca from between her thighs. The sight alone is too much and Beca nearly concusses herself with how hard her head rocks back against the car door. 

“No,” Beca grits out, simply because she can.

Chloe’s fingers are suddenly on her clit and she’s tugging at Beca’s hip with her other hand in a surprisingly strong grip. “Beca,” she whispers, now hovering over her. Chloe’s hair is curlier than before. Before, as in earlier in the evening when she had smiled at Beca from across the table in a charming old diner. Undeniably messier. Her lips are parted and glistening. Her tongue comes out to trace her lower lip, to catch some moisture and shine.

Beca thinks she looks beautiful, but somehow her eyes bely any trace of happiness.

She looks sad. Anxious.

Beca’s throat tightens in a way that has nothing to do with the way Chloe’s fingers slip down to her entrance, gently probing. Chloe leans into her, her hips pushing against her hand so her fingers slide into Beca with ease.

Beca gasps, words dying on the tip of her tongue. So many words, so many phrases. Chloe swallows them all in a deep kiss.

Chloe takes the opportunity to kiss her – a sweet, open-mouthed kiss, unlike any other kiss they’ve shared thus far – and Beca feels everything.

Heat.

Passion.

Desire.

Possession.

They rocket through her in quick succession or sometimes stacked atop each other. They send heat through her body – a thick coil – like how the first taste of herself from Chloe’s mouth feels. They settle somewhere in her chest, where the ruined fortress rests, a white flag waves and Beca grasps at it – grasps at Chloe’s back, really – in desperation. 

She comes hard, devastatingly so, with Chloe’s name on her lips like a blessing and a curse all at once. 

Chloe pants into her neck, fingers never quite stilling. Instead, her fingers coax Beca higher again, over the edge of a smaller cliff. It’s all Beca can do, really: she follows obligingly, chasing that explosive moment once more, just once more, Beca thinks–

“More,” she whispers. She imagines the stars beyond the roof of Chloe’s car and when she shuts her eyes once more, gripping hard at the back of Chloe’s head, Chloe’s fingers twist just right and Beca thinks of galaxies to call their own.

“Beca,” Chloe murmurs, thick against her neck like she might be crying. The moment disappears, however, because Chloe is kissing her again, murmuring thanks against her lips. There are no tears on Chloe’s face and she suddenly looks the same like she did when she let Beca lead her into the backseat of her car after a half-hearted attempt at stargazing. Bright-eyed and almost falsely curious, like she wants to know what new things Beca can show her. False, because Chloe knows all her tricks by now.

(But all the things they don’t know yet about each other – that’s what keeps Beca up at night sometimes.)

“Chloe,” Beca begins, blinking back the haze so she can focus on Chloe’s distress. “Chloe, what –” She accepts her jeans and underwear from Chloe’s outstretched hand. “Hey, no–” she stops, placing a hand on Chloe’s arm. “What’s going on with you?”

“It’s nothing,” Chloe says quickly. “Really nothing.” 

“You’ve been off all night,” Beca points out.

“What do you call what I just did?” Chloe cuts back, nearly uncharacteristic bite in her tone.

Beca rolls her eyes. Snark and sarcasm and closed-off responses: she knows them like the back of her hand, so she ignores Chloe’s brief moment of lashing out and pats herself on the back for not feeling the immediate urge to close off and stop. “You can talk to me, I promise.” She swallows. “We’re...friends.”

Chloe’s shoulders pull up in a tense gesture, then and she pauses in rebuttoning her shirt. “We are?” she asks quietly. Timidly.

Beca bites her tongue because her first instinct is to correct Chloe and herself: no, they’re just coworkers who occasionally fuck in the back of dark cars in quiet areas of the local park.

But she knows they’re not just coworkers, well beyond that. She knows too much about Chloe. Every intimate detail and every funny story. They compete uncomfortably for dominance in Beca’s mind and her heart.

“We are,” Beca says softly, because she knows this to be true. “Just friends,” Beca continues because the urge to say that is too strong. She is unsure as to how to navigate this unfamiliar territory because Chloe’s display of emotions are new and unknown. It feels safe to clarify this, to draw boundaries since they eviscerated their previous boundary of mere coworkers.

Still the ache in her chest doesn’t quite ebb, even as she fully catches her breath and the lust and desire dwindle to nothing. She sits in the front again, next to Chloe who drives quietly. If Beca had to hazard a guess, she thinks Chloe is being pensive in fear of her own embarrassment, which is another thing Beca has learned about Chloe. Chloe is not somebody who is easily embarrassed. Many things roll off her back and she never seems to shy away from uncomfortable conversations.

But this is something new.

Beca could say many things.

You’re scaring me. Please talk to me.

You scare me in general, actually.

I’m here, I promise.

I want to listen to you.

But they’re just that: things she could say and words she has never said to somebody in any intimate way. She bottles these words up and keeps them almost selfishly in an attempt to protect her own heart.

Car sex might have left Beca with an uncomfortable lingering strain in her shoulder, but the car ride home is a little worse.

 


 

 

Somehow things change and then they don’t.

They don’t talk about that strange night in the darkness of Chloe’s car and it hovers over Beca’s head with a whole host of other problems, like getting her mixes on the school’s airwaves and passing her classes. Her first semester was a surprise to both herself and her father, so she feels a renewed determination to finish off strong enough so she can go to L.A. in peace.

She and Chloe still sleep together regularly enough. Chloe still occasionally shows up at the radio station like she owns the place and chats with both Jesse and Luke amicably. Beca is suspicious that Chloe is gossiping about her, particularly when she sees Jesse and Chloe conspiring together between the stacks, but she figures that it’s probably mainly Jesse trying to pry her for information about Beca. Whenever they see Beca approaching, however, they brush off their conversation and lift their bent heads. Jesse busies himself with a heavy stack of records that he pretends he can carry without straining his back.

“What are you two weirdos up to?” Beca asks, trying to keep the demand out of her voice. Chloe simply smiles and shakes her head, then, she later teases Beca about Jesse’s ever-lingering crush on her.

“Jealous?” Beca asks, irritated mostly by the impossible passage she’s reading. Theory and never-ending sentences float through her mind. Even with all of that, her question still remains with a tinge of hopefulness because it wouldn’t be terrible if Chloe were a little jealous of a woefully incomparable competitor. The thought is a little savage and a little abrupt, but Beca lets it pass with a hint of comfort.

“No,” Chloe responds easily.

Right, because Chloe has no reason to be jealous of Jesse of all people.

Beca returns to her laptop and Chloe returns to her book.

 


 

Sometimes they go on dates, though neither of them is willing to call it a date. Beca kind of wants Chloe to do it first – to ask her on an actual date – but she wonders if Chloe expects it of her.

Sometimes when Chloe introduces her to her friends on campus, she uses the word “friend” and it haunts Beca at night. She doesn’t necessarily disagree with the label, but she itches to figure out what they could be. It’s the oddest kind of of hunger, one that she hasn’t necessarily had before. 

It’s not that Beca has never hooked up with somebody before in her life, but when she looks at Chloe, it’s hard to see her as just another faceless entity.

So Beca watches men and women alike flirt with Chloe like no tomorrow from the sidelines and waits for Chloe to return to her side. Back into their bubble.

Her favorite moments are when Chloe stares at her from across the table in a diner; when Chloe stares at her from across a candlelit dinner at a surprisingly upscale restaurant (and sometimes she’ll let Beca pay her half or pay the whole bill good-naturedly); when Chloe wrestles her mini-golf club from her in an attempt to stop Beca’s weirdly good putting skills; when Chloe sometimes just gazes at her for no reason.

(Or too many reasons.)

So there are a few changes, sometimes. Beca is still figuring them all out. She’s still figuring herself out.

 


 

 

Something that never changes – hasn’t changed – over time is how often Chloe tries to convince her to attend Bellas meetings or rehearsals. Or that time Chloe tried to get her to attend a Riff-Off, whatever the hell that was. Beca had immediately declined, citing illness.

“You have to come at least once,” Chloe begs now.

“But why ?” Beca whines. “I think it’s kind of lame, you know this.” She doesn’t mean it in a bad way. It just...it is kind of lame. Beca had been mildly interested at the activities fair but only because Chloe had been so earnest and open and passionate. Looking back, Beca had thought at the time that it was only because Chloe and Aubrey were both attractive and innocent-looking enough that stopping by their booth would have been just a blip in Beca’s day. Nothing more than a moment.

But she sees now what moments spiral into and how they consume and consume until Beca gives in to the unforgiving nature of the laws of attraction.

It had been so much more then. She knows this now.

“Yes I know, but I promise you won’t think it’s that lame.” Chloe heaves a breath, tapping her fingers dramatically against Beca’s arm. “ And you get to see me in a sports bra.”

Beca makes a choked noise of discontent. “That’s not interesting to me.”

“It is a little interesting,” Chloe assures her, like she needs to convince Beca that seeing her in less clothing is a hard and arduous task. “Come on. We’ll consider it like a little field trip. I swear to God, you’ve never been outside the four walls of that radio station on this campus.”

“That is not true,” Beca corrects immediately. She drops her book so she can shift Chloe’s legs off her lap. Chloe’s protests die in her mouth because Beca is all but crawling up her body, settling on straddling her hips. “I’m here, aren’t I?” 

“This, uh, apartment isn’t technically on campus,” Chloe murmurs, distracted by the sliver of skin that shows beneath Beca’s shirt when she raises her hands to pull her hair behind her shoulders.

“I’ve been to my dorm,” Beca continues, ignoring Chloe’s statement. She leans forward over Chloe, so she is hovering over her face. She grins down at Chloe when she feels Chloe’s hand sliding up the backs of her thighs lightly at first, then firmly when she reaches Beca’s ass. 

She leans down to kiss Chloe, enjoying the always-appealing ripple of pleasure and heat stemming from her chest and spreading to the rest of her body. She rests her hands on the armrest behind Chloe’s head, slowly lowering the rest of her body to spread out across Chloe’s, careful to distribute her weight evenly.

Slowly, Chloe’s hands move along her back, mapping new and old paths. She holds Beca to her and like that, they kiss gently and languidly. Chloe lifts a hand from Beca’s back to hold the back of Beca’s head to slowly increase the pressure and intensity of their kisses. Beca will never tire of the ways Chloe continues to show her intimacy and physical affection. Even the gentle drag of Chloe’s fingers through her hair, paired with the slow brush of Chloe’s tongue against her lower lip, has devastating effects on Beca’s peace of mind.

Beca doesn’t expect this kiss to go anywhere really and it’s that thought that she fixates on. It thrills her and makes her fingers curl into the fabric of the couch. The fact that Chloe would enjoy these moments of pure intimacy without sexuality makes something almost completely foreign settle in Beca’s body. She files it away for the future.

“I have something to tell you,” Chloe murmurs, when Beca finally draws back to take in deep breaths of air. “I’ve been meaning to tell you. It isn’t a big deal, I promise.”

Beca doesn’t trust herself to speak without her voice cracking at the moment, so she nods. She hates the fear that rises up in her.

“I...I’m going to get my nodes taken out in a few weeks and I’m a little scared of what it’ll mean for me and singing.”

“Nodes,” Beca repeats. “Are those–?” she lifts a hand to Chloe’s throat and runs a finger across soft skin gently. She looks at Chloe questioningly.

“Yeah, and I…” Chloe sighs and gestures for Beca to sit up. “I want to be able to sing and I want to be able to compete, but they’re getting bad and they hurt a lot sometimes.”

“When did you hear from your doctor?”

“I guess a few weeks ago. Maybe a month and a bit. I didn’t know what to do about it.”

“Does it hurt now?” Beca asks a little anxiously. She stares at Chloe’s neck, like she expects to see some kind of bulge or noticeable deformity. 

“No, not really. Only when I sing a lot.”

“Then why do it?” Beca asks urgently. “Why do it if it hurts?” 

“Because I love to sing,” Chloe says, looking at Beca so suddenly and deeply that Beca cannot bring herself to look away.

She swallows. “I know you do.”

“And I want you to be able to hear me do it before...I can’t do it anymore.”

Beca opens her mouth to tell Chloe how dramatic that sounds – that of course Chloe will still be able to sing – but she takes in the genuine apprehension on Chloe’s face and the sincerity of her tone. She processes all of that and feels herself relating to Chloe on deeper levels than before. She knows too well what these feelings are: they are too late and last chance and regret – so much regret – all rolled up in anxiety and sometimes indescribable sadness.

She wants to share in it with somebody, but it is difficult to know the repercussions of opening herself up to that kind of vulnerability. 

But, sitting here, near Chloe, next to Chloe, she feels like she could do it. She feels like she could try.

“Okay,” Beca finally says. “I’ll come.”

 


 

 

Beca vaguely recognizes some of the girls who make up the Bellas. She thinks Fat Amy (though her name is listed as Patricia in Beca’s email list) was who she met at the Activities Fair. A few others, she recognizes from orientation and her dorm.

Then her eyes zero in on Chloe, standing in the middle of the room with her blonde friend – Aubrey? – by her side. Aubrey unfortunately spots her first.

“This is a closed rehearsal,” Aubrey says immediately.

“No it’s not,” Chloe argues. “There isn’t a rule about that. Besides, I invited her.”

“Hello,” Beca says, waving awkwardly. She lets Chloe pull her towards the group. “I...told Chloe I’d come by and watch you guys.”

“Beca’s a really good musician! You should hear the kinds of remixes and melodies she comes up with. She can help us, maybe. Like a consult.”

Aubrey looks increasingly pale even as the other women all murmur with interest at Chloe’s words.

“Okay, she can stay,” Aubrey says when it’s clear that Beca has the support of the room. “We can talk later. I just wish you discussed this with me, Chloe.” 

Chloe’s face falls a little. The sight makes Beca clench her fist and Aubrey’s tone really grates on her nerves. “Hey,” she starts. Both Aubrey and Chloe quickly glance at her. Chloe’s gaze is sharp and she shakes her head discreetly, while Aubrey eyes her challengingly. “Nevermind.” 

The rehearsal ends up being surprisingly fun and lighthearted, despite the initial tension. Beca wonders why they’re singing songs that are twice as old as them, but she holds her tongue. Instead, she watches Chloe correct a few dance steps for a few of the members (she knew Chloe would be a good teacher) and listens to the smooth sound of Chloe’s voice. It washes over her during her solo, but listening carefully, Beca can hear the strain. Knowing about Chloe’s nodes, it makes Beca wince.

But Chloe’s voice is beautiful.

 


 

 

Arguments come naturally enough. Beca’s personality, while not necessarily volatile, leans towards the side of bottling emotions until they burst from her like an overly-shaken bottle of soda. And not even the good kind. Probably a discount brand Dr. Pepper.

Chloe, on the other hand, is the most expressive person Beca has ever met, sometimes without even speaking. Her eyes shine like two luminous windows into Chloe’s exact emotions at any given time. It is absolutely terrifying.

Another thing about Chloe is that she pries. She pries at Beca’s boarded-up windows and tries to peer in. Beca half-heartedly bats her away and dodges other attempts, but it gets to a point when Beca realizes that she pretty much considers Chloe her best friend. It happens somewhere in between Kimmy Jin happily saying hello to Chloe as she lets her into their shared dorm room and Chloe holding out a hand to read Beca’s recently finished essay.

She watches Chloe’s eyes flit across the page as she reads carefully, nodding along.

“My dad called me again today,” Beca blurts just as Chloe flips a page.

Chloe looks at her with interest. “Oh? What did he want?”

“I let it go to voicemail. He probably just wants to make sure I haven’t joined a cult or done something else to give him a bad name.”

“I’ve always wanted to take a class with Professor Mitchell,” Chloe says lightly.

Beca flicks Chloe’s hand. “Hey.”

“What? He’s a good professor!”

“So?” Beca feels petulant.

Chloe sighs. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but honestly it sounds like your father is trying. And you have to admit that this ‘little college experiment’ as you would say hasn’t been a complete waste.”

Beca bristles. “Not you too.”

“What?” Chloe asks, a hint of exasperation slipping into her tone.

“Just...trying to get me to stay.”

“I’m not trying to get you to do anything, Beca,” Chloe says patiently. A little patronizingly. “You’re an adult.”

“But–”

“L.A. will still be there,” Chloe says quietly. “And you’re so talented. I mean it, Beca. You’re going to make it there. But honestly, I can tell you enjoy school. And you’ve enjoyed Barden.”

It’s difficult to admit how right Chloe is. She is right, though. Beca can’t bring herself to admit it because it means having to deal with the truth of it all.

The truth about how Beca feels herself changing and shifting into a new person. The growing pains of realizing what it means to be self-sufficient. Independent. Responsible. 

In love.

“I don’t...I don’t enjoy Barden,” Beca finally says, lying through her teeth. “Stop saying that.” Stop saying things that make me think about how in love with you I am. 

Chloe stares at her. “Look, I’m just saying–”

“Stop!”

Her outburst startles them both.

Embarrassed, Beca tugs the paper from Chloe’s grasp – gently enough as to not give Chloe a sudden papercut – and turns back to her computer. “I think you should go,” she says softly.

“Beca,” Chloe starts, then thinks better of it. She stands from Beca’s bed and leaves quietly.

The door clicks shut, echoing in the silence of Beca’s room.

 


 

“Do you work here now?” Beca overhears Jesse asking somebody. “It’s cool to see another acapella friend.”

“An aca-friend,” Chloe’s voice replies, too cheerfully for Beca’s taste, especially considering she just created a portmanteau of acapella and friend. Beca almost shudders, but she finds herself slinking past the rows of records to step into the clearing between stacks. “And yes, just a part-time thing because Luke has been looking for some extra help managing you two while he figures out the rest of his life.”

“Beca has been wanting to get into that booth,” Jesse says helpfully. Beca feels affection rise in her. He was listening.

“I know,” Chloe replies. “I–” Her eyes flick up at that moment from where she’s thumbing through a folder. “Oh, look who it is.”

“Hi,” Jesse greets immediately. “You look like shit,” he says helpfully. Chloe cuts him a glance with an unreadable expression.

“You’re back,” Beca says to Chloe.

“Yeah, it was just a weeklong thing for school.”

“No,” Beca says haltingly, gesturing at Chloe. “You’re back here.” 

She feels tired and frustrated. Her conversations with her father have been going nowhere. She and Chloe haven’t really talked over the past two weeks, which gives rise to feelings of anxiety and nervousness.

 


 

“Hey,” Chloe greets cautiously. “Are you-?”

“I’m fine,” Beca says quickly. “Sorry, I’ll just.” She begins packing up her things. “I’ll just go. My shift ended a while ago.”

“You know, you don’t need to keep pushing me away,” Chloe says as gently as she can. “I won’t pry or anything, but I’m here for you. I care about you, Beca.”

“You don’t know anything about me,” Beca argues weakly.

Chloe’s hand drifts up to her shoulder, where she rests it. It feels heavy to Beca. “I know you and I want to continue knowing you. Getting to know you.”

Beca shifts. “I don’t know.” 

“Bec.” 

“Don’t call me that.”

Chloe murmurs an apology and looks so contrite that Beca immediately feels bad. She can’t continue hurting Chloe like this, not when Chloe hasn’t done anything wrong.

“I can’t keep doing this with you,” Beca says before she can stop herself. Now, she finds she cannot stop. It spills out of her like venom. “I can’t keep this up. It’s – it’s too confusing and too stressful. Going out and holding your hand. Sleeping together.” Beca blinks back tears of insecurity. “You...we haven’t even really talked in like two weeks.” Not that she had been counting.

“Are you breaking up with me?”

“I just need some space. And no, I can’t break up with a friend,” Beca corrects a little snidely. “You’re not my girlfriend.”

Chloe doesn’t gasp or cry or anything quite as dramatic. Instead, she just looks the saddest Beca has ever seen her.

That speaks more volumes than if Chloe had lost her temper. Beca's tired of people leaving (but she is even more tired of pushing people away).

 


 

The silver lining comes soon enough: Luke raps sharply on the booth window and points at Beca when she turns. Come here, he mouths. 

“Me?” Beca asks.

Luke merely stares at her with a tired expression. She flushes and immediately drops the album she had been holding and quickly makes her way into the booth.

He grins at her. “That was quick. I knew you had it in you.”

“Did you call me in here to make fun of me?” 

“No, I called you in here to let you know that I have to go out of town for the weekend and you’re getting the Friday night shift.”

“I already work Friday nights,” Beca says, slow on the uptake.

“No, you work out there on Friday nights. This Friday night, I want you in here. Lining up songs. Your own, even.”

“You what ?” Beca blinks and shakes her head. “That – that’s amazing!” She exclaims, unable to hide the glee in her voice. “Seriously?” she asks quickly, just to be sure. “Like this is serious, right? You’re not fucking with me?”

“Yeah. You’ve been responsible and on-time for work. And I’ve seen you fiddling with your laptop from time to time. I’ve listened to your mixes. You’re ready.”

You’re ready.

Beca cannot express how not ready she feels, but she’s going to take the plunge. If only she felt ready in other aspects of her life.

It’s less of a silver lining and more of the barest hint of sunshine peeking through the ever-lingering storm clouds.

 


 

The shifts get better and better. Beca tries to ignore the rolling in her stomach when she thinks about how sad and disappointed Chloe had looked. 

It’s easy to ignore it when she can focus on being alone in the booth. Just her and music. Her previous radio shows were a success and her mixes were received well. For the first time, Beca feels the strangest wells of happiness and success fill her chest, though she tries not to think about how there are gaps now. Gaps being that she so desperately wants to share these thoughts with Chloe.

It ends up coming out to Luke of all people in a fit of emotional outpouring. Beca stares hard at her clenched fists and admits to Luke that while she did not Have Sex on the Desks, she and Chloe were definitely a thing and they had been for most of their time ‘working’ together in the radio station. Mostly, it’s just an attempt to glean how Chloe is doing from the one person that Beca knows well-enough as a mutual friend between them both.

Luke is surprisingly attentive and lets out a low whistle at the end of her story. “First, holy shit.”

“Shut up.”

“Didn’t peg you as Chloe’s type.”

“I’m not going to ask why you would even think about any of this, even abstractly.”

“This explains why Chloe hasn’t been around recently.”

“Yes, that’s what I just said.”

“You two had a good dynamic from what I saw. I mean, I now know that it was more than just good rapport, but Chloe deserves to be happy.” He squints at her. “Why are you two having issues?”

“I just. It’s too much,” Beca gestures vaguely. “I don’t let people in like that, I just don’t. I literally chose to work here because it has two people. Three, I guess. I like the quiet, I like my space, and I like not having to worry about whether people are going to get up and leave. And besides, we were just...friends anyway,” Beca finishes lamely. She hopes against hope that Luke didn’t catch the way her voice wavered.

Luke stares at her for a long moment.

Beca glances at him, nervous under his scrutiny. “Like, why didn’t she just ask me to be her girlfriend, then? Why dance around this? I’m not...good with this stuff. I don’t do relationships. She probably thinks I’m so fucking young and just not ready for her. But I am. I was. I think?” Beca frowns. “She just scared me a lot.”

Luke sighs. “Yeah, she can be like that. But she only ever cares too much for her own good. Thanks for telling me though.” He smiles. “You’re an interesting person, aren’t you?” 

Before Beca can respond or process any of Luke’s cryptic words disguised as limited wisdom, Luke is leaving the keys on the table and leaving without another word.

 


 

She thinks that’s the end of it.

She finally responds to a few texts from Chloe and does her best to not make them as lackluster as she initially wants them to. She berates herself a little for her insecurities and makes a note to herself to keep her chin up at work.

Speaking of work.

Luke looks down at Beca from his perch in the booth. 

“No booth today?” Beca tries weakly.

“Beca,” he begins in a tone that she hates immediately.

“I just want to take my mind off things,” Beca interrupts. She doesn’t want to see sympathy or judgement in his face, though at this point, she’s not sure she can differentiate between the two. It’s all the same to her.

“Yeah, about that.”

And there it is. She regrets telling him anything. “Dude, no, I get it. Chloe’s your friend and I should have never-”

“You’re kind of thick, aren’t you?”

Beca is at a loss for words before she realizes exactly what Luke just said. “What?”

“Stupid. It means stupid.”

“I know what thick means,” she fires back. 

“Did you know that Chloe hates the radio station?”

That’s not what she expects at all. “She what?”

“She really does. I mean, she used to work here with me on and off in our freshman and sophomore years, but then she pretty much threw herself into the Bellas and I didn’t see much of her after that. She hated the darkness, the smell, and our other coworker.”

“And now?” Beca asks, a little stupidly, she realizes too late. Luke is already rolling his eyes and brushing past her. She turns just in time to catch the keys he flings in her direction.

“Remember, no sex on the desks!”

He’s so fucking funny, Beca thinks.

 


 

It’s not quite the greeting her father expects, but Beca thinks there are worse things to say than “I think I’m in love with a girl and it’s seriously messing me up.” 

Her father takes it remarkably well. “Oh, do I know her?” he asks, pouring her a cup of tea.

Beca wonders if that’s his attempt at a joke, but he doesn’t seem to be amused or making light of the situation at all. It’s his attempt to let her know that he does want to know about her life and he wants her to open up.

It’s a pattern in Beca’s life, it seems. Like she’s constantly missing these opportunities to connect – or reconnect – with people every so often.

She knows she’s difficult and she knows she’s hard around the edges, but Chloe makes her want to be better. Her entire experience at Barden this past year has made her want to be better.

Not that her father needs to know, but as she watches him and observes the lines around his eyes and mouth, she sees so much pain and regret. It manifested in her own vulnerability and insecurity, especially around the time her parents split up. She had been so sure that it had been easy for her father to leave – to pack his bags and leave. 

She sees now that it probably wasn’t easy. It didn’t excuse his actions – still doesn’t – that much Beca knows with one hundred percent certainty, but time really wears on people, especially those living with regrets. Chloe had always subtly tried to encourage her to talk to her father, or to at least agree to his attempts to meet up for coffee. Beca had brushed both of them off until eventually her father stopped asking and she had been pleased at the time. But she saw the same kind of familiar sadness in Chloe’s eyes whenever she contemplated Beca, like she knew Beca was lonely. 

Like she knew Beca was sad.

Beca sighs, reaching out to stop her father from adding sugar.

“I’ve missed you, you know.” 

He smiles, causing the crinkles around his eyes to turn up. “So tell me about this girl.”

 


 

“Hey, you know good restaurants around here, right?” Beca asks, the moment Jesse picks up his phone. Her father’s advice had been surprisingly simple and sound: apologize and talk to Chloe. So that’s what she’s trying to do, but she’s going to do it with some nice take-out and a custom-created mix.

Something clatters in the background. “Beca, what ? Happy spring break to you too.”

“Around the school,” Beca continues a little impatiently. “Restaurants around the school.”

Jesse sighs. “Is this about Chloe?” he asks.

“Why would it be about Chloe?” is Beca’s defensive response. Jesse is silent. “Yes, this is about Chloe.”

“Are you going to take her out on a date ?” he asks, too happy for Beca’s liking. “Finally?” he continues. Beca can see his playful expression. She doesn’t hate it necessarily.

“I just want to do something nice for her,” she says.

Jesse laughs. “This is exactly the conversation I had with Chloe.”

“What? When?” This is news to Beca. She sits heavily, suddenly, already piecing things together despite Jesse’s loud guffaw right into her phone. “Shut up,” she insists. “When?”

“Oh man, it was right out of a movie. She always wanted to talk to me about the kinds of things she thought you would enjoy. And she used to ask me about my favorite places to hang on dates. I mean, I didn’t understand it at first, but I kind of saw you two making out when you both thought I had gone to get Luke a burger.”

Beca inhales indignantly. “And you didn’t say anything?”

“About your fraternizing with your coworker?” Jesse asks. Beca can hear the delight in his voice. “I mean, I always thought it’d be me, but the moment Chloe started working here, I knew I was finished.”

She can’t tell if he’s actually serious, but she’s suddenly laughing. Laughing like a purge of emotion because it makes complete sense. Chloe had been planning dates. So many dates and so many nights out. Never really just a casual, on-the-whim moment.

Chloe had always been laying down the foundation for them, always just waiting for Beca to catch up.

And now, to find Chloe.

 


 

Aubrey looks at Beca like she thinks Beca is a particularly interesting piece of dust. She peers down at Beca and appears to delight in their (very slight) height difference.

“Chloe’s not here,” she says, her nose wrinkling. Beca privately thinks that she might be envisioning the last time she caught Beca and Chloe going at it on their living room couch. “You’re...Beca, right? Chloe talked about you a lot.” She narrows her eyes suspiciously, then, like perhaps Chloe hadn’t been talking about Beca a lot recently.

Beca tries to smile, but manages a grimace. “I...okay. I can wait until she gets back,” she offers.

“She’s not coming back.”

Beca’s eyes widen. “What?” she squeaks out, fear causing her tone to rise.

Aubrey’s eyes widen too. “No, no, I’m so sorry, I just meant that she won’t be back for a while.”

“Oh, I thought she was staying here for spring break,” Beca murmurs. “She said she was,” she says, pulling out her phone to see her last brief message exchange with Chloe a few days ago.

“She didn’t tell you?” Aubrey asks, her entire stance softening. She looks at the take-out in Beca’s hands and then looks at Beca’s face, as if determining her true intentions.

For once, Beca doesn’t feel afraid. She lets Aubrey assess her and stare straight at her. She hopes Aubrey can see her honesty and sincerity and, if she dares, affection and care for Chloe Beale.

Aubrey seems to like what she sees, at least enough to inform Beca that Chloe is in the hospital, recovering from her nodes operation.

For some reason (many reasons), that makes Beca cry.

 


 

Beca makes a soft sound upon seeing Chloe sound asleep in the pristine hospital bed. As uncomfortable as the bed itself looks, Chloe looks peaceful - content even.

Somehow making the worst things a little brighter, Beca muses. She gently places the roses down on the window ledge before moving closer to Chloe. As she nears, she becomes more aware of all the various instruments about: the complicated machinery, the wires, tubing both unused and used, the metal – so much metal – lining various aspects of the room. All together, it’s not a pretty sight, but Chloe is safe. Chloe is alive. The surgery was a success. Beca can breathe again.

The sheets rustle and Beca's eyes dart back to Chloe who is staring back at her. Chloe blinks slowly, like the last dredges of sleep are slowly fading away.

“Hi,” Beca says weakly. “Hi. Oh God, you’re awake. Okay, uh–” Chloe points at the rolling table Beca had pushed aside and Beca belatedly notices the whiteboard and marker. “Oh, okay. Sorry, I’ll just…” She quickly snatches it up and presses them into Chloe’s hands. Chloe fixes her with an amused expression. “I’m just nervous,” Beca explains. 

Chloe is writing furiously on her whiteboard.

“I’m going to start with an apology because I’m probably the last person you want to see right now.”

Chloe glances up briefly to roll her eyes, shaking her head. You’re not, she mouths. 

But she still writes.

“Uh, okay. I’ll make this quick, so you can...um, drink water or something. I just want you to know that I’m so fucking sorry about everything. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen the way it did, starting right from the beginning. When you started working at the station and then everything that happened right after.

“Honestly, the way you make me feel is probably just a combination of the happiest I’ve ever been and terrified. More terrified than I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve never had any real kind of close relationships and I never thought I’d be able to feel close to anybody, not when I spent so much time trying to figure out how to leave.

“But something occurred to me,” Beca continues, trying to will her voice from cracking. “And I’m not, like, talking about while we were sleeping together or anything. Though, that was nice.” Chloe flashes her teeth at her in what Beca assumes is a silent laugh. “I realized that I don’t want to leave. Not for the next year at least. And I don’t know what that means for us or anything, but I want you to know that I like you more than a friend and I have for a while. I was just too afraid of my own damn feelings.”

Chloe coughs a little, some sound escaping her and causing her to wince. She smiles at Beca gratefully when she immediately hands her a glass of water from the side table, then picks her board back up again.

“What are you writing?” Beca asks nervously. “You’ve been writing a lot.”

Chloe looks a little teary-eyed, but she slowly flips the board over. 

The inscription is surrounded by dozens of hearts of varying sizes, finally underscored by a postscript.

Beca Mitchell, will you be my girlfriend (again)? Choose one.
YES / NO
p.s. you’re so cute when you’re nervous. And of course I forgive you, you dummy.

There is so much more Beca wants to say – so many more apologies and explanations. And she’s sure Chloe has more she wants to say as well. 

So she leans in instead and moves closer for a quick kiss. At the last minute, she thinks better of the idea because she’s unsure if Chloe’s allowed to engage in kissing so soon after her surgery. She kisses Chloe’s cheek instead, letting her lips linger for as long as she dares. Chloe shivers a little when Beca pulls back and Beca is surprised to note that her eyes are wet. 

“What?” Beca asks, nervous again.

Chloe taps the board impatiently.

“Oh. Duh, yes.” She quickly grabs the marker and circles the yes. Chloe grins at her, pulling her in for a kiss to Beca’s cheek of her own.

The touch is tender and gentle, a far cry from their very first kiss.

Beca has never felt anything better.