Do you remember when
Midnight drives when you'd sing
I'd play you songs you were in?
I just want to be there again
Do you remember when
With Rome below us that day
You said, "I wish we could stay"?
I just want to be there again
- Rome by Dermot Kennedy
“If I could take the hurt away, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” Beca said staring into Chloe’s eyes, “but your soul is your own and I can’t force you to mend, but I’ll be there every step of the way.” Chloe’s eyes shone, Beca couldn’t tell if it was because of her tears or if it was the Christmas lights hanging above them in the tiny Roman street.
“I just - ” she paused looking away from Beca hugging herself around the waist, “I just feel like my soul is broken.” Beca felt her breath leave her, because Chloe Beale should never feel like that. The one person that was able to pull Beca into the warmth of the sun should never feel broken. If she could get her hands on the asshole who broke, no, shattered, Chloe’s heart she would crush him without a second thought, but Chloe wouldn’t want that.
“Chloe, I’m -” she started wanting to reassure her best friend in any way that she could. She didn’t know what she wanted to say, because what words can mend someone’s soul? What words can make it okay that her best friend’s ex-fiance left her the morning of their wedding, not even a week ago?
Before Beca could find the words Chloe let out a watery laugh, “I’m sorry,” she wiped the tears that were starting to fall down her face, “it’s our first night in this beautiful city and I’m already ruining it.”
It didn’t take very long for Beca to find the right words to reply to that, “Don’t you dare apologize to me Beale,” she moved to stand directly in front of her friend, “I don’t care if we spend the rest of the night standing in this street while you talk to me about how you’re feeling, I don’t care if we never leave our hotel room for the next few nights because exploring this city is the farthest thing from you mind.” Beca gently placed her right hand on Chloe’s cheek, softly brushing her thumb over the tears that were starting to fall again, “I can’t even pretend to imagine what you’re going through and how difficult it must be to be in your head right now, just know that I’m here for you no matter what for as long as you need.”
Chloe stepped closer to Beca, eliminating the little space that was between them, and wrapped her arms around Beca’s waist. Beca felt Chloe’s warm breath on her collarbone and the wetness from her tears as she wrapped her own arms around her best friend and pulled her close. She hugged her tighter than she normally would, tightening her arms as Chloe did the same. They stood there for a while, and Beca just stood there. She didn’t want to be the first one to let go, it was up to Chloe. She just stood there observing the many tourists and locals walk by them with arms full of shopping bags, camera’s slung around their necks, or with a big scoop of gelato on a cone.
It might have been hours or maybe just minutes, but Beca was content to observe the passersby as Chloe clung onto her. Eventually Chloe slowly unwrapped herself around Beca, “Thanks Becs,” she said softly. She took a deep breath to collect herself, “do you want to do something fun?”
Beca leaped up at that (or maybe that was just her heart), she was just happy that Chloe wanted to do something fun. She grabbed Chloe’s hand without thinking twice, it should have been a little weird, but friends hold each other's hands right? Or maybe Beca was trying to convince herself that this was totally normal, she was just comforting the redhead and the way her heart fluttered as she held onto Chloe’s hand was fake. She had to be imagining it.
A few minutes later and they found themselves in a little car that they had picked up from the airport.
“It’s a Beca sized car!”
“Shut up, you’re barely taller than me.”
“Where are we going?”
“I’ll let my hands figure that out,” Beca smiled sending a wink Chloe’s way, “if we’re at an intersection and my hands want to turn right, we’ll go right.”
Chloe laughed, and Beca felt a weight that she didn’t know was there leave her shoulders. It was nice to hear Chloe laugh. She ignored the way her heart did that weird skipping a beat thing.
Beca passed her phone to Chloe, “Play whatever you want, there’s a bunch of new mixes that I don’t think you’ve heard.”
“Not that I-“ she scratches the back of her neck awkwardly, “not that I expect you to want to listen to my mixes, it’s just an option.” Beca never just directly offered her mixes for anyone to listen to, even Chloe. It was normally Chloe asking her and Beca gingerly handing her a flash drive filled with music.
She looks at Chloe who’s smiling at her fondly, “I have your mixes on repeat almost all the time, of course I want to listen to the new ones.” Beca felt her face heat up at that, how Chloe could through compliments like that so casually was beyond her.
The first of her new mixes started to play as Beca put her foot on the accelerator of the car. The two songs interwoven together were clearly love songs. Beca hoped that Chloe wouldn’t pick up on that, because there was a bit of Chloe in most of her recent mixes.. If Chloe found the love songs odd she didn’t make it obvious. She just softly sang along to the lyrics as they drove through the streets of Rome. They eventually ended up at what felt like a little world right above the city. The trees and buildings parted ways to show the ancient architecture below them.
Beca got out of the car as Chloe did the same and they sat on the hood of the car.
“Thanks for dragging me across the world Becs.”
Beca shrugged, “No need to thank me Beale, I’m just trying to be a good friend.”
“Still, I know that you’re actually famous now and that you’ve been really busy. I-” she sighed, shaking her head slightly, “I haven’t been a good friend lately, especially after things started to get serious with Matthew.”
“You really have to stop apologizing Chlo.”
“But we used to skype everyday, and then it eventually turned into every few months, and it was all my fault., Chloe said in frustration.
“It takes two to communicate,” Beca said, taking hold of Chloe’s hand that was fidgeting with her jeans, “sure, you might have not been the best at texting or calling me back for the past year, but you were in a new relationship dude. I don’t blame you for not talking to me as much as we used to.” She looked to Rome below them, “Besides, I think I needed to leave the country too. The music industry was becoming too much for me to handle.”
“I wish I was there for you more.”
“I didn’t tell you that to make you feel guilty.”
“You’ve always been too nice to me.” Chloe said with a sad smile, “It doesn’t change the fact that I fucked up being your friend.”
“You’re still my best friend Chlo, despite us not being super close these past few years.”
Chloe didn’t say anything to that, she didn’t need to. She simply wrapped herself around Beca’s arm and rested her head on the brunette’s shoulder. They sat in silence for a few minutes, listening to the distant sound of conversations in different languages and the occasional honk that was inevitable in a city with the narrowest of roads.
Eventually Chloe broke the silence, “I wish I was better at relationships, “ Chloe said and Beca didn’t dare interrupt her because she didn’t think that Chloe had ever actually talked about what happened, “I think I fall too deeply because I have so much love to share.” Beca silently agreed with her, “I always do my best to see the good in everyone, and I think that makes me blind to a lot of warning signs.”
“I didn’t notice,” she paused, “or maybe I just ignored how Matt was never the one to initiate a date after the first few months of our relationship and how the number of late nights at work seemed to increase exponentially, but what drives me crazy is that he actually proposed to me..”
She unwrapped her arms that were around one of Beca’s and ran a hand through her hair, “I don’t even know why I said yes, maybe it was because I was afraid that Matt was the only one who was willing to commit to being with me for life,” she sighed, “people tend to only last a few months with me. I don’t know if it’s because I choose awful partners or if it’s because there’s something wrong with me.”
Beca interrupted her before she could say anything else, “There is absolutely nothing wrong with you,” Beca knew that she probably sounded more passionate than she needed to, but she had to make Chloe understand. “You are perfect Chloe Beale,” she watched curiously as her friend’s cheeks colored, “I’m not saying that just because I’m your friend, but I’m able to say that with 100% confidence because I’ve been your friend for so long.”
“I think you’re right about you having so much love to share, it’s more than what most people hold in their heart. There’s nothing wrong with that,” she paused to take a breath as her eyes met Chloe’s bright blue ones and she forgot what she was going to say next because Chloe was looking at her like she was the world. Chloe did that sometimes, and it always made Beca forget everything. “You’re a good person Beale,” she finished awkwardly.
Beca panicked slightly when Chloe didn’t say anything after her little speech? Beca sometimes wondered if Chloe knew about her feelings for her when she looked at her in that way she did earlier or the way she was looking at her now. Because Beca’s mouth was annoying, “I used to be like you,” she blurted out. Beca didn’t know why she opened her mouth to share something so personal, but she wanted Chloe to understand that their rekindled friendship was a two way street (and she wanted to break the awkward silence).
If Chloe shared her personal thoughts, Beca could do the same. The college Beca would have never done this, but the college Beca was never as lonely as she had been the past few years. She didn’t want to feel that same loneliness ever again, so she figured that sharing a piece of her heart would keep Chloe around her longer (it didn’t seem as lame when she thought about it earlier).
It was true that she didn’t blame Chloe for their lack of communication over the past few years, but not blaming her didn’t make it hurt any less for her during those times. As she said before, it truly does take two to communicate. Beca did try to reach out to Chloe quite often even when she wasn’t as responsive, but eventually stopped trying because she didn’t want to come off too strong or clingy, and more importantly she didn’t need Chloe to catch wind of her feelings.
“When I was younger I very much looked at the world with a sunny lense,” her hand moved to scratch the back of her neck as the reality set in that she really was going to really truly give Chloe a piece of her and her heart that nobody knew, “I thought everyone was friendly, and would excuse any negativity and meanness from others.” she sighed, “I really truly believed that everything was sunshine and daisies and that everything and everyone was good.”
“It led me to ignore all the obvious signs of the years leading up to my dad cheating and my parents inevitable divorce, and it led me to ignore my first,” she brought both hands up to add air quotes around the next word, “girlfriend. I also somehow managed to ignore the fact that my dad was really,” she laughed lightly with no humor, “really fucking homophobic. I think all of that has made me the complete opposite of how I was as a kid.”
“It wasn’t like there weren’t any signs, I just pushed all of them in favor of clinging onto the few parts of it all that would result in a happy ending, I mean my parents fought all the time and my dad was always off on business trips that lasted weeks on end, how did I not notice that.” She saw Chloe open her mouth to interrupt her, but she continued before she had a chance to, “I didn’t notice that my first girlfriend just wanted to prove that I was a dyke to the whole school,” let out another sigh, “and I somehow managed to ignore or somehow chose to ignore that my father would go off on homophobic tirades whenever he drank or saw anybody that looked remotely gay.”
“I’m not telling you all this because I like talking about myself,” she said with a small smile that Chloe mirrored, “but that having a big heart can make you blind at times, but don’t let the faults of that do to you what it did to me.”
“I need you to promise to me Chloe that you know that there’s nothing wrong for you and that you will never give up on love or happiness, don’t ever completely close yourself off.” She shook her head slightly trying to clarify and make her words clear, “That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t learn how to notice when people aren’t assholes, but don’t ever let the sun stop burning around you.”
“I think you’re wrong,” Chloe said, “You might not be the bright and sunny kid you described, but you’re also not completely devoid of all that now. You’re kind and your heart is more full of love than you think. I don’t know if you show that to everyone around you, but I think I’m one of the few lucky people who have been lucky to see that side of you.”
Beca let out a small laugh, “I’m supposed to be comforting you right now, but thanks dude. I guess you’re right.”
“Thanks for sharing that with me Becs,” Chloe said looking at Beca, “I’ve known you for years but I’m still learning about you in the best ways.”
Beca shrugged not wanting to make a big deal of her feelings because that was gross (guess she hasn’t changed all that much from college).
They sat in comfortable silence, listening to the music floating through the air from the car when Beca hopped off the hood and dramatically held her hand out to Chloe.
“Dance with me?”
Chloe grinned, her mind probably in the same place as Beca’s, thinking back to their Barden days. Chloe used to drag (she didn’t really have to drag Beca to do anything, but she still had a reputation to maintain (even in her own head)) away from her hunched over position at her desk to make her dance with Chloe.
So they danced carefree with moves that didn’t match the song that was playing, but that didn’t matter. Their limbs could only be described as flailing around. Who would have thought that had won any sort of competition that revolved around having good dancing abilities. Beca had never felt so free in so long, and one look in Chloe’s eyes and Beca could tell that same feeling was in her as well.
Their exuberant dance moves eventually slowed down. Beca blinked and Chloe’s arms were wrapped around her waist with her head resting on her shoulder. They weren’t dancing anymore, just quietly swaying side to side in each other’s arms.
“I wish we could stay,” Chloe murmured softly. Beca couldn’t tell if Chloe was referring to their current position, them just being in the beautiful city, or maybe it was a general comment about the state of their friendship right now so she nodded. Whatever it was the Chloe was referring to, there was almost no doubt that Beca agreed.
It was the first full day that they had spent together in a year but it was obvious that her heart still belonged to Chloe. She wasn’t sure that was something she was scared of anymore.