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Falling in love with Beca Mitchell isn’t something that Chloe necessarily expected upon their first meeting, but she can’t say that she’s particularly surprised by it, either. Chloe has always been free with her emotions- something that her mother always says she admires about Chloe.

Although she can’t really know for sure, Chloe likes to think that she generally feels things faster and stronger than most people. When she hates someone, she will go out of her way to avoid them at all costs. When she likes a show on Netflix, she will spend every waking moment watching it and looking up any information she can find on it. When she crushes on someone, they become all-consuming; Chloe thinks of them constantly.

So when a small spark of attraction starts deep in her chest for Beca, Chloe knows that it is only a matter of time before Beca completely takes over Chloe’s world.

And take over Chloe’s world she does, with startling swiftness and terrifying completeness.

Because even if Chloe has been in love before, every kind of love she’s felt in the past pales in comparison to how she feels about Beca.

And sometimes, Chloe thinks that Beca might just love her back.

Beca is a naturally prickly person, Chloe has noticed. Averse to almost any form of physical contact, affection, and intimacy. The emotional side of things isn’t much nicer. Beca hardly answers questions about herself and tends to get her way out of any conversation that seems like it may be heading in a sincere direction. It’s almost impressive how well she does at distancing herself from others, both physically and emotionally.

Maybe that’s part of why Chloe falls for her so hard and so fast; she just aches to make sure that Beca feels loved in some way.

So naturally, Chloe inserts herself into Beca’s life.

And Beca, shockingly enough, doesn’t really seem to mind.

At practices while Aubrey is lecturing Amy about her lack of cardio, Beca will slink away from Stacie’s attempts of showing affections towards her, only to allow Chloe’s arms to circle her middle from behind a moment later. Beca will answer Cynthia-Rose with some sarcastic quip when she asks why Beca is in the Bellas if she hates it so much, yet when it comes up in a late night conversation with Chloe a week later, she seems to have no problem opening up about how her dad will help her move to LA after the year is done if she ‘shows some real effort.’

Chloe seems to be Beca’s exception in almost every aspect of life, which thrills Chloe to no end.

Beca kissing Jesse is unexpected and surprising, to say the least.

Chloe didn’t think that Beca even liked Jesse as a person, let alone liked him as a potential romantic partner.

Watching Beca and Jesse kiss quite literally breaks Chloe’s heart. She cries about it on she and Aubrey’s couch for a solid week until Aubrey tells her that she needs to get over it, because it’s not like she and Beca were even dating or anything.

It was just a crush, Aubrey tells her. She hadn’t even known Beca for all that long, Aubrey says. You’ll be okay, she assures her.

But none of those things feel true to Chloe.

It’s funny, Chloe thinks as she watches the Hallmark channel, bottle of open wine cradled in her lap protectively. It’s funny how discovering that someone you have a crush on likes someone else feels like a breakup, even though you were never even in a relationship to begin with. At the end of the day, the person who broke your heart never technically had any obligation to love you back, because they never knew how you felt in the first place. It is an entirely one-sided heartbreak, which makes it all that much worse.

And since Chloe has always felt emotions more strongly than others, she thinks it’s pretty safe to assume that her heartbreak hurts more than it really should.

* * *

Failing Russian lit isn’t something that Chloe necessarily expected herself to do, but she can’t say that she’s particularly surprised by it, either.

The class was hard, and Chloe knew that she had done poorly on a lot of the tests and assignments in it, so her failing isn’t exactly the most shocking news of the day.

There are both upsides and downsides to Chloe having to stay in school another year.

Positives: Chloe has another year to figure out her life before she has to face the harsh reality that is the real world. Chloe gets to be in the Bellas another year, which is arguably her favorite thing in the world. Chloe gets to stay with Beca for another year.

Actually, the whole ‘staying with Beca’ thing could be a downside as well.

It’s a downside because Beca is dating Jesse, and Chloe is still tragically in love with Beca.

The thing is, Beca just makes it so easy to be in love with her.

It’s in the little things that Beca does. Like the way she makes mixes for Chloe and gifts them to her with a shrug, telling her it wasn’t a big deal. Like how she looks so adorably grumpy cuddled up with Chloe under a blanket during Bella movie nights. Like how her cheeks flush whenever Chloe kisses her cheek, allowing it with only a small amount of grumbling.

Every single little thing that Beca does is endearing to Chloe, which is as frustrating as it is wonderful, because Beca gives Chloe so many reasons to hope that they could be together someday. It’s in the things she says:

“I’ve never known anyone like you before.”

“You’re the only person I feel like I can trust in this world, Chlo.”

“I don’t deserve you.”

If Beca didn’t have a boyfriend Chloe would swear that Beca felt the same way. If Beca didn’t have a boyfriend, Chloe would have absolutely told her how in love with her she is by now. But the reality is that Beca does have a boyfriend, one which she is very much in love with.

So for now Chloe will just ignore all the different ways that Beca Mitchell can make her heart clench and selfishly hope that Jesse and Beca won’t work out in the end somehow.

* * *

Chloe is still selfishly letting herself hope three years later, with no end in sight.

Emily asks them if they’re dating one day over lunch, causing Beca to almost choke on her food. Chloe pats Beca’s back as she tries to fight the blush blooming on her cheeks, avoiding sweet, innocent Emily’s curious gaze.

“What?” Beca squeaks out as soon as her airways are clear again.

Emily blushes deeply. “I was just wondering if you guys are dating, because you’re always holding hands and sharing a bed and saying ‘I love you’ and you just seem to know each other really well.”

Beca laughs as if the idea is absurd, and Chloe ignores the slight pang of hurt that it sends to her chest. “Oh wow, no. We are definitely not dating, Chloe’s just super affectionate.”

She’s still laughing as she says it, as if it’s the funniest thing in the world, which makes Chloe feel slightly offended. “You make it sound like dating me is the worst thing that could ever happen,” Chloe says coolly, raising an eyebrow at Beca.

It’s almost comical actually, the way both Emily’s and Beca’s eyes widen in response to that.

“No no no, that’s not what I’m saying at all,” Beca rushes out. “I just don’t think we’d never date.”

Chloe’s pushes down the tears suddenly threatening her eyes. “And why not? You don’t think we’d be good together?”

Beca shakes her head and laughs in astonishment. “Jesus, dude, that’s not what I’m saying.”

“That’s what I’m hearing.”

“Why are you pushing this so hard?”

Chloe shrugs in an attempt to act indifferent. “I just want to know why you wouldn’t date me.”

“Because you’re my best friend and I don’t think I could ever like you like that.”

Silence follows Beca’s statement, filling the kitchen with tense energy. Emily looks between Beca and Chloe nervously while they stare at each other. And as much as Chloe is hurt by Beca’s words, by her claim that she could never see Chloe as more than a friend, she still can’t help the way that her eyes drift down to Beca’s lips.

“Thank you for the clarification,” Chloe says quietly before forcing her eyes away from Beca’s face. She stands from the table and moves to set her plate in the sink, excusing herself from the kitchen without another word.

Beca doesn’t come after her.

* * *

Somehow Chloe ends up moving to New York with Beca.

Well, Beca and Fat Amy, that is.

Chloe never expected to move to New York, but she can’t say that she really minds it all that much. It’s vibrant and exciting, full of people and possibilities; exactly Chloe’s type of scene.

Except, Chloe usually spends the night in with Beca instead of experiencing all that New York has to offer.

Beca, who is recently single for the first time in nearly four years.

Beca, who came out to Chloe a couple months ago over an intimate dinner at a nice restaurant.

Beca, who will never see Chloe as anything more than her best friend.

And Chloe, being the hopeless, stupid romantic that she is, still can’t help but feel a tiny bit of hope that something will change between them. The hope is small, nearly completely put out at this point, which is exactly how Chloe likes it. Being in love with Beca at this point is more like embers in a fire bit rather than a raging inferno: still there, still warm, just not quite as intense.

Although, some nights those embers spark into a small flame, and those nights are usually aided by alcohol.

Tonight is one of those nights.

And Chloe honestly really hates herself, and hates Beca, and hates emotions, and doesn’t understand what the point of anything is anymore.

But damn if Beca still isn’t just as breathtaking today as she was when Chloe saw her at that activities fair five years go.

Beca is talking about… something. Chloe honestly isn’t sure what she’s going on about, because she’s had nearly a full bottle of wine and it’s making her head fuzzy and right now Chloe is positive that Beca has never looked so good in all the years they’ve known each other, even if she is only wearing sweatpants and an old Barden t-shirt.

“And like, I asked him if he was happy with that take, and he just shrugged so I was like ‘do you want to run it again?’ and he shrugged again, which really made me want to shove his fucking sunglasses down his throat.”

“He’s stupid,” Chloe says distractedly, though she doesn’t know who Beca is even talking about at this point. She’s too busy admiring the earrings lining Beca’s ears, and the curve of her neck so perfectly on display thanks to how Beca's hair is pulled up in a messy bun, and the shape of her lips and how kissable they look.

Chloe was sitting on the other end of the couch from Beca. She knows she was because she purposefully sat on the other end at the beginning of the evening to keep herself from reaching out a touching Beca impulsively.

So Chloe was sitting on the other end of the couch, but she is definitely not sitting on the other end when she pulls Beca in for a kiss by the back of her neck.

As soon as Chloe realizes what she’s done, she is immediately mortified with herself and starts to pull away. Hands coming up to cup her face halt her retreat, however, and a mix of confusion and elation overcomes her when Beca starts kissing Chloe back.

Their kisses become increasingly more frantic the longer they last, Chloe eventually pushing Beca back against the couch cushions to lay on top of her. Chloe isn’t sure how long this dream that she’s in is going to last, so she figures she might as well enjoy it for as long as possible.

Chloe deepens the kiss, tongue pushing its way past Beca’s lips as Beca groans beneath her. Beca’s hands tighten in Chloe’s hair, not necessarily pulling or pushing in any way; just holding as if Beca is trying to anchor herself. Chloe knows that she’ll have to pull back for air soon, but she’s scared that as soon as they stop the dream will be shattered, so she tells her lungs to suck it up and pushes her lips harder against Beca’s.

Beca is the one to pull back, her head pressing against the cushions beneath her to gain some distance between Chloe’s lips and her own, chest heaving as she tries to steady her breathing. Chloe is panting too, but instead of taking the time to breathe probably she begins pressing light kisses to Beca’s neck, unwilling to part from Beca quite yet.

Beca’s breathing starts to even out and she lets out little sighs of contentment at Chloe’s ministrations, hands stroking softly through Chloe’s hair. Eventually Chloe’s lips stop moving and she relaxes her body fully on top of Beca’s, enjoying the closeness as she buries her face into the crook of Beca’s neck.

The hands in Chloe’s hair move until they’re running lightly over her back instead and Chloe resists the urge to shiver. She remains quiet, not wanting to shatter the calm that surrounds them. Beca says no words either, and that is the way they remain, tangled up on their shitty couch in their shitty New York apartment until they fall asleep.

* * *

The next morning, Chloe wakes up still entangled with Beca. Beca is still asleep – which doesn’t surprise Chloe, she’s always been the earlier riser between the two of them – so Chloe carefully climbs off Beca and makes her way to the kitchen to make some coffee.

Beca wakes up with a grunt just as the coffee finishes brewing, and Chloe smiles a little at the familiar action as she pours coffee into two mugs, settling down in one of the chairs at their tiny kitchen table.

“Morning, Bec,” Chloe says once Beca is sitting up and looking a little more alive.

Beca grunts again in response and shuffles over to the table, plopping herself down across from Chloe and reaching for the second mug of coffee. She takes a generous sip and curses when it burns her tongue, and Chloe can’t help but chuckle in response.

It’s a few minutes later when Beca is finally awake enough to form actual sentences, and what she says makes Chloe choke on hot coffee.

“So what was last night about?”

Chloe coughs as she tries to clear the liquid from her throat. Beca winces in sympathy. Chloe uses the choking as an excuse to find her words, because she honestly had not expected Beca to confront her about their impromptu make out session.

“Um, I don’t know,” Chloe says hesitantly after a minute. “I was just drunk, I guess.”

It’s a lame excuse. A terrible excuse, in fact.

“Oh,” is all Beca says.

“What about you?” Chloe questions, turning the question on Beca. “You kissed me back.”

Beca shrugs and avoids eye contact with Chloe. “I’m not sure. Like you said, we were drunk.”

Disappointment fills Chloe as Beca opts for the easy cop-out as well. “Right,” she says, looking down at her coffee. “Just a drunken mistake. Nothing more than that.”

And in that moment, Chloe feels those burning embers within her completely die out for good.

Falling in love with Chloe Beale isn’t something that Beca expected upon their first kiss, and she would be lying if she said she wasn’t surprised.

Because Chloe has been Beca’s best friend ever since her first year at Barden, even if she tried to downplay just how close they were a lot of the time. She didn’t want to say that she saw Chloe as a sister, because there would be a lot to unpack there if that were the case, but Beca definitely never thought of Chloe in a romantic sort of way at all.

Sure, Chloe was kind and thoughtful and always knew just how to make Beca’s day better. She was always there when Beca needed someone to talk to, or a shoulder to cry on, or just a good hug because she’d had a shitty day. And Chloe really did give the best hugs, and Beca always felt so at home in her arms, especially when they were cuddled up together after falling asleep while working on Bellas stuff or homework or just talking until they could barely keep their eyes open. Plus, Chloe has always just understood Beca in a way that nobody else ever has…

Shit. Had Beca been in love with Chloe the whole time?

The realization that Beca had possibly been in love with Chloe for years causes Beca to pull away from the kiss that had grown decidedly more heated than any friendly kiss should ever grow. Her chest heaves as she struggles to catch her breath, both overwhelmed with the passion of the kiss and the way her thoughts have attacked her in such a sudden onslaught. Chloe moves to kiss her neck, seemingly undeterred by Beca’s withdrawal, and Beca is torn for a moment between pushing her away and pulling her closer before ultimately deciding to do neither.

Beca remains silent – save for the involuntary whimpers and sighs that escape her due to Chloe’s lips moving against her body – as she processes her new emotions. Eventually Chloe stops her ministrations and settles her weight against Beca, and Beca waits for the inevitable moment that Chloe pulls away and makes them talk about what just happened.

Except, that moment never comes. Chloe only burrows herself deeper into Beca, apparently content to remain silent for the remainder of the night.

Which she does- which they both do, actually. Chloe falls asleep soon after, leaving Beca to stare at the ceiling in the dark of their apartment and wonder how her heart is still beating so fast in her chest.

* * *

Beca holds off her curiosity about the whole thing the next morning for as long as she can, but ultimately ends up caving only about half an hour after waking up.

“So… what was last night about?” Beca attempts to sound casual, but is painfully aware of how much she’s failing.

She asks the question right as coffee goes down the wrong pipe in Chloe’s throat, causing her to start coughing for a few moments. Beca winces and internally curses her poor timing.

“Um, I don’t know,” Chloe says once she can speak again. “I was just drunk, I guess.”

Beca’s heart sinks. Of course it was because they were drunk, why else would Chloe have kissed her?

“Oh,” Beca says lamely.

“What about you?” Chloe asks suddenly, glancing at Beca. “You kissed me back.”

Panic fills Beca at the question, so she tries for an indifferent shrug and stares into her coffee. “I’m not sure. Like you said, we were drunk.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Beca thinks that Chloe’s shoulders might slump a little. “Right,” she says softly. “Just a drunken mistake. Nothing more than that.”

Beca looks back up at Chloe only to see that Chloe’s eyes are directed down towards her drink. The sunlight streaming in through their apartment's sole window shines over Chloe, bathing her in a soft golden glow. Beca’s heart pounds painfully in her chest at the sight and fuck- right there in that moment she feels herself fall hard.

* * *

Being in love with your best friend is difficult, Beca has decided. On top of that, being in love with your best friend and living with them and sharing a bed made it all that much worse. Beca wouldn’t ever wish it upon her worst enemy.

Beca wishes things could go back to the way they were before, when neither of them were secretly in love with the other, and when Beca’s heart didn’t feel like it would burst out of her chest when Chloe came home from work in the evenings, and when Beca felt like she could tell her best friend anything.

Beca wishes she wasn’t in love with Chloe.

But the thing is, Chloe makes it so easy to be in love with her.

It’s in the little things that Chloe does. Like the way she always makes coffee for Beca in the morning, even though Beca has two perfectly good hands and could make it herself. Like how she’s always willing to give Beca a back massage after a long day of Beca hunched over a soundboard or computer for work. Like the way she doesn’t seem to mind Beca’s frequent awkwardness in most aspects of life, telling Beca that it’s ‘endearing’ to her.

Which Beca thinks is unfair because every single little thing that Chloe does is endearing to Beca. Chloe makes Beca feel like the most loved person in the world without trying. It’s the way she says things like:

“You’re my favorite person in the world.”

“I don’t know what I’d do without you in my life, Bec.”

“I’ll always be here for you, no matter what.”

Beca has never had someone that is such a stable in her life like Chloe is. Beca never has to worry about if Chloe has her back, or if she can trust her, or if she’s someone Beca can count on because Chloe has done nothing but be dependable in the six years they’ve known each other.

And while Beca would like to tell Chloe how she feels about her, she can’t. She can’t tell Chloe and risk losing the singular best thing that she has ever had in her life.

* * *

Beca doesn’t know who this Chicago guy is, but she does know that she hates him.

She doesn’t know why exactly she hates him- actually, no, scratch that because Beca actually has many reasons why she hates him. At the very of top of that list is the way Chloe can’t seem to get enough of him.

From the very first moment Chicago stepped into view and introduced himself, he had Chloe following him around like a little puppy. Beca had tried to keep up with them at first, trailing uselessly along Chloe’s side, attempting to jump into their conversation every now and then, but ultimately decided that it was no use.

Chloe was hooked on this guy, which meant that Beca’s presence when she was around him was obsolete.

Beca didn’t like it.

For years now, Beca has been used to being Chloe’s favorite person in any given situation. She’s gotten used to (and fond of) the way Chloe clings onto her in some sort of way when they’re together- holding her hand, looping their arms together, hugging her waist from behind. Except now Chicago is the one on the receiving end of Chloe’s physical affections. Chloe is always pushing his shoulder playfully, or brushing a hand down his arm, tugging on his hand; any excuse to just touch him, it seems.

Beca feels colder than she has in a long time without Chloe’s presence near her.

And Beca has never been one for physical affection. Physical touch is decidedly not one of her love languages. Beca has always been more of a quality time type of person, where no contact or words are necessarily needed for her to feel close to someone, but now that Chloe has stopped directing all her touchiness towards Beca, she realizes just how much she craves that connection with Chloe.

Throughout the course of the entire USO tour, Beca begins to feel like Chloe is pulling away from them- whatever them is. Beca has never felt so much distance between them, both physically and emotionally. The whole situation is rapidly spiraling out of Beca’s control and she has no idea what to do about it.

So Beca decides that she’s going to tell Chloe how she feels. She’s already losing Chloe as it is, so she might as well say fuck it and go all out.

Beca dedicates her final performance to Chloe, even if she never actually tells anyone she’s doing so. She thinks she makes it pretty obvious, though, what with the way she doesn’t take her eyes off of Chloe for the entire first half of the performance before inviting the rest of the Bellas onstage. Their eyes connect and Beca smiles from the stage, thinking that maybe there is a chance that Chloe feels the same way.

When all the Bellas rush to hug her at the end of their performance, Chloe the first one to do so, Beca has to resist the urge to kiss her right there onstage in front of everyone. Beca doesn’t want to rush this, she wants to do it right.

As soon as Beca is able to break away from all the ‘important’ people she needs to talk to afterwards, she starts rushing around to find Chloe. Her thoughts start spinning in her head as she tries to figure out what exactly she’s going to say.

You’re the greatest thing in my life.

I’ve never wanted to be with someone as much as I want to be with you.

I love you, Chloe. I love you I love you I-

Beca finds Chloe.

Chloe is kissing Chicago, looking happier than Beca has ever seen her before.

Suddenly Beca understands exactly what people mean when they say their heart has been broken.

Because she feels it happening to her right now.

* * *

The silence between Beca and Chloe in the car is uncomfortable, which is how all their silences have been since returning home from the USO tour.

It’s an unfamiliar feeling, having uncomfortable silences with Chloe. Pretty much since the first time they hung out, they have always been comfortable around each other. Part of that is because Chloe is a natural at interacting with people and makes conversation easily, but even when they weren’t even talking things were always easy with them.

The silence between them now feels like it’s trying to choke Beca.

Arriving at the airport feels almost like a blessing to Beca, because it means that they don’t have to endure the tension any longer, but it is also most definitely a curse as well.

Because arriving at the airport means that Beca is leaving for LA soon. It means that she is leaving Chloe soon.

They walk through the airport until they get to security, making small talk along the way. Beca stays mostly quiet, though, internally debating with herself the entire way. Because she is quite literally running out of time and now is her last chance to tell Chloe how she feels, but she knows that Chloe is with Chicago now and it would be unfair to dump all of her feelings on Chloe before she jets off to the other side of the country.

And Beca is afraid. Afraid of losing Chloe, afraid of telling Chloe how she feels, afraid of never telling Chloe how she feels.

But Beca figures it’s now or never.

“I have to ask, Chloe. Did you… do you think we ever could have been something together? Something more than friends, I mean,” Beca asks quietly, uncertainly. She swallows before adding, “Do you think we could have loved each other?”

Chloe smiles softly and gently laces her fingers with Beca’s. She leans forward and brushes a kiss against Beca’s cheek, and Beca’s eyes instinctively close at the feeling. “Beca, I think you and I both know that we loved each other. We just… never seemed to get the timing right is all.”

Beca’s breath hitches at the words. Chloe's smile turns a little sad and she squeezes Beca’s fingers once before letting go.

The speakers above them inform Beca that her flight is ready to board, so Beca grips her suitcase handle and prepares herself to walk away.

“I love you,” Beca tells Chloe before she can lose the nerve. “I think I’ll always love you.”

Some expression flashes on Chloe’s face – regret, sadness, clarity, maybe – but it passes too quickly for Beca to tell exactly what it is. “And I think a part of me will always love you, Bec.”

And somehow that’s all they say before Beca is turning around and walking through the gate of her flight, all of her senses feeling completely numb. She wills herself to turn back and rush towards Chloe; to kiss her, to tell her that she can’t go to LA, to tell her that she can’t live without Chloe in her life. She wills Chloe to call out to her and tell her to stay, tell her that she loves her, to give Beca a reason to stay.

Beca doesn’t turn back, and Chloe doesn’t call out.

And maybe that is the most unexpected thing of all.