A/N - My heartfelt thanks to J. Couldn't do it without you!
.oOo. Chapter Thirty Six .oOo.
"What are you doing here?" Chloe asked, eyes wide with shock. She quickly stepped aside to let Beca into the house. "Not that I'm not pleased to see you!" Chloe quickly assured Beca.
"Thanks," Beca said, as she came into the hallway. "I know it's late, and I should have called, but I really wanted to tell you about my day."
"You did?" Chloe's eyes widened and she felt her cheeks pink up a little.
"I mean, yeah. Kinda missed not being able to tell you," Beca kicked off her shoes and set her messenger bag and backpack down in what was quickly becoming their usual spot. In truth, although she didn't say this to Chloe, she'd wanted to come round as soon as she'd left work but there were a few formalities she had to go over with Luke first. She also needed to get changed into something much more comfortable.
"Oh okay," Chloe squeaked as she shut the door. She felt her cheeks reddening with blush, and was forced to take a deep breath to collect herself, before turning from the door.
"I meant to text but..." Beca pulled her phone out of her back pocket. "... phone died and I don't have a phone charger. Luke's didn't fit but I remember your cell is the same as mine so I wondered if I could borrow yours? Mine's in my car along with the rest of my life."
"Yes, of course you can," Chloe nodded in the direction of the lounge and Beca followed her to the little reading area. Chloe held out her hand for the phone and quickly plugged it in, laying it out on the seat of the comfortable armchair that she loved to lose herself in while reading.
"How did you get here?" Chloe asked as she straightened up, realising Beca mentioning everything was in her car meant that she didn't have it back yet.
Beca grinned slyly as she hopped from foot to foot, "I walked."
"What? From Ocean Park? That's like fifteen miles away!" Chloe's eyes widened.
"Yeah, I'm kidding," Beca laughed. She was in a great mood and could barely stand still. "Luke dropped me off. Mind if I run up to see the girls real quick? I promise I won't wake them."
"No, not at all," Chloe felt like the brunette needed to run off some excess energy. "Do you want a drink?"
"Umm, yeah, that would be nice, thanks. Um, no alcohol. Still recovering from yesterday!" Beca bounced on the balls of her feet.
Chloe thought Beca had never looked better as the brunette ran her hands through her hair, "I've got juice?"
"That would be great, thanks." Beca smiled once more before she turned and took the stairs two at a time to check on the sleeping girls.
Chloe hurried to the kitchen to get some juice for Beca, feeling light headed and almost joyous that Beca wanted to share her day with her. She quickly tidied up the scattered papers from earlier, poured two glasses of apple juice and took them back to the lounge, setting one down on the coffee table in front of the spot that Beca usually selected when she was in the lounge.
"Thanks for charging my phone for me," Beca said, coming back into the room and seeing her phone had switched itself back on. She ignored it for now, something that didn't go unnoticed by Chloe. "My little hobo ass should have done it in the office earlier but... my goodness, it's been quite a day."
Chloe could see that the brunette's eyes were shining and overly alert.
"So, I called Amy from Luke's to tell her, because she'd bust my ass if I didn't and she found out from someone else and obviously Luke was there with me today but I just had to tell you. I'm sorry again for the late visit."
"No, it's fine," Chloe grinned, loving the energetic side of Beca.
Beca rose up on her tiptoes to look out of the window, "I knew you'd be up late. I know you don't usually go to sleep until midnight."
Chloe couldn't deny that and instead started to chuckle as Beca swung her arms around herself.
"God, I'm rambling, sorry!" Beca laughed again, finally sitting down on the sofa. She looked at Chloe, her eyes widening as she realised she was ready for bed. "Oh, I've caught you at a bad time."
"No, you haven't. I've just had a bath, that's all."
"I thought you smelled great!" Beca offhandedly commented and Chloe's face flushed a little bit more. "You're waiting for DoorDash, right? I can go if you-"
"-No, stay, I want to hear about your day! Have you eaten?"
"No, but I'm not hungry," Beca grinned, jumping up as she heard the gate bell chime. "I'll get it!"
"You're like a jack in a box tonight," Chloe laughed, still contemplating the fact that Beca wanted her to know what was going on and she decided to pay her a late night visit to do so.
"There's a tip for the driver on the table by the front door."
"Got it!" Beca called out as she hurried out of the front door to the gate, returning a minute or so later with a take out bag. "Dinner is here! Where'd you want it?"
"In here is fine," Chloe said as Beca popped her head around the door. "I'll just grab some chips and we can have a mini picnic on the floor."
"I'm not hungry," Beca repeated.
"Well, I can't eat in front of you so..."
"Oh yeah, okay then."
Chloe headed to the kitchen to find her secret stash of chips, bringing the unopened bag back into the lounge with her, as well as a couple of plates, spoons, forks and a knife and setting them down on the coffee table. She began to unpack the DoorDash bag, as Beca picked up the bag of chips.
"Cape Cod sea salt. These were Jesse's favourite," she smiled. "His mom wouldn't allow anything with GMO in it into the house so these were all he could have."
"Alex loves them too," Chloe said, as she began to divide up their now shared dinner.
"I can't take your food," Beca announced, feeling a little guilty.
"There's plenty here, see..." Chloe showed Beca the generous salad, and the enormous sandwich that certainly wouldn't pass as just half a sandwich anywhere else. She nodded towards the chip bag. "Can you open them please?"
"It smells good..." Beca admitted, her stomach growling extremely loudly, as she popped the chips open.
"I thought you weren't hungry!" Chloe laughed as Beca clamped her hands down over her belly, nearly crunching all the potato chips to dust.
"I wasn't! But this looks good. Please let me pay for this."
"Aubrey got me hooked on this place," Chloe said, ignoring the last comment. She slid half a sandwich onto one of the plates and shook out half the salad next to it, before handing it to Beca. "There's some soup if you want it?"
"No, this is plenty, thank you."
Chloe waited until Beca had attacked half her sandwich before she asked her to tell her about the day she'd had.
"Oh myf gomph..." Beca said excitedly around a mouthful of her sandwich, before she swallowed hard. With her mouth free of food, Beca continued, "So, it's been literally the best day I've ever had at Universal! I met up with Tyler and Josh as you know, and they are great, really down to Earth guys. We discussed tattoos for the first ten minutes I think, while we waited for everyone else. Turns out Chris and Nick, the former bandmates, are still wanting to be part of the production crew, like on an adhoc basis, so I got to meet them too, which was awesome. They've got so much, like, general music talent, it's unreal. Anyway, we started in the recording room so we could get some voice samples from them which took about an hour and I was so nervous and I kept wiping my sweaty hands on Luke, because I didn't want to mess up my new dress."
Beca took another bite of sandwich, chewing quickly and swallowing just as fast. "Luke loved my outfit by the way, said to let you know that and he thinks you are awesome for making me get my legs out. Even though they are pale and skinny."
"There's nothing wrong with your legs!" Chloe gushed.
Beca blushed a little at the comment but carried on, "Anyway, so once I finished with Tyler and Josh, we headed up to get coffee, and I was talking to Tyler about any songs he had ready for production. He said he didn't have anything finished yet so I pulled my notebook out, it's literally a scribble book I keep in my drawer at work. I said, let's brainstorm now, I think I was feeling brave because I was surfing the caffeine high from the one that Stacie made me and he's all hyped up too, so we just started writing stuff together; it was crazy."
"Oh my stars, that's amazing!" Chloe grinned, feeding off Beca's energy. She noted that as Beca was talking, she was also moving forward in her seat, 'til she was sitting on the edge. Chloe couldn't help but love 'giddy Beca', she was absolutely adorable, and suddenly she was remembering times when Alex had been exactly the same.
"Right? So I asked him what he wanted to say, and he came out with 'I wish I found some better sounds' and I don't know where it came from, but I said, 'no one's ever heard' and he just looks at me, and then says, 'exactly, write that down'. He then came out with 'I wish I had a better voice', and I suggested 'that sang some better words'. Josh then piped up with 'I wish I found some chords', you know, 'cause he's the drummer and I hinted at ' in an order that is new' for the next line. Tyler and Josh are just grinning at each other at this point so I carried on, 'I wish I didn't have to rhyme, everytime I sang'. It was at that point that the suits came back in, and they headed upstairs with the band and their lawyers to go over a few terms on their prospective new contract. So I recorded myself singing the lyrics we'd just jotted down alongside four sections of beat music I thought worked."
"This is incredible," Chloe squeezed in when Beca took a breath, and reached for her glass of juice.
"Yeah, I know, right? And this was all before lunch! So then, I'm just finishing up with that and Luke comes down and says I'm needed in the boardroom. So I ask why, and all Luke says is to just hurry my ass up. So I ran up there as fast as I can, and when I arrived I find Tyler, who says that he wanted me in on the meeting, and I was now the main reason that he'd switch to Universal. That while everyone else was just ass kissing, Luke and I were the only ones to actually ask what they wanted and talked to them about their actual music. A part of me is like, duh, that's my job but I'm not complaining!"
Beca took a big gulp of juice.
"So the meeting went on for ages and I don't remember most of it but Twenty One Pilots have been assigned to Luke and me! And they absolutely loved the first few lines of 'our' new song!" Beca's eyes were wide and twinkling under the soft lounge lights. "He actually called it 'our' song Chloe! And although I'm not a songwriter, he wants my input on all their future works."
"Oh Beca, I'm so happy for you! But what do you mean you aren't a songwriter? What about those beautiful lyrics you wrote and sang for Jessie a few weeks ago."
"That was just scribbles."
"If that was scribbles Beca, I'd love to see what you can do when you put your mind to it!"
"Thanks!" Beca grinned shyly. "So, officially, Twenty One Pilots are signed to Luke's portfolio and he'll receive the commission for managing them but it's written into the contract that I get a portion of sales royalties, and Luke and I went back to his place to talk about our next steps, and he's absolutely adamant that he's going halves on the commission with me. I can't get a contract at Universal but Tyler and Josh will go somewhere else if they can't work with me! Oh, and the best bit... my name goes on the album as co-producer!"
"I am so happy for you Becs!" Chloe cried out, clapping her hands in happiness.
"They want me!" Beca jumped up off the sofa and did a little happy dance around Chloe's living room. "I've never had anyone want me professionally before!"
She abruptly stopped and stared at Chloe. The change in demeanour caught Chloe's attention and she looked in alarm as Beca suddenly burst into tears.
"Hey!" Chloe leapt off the sofa and gathered Beca up in her arms, planting a kiss to the side of her temple and she held her tightly to her.
"I've never had anyone want me before," Beca sobbed, clutching onto the soft material of Chloe's dressing gown.
'That's not true,' Chloe thought but knew it wasn't the right time to say anything.
"I know it's only one band, but..."
"No, it's everything," Chloe said kindly, holding onto Beca as she sagged against her, the energy seeping out of her like a burst balloon.
"Sorry, I don't mean to cry all over you," Beca breathed out after a few minutes.
"It's okay, honestly," Chloe reassured her. Beca continued to hold onto Chloe as the redhead walked them back to the sofa. "I'm so happy that you've shared this with me."
"Of course, you helped me get there today," Beca sniffed, wiping her tears away.
"This is all you. I had nothing to do with it."
"You had everything to do with it. You rescued me this morning, got me into a killer outfit which made me feel like a million bucks, got my laptop back and then took me to the office in time for my meeting. I was ready to give up at the side of the highway, when my car broke down. I'd half decided not to bother going in, as I felt like shit; my head was pounding like there was no tomorrow. You showed up with coffee too. Honestly, you inspired me to keep going today. Thank you so much!"
"Well, that's a first for me too, I don't think I've ever inspired anyone before."
"Bollocks...sorry, that's something Luke says a lot. I bet you've inspired a generation of young girls everywhere. You're so good at everything you do, it's intimidating."
"This isn't about me!" Chloe cried out, waving her hands about, not wanting the attention on herself for a moment longer. "We should be celebrating with champagne right now!"
Beca pulled away from Chloe and looked at her comically.
"Are you trying to get me drunk again?"
"Would you like to?" Chloe asked playfully.
"I've got so much work to do tomorrow morning 'cause today's two hour conference turned into an all day meeting. Or I would, as sitting with you on the deck with a glass of bubbles sounds perfect. Let's put a pin in it, maybe celebrate at the weekend?"
"Absolutely! Truth be told, I've got to get the girls up and out quite early for Tumble Tots in the morning." Chloe pulled Beca in towards her again. "I'm so proud of you!"
"Thank you, that really does mean a lot to me," Beca squeezed Chloe back.
"Well, I mean it."
They hugged for a little longer than necessary, just enjoying the good news that Beca had just shared.
"The other thing that happened today is that my car is officially dead and unrepairable," Beca announced solemnly.
Chloe winced, "Oh crap, that's not good news."
"No, it's really not. Timing couldn't be worse," Beca snarked.
"I can always lend you a car," Chloe offered.
"Thanks but Luke beat you to it," Beca chuckled. "Dude is weird and walks everywhere or grabs an Uber if he's in a rush."
"That will explain why he's so fit then."
"Yeah, I guess. So, I'm going to look into getting a new car but they need a permanent address before they'll even start looking at me getting a lease for it. If Luke's true to his word, and I have no reason to doubt him, I should start getting some regular income in a couple of weeks and it should be enough for a car note. So I was wondering if I could ask a favour?"
Slightly surprised, Chloe immediately nodded, "Of course, anything..."
"Luke told me I need to stop acting the part of Hobo Jo and living in my car, and also kinda told me to stop being an ass, or arse as he says it, and also if I still can, to take you up on your offer." Beca slowly extracted herself out from Chloe's hold on her.
"My offer?" Chloe wasn't sure what Beca was referring to.
"Yeah, I've been thinking about it and well, Aubrey said something too, and I'd really like to be around a bit more, you know, helping out with the girls in the morning, and at bedtime. So can I take you up on your offer of staying in your pool house please? You know, just until I save up enough to get my own place?"
"Oh Becs, of course you can, I'd love to have you here."
"I'll pay rent, of course."
"You don't need to do that. It's not as if..." Chloe trailed off seeing the look on Beca's face. She didn't want her changing her mind so nodded along. "... paying rent sounds fine."
"You said the place had a kitchen right?"
"Yes, but you can eat with us at the house."
"Thanks, but sometimes my hours are a little erratic, and I wouldn't want to wake anyone if I set the microwave off with my instant rice."
"No, that's a good idea." Chloe smiled, trying to contain her happiness.
"You'll hardly know I'm here, in that sense. I've got a few gigs spread out over the month but generally I'll be around to help with the girls, especially if you are trying to get out the door. But I know you've got Stacie so I don't want to get in the way of your arrangement with her."
"You won't be in the way, the more the merrier," Chloe stated.
"So yeah, that would be great. Can I move in at the weekend?"
"Where are you staying before then?" Chloe asked.
"Um, I'll couch surf at Amy's for a couple of days and then at Luke's after that."
"The bed is already made over there, you could just start sleeping over there tonight. I mean, if you wanted to?"
Beca thought about it for a few moments before nodding, "If that wouldn't be a problem, that would be great. I love Amy, I do, but she has a collection of smells in jars and I think I'm ready to move on from that!"
"It would be my pleasure to have you here Beca. I mean that. And anything I can do to help avoid the smell collection..."
"Thanks," Beca said a little shyly. "How much would you like for rent?"
"How about a hundred?" Chloe offered after a few moments of consideration, not really wanting to ask for anything.
"A week? Yeah, that'd be awesome!"
"No, for the month."
"It'll cost more than that surely?"
"Well, you barely eat and the electric bill over there when David lived there wasn't that much."
"I'd feel better paying that a week," Beca admitted. "And you aren't paying for food for me. Feels a bit charity case-ish, otherwise."
"Okay, start off with that and we'll assess it in a month or so," Chloe agreed, not intending to let Beca pay that much but wanting her settled in over in her pool house before she brought the subject back up again.
"I'm hoping I don't burden you for too long," Beca said, standing up.
"You are hardly a burden Beca. This can be your home too, for as long as you like. I don't want you feeling uncomfortable about helping yourself to anything while you are here. The pool is yours to use, the backyard and I'll show you how the laundry works tomorrow, or Stacie can, if I'm not around. Please come in and grab food whenever you want it, drinks too."
"Yeah, I'll try and remember it's okay."
"If you are paying rent, then you'd better be getting your money's worth," Chloe joked.
"Well, if you are sure about this..." Beca said, standing up and smoothing down her jeans in an easy movement. "... I'll send Luke a message as he thinks I'll be at Amy's."
"What time do you have to leave in the morning?"
Beca yawned, and covered her mouth quickly. "Um, I haven't set a time with Luke yet."
"Would you want to come to Tumble Tots with me in the morning?"
"Shoot, I don't think I'll have time, I'm sorry. Luke's going to take me to get my stuff at the junkyard tomorrow."
"It's not a problem," Chloe thought she'd offer but she knew it was last minute.
"Maybe next week?"
"Of course, we usually leave around eight thirty when we go."
"Cool, well... it's been a really long day and I'd like to get some sleep if that's okay?"
"Of course," Chloe nodded, getting up from the sofa as well. "Let me get you some clean towels and a couple of bottles of water and I'll take you over there."
"Great, thanks," Beca began to gather up their dinner things as Chloe headed in the direction of the laundry room.
"Do you want me to put the soup in the fridge?"
"Oh please," Chloe paused in the doorway. "Thanks. Oh and take the charger over to the pool house when you go, I've got another one upstairs anyway."
"Thank you, that's really kind of you," Beca said as she walked over to the socket where her phone was.
Chloe hurried to the laundry room, almost rushing so that Beca couldn't change her mind about staying. Selecting two large towels and a couple of hand towels, Chloe smiled to herself, pleased as punch that Beca was taking her up on her offer. She hated the idea of someone having to live in their car and didn't want the worry of Beca being so vulnerable.
She halted for a second as she switched off the light to the laundry room that there was possibly more she could be doing to help people in similar situations and vowed to look into it and see if there was something she could do to make a difference.
She walked into the kitchen and picked up a set of keys on a colourful fob that was hanging on a rack inside the first wall cupboard through the door. She handed them to Beca who was just shutting the fridge door.
"Side gate key, front gate key, back door key for the patio doors and the pool room door key. I'll get you a front door key cut as soon as I can but you can get in through there in the meantime," Chloe indicated the doors out in the hallway as Beca stepped past her and collected her bags. "There's an alarm code that can be set and unset from both the back and front door. You've got sixty seconds to punch the code in before it goes off, and it triggers a silent alarm if you put it in wrong three times. Expect half a dozen squad cars turning up within about three minutes."
"The code is 0922-"
"-Really?" Beca interrupted.
"Yes, that's it," Chloe cocked her head to the side. "Why?"
"Nothing... it's just... that's my birthday."
"Oh! It was just the number given to us by the insurance company, we never got round to changing it."
"Lucky for me then, I won't forget it!"
Chloe grinned, quietly loving the simple fact that her alarm code was the same as Beca's birthday.
"I usually leave this small lamp switched on in the hallway here," Chloe pointed to the dim lamp on the half moon table by the back doors. "But don't worry if you see other lights on, it's probably just me pacing because I can't sleep."
"Yeah, no worries. If you ever need to get stuff off your mind, you can always talk to me," Beca offered. "I'm not great with the advice, but I'm a good listener." She thought back to Aubrey's comment the day before about not knowing everything that Chloe was going through.
"I know, thank you. I appreciate that. Right, let me grab some water and then we'll get you settled in."
"Let me get it," Beca said, reaching into the pantry cupboard and taking a couple of bottles. She followed Chloe out of the back doors, down the steps and past the pool.
"The door to the bathroom sticks just a little bit," Chloe said, as she opened the door to the pool house, pushing it open with her foot. "I'll get it fixed as soon as I can."
She set the towels down on the small sofa by the door and switched on the light.
"So, you've got a light switch here, and one by the bed area in the corner, over there," she pointed with her hand in the general direction. "There's under cupboard lights in the kitchenette and the bathroom light is just to the outside of the door."
"Sofa is a recliner and the television is hooked up to Netflix already. I know you don't watch movies but it's there if you so wish. There's a speaker in the corner if you want music and there's a hidden desk or table here," Chloe indicated a pull down desk and folding chair. " There should be some toiletries in the bathroom, but come over to the house if you need anything. There are spare's of everything in the laundry room. Any questions, just ask."
"Yeah, thanks, I will. I appreciate this."
"It's no trouble," Chloe promised, turning to leave. "Hopefully you'll get a good night's sleep. See you in the morning."
Beca chuckled, causing Chloe to pause in the doorway.
"Funny, I just had a weird sense of deja vu then, that I'd asked you to kiss me goodnight. Good thing I didn't huh?"
"Yeah, good thing" Chloe lied.
A/N - I know I've taken liberties with the Twenty One Pilots timeline in the last few chapters, but please ignore that fact! Hope you enjoyed :)