Chloe slowly wandered up the corridor towards her apartment door, a loud yawn escaping her mouth. She brought her index finger up to gently rub her eye, not worrying too much if her mascara and eyeliner smudged now it was the end of the day. And what a day it’d been. Cold, wintery showers meant that Christmas shoppers in Downtown New York had been entering the coffee shop that Chloe worked at in their masses. She’d been run ragged. But as she fished her key out of her coat pocket, she let out a tired sigh of relief. At least she had tomorrow off to recouperate.
The redhead furrowed her brow as her key twisted in the lock far too easily, and as she slowly pushed the door to her apartment open, she saw that a small light was on inside. She thought she’d locked up and had kept the lights off when she’d left for work earlier. Fat Amy was away for Christmas visiting family. And Beca was out with Jesse. Or so she’d thought…
“Hey.” Chloe found herself whispering to the petite figure curled up in the fold out bed they shared, knowing it to be Beca despite the low light. She gently closed the door behind her and locked up.
The apartment was quiet. Well, as quiet as it could be given that the windows faced a busy Brooklyn street below, and the walls and floors of the apartment were wafer thin. Still, it’d been home for over a year now. Chloe had gotten used to it.
“Hey.” she heard her roommate croak from the bed. But that was all.
Chloe slipped her coat off, hissing at the cool air as it hit her skin around her collarbone, silently cursing her work uniform that cut a little too low due to a missing button at the top of her shirt. She quickly threw her coat over the armchair beside the door, and swiftly found then wrapped her body in her thick fluffy nightgown.
“Want a hot drink?” Chloe asked her roommate as she moved the few paces it took to get over to the stove, ready to pick up the kettle to fill with water. But just as she reached out for the appliance, she heard Beca sit up in the bed, the old springs clunking under the woman’s light weight.
“Yeah uh, whatever you’re having.”
It was an unusual ‘request’ for the brunette to make. So unusual in fact, that Chloe put the kettle back down with a small frown on her face, before looking over her shoulder. Beca sat up in bed, her face lit by her phone screen while she looked down at it. But it was the expression on Beca’s face that had Chloe’s stomach plummeting.
Because around Beca’s eyes were noticeably swollen, her nose red, and her expression was completely and wholly that of someone feeling broken. There was only one person who made Beca this way, and it had Chloe’s mood suddenly darken. Jesse.
The redhead slowly made her way over to the bed, perching on the edge of it while she looked at her best friend.
“Thought you’d still be out with Jesse.” she tried to offer in a bright tone, but Beca didn’t look up at her. Didn’t smile or shrug. In fact, Chloe wasn’t sure at first if Beca would even answer her. But after a few moments of silence (in which Chloe noticed that Beca was looking at the messages on her phone, specifically ones from Jesse - which were actually just text after text after text from Beca) the petite brunette eventually responded to her comment:
“Jesse broke up with me.”
There it was. The very sentence Chloe had hoped that Beca would one day say. Well, not entirely. She’d kinda always hoped that Beca would say ‘I broke up with Jesse’, but either way the relationship was over.
And while Chloe had dreamt of this moment for the past five years that she’d known and harboured feelings for Beca, the way she was feeling now took her completely by surprise. She wasn’t as elated or thrilled as she thought she would be.
Yes she was pleased, mostly because the past year that Beca had been living out here in New York attempting to cling to the only long-term romantic relationship she’d ever been in with a man who lived on the other side of the country, she’d struggled to acknowledge that the relationship wasn’t good for herself or for Jesse. Chloe had seen it but hadnt ever had the heart to tell Beca that she should end things with Jesse.
Jesse and Beca…they were both too different. Both unsupportive of each other. Both had fallen into a toxic cycle of guilt-tripping the other into answering texts and calls and making the long trip to see the other at hideously bad hours just to argue face to face. And all because they were ‘Beca & Jesse’. College sweethearts. Both with brilliant musical minds. Both had been captains of their respective college acapella groups. But that had been the extent of their common ground. Now they were that little bit older. Both slowly rising through the ranks of their respective fields. Both moving further and further apart until they’d finally reached a point of no return.
“God…” was all Chloe could release from the back of her throat, sounding more of a grunt than a formed word. She continued to watch her best friend like a hawk while Beca scrolled through more messages in the chat history she had with her now-ex-boyfriend.
“Yeah he uh…” Beca paused to clear her throat, locking her phone screen and throwing the device out to the bottom of the bedding, and turning to looking at Chloe with what little energy she had left, “…we had another fight and he said I didn’t make enough effort-”
“-You’re always making the effort!” Chloe suddenly burst, her brow furrowed as her blood began to boil. Beca had made a trip out to LA almost every month since they’d moved here. And flights weren’t exactly cheap! Jesse had always cited his poor income meaning he couldn’t fly out to New York, but was the first to suggest that Beca fly out to him instead. And Beca (the adorable idiot that she was) would do it!
“That’s what I tried to tell him, but he wouldn’t listen.” Beca replied in a glum tone, bringing her knees to her chest while tugging a thick blanket up to her neck in an attempt to keep herself warm, “Then he started going on about how I’m always out with you when he calls-”
“-You answer those calls every time!” Chloe growled, becoming more and more furious with the young man that dared to make such ridiculous accusations, “You even ran out during Hamilton and missed the second act!”
It had been one of the most embarrassing situations Chloe had been in. Beca’s phone lighting up, then Beca mumbling in her ear that it was Jesse and she’d have to answer it, then Beca running out even though Chloe had quietly, desperately insisted she ignore him for once. Chloe had decided after Beca had been gone for forty minutes that she too should probably leave and make sure her best friend was okay. Beca had been - she’d found the brunette on a step outside the theatre looking on her phone for flights to LA that coming weekend.
“Was he still hung up on the whole ‘Aca-Wives’ thing?” Chloe eventually asked when Beca hadn’t replied after a few moments, and she watched as the woman let out a heavy sigh, her knees slipping down from her chest.
“He did bring it up, yeah.”
Chloe rolled her eyes. Back in college, she and Beca had been co-captains of their acapella group ‘The Barden Bellas’. They’d been closer to each other than the rest of the girls because they’d had to be. They’d had to have meetings about musical arrangements and routines for their performances. They’d had to put their heads together when it came to Bella’s socials. They’d had to study together for finals because they’d taken the same class. And because of that, the rest of The Bellas had jokingly dubbed them ‘Aca-Wives’. Which Jesse hadn’t received well when he’d found out. Just like he hadn’t been pleased when he found out Beca was going to New York with Chloe instead of LA with him. Or when he found out that Beca and Chloe had to share a bed in New York..
“And what did you say?”
It was unfair of Chloe to ask. She knew it was. But at the moment her emotions were running high and she was tired and cold and a little hungry and really all she wanted to know was if, from Beca’s perspective, Jesse was right to be jealous of the close friendship that Beca and Chloe had.
Chloe watched carefully as Beca swallowed loudly before shrugging, twiddling her fingers while she tried to find the clearest response.
“I told him you’re the second most important person in my life.”
The words rang in Chloe’s ears while her chest tightened around the invisible wound that Beca’s sentence had stabbed into her. Only the second most important person?
“Oh.” was all she could muster, swallowing loudly before adding, “And I guess first would be Jesse?”
The apartment fell as silent as it could get while the two women sat on their bed, looking at one another, both hurt for entirely different reasons.
“I had to say something to keep him from getting more annoyed with me.” Beca attempted, but it only served to hurt Chloe more. The redhead, struggling to look at her best friend while she contemplated the lie Beca had told her
boyfriend ex-boyfriend, stood from the bed and took the few paces over to the stove to fill the kettle with water. She needed to keep busy. If not she might just burst into tears.
“Well good to know it worked.” Chloe replied sarcastically in a clipped voice, trying to keep from revealing how annoyed she was. She was only second?? How long had she been second for?
“Oh so you haven’t ever told a white lie to stop someone getting annoyed with you?” Beca counteracted as Chloe plonked the kettle down and lit the hob on the stove to boil the water.
“I wouldn’t ever down-grade you, if that’s what you mean.” Chloe sounded wholeheartedly annoyed, her eyes glaring down at the kettle instead of facing her best friend - her long-time crush.
“Down-grade…?” Beca began, but Chloe swiftly spun on the spot to look at her with a look of disappointment.
“I’m only the second most important person in your life??” she bellowed, tears springing to her eyes as they always did when she was angry about something, “Me who’s supported you day in day out since the first time we met five years ago? Who moved up here to New York with you because you needed to share rent with someone? Who agreed to share a bed with you because it’d be cheaper, and who sends you emails during the day to your work email to keep you motivated? Me who’s happy to be your ‘plus one’ to work events because Jesse was never around?”
Chloe paused to take a couple of breaths, taking in Beca’s expression for the first time since her outburst. The brunette looked shocked. ‘And rightfully so’ Chloe thinks as she grits her teeth. Every decision she’d made the last few years had been for Beca. Every thought she’d had had been of Beca. And yet Beca still only regarded her as second best.
“You poured everything into your relationship with him and he disregarded it.” Chloe finished in a defeated tone, “Meanwhile I’ve been right here pouring everything into what I have with you.”
There was another pause before the redhead whipped back around, just as the kettle began to whistle, and Chloe gathered two mugs, placing a herbal tea bag in each. She poured the boiling water on top, again trying to ignore the impending tears that her eyes were about to produce. She just got so frustrated with the way Beca was with Jesse. Like she was a different person. Like she changed the way she was just to make Jesse happy when Chloe loved Beca just as she was. How she really was.
Just as she slipped the teaspoon into the first mug with a clatter, she felt Beca’s small cool hand wrap gently around her wrist.
“It was just a lie.” Chloe heard Beca quietly emphasise, and the tightness in her chest eased ever so slightly. She hadn’t even heard Beca get out of bed she’d been so annoyed. “A stupid lie that stupid people tell other stupid people for stupid reasons.”
Chloe’s eyes remained trained on the mugs of tea before her, noticing Beca removing her hand from her wrist.
“You’ve definitely been stupid.” Chloe grumbled, swirling the tea bags with a spoon.
“You’re mad at me for lying.” Beca said, but Chloe simply let out a sharp exhale through her nose in response.
“I’m not only mad at you for lying,” she began, glancing at her best friend, finally ready to be honest, “I’m mad because of how Jesse made you.”
“How he made me?”
“You became a completely different person around him!” Chloe couldn’t stop. She was saying things in a way that she hadn’t ever planned on, yet now she had the opportunity, she just let the words flow, “You’d make excuses for his behaviour, you’d cancel plans because he didn’t want you meeting new people while he was away from you, you’d force yourself to watch movies that he liked just so you guys could have something to talk about over the phone-”
“-What’s so wrong with doing a bit of movie research?” Beca interrupted with a frown, very obviously becoming defensive.
“It’s not about the research!” Chloe burst, turning her entire body to face her best friend, “It’s the fact that you don’t even like movies, and Jesse was too much of a dick to respect that!”
“So you’re mad at Jesse now?” Beca’s eyes squinted, struggling to keep up with Chloe’s chaotic explainations.
“Of course I’m mad at Jesse!” Chloe eventually yelled, and she paused to take a few breaths while her sentence sunk into Beca’s psyche. Her voice softened, and she felt a heaviness in her heart as she looked into her best friend’s eyes, “Beca, in a relationship, you should never have to compromise as much as you did when you were with him. After four years together he should’ve known the real you. The Beca that I know.”
Chloe could see how much Beca’s breathing had increased in the way her breath was visible in the cold apartment. She noted the way the woman’s chest rose and fell. The way Beca’s eyes flickered momentarily down to her lips then back up again.
And within a couple of seconds, Chloe watched in shock as Beca flew towards her, cupping her cheeks and pulling her into a deep kiss. A deep kiss that had Chloe going weak at the knees, as her hands snuck their way around Beca’s waist to hold her tight against her body, their kiss intensifying with the presence of Beca’s tongue slipping across Chloe’s bottom lip then into her mouth..
Chloe’s lips were numb. Not from the chill of the apartment, but from the ferocity and pressure of Beca’s mouth against hers. There was little coordination to the sudden action that was honestly taking both women by surprise. And while Chloe had kissed many people before in the past, she’d never had a kiss like this. One which felt like a reward after so many years of yearning.
With every sweep of Beca’s tongue across the inside of her top lip, Chloe found her body melting more and more into her best friend’s body. Which was actually impossible given that Beca was currently pressing Chloe firmly back against the kitchen work surface. Beca whose left hand had dropped from Chloe’s face and had begun sneaking its way beneath Chloe’s shirt and up to cup her right breast.
Beca. This was Beca.
“You sure you want to do this right now?” Chloe mumbled quietly against Beca’s lips, her hands having moved from the small of the woman’s back (beneath Beca’s pyjama top..since when had her hands crept under Beca’s pyjama top??), out and up to Beca’s hips to push her back slightly. Beca seemed to move with ease at Chloe’s direction, leaning back to break the kiss completely.
Their chests heaved thanks to the adrenaline racing around their bodies, their breath visible. And Chloe, having known her best friend so well over the years, knew just by Beca’s expression that the woman was only now thinking things through.
“Do you?” Beca asked before taking a shaky deep breath. Her hand still over Chloe’s bra cup. Her other hand still cupping Chloe’s face. And with that deep breath Chloe realised that Beca hadn’t lent back as far as she’d first thought. Now was she sure that she wanted her to.
“That’s not an answer.” Chloe replied slowly, her heart hammering while her lips felt fuzzy with the memory of the kiss they’d just shared. A kiss that Beca looked to be wanting to resume, judging by the direction of her face that was slowly creeping back to Chloe’s again.
The redhead’s eyes fluttered closed, and she could feel Beca’s breath washing over her skin, sending tingles down the length of her body as she allowed her best friend to press another kiss on her lips. A kiss that was more precise than the last. One that Beca could’ve clearly lined up with a bit more ease now that Chloe’s face had been mere centimetres from hers.
Chloe allowed herself to become lost in the moment again. Relishing how good Beca’s hand felt as it squeezed her right breast. The more Beca squeezed, the more confident Chloe became in allowing her own hands to slip beneath Beca’s pyjama pants at the back, her palms coming to rest over the woman’s ass.
This latest contact appeared to be some sort of starting pistol for Beca, who took a deep intake of breath through her nose before pushing at Chloe once again. Their lips began snapping quick deep uncoordinated kisses on and around the others mouth, Chloe tugging Beca’s hips into her by her ass while Beca’s hand slipped beneath Chloe’s bra cup and was busy fondling Chloe’s breast.
The kiss broke, Chloe letting out a gasp as it did, suddenly feeling the cool air a little more than she had done when she’d first got home. And as she kept her eyes closed she felt Beca bend down slightly, leaving Chloe no choice but to remove her hands from Beca’s ass. Those hands, however, quickly found a new resting place within the thickets of Beca’s brown hair. Because Beca suddenly sucked at Chloe’s right breast with her mouth, nibbling at Chloe’s nipple before soothing it with her tongue. Over and over again.
Chloe couldn’t remember at what point Beca had undone the buttons of her shirt or had pulled the cup of her bra down. But right now, while her head clunked backwards against the kitchen cupboard, she realised she didn’t care. She’d be lying if she hadn’t fantasised about this at some point. A little overnight fantasy while laying in bed alone. Had imagined what it might be like if Beca threw caution to the wind and took her there and then, completely out of the blue, in their tiny kitchen.
And here they were. Chloe’s secret fantasy coming true. Beca sucking at Chloe’s right breast with reckless abandon. Eagerness and desire overcoming all obstacles. Obstacles like their friendship. Obstacles like Jesse - or lack of, now that Beca was no longer with him. No longer with him. Chloe let out a slight groan. But it wasn’t of desire or ecstasy. It was of despair.
“Wait, you…” Chloe paused her hushed protest, her hands at Beca’s shoulders to encourage the woman to release her breast from her mouth. And she watched in the low light as her best friend did just that before leaning back again. Beca was as out of breath as Chloe was. But Chloe, for some reason, seemed to be the one seeing sense right now, “…you just broke up with Jesse.”
“Screw him.” was all Beca whispered as she quickly reached up to cup Chloe’s cheeks again, placing her lips on Chloe’s to carry on kissing. But something felt odd about Beca’s responses. If they were about to embark on uncharted territory, they at least needed to talk about it. And as Beca pressed her body against Chloe’s again, something suddenly occurred to the redhead.
“Wait,” she began, breaking the kiss again to take a good look at Beca while the woman looked back at her confused, “how much have you had to drink?” She watched with baited breath as Beca’s eyes flickered their attention from Chloe’s left eye to right eye and back again, swallowing loudly before taking a breath and shrugging.
“I dunno like three beers?”
Three beers wasn’t enough to make Beca make rash decisions. Not usually. But then it depended on the timeframe that those three beers had been consumed.
“Three beers all day?” Chloe asked, dreading the answer, “Or three beers since you got home?”
This time Beca raised her eyebrows, shrugging again as if her answer was no big deal:
“Since I got home.”
Chloe groaned, pushing Beca away slightly while reaching for her own cup of tea and heading over to her side of the bed. It was only 7pm. Beca had met Jesse at 5pm when her last meeting had finished in the city. If Jesse had broken up with Beca almost right away then it was likely that Beca would’ve taken an immediate subway home. Which meant she would’ve only got home an hour ago. Perhaps even less than that. Three beers in under an hour? That would be enough to make Chloe drunk, and Beca was smaller!
She heard her best friend protest, “What, it’s not like I’m drunk Chloe.” and Chloe glanced across at the woman while Beca remained in the kitchen area with her arms folded, looking defiant, “I know what I’m doing.”
The whole notion of Beca being so swept up with emotion and under the influence of alcohol had Chloe feeling all the more hurt. Their kiss wasn’t real. It wasn’t what Beca really wanted. Beca was just drunk and upset and..
“Oh so you’re not making out with me because you’re trying to feel better after getting dumped??”
Chloe’s response was sharp and a little unfair given that Beca had just been dumped. But on all too many past occasions she’d had to stand back and allow herself to be hurt time and time again when Beca was involved - though it was usually her own fault (Beca’d never insisted Chloe have feelings for her).
“It wasn’t a whirlwind decision if that’s what you mean.” Beca bit back, and Chloe knew her tone. She knew Beca was getting defensive. It was arguments like this that happened occasionally between them, but it never tainted their friendship. They remained close best friends. Which is what made what had just happened all the more confusing and hurtful for Chloe. Beca’s responses just weren’t making sense.
“Right,” Chloe replied, while placing her mug of tea down on her bedside table with a heavy thud, “so you’ve wanted to kiss me all along huh?” Chloe sounded so stubbornly sarcastic she was beginning to wonder if she actually meant to be. She wasn’t usually the sarcastic one of the two of them. “It’s just taken you a massive breakup and three beers for you to act on it.”
As she remained perched on the edge of the bed, Chloe watched Beca seem to go through some form of inner termoil. As though replaying images in her mind, though what they were Chloe wasn’t sure. Were they of Jesse? Were they of her? Were they of the kiss they’d just shared? Were they of the past? Were they of the future??
“Hey you were kissing me back. Sober!” Beca eventually concluded, pointing her index finger Chloe’s way accusingly, “You grabbed my ass and everything! Wanna explain that?”
Chloe scoffed, rolling her eyes while pulling her phone from her pants pocket, and she glared at her screen as she made to scroll through Instagram. She wasn’t the one in the wrong here. Beca was the one who had kissed her first. Beca was the one with alcohol in her system, not Chloe.
“Chloe.” Beca began slowly making her way over to the bed with a frown but Chloe purposefully ignored her. Tried to ignore the way her lips still felt as though Beca was kissing her. She noticed in her periphery that her best friend had come to a stand beside her. “Chloe.” Beca repeated. And this time Chloe looked up.
“You’ve just broken up with Jesse.” Chloe replied clearly, her expression serious. She didn’t want to look back on this moment and hate herself for taking advantage of Beca’s vulnerability - no matter how strong the brunette was.
“And if I hadn’t?” Beca asked intently, Chloe noticing the way the woman’s eyes shone in the low light of their freezing little apartment, “If he’d broken up with me months ago?”
It wasn’t too far from a realistic notion. Back in February Jesse almost had broken up with Beca. He’d threatened it. Beca had managed to persuade him otherwise - much to Chloe’s frustration.
Chloe couldn’t think of an appropriate response right now, and she swallowed loudly as her phone locked and the light from the device went out. All that was left was the light from the small lamp across the room beside Fat Amy’s bed, and the lights coming from the street outside, peeking around the edges of the poor quality blinds.
“If you don’t feel anything then tell me to stop.” Beca mumbled, and Chloe’s breath caught in her lungs as she watched her best friend lean down, cupping her cheek with her right hand and placing a new long tender kiss on her lips. She should’ve told her to stop. Chloe should’ve told Beca they needed to sleep it off and address the situation in the morning. But as she opened her mouth to break the kiss, Beca slipped her tongue into her mouth, and instead of words, a loud groan rumbled from the back of her throat.
Chloe’s phone fell from her hands, landing on the floor with a thud, and her palms instead slipped their way up the outside of Beca’s thighs, resting on the woman’s hips. The redhead guided her best friend onto her lap, Beca kneeling either side of Chloe’s hips on the side of the bed. And with a deep ragged intake of breath through their noses, their kiss deepened, Chloe’s hands finding Beca’s ass again and encouraging the woman to rock back and forth…
Nothing was being said. Nothing needed to be said. Instead Chloe allowed herself to be guided back onto the bed, Beca still straddling her hips, the brunette’s mouth quickly breaking their kiss in order to smooth her tongue down Chloe’s neck then nibble gently at the nape.
Chloe’s mouth hung open, her hands at Beca’s hair while her best friend’s own hands had hold of the cups of her bra. Beca’s fingers pulled the garment down sharply, releasing Chloe’s breasts, and Chloe let out a gasp when she became exposed to the chill of the apartment.
Beca’s mouth trailed further, recapturing Chloe’s right nipple between her teeth, before enveloping as much of her mouth around Chloe’s breast as possible. All the while the brunette was grinding her hips into Chloe. Breathing heavily. Desperately.
Chloe could feel herself getting wetter by the second. Tingling between her legs. Desperate for release or at the least some sort of contact. Her hands drifted down to Beca’s shoulders and she attempted to guide the woman away from her cleavage, back up her body.
The motion managed to shift their position slightly, and as she kissed Beca furiously, a moan rumbled from the back of Chloe’s throat when she felt Beca’s leg slip between her legs. This time it was Chloe’s turn to grind, moving her body down so that her crotch had some form of friction against Beca’s knee.
It was weird - in fantasies that Chloe had had in the past charting how it might be should she ever ‘get a shot’ with Beca Mitchell, she’d always imagined that she’d be the one in charge. She’d be the one to coax a first kiss out of the brunette. She’d be the one to lay Beca back wherever they were. She’d be the one to make all the first moves.
But in reality, Chloe found herself swept away by Beca’s boldness. Swept away by how confident Beca’s hands were as they slipped from Chloe’s breasts down to the waistband of her jeans. Swept away by how soft Beca’s lips felt, yet how powerful the kiss was behind the softness.
This kiss…this experience was unlike anything Chloe had had before. For once, she felt like everything was right. The way Beca’s body slotted around hers like they were made for each other. The way she felt less and less unsure about the upcoming inevitable demolishing of the walls protecting their friendship. Everything was about to change..
Chloe brought one hand from Beca’s cheeks and slipped it down the front of Beca’s pyjama top, successfully finding her best friend’s breast and cupping it. She quickly experimented with her touch - light and soft, firm and rough - and found the latter technique drawing the most enthusiasm from the brunette. Her tongue wound it’s way into Beca’s mouth, rolling with the woman’s tongue, feeling her panties getting wetter the more she ground against Beca’s knee.
Beca, meanwhile, seemed to have made a quick decision about what she was going to do next, and Chloe couldn’t help the smile on her face as she felt her best friend undoing the top button of her jeans. Soon she’d feel it. Soon she’d feel the pressure that she’d so desperately been yearning for the moment Beca had first kissed her.
It was as though sunshine radiated over them, despite the deep dark depths of winter that Brooklyn was plunged in. The feel of Beca’s left hand slipping beneath Chloe’s waistband, and not even taking a moment to consider holding back. Chloe let out a gasp, breaking the kiss and flinging her head further into the mattress as Beca’s fingers slipped beneath her panties too, and lost themselves within Chloe’s wet folds.
“Fuck!” was all she heard Beca mumble, the brunette swiftly drawing her mouth to Chloe’s neck, dropping large sloppy kisses on her skin, working her way back up to Chloe’s mouth. And Chloe was more than happy to kiss the woman back, firmly, desperately, lifting her hips in the process to help Beca provide more pressure on her clit.
Chloe couldn’t remember when she’d pulled her hand from beneath Beca’s top. All she could comprehend were that her arms were now splayed out above her head, as though conceding that Beca could be the more dominant…this time. And dominant Beca was, the brunette quickly breaking the kiss, breathing heavily while scrambling down the bed, both hands now readily at the waistband of Chloe’s jeans.
The redhead lifted her hips to assist Beca’s sharp actions, and her jeans were quickly removed, then thrown somewhere across the room. A large moan left the back of Chloe’s throat and her head flew back again while her eyes squeezed closed - because Beca had swiftly dove forward, pressing her mouth and tongue against Chloe’s panty-covered pussy, rolling her tongue against Chloe’s clit.
Chloe’s hands flew down to Beca’s head, her hips rolling in the heat of the moment while her best friend’s fingers wrapped over the top of her panties, and begun to peel them down, her tongue not losing contact with Chloe once.
All of a sudden a familiar ringtone chimed, diverting the two women back to reality. A familiar ringtone that had Chloe’s stomach scrambling, her heart immediately aching. Her heavy breathing got caught in her throat at the sound of ‘Don’t You’ by Simple Minds rattling around the apartment, and her eyes snapped open when Beca seemed to raise her head from between Chloe’s legs.
Chloe looked down the length of her body at her best friend in the low light. Beca’s entire body looked to be rising and falling with her heavy breathing, the brunette swiping her tongue across her bottom lip fleetingly. And Chloe continued to watch as Beca’s eyes flickered over to her phone at the bottom of the bed, where Jesse’s ringtone continued to play.
It was a ringtone she’d heard time and time again. Beca had always kept her phone on loud, just in case he called, not wanting to miss it for fear it’d annoy him and he’d go radio silence for three days like he’d done one time. Now that they were broken up, Beca didn’t need to worry about that. But clearly it was a habit she wasn’t ready to let go of yet.
Beca’s eyes returned to Chloe’s and Chloe could practically hear Beca begging her to permit her to answer Jesse’s call. There was a wave of uncertainty between the two women. And with every passing second, Chloe’s heart broke further. Because Beca was doing what she’d always done for as long as they’d been living here. She was still choosing Jesse.
“Go on.” Chloe mumbled in a disappointed tone, making to sit up while Beca rose to her feet. The brunette hesitated while her phone continued to ring, looking from Chloe to her phone and back at Chloe again.
“You sure?” Beca asked, and no Chloe wasn’t sure. She hated that Beca was quitting something that Chloe had dreamt of on so many occasions before. Except those dreams hadnt involved Beca being so distant. So uninvested in her.
Jesse was impressively holding on, not choosing to hang up. But it was only a matter of time until he would. And Chloe swore she’d never been more angry with a song until now.
“Just answer the fucking phone, Beca!” Chloe snapped, and to her dismay Beca launched herself at her phone to answer it as quickly as possible..
“What do you want?”
Chloe heard Beca’s grumpy voice clearly through the quiet, dimly lit apartment. She watched her best friend stand upright, her phone to her ear, a flustered expression on her face. The brunette slowly made her way around the bed and away from Chloe. And Chloe felt every single one of those steps like a stab in the heart.
Beca was actively moving away from her. Actively wanting to have a conversation with her ex-boyfriend in private. Despite having been between Chloe’s legs mere moments ago.
As Beca perched on the edge of the bed with her back to Chloe, Chloe herself reached down and gently moved her bra back up her chest to safely envelope her breasts once more. She sniffed loudly, trying to ignore the tears that were building in her eyes.
She felt used. Worthless. When only a few minutes ago she’d felt like everything she’d ever wanted was happening all at once, now she felt a pain in her chest as her heart fell apart, broken.
“Yeah well you were the one to break up with me Jess, remember?”
Chloe swallowed loudly. Having to listen to Beca speak to him was only making Chloe feel worse. Way worse. Her eyes had drifted over to the kitchen floor where she saw her jeans discarded. It was exactly how her heart felt right now. Beca had ripped it from her and thrown it to the ground with little care or consideration. And the thought of that overwhelmed Chloe enough for her to take a deep shuddering breath.
A shower. That was what she needed. Something to calm her. Some place safe that she could cry without causing Beca too much alarm. A place she could come to terms with what had happened. A place she could think. Somewhere she could physically cleanse herself of Beca, though she couldn’t do so mentally.
Beca had kissed her. They’d almost had sex.
“I’m at home - - - Yes with Chloe.”
Chloe couldn’t bear to stick around and listen to more ‘white lies’ that Beca would inevitably tell her ex-boyfriend about her. It was highly unlikely that Beca would say something about how she’d been millimetres from slipping her fingers into Chloe’s pussy when he’d called so…
Reaching down and picking her phone up off the floor, Chloe eased herself off the bed with her breath still held and a knot still present in her stomach. She glanced over her shoulder to find Beca still perched with her back to her, the brunette’s shoulders slumped. As Chloe slowly made her way over to the shower area of their studio apartment, she could see that Beca also had one hand leant on her forehead, her other hand holding her phone to her ear. Chloe stopped at the bathtub, one hand outstretched and holding the shower curtain gently, ready to push it aside to run the water.
“Oh so now I’m no longer in the picture you’re busy focussing all your attention on Chloe, huh?” Chloe heard Jesse barking down the phone, and her heart skipped a beat. This was Beca’s moment. The best and only real opportunity she had to tell Jesse that yes, Chloe was all she wanted to focus on now that he was out of the picture.
“I-I answered your call didn’t I?”
Beca’s response, though sounding frustrated, was not the response Chloe had hoped for. And with that response, Chloe decided she’d heard enough.
The shower water pelted down, rattling again at the base of the tub and part of the curtain, drowning out Jesse’s response to Beca. Chloe couldn’t look at her best friend any more. Instead she focussed on removing her shirt (which had been unbuttoned by Beca earlier), unclasping then removing her bra, before removing her panties and finally her socks. She swallowed as she fleetingly saw her panties on the floor, hardly able to believe that had Jesse not called, those panties would’ve been in a pile elsewhere in the apartment.
The hot water was a god-send, and the second Chloe tipped her head back to allow the water to cascade over her body, the breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding was finally released. And with it, emotion rushed through her. She suddenly burst into tears, shooting her hands to her mouth to stifle a loud sob.
How had everything got so messed up in such a short period of time?? Beca had kissed her. They’d almost had sex!
Chloe felt certain she’d never ever felt as hurt and heartbroken as she felt right now. And it was all down to the one person she’d never thought would cause it. Her best friend. Her roommate. Her bedmate. The woman she’d adored for so many years.
The redhead’s hands dropped from her face, her bottom lip trembled while the shower water continued to fall over her head, merging with the tears rolling down her cheeks. What the hell was she going to do? Could she even stay here tonight? Could she even stay in her own home??
Before Chloe knew what she was doing, she’d stuck her hand out around the curtain, and grabbed her phone that she’d left on the worksurface beside the tub. Keeping it out of the line of shower water, she unlocked her phone, wanting to message The Bella who knew how best to calm her when her (secret) crush on Beca got too overwhelming.
Chloe: Beca and I just made out
Chloe: We nearly had sex
Aubrey: How are you feeling?!
Chloe: Not so great 😢
Aubrey: What do you mean nearly had sex?
Aubrey: You didn’t?
Chloe let out a shaky breath, her long hair still catching the shower water that only fell down her back now that she’d leant forward to protect her phone. She tried to come up with a clear answer to text back.
Aubrey: Isn’t Beca still with Jesse??
Aubrey: She cheated on him with you?!
Aubrey: 😱 CHLOE!!!
Chloe: They broke up about a couple of hours ago (🙌)
Chloe: When I got home she kissed me
Aubrey’s emoji took Chloe by surprise, and caused her chest to tighten. Aubrey had known for years how Chloe felt towards Beca. In the past the woman had told Chloe that Beca wasn’t worth pursuing, especially as Beca was in a relationship with Jesse. But clearly Aubrey didn’t hate Beca as a suitor for Chloe as much as Chloe thought the blonde did. Still, it didn’t matter. Not any more.
Chloe: Then we were starting to make out on the bed
Chloe: And she got as far as taking my pants off
Aubrey: Do I need to read this? 🤨
Chloe: She started going down on me
Aubrey: CHLOE 🤢
Aubrey: Come on!!! 🙄🤢
Chloe: Then Jesse called her phone 😭😭😭
Chloe: AND SHE ANSWERED IT 😭
Chloe reread her last couple of texts, her heart breaking all over again as she remembered the annoying ringtone and the look on Beca’s face during the time it took for her to work out whether she should answer her phone or not. God it had been the worst to live it, but remembering it was almost as bad.
Aubrey: WHAT?! 😡😡😡
Aubrey: She fucking ANSWERED IT?!
Chloe knew Aubrey was mad if she was swearing. Not only that but she’d physically typed a swear word out..
Aubrey: Where are you??
Aubrey: Where is SHE???
Oh god. Knowing Aubrey she’d probably call Beca and immediately yell at her. Chloe was mad at Beca too, but at the end of the day, the woman had just been dumped. She was going through a lot.
Chloe: She’s here on the phone to Jesse so it’s no good calling her Bree
Aubrey: It’s only just after 7pm
Aubrey: Did you want to come to the retreat for a few days?
Aubrey: Give yourself some space from that ratbag?
As tempting as the offer was to be able to spend the next few days going over the events of the past twenty minutes, getting angry about it, getting upset about it, running away from it…there was still a tiny barrier in the way.
Chloe: I’m working this weekend 💔
Aubrey: Call in sick!!!
Aubrey: Or tell them the truth?
Aubrey: Tell your boss your dumbass roommate INTERRUPTED SEX WITH YOU TO ANSWER A CALL FROM HER EX-BOYFRIEND!
It was a dire situation, but Chloe couldn’t help the tiny smirk when she thought about how furious Aubrey was right now. If she lived nearer, Chloe could imagine Aubrey would’ve battered down the door by now and punched Beca or something. It would’ve been horrific, but also a little satisfying given what Beca had done.
The reminder of what Beca had done caused Chloe to squeeze her eyes closed for a moment while her heart ached. God, Beca had kissed her. They’d almost had sex!
Chloe: Tempting but I’ve gotta keep making money to pay rent 😳
Aubrey: Make Beca pay!!!
For the rent or make her pay for what she’d done just now, Chloe wasn’t sure what Aubrey meant by her last comment, but she could imagine it was a bit of both.
Chloe: She pays loads already!
It was true. Beca paid 5/6ths of their $3000 monthly rent. Chloe contributed a humbling $500 towards rent, such was her lousy income. The rest she put towards food to fill the fridge and the occasional coffee out (usually with Beca). Beca covered all the rest, insisting that because she earned so much more than Chloe and because she was the reason they’d both moved up to New York in the first place, she should pay far more. Chloe had agreed, and had stupidly low-key imagined that Beca had suggested it because Beca had feelings for her. She was wrong. How could Beca have feelings for her when she’d just treated Chloe the way she had?
Chloe: Honestly Bree, I’ll be fine
Chloe: I feel better for telling someone already 💛
Aubrey: Are you sure? 😕
Chloe: Absolutely 😘
No, Chloe wasn’t sure. She couldn’t possibly be sure if she’d be fine. Only now, as she brought her attention up from her phone and dunked her head briefly back under the hot water, could she refocus on the exact situation she was in right now. And yes the shower had physically soothed her body. But her heart ached and her chest felt tight at the though that the moment she stepped out of the shower, she’d have to spend the rest of the night with Beca in their tiny studio apartment..
The silence was deafening the moment Chloe turned the shower off. She felt exhausted. Physically exhausted from her long day at work. Mentally exhausted from the confusion and thrill then immediate upset and sheer torture of Beca kissing her furiously before discarding her in favour of Jesse.
Chloe felt her bottom lip tremble as she thought about that look on Beca’s face over and over again. Beca could’ve had her. She was there entirely for Beca. And Beca in her own confused emotional complicated state had abandoned her.
With a sharp sniff, and a quick swipe of her palm down her face to wipe away any remaining water droplets, Chloe drew the curtain back then stepped out of the tub. She let out a sharp exhale through her teeth at the chill of the apartment hitting her damp skin, then looked down at her feet as she reached for her towel that she remembered she’d left on the towel hook beside the tub. And her brow furrowed briefly. Where were her clothes that she’d left in a pile before having a shower?
Chloe looked up and realised that not only were her clothes now neatly folded on the tiny kitchen table before her, but that she also had what looked suspiciously like a fresh mug of tea beside them. The redhead swallowed loudly, holding her towel and drying a bit of her hair with it before glancing over at where she’d last seen Beca.
Surprisingly the woman was no long on the phone. In fact Beca was now sat entirely on her side of the bed, cross legged, nursing her mug of tea whilst looking down at her lap, clearly deep in thought. Chloe had never felt the way she did right now: like she couldn’t even look at Beca, let alone talk to her. So she chose to do neither.
The walk over to her own side of the bed felt like a challenge in itself, and Chloe did so as swiftly and as painlessly as possible. But taking steps closer to the exact place that Beca had kissed her and had laid her back and had begun to go down on her, brought a world of emotional pain to the redhead.
Chloe kept her eyes on her pillow as she lifted it, grabbing her pyjamas with a sharp motion. She was confused and upset, yes. But she was also annoyed and angry. She’d been out of the shower for at most a minute now so why hadn’t Beca apologised yet??
“I made you a fresh tea.”
Chloe swiftly dried her naked body down with her towel and dropped it to the floor, her eyes on her pyjamas, and her jaw clenched. That was it. That was the best Beca could do?? What the hell kind of apology was that?! She picked up her pyjama pants, delving one leg in, then another, before tugging it up to her waist. She could feel Beca’s eyes on her, and she knew the woman wasn’t checking her out. She knew that Beca was looking for some sort of response - whether it be verbal or merely a facial expression.
“Did you see it?” Beca continued in an anxious tone, “I left it on the kitchen table beside your-”
“-I saw it.” Chloe snapped, tugging her pyjama top over her head, pulling it down, then drawing her damp red hair out from beneath it. With every passing moment Chloe became more and more annoyed. Like it was some sort of mist that descended over her head. Beca hadn’t ever been the cause of it before. Not until this evening.
She ducked down to grab her damp towel, then stormed over to the mug of tea Beca had spoken about. Chloe grabbed it by the handle, shifted the short distance it took to get to the kitchen counter, and held the mug aloft, pouring its contents slowly and obviously down the sink. She wasn’t thirsty, and she didn’t want Beca to think that by making her a mug of tea, things would suddenly be okay between them.
“Look I can see why your mad but…” Chloe heard Beca begin to say while the redhead strode over to the towel hook, threw her towel on it, and began heading back to her side of the bed, “…can we at least talk about it?”
Chloe delved into a box beside her bed, and as she pulled her hairdryer out she snapped her attention over her shoulder, glaring at Beca while she did. The brunette noticeably gulped, her eyes wide and eyebrows risen. But Chloe wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of responding verbally.
Instead Chloe turned away, plugged in her hair dryer, and switched it on. The apartment filled with the sound of the device. And for ten minutes Chloe remained with her back turned on Beca, furiously brushing and drying her hair, trying to think about anything but how angry she was with her best friend.
They’d kissed. They’d almost had sex!
By the time Chloe turned her hairdryer off, she wondered what sort of state Beca was in. Was the woman upset and annoyed, or nonplussed and impartial to what Chloe might do next, or…
The redhead let out a heavy sigh as she unplugged her hairdryer, dropping it to the floor to cool. She hung her head, staring down at her bare feet on the cold apartment floor. Her hands gripped the edge of mattress and she took a deep breath. There was still only the dim light from a small lamp at the far end of the studio apartment. And the apartment itself was still quiet - the sound of the outside traffic and clunking waterpipes in the block being the only sounds. Chloe couldn’t even hear Beca breathing. Not that the woman was much of a heavy breather to be fair..
“Chloe-” Beca began, in a tone that told Chloe that her best friend had been crying during the past ten minutes that Chloe had been drying her hair. Usually Chloe would drop her guard down immediately if it meant coming to Beca’s aid. But this time Beca was in the wrong. And Chloe wasn’t ready to talk to her about anything.
So she stood briefly to tug the bedding back, getting into her side of the bed and shuffling down, pulling the bedding over her body. And not once did she look at Beca, choosing to lay in bed with her back to her best friend.
“Goodnight.” was all Chloe muttered shortly, and beneath the bedding she folded her arms while letting out a heavy sigh. She was exhausted. And a huge knot was now present in her stomach. She’d never given anyone the cold shoulder like this before, and it hurt her completely to be having to give it to Beca because Beca had betrayed her.
Her eyes remained open while she stared at the apartment door. And after a couple of moments she heard Beca let out a heavy sigh too, the brunette seeming to get off the bed to turn the lamp out. As the apartment was plunged into darkness, Chloe tugged her bottom lip between her teeth, trying to prevent herself from crying. And as she did so, she felt Beca return to then shuffle down in the bed beneath the covers behind Chloe, fortunately giving the redhead as much space as was possible in the small fold out bed.
What a mess.
Chloe let out a huge gasp as she sat bolt upright in bed. She had no idea when she’d fallen asleep, but it had taken her ages to do so. And the thing to wake her up was currently sending a chill down her spine that had nothing to do with the temperature of her dark apartment.
Loud quick persistent knocking on the apartment door. Chloe gulped. Who was it? Was it Jesse?? Chloe’s racing heart dropped. God she wasn’t sure if she could handle being faced by Jesse right now. Especially not after all that had happened this evening. Or was it the early hours of the next day by now? She had no idea.
As she reached out frantically to find her phone in the dark, she heard Beca - who hadn’t long sat bolt upright either - cursing under her breath.
“Beca what time is it??” Chloe hissed through the dark as she hung her head and arms over the side of the bed to search further for her phone. Amidst her fear of the imposter trying to get into the apartment, she’d forgotten momentarily that she had been giving Beca the cold shoulder. Out of the two other people in this situation - Beca and the aggressive person outside their apartment - Chloe still trusted Beca, and certainly trusted Beca most.
“Dunno.” Beca mumbled in a drowsy tone, trying her hardest to unwrap herself from the bedding that she’d got tangled in because she’d startled awake so quickly, “You got your phone?”
“I can’t find it.” Chloe replied, hating the way the knocking seemed to find a rhythm of knocks and slaps with the occasional pause. “Can you turn your phone torch on at least??”
Beca, who had finally got close to untangling her last foot, muttered “Can’t. Phone’s broken.”
Chloe furrowed her brow, still fumbling. Broken? Was that another excuse Beca was giving her? Because it wasn’t clever..
“Open up!” came a familiar sharp voice, the knocking suddenly ceasing, and Chloe furrowed her brow while looking over at Beca. Through the dim light she could just see the woman looking back at her.
“Chloe,” came the voice again, “don’t you dare protect her. Open up now!”
Chloe watched as Beca shot up out of the bed, dashing over to the lamp in the corner of the apartment. And although - as low light pinged back into the apartment - the look on Beca’s face was that of confusion and pure terror, Chloe felt a sudden wave of hope at the sound of the visitor’s voice. Aubrey was here.
The brunette’s eyes were wide as she stood by Fat Amy’s bed, having just turned the lamp on, noticeably hesitating on the spot while looking from the apartment door to Chloe. And Chloe simply turned away from the woman, rose to her feet, and took the two steps necessary to reach the door.
“Where is she?” were the first words Aubrey snapped with a steely expression and for a moment, Chloe hesitated. She’d never seen Aubrey look this angry before. And she’d seen Aubrey angry several times in the past nine years that she’d known the blonde.
Chloe glanced awkwardly over her shoulder to see Beca stood alone, anxiously, in the far end of the apartment. Aubrey didn’t wait for an invitation, instead storming past Chloe and striding around the bed, fortunately stopping at the foot of it. Beca, meanwhile, had leapt up to stand on Fat Amy’s bed, surprised and uncharacteristically nervous of Aubrey’s reaction.
“Beca Mitchell you’ve got a lot of fucking explaining to do!”
Chloe closed the door over and leant back against it, watching in shock at the interaction between her two best friends. Aubrey rarely swore. Which showed just how pissed off she was right now. And Beca was rarely sheepish when accosted. Which probably showed that she knew just how ‘in the wrong’ she’d been earlier.
“You told her?” Beca asked Chloe in a quiet voice, looking across the room at the redhead.
“Of course she told me!” Aubrey barked, “I’m her best friend. And you…” a long index finger was pointed accusingly at Beca while the brunette looked back at the visitor, “…are the sleaziest, most selfish dick I’ve ever known!”
Chloe’s mouth was dry. Aubrey was fighting her corner, and she was grateful. She was saying everything she’d wanted to say to Beca before she’d gone to bed earlier (what time was it??). And Beca wasn’t even fighting back. Wasn’t even trying to give a logical reason why she’d done what she’d done. Wasn’t even apologising!
“When Chloe told me you’d kissed her I had my reservations but I was also really happy for her!” Aubrey continued angrily, and had Chloe not felt so uncomfortable she would’ve found it a little amusing at the irony of the woman’s sentence. Because Aubrey didn’t sound happy in the slightest. And that was because she wasn’t.
“She’s been in love with you for so long, Beca!” Aubrey’s sentence echoed around the apartment. Chloe felt her stomach drop as Aubrey revealed her biggest secret, and didn’t stop, “She deserved to be loved by you in return. And you fucking drop her, mid-sex,” Chloe’s eyes drifted closed at Aubrey’s assumption. They hadn’t quite been in the throes of sex when Beca had answered the call.. “to run to Jesse?!”
As Chloe’s eyes opened again she immediately looked to Beca who remained stood on Fat Amy’s bed, looking down at Aubrey. And the brunette looked like a whole range of emotions were crashing over her body. She looked confused, and upset, and meek, and a little frustrated..
“God, Beca, Jesse?? Seriously?!” Aubrey was on a roll, and Beca seemed to be more and more stunned as the blonde’s anger continued, “We all knew you’d become blinded by him this past year, but to be so stupid to go crawling back to him as soon as he called y-”
“-I didn’t crawl back to him!” Beca attempted to protest with a frown, finally finding her voice. But Aubrey was a stubborn woman, and any opportunity she had to protect her best friend, she was going to take. Her index finger pointed threateningly at Beca again, furious with the petite brunette stood on the bed before her.
“You disrupted an intimate moment with Chloe to talk to him! You’ve betrayed her Beca!”
Aubrey’s words were the last to be spoken, and the apartment fell silent while they rang in Chloe and Beca’s ears. Chloe held her breath, her chest feeling tight. Because Aubrey was right. That was exactly why she was struggling with what Beca had done. Beca had betrayed her. Had betrayed the trust Chloe gave her with her feelings, her body, her friendship..
Beca’s voice sounded broken as the brunette turned to look over at her, and Chloe felt the tightness in her chest strengthening at the sight of Beca’s unhappy expression. It was never supposed to be this way. When they’d first met and throughout the first year or two of their friendship, Chloe felt certain they’d be close for life. But now… now even Chloe couldn’t see how they could come back from this. How she could trust Beca implicitly again.
“I-I need some time.” Chloe managed to muster, though she sounded unsure. Unsure enough for Aubrey to move over to her side, and smooth an assuring hand gently across her back. But Chloe’s eyes remained on Beca while the brunette quickly stepped down from Fat Amy’s bed. Could she do it? Could she really leave right now?
“Yeah.” Beca agreed, nodding slowly, “Okay.” and moved to her side of the bed to reach for a sweater, “I’ll take a walk down to the store. Give you a bit of time to think or whatever.”
It was those words that almost hurt Chloe more than the process of what she was about to say in response. Because Beca didn’t understand what she meant. It was the first time in a long time that neither of them were on the same page. And for a fleeting moment, Chloe wondered if perhaps her fantasies of them one day dating then getting married were so far-fetched that she was beginning to get upset.
“No.” she replied in a quiet firm tone, her nose beginning to tingle as tears began to build in her eyes, and she watched with a heavy heart as Beca looked at her in confusion, “I mean I need some time away from here.”
“You’re…” Beca paused, her eyes trained on Chloe while the redhead stood motionless with her arms heavy by her sides, “…leaving?”
“Aubrey’s at her Mom’s up State.” Chloe replied slowly, remembering the information Aubrey had given her via text earlier in the evening, “She has a spare room so…”
Chloe’s mouth felt dry, her body feeling tight and heavy. Beca had hurt her. Badly. But the idea of leaving the woman alone when she’d technically just been dumped by her boyfriend, made Chloe feel conflicted.
“When will you be back?”
There were so many answers that Chloe could’ve given to that question. Or at least so many options to answer with. But Chloe didn’t know what answer to give because she didn’t have it. So she shrugged, shaking her head gently, feeling the tears in her eyes brimming, and her vision of Beca blurred behind them.
The apartment fell silent again, all until Chloe heard Beca sniff loudly then clear her throat. The redhead blinked firmly, releasing a tear from each eye, both tears running gently down her cheeks. And with her vision refocussed, she could see that Beca had watery eyes, and a tear rolling down her own cheek.
“Flo’s going to come by any minute, Beca.” Aubrey said, her voice ever so slightly softer than it had been already, though she was still noticably annoyed with the brunette. And the idea that Flo would be given the opportunity to try to support Beca during the aftermath of this situation when Chloe had always been the one to support Beca in the past, had Chloe’s heart breaking a little more. All that she’d once known, all that she knew…everything was changing. And Chloe wasn’t overly keen on change when it happened this quickly. So out of the blue. In the middle of the night.
“I’ll help you pack some things..” Beca said in a glum tone. Chloe watched her best friend, the woman she’d adored for so many years, draw into herself for the first time in a very very long time. Beca’s walls were being built back up, in a quick attempt to preserve what was left of her heart. And this knowledge broke some more of Chloe’s.
Chloe, frozen on the spot, watched with her mouth hung open in shock, as Beca moved slowly over to the pile of bags in a different corner of the small apartment, and successfully pulled out Chloe’s suitcase. She heard Beca sniff sharply, while she watched the brunette tug the suitcase onto the bed. And as everyone paused, she noticed Aubrey glance at her, as though giving her the option to protest.
This was Chloe’s chance. A chance to talk things through. To find out what the hell Beca had been playing at. To insist on an apology or some sort of explanation. To give Beca the option to fight with her. To fight for her.
But she was just so confused. So heartbroken. She really did need time.
So with a deep breath, she gently turned to her right, and knelt down to draw her underwear box from beneath the fold out bed. She had no idea how much to pack. It was only six days until Christmas. Perhaps she would travel home to be with her parents next week instead - a decision she’d initially decided she wouldn’t do so she could spend Christmas with Beca. And the idea of not seeing Beca for potentially a couple of weeks made Chloe’s heart ache..
Several minutes later, Chloe stood by the door of the apartment, her winter coat on and her suitcase by her side. She’d found her phone on the kitchen worksurface beside the bath tub - it was just after 1am - And she watched as Beca continued to pick up as many small fragments of her phone as she could, over in the corner of the tiny kitchen floor.
Beca hadn’t explained what had happened. But Chloe suspected that something Jesse had said had made her angry or upset, and the brunette had thrown her phone across the room. Chloe was surprised her best friend was only just picking it up now.
There was a gentle knocking at the door, and Chloe stepped aside while Aubrey opened the door and let a cold and awkward looking Flo into the tiny apartment.
“Thanks for coming over, Flo.” Chloe heard Aubrey mumble and Flo had responded in an equally quiet voice, saying that it was no problem.
But Chloe’s eyes remained on Beca while she gripped her suitcase handle. This couldn’t be it. This couldn’t be the last time they were together. She’d always imagined her future being peppered with Beca. And with every bit of imagined situation Beca played a key role. Either as her very best friend or as something more. Never in a million years had she imagined they’d fall out. That Chloe would have to walk away.
Beca stood upright, pieces of her broken phone in her outstretched hands while she turned to look sadly at Chloe. Chloe heard Aubrey taking a step outside, pulling Chloe’s suitcase with her. Chloe remained frozen to the spot. Beca still hadn’t apologised. If she did, then perhaps Chloe could be persuaded to stay a little longer? Perhaps they could talk about what had happened?
But to Chloe’s dismay Beca just cleared her throat, and said in a sad tone, “I wish things had been different.”
Chloe’s breath caught in her throat as Beca missed yet another opportunity to make things right. Or at least begin rebuilding the bridge between them. But no, Beca had let Chloe down again. And it hurt.
“Me too.” Chloe replied quietly. The two women held each other’s gaze for a little longer in the silent, low-lit apartment. Then with one last sigh, Chloe added in a disappointed tone, “Goodbye Beca.”
“Yeah.” Beca replied as Chloe reluctantly turned and began to walk out of the apartment, “Bye.”
As Chloe began what felt like the longest walk of her life, down the apartment block corridor, she heard the apartment door close slowly behind her. And the feel of Aubrey’s arm smoothing protectively around her shoulders was all it took for Chloe to finally burst into tears, her feet feeling heavy with every slow step away from Beca, and her left hand cupping her mouth. Entirely heartbroken..
The sun was out on what had been the hottest April on record in New York, and a broad smile was spread across Chloe Beale’s face as she wandered happily down a sidewalk in Manhattan. She looked up in marvel, as she always did, at the towering skyscrapers and the occasional trees lining the busy streets. And she took a brief moment to think about how brilliant her life had become recently.
“Oop, sorry.” came a voice as Chloe let out a small squeak, colliding with a petite figure. And as she swiftly apologised in return, grabbing at the woman’s arm without looking at her properly, she realised with horror that in her reckless walking (where she hadn’t been paying attention to the people around her), she’d knocked a large cup of black coffee down the front of the stranger.
Chloe’s mouth dropped open in shock as she looked into a pair of deep blue eyes that she’d once been so familiar with. A pair of deep blue eyes she hadn’t seen in a long time. Not a stranger then..
“Beca!” Chloe burst, partly in surprise, partly in delight.”
“Wha-?” Beca paused, a huge smile mirroring Chloe’s as the two women stood before one another, both dressed smartly, both stunned to bump into the other. “W-…H-How are you??”
Chloe’s eyes shone at the sound of her estranged best friend’s voice. Beca. Beca was stood before her. Right now. In the flesh. This wasn’t a daydream.
“I’m good. Thanks.” Chloe replied, still beaming, taking a moment to glance at every possible feature on Beca’s face. The woman looked good. Incredible, even. Her brown hair was much longer than Chloe remembered, set in perfect loose waves down her back. Her figure looked healthy, and her style had certainly become maturer - not that Beca had had an immature style before. She’d just worn what she could afford. Which Chloe decided meant that Beca was probably earning more money now. Doing what, though, she had no idea.
“You look good.” Beca replied, nodding with an impressed expression on her face as she fleetingly look down the length of Chloe’s body then back up to her eyes.
“Right back atcha.” Chloe reached out, nudging Beca’s shoulder with her fist in a playful manner, then internally cringing at how dorky she was being while Beca chuckled. She’d never done that action before in her life. What was going on??
“So what’re you doing here?” Beca asked, still looking at Chloe in disbelief, and Chloe knew why. When she’d moved out of their apartment she’d left Beca a note explaining why she’d done so while Beca had been at work - not wanting to make things between them more upsetting - and saying she was unlikely to visit New York ever again because it held so many memories. It’d been like a breakup. And it’d hurt Chloe a lot. So much so that it’d taken her a long time to feel like she had a future worth working towards. To feel like she could ever venture to New York again.
“I,” Chloe began, pausing to force out a nervous breath of air while gripping the handles of her handbag, “actually just had an interview.”
It was weird seeing Beca again after so long. Chloe had envisioned the interaction of course. Envisioned Beca being angry with her for leaving. Envisioned herself being angry for Beca allowing her to leave. Envisioned them both bursting into tears. But none of her envisions had been like the reality. The reality they were in now. The reality that Beca and Chloe were actually really happy to see each other after so long apart.
“Like a job interview?”
“Kinda.” Chloe shrugged, her smile softening to a coy one. She wasn’t sure why she felt sheepish about talking to someone about this. It was what she’d always wanted to do, “To do my teacher training.”
The Beca she’d once known, back in Brooklyn, hadn’t really been one for excitement. Hadn’t overly celebrated Chloe’s triumphs or decisions with as much gusto as Chloe had of Beca’s. Chloe had always put that down to Beca’s personality. Had always assumed it had been because Beca’d had to use a lot of energy celebrating Jesse’s triumphs and decisions. That Beca was so used to down-playing her own successes around Jesse so as not to sound as though she was gloating, that she’d forgotten how to support someone else who mattered to her, for fear that Jesse would get jealous.
Jesse. Chloe hadn’t thought about him in a long time either..
“Dude!!” to Chloe’s surprise, Beca’s face lit up, a massive smile on her face as she nudged Chloe supportively, “That’s awesome! You’ll be a brilliant teacher!”
Chloe could feel her cheeks flushing, a coy grin on her face as she whipped a hand up to her cheek, feeling flustered at the compliments. Compliments from Beca.
“Seriously, you always said how you wanted to do that one day.” Beca continued and Chloe didn’t move, just glanced at her curiously. Beca had actually listened whenever Chloe’d rambled about her dream career? “When do you find out if you got in?”
Chloe took a deep intake of breath, and let her hand drop from her face. Her stomach was swirling with excitement. She hadn’t told anyone yet. Not her Mom, not The Bellas, no one. But Beca was the exception. Just like she had been in years past.
“Theyyyyy actually offered it to me on the spot!”
Chloe watched in delight and amazement as Beca threw her hands in the air with a massive grin on her face, and in turn accidentally launched her empty coffee cup into the air too.
“Yes!!!” Beca cried out, and Chloe couldn’t help the giggle that rumbled from her mouth. This was already proving to be the happiest interaction the two women had ever experienced together, and Chloe felt her heart soar at the sight of her estranged best friend expressing how thrilled she was for her. “Chloe that’s amazing! Of course they did! They’d be crazy not to!”
Chloe felt a sudden wave of emotion, close to bursting into tears of relief. This wasn’t going horribly. Beca wasn’t the same moody, isolated girl Chloe remembered. She now appeared to be this bright optimistic woman. And as she looked at Beca while the brunette beamed at her, Chloe felt all the old feelings for her estranged best friend come surging back, taking her by surprise.
“So when do you start changing kids lives?” Beca asked, her face bright and beautiful, looking at Chloe in awe, “And where??”
“I start in a couple of weeks…in Brooklyn actually.”
Chloe couldn’t believe it either. A couple of years ago she’d sworn blank that she would never step foot in New York again, let alone Brooklyn. But time was a healer. And from the looks of things it hadn’t just healed Chloe..
“They’re gonna love you.” Beca replied in an affectionate tone, her beaming smile softening to a calm one, and Chloe thought she could see the woman take a sweeping sigh as Beca looked deep into her eyes.
Time felt as though it stood still and Chloe could practically hear her heart beating in her ears while her stomach held fluttering butterflies within. She’d never felt like this before. Like she was being seen for the first time.
This was how being with Beca should’ve felt in college. How it should’ve felt shortly after. And Chloe was certain that Beca had never looked at her before in the way she did right now.
“Uh,” Chloe began with a nervous chuckle, “how about you?” she attempted, bringing her hand to her long red hair and plaiting it distractedly down her front while she tried to remain as cool as possible. “You look so hot-” and her eyes widened, quickly bringing her hand out to try to stop Beca from grinning (which was impossible) “-good! You look good. Really, um…you look really good.”
Beca, beaming from ear to ear, stuffed her hands into the front pockets of her navy strappy summer dress, rocking back and forth in her heeled sandals. Chloe, meanwhile, felt embarrassed beyond belief. Her own hands briefly flapped up to her forehead while she hung her head, then she dropped her hands down with a heavy exhale. She was trying to get rid of her nerves. But she felt as though each passing minute was only serving to make her feel more and more flustered around Beca. And look it too!
“I uh…I actually got promoted a few months back.” Beca replied with a gentle nod, this time having the turn to be a little coy about her personal successes. Chloe’s smile widened, letting out an audible gasp as her mouth dropped open, clearly as thrilled for Beca as Beca was for her. And Beca - typical Beca - just shrugged, “Yeah the past couple of years I decided to get my head in the game and just work work work and…here I am.”
“Here you are.” Chloe cooed affectionately. Silence settled between them again as they looked into each other’s eyes while stood within the hubbub of the city. There was a wonderful sense of familiarity to the interaction, though they’d both grown apart to lead separate lives since Chloe had left. Now, however, fate seemed to have drawn them back together.
“Anyway…” Beca began with a calm smile on her face, slowly adding “I’d better let you get on with your day. I’m sure you’ve got heaps of people you’ll be wanting to go out and celebrate with so…”
Chloe’s heart sank a little while she nodded gently. She didn’t know why she was nodding. She wasn’t planning on celebrating with anyone in the city because she didn’t know anyone in the city. Had she not mentioned that yet? Perhaps she was just nodding because she wanted to make leaving easier for Beca..
“Not exactly.” she replied with a nervous chuckle, but she took a couple of steps backwards anyway, away from Beca, “It was really nice seeing you though.”
“Yeah.” Beca agreed in a reluctant tone, that soft smile still on her face, “It was really nice seeing you too.”
Chloe gave Beca a purse-lipped smile, raised a hand slightly to wave goodbye, then turned on the spot and slowly began walking away.
Her eyes squeezed closed while she frowned. God, how had she been so uncool?? She’d never been like that around anyone before, she was sure of it. But maybe she had? Perhaps when she’d been in college. Perhaps when she’d been younger. But she was nearly twenty eight now. A grown adult. So how was it that at almost thirty years old she still sounded so stupid around someone she was crushing on? Someone she’d crushed on for almost her entire adult li-
Chloe stopped in her tracks, her eyes snapping open as she turned on the spot again to look back at Beca who had just called out to her. The brunette looked at her with a nervous smile and a hopeful expression.
“You doing anything right now?”
Rounding the corner slowly, Chloe and Beca arrived in Central Park, both with nervous smiles on their faces.
“So do you hear from The Bellas much?” Chloe heard Beca ask, and she felt some guilt flicker in her mind.
After all that had happened a couple of years ago - which had ended in Chloe leaving their apartment for what had initially meant to be only be a week or so and had ended up being…for good - The Bellas had mostly ended up siding with Chloe. And that had mostly been because Beca had ended up leaving the group chat. Chloe remembered that particular day well. It had been heartbreaking in itself. Now, as far as Chloe was aware, Beca really only stayed loosely in contact with Fat Amy and Flo..
“Only as far as the group chat goes.” Chloe replied cautiously, knowing it was all the answer that Beca needed to be aware that Chloe heard from most of them in that chat every day. She looked over at the woman, and noted the way Beca looked down at her feet as they walked slowly through the park.
“Actually,” she added, “there’s hopes of a reunion next year…if you’re interested?”
Chloe noticed Beca hesitate and she knew why. Aubrey had been the main Bella to alienate Beca after all that had happened. Had even revisited the situation (in Chloe’s defence, or so the blonde had insisted) months after the event, when Aubrey had happened to cross paths with Beca one day. Chloe had been horrified when she’d found out, but hadn’t had the confidence to text Beca personally about it. Of all The Bellas that Beca would be happy seeing at a reunion, Aubrey would not be top of her list.
“I don’t think anyone would want to see me.” Beca replied, clearly trying to sound amused, but it translated to Chloe as an embarrassed tone.
“Nooooo.” Chloe reached over and placed her hand on Beca’s arm. An automatic thing for her to do to anyone. But for that ‘anyone’ to be Beca drew Chloe’s attention to her action, and she quickly retracted her hand, “No, they…” she paused, curling her hair behind her ear, looking away from Beca’s expression of surprise at Chloe’s contact. “…I think they’d really like to see you.”
“To ambush me.”
Chloe sensed the grumble. And though to many the grumble would make them feel defensive or cautious or concerned, to Chloe she knew it was Beca’s way of being vulnerable without revealing too much. Without seeming vulnerable.
“Look…what happened between us…” Chloe paused, trying to find the right words. Wanting to find the right words. She could feel her palms getting clammy, which had nothing to do with the hot weather. She hadn’t seen or heard from Beca in a very long time. Was it wise to bring up the very thing that forced them apart so early on in their little catch-up here?
Chloe stopped abruptly, looking to Beca in shock. Beca who currently stopped beside her, looking over anxiously. And there was that vulnerability revealing itself to Chloe again. She hadn’t really expected her estranged best friend to say anything, but of all the things Beca could’ve said, finally apologising wasnt one of them.
“For everything.” Beca added, looking at Chloe in earnest, “I’m sorry for everything. For kissing you in the first place. For forcing you into a situation where you couldn’t really say ‘no’. For-”
“-I could’ve said ‘no’, Beca.” Chloe interrupted, “I should’ve said no. You had literally just been dumped by Jesse. You were honestly not in a good place and I took advantage and-”
“-God, no, you totally didn’t take advantage dude. I kissed you, remember?”
“Yeah and you gave me the option to stop you going further and I didn’t!”
They both fell silent, looking into each other’s eyes. Their hearts beat a little faster. And gradually, a small smile drew across Beca’s face.
“I’ve missed this.”
“What, us bickering?” Chloe replied, a smile now broadening on her own face while her soul danced at the sound of Beca’s chuckle in response.
“Us debating.” Beca corrected. But it was a nice correction. Because it was an old ‘in joke’ between them.
Back in Barden they’d been known as a formidable captaining duo, but also well known for bickering. Sometimes relentlessly so. One time Stacie even timed a single long constant bicker between Beca and Chloe that lasted four and a half hours. And any time The Bellas (or Treblemakers for that matter) brought it up, Beca and Chloe always insisted that they had been ‘debating’.
“I’ve really missed you.” Beca added softly. Sadly. Whistfully. And Chloe let out a breath before replying in an equal manner:
“I’ve really missed you too.”
Now was as good a time as any to ask Beca about her memories off that fateful night. To find out what Beca had done to break her phone or what might have triggered her to break her phone in the first place. But before Chloe had the chance to open her mouth, Beca skewed her mouth, then turned to begin continuing their slow walk. And it reminded Chloe that even though a couple of years had passed, Beca was still occasionally uncomfortable with sharing her personal space with someone. Even when that someone was Chloe.
“I’m kinda hungry.” Chloe offered, as an opportunity to hopefully ease the awkwardness. They’d always enjoyed sharing and talking about food in the past. And to her relief, Beca smiled at her.
Chloe let out a light squeak as she felt her sandal slip slightly on the grass of the bank close to the edge of the lake. She grinned at Beca who simply looked over her shoulder at her in amusement, clearly trying to stifle a laugh. They each held a cardboard tray with one hot dog inside. It’d been Chloe’s idea to get food, but Beca’s idea to get hot dogs (“Seriously, this’ll be the best hot dog you’ve ever eaten.” Beca had said).
“Just a little further.” Beca assured, reaching out to offer her hand to guide Chloe along, and Chloe took it while blushing slightly. Holding hands with Beca, in public, was a very new sensation. Not just because she hadn’t seen Beca in a couple of years, but because she and Beca had never held hands ever. Never ever. Chloe would’ve remembered every second of that moment if they had. Just as she would remember every second of this moment now for as long as she lived.
Like Beca said, it was only a few metres of walking until they arrived at a collection of large boulders, some of which led a short distance into the lake, half submerged. Chloe expected Beca to drop her hand and suggest they settled where they were stood. But to her surprise, the brunette took one large step out to begin heading over the boulders.
“Wha-?” Chloe burst with a grin, automatically following the woman while Beca guided the two of them expertly across the boulders to the end. Well this was definitely spontaneous for Beca. Or was it? Had Beca really changed that much over the past couple of years that something as daring as venturing out this far was now a comfortable move to make?
Chloe watched while her estranged best friend settled on the final boulder with a smile, crossing her legs, and Chloe settled down, sitting beside her. They both looked at each other with calm smiles, then down at their respective hot dogs.
“Oh mah gobd.” Chloe mumbled with her mouth full of the first bite she’d taken. Beca looked over at her, her mouth also full while she grinned.
“Schee,” the woman replied excitably, “Toldchoo itsch gud.”
Chloe looked down at the food in her hand, impressed. Impressed by the taste. Impressed by the price. Impressed that Beca - hater of all things tacky, like street food - had insisted she take her there. Still thrilled that Beca had paid for it all. Still feeling a little fuzzy at the thought that this felt a bit like a date.
She looked out at the view before them. Okay so there were some dark clouds in the distance that sounded as though they were threatening with rumbling thunder. But before that was a large beautiful lake, with lush green grass and trees beyond it, then in the not too distant distance several skyscrapers reminding everyone within the park that they were still surrounded by the city that never slept. What a perfect location. Not even Chloe could’ve ever fantasised a lovelier location for a first date with Beca. Not that it was a first date. They’d not spoken about their old friendship. And had definitely not spoken any more about that fateful night which ended in Chloe leaving ‘for good’. The redhead still had some questions about that night that she needed answering before she seriously addressed what she was still feeling two years on..
“Can I ask you something?” Chloe watched as Beca swallowed her mouthful with a curious purse-lipped smile, turning away from the view to look at the redhead. Chloe felt a little flustered, embarrassed at bringing up old memories. Not wanting to make things tense between them again. And clearly Chloe’s expression revealed that fleeting anxiety, because Beca’s smile wavered.
“I’ve always wondered…” Chloe paused, trying to force herself to take the leap and just say it, “…why the hell did you break your phone that night?”
She heard Beca let out a heavy sigh, and the brunette turned back to her hotdog, picking at it thoughtfully while shaking her head gently. Chloe felt a knot twist in her stomach. Was it too soon? Should she maybe have waited for another day when they’d hopefully meet again? Or even longer than that? Or shouldn’t she have mentioned it at all??
Chloe was conflicted. Embarrassed. Worried. Nervous. She waited with baited breath for Beca’s response - half expecting her to run off.
“So Jesse called me.” Beca began, “Obviously you know that because…” Chloe knew why Beca had paused. The sentence could’ve been finished with ‘I stopped going down on you so I could answer it’. “…well…you know.” Chloe watched on, her heart beating a little faster when she remembered how horrible that moment had been, “Anyway, Jesse just kept apologising and saying he’d made a mistake and that he wanted me back.”
Chloe’s mouth felt a bit dry, her chest tightening at the thought of the onslaught of begging that Jesse would’ve done to get Beca crawling back to him. He’d done it before. And Beca had always been so well ‘trained’ by him that she had done. For a fleeting moment, Chloe worried that Beca was about to tell her that she had gone back to Jesse after Chloe had left.
“And the whole time I couldn’t think of anything to say because my head was just filled with you.” Beca finally turned to look at Chloe, but only briefly before her cheeks flushed and she looked down at her hands, “And when he was telling me that Christmas would be perfect if we were both in LA together, all I could taste and smell…was you…which is gross but true.”
Chloe couldn’t help the tiniest smirk twitch into the corner of her mouth, so briefly that she barely comprehended it, and Beca never saw it. The brunette was too busy looking down at her hands, picking at the hotdog. Using the very fingers she’d once used to slip beneath Chloe’s panties…
“Anyway,” Beca took a deep intake of breath, looking out at the view before them, “eventually I told Jesse to fuck off.”
Chloe’s mouth dropped open, amazed that Beca had finally had the courage to tell her ex-boyfriend what Chloe had told her to tell him on occasions before they’d broken up.
“Told him not to call me ever again and not to bother trying to see me.”
Chloe’s heart soared. Then she remembered that evening a couple of years ago and how mad she’d been with Beca, when Beca had done something so brave moments before (while Chloe had been in the shower).
“And when he told me that nothing would stop him fighting for me or some shit I just hung up on him.”
Chloe let out a sharp squeak of disbelief, looking at Beca proudly, stunned that all that had happened and she’d had no idea. Beca turned to her with a tiny smile, evidently pleased that Chloe wasn’t taking this story badly.
“He called back right away. I didn’t answer. So he hung up, then rang back, then hung up again, over and over.”
‘Classic Jesse’, Chloe thought to herself grimly. Wanting to irritate Beca into answering the phone. Chloe had hated the way he’d treated Beca back then. Had always hated the way he’d treated Beca. And now looking back it seemed even worse. How could she have let it happen? She should’ve protected Beca more.
“I panicked so eventually threw my phone across the room.” Beca finally said, looking a little awkward about how she’d handled things back then, “It smashed. I’m surprised you didn’t hear it.”
Chloe shook her head gently, “I had no idea…”
They both fell silent looking into each other’s eyes sadly. Things could’ve been different. Well…if Beca felt the same way for Chloe as Chloe did for Beca. But Chloe was about 70% certain Beca wasn’t in love with her. It was plusable that Beca loved her as a friend. Definitely. Even though they’d been out of touch for two years. There was still affection in the brunette’s expression that made Chloe feel as though she’d been lost the past two years, and was now finally found again.
“So that’s why I made you a tea and folded up your clothes…I-I wanted to apologise to you. To talk to you and to tell you how I feel-”
“How do you feel??” Chloe suddenly burst, her heart beginning to race while her breathing increased and she watched Beca carefully, feeling ever-hopeful that perhaps - just perhaps - this was about to be the moment she’d hoped for for so long…
“I remember that subway ride home after Jesse had just broken up with me.” Chloe kept her breath held while Beca slowly began to explain things, the brunette looking down at her hotdog again. It wasn’t exactly the direct simple answer she’d hoped for: Beca saying indefinitely that she was in love with Chloe and always had been and- “I thought there was no way I could feel as bad as I did right then. That my whole world had fallen apart. But I was wrong.”
Chloe swallowed loudly, listening intently to her estranged best friend. Oh god. Did Beca get back together with Jesse?? She watched anxiously as Beca slowly turned to look back at her with a sad expression.
“Chloe, the second you left, that was when my world fell apart.”
Chloe’s heart skipped a beat. She’d always known she’d meant something to Beca. She’d always hoped she’d meant a lot. But with the way Beca had always been so consumed by Jesse, Chloe hadnt ever been assured of just how much she’d meant to her. Now, however, she was getting a vibe..
“I-I kept saying to myself that you’d be back. That I didn’t need to worry.” Beca’s hands flapped while her words began flowing from her mouth quicker and quicker, “That I could just talk to you when you got home after your time away, and when you did get home I’d just tell you everything.”
Chloe watched as Beca paused to look deep into her eyes, and it was then that Chloe felt a lump in her throat. She hadn’t realised that tears had begun to build in her eyes. She hadn’t realised that Beca was close to tears either. Not until now. Not until Beca uttered the final five words:
“But you never came back.”
Those words echoed in Chloe’s ears while they paired with Beca’s tone and expression. And her mind was dragged back to those heartbreaking early weeks - the ones when she’d decided to never return to New York - and how much she’d cried, mourning the end of such an important chapter in her life. The ‘Beca’ chapter.
“And what would you’ve told me?” Chloe eventually asked, clearing her throat before clarifying further, “If I’d come back.”
She heard Beca let out a shaky sigh, and Chloe felt everso mildly frustrated when the woman didn’t reply with a direct answer again.
“When Aubrey said you were in love with me, my mind kinda went blank.” Beca began, swiping her tongue across her bottom lip while looking out at the view before them, “For the first couple of weeks you were away it was all I could think about. Thinking back on all those moments we spent together over the years. Wondering if at any point I’d missed a sign. I probably missed loads-”
“-Beca.” Chloe interrupted quietly, pausing to sniff while her nose tingled and tears continued to form in her eyes, but Beca continued, now looking down at her hands with a slow shake of her head.
“Every day I came home from work, hoping to find you sat on our bed. Hoping I could finally talk to you. That we could finally work things out.”
“What would you’ve told me?” Chloe persisted in a gentle tone, her hand reaching out automatically, softly resting on Beca’s arm. The woman looked back at her, and Chloe noticed a tear slip from Beca’s eye. Beca shrugged.
“That you completed me.”
It wasn’t quite the apology that Chloe had been holding out for, but they were definitely words that provided Chloe with a couple more coals to stoke the fire in her heart that’d once almost been completely blown out. The fire that belonged truly and entirely to one Beca Mitchell. The very woman Chloe thought she’d lost. The very woman who sat with Chloe now.
“That I was sorry and devastated and that I missed you so much.” Beca continued, looking at Chloe desperately, as though it was two years ago and this was her opportunity to say everything she’d ever wanted to. “And that I should’ve never answered Jesse’s call.”
Chloe tugged her bottom lip between her teeth, gently applying pressure until it went numb. She looked into Beca’s eyes. Those eyes that felt so familiar. There was something quite nice about seeing the vulnerable side to Beca. Seeing her open up specially for Chloe. Perhaps this was the beginning of a ‘New Beca chapter’ in Chloe’s life? Where they became best friends again-
“That I was in love with you too.”
-or something more romantic(!!)
“That I’m…still…in love with you.”
Chloe’s mouth dropped open, her eyebrows rose, and her heart skipped a huge beat. Beca was in love with her?! To her delight and mild amusement, Chloe saw Beca’s cheeks blush slightly, and an embarrassed smile appeared on the brunette face.
“It’s crazy, I know. But I just…” Beca paused to let out a sharp huff of air, clearly to calm her nerves, “…I wanna throw caution to the wind here.”
Beca. Throwing caution to the wind? Chloe had to admit she was surprised. She’d always thought that, over the years, she’d known the real Beca, not the product of a toxic relationship that Jesse had formed Beca into. But with this latest sentence, Chloe realised that perhaps that hadn’t been Beca at all. Perhaps the real Beca was the type of woman who, when it really mattered, made a move. She said what needed to be said. She took the plunge. She went all in. She threw caution to the wind and told some if she was in love with them. And she had. Beca was in love with Chloe and if Chloe hadn’t been so stunned she would’ve been beaming by now.
So consequently, Beca’s embarassed smile began to fade, and the familiar sight of an anxious expression replaced it.
“Should…should I not have??” Beca asked cautiously. And Chloe snapped her mouth shut immediately, trying to find the right words to respond with while she unmuddled her brain…
Chloe blinked clearly three times, then shook her head quickly to shake herself out of her daze. Beca was in love with her!
“I-Yes! Yes, no, God, of course you should have!” responded Chloe with a nervous smile, pleased to see Beca let out a huge exhale of relief, “I’m glad you did! Have done!”
Chloe could feel her cheeks flushing while she rambled. Was she shouting? Why was she shouting in Beca’s face?? Probably nerves. Or excitement. Or shock. Chloe couldn’t be sure why she was reacting the way she was, but as she giggled hysterically, she slowly died of embarrassment on the inside. She wouldn’t blame Beca if the woman wanted to retract all that she’d just said.
“Sorry.” she finally mumbled, bringing a hand to her cheek while peering over at Beca. And to her wonder, her estranged best friend was looking back at her with such adoration, the redhead could feel her own heart soaring in delight. “I um…you were saying?”
Just as Beca opened her mouth to speak, the first large droplet of rain fell onto her cheek, and her eyes widened in horror when she realised what was about to happen. Horror that Chloe felt too, as her gaze snapped up to the heavy dark clouds above them. They’d been so consumed in this moment that they’d failed to notice the rain clouds closing in on them. If they stayed there for much longer, they’d become stranded on slippery rocks in a lake of Central Park. Romantic, yes, but not ideal..
Before Chloe knew what was happening, Beca had shot up to her feet and had grabbed Chloe’s hand in the meantime, dragging her strategically across the boulders until they were safely on the bank of the lake. But Beca didn’t stop there. And she didn’t drop Chloe’s hand either. So Chloe continued to follow.
With every step, the rain fell quicker and heavier. And by the time the two women had reached some shelter in the form of an old pavilion (that Chloe had seen people get married within on beautiful summer days gone past) they were completely drenched. Gasping for breath, and coughing slightly from the run, Chloe looked up to see Beca inspecting her own appearance.
“Well that solves the problem of the spilt coffee stain down my front.” Beca said conversationally, looking up at Chloe with a grin. Neither had noticed that they’d abandoned their respective hotdogs on the far boulder. But both had definitely noticed how close they were stood, their chests heaving, while the sound of the heavy rain rattled noisily on the roof of the small pavilion they were stood under.
“Why didn’t you come after me?” Chloe asked, her voice having to be slightly more raised to be heard over the rattling rain. And Beca’s brow furrowed. So Chloe decided to elaborate, “When I left our apartment that night. Why didn’t you come after me.”
Chloe felt a huge weight lift from her shoulders, and it was in that moment that she realised that her question was the very thing that had plagued her mind the past couple of years. She watched as Beca looked deep into her eyes, her grin having dropped. And for a moment Chloe worried that the brunette might burst into tears.
Instead, however, Beca’s shoulders dropped and she let out a heavy sigh of defeat.
“I didn’t know if you wanted me to.” came the reply. And both women looked at one another sadly again, both thinking back on that night, both wishing things had been different.
“The day I came back for my things when I moved out for good…?” Chloe began, still having to call out over the rain, almost making every word she spoke even harder to convey, “That’s still the hardest day I’ve ever had in my life. I’d spent my whole adult life making decisions to benefit you and our friendship.” she paused while Beca slipped some of her wet brown hair from her face with a sniff, rain water dripping from both their noses, “So leaving you and the life we’d made together in Brooklyn was the saddest most hardest thing I’d ever had to do. That’s why I couldn’t see you. That’s why I did it when I knew you were at work.”
Chloe sniffed loudly, not overly sure whether it was mostly tears or rainwater trickling down her cheeks. But she didn’t care. This conversation had been a long time coming. This conversation - this moment - mattered.
“That night when you told me to stop you from kissing me? I should’ve told you to stop.”
Beca looked back at Chloe sheepishly, clearly still remembering that night so vividly while Chloe continued:
“I should’ve said no. I shouldn’t have been selfish. I should’ve addressed the fact that you’d just been dropped out of a very - okay a very toxic - but very real and long term relationship literally an hour before. Emotionally you just weren’t there for me. You weren’t even there for yourself. So I should’ve been there for both of us…”
Okay even Chloe could admit that her words were flowing a lot better than she’d ever rehearsed in the past. She just hoped that Beca wouldn’t be offended or hurt by them.
“I told you to answer Jesse’s call. It wasn’t a decision you made on your own.”
It was the truth, and remembering the look of conflict on Beca’s face when the brunette had risen to her feet, still stood between Chloe’s legs, glancing from the phone to the redhead’s face…it used to make Chloe’s chest tighten. Now she just felt sad. Remembering the events of that night generally was sad.
“And I know Aubrey’s painted you out to be the bad guy in all this.” Chloe paused to take a deep breath while Beca hung her head. Because the past couple of years must have been hard for Beca, not least of all because The Bellas had chosen sides, and most of them had chosen Chloe’s side.
“But really you were just a victim of circumstance. Yes you handled things badly. But I handled things badly too so…we’re both to blame.”
It was the best that Chloe could do as her explaination came to an end, and her hands (that she had been using to flap slightly to emphasise her emotions), dropped down to her sides with a slap of skin against wet fabric.
“I miss you so much.” Chloe eventually added, trying not to sound too desperate. She looked deep into Beca’s eyes, tears now rolling from both women’s’ eyes. “And even though a couple of years have passed since we lost touch I still think about you every day. I still miss you every day. And I’m still in love with you…”
Had it been any other moment in time, Chloe probably would’ve been smiling gently at those last few words. But she felt so serious and sad about their fall-out, that they came out in more of a disappointed tone than a hopeful one.
“…I don’t think anything will ever stop me from loving you.”
Chloe sniffed again, watching while Beca looked deep into her eyes, expressionless. The brunette wiped her own nose with the heel of her hand, letting out a sigh while her arm dropped back down. The rain still clattered on, though it seemed to be easing slightly.
“Can I kiss you yet?” Beca eventually asked, and a smile spread across Chloe’s mouth while she let out a light chuckle at the novelty of her estranged best friend’s question.
“Why are you asking me??”
“Because I never asked you the first time we kissed. I should have. Maybe if I had we wouldn’t have got in the mess we’ve been in the past couple of years.”
If Chloe wasn’t already so in love with the woman then Beca’s words just now would’ve done it. She definitely wasn’t the Beca that Chloe had known during college and their time living together in college. This Beca - the real Beca - was true, and honest, and sensitive to how Chloe might be feeling and what Chloe might want. And Chloe was all-in if it was what Beca wanted too.
“Just kiss me Beca.” Chloe replied clearly with an affectionate smile, and her heart hammered against her chest as a smile of relief swept across the brunette’s face, and Beca surged forward to cup Chloe’s cheeks, pulling their faces together.
The kiss was soft, delicate, and full of love and promise. Exactly how their first kiss should have been. And as Chloe dared to slip her tongue into Beca’s mouth, collecting the rainwater as she moved, she let out a shaky sigh of relief through her nose while her body settled into Beca’s. Complete.
“Sooooo I have a confession to make.”
Chloe didn’t like the sound of that. She glanced nervously at Beca while they both slowly walked hand-in-hand down a path in Central Park, away from the pavilion they’d just been kissing and mumbling sweet nothings to each other in. What sort of confession? Chloe felt her soul begin to sink. Oh God. Was Beca actually already seeing someone? Had she just been cheating with her??
“I should be in a meeting right now.”
Chloe’s mouth dropped open and she hesitated, still slowly walking while Beca looked over at her with a sheepish grin.
“What?” Chloe asked, a small smile growing on her face, and it served to make Beca’s grin broaden.
“Yeah, I’m meant to be in a massive meeting with my bosses at the studio!” Beca elaborated, letting out a chuckle at Chloe’s reaction.
“Beca!!” Chloe burst, her mouth still open and a broad smile on her face, “Gooooo!” she motioned in the vague direction of Residual Heat Records, “Gahd, are you crazy?! You could get fired!”
“I won’t get fiiiiired.” Beca replied in amusement, waving a hand as if attempting to push away Chloe’s concern, “I’m too valuable. Besides, you’re more important.”
If Chloe still wasn’t so shocked, she would’ve felt touched by Beca’s compliment. Beca had ditched work to spend time with her?? She regarded her more important than her own career?! That was just so unlike the Beca she remembered. Or…was it? After all, back when Beca had dated Jesse she’d been forever dropping plans to see him - more out of fear that he’d break up with her than anything else.
“You definitely need to go back to work!” Chloe cried out, a smile still on her face. And to her surprise, Beca agreed.
“I know I know.”
Chloe kept her eyes on the brunette, watching her in wonder while they continued the slow walk in no particular direction, hand in hand. It felt nice to be with Beca like this. Weird, but nice.
“Okay so if I go back to work and get this meeting over with,” Beca began, turning to look at Chloe with a sheepish expression, “can I meet you later for dinner?”
“Oh.” Chloe swallowed loudly, her smile dropping. She’d been so caught up in the moment of being with Beca that she hadn’t considered they’d have to part. That they’d have to arrange another time to meet. “I um…I can’t actually do this evening,”
“Oh.” Beca replied in a sort of grunt, her eyebrows raised as though she hadn’t expected Chloe to turn her down. And Chloe wasn’t. Of course she wanted to go for dinner with Beca. Especially if it would be like ‘another’ date (if this was technically their first?). But…
“It’s just that…my Mom’s here.”
“Kelly’s here??” Beca exclaimed, her mouth hanging open in shock, and Chloe chuckled at the woman’s reaction.
“I know!” she replied, “I lived here fifteen months and she never visited once, but I get one job interview and she jumps at the chance to drive me up here in support.”
That was Kelly Beale alright. Never one for visiting whereever her eldest daughter lived, but more than happy for a couple of days away if it meant getting out of the house and away from housewife responsibilities. Plus the temptation of shopping in the Big Apple with her new husband’s credit card was a very casual bonus..
“I told her I’d meet her mid-town after my interview. Then she’s booked us a fancy meal downtown and we’ve got a pretty cool hotel too, right by Times Square.” Chloe paused to give Beca a kind smile while the brunette continued to look pleasantly surprised about Chloe’s mother’s change in attitude, having always kept Chloe at a distance in the past. “But I could always call her and say I’m going for dinner with you tonight inste-”
“-Don’t!” Beca suddenly burst, reaching for Chloe’s hand that was about to delve into her handbag for her phone, and pulling the woman to a stop, “Don’t. Don’t do that.”
Chloe was confused. Don’t do what? Didn’t Beca want to see her again? Didn’t she want to spend time with her this evening or tonight or tomorrow?
“Let’s not start off by making each other feel guilty for having plans with friends or family.” Beca attempted to explain, and as Chloe slowly brought her hand from within her handbag, her expression softened. She was beginning to understand what Beca was trying to say.
“It wouldn’t be healthy for you to cancel on your Mom just to be with me. She’s too important.”
“You’re important too?” Chloe replied honestly. Because it was true. Beca had been the most important person in her entire adult life so far. And while she had been feeling a little anxious that perhaps she hadn’t shown Beca how important she was to her, her anxiety began slowly slipping away as the brunette looked back at her with a soft smile,
“And I’m gonna be in New York way longer than she is, Chlo. You’re gonna be moving back up here too, I assume. For your job? She isn’t. So make the most of the time you have with her while you’re both here yeah?”
It was probably the single most nicest thing Beca had ever said to or done for Chloe. Selflessly putting her needs aside so that Chloe could keep good relations with her mother. And Chloe could see that the brunette was right. Whatever this was between them, whatever it was going to become, it was best they started out well with the very best intentions. A romance as far from Beca’s previous relationship with Jesse as possible.
Chloe found herself nodding with a gentle, “Okay.” and felt a sense of calm while Beca looked back at her affectionately.
“Okay.” Beca echoed, and the two women stood together, still very much soaked from the earlier rainfall, but now lit by the April sun that peeked from between the clouds above them.
“I’ll speak to you later then?” Chloe checked, enjoying the way Beca seemed so relaxed and happy to be with her as much as she was so happy and relaxed to be with Beca. Enjoying the sight of Beca’s smile and the way the woman’s eyes looked down at her mouth occasionally.
“Definitely.” Beca agreed, “Go have an amazing rest of the day with your Mom.”
Chloe’s smile didn’t wane, and the redhead simply inched her face closer to Beca’s, enjoying one last kiss before they parted. She found herself walking backwards in the direction she needed to take to meet her Mom, all while her eyes remained locked with Beca’s who was walking backwards in the direction that she needed to go to return to work. Both grinned. Then both reluctantly turned their respective corners and out of sight..
Chloe felt like she was in some sort of daze as she wandered down the sidewalk with a dreamy smile on her face. Beside her walked her mother, chatting away about some woman who had been by the checkouts in Macy’s, giving the store assistant attitude. But Chloe really wasn’t paying attention. Four hours ago she’d been kissing Beca. Actually kissing the woman she’d once sadly conceded she might never see or speak to again.
Everything was different now. However, the exact finer details of those changes were yet to be mapped out between herself and her estranged best friend. Chloe didn’t care though. Not right now. As Beca had emplored her to do, she was taking this evening to spend some rare quality time with her mother. Her mother who was very proud of her daughter it seemed. Or so she told every stranger they came across. Who at this moment was the doorman of a very high-end looking reataurant in Downtown Manhattan.
He was polite, smiling kindly and congratulating Chloe on her new job, before gladly opening the doors for them to enter the building. Chloe felt sure she’d never stepped foot in such a luxurious looking place in all her life, and for a moment felt a little out of place in her old - yet glamorous - blue dress. Her mother seemed to be thriving, smiling a broad dazzling smile that Chloe had inherited from her, and chatting to the maitre-d, clearly in her element.
Meanwhile Chloe looked at the beautiful decor and lighting, gripping lightly onto her purse. She wanted to put the thought of Beca to one side. To give her mother and this moment her full attention. But why change the habit of a lifetime? Beca still remained present in the forefront of Chloe’s mind, even more-so now they’d kissed.
“Chloe, this way.” her mother hissed, and Chloe jumped, turning to see the woman looking at her sharply. However much Chloe was trying to build bridges with her mother and vice versa, deep down Kelly Beale would forever be the strict woman she always had been. And Chloe would never be fully comfortable around her.
They approached the table that the maitre-d had led them to, and Chloe admired the beautiful flowers on the large round table. There was no expense spared in this place, clearly. And for a moment Chloe wondered what her mother’s new husband’s job really was, if he could let Kelly loose in New York with his money..
“This evening ladies we have everything available on the menu.” the man said in a confident French accent, while handing two beautifully bound menus to the women before him. “And Ms Mitchell has informed us that she will be covering the bill tonight, so please choose whatever and however much you like from our food menu and from our drinks menu.”
Chloe’s mouth hung open, completely surprised by the man’s words. Beca had called ahead? Had found out where they were dining tonight and had organised to pay the bill?? But…how?!
Her eyes drew their way back down to the table, and honed in on an envelope with her name handwritten on the front of it in Beca’s handwriting.
“Well,” Kelly said with a broad smile on her face as she immediately searched for a drinks menu, “this is a treat!” and she turned to her daughter with a mildly confused expression, adding under her breath, “Any idea who this Ms Mitchell is?”
Chloe’s breath caught in her throat. Her mother really didn’t like Beca. Hadn’t been overly keen on her while Chloe had been in college. Had been even less keen on her when Chloe had moved to a damp tiny studio apartment with her post-graduation. And the ‘breakup’ of Beca and Chloe’s friendship a couple of years ago had been the final nail in the coffin. Not that Kelly knew the exact details of why her daughter had left Brooklyn so abruptly nor why she had suddenly stopped talking about Beca..
She reached out for the envelope with a soft smile on her face, and slowly tore it open, pulling out a slip of card. More of Beca’s handwriting was on it, and Chloe’s heart began to race as she read the words:
I’m so proud of you Chloe! Have an amazing evening with your Mom. Love always, Beca x
“It’s um…” Chloe began, pausing briefly to try to settle her nerves about the impending conversation, her smile waning slightly while she looked back up at her mother, “…it’s Beca. Remember her?”
She peered cautiously over the note, trying to gauge from her mother’s reaction whether Kelly was pleased about this news or not. And for a moment, Chloe thought everything was going to be okay. Until the older woman snapped her eyes up and over to her daughter’s. Chloe swallowed loudly while her mother squinted suspiciously.
“You’re not still friends with her are you?”
Chloe looked back down at her menu, fully aware that her cheeks were beginning to flush with embarrassment, “Well, we hadn’t been in contact since I left Brooklyn but-”
“-Because she’s not good for you Chloe.”
Chloe hated it when people told her that. Aubrey had told her that in the early weeks after Chloe had left Brooklyn. Emily and Stacie, while sad about the whole situation, conceded that perhaps it was for the best. But for her own mother to say it…
“I wouldn’t say she’s bad for me though Mom-” Chloe attempted in a desperate tone, wanted her Mom to accept Beca before she had to explain that she and Beca would kinda, maybe start dating once she started her teaching job in Brooklyn.
“-She’s selfish and single minded and-”
“-Mom this is hardly the gesture of someone who’s selfish…” Chloe finally said, her voice still low and respectful of the other diners around her. But it was those specific words that had Kelly Beale stop in her tracks, looking from her own menu to her daughter who was now looking back at her.
“You’ve seen her. Haven’t you.”
Chloe’s chest tightened a little at her mother’s disapproving tone. Her mother who she’d barely spent any time with the past couple of years despite living with her. That was Kelly Beale through and through. So self-absorbed and stubborn that she rarely gave Chloe a chance to ever fight her corner.
“I’m not a child-” Chloe began but as usual she was interrupted.
“-That’s not an answer.” Kelly replied quickly, her facial expression pinched as her sharp blue eyes cut into Chloe from across the table, “Have. You. Seen. Her.”
Adrenaline began to pump around Chloe’s body, her hands trembling.
“I can see whoever I want to see, Mom. I’m a grown woman.”
“And yet here I am, still having to remind you about that one person who hurt you beyond anything.”
“I didn’t ask you to be!” Chloe finally hissed, her eyes quickly glossing over the expressions of the diners around them who had looked at them curiously. She could feel her face becoming warm again, and her cheeks flushing in embarrassment. But right now there was a more important battle to fight than the one that was internal embarrassment. “Yes I saw her. Today. By accident, but I’m pleased that I did.”
Chloe found a small glimmer of joy at the sight of her mother settling back in her seat, clearly stunned by her revelation. And it gave the woman confidence to reveal more.
“It was fate, Mom. Fate drew me back to New York to have that interview in Brooklyn. Fate guided me down the same sidewalk as Beca. And because of fate we ended up having a really deep conversation.”
She saw the way her mother rolled her eyes, tutting slightly. And Chloe’s heart sank. This was exactly how Kelly was. If she didn’t like something, she didn’t hide her distaste or disappointment.
“Fate.” the older woman echoed in a bitter tone, “You’re still obsessed with fate?” Chloe heistated while her mother continued, “Fate that drew her to you all those years ago? Fate that had you following her to New York in the first place?”
“Fate that had me kissing her in Central Park earlier, yes.”
Chloe hadn’t intended on telling her mother quite that much and she completely intended on the woman to be surprised. But for some reason, she wasn’t.
“Oh finally!” Kelly exclaimed, and Chloe cocked her head in confusion. What did her Mom mean by ‘finally’? Had she wanted Chloe to kiss Beca even though she hated Beca? “It’s been four hours since you met up with me, and you waited that long to tell me??”
“You already knew?”
“God the whole of the country knows, Chloe!” Kelly replied in an exasperated tone, “You were seen kissing on live TV!”
Chloe’s mouth dropped open but her confusion didn’t lessen. What was her Mom talking about?!
“Your Aunt Maura called me and said she saw you and some small brunette making out in a pavilion in the background of some Fox News segment.” Kelly explained and Chloe felt the colour drain from her face. Their kiss had been accidentally shown live on TV? Across the nation?
“So I’ll say this to you again.” Chloe heard her mother say in a serious tone, and again Chloe felt her chest tighten. She sensed a threat was on the way. And she was right. “She’s not good for you, Chloe. Don’t let her back into your life.”
Chloe stared in stunned silence while her mother looked back at her intently. This wasn’t fair. She was happy. She’d just landed her dream job that she’d worked really hard for. And she’d made out with the girl of her dreams (on national tv apparently - though Chloe didn’t have the headspace to dissect that piece of information). So why couldn’t her mother be happy for her too??
“And what if I told you I’m in love with her,” Chloe said, her heart hurting as her mother let out an exasperated sigh while rolling her eyes, “and that she’s in love with me? What then?”
There was a pause while Chloe looked at her mother pleadingly, not really wanting to know the answer. Because it was highly likely she wouldn’t like the woman’s response.
“Then I don’t think I can stand by you while you make the biggest mistake of your life.”
“Stand by me?” Chloe quickly snapped, the result being exactly what she’d expected from her difficult mother, “When have you ever stood by me?”
“I brought you up to New York didn’t I?” Kelly replied, oblivious to the looks that all of the dinner guests on nearby tables were giving them.
“You came to New York for the shopping, not me, and you know it!” Chloe threw back, tears brimming in her eyes. It wasn’t unusual for her to argue with her mother, but it was unusual for Chloe to get enough words in that she could express how she was really feeling.
“See, this is how you get when you’re in touch with Beca.” Kelly dared to argue, and Chloe’s eyebrows rose, looking at the woman incredulously.
“Don’t you dare blame this on her!”
“Well I have to blame your crappy attitude on someone, Chloe.”
Chloe suddenly pushed her chair back and rose to her feet with a clatter of cutlery on the table, looking at her mother fiercely.
“Blame yourself.” was all the young woman said in a cool low voice, a tear slipping down her cheek. And with little more to be said, Chloe gathered the note and her handbag, before turning to leave the restaurant.
“That’s it, run away like you always do!” she heard her mother yell over at her, and Chloe looked to the Maitre-d apologetically as he darted over to the door to open it for her, “It’s no wonder you lost touch with Beca if all you do is run away!”
Chloe took a deep heaving breath of fresh air as the door was opened for her, and she turned to the kind maitre-d, “Make sure she pays for everything she consumes tonight.” before striding out of the restaurant…
The evening air was fortunately not as cool as it could’ve been for April, but still Chloe cursed herself for having not been more sensible in wearing some sort of jacket over her dress. Her mind was a muddle as she stormed down the lower Manhattan sidewalk, with no real direction. She was torn. Her phone was in her hand and she was in turmoil about whether to call Beca, to call an Uber, to call the hotel, or to call her mother.
Calling Beca would provide some comfort (and hopefully a place to sleep overnight), but Chloe worried that Beca would feel forced to offer her a place to stay. Would Beca feel used? Like it was Chloe’s only option?
Calling an Uber would be fine but where would she go? Back home? She couldn’t afford it. Back to the hotel? Her mother had the room key.
Calling the hotel to explain what had happened would be easy enough but surely the staff would be weary of people calling up out of the blue asking for key cards for ‘random’ rooms, no matter the situation.
And the more Chloe thought about everything that had just happened, and the further she walked, the more certain she was that she could definitely not call her mother. Kelly was a stubborn soul. It was one of the main reasons why she and Chloe disagreed so often. Chloe would get frustrated - like she was now - and Kelly would just become even more insistent and stubborn.
So with a deep and shaky breath, Chloe found her contacts and scrolled to a name she hadn’t called in a very long time.
“Hey, Chloe, is everything okay?”
The voice down the phone cloaked Chloe in warmth that soothed her soul, and a huge wave of relief rushed over her body. She held her phone with both hands to her ear, in the hope that she could draw every scrap of warmth from each word that Beca spoke.
“Yeah um…well no.” she paused to sniff loudly, and it was at that time she realised she’d started crying.
“Mom and I just had a fight and I stormed out of the restaurant and…” she paused again, wondering if requesting to join Beca this evening would be too much too soon. They’d only just reunited. They’d only just revealed their feelings for one another. They needed time to get to know each other again and spend quality time together and-
“Did you want me to send an Uber to pick you up?”
It was one simple question that had Chloe feeling relieved more than anything. For so long she’d felt unwanted. Her family hadn’t wanted her. She’d felt lost without Beca the past couple of years, because for the years before the breakup of their friendship, Beca had been her purpose. But now, Beca was on the other end of the phone wanting her.
“Yes!” Chloe burst into tears, sobbing loudly, not caring that passers by were watching, “Yes please!”
“Alright.” Beca replied in a soft yet determined tone, “Find somewhere safe to go, then drop me a pin and I’ll sent an Uber immediately.”
Chloe was already eyeing up a nearby Starbucks. She could hide away in there with a good view of the street to keep an eye out for the Uber’s arrival.
“Okay.” Chloe croaked with a sniff, walking a little faster towards the coffee house. “Thanks Beca.”
Chloe ran her fingertips up and down her left arm, stood nervously outside Beca’s apartment door. This had been the address the Uber had taken her to. ‘27’ had been the number that Beca had texted her to inform her of her apartment number. Chloe had to admit the apartment block looked nice - far nicer than the apartment block they’d once lived in a couple of years ago. She also had to admit she’d been surprised when the Uber had driven her to Brooklyn, having always assumed Beca would’ve wanted to move as far away from where they’d used to live.
Chloe brought her hand out and knocked firmly on the door three times, then waited with baited breath. What if she’d got it wrong? What if she’d got in the wrong Uber? What if Beca hadn’t texted the right apartment number? What if this was all a ploy by Beca to get back at her for not returning to their apartment a couple of years ago to talk things through with her? What if Beca was playing a horrible prank on her??
She could hear scrambling coming from within the apartment and suddenly Chloe felt her chest become tight, her breathing more restricted as her mouth hung open to try to capture more oxygen. What was she doing here? Beca didn’t want her here. Beca had been living her life perfectly happily before she’d bumped into Chloe earlier today. Chloe was just going to ruin things. Perhaps it was better if she just turned and walked away right now before they both got hurt agai-
The door swung open and Chloe’s breath caught in her throat. There Beca stood, in her pyjamas, holding the door open, her chest heaving a little while she rested her other hand on her hip.
“Sorry I…” Beca began, quickly pulling a few loose long hairs, that were caught, from the corner of her mouth, reuniting them with the rest of the hair on her head with a sweep of her fingers, “…I underestimated how messy my apartment was.” and she motioned to the lounge behind her with her thumb, “Tried to make it presentable for you.”
Chloe was so stunned by Beca’s presence and by her reasoning for not answering the door sooner, that all she did was stand and gawp. A reaction that had Beca hesitating, her coy smile dropping.
“Is…do you still want to come in?” Beca asked cautiously, and after a beat Chloe blinked twice, very clearly.
And the redhead stepped past the woman before it was revealed just how embarrassed she felt by Beca’s response. The Uber ride had been no more than twenty minutes, so it was safe to say that Beca hadn’t had the hugest amount of time to tidy her apartment. But the state of the place was far from untidy, which had Chloe suspecting that either Beca didn’t own a lot of possessions, didn’t usually spend much time at the apartment and spent time at the studio instead, or she was actually a fairly tidy person. The latter hadn’t exactly been the case back when Chloe had lived with her a couple of years ago.
“So you and your Mom..” Beca began cautiously as she closed the door over, and Chloe was reminded again of the frustrating conversation she’d had with her mother a little while ago, “..what happened?”
Chloe let out a heavy sigh, releasing the air from her lungs and attempting to calm her nerves. She spun slowly on the spot, waiting for Beca to guide her further into the apartment. She saw the way her friend’s expression changed and she immediately knew why. Beca had just found the answer to her question.
“She’s mad because you’ve seen me. Isn’t she.”
Chloe’s shoulders sank, and after a short pause, she nodded slowly.
“Was it the restaurant? Was it too much?” Beca quickly, noticeably seemed to panic, “If I’d known she’d get mad at you I would’ve never done it-”
“-Beca, woah.” Chloe interrupted, reaching out to take hold of one of Beca’s flailing hands, and she held it firmly as her friend appeared to retune her mind to the present. There was something different about the way Beca reacted to things compared to how the ‘Beca of old’ used to react. As though she cared so much more now than she ever had done before. As though she cared about her actions and the repercussions of those actions. As though she truly cared about Chloe.
“Everything you did was amazing.” Chloe added in a gentle tone, “So so amazing. Even Mom couldn’t argue that unlimited food and drink in a beautiful restaurant like that was super kind.”
“H’okay,” Beca replied with a nod, as if trying to calm herself down, “so the money thing wasn’t a bad move.”
“It was very romantic of you.” Chloe mused, slowly releasing Beca’s hand, “Mom just got mad because it was you. Because I’d seen you.” Chloe paused, hesitating while her tight chest seemed to unlock when she realised what she was about to say next, “Because I want to keep seeing you.”
The last sentence appeared to be exactly what Beca hoped Chloe would say, because the brunette’s angst-ridden expression seemed to soften. Chloe watched as the woman took a couple of steps closer to her, and for a moment she wondered if Beca was going to take her hands or hug her or-
“I really want to keep seeing you too.” Beca replied in a gentle voice, picking at her cuticles, clearly trying to maintain some form of self control, “But I dont want to be the cause of a rift between you and your family.”
“The rift was created because of them, not you.”
“Yeah but if me staying out of the way would make things easier-”
“-Beca.” Chloe quickly interrupted, her brain trying to catch up with everything the woman had just said. How could Beca possibly think that she’d choose her parents over her?? “I know we haven’t spoken the past couple of years but…” her eyes bore into Beca’s, her heart beating fast, ready to take the plunge, “…you’re my family. You’ll always be my family. There’s nobody I feel more safer with. There’s nobody I love more. Nobody I trust more.”
The tiniest of smiles poked into the corners of Beca’s mouth, and Chloe felt her heart soar as the brunette slowly reached out and gently took hold of her hands. Their bodies leant comfortably against one another’s. And their foreheads eventually pressed together.
A soft smile swept across Chloe’s face as she allowed her eyes to flutter closed, relishing this intimate moment. This was it. This had to be it..
Chloe let out a tired sigh, staring up at the ceiling while the lights from the cars outside reflected into the dark room, lighting the place up every minute or so (depending on the flow of the late night traffic). She had no idea what time it was. She had no idea how long she’d been laying in this bed for.
What she did know, however, was that this wasn’t her bed. The mattress felt different. The pillows felt different. Hell, the bedding even smelt different. Fresh - but with a detergent she had missed too much over the past couple of years. A detergent that made her feel like she was home, even though it was a million miles from the scent her parents’ detergent was.
She pulled at the sleeves of the light pyjama top that Beca had given her to wear overnight, along with matching cropped pants. Picking at the fabric thoughtfully. This was weird. Laying in Beca’s bed. Technically it had once been Fat Amy’s bed, back when they’d all lived together in that tiny studio apartment post-graduation.
And while laying in a bed with Beca technically wouldn’t be weird seeing as they’d shared a bed for two years after Barden. The fact that Beca wasn’t in this bed with her made things all the more weird.
Chloe turned her head to look at the closed bedroom door, knowing full well that Beca was somewhere behind it. Beca had offered Chloe the bed while she slept overnight on the couch. On the Uber ride over, Chloe hadn’t really thought about the specifics of where she might sleep. But she’d kinda assumed Beca would be okay with sharing a bed with her - no strings attached. She didn’t assume they’d kiss or have sex or whatever… but she hadn’t expected Beca to gently insist they not sleep in the same room.
“The last time we shared a bed, I screwed things up.” Beca had explained, “I think if we just take things slow, I won’t screw it up again.”
While Chloe had wanted to explain to Beca that the two of them sharing a bed overnight, after everything they’d said to each other this evening, wouldn’t mean that either of them would screw things up, Beca had still maintained that sleeping separately then going on a breakfast date in the morning would probably be the best decision. And Chloe, wanting to make the most of this ‘new maturer Beca’ had respected Beca’s wishes.
Which was what made laying in this strange bed all the more weirder. Because the sooner she fell asleep, the sooner it’d be morning, and the sooner she and Beca could go on their first official date. But Chloe just couldn’t fall asleep.
So after another couple of moments, she reached down, tugged the bedcovers from her body, and slowly eased herself out of bed. Her feet pattered gently across the hard floor, and she paused, holding her breath with her hand on the door handle.
She desperately wanted to pull it open, to head right over to the couch, and settle into Beca’s body. She’d missed the feel of Beca’s body tucked up into hers or vice-versa. She’d missed the sight of Beca first thing in the morning, her appearance natural and disheveled.
But then the words her friend had spoken earlier rang in her ears, and she remembered the look on Beca’s face when Beca had suggested they not share a bed overnight. And it was that memory that had Chloe release the handle of the bedroom door and take a step back. She had to respect Beca’s wishes, just as Beca was respecting the relationship that she and Chloe were slowly rebuilding.
As Chloe settled back in Beca’s bed, bringing the bedding up over her body, she let out another tired sigh. But this time she felt a little more at peace. The morning would soon come around. And with it, the next step in her journey with Beca..
“Okay I know you used to have a lot of stuff but I thought you were joking when you said you now have more.”
Chloe couldn’t help the broad smile on her face as she turned from the small window in the lounge area of the apartment over to her girlfriend, who had her head in a cardboard box full of Chloe’s belongings. A smile that broadened even further (if that was even possible?) when Beca pulled out a vibrator and subsequently turned bright red with embarrassment.
The next step in her life was fast becoming a good one, and Chloe relished in the joy she had while sharing that next step with Beca. “I love you”’s had been tossed about with reckless abandon between them, neither wanting the other to feel like they were unloved and both wanting the other to know just how much they cherished their company. And while they were far from coy about their feelings, one week on, Beca and Chloe still hadn’t gone past first base. Well..unless that time two years ago counted when Beca had made it to third base, but Chloe had strictly told herself that she was never going to think about that night again. Or at least, she’d try not to.
The morning after Chloe had stayed over at Beca’s - following a falling out with her mother - she’d returned to the hotel to collect her belongings. To her relief her mother had already checked out, leaving Chloe’s belongings by the front desk. Chloe had then headed back to Beca’s, staying just one more respectful night (sleeping in separate parts of Beca’s apartment) then quickly finding an apartment to rent (conveniently) round the corner from Beca’s, before the redhead had taken a flight back to her parents that evening.
After packing up the rest of her stuff, Chloe had hop-skipped it back to Brooklyn to begin her new new life, away from the disapproval of her mother, to the woman she’d loved for almost her entire adult life. The ‘new maturer Beca’ was still as dreamy as she’d been when Chloe had first bumped into her the previous week. And knowing that she wasn’t entirely alone in this big city just as she was about to start her new job, made Chloe feel a little less anxious about her first day tomorrow.
“You had that same look on your face the first time you saw me naked.” Chloe teased, wandering slowly over to Beca with her arms folded, just as Beca stuffed the vibrator back into the box while clearing her throat loudly.
“Yeah well that must be how I look when something surprises me.”
“A good surprise though?”
Chloe watched curiously as a coy smile swept onto her girlfriend’s face, and Beca looked up at her with mock-reluctance.
“If a beautiful naked redhead launching into my shower cubical to force me to join her acapella group is a good surprise?”
Chloe let out a chuckle, settling down on the arm of the second-hand armchair that she’d found at a flea market yesterday (and had managed to get Beca to help her carry all the way home with very little persuasion). She watched as Beca placed the box down onto the floor with a tired sigh, but a relaxed smile on her face.
“I’m gonna really miss you this evening.” Chloe said in an affectionate tone - this evening being the first evening that the two of them wouldn’t be out for dinner or watching Netflix at either apartment. They’d both agreed that Chloe should have an early night before her big day tomorrow, and Beca had assured her that although they might not be together for the next few days while they both went to their respective jobs, it didn’t mean that Beca wouldn’t be thinking about Chloe. And Chloe responded promptly that she’d be thinking about Beca nonstop too.
“I’m gonna miss you too.” Beca replied with equal affection, shifting her position on the armchair to face Chloe a little easier, and her hand slipped comfortably across Chloe’s thigh, “It’s only five days though, then we’ll get the whooole weekend off together.”
“Starting from Friday evening!” Chloe quickly added, pointing her index finger at the woman with a grin. Because she’d asked Beca to promise that they have dinner together after work on Friday so they didn’t have to go much longer apart. And naturally, Beca had promised firmly that there was no way she could possibly go any longer than Friday evening without seeing Chloe (to which Chloe had thrown her arms around Beca’s neck and had kissed her hard).
“Definitely starting from Friday evening!”
“I guess I’d better go home.” Chloe muttered, reluctantly tugging her legs from Beca’s lap and standing from the couch they were both sat on. It was 7pm. She and Beca had both decided to wander from Chloe’s apartment to Beca’s because Beca had the better TV. And they’d been here a good three hours. But she still had to pack her bag for her first day of work tomorrow. Then she needed to shower and pick her outfit and-
Chloe felt Beca take her hand, and the redhead stepped closer to her girlfriend, their knees meeting while Beca remained on the couch. There was something in Beca’s eyes that Chloe recognised but didn’t want to address, just in case she was wrong. And they remained in silence, the characters on TV chatting quietly in the background. As their silence continued, Chloe decided to slowly guide Beca’s hand up to cup her breast.
She noted the way Beca’s mouth hung open slightly. The way her throat bobbled when she swallowed loudly. And the moment Beca’s eyes flickered up from Chloe’s chest to her eyes, Chloe nodded briefly with a soft smile.
This sexual tension had been simmering gently since Chloe had moved into her new apartment. There had been evenings when they’d curled up together on the couch, Chloe laying into Beca or Beca laying into Chloe, and they’d held one another comfortably. Hands would smooth across backs or arms. The occasional kiss shared. Leading to brief snippets of making out. But neither Beca nor Chloe had taken the plunge and allowed their hands to wander too far south. Neither had allowed their hands to snake beneath clothing to feel the other’s warm soft skin.
Beca’s hand slipped slowly down from Chloe’s breast to rest briefly on Chloe’s hip, and after the slightest twitch of a tug, Chloe shifted her body. Inch by inch she steadily eased herself back onto the couch, this time straddling her girlfriend’s legs while Beca guided her, both hands now at the redhead’s hips.
Chloe felt her breath catching in her throat as she settled comfortably against Beca’s body, now straddled around Beca’s hips, her hands reaching up so she could smooth her fingertips through the woman’s hair. Her eyes bore into Beca’s while she moved to gently cup her cheeks. And with a deep and steady breath, she slowly inched her face down, her eyes fluttering closed.
It was no longer alien to feel Beca’s lips on her own. No longer unexpected to feel Beca kissing her back. No longer surprising when their kiss promptly deepened. It was always like this. Except with one huge exception this time. This time, there was unspoken consent between them that things were going to go further..
Chloe panted heavily into the crook of Beca’s neck, laid on top of her while Beca laid down along the length of the couch. The sensation of Beca’s warm breath in her right ear, combined with the sensation of the wetness she felt while her right hand remained stuffed down the front of Beca’s pants had Chloe’s desire increasing more and more. Not to mention the additional sensation of Beca’s hand down her own pants, the woman’s nimble fingers impressively working Chloe’s clit to an impending orgasm.
It hadn’t exactly been the most romantic way that Chloe’d envisioned making love with Beca for the first time. But she still felt the intimacy and connection that stemmed from two lovers finally succumbing to their sexual tension. And it felt good.
“I’m nearly there.” Chloe mumbled against Beca’s skin, enjoying the feel of her bare chest against Beca’s bare chest while she shifted slightly up and down, providing more friction against Beca’s hand while the brunette continued to pleasure her.
“Me too.” Beca mumbled in return, breathless, with a hint of a wince which (had Chloe not been so focussed on both her impending orgasm and ensuring her own fingers were moving in just the right way to teeter Beca’s orgasm over the edge) Chloe would’ve sensed and possibly stopped to check that Beca was okay - to which Beca probably would’ve said yes and Chloe would’ve apologised and they both would’ve struggled to get back into the flow of bringing each other to orgasm.
Chloe, ever in touch with the slightest change in Beca’s demeanour, or breath, or look, could sense that Beca was telling the truth. The brunette seemed to hold her breath, to stretch her body out beneath Chloe even more, to move her head slightly away from hers. And in response to this, Chloe sped up her actions just as she felt the dam holding back her orgasm on the verge of bursting.
In a matter of seconds, she felt Beca’s body stiffen beneath her. And as she did she felt an exillerating wave of sexual climax overwhelm her own body, a throaty moan falling from her mouth. Chloe’s hips bucked gently against Beca’s hand while her fingers stilled down Beca’s panties. And a soft smile swept across her face as she nuzzled into the nook of Beca’s neck, her orgasm subsiding.
Chloe’s breathing pushed from her lungs with sharp exhales, and all of a sudden she let out a chuckle. A chuckle that was met by Beca’s chuckle. And they chuckled breathlessly, remaining curled into one another on the couch, a hand down the front of each other’s pants, half naked.
“Well that was one way to stall me going home.” Chloe mumbled with a grin, pulling her hand from Beca’s pants and raising her head from Beca’s chest to look into her girlfriends eyes. And Beca’s eyebrows rose, a grin of delight on her face.
“Me??” she burst in a joyous tone, “You were the one who put my hand on your boob!”
“You could’ve said no?” Chloe teased with an even broader grin as Beca laughed loudly.
“Yeah like I could ever say no to you!”
They both looked at each other with broad smiles and flushed cheeks. And part of Chloe wondered if perhaps it wouldn’t be the end of the world if she started packing for her first day in the morning…
“I got something for you.” Beca said after a few moments of peacefully looking into Chloe’s eyes.
“If that something is you giving me the best orgasm of my life then I think you already gave it to me.” Chloe joked with a grin, enjoying the way Beca laughed in response. The way her eyes wrinkled in the corners and her nose crinkled. The way her chest heaved up with each laugh.
“No! It’s an actual present, Chloe. A physical one that I wrapped and everything.”
Chloe tugged her bottom lip between her teeth as they both fell silent again. But Beca began looking at her expectantly and before she could ask what she needed to do, Beca added in an amused tone:
“I’m gonna need you to get off me though.”
Chloe chuckled, peeling her naked upper body from Beca’s naked upper body, swinging her leg back to gracefully roll off the couch. Except she completely misjudged the height of the couch, and with a small squeal tumbled onto the ground, her butt hitting the floor first.
She laughed loudly, falling back entirely onto the floor, her eyes squeezed shut while she heard Beca laughing loudly too. As they fluttered open again she saw Beca peering over the side of the couch, looking down at her adoringly. And Chloe felt her heart skip a beat. She was certain she’d never laughed so much in a relationship before. Had never felt so happy. Had never felt so loved..
Chloe came to an immediate standstill, her books under one arm, her handbag hanging from the crook of her other. Her mouth hung open in shock at the sight of her oldest friend stood a little way ahead of her with a beaming smile on her face.
“Surprise!” Aubrey exclaimed, clearly overjoyed to be seeing Chloe. Chloe who slowly stepped out of the school doors and towards the blonde’s car which Aubrey leant back against.
“Wha- What’re you doing here??”
“I’m here to see you of course!”
Chloe’s mouth was dry, her heart racing with nerves, her mind blank such was the shock. Aubrey didn’t really do surprises. And if she did, they’d never be as big as driving six hours to see anyone!
“I was getting worried. I hadn’t seen you in months and hadn’t heard from you in weeks. Not after you texted me on your first day!”
Chloe gulped. She’d been so caught up with her new job role and living in Brooklyn again and dating Beca at last…she supposed time had got away from her.
“I was beginning to wonder if you’d started seeing someone!” Aubrey added in an amused tone, “That’s how quiet you’ve been.”
Chloe’s smile waivered and she found her hand automatically reaching for the lanyard that hung from her neck. The lanyard that had her ID badge attached at the end. The lanyard that Beca had given her as a gift the evening before her first day of work. It reminded Chloe of Beca every day (not that she really needed reminding when her thoughts were almost always on her girlfriend when they weren’t on work). Unfortunately for Chloe, Aubrey noticed the slight change in her expression.
“Oh my god.” the blonde said, a grin spreading across her face, “You have??” and her hands shot out to grab Chloe’s arms excitably, “Tell me all! Who is he? What’s he like? What does he do??”
Chloe had to admit she’d been avoiding having to tell Aubrey about Beca from the moment she’d bumped into Beca near Central Park back in April. Aubrey hated Beca. And she’d hated the way Chloe had acted when being friends with Beca - always putting Beca first in decisions and always talking about Beca too. She’d had to mute The Bellas WhatsApp chat because all she wanted to do was talk about how amazing Beca was, but she couldn’t do that because The Bellas didn’t really like Beca.
“Um…” Chloe began, twisting her lanyard around her finger anxiously, “It’s really not something I’ve been talking to people about.”
Which was the truth. She hadn’t spoken to any of her family in months since the fallout with her mother, and had distanced herself from The Bellas to avoid accidentally mentioning Beca. Really the only people she spoke to about her girlfriend were her colleagues. And that one sex education class where she’d shared with the students that she was in a same-sex relationship (much to the students’ surprise).
“Chloe, I’m not just people, okaaay? I’m one of your best friends! You can tell me anything!”
Chloe swallowed loudly, her arms still held by her oldest friend who looked her in the eyes with a kind yet firm expression. The very expression she’d given her the first time Chloe had told Aubrey that she was moving to New York with Beca (and Fat Amy) after she finally graduated. Aubrey had been pleased for her but a little confused, because Chloe had never once mentioned something so adventurous ever before. And while at the time Chloe had insisted it’d been her dream to live in New York, what she’d failed to add was that it had actually been her dream to live in New York with Beca.
She seemed to take too long in answering, and as a result Aubrey had dropped her grip of Chloe’s shoulders and had changed her attention to the lanyard around Chloe’s neck.
“Did he get you that lanyard?”
Aubrey looked at Chloe with a giddy smile, clearly keen to find out as much as possible through guessing seeing as the redhead wasn’t offering much information about her New York romance.
“It’s really good quality.” Aubrey went on to say with a small frown, reaching up to inspect the item further, “Wow it’s a Cardinal brand??”
Chloe had no idea what that meant. Nor did she know how Aubrey knew so much about frikkin’ lanyards. All she knew was that Beca had bought it for her, that Beca had tried to find one that Chloe would like, and that Beca had ‘done her research’ to find the best most durable sort.
“Yeah I had to order a bunch of lanyards for the staff at The Lodge but these were way too expensive.” Aubrey dropped the lanyard at last and took a step back, looking at Chloe optimistically, hoping for more information, “He must have a really good job to even know about these, let alone afford one.”
Chloe hadn’t really put too much thought into it, and was beginning to feel guilty that she hadn’t. She’d obviously thanked Beca profusely, and wore it constantly at work and on the commute to and from, but she hadn’t ever stopped to think about the quality of the present. All she’d cared about was that Beca had bought it for her. And Beca had never pushed her to ask about the price or quality of the lanyard either..
“It’s Beca!” she suddenly burst, and as if she had just left her own body for a moment, Chloe felt herself watching on as a bystander, noting the way Aubrey froze, looking directly at Chloe but not seeing her. As though the blonde was frozen - lost in her thoughts.
“What’s…Beca?” Aubrey asked slowly in a sullen tone, as if she knew the answer already.
“It’s Beca. Beca’s the ‘guy’ I-I’m…she’s the person I’m dating.”
Chloe had never seen the colour physically drain from someone’s face before. But Aubrey soon changed that. The blonde’s mouth opened and closed slightly several times over and over, as if going through an internal motion of processing what Chloe had said. Processing what she was insinuating.
“You’re…I-I…” a short sharp exhale huffed from Aubrey’s mouth as her eyes squeezed closed, and it unnerved Chloe to no end, “…I-I don’t understand.”
Chloe tugged her bottom lip between her teeth, chewing the flesh gently, anxiously. She was just going to have to keep ripping bandaids off here.
“Beca and I bumped into each other after my interview and we went for a walk and talked and…basically we really missed each other.”
“Missed each other.” Aubrey echoed in a disbelieving mumble.
“We both apologised and confessed we’re in love with each other and-”
Chloe paused as Aubrey let out a groan of dismay, the blonde shooting a hand to her right temple to massage it with her fingers while looking down at the ground, unable to look Chloe in the eyes.
“Aubrey, we’ve been dating since April. We’ve…we really do love each other.”
“But she betrayed you Chloe!” Aubrey snapped, and because Chloe had known Aubrey her entire adult life, she knew the woman had snapped because she was panicking. So Chloe took a deep breath, reached out, and placed a gentle hand on Aubrey’s shoulder.
“She really does love me, Aubrey.”
The air felt thick as Chloe stepped cautiously into the high-end bar in Atlanta. She tugged at her leather jacket that felt as though it was getting tighter and tighter with every step forward she took. Her eyes peered through the busy area, trying to find a route through to the back room that had been hired for the night. And eventually, when she found that route, she began slowly winding her way through the groups of people who were all laughing and smiling and talking loudly over the music that played for added ambience.
She envied their happiness. How carefree and relaxed they all seemed. She wished she felt calm. But right now her heart thumped against her chest anxiously as the room she headed for neared.
Chloe felt her hand being held tightly, but she continued on, gently guiding Beca behind her. They’d been talking about today for months, in two minds about whether to go or not. Well, whether Beca should go too, or whether Chloe should go it alone, or whether neither of them go and send a message to the world with their absence. Chloe, usually more than keen to attend a party, had instead been all for not going at all. Beca, as a compromise, had suggested Chloe go alone to ‘keep the peace’. In the end - as late as yesterday morning - they both agreed they would attend together.
Together they were stronger. But as they arrived at the open door of the private function room, neither of them felt very strong.
“You okay?” Chloe asked as she looked to her right just as Beca joined to stand by her side, her knuckles white she was squeezing Chloe’s hand so hard. The brunette just nodded, peering anxiously into the room. And Chloe noted the way the colour drained from her girlfriend’s face.
“You guys gonna go in orrrrr…?”
Chloe heard the amused Australian drawl that, for the first time ever, brought a wave of relief over her body. As she looked behind her, she felt Beca’s hand relax in hers, and immediately knew that Fat Amy was someone Beca felt confident around still. Confident to be herself. Confident she wouldn’t be hurt or accused.
“I’m so happy you made it!” Fat Amy burst with a grin, and before either Chloe or Beca could say anything, the larger-than-life blonde swept forward and scooped the two into a tight hug. A tight hug that loosened as the sound of heels clicking slowly approached from within the room.
Chloe peeled herself from Fat Amy’s arms and turned to find Flo smiling kindly at her. And Chloe drew Flo into a half-hug, while the Guatemalan mumbled:
“I’m so glad you guys came.”
Chloe was touched by the kind words. But as she eased out of the brief hug with Flo, and noted the woman’s awkward expression as she half-hugged Beca, Chloe had a feeling the rest of The Bellas were unlikely to share the same sentiments..
She felt Beca take her hand once again, and with a big shaky sigh, Chloe steeled herself before following Flo and Fat Amy into the room. As expected, the rest of the group didn’t look thrilled by their arrival. But at the same time, they didn’t look annoyed. Or confused. They just looked…awkward.
“Hey everyone.” Chloe managed to choke out as she arrived before her old friends, her girlfriend still close beside her. Their mouths twitched into nervous smiles, all gripping their respective drink. And her heart rate increased tenfold as their eyes snapped from Chloe over to Beca, smiles waning. “H-How are you all doing?”
Between Cynthia Rose, Jessica, Ashley, and Emily there were mumbled “Uh yeah okay”s and “Good”s while looking down awkwardly at the floor. Lilly just stared at Beca with wide eyes and a blank expression. And Stacie looked to Aubrey awkwardly. Aubrey, meanwhile, was glaring at Beca from over her glass while taking a big long sip of her cocktail.
“How are you doing Beca?” Emily piped up in a small voice, and Chloe heard her girlfriend clear her throat.
“Yeah I’m alright thanks Legacy.”
A scoff promptly fell from Aubrey’s throat, and both Chloe and Beca frowned, turning to the blonde. The other Bellas followed suit. And Chloe felt her frustration begin to bubble up as she looked at her oldest friend while Aubrey glared at Beca in disbelief.
“Will you just quit it?” Chloe snapped, and she enjoyed the way Aubrey hesitated, “Will you just quit being such a dick to her?”
Chloe found that all the upset and frustration she’d felt over the past year, all the disappointment she’d been experiencing because Aubrey - and as a result The Bellas as a whole - had become distanced from Chloe because of Beca, came bubbling to the surface. And beyond her control, tears began to build in Chloe’s eyes.
“She’s my girlfriend!” she continued, her voice quaking slightly, “She’s been my girlfriend for over a year now! So will you quit being such a dick and just be happy for me??”
It was the strongest she’d been around Aubrey since they’d been in senior year of college together. But Aubrey had to know how she was feeling. Had to know that the way she was treating Beca was unacceptable. And that it ended now.
“Beca made a mistake a few years ago, sure. But so did I!” Chloe could feel Beca release her hand to smooth soothingly across her back, trying to calm her down. And normally it’d work. But not tonight. Tonight mattered too much. “Since we started dating she’s been the most attentive, most kindest, most affectionate person I’ve ever been romantically involved with!”
It was true of course. Beca showered Chloe with attention and affection. With thoughtful gifts and the occasional surprise handwritten note in her lunch bag. Not a day passed where Beca forgot to tell Chloe she loved her. Nor did a day pass when Chloe forgot to tell Beca she loved her too. Their most recent conversation had seen them discuss the possibility of moving in together at some point. Just a brief discussion. But it showed signs that they were starting to think about the next stage of their relationship. So with that in mind, Chloe found herself wanting their friends to support them. Especially if she and Beca were going to one day get married…maybe…
“So please,” Chloe said in an exhausted and more desperate tone, “will you just be happy for us? And if being happy for Beca is too much of a stretch then…can you just be happy for me?”
She hadn’t meant for a tear to roll down her cheek, but it had, and she saw Aubrey watch it’s journey from her eye down to her chin. In her periphery she could see the other Bellas looking to one another, clearly feeling guilty about how they’d treated Beca the past few years. Beca whose hand had returned to Chloe’s, their fingers entwined with one another’s once more. After several beats, Aubrey let out a heavy sigh, her shoulder’s slumping slightly, and in that moment Chloe saw a glimmer of hope.
“I swear if you ever hurt her again…” Aubrey threatened, pointing and looking directly at Beca.
“I’m never going to hurt her, Aubrey.” Beca replied firmly. And Chloe felt the air release from her lungs as Aubrey took a deep inhale through her nose before giving Beca a firm nod. Elation burst from Chloe’s heart as the rest of The Bellas suddenly surged forward, and both Beca and Chloe finally received the hug they’d been waiting for. Finally fully back in the fold.
“We missed you so much!” Emily piped up with a huge smile on her face, squeezing Beca and Chloe tightly.
Chloe caught the sight of the smile on her girlfriend’s face, relieved that Beca was just as happy to be back with their friends as she now was. This was the beginning of another new chapter in their lives. And Chloe couldn’t wait to share it with not only Beca, but with her Bellas too..