Beca was always so horrible at saying stuff out loud.
At the fair, on that first day, what she actually wanted to say was, “you look so pretty”, but what came out instead, was a feeble “sorry, I don’t even sing”.
And what Beca had told the Bellas was true, she never had a lot of friends that were girls. Now that she got it, she never knew what to do with it. College was turning out to be so surprisingly a good time (most times), and she was pretty sure it was mostly because of Chloe. She loved the Bellas so much, she would never admit that out loud, maybe ever, but god, she was sure she was the happiest she ever was because she loved them.
And while she laid hopeless in Chloe’s bed so many times that first year, she complained about everyone and everything.
But what she really meant was “since lonely Christmas’s and sad Halloweens, I’ve hated happy things. I never liked how exciting life can be until I met you”,
Chloe always watched her and cared for her with such blatant favoritism. She soaked in it and Beca never told her that it was her favourite thing in the world when Chloe chose her over everyone else. In between crowds, on initiation, on giving solos, and her gaze, no matter amidst how many people.
Beca really wanted to make Chloe know just how important she was to her, but instead, all she could think of to say was retelling the spots that hurt in her past. And Chloe, being kind, sweet, Chloe, sat and listened and stroked her hair.
“I’ve never felt intimacy like this before.”
“You’re so weird, dude,” Beca said instead, earning a playful swat from her.
She saw Chloe fail Russian Lit when she knew Chloe knew it like the back of her hand. It was even arguably one of her stronger classes. Sometimes, Beca allowed herself to daydream and think Chloe did it because of the special way she looked at her in between practises.
Beca wondered if Chloe knew she was originally going to drop out of college after a year too.
But she didn’t.
And Beca wondered if Chloe knew why.
There really wasn’t much of a moment where Beca hit herself on the forehead and found out about her own debilitating crush on Chloe (no, she wasn’t smart enough with her own emotions for that).
But if there was one pivotal moment where she frowned and went, “hey, this doesn’t feel right”, it would have been on that fateful night after that boss in her intern year told her that “any kid with ears and a laptop” could do what she did.
On her small green bed in the far side of the room, Beca prodded her laptop. When that didn’t work out, she picked up a pencil she found somewhere on the floor and took a deep breath, preparing herself to squeeze out lame, poetic lyrics about love and emotional bullshit.
Nothing musical came out because she kept zoning out.
Beca repeated ‘romantic comedies, sappy, and cute’ in her head like a mantra trying to hypnotize herself into writing a love song, but her mind kept wandering away to someone else.
God, she felt horrible and incompetent, but she did sit there and steadily daydream about Chloe for an hour.
“No, but seriously,” Aubrey demanded, staring straight into her trembling, punk soul, “what is your objective opinion on Chloe, Beca?”
“What the fuck, dude? I mean, I subjectively have a fat crush on her.”
“She’s cool,” Beca answered, “she’s one of my best friends here.”
Beca sniffled a little after the bear trap scare. Around the fire in the woods they sat, all the people she loved the most in life, all condensed into one small circle and one song with many voices.
She felt so great and so small at the same time. She was so tired of only knowing how to lash out, run away or fumble over awkward words. She wanted to be sunshine-y and bubbly and easy to talk to, so she could tell everyone how much she appreciated them.
She was scared to sit beside Chloe, because she’d messed up, saying all those things. But she was so not used to not sitting beside Chloe, not being right by her side.
And then Chloe started singing first and looked at her so adoringly, Beca felt although she was going to evaporate.
Chloe’s voice assuring her ‘it’s fine, it’s fine, it’s fine’.
Beca sang back, eyes sweeping around the fire at all the faces that shone and Chloe’s hair that was glowing brighter than the fire itself. I’ll be better, I’ll be better, I’ll be better.
Beca wasn’t sure how Chloe tolerated her at all. Someone so grand and open and pretty as Chloe. Beca wasn’t sure anyone else would ever be so good to her, she couldn’t fathom how Chloe never gave up on her after each lash-out.
She slept next to Chloe that night, damned all the body parts pressed into her when Chloe’s were so close and assuring. She could almost swear she heard Chloe sigh when she took Beca’s hand and held it until they fell asleep.
What Beca really wanted to say, instead of singing the chorus of a song she’d already sung so much, was “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry that I met someone I wanted so much with in a time where I was so helpless”.
Chloe made her want to do better. That was something she’d never wanted to do, not since her father reeled in all his rage and left with two boxes and a bag, not since she pierced her ears and got tattoos after her mother ignored her tears for three months.
Beca wanted to be better.
Graduation made Beca want to cry. She considered doing just that, for a minute, just to have Chloe fuss over her red-rimmed eyes and shield her with a soft arm. But she didn’t and Emily ushered them all into a group (one last time) and Beca just looked grumpily ahead. Chloe was there, and there never will be a second person to be so unreasonably good to Beca.
What she really meant when she punched Chloe’s shoulder that night to get her attention, was ‘You passed by and so nearly became my whole world.’
“I need someone else to help pay the stupid expensive rent in New York, dude,” Beca said instead, offering her a tentative grin and a handshake. “Roomies?”
Two years after, in the taxi on the way back to a part of their lives that they all desperately grappled onto, Choe held her hand. Beca squeezed it in intervals and at red lights, as nervous as ever.
Her flight attendant uniform was less rigid and it held her steady instead of suffocating her the way it used to.
When they saw Emily’s face and the ones of the new and unrecognizable Bellas, Beca felt Chloe squeeze back really hard. Two years later, and Chloe was still somehow here, not letting go of her hand until she absolutely had to.
She thought back to their conversation stuffed in their tiny bathroom while Amy was changing in the living room.
“You quit your job?”
“I fucked up, Chlo.”
“No, no, no, Beca, come on.”
Chloe’s voice was so gentle and her hand on Beca’s cheek was so warm. Her body was leaning to close and the sink pressing into Beca’s back was so cold. And the words she repeated made Beca wonder what universe she had saved in her past life to deserve a friend like this.
You’re not a fuck up, Becs.
We’re gonna be fine.
I swear you’re enough.
And hot into the tour, three champagnes in, and Beca didn’t even feel alive until Chloe took a hold of her and pushed her into a fucking wall. Beca had Chloe’s strong fingers gripping her chest, and all she knew to do was stare her best friend dumbly in the face.
When Aubrey came asking about what they were doing, and they both spun around so quick and said nothing together, it actually felt like something more. For a split second, Beca almost wanted it to be. But her cheeks were still hot and burning, and she blamed it on that.
Like she always did, like she always hated she did, Beca wandered off.
She might be emotionally stunted, but she wasn’t incredibly stupid. This thin line between the two of them had been cracking since New York, Beca didn’t know what to do anymore.
Beca met Chloe’s steady gaze as she walked around making small talk (she didn’t know how she tolerated it) with superficial people, and her stomach churned. When Theo walked on over, Chloe looked like she was going to come over and get her knuckles bloody with his pretty face. Beca could feel Chloe’s hot stare on her as she listened to Theo tell her about the great music stuff Khaled had.
She was so overwhelmed it actually hurt. So she left and found her solace in giant headphones and a sound board.
Beca never really understood why she was pulled in by Chloe so helplessly until their last night in the hotel. She hated herself for it most times, she always awkwardly felt like an alien only recently taught about feelings and how to deal with them.
Beca was mostly confused but willing to be pulled in; Beca never really understood why she so often felt like she loved Chloe so much she would burst, until she tilted forward and pressed their lips together—
And then it was all clear.
And it was the simplest thing ever.
So clear it pressed into her head and made her laugh and giggle. She just had to look at Chloe and she felt like the happiest person in world. It was as simple as that.
And Beca knew, as soon as there was light in the horizon, she would see all the complications again, but right now, in the dark, the two of them were the only things that existed.
What she had told Chloe that night, she’d meant every word. Beca could feel her own cheeks burning, and she couldn’t quite believe the sentimental bullshit coming out of her mouth, but it was suddenly so important to her that Chloe knew.
Chloe was always the one good thing that she’d got, even when she fucked up.
Beca didn’t exactly know how she got famous, but one moment she was logging in long hours at the studio, and then the next, fans were clicking share on that one video, and she blew up.
On her first big show, she was brought onto her stage in a rising platform, dramatic and bright.
After her first show, Beca went back to the changing rooms and cried a little in front of the mirror.
She remembered writing that last song after leaving New York, leaving Chloe, and leaving behind everything she had that ever felt like home. And tonight, the crowd knew how to sing it back to her in waves and roars, but the people she had wrote it for weren’t there.
She wasn’t even sure where they were.
The audience was excited and loud, screaming and yelling her name, waving their hands in millions of flashlights under the dark stage. It was everything that glory felt like, but Beca just felt like something was missing.
Her heart was filled so full with love and song it burst and now she was sad again.
Beca didn’t remember when she got famous, but she remembered how.
It was all the tiring days and longer nights in New York, ranting about her latest dumb client to Chloe over cold pizza. It was Amy dropping by sometimes, out of nowhere and without warning, with the wildest stories and biggest hugs, calling Beca’s boss such creatively horrible names just to make her feel better.
It was the days huddled together over one phone at five percent under a blanket when New York got too cold, calling Aubrey and Stacie and telling each other about their respective shitty apartments.
(It was also everything that she wrote about in her songs.)
To Beca, big, rising star in music Beca, when it came to Chloe, she still wasn’t good enough. Because when she heard Chloe’s happy voice through the line, she was just a college loser all over again, dark eyeshadow and an inability to feel too much. Even with the bright lights framing her name these days, she felt so raw and naked when she talked to Chloe. And Chloe, to her, was still that beautiful, kind and outgoing older girl, the one she’d looked up to and was secretly intimidated by.
Calling and keeping the distance between them short was the hardest thing ever, until she bit her lip and finally picked up the phone and called Chloe before she could chicken out again. And then it was the easiest thing ever, because it was Chloe.
All these years later, as Beca was clad in pearls and silk and fancy clothes, they both had bright and promising futures. Chloe was still the one that could make her feel eighteen again with a simple hello.
Beca would give all her fame and glory to bring back the feeling of having nothing but Chloe to herself.
Beca had never been so nervous going on a stage before.
Not when she was in the ICCA’s, not on her first stadium tour, and not when she performed for Obama (again, later in her career).
Her tight black dress was squeezing all the air right out of her lungs. The flowing material of whatever that she had over it didn’t help either.
It was going to be so different on the stage tonight, because the people that really, really mattered were here. The people that made her sing the way she did today, the people who watched her grow up and then away.
Beca rose onto the stage the same way she did on her first big show, greeted with an immediate roar from the crowd.
Suddenly, it wasn’t so bad.
The music flowing around was one everyone knew well, and people sang with her as she hit the high notes. The audience was excited and loud, screaming and yelling her name, waving their hands in millions of flashlights under the dark stage. It was everything that glory felt like and this time, nothing was missing.
Suddenly, all the lights seemed brighter, and they didn’t hurt her eyes anymore, they were just beautiful. Beca no longer saw beauty and thought Chloe needed to be there for it to be really beautiful. Everything was complete. Everything was the way things should be.
It was all whole and happy.
Somewhere in the crowd was Chloe. And everything was going to be okay.
Beca’s phone trembled with guilty text notifications on the third Christmas away from home. She was buried neck-deep in a thick blanket Chloe had gotten on sale last week, the snow piling up outside. She still disliked Christmas; this constant reminder that her family will never be whole and happy like the ones on postcards and hallmark movies.
Chloe, heating up milk in the kitchen, held a lingering gaze over her. “What’s wrong, babe?”
And then home came in the form of Chloe putting extra mini marshmallows in her hot chocolate and bringing it to her, pressing a long kiss on her forehead. It was Chloe calling her parents last night, and her parents asking for Beca right away, greeting her the warmest ways and sending them matching handmade sweaters.
Safeness was Chloe almost lifting her off the couch and putting her further to the right with hands hooked under her knees and back to make room for herself, saying, “It’ll be okay. I’ll be your family, Beca.”
Beca gave her a crooked smile.
Chloe continued, “I’ll eat you out for an hour and we’ll watch Tom and Jerry cartoons for the rest of our lives.”
“Will you come home with me for New Year’s?” Beca suddenly blurted out.
There isn’t really a moment Beca stopped and planned everything out meticulously and decided that marrying Chloe was the best thing she could do with the rest of her life either.
She was sitting down, trying to write another song, prodding at her laptop. She couldn’t find a pencil no matter how hard she tried, but the lyrics are threatening to spew right out from her head. She feels herself being able to voice her exact thoughts for once, and it was a thrill that burns a hole in her chest.
In the end, she steals an eyeliner from Chloe’s makeup bag sitting up on her chest of drawers, thinking about how Chloe is going to make her buy a new one the next day, and ends up with this:
I love you.
A song is too long,
And a lifetime, not enough.
Beca squints at the horribly scribbled words on the back of an ad talking about bee-hive removing and hums to herself.
She loves her so much. And that is all songs sound like these days.