Actions

Work Header

Input

Chapter Text

This chapter is rated M for language and some suggestive situations.




Lights low, and bass reverberating through her, Chloe Beale let herself breathe.

She sucked in a deep, heavy breath as her eyes fell closed, and she felt the tension seep away from her shoulders. Her grip on her fancy cocktail loosened- not enough to drop it, but it did lower a few inches to the arm of the couch, as the alcohol took hold of her senses.

They made it.

They'd done it.

They'd gotten signed.

Chloe opened her eyes to take in the Residual Heat lobby. It was modern and urban in the daytime, with sparse, uncomfortable-looking couches and sterile lamps. But tonight, someone had taken away the lamps and accent tables, only to replace them with kegs and taps. And the biggest speakers that Chloe had ever seen.

Now, deep melodies and even deeper red hues filled the cracks between stiff, dark cushions, and everyone was liquor'd up enough to forget that the furniture was too firm. Chloe brushed her red curls over her shoulder, over the sheer fabric of the mesh top of her black dress, and tipped her drink to her mouth. She deserved it.

"I don't trust any of them."

Chloe looked up from her place on the couch to see her manager and best friend, Aubrey Posen, glaring at the party happening around her. The imposing blonde held a full Collins glass that bubbled threateningly, though Chloe guessed that it only held seltzer water.

"Just like you didn't trust Fat Amy? Or Stacie?" Chloe pestered, sliding over as she pulled on her friend's arm, yanking her onto the couch next to her. She came unwillingly, but eventually settled at the edge of the cushion, flattening her pencil skirt in a move that was completely unnecessary given the skirt's tightness.

"C'mon, Aubs," Chloe went on. "Admit it: they're the most reputable and talented production company The Bellas could sign with, and they've been nothing but professional. We did it! Live a little. This is supposed to be fun!"

The tall blonde sniffed dismissively, setting her glass on the floor and folding her arms.

"I just want to be absolutely positive that we're making the right move-"

"This is the right move," Chloe implored.

Aubrey shot a glare towards the redhead.

"You only think that because they promised you'd work with that little munchkin you like so much."

Chloe blushed, tucking a stray hair behind her ear in order to surreptitiously glance around the party. But the elusive Beca Mitchell was nowhere to be found.

Aubrey was right, to be fair. Residual Heat had been their number one choice solely because Chloe begged to work with prodigious producer. But so what? Even Aubrey knew that Beca Mitchell was talented - you don't get seven Grammys in two years without knowing what you're doing - and Chloe was adamant that the young deejay could elevate The Bellas sound.

And it didn't hurt that she wasn't so bad to look at. And openly gay.

So maybe Chloe had a crush. Okay, so the rest of her bandmates would probably say she's underselling it. CR would probably call it "an obsession," and Fat Amy would probably call it "a case of digderidoo-me eyes."

And Stacie actually did call it "a lusting so potent that I started ovulating when I heard you talk about her."

But Chloe would have to put all of that behind her. She couldn't get involved with their producer, it wouldn't be proper. No, she'd just have to suck it up and respect her professionally.

It was doable.

Probably.

Hopefully.

Chloe sighed, abandoning her drink to tuck an arm around Aubrey's waist, reaching down for the blonde's glass. She picked it up and took a sip, but winced when the taste hit her tongue.

"Gin and tonic? Aubrey, it's New Year's Eve - you should let out the Tequila Cowboy!"

Aubrey scowled, snatching the drink from Chloe, eyes darting around the room.

"Stacie wouldn't let me have seltzer," she whisper-shouted. "And I barely got away with this. If she hears you say tequila-"

"Tequila?! Is it time for body shots already?"

The pair shared a panicked look before Fat Amy leaned between them, interrupting their eye-line. The Australian pitched forward, almost falling over from the back of the couch as she swayed.

"Patricia, be professional!"

"Oh-uh, my government name," Amy grumbled, burping loudly into Chloe's lap. "I better get Cap'n Tightwad here a shot of something before she starts making me match pitch."

Chloe snickered, covering her smile with the edge of her glass. Aubrey sent her a pleading look, but the redhead just shrugged.

"When in Rome-" she offered with a saccharine sweetness.

"-drink the wine and fuck a stranger!" Amy finished as she hoisted Aubrey from her seat, then scooped her standing form into her arms. Their manager shrieked as Amy held her under her butt, as she was now three feet straight up in the air. Chloe gasped and stood to reach forward, but the Australian was already out of reach, waddling towards the back bar. All eyes turned to the blondes as Fat Amy called over her shoulder, "Don't wait up, ging!"

"Now you tell me," a sonorous voice purred in her ear, sending a jolt through Chloe's chest. "was that a joke, or a promise?"

Chloe felt her breath catch as she turned to see Beca Mitchell - the Beca fricking Mitchell! - watching Amy's (and Aubrey's) retreating form.

She was shorter in person, even in Docs, and thinner too - smaller in totality, really - but wow was she striking. Her eyes were lined in dark eyeliner, with little accent lines under the black wings. Her nose ring was red, or silver made red by the lights, and the ear closest to Chloe had a sparkling black spiral gauge and what looked to be a few red hoops. With the black flannel tied over a maroon tank top, and black distressed jeans, she looked like the party personified.

"With Fat Amy?" Chloe said slowly as she tried to catch her breath. "An unintentional promise, for sure."

Beca met her gaze, and any breath that Chloe had caught went right back out of her. Her eyes were dark, blue or grey, Chloe couldn't tell, and mischievous, like she knew the world's best secret and she wasn't afraid to tell.

"Fat Amy… huh. Can I get you a drink?"

In response, Chloe shook her watered-down Old Fashioned. The slivers of ice clinked against the glass.

"Right, I guess I'm a little late to the party," Beca grinned. She let the statement hang there, like a question, and Chloe couldn't help but bite.

"Why's that?"

Beca's grin spread into a truly Cheshire-like smile, and she glanced furtively over her shoulder before leaning in. Her curls tickled Chloe's barely-covered shoulder as her lips brushed her neck. Chloe suppressed a shiver as the lips moved away, and she bent down so they were cheek to cheek, with Beca looking behind her.

"Don't tell anyone," Beca breathed into her jaw. She smelled like lavender, but masculine. Chloe breathed it in. "I was with Taylor, doing final touches on one of her re-records. She's releasing another set at midnight."

Chloe couldn't help the squeal she let out, and Beca laughed - a beautiful, airy sound - as she stepped away.

"I only got to work on one - I'm sure you know how Jack is," she continued. "And T flew in today for that big show, so it was the only time I could get her in the studio. Most of the vocals were done out east, but still. Talk about a close call."

Chloe nodded so enthusiastically that she felt like her eyes were bouncing around in her sockets. She didn't know who Jack was, or what show Taylor Swift flew out for, but she wasn't about to let Beca know that. Not with those shiny, trickster eyes.

"And to be honest, I don't usually come to these things," the producer went on. "I'm more of a homebody."

Instinctively, Chloe snorted, then gasped as Beca's eyes widened in shock and amusement.

"Sorry," the redhead rushed. "It's just, you really expect me to believe that line? From you, of all people?"

With a small, defeated gesture, Beca gave her a sheepish smile and an appraising nod. Chloe saw the brunette's gaze drop, taking in her sleek mesh dress.

"My reputation precedes me, then," the smaller woman replied, then she sighed in a seemingly self-effacing way. She dragged her eyes back up to Chloe's and offered her hand for a shake.

"I'm Beca Mitchell, but you already know that. And you are?"

"Chloe. Uh, Chloe Beale," Chloe replied, taking Beca's hand. It was small, and so soft, with black nail polish chipped at the tips.

"I should probably get used to that. Saying my full name, I mean," she went on frantically, dropping the producer's hand and their eye contact at the same time. "Or maybe not. Maybe just Chloe. It'd be weird if I was at Starbucks and they were like, 'what's your name?' And I said 'Chloe Beale,' like I was at a musical audition or the DMV or… something…"

She trailed off as her gaze returned to Beca, who was smirking at her with raised brows.

"Well, Chloe Beale," the producer replied, letting the name flow out purposefully, playfully. "Do you want to see the studio?"

Chloe was about to say that she'd seen it, on the tour provided prior to signing the contracts, but Beca had already taken her arm and started pulling her towards the wide staircase that bisected the party. She felt tens of eyes on them as they made their way up, and she glanced down to see Stacie and her latest prey (a foppish young exec named Jesse that they'd met earlier today) were among those staring. The leggy brunette gave her a wink and pumped up her breasts, but Chloe shook her head.

As insanely attracted as she was to Beca, physically, she wasn't going to do anything with her. For the obvious reasons - they worked together now - but also, the Beca Mitchell from interviews was not the Beca currently leading her upstairs. This Beca felt… presumptuous, to say the least. Chloe knew the producer was rumored to be a huge flirt, but this was a little much.

If Chloe was interpreting this right, anyway. She might be reading too much into it.

Chloe knew that she was a flirt, and that people liked to flirt with her, that she was attractive to some people. Usually it was lines about her eyes first, then her hair, maybe her smile or her body. But Beca didn't even try to butter her up before pulling her away. Or ask her why she was at her closed, company NYE party. She didn't ask what she did, or anything about her.

But maybe she just wanted to do all that in a more intimate space?

Even then, she didn't give Chloe much of an option to say no.

And, she name-dropped in the first thirty seconds of meeting her.

And, she lied about being a homebody.

Chloe signed, resigned to the truth. Obviously, Beca was a smooth operator.

Beca pushed open the door of one of the biggest studio spaces - with the flashiest, most expensive equipment - and pulled Chloe inside. Chloe had been in here earlier, seen the beautiful oak wall that separated the rug-clad recording booth from the sweeping mixer bay. Behind, there was a gray couch that probably cost a year of Chloe's rent, and a coffee table with a rolling tray on top of it.

Clearly expecting a big response from Chloe, Beca stood back, hand carded into her hair in a self-conscious gesture that Chloe didn't quite believe.

"This is where I do most of my mixing," Beca said with a far-away look. "It's my sanctuary, and my temple to the music gods. You're a singer?"

"I dabble," Chloe replied, and Beca smirked.

"I could record you sometime, if you want."

Chloe had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. She had definitely read the vibe right. Beca was a womanizer, through and through.

But Beca's statement brought up another question - did Beca know that The Bellas had just signed with Residual, and that she was the producer assigned to their group?

Probably not.

"Maybe sometime," Chloe replied smoothly as she ran her hand over the dials of the main mixer. She felt her brow furrow. How disappointing, that Beca was such a shallow person. From everything she'd read and heard, Chloe thought that Beca's talent had to come with some emotional depth. She was such an awe-inspiring writer, too, on the songs she had helped write. Who was this person, that was trying to sleep with a woman she'd just met?

An idea popped into Chloe's head - if Beca wasn't gong to respect her, she'd mess with her, just a little bit.

Why not, right?

She cleared her throat, and Beca looked up.

God, she is gorgeous though.

"Can we use the other studio? With the giant bean bag chair and the popcorn machine?" Chloe asked, all doe-eyed and sweet. "I liked that one better."

Beca let out a rueful laugh.

"You've seen the studio," she replied. She ran her hand through her hair again, and this time, she did look a little nervous.

"Anything's better than The Broom Closet though, right?" Chloe pushed. "That's your least favorite."

Beca continued to laugh, though there wasn't any mirth in it. She flopped on the couch at the back, kicking her foot up on the incredibly expensive-looking table.

"So, what, you're a new intern or something?" Beca smirked, looking her up and down with new eyes. "Jesse told me I can't mess around with the interns anymore."

"And Jesse told me that you're not as bad as the tabloids write you," Chloe shot back, then she turned away, muttering to herself. "I wish he was right about that one."

"Don't believe everything you read," Beca spat. She stood, making a move to leave before turning back sharply to face Chloe. Her face fell back into that smirk, and Chloe didn't hold back the eye-roll this time.

"Say what you want, but I know how to read people. You're hot for me, Chloe Beale," the brunette said, slow and sultry. She began to cross the room towards Chloe, who backed herself into the mixing table.

She's giving you time to move, Beale! Chloe thought. Just walk away!

But her feet were glued to the floor under that predatory gaze. Chloe fought the urge to look into Beca's eyes, then, thinking better of it, stared directly into them. You couldn't back down from a challenge with people like Beca Mitchell. She was like a dog with a bone. You had to be stern, give her a clear "no," or she'd keep after it.

But instead of a "no," something else came out.

"You lied to me," she breathed, hating how her voice sounded.

Like she'd just gone for a long run.

Or just finished having, like, mind-blowing… leg-numbing… earth-shattering se-

No. Chloe. Focus.

"You lied to me, about not coming to these things."

"Can you blame me?" Beca asked as she stepped into Chloe's space, placing her hands on the mixer behind her. "I'd say anything to get you up here."

Chloe knew she should push Beca away, should leave- but she couldn't get her body to move.

I knew those eyes were tricky!

"You're hot for me," the small producer asserted again, with a condescending chuckle. They were nose to nose now, and Chloe could feel Beca's breath on her mouth. And maybe, just maybe, direct eye contact was the wrong move after all. Chloe saw that her nose ring was actually red, as were the wings under her black eyeliner. Red and black and smooth, so very smooth.

"Even if you are an intern, I'll wait," she smirked. "I bet you have the best input."

Chloe could feel her chest bumping Beca's as her breath sped up. She couldn't even register how cocky and disrespectful Beca was being. Her eyes were straining so hard to stay open that her vision was blurring. She knew she shouldn't, her body was betraying her, and Beca was leaning in to kiss her neck-

"Just smudge your lipgloss a little, before going back downstairs," Beca said against her cheek, then she stood up suddenly. Chloe couldn't help falling forward at her absence, and Beca kept that damned smirk up the whole time.

"It'll be good for my rep, thanks sweetheart."

"'Sweetheart'?!" Chloe yelled, and Beca started to laugh as she made her way towards the door.

"I'll show you who's sweet-"

"I'm sure you will," Beca called, hand on the knob, but the door opened without her help, swinging towards her so quickly that she had to jump out of the way. Stacie and the young guy - Jesse - stumbled in, giggling as they held onto each other.

"Oh, hey Be-caw, sorry, we'll-" he started, and then he saw Chloe further in the room.

"Oh good, you guys met already," he said. "Bec, this is one of The Bellas. I played you some of their tunes this afternoon, remember?"

At a glacial pace, Beca turned back to Chloe. Her face was beet red, from her chest up to her ears, but she looked… mad? Not embarrassed, but like actually angry. And without really thinking about it, Chloe knew she was sending the same expression back.

"What'd you think of the tunes, Bec?" Chloe barked.

Beca smirked, and Chloe knew she'd lost.

Damnit, this little producer is going to weasel her way under my skin!

"Not bad," Beca said, faux pensively. "But the lead singer was a little pitchy."

"'A little-' Hey! Get back here!"

Chloe heard Beca cackling as she chased her into the hall. She was about to follow when Beca took off further down the hall, away from the party, and into the dark.

"You coming, Beale?" the producer called, fully shadowed by the hallway.

"You wish, Mitchell!" Chloe shouted, but only the laugh returned, further now, further down where Chloe knew that the producers' offices were.

Great, Chloe thought as she made her way to the stairs. I thought it was bad enough when I liked her, but now?

Lusting and hate. Every moment would be charged. Every second would be torture for Chloe, and Beca knew it.

Well, at least there's one thing for certain: there's no way I'm sleeping with her now.