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the only exception

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Today had been a long fuckin day for Beca Mitchell. 

 

Quite frankly all she wanted to do at the moment was crawl under her sheets in her comfy BU sweater and sleep for three days straight. Dragging her feet towards the front door of the Bella house, she was dreading the promised chaos that would ensue as soon as she entered the building. 

 

She loved these girls like family but after a long day of being ignored by her boss and forced to do coffee runs, she couldn’t think of anything worse than harmonised singing and arguments over the remote control. 

 

Holding her breath, she stepped over the threshold of the door and was immediately met with exactly what she expected; chaos. 

 

Lilly was showing Jessica how to use her throwing stars at the very ugly painting that seemed nailed to the wall since the beginning of time, Stacie and Amy were competing to see who could chug a beer the fastest and Flo was watching her telenovelas at the highest possible volume on the TV. Standard stuff.

 

Chloe was nowhere to be found and Beca remembered she had a late class on Thursdays. The redhead always complained about it, spending most of the time texting Beca about how bored she was and how she’d rather be at home with her. Chloe and her had embarked on a journey of finding a movie that she would finally love these past few weeks. 

 

So far, it was not going well. 

 

But it was moments with her best friend that didn’t involve rehearsals for the Bellas or her internship so it was all worth it in the end. 

 

She decided to head straight upstairs, attempting to avoid whatever the hell was going on, narrowly missing being caught in the head by one of Lilly’s throwing stars. She managed to escape without being noticed and closed the door of her bedroom behind her, letting out a breath that she forgot she was holding.

 

The sounds from downstairs were muffled now but not enough to let her calm down after an exhaustive day. Beca had a ritual for these kinds of things. She knew that the only thing that could relax her right now would be a hot shower, putting on her oversized green sweatshirt and laying in bed listening to music. 

 

That would all be possible, of course, if the spot on her drawer where her headphones always rested wasn't empty. She froze, her hand still on the doorknob, her eyes darting around the room for the possibility that she misplaced them. 

 

Something that has never happened before. 

 

She was very particular about this stuff, Chloe making fun of her a few times about it in the past because of how intense she was about it. She just liked to know where things were, who could blame her? Besides, it made it easy for the redhead to steal her things if they were always in the same spot. 

 

She knew this time that Chloe was not the culprit, because the girl would always put things back exactly where she found them, or leave a sickeningly pink post-it adorned with hearts and smiley faces. 

 

This time, she was left with no headphones and no post-it. So someone else had taken them. 

 

Trying to keep her composure, she strode out of her bedroom and down the stairs with her hands tightly gripping the rail. They all knew that no one was allowed to take her headphones. They were hers and hers only and the Bellas had a habit of breaking everything that they touched so they weren’t allowed near her things with a ten foot pole. 

 

Loud voices were still coming from the living room area and she stopped at the entrance, crossing her arms without a word. 

 

Beca may not have been the tallest, but she could definitely be the biggest presence when she wanted to be. Three years of keeping the Bellas in line had taught her how to command a room and keep them all in line. 

 

All she had to do was wait for the first Bella to notice her and the rest would follow. Slowly, the noises died out one by one, each girl staring at Beca with an almost scared expression about what was to come. 

 

“I know at least one of you knows exactly why I’m here. You have five seconds to speak up, ” she said calmly, her arms still crossed over her chest.

 

Everyone looked at each other, trying to find out the one who had the guiltiest expression on her face. Amy stepped forward, not worried in the slightest about anything. Either she was the one who took them and simply did not care, which happened way more than it should, or she truly had no idea what this was about. 

 

“In my defense, the janitor seemed to think it was a good idea. I didn’t know indoor firework displays were considered illegal.”

 

Beca stared at her for a moment, utterly dumbfounded. “What are you– you know what, I don’t even wanna know. Where the fuck are my headphones?”

 

From behind Amy, a movement caught Beca’s eye and she raised an eyebrow as Stacie attempted to leave the room wordlessly.

 

“Stacie Conrad if you don’t show your face right now I’ll make sure no boys will ever want to kiss it again.”

 

She heard a few girls whisper to each other in interest and everyone seemed to clear a path for Stacie to reveal herself. Especially Amy, avid for the drama, pushed the culprit towards Beca who seemed to regret all her life choices. 

 

Beca clenched her jaw, walking forward and pointed a finger at her. “What’s behind your back, Stace?” she asked in a faked innocence and Stacie instantly broke down. 

 

“I’m sorry, okay? Yes, I took your headphones,” she said quickly and showed them to Beca. “Mine were out of charge and I know that yours are really good and you were gone for the day so I figured it would be fine!”

 

“Fine? In literally what world is that fine?”

 

“In a world where you’re the coolest co-captain ever and you love me too much?”

“You have Chloe for that,” Beca responded emotionlessly. Every girl was oddly quiet, invested in what was going to happen. 

 

“I have Chloe for loving me? She’s saving it all for you, cap.”

 

“Shut up,” Beca said before the red in her cheeks showed. “And don’t try to change the subject, give me my fucking headphones.”

 

She grabbed them out of her hands and glared at Stacie who had the decency to look ashamed. 

 

“I’m sorry, I just-” Stacie began, resting her hand on Beca’s shoulder, to which the shorter girl pulled away immediately, as though she had been shot. 

 

“Damn,” Cynthia-Rose said, “That was not the right move, hot stuff.”

 

Stacie seemed to realize what she had done and put her hand back down by her side. There were a few rules other than the one regarding her stuff and one of the most important ones was definitely do not touch Beca. She glared at Stacie, taking a step back and her hands clutching the headphones. 

 

She felt herself shake a little with emotion, but she kept her composure. Her phone buzzed in her pocket and she knew it was from Chloe. 

 

She wished Chloe was here right now and she knew every single girl in the room thought the same. The redhead seemed to have a weird magical power over any room she was in, dissipating any tension with a simple smile. 

 

In the silence of the room, she heard someone slurping a drink from behind her and she had to do a double take as Jessica walked in, sipping obnoxiously loud from a mug that clearly had ‘MITCHELL’ emblazoned across the front underneath the Bellas logo. 

 

“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” she said in disbelief and all the heads turned to Jessica. The girl almost choked on her sip, eyes widening with all the attention.

 

“What?” she asked, clearly confused but it didn’t appease Beca. 

 

“What is my last name?” the brunette asked calmly, her eyes locked with Jessica’s.

 

“Mitchell?”

 

“What is your last name?”

“Smith…” Jessica trailed off, clearly unsure where the line of questioning was going. 

 

“Your mug says otherwise,” Beca said, voice dripping with sarcasm. She wasn’t sure she could physically be any angrier, and it was clear the girls knew this based on the uneasy looks on their faces.

 

Jessica twisted the mug so that she could read the name across the front and her face switched quickly from confusion, to realisation, to horror.

 

“Oh my god Beca! I’m so sorry, I didn't even realise! I wasn’t-”

 

“Wash it,” the brunette interrupted, pointing towards the kitchen where Jessica had just emerged from. 

 

How goddamn hard was it for people to not touch her shit?

 

Putting her headphones safely around her neck, she followed Jessica back through to the kitchen, chatter and noise beginning to pick up again immediately following her departure.

 

The girls all loved Beca but most importantly they respected her. They listened to her when she talked and they would follow her through hell if it meant they could sing together. Unfortunately, Beca had foolishly thought it could translate for the few rules she had made regarding her things. It didn’t take long for her to be proven wrong but still, she persisted. 

 

She watched closely as Jessica washed her mug, ensuring she scrubbed every inch of it thoroughly to get the disgusting taste of sugar out. 

 

Beca was the only person in the house who took her coffee black, every other bella creating a concoction of milk and sugar and cream, which the brunette didn’t think even counted as coffee. 

 

Chloe was the worst of them all. Her starbucks order made Beca shiver each time she got it for her friend. How could coffee be pink?

 

When Jessica was finished, she set the mug down on the drainer and looked at Beca expectantly, as if looking for her approval.

 

“I think we have some disinfectant from upstairs,” she grimaced, putting the mug right back in the sink.

 

She knew she was being dramatic, but she had been like this her whole life. Living with a bunch of messy college students was not going to change it.

 

Slinking through the living room silently, Beca hurried upstairs to see if she could find any kind of disinfectant in the cleaning cupboard at the end of the hallway. The Bellas let her through easily, hoping that they didn’t use any more of Beca’s stuff as they checked what was in their hands.

 

As she walked past Emily’s room, she noticed the door was open and stopped in her tracks when she saw a flash of familiar green.

 

Surely not.

 

She crept back a few steps and peered around the door, catching sight of Emily sitting on her bed, wearing Beca’s very own green BU sweatshirt she got on her first day of college. It felt like a punch in the stomach.

 

“Emily?”

 

The younger girl’s eyes shot up from her laptop, offering a warm grin to Beca as always. “Hi Beca! How was your day?”

 

“Where did you get that sweater?” 

 

Emily looked down at her body, confused, then back up to Beca, whose eye had begun to twitch.

 

“It came in my washing pile.”

 

“It’s mine,” Beca said through gritted teeth, “That’s my sweater.”

 

Emily’s face fell, eyes falling down to her body once again. Beca’s nails were digging into her palms. She has specifically made a Do Not Touch for Emily with Chloe’s help to make sure that the legacy would be up to date with everything when she started coming over more often to the house. Chloe had talked about it with Emily to make sure she stuck to it. 

 

“Oh. Oh no. Is this– This is the – Oh my stars, Beca. I thought this was a welcome gift from the college. I’m so sorry!” Emily blurted, her eyes filling with tears as she realized what she had done. 

 

Emily was a sweet girl, and Beca didn’t want to scare their legacy off before she had even had the chance to participate in a real acapella show. Besides, she cared for the girl and knew she would never do this on purpose.

 

Still, she had to ground herself to the floor to keep from reaching out and ripping the sweater straight off the girls’ back.

 

“Do you have a shirt underneath, Emily?” she said, as innocent as she could be but she knew she was not doing a very good job. 

 

“No,” Emily replied, tears glistening her eyes again and Beca swallowed, looking away to take a breath. 

 

“Okay. It’s fine. Just please don’t wear it again. And I expect it to be washed and folded by tomorrow morning,” Beca replied, excusing herself from the room before she said something she may regret. 

 

She went back to her room after she found some disinfectant, muttering to herself as she sprayed her mug and her headphones. She didn’t have her favorite sweatshirt so she knew going to bed tonight would be hard. 

 

Her phone buzzed again and she reached for it, sighing when she saw the group chat was very active. 

 

Flo to the bellas !!

Ladies, the beca fury has now reached our little one

 

Chloe to the bellas !!

The beca fury? What’s going on??

 

Flo to the bellas !!

I think beca just asked emily to get naked?

 

CR to the bellas !!

This just got interesting

 

Amy to the bellas !!

She’s cheating on chloe now? Guys, we really fucked beca up

 

Stacie to the bellas !!

Chloe, you need to get control of your wife. She’s doing way too much, it’s not a cute look on her

 

Chloe to the bellas !!

If someone doesn’t tell me what’s going on in the next two minutes, i will start screaming

 

Beca scoffed, annoyed at how little her friends seemed to care. Sometimes, it seemed all they did was joke about Beca and Chloe being the mom and dad of the group.

 

Which they were not. 

 

Because they were not dating. 

 

She responded to Chloe’s private text to tell her that everything was okay and that no, she did not ask Emily to get naked. She finished her cleaning job and headed to Chloe’s private bathroom to take a well deserved shower. 

 

When she came out clean, she felt as though she could breathe again and sighed in relief. In Chloe’s bedroom, the redhead was laying on her back, scrolling on her phone until Beca walked in.

 

She patted the spot next to her on the bed with a grin, “Come here, you stubborn baby. Stacie told me what happened.” 

 

—---------

 

Friday morning at the Bellas house was weekly meeting time. They all happened to have free time at 8 AM so Beca and Chloe decided they would use the time to gather, talk ideas and workshop choreo in the comfort of their living room. 

 

It wasn’t as serious as rehearsal but after how they started this year, the co-captains both took it as an opportunity to seriously discuss how they could redeem themselves. 

 

Waking up early was difficult but if there was one thing Beca was good at was being on time so at 8 on the dot, she was waiting in the living room for the girls to arrive. 

 

“Sup, cap’n,” Cynthia-Rose greeted with Stacie trailing behind her, hiding a yawn. 

 

“Morning, CR,” Beca answered, making sure to salute only one of the two girls. 

 

“Ah come on,” Stacie said, picking up what she was doing. “I said I’m sorry, Bec. It won’t happen again.”

 

Beca rolled her eyes as CR snickered, sitting on the other end of the couch. Two by two, the girls joined in, leaving an empty space next to Beca on the couch. Some sat on the floor and some on the arms of the couch, squished together as they talked about whatever. 

 

At 8:07, Beca clapped her hands to grab their attention. 

 

“Right, let’s get started.”

 

“We’re missing Red,” Amy noticed and the brunette shrugged. 

 

“She’s co-captain, she can be a little late.”

 

She ended up staying the night in Chloe’s bed so even if she was missing her sweatshirt, Beca had still woken up to the comfort of red hair in her face and an arm around her waist. When she saw how peaceful her friend looked this morning, she didn’t have the strength to wake her up. Chloe was overworking herself too much on the Bellas this year and she deserved to have a few more minutes. 

 

“If I sleep with you, can I be a little late too?” Amy asked, prompting a laugh from all the girls. 

 

“Let’s talk choreography.” Beca responded with a clap, deciding to rise above Amy’s comment. After all, it wouldn’t be the first or the last time one of the girls made a crack about her close friendship with Chloe. 

 

Over the next twenty minutes, the Bellas managed to orchestrate a full performance, including basic choreography and a mashup for Beca to work on before their next gig. It was a very productive morning and positivity could be felt in the room. 

 

“Morning ladies!” came a chirpy voice from the kitchen and all of the girls turned to look, including Beca. 

 

Chloe was on her way into the room, her hair tied up perfectly in a messy bun, a few curls falling down onto her shoulders but in just the right way. Beca thought she looked the prettiest in the mornings. 

 

The redhead must have slipped past them into the kitchen whilst mid discussion, as Beca could see she was cradling a coffee complete with a swirl of cream in the MITCHELL mug. 

 

Chloe was adorned in Beca’s freshly washed BU sweatshirt, a pair of checkered boxer shorts and bright pink socks, Beca’s headphones hung loosely around her neck. Somehow, she looked perfect. 

 

“G’mornin,” Beca responded, unaware of the girls around her who had fallen completely silent. 

 

Chloe grinned, placing the mug gently on the table and carefully curled up into Beca’s left side on the sofa. 

 

“What have I missed?” she asked, leaning her head on the brunette's shoulder, who was now ruby red in the face. 

 

The girls were still silent and Beca could see smirks beginning to form as she relaxed into Chloe’s touch, stretching out a little more in her seat.

 

“Little Mitch has just been telling us what positions she wants us in. I’m sure you’re well aware of yours already,” Stacie remarked, raising an eyebrow and Chloe let out a belly laugh. 

 

Beca didn’t know how she took the jokes so easily. 

 

“You have no idea,” Chloe said and Beca looked at the Bellas’ reaction, seeing the enjoyment clear on their faces. The brunette looked at Emily, pinpointing the exact moment her eyes understood what she was seeing. 

 

“Hey wait a minute,” Emily spoke up. “That’s Beca’s sweater.” She pointed a finger at the green sweatshirt as everyone fell silent once again. “You asked me to wash it and fold it and I did. But now Chloe is wearing it.”

 

Beca’s throat went dry, not sure what to say with everyone looking at her. She had made a big deal out of everyone touching her stuff and now here was Chloe Beale, doing the opposite of what her Do Not list entailed. 

 

She wasn’t sure why Chloe wearing her BU shirt and headphones all while using her mug for way too sweet coffee and resting her entire body weight on Beca’s side wasn’t a problem to her. A part of her wanted to blame it on the fact that the redhead was her best friend but she knew it was much more complex than that.

 

Perhaps the real explanation was too profound and Beca wasn’t ready to accept it just yet.

 

All she knew is that she was okay with it. 

 

Because it was Chloe. 

 

And that could be enough for now. 

 

“Thanks for washing it, Legacy,” Beca deflected. “Okay so now, while CR–”

 

“Nuh huh, we’re gonna need more than that.” Cynthia Rose interjected, a brow raised as she looked between the pair of them.

 

Beca exhaled dramatically, knowing she wouldn’t be able to worm her way out of this one after how much she’d blown up at the girls last night. 

 

“Chloe can use my stuff because I know she’ll put it back afterwards,” she offered, attempting to play it off as her final answer. 

 

Of course, it wasn’t good enough.

 

“You are so full of shit.” 

 

“C’mon guys, give it a rest,” came Chloe’s firm voice in her defense, and Beca let out a sigh of relief.

 

“How did you do it, Red? How did you turn little Beca into a softie” Amy asked, the teasing tone evident in her strong Australian accent. The bellas all chimed in at the same time, a couple of jokes flying from their mouth.

 

“This meeting is over now, bye,” Beca uttered quickly, standing up to leave the room. 

 

The conversation was making her way more flustered than she cared to admit, and she knew that they were right, at the end of the day;  the redhead was allowed to use her stuff because Beca liked her more than the other girls. 

 

In whatever sense possible. 

 

She knew the girls wouldn’t protest her decision so she kept on walking, climbing up the stairs.

 

Back to Chloe’s bed. 

 

Where things weren’t Beca’s or Chloe’s. They were just theirs.