It felt like deja vu.
The hugging of all her sisters, the Bellas, their screaming in excitement with fists pumping in the air, crying tears of joy after they just finished their performance. It had been the exact same feeling as the National Championship win at the ICCA's three years before. Right down to the feeling of pure joy Chloe had felt at the moment she knew the Bellas were going to win, this time being at the World Championships.
The Bellas performance had gone perfectly, the choreography she had crafted had really worked with the girl's vocals. Beca had done an awesome job as always in crafting their set.
Chloe was so proud of all the Bellas. This was maybe the proudest moment of her life; or at least 1A.
Of course the Bellas had gone on to win the next two more Championships of Collegiate A Cappella after that first glorious win, but their first win and World's were different. Both had been firsts, the ICCA a first for the Bellas and for an all-girl group in general, while for Worlds, it was a first win for an American A Cappella group.
Then there were the stakes that the Worlds represented, win and the Bellas continue, lose and Chloe would have been the Captain who saw the dissolution of the Bellas forever.
Oh the pressure that had been placed on her. Chloe recognized she had gone a little bit round the bend this year. Luckily for her the Bellas kind of thrive on crazy; each bringing their own brand to the group.
But that didn’t matter, because they had won!
Yet Chloe had lost.
Just like the night of the first ICCA Championship.
The memory of that night was forever etched in her mind, with a clarity one would think might have dimmed over the last three years, but had remained crystal clear in her memories. She could still see Beca pulling away from the Bellas on the stage, and making her way towards the Bellas assigned seats. Chloe had still been on the stage with the rest of the Bellas. She clearly remembered watching Beca move with purpose towards Jesse. Chloe still remembers the surprise this move caused her, but looking back she shouldn't have been all that surprised; heck a good portion of their winning performance had been one grand movie worthy declaration of her feelings for the Treble. Still actually seeing Beca make such a bold move had been so heart wrenching. Like a car wreck, Chloe hadn't been able to look away as she watched Beca lean in. She just couldn't, even though it had broken her heart to watch Beca grab Jesse by the back of his head, and pull him towards her lips.
Who knew that anti-movie Beca could create such a perfect moment for herself and Jesse, all the while unknowingly destroying Chloe's.
That night, such a high, such joy, such disappointment and heartbreaking misery.
Just like tonight.
Another memory etched forever in her mind.
The exhilaration of their performance still coursing adrenaline through her veins, the adulation of the crowd, the enthusiasm of her fellow Bellas both past and present, it had been perfect.
Her Bellas had been mingling with the Bellas of generations past in a tent just off to the side of the stage. They were all buzzing from their performance. Of course Jesse had shown up, a total goof dressed in red, white, and blue, but it had brought Beca such a warm smile. These were the types of moments that Chloe had grown used to over the last three years, her sweet and sour moments as she had dubbed them. Sweet moments where Beca is so happy, or smiles in such a way that Chloe's heart soars; sour because the smiles not for her, she's not the source of Beca's joy.
It had been tough on Chloe as she watched Jesse sweep Beca up into his arms and spun her about. The petite brunette had squeaked and demanded to be set down, even as Chloe heard Jesse say, "You were so amazing Becs! I'm so proud of you!"
Chloe had known she had been staring too long, but she had been unable to turn away. She watched as Jesse set Beca back on her feet, all the while smiling warmly at the petite brunette. Because she had been frozen, Chloe had been forced to watch as Jesse pulled the tiny DJ, her tiny DJ but really his tiny DJ, into a deep passionate kiss. And Chloe couldn't help but think that tonight’s the night she'd been dreading for the past year. It's just the perfect moment, in just the perfect place.
And she had been right; it had happened, just a bit later. Just as she knew it would.
It had happened just after the winner had been announced. The redhead had been standing on the stage with the Bellas, in what should have been her proudest moment. Fat Amy had been hoisting the huge championship trophy above their collective heads as she shouted they were world champions. The stage had been crowded with the many women who represented the generations of Bellas who had come to support the current generation in their time of need. Hugs and laughter were being shared, the moment jubilant. Everyone knew now that the Bellas were saved. It was a time for celebration.
Chloe remembers clearly that she had just broken free of a hug with Stacie and turned to try and find Beca so she could exchange one hug before the tiny brunette inevitably disappeared with her boyfriend, but she was too late, Jesse had already arrived again.
He had changed, gone was the goofy red, white, and blue beach wear, and in its place a button down shirt, nice khaki pants, and a sports jacket. He must have been planning this for awhile, as it was obvious he had stashed a change of clothes to change into.
Smart, he looked quite handsome.
Chloe could still feel, now hours later, the shattering of her heart. It had been surreal for the redhead as everything slowed down, just like you see in the movies. Her eyes had grown wide as she watched Jesse gently pull Beca into another deep kiss, and then go for the proposal. She had just known it was coming, but still it had hurt so much to watch him gently push Beca back from him as he dropped to one knee; he held the petite brunette’s slender hand tightly throughout the process.
His moves had been so graceful and smooth. Chloe couldn’t help but wonder, as she replayed the moves for the thousandth time in her head, had he practiced the move? Chloe couldn’t suppress the giggle that bubbled up as the image of Jesse practicing with Benji flashed in her mind. Or did Jesse's ease of movement come natural after years of holding and kissing the petite brunette? That thought had sobered up Chloe quickly, as another tear escaped down her cheek.
Pain previously unknown had lanced through Chloe's heart at that moment, just knowing what's about to occur, then made worse as it had actually happened. Each replay of Jesse bending down onto one knee, producing a small black velvet box with such theatrical flair, opened to reveal the sparkle of a ring, caused just as painful of a stab.
She has revisited that memory a thousand times in the past few hours, each time as painful as the original. Chloe would never have guessed her heart could hurt this much. It literally had felt like half of her heart had been torn away.
Oh how Chloe now wished she had turned away, but just as that fateful night at the ICCA's, Chloe just couldn't do it. So Chloe had just stood by and watched, noting every detail, as Jesse took the diamond ring from the small box and slid it onto the slender fourth finger of Beca's left hand.
No matter how much she wanted to, and she truly did, Chloe couldn't help but stand rooted to her spot on stage. An honest part of the redhead knew deep down in her soul that she actually wanted to watch this moment; because even in the depth of this pain, Chloe could savor the joy Beca was feeling, and be happy for her best friend.
Because even in her pain, Chloe would always be happy for her best friend and support her. Still part of Chloe had to wonder as she walked the empty street in downtown Copenhagen, just how many times a heart can shatter?
At least once more for sure, is all Chloe can think as she pictures Beca walking down an aisle in a beautiful white gown.
Thinking back to that moment, Chloe shook her head as she remembered Fat Amy nearly knocking her over. The boisterous Aussie had knocked into her as she rushed to be the first to congratulate the newly engaged couple. The memory of Amy declaring loudly her right as Beca's best friend to be the first to congratulate them caused the redhead to chuckle. It was bittersweet, but still a chuckle.
Amy’s rush across the stage had freed Chloe's feet, as she had been literally knocked out of her shocked stupor. The redhead had finally been able to move, and with tentative initial steps, Chloe slowly moved towards the growing crowd around the happy couple.
But then she stopped.
Suddenly Chloe had been torn by indecision. Should she go and congratulate her best friend and co-captain? Or should she flee the scene?
The swarm of Bellas from all the generations rushing over to congratulate the winning captain had made it easier for Chloe. They provided the perfect cover for Chloe to depart the stage. She had watched as her friends and Bella sisters all gathered around Beca and Jesse, the current Bellas at the very heart of the swarm.
A soft, sad smile had touched Chloe’s lips as she watched the petite brunette. Beca is very popular with the Bellas, young and old alike. Everyone knows that she's the main reason the Bellas have enjoyed the successes they have had over the last few years. Everyone knows now the little alt girl is blossoming into the star that Chloe always knew she would be.
Yes Chloe will receive the occasional compliment and appreciation, but it pales in comparison to the adulation of Beca; and Chloe's okay with that. How could she not? She’s known the truth longer than anyone else that all of the Bellas success in the last four years has almost completely been due to the tiny DJ.
The girl is just that talented.
Chloe would never begrudge Beca the veneration she's so clearly earned.
This same popularity ensured that every Bella on stage wanted a moment to congratulate Beca and Jesse, so suddenly there had been quite the scrum in the middle of the stage. Chloe had smiled forlornly and used the commotion to escape backstage, and then away from the competition grounds. She had left silently, without saying a word to anyone.
It was okay no one would notice.
Now a few hours later it left a bitter taste in her mouth to not be there for her best friend, but she just couldn't be there at that moment. She reasoned she would make it up to Beca later. She would just tell Beca she wanted to congratulate her in a more private way, without a hundred excited Bellas all about. It would be fine, she doubted Beca even noticed that Chloe wasn't there.
She would come to Beca tomorrow and give her best wishes, and mean every word of it, and her mask would be back in place, so Beca wouldn't know the pain she's in. And she would proudly be one of Beca's bridesmaids. Though not as the Maid of Honor, she smiles ruefully, because she didn't want to be put in a headlock by Fat Amy, who would definitely fight for the honor. But a bridesmaid would be fine, as long as she got to support Beca.
Yes tomorrow will be fine, but tonight is where she allows her grief its moment.
Chloe had walked through the streets of Copenhagen without much thought or plan. Once she had left the grounds, her tears had begun to flow, and she hadn’t really paid attention to where she was going.
Her heart was pounding so painfully. Each step felt like a stab of blades in her heart; no, it felt much worse. Chloe didn't care. She needed to keep moving, she needed to embrace the pain. Part of her knew that over the last three years, the pain had become a part of her, and now she knew that this pain will always be a part of her.
At some point Chloe found herself outside of the Langelinie Promenade, a beautiful park in central Copenhagen, after having walked aimlessly around the city for well over three hours. Though the lights are still on, the park is empty, the tourists and locals all gone home, or to warmer destinations for the night. That's fine though, perfect even. Chloe really isn't in the mood to be around people at the moment. She wasn't prepared for anyone to see her in her current state.
Walking through the park she naturally went to the sea wall that overlooks the statue of the little mermaid, which sits on a boulder just off the rocky shore of the harbor. Now that she was here, this destination seemed inevitable. She needed this moment of solitude. She needed time to reflect, and what better place than near the statue that immortalizes her favorite literary character. In addition the cool sea breeze of the Danish evening seemed to breathe some much needed life into her shattered soul.
She had really needed to feel the air, she had begun to feel nauseous.
Looking down at the statue, the redhead finds herself a good place to sit. She gently settles herself down on a larger stone, one well worn by the passage of time, and most likely the seats of thousands of tourists who had sat in the same spot. She makes herself comfortable, or as comfortable as one can be on a large boulder. She sighs and pulls her knees up to her chest and rests her forehead against her arms that are folded on her knees. As she settles, she begins to weep again into her arms, and she is surprised that there are still tears for her to shed.
Yet she finds herself weirdly content to be alone in her misery.
Sitting on the stone, she listens to the gentle lap of the waves splashing on the rocky shore, and the sea breeze, carrying the sounds of a harbor. Her eyes focus on the famous statue, and she smiles softly, there's something reassuring about the bronze statue. She's always loved the 'Little Mermaid' character; imagine her glee at learning that there was a famous statue of the character in Copenhagen.
The hair of course had been the original draw for her when she was a little girl, but the character in the movie just felt so compelling for Chloe growing up, she had become her very favorite movie character of all. How could Ariel not be her favorite character? She was a strong female character who loved music and dancing, a character so warm and caring for all around her. A character willing to give up everything for love. There was no way Ariel wouldn't be her favorite.
It wasn't until high school that Chloe actually read the original story by Hans Christian Andersen. She had been more than a little shocked at the much darker tale Andersen had originally penned. She learned that he had gone back years later to give a slightly lighter ending to the first he originally published. Yet still the story was dark, and heartbreaking, but still the Little Mermaid character had spoken to her. Hans Christian Andersen had created such an amazing character who was willing to give up everything special in her life, and everything that is important to her, for love. Chloe loved that even in heartbreak the character is willing to sacrifice it all for love.
This is why she's always known she loved Beca, and that Beca might be her one true love.
Beca was like no other person in Chloe's life. She was a star pulling Chloe's attention from the first time she spotted the little alt-girl at the activities fair. Beca was so easy to love, despite how prickly freshman Beca tried to be, and Chloe had fallen in love with her. Fallen in love with her whole heart, and she knew it was true love because as much as she had wanted to be the person making Beca smile, as long as someone was making her smile, it was enough.
She sits there just looking at the statue in the moonlight and lets the tears trail down her face. She'll cry her tears tonight, and then tomorrow she'll smile brightly as she hugs her best friend and wish her nothing but happiness and joy in her life going forward.
"There you are."
Chloe's head whips about to see Beca standing on the stone walkway just a dozen steps away.
"Beca?" Chloe asks dumbfounded to see her best friend.
"Yeah," says the petite brunette as she walks forward. She comes in tentatively, as if she's afraid that her friend will bolt.
And again Chloe's heart shatters, knowing that her selfish act has taken her best friend from her celebration, from her friends, and from her fiancé.
Chloe keeps staring at her best friend as Beca comes to take a seat next to the redhead. "What are you doing here?" Chloe asks while the petite brunette drops to a sitting position next to her best friend.
The redhead couldn't help the pang of sadness, and a little ache in her chest at the proximity of the woman she loves, but knowing she can't do anything about it.
"Like I'm going to celebrate without my co-captain and best friend." Beca looks around conspiratorially, whispering loudly, "Careful, we don't want to let Fat Amy hear that, pretty sure she will drop both of us in the harbor if she believes someone is taking her spot as my best friend."
Chloe can't help but giggle at her best friend's attempt at humor.
Beca leans into Chloe with her shoulder, giving a slight nudge.
The redhead sucks in a breath, trying to calm her nerves, trying to reason with herself. She couldn't help averting her eyes when she felt Beca lean into her. "Isn't Amy going to be mad you are out here with me?"
"Nah, she said something about Bhloe needing to be together as we began to search for you."
"Search for me?" Chloe asks incredulously. "Why is anybody searching for me?"
Beca gives her best friend a look that seems to imply the word 'seriously'. She says earnestly, "Uh hello, we're celebrating the biggest night in Bella's history, how do we do that without the woman who most embodies what it means to be a Bella?"
"Didn't think anybody would actually notice…"
This does catch Beca off guard. "Um what?"
"Well there are so many Bellas here tonight, plus they had you and Emily to congratulate. You two are the biggest reason we won tonight. Let's face it you're the leader of the Bellas."
"Chloe, you were my co-captain."
"I appreciate the words Beca, but let's be real, just as with Aubrey, I was co-captain mostly in just name only. It was always you who came up with the music, you the girls looked to to lead us through."
"Chloe Elizabeth Beale," Beca says in exasperation.
Chloe can't help but smile and chuckles at her best friend, "Wow, did you really just middle-name me?"
"It still doesn't change the fact that you were the leader of the Bellas. Which is okay Becs, I don't hold it against you, nor am I upset by it. It's just what is-or was…" Chloe trails off.
The petite DJ sits silently next to Chloe, and the redhead feels this is confirmation of her feelings. But then Beca moves herself off the stone so she now is facing Chloe. The petite positions herself between the redhead’s legs so she is standing right in front of her. From this position she can really look at the redhead and study her face. She tries to look Chloe in the eyes, but the redhead is suddenly having trouble meeting the DJ’s gaze.
The silence drags out between them, so when Beca finally responds, it's a bit of a surprise. It’s also not how Chloe expects.
"Chloe, how many bills have I paid over the last three years?"
"That would be zero. I haven't picked up a single bill that keeps the Bellas house going. Yet they always were paid; who did that?"
"Well, ummm, I guess that was me…"
Beca cuts Chloe off, "Over the last couple of years about how much choreography have I come up with, including that catchy patty-cake like routine which helped us win?"
"Near zero Chloe. Who developed the chore schedule?"
"It wasn't me, Chlo." Before the redhead can respond, Beca continued, "Who made sure the house was stocked with groceries, and that the Bellas had actual sit down meals at least four times a week?"
"When that jerk Jake cheated on Jessica, who made sure she was well stocked with ice cream and wine? When Ashley's grandmother passed away, who went with her to the funeral?"
"... And? When Stacie learned her dog was going to be put down, who went to the vet with her?"
"Do I need to go on? I think I have a dozen such stories for each of the Bellas, and I know I have at least two dozen such anecdotes about times you went above and beyond for me. So don't you think for a moment you weren't my co-captain Chloe Beale." Beca fixes Chloe with a look that dares Chloe to challenge what she's saying. "When it came to really guiding the Bellas over the last three years, if anything I take a backseat to you." Says Beca rather emphatically as she pulls Chloe in tight against her, resting her chin on Chloe's shoulder.
"Seriously Chlo, you were the glue that kept the Bellas together the last three years. I was only successful as a captain because you were there next to me."
"Thanks Beca, it's not true but thanks…"
"Is that why you're out here, and not back at the hotel accepting shots from our former competitors?"
Chloe shakes her head no. "I just needed some space. You know a moment's reflection."
"Chloe, it's been over four hours. What's going on?"
"I'm fine…" In all actuality, Chloe wants nothing more than for the earth to open up and swallow her whole. She's so embarrassed by this whole situation, but she braces herself to face her humiliation. It can't get more awkward than this, she thinks.
"You know whenever you say you're fine, you're not fine." Beca replies as she wraps her arm around Chloe's waist. "Talk to me."
Chloe can't think of a reasonable answer, but then again with Beca wrapped around her she's having trouble thinking at all. She decides to deflect. "How did you even find me?"
Beca fixes her friend with a steady stare, but then decides not to push, for the moment. Turning her body again so they are side-by-side, she points towards the statue resting on the rock in water. "Chlo, you're literally sitting ten feet away from a statue of the Little Mermaid. When I realized you were no longer with us, and no one had seen you since the trophy was handed to us. When I couldn't find you in our room or in the hotel, I wracked my brain as to where you might go. Then I remembered seeing a brochure with the Mermaid statue's picture in the hotel lobby. I grabbed it and headed here."
Chloe looks down at the water, lapping at the shore. She's silent for a moment, just listening to the water as small waves break upon the shore. She sighs, "I'm sorry if I caused any worries. I just needed some time away from it all."
Beca doesn't miss the fearful glint in the redhead's eyes. "I understand Chlo. Trust me, no one knows the need for space and privacy better than me," says Beca as she rubs light, comforting circles on Chloe's back.
"So I suppose you need to get back," says Chloe.
"Oh my god!" Chloe exclaimed loudly as realization hit her. "I'm such a bad friend, Becs!" Horror showing on her face. She forces a tight but fake smile. "Congratulations!" Her enthusiasm sounds strained to her own ears, but she hopes it's enough to mask the pain. Her eyes though are honest as she solemnly declares, "I'm so sorry I didn't congratulate you earlier. There were just so many people." She kind of chokes on the words, "I-I-I kinda just thought I would congratulate you later… You know when it was quieter."
Beca looks at Chloe with soft understanding eyes. "No, I'm good..." She again places an arm around her friend.
"I would have thought you'd want to be with Jesse or something…"
Beca shakes her head. "No, I'm where I need to be."
Chloe knows this is a lie, and tries a reassuring smile, before turning her head to look again at the Little Mermaid. "It's okay Becs, you should be with your fiancé."
She hears the hesitancy in Beca's response, the petite brunette lets out a long slow breath through her mouth. "Uhh… Yeah, you know... That could be an issue," the brunette pauses, thinking about her response, "Uhh as I don't currently have a fiancé..."
Chloe's head whips about to stare wide eyed at her best friend. "Wait, what?"
Suddenly going quiet, Beca nervously rubs the back of her head, a nervous tic, Chloe has recognized over the years. Chloe can see that her best friend is struggling with what to say. Beca purses her lips as she searches for the right words. When she begins with a question it catches Chloe off-guard. The petite brunette tilts her head to indicate the statue, "You know I had to read 'Little Mermaid' for my comparative European Lit class? Actually a number of Hans Christian Andersen's stories." Beca shudders at the memory, "That guy had a dark imagination."
Chloe doesn't know what to say, the question and observation so out of left field. She shakes her head no. What did the petite brunette mean? Of course she has a fiancé, Chloe had seen the ring, seen it on her hand. "Becs…?"
The brunette just talks past the question, "I actually borrowed a copy of the works of Hans Christian Andersen you have for the class. Little Mermaid is so different from the Disney version you made me watch a dozen times."
"Not a dozen…"
"At least a dozen; every time you're sick red."
Chloe tilts her head as she thinks on this. "Oh, yeah…"
The DJ smirks at her best friend, and says in mock disapproval. "So as I was saying, before being so rudely interrupted…"
"Hey…" Chloe playfully smacks Beca's arm.
"Dude… Abuse… I'm trying to tell a story here…"
The redhead looks suitably chagrin. "Sorry…"
The younger woman gives a smile like she’s actually won some point. "As I was saying," she gives the redhead a pointed look. "I borrowed your copy of the book with the original Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid for the class."
"Oh!" Chloe suddenly remembers that she had written a number of things in the margins of that book, especially on the pages of that particular story.
Recognizing the realization as it dawn on her best friend's face. She nods, "Yeah,it was actually really interesting reading your thoughts on the story, and what message Andersen was trying to convey. Your notes actually helped me with my paper. I always meant to thank you for your help, but you had left for home and Spring Break, and then when you got back we got so busy with Nationals I forgot-umm-sorry…" Beca says, a little chagrin, again rubbing the back of her neck sheepishly.
"It's okay, but what…"
"Yeah, getting a little side tracked. What I was getting at was I understood better why the Little Mermaid was so special for you. What it is about the character that speaks to you."
A little confused, Chloe interrupts, "Still not following…" she really isn’t sure where this conversation is going.
"Let me speak, woman," Beca says exasperated. Her trademark smirk however acknowledges the truth that she's joking. "Sorry Chlo… still not able to articulate myself without a little bit of snark and a lot of rambling. Especially when talking to you or about feelings…"
"So the Little Mermaid is at its most basic form a story of sacrifice. She gives up her voice, by the way I definitely liked Disney's version way better, cutting out the tongue, seriously gross," Beca actually shudders as she thinks about that particular passage. Chloe can't help but chuckle at her friend's reaction, but is still lost as to where this conversation is going. Before she can give voice to this though, Beca continues, "She endures excruciating pain every time she takes a step, yet the Little Mermaid dances to entertain her prince whenever he wishes."
Beca pauses again and looks over at the statue, "To be honest, I kind of feel that Hans Christian Andersen must have really despised children."
Chloe gasps and looks comically aghast at Beca's statement.
"I mean you have to admit his stories are absolutely nightmare inducing."
Chloe has to agree with this, "Yeah well," she leans into her smaller friend, "I'm still not sure what that has to do with why you're here, and not off celebrating with Jesse."
Beca's face flushes a brilliant shade of red that is even visible in the darkness of the moonlit night. "I got sidetracked again, didn't I? I'm really bad at this… sorry… I think… I mean… ummm-I think it says something that your favorite literary character is someone who sacrifices everything for love. It fits everything I've ever known about you, and yet I realized this evening maybe I really didn't know."
Chloe goes to say something, but Beca holds up her hand. "Wait-Let me finish. When Jesse proposed to me I was so surprised. He and I hadn't talked about what comes next. He’s moved out to LA, but I'm not sure if I'm going to follow right away. Residual Heat offered me a full time position. So I wasn't expecting Jesse to propose."
Chloe's eyes widen at this news, but she holds back, Beca is on a roll now, words just pouring forth, and she doesn't want to disrupt them.
The brunette closes her eyes, as if not looking at Chloe will help to let her make this confession, "I was speechless when he asked, and shocked as he took my hand, and slipped on the ring."
She pauses, her mind replaying the scene, as she moistens her mouth, which is suddenly dry. Her eyes open as she admits, "Yet I never said yes. Looking at that ring and then looking at him felt wrong."
This admission truly shocks Chloe. Still she refrains from talking. If she were to open her mouth now she would be asking the thousands of questions rolling about her head.
The young brunette doesn’t notice, her eyes instead focused on the lights across the harbor, knowingly oblivious to Chloe's reaction, not wanting to be distracted from her confession. "But then Amy was there and all the Bellas, and Jesse had his arm around me. I kept looking for you but you weren't there. I looked…"
Chloe tries to give an excuse, but Beca continues, "Suddenly we were heading to the hotel, and still I couldn't see you. I began to ask all the Bellas, but no one knew what happened to you. Jesse was getting annoyed with me, because all I could think about was what happened to you and where you were."
Beca straightens up so she can fix the redhead with a serious stare, "Why did you stick around these last three years, Chloe?"
Again a question the redhead wasn’t ready for, so Chloe looks away from the love of her life and instead focuses on the statue. When she replies it’s just loud enough to be heard over the night breeze and the gentle waves. "It was worth the pain to be near you."
Exhaling shakily, the tiny DJ mumbles something quickly in response, but it's so fast and soft these words are lost in the night breeze.
This causes Chloe to turn her attention back to her best friend. She scrunches her eyebrows, as she asks, "What was that?"
"God, Chloe, I like you. You know, like-like you, okay?" Beca blurts out in exasperation, throwing her hands up in the air for emphasis, her cheeks immediately coloring.
Confusion is written all over the redhead's face as she stutters, "I… I-you-you… what?"
Beca heaves a heavy sigh and gently pulls Chloe off the boulder so they can stand face to face. There is a moment’s hesitation, until the redhead finally makes eye contact with her best friend. It’s that moment when each woman truly looks into the eyes of the other, that suddenly there’s no fear or hesitation on either’s part. All feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment slip away. It’s as if suddenly both women are in their own bubble, separate from the rest of the world. A place where each feels safe and warm and loved.
“Chlo.” Beca says softly, staring at the redhead with pleading eyes, "I like you," but then she shakes her head. "No, wait, that's wrong. I-I love you. I've loved you for so long, Chloe, and I just realized it when someone else slipped a ring on my finger, yet the only person I could picture in my future was you. That's why I gave the ring back before heading here."
The redhead bites her lip, fresh tears rolling down her cheeks, unsure of how she should react to Beca's confession. She wipes her tear stained face with her sleeve, as she formulates what she wants to say. The DJ however isn't finished, and she continues, "You accept me for who I am and support me like no one else ever has."
Beca reaches out and gently tilts Chloe's head so they are again looking into each other's eyes. Beca wants Chloe to know she means every word she's saying, "You've supported me like no other, and no matter what you’ve had my back. You've comforted me, and kept me grounded. You’ve believed in me like no one's ever believed in me. You make me smile and laugh until I can barely breathe and my heart beats at a mile a minute when you so much as look at me."
There are more tears in Chloe's eyes as she listens to the clumsy rambling declaration of love from her adorable best friend.
Beca continues "I don't know when I started feeling attracted to you Chlo. I don't know when I knew you were the most beautiful person on the planet. I don't know when I started looking at you and seeing a future with you. I don't…I don't know when I fell in love with you, Chloe, but I did.
"It turned my whole world upside-down Chloe, because you're my best friend; but it's true, I love you."
To say that Chloe was surprised by this turn of events would be a gross understatement. She mumbles out, "I feel the same way, Beca. I love you." It's now Beca's face that is one of shock, and her cheeks are bright pink, and her eyes that are shining, as the redhead says to her, "I've...always loved you."
The petite brunette stands there astounded by Chloe’s admission. The redhead decides that it’s now or never. "Beca, I-Jesus," says Chloe as she in one fluid motion sweeps Beca up in her arms; one hand going around Beca's waist to rest on her lower back, the other curling behind the petite brunette’s slender neck, grasping the back of her head, and tugging the shorter woman in.
Her soft lips touch Beca's and she can tell she caught her best friend by surprise.
Although initially surprised, the petite brunette relaxes easily into Chloe's lips, her mouth warm and sweet on Beca's. She allows the kiss to grow more passionate. Beca's hands snake around the redhead's waist and Chloe's hands tangle themselves in Beca's thick brown locks.
They separate only because there is a distinct lack of oxygen in their lungs and Chloe rests her forehead against Beca's, both women panting lightly with blissful smiles on their faces.
Chloe whispers "You're really cute, you know that?"
"I'm not cute, I'm badass!" Beca declares in a husky voice.
Their eyes remain a mere two inches apart, Chloe gazing longingly into Beca's eyes, "Yeah you are." She sees it in the DJ's face that the younger girl is going to respond with one of her usual snarky retorts, so Chloe moves her lips forward to cut her off. Their lips meet, and it's soft and delicate, in a move that is bold yet still timid in its affectionateness, as if the redhead is afraid she might shatter the moment. Her fears are assuaged though as she feels Beca responding, with even the ghosting touch of the brunette's tongue on her bottom lip. Chloe opens her mouth and the two find the kiss entering new levels of intimacy.
Again they only separate when there is no longer air in either of their lungs. Chloe again pulls back, but only enough to breath, she keeps Beca's face close, nuzzling Beca's nose with her own in a playful seal kiss. With eyes closed she whispers, "I have been in love with you for years Rebecca Marie Mitchell. I love everything about you. Everything." She hesitates for a second and opens her eyes, locking in her bright blue with Beca's deep gray-blue. Chloe wants to be looking into Beca's perfect eyes when she says, "I love you."
A smile like no other Chloe has ever seen on the petite brunette lights up Beca's face as she whispers, "I love you, too."