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Running To You

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She didn’t know how long she had been running for, but she did know that her lungs hurt like a bitch and her legs were aching.

So close, her breathing grew heavier as she turned the corner, if I could just-

“Fuck!” The girl cried, as she was slammed against the wall. “Ow! Let go of me, you fucking cu-”

“Keep still.” The man grit out as he twisted her arm, “Gimme your hand.”

“Fuck you-” She let out a yelp as he bent her arm back further. “Shit! Okay, OKAY! Stop!”

The police officer clicked the handcuffs over the girl’s wrists as his partner ran out of the alley. “Jesus,” she panted. “You weren’t kidding. She’s fucking fast.”

“Yeah, and a real pain in my ass.” He struggled to turn the girl around as she fought against his grip, before successfully managing to tug the hood off her head.

A brunette teenager glared back at him, her face falling into a sneer as she laid eyes on him. “Fucks sake,” she groaned. “Don’t you have anything better to do, David?”

“It’s Saker to you, Beca. And in answer to your question, I really do.” He crossed his arms. “Now, where is it?”

“Where’s what?”

“The stuff you stole from BB’s.”

“BB’s?” Beca stared blankly at him. “Never heard of-”

“Bullshit.” He snapped. “We saw you run out of the store half an hour ago.”

“Wow. So you’re arresting me for running?” She scoffed. “Last time I checked, that wasn’t a crime.”

“Don’t get smart with me.” David sighed. “We saw you running from a store which moments later reported a shoplifter, fitting your description. That doesn’t sound like a coincidence.”

Beca shrugged, “Well, I obviously don’t have the stuff you’re looking for, so you can’t prove shit.”

"Really?" The officer's partner, Izzy, held up a grey backpack, shaking it. “Then this wouldn’t happen to be yours would it? Because I could’ve sworn you ditched it right after you saw me.”

Beca’s eye twitched, “Nope, definitely not mine.”

Izzy smirked. “Then why does it say B. Mitchell on the tag?”

“Crap.” Beca sighed, closing her eyes, as she leant against the wall, “Fucking pig.”

“HEY!” David shook Beca’s shoulder, her eyes shooting back open. “Loose the attitude kid! We have actual jobs to do and we shouldn’t have to waste all morning chasing after our Captain’s kid!”

Beca’s eyes blazed fiercely. “I’m NOT her fucking kid!”

“Yeah, no shit.” David grabbed hold of her arm and pulled her forward, pushing her towards the police car. “Get in,” he commanded, as Izzy opened the door. “And we better not hear a peep from you, or I swear to God they’ll never find your body.”

 



I almost got away with it.

Beca sighed, as she fidgeted in the back of the squad car. Ten more seconds and I could have done it, she thought to herself bitterly. And why the fuck did I put my name on that bag?

Whatever, She smirked, closing her eyes and leaning her head against the window. It'll be worth it to see the look on step-bitches face.

Ah, hell, the smirk vanished. I needed that money. Now I have to wait another month to get out of this shit hole.

The car finally stopped, and she opened her eyes. The first thing she noticed was that they were not in the police station’s parking lot. The second was that they were in front of an all too familiar driveway.

“The fuck?!” She exclaimed, as her stomach clenched violently. “You took me home?! My dad doesn’t get back from work for hours! Besides, aren’t you supposed to drive me to the station or something? Police protocol and all that?”

David got out the car and opened the back door, fixing Beca with a hard stare. “Yeah well, like your mother, I actually care about your future.”

“That bitch is NOT my fucking mother.” Beca glared back. “So get fucked.”

“Get out.”

“Sure thing, dickhead,”

David reached inside and grabbed Beca’s jacket, dragging her out so they were face to face.

She immediately tried to pull away from him, but ended up being spun around and pressed into the side of the police cruiser, gasping in pain as David forced her cuffed arms above her head.

“OW!” Beca yelled, stilling her movements as pain spiked through her shoulders. “Dude STOP!”

“I’ll stop when you shut the hell up.” David said firmly, tweaking her arm up again. He took her silence as a sign to continue. “Now listen here, you little brat, I’m tired of your punk-ass shit and I know everyone else is too. If It wasn’t for your step-mum then you’d already be in juvie.” 

“Go to hell.” Beca muttered, causing David to twist her entire arm this time, earning a yelp of pain from her.

“I’m not finished.” He said coldly. “I don’t know what lies or self-pitying bullshit you feed yourself to justify your actions, but you need to snap out of it, because it’s hurting your family.”

“They’re not my-”

“Yes, they fucking are.” David whipped her around, pinning her to the car by her collar as he glared at her. “You’ve done absolutely nothing to fucking deserve them, but they are your family. And you messing around with their lives is making them both miserable. And for what? To prove a point?”

Beca narrowed her eyes. “You don’t know shit about me.”

“I know enough.” David tutted. “The poor girl whose mummy died and daddy left, how tragic.”

Beca’s nostrils flared and she clenched her jaw. “Don’t you ever talk about my mum.”

David nodded. “I won’t as long as you show your new one some respect.”

Beca glared back at him.

“Agreed?” He asked flatly. 

Silence. 

David pushed his arm into Beca’s neck, choking the teenager. “Agreed?” He asked, louder this time.

“Yes! Okay!” She croaked, coughing as David loosened his grip.

He took a step back, fetching Izzy from where she had been waiting in the front seat. They came back around just as Beca had righted herself again.

"What are you waiting for?" Izzy asked, shifting her attention to Beca. "Get moving."

“Really?!” The teenager exclaimed angrily. “You’re just going to let him get away with that?”

Izzy shrugged. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t see a thing.”

David failed to keep the smirk off his face as he turned his attention back to Beca. “Now do what she says and start walking. You’ve wasted enough of our time as it is.”

Beca stood her ground, head held high, but then David was behind her, pushing her arms up again.

“Christ! OKAY!”

He eased her arms back down and she began to walk towards the front door, with David forcing her forward and Izzy hovering a few paces behind them. Her glare didn’t waver when they stopped, or when David rapped on the door.

It opened a few seconds later, and Beca’s hostile eyes were immediately directed at the step-monster herself. Sheila let out a heavy sigh. “What now?”

Beca narrowed her eyes. “Tell your minions to leave me the fuck alone,” she growled.

David pushed her arm up again, and she let out a muffled cry. “What did I tell you about showing some goddamn respect?”

Sheila folded her arms. “What did she do?” She asked, her voice weary.

“We caught her stealing some watches from BB’s.” Izzy spoke up, lifting the backpack and shaking it; Beca’s frown intensified as the contents rattled around inside. “And there’s a bottle of Vodka in there too. I’m guessing she got it from that Eltons on fifth.”

Beca’s stepmother shot her a look. “We told you to stop going there.”

“Yeah well I don’t listen to masochistic cocksuckers,” she retorted, preparing herself for the pain; as if on cue, David flexed her arm, and she bit down hard on her lip.

Sheila rubbed her face, looking between the officers. “You’re not going to take her in?”

David shook his head. “Unless you say otherwise, Cap, she’s all yours.”

“Thanks.” Sheila nodded. “I’ll take her.”

Izzy handed Sheila the backpack, and David used a key to undo the cuffs. Beca shrugged out of his hold, wincing as she rubbed her shoulder.

David put his cuffs back in the holster. “See you tomorrow, Captain.” 

Beca glared at the retreating forms of the officers, waiting until they were in the car again, before finally facing her step-witch. “Now that’s over I’m getting out of here.”

“No, you’re not.” Sheila moved from blocking Beca’s entrance to the house. “Get inside. Now.”

“Fuck you.”

“Just say the word, Beca.” Sheila took the walkie talkie out of her back pocket. “I can get David back here in seconds.”

Beca glanced back at the police car; the officers were still there, and they didn’t seem to be leaving anytime soon. “Fine,” she fumed, stalking back inside, causing the front door to close behind her. “Then I’m going upstairs.”

Sheila caught Beca’s arm as she tried to stalk past her and dragged her into the living room. 

“What the hell, dude?!” Beca snapped. “Don’t fucking touch me!”

Her step-mother kept a blank face, despite Beca’s outburst. “Sit down.” 

“Fuck off.”

“I wasn’t kidding when I said I would have David re-arrest you.”

Beca rolled her eyes, but slumped onto the couch nonetheless.

Sheila unzipped the backpack and tipped the contents onto the small table in front of the couch. The bottle of Vodka came tumbling out first, followed by the watches. Another shake and her headphones, a half empty packs of cigarettes, lighter, and a burner phone, fell out.

Sheila looked over it all quickly, then picked up the headphones. “Truthfully, you’re probably one of the smartest kids I’ve ever met,” she started.

“Good to know. You should buy me a medal.”

“Maybe if you could go a week without getting busted, I would.” She shook her head, “Which is why I’m actually a little disappointed that this is the best you came up with.”

With that, she tucked her finger underneath the padded part of the headphones and plucked a Ziploc baggie out of the concealed hiding space, doing the same to both sides.

“Dude!” Beca yelled. “Don’t touch my shit!”

Sheila ignored her, as she opened one of the baggies of weed and sniffed it quickly. “Jesus,” she muttered, looking back at her step-daughter. “You know how your father feels about this stuff.”

“Newsflash, I don’t care.” Beca rolled her eyes. “Now if you’re done lecturing me, can I go to my fucking room?”

Sheila dropped the baggie onto the table, placing the headphones back down beside it. “Why did you steal the watches Beca? God knows you wouldn’t use them to show up to your classes on time.”

“Har har.” 

“I’m not kidding.” She folded her arms. “This is the second time this week! If David hadn’t been the one to catch you, then you would be looking at actual jail time.”

“No, I wouldn’t.” Beca scoffed, leaning back into the couch. “I would still be here, looking at your fucking face.”

“I’m serious, Beca.”

“So am I.” She smirked. “You underestimate what the guys at the station are willing to do for you.”

“Is that what you want then?” Sheila asked. “To be sent to the lockup the next time you’re arrested? Have a criminal offence put on your permanent record?”

Beca shrugged, “Do your worst, I don’t give a shit.”

“That’s not true and you know it.” She sighed. “I want to help you Beca. If you could just let me-”

“I don’t WANT your fucking help!” She yelled. “You’re not my mum!” 

Sheila looked at her warily. “I know that. I’m not trying to replace her.”

“Good to know.” Beca sneered. “So can I go to my room now or do you have something else to fucking say?”

Sheila looked at her, chewing her lip silently. She sighed after a few seconds. “Fine. Just go,” she said, waving her hand weakly. “Your father can deal with you when he gets back.”

“Great,” she seethed, getting up. She reached forward and snatched her headphones from the table.

“Beca, put that-”

“Piss off.” She spun on her heel and walked away, stomping up the stairs to her room and slamming the door.

Fucking bitch. Beca sighed, running a hand through her hair. Okay, if I don’t leave soon, I’ll be late for my shift. Rolling her eyes, she reached under her desk and grabbed another lighter and pack of cigarettes that were stuck to the bottom with tape. Like I wouldn’t have more.

She walked over to her window and flipped the latch up before pulling it all the way open.

Chapter Text


Chloe silently stared out the window, as her father drove her home from school yet again that week.

I’m seventeen, I don’t need a chauffeur, she rolled her eyes at the thought.

After the forced questions about how her day had been, her dad had fallen quiet. Not that Chloe really minded. Truthfully, she didn’t have the energy to talk to her father, or anyone else from her family, really. All of the normal conversations, ignoring the elephant in the room, just made her feel worst. 

Waiting for the pin to drop, she thought miserably. 

And that was exactly right, because ever since she had gone to Dana’s party last weekend, it had felt like she was walking on egg shells. Shitty high school drama shaped egg shells.

Her best friend wouldn’t answer her calls, her boyfriend had publicly dumped her and her dad could hardly look her in the eye. Talk about being a social pariah. 

I should never have even gone, Chloe mentally sighed. I mean what was I thinking? 

And to make matters worst her father had definitely seen the video. That is If the hushed conversations over the phone and worried glances he sent her way when he thought she wasn’t looking were anything to go off of. 

On cue, his eyes flickered to the rearview mirror, taking in her position in the back seat. Their eyes met and he quickly averted his gaze for what must have been the tenth time that drive.

Yup, she sighed, he’s definitely seen it.

I mean half the school has by now, she reasoned, It only had to be a matter of time before it got back to him. 

Maybe if she just talked to him about it, explained that the whole thing was a mistake, then he would understand. 

Yeah that could work, or…

Or maybe it would completely backfire on her. 

If anything it might give her another reason to put off doing the essay she had been set by her sorry excuse of an English teacher. Two pages analysing Dorian Gray’s tragic flaw and it’s due tomorrow, she groaned. At least my maths homework is done. 

She frowned, when she focused again and realised they were home. And that there was another familiar car in her driveway. “Is Auntie Sue here?” She asked her father.

“Yes,” Her Dad nodded as he parked and turned the car off. “We all need to talk.”

Her stomach dropped and worst case scenarios began to run through her head. “Look.” Chloe unclipped her seatbelt, crossing her arms defensively. “Whatever you thought you saw-”

“You’re not in trouble, Chloe,” Her father gave her a strained smile. “We’ll talk inside.”

She was still consumed by dread as she got out of the car, shouldering her backpack. Her father opened the door to their house and she hesitated before walking in behind him.

Her aunt was sitting at the table, talking to her older brother who was supposed to be at college. They stopped, when Chloe and her father came around the corner, into the kitchen. “Chlo.” her brother greeted tensely. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m okay,” She responded quietly, biting her lip as she took in the serious faces around her. “Hi, Auntie Sue.”

“Hello Chloe.” Her Aunt smiled. “Long time no see.”

“You could say that.” Chloe muttered, as she set her backpack down.

“Well,” Her Aunt leaned forward in her seat. “I guess you know why I’m here.”

Chloe shrugged. “I’d say just visiting, but given the fact that we haven’t seen you in over a year, that’s probably unrealistic.”

“Chloe.” Her dad said sternly. “That is no way to speak to your aunt.”

“No, it’s okay.” The other woman assured him. “I will admit, I haven’t been here for any of you and for that I’m truly sorry.” She paused. “But I’m here now, and I just want to make amends.” Another pause. “That's actually why I suggested the retreat.”

“Retreat?” Chloe looked at her aunt in confusion. “I don’t understand.”

Her brother looked up at her dad. “Do you want to tell her?”

He nodded. “If anyone does, it should be me. Chloe…” her father hesitated, as he gathered his thoughts. “We’re pulling you out of school,” he finally said.

Chloe blinked. “You’re…wait, what?!” She exclaimed. “You can’t…you…why?”

“You know why.” Her father sighed, running a hand down his face. “I already explained the situation to your principle and he agreed that it would be beneficial for you to have some time off.”

Her aunt leant forward in her seat. “Chloe, you have to understand. When your father called and told me what happened, I knew we had to do something.” 

Chloe opened and closed her mouth before she finally managed to find her voice again, getting more frantic as she spoke. “But I have exams at the end of the year. You can’t just take me out! How l am I supposed to graduate?”

The adults all looked at each other, their faces remaining grave.

“You’ll graduate next year.” Her brother said firmly.

Chloe scoffed. “I am not resitting my senior year, whilst my friends go off to college.”

“I’m sorry, but It’s already decided.” Her father sighed. “We’re sending you to an all girls retreat this weekend.”

Chloe couldn’t make words as she stared at her father. Her stomach felt like it had taken a leap onto the floor.

“You’re really sending me away.” She finally got out.

Her Aunt frowned, “It’s not like that. We really believe this will help you.”

Chloe swallowed thickly, failing to keep her voice steady as she looked to her big brother. “Sam, they’re kidding right? Tell me they’re kidding.”

He shook his head. “The camp is designed to help young girls like you. Everyone is in the same position, so it’s not like you’ll-”

“How long?”

Sam stopped mid-sentence. “What?” 

“How long will I be gone?” Chloe repeated, louder than before.

Her father released a deep breath. “The rest of the year.”

“But…that’s four months away.” Her voice trailed off, eyes going wide.

“Chloe I know it seems like a long time, but I promise it'll be worth it.” Her Aunt frowned sympathetically. “We were all so worried after we saw that awful video.”

Sometimes I really hate being right. “You…you’ve seen it?”

“Yes,” Her father sighed. “I knew you were having a rough time, but this…god Chloe. I don’t know what to say to you.”

Her Aunt frowned. “Why didn’t you tell us what happened?”

“Because I knew how you’d react!” Chloe protested adamantly. “I mean come on! You’re actually sending me away!?”

“To help you!” Her Aunt retorted. “What we saw on that video was painful to watch, Chloe! I don’t understand why you’re pretending to be okay. Why can’t you admit you have a problem?”

“Because I don’t!” Chloe objected, raising her voice again. “You guys are clearly the ones with the problem, not me! I'm fine.”

“Enough!” Her Aunt snapped shrilly. “That sort of attitude will not be tolerated in this household. We clearly shouldn’t have waited this long before getting you the help you need.”

“I don’t need your help!” She protested, sounding exasperated. “What part of ‘I’m fine’ don’t you understand?!”

“Chloe, you’re in denial.” Her brother said forcefully.

“But I-”

“No buts,” Her father held up his hand. “The decision is final.”

“But this is bullshit.” Chloe seethed, raising her voice. “This is all bullshit!”

“Chloe, calm down,” her father said sternly. He used the tone he reserved for when her and her little sister had done something wrong. Chloe drew back, not wanting to upset him further. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

“Everything is okay! There’s nothing wrong with me, I…” Her words failed her. “I’m fine.”

“Sweetie, you’re sick. The people at the retreat will help you get better.” 

“Besides, It’s already done.” Her Aunt cut in. “We’ve paid for it and arranged the travel arrangements.” She held up a pamphlet, “Take a look at this, it has everything you need to know.”

Chloe noticed the raised paper, saw her aunt’s fingers grasping it tightly, but her mind was racing too fast to fully comprehend what she was reading. “No,” She said louder than intended. “You can’t send me there.”

“It’s too late.” Her father crossed his arms. “Now, take a deep breath and collect yourself. This is not becoming of a Beale.”

Chloe did what he said, and took a deep breath, but it didn’t help. “You can’t, you can’t-” she gulped. “No. No, you’re kidding. I’ve never even left Portland.”

“Sweetie, you’re leaving this Saturday,” her father assured her. “We’ll help you pack your stuff, but after that you’re taking a flight to Marfa, where a bus will take you straight to the-”

“Wait, WHAT?!” Chloe gasped. “Marfa? That’s…that’s in Texas! No, no way, I won’t go, I won’t-”

“Chloe!” Her brother barked as he stood.

She clamped her mouth shut, taking a step backwards. It was never a good thing when her brother raised his voice.

“That’s enough,” He said. “I know this is hard on you, but believe it or not, we’re trying to help you. Do you think mum wanted this for you?”

“Samuel,” Their dad warned.

“No,” He said steadily. “Let me speak.” This time their father stayed quiet. “Mum loved you so much. Do you really think she would want you to carry on like this?”

“Like what?!” Chloe exclaimed suddenly. “I’m-”

“You’re not fine, Chlo! You’re really fucking not! That is why we are sending you to the retreat and there will be no further arguments.” He fixed her with a hard stare. “Am I clear?”

Chloe turned her gaze away from him, pointedly glaring at the floor. Which meant that she didn’t see it coming. All she heard was the scraping of a chair, quickly followed by the feeling of hands grasping her collar. 

Her head snapped upwards, meeting her brother’s intense glare. His usually bright blue eyes were several shades darker.

“Do I make myself clear?!” He yelled as he shook her roughly.

“I…” The words got stuck in her throat.

“ANSWER ME!” His voice easily cut through the silence that had fallen across the room. “I SAID DO I-”

“Yes!” Chloe cried, cowering from his grasp. “I’m sorry, I’ll go! I’ll go to the camp!”

Only then did her father intervene. “Samuel! You’ve made your point.” He said harshly, pushing his son off of his daughter before stepping between them. “Chloe doesn’t need this right now. Take a walk.”

Sam fumed quietly before gritting out, “Fine,” and stalking out of the kitchen to leave the house. Chloe flinched as the door slammed closed behind him.

Once Sam was out of the house, her father turned to face her, his eyebrows knotting together, “Sweetie, are you okay?”

Chloe didn’t respond. Just stared unblinkingly ahead. Without even realising it, her hand had reached up to the pendant around her neck and was now clasping it tightly.

“Very well then.” Her father sighed. “You need to start packing your things and preparing for your move. Do you understand?”

This time she nodded meekly.

“Everything will be fine sweetheart.” Her father smiled at her. “The people there are very nice and I’m sure you’ll make some great friends.” 

Her aunt finally got up from where she had been sitting silently and gently placed a hand on her nieces shoulder. “Why don’t we go upstairs to your room. I’ll help you pack.”

Nodding mutely she turned to leave, but before she could, her dad spoke up again. “Chloe?” She turned back around, looking at his outstretched hand with a questioning glance, “Your phone.”

“But-”

“You’ll get it back as soon as you’re better.”

Right. As soon as I’m better.

She was about to argue further, but thought better of it. Sighing, she handed over her last form of communication to the outside world. 

Chapter Text

Beca’s shift at the radio station had ended two hours ago and it was now getting late. She lit up another cigarette and closed her eyes, leaning against a run down school bus that had long since fallen apart.

She spent a lot of time at the junkyard, despite it being littered with pieces of scrap metal and empty beer cans. Remnants of a bonfire lay a few feet from where she stood and cigarette stubs were scattered across the ground. 

Sure, the place was a dump, but ever since she had moved in with her dad, it had become a place of refuge for her. Unfortunately for Beca, it was also where the junkies and drug dealers liked to hang out.

So she couldn’t say she was completely surprised when a rough voice rang out from beside her, cutting through her music, making her eyes snap open. “Hey look, it’s Thelma and Louisse.” 

The man came into view and did a dramatic double take. “Shit never mind.” He smirked. “So, where is your partner in crime then? Haven’t seen her around lately.” 

Glaring, she took out her earphones and tucked them into her pocket. “I’m not in the mood Josh.”

“Oh sorry, Beca, don’t let me get in the way of your brooding. I heard the melodramatic sighs and figured it had to be you.” He paused, looking around the dump. “It’s cute that you still hang out here. Just like me at your age.”

“I’m nothing like you, dude.” She ground her cigarette under her boot and made to walk past him. Anticipating this, Josh grabbed her arm and pushed her back.

“Oh yeah? Well, we both need money. Or did you forget that you owe me a shitload?”

She frowned. “You’ll get your money.”

“Don’t they all say that? Even when they’re penniless and lying to your face?”

“You don’t get it man.” She snapped, letting out a frustrated sigh. “I just need time.”

“No man I don’t get it, especially from a dyke like you.” He said hotly, taking another step forwards. “You’ve had your time, so where’s my fucking money?!”

“Look if you could just give me-”

“Christ!” He spat out. “I hate little shits like you. You expect everything in life to come for free. Don’t you understand I work for a living?”

She scoffed. “Dude you’re a drug dealer. Without those little shits as customers, you wouldn’t have any work at all.”

Josh pointed a finger at her, curling his lip. “You better watch your tone bitch. Don’t badmouth me when you’re the one with a debt to pay.”

“Look I’ll-” Beca stopped mid sentence as she caught sight of his extended arm. “Where did you get that?”

He paused, a frown marring his features. “A friend. And it’s none of your goddamn business. You however-”

“That’s Alice's bracelet,” Beca took a step forward and grabbed hold of his wrist, tugging it towards her. “Why the fuck are you wearing her bracelet?”

Josh snatched his arm from her grasp and pulled it back down to his side. “Chill out, kid. It was a gift.”

“No, it wasn’t, she wouldn’t give shit to you.” Beca went to lunge for his arm but recoiled as Josh pulled out a knife, forcing her back.

“You want it that bad, huh?” A sick smile appeared on his face. “How about I give you something else? Like a knife to the neck.”

“Fuck.” She took a step back, realising too late that she was trapped against the bus. “Put it down, Josh.”

He shoved her against the broken vehicle. “Don’t you ever tell me what to do. Got it, bitch? Got it?”

He pressed the arm holding the knife against her neck, making it hard for her to breathe.

“I’m sorry.” Beca spat out, her hand slowly slipping into her back pocket. 

“Not so tough now, huh?” He grinned, relaxing his grip on her neck slightly. 

“I’m sorry…” Beca smirked. “that you’re such a fucking idiot.”

Josh's eyes widened, noticing the penknife being pulled from her pocket too late. She sliced the blade across his arm, and roughly shoved him backwards, keeping a firm grasp on the knife as she eyed him warily. 

He let out a long hiss, looking at her incredulously. “You fucking cut me!”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s a scratch, you’ll be fine.”

He glared at her, but didn’t move any closer, still eyeing the bloodied knife in her hand. 

“This is why I don’t deal with kids.” He grit out, holding his injured arm protectively. “You have until Monday to pay me and don’t even think about pulling this crap again. It will be the last time you do.”


Beca’s run in with Josh had left a bad taste in her mouth, and so she left the junkyard even more pissed off than before. She still didn’t have the money to pay him back with and now she had made herself an even bigger target to him…

And then there was the Alice situation.

A day didn’t go by where Beca didn’t think of her. About where she could be, what she might be doing. Beca sighed, That is if she’s not already-

No.

She refused to believe it. Alice wasn’t dead. She couldn’t be. Someone so full of life just couldn’t be gone. So no, Beca wouldn’t even entertain the thought, which is why she still put up the missing persons posters and spent her weekends looking for something, anything that could give her an indication to where she might be. 

It didn’t matter that five months had past or that Alice had broken her promise. Because at least she was alive. At least she wasn’t dead. 

But…

Five months was a long time to disappear for.

Beca grit her teeth. What was that prick even doing with her bracelet? Fuck, If he had anything to do with it all...

She let out a frustrated sigh. It’s not like I could go to the police. They wouldn’t take me seriously and step-monster’s completely useless.

Speaking of…

Shit, could this day get worst? Beca groaned as she remembered she still had to deal with her father when she got home. Step-snitch definitely told him what happened.

That was the thought that had her slowing down and dragging her feet as she turned the corner onto her road.

She took a joint out from her jacket pocket and lit it up, knowing she’d need it to get through the night.


Beca winced at the slight click the door made as she closed it behind her and picked up her pace, almost managing to walk past the doorway on the righthand side of the hall.

“Where have you been?”

Shit, Beca cursed before turning around to the sight of her father and step-mother, sitting on the couch in their small living room.

“Out.” 

Her father’s eye twitched at that. “Beca, get in here.”

She rolled her eyes as she stalked into the room. “Fuck do you want?”

“To know where you’ve been.”

“I already told you.” She folded her arms. “Out.”

“I won’t ask again.”

“Good, now if you’ll excuse-”

His palm slammed onto the table in front of the couch. “ANSWER ME!”

His sudden outburst actually made Beca flinch, and she hated him even more because of it. She managed to maintain a determined glare though, as she responded coolly, “I was at the radio station.” 

Technically...

“For six hours?” Sheila arched an eyebrow. “Tell us the truth, Beca.”

“Jesus Christ, I’m not lying! I was at the fucking station okay?” She snapped. “If you actually gave a shit about me, you’d know I work there!” 

Her dad blinked. “You…really?”

“Yes,” She groaned. “God, is it really that surprising?”

“Really? You’re actually asking me that?” He pursed his lips. “After today?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Sheila leaned forward in her seat. “Shoplifting, smoking marijuana, using a fake ID to buy alcohol? Ring any bells, Beca?”

Her dad stared her down.“What the hell were you thinking?”

Beca narrowed her eyes at Sheila. “fucking bitch.”

“HEY!” He shot up from the couch, pointing a finger at her as he yelled. “You will not speak to your step-mother like that!” 

Beca rolled her eyes. “Cut me some slack.”

“We have.” Her father closed his eyes for a moment and heaved a sigh. “Look, I get you’re still upset about that girl but-”

“Alice,” She corrected, glaring at him fiercely. “Her name is Alice.”

“Right.” He muttered. “But it’s been half a year Beca. You need to let go and consider the possibility that she might be-”

“Don’t.” Beca spat out. “Don’t you fucking say it.”

“Beca, I know you don’t want to hear this but your father has a point.” Sheila let out a long sigh. “No one has heard from her in five months. It’s very likely that she’s-”

“Shut up! Shut UP!” She exploded.

Sheila remained calm. “Beca, you need to hear this.”

“Actually, I don’t.” She fumed, “Now if you don’t mind, I have posters to put up and-”

“The girl’s dead,” Her father said plainly. “You’re chasing after a ghost.”

“She's not. That's...that's bullshit.” Beca swallowed thickly. “Sheila?” 

Her step-mother looked momentarily stunned at Beca’s use of her actual name, before a frown overtook her features. “I’m sorry, Beca. I really am.”

And just like that, an emotionless mask was layered over Beca's face, as she looked around the room with an ill-contained boredom.

Her dad was silent for a moment as he scanned her face, finally taking in the red rimmed eyes and slumped shoulders. “Are you…” He paused, heaving a sigh, “Please tell me you’re not high again.”

“Okay.” Her lip twitched. “I’m not high.”

No one spoke for a minute. Her dad kept eye contact, as he stared across the table. Beca did too as she waited. “What are you doing?” Her father finally asked.

“Waiting for this conversation to be over.”

“That’s not what I meant, but you already know that.” He sighed, uncrossing his arms and running a hand down his face. “I mean, stealing? Really Rebeca?!”

She shrugged. “It’s not a big deal. And don’t call me that.”

Her father ignored her second statement. “Not a big deal? Do you even KNOW how much trouble you could get into?!”

She let out a short laugh. “How about none? Everyone thinks I’m the Captain’s daughter. They’re not going to bust me.”

“This isn’t funny!” Her father exclaimed. “You could end up in jail, or worst. I don’t want that for your future!”

Beca scoffed. “whatever dude.”

“Are you really so calm about this?” Sheila spoke up from beside her father. “Why? Why are you doing this Beca? You’re a bright kid, I know that. You could go so far in life if you just cared.”

“No, you don’t get to do that.” Beca took a step forward. “Don’t you fucking sit there and go all parental on me.”

Her dad clenched his jaw, “Beca, I know you don’t like it but Sheila is your step-mother. At least try to-”

“I’m going to try to do fuck all.” Beca snapped. “She’s not my mum, and her pretending to be is getting really fucking old.”

“I don’t want to be your mother, Beca.” Sheila sounded tired. “I just want to help you! I care about you and only want-”

“I don’t give a shit about what you want!” Beca yelled back. “I just want you to get the fuck out of my face. And my life!”

“Rebeca!” Her dad snapped. “Apologise to her RIGHT now.”

“I’m not doing shit until you stop calling me that.”

He set his jaw. “I am your father and I can call you whatever I like.”

Beca narrowed her eyes at him. “Fuck you.”

That was the last straw for her dad. “You know what? Fuck you too.” He snapped. “Your attitude sucks, you’re failing school and the way you talk to Sheila is unacceptable. You’re lucky your mother isn’t here to see you like this, because quite frankly she’d be disappointed.”

“Well, I guess it’s a good thing she’s dead then.” Beca seethed. “Or did you forget about that? That whilst you were off fucking your new wife, your old one was dying in a hospital bed!”

It happened so fast, Beca hardly saw it coming. She’d never seen her dad move so quick.

She blinked, and before she could realise what was going on, she was stumbling backwards, stunned, a stinging sensation spreading across her cheek.

“HOW DARE YOU!” Her father shouted, though Beca could barely hear him. She felt dazed as she brought her hand to her cheek, her fingertips coming back red, from where her dad’s wedding ring had made contact. Her father grabbed her shoulders and pulled her towards him, shaking her. Beca failed to keep the fear off her face as he screamed.

“John! Stop it!” Sheila had gotten up from the couch and was now pulling him away from his daughter. “You’re scaring her!”

That gave her dad pause. 

Enough for Beca to run away from him, up the stairs, and into her bedroom, slamming the door behind her. She counted a minute before she heard heavy footsteps coming up the stairs and quickly locked the door.

Her father let out a heavy sigh before knocking twice. “Beca, I know you’re in there. Please let me in.”

She didn’t think twice as she grabbed the pre-packed duffle bag that was always hidden beneath her bed. Glaring, she took out a small can from one of the side pockets and shook it quickly before spraying GET FUCKED in big red print on her wall. 

The knocking on the door had gotten more frequent and by the sound of it, Sheila was now on the other side. Not willing to face them again, Beca pulled open her bedroom window and climbed out onto the roof to jump down. 

It was late in the evening now. They must have been arguing for longer than she thought. 

Fuck them, she thought angrily. It was a little sooner than she had intended, but she had a plan. And with her father still pleading in the house behind her, Beca took off down the street at a sprint.

When she was sure she wasn’t being followed, she slowed to a walk.

She shouldered her duffle bag and walked a mile to the closest bus terminal, catching the last bus leaving from Greyhound Station, Seattle. Climbing onto the coach, she shoved her bag in the overhead bin and curled up on a seat in the back.

Watching the lights of Seattle dim behind her, Beca felt lighter than she had in years. Although that could also be the pot I just smoked kicking in. She snorted, Yeah, that’s probably it.

Taking out her headphones and MP3 she closed her eyes, letting the opening of Shooting the Moon drown out the low thrum of the coach’s engine.

Next stop, LA. She let out a long sigh. Alice, you better have a really fucking good explanation when I find you.

Chapter Text

Chloe barely spoke for the rest of that night.

She’d gone through the rest of the evening in a trance. She even worked on her english essay, despite knowing she couldn’t hand it in anymore. It gave her something to do besides fold and pack clothes

Her Aunt spent most of the time encouraging her to get excited, as she talked about the first time she’d left home at the age of eighteen.

It didn’t help. Chloe nodded along to the stories silently, as she filled her suitcase with clothes before she asked if they could finish up tomorrow. “I’m really tired,” she said quietly.

“Okay.” Her Aunt smiled. “I know it’s been a long day, so don’t worry about sleeping in.”

Chloe frowned. Right, no school tomorrow.

The older redhead pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Sleep well.”

She didn’t. In fact, she didn’t even go to bed. She waited for the lights to go off in the hallway and then crept out of her room, wincing as the floorboards creaked underneath her weight. 

By the time she made it downstairs, her heart was thumping so hard she was sure it would wake everyone up.

Luckily, no such thing happened.

Her stomach clenched uncomfortably as she walked into the lounge and spotted the telephone attached to the wall. 

This is it. She sighed. There was only one number she knew from memory.

She dialled it in with shaky fingers and waited. The phone rang once, twice, three times…then a click.

“Hello?” The person on the other end answered tiredly.

Chloe licked her lips hesitantly, not sure what to say.

“Hello?” They asked again, sounding irritated. “Is someone there?”

Chloe let out a shaky breath, biting back the tears that were forming just from hearing her friends voice.

They sighed. “I swear to God if this is a prank call I will personally-”

“Bree.” Chloe said quietly.

There was a brief silence and then, “Chloe?” Her voice grew cool. “Are you calling me from an unknown number just so I’ll pick up?” 

“No, I…” She swallowed. “My dad took my phone away.”

“That doesn’t explain why you’re contacting me. I thought I made myself perfectly clear when I said that-”

“I know, I know,” Chloe interrupted quickly, “but please, this is important. Just hear me out.”

“No.” Aubrey said firmly. “I’m fed up with your bullshit and I told you that I needed space. If you really cared about me, you would have respected that.”

She bit her lip. “I’m sorry, but-”

“No, Chloe. You really fucking hurt me, okay?” Her voice wavered. “The least you could do is leave me alone.”

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I had any other choice!” Chloe ran a hand through her hair, unconsciously reaching down to clasp the pendant round her neck. “Look, I feel awful about what happened and I would do anything to take it back.” She sighed. “But right now I need my best friend.”

Chloe was beginning to think Aubrey had hung up, until her friend finally spoke again, her voice resuming its unusual coldness. “I really wanted to fix this Chloe, but now I see that was a mistake. I don’t want to hear from you again.”

“Aubrey wait-”

The line went dead.

“Fuck!” Chloe cursed quietly, her voice breaking. She pressed her palms to her eyes, willing the tears to stop falling.


After the call, Chloe knew there was no hope for her to get to sleep. She sat on her bedroom window sill, staring at the still suburb streets well past midnight.

I can’t believe this. She blinked, trying not to let the tears slide down her face. I don’t need to be sent away.

They couldn’t even let me finish my last year of high school, she thought miserably. Now I’ll be the dumb kid who got held back a year.

Fuck. Chloe felt the wetness on her face, and quickly wiped the tear that escaped her eye. One more year and I could’ve been out of here.

I don’t want to go to Texas.

She closed her eyes and exhaled. But I have no other choice right? Right?

Well-

No. 

No, I can’t.

Chloe shivered just thinking about it.

I can’t just leave. 

But, they’re sending me away anyway. She argued to herself.

Where would I even go? Chloe sighed. Aubrey doesn’t ever want to speak to me again, so I can rule out her. Shit, I’ll probably end up dead in a ditch somewhere. She shook her head. I can’t.

So I just get shipped off to some retreat to have me fixed, then.

Fuck.

Neither option sounded good. Chloe turned over in her bed, staring at the wall. Maybe it won’t be that bad. Sammy’s right, they’re just trying to help me. She closed her eyes. Just stay positive, Chloe. It’ll help you get-

No.

No, I’m fine. There is NOTHING wrong with me. Her eyes shot open. They are sending me away for their own fucked up reasons.

She got down from her seat by the window and started to pace up and down her room.

No matter what they do to me, I’ll still feel the same. Chloe was taking shaking breaths now, as she stared into the dark. Nothing can change that.

So I won’t go. I won’t. 

What else can I do?

Chloe wrestled with herself, trying to figure out a solution.

She had never known anyone who had run away from home. Never known any stories where said-kid actually succeeded.

Her gut twisted.

Shit.


She was still exhausted the next morning when she came down for breakfast. Her father was awake already and sitting at the head of the kitchen table, flicking through a newspaper.

He looked up at her as she took a seat beside her five year old sister. “Are you feeling okay, Sweetie?”

She shrugged and poured herself a bowl of cereal.

“They’ll take very good care of you,” her father assured her. “You’ll get used to being away from home, I promise.”

Her younger brother let out a scoff as he walked into the room. “I don’t know why you’re so grumpy.” He grumbled. “It’s not like you have any school work to stress about.”

“Charlie.” Her father said cautiously.

“Hey, I’m just saying!" He raised his arms defensively. "If I got to skip out on homework for the rest of the year, I’d be doing backflips around the block.”

Chloe put down her spoon and pushed back her chair. “You know what? I’m not hungry.” She muttered, getting up from the table.


The moment her bedroom door closed behind her, she moved to the closet, taking out a backpack.

Holy shit. Chloe exhaled slowly. I’m actually doing this.

Now, what? I don't even know what to take...

Well, a toothbrush, at least. I doubt anyone will notice that it’s gone. And clothes of course. 

She decided on two pairs of jeans, three tops and a hoodie. Probably can’t fit more than that into the backpack. She’d have to wear her coat that night.

Shit, my savings won’t last forever. What am I going to do for money? She hadn’t even considered that.

I guess I could sell something. Chloe thought about what she could try and get rid of for cash. I won’t be needing my jewellery anymore. She thought idly, as she wrapped up the most valuable looking items into one of her shirts, stuffing it into the bag.

She toyed with the gold, heart-shaped pendant round her neck. Dad always said it was real gold; that could be worth-

No. 

She tucked the necklace back under her shirt. No way.


That evening was decidedly uneventful.

At dinner, Chloe picked at her food silently and pointedly ignored the looks her father sent her way.

After that, they all watched something on TV for a couple of hours, but her aunt had them turn it off early; “Chloe has a big day tomorrow. She’ll need her sleep.”

Given what she was planing, Chloe didn't object. 

Unlike the previous night, she wasn't remotely tired. She lay on her bed, staring at the door, as she waited for everyone to fall asleep.


It was well past midnight when Chloe finally plucked up the courage to leave her bed.

She got dressed into her warmest clothes and threw her pre-packed bag over her shoulder, before she left her room. 

It was when she was almost at the front door that she heard it. Footsteps.

“Chloe?”

She froze, grasping her backpack tighter. Turning around, her five year old sister came into view, padding down the stairs towards her. She let out a breath of relief.

“Where are you going?”

Making her way towards the younger girl, she skilfully avoided the question. “What’re you doing up, Sarah?”

The small redhead sniffed, her lower lip jutting out. “I had a nightmare.”

Chloe crouched down in front of her sister and ran her hands up and down the girl's arms. “The same as last time?”

She nodded jerkily. “We…we were there again and I couldn’t…I couldn’t-”

“Hey, it’s okay, you don’t need to tell me about it.” Chloe soothed. “Let’s get you some water.” She shot her a small smile and righted herself, holding out a hand for the little girl to take. “You don’t want to run out of tears do you?”

Sarah let out a watery giggle and shook her head vigorously.

"Come on, then."

She took Chloe’s hand, following her into the kitchen.


It didn't take long before they were back upstairs again. Chloe had just finished tucking the five year old back into bed, when Sarah’s small voice spoke up. 

“Do you miss her too?” She said it so quietly that Chloe would have missed it if she hadn't of been sat on the edge of the girl's bed.

“Who?” She smiled softly, tucking a strand of loose strand of red hair behind her sister’s ear.

The younger Beale’s eyes shone. “Mummy.”

Chloe’s hand paused, dropping back into her lap. She nodded, biting down on her lip to the point it was painful. “Everyday.” 

Sarah frowned, looking down at her hands. “Why did she have to go?” 

Chloe sighed. “There are some things in life that we can’t control. What happened to mum is one of those things. Do you understand?”

The girl shook her head, a sob breaking from her throat. “It’s unfair!”

Chloe didn’t think twice as she moved to lie next to her sister, wrapping her arms around the younger girl as heavy cries wracked through her body. “I know, sweetie. I know.”

It took awhile for the Sarah’s cries to subside, but when they did, Chloe started to untangle herself from her sister, only to find the girl’s arms tighten around her.

“Don’t go.”  Her eyes began to water, and her breathing picked up again. “Please, don’t go!”

“Hey, shh, it’s okay. It’s okay.” Chloe wiped the tears off of her sister’s face with her thumbs. “I’m not going anywhere, see? I’m here. I'm right here.”

Eventually, the little girl fell limp in Chloe’s arms and her sniffles were replaced with gentle snores. Easing herself out of her sister’s vice grip, Chloe slid off the bed and pulled the blankets back up to the girl’s neck.

She hesitated slightly before leaning down to press a kiss to the small redhead's forehead. She stirred, but didn’t wake up. 

“I’m sorry.” Chloe whispered thickly, quickly wiping the wetness from her cheeks as she left.


Chloe winced at each creak the floorboards made when she crept back down the stairs, convinced that each noise would wake up her family.

A life time seemed to pass before she was finally at the front door to leave the house. 

Should I leave a note? She pondered, stopping with her hand on the doorknob.

After a few seconds of contemplation, she decided against it. Like they’ll want to hear from me after this.

Chloe's resolve strengthened and she slipped out the door, breathing in the fresh night air. The long walk to the bus stop did nothing to ease her nerves and she finally understood what it meant to jump at her own shadow. 

The last night bus out of Portland arrived shortly after she reached the station and she kept the hood of her coat up as she boarded. 

It wasn't a very big coach, but already there were a few passengers on it. Chloe sat at the back, the aisle separating her from a sleeping brunette.

I can’t ever go back. She thought to herself as the bus pulled away. Flashes of her sister’s face passed through her mind, but she quickly shoved them down, replacing them with the bitter glint to her brothers eyes and the hurt in her best friend's voice.

Will they even miss me?

Chapter Text

Beca grew up like any average girl. She attended a good preschool, participated in the school choir and had a friendly community surrounding her. And even though her parents were young and Beca wasn’t exactly planned, her mum and dad loved her, and each other. They were content.

But nothing good lasts forever. 


Eight years old can be a very critical age in a human's life. It is the year they graduate from second grade to third grade. It also may be the year when they first participate in a sport or activity that will shape their future. 

But for Beca? It was the age her parents stopped loving each other. 

She knew they were unhappy. She wasn’t stupid. But that was normal right? Because whose parents actually got along? 

But as the fights escalated, she began to realise that maybe it wasn’t normal after all…

Of course Beca blamed herself. Because she was young and didn’t understand. And it certainly didn’t help that she was the centre of each argument.

Like that time her dad took her bike riding without teaching her how to do it properly and she broke her leg.

“What the hell were you thinking John?!” Her mum had yelled when they got back from the hospital at 1am.

“It was an accident!” He had shouted right back at her. Then quieter, “I didn’t want her to get hurt.” 

Her mother ignored him and helped Beca hobble into the house with her new crutches. The argument started up again, louder, after she had been put to bed. She squeezed her eyes shut and put her hands over her ears, humming an unrecognisable tune.

She didn’t sleep that night.


The journey back from Beca’s teacher-parents conference, where the school told her mum and dad her grades were slipping, ended the same way.

A sigh and then, “I told you she needed a tutor.” 

Her father clenched his fingers around the steering wheel of the car. “Well, we can’t afford one can we?”

And cue shouting in three two…“And whose fault is that?!”

The moment they were home, Beca shot out of the car, going straight to her room. She turned on her stereo and cranked the volume to full.


Hell, Beca would be lucky if she could get through one birthday without them taking snide jabs at each other. 

“Sorry honey, but money has been a bit tight this year.” Her mother would give her a tight smile, then send her father a meaningful glance. “But we’ll get you something really nice next year to make up for it, okay?” 


The worst fight Beca could remember was when she was ten. It was well past midnight and her parents were still arguing, apparently oblivious to the noise they were making.

“Really John?!” Ten year old Beca listened to her mother shout. “Sandy? Your fucking secretary?!” 

Beca hadn’t understood what was going on, but she knew it wasn’t good. 

“I’m sorry, okay?” Her father had yelled back. “But I can’t do this anymore! I can’t!”

“What about Beca?” Her mum’s voice had wavered. “Your daughter needs you.”

“She’s a big girl, she’ll be fine!”

Then the voices grew quiet, until, “Jesus!” Her mother exploded. “Do you even care about her?!”

There was a silence that seemed to stretch on forever before the door slammed shut.

Her dad left the next morning.


“Rebeca, move.” Her father said sternly from his position in the driver’s seat. He glanced back at his daughter, who was stubbornly seated in the back of the car.

“No.” She said firmly, not budging.

He sighed. “I won’t ask again.”

“I’m not moving until you promise not to leave.” She crossed her arms, her bottom lip jutting out.

“You know I can’t do that sweetie.” He looked at her tiredly. “Now please get out the car.”

“NO!” Beca cried, “I’m not going-” Her sentence was cut off as her mother’s arms wrapped around her waist, pulling her from the vehicle. “Stop it! Let me go! LET ME GO!” 

Her mother kicked the passenger door closed and held her daughter tightly. Beca failed to break free from the firm grasp and watched through teary eyes as her father drove away.


Her dad visited at first, taking her out for surprise trips on the weekend, picking her up after school and helping her with her homework. It was almost like old times. 

And then a month went by and he hadn’t visited. Two months and his calls were getting shorter and further apart. Then six months came along and Beca hadn’t heard from him. It was like he didn’t exist.

The only communication she had with him was the yearly birthday card he sent; the generic ‘happy birthday’ message scrawled inside. But Beca was pretty sure it was her mother’s handwriting.

“He’s not coming back is he?” She asked her mum one night, already fairly certain of the answer.

Her mother shook her head. “I’m sorry, sweetheart.”

And when Beca started to cry, her mum pulled her into her arms and held her for as long as it took the tears to stop falling.

But because Beca was stronger and smarter than most eleven year olds, she knew she had to move on. She accepted that her father wasn’t around anymore and let herself be content with just her mum. 

Her mum, who was her rock through thick and thin, who cheered the loudest when Beca’s dad wasn’t there for her first basketball match and who supported Beca’s dreams when her teachers called them unrealistic. 

Soon enough, her mother was working three jobs just to pay for them to get by. But even then she managed to scrape enough money together to buy Beca her first mixing deck for Christmas.

So yes, even though her dad had left, Beca was happy. Because she had her mum. And her mum was a better dad than John Mitchell ever could be.

Which is why Beca shouldn’t have been surprised when, yet again, everything went to shit.


The call came on Beca’s thirteenth birthday, saying they had to come to the hospital as soon as they could.

“Brain cancer,” The doctor had told her mother solemnly.

“No.” Beca had said instinctively. “You’re lying. Why are you lying?!”

“I'm not.” And then the doctor just looked at them sadly and said, “I'm sorry.”


Her mum died a year later.

And even though she knew it was coming, Beca was destroyed. She hadn’t just lost her mother, she had lost her best friend.

Even so, Beca couldn’t bring herself to cry at the funeral. Not when there were all those strangers watching her like she was a ticking time bomb.

Besides, she had shed enough tears in the past year, now she was just numb as she watched her mother’s coffin get lowered into the ground. 

She stayed beside the grave long after everyone else had left, and under the cover of darkness, she finally let her tears fall, allowing the choking sobs to rattle through her.

“I’m sorry!” She gasped, fisting her hands in the grass beneath her. “It’s all my fault. It’s all my fault!”


Just when Beca thought things couldn’t get any worst, her father showed up, for the first time in three years. The same man who had left her when she was a child, suddenly wanted back in her life.

Living with her dad again she could deal with, but finding out he was happily married? That was a different story.

She gave it a chance at first and settled into the new school well, throwing herself into her studies. She was glad for the distraction…at first.

But with every loving glance, compliment and affectionate touch her father gave his new wife, Beca found an unfamiliar feeling slowly bubbling to the surface. 

Anger. She was so fucking angry. 

At her dad for leaving, her friends for not staying in touch, her step-mother for reminding her so much of her real mum and at the fucking doctors, because they couldn’t save the one person that was always there for her.

But really, she was angry at herself. Because maybe if she had been a better kid then her parents marriage wouldn’t have fallen apart. Maybe if she’d made her mum go to the hospital sooner, they would have caught the cancer earlier. And then maybe her mum wouldn’t be dead.

So yes, she was angry.

Because being angry was a lot easier than being sad.


Her anger was the reason she got her first suspension from school, a few months after moving in with her dad.

The day had started off like any other. Beca had kept her head down, did the work she was given and stayed quiet in class.

And then lunch came around. 

She was walking through the cafeteria to her usual empty table in the corner when she heard it. It was just loud enough for a few tables to hear. The thing that Bumper Allen sneered at her when she walked past his table.

“Oh look, the little dyke’s all by herself again.”

She stiffened, but kept walking.

“Not gonna cry for mummy this time?” He sneered. There was laughter now. “Where is your mum? Where’s your mum Mitchell?”

Beca turned around, glaring at their table. “Shut up.”

Bumper’s football buddies started laughing. A few tables got quiet as she started towards his table.

“Did she leave you? Did she send you away, because she couldn’t stand having a dyke as a daughter?”

She could take the other kids calling her names, but the moment they mentioned her mum, it was like a flip had switched inside of her. “What did you say?”

Bumper faltered under the intensity of her stare, but his friends kept egging him on by pushing his shoulders. He looked up at Beca and spoke louder than last time, a smirk plastered on his face.

“I said your mum would rather abandon you than raise her dyke daughter.”

Bumper’s table started laughing even harder then. That was until Beca punched him in the face.

She had never known anything quite like the silence that followed. The void created from everyone holding their breath in anticipation, as Bumper wiped the trail of blood from under his nose. 

Then all hell broke loose.

He shot up from his seat and lunged at Beca, sending them both crashing to the floor. The fight was brutal and there were no clean cut punches or hits. They just wrestled, and swiped at each other when they got the chance. 

Beca was completely oblivious to the crowd of students gathering around them as she pinned Bumper beneath her.

“Say it again!” She hardly recognised her voice, as she spat the words at him, her punches getting harder. “Say that shit again!”

When it became clear that Bumper was no longer fighting back, his buddies got involved, and it was suddenly three against one. It took two of the guys to haul Beca off of Bumper and hold her still as the third started to hit her, over and over again.

Only then did the teachers intervene and Beca felt herself fall to her knees in slow motion as the boys were pulled away from her. She was retching hard and holding her stomach.

Everything sounded muffled and the only noise she could really pick out was that someone was crying. She looked up and saw it was Bumper. His face was all bloodied and messed up, pretty similar to what hers looked like.

But despite the pain, Beca had never felt more alive. The adrenaline surging through her veins made sure of that. In fact, it was almost addictive. 

And so she started to search for new ways to feel like that again. It was even better when she managed to piss off her father in the process.


She started hanging out with the kinds of kids her dad had always warned her about.

"Junkies and vandals, Rebeca." He had called them. Naturally, she just couldn't help herself.

Then came her fixation with parties and booze. She would never forget the looks on her dad and step-mother's faces when they came back from a weekend away to find the house trashed, and with Beca in bed with a half-naked girl. 

But no matter what she did, there was still that feeling in the pit of her chest that never really went away.


It wasn’t until she was fifteen that Beca really started getting into trouble, though. The weed and cigarette stash her dad found in her room was only the start.

Soon she found herself spending more time in a jail cell than a classroom. And she really didn't care.

Well...

That was until she met Alice.


Beca had decided a long time ago that the only way she could really feel okay again was to leave Seattle. Of course she still believed that, but her plan had changed slightly. She wouldn’t be leaving alone.

Alice would be coming with her. They had it all planned out. They would make it to LA and start a new life together. Beca would be a famous music producer and Alice would be a successful photographer.

And so the date was set. They were finally going to get away from their families and out of the dump they called home.

Except, Alice never turned up to the bus station that night. Or to school the next morning.


It had been six months and Beca couldn’t take it anymore. Not her dad, not the waiting and not that fucking sinking feeling that had been growing ever since Alice went missing.

Enough.

The time had come. She was going to do what the police couldn't. She was going to find Alice. 

Chapter Text

Two nights of no sleep must have been a record for Chloe. 

She had never been the type of person to stay up late into the night. In fact, she was lucky if she could make it past midnight before clocking out completely. At sleepovers, whilst her friends were wide awake, wired up on sugar and caffeine, Chloe would find herself drifting off.

That’s probably why she was now slumped tiredly against the window, her head drooping forward every few seconds. 

But then she would remember where she was, and just like that her eyes would snap open, suddenly wide awake.

She had counted the stops one by one all through the night. 

The first time the bus doors had opened and a man with ginger hair had gotten on board, she had frozen. It’s him. It has to be him. 

She felt the blood rush to her ears and was sure everyone could hear the irregular thumping of her heart beating out of her chest. He’s going to take me away and-

Oh…

When the redhead turned around, Chloe could see she was wrong. This man was too old and, letting go of her panic induced haze, she could see he was shorter as well.

She let out a shaky breath. They hadn’t found her. Her brother was not here to drag her home. 

At the second stop they made, Chloe found herself in the same position. As the hiss of air sounded from the doors, her breathing stopped and she went perfectly still. 

Shit, shit, shit. They’ve found me. They’ve found me-

Two people boarded the bus.

They’ll never trust me again and they’ll send me away forever.

Chloe watched them with wide-eyes as they stored their bags in the overhead bins and-

Please no. Please, please, please…

And once again Chloe’s thoughts were proved unnecessary. The two brunettes, who must have been in their mid-twenties, didn’t spare her a second glance and they took two seats in the middle of the coach.

Deep down she knew it was irrational. It was still dark outside and no one in her house would be up for hours. But still, Chloe was afraid. Because she knew that if she was sent away, she wouldn’t come back the same.

As time went by, and the stops became less frequent, she calmed down a bit. Her heart rate would still pick up every time the doors opened, but the all-consuming dread was gone.

And by the time the fifth stop came along and the sun had started to rise, she began to let herself think she was safe. That this was it.

Holy shit.

She had actually done it.


The sun had started to filter through the windows and so Chloe let her eyes wonder across the people on board. She was actually surprised by how quickly the bus had started to fill up. Now there were only a few spare seats.

Out of all the passengers, she found her attention being drawn to the brunette in the aisle beside her. 

Despite her small, sleeping frame, she gave off a distinct vibe that just screamed, don’t fuck with me. Her eyes were coated in heavy eyeliner and a pair of bulky headphones were safely secured around her neck...

It wasn’t until the girl started to stir that Chloe noticed she had been staring.

Frowning, she quickly looked away, averting her gaze to the window. Leaning her head against the glass, she finally allowed her eyes to drift shut. 


“Which one do you like, sweetheart?”

Chloe looked up at her mum, a smile breaking across her features. “That one,” She pointed at a heart-shaped pendant through the glass. It was a truly beautiful shade of gold and there were flowery patterns engraved along the sides.

“Can I get one too, mummy?” Chloe’s little sister piped up from beside them, her face hopeful as ever.

Their mother tutted, but her tone was still light. “Sarah it’s your sister’s birthday next week, not yours.” 

“But-”

“No, buts. When you turn seventeen I’ll get you one too.” She smiled softly, taking the little girl’s hand. “Now let’s go pay. It’s getting late and your father will start to worry.”

It was early evening when they finally left the jewellery shop and it was getting dark, not to mention very cold; The type of cold that seeps into your bones and not even a hot shower can remedy.

“We could just cut through the alley mum. We’ll get home a lot quicker if we do.”

Her mother sighed, frowning disapprovingly. “Chloe, you know how I feel about your shortcuts.”

“I know I know.” Chloe said quickly. “But we’re all pretty tired and going around will take so much longer.” 

“I don’t know…” Their mum didn’t look convinced.

It took Sarah starting to pout with tears in her eyes, for her to finally listen. “Please mummy, I’m cold!” She whined, leaning into her mother’s side.

Their mum let out an exasperated sigh. “Oh alright then, but walk quickly. The sooner we get out of there, the better.”

Chloe had a bad feeling the moment they stepped into the thin alleyway. It was somehow darker and colder than before, despite them now being out of reach from the wind.

Her mum seemed to be thinking the exact same thing, as she wrapped her arm further around Sarah, and pulled the girl closer to her.

In that moment, Chloe wished she was younger, so that her mum could do the same for her. 

But she wasn’t. So she kept quiet and followed behind them, ignoring the sudden chill spreading from the pit of her stomach.

It was a few moments later that Chloe realised her feet were not making anymore progress. With each step she found it harder and harder to keep moving; the same went for her breathing, which was now increasingly shallow.

"I think we should turn back." Chloe wheezed, but no noise came from her mouth.

"Come on girls, we're almost there." Her mother's voice was an eery echo in the otherwise silent alley.

Chloe made to move forwards again, however there was an invisible force was keeping her in place. 
                                                           
"Mum." She tried out her voice again, receiving the same result. "Mum!"

Her feet were now firmly fixed to the ground, and she was unable to do anything but stare as a masked man appeared in front of them, blocking the exit.

He was saying something that Chloe couldn't make out, but that's not what captured her attention. Her eyes were fixed on the metal object in his hand.

His eyes met Chloe's and her insides turned cold as he lifted the gun to point right at them. Running was futile and so was calling for help. She was still locked in place unable to move, think, or even breathe.

"Chloe! Get Sarah out of here, now!" It was her mum's voice again, rippling through the unpleasant thickness, smothering her ears. "Chloe!"

Everything seemed to be falling into place in slow motion and yet she still couldn't do anything about it.

Sarah was openly crying now and her mum was desperately emptying the contents of her bag.

"What about that?" The man's voice finally broke through to Chloe. He was staring intently at her neck. Right where the golden pendant sat.

"Chloe." It was her mother again. "Give him the necklace."

But Chloe couldn't move. Her entire body had frozen. All she could do was watch, trembling, as the man tightened his grip on the gun.

"NO!" A silent scream tore from Chloe's throat, her eyes fixed on the barrel moving towards her sister.

BANG


Chloe bolted upright in her seat on the bus, rapidly blinking as she took in her surroundings. Her breathing was coming out in shallow bursts and her hand was grasping her necklace so tightly, that her knuckles had turned a ghostly white.

Turning her head to the side, she flinched at the sight of the brunette, from earlier, staring right at her with a look of curiosity on her face. 

“What?” Chloe found herself snapping, slightly ashamed by the harshness of her voice.

The other girl shrugged, quickly wiping the frown from her face. “You talk in your sleep. It’s kind of distracting.” 

Chloe opened her mouth to respond, but the other girl had already repositioned her headphones and closed her eyes; officially ending their conversation.

She sighed, well that went well.


Chloe was still so shaken up that she didn’t notice a man start to walk towards her. It wasn’t until he was moving to sit beside her that she even noticed him.

And just like that, her heart rate picked up again.

He sprawled casually, opening his legs wide until they were touching hers. Chloe moved her leg and looked out the window. She could feel him looking at her. She glanced over and wished she hadn’t—yup, he is definitely staring. 

It was now that she really wished she had her phone with her, just so she could look like she was doing something, anything, but just sitting there. She fumbled for the pendent around her neck and clasped it tightly, tilting her body away from him.

“How ya doin’ cutie?”

Fuck. Now he’s talking to me.

She gave him a tight smile. “Fine,” She muttered and went back to looking out the window, clutching her necklace, like a life preserver keeping her afloat. 

Maybe he’s the chatty type, and he’ll leave me alone now that I answered his question. Maybe he’s just one of those people who think strangers should be friendlier with one another. Maybe-

“Just fine?” he asked. “It’s a wonderful day! You’re such a pretty girl, and you’re just fine?”

Shit. I shouldn’t have made eye contact, I should have gotten up immediately and moved seats when his leg touched me, I shouldn’t have answered him, I shouldn’t have smiled.

Chloe let a silence pass and then, not looking at him, said curtly, “Yes. Just fine.” 

He scooted closer. His leg touching hers again and leaned towards her ear and murmured, “You’re feisty. I like that in a woman.”

Please just leave me alone.

“Pretty too. I like pretty girls.”

I’m going to be sick.

He was talking so softly; no one else seemed to notice. Or if they did, they were staying the hell out if it. 

“How about I show you how much I like pretty girls like you?”

Chloe didn’t answer and turned her face even more resolutely toward the window. She would ignore this asshole. 

He poked her shoulder playfully. “Hey,” He said in that same sickly voice.

She shrunk away from his touch, curling herself as small as she could against the wall.

He leaned closer, the smell of old beer being his most prominent feature. “Hey,” he said, still talking quietly, right in her ear. “You don’t answer when someone talks to you, huh? Didn’t your mum teach you any manners?”

Chloe tensed. “Please just leave me alone.”

“Playing hard to get huh? I like that.”

She was panicking, quietly, trying to keep it together in front of the group of strangers on the coach. And to top everything off, her mind wouldn’t stop snapping back to that fucking dream.

“Hey, I’m talking to you, trying to give you a fucking compliment.”

Please just go away, I didn’t ask for this.

Chloe’s face was burning red as she tried to ignore him. 

People always tell you to ignore it when guys do stuff like this, right?

She didn’t talk back to him this time. Didn’t even look at him. 

He spoke more quietly still. “No need to act like a bitch. I bet you actually love all the attention, you little slut.”

He kept going like that, hurling a stream of quiet threats and slurs at her, for almost a full minute, but it felt like years. 

She was blocked into her seat, alone on the coach but surrounded by people, trying to ignore that his leg was pressing into hers and that his hand had just moved to her thigh.

And then something unexpected happened.

The brunette in the opposite aisle shot up from her seat and yelled something at the creep. Soon realising that the attention of the entire coach had fallen on him, the guy retreated to another seat, muttering to himself the entire way.

The brunette glowered at the man’s back, waiting for him to sit down before turning to face Chloe with a softer expression. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” She breathed out quickly, still staring at the other girl, who had now sat down again. "Thanks to you."

"Don't mention it." The girl frowned. "I hate assholes like him."

"You're not the only one." Chloe said quietly. The brunette's gaze flickered back to her, lingering for a moment.

The silence that fell between them wasn't uncomfortable and as the brunette repositioned her headphones, returning her gaze to the window, Chloe found herself oddly disappointed.

Chapter Text

Beca had watched as the man made his way to the redhead sitting opposite her, rolling her eyes as he'd spread out, clearly invading the other girl’s personal space. She thought nothing of it, choosing instead to focus on her music and keep her gaze firmly out the window.

But for some reason, to her great annoyance, something was telling her to turn around. Trying to ignore it, she played her music louder and kept her gaze glued to the window. But no matter what she did, it was still right there. 

And so finally relenting, she followed her instincts and looked back towards the girl. The girl who was looking truly terrified of the man leaning over her. Beca's face darkened immediately, but what actually caused her to snap was when the creep moved his hand to her leg.

She shot up from her seat, and in the middle of the crowded bus without stopping to think, bellowed at the literal top of her voice, “HEY ASSHOLE!”

The coach went silent. All eyes were on them. 

“Get the fuck away from her!”

Her heart was pounding, but she wasn’t embarrassed to be making a scene. That fucking horrible man was touching a girl against her will in public, and now everybody knew about it.

The creep immediately put his hands up in a 'I didn’t do it, it wasn’t me’ position and started to get up. Beca grabbed his arm as he made to slide past her. “Touch her again and I’ll fucking castrate you.” 

When she let him go, everyone watched as he moved to a seat near the front, their glares varying in different intensities. Clenching her fists, Beca sat back down, glancing at the redhead who was already looking at her.


Beca had about ten minutes of peace before she was once again distracted from her music. From the corner of her eye she saw someone drop into the empty seat beside her.

Great, she groaned mentally.

Pointedly ignoring them, Beca turned up the volume to her MP3. That didn’t seem to deter the stranger though, because moments later she felt a tapping on her shoulder. 

Don’t respond, don’t respond-

It was only when there was a loud rapping on the right side of her ear that she spun around, losing her cool.

“What?!” Beca snapped, moving her headphones down to her neck and finally facing the intruder. 

The intruder who was actually the same redhead as before. The redhead that Beca could now see was insanely attractive.

Wow.

She watched as the girl’s mouth opened and closed, not hearing the words, just focusing on the way her lips moved and the way the light streaming in from the window beside her, bathed the other girl’s face-

-The face that was now looking very put out.

Beca snapped out of her daze and caught the end of the redhead’s sentence. “-even listening to me?”

Quickly recovering, she plastered a smirk on her face. “Yeah,” She paused, “but just so we’re clear, could you repeat what you were just saying?”

The girl sighed. “What part?”

Beca shrugged, “All of it.”

Yeah, so maybe she wasn’t good at first impressions.


After their initial conversation, Beca couldn’t help but wonder about the girl sitting beside her. She couldn’t be much older than her, yet here she was, all alone on a bus, miles away from anywhere.

Beca had looked for any extra luggage that the redhead might have, but except for the small rucksack by her feet, she didn’t see any.

What’s a girl like her doing in the middle of nowhere?

Regardless, Beca kept her curiosity to herself, but unsuccessfully tried to limit the amount of times she would look over at the girl.

And then the redhead’s lips were moving again and despite her instincts, Beca was removing the headphones from her ears, resting them on her shoulders.

“What was that?” She found herself asking.

“I said do I have anything on my face?” The girl repeated. “You keep looking at me so I assumed…”

Dammit. 

“Yeah,” Beca cleared her throat. “You do.”

“Oh,” The redhead frowned, “can you tell me where, so I can…” She vaguely gestured to her face.

“Let me.” Beca surprised them both and leaned forward slightly, wiping her thumb just below the redhead’s eye. Feeling her face begin to heat up, Beca pulled back quickly and held out the hand which now had the stray eyelash resting on it. “Make a wish.”

The girl let out a small laugh. “What?”

“You know, you just blow it off and make a wish?” But the other girl was still wearing that amused expression. “Forget it.” Beca muttered, wiped her hands on her jeans. “It’s stupid.”

The girl bit her lip. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have laughed.”

“It’s fine.” 

“Yeah but-”

“Dude, I said it was fine.”

And just like that, they were back to ignoring each other.


But curiosity soon got the better of Beca and she found herself drawn back to the redhead. “Where are you going?”

The girl blinked and for a long moment Beca thought she wasn't going to answer. “Why do you want to know?” She said slowly, a frown on her face.

Beca shrugged. “No reason. Just think it’s strange, is all.”

The girl shifted uncomfortably. “What is?”

“That you have no luggage and you’re all alone on a bus in the middle of nowhere.”

“No offence, but why are you talking to me? I thought I annoyed you.” She said bitterly.

“Just making casual conversation,” Beca paused, “and you don’t annoy me. I would actually have to care about you for that to happen.”

The redhead heaved a sigh. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re infuriating?”

“They might have mentioned it.” She remarked dryly. “So are you going to tell me where you’re going, or just keep changing the subject?”

“I don’t keep changing the-” Beca’s amused expression cut her off. “Fine.” She paused, fiddling with her necklace. “I’m…going on a school trip, okay? Happy?”

Beca let out an incredulous laugh. “Let me get this straight. You think I'm gonna buy that you’re going on a school trip?”

“Uh huh.”

“On a Saturday?”

“Uh huh.”

“By yourself?”

She hesitated. “Yes?”

Beca leaned forward. “Bullshit.”

The redhead crossed her arms, sitting up straighter. “Well, where are you going then? You’re what? Fifteen?”

“Seventeen,” Beca glared back at her. “I’m not that small.”

The girl’s eyebrows shot up. “You’re a senior?”

Beca rolled her eyes, shaking her head. “Junior.”

“Okay then.” The girl eyed her skeptically. “What’s a junior doing out here all alone?”

She smirked. “I'm on the run from the police. Did you know that stabbing someone's a felony?”

The redhead narrowed her eyes. "I really hope you're kidding.”

Beca just shrugged and leant back in her seat.


“I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say your parents don’t know where you are.”

The redhead stiffened. “Why do you even care?”

Sore subject. Noted.

“I don’t.” Beca crossed her arms. “I just don’t get why you’re lying to me, Red.” The nickname slipped out easily.

“I’m not!” The girl objected loudly, causing a few heads to turn their way. “I’m not.” She repeated quieter this time.

Beca raised her hands. “Okay.” 

And then they lapsed into silence. The kind that Beca hated. 

Because the quiet was always louder when the shouting died out, the door slammed closed and the beeping of hospital machines stopped.

Beca repositioned her headphones and turned the volume to full.


The fidgeting started about an hour later. At first Beca tried to ignore it, but as the minutes ticked by, the girl sitting next to her grew more and more restless. And with it, Beca’s annoyance spiked.

“Dude!” She whipped her headphones off and glared at the girl. “Stop.” Feeling slightly guilty when the redhead flinched, she let out a long sigh. “I didn’t mean…” She shook her head. “Just stop moving about so much. It’s really fucking annoying.”

The redhead shot her a hard stare. “I can’t help it. If we don’t get off this coach soon, I’m going to wet myself.”

Beca snorted at that. “Christ, what are you, five?” She laughed. “Can’t hold it in?”

The girl pursed her lips. “I’m glad my suffering is amusing to you.”

“I would be more sympathetic if it wasn’t for the fact that there is literally a toilet behind us.” 

The redhead screwed up her face in disgust. “Some guy went in there half an hour ago and he still hasn’t come out. There’s no way I’m using it now. ”

Beca chewed on her lip, feigning thoughtfulness. “Well, you know what makes you need to pee less, right?”

The girl looked at her skeptically. “What?”

“Sex.” She grinned at the sudden blush appearing on the other girl’s face. “Or in your case thinking about it, because unless you’re into cougars, I don’t think any of these guys would be your type.”

The girl’s eyes widened. “Oh my god.”

“Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.”

The girl’s face got redder, but Beca noticed the fidgeting stopped.


It was early afternoon when they passed a sign saying Welcome to Red Bluff and the bus driver announced that they would be stopping to refuel.

“Oh thank god.” The redheaded girl breathed out quickly. The moment the doors opened, she was speed-walking out of the bus and dashing towards the nearest bathroom. Beca shook her head, a small smile playing at her lips as she watched the redhead go.

It didn’t take long for Beca to realise that Red Bluff was in fact a shit hole. Or at least the outskirts were.

Yellowing fields fell on either side of the main road and the gas station looked as though it hadn’t been cleaned in at least a decade. Sure there was a motel, but it was rundown to the point that the billboard that was meant to say Sportsman Lodge had been vandalised to read po r   n Lo g.

Sighing, she made her way to a small shop next to the gas station and leant against its front wall, lighting up a cigarette.


“Oh come on!”

Beca looked up just in time to see the redhead from the bus hit the side of a vending machine with her fist. She then proceeded to shake out her hand, letting out a long hiss, that Beca could just about hear from a few metres away.

A pack of Maltesers dangled on the edge of its wrack, but refused to drop down.

Beca managed to stifle her laugh, but couldn’t keep the amused expression off her face as she spoke up from where she was leant against the wall. “Bad luck, red.”

The redhead shot her a hostile glare from where she was standing under the shelter of the gas station's roof. Ignoring this, Beca stubbed out her cigarette and began to walk towards her.

“What do you want?”

“Can’t a girl buy a snack without getting her motives questioned?” Beca asked innocently, pausing in front of where the girl was stood blocking her access to the machine. “Do you mind?”

The redhead sent her a forced smile before stepping out of the way. “Be my guest.”

Beca inserted a couple dollars into the machine and typed in the same code as the redhead had done. She smirked as the Maltesers fell down easily. Picking them up, she waved them at the other girl, whose face fell into a pout. “Are you kidding me?!”

“Afraid not Red.” 

The girl groaned. “Please stop calling me that.”

Beca shrugged. “I don’t know what else to call you.” 

“Chloe.” She said tiredly. “My name’s Chloe.” 

“Chloe, huh?” Beca paused, a smirk playing on her lips. “I prefer Red.” 

With that, she chucked the packet of Maltesers into the girl's hands, and pulled her headphones over her ears. The girl watched Beca, stunned, as she began to walk back to the bus.

Beca pulled the laptop out of her duffle bag and resumed her previous position in the back; Opening up a new mix, she tried to get the redhead off her mind.

It was maybe five minutes before the redhead joined her, resuming the seat beside her. They sat in silence as they waited for the driver to finish refuelling.

Beca still had her headphones on, but was now watching the redhead out of the corner of her eye. She quickly averted her gaze when the girl looked back at her, cursing herself for being caught.

“Do you want one?” The girl she now knew as Chloe, stuck out the bag of Maltesers she had just opened.

Beca shook her head. “I’m good.”

She frowned. “But you paid for them.”

Her lip twitched. “So did you.”


The bus had slowly started to fill up again, but still the driver wasn't back.

“So I was thinking.” 

Beca hadn’t even noticed that the other girl had slid down her headphones to rest around her neck.

“No way,” She deadpanned. “You mean there’s an actual brain up there?”

“Funny,” The redhead rolled her eyes. “Anyway as I was saying, I just realised something.” 

Beca looked at her expectantly.

“You know my name, but I don’t know yours.”

“No,” Beca corrected. “I only know the name you gave me. What’s to say you weren’t lying?”

The girl let out a huff, leaning her head back on her seat. “God, you’re difficult.”

“So I’ve been told.”

She shot her a disapproving look. “Okay but seriously, what is it?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know.”

The redhead let a smile settle onto her face. “You know I’ll just start guessing until you tell me, then.”

Beca smirked. “Have at it.”

“Okay," She paused. "So, I’m thinking you look like a Rachel.”

Beca snorted. “Rachel? That’s the best you got?”

“Okay fine." She winced. "Lily?”

“God no.”

She sighed. “Yeah, I didn't think so either. Sarah?”

The look that Beca gave her was enough to tell her no. 

"Alex."

“Bree.”

"Hannah."

...

“Okay then, maybe Jemima or-”

“Really?" Beca cut her off, scoffing. "Jemima?!”

"I don't know, I'm running out of names!" The redhead laughed exasperatedly. “Just tell me!”

“Nope.”

It went on like that for a while, until...

“Okay fine...is it Alice??” 

Alice

Beca blinked. “What?”

“Alice.” And then, a wide smile made it’s way onto the other girl’s face. “No way!” She said excitedly. “I guessed it, didn’t I? Your name’s Alice?”

Alice Alice Alice Alice

Beca clenched her jaw. “It’s not.”

She smiled smugly. “Oh my god, It totally is! So Alice-

Alice Alice Alice Alice Alice ALICE ALICE-

Beca turned on the girl suddenly. “Don’t. Fucking. Call me that.” She spat out the words slowly and her headphones were back on before the other girl could even process what had happened.

She had almost forgotten why she was on the bus to begin with and now everything came crashing back into place. 

Alice.

The weight she had been carrying around on her chest for the last five months was suddenly heavier than ever.


To make matters worst, when the driver finally tried to start up the engine again, it made a sick spluttering noise then choked out into silence.

The man’s voice sounded through the speakers. “I’m very sorry everyone but we are having some difficulties getting the coach running again. If you could please leave the vehicle whilst we figure out what's going on, that would be greatly appreciated.”

Well fuck.

Chapter Text

After the incident with the creep, it wasn’t long before Chloe found herself moving to sit next to the small brunette. The bus was getting full and she did not want to get stuck next to another guy like him for god knows how long.

Now at the very least, she had expected the girl to look up at her when she sat down, but it seemed as though she hardly recognised her presence. The only indication that the brunette was actually aware of someone sitting next to her was how she had shuffled slightly, putting more distance between the two of them.

Despite the bulky headphones on the girl’s head, Chloe decided to push her luck and gave one of her best mega-watt smiles. “Hey!”

No response. 

If anything the girl seemed to hunch further in on herself, suddenly finding the view outside the bus window extremely fascinating.

“Hi,” She tried again, her enthusiasm depleting significantly as she saw the brunette reach for her MP3, blasting the volume so loud that she could hear it through the girl’s headphones.

Chloe frowned, trying to speak over the volume of the music one last time. “Is it okay that I’m sitting here?” 

She tapped the girl on the shoulder and immediately felt her stiffen beneath the touch, leaning impossibly closer to the window.

Okay, so she knows I’m here.

She puffed out a sigh, before lightly knocking on the side of the girl’s headphones that was closest to her.

“What?!”

Chloe was taken back by the venom in the brunette’s voice, but continued anyway. “I just wanted to know if it was okay to sit here.” She raised her hands defensively. “I didn’t want to get stuck sitting next to some axe-wielding murderer, so I thought, because you helped me out earlier…it would be okay?”

The brunette girl stared back at her with an unreadable expression on her face.

“But now I’m getting the impression that I read this wrong.” She muttered, feeling heat spread to her cheeks as the girl continued to stare at her blankly. “Can you like say something? Literally anything would be fine, just-” She stopped mid-sentence, letting out a groan, “Are you even listening to me?”

The brunette blinked, her vacant expression being replaced with a smirk. “Yeah…but just so we’re clear, could you repeat that?”

Chloe heaved a sigh, but she had to admit it was better than the silent treatment, especially since the girl’s tone had lost the bite it held before. “What part?”

That stupid smirk grew. “All of it.”

Never mind, this is definitely worst.


The brunette looked at her slyly. “Well, you know what makes you need to pee less, right?”

Chloe sighed, but at this point she would try anything. “What?”

“Sex.” Chloe immediately felt her face heat up. “Or in your case thinking about it, because unless you’re into cougars, I don’t think any of these guys would be your type.”

Her blush only grew, because here was this annoyingly attractive girl telling her this and of course the first thing that came to her mind were images that she should not be having of this stranger. 

“Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself.” 

Oh, I believe you...

The fire in her face only grew. And the images weren’t fading.

Oh god.


“Don’t. Fucking. Call me that.”

Chloe’s smile was wiped off her face as the girl turned to face the window again, angling her body away from her.

She'd clearly upset the brunette, but for the life of her she couldn't think of what she'd done wrong.

Alice...

Why would she get so worked up about a name?


An hour after the engine had refused to start up again, they were still waiting outside the coach. To their frustration, the driver hadn’t told them anything about when they would be able to get back on the road.

“Fuck this.” The brunette kicked herself off from where she had been leaning on the side of the coach and moved her headphones to hang around her neck.

Apparently an hour is all it took for the girl Chloe had been sitting next to before, to finally run out of patience.

“What are you doing?” She frowned.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” She slung her duffel bag over her shoulder. “I’m booking a room before they’re all gone.”

“But why? We’ll be leaving as soon as it's fixed.”

"Exactly." The girl let out a harsh laugh. “Look, just trust me red, I’m good with cars. That thing isn't starting anytime soon.” As if on cue, a large bang sounded from the coach and a fume of smoke shot out from the exhaust.

The brunette gave her a look as if to say ‘I told you so’ before adjusting her bag and setting off towards the motel. 

Most of the other passengers seemed to be having the same idea as the brunette, and before long it was only Chloe, alongside a few other people, who were left outside the coach.

It was another hour before the driver awkwardly returned to the small group of remaining passengers.

“Right everyone, a mechanic’s on the way.” He cleared his throat. “Only problem is we won’t be on the road again until tomorrow morning and-” 

But Chloe didn’t hear the rest. The beating off her heart in staccato rhythms drowned out everything as her thoughts began to spiral.

They definitely know I’m gone by now. What if they catch up?

They’ll take me back. Then the panic set in. Oh god, they’re going to find me. 

Then they’ll send me away to one of those-

“Um miss?” 

Chloe blinked and saw that she was the only one still standing by the coach. The driver was looking at her oddly.

“You gonna be alright?” 

Snapping out of it, she gave him a shaky nod. “Yeah, thanks.” She picked her backpack up off the ground and shouldered it carefully.


Chloe eyed the motel’s sign, ‘Porn Log’ wearily before pushing through the doors.

The inside was no better than the exterior. The whitewashed walls were covered in peeling paint and the red splotches on the carpeted floor did nothing to ease Chloe’s nerves.

A woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties was at the back of the room, reclined in her seat behind the wooden counter. Her feet were up and she was bobbing her head to the tinny music blaring from her earphones.

She hadn’t looked up when Chloe entered, clearly not hearing the tinkling bell on the door that had signalled a new arrival. 

Taking one last look at the exit, Chloe plastered a smile on her face and walked up to the front desk, stopping in front of the blonde woman. Her bleached hair looked almost reflective from up close.

She cleared her throat. “Hi, I was wondering if I could get a room for the night?”

The woman didn’t pay her any attention, instead continuing to flick through an outdated copy of In Touch magazine.

Spotting a small rusted bell on the counter, Chloe reached forwards and tapped it once. A harsh pinging reverberated through the small room.

Plucking out one of her earphones, the woman looked up irritably. “Yea?”

“I was wondering if you had a-”

“If you want a room, I can’t help you.” The woman cut her off lazily.

Chloe blinked. “Sorry?”

“Someone booked our last one ten minutes ago.”

“But…” Chloe desperately eyed the almost empty wrack of keys on the wall behind the woman, “Surely you have one going spare?”

The blonde picked at her nails. “Afraid not.”

“But-”

“Look, I really don’t have time for this. If you’re that desperate for a place to stay, you should’ve come earlier.” The woman stuffed her earphones back in and the blaring music resumed.


Chloe didn’t realise how much she would miss home.

But walking out of the motel reception with nowhere to sleep for the night, she was hit with a wave of loss for her previous life.

Mum, Sarah, Aubrey…dad…

Hell, she even missed her brothers.

How could I be so stupid? She cursed, turning right to walk alongside the line of outdoor motel rooms. I don’t stand a chance away from them…

She sniffed, feeling a familiar sting start to build up behind her eyes.

I shouldn’t have left, I shouldn’t have-

“Red?”

Chloe turned around and did a double take. The brunette from the bus was leant against one of the motel room’s doors, a cigarette in hand. She was frowning. “You okay?”

Chloe tilted her head to the side. “What?…Oh.” She quickly wiped the tear lines from her cheeks. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

“No, you're not.” The girl replied matter-of-factly. “So what's wrong?”

"I don't," Chloe sighed, shaking her head, "I don't want to talk about it."

A pause and then, “Okay.” The brunette brought the cigarette to her lips and exhaled a cloud of smoke, “Why are you still out here, then?”

“I…” She avoided her gaze. “I couldn’t get a room.”

The girl flicked the rest of the cigarette to the floor and ground it out underneath her boot. “I did warn you.” She pulled out another cigarette soon after, lighting it with a Zippo from her pocket.

Chloe pursed her lips, as she watched her. “You really shouldn’t smoke, you know.”

The brunette’s eyebrows shot up and a smile flitted across her face. “But just think of how much I’m contributing to society through all my taxes.”

“It’s really bad for you.” 

The girl smirked as she took a drag from her cigarette. “What are you?” She asked as she blew the smoke away. “The poster child for anti-smokers, or something?”

Chloe had to laugh at that, the frown vanishing from her face.

“So.” The brunette tapped the ash off her cigarette, not taking her eyes off Chloe’s. “You need a room, right?”

“Yeah,” Chloe sighed, her weary expression back, “but if you’re just going to gloat I’m really not in the mood.”

“Actually,” The girl slowly exhaled. “I was going to ask if you wanted to share mine.” She shrugged. “But, I guess not.”

She took one last puff from her cigarette and crushed it, turning to push open the door to her room. 

Chloe groaned internally. “Wait...” 

The brunette paused with her hand on the door and turned around, smiling innocently. “Yes?” 

“I’ll share the room.”


The room was small and a little dingy, not unlike the reception. There were no windows and the light hanging from the ceiling, looked as thought it could fall at any moment. A small double bed was positioned in the centre of the room, with an ugly red quilt sprawled on top of it. 

"Home shit home." The brunette turned to Chloe when the door was firmly closed behind them. “It's been a long day, do you wanna take a shower?”

“What?!” Chloe whipped her head round to face the other girl, eyes wide. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

“I meant if you wanted to take one.” The brunette smirked. “By yourself.”

Chloe felt the blush creeping up her face. “Oh.”

“Unless…?” The other girl was full-on grinning now.

Chloe’s brain seemed to have short-circuited, her reaction coming out delayed. “No!” She finally blurted, her face flushing further. “No.” She repeated again, wishing the floor would just swallow her up. 

“Alright.” The brunette bit her lip, failing to hide her smile. “Suit yourself, red.”



Oh come on!

Chloe was stood in the middle of the bathroom, dripping wet from her shower and eyeing her discarded pile of clothes in the corner. In her rush to get away from the girl, she hadn’t stopped to take one of the towels from the other room.

“Excuse me?” She called out. 

No answer.

I still don’t know her name…

“Bus girl?” She tried again, getting the same response.

Well shit.

She let out a groan and made up her mind. Creaking the bathroom door open slightly, she poked her head round and immediately spotted the brunette. She was sat cross-legged on the bed, headphones on and staring intently at the laptop balanced precariously on her lap.

“Hey, could you pass me a towel?” 

Silence.

“Please?”

Chloe was going to ask again, but then the brunette began to sing under her breath, and all of that was suddenly forgotten. All she could focus on was how beautiful her voice was.

“I’m bulletproof, nothin’ to loose,
Fire away, fire away,
Ricochet, you take your aim-”

Chloe didn’t remember making the conscious decision to do it. She just did. “You can sing?” 

“Huh? What did you-” The brunette began to say as she slid the headphones down from her ears, and looked up, her eyes immediately widening, “Dude! What the hell?!” 

A very naked Chloe was standing in front of her.

“How high does your belt go?” She took a step forwards.

“My what?!” 

“Your belt.”

“Oh my god,” The brunette’s eyes which had been glued to the laptop were now ping-ponging between Chloe’s face and the ceiling, purposefully not looking down, “you’re insane.”

“You were singing titanium, right?” She pressed on, ignoring the younger girl’s remark.

“Uh huh.” The brunette answered distractedly. “But can we please discuss this when your junk's not on display?”

“Oh!” Chloe seemed to suddenly become aware that she was standing in front of a stranger, nude and had the decency to look sheepish.

She bent down to pick up the neatly folded towel on the bed and wrapped it round her body. “Sorry, I don’t think sometimes…”

The brunette finally met her eyes, a disbelieving look on her face. “You mean you do that a lot?”

“What? No I…” Chloe let out a huff. “Whatever, I just got distracted. I was actually coming to get a towel.”

The brunette scoffed. “And you couldn’t just ask me for one because…?”

“I did!” Chloe replied adamantly. “You just didn’t hear me!”

The girl looked at her skeptically, “Uh huh.”


The next time Chloe came out of the bathroom she was fully dressed in the same clothes she had worn all day.

I can’t believe I didn’t pack pyjamas. 

The brunette was just getting into bed when Chloe grabbed one of the pillows and blankets from the bed, and tossed it to the floor. 

She let out an incredulous laugh. “What’re you doing?”

“What does it look like?” Chloe replied, moving to the floor and pulling the blanket over herself.

“You know there’s enough space on the bed for both of us, right?” She could practically hear the other girl roll her eyes. 

“I’m fine down here.”

“Okay, let me get this straight.” There was some rustling, then the girl’s head poked off the bed, looking down at Chloe. “You’ll willingly strip in front of someone you just met, but refuse to share a bed with them?”

“Well when you put it like that…” Chloe trailed off, 

The girl let out a laugh and rolled back to her original position on the bed. "You really are one of a kind, red."

It was silent for a while, until the brunette spoke up again.

“Do you want the light on or off?”

Chloe paused. “Off.”

The room plunged into darkness.


Fuck.

Chloe shifted restlessly on the hard wooden floor. No matter what angle she chose, she just couldn’t get comfy. Her back was starting to ache and just as she was about to turn over again, the bedside lamp flickered back on. 

“I can’t sleep with all your tossing and turning.” The brunette’s voice sounded tiredly through the semi-darkness, pausing Chloe’s movement. “Stop being so fucking stubborn and get up here.”

Reluctantly, Chloe stood up, pillow in hand and clambered onto the bed. She let out a content sigh as her back hit the mattress. She had never been so happy to be in a bed before.

“Better?” Came the brunette’s smug reply.

Chloe was too exhausted to be bothered by the girl’s tone. “Much.” She smiled sleepily, feeling her eyelids grow heavier. “Thanks...”

Chapter Text

Beca woke with a start, disorientated. The room was flooded in darkness, so it was definitely still night time.

Unable to tell what had woken her, she was about to close her eyes again when she heard it. A whimpering sound coming from beside her.

Beca rolled onto her side and the first thing she noticed was Chloe's face, screwed up tight, with a thin sheen of sweat sticking to her forehead. She was clutching the sheets firmly in her balled up fists.

“Red?” Beca whispered, a frown marking her face.

“No!” Another cry fell from Chloe's lips, forming words this time, “Please!” She threw the sheets away from herself, twisting her head to an almost painful angle.

Beca was sitting up now, looking helplessly at the crying girl, who had started to thrash around on the bed. “Hey, wake up!” She said louder this time, still getting no response.

Tears had started to line the redhead’s cheeks and the cries were turning into sobs. “No! NO!”

Not able to watch anymore, Beca did something that surprised even herself, and pulled Chloe into her chest, hugging her from behind. She held her as well as she could with the redhead still struggling against her arms. “It’s okay, I’m here. I’m here.”

Chloe's cries seemed to falter slightly, as Beca continued to talk to her. “It’s not real. It’s not real.” She ran her hands up and down the girl’s arms. “It’s just a dream.” 

Eventually Chloe’s breathing seemed to even out again, but when Beca made to pull away, a pair of hands moved to keep her in place. "Stay." The girl mumbled quietly.

And so Beca did.


The next time she awoke, it was light outside and the only sign of the previous night’s events was the redhead curled up in her arms.

She looks so peaceful now.

Her breathing was slow, rather than the shallow bursts from the night before and her hair had taken on a lighter shade of auburn in the morning light.

She reminds me so much of her…

Beca frowned, and shook her head, ridding herself of that thought. She started to slowly untangle herself from the girl, freezing as Chloe mumbled something in her sleep. 

Don’t wake up, please don’t wake up…

She didn’t. And Beca was able to safely detach herself from the girl without her ever knowing she was there.


By the time Beca had showered and packed up the rest of her stuff, it was a little over 6:00am and the redhead was still asleep. 

Not that I’d blame her after last night.

Beca moved towards the side of the bed and shook Chloe's shoulder gently.

“Red.”

Blue eyes flickered open, squinting against the light.

“You need to get up.”

"M'kay." She yawned, rubbing her eyes. Chloe sat up slowly, lifting her arms above her head as she stretched. Beca cast her eyes away as her shirt rode up slightly, revealing her bare stomach. 

“I’ll give you some privacy to change.” She excused herself quickly and grabbed her duffel bag, closing the door behind her.

She let out a heavy sigh, watching as the sun started to rise. 

God help me. 


"It's pretty beautiful isn't it?" 

Beca turned her head to the side, only just noticing the other girl's presence. "How long have you been standing there?"

"Not long." Chloe hummed, keeping her eyes on the sky. The sun had bloomed over the horizon, its golden petals stretching outwards into the pale blue. “I don’t think I said thank you for last night.” 

There's no way she remembers. She was pretty out of it, after all.

“Most people wouldn't offer their room to a stranger." She continued, a smile gracing her lips. "It was really nice of you.”

Of course, you idiot. 

“It was nothing.” She shrugged, picking her duffel bag off the ground and slinging it over her shoulder. 

It was quiet for a while as they started to walk the short journey back to the bus.

“I'll pay you back for the room.” Chloe said as they came to a stop behind their fellow passengers, queuing to get onto the coach.

Beca shook her head. “You don’t have to do that.”

“Please, it’s the least I could do.”

Well, I do need the money…

“Alright,” Beca conceded, “we'll split it.”


It was when the bus driver announced that everyone would need their tickets to get back on the bus that Chloe started to panic.

“No, no, no…” She muttered desperately, “I know I put it in here somewhere!"

“What now?” Beca glanced down at the redhead, who was emptying the contents of her bag onto the pavement.

“My ticket!” She was rifling through the discarded items on the floor. “Fuck!”

Sighing, Beca knelt down next to Chloe. “Okay stop. Stop.” She grabbed the redhead's arms, stilling her movements. “It’ll be fine. Just breathe, alright?” 

Chloe nodded, starting to take slower breaths as Beca helped her stuff everything back into the rucksack.


“Miss?” They were at the front of the line now, and the bus driver was looking at them gruffly, from where his broad shoulders were blocking the doorway. His face was mostly obscured by a black scraggly beard, and prominent dark bags lay under his eyes.

Beca nudged the redhead, snapping her out of her daze, and together they climbed the few steps onto the coach, stopping in front of the man.

“Tickets?” He held out his hand.

“I…” The redhead looked at Beca, who nodded. “I don’t have one.”

There was a tense pause before the driver let out a long sigh, crossing his arms. “Then I can't let you on.”

Beca’s eyebrows shot up. What the fuck?

“But I showed it to you back in Portland!" Chloe objected adamantly. "You know I had one!” 

“Sorry love but-”

“Don’t call her that.” Beca interrupted, gritting her teeth.

He continued as though he hadn’t heard her. “You can’t get on without a pass.”

Chloe's eyes widened. “Please, I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

“Not my problem.” He said, looking bored now.

Chloe opened her mouth to protest, but obviously thought better of it and turned on her heel, walking defeatedly off the bus.

Once she was out of sight, Beca turned back to the driver, glaring at him. “Dude, we’re in the middle of nowhere, you can’t just leave her out here.”

"Well, your girlfriend should have thought about that before she was careless with her ticket."

"What?!" Beca blurted, opening and closing her mouth. "She's not my girlfriend! I don't even..." Seeing the smirk start to appear on the man's face, she trailed off, narrowing her eyes. "Whatever. This is bullshit."

He shrugged. “I don’t make the rules.”

“Yeah, but you drive the fucking bus.” She shot back, clenching her fists. 

“It’s company policy.”

"Right." She muttered under her breath. "Fucking asshole.”

The man's face darkened. “Ticket?” He snapped.

Beca scoffed but handed it to him regardless. He examined it for a moment, before looking her in the eye and tearing the piece of paper in two.

“Dude!” She shouted, snatching what was left of the ticket. “What the fuck?!”

Smirking, he spoke up a bit louder. “Sorry kid, but no pass, means no ride.”

“What?!”

He failed to keep the deep look of satisfaction off his face. “You heard me.”

“You can’t just do that!”

“I just did.” His stony expression was back in place. “Now get off my bus, you’re holding up the line.”

Beca looked behind her, but no one seemed to be aware of what just happened. “Fuck you, man.” She hissed, and pushed past the other passengers to get off the bus.


“FUCK!”

Beca’s fist made contact with hard concrete and a burst of pain shot through her hand. She didn’t care though, because that man had ruined everything.

Almost all her savings had gone towards that ticket and now it was all for nothing. She was stranded in the middle of nowhere and no one gave a fuck.

God dammit!

Her plan had gone to shit. She had next to no money, no way of getting to LA and it was all because of that fucking dickhead.

I'm never going to find Alice now. 

She pulled her fist back again, getting ready to plant her next punch on the gas station's shop wall.

“Woah, hey!” Suddenly someone was behind her, holding her arm back. “Stop. Stop!”

Beca stopped struggling when she realised she was getting nowhere and the grip on her arm was soon released.

A few seconds later, familiar blue eyes met hers before falling on her swelling hand. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, red.” She huffed. “Just pissed.”

Chloe shot her a look. “I meant your hand.”

Beca shook her head. “It’s nothing.”

“Let me see.” She took Beca’s hand and inspected the reddened knuckles, a frown creasing her face. “Do you need to go to the hospital?”

“No.” Beca rolled her eyes, but a smile was making its way onto her face nevertheless. “If anything was broken, it would hurt a lot more. Believe me, I know.”

“Are you sure?”

“It’s been worst before, red.” Beca smirked, pulling her hand away from the girl. “Besides, do you see any hospitals around here?”

“Good point.” She paused. “So, what happened?”

“You literally saw me punch the fucking wall.” Beca responded dryly.

“That’s not what I…” Chloe shook her head. “Why aren’t you on the bus?”

“Well,” She gritted her teeth, the previous anger bubbling up again. “That asshole driver ripped up my ticket.”

“What?” Chloe looked genuinely appalled. “Why?!”

“I don’t…” Beca took a deep breath, trying to compose herself. She really didn’t want to take out her anger on this girl. “Can we talk about something else?”

The redhead nodded reluctantly. “Okay.” She bit her lip in thought. “Any idea how we’re gonna get out of here?”

Beca groaned and moved to lean against the wall she had been using as a punching bag. “Not a fucking clue.”

Chloe eyed the empty shop beside them. “I could ask someone how far Sacramento is from here. That was going to be our next stop, right?”

“Uh huh.” Beca sighed. “Knock yourself out.” She reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes.


It wasn’t long before the redhead was back, a wide smile on her face. “So Sacramento’s a two hour drive from here.”

Beca stared at her blankly, flicking the ash off the cigarette she was still holding. “In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t have a car.”

“We don’t need one.” She said dismissively. “We'll just walk until someone picks us up.”

A laugh broke from Beca's lips. “What like hitchhike?”

Chloe nodded.

“I see.” Beca exhaled another cloud of smoke. “You’re not crazy, you just have a death wish.”

“Oh come on, it can't be that bad. Besides, it's not like you have a better idea.” Chloe coughed, waving her hand to clear the smoke around them. “So are you in or what?”

"Oh what the hell," Beca muttered, putting out her cigarette against the wall. "Sure."

Grinning, the redhead started towards the road.

Beca shook her head, pushing herself off the wall. This girl will kill me.


“Alright,” Beca broke the silence between them when they had been walking down the highway for about ten minutes. “Where are you actually heading?”

“I already told you," Chloe suddenly looked uncomfortable. "I’m going on a school trip...”

“Red, I’ve seen you naked, I think we’re past lying to each other. So?” Beca stared at her expectantly. “Where are you going?”

Chloe was silent for a while and just when Beca was starting to think she wasn't going to answer, she spoke up. “I don’t know.” She sighed, avoiding Beca’s stare. “I just had to get away." Another pause. "Don’t ask why.”

Beca eyed her carefully, before saying, “Okay,” and levelling her gaze to the road. There was definitely a lot more to this girl than she originally thought.


“Why is no one stopping?”

“Probably because this was a terrible idea.” Beca sighed. “I’m serious, no one’s going to stop for us, unless they’re a fucking creep…” Her words trailed off as a truck pulled up beside them, making Chloe’s face instantly brighten.

The man driving the truck rolled down his window, “You alright, ladies?”

“Yeah, fine.” Beca said automatically, receiving a half-hearted glare from her companion.

“Actually,” Chloe quickly amended. “We were wondering if you could help us out?”

A smile made it’s way onto the man’s face. “Y’all need a lift, right?”

Beca groaned internally, as Chloe nodded.

This doesn’t feel right.

He looked them up and down quickly, a smirk settling over his features. “Come on then.” 

As Chloe started to move towards the other side of the truck, Beca tugged at her arm, keeping her in place and lowering her voice to a whisper. “I don’t know about this red.”

Chloe waved her off, shooting her a reassuring smile. “It’ll be fine.” 

“You don’t know that.” 

“Come on.” Chloe laughed, shaking her head. “You’re being paranoid.”

"And you're being naive." Beca clenched her jaw. "I mean look at him red, you need to get your head out the fucking clouds."

They glared at each other for a moment and then Chloe pulled her arm free, starting to walk away.

"I thought you were smarter than this, red.” Beca called out after her.

Chloe's steps paused as she turned back around. "And I thought you weren't a total bitch." She bit her lip. "Guess we were both wrong." 

Her steps didn’t falter the second time and she reached the other side of the truck within a few strides.

Beca watched as the man leant over the centre console and push open the passenger door, grinning, “Let me get that for you.”

“Thanks.” She could only just hear Chloe say, as the engine spluttered into life.

The man smiled, reaching over to tuck a strand of hair behind Chloe's ear. Beca didn’t miss the way she tensed, and moved her arm back to the door handle. But by then it was too late and the truck was moving again, leaving Beca staring after them.

Chapter Text

When Chloe was five, her father told her for the first time that her naivety would get her into a lot of trouble one day.

She couldn’t exactly remember the reason her dad had said those words to her, or how she still remembered them, but Chloe knew that while he was wrong about a lot of things, he wasn’t wrong about that. She was a naturally trusting person and more often than none, people took advantage of that.

So she really shouldn’t have been surprised when that trustingness mixed with her newfound stubborn defiance got the better of her once again.

“There you go love.” A shiver went up Chloe’s spine as the guy who was giving her a lift moved a loose stand of hair behind her ear. She was just reaching for the door when he started up the truck and pulled onto the road. 

She honestly had no clue what made her agree to a lift from the man. Sure, he hadn’t given her a reason not to trust him, but she couldn’t deny that something felt off about the whole thing.

That feeling only escalated when Chloe noticed him start to slow down after they had been driving for only ten minutes.

“What’re you doing?” She asked quietly, her heart in her throat. 

He pulled the truck to the side of the road, cutting off the engine. “Just thought we might stop for a bit.”

“Okay…” Her eyes flickered to the man, who was already watching her intently, to the window beside her. There were no cars in the distance, or any buildings in sight. In fact all she could see was empty field after field and she could still feel his eyes on her.

“Well,” Chloe swallowed thickly, making to push open the door. “I’m just going to get some air.” A click echoed through the truck and suddenly it wouldn’t budge. She tried again, but the door was locked firmly in place.

“Why did you-” Chloe’s words got stuck in her throat as she felt his hand rest on her leg, giving it a firm squeeze. “Please don’t do that.” She said quietly, trying to shift further away from him.

“What?” He grinned, his beady little eyes passing over her hungrily. “I’m just being friendly.” He said as his hand trailed up to her thigh.

“I said stop.” Chloe’s voice wavered, as she shoved his arm away. She reached for the door handle once again, rattling it to no avail.

He was closer to her now. “You don’t think I just give free rides to everyone, do you?” His lip curled upwards in a smirk. “You got something I want.”

Chloe shrunk back in her seat, putting as much distance between them. The man grabbed her arm tightly, pulling her back towards him. “Don’t be afraid, girly.”

“Ow!” Chloe could practically hear the blood pumping in her ears, as her heart rate skyrocketed. “Let me go!”

“You owe me, love.” He started to lean over the centre console, still gripping her arm. “Before I drive you anywhere, let’s have a little fun, yeah?”

“Let go! Please!” Chloe swallowed nervously, her mind racing. “You’re hurting me.”

“If you calm down, I can make you feel real good.” He had both of her arms in his grip now as he pushed himself forwards again. Chloe turned her head to the side, cringing as his lips connected sloppily with her cheek.

“Don’t fight it.” He whispered in her ear and that’s when she spotted it. 

His grip on her arms had loosened considerably and so taking advantage, she shoved him back as hard as she could. It gave her just enough time to lunge to for the object peaking out from the side pocket beside her.

“You’ll pay for that you little…” His words trailed off as he looked up. Chloe was pointing a gun at him, a slight tremor to her hands. 

“When a girl tells you to stop, you stop.” She gritted out through her teeth.

“Hey! Put that down.” He yelled, glaring right at her. “Put it down or I’ll call the cops!”

“Go for it. I’m sure they’d love to hear how you enjoy harassing young girls.” Chloe said dryly. “Now unlock the door.”

“I’m not scared of you.” He sneered, but the way his eyes kept darting to the gun in her hands gave him away. “You’re just a little girl. I bet you don’t even know how to-”

SHAK-SHAK

The man’s eyes widened as Chloe worked the slide on the pistol. 

“Unlock the door right now.” She repeated, her voice no longer shaking. “I won’t say it again.” Her grip on the gun tightened.

“Okay!” He snapped, moving his hand to the buttons by the window. “Just take it easy.” Chloe heard another click as the lock was taken off the door.

With one hand, she reached behind her for the door handle and gave it a rough push open. “If you follow me, I’ll shoot.”

The man’s glare intensified but he didn’t move an inch as Chloe backed out of the truck. She slammed the door shut, gun still pointed at him through the open window. “Now, drive.”

“Hey! What about my fucking gun?” He gritted out, nostrils flaring. 

“I said drive.” She waved the hand holding the pistol to emphasise her point.

Twisting his face into a snarl he started up the truck, and pulled away, shouting behind him. “Fucking psycho bitch!”

As the truck disappeared, Chloe couldn’t help but stare at the metal object still clasped in her trembling hand, as a prickle of cold flooded through her body.

“You’re no better than me.” A man’s voice pierced her head, breaking through the blood pounding through her ears and irregular thrumming in her chest. 

Her hands were shaking badly now and she dropped the gun, her hand automatically moving to the golden pendant wrapped round her neck.

“Chloe…” It was a woman’s voice now. “Run.”

Her vision disfigured, and the fields around her started to sway and bend, as if she were looking through a fish-eyed lens. Chloe squeezed her eyes closed tightly. “No.” She whispered brokenly. “Please, no.”

Her head became engulfed in tingles, making the nauseating swaying of her vision unbearable.

“Mum…” She whined, sinking to her knees, as she clutched her head.

Chloe opened her eyes and suddenly she was in a dark alley way, unable to move, or speak. 

She was back with him.

“Give me the fucking necklace.” The faceless figure growled, taking a step towards her. His grip tightened on the gun pointing her way.

“Chloe." She had never seen her mum cry before, but here she was, voice catching and tears streaming down both cheeks. “Do as he says.”

“I…” Her words weren’t coming out properly and the man was getting closer. “I can’t…” 

"Chloe!" Her mum was yelling now, her words bouncing off the walls. "Get Sarah out of here!"

"Mum!" She cried, trying and failing to get her feet unstuck from the ground. "Mum please!"

The shadows were closing in around her, the man was turning towards her sister and-

And then another voice was surrounding her. 

“You…got to…snap out…” A new one. Muffled, but there all the same.

The masked figure started to back away from them, slowly lowering his gun as he disappeared into the darkness. The alley around her was growing lighter. She looked down, seeing grass sprouting from the cracks below her.

“I’m…here.” There it was again. 

And suddenly Chloe was on her knees. She could feel the earth beneath her, hear the tug the grass made as she pulled it from the ground. 

She closed her eyes tightly, pressing her head against the floor.


Light assaulted Chloe’s vision as she opened her eyes. Gone was the dingy claustrophobic walls and unnatural coldness. In front of her now lay the same long stretch of road, which cut through the fields around it.

She kicked away the gun that was still lying beside her with an anguished cry and pressed her palms to her eyes, trying to quell the stinging behind her eyes.

It wasn’t real, Her mind raced as she attempted to slow her rough-edged breathing. It wasn’t real, it wasn’t-

With a jolt, Chloe realised there was an arm wrapped around her shoulder and she pushed herself backwards, scrambling to get away.

“Hey, it’s just me!” Chloe’s head snapped upwards, her panicked eyes locking with the brunette from the bus, who was currently kneeling in front of her. The girl’s hands were raised, and a small frown was lining her face, as she backed up some more. “It’s just me.”

Chloe tried to open her mouth to speak, but was stopped as a cry escaped her lips. The next thing she knew, her shoulders had started to shake and she was breaking down in front of this practical stranger.

“I’m…” Chloe stumbled over her words, as her body wracked with sobs. “You…”

“You don’t need to say anything.” The brunette was by her side again, her hand rubbing circles on Chloe’s back. “Just focus on breathing, alright? In…and out. In…and out.” 

Chloe nodded jerkily, her breaths starting to return to normal as she begun to follow the exaggerated motions the brunette was making. 

“I’m sorry.” She gasped out after a few minutes. “You were right, I should’ve just listened to you…If I had, he…he wouldn’t have-”

“Stop that.” The girl quickly cut her off. “Sure, what you did was incredibly stupid, but that does not mean whatever happened was your fault. You hear me?” She paused, waiting for a response. “Red?”

Chloe picked her head back up, not making eye contact as she nodded.

It was silent for a while before the brunette reached over slowly and took her hand, squeezing it once. “Do you think you can stand?”

“Yeah.” Chloe said hoarsely, immediately missing the contact from the other girl as she let go of her hand, starting to get up. But then her legs buckled beneath her and those same hands were at her arms in seconds, steadying her to her feet.

Chloe couldn’t hide the wince she made as the brunette’s hands pressed against her arms. A wince that certainly didn’t go unnoticed. 

The brunette tugged up Chloe’s sleeve before she could stop her and angry eyes landed on the reddened marks along her forearm. “Did he do this to you?” 

She nodded hesitantly, and the girl’s glare deepened. 

“Mother fucker…”

“It’s fine.” Chloe tugged her sleeve back down, obscuring the harsh blemishes. “It doesn’t even hurt anymore.”

The brunette’s glare softened, as her eyes returned to Chloe’s. “I thought we agreed not to lie to each other.”

“It’ll be fine.” She sighed, looking down. “I’m just sorry you had to see that…”

The girl shrugged. “You’ve seen me in the mornings, so let's consider it even.”

“Thanks.” Chloe sniffed, wiping her nose. 

“Don’t worry about it.” The brunette smiled, then started to walk towards the side of the road, looking back at Chloe as she stopped. “Come on, then.”

Chloe frowned, wiping her eyes once more. “What are you doing?”

“Hitchhiking.” The girl said as she stuck out her arm, then added, “Together this time.”


An hour passed before someone finally pulled over, and a woman who must have been in her mid thirties stuck her head out the window.

“Do you guys need a lift?” She said, giving them both warm smiles.

The brunette picked her duffel bag up from the floor, and started walking towards the front of the car. “If you’re offering, then yeah, that’d be great.” She nodded. “We’re heading to Sacramento.”

“Well,” The woman paused, “I’ll have to drop you a few miles from the city, but it’s not a long walk from there and it’s fairly straight forward.”

“That’s fine.” The brunette shouldered her bag. “Thanks.”

The engine roared to life and the woman glanced back at them expectantly. “Come on then, there should be space for both of you in the back." She grimaced. "Sorry about the mess, it hasn’t been cleaned it a while.”

Chloe was eyeing the woman skeptically when the brunette turned to face her.

“Red? You coming?”

“Uh huh...” She trailed off, unconsciously running her hand up and down her arm. 

The girl returned to Chloe’s side and picked up the rucksack resting by her feet. “Safety in numbers right, red?” 

“I guess.” Chloe bit her lip and followed her back to where the woman was waiting patiently.

“Come on.” The brunette opened the backdoor. “You can blame me if we get murdered.”

Chapter Text

Beca watched Chloe carefully for the first part of the journey, noticing the way she would flinch at the smallest of sounds and then look around sheepishly, checking if either of them had seen. 

At that stage, Beca would quickly avert her gaze, pretending to find the view out the window particularly fascinating.

Beca honestly had no idea why she cared so much, because it was becoming increasingly clear that she did. She never took this much interest in anyone. Alice had been the only exception.

Until now, She frowned. But why? What was so special about this girl?

Most people would have been put off by Beca’s alt girl appearance and disregard for rules, let alone her consistent ‘attitude problem’ as her dad had branded it. And even when they did see past all of that, it wouldn’t matter because they left. They always fucking left.  

So she built walls around herself, she didn’t let anyone in. Because if she had learnt anything at all, it was that the moment you let yourself care, you get hurt.

Logically she knew Chloe would be no different. She would get fed up with her eventually and then leave like everyone else had.

And even though she knew this, Beca couldn’t fight the relief she felt as Chloe finally began to relax. Whatever left over tension she felt drained away the moment Chloe’s shoulders finally loosened and her fingers stopped drumming patterns on her leg. 

Because like it or not, and despite having only just met, she was starting to care for the girl. Somehow, Chloe had slipped past her defences and Beca hadn’t even tried to stop her.

And even though that fucking terrified her, Beca still found herself watching the redhead from the corner of her eye. 

In fact, it was only an hour into the journey when Chloe started to make actual conversation with the woman driving the car that Beca pushed down the urge to keep checking on her and reached for her bag, pulling out her laptop.

All thoughts of the redhead disappeared as she lost herself in her mashup, letting the flow of music keep her mind from spiralling.


A tap on her shoulder tore Beca from her concentration, and all attempts at distracting herself vanished, as she looked up, her eyes immediately finding the redhead’s.

“What’re you doing?” Chloe asked, as Beca slid the headphones round her neck.

“Nothing really.” Beca shrugged. “I just enabled the flex of the newest vocal line in my mix.” 

The redhead blinked, looking at her blankly.

“It makes the vocals keep time with the other tracks.” Beca explained.

Chloe was still staring at her like she’d grown three heads and so Beca moved her laptop, showing her the screen. “I make mashups.” 

“Oh!”  Chloe exclaimed, letting out a laugh. “You should really lead with that.” She said, unbuckling her seatbelt and sliding into the empty spot next to Beca. “Can I listen?” 

Beca was too focused on the feeling of the redhead’s shoulder pressing into hers, to really process that she was willingly handing over her headphones to the girl without putting up any sort of fight.

“It’s not really done yet, so it’ll probably sound like shit.” Beca mumbled, sighing reluctantly. 

Chloe gave her a look that screamed ‘I don’t believe you,’ before moving the headphones over her ears and closing her eyes as the track started to play.

What the fuck? Beca mentally cursed herself. What just happened?

She never let anyone touch her headphones, never mind actually wear them. Yet here she was willingly handing them to this girl just because she asked. 

Shit, I should’ve said no. She groaned. She’s probably going to hate it. It’s not even done yet.

But any doubt Beca had, trailed off as a smile broke across Chloe’s face. She didn’t know why it mattered so much to her that the redhead enjoyed her music. It just did.

And so when Chloe began to mouth along to the lyrics, bobbing her head to the beat, Beca felt a smile of her own start to tug at her lips.

As the mashup came to an end, Beca pulled her gaze from Chloe, instead focusing on her laptop as the redhead opened her eyes.

“This is amazing!” Chloe said loudly oblivious to her volume. “How do you do it?” She spoke quieter this time as she gently removed the headphones.

Beca tilted the laptop so they could both see the screen. 

“I just find songs that have similar keys and tempos and then create a track that ties them together. So this…” She gestured to the track at the bottom of the screen. “Is the instrumental section, and that…” she moved her hand to the top, “is the vocals I layered over it.”

When Beca looked back at the redhead, Chloe’s eyes were already on her. “My glee club would kill to have someone do this kind of stuff for us.” 

Beca couldn’t stop the smirk that made its way onto her face. “So you’re an acappella nerd.”

Chloe narrowed her eyes slightly. “A three time national champion acappella nerd.” 

“Uh huh,” Beca nodded. “It all makes sense now.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” 

“Oh nothing, nothing.” Beca grinned, raising her arms. “So anyway,” She continued, changing the subject. “What do you do in nerd club?”

“Glee club,” Chloe corrected, before pressing on and matching her previous enthusiasm. “And we sing covers of songs. If we had someone like you on our team we could totes make it to internationals!”

Beca laughed. “You’re not trying to recruit me, right?”

“No…” The redhead’s smile faded slightly. “I couldn’t if I wanted to.” 

“Oh?” Beca arched an eyebrow at her.

“Yeah.” She sighed, looking down. “I’m not really a member anymore.”

Beca didn’t want to push the other girl, but her curiosity was once again getting the best of her. “What happened?”

“Well…” Chloe hesitated as she gathered her thought. “Long story short, I fucked up.” She sighed. “And I know when I’m not welcome, so I quit.” 

“I find that hard to believe.” Beca said before she could stop herself.

“What?”

Beca cleared her throat. “I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t want you. I mean you obviously care a lot about them.” She added hastily.

“I do.” Chloe responded quietly, biting her lip. “But, I don’t blame them for wanting me out. Especially not Bree.” 

“Who’s-”

But Beca’s question got drowned out as the woman driving the car piped up from the front seat, making them both jump. “I was in an acappella group back in college! Yes we were called the One Note Stands…”

Whatever moment they had been having vanished as the woman started to chatter on about her ‘glory days’ of collegiate acappella in painfully excruciating detail.

“…but of course in our senior year we were robbed by the CrescenDudes, the bastards…”

Beca looked over at Chloe, horrified to see that she was nodding along to the woman’s stories, obviously giving them her sole attention.

“…not to brag or anything but we did make it through to Worlds…”

Aca-fucking-awesome.


At some point in the conversation Beca had zoned out, so she was surprised to look up and find two sets of eyes on her.

“What?” She shifted in her seat.

“I asked you what your plan was.” The woman repeated, her eyes still looking at her through the rearview mirror. 

It was then that Beca noticed how tense the redhead had gotten.

“Well, we’re…” Chloe’s voice was higher than it had been before, and her leg had started to bounce up and down. “Um…”

“Come on, It’s not like I’m gonna say anything to anybody.” She laughed. “What’re you kids doing out here?” 

Sure, the woman seemed to mean well, but Beca didn’t like the way Chloe’s back had straightened or how she was gripping her necklace so tightly it looked like it would snap.

“We’re taking a gap year before college.” Beca answered coolly, matching the woman’s stare.

“Little young aren’t you?”

Beca didn’t have anything to say to that. Everyone had always said she looked younger than she was. It was part of the reason she’d brought such a good fake ID. 

And Chloe’s reaction certainly wasn’t helping the woman believe otherwise.

The lady smiled, letting out a knowing hum. “I promise I’m not trying to interrogate you. I just thought you might want to make a phone call to your mum or something like that. Let her know you’re okay.”

And even though the woman must have missed the way Chloe’s eyes had started to glaze over, Beca hadn’t. Maybe that’s why she levelled her glare at the woman and said, “My mum died three years ago.”

The silence that followed was palpable.

Beca could feel Chloe’s eyes on the side of her face, but ignored it as she shifted her body to the side, turning her stare to the blur of trees outside the window.

The rest of the journey carried out in that same awkward silence until the woman cleared her throat as they got to a junction and announced that she couldn’t take them any further.

With quickly uttered “goodbyes” they got out of the car and watched in silence as she drove off. Just like that, they were alone again. 

The only difference was the change in scenery surrounding the road that the woman had dropped them off at. The fields that had previously stretched around them, had been replaced with suburbs and where there were once trees, houses now lay. 

Even from where they were standing, they could see the large buildings towering in the distance. The unmistakable outline of the city laid out in front of them.

Sacramento.

Fucking finally. 


They had been walking in silence for ten minutes but Beca could tell from the way Chloe kept glancing at her that she had something to say.

As if on cue, the redhead opened her mouth, her words tumbling out. “I’m sorry about your mum.”

It wasn’t as though Beca hadn’t expected it. The moment people found out she had a dead parent, the first thing they did was apologise. It was just what happened. 

But there was something about it coming from Chloe that made it seem more…real. 

Like she wasn’t just saying it to be polite. She was genuinely sorry.

Beca shrugged. “It was a long time ago.”

“Still.” Chloe looked down. “I know what it’s like to…to lose someone.” She said quietly. “That kind of hurt doesn’t go away.”

Beca followed the redhead’s gaze, her eyes landing on the golden pendant clutched between her fingers and she couldn’t stop herself from asking. “Where did you get that?”

The girl’s steps faltered for a moment, before levelling out again.

“My mum,” Chloe swallowed. “My mum gave it to me.” 

There was a certain heaviness to the words that Beca couldn’t quite pinpoint, but before she could think on it any further, the other girl was speaking up again.

“So how’d you get that?” She said, gesturing to the small cut beneath Beca’s eye.

Beca had almost forgot it was there. But now she could feel the distinct sting of it as clearly as when her dad had hit her.

“Gang violence?”

It was obvious Chloe was trying to lighten the subject, but Beca could still see that the smile didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“No.” Beca shook her head and rolled up her sleeve. “That’s from my gang.” 

“It’s a tattoo.” Chloe stared at the small grasshopper inked on her arm in confusion. “Wait,” Her eyes snapped up to Beca’s, “you’re in a gang?!”

“Yup,” Beca nodded. “It’s our mark.”

Chloe’s face dropped. “You’re in a gang.” She repeated.

Beca tried to maintain a blank expression but nothing could prevent the smirk from creeping onto her face. “No, but the look on your face was totally worth it.”

“Oh my god, I hate you.” 

“No, you don’t.” Beca laughed, pushing her sleeve back down. “But I mean seriously, what kind of gang has an insect as their mark?” 

“Whatever.” Chloe huffed. “You still didn’t answer my question, by the way. How’d you get the cut?”

Beca was quiet for a moment, before echoing Chloe’s original answer. “My dad gave it to me.”

Chloe was silent for a minute and Beca had an awful feeling that she had said too much too soon. If the dead mum thing hadn’t scared her off then this definitely would.

Fuck

“It was an accident really.” Beca said quickly, not really sure why she was defending him. “And he’s never done something like that before so it’s not like I’m-”

“Your dad’s a dick.” Chloe cut her off, her lips pursed together.

Beca stared in disbelief at the redhead. She had truly never met anyone like her.

“Yeah,” She finally laughed. “He really fucking is.”

Chapter Text

Chloe had never travelled much growing up. Her father worked a lot, often heading out of state for weeks at a time. Between that and the long school terms, the opportunities for holidays were scare.
 
Sure, the occasional school trip had arisen, but none of those had ever taken her outside of Oregon. 

And yet here she was, in California, six-hundred miles from home.


By the time the sun had begun to set, Chloe’s feet were dragging and she was starting to wonder if someone had in fact slipped bricks into her bag. 

So when the brunette brought them to a pause outside a patchy looking motel, and folded up the map they had snagged from a tourist stand, she made no complaint.

“We should stop for today.” The girl said, unzipping her bag and stuffing the paper inside. “We can figure out the rest of our route tomorrow.”

“Thank god.” Chloe laughed, pulling the brunette into a hug.

“Don’t thank me yet.” The girl cleared her throat, awkwardly extracting herself from Chloe’s grasp. “This place looks fucking dodgy.”


Thankfully, the inside was a lot better than the graffitied exterior, but the price of their room certainly made a dent in Chloe's savings. Although none of that really mattered the moment Chloe kicked off her shoes and flopped onto the double bed.

“I think my feet are gonna drop off.” She whined, her head hitting the pillow with a soft thud. “How are you still standing?”

Chloe could practically feel the girl roll her eyes from across the room. “We weren’t walking for that long.”

“Five hours is a very long time.”

“Okay one, it was three hours and two, you’re the one who insisted on running around with that dog in the park.”

“God,” She groaned. “Don’t even talk to me about running right now.”

Chloe heard the girl’s chuckle from across the room. “I did tell you it was a bad idea.”

Chloe huffed. “I’m glad you find my suffering amusing.”

“Well, what if I said there was a way to make your ‘suffering’ go away?” 

Chloe lifted her head off the bed, arching an eyebrow at the brunette. “I’m listening.”

“Everyone knows that alcohol’s the best pain relief, right?” The girl said, a smile tugging at her lips.

“Yeah, and?” Chloe asked, eyeing her skeptically.

“And we have a mini fridge filled with it.” The brunette smirked, moving towards the small cooler in the corner of the room. “Come on.” She said, crouching down and beginning to pull out the various bottles of different sizes. 

Chloe groaned before hauling herself off the bed and joining the brunette on the floor. She shot the girl a quizzical look as she reached into the cooler, bringing out an icepack. “For your arm,” She clarified, noticing Chloe’s confusion.

“Oh.” Chloe said. “You don’t have to…” Her words trailed off as the brunette tentatively began to roll up her sleeve, revealing the light purple splotches starting to form on the skin.

The pain in Chloe’s arm had decreased considerably but she couldn’t deny the immediate satisfaction that washed through her as the girl wrapped the ice over the developing bruises.

“Better?”

“Much.” Chloe smiled. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” The brunette replied, a grin making its way onto her face as she held up one of the smaller bottles, “Now for the real treatment.”


An hour later, Chloe had settled back onto the bed, crosslegged. She was cradling a beer in her hands and her gaze was zoned in on the brunette sitting on the chair opposite her.

“You’re a bit of a closed book.” Chloe pursed her lips, taking a sip from the bottle. “I hardly know anything about you except that you make mashups and smoke.”

The girl hummed. “That pretty much sums me up.”

Chloe shook her head slightly. “No, there’s more than that, you just don’t want to tell me.”

“Fine, you got me.” The brunette chuckled. “So what do you want to know?”

If Chloe was surprised by her response, she didn’t show it.

“What’s your favourite colour?”

“Nope, you’ve crossed a line Red.”

“Har har.” Chloe said with a roll of her eyes. “Seriously though, what is it?”

“Blue." She said, before adding, "What’s yours?”

“Yellow.” Chloe replied easily, quickly moving to her next question. "Do you have any siblings?"

"Nope. You?"

"Two brothers and a sister."

"Wow." The brunette raised her eyebrows. "Big family."

"I guess." Chloe shrugged. “Where did you grow up?”

The brunette laughed. “What is this, twenty questions?”

Chloe bit her lip, holding back a smile, “Maybe.”

The girl rolled her eyes. “I was born in Seattle, but me and my mum moved to San Fransisco when I was 11. Then after…” She sighed, looking down. “After she died, I went back to Washington with my dad.”

Chloe frowned, not missing the way the girl’s grip had tightened on her bottle. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, it’s in the past now.” The brunette glanced up at Chloe, leaning forward in her seat. “So what’s your story? Where does a girl like you come from?”

“A girl like me?” Chloe grinned, accepting the brunette’s attempt towards changing the subject. “Is that your way of flirting?” She asked, causing the other girl to choke on her drink.

“What? No I-”

“Portland.” Chloe cut in, smirking at the brunette’s flushed cheeks. “Just outside the city centre.” She paused, a thoughtful expression making its way onto her face. “You know, I’ve never been away from home before. I miss it less than I thought I would.”

By the time Chloe had finished speaking, the brunette had composed herself enough to speak again. “So why’d you run away?”

“What?” This time it was Chloe’s turn to look flustered. “How did you know I...”

“You’re travelling alone, you have like no possessions and you definitely don’t know where you’re going.” She said with a shrug. “This trip doesn’t seem like something you planned.”

“Funny.” Chloe spoke up after a minute. “You just described yourself.”

“Nope.” The brunette shook her head, taking a drink from her beer. “I know exactly where I’m going.”

“Oh yeah?” Chloe asked. “And where would that be?”

“LA.” A frown suddenly appeared on the girl’s face and she downed the last of her bottle. “I would’ve been there tomorrow if it wasn’t for that fucking bus driver.”

Chloe looked down, biting her lip. “Sorry.”

“Why?” The girl asked. “It’s not your fault he was a dick.”

“If I hadn’t lost my ticket…” 

She shrugged. “Then we would’ve been stuck with that asshole for another day. You did us a favour.”

“I guess.” Chloe sighed. “So…LA, huh? Is that still the plan?”

“Yeah.” The brunette nodded, starting to pick at the label on her bottle. She opened her mouth to speak, but quickly closed it.

Chloe tilted her head. “What?”

“No it’s…” She sighed, shaking her head. “It’s stupid.”

“Try me.” 

The brunette exhaled slowly. “I was just going to ask if you wanted to come with me? To LA that is.”

Chloe blinked. “Wait really?”

“I mean we’ve already come this far.” She said, picking off another piece of the sticker on her beer bottle. “Besides you can’t keep aimlessly travelling around the country, and at least if we’re together, the chance of us getting murdered decreases marginally.” She laughed. “Not to mention it’s cheaper to spilt the costs of everything.” 

Chloe bit her lip, mulling it over. 

The girl was right, she couldn’t keep running. And maybe giving herself a destination, would ease the tenseness that had been present since the moment she left her house back in Portland.

“Okay.” She finally said. “On one condition.” 

The brunette arched an eyebrow at her, unscrewing the cap of the new bottle she had just grabbed.

“You tell me your name.”

The girl stilled her movements, a small smile settling on her face as she met Chloe’s gaze. “Beca.”

Just like that, something clicked into place for her. “Beca.” She echoed, a smile of her own playing at her lips.

The weight she had been carrying around all week suddenly didn’t seem so heavy.

“Okay then.” Chloe said at last. LA it is.”


It was nearing midnight and they still hadn’t stopped drinking. At some point in the conversation they had made their way onto the floor, sitting with their backs pressed against the bed as they each cradled a beer.

It hadn’t taken long for the alcohol to quickly work its way through Chloe’s system, encasing her body in a warm, fuzzy blanket.

She turned her head to the side, smiling as her eyes met darker blues. “It might be the vodka and double shot of bourbon talking but I think we’re going to be really fast friends.” She said quietly.

“Oh yeah?” The brunette mused, her eyes not leaving Chloe’s.

“Mhm,” Chloe nodded lazily, her eyes tracing Beca’s features before she spoke again. “You’re like really pretty.” She said without thinking, already feeling the blush rise to her cheeks. 

The brunette’s mirth filled gaze met hers “And you’re like really drunk.” She chuckled, breaking their eye-contact as she started to stand. “Look, I’m gonna go shower. Will you be okay on your own, or do I have to babysit?” Beca said once she had successfully gotten onto her feet.

“I’ll be fine.” Chloe huffed as she struggled to stand.

“Okay, well I won’t be long.” Beca eyed her wearily. “Just…try not to break anything.”

Chloe gave the brunette a small salute then flopped backwards onto the bed.
 
She waited for Beca to be out of the room before sitting up properly again, her eyes zeroing in on the telephone perched on the bedside table.

She stared at it for a while, until she heard the shower start to run and gingerly picked it up, slowly dialling the only number she knew.

Ring ring.

Ring ring.

Ring ri-

“Hello, Aubrey Posen speaking.” The unmistakable voice of her best friend rung out from the phone. “Hello?” She asked again, and Chloe could almost picture the frown creasing the blonde’s forehead. 

Just as Chloe was about to hang up, Aubrey spoke again, sobering her up considerably. “Chloe? Is that you?” Chloe blinked, her mouth moving to say something, but no words coming out. “It is, isn’t it?”

Chloe swallowed, her throat dry all of a sudden. “I just wanted to hear your voice.” She said at last.

“Chloe.” Aubrey said thickly. “Where are you?”

“I can’t tell you.” Chloe’s voice wavered. “I’m sorry.”

“This is serious Chlo. I need to know you’re okay.”

Chloe nodded, before remembering Aubrey couldn’t see her. “I am.” She said.

A crackling noise sounded, as if the phone’s speaker had been covered up, and then muffled voices. Chloe frowned.

“Please just…you need to come home.” Aubrey continued, her voice sounding strained. “I don’t know what you were thinking, but everyone’s been so worried. Your dad-”

“Doesn’t care.” Chloe said, cutting her off. “He never has.”

“That’s not true.” Aubrey replied calmly. “Your dad loves you very much.” 

Chloe scoffed. “He has a funny way of showing it.”

“Look just,” Aubrey sighed. “Think about Sarah. She needs you.”

Chloe had lost count of how many times she had been told that in the last six months. That she had to stay strong for her family, for her sister. 

But who was staying strong for her?

Chloe blinked back the tears that had begun to gather in her eyes. “No, she doesn’t.” She said quietly. “She needs her mum.”

There was a long silence on the other end of the phone. 

“I know how hard this year has been for you,” Aubrey eventually said, “but running away won’t solve your problems.”

“Why…” Chloe sighed, “Why are you even talking to me right now? You hate me.”

“I hate what you did.” Aubrey corrected. “But no matter what I said the other night Chlo, you’re still my best friend. I was just mad and upset and I shouldn't have spoken to you like that. So please,” She sounded desperate then. “Please come home.”

“I’m sorry.” Chloe said again. “But that’s not my home anymore.” 

“Chloe you don’t mean-” 

“Red?” Chloe didn’t hear the rest of Aubrey’s sentence as her head snapped up to be met with Beca standing directly in front of her. “Who’re you talking to?” 

She froze.

Fuck fuck fu-

“Who was that?” Aubrey’s concerned tone jolted Chloe back to reality and she squeezed her eyes shut, fighting the stinging sensation behind her eyelids.

“I’ve gotta go, Bree.” She said quickly.

“Chloe, wait!”

“I’m sorry.” 

She hung up before Aubrey could say anything to change her mind and put the phone down heavily. She leant forwards and pressed her hand into her forehead, grinding the heel of her palm against her skin.

Chloe startled slightly as she felt the bed dip beside her, and turned her head to the side, locking onto Beca’s concerned eyes.

“Are you okay?”

It wasn’t the question Chloe was anticipating.

“Yeah, just kinda overwhelmed.” She replied. “I didn’t think she’d actually pick up.”

Beca nodded, drumming her fingers on her leg. “So, I’m guessing that was the best friend you were talking about?”

“Aubrey.” Chloe breathed out shakily. “Fuck she was right, I don’t know what I was thinking.” She said, starting to wave her hands around. “I have no place to stay, no money and no idea where I am. I shouldn’t have ever left Portland.”

“Hey stop that.” Beca said, grabbing Chloe’s flailing arms. “I don’t know why you left, but I’m guessing it was for good reason, right?”

Chloe looked down, nodding jerkily.

“And do you actually want to go back?”

Chloe shook her head ‘no.’

“Okay.” Beca said, releasing Chloe’s hands. “Then that’s all that matters. We can figure out the rest when we get there. But for now let’s go to bed, alright? It’s been a long day and you’re overwhelmed, not to mention a little tipsy.”

A watery laugh escaped Chloe’s lips. 

Beca smiled. “Do you want to go change into something comfier to sleep in?”

“I didn’t bring pyjamas.” Chloe said with a frown.

“Hold on.” Beca got up and crossed to the other side of the room, crouching down to rummage through her bag. “Here.” She said, pulling out a shirt and pair of shorts and tossing them to Chloe. “Try those on.”

“Thanks.” Chloe said and started to pull her shirt over her head, only to be stopped by the brunette’s squeak of protest.

“Dude!”

“What?” Chloe laughed silently, pausing her motions. “You’ve literally seen me naked.”

The brunette’s eyes were planted on the ceiling, a slight flush adorning her face. “Still.” She muttered, shaking her head, “Boundaries.”

“You can look if you want, it doesn’t bother me.” Chloe shrugged. “I’m pretty confident about all this.”

“God you’re so...weird.” 

“And you’re cute when you’re flustered.” Chloe countered.

“I’m not…” Beca let out a huff of air, folding her arms across her chest. “Whatever. Just…go change in the bathroom like a normal person.”

“Anything you want Becs.” Chloe winked, getting up from the bed.


“Are you just gonna stand there or…?”

Fuck it. Chloe thought to herself as she crossed the room.

They’d slept in a bed together before and it had been fine. More than fine actually. 

For the first time in six months, Chloe had slept through the night. Gone was the disorientated panic clawing at her chest when she found herself trapped in a nightmare. There had been no fit of tears as she woke with a start. 

For the first time in six moths, she had slept in peace. 

And that was enough to ease her concerns as she took the other side of the bed to the brunette, not quite touching the other girl, but not quite staying as far away as she could.


When morning came, Chloe awoke to find an unfamiliar pressure across her waist and behind her back. 

She relaxed into the embrace, unable to recall the last time someone had held her like the girl behind her was at that moment. Like Beca was holding her.

Beca.

Her eyes popped open and she suddenly became extremely aware of the body pressed up against hers. She slowly tried to extract herself from the girl's hold but stopped as she felt her start to stir. Closing her eyes quickly, she tried to even out her breathing.

The warmth behind her back soon disappeared as the brunette hastily made to untangle herself. 

Chloe missed the contact as soon as it was gone.


“That will be $110.50,” 

Chloe felt her jaw drop as the man at the motel’s reception spoke curtly, looking at them in obvious disdain.

It was Beca who spoke up first. “What?!” She exclaimed loudly, her eyes going wide. “You said 70 last night!”

“Yes.” He said shortly. “That was before you took over forty dollars worth of product from the fridge in your room.”

“You mean we have to pay for that shit?!” Beca exclaimed.

“Yes, ma’am.” He nodded, folding his hands on the counter. “Is that going to be a problem?”

“Of course it’s going to be-”

“No problem.” Beca cut Chloe off, stepping on her foot for good measure. “It’s going to be no problem.” She said. “Can you just give us a minute?”

He nodded reluctantly. “Take all the time you need.”

Chloe stumbled slightly as the brunette dragged her to the corner of the room. “What was that?!” She whispered incredulously. “You know we can’t afford it!”

“Duh.” Beca rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry, I’m not wasting my money on this place.”

Chloe blinked. “What’re we supposed to do then?”

“I may or may not have an idea.” 

Chloe looked at her expectantly.

Beca smirked. “We make a runner.”

“What?! No! That’s…” Chloe gaped at the girl, lowering her voice to a whisper. “That’s illegal!”

Beca shrugged. “So is hitchhiking.”

Chloe pursed her lips. “That’s different and you know it.”

“Just follow my lead.”

“What?!” Chloe squeaked, “No!”

Beca ignored her remarks and calmly walked back to the front desk, saying something to the receptionist to make him turn and vanish into the back room. The moment he was out of sight Beca turned on her heel and begun to speed towards Chloe.

“Let’s go.” She hissed. “We don’t have much time.”

“No.” Chloe said, her eyes growing wide. “Oh, no no no no no.” 

“Come on.” Beca said, grabbing Chloe’s hand and starting to drag her to the exit.

Oh my god, oh my god. Chloe panicked. This is not fucking happening.

They had almost reached the door when they heard a voice sound from behind them. “Hey! Where are you going?”

“Fuck.” The brunette cursed from beside her and suddenly Chloe was being tugged through the exit onto the streets. “Run!”

More footsteps sounded from behind them, but Chloe didn’t dare look back as she blindly followed the brunette, holding onto her hand tightly. 

“Someone stop them!” One of the security guards shouted in vein.

It was rush hour and obviously everyone had better things to do than worry about chasing after two kids. But by the time the men figured that out, the girls were already gone, their path obscured within the busy crowds.


“Holy shit!” Chloe panted five minutes later as they turned the corner into a deserted street, slowing to a stop. “That was…”

“Irresponsible? Stupid? Reckless?” The brunette laughed, looking as out as breath as Chloe felt. “You can thank me later when we have enough money for food.”

“Actually,” Chloe paused, a wide smile splitting her face as she leant against the nearest lamppost. “I was going to say amazing.”

“What?” Beca blinked, eyeing Chloe up and down.

“I’ve never felt that alive before.” She responded breathily, her chest still rising and falling rapidly.

Beca grinned. “I’m starting to think I’m a bad influence on you, red.”

“No way.” Chloe snorted. “I’m older. That definitely makes me the influencer.”

Beca scoffed. “What, with your naivety and lack of common sense? Fat chance.”

“Fine.” Chloe said. “If you’re so wise, then how are we going to get to San Fransisco from here?” She sighed as a smirk settled itself on the brunette’s features.

“You’re not going to like it.”

Chloe frowned, before following the brunette’s gaze, her eyes landing on an old fashioned truck parked in front of them. “No.” She said immediately, her eyes snapping back to where Beca was already stepping towards the vehicle.

“Yes.” Beca replied, already moving to the side of the car. “I mean what choice do we have?”

“We could always-”

“We are not fucking hitchhiking.”

“Oh come on, it’s not that-”

“No.” Beca stated firmly. “No way are we doing that again. You’re lucky we’re still alive.” She said as she started to unzip her duffel bag. “Now get over here and help.”

“But…” Chloe objected weakly.

“Red, no one’s gonna miss this piece of crap. We’re honestly doing them a favour.”

She does have a point...

Chloe bit her lip, before finally nodding. “Fine.” She groaned, walking towards the brunette. “So how do we do this?”

Chapter Text

“So how did you learn to do this again?” The redhead asked as Beca once again tried to jimmy the car door open.

 

Beca was glad her back was to the other girl, as she wasn’t sure she’d be able to keep the pained expression from crossing her face as the memories flooded back.

 

She’d learnt with her, of course. Another useless attempt at impressing the girl.

 

The girl, who muttered curses at Beca the whole time she watched her pry the car door open and fiddle with wires. But Beca had seen the poor attempt she had made at hiding her smile, heard the softness in the girl’s voice.

 

So for that reason it had been worth it. And Beca would truly do anything to see that smile again, to hear the laugh bubbling from Alice’s lips as they sped out of Seattle, hair windswept and cheeks glowing pink.

 

They really had been invincible. 

 

“It’s a long story, just…” Beca grunted, shoving the memories deep down, and pushing the extendable metal rod into the top part of the door, “Focus on keeping a look out.” 

 

“Are you sure this is going to-” The redhead’s sentence was cut off as the truck door popped open.

 

Beca smirked, sliding into the driver’s seat. “You were saying?”

 

Chloe’s mouth opened and closed quickly, abandoning what she had been about to say. “Just hurry up. I still don’t like this.”

 

“Yeah, yeah.” Beca said as she reached into her bag, pulling out a flat-headed screwdriver.

 

“Why do you even have all this stuff?” Chloe asked, sticking her head through the door to watch.

 

“I thought you were meant to be on look out, Red.” Beca said as she jammed the screwdriver into the ignition and gave it a turn. “Fuck.” She muttered when it was obvious nothing was going to happen.

 

“Everything okay?” Chloe asked with a frown.

 

“Yeah, just a slight complication.” Beca sighed, pulling the screwdriver out from the ignition and starting to unscrew the bolts from the panels on the steering column.

 

“No offence but why did you actually think that was going to work?”

 

Beca rolled her eyes. “Sometimes old cars be started by wedging something into the ignition. Clearly not this piece of shit though.” She laughed, turning her attention to the redhead. “And no offence but you’re a terrible lookout.” 

 

Chloe shrugged. “What can I say? It's boring.”

 

“Yeah well it beats jail.” Beca gently pried open the panels below the driver's column, exposing the two red and brown wires running to the ignition cylinder. “You don’t happen to have insulated gloves do you?”

 

“No.” Chloe shook her head. “Why?”

 

“Well I really don’t want to be electrocuted.” Beca muttered.

 

“What?!” 

 

Beca ignored Chloe’s outburst, rummaging through her bag to pull out a pair of nail cutters. “Eh, I’ll be fine.” She said, cutting the red wires from the cylinder and stripping the ends with the thin blade. “Here goes nothing.” She winced before twisting the two wires together. 

 

The radio sprung to life, followed shortly by the lights flickering on slowly.

 

Fuck yeah.

 

“Okay that was actually pretty cool.” Chloe leaned in closer, watching with renewed interest.

 

Beca grimaced. “I’m not done yet.” 

 

“You’re not going to die on me right?” Chloe asked with a laugh too strained to be genuine.

 

“Probably not.”

 

“Beca.”

 

“Okay fine, definitely not.” Beca rolled her eyes. “But I am going to get thrown in jail if you don’t keep a lookout.”

 

Beca watched the redhead back out of the vehicle before returning her gaze to the wires in front of her. She steadied her hand and cut the first then second brown power wire from the cylinder, exhaling slowly as nothing happened.

 

“You still alive?” She heard Chloe call from outside and laughed.

 

“Yeah, you can come in now.”

 

The redhead slipped in beside her.

 

“I’m almost done, close the door. I don’t want to hang around here any longer.”

 

“Copy that.” Chloe answered, pulling the door shut.

 

Beca made sure not to touch the live wires as she stripped them with the scissors. “Last step.” 

 

Come on, come on, come on…

 

She bit her lip and touched the brown wires together, a grin splitting her face as the engine spluttered to life. “Fuck yes!” She grinned, releasing the wires from each other. “Did you see that? Did you fucking see that?!”

 

Chloe nodded. “Impressive.”

 

“Do you have any tape?”

 

“Why…” Chloe blinked, “Why would I have tape?”

 

“I dunno.” Beca shrugged. “Thought you might be useful for once.”

 

“Hey!” Chloe laughed, whacking her arm. “Take that back.”

 

“Okay okay, sorry.” Beca raised her arms. “Just whatever you do, don’t touch the brown wires.”

 

“Why?” Chloe frowned. “What would happen?”

 

Beca moved her hands to the stirring wheel, looking straight ahead. “You don’t want to know.”

 


 

“So just another right coming up here?” Beca asked, her eyes darting to the redhead quickly.

 

“Well, that’s what it says.” Chloe replied, squinting at the large map in her hands.

 

“You sure?” Beca checked for what must have been the fifth time that hour. After Chloe’s initial attempt at giving directions with the map upside down, Beca had lost what little confidence she originally had in the redhead’s navigational skills.

 

Chloe let out a long sigh. “I can read y’know.” 

 

“It wasn’t your reading skills that I was questioning.” Beca said, failing to stop the smirk spreading onto her face.

 

Chloe huffed. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.”

 


 

“Uh Becs?”

 

Beca frowned at the jolt her stomach gave at the nickname. “Hm?” She replied with what she hoped was an acceptable degree of nonchalance.

 

“I was just wondering…is the fuel gage supposed to be that low?”

 

“What?” Beca cast her gaze downwards, noticing the redhead was right and that the needle was wavering dangerously towards the red line. “Fuck.” 

 

Beca heard Chloe sigh. “Out of all the vehicles you could have stolen, of course you had to choose the only one in California with an empty tank.”

 

“Definitely not the only one,” Beca rolled her eyes. “And I didn’t know it was running low at the time, did I?”

 

“I know,” Chloe groaned. “Just…what do we do now? We don’t have enough money for gas and even if we did, we couldn’t just rock up at a station with a stolen truck.”

 

Beca’s lips quirked in amusement. “That’s actually not a bad idea.”

 

“And that was not an invitation.”

 

Beca hummed.

 

“Beca.”

 

“Red.” Beca imitated with a smirk. “Come on, I’ll even let you drive, so you won’t have to do anything.” She glanced towards the redhead, wishing she hadn’t when she was met with a sharp glare. “It’s simple really. I get out and fill the tank whilst you keep the engine running. We’ll drive off before anyone notices.”

 

“There’s nothing simple about any of that. Besides,” Chloe muttered, “I’m not driving us anywhere without my license.”

 

“Let me get this straight.” Beca smirked. “You’re okay with grand theft auto, but driving without a license is where you draw the line?” Beca cast her eyes to the Chloe when she didn’t get a response. “Red?”

 

The girl mumbled something unintelligible, her body angled to the window.

 

“What was that?”

 

Chloe groaned, turning her head to Beca. “I can’t drive, okay?!”

 

Beca let out an incredulous laugh. “Look if you don’t want to do this that badly, you can just say.” She looked over to Chloe, the grin wiped off her face as she took in the redhead’s unamused expression. “You’re serious?”

 

Chloe nodded, “Dixie-chick serious.”

 

“Dude!” Beca gawped, quickly alternating her gaze between the redhead and the road in front of her. “You’re seventeen, why the hell can’t you drive?!”

 

Chloe shrugged. “I don’t know…Life just got in the way I guess.”

 

“Well, little miss cryptic, you’re just going to have to get the gas then.” Beca replied easily.

 

“Do we really have to do this?”

 

“Unless you want to steal another car?” Beca shrugged. “Which might I add, I would definitely be down for.”

 

Chloe sighed. “Point taken.” 

 


 

They pulled into the nearest gas station ten minutes later, Beca being true to her word kept the engine running as she pulled up beside one of the pumps.

 

“You okay?” Beca asked with a frown, the redhead’s bouncing knee and clasped hands catching her eyes as she looked away from the road.

 

“Uh huh.” Chloe responded. “Totes doesn’t feel like I’m about to do anything extremely illegal.”

 

“Hey.” Beca said, putting her hand over Chloe’s knee to still the jogging. “I’ll be right here the whole time. Just remember our plan. In and out, that’s all, okay?”

 

“Okay.” Chloe nodded, taking a shaky breath and pushing open the door. Beca watched as she got out the car and made her way to the pump, her eyes darting between the redhead and the road.

 

Beca was so focused staring ahead, tightly grasping the steering wheel that she startled violently when she heard muffled voices coming from outside. Her head snapped sideways, cursing quietly as she saw a man walking towards Chloe.

 

“…Fill…engine… running…love?” Was all she managed to make out before she saw the man turn and move towards her, stopping as he reached the front of the truck. He bent down slightly and knocked on the glass.

 

Beca rolled the window down, fixing him with a questioning stare.

 

“Miss you need to turn the engine off to fill up the truck.” He said.

 

Shit.

 

Beca glanced down at the two red wires entwined together, immediately regretting it as she looked back up to catch the man’s eyes following her gaze.

 

Sighing she slowly separated them, making the engine cut off. “Is that all?” She asked, directing the man’s gaze back to her.

 

“Um.” His eyes flickered back to the wires still on display, before snapping them up to Beca again, clearing his throat. “Yes. Thank you.” 

 

“No problem.”

 

The man straightened up and walked back to Chloe. 

 

“Let me help you.” Beca strained to hear him say, and turned her head, stiffening as she saw him stood next to Chloe, eyeing the truck with narrowed eyes.

 

“No, I’m fine, thanks.” Chloe replied quickly, attempting to plug the pump into the side of the truck.

 

“Really, I insist.” He said, his hands quickly replacing Chloe’s as he started to fill the truck up with gas.

 

Beca met Chloe’s wide eyes and sent the redhead what she hoped to be a reassuring smile. Based on the glare she received, it wasn’t.

 

“Let’s go in and pay, shall we?” The man said once the tank was full, returning the pump to the wrack.

 

Chloe glanced back at Beca desperately before mumbling something and being herded away by the man.

 

“Shit.” Beca said quietly, watching the man usher Chloe into the shop. “Shit, shit, shit!”

 

Five minutes went by and Chloe was still nowhere to be seen. Just when she was about to get out the car to do something, anything, raised voices started to sound from the shop. 

 

That was it. She had to move.

 

Beca was half way out the truck when the shop door burst open and out came the redhead running full pelt towards the truck.

 

What the-

 

“Beca! Get in” 

 

Beca slammed the door closed as she heaved herself back into the truck, looking back at Chloe, who was now running round to the side of the vehicle.

 

“Go! Go! GO!” Chloe yelled, yanking the passenger door open.

 

In one swift motion,  Beca twisted the power wires back together at the same time that the man from before came crashing out of the shop, clutching his nose and shouting.

 

“What’re you waiting for?!” Chloe hissed as she slid into passenger seat of the truck, banging the door closed behind her.

 

Avoiding the metal part of the brown wires, Beca pressed them together quickly, causing the engine to make a choking sound.

 

Fuck.

 

“Come on, come on!” Chloe’s panicked voice wasn’t helping her concentration as she tapped the wires together again.

 

Nothing.

 

“I’m trying!” Beca gritted out, sounding more calm than she felt as she spotted the man through the rearview mirror, growing closer to the truck.

 

“Well, try harder!” 

 

There was a horrifying stretch of silence where Beca thought the engine wasn’t going to start, until a roaring cut through it, jogging the truck to life. 

 

“DRIVE!”

 

Beca slammed her foot on the accelerator, kicking up dust behind them as she sped out of the parking lot. But in her haste to get away, Beca failed to notice the small security camera outside the shop, it’s blinking red light following their car as they drove away.

 


 

“Holy shit.” Beca grinned, the adrenaline still pumping through her veins as she turned onto a narrower road, the station far behind them now. “That was fucking awesome.” She turned her head to the side as Chloe remained silent, recoiling slightly at the glare she received.

 

“Are you serious?” Chloe asked, maintaining her cool expression. “That guy almost caught us.”

 

“Yeah,” Beca shrugged, casting her eyes back to the road, “Almost.”

 

“Are you really not bothered by this? Like not at all?”

 

“Nope.” Beca said. “And you shouldn’t be either. I mean where’s your sense of adventure? That was-”

 

“Adventure?!” Chloe snapped, cutting her off. “Beca he could have called the police. I know that’s probably not a big deal for you, but it is for me. I can’t go home, okay? I can’t.”

 

Beca scoffed. “At least your family cares enough to want you back.”

 

“And you think yours doesn’t?”

 

“No.” Beca laughed. “They’re probably relieved I’m gone.”

 

Chloe frowned. “You don’t know that.”

 

“Yeah I do. You on the other hand have no fucking clue, so butt out.” Beca said shortly, directing her attention back to the road.

 

She hated the awkward tension that settled between them and to top things off, the radio chose then to cut off, abruptly being replaced by a gurgling static. 

 

“Piece of shit.” Beca muttered, moving one of her hands from the wheel to fiddle with the dial controlling the music.

 

“I’ll do it.” Chloe said, batting Beca’s hand away to fiddle with the station. “Keep your eyes on the road.”

 

Beca was about to make a snarky comment, only stopping as her eyes landed on the redhead’s hands. Chloe was favouring her left to tamper with the channels but her right was cradled protectively in her lap, a slight swelling visible.

 

“Your hand…” Beca trailed off, a frown creasing her features. “What happened?” She asked, her gaze flickering between the redhead and the road.

 

“Oh, so now you care?” 

 

Beca raised her eyebrows at Chloe, a sigh heaved from her in return.

 

“I punched the guy at the gas station.” Chloe finally said. “He wouldn’t let go of my arm and I kind of…freaked.”

 

Beca’s grip on the steering wheel tightened, jaw clenching. “That asshole. I knew he was…God I should have gone in with you or…or ran him over when I had the-”

 

“Beca.” Chloe stopped her rant. “I’m fine.”

 

“But your hand-”

 

“Will be fine.” Chloe finished before Beca could say anything else. “I’m okay.”

 

“But you…” Beca’s voice grew quiet then, not taking her eyes off the road, she said, “You got hurt because of me.”

 

“No,” Chloe shook her head, an incredulous laugh escaping her lips. “I got hurt because that guy’s face was a literal brick wall.”

 

Beca scoffed, her anger dimming slightly. “He did seem like he’d have a thick skull.”

 

After a beat of silence, Chloe spoke up again, “I’ve never actually punched anyone before now. Is it…” She trailed off with a wince. “Is it always this painful?” 

 

Beca honestly couldn’t say she was surprised. Chloe didn’t seem like the type to get into fights, unlike her.

 

“I mean you get used to it, but yeah, usually.” Beca’s lip twitched. “Especially if your technique was off…which no offence yours probably was.”

 

Chloe snorted, “I guess you’ll just have to teach me sometime then.”

 

“Maybe,” Beca laughed, “but for now we’re going to get you something for your hand.” Seeing Chloe open her mouth to protest, Beca added,“Unless you want it to swell up like a balloon, of course.” 

 

When Chloe remained silent, Beca smirked, turning the truck into a side road. 

 


 

As soon as they walked into the corner shop, Beca made her way to the back, eyes locking onto the frozen foods section.

 

She scanned the shelves quickly before grabbing a bag of frozen peas. She turned around, pausing as she realised Chloe was no longer behind her. 

 

HONKKK

 

Beca let out a yelp, dropping the peas she was holding as she spun around to the source of the loud noise.

 

“Dude!” Beca hissed, as her eyes landed on the laughing redhead who was clutching what looked like an airhorn. “What the fuck?!”

 

“Oh my god, that was priceless.” Chloe grinned. “You should’ve seen your face.”

 

“Whatever,” Beca scowled, scooping the bag of peas off of the floor. “It’s not like I’m trying to help you or any-”

 

HONK 

 

“I’m sorry, what was that? I couldn’t really hear you.” Chloe said, her smile growing wider.

 

“Dude stop doing-”

 

HONKK

 

“Oh my god.” Beca groaned. “Cut it ou-”

 

HONK HONK

 

Chloe’s laughter echoed off the aisles around them and Beca was having an extremely hard time staying mad, finding the redhead’s giggling rather infectious.

 

So when a shop employee around their age appeared in front of them, killing their laughter as quickly as it had come, Beca found it hard not to be annoyed.

 

“You’re not supposed to use that in here,” He said, crossing his arms over his chest.

 

“Sorry,” Chloe smiled sheepishly. “I didn’t know that was a rule.”

 

Beca scoffed. As if.

 

“No worries. If it was up to me, I’d let it slide, but company policy and all that…” The guy shrugged.

 

The conversation seemed to have met a natural close, except the guy hadn’t left, and he was still looking at Chloe. 

 

Beca only just fought back the urge to tell him to fuck right off. 

 

“What are you guys up to today?” He finally asked.

 

“Nothing really.” Chloe said, looking to Beca before turning back to the man. “What about you?” She asked, apparently oblivious to the way he was eyeing her up and down.

 

“I finish work at three.” He grinned. “Then me and some mates are going to this bar down on Rose, if you want to come.” He glanced at Beca briefly. “You’d have to leave your sister behind though. They’re hella strict with ID’s.”

 

Her what?! 

 

“I’m not her sister.” Beca said, glaring him down.

 

But what Chloe did next left Beca struggling to remember how to even breathe properly. 

 

“She’s actually my girlfriend.” She said, sliding beside Beca and putting her hand around her waist, so that she could feel each of Chloe’s fingers tight against her hip and added. “Five months today.”

 

“Oh…Happy anniversary.” The guy seemed to deflate slightly then as he looked between them slowly. “Well, I should get back to work.” He sighed, his eyes lingering on Chloe for a beat longer before walking away.

 

The moment he was out of sight, Chloe’s hand retreated from Beca’s waist, and she took a few steps backwards. “Sorry.” She said. “I couldn’t think of another way to make him leave.”

 

Beca cleared her throat, taking the extra time to pull herself together. “Don’t worry about it…” She forced a smirk onto her face. “Babe.”

 

“Oh shut up.” Chloe smiled with a shake of her head. “Let’s go pay.”

 

They made their way to the counter and put the bag of peas in front of the woman manning the till.

 

“That’s $1.50.” 

 

Beca started to dig out some loose change from her jean pockets when Chloe stopped her.

 

“What’re you doing?”

 

“Paying?” Beca replied with a questioning stare.

 

“No, you’re not.” Chloe shot back. “It’s my hand, I’ll pay.”

 

“No,” Beca shook her head. “It was my dumb idea that got you hurt in the first place.”

 

“No-”

 

“As much as I love listening to your pointless jabbering, I have other customers.” The woman interrupted.

 

Taking advantage of Chloe’s dumbfounded expression, Beca pushed the change towards the woman before she could make any further objections.

 


 

“Feel better?” Beca asked as they got back into the truck, eyeing the peas Chloe was using to ice her hand.

 

“I think so.” Chloe said. “It’s just sort of numb now, so I guess that’s an improvement?”

 

“Of sorts.” Beca chuckled before a slight frown crossed her face. “I’m sorry.”

 

Chloe sighed. “I already told you, it’s not your fault.”

 

“Still,” Beca replied, raking a hand through her hair. “I shouldn’t have pushed you. I just got a bit carried away with everything.”

 

“It’s fine. Besides,” Chloe grinned. “I can officially cross punching someone off of my bucket list.”

 

Beca smirked. “Along with grand theft auto?”

 

“Nope, strangely enough that wasn’t on it.”

 

“Oh yeah?”

 

“Yeah.” Chloe nodded. “But then again, neither was making friends with a delinquent, so there you have it.”

 

Beca scoffed. “Yeah well, befriending a smart-ass wasn’t at the top of mine either.”

 

A wide smile appeared on Chloe’s face, the brightness of it momentarily stunning. “Friends huh?”

 

“I guess you could say that.” Beca rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop the smile from gracing her face as Chloe let out an excited squeal. “Don’t let it go to your head.”