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Head and Heart Ain't on the Same Page

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Beca

“Thanks for coming to dinner,” said Dr. Mitchell as his car came to a full stop.

“We do this every month,” Beca said, unfastening her seatbelt. “It’s not a big deal.”

“I know, but thanks anyway.”

“Right, yeah, sure thing.”

Beca stepped outside then closed the door to her father’s car and gave him a half wave goodbye as he drove off. She turned towards the Bella house but paused a couple steps down the path. Light was emitting from the basement window and into the growing darkness of the setting sun. However, the moment she looked closer, the basement was its usual dark again.

Shaking her head, she took the final steps before entering the house. The sight she walked into was a normal one for a Friday night. Flo rushed past her and out of sight. Jessica was helping Ashley with her hair in the living room. Stacie was at the bottom of the stairs in only underwear asking Cynthia Rose which outfit she should wear while CR sputtered.

“Let’s get this pre-game going,” Fat Amy’s voice carried from the kitchen. “Shots!”

Chloe came bounding down, slipping by Stacie before stopping short, “oh, hey Becs!”

“Hey,” she said, finally taking a few more steps inside. “Was someone just in the basement?”

“I don’t think so?”

“Thought I saw a light down there.”

“That might’ve been Lilly,” said Stacie as she slipped one of her dress options on.

“Last call on shots,” called Amy.

“Come on,” Chloe said, grabbing Beca’s hand and leading them both to the kitchen.

“Oh no no no,” said Beca, not really fighting being led despite her words. “I just got back, I am not mentally prepared for alcohol.”

“Sure ya are, shortstack,” said Amy, sliding a shot glass across the counter to her. “You just came from your dad’s.”

“Fair point,” Beca said, taking the glass.

Almost all the Bella’s filed in, only Lilly and their newest recruit Emily were absent.

“To finding me some man candy tonight,” said Amy, holding up her glass.

“Yeah,” said Beca. “We are not toasting to that.”

“You make a toast then,” said Amy. “Won’t be better than mine.”

Beca smirked then called, “Bellas for life,” and everyone cheered.

They took their shot, Jessica coughing a second after the liquid hit her throat. Beca grimaced, watching as Flo pulled Stacie out of the kitchen, stating she needed help picking a lipstick color. Ashley handed Jessica a coke to chase the shot before they too filed out.

“Alright,” Amy said, pausing in the doorway. “You got me this time, shawshank.”

“Let’s go, Amy,” said CR, waiting for Amy to move so she could leave the kitchen too.

When everyone was gone save her and Chloe, Beca said, “literally any toast would’ve been better than hers.”

“I don’t know, man candy isn’t the worst wish for the night,” Chloe said, laughing at the disgusted look Beca gave. “Are you coming to the Treble’s party tonight?”

“I wanna say no.”

“But, you’re going to say yes!” Chloe said, eyes brightening.

“Pretty sure you’d drag me there anyway.”

“Oh, don’t be grumpy, it’ll be fun!”

They looked at eachother a moment, enjoying the warmth of alcohol sinking in. Chloe was wearing a blue dress that matched her eyes, make up done and hair down in soft curls.

“Head out without me,” said Beca.

“But, you said - “

“I’ll show up, promise. It’s just going to take a while for me to get ready and I don’t want everyone waiting for me.”

“We don’t mind,” said Chloe, but she must’ve read the need to be alone for a moment on Beca’s face because she was nodding a second later. “Sure, we’ll see you there then.”

“Thanks,” Beca said, giving Chloe a sincere smile of gratitude before heading up to her room.

As she ascended the steps, she heard the tell tale rustlings of Fat Amy. Sure enough, her roommate was there and slipping into a silver shirt.

Tossing her purse and phone on the bed, it took a lot of effort for Beca not to throw herself on there too. But, somehow - *cough* Chloe’s puppy dog eyes - she’d been roped into a night out.

“Something feels off about you,” said Fat Amy, turning from her closet. “Did you forget coffee this morning?”

“What? No nothing’s off with me,” said Beca.

“Did you skip dinner again? You twig bitches - "

“I ate!” Beca interrupted, fingers rubbing her temple.

“Flunk a test?”

“No…”

“Need to drop the kids off at the pool?”

“Ew! What?”

Beca let out a sigh and started sorting through her closet for something to wear. She opted for dark jeans and a flannel, setting both on her bed.

“That bracelet?”

Beca looked where Amy pointed. On her left wrist was a leather cuff she’d worn through high school.

“I always wear this.”

“Do you?”

“Yes… how much alcohol have you had?”

“Not enough,” Amy said, standing from her bed. “You’re coming, yeah?”

“Yep, I’ll be a bit late though.”

“Good, later shortstack,” Amy said before bounding down the steps of their attic bedroom.

After three years of knowing Amy, and two years of being roommates, Beca thought she would be used to the weird conversations they shared. Turned out she wasn’t, but she didn’t question it further and started getting ready.

_

 

By the time Beca got changed, did her hair, and applied her makeup, the house was quiet. For a moment she desperately wanted to use the time to mix, at least for an hour and then go to the party. Time alone was rare in the house. That moment was fleeting though, knowing an hour behind her laptop was never really an hour. She’d probably get caught up in down beats until Chloe pulled her away, or until everyone returned in unintended drunken loudness.

The buzz of her phone drew Beca out of her mind, and she grabbed it to see 12 missed texts from Jesse. Without so much as skimming the older ones, Beca looked at the latest one:

Jesse: the Bella’s are here, but I don’t see you xoxo

Beca: still getting ready.

Jesse: hurryyyy I wanna hang with my favorite soulmate ;)

She rolled her eyes and slipped her phone into the back pocket of her jeans, choosing not to respond with the customary “I’m your only soulmate.” Her right hand adjusted her wristband to cover the tattoo beneath it, a habit she couldn’t break despite there being no point now. She’d accepted fate already, accepted that Jesse had that same tattoo on his wrist. An unquestionable sign from the universe of who her person was.

With a deep breath in and out, Beca headed out the door and made the short walk over to the Treble house. The notes of a Top 100 song filtered into her ears the closer she got, followed by voices and other sounds of a college party. Somehow Jesse found her within a moment of her stepping through the door, a red solo cup of cheap beer in hand and a goofy smile that let Beca know he was well past tipsy already.

“Becawwwww,” he called.

“I still hate that you call me that,” Beca grumbled, but accepted the quick kiss he gave her as greeting.

“You love it,” he said. “Come on, let’s play beer pong.”

“You go ahead, I’m going to say hi to the Bella’s first.”

“You see them all the time.”

“I see you all the time too.”

“No you don’t,” he said, smile slipping.

“Jesse…” Beca said, letting the unformed sentence hang in the air as warning. “I’ll meet up with you in a second.”

Benji appeared, all bright eyed and rosy cheeked.

“Hi, Benji,” said Beca.

“Hey - hi, Beca,” he said glancing at Jesse for a moment. “Is Emily coming?”

“I’m sure the Bella’s invited her,” said Beca. “She might be with them, I was about to find them if you wanna join.”

“Sure!” he said, taking a step to follow Beca before turning back. “You coming, Jesse?”

“Nah.”

“Did I say something wrong?” said Benji as the distance from Jesse grew.

“No, I did,” said Beca. “So you and Emily, huh?”

“Oh yeah,” he said, smile returning. “We’re soulmates.”

“No way!” Beca said, stopping to face him.

“She doesn’t know y-yet, but I saw her tattoo and it matches mine and I’m going to tell her tonight. Probably.”

“That’s great, I’m happy for you,” Beca said, meaning every word. “Also, if you hurt her I will hunt you down.”

Benji gulped loud enough for Beca to hear over the music playing, “B-Beca you know.. I would never..”

“I know, just had to say it,” said Beca. “I’ll probably tell her the same thing if that makes you feel better.”

“Not at all.”

“Actually I probably won’t, she’s way too innocent for threats,” Beca said before she caught a glimpse of red hair and started walking again, tugging Benji along behind her.

“You made it!” said Chloe, pulling Beca into a hug.

“Promised, didn’t I?”

“Hi, Chloe,” said Benji.

“Hi,” Chloe said. “Emily is over by Flo.”

“H-how did you know?” Benji said.

Chloe just smiled until Benji walked towards the other Bella’s. He shot Beca a nervous glance over his shoulder, and she gave him two thumbs up.

“How did you know?” Beca asked.

“Oh, I didn’t,” said Chloe. “But, Emily’s been talking about him non-stop since we got here. Not hard to put together that they like each other, you know?”

“Um, sure.”

“I bet they’re soulmates.”

“They are,” Beca said, looking on as Fat Amy started trying to light a stick on fire. “Benji just told me.”

Cynthia Rose took the lighter away from Amy - “hey! I wanna juggle fire!”

“I knew it!” said Chloe as Beca’s eyes drifted back now that CR was handling Amy. “You can always tell. It’s like gravity or something but between two people.”

“Right,” Beca said, a slight frown appearing on her lips. “Well, you are clearly under the influence and I am not, so I’m going to grab a drink.”

Beca turned away and made a beeline for the kitchen. She didn’t open the fridge though, instead she opened a cupboard where the Treble’s kept their good stuff away from party-goers. Grabbing a cup, she poured rum in and hid the bottle again before finding a coke in the fridge to mix it with.

_

 

A couple hours into the party, Beca was feeling buzzed and finally alone again. Well, as alone as she could be in a room full of drunk college students. But, the Bella’s were dancing in another room, and after spending a while with Jesse, he’d run off for some drinking game with the Trebles. He’d asked her to come, but she was happy to lean against the wall and sip her third drink of the night.

Only, people watching turned into Lilly standing right in front of her and encroaching on her bubble. The woman’s eyes were wide and despite the close distance no sound came as she spoke.

“Sorry, I don’t...” Beca said, trying her hand at lip reading. “Yeah, I have no idea what you’re saying.”

Lips kept moving but Beca was helpless to form them into a comprehensive sentence. Lilly threw her head back in what Beca assumed was annoyance. Taking a step to the side, Beca tried to get around. A content Lilly was scary enough, but whatever this was had Beca’s inner alarms screaming for her to scram. She was halfway through the room before Lilly appeared standing in front of her again.

“How did you move that fast?” said Beca. “You’re not a vampire are you? I know Chloe thinks I look like that actor from Twilight or whatever, but I don’t do vampires, so like please don’t be?”

Lilly grabbed Beca’s wrist and pulled the leather cuff from its spot, revealing the silhouette of what Beca now knew was Bender from The Breakfast Club holding up his fist. The second her tattoo was in sight, Lilly was gone again.

“Hate to say it, but Chloe’s right. You do look like Jessica,” said Jesse, slipping beside her once more. “Although, she never found out there were vampires so...”

“You’ve seen Twilight?” said Beca and Jesse shrugged. “Mr. Movie Buff himself watched Twilight?”

He looked over, “what? It’s not weird, and it was for research purposes.”

“Right…”

“You haven’t?”

“No.”

“What’re the odds of Lilly really being a vampire,” he said, sipping from his cup.

“Slim, I’d say secret agent or spy.”

“If that’s the case, why would she be stationed at Barden?”

“There’s something shady going on within collegiate acapella, it’s obviously a front.”

“Obvious is it?”

Beca liked this, the banter she could have with Jesse. It reminded her of freshman year when they were just friends and could stick to surface level things. She finished off her drink with the intention of continuing their far-fetched speculation of Lilly. However, her words were lost on her tongue as Jesse spoke up once more, “why do you still wear that?”

Beca looked down at her wrist, Jesse had intertwined their fingers and was holding it up so they could both easily see the bracelet. It was half covering the soulmate tattoo now, still displaced after Lilly moved it earlier. The fingers on her other hand twitched to fix it in place again but she stamped out the urge.

“You know why.”

“I know why you did...I just thought you’d stop by now,” he said before stepping in front of her, and holding both her hands in his own. “Are you... Are you embarrassed by me?”

“No, that’s not it. Jesse, you know I never wanted to believe in soulmates, I hate the idea of the universe dictating life.”

“But, we are soulmates. We’re together, hasn’t that proved to you that the universe gets it right?”

“Hiding that tattoo makes me believe I’m choosing you and not the universe choosing us.”

“Well, that’s not the way I see it,” Jesse said, taking a step back and hands falling to his side.

“I thought you understood,” she let out a frustrated huff, annoyed this fight seemed to repeat itself almost monthly now like it was set on a timer.

“Well, maybe I don’t,” he hissed, ensuring no one overheard despite the loud music and uncaring partiers around them. “Why are you hiding us?”

“I am not hiding us.”

“You are. God, Beca. We’re soulmates, why haven’t you accepted that yet? It’s supposed to be easier with you.”

“This is life, Jesse,” Beca said, hands flailing. “Just because we’re ‘meant to be’ or whatever, doesn’t mean it’s easy.”

“Maybe it’d be easier if you’d stop shutting me out.”

“How am I shutting you out?”

“You ignored all my texts today.”

“I was at work!” she said, looking into her empty cup and wishing it’d fill back up. “Ugh, maybe some soulmates need space from each other.”

“What?” he said.

“Look,” Beca said. “You’re drunk, and maybe I am too. Let’s both cool off, enjoy the rest of this party, and talk again when we’re sober.”

“No, I think we should talk now,” said Jesse.

Beca looked around for the first time since they started arguing. Their whispers must’ve turned loud enough to draw attention because a handful of people were watching them. Not the entire party, but the ones closest were all glancing warily between them.

“Hey, Jesse,” said Benji, nervously pulling Jesse away. “There’s a mini riff-off going on in the backyard, let’s go join it.”

Jesse shook Benji off, but followed him nonetheless. As people returned to their own conversations, Beca looked around again, happy to note she didn’t see any of the Bella’s around. Happy because that meant they wouldn’t try to ask her if she was alright.

Chapter Text

Chloe

Chloe sipped water from her yellow cup, having made the switch from alcohol an hour ago. The walk back to their place was a minute tops, but some nights she didn’t need the jiggle juice. Plus she’d watched Beca take several shots in a row earlier on Amy’s dare, and she wanted to make sure Beca didn’t do something she’d regret later. Although, Beca would definitely regret the dance battle she was currently in with Stacie. There was no way Chloe was going to stop that from happening, though.

The rest of the Bella’s were all shouting scores for who dropped the lowest or pulled off the best moves. Chloe was impressed, not by Stacie who always danced well, but by Beca who usually took some choreography and pointers to nail moves.

“Stacie wins,” called CR.

“What!” Beca said. “Not possible.”

“You got nothing on me, B,” said Stacie.

Beca caught Chloe’s eye and smiled. Chloe watched her turn back to Stacie and say something before moving away from the group.

“Hey you,” said Beca once she was closer, a little out of breath and cheeks red.

“Hey yourself.”

“What’re you doing over here?”

“Enjoying the view.”

“Is that what you’re doing?”

“What else would I be doing?”

“Some might say you’re being a wallflower which is usually my job. You’re supposed to be the one dancing or like trying to encourage people to jump in the pool. You know, general life-of-the-party stuff.”

“Guess we switched roles tonight then.”

“Guess so. Wanna get out of here?”

“Beca Mitchell,” Chloe said, placing her hand on her heart in mock astonishment. “Did you just use a line on me?”

“What? No,” Beca scoffed. “It’s late and the festivities will die down soon. I thought we could take a walk.”

“Festivities?” Chloe giggled.

“Less making fun and more answering yes.”

“Yeah alright, let’s go.”

They made their way over to say goodbye to the Bella’s. Chloe hugged each one and then waited as Beca talked to Emily.

“You’re taking the couch,” said Beca.

“Are you sure?” said Emily. “I can go back to my dorm.”

“Under no circumstances are you to walk alone on campus, got that, Legacy?”

“Yes, got it, sleeping at the Bella house tonight.”

“Take my bed if the couch is too uncomfortable, just no late night wandering!”

“Nope, couch is good. I’ll take the couch.”

“Good,” said Beca before rounding on the nearest Bella. “Make sure she stays at the house.”

“On it, cap,” said CR.

“Right, good. Thank you.”

Chloe smiled as Beca looked up to see she’d overheard, cheeks turning pink.

“You’re adorable,” said Chloe.

“Am not,” Beca said, scowling and turning away.

They swerved their way through the thinning crowd and to the exit. Before she got through the door, she caught sight of Jesse looking their way. His expression was unreadable, but Chloe could guess he wasn’t too happy with Beca leaving without a word.

Neither spoke as they followed the sidewalk into campus, streetlights shining their path. Beca was humming some tune Chloe didn’t know. Trailing behind, she watched Beca swirl around one of the lamp posts.

“You’re not dancing,” Beca said.

Chloe giggled, “why are you?”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Because we’re walking and there’s no music.”

“There’s always music,” Beca said, pointing at her brain. “And, it’s a good night, tonight.”

“What happened to miss pessimist?”

“She’s not here right now, please leave a message that will probably be forgotten after the tone.”

Beca made an obnoxious beep sound and then chuckled at herself.

“Can I leave a message for little miss optimist instead?”

“She’s here to answer the phone, no message needed.”

“You’re a dork.”

“Damn right.”

She followed after Beca a while longer, watching her spin around and hum. That hum even turned into full on singing every now and then. Everything from Top 100 songs Beca claimed not to listen to, to one's Beca’d shown Chloe during late night Bella prep. But, there was one tune that popped up several times. It was one Chloe didn’t recognize, and sounded more folk than anything Chloe thought Beca listened to.

In her distraction Chloe didn’t see where they were going until the auditorium doors were in front of her and Beca was unlocking them. Once inside, they didn’t stop like Chloe expected. No, Beca walked to the other side and through another set of doors then another until they reached a staircase.

“We shouldn’t be here,” said Chloe.

“Says who?”

They continued up another flight of steps before reaching a door that said “do not enter.” Beca reached for it regardless.

“Wait,” said Chloe. “That might trigger an alarm.”

In the faint light coming from below where the stairs were better lit, Chloe saw Beca smirk like she’d accepted a dare. Beca pushed the door open as Chloe’s jaw dropped. Nothing happened. No sirens wailed or campus security officer appeared. Instead they were alone and stepping onto the roof of the building. It was walled off, and large. Chloe could easily see the appeal of relaxing up there, or throwing a rooftop party.

“You’ve done this before,” said Chloe.

“You caught me.”

“Why didn’t I know this?”

“No one knows this.”

Chloe wanted to ask if Jesse knew, but that seemed implied already. Instead, she followed Beca behind some vent where no one would see them from the door. She watched as Beca stretched out on the rooftop, hands under her head and eyes towards the sky.

“You just going to stand there?”

“Nope,” Chloe said before taking a spot next to Beca. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like this.”

“Like what?” Beca said, voice soft.

“Unguarded.”

Beca didn’t say anything so Chloe didn’t either, moving her eyes to the sky. There were very few stars from the light pollution around them, but it was enough to hold Chloe’s attention. And, Chloe wanted to bask in this silent moment. The peaceful existence of being together here and now, somehow more intimate than any other time spent with each other so far. Because this was Beca's place and she'd let Chloe see it.

But, before Chloe could stop herself, she said, “why do you cover up your tattoo?”

If anything she was surprised she hadn’t asked years ago. The question had bubbled and stewed in her mind since the moment they met and she’d seen the leather cuff.

“Have to.”

Chloe paused a moment then tried again, “I heard you and Jesse earlier.”

“S’alright,” said Beca, words coming out a little slurred. “Stupid fight.”

Chloe sealed her lips, deciding this night was going better while Beca led it. She looked at her own soulmate tattoo, a ladybug with three dots on each wing. The sight brought a longing to Chloe, a longing she didn’t want to think about so she let her arm drop again.

“Do you think the universe gets it wrong sometimes?” Beca’s voice barely reached Chloe’s ears.

“I think the universe always has a reason, whether we agree with it or not.”

“I don’t… I never really believed in soulmates. Which I know sounds stupid when we live in a world that has textbooks and research papers that prove they exist.”

Chloe didn’t say anything, thinking Beca just needed to let it all out now.

“My parents are divorced,” continued Beca, even though Chloe already knew. “Do you know how rare that is?”

“No,” Chloe whispered.

“It’s like 7 percent of all couples or something. Granted it’s up to 95 percent of non soulmate couples. But, they thought their love wouldn’t break or something, you know? And yet the moment my father met his soulmate…”

“Beca…” Chloe said, wanting Beca to continue but also knowing she might want a way out of whatever dark corridor her brain was leading her down.

“He left us, and the worst part is that they hid it from me.”

“Hid that he left?”

“No. They hid that they weren’t soulmates. I didn’t know until years after they split. That’s why I thought soulmates were bullshit, still do sometimes.”

“It didn’t hurt any less knowing they weren’t supposed to be together, did it?”

“Yeah, exactly,” Beca said, looking over at Chloe like she was surprised Chloe understood. “I never wanted to be with someone based on a tattoo, I wanted to be with them because I chose to be.”

Beca turned away again, so Chloe did the same, staring at the brightest star in the sky.

“That’s why I hid it,” said Beca. “So whoever fell for me wasn’t going to be dictated by some universal sign. Maybe… maybe I don’t need to hide it anymore, but a part of me likes thinking it’s still not all about a tattoo.”

Chloe grabbed Beca’s hand, trying to give comfort but expecting Beca to flinch from the physical contact. She didn’t let go though, instead Beca gave Chloe’s hand a small squeeze in return.

“You said earlier that you can tell when people are soulmates,” Beca said, head turning to look at Chloe again. “That they gravitate together.”

“Yes,” Chloe said mirroring Beca.

“Did you see that with me and Jesse?”

“Beca, I can’t answer that.”

“Because you didn’t,” Beca said, looking back at the stars.

It wasn’t a question, not in the way Beca’s tone indicated.

“I didn’t say that.”

They grew quiet again. The campus was near silent too, only broken by the occasional car or a voice that carried from one direction or another. There was a jealousy creeping into Chloe’s mind. She hadn’t met her soulmate yet, despite how desperate she was for it sometimes.

Her parents were. They were even high school sweethearts. She couldn’t imagine how different Beca’s childhood must’ve been to hers. And, yet Beca had found her person, she should be happy now.

The true answer to Beca’s question was “no.” Up until she’d seen Beca’s tattoo towards the end of her first senior year, Chloe’d thought they might be soulmates. Sometimes she wondered what would’ve happened if Beca hadn’t been so good at hiding her tattoo, if Chloe'd just gotten a glimpse of it in the shower the day they sang Titanium together. Because Beca got her wish, someone fell for her without a tattoo.

“It’ll be alright,” said Beca as if she could read Chloe’s mind.

“Shouldn’t I be saying that to you?”

“Nope,” Beca said.

Before Chloe could think of forming any sort of response, Beca was sitting up and calling a loud “wooo” into the night. She turned to Chloe and said, “it’s a good night, isn’t it?”

Chloe was getting whiplash from this night, but couldn’t stop the smile from falling onto her face, letting out an equally loud “woooo.”

They were laughing together for a long minute before a voice came from below, “who’s there?”

Beca chuckled at Chloe’s look of panic, standing up and looking over the edge, “guess it’s our time to go, Beale.”

“You shouldn’t be up there,” shouted that same voice.

“What do we do?” said Chloe.

“Come on!”

Beca grabbed Chloe’s hand and pulled her up. They slipped back into the stairwell, but Beca led them through the door to the next landing instead of all the way down. Good thing too because footsteps came pounding up the steps a moment later. When a door slammed open above them, Beca tugged her back onto the stairs and out of the building.

_

 

Twenty minutes later, they managed to slip into the Bella house. Beca shushed Chloe even though she was the one that slammed the door closed.

“Beca?” a half-asleep Emily said from the couch. “Chloe?”

“Yep,” said Chloe. “Sorry we woke you.”

“No worries,” said Emily.

“You alright, Legacy?” said Beca.

“Uh, yeah. Better than alright, really,” Emily said, wide-awake again. “Benji showed me his tattoo and it matches mine and I can’t believe I’ve found him. I was worried I’d be one of those people that never do. I mean I’m young so there was plenty of time, but like it’s good knowing.”

“Deep breaths, Em,” said Beca.

Beca looked over at Chloe, but she managed to smooth her expression into a smile in time. Not that Beca believed it for a second.

“I’ll handle this,” whispered Beca so Emily couldn’t hear. “Go ahead up, I’ll uh… yeah I got this.”

“Thanks, Becs,” Chloe said. “Night, Emily.”

“G’night Chloe.”

With that, Chloe made her way to her room. She didn’t really want to be alone, not when Emily’s words echoed in her mind, but she also didn’t want to hear any more. After slipping into pajamas, she plopped onto her bed and ran through the whole night.

She was still in that position when a light knock came from her door before it creaked open.

“Chloe?” said Beca. “You asleep?”

“Yes.”

Beca chuckled, closing the door behind her before walking over.

“Well, I brought you water.”

“Thanks, Beca.”

“Sure thing.”

Beca set Chloe’s yellow cup filled with water on Chloe’s nightstand. Chloe smiled at the gesture, not just that Beca brought water but also that she remembered not to bring a bottle because Chloe was trying to be better for the environment.

When Beca turned to leave, Chloe found herself grabbing Beca’s wrist, “wanna stay a bit? I’m not really tired yet.”

“Sure.”

Chloe shuffled to make room for Beca. It wasn’t a tight fit, but they still had to stay close together to be comfortable. Closer than on the roof.

“Lilly’s been acting strange today,” said Beca.

“Stranger than normal?”

“I mean… no. But, it was directed at me for some reason.”

“What’d she do?”

“Looked at my tattoo.”

“Oh.”

“You’ll find your person, Chloe.”

“How do you always know what I’m thinking?”

“I don’t.”

Chloe decided to switch to safer topics and said, “you know I actually heard Lilly speak today.”

“No way, that happens like once a year,” Beca said, turning on her side to look at Chloe. “What’d she say? Wait...do I want to know? Because, I am still convinced she said she ate her twin once.”

“I only heard one word.”

“That could still be bad.”

“It was ‘butter’.”

“Oh, well that’s not bad, ‘butter’ can’t be bad.”

“Definitely not… I think.”

_

 

Chloe didn’t know what time it was before they finally stopped talking. Late, that’s all she knew, maybe even bordering on early morning. But, Beca’d been silent long enough now that she was sure sleep must’ve finally seeped in. Her own eyes were drifting shut when a whisper broke through again.

“I’m like my parents.”

“What?” Chloe said, the lack of sleep making it hard to connect what Beca meant.

“I hide things too. I hid that I was Jesse’s soulmate from him. I saw his tattoo the first day I met him, I knew.”

“All of freshman year?”

“Yeah, and after all the effort I put into hiding mine, sometimes I wonder if I only let myself fall for him because of that tattoo.”

For the how-manyth time that night, Chloe was left wordless by Beca. She’d always thought that everyone thought of soulmates the same way as her. That soulmates had some intrinsic connection that took out reason from the equation, leaving the tattoos as defined variables and love as the answer. No questions asked, no hesitation the moment tattoos matched.

“I wish you’d met your person instead of me,” said Beca when Chloe stayed quiet. “You deserve it more. You wouldn’t have hid it.”

“You deserve it too.”

“Maybe ‘deserve’ wasn’t the right word, though you do, uh, deserve it… but I didn’t want it like you do. Or, maybe I didn’t want it to…”

“Didn’t want it to, what?”

“I just didn’t want it. We should grab some sleep while we can, before the Bella’s wake up and make a racket.”

“Ok, goodnight, Becs.”

“Night, Chlo.”

Chloe finally let her eyes close, exhaustion falling over her like a warm blanket. She wasn’t sure if she was dreaming already, but it was a long time later when she heard Beca’s voice again, “maybe I didn’t want it to be him.”

Chapter Text

Beca

The moment the sun hit Beca’s eyelids from Chloe’s window, she was awake. She rolled over and checked her phone to see it was early. Or, early for a Saturday and for a Beca. In an attempt not to wake Chloe, she caught a groan in her throat. Her head pounded and her mouth was dry as she got out from under the covers Chloe must’ve thrown over them while Beca slept.

She didn’t get further than sitting up before a hand was resting on her arm.

“Where are you going?” came the sleepy voice of Chloe.

Beca looked back to see Chloe’s eyes were still closed. Minus the words and the hand on her arm, Beca would’ve thought Chloe was still asleep.

“Water,” said Beca, voice scraggly so she cleared her throat.

“There’s water on the nightstand.”

“That’s your water.”

“Yours now.”

“I’ll get my own.”

“No.”

“No?”

“Drink the water, and then lie back down so I can sleep.”

“You could sleep if I was gone too, you know.”

Chloe pouted with eyes still closed, causing Beca to chuckle. She drank half the glass and hoped it’d stave off the hangover along with another hour of sleep. Once back under the covers she looked over to find Chloe fully asleep again, the sun hitting her hair so it glowed like embers.

_

 

The second time Beca woke was to the smell of pancakes, and this time Chloe didn’t stir when she slipped out of bed. She padded out the room, happy to note the headache was a dull ache now and not splintering. But, the dry mouth was back and she really didn’t want to leave Chloe with no water. Plus, pancakes.

“Morning, B,” said Stacie, the moment Beca entered the kitchen. “You’re up early.”

“Ugh, don’t remind me.”

She walked over to the fridge, grumbling good morning to Cynthia Rose who was busy pouring batter into a pan. After grabbing the pitcher of filtered water that Chloe kept, she filled a glass and downed it, then poured herself another.

“Morning, Beca!” said Emily, far too cheery for Beca.

The groan escaped her lips this time, wishing she was back under the covers and asleep.

“Hey, Legacy.”

“I’m surprised you’re up.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Well, you and Chloe got back so late.”

“How late?” said Jessica, entering the kitchen.

“Like 3 a.m. I think?” said Emily.

Beca leaned back against the counter, looking around to see not a single person looked tired or hungover.

“I live in a house of morning people,” grumbled Beca. “Why do I live in a house full of morning people?”

“3 a.m.? Damn, Beca,” said CR, flipping a pancake over. “What were you two doing? You left the party a little after midnight.”

“We went for a walk,” said Beca.

“For three hours?” said Ashley, entering the kitchen along with Chloe.

“And star-gazing,” said Chloe, giving Beca a bright smile as she set her now empty yellow cup in the sink.

“Ok, I’m just going to ask,” said Emily. “Because that sounds adorable and so romantic and you gave me a lot of good advice last night, Beca. Plus, Amy wouldn’t give me a straight answer when I asked her, Stacie laughed, and I couldn’t hear Lilly at all. Well actually she said something about a butterfly but I’m not really sure what that had to do - ”

“Spit it out, Em,” said CR, waving a spatula in the air.

“Right,” said Emily. “Are you two soulmates?”

Beca choked on the water she was sipping.

“You two, who?” Beca said once she recovered, already knowing.

“Jesse is her soulmate,” said Chloe before Emily could answer Beca.

“Oh,” said Emily. “Sorry, it’s just you both seem really close. And, Beca always wears that bracelet so...”

“It’s cool,” said Beca, a little annoyed that this made the fifth person (if Lilly counted) to mention the leather cuff within 24 hours. “But, forget about my soulmate, did you tell them yet, Em?”

“Tell us what?” said Flo, entering the room.

“Benji is my soulmate,” Emily squealed.

_

 

Somehow she’d managed to sit through breakfast. But, now she was alone in her room, pacing because apparently she was someone who paced now. Between Emily’s words and the memories of the night before, Beca was feeling out of her depth. She wasn’t someone who twirled carefree between streetlights or shared her quiet place with people.

“What's got your breakfast roll in a twist?” said Amy, appearing on the stairs in last night’s clothes.

Beca froze mid step and looked up, “that’s not how the saying goes.”

“Really? Because I’m pretty sure it is.”

“It’s really not.”

“Wanna talk about it?”

“Nothing to talk about,” Beca said.

“You sure? Because you’re hitting code purple right now.”

“Code purple? You mean red, right?”

“Nah, you’re definitely at purple.”

“Right, well I promise you I’m code green.”

“You’re going to puke?”

“No.”

“You sure? Cause code green means vomit and I’m gonna need you to aim away from my stuff.”

“Not gonna puke!” Beca said, grabbing stuff for her shower and bounding down the steps.

“Good idea, the bathroom is a better place for that!” Amy called after her.

Beca felt like she could breathe again when the door to the bathroom locked. She stripped down after turning on the water so it would heat up. Finally, she unclasped her cuff and set it aside. The water burnt her skin as she stepped beneath it, but she enjoyed the heat, letting it cleanse her.

Longer than necessary later, Beca stepped back out of the shower. After drying herself off, she wrapped her wet hair in a towel above her head and slipped on her bathrobe. She grabbed her old clothes and the leather cuff, and headed out the door.

“Hey, Becs,” said Chloe the second Beca stepped into the hall.

“Hey, Chlo.”

“You feeling alright? Amy said you might be nauseous although you seemed fine at breakfast.”

“I told her I was code green thinking it meant that I was good.”

“Ah, well you did have a lot to drink last night. Not that I’m complaining, drunk Beca was pretty entertaining.”

“Ugh, it’s all a little fuzzy… please tell me I didn’t do anything too embarrassing.”

“You don’t remember?” Chloe said, a slight frown appearing.

“Oh, no I remember the rooftop,” Beca said quickly, also frowning but more because it would’ve been easier to pretend that was blurry. “But, the party is hazy and the walking.”

“Well, you had a dance off with Stacie,” Chloe said with a giggle.

“Please tell me that’s a lie.”

“Nope. Stacie won, but you totes had my vote.”

“Oh, god, that was right before we left wasn’t it? It’s all coming back. Make it stop coming back. Ugh, did I really twerk?”

“Yep, pretty well too. I’m definitely incorporating more into our routines.”

“Nope. Walking away now,” Beca said, making her way past Chloe.

“Hey, Becs?”

Beca looked back again, “yeah?”

“Do you maybe wanna grab lunch before practice later?”

“The diner?”

“Actually, there was this vegan place I wanted to try.”

Beca scrunched her nose, “that sounds awful, but um sure.”

“You’re too easy,” Chloe said, laughing. “Wait, did you just say you would?”

“Nope. Definitely did not do that.”

“You did!”

“I know your tactics, Beale. Easier to say yes than get cornered in a shower again.”

“Vegan it is!”

“The diner or I’m not coming,” Beca called as she started up the stairs to her room.

Beca was humming while she rifled through her closet for something to wear to lunch. It wasn’t that she was planning outfits ahead of time, it was more that she wanted to mix for the rest of the morning and that meant losing track of time until Chloe told her it was time to leave. And, she wanted sweatpants and a band tee now, not jeans and a bra under her shirt.

Clothes decided, Beca went to clasp her bracelet on -

“No…” she said, taking a closer look at her wrist as the cuff made a thud against the floor. The tattoo was still there, but it was faded somehow.

That wasn’t supposed to happen, had never happened as far as Beca knew. Soulmates were for life, they never changed or disappeared. And, maybe she’d never wanted a soulmate, but she also didn’t want to not have one. Not having one meant that Jesse might leave her and then she’d have no one. Chloe had her soulmate, or would one day soon. Everyone had their soulmate. Except her if the tattoo continued to sink into her skin.

It was always more about not wanting to live in a world of soulmate tattoos.

She’d never been happier that Amy wasn’t in their room because she was right back to pacing. Her feet led her from one end to the other, rapid enough that it would’ve alarmed her roommate if she were there. The vibration of her phone drew her attention, and she grabbed it off her bed. Ignoring the text that came in from Jesse, Beca opened the text convo with her father instead.

Beca: Coffee?

Knowing it always took her dad a second to text back, she started looking through her notifications. Most were from Instagram where the Bella’s had tagged her in pictures from the night before. She liked them, and commented on a few too before her dad responded.

Dad: A full sentence never hurt anyone.

Beca: Ugh. Do you want to get coffee today?

Dad: Much better. Yes, Sheila ordered a new bag of that dark roast you like, or we could go somewhere?

Before responding, Beca timed it out. It was still early, so if she left for her dad’s in an hour or so she could still have time to grab lunch after with Chloe before Bella’s practice.

Beca: I’ll be there at 11

That settled, she finally switched over to Jesse’s text.

Jesse: Sorry about yesterday. I was drunk and I really do understand. Can I make it up to you, lunch maybe?

Beca drafted text after text, everything from ‘yes’ to ‘I think we should talk.’ In the end she went with:

Beca: How about brunch tomorrow? I’m headed to my dad’s and then I have Bella’s stuff.

Jesse: Brunch it is! Love you xoxo

She turned to her desk, but the second she sat down, Amy returned. Eyes wide, Beca quickly got back up and grabbed her leather cuff from where it fell on the floor earlier. She snapped it on before glancing over at Amy who was paused on the top step.

“Code purple,” Amy called down the staircase.

“I am not code purple!”

She heard footsteps coming up the stairs, and grabbed her phone. Too many people were about to be in her business, and she really needed them to not be. How Amy thought calling the Bella’s was a good plan for whatever code purple was, was beyond Beca.

Beca: Actually, I’m coming over now
Beca: if that’s cool

Dad: Want me to pick you up?

Beca: I’m good walking

Looking up, the room was now filled by CR, Flo, Emily, and Ashley too.

Without saying a word to anyone, Beca darted past and down the steps. She walked right to Chloe’s room and opened the door without knocking.

Chloe jumped from her spot by her desk, “Beca?”

“Uh, sorry,” Beca said, remaining in the doorway.

“Did I hear Amy yelling code purple?”

“Yeah. Do you know what that means?”

“Um, no?”

“Whatever, I don’t wanna know.”

“Something up?”

“I’m going to my dad’s.”

“Okay?”

“Just uh thought you should know in case you look for me before lunch.”

“Um, sure. Text me when you leave your dad’s and I’ll meet you at the diner?”

“Will do,” said Beca, already turning out the door.

“Is everything okay?”

“What?” Beca said, popping her head back in the room. “Uh, yes, it’s fine. I’m fine. I just really have to go… I’ll see you.”

_

 

“Dad?” Beca called when she opened the door to his home.

“Kitchen,” he called back, voice echoing through the hall.

She found him grabbing two mugs out of a cabinet while the coffee machine dripped sweet, sweet caffeine into the pot below.

“So, to what do I owe this honor?” he said, turning towards her.

“Needed an escape.”

“Well, I’m glad you came here.”

He remained standing, looking at her like he expected her to talk next. Which, granted, made sense. Beca had texted him out of the blue to meet.

“Where’s Sheila?” she said.

“Upstairs, she wanted to give us some space.”

“She didn’t have to.”

“So you’re not here for advice?” he chuckled, turning to pour the coffee when the machine clicked. “I know you, Beca, and you never come to visit unless there’s something going on. Especially not the day after we already saw each other.”

“Right, really loving how predictable I’m becoming.”

He slid a green mug with Barden written in bold over the counter to her. Beca wrapped her hands around it, happily noting he’d remembered not to add milk or sugar. It burnt her skin the slightest bit, but she revelled in it instead of flinching away. Taking the seat at the kitchen island next to her, he added creamer to his own coffee then turned to Beca.

“I saw a Cerulean Warbler,” he said.

“What?”

“A songbird, they're getting rare to spot now.”

“What are you doing?”

“Small talk.”

“And, you decided on birds?”

“Yes, there was also a - “

“Oh my god, please stop, I’ll talk,” Beca said, removing the leather cuff from her arm like she was ripping a bandaid off.

His eyes grew wide before there was time to process the sight, she’d never shown him her tattoo before. They’d barely even talked about soulmates before and when they had, they’d skirted around the Sheila of it all, sticking to him and her mom’s relationship instead. His eyes grew even wider when it was fully revealed. Even Beca’s did. The tattoo wasn’t just faded anymore, parts were completely missing now. A foot was gone and the raised fist was too.

“Was it always like this?” he asked. “Stupid question, you came to me for a reason.”

“I noticed it this morning, it was fine last night.”

“This doesn’t happen.”

“Yeah,” said Beca, slipping the leather cuff back on. “I know.”

“Is Jesse alright?”

“Why wouldn’t he be?”

“I don’t know. The only thing I can think of is second soulmates, but even then the first tattoo never goes away. A new one only appears after the other soulmate passes. It’s rare…”

“But, also not what’s happening here.”

“Do you still love him?”

“He’s my soulmate.”

“That’s not an answer.”

“Of course it is. Everyone loves their soulmate.”

“Do you?”

Beca took a sip of coffee, relieved when it didn’t burn her tongue, then said, “can you tell me about Sheila?”

“Beca…”

“Please?”

“What do you want to know?”

“Was it like gravity when you met her?”

“I’m not quite sure what you mean by that.”

“Was there a pull towards her? What did it feel like to meet her?”

“Oh,” he said, eyeing her. “Are you sure you want to know? I get that it’s weird with your mom and all.”

“Please?” she said again.

“I fought it at first, especially while I didn’t know she was my soulmate, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Sheila from our first interaction. And, don’t get me wrong, I loved your mom and still do in a way, but it was always different. You think you can fight against the universe, but it is usually right. So, yes, there was gravity.”

“Was it easy when you accepted it?”

“No, not at all. We went through a lot to get where we are now, I never wanted to leave your mom or you.”

“I’m not talking about the life stuff. Is loving her easy?”

“Yeah, it is.”

“It’s never been easy with Jesse.”

“Maybe the tattoo is fading because your love is fading.”

“That’s an awful metaphor.”

“It explains it, Beca.”

“How is anyone supposed to love me if we don’t have matching tattoos?”

If Beca’s voice broke when she said that, well she’d deny it.

“Maybe you and Jesse can work through it. And, if not someone will fall for you again, and you’ll fall for them too. Tattoos or not.”

“You can’t know that. Ugh, why is this happening to me?”

Even when her dad pulled her into a hug, she’d deny the growing wetness on his shirt.

“I don’t know, honey,” he said. “I wish I did."

Chapter Text

Chloe

Chloe stared at the last text on her phone for the hundredth time, toying with how to reply.

Beca: rain check on lunch?

A small, selfish part of herself wondered if Beca cancelled because of something she did or said, if maybe Beca felt embarrassed by her vulnerability. The worst part of herself, the tiniest part, wished Beca was drunk again so she could be carefree and open like the night before. But, the biggest part of her knew something was going on with Beca and she wished she could be there to help, no matter what it was.

Chloe: Sure! Is everything alright? I can handle practice if needed

Beca: No, I’ll be there

Chloe fell back on her bed so she was staring at the white ceiling. The second her head hit the pillow, her phone dinged again and she brought it up to see the notification when it slipped from her fingers and managed to land on her neck. “Seriously?”

She grabbed her phone again, her other hand no longer resting at her side, but rubbing the sore spot. It hadn't so much hurt as it felt like retribution for that dark, errant thought she'd had about Beca being drunk again, because that was truly awful and she felt guilty it ever passed through her mind. Above all, Chloe liked every version of Beca, even the moody, grumpy one that appeared more often than not.

Beca: I meant no as in no need to run practice alone
Beca: not no as in everything’s shit
Beca: I’m good

Chloe knew all that already, was adept in Beca lingo enough to know she’d been avoiding the ‘is everything alright’ question entirely. She shook her head with a twitch of a smile and pulled up her and Aubrey’s texts.

Chloe: how’s the lodge?

No sooner was the text sent than Aubrey was calling her through FaceTime. Chloe sat up to be more comfortable holding the phone and hit accept.

“Aubrey!” she squealed.

“Hi, Chloe,” Aubrey said, filling Chloe’s phone screen with herself and a forest backdrop. “I have a ten minute break, what’s up?”

“You called me, silly.”

“Because you texted with zero emojis.”

“Well, I wanna hear about you!”

“Right now I have a literal twig in my hair,” said Aubrey, pulling said twig from out of her ponytail. “And, this latest group is a bunch of stuck up trust fund suits. I’ll break them down though.”

“You mean build them up?”

“No, my father always says you have to show everyone’s weaknesses so you know who to kick off the team first.”

“But, you like the job, right?”

“Of course. Now tell me what’s going on with you.”

“Ugh,” Chloe said, not sure where to start, but not really needing to.

“What’d Beca do?”

“She didn’t do anything,” Chloe said, but Aubrey only stared her down, somehow incredibly intimidating through a small screen. “Ok fine, she cancelled plans to grab lunch.”

“Did she give you a reason, or do I have to drive down there?”

“Not really a reason, no. But, she did rush off to her dads earlier.”

“Maybe a family thing came up?”

“I know, but it’s like every time I think we’re moving forward she slams another wall down. She got in a fight with Jesse last night.”

“Chloe…”

“And, I overheard her saying she didn’t want it to be him.”

“It?”

“We were talking about soulmates.”

“I thought you said you overheard her saying that?”

“It was after we were done talking, she thought I was asleep.”

“Hold on,” said Aubrey. “Start from the beginning.”

So, Chloe did. A part of her thought Beca might be mad about how much detail she went into, but Aubrey needed to know Beca was a softy. Even if they were friends now and most if not all animosity was in the past.

“This is like my senior year all over,” Aubrey said the moment Chloe finished. “I’m driving down!”

“No. Well actually feel free to come over, I miss you. But, don’t go after Beca. She doesn’t know how I feel, it’s not her fault.”

“Everyone can see how you feel,” mumbled Aubrey, trees passing the screen as she started walking. “Shoot, I have to go, one of the suits got caught in a bear trap. But, I am coming to visit soon.”

“Okay!”

“Talk to Beca. She might be a pain in my ass, but she also cares about you.”

“I thought you were anti-Beca in this convo.”

“I am always anti-Beca.”

“Aubrey!”

“Fine, she’s not the worst. I really have to go now.”

“Okay, miss you!”

“Miss you too!”

_

 

The first thing Chloe noticed when Beca arrived at practice wasn’t that she was five minutes late. No, it was the red eyes disguised by thick freshman-year-Beca layers of eye-liner. She didn’t say anything either. Instead, Beca walked over to the piano and took out her laptop.

“Alright, Bella’s,” Chloe called. “We’ve got a long practice ahead to beat DSM. CR, can you run everyone through some vocal warm ups?”

“Uh, what if someone else maybe wants to lead?” said Amy, raising her hand. “Someone made of total captain material.”

“Fine,” Chloe said, “Amy, take them through warm ups.”

Chloe turned away, pretending she didn’t hear Fat Amy taking them through a round of ‘you can lick my ass.’ She was too focused on Beca to turn back around and get them on track. Beca, who was clicking away on her laptop as Chloe approached.

“Hey, Becs,” she said.

“Hey,” Beca said. “Sorry I was late, I stayed at my dad’s longer than intended. And, sorry I bailed on lunch.”

“No worries, it’s no big deal. I have Amy running warm ups today.”

“Cool.”

“I was thinking we lead them through basic choreography to see how Emily is working with the team.”

“Oh, good, that’s good.”

“We also need to see how her voice is melding with the group.”

“Definitely.”

“And, Stacie is running around topless again.”

“Works for me.”

Chloe snorted trying her best not to laugh when there was clearly something on Beca’s mind, “does that really work for you?”

“Yep.”

“Alright, that’s enough,” said Chloe, prying Beca’s hands away from her laptop.

Beca froze, eyes darting anywhere but at Chloe, “wait, are they singing what I think they’re singing?”

“Yeah, I might’ve left Amy in charge.”

“As your co-captain I am very concerned by your delegating choices.”

“And, as your co-captain I am very concerned for you in general.”

“I really am sorry I was late, won’t happen again.”

“That’s not it. Beca, you know you can talk to me, right? Did something happen with your dad, is that why you had to see him?”

“No, he’s fine, Sheila’s fine, I’m fine, everyone’s... fine.”

“It’s not about last night, right? Because I had fun.”

“I did too.”

“So, it’s not me and it’s not your family, is it - “

She cut herself off, already seeing she was pushing Beca too far.

“I’m going to go take over from Amy.”

“Beca…”

“I don’t want to talk right now. But, I promise I will and that I’m fine.”

“Okay.”

“Actually can I hijack practice?”

“Yep.”

She watched Beca walk over to the group, trailing behind and planning to keep a close eye on Beca.

“Alright,” Beca called. “Thanks Amy, that was really something.”

“Happy to help, cap,” said Fat Amy.

“Right, yep super helpful. So, I was thinking we get our minds off our usual stuff for a bit. Legacy?”

“Yes? Here. Present," Emily said, raising her hand like Beca was checking attendance.

“Pick a song.”

“Oh, um, any song?”

“That’s the idea, yes.”

“Then, It’s Not Living if it’s Not With You.”

Chloe watched Beca direct them, reminding her of the pool their freshman year. Except instead of Bruno Mars and Nelly, it was The 1975 and Paramore. Her mashups always astounded Chloe, especially when done on the fly like this. There wasn't much time to dwell though as Beca had Chloe take over the lyrics to When it Rains.

_

 

By the end of practice Chloe believed Beca, that she was okay again after whatever went on earlier in the day. If anything, that had been one of their best practices so far that year. That high of working with the Bella’s cohesively was back for Chloe, something she’d missed since Muffgate.

“Hey, Beca,” she said, leaning against the piano where Beca was packing her things.

“Today was a good day,” Beca said, reminding Chloe of the night before.

“It was. Wanna go to the diner for dinner?”

“You really want to eat a meal with me today, don’t you?”

“Please,” Chloe said, dragging out the word. “I’ve been craving their strawberry milkshakes since this morning.”

“Sure, let me just grab my - " Beca stopped mid sentence when Lilly popped up. “You really have to stop doing that.”

Chloe watched Lilly’s lips moving and the confusion on Beca’s face as neither of them heard anything. She also saw Beca slipping her arm behind her back and taking slow steps away.

“I don’t know what you’re saying,” said Beca as her face paled.

Lilly went for Beca’s wrist, spinning Beca around with the force of it all. Before Chloe could step in, Beca had snapped her arm back and slipped the leather cuff into place again. And, then Beca was backing away with a look that frightened Chloe.

“I really need you to not follow me,” said Beca, voice rushed and coarse as she looked at Chloe.

Chloe didn’t speak, but watched as Beca turned and walked through the doors that lead to the rooftop. She couldn’t help wondering if Beca regretted showing her the spot now.

“What the hell, Lilly!” Chloe said, rounding on Lilly.

“It’s happening,” Lilly said, voice clear enough for the remaining Bella’s in the auditorium to hear.

Several gasps came after Lilly’s words. Chloe was too astonished to respond, giving Lilly the opportunity to walk out of the auditorium. Since she only knew where Beca went and not Lilly, she started walking to the back doors until a hand gripped her arm.

“Dont,” said CR. “She said not to follow her.”

“I can’t not follow her, she’s clearly hurting about something.”

“Give her time.”

“She needs someone.”

“Go get that milkshake you wanted,” said CR. “And, maybe a burger for Beca. Give her a little time and then show up with food.”

“That is actually some good advice.”

“I’m going to pretend to not be offended by that.”

“I wasn’t trying - "

“I know, just messin’ with you, cap.”

“Do you maybe want to walk with me? I’ll buy you something from the diner too.”

“Hell yeah.”

Despite never really having problems holding a conversation, Chloe found herself at a loss on how to start this particular one. CR didn’t try to rush her, whistling the mashup from earlier as they walked along Barden. But, as they neared the diner, CR stopped Chloe from going inside.

“So, stargazing?”

“Yeah, it was kind of a crazy night,” said Chloe, smiling at the memory of Beca dancing between streetlights. “I’ve never seen Beca like that. She was so free, like nothing was holding her back anymore.”

“You like her.”

“Yes.”

“Is that why you asked me to walk with you?”

“Well, a little. You don’t have to answer, but how did you cope with Denise?”

“I didn’t. Not at first.”

“And, now?”

“Now I get it. My person is out there and it’ll wash away any feelings I have for or against the people before them, just like it did for Denise.”

“Beca asked me if the universe ever gets it wrong.”

“Chloe…”

“No, I know, I won’t get involved between soulmates, it’s just I think that Beca doesn’t feel the way everyone else does when they’re with their person. And, for a long time I thought…”

“That you and Beca were soulmates?”

“Yeah.”

“We all thought it too. Hell, Emily thought it this morning, remember?”

Chloe giggled at the reminder, “that’s about when Beca started acting weird.”

Cynthia didn’t speak at first as though mulling over her words, but when she did Chloe listened with rapt attention.

“I think Beca might be confused, and I don’t mean this in a way to get your hopes up. You two get along so easily compared to her and Jesse. But, Beca is loyal and despite what she says about soulmates, she still believes in them.”

“So, you think I should keep my distance?”

“I don’t know the answer to that one. I can say that Beca really needs someone right now, and apparently that someone isn’t Jesse…”

“But?”

“But, I don’t want you getting hurt either.”

“Thanks, CR,” Chloe said, pulling Cynthia Rose in for one of her patented Beale hugs.

“Anytime... So, can I get some cheese fries now?”

“Yes! And, you can tell me all about your latest someone. Don’t think I haven’t noticed you sneaking in late with lipstick smudges.”

_

 

“Hey,” said Chloe, trying her best not to startle Beca as she approached on the rooftop. “I brought food.”

Beca didn’t say anything, didn’t even look at Chloe. She was seated with her knees bent and her arms wrapped around them.

“I know this is your place to get away,” said Chloe. “But, I thought you might be hungry and I can totally leave if you want. I promise not to ask anything if you do let me stay though.”

“You can stay,” Beca whispered.

Chloe handed over the brown bag that contained Beca’s burger and fries then took a seat. Opening her own bag, she took out fries and the house salad she’d ordered for herself. She also opened the lid to her milkshake so they could both dip their fries in.

“This is so good,” Beca said, biting into her cheeseburger. “And you remembered no pickles.”

“Of course I remembered, hard to forget my best friend doesn’t like pickles!”

“They’re gross.”

“You’re gross.”

“And, you’re apparently in elementary school,” Beca laughed. “I know you can give a better comeback than that.”

“All I’m saying is that pickles are delicious and I have no idea how you hate them.”

“If anything it’s a good thing.”

“How can pickle hatred be a good thing?”

“Well whenever someone forgets not to give me them, you get them. My hatred fuels your love.”

“Right, that totally makes sense.”

“Sarcasm sounds better from my lips.”

“Oh, just eat your food, pickle hater.”

Beca chuckled, but did as Chloe told. They ate in silence, Chloe trying her best not to comment on the mascara smudges under Beca’s eyes. She was happy enough Beca hadn’t asked her to leave and that she’d at least gotten a smile out of her best friend.

“I don’t mind you knowing,” said Beca after she finished eating and scrunched up her trash. “I showed you this place for a reason, even if I was drunk when I decided. So, you know, feel free to come here whenever.”

“I’m happy you showed me.”

“And, thank you for giving me a little space,” continued Beca. “Something happened or is happening, and I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to talk about it.”

“You don’t have to tell me right now.”

“I do though, want to tell you that is,” said Beca before she let out a single strangled-sounding laugh. “Somehow it was easier talking to my dad which makes no sense. It’s just that this thing is kinda big and I’m really worried about how people might react when they find out. Not you, but uh some might react poorly?”

“You’re really worrying me, Becs.”

“Sorry, it’s nothing life threatening if that helps.”

“Only a little.”

“It’s about my... It’s… it’s uh my… I can’t say it.”

“Could you show me instead?” Chloe said, Beca’s reaction to Lilly grabbing her wrist earlier coming to mind.

Beca started to hold out her arm, but then her phone went off, Emily’s name appearing on the screen. Her arm changed track and picked it up instead.

“You should take it,” said Chloe.

“Emily can wait until we get back.”

“Okay.”

“It’s my tattoo,” Beca burst out, words loud enough to cause Chloe to flinch. “Sorry, I kinda lost my nerve and just needed that out.”

“What about it?”

“It’s - ”

Only Beca’s phone went off again, Emily’s name popping up once more. When Beca looked at her with worry and tensed up shoulders, Chloe motioned for her to answer it.

“Hey, Em,” said Beca, holding her phone out between her and Chloe. “Chloe’s here too. Is everything alright?”

“Hi,” said Emily, voice almost too quiet to catch until Beca switched to speakerphone. “So, Benji asked me on a date.”

“Well, he is your soulmate,” said Beca, her shoulders relaxing after she rolled her eyes.

“I know, I know,” said Emily and Chloe could picture her waving her arms about frantically. “But, I’ve never been on a first date before. At least not one that was important because I went on one on accident in high school. It was more of a double date really and I didn’t know until after it was happening…”

“Where’s he taking you?” Chloe said when she thought Emily was finished with her rambling.

“Dinner and a movie, but like not in a theater. They’re playing Monsters Inc. outside on the quad later.”

“Hold up,” said Beca. “This is happening tonight?”

“Yes.”

“Do you need me to come over?” said Beca.

“You don’t have to.”

Chloe knew that meant yes, and Beca did too because she responded with, “of course I do. I’m not letting you freak out over a date alone. Although, I’m not helping you pick out an outfit.”

“I'm coming too!” Chloe chimed in, already thinking about hairstyles for Emily.

“Thank you so much,” said Emily. “You two are like the coolest.“

“We’ll text you when we’re outside your dorm,” said Beca.

Once the call disconnected, Beca focused back on Chloe, “we should go before she panics again.”

“We should.”

“We’ll talk after?”

“Whenever you’re ready, Becs.”

Chapter Text

Beca

After helping Emily get ready for her date, Beca and Chloe returned to the Bella house. They parted once inside, Chloe getting side tracked by a movie night in the living room while Beca slipped upstairs to finally work on her mixes like she’d wanted to all day. Instead of opening a file for her internship, or any of her many half finished mixes, she opened a blank project in her software. Soon she found herself lost in recording a more stripped down version of the mashup they’d done at Bella practice.

“Hey, Becs?” said Chloe, hours later, startling her from her mix.

“Yeah?” Beca said, trying to pretend she hadn’t jumped by keeping an intense focus on her screen.

“What’re you working on?”

Beca smiled, waving for Chloe to come closer. She finished tweaking some levels before removing the headphones completely and handing them to Chloe. While Chloe listened, Beca couldn’t help thinking about the first time she’d shown Chloe her music. Though there’d been a hundred times since, this one felt like her freshman year all over again. It had nothing to do with the music, more a culmination of the vulnerable moments she’d shared with Chloe in the past two days. Just like how it had made her feel vulnerable sharing that first mix.

“Amazing,” said Chloe when the song ended. “I mean I’ve seen you do this so many times before, and listened to a million of your mixes, but I still have no idea how you do it, Becs.”

“Uh, thanks,” Beca said, saving her work and taking her headphones back.

“Did you already have this one in mind, or did you create that from scratch at practice.”

“Um, practice.”

“So, if I sing something, would you be able to do that every time?”

“Probably not,” Beca laughed. “I didn’t even plan on adding When it Rains, like I just thought it’d be fun to get everyone out of competition mode, but it kinda fit perfectly.”

Chloe didn’t respond, but got that same crazed look she’d gotten when she’d convinced Beca to sing Titanium in the shower. Beca rolled her eyes as Chloe started singing This Love by Maroon 5.

“Seriously? We are not doing this,” said Beca. “This is not a thing.”

Chloe only sang louder.

“Okay, okay,” said Beca, letting her mind fall into Chloe's voice. “I got it.”

“You do not!”

“Yeah, hold on,” Beca said, turning back to her computer and pulling up a new file. “Here, sit.”

Beca moved from her chair to let Chloe take her place.

“What’re you doing?” said Chloe, eyebrow raised as she took a hesitant seat.

“I’m going to show you how,” said Beca, but then scratched the back of her neck. “Uh, if you want. I mean I could also just tell you the song I think would work with the one you were singing.”

“Nope, we’re doing this,” said Chloe, turning to all the equipment Beca had strewn on her desk.

“Cool,” said Beca, leaning over Chloe to pull what she needed up on her screen. “So, we have two options. I could get all the stems to put them together, or we could work from scratch kinda like with the Bellas.”

“What are stems?”

“Copies of the recordings for songs, like separated by the beat or vocals or instrumentals. Actually, the vocal recordings are called acapellas which like duh, but also a cool fact?”

Chloe beamed at Beca then said, “can we do it from scratch?”

“Sure,” said Beca, pulling up a drum kit and testing the sounds she thought would work well. “Right, so when I hit play you’ll hear a metronome and I want you to hit this key and then that one.”

After plugging old headphones into the empty slot of her headphone splitter, Beca handed one pair to Chloe and placed the other around her own ears. This way they could both listen at the same time. Beca tapped the keys she wanted Chloe to hit for the beat, making sure it sounded right before showing Chloe. When Chloe nodded, Beca let Chloe take over to practice.

“I think I got it,” said Chloe after several minutes.

“Yeah?”

Chloe smiled so Beca hit the spacebar to record. The first take didn’t go well, Beca flinching at the sound of the kick drum going off-beat. But, by the second Chloe was getting the hang of it.

When Chloe hit a wrong key again she huffed in frustration and said, “ugh, I can’t do this.”

“You did great.”

“No I didn’t.”

“Sure you did,” said Beca, leaning back over. “Watch.”

Beca showed Chloe how to find where she’d hit the beat out correctly, trimming around it and then looping it. Her head was right next to Chloe’s, but she focussed on the music rather than the closeness as she explained what she was doing. From there, Beca instructed Chloe on vocals. Not the lyrics yet, but layering sounds to create an arrangement. With each new step, Beca tried her best to explain her thought process, wondering when Chloe would realize what they were mashing together.

In the middle of Chloe singing into her mic, Beca realized how much fun she was having. Somehow Chloe walked in and enhanced her night without derailing her plans. Sure, it wasn’t the mix she would’ve worked on, but it was still music. When Chloe finished the latest part, Beca hit play to listen to what they had so far.

“What?” Chloe said, noticing Beca was staring at her with a soft smile midway through the song.

“Nothing - “

“Wait!” Chloe interrupted, grabbing Beca’s arm. “I think I got the second song. Is it, I Will Survive?”

“You got it,” Beca said, laughing when Chloe squealed. “So, which one do you want to sing.”

“Maroon 5.”

Beca chuckled, “cool, so I’m going to sing first, when I signal I want you to join in with the chorus of your song.”

She shouldn’t have been shocked by how they sounded together. Well, that wasn’t the part that really surprised Beca, it was more that they made it through an entire thing perfectly by the third take. Chloe wasn’t even thrown when Beca started messing with different effects and adding in new beats while they both sang.

“How was that one?” said Chloe when the track faded out.

“I think we got it.”

“Really?”

“Yep. Here, I’ll play it back,” said Beca, reaching for her laptop.

“Wait.”

“Why?”

“We have to get comfy to listen to it.”

Beca looked at Chloe, but she merely stood from Beca’s desk chair, removed her headphones, and plopped herself down on the bed instead. Shaking her head, Beca unplugged all the wires from her laptop and brought it over.

“See, so much better for listening,” said Chloe.

“You’re such a weirdo,” Beca said, leaning against her headboard next to Chloe.

They listened through, Chloe bobbing her head along while Beca stopped her twitching fingers from fixing small things she heard. She knew that after Chloe left, she’d probably add in some more audio effects and tweak the levels, but it was good enough for now.

“That was fun,” said Chloe. “Can we do it again?”

“Maybe another day when it’s not,” Beca paused to look at her phone, “after midnight.”

“Promise?”

“Yes,” Beca chuckled.

“Sweet. Now, play it again.”

_

Beca’s phone was buzzing like crazy when she woke up. It took her a while to locate it, her hand flopping around while her eyes remained closed. Once it was in hand, she half opened a single eye to look at the screen. Jesse was calling her and it was past ten in the morning.

“Shit,” she grumbled, sitting up and hitting accept call. “Hey, Jesse.”

“Becawwww,” he said, making her pull the phone away from her ear. “Did I wake you up?”

“Uh, little bit.”

“Good thing I called then. We still on for brunch?”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Cool. I’ll be over in 30 minutes so get your cute butt ready!”

“Will do.”

“Love you,” he sang.

“Uh, yeah, love you,” she grumbled back, still not fully awake.

“You too,” came a voice behind Beca.

The call with Jesse already over, Beca whipped around. Chloe was in her bed, eyes still closed and hair wild. Beca figured they both must’ve fallen asleep listening to her mixes last night. Sure enough, her laptop was pushed to the opposite end of her bed, screen now black.

“Chloe?” Beca said, watching as Chloe stirred.

Relief and some other emotion she refused to acknowledge flooded Beca's system as she realized Chloe had sleep-talked.

“Morning, Becs,” said Chloe, her eyes fluttering open. “What time is it?”

“Around ten.”

“Why’re you up? You hate being up before noon.”

“Jesse called, I’m meeting him for brunch.”

“Oh,” said Chloe.

“Feel free to stay and sleep more,” said Beca, fully standing now to stretch.

“Tempting,” said Chloe. “But, I should probably go be productive.”

Beca walked over to her closet, hoping whatever place Jesse picked wasn’t going to be the kind of place you needed to look presentable for.

“Later, Becs,” said Chloe as she headed down the stairs.

“See ya,” Beca said, wondering what prompted Chloe to leave that quick when she’d usually stay behind and chat until Jesse showed up.

After slipping on leggings and a flannel to replace what she’d slept in, Beca began to roll her sleeves up only to stop again. Not only was there no leather cuff on her wrist, but there was also no tattoo at all. It was completely gone, leaving only her pale skin like it was never there. She quickly tugged her sleeves back down and then searched her room for the bracelet.

“Woah,” said Fat Amy, once again returning in the same clothes as the day before. “You’re at code purple again.”

“What the fuck is code purple,” said Beca, stopping in the middle of tearing her sheets off her bed.

“Panic,” said Amy like it was obvious.

“This is not panic,” said Beca, knowing full well it was.

“Looking for this?” Amy said.

Glancing over, Beca saw her roommate bend down and pick up her cuff from the floor by her desk.

“No.”

“No?”

“Just give it here, Amy.”

“Only if you tell me why you’re at code purple.”

“That is none of your business.”

“As your best friend, I think it is my business. Do you maybe need some of my butt confidence? Cause I can totally give you some, I got some to spare after last night.”

“Gross.”

“Yeah me and uh not-Bumper - ”

“I don’t need to know! Just give me the cuff.”

“It really wasn’t Bumper.”

“I believe you. Now give or I’ll make you run extra laps at practice, Monday.”

“You run a hard bargain, shortstack,” Amy said, but handed over the leather cuff.

Beca snapped it around her wrist, making sure to do so out of sight from Amy. Then it sunk in that Chloe may have seen, not sure at what point the night before it had fallen off. But, she’d seemed normal that morning, and hadn’t said anything the night before… and it was totally something Chloe would want to talk about.

_

Jesse ran ahead to open the passenger side door of his car for Beca after they left the restaurant. She rolled her eyes, but said thank you and took her seat, watching as he closed her door and then ran around to the other side. Brunch had gone well, or about as well as any of their prior dates.

There was no way she could hold off the tattoo conversation forever, no way she could hide that for any significant length of time. Yet, she didn’t want to fight today or get into anything heavy. All she had to do was survive the drive home and then she was free until the next time they hung out.

“So, I saw that Deadpool is playing at 1:30,” said Jesse. “We could head to the theater and still catch the previews too.”

“You know we agreed to one movie per month,” she said.

“I know, I know, but I thought we could make an exception this month? It’s new and I know you’ll like this one.”

“You say that about every movie.”

“Hey, I got you to like The Breakfast Club,” he said. “Still can’t believe you’d never watched it while our tattoo is literally a silhouette of the film.”

“Jesse…” Beca said, not liking this convo one bit.

“I promise,” said Jesse. “Look, the movie is supposed to be…”

But, Beca tuned him out. Not intentionally, she had actually meant to try harder at their relationship in the hopes that her tattoo would return. She knew that was probably futile, but she had to cling to her soulmate, right?

Shaking her head, she tried to listen again, “...the comic book character…”

And, she was out again. She thought about the night before with Chloe and how much fun it had been mixing with her. How Chloe always tried to do things that interested Beca and in turn she would sometimes join Chloe in whatever show was playing in her room. Maybe, just maybe, that could translate to her relationship with Jesse too. Compromise, or whatever.

“So, what do you say?” said Jesse.

“I was thinking,” said Beca instead of answering. “What if you came back to the Bella’s house with me - ”

“Oh yeah?” said Jesse, but Beca ignored his tone.

“I wanted to work on some mixes for the internship and thought you could join maybe?”

“That’s not really my thing.”

“But, you want to score movies?”

“That’s different.”

“Well, why don’t we do that then. We could pick a scene and make a track to back it, maybe turn a comedy into horror or something?”

“What about Deadpool?”

“I’m trying here, Jesse,” she said. “I’m really trying.”

“Please? Benji already saw it and you know how he is, he’s going to spoil it if I don’t watch it soon.”

“Take me home, Jesse,” she said.

Jesse didn’t say anything, but turned the key so his car started. The drive was quiet, but Beca wasn’t angry, only discouraged. Based on the sighs and other noises Jesse made while he drove them back to Barden, he was slowly stewing. By the time he pulled up in front of the Bella house, his knuckles were white against the steering wheel.

“How is it that my soulmate doesn’t like movies?” Jesse said, voice a forced kind of even.

“We don’t have to like the same things, Jesse,” said Beca.

“I just always thought my person would like movies.”

“God, Jesse,” Beca said, surprised she was the first to blow up when she hadn’t even been all that enraged before. “I’m sorry I’m such a disappointment.”

Chapter Text

Chloe

Chloe typed out another bullet point on her lesson plan for student teaching, Wednesday would be her first day teaching rather than shadowing and she was nervous. Especially when she wouldn’t really have any excuses anymore for staying another year. Sure, she’d failed Russian Lit her first senior year, but then she’d added an education major to her roster and an additional minor as a reason to stay. She couldn’t fail again now.

In the back of her mind though, above Worlds and graduation, was what she’d seen the night before. Beca no longer had a soulmate tattoo on her wrist, an answer she should’ve seen coming from Beca’s actions and words the day before. And with the discovery, a little spark was growing inside Chloe that she was trying hard to stamp out.

A knock came on her door, drawing her attention away from swirling thoughts. She finished typing and saved her work before looking up.

“It’s open,” she called.

Stacie popped her head inside the door, “Beca and Jesse are fighting again.”

“Oh? Is Beca okay?”

“It’s kinda happening on the front porch right now and I’m worried the neighbors might say something.”

“That bad?”

“Yeah.”

“Alright, I’m coming.”

She moved her laptop to the side and then jumped up. Sure enough, she could hear raised voices the moment she entered the hallway.

“Take off the cuff,” Jesse’s voice boomed through the door.

Most of the Bella’s were in the living room, peering out the windows making Chloe roll her eyes. They were all too nosy for their own good. And, based on the scent wafting from the kitchen, someone was making popcorn to go with their entertainment.

“Why are you bringing this up again?” Beca said.

“Did you really think I wouldn’t notice you checking that it was in place 500 times today, or how you flinched the second I tried holding that hand?”

Chloe paused with her fingers wrapped around the doorknob at Beca’s next words. They were uttered in a far quieter tone than the screaming before it.

“Would you have even liked me if I didn’t have the tattoo?” Beca said.

“Would you?” said Jesse, volume only the slightest bit lowered.

“I meant if there weren’t tattoos at all.”

“That’s not the world we live in.”

“So? It’s a hypothetical.”

“Would you just take off the damn bracelet, Beca,” his voice raised fully again.

Thinking this might be the best time to interrupt, Chloe turned the doorknob and slid it open.

“Stay out of this,” Jesse hissed, barely phased after glancing over at Chloe.

“Can’t do that,” said Chloe. “The entire neighborhood can hear you.”

“It’s none of their business,” hissed Jesse.

“You’re making it their business,” Beca muttered.

“What?”

“You were kinda yelling, Jesse.”

“So were you.”

“Guys,” said Chloe. “That’s not the point right now.”

“Fine,” said Jesse. “We’ll keep it down.”

Chloe raised an eyebrow at the rude dismissal.

“No, stay, Chloe,” said Beca, glancing her way as she tried closing the door again. “Please?”

When Chloe nodded, Beca turned back to Jesse. He was glaring, but if Beca wanted her to stay, she would. Even if she really didn’t want to be in the middle.

“Yes, I’ve been extra stressed about covering it today.”

Instead of speaking further, Beca reached over to the leather cuff and undid its bindings. Chloe didn’t need to look, so she watched Jesse instead, wanting to catch his reaction.

“What the fuck, Beca,” said Jesse, eyes wide. “Did you get it lasered off or something?”

“That doesn’t work for soulmate tattoos and you know it,” said Beca, eyes darting to Chloe like she was checking she was still there.

“Then what happened?” said Jesse, not waiting for an answer before he spoke again. “I know you had a tattoo before and I know it matched mine.”

“It started fading after the party. I don’t know why.”

“So, what, we’re not soulmates anymore?” said Jesse, holding out his own wrist. “Because mine is still there.”

“I don’t know what it means,” said Beca.

“You should’ve told me right away,” said Jesse. “God, this is fucked.”

“I’m sorry, Jesse. I didn’t know what to do. You were already so worked up about the tattoo.”

He started pacing, “is this what you wanted?”

“Jesse… of course it’s not what I wanted.”

“No, you were fine hiding it,” said Jesse, stopping to turn back to Beca. “Well, guess what, now you don’t have to.”

“I was scared, Jesse.”

“Of what? You didn’t think to talk to me, your boyfriend?”

“I was scared you’d leave me knowing I didn’t have it anymore.”

Chloe was rooted in place wanting to be there for Beca. But, she also really didn’t want to witness what she was sure was about to happen.

“Guess you were right to be scared then,” said Jesse, eyes glassy and voice croaking.

“No, d-don’t say that.”

“I can’t do this anymore,” said Jesse before he turned and walked away.

“Fuck,” said Beca.

_

 

They were on the rooftop again. It was the only place Chloe could think to drag Beca where the Bella’s wouldn’t interfere or eavesdrop. Beca wasn’t crying anymore though, it looked more like she was in shock.

There were a hundred questions Chloe wanted to ask, and twice as many words of consolation, but she didn’t speak and neither did Beca. Rather, they mirrored their positions from Friday night, hands held and eyes to the sky.

With her free hand, Chloe pulled up Spotify on her phone, clicking through until she found Beca’s public playlists. There was one Chloe hadn’t listened to yet that looked recently created, and she put that on with the volume soft enough to be nothing more than background.

Eight songs later, Chloe counted, Beca spoke, “thank you.”

“For what?”

“I don’t know,” said Beca. “Being here I guess, not forcing me to talk about it, somehow knowing the exact music I wanted to listen to.”

“It’s your playlist.”

“Oh.”

“You’re welcome though.”

It was cloudy, but bright out. The surface beneath them was the slightest bit damp from rain that fell sometime that morning, but it was warm enough out that it only made them the slightest bit uncomfortable.

“Everyone leaves me,” said Beca, the only indication that the words hurt coming from the tightened grip to Chloe’s hand as though Chloe might let go and walk away too.

“I won’t.”

“You won’t mean to.”

“We’re always going to be friends, Beca. No soulmate is going to stop me being here for you.”

Beca hummed in noncommittal agreement before she started giggling manically.

“What?” Chloe said, head turned to look at Beca in alarm.

“I was right.”

“About?”

“The universe got it wrong,” Beca said, trying to explain the joke behind her laughter but the words came out strangled.

“The universe has its reasons,” Chloe said, both purposefully drawing parallels to their first night up there.

“That night feels like it was years ago, but it hasn’t even been a full weekend.”

“To be fair, a lot has changed since Friday.”

“Yeah… I don’t have a tattoo or soulmate anymore.”

“You have me.”

This time the hum that Beca gave sounded a whole lot like an unspoken ‘for now,’ but Chloe didn’t push it further. If Beca wouldn’t hear her words, she’d just have to continue to follow through with them until Beca believed.

“Why?” Beca mumbled before turning into Chloe, head buried in a shoulder with silent sobs.

Chloe didn’t answer, only rubbed circles with her thumb over Beca’s hand still held in hers. A few tears escaped her own eyes, unaccustomed to seeing Beca like this. Unable to remember a single time Beca had been this raw in her emotions.

_

 

It was late when they entered the Bella house again. Late enough that the lights were out and the only sound came from the TV in Jessica and Ashley’s room that they sometimes left on overnight.

Without speaking, Chloe locked up the house while Beca went into the kitchen. Walking back out, Beca handed Chloe her yellow cup filled with water and held a glass in her other hand for herself. They walked up the stairs to Chloe’s room, and she was about to say goodnight when Beca spoke first.

“I don’t want to be alone tonight.”

“It’s alright,” said Chloe, pulling Beca into her room with her.

_

 

Beca was gone by the time Chloe woke up the next day. The bed was cold enough to let her know Beca’d been gone a while. Looking at her phone, Chloe realized it was close to 9 a.m. and that meant Beca was probably at her 8 a.m. class. She knew because Beca complained about it from the moment it was placed on her schedule.

She stretched out her limbs, enjoying the sweet pull on her muscles before getting out of bed and preparing for the day. When she trudged into the kitchen after taking a shower and changing, she found Emily with a large textbook open at the table.

“Morning, Em,” she said, chuckling when Emily jumped.

“Hi, Chloe!”

“How was your date?”

“Aca-amazing,” Emily squealed before going into a full rundown.

Chloe made herself tea while listening, enjoying her friend's happiness. Especially when she knew that Benji was a sweetheart.

“...and I was telling him about this game night on campus this week,” continued Emily, “and he asked if he could join me in going so I guess we’re having our second date Wednesday!”

“Sounds like it’s off to a great start,” said Chloe.

“It really is,” said Emily. “All because of Beca really.”

“Beca?”

“Yeah, she gave me a lot of good advice Friday night and also when you both were at my dorm.”

“What’d she say?” Chloe said between sips of her tea with her back against the counter.

“Um, just about how there’s no rush and that with your person there’s nothing you have to force. Basically she said I should be myself and enjoy every minute of falling, but like worded better. It was great hearing from someone who’d gone through what I am, her and Jesse must be so strong as a couple.”

“You haven’t heard…”

“Heard what?”

“They broke up yesterday.”

“That doesn’t make sense, Beca said that her person was her everything. I mean at the time I thought she meant you and her - sorry again - but , she definitely was talking about her person. Is she okay? Oh my stars, I went on and on about Benji to her before her class, I just thought she was gloomy because it’s the morning and Beca hates - “

“It probably was the morning,” Chloe said trying to get Emily out of her ramble. “And, if it wasn’t, we’ll be here for her.”

“I-I didn’t think soulmates left each other.”

“Oh, Em,” said Chloe, kneeling in front of Emily to place a reassuring hand on Emily’s. “Their situation is a bit complicated and you shouldn’t for a second think that your relationship will end the same way. Look, Beca was right in her advice, enjoy every moment of falling for Benji. Don’t think about the future too much, just grow as you go, both individually and in the relationship.”

_

 

Hours later, classes done and Bella practice finished, Chloe fell onto her bed in a huff. It’d been a long day of worrying about Beca. A worry that didn’t seem all that necessary when Beca acted much the same as any other day. If she hadn't been there to witness it, Chloe wouldn’t even know Beca and Jesse broke up.

A knock came on her door, and Chloe’s heart jumped, wondering if Beca was there to stay with her again.

“Come in,” Chloe called, sitting up in her bed so it looked less like she’d been mindlessly staring at her ceiling.

Lilly walked in, and Chloe blamed her disappointment on surprise instead. After years of living together all the Bella’s had stopped by in one state or another to talk to Chloe. Every Bella that is, except for Lilly.

“Hey,” Chloe said when she thought Lilly said hello.

“I'm fixing... continue um...” Lilly said, or that’s all Chloe caught from Lilly’s faint voice.

“Fixed what?”

“It’s all going to be okay.”

Chloe’s jaw dropped and her eyebrow raised when Lilly’s voice rang loud and clear with that last sentence. Dark brown eyes pierced her own like they could read her soul. But it wasn’t intrusive like Chloe usually felt when Lilly looked her way. No, it was more like relief flooded her system.

“Oh, um, thank you for saying that," said Chloe.

The smile that followed from Lilly was one of sincerity and not maniacal either. It was such an odd and tender interaction that Chloe didn’t get the chance to say goodbye when Lilly turned and walked back out, closing the door behind her.

Urgent assignments done and an early class the next morning, Chloe shut off her bedside lamp and laid back down. This time she slipped under the covers and closed her eyes, hoping that sleep would take her quickly.

It did, or rather it would have had another knock not torn her back into consciousness. Before her eyes could open, she heard the familiar creek of her door opening followed by a gentle thud of it closing. When her eyes did open and she got adjusted to the darkness she found Beca setting her yellow cup on her bedside table again.

“Thank you,” she mumbled, chuckling when Beca startled.

“I tried not to wake you,” said Beca. “Or, well I guess I knocked, but that was more in case you were I dunno awake and busy, but when you didn’t say anything…”

“It’s okay, Beca,” Chloe said, voice still low with sleep as she sat up. “Thank you for the water.”

“Yeah, anytime, dude.”

“Did you want to stay here again?”

“Oh, um, no? I know you forget to grab water before bed.”

“Beca…” Chloe said, rolling her eyes even though she knew Beca wouldn’t be able to see.

“Okay, yes. But, like feel free to kick me out.”

“Come here,” said Chloe, cover already lifted while scooting to make room.

Beca immediately got comfy, back turned to Chloe on her side. Chloe thought about slipping her arm around Beca, wanting desperately to snuggle up. Instead she went back to staring at her ceiling. It wasn’t long before she felt the bed shaking and knew Beca was crying again, so she threw caution away and slid into place behind Beca, holding on tight.

“I feel so stupid,” Beca choked out between sobs.

“Why do you feel that,” said Chloe, letting herself kiss Beca’s shoulder thinking it innocent and reassuring.

Beca’s breath hitched - something Chloe attributed to the torment racking Beca’s body - before she answered, “it was so much easier saying I didn’t want a soulmate when I knew I had one…”

“Of course.”

“It’s not even him really,” said Beca. “It’s the fact that the one person that wasn’t supposed to leave, did.”

“You know, Emily told me that you’re the reason her first date went well.”

“Oh?” Beca said, her sobs broken by the unexpected shift in topic.

“Yeah, she said you gave her a lot of advice that really helped her not overthink things.”

“Well, I also told her I threatened to end Benji if he hurt her, so…”

“My point is, someone willing to help others as much as you are, to care as much as you do - ”

Beca scoffed but didn’t say anything.

“ - is not someone that’s going to be alone forever,” Chloe finished.

“Yeah, right. Who wants to get with someone that’s not their soulmate?”

“Someone will,” said Chloe, biting her tongue to stop from saying she would, gladly.

“Whatever, it wouldn’t last anyway.”

Chloe couldn’t respond to that with words, so she held Beca closer.

“What do you think yours is going to be like?” Beca whispered. “And, don’t say you haven’t thought about it, I know you.”

Chloe chuckled, “yeah I have thought about it. In high school I imagined they’d be the captain of some sports team, you know, classic jock fantasy. And, then after I at least thought it’d be someone else that would fit into the white-picket-fence lifestyle my parents have.”

“But, that’s changed?”

“Yeah. I dated a lot of those my first few years here, but none ever held my interest. Now I think my person can’t be anything other than unique. They’ll be passionate about something in life, maybe music but anything as long as it’s something we can share together. And, they’ll accept me for who I am.”

“They sound amazing.”

“Did you ever imagine it? You know, before...”

“A little. Especially when my parents first started fighting. I imagined them as the opposite of me, someone able to distract me from myself and bring happiness into my day to day, but then the divorce happened and I lost all faith in soulmates.”

Neither spoke after Beca trailed off, Chloe deep in thought at both their words. She’d been describing Beca even if it was in the vaguest of terms, and Beca… well, those words could describe Chloe. Or, Jesse during their freshman year at least when he and Beca were nothing more than friends.

“What if…” Chloe said.

“What if what?”

“Never mind, just a thought.”

“Let’s hear it then,” said Beca.

“What if you and Jesse were supposed to be platonic soulmates? That’s what my cousin has and he’s happy.”

“Yeah, I can see that. I mean we work really well as friends but…” Beca let out an embarrassed sounding chuckle.

“But?” Chloe prompted.

“But, I kind of want the non platonic part?”

“Sex?”

“Gah, Chloe!”

“It’s natural, Beca.”

“Not a topic for when you’re literally spooning me!”

“So, I should bring it up when we’re not spooning?”

“Oh my god.”

Chloe pulled herself away from teasing and said, “I get that, I mean I always imagined there being an intimacy with my person too.”

“Yeah.”

_

 

Bella practice the next day was horrendous. So much so that Chloe called it quits early and let everyone go. All were a little worse for wear. Flo was clutching her elbow as she left after Fat Amy got in her path and she ended up running into the bleachers. Stacie looked like she’d run a marathon, a feat Chloe was slightly proud of because Stacie was the one Bella that actually kept up with cardio. And, Emily looked at everyone wide eyed like she was scared they’d make her run another lap or trip her or really anything that Amy had mumbled under her breath at her. Something Chloe made a note to talk to Beca about so they could stop Amy from her bullying.

Chloe herself was frustrated because they didn’t have a set for her to get a dance routine planned. Not that she blamed Beca, couldn’t knowing Beca had her internship and classes and a recent breakup. That didn’t stop her own anxiety from bubbling over though, it was her last hurrah as a Bella and also the one that carried the most weight.

“How - “ Chloe started to say after wandering up to Beca who was still typing away on her laptop in their rehearsal space.

“Please don’t ask how I’m doing,” said Beca, voice harsh enough to make Chloe stop in her tracks.

“I wasn’t.”

“Or, how the set list is going because I promise I’m working on it.”

“I was going to ask how your internship went today.”

“Oh!” Beca said, tone softening as she finally looked up from her screen. “Sorry, I shouldn’t lash out. It’s just, everyone keeps asking and it’s getting really... anyway… Today went really well. I sang with Snoop Dog.”

“You what!”

Chloe grabbed Beca’s arm, jumping in her excitement.

“Well he didn’t know I was singing with him? He was in the booth and my boss wanted help making the track work so I did my thing.”

“A mashup?”

“You know it.”

“And?” Chloe squealed, on the edge of her metaphorical seat.

“And, my boss liked it. He wants to hear a demo of my stuff.”

“Beca Mitchell, you are amazing. An intern that’s already rocking the music industry.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” Beca said, Chloe loving the red tint that spread across her skin. “But, it’s a start.”

“So, are you ready to head back?”

“I was going to sit up on the roof.”

“Okay! I’ll see you later then?”

“Um, do you want to come with? I mean if you’re not busy, I know you have student teaching tomorrow and probably a load of better things to do.”

“Let’s go,” Chloe said, pulling Beca by the hand towards the doors.

“Yeah?” Beca said while they took the stairs.

“Yep! I finished my outline already, I’ll review it again later, but I’m good.”

_

 

It was an hour into hanging out on the rooftop. They’d spent the time joking around and listening to music, enjoying the warm rays of sun in the slightly cool air. But, they were quiet now at least in terms of conversation. Chloe was humming along to the song playing from Beca’s phone.

“I told myself I wasn’t going to cry today,” whispered Beca, and Chloe felt guilty she hadn’t noticed the tear tracks.

“In the words of Hagrid, better out than in.”

“Who’s Hagrid?”

“A character in Harry Potter, although he was talking about slugs not tears.”

“What the fuck,” Beca said, tears forgotten in light of Chloe’s random movie fact.

“Never mind. Point is, It’s better to release the negative emotions.”

“Ew.”

Chloe let out a soft chuckle, “we’ll get through this. You have the Bella’s who will support you no matter what. You have music...”

“And, I have you.”

“You’re catching on.”

_

 

When Beca entered her room later that night, Chloe didn't say a word. All she did was wrap herself around Beca until they were both asleep in minutes.

_

 

It happened again the next night, but this time Chloe filled Beca in on how her students reacted to her teaching. How one of the third graders gave her a drawing and another asked if they could have a secret handshake. Chloe even showed the handshake to Beca under strict orders of secrecy. Beca was laughing by the time they fell asleep.

_

 

On Thursday night, Chloe hopped into the kitchen with a cheery “hi” to Cynthia Rose.

“Hey, cap,” said CR, eyes flitting away from the open fridge for a second.

Chloe took out her yellow cup from the cabinet and waited, “what’re you thinking?”

“Can’t decide between having a beer or sticking to soda.”

“What’re the pros and cons.”

“Not about pros and cons, see this drink choice is going to dictate how my night goes.”

“How so?”

“Beer means I’ll probably agree to go out with Stacie and Flo later. Soda means I’ll say no and either study or get some sleep.”

“Tough choice.”

CR moved out of the way so Chloe could reach in and grab her water filter, then said, “speaking of nights…”

“Oh, did you have another rendezvous?” Chloe said with an eyebrow waggle as she poured herself water and then refilled the filter.

“I meant your nights, you know, with Beca sleeping in your room.”

“She doesn’t want to be alone. We’re not doing anything.”

CR grinned and shook her head, “never said you were. Consider this me checking in that you’re all good after that convo the other day.”

“You’re sweet,” Chloe said, but didn’t add anything on.

“Something up?”

“It’s getting harder and harder not to blurt out my feelings even though I know she’s nowhere near ready for that.”

“You say that like Beca’s ever ready for feelings.”

“True.”

“You’re doing a lot being there for her, just don’t forget about taking care of yourself too.”

With that Cynthia grabbed a Dos Equis from the fridge and walked out with a wink.

_

 

When Beca showed up to her room that night Chloe almost said no. Almost. But, Beca had a glass of water in hand mumbling about the yellow cup going missing and it was too cute for Chloe to do anything but lift the covers. Especially after a blush peppered Beca’s face when she realized the yellow cup was already there and filled with water.

_

 

Friday night, Chloe decided to join the rest of the Bella’s in going out to a bar near campus. Beca was staying behind and that was almost enough reason for Chloe to stay in too, but then CR’s words popped into her mind and she decided to take some time for herself. Plus, Ashley and Jessica were staying in so Beca wasn’t going to be alone.

Problem with her decision was that by the time everyone was filtering back into the house, bodies sweaty from dancing and smelling of cheap booze, Chloe was tipsy. Maybe past tipsy and somewhere closer to drunk.

“Alright, pitches,” said Amy. “I’m hitting the hay.”

“Night ladies,” Chloe shout-whispered in the way that drunk people do when they think they’re being quiet.

Everyone dispersed to their respective rooms, all except Chloe who stopped at the bottom of the stairs to the attic. She took a tentative step up, but froze when a hand landed on her shoulder. Turning she saw Lilly behind her shaking her head.

“But…” Chloe whined.

Lilly shook her head more frantically.

“Fine,” said Chloe.

When Chloe entered her room the first thing she noticed was Beca curled up on her bed. She shouldn’t have been surprised really, Beca hadn’t slept anywhere else since her breakup. What she was curious about was Lilly and if she’d known that Beca was here the whole time rather than stopping Chloe from going up to the attic.

Before she could close the door behind her, she stopped in place. On her nightstand was her yellow cup filled with water and a small bottle of Advil. It was so adorable that she took a blurry picture on her phone and sent it to Aubrey in a drunken haze of thinking it a good idea.

Aubrey: WHAT am I looking at?

Chloe: Beca be in all cuteeee

Aubrey: why is she in your bed?
Aubrey: are you drunk?

Chloe: shhhhh she’s sleep

Aubrey: omg

Chloe: Jesse and her broke

Aubrey: broke?

Chloe: split up
Chloe: she sleeps in my room so no alone

Aubrey: Chloe, that’s a bad idea

Chloe: she got me water and stuff for the mornin, isn tit cute

Aubrey: omg drink that water and maybe eat something while you’re at it

Chloe: no

Aubrey: do it

Chloe: no! We had McDonalds on the way home

Aubrey: good

Chloe: luv uuuuuuu

A half grunt made Chloe look up from her phone to find Beca squinting at her in the light from the hall.

“Why are you just standing there?” Beca said.

“Good question,” Chloe said before plopping onto the bed next to Beca.

“Maybe take off the heels and dress first, Beale.”

“Maybe buy me a ring first, Mitchell.”

“You’re drunk. And, it’s dinner not a ring you weirdo.”

“You’re so adorable,” said Chloe, reaching out to pinch Beca’s cheek.

“Am not,” Beca said, slapping Chloe’s hand away.

“Are too.”

“Oh my god,” Beca mumbled, corralling Chloe out of bed again.

Only Chloe sat right back down after Beca managed to get up. With a huff that was half amused and half annoyed, Beca helped Chloe out of her shoes. Chloe watched as Beca then walked over to her dresser and picked out shorts and a large t-shirt for her.

“Right,” said Beca, tugging Chloe to her feet. “Change and then you can go to sleep.”

“Sleep now,” mumbled Chloe.

“Chloe,” Beca whined.

“I love you.”

“You too, now please change so you’re comfy.”

“You don’t get it, I love you.”

_

 

Waking up on the other side of the bed than normal had one benefit. Chloe could reach for the water and Advil the moment her eyes opened and the hangover thudded against the inside of her skull. The downside was that she was now the little spoon. Which, altogether wasn’t that terrible of a position to be in except that she knew it was Beca from the soft snores Chloe could recognize anywhere. Again, not the worst until Chloe factored in that she was only wearing a bra and underwear, and that Beca’s hand felt like fire against the bare skin of her abdomen.

_

 

Chloe was woken again a couple hours later by Beca stirring behind her and the morning sun creeping through her blinds. The pain meds had kicked in though and the water too, leaving Chloe without any real effects of a hangover except the embarrassing memory of coming home.

“Mornin,” Beca grumbled behind her, withdrawing her arm from around Chloe.

“Good morning!” Chloe said as she turned to face Beca.

“How are you this chipper after coming home drunk? Like are you even human?”

Chloe smiled in answer, taking it as a compliment, but that soon turned into a more solemn expression, “I’m sorry I woke you last night and that you had to deal with me.”

“I figured that might happen.”

“Oh.”

“It’s not a bad thing, I wouldn’t have slept in here if it was. It was entertaining actually. Kinda like handling a toddler.”

“So you’d find taking care of a toddler entertaining?”

“I call you a toddler and instead of being insulted you try to get me to admit I like kids.”

“Yes.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“You love it.”

“Well I haven’t ran away yet.”

_

 

A little while later, Chloe woke up again, unaware that she’d fallen asleep. When her eyes opened she found herself facing Beca. She blinked to clear her vision only to find Beca slamming her own eyes shut and a noticeable flush appearing on her skin.

It emboldened Chloe. Especially knowing the words she’d muttered in her drunken hours. Especially when Beca still hadn’t shied away from the fact that Chloe was near naked.

“Remember what I said about soulmates and gravity?”

“Um, yes,” Beca said, a single tentative eye opening to look at Chloe.

“I’ve felt it before.”

“You have?”

“Yep.”

“But, then… Chloe, you always said you wanted to meet your person. So, what happened?”

“Her tattoo didn’t match mine.”

“Oh… how do you know it was gravity then, and not like simple attraction?”

“Because I still feel it.”

“You still… who? Is it one of the Bellas?”

After a deep inhalation of air, Chloe said, “think about it, Becs.”

Chloe watched as Beca’s eyes flicked back and forth between her own, eyebrows furrowed in deep thought. There were words on Chloe’s lips, ones wanting to tell Beca to forget about it. But, at the same time Chloe couldn’t keep it contained anymore and needed Beca to know.

“You don’t mean…” Beca said, and then Chloe saw it, the realization dawning. “So, you meant what you said last night? That wasn’t alcohol talking?”

A soft smile slipped onto Beca’s face, and Chloe’s heart leaped. No, her heart fucking flew into space, propelled by hope and love and…

“Let me be your person,” said Chloe, before slamming her hand over her mouth because Beca wasn’t looking elated anymore, she looked… well, Chloe couldn’t name that look, she hadn’t seen it before. And, worse, Beca was sitting up now, blanket falling to the middle of the bed and leaving Chloe half bare.

“Please d-don’t do this,” said Beca.

Maybe Chloe should’ve kept her emotions to herself in that moment, but they were already out there. She needed to try - fully - just once before moving on or back to being friends.

“You said you wished it wasn’t him,” said Chloe.

“You heard that?”

“That’s not the takeaway here.”

“Fine. I said it. So what?”

“I felt gravity, Beca,” said Chloe, slipping off her bed to stand - plead. “I feel it with you. Let me be your person.”

“I can’t. Nope, I can’t do this.”

Beca looked at the door, starting to slip out of the bed too, but Chloe positioned herself so Beca couldn’t run. She wouldn’t stop Beca going in the end, but she also didn’t want that to be the first option Beca chose.

“One date,” Chloe tried.

“Chloe...”

“You can’t be alone forever. You’re going to have to let someone in again. Let it be me, please?”

“The universe wants me alone.”

“I don’t accept that. Maybe it didn’t want you with Jesse.”

Chloe watched as Beca tried maneuvering around her, but she blocked every step closer until Beca threw her hands in the air and started pacing instead.

“Please let me through,” said Beca.

“Think about it, we already work so well together.”

“Let me go, Chloe,” Beca said, the double meaning coming through to Chloe.

“I will, but only if you give me a valid reason why not.”

“Because I can’t go through that, okay?” Beca spit out, finally stopping to look at Chloe again. “I can’t date you knowing that you’re going to leave me one day for the person that has the same tattoo as you do. It would break me, Chloe. I can’t… I can’t.”

Chloe took the step away from the door and Beca took the escape. Instead of feeling rejected, Chloe felt worse. Beca hadn’t denied there being something between them, no she’d denied giving it a try.

Chapter Text

Beca

Beca stared at her phone, currently open to her mom’s contact page. She didn’t click call though, instead she stayed in place on her bed. There used to be days when she could push it all down and use her mixes to work things through. But, this was Chloe and she’d stopped being able to bottle things up somewhere around the time the blue-eyed a capella captain had handed her a flyer.

Her arm dropped to her side, thinking maybe calling wasn’t a good idea with how late it was. She tossed and turned a few more times in bed before she remembered the 3-hour time difference between Barden and Seattle. She lifted her phone back up and hit call without further thought. It rang twice before the line picked up.

“Beca?”

“Hi, mom,” Beca said, glancing over the room to double check Amy wasn’t there.

“What’s wrong? And, don’t say you’re just calling because you miss me.”

“Well, I do miss you.”

“But, that’s not why you’re calling and I know it.”

“Sometimes I hate how perceptive you are.”

“For the record, I miss you too. Now, what’s going on?”

Beca let out a chuckle that was far more watery than she’d like.

“Jesse broke up with me,” said Beca.

“Don’t be silly that man adores you and he’s your soulmate.”

“He’s not.”

“What do you mean?”

Beca told her about their fight the previous week, her eyes fixated on the leather cuff the whole time. But, stopped her story there.

“So, he broke it off because your tattoo disappeared?”

“We had problems before that too.”

“But from the sounds of it, he was mostly fixated on the tattoo.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

“Well that’s foolish.”

“I-I don’t blame him.”

“You can’t blame yourself.”

“But, it’s my tattoo that disappeared.”

“Yes, but you had no control over that and neither did he... Do you think it’s over, or that some space would do you two good?”

Beca sighed, but answered truthfully, “it was almost a relief when he left me. I mean it hurt, but now I know I was happier as friends.”

“So, you’re okay?”

“I’m still processing, but yeah I know I will be, about this anyway.”

Her mom was silent a moment, but Beca knew she was going to bring up the semantics of her last sentence.

“What else happened?” said her mom, voice soft from years of experiencing Beca’s backlash at being pushed too far.

“Um, it’s…” Beca took a deep breath in, her voice trembling for the first time since hearing her mom’s voice. “It’s Chloe, she thinks we should date.”

“And, what do you think?”

“I think I got dumped less than a week ago.”

“Tell her to give you time then.”

“Maybe,” said Beca, not really taking that suggestion seriously.

“Forget about Jesse for a moment. What do you think about Chloe?”

Beca wasn’t ready to answer that yet and instead asked the question she’d wanted to since she first pulled up her mom's contact info, “do you regret marrying dad?”

“Of course not, I got you out of it.”

“Ew,” Beca said with a shaky laugh. “That was way too sentimental.”

“You asked.”

“But, you always knew either one of you could leave the other, why risk it?”

“We were young and loved each other. And, for a very long time we were happy. Yes, it sucked when he left, but I wouldn’t change the choices I made.”

“I’m worried that when Chloe leaves me, it’ll break me.”

“If, not when. And, it might, for a while at least. That’s the risk of any relationship, honey.”

Beca remained quiet so her mom spoke again, “do you love her?”

She really didn’t want to open that bottle, but it slipped from her fingers and shattered into an impossible puzzle, “I love her so much, mom. But, I feel guilty about it. How can I move on from my soulmate days after he broke it off?”

“You’re the one that always said tattoos shouldn’t dictate feelings.”

“What a stupid thing for me to say.”

A soft chuckle came from the phone speaker before her mom said, “go be happy, Beca.”

“But, it won’t be forever.”

“You don’t know that and I think you’ll regret not taking the chance, especially when I think you’ve loved her for a long time without letting yourself acknowledge it. You talk about her constantly you know, I can’t remember a single conversation we’ve had where you didn’t bring her up since you met her.”

“I can’t lose her as a friend mom, I need her in my life, always.”

“Tell her that.”

“Okay, but - ”

“I get that you think you’re making the same mistake I made, but I don’t think it was a mistake at all. Not now that I’m on the other side.”

“But - “

“No more buts, Beca. Follow your heart.”

“Gross,” Beca muttered, smiling when she heard her mom chuckle on the other end. “Goodnight, mom.”

“Goodnight, sweetie. I love you.”

“Yeah. I love you too, or whatever.”

_

 

Sleep proved evasive as Beca thought about her convo with her mom. Part of her wanted to tear down the steps and find Chloe, the other wanted to sleep on it first. Despite the turmoil, she had accepted one thing, she was in love with Chloe.

She focused on the music filling her ears through her headphones, drowning out the sounds around her. So much so, that Beca didn’t notice when a rock hit her window. Or, when Fat Amy stopped mid snore - having returned home an hour or so ago - and grunted as a second rock hitting the window. She did, however, notice when Fat Amy stumbled out of bed and flung open the window.

“What d’you want, aca-dick-head?” Amy called.

Beca didn’t hear a response, but faint music started to clash with the song still playing through her headphones. She hit pause on her playlist and slipped the headphones from her ears.

“Are you seriously trying to Say Anything her right now?” said Amy.

“Amy?” Beca mumbled. “What’s going on?”

“Your ex-soulmate is trying to Say Anything you,” said Fat Amy, then louder, “with an IPhone.”

“Yeah, I have no idea what that means,” said Beca, accepting she wasn’t going to get a peaceful night and slipping out of her covers.

“You know, it kinda makes sense you two aren’t soulmates anymore.”

“You wound me, Amy,” called Jesse from below.

“It’s a movie,” said Amy, looking at Beca’s confused expression. “An iconic scene, actually. A little overdone now though, two of my boyfriends have done it. A third nearly did, but then he dropped his brother's boombox and ruined it.”

“Right…” said Beca.

Instead of going to the window, Beca grabbed a hoodie to throw on and made her way downstairs. She vaguely heard Amy telling Jesse to meet her out front, but didn’t really care either way. There was a little fumbling as she made her way through the Bella house half-awake and in the dark, but soon she stepped out onto the front porch where Jesse was waiting.

“Thanks for - ” Jesse started, but was cut off by Beca.

“It’s late, Jesse. What do you want?”

“I was wrong, Beca. I shouldn’t have walked away from us like that, or ended a good thing over a tattoo.”

“This couldn’t wait until the morning, you had to come tell me this now?”

“Well yeah, I was trying to do a grand romantic gesture.”

“And, I was trying to sleep.”

Jesse’s resolve started to crack, Beca could see it in the way his body tensed for a second before returning to normal.

“Fine, I’ll uh let you sleep, but please tell me we’re not over before you go?”

“You’re the one that broke it off. And, you were kinda a dick about it too.”

“I’m trying to fix that. I was wrong, and reacted poorly. You’re still my soulmate, tattoo or not.”

Beca looked over at him, there was something in his words or tone that threw her.

“I change my mind, we should talk now,” said Beca, trying her best to keep frustration from seeping into her voice.

“Okay…”

“You used a movie to try and get back with me, why?”

“Because it’s romantic.”

“Romantic to who?”

“You, I hope.”

“Think it through, Jesse.”

He did seem to think about it, but Beca couldn’t tell if anything was clicking, “maybe a movie reference wasn’t the best choice. But, we could take the movie out of it, it’s still a gesture to you.”

“Then you should’ve waited until a time I’d be awake, and maybe used a song that actually meant something to our relationship. Like, Don’t You Forget About Me?”

“You’re critiquing me?”

“No… maybe. Look, I’m trying to make a point. You don’t get me.”

The words ‘but, Chloe does’ were on the tip of her tongue, but Beca managed not to let them escape.

“We’re soulmates," said Jesse. "We stick together.”

“And, yet you broke up with me.”

“I already said that was a mistake,” Jesse pleaded. “I’m sorry, please let us be us again.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Beca said, opening the front door once more, but pausing when Jesse spoke again.

“Please, Beca. You’re my soulmate.”

Those words made something click within Beca, “are you afraid that without me you don’t have a soulmate anymore?”

“That’s not… Beca, come on.”

“No, I get it now,” said Beca, an odd sounding chuckle escaping her lips. “You’re as scared as I was when I thought you’d break up with me.”

“Of course I’m scared.”

Beca laughed once more, “sorry, this isn’t funny. It’s just, I could use your own words against you right now. I’m not going to, but I could.”

“Because you’re taking me back instead?”

“No, because I have the decency to give you an explanation. I am never going to like movies, and I don’t think you’ll be happy with someone that doesn’t geek out over the latest whatever film like you do. And, I really, really hope you find that someone one day. As for me, I need someone that lets me be me.”

“I can be happy, Beca. Let me be happy with you.”

“We don’t work as a couple, Jesse.”

“So, this is it? We’re both not going to have soulmates now?”

“Somehow I don’t think we were ever soulmates, Jesse, even if our tattoos once said we were.”

Jesse finally switched off the music and turned away, Beca watching as he stepped off the front porch.

_

 

The next morning, Beca woke earlier than she usually would for a Sunday and slipped something comfy but still cute on, leggings and one of her favorite flannels. The walk to Chloe’s room was a slow one full of turning back and mini pep talks. Even standing in front of the door lasted longer than it should, in a probably creepy way if Beca wasn’t too in her head to realize it.

Beca hadn’t heard any footsteps, but one moment the hall was empty save for Beca and the next Lilly was there pulling Beca away.

“Lilly, you need to stop fucking doing that.”

“Sorry.”

Instead of answering, Beca stared wide-eyed at Lilly.

“It’s all my fault, and I am so sorry,” said Lilly before Beca couldn’t understand her again.

It wasn’t that Lilly was talking too quietly again, though that was definitely a factor; it was more that Lilly threw in words and phrases like “capacitor,” “space-time continuum,” “1.21 gigawatts of power,” and “butterfly effect.”

After what felt like an hour of Lilly talking, she seemed to wind down and said, “I got us back on the right timeline though. And, I’m really sorry for all the pain I caused because of it.”

“Oh, um, that’s okay,” said Beca, her tone making it into more of a question.

Lilly smiled, then took the needed steps to get to Chloe’s door and knock.

“Why would you do that,” Beca hissed, but Lilly winked and disappeared again.

“Come in,” Chloe’s voice called from behind the door.

“I’m pretty sure Lilly just told me she built a time machine,” Beca said as she opened the door, lingering there.

“Oh?”

“And that she like altered time or something, but fixed it?”

“Weird... is that why you came down here?” said Chloe from between the notes and textbooks she had on her bed.

“Oh, um no, sorry. She just…” Beca trailed off, waving towards the hall. “Right, um, not important. Can we talk?”

“If this is about yesterday, can we please pretend I never said anything?”

“If that’s what you want, but I’d really like to say something first.”

“Beca…” Chloe started, but then seemed to stop herself.

“No matter what, I need us to be okay. So, please let us talk this through?”

“I wasn’t fair to you,” Chloe said. “I wasn’t thinking, I mean Jesse just broke it off with you and I know what happened with your parents. God, I’m so sorry, Beca. I shouldn’t have put you in that position.”

“Please, please don’t apologize for that.”

“I wasn’t there for you like I should’ve been.”

“You’re the reason I’m not more upset by him leaving,” said Beca, finally closing Chloe’s bedroom door and taking a seat in the small open space left on Chloe’s bed. “You helped me so much.”

“I am? I did?”

“Yeah," Beca said, meaning to get into her rehearsed speech next, but instead continued with, "you’re worth the risk, Chloe. So, please ask me again.”

“What?”

“Ask to be my person.”

“I can’t do that, Beca. I can’t ask you to get hurt like your mom, no matter how much I lo- I mean, want to.”

“Ask me.”

“No.”

“I love you, ask me.”

Beca almost laughed when Chloe’s jaw dropped, but managed to contain it to a smile.

“Did you just…”

“Yes.”

“You love me?”

“Yes, longer than I ever realized.”

“But, you said it’d break you.”

“It might. And, I won’t ask you to promise you’ll never leave when you meet your soulmate. I only ask that you never leave my life, be that as friends or as something more. I love you, Chloe, and I won’t walk away again, not until you tell me to. So, please ask me.”

“Can I be your person?”

“Yes. Can I be yours?”

“Yes, and I love you too.”

"I know," Beca said with a grin that she couldn't hold back even if she wanted to.

Chloe made the next move, face inching forward until soft lips met Beca’s. It burned, not in an unpleasant way, but in an addictive, all consuming kind of way. The way Beca knew writers described soulmates kissing for the first time. But, this wasn’t the universe choosing, rather Beca and Chloe accepting that they loved each other despite the hurt they thought was to come in their perceived situation. Perceived because neither Beca nor Chloe knew the full facts while their lips moved together, slow and explorative. Because, below the leather cuff bound on Beca’s wrist, a splotch of red was coloring her skin and in the days to come that red would get outlined in black and two little wings would appear with three dots each.