Disclaimer: Pitch Perfect and the characters that live inside the movie do not belong to me. I'm just having a little fun with them.
A/N: This one has been on the back-burner for a little while now too. I've been... not struggling exactly... obsessing? Over every little bit of the story for a while now. So, that being said, I would really love to hear what anyone who reads this thinks about it! :) Anything to make me stop biting my nails over it? ;)
It wasn't something that had ever come easily to her. What was second nature, instinct almost to some, was like an alien language to Beca. One complete with utterly befuddling words that her mouth refused to pronounce and weird hieroglyphic-like characters that she couldn't get her eyes to focus on. She'd found it frustrating in the beginning, before she'd realised that people's reactions to her, albeit slightly out of the norm, aversion wasn't something she needed to feel bad or guilty about. It was just part of who she was. Some haphazardly structured section of her DNA sequencing that she couldn't do a damn thing about and if people couldn't handle that, then they weren't worth her time. In theory. And if her high school social life was anything to go by then the majority of her 'known world' had come to a similar conclusion about her.
And that was fine really. Had she had moments when her teenage hormones deemed the loneliness unbearable and life not worth living and oh god, she was going to die alone? Of course. Despite what the third stall of the left in the senior girls' bathroom had had scrawled across ones of its walls, she was actually human. She felt... stuff. She just didn't always let it show or let people in close enough to see and that was fine too. She'd been doing great with that particular strain of life ethic for a while now.
Then came Barden University and the Bellas and prior to maybe the third rehearsal, Beca had worried – because, yes, human, she did do that – that this would be high school all over again and she'd be "that stuck-up emo chick with the headphones who hates everyone and isn't worth the effort", and it was going to be really hard to get her dad to rethink this whole 'one year of college' thing. But it wasn't just the threat of the planets not aligning the way they needed to in order to send her off to L.A. where she could become a star in her own right. As much as she pretended that she didn't care, she kind of did. Maybe. A little.
Maybe it was because it was college. Maybe that education establishment title change really did make some kind of a difference. Maybe the Bellas were comprised of girls who were just better. Whatever it was, they didn't judge. With the exception of Aubrey, they all seemed to sense Beca's walls and simultaneously respect and accept them, largely without complaint – Fat Amy had a big mouth, Stacie had no filter, and Aubrey, well, was Aubrey. They saw her aversion to crowding and non-bitchily kept their distance. All, with one exception.
Because there was always one.
Where Stacie's lack of filter was more centred around the mouth and brain region, Chloe's seemed to be missing some kind of personal space filter. A Personal Space Alarm System, if you will. That thing that most people have in their tool bag of life essentials that tells a person when they're getting too close to that invisible perimeter and then blares like a fire alarm when your toe has edged over it.
Yeah, Chloe definitely didn't have one of those.
And it didn't take Beca as long as it should for her to start not minding that at all.
It began exactly where things are not supposed to begin. The shower really was more of a sixteenth or twentieth or never-date kind of thing in Beca's book. The shower was a private place for private people and there were bathhouses and boys' locker rooms for those who thought otherwise. People like Chloe.
Chloe, who stood unabashed and unashamed, and entirely unclothed, became in that moment the most mentally unstable individual Beca had ever encountered. Even over the step-monster, who, for all her downfalls, had never once barged into any room she was occupying – naked or otherwise – unannounced.
There followed a ridiculous conversation, a bout of entirely improbable singing, even more naked people – which, just, joy – and then she was left alone in her stall once more to wonder what, exactly, had just transpired.
It wasn't until later that the notion that Chloe was now the first and only person to ever see her totally naked, nude, whatever, finally occurred to her. She wasn't sure what to do with that and so she treated it like that small pile of dust cartoon characters sweep into the centre of a room only to realise that they don't have a dust pan.
Under the rug it went.
And that was where it stayed. Blissfully unaware beneath its machine stitched material, enjoying the solitude and darkness.
Until Beca found herself standing outside of the building where auditions were being held. Then there was red hair and a yellow cup and the inky black sky of Hood Night, and suddenly Beca had no Earthly idea what was going on in her life or how she'd come to be standing inches away from the girl without the alarm system. Or why she wasn't moving away. Or glaring. Or tossing out needlessly biting comments. The usual things she did.
Fast friends didn't even come close.
But Chloe did.
Chloe, who'd stand too close or whose touch would linger longer than the 'never' time limit Beca was used to insisting people enforce. Whose eyes and smile could light up a room and made Beca feel weird and warm in a way that wasn't entirely uncomfortable.
Chloe, who steadfastly became obsessed with Beca getting the choreography down to a science and was as persistent as a cracked-out elf at Santa's workshop on Christmas Eve. Apparently, Beca was Chloe's unfinished toy.
Beca should really have had a problem with that.
Fat Amy was the first person to say anything about it. Of course she was, like it was ever going to be anyone else in any of the billions of alternate universes that may or may not exist. For all of her self-proclaimed 'activity-challenged' issues, Amy exerted a lot of effort when it came to paying attention to what went on around her. So much so in fact that Aubrey had to scream at her on three separate occasions during that particular practice, but Aubrey had been kind of bat-shit as of late – the entire time Beca has known her really, but Chloe insisted she wasn't always so, well, insane – so the screaming could be largely down to that. Regardless of the reasons, it happened, and it prompted Amy to spit out the words that haunted Beca for the rest of the evening.
"Look, it's like really hard to concentrate with them doing the lesbo vertical dirty less than five feet away from me." Beca's body went instantly rigid, Chloe's weight becoming a too warm presence at her back where they were pressed together. She yanked her hands back, frantically trying to recall when she'd let them come to rest atop Chloe's, whose palms were scorching the curve of Beca's hips.
"She was just trying to teach me the moves." It was too defensive, Beca could hear it in her tone, but she couldn't reel it in. Couldn't take it back now. Amy just waggled her eyebrows, grinning in that way that made her unsure as to whether or not she was being condescending.
"Yeah she was teaching you the moves all right." Beca was too flustered to really take note of Amy's lurid hip thrusting motions, but she was definitely aware that they were happening. And she just managed to catch the "super sapphic" being muttered with amusement over the sound of her inexplicably pounding heartbeat, before Aubrey's insane dolphin clapping tore everyone else's attention away from her.
"You okay?" The question came as Chloe, all red hair and too-kind eyes, sidled up behind Beca and wound her arms around the shorter woman's middle without so much a thought towards doing otherwise. And Beca should feel her gut tighten with panic, should freeze again and want to violently swing out of the embrace. She should feel awkward, surrounded like that, with Chloe's chin resting on her shoulder in a way that shouldn't be comfortable.
But she didn't.
And it should have been weird after that. Probably. Maybe. Beca didn't have a lot of past experience to go on. All she knew was that it wasn't weird.
It wasn't weird when Chloe started sitting next to her in practice, pushing their chairs so close together that she might as well have been sitting in Beca's lap. It wasn't weird when they started walking to rehearsals together, Chloe's arm looped through Beca's own. It wasn't weird the first time they hung out alone and surfed YouTube for hours, indulging in aural memories of the nineties until their faces hurt from smiling and Kimmy Jin had silently threatened both of their lives at least a dozen times with nothing more than a well-placed glare.
It wasn't weird when Chloe pressed a kiss to Beca's temple, then pulled away to smile at her and say goodnight.
It wasn't weird when Beca smiled back without missing a beat.
And if nothing else before that had made anything click, that really should have been Beca's first clue.
Chloe had called dibs on the couch, leaving Beca to wonder how exactly they managed to fit a couch into the tiny space for the few seconds it took for the redhead to yank on her shirt and pull her down into the vacant spot beside her.
"What are we watching?" Aubrey got twitchy when she didn't get to pick the movie and, knowing that, Cynthia Rose gave a perfectly deadpan delivery of, "Sorority Slasher.", before Aubrey's horror-stricken face seemed to pull at Stacie's, well, maybe not heart strings, but something, and she caved.
"It's some gooey romantic comedy. Denise picked it." Chloe's fingers found Beca's arm and wriggled into the space between her bicep and ribcage, curling around until she had a loose hold, then shifted closer until red hair spilled across blue-green plaid. "So you ladies try and keep it in your pants. I know how this mushy stuff gets to some of you." Beca blinked her eyes, twice in slow succession, then furrowed her brow. Beside her, Chloe wrinkled her nose and then extended a leg, poking at Stacie's shoulder with a toe. Cynthia Rose gave the buxom brunette a withering look before shooting the pair a coy wink.
And maybe that should have bothered Beca, the way they were kind of becoming the group joke. In a totally non-malicious way – with the potential exception of Aubrey, but then that was all directed at Beca, not Chloe – but still. She was being poked fun at, that was the kind of thing that usually caused her to boil internally and then stew over angry mixes for a few days. Add to that that she was being poked fun at because Chloe was allowed all over her in a way she'd never permitted anyone else to be and, yeah, that was the kind of thing that usually made Beca clam up.
Maybe these girls were the difference.
Maybe Chloe was the difference.
Maybe Beca thought too much.
So she stopped thinking. Learned to just go with it, bit by bit. Forgot to hesitate even a little when Chloe reached for her, forgot to ready herself for a patented Bella catcall, forgot to care at all.
Which was really what Beca had been trying to project all along.
It was funny how things worked out.
That Jesse had started to notice didn't really bother her. Even if he barely ever saw them together and had somehow managed to figure it out. Not that there was necessarily anything to figure out; they were friends, just friends, and whatever went on inside Beca's head under the cover of sleep didn't change that. Nope.
Jesse's incessant teasing didn't really bother her either, except when he dipped into the area of sexual innuendo, which made her a tad uncomfortable for reasons she wasn't entirely comfortable thinking about.
He was a good dude. A really good dude. But for all his sweetness and boyish good looks, at the end of the day, he was still just a dude. One who liked dick and fart jokes and thought the idea of two girls was so hot it made his eye glaze over if they talked about it too long. And they did talk about it. Which was new to Beca – and as her father kept insisting, college was all about trying new things, but god if he only knew – and therefore largely unsettling a lot of the time.
"So, are you like into her or what?" Except them talking about it really translated to Jesse asking her the same questions over and over again and expecting different answers.
"You know what the definition of insanity is, right?" She countered, blue eyes pinning him to the spot through a gap in the shelves they were stacking with vinyl. Their beat-up covers made her cringe.
"You know what the definition of denial is, right?" He shot back, dark eyes wide and smile so close to smug that Beca had to resist the urge to throw the copy of REO Speedwagon's self titled LP at his head. She settled for giving him the finger. "Methinks the lady doth protest too much."
It wouldn't have mattered if Beca didn't hate it so, freaking, much, when he was right.
"Becaw!" She flinched as she turned away from him, eyes narrowing at the ungodly piercing tone of voice he always used when he said her name like that.
"I'm not listening to you." Jesse's laughter followed her as she made her way through the aisle.
"You don't have to listen to me," he called, voice loud and clear over the sound of the music filtering out from the booth over the speakers. "Just listen to your heart!"
That was it. She was creating a funeral pyre and burning every last one of his DVDs.
And so, it became commonplace for any of the Bellas to stroll into rehearsal and find Chloe sitting as close to Beca as possible, head tucked against the short woman's shoulder, Beca's arm draped loosely around her waist. The shock kind of wore off after a while. Even Aubrey's spastic outbursts had been shaved down to a minimum, but that could have been because the competition was coming up and the blonde only had so much room in her head for things that ran the risk of giving her an aneurysm.
They never spoke about it. Never breathed a single word about what it meant or didn't mean, and Beca only sometimes struggled with the specific strain of anxiety that strolled in alongside things unnamed. They were friends, kind of best friends – though that was a term never used in front of Aubrey, lest Beca lose her head – and even with the Bellas breathing down their necks and leering at them like they were waiting for a sexy stage show to start, they didn't talk about it.
Didn't mean Beca didn't think about it though.
She wasn't a girl with a fondness for labels. Sure, they were good and fine for some people, but she didn't see a need for them when it came to herself or her relationships. Though that could be because she'd never really needed to name anything before. There'd been a boy during high school who had made her feel like throwing up and caused her palms to sweat at a level that was utterly disconcerting, but then that had ended and music had swept in to fill her life in a way that was all encompassing and could be matched by nothing. The feeling she got mixing beats? Unrivalled since its inception.
But even the longest streak can be broken.
They didn't find themselves alone as often as the rest of the Bellas seemed to believe – "No wonder your room mate hates you, filling such a small space with a double dose of lezzie-pheromones every day." Amy did have such a way with words – and even as close as they'd become, Beca still probably spent more time alone in a room with Kimmy Jin. A thought that made her grimace the second it popped into existence. It wasn't that she disliked her roommate, it was more the 'glare of imminent death' that she had an aversion to. Kimmy Jin just had a way of looking at Beca like she was wishing death upon her with every calculated blink. Like there were multiple booby-traps hidden around their dorm room just waiting to pull Beca in for a slow and painful demise.
Mostly, she tried not to think about that.
A reoccurring theme for her, as of late.
Occasionally though, they did find themselves minus the company of their fellow aca-ladies, as well as anyone else, and while Beca still very much enjoyed those afternoons and evenings, the anxiety with which she began them was becoming ever more increasing. Because apparently there was always room for more of that in her life. Awesome.
"I brought coffee!" Chloe's smile was as cheery as her greeting, wrapping around Beca's blackened mood and smoothing out the gruff edges that had been chipped away by the mix on her computer that was refusing to work. There were few things in the world that made her spin on the very edge of a mental break quite as violently as music she couldn't figure out how to mesh.
"You're like the greatest coffee elf ever." Beca stepped aside, opening the door wide and silently ushering Chloe in. The redhead shot an amused expression over her shoulder as she made her way towards Beca's bed.
"Really?" Beca gave the door a push, absently listening for the click that signalled its closing, and returned the eyebrow raise she was being graced with. "I'm the elf?" And if it had been anyone else looking at her like that, all smiling eyes and teasing smirk, such a comment would have had her hackles raised so far along her back people could have mistaken her for a tiny mountain range.
But it wasn't anyone else.
It was Chloe.
And Chloe, it seemed, was the exception to every rule Beca had ever set. Probably ones she had yet to set as well.
"Elves are cheery little bundles of joy," Beca pointed out, as Chloe deposited the twin cups of coffee onto the desk – and it was things like the way she took care to place them a safe distance from her computer that made Beca's heart inexplicably beat just a little bit faster. Maybe she was having mini-strokes – "I'm a surly, jagged package of sarcasm." She flashed a smile, one fit to burst with feigned gleefulness, but Chloe's laugh made it all too real around the edges.
"You're a bundle of something." She challenged, shrugging out of her jacket and draping it across the back of Beca's computer chair, before dropping onto the bed with a distinct lack of bounce. Chloe made a face. "How do you sleep on this?" It wasn't the first time she'd complained about the futon and Beca suspected it wouldn't be the last, yet despite there being a perfectly good couple of chairs shoved into various corners of the room, the bed was inevitably the place Chloe always chose to sit.
"Lots and lots of practise." It wasn't as if she was really the 'out all night' type and where Chloe could seemingly go off of nothing but coffee fumes, Beca needed sleep like she needed air. Maybe more. Sitting back down at her computer, she went about closing down the programs she'd been fruitlessly toying with.
"New mix a no-go?" Beca shot the reclining woman a glance, one that must have betrayed the surprise she felt at being called out with such precision because Chloe was smiling at her again and scrunching up her nose in a way that yanked at something behind Beca's stomach. Seriously, mini-strokes. Or maybe she was developing some kind of weird inner tick. Chloe lifted a hand and wagged a finger at her. "You chew your lip when you're annoyed." Beca released the aforementioned body part immediately, cheeks colouring ever so slightly.
"Stalk much?" She shot back, turning off her monitor and back to the redhead with raised eyebrows. Chloe smirked.
"All the time."
"Oh yeah?" Beca challenged, the thrill of their banter running through her like mini bolts of lightning, and Chloe hummed aloud.
"Kind of." And it wasn't something she was used to, infectious smiles and the inability to control them. Giddiness that would make a 12-year-old whose crush just said hi in the hallway think she was over doing it a bit. But she felt it all regardless and god, if only Jesse was privy to this. She'd never hear the end of it.
"I've never had my very own stalker before." She said with a dramatically wistful sigh as she sat on the end of the bed with one leg folded beneath her. "Makes me feel kinda special." Chloe sat up from her reclining position and lifted her legs, bending them at the knees and wrapping her arms around them.
"I refuse to believe you've never had a stalker before." She said, resting her chin in the dip where her kneecaps met. Her blue eyes sparkled with something that made Beca's skin tingle, something like mischief. "Maybe you have but you just didn't notice?" And Beca could see the playful jibe coming in the way Chloe's lips curved. "You're kind of oblivious when it comes to that stuff." Beca narrowed her eyes at the other girl.
"Keep pushing me Beale and all the coffee in the world isn't going to stop me from kicking your scrawny ass." Chloe arched an eyebrow and the smugness of it made Beca's heart thump alarmingly hard.
"Stare at it a lot, do you?" And then it stopped altogether. Because the truth of it was, she had. A lot. Like, not consciously, and whenever she caught herself she promptly looked away and at least had the decency to blush – something she was positive she was doing right at that moment, judging by the smirk on Chloe's face. And the thing about Chloe was that she had the uncanny ability of pulling the truth from someone with nothing more than a blink. There was just something about her that freed it from some people and, more to the point, she almost yanked it out of Beca before she could censor herself.
"You wish." She eventually managed, in a voice that was far too squeaky to be her own and belonged in the throat of a cartoon mouse. Chloe simply laughed. That carefree kind of laugh that tickled the pit of Beca's stomach.
"I really do." She said it with a kind of forced sincerity that was almost too forced, the kind that hid an element of truth, but where Beca should have panicked... She didn't. She just rolled her eyes and then that was the end of it.
Because that's how things were with Chloe. Easy. Easier than it should be. Easier than it had ever been with anyone else. And somewhere, a little voice is shouting at Beca. Taunting her. "You know what that means." It says in a sing-song voice.
And she did.
"So." Chloe began, though her sentence ended there as if she expected Beca to fill in the gap. The brunette shrugged and turned on the bed, scooting until her back was against the wall and her feet dangled over the edge.
"Sooo." She drawled, waving a hand dismissively in the redhead's direction. "You're the one that came here, stalker." Chloe's teeth flashed, a pearly white, blinding smile. She stretched out her legs, resting them atop Beca's, and lay back against the pillows.
"Yes, but now you've invited me in I'm a guest. You have to play host to me." Beca barked a laugh.
"Oh I do, do I?" Chloe hummed again, nodding matter-of-factly. Beca furrowed her brow, pretending to think about it. "We could..." She drew the last word out as she glanced around the room. "Read Kimmy Jin's detailed recount of every encounter she's had with me. I'm pretty sure she's compiling one on her computer to somehow use against me some day. Blackmail or something." Chloe wiggled her toes and Beca was suddenly aware that she had, at some point, let her hands come to rest on the other girl's leg. Her palms curved gently around the material of her jeans, above the ankle but below the knee, lying somewhere in the middle.
"Maybe she'll write a tell all book once you're rich and famous." And instead of pulling away, Beca tapped out a rhythm against the bone.
"You say that like there'd be something worth writing a tell all book about. My life isn't exactly exciting." She pointed out.
"There will be once we storm the ICCAs." Chloe countered, but Beca made a face.
"Yeah, kinda don't think a cappella is anywhere on Kimmy's Jin's chart of excitement." She paused. "Which I totally wouldn't be surprised if she had." Chloe laughed, then her expression turned a shade of serious that Beca wasn't overly accustomed to seeing.
"I wish Aubrey would listen to you." Beca shrugged, non-committally.
"Probably never going to happen." Chloe let out a frustrated sigh and sat up again, scooting closer to Beca so that her legs weren't being hyper extended. Beca's skin prickled.
"But it should!" And there was a level of vehemence to Chloe's words that Beca had never seen before. It was different from the passion she showed for singing but was in a similar vein, and honestly it stunned Beca into silence for a long moment. Which was all well and good because clearly some kind of verbal dam had been broken on Chloe's side. "She never listens to what I have to say unless it's something she agrees with and usually that's fine. She doesn't mean anything by it, that's just Aubrey. She wants what's best for the team. But it's always what she thinks is best. And she's so blinded by her dumb dislike for you that she can't see how good you are." And Beca couldn't help but marvel a little bit, as her heart hammered and her skin flushed and Chloe ranted on as though everyone should hold Beca in such high regard and that was the normal and expected thing to do. "You're so... Talented and amazing and if she'd stop to look at that for like, two seconds, we'd have this in the bag."
Beca had never really needed anyone to believe in her. Sure, it was nice when it happened, but having the father she did and wanting to become a music producer of all things, she had kind of gotten used to being humoured. "You can do anything you want, honey" provided you go to college first. "The world is yours for the taking, just reach out and grab it" but make sure you have a good fall-back plan in case you slip. She hadn't ever had someone truly believe in her, with no hidden agendas or circumstances. And there was nothing hidden about Chloe, not ever. It was one of the things Beca liked most about her.
Only 'liked' wasn't the first word her brain supplied.
"You okay in there?" Beca blinked to find Chloe waving a hand in front of her face. "Where did you go?" She was wearing an amused smile and it stole the answer from Beca before she could even reach for it. So she ended up just dumbly smiling back and shaking her head as if to say that she had no idea where she'd been but she was back now.
Maybe Beca just didn't know what it was to have a close friend. Wasn't as if she'd had many in the past to compare to.
Maybe everyone felt like she did whenever their Chloe was close.
All giddy and smiley and slightly nauseated, but in a good way.
Maybe their Chloe smiled at them the way hers did.
Only that was kind of impossible.
Like there'd be another Chloe anywhere on the face of the planet.
...Oh god, she was so screwed.
Why didn't she care more?
"You told her yet?" Again with the insane, repetitive questioning. When they had first met Beca had been convinced he'd been dropped on his head as a child. She couldn't recall why exactly she had been turned away from that way of thinking, but she found herself returning to it lately with alarming speed. "I mean, I'm guessing no because you're still all emo-broody which means you aren't getting any, but as your wingman I feel it's my duty to ask." She shelved a handful of CDs and turned, throwing a sickly, too-sweet smile in his direction.
"How about you see how close you can fly to the sun instead?" He grinned, unaffected.
"This is why you don't have any friends."
"Screw you, Spielberg." He frowned.
"Okay, while I'm impressed you even know his name, you know he's a director and has nothing to do with scoring movies right?"
"I know you're an asshole." He held his hand to his chest, feigning hurt, before drawing in all of his fingers except the middle and flipping her off. She laughed, unable to control it, then twitched her shoulder in a half shrug. "There's nothing to talk about."
"Oh so that isn't a humongous ladytoner and you are just happy to see me?" Somehow, she resisted the urge to huck a CD at him. But just barely. "I can see it from here, Becs. People on the moon can see it." She rolled her eyes at him. "Besides, we've already talked about it. Like a lot. Makes it kind of difficult for you to deny it." She frowned at him, pretending to think his words over before speaking in a tone that was similar to that of someone slowly verbally piecing together the last bits of a puzzle.
"And yet, somehow I'm about to." She turned away from him to slide some CDs onto the shelf behind her, but Jesse's attention didn't leave her. She could feel his gaze, burning into her back.
"You know she's into you too right?" She paused, fingers stilling on the spine of a jewel case for a few heartbeats before she pushed it so that it lined up with the others.
"Don't be a dick." And her tone had dropped, the playfulness all but leaving it. She heard him move, heard the squeak of the cart that carried their tarry for the afternoon as he leaned against it.
"My winning personality doesn't have anything to do with this." He pointed out, not missing a beat. "I have eyes, Beca. I've seen how she is with you." And the rare use of her actual name – not Becs or Becaw or some other high pitched variant – was enough to make her finally turn back to him.
She hadn't seen Jesse's 'serious face' on too many occasions, less than a handful of times even, and it was a strange thing for her to behold. Made him look like a real person rather than the living embodiment of a goofball. She let out another sigh and mirrored his position, leaning back against the shelves behind her and folding her arms over her chest.
"She's like that with everyone." She said with a half shrug and just under half of herself not even believing her own words. But her parents had always said she was a bit delusional.
Okay, so they might not have used those exact words but "you've got big dreams, kiddo" was pretty much the same thing, right?
"No, Chloe's friendly with everyone." Jesse corrected with a bark of laughter. "She's kind of like a puppy with you." Beca frowned, not enjoying the analogy.
"Explain." She demanded tersely and Jesse held up his hands in defence before gesturing towards her somewhat vaguely.
"It's like... Did you ever bring a new puppy home?" Beca shook her head.
"I don't... Do, animals." He blinked at her.
"Of course you don't." Beca rolled her eyes at his dumbfounded expression.
"I had a cactus for like three days when I was nine. Couldn't even keep that thing alive. Was pretty sure I wouldn't do so well with a pet." She explained, sounding a little exasperated, and he just shook his head.
"Okay, whatever, point is," he paused to run a hand over his hair, "puppies are like super clingy. At least mine were. They'd follow me around the house and crawl into my lap and basically want to be in contact with me every waking moment. Sleeping ones too sometimes." She narrowed her eyes at him. "And their eyes never left me. It was like they were afraid if they did I wouldn't be there when they looked back." And then he paused, heaving a dramatic sigh and smiling knowingly at her. "And Chloe's like that with you. Right down to wanting to crawl into your lap."
"Okay, she's never crawled into my lap." Beca said, pointing a threatening finger at him. He just laughed.
"Whatever. She might as well have with how close she sits to you. You guys practically share a seat." Annoyed, for reasons she'd rather not voice aloud in order to save his ego from expanding to the point of explosion, she reached around him to grab a handful of CDs and turned back to the shelf. And after a few seconds, he spoke again. Voice softer this time, all teasing edges smoothed away. "She never takes her eyes off you, Beca."
And it wasn't that she didn't hear his words. Didn't see his point.
But Beca had always had big dreams and high hopes.
And they didn't always work out.
When they – they being Beca and Chloe, because Chloe had decided they should walk together so she could pre-warn Beca as to which mood Aubrey was labouring under that day – arrived for practice Fat Amy and Aubrey were the only other ones in attendance so far. But they were early.
"Nice to see you here on time, Beca." Aubrey said without looking up from the papers she was going over. "Good to know Chloe is rubbing off on you." Before Beca could say anything scathing in return, Amy let out an unabashed burst of laughter from her place in the row behind Aubrey. All three of them looked over at her, Aubrey even turning in her seat, and the laughter abruptly trailed off and morphed into a cough. Amy gestured at her throat.
"Tickle." She said, then seemed to slump further down in her seat in the hopes of avoiding further attention. Aubrey stared at her for a moment longer and then turned back to her papers.
"Today we'll be going over the choreography. Again. It has to be perfect and some of you," she glanced up, pointedly, at Beca, "are a far stretch from that." Beca bit the inside of her cheek, but the words came out anyway. Dripping sarcasm.
"Well we can't all be Aubreyes." But their captain, co-captain, was already looking away. "Thank god." She mumbled loud enough for Chloe to hear and the redhead gave her a reproving glance.
The rest of the girls began trickling in, thus ending the potential for a real argument, and took their seats. When Cynthia-Rose strolled in, Aubrey looked a little surprised.
"I thought you were sick." The other girl produced some fancy footwork and a Michael Jackson spin.
"Got me some awesome antibiotics. Ain't nothing gonna keep me down." The rest of the Bella smiled but Aubrey just sighed as though her unexpected appearance had thrown everything off.
"You'll have to share the sheet with someone then." She said, beginning to hand out the papers she'd been pouring over earlier. "And grab another chair from storage." Cynthia Rose rolled her eyes and made for the back of the room.
"It's okay, you can use mine." And Chloe was up and settling into her new spot even before Cynthia Rose had turned back to them. Her new spot being Beca's lap. "We can share, right?" She asked, lips close to Beca's ear and one arm wrapped around her back as she settled, sideways, across her knees. Jesse's words floated back to her, blaring like a foghorn in the mist, and she had a moment of wide-eyed... Not panic, exactly, but something close. It made her stomach churn.
"Apparently." She replied, tone more playful than she thought herself capable of at that moment. She tilted her head to look at Chloe, who was grinning at her and like really, really close. She felt Cynthia-Rose drop into Chloe's chair and the redhead handed her the sheet Aubrey had just given her. Cynthia-Rose took it with a suggestive waggle of eyebrows that made Chloe chuckle and Beca roll her eyes – sometimes she was surprised they didn't roll out of her head. And then, with one hand still holding her sheet, she loosely wrapped her arms around Chloe and glanced down at the paper. "Is this... Is this a hand drawn step by step of the moves?" She sounded incredulous, which was perfect because she was.
"I thought a visual aid might be of some assistance. Really dumb it down for you." Beca took the dig and let it roll off her back, still too focused on what she was looking at.
"It looks like it was ripped out of a Super Bowl play book." Beside her, Cynthia-Rose was tilting her head to one side as she examined the paper.
"I think they used this play last year." She said, almost offhandedly, and Aubrey made them all jump as she slapped her hands together loudly. The looked up at her.
"Twenty minutes of cardio, around the room. Let's go, ladies." And she was off, not waiting for any of them. Stacie sighed dramatically and got to her feet, kicking off her heels and jogging after the blonde. Cynthia-Rose stared after her for a moment, gazed focused on a particular... Area, before following.
"You know, I've had this niggling suspicion that she was once part of like a really evil cult bent on world domination." Fat Amy paused. "Is Posen German?"
Chloe hopped off Beca's lap and held out her hands. When Beca didn't grasp them immediately, the redhead wiggled her fingers impatiently. Beca put the Dance Dance Revolution instruction sheet down on top of Cynthia Rose's empty seat and took hold of Chloe's offered limbs. The redhead tugged unexpectedly – she had foolishly thought herself capable of standing on her own – and Beca stumbled to her feet.
And suddenly she was reminded of Hood Night, specifically how Chloe had easily invaded her personal space for a second time – thankfully clothed on this occasion – and how she'd been close enough for Beca to smell her perfume. She could smell it again now, a mix of things she couldn't place but that pleasantly assaulted her senses. Made her want to lean in closer.
Okay, maybe the assault was a little too pleasant.
Chloe laced their fingers together and began walking backwards, tugging Beca along.
"Think you can keep up?" She teased with a smile and Beca felt her heart kick at her ribs as she thoughtlessly followed.
"Funny, I was about to ask you the same thing."
But the really funny thing? Beca could already feel herself tiring.
Sometimes, playing games was tough. Especially when you hadn't really, truly been aware you were even playing for the first half. When you weren't totally sure of the rules or even if there were any. And it was that stuff that Beca didn't think about. Hadn't felt the need to. Chloe was Chloe, and she and Chloe were just... Them. She didn't think past that. Just acted.
Only lately, the things she'd wanted to act on?
That was another matter entirely.
"You're really going to make me watch this?" Beca asked as she was pulled down onto the small two-seater couch that Chloe had managed to squeeze into the single room she occupied in her wing of the dorms. A room Beca had almost had an outward fit of jealousy over because, lord have mercy, there was no Kimmy Jin. No anyone other than Chloe, and solitude was something Beca coveted with a muted green-eyed gaze. Chloe had taken the sting out a little by explaining that it was just a perk of being a last year student and Beca would be in for a shot of getting her own room when she reached that highly acclaimed position, which the brunette had argued against profusely because Barden got her for one year and that was it. Chloe had just smiled knowingly and let her move on to complaining about Kimmy Jin and her silent vendetta.
"I'm not going to make you do anything," Chloe countered, all sparkling blue eyes and winning smile, "I just think it's a travesty that you've never seen Grease and you're a good enough friend to placate me. And not break my heart." Beca narrowed her eyes.
"This is emotional blackmail." Chloe just smiled wider and slipped her hand into Beca's, threading their fingers together and giving the other girl's hand a squeeze.
"It's only blackmail if you don't enjoy it." And Beca didn't have a response for that. At least, not one she was willing to share.
She'd never wanted to kiss anyone before that. Not really. Had never felt the urge she always heard people talking about. But there was something about the way Chloe was smiling at her that just... Pulled at Beca. A little strongly, in fact. So much so that she was actually thankful when Chloe hit the power for the DVD player and the television screen flared to life.
She couldn't recall the how's or why's of it, but she remembered when Chloe decided to start using her as a pillow. Olivia New-what's-her-face had been pouring her heart out into one of those kid pools, more precisely onto John Travolta's reflection – which, what even? - and Chloe had just sort of deflated on her. Like a bright red balloon leaking air. She'd stretched across Beca's lap like a lazy dog, yawning contentedly as Sandy continued to croon, and Beca had barely flinched.
"I love this bit." Chloe had whispered, as if afraid that if she spoke any loud she'd disrupt Sandy's train of thought and the song would end prematurely.
"Singing to water really does it for you, huh?" Chloe had pinched the skin at Beca's thigh through her jeans and then reached for the brunette's flailing hand, tugging it down so that Beca's arm was draped over her shoulder.
"Why do you think I interrupted your shower?" Her heart had jumped a little at the memory, but she'd recovered over.
"I thought you just wanted to see me naked." Chloe had chuckled.
"Only one of the reasons." She hadn't recovered nearly as well from that. But that had been what led her to her current situation. Pinned beneath a dozing redhead, loathe to move because Chloe looked so peaceful when she slept. Also, staring. The TV set had long since turned blue after the credits on the movie stopped rolling and the shine painted the redhead in an ethereal glow. Their fingers remained twined together, having become so during the race scene, and occasionally Beca would catch herself rubbing her thumb across the side of Chloe's hand. And to her credit she would stop – and feel like a total creeper – only to catch herself doing it again five minutes later.
It was a battle in futility.
And it was only part of the reason she jumped out of her skin when the door to the dorm room opened.
Aubrey entered with a dramatic twirl of her coat tails as she spun in one fluid motion to close the door behind her, relocking it and slipping the key card she'd used to open it back into her pocket. When she turned in the direction of the television set, no doubt having seen the glow from it out of the corner of her eye as she opened the door, she stopped dead, instantly finding Beca's eyes in the darkness.
"What are you doing here?" Aubrey's tone was clipped and sharp, like always, and like always, Beca bristled at the sound of it.
"Me? What are you doing here?" She countered, quietly so as not to wake Chloe. "Sneaking into locked rooms in the middle of the night." Aubrey rolled her eyes.
"I'm usually here on Friday nights and have a copy of her card." Which wasn't exactly a thing of the norm; they only got one key. If they lost it, they had to replace it, something Beca was about to comment on before she was beaten to the punch. "Chloe has a way of getting what she wants." Aubrey paused, giving Beca and her current position, including their hands, a thorough once over. "Something you've already experienced, I see." And she said it with the kind of sigh that suggested she was resigned to whatever conclusion she had come to. About whatever she thought was going on here. Which was, obviously, nothing at all.
"Dude, no. There isn't-" Aubrey held up a hand and Beca, automatically, stopped talking like a well-trained puppy.
"If you break her heart, I'll break your face." And with that, and a too-nice smile, she disappeared into a little room that was off to the side of the small kitchen area – little more than a sink and counter top – that Beca had never been in. Leaving the brunette to stare open-mouthed after her.
And remind herself that she didn't have anything to worry about.
Because there was nothing going on.
(And she'd never do anything to hurt Chloe, even if there was.)
When Beca was twelve she had been forced to transfer schools. With her parents divorcing, her mom had decided that a fresh start was in order. Apparently a fresh start consisted of moving them to the other side of the state and throwing her soon to be teenage daughter into a wasteland of bitter anxiety. She hadn't had many friends at her old school but the few she had she missed during those first few confusing weeks. She had to take a bus to school, now that one parent wasn't around to drive her, and she quickly realised that there were few things in the world – at least her limited twelve year old world – more heinous and terrifying than that. Boarding a school bus packed full of kids she didn't know and having their eyes on her as she walked down the aisle looking for a place to sit? Actual hell.
For some reason, the back seat was always empty, likely reserved for delinquents, and she settled into the same spot - right side window - every day until she graduated. After a while it became habitual and she relished the space and solitude. No one spoke to her and that was the way she liked it. And whenever she had to take a bus or any kind of public transport after that, if she wasn't alone, she got kind of weirded out. As if people were encroaching on her personal boundaries more so than usual.
Apparently, Chloe wasn't 'people'. At least not in the sense that Beca had come to know them. And really she already knew that, knew that Chloe was different – her exception to all rules – but somehow it still took her aback when she realised she'd been sitting beside the redhead on the tour bus for an hour, and hadn't spent a single second feeling twitchy. Chloe had simply looked up as Beca approached and tugged her down into the empty spot beside her, and Beca hadn't thought twice about it. Just dropped into the seat with a good natured eye roll and a smile.
A non-sarcastic, non-ironic smile.
Things that did not exist in an amount that warranted a mention prior to now.
Prior to Chloe.
And it wasn't that Beca hadn't realised that she was kind of maybe in a bit of trouble before that, she just hadn't actually thought about it. In a serious, big picture sense. It had just become habitual; the actions, the feelings, god, even the smiles, but to say she hadn't given it a second thought wouldn't really be truthful.
Even a little.
But strangely enough, she'd never asked herself what it all meant. Had just blindly accepted it for what it was. Something Beca Mitchell rarely did. Although she wasn't exactly known for deeply examining her feelings. Truth was, Beca rarely had any kind of intense feelings that didn't involve music. Which, upon reflection, kind of made sense in regard of her situation.
After all, Chloe was music personified.
"M'sleepy." Chloe mumbled, a millisecond before she shifted and her head hit Beca's shoulder. She jostled over dramatically at the motion and Chloe poked her side with a smile. "Don't act like you don't love it."
"About as much as I love Aubrey's flight attendant outfits." Chloe let out a laugh, catching herself midway through and lowering her tone, mindful of the sleeping Bellas that surrounded them.
"Ouch. Lies hurt, Mitchell." Beca felt the smile start and rapidly increase beyond her control until she was grinning in the darkness of the bus.
"Not as much as your perfect cheekbones digging into my shoulder does." Chloe's body shook a little with her quiet laughter and Beca could feel her smiling into her shirt.
"Aww, you think they're perfect." Beca rolled her eyes.
"It's really more of a fact than it is an opinion. I mean," she gestured pointlessly, and a little stiffly, with the hand of the arm Chloe had pinned to her side. "Eyes. I have them."
"Aubrey says your fashion sense would argue that." Beca baulked and tilted her head, catching sight of Chloe's profile as the orange glow of the street lights the bus passed swept across it. The rebuttal she had thought up died on her lips as she sucked her lower one into her mouth and gnawed on it, thinking of little else but how the shadows played across Chloe's face.
Uck. Jesse would never stop laughing at her.
"Ouch." She finally managed, likely only because she'd stolen Chloe's earlier reply, but it worked in the moment. "I didn't know you had claws."
"Oh, you just haven't had the best opportunity to find out." And before Beca could recover from the mental image the redhead's words had painted, she felt Chloe's hand move to her thigh and dig her nails into the material of her pants and drag them up over her leg. She froze, body awkwardly aflame and mind seared clean of all thought. Her mouth had fallen open and a gasp had slipped free, quiet but entirely too loud in the relative quiet of the bus. And something about her reaction proved too much for Chloe, because she had to bury her head in the junction where Beca's neck met her shoulder to stifle her laughter.
Warm breath drifted over Beca's skin, not helping her in the slightest, but Chloe's laughter eased her turbulent emotions a little. Brought her down from floating too far away.
Until she felt soft lips brush over smooth skin.
And then there was an eternal moment of stillness and silence as Chloe's lips lingered and Beca's breath ceased to exist. And in it all she could feel was Chloe; her mouth, the hand against her thigh, her presence. And Beca had never been much for drinking, but the way she felt in that instant reminded her of the feeling a person got when they were slightly intoxicated. Buzzed. High. Like every inch of her was alive and squirming. She could hear a dull roar in her ears that, she was sure, was some echoing pounding of her heart rushing too fast to be caught.
The complete opposite of her mind, which had shuddered to a standstill about the same time a shiver had slithered along her spine like a snake. Simmering and curving as it coiled around her and settled somewhere in the pit of her stomach.
Tugged at her as she felt Chloe begin to pull back with a whisper of air against her neck. Like a departure or a promise, a something that was going to slip away any second. Beca could feel it with every fibre of her being, tangible and heavy, and entirely within her grasp.
(And okay, so maybe there was something going on here. Maybe. Probably.)
Chloe had time enough to lean back so that her face was once again streaked with jumping orange lamplight before Beca's hand found hers and held tight. She felt the redhead still instantly, a handful of inches away, and saw sky-blue eyes flicker down to their hands before her head tilted just enough for her to be looking at Beca, red hair slipping to fall across her shoulder.
And Beca felt something surge to life inside her, like a cresting wave rushing up to meet jagged rocks. Dangerous and impulsive, with the potential to change the shape of everything in its path. And it pushed at her.
Just enough to ease her head down a little and in.
It was simple slight pressure at first, a still unsure press of lips against lips, as if she was waiting for Chloe to pull away.
But she didn't.
Beca felt the other girl sigh against her mouth and then Chloe was pushing closer, connecting them more solidly and shoving away any potential for doing anything other than kissing Beca back. And behind all the breathless anticipation and the corny waiting to wake up, Beca felt an entirely separate mountain of something like emotion fall on her, scattering debris to all ends of her body. Tugging her in multiple different directions until she was unsure where to turn or what to do, so she stayed still. As still as death.
It was lucky for her that Chloe had always been the more forward of the two.
Because Chloe did not just sit unmoving like a slightly pliable stone. She exhaled through her nose and then slowly parted her lips to sweep her tongue across Beca's lower lip. Gentle and soft and delicious, and Beca was lost at the first touch. She opened up to the warm request and let the fireworks that followed throw sparks of colour around behind her eyelids. Felt the glow from the street lamps outside seep into the interior of the bus and surround her.
Chloe's hand wriggled free of the grip that held it and drifted up to rest against Beca's cheek. Not really holding, but resting. A reassuring kind of pressure that seemed to ground Beca in the moment and she sank into it. Lost herself in the brush of lips and stroking tongues, over and over until her skin tingled enough that it felt alive. She could feel her heart beating a steady thumping rhythm behind her ribs and her fingers twitching against her legs as they battled against staying still and wanting to move at the same time. She felt fire trickling low into the pit of her stomach and pool there, roiling pleasantly with every pause and subsequent renewing of the kiss.
Eventually, it all became a little too much and Beca found herself needing to break away before her sanity slipped and snapped. She pulled back enough for their lips to part, but not too far that their foreheads couldn't touch and Chloe's fell against hers as the redhead let out an appreciative hum. She blinked open baby blues and brushed her thumb over Beca's cheek, drifting down to trace the outline of her lower lip with a smile on her face.
"I've been waiting for that," she stopped to take a breath and the notion that she was without it, and why, made Beca's face flush, "for months." And then Beca was smiling too, the idea that they'd both been wanting and waiting and been so close but never quite there suddenly something laughable.
"I feel like we've been waiting for it since the dawn of time." Their eyes widened simultaneously and they both turned, Chloe's hand still at Beca's face, to find Fat Amy staring at them from her place slumped against the window three rows back. "It was like the great lesbian sunrise that never came." Beca blinked at her, owlish and very close to aghast.
"Have you... Why did... Were you just sitting there watching?" Beca finally managed to get out and she felt Chloe chuckle beside her, her hand sliding to the brunette's neck. Amy shrugged and gestured toward the window she had her head pillowed against.
"Should I have just stepped outside? Given you a moment?" Beca rolled her eyes. "Does this mean you two are finally going to stop eye-shagging during rehearsals?" And she was about to answer, really she was, but Chloe's fingers began to wander over the skin at the nape of Beca's neck and she found her attention dragged back to the girl sitting beside her. She half wondered if Chloe's eyes had left her at all because they were on her again, twinkling and burning and brilliant, as though they'd never shifted for a second. "Take that as a no then, shall I?" She was vaguely aware of Amy speaking, but the words didn't register. There was only Chloe, her smile lighting up Beca's world like fireworks.
And with a tilt of a head and the slight sway of red hair, lips find hers again.
And off they go.
It wasn't something that had ever come easily to her. Her parents had set a really shitty precedent for relationships and by the time she was a teenager she had sworn that she'd never fall into that trap. And that had been good for a while, the draw to be in one, to be with another person like that, never finding her.
And it was strange how a person could go from utter disinterest in such things to borderline obsession in the span of one night. Less than ten hours.
Because they'd arrived back at Barden and said their goodnights roughly nine hours ago and yet here Beca was.
Standing outside Chloe's dorm, staring at the wood of the door like it might suddenly part to reveal fangs.
And while she's still recovering from the events of the previous night – and even though the catcalls of the other Bellas had carried over into her dreams, thanks Amy – and she knows she should probably just hit the brakes a little and take a breather, she can't. Is both physically and mentally incapable. Because she'd tried to stay in bed this morning, had spoken to herself in a calm, totally insane, Spider-man-like voice, and tried to convince herself to just stay there. At least for a few more hours. But then she'd been walking Chloe's hall and suddenly there's this door between them and nothing else and she has no idea how she got here.
She runs her fingers through her hair, hoping the brush she'd dragged through it was enough to make her appearance acceptable. And now she's worrying about her appearance and her world has officially stopped making any kind of sense.
And it's all so strange to Beca. She's always been someone with a plan, a clear view of what she wants and how she's going to get it.
And it isn't really a surprise that Chloe is her exception to that as well, but it still feels weird. She feels disembodied and uncertain, yet somehow sure at the same time. Sure about Chloe, not about what she should do. Because she has nothing to fall back on here. A mix isn't going to cut it.
A door opening behind her makes her jump and she spins instinctively to find Aubrey exiting the room. Because of course they live right across from one another. She looks, unsurprisingly, fresh as a daisy after their late night and her eyes lock onto Beca's the instant she steps into the hallway. They don't quite narrow but they do something that makes Beca inwardly bristle.
"Beca." She finally manages, speaking with so much feigned cheeriness that it makes Beca's teeth hurt. Aubrey tugs the door the rest of the way close and Beca plasters on a fake smile that feels forced enough that it probably looks it too.
"Aubrey." The blonde adjusts her handbag – which is, in Beca's opinion, more than likely filled with various torture devices – so that it sits higher on her shoulder and slips her key card into the zippered pocket on the front.
"Chloe already left." Beca's heart sinks.
"Oh." She knew that Chloe was an early riser, but she'd hoped... What? That Chloe would wait around for a visit she didn't know was coming? It's silly but she can't help being a little disheartened. Like the wind, nervous and tentative as it had been, has been taken out of her sails. Fatigue suddenly hits her, the last of her adrenaline trickling away, and she feels her body slump. She thinks she sees Aubrey roll her eyes in her periphery.
"She said she was going to see you." And just like that, the wind is back. Battering around inside Beca's chest like a caged animal.
"What?" And she's not very verbal in the mornings, never has been. Although the most either of her parents got out of her in her eighteen years before leaving for Barden was mumbled grunts, so at least she's improving. Aubrey sighs as though the simple task of conversing with Beca is enough to give her a headache.
"She stopped by this morning to... Chat." And the way she pauses before she says it tells Beca there's a lot more that isn't being said. "But despite my efforts to make her change her mind, she obviously sees something in you that I don't." Oh, Aubrey. Such a charmer. Beca licks her lips with a verbal smacking and clenches her jaw against the wave of annoyance that rises. She needs to hear whatever Aubrey is getting around to saying. "She left for your dorm about fifteen minutes ago." And Beca doesn't know how they've missed each other but somehow they have. Inexplicable panic races through her and she's mumbling a thank you – something she never thought she'd be saying to Aubrey – and back peddling out of the hall.
The paved courtyard where the activities fair was held is between Chloe's hall and her own and as soon as her feet hit the cement she's abhorred to realise she's running, but is incapable of doing anything to stop it. Beca doesn't run, hasn't since the last time she was forced to participate in gym in high school – damn cross country running almost killed her – and she's pretty sure people are staring. Not that she cares; finding Chloe is the singular thought that overtakes all others and it powers her like some kind of synthetic fuel. It's irrational, she knows, to be this panicked, but it's happening regardless. Chloe isn't going anywhere other than back to her dorm, more than likely, but Beca doesn't want to miss her again. Feels this immense push to say everything she wants to say, even though she has no idea what that is.
"Beca!" The voice stops her dead and she spins on a heel to face the direction she thinks it came from, eyes roving manically.
Chloe stands out like a beam of light in the darkness, like always, and she wears a smile that rivals the sun. Beca hates herself a little the instant she thinks it because ew, cornballs, but there it is. The redhead has her hands on her hips as if to ask what the hell Beca's doing and she feels a smile quickly creeping across her face, like a flash of lightning that decides to stick around for a while. And then she's jogging over to Chloe, which is almost as embarrassing as the running, and Chloe's smile only grows the closer Beca gets.
By the time she's close enough to stop she's slightly, mortifyingly, winded.
"Maybe I need to tell Aubrey we should up the cardio portion of our training?" Bent at the hip, Beca tilts her head to glare up at the woman with the raised eyebrows.
"I will hurt you."
"No," and Chloe's grin is infectious and knowing and on anyone else that level of smugness would make Beca bristle, "you won't." But it's Chloe. And everything is perfect on her.
"Oh god." Beca groans, for multiple reasons, and straightens. "Has anyone ever told you you're, like, super annoying?" Sky blue eyes twinkle.
"No." And Chloe's voice is airy and honest, because of course no one has ever told her that. That would make them insane and as far as Beca knows, Chloe doesn't make a habit of surrounding herself with crazy people. Oh, wait. Scratch that. "Were you looking for me?" The way she asks it, the tone of voice she uses, tells Beca that Chloe already knows she was. Probably saw her high-tailing it out of the dorm building like a chicken without a head, and really short legs.
"No." And she tries to mimic the same tone that Chloe had used but it falls a little flat thanks to the smile she can't quite keep in check, and that is really becoming a problem. She'd mastered the apathetic stony expression by the time she turned twelve, so she'd had a lot of practise doling it out. Then along comes Chloe Beale, unravelling all of that hard work in the blink of an eye – bat of an eyelash, whatever – without a second thought toward how hard it might be for Beca.
Which is just as well really. Because it isn't hard at all. Then again, nothing about Chloe is. Beca thinks things should probably be a lot more difficult than they have been, that there should be some kind of challenge in here somewhere. But the hardest part has been getting to this point.
And really, a large portion of that is down to the running.
"No? Just... Out for an early morning run?" Beca huffs and tucks her hair behind her ears in an effort to avoid the question, but Chloe just stares at her like she's waiting and doesn't plan on moving until she gets an answer. It reminds Beca of the showers. And then she's blushing. She decides to just shoot for the truth, because with Chloe anything other than that isn't really acceptable. Outside of teasing, that is.
"Fine." She barks, false bluster and annoyance rolling off of her. "Maybe I was looking for you, so what?" Chloe just blinks at her, slow and easy, and Beca doesn't think she's ever so much as thought the word 'coquettish' before. She isn't even sure she knows what it means. But there it is, written all over Chloe in Beca's messy scrawl.
"So maybe I'd think you running across campus to find me was super adorable." And Beca feels the heat at her cheeks kick up a notch. "If not a little clichéd. Are you sure you're not a secret movie buff?" She asks, leaning in a little closer and conspiratorially lowering her voice. Beca at least has the presence of mind to attempt a glare but Chloe's really, really close now and it reminds her of hood night and last night and basically makes her think that she could spend every night for the rest of her life this close to Chloe.
And she's so, so screwed it isn't even funny.
Because Beca Mitchell doesn't fall in love. Love is for suckers and middle-aged divorcees to lament over.
(Only love is kind of exactly what these feels like. And maybe screwed isn't a strong enough word.)
"I've been sure about exactly two things in my life." She says abruptly, ignoring the question that Chloe doesn't actually expect an answer to anyway. And she holds up a hand, wiggling the first two fingers as she says it with a smile, despite the embarrassment she knows is going to come later. Chloe looks at her with curious blue eyes and Beca feels her heart skip, just a little. "Music." She says, curling her middle finger back in towards her palm to leave one remaining. "And you." And the expression that crosses Chloe's face is something Beca won't be able to describe when later prompted. It's sort of blank at first, then softness and warmth pools outwards from the centre until her entire face is glowing with the smile that stretches it.
And she feels like her words might be a bit much, but Chloe's reaction tears every last remnant of worry away. Like it had never even been there to begin with.
"Who knew you could be so sappy, Mitchell." Chloe teases, but her tone warbles just a bit and her eyes look a little more like oceans than usual. And then her hands are at Beca's jacket, fingers gathering up the material and jerking the brunette forward. "So, are we like a thing now?" She asks, her mouth close enough to Beca's that it makes the brunette's eyelids droop. She hums aloud, pretending to think it over.
"Only if that thing can be dating or like a couple or something." Chloe chuckles against her lips and Beca feels drunk.
"Are you asking me out?" The redhead brushes her nose over the shorter woman's and Beca is yanked violently back into the bus and back into the warmth of the kiss they'd shared. Feels the memory burn low in the pit of her stomach.
"Maybe." She sounds drunk now too, the word whispered and husky. "Yes." And then she can't help it. She's too close and the temptation is too great, and all she needs to do is tilt her head up just a little.
And kissing Chloe is a little bit like a dream and a lot like an adventure. Everything goes fuzzy and her heart pounds out a deep bass rhythm in her chest. Someone sighs, high and happy, and maybe its even Beca herself but that doesn't seem to matter right then. She's wrapped up in Chloe and nothing but mixing has ever come close to feeling this good.
And sure. It's crazy-new and kind of a little scary, and she doesn't know where it's going to take them.
But she's going to hold on tight until they get there.