huge thanks to emilyjunklegacy on tumblr for helping me with the american high school system and listening to me yell about this for like two weeks now you're amazing and i hope you like this

And this could be good
It's already better than that
And nothing's worse
Than knowing you're holding back

– Katherine McPhee, Terrified

A New Year's party. Of all things, Beca is spending New Year's Eve at a New Year's Party for kids under eighteen at some ski resort in the middle of nowhere.

She'd tried to tell her dad she wanted to stay in her room – at least she had her own room here, thank god, because if she'd had to share with her dad and the stepmonster she would have flipped – but of course he'd just threatened to confiscate all her equipment for the rest of the trip. Which is really only two days – she has to report at her new school on the third – but Beca doesn't trust her dad with the equipment, like, at all.

So here she is, sitting in a solitary armchair to the side of the room, flipping through her chemistry textbook and filling in the answers to the blanks in the practice section without too much thought. Her dad had made her come to this party, yeah, but that doesn't mean she has to actually partake in it. And since she couldn't exactly carry her equipment around, she'd settled for chemistry. Sure, it wasn't something she particularly liked, but it was something she was good at, so it made for a non-frustrating distraction when she needed one.

The thing about parties, though, is that there's no guarantee everyone will leave you alone. Beca is reminded of this when a spotlight suddenly shines down on her and she looks up, squinting, to see that the guy running the karaoke has apparently decided making her sing would be a good thing. Beca shakes her head violently, because one, ew, she doesn't do karaoke, and two, rude much? Is her clearly-uninterested image not clear enough?

Evidently not, because the crowd starts cheering and someone actually gives her a shove, which is all kinds of not acceptable, really, and Beca only gets up from the armchair because she doesn't want anyone else touching her. The faster she gets this over with, the faster she can slip away, and she'll make sure it's to somewhere no one will disturb her this time. Throwing her chemistry textbook down on the seat, she makes her way over to the stage in the middle, where a girl with red hair stands.

Beca can't help but notice how gorgeous she looks – her hair is sleek and shiny and curls softly at the ends, and damn, but she's smoking hot. The blue dress she's wearing really makes her eyes pop, which is totally unnecessary because those eyes are the bluest things she's ever seen as it is. And then the girl gives Beca a giant smile, and oh, shit, she has a really nice smile too. Beca pretends her heartbeat hasn't sped up and just raises an eyebrow at her, which for some reason only makes the girl's smile grow bigger.

The other person on the stage gestures for Beca to take her place behind the second microphone. "Someday, you guys might thank me for this," he says. "Or not."

Beca shakes her head. She's inclined to go with or not, because what does he really expect to come out of this? But the redhead just laughs a little, and Beca doesn't really have much time to think about it anymore because the music has started and okay, it's a song Beca vaguely knows, at least, so she's not going to make a complete fool of herself. The other girl starts them off, and – oh. Apparently, on top of being smoking hot, she has an amazing voice.

"Living in my own world, didn't understand that anything can happen when you take a chance."

Beca didn't really have any intention of properly singing when she walked up to the stage, but the other girl is looking at her with those baby blues and an expectant smile, and somehow she finds herself taking the next verse without really thinking about it.

"I never believed in," she sings, quietly, "what I couldn't see."

The other girl looks absolutely delighted, and gamely provides a little background vocals. It's such a dorky thing to do, taking karaoke this seriously, and normally Beca might find it off putting. With this girl, though, it's just cute. Encouraged, she sings the next line a little louder, and when they come together for the build up to the chorus she decides, to hell with it, and throws herself into the song.

They sound good. They sound really good, her and this girl singing together, and Beca even finds herself holding back a laugh in favour of nailing the words as they hit the chorus. After the first chorus, both of them have a feel of where the other's vocal range lies; the redhead inclines her head and Beca nods, easily taking the next verse since it's the one that's lower. If they sounded good before, they sound even better now, taking parts they're more comfortable with and easily blending their voices together.

When they finish the song, the room erupts in applause and cheers, which brings Beca back to an awareness of the situation. Her breathing is a little laboured, and she's probably somewhat flushed, so she takes a moment to catch her breath before she walks off the stage. To her surprise, the other girl follows her, grabbing her hand before she can return to the armchair to grab her book. Beca immediately notices that her hand is, like, really soft.

"Hi," she says, once Beca has turned to face her. "I'm Chloe."

Chloe is giving her such a huge smile that Beca figures it's only polite to offer a small one in return. "Beca," she replies.

"So, Beca, do you want to hang out?" Chloe asks, looking expectant.

"You mean, like, now?" Beca checks.

Chloe nods. Beca realizes that Chloe is still holding onto her hand, so she clears her throat and gently tugs it out of the other girl's grip. Still, something possesses her to tell the girl "Sure", so Beca ends up following Chloe out to the balcony after a small detour to grab her chemistry book.

"So," Chloe says, leaning on the railing, "what brings you here? You didn't look like you were having much fun."

"Oh, the usual," Beca says. "My dad decided I'd been spending too much time in the room and wanted me to come socialize."

"I'm glad he did," Chloe says. Coming from her, Beca actually might believe it. There's something about the other girl that seems so open and sincere. "I'm really glad I got to sing with you."

There are about a hundred different ways Beca could take that statement and a hundred different ways Beca could reply to it. She settles for something safe. "We did sound really good together."

"Try amazing," Chloe says. "You're really good. Are you a choir girl or something?"

Beca is so startled by the suggestion that she lets out a laugh. "God, no. Are you?"

"Nope," Chloe says, shaking her head slightly. "I play basketball in school."

Ah. That explains the arms. The redhead has very nice arms. "That's nice."

"It is," Chloe agrees. "I love it. What about you?"

"I don't play basketball, if that's what you're asking," Beca says.

The redhead grins. "Of course you don't, you're kind of tiny."

"Hey!" Beca huffs. "Rude. You're not much taller yourself."

"A couple of inches makes all the difference," Chloe singsongs. "Seriously, though, what do you-"

She cuts off when the countdown starts inside the room. "Oh, is it midnight already?"

"Well, they're probably not counting down to bedtime," Beca quips. Chloe shakes her head and starts counting down with them. Beca joins in a count later.

"Five, four, three, two, one – Happy New Year!"

Cheers erupt from the party inside. Chloe cheers, too, but Beca just claps half-heartedly. When she turns to look at Chloe again, though, she finds the redhead watching her with a small smile. "Happy New Year," she says, just loud enough to be heard over all the yelling.

"Happy New Year," Beca returns.

Someone calls Chloe's name from inside the room, startling them out of whatever mood they created within this bubble on the balcony. Chloe sighs. "I've got to go," she says. She reaches around Beca to pat her backside, making Beca jump. Before she can say anything about the inappropriate action, though, Chloe has fished Beca's phone out from her back pocket. She offers it to Beca, who rolls her eyes but unlocks it for her anyway, and watches as the taller girl inputs her number and saves it. "Text me, okay?"

"Okay," Beca says. Chloe gives her a hug, and then disappears back indoors.

Beca watches her go.

Over the next couple of days, Beca spends a lot of time staring at Chloe's number on her phone. She should text. After all, she'd told the other girl she would.

What is she supposed to say, though?

Eventually she gives up, because it's not like she's going to see the redhead again, anyway.


…Apparently, wrong.

Of all places, Beca sees Chloe again a few days later in homeroom when she stumbles in late. She'd gotten held up at administration because of some conflict with her schedule, and then she'd gotten lost trying to find the classroom (how was she supposed to know the drama classrooms were in a completely different block?). So naturally, all eyes are on her when she slinks in and hands the note over to her new homeroom teacher.

She tries desperately to project the image of someone who doesn't care, but the truth is, Beca is nervous. She's never been all that good with attention. Thankfully, the homeroom teacher doesn't make her introduce herself, just tells the class her name and tells her to find an empty seat. The seat near the back door is empty, so she makes a beeline for that.

As she's walking down the aisle, though, a flash of red catches her eye.

Beca is so startled by the sight of Chloe that she almost trips over someone's backpack. She catches herself just in time. Chloe gives her a bright smile as she moves past her, and Beca feels herself flushing because oh my god, she should have texted. So much for never seeing the other girl again.

When Beca finally reaches her seat, she slouches into it, hoping that if she sinks into it enough the chair might actually open up and swallow her whole.

When the bell rings, Beca shoots out of her seat, hoping to get away before the other girl approaches her. No such luck. Before she can even move, she finds herself wrapped up in a tight hug.

"What are you doing here?" Chloe asks, giving her a squeeze before letting go. "You didn't say you were transferring. I didn't even know you're from around here!"

"You didn't ask," Beca says, shrugging. "And, well, I am. As of yesterday."

Chloe claps her hands together, looking way too excited for a Monday morning. "This is so great. We can totes hang out." She pats Beca's backside, again, and fishes out her phone. Beca reaches over to unlock it without being prompted and watches as Chloe shoots herself a text containing a single heart emoji. "What's your first class?"

"Um." Beca looks down at her schedule. "Literature."

Chloe looks over Beca's schedule, too. "I can take you there. It's down the corridor from my first class, c'mon."

Beca follows Chloe down the corridor, jogging a little to keep up. When they get to the classroom, she makes sure to thank her, but Chloe just waves her thanks off. "Don't worry about it. Text me if you need help with anything," the redhead says, already walking towards to her class. "I mean it! Actually text me this time!"

Beca is so embarrassed, she wishes the floor would swallow her up where she stands.

She gets to all her other classes on time, by virtue of a boy called Jesse who's in four of her classes and offers to show her the way.

She lets him, though only out of necessity. She's already the new kid, she doesn't need to be the late new kid, too. In the classes she shares with him, he helpfully points out the seats that are already taken, but in the other classes, she waits until the bell rings before walking in. Sure, she calls some attention to herself by walking in last, but any seat she takes when the teacher is about to start is probably an empty one.

She has AP Chemistry right after lunch, and it's a class Jesse doesn't share with her, which is almost a relief at this point. Jesse's nice, and all, but he's also coming off too strong. (The first thing he'd said to her was something about her being all mysterious but with the potential to be beautiful if she took her ear spikes out. She'd mostly tuned him out after that.) He drops her off at the science labs and dashes off to his next class, which is theatre. Again, Beca waits until the bell before walking in, introducing herself to the teacher, and taking the last empty bench.

Which is why she's surprised when the door bursts open, and a blonde runs into the room. She immediately apologizes to the teacher. "Coach lost track of time," she explains, as – to Beca's further surprise – Chloe runs into the room after her. The teacher just waves them in – Beca has a feeling this has happened more than once – and she notices the frown that flits across the blonde's face when she notices the lack of an empty bench.

So Chloe and the blonde have to split up, and it really shouldn't surprise Beca when Chloe drops into the other seat at her bench. "Hey," she says, flashing that really gorgeous smile at her. (It's totally not the reason her heartbeat picks up and her mouth goes dry. It's just… warm here.) "I didn't realize we shared this class."

"Neither did I," Beca says, pulling out her textbook. It's a clean one, because she'd been using a different text at her old school, and she gets Chloe to tell her where they're up to. It's a chapter she's pretty familiar with, so that's good. She flips backwards just to check what they've already covered; there's maybe a chapter she might have to read over again, but that aside, she's pretty set. Not that she expected to be anything but set, with all the reading ahead she's done.

The teacher starts taking them through the basics of the chapter, which Beca figures she doesn't really need. She doodles in the margins for a bit, but quickly grows bored enough that she flips to the practice questions and starts doing those. She breezes through the set – the first few questions are easy, the ones in the middle nothing she can't handle, and yeah, she gets stuck on one of the last ones, but she thinks she figures it out eventually.

"Holy shit," Chloe whispers. "How are you doing that?"

Beca barely takes her eyes off the equation she's scribbling down. "Doing what?"

"That." Chloe gestures at the papers she's been scribbling on. "Are you secretly a genius, or something?"

"What?" She finally raises her head to look at Chloe. "Oh. Oh, no, I've just done this chapter before."

"At your old school?" Chloe asks.

"Eh, yeah," Beca answers. It's not entirely untrue. They did start on the topic before Christmas break. "It's one of the chapters I'm better at."

"Chloe, Beca," the teacher calls out suddenly. Chloe jumps and sits up straight, but Beca makes a show of slouching on the table. "Are we going to have a problem?"

"Not at all," Beca answers lazily. Chloe gives her a jab with her elbow at her tone, but Beca just raises an eyebrow at her.

The teacher – whose name Beca still doesn't know, she realizes – strides over and looks down at their bench. Chloe's been taking notes diligently, but Beca's side of the bench is just strewn with the solutions to the practice sets. "Have you done this chapter before?" she asks, picking up Beca's work and flipping through all of it quickly.


"Hm. Where were you up to at your old school?"

"Um." At this, Beca grows uncomfortable. There is a huge difference between where they were up to at her old school and where she's up to herself. "This chapter."

She thinks the teacher will leave it at that. And maybe she would have, if she hadn't seen the solution to one of the questions from a later chapter on the last sheet of paper. (Beca had gotten bored and flipped to a random set.) "Have you gotten further on your own?"

Beca barely holds back a groan. "I'm at the second last chapter," she admits, though softer this time so not everyone hears.

This evidently surprises the teacher, whose eyebrows shoot up. "On your own?"

"Ah." Beca tries for a smile, but she feels so unsure of herself that it probably comes out like a grimace. "Yes?"

The teacher stares at her for a long moment. Then, she simply says, "You should consider joining the scholastic decathlon team" and walks back to the front of the classroom to resume her lesson before Beca can even say anything about scholastic decathlon not being her thing.

"So you are a genius," Chloe whispers, nudging her to catch her attention again.

"No," Beca maintains, going back to the questions and trying to ignore all the stares. "I just got bored."

"No one works through a whole textbook because they're bored," Chloe points out, which, you know, Beca can admit is true.

So she shrugs. "I like chemistry?"

Chloe laughs quietly. "That's an understatement."

It's not so much an understatement as it is a lie; Beca doesn't quite like chemistry per se, it's just something she's really good at. So when her parents had gotten divorced two years earlier, it's what she threw herself into, aside from music. But while she sometimes gets stuck while trying to mix music, she's never gotten too stuck trying to solve a chemistry question. And that's how chemistry became the non-frustrating distraction she needed, and in turn how she got so good at it.

Instead of laying all of this onto Chloe, though, Beca just shrugs again and returns to her practice sets. "Maybe my home life is really boring."

"Why don't you tell me about it?" Chloe suggests. Their teacher looks over at them and pointedly clears her throat, and Chloe shoots her an apologetic smile. "After class," she adds, once the older woman has turned back to the board.

"Eh, maybe," Beca says. Despite her words, though, she's the first one out of the classroom when the bell rings.

Over the next few days, Beca does a good job of keeping her interactions with others minimal. She's talked to a grand total of three of her peers, namely, Chloe, Jesse, and Stacie, the tall, leggy brunette who captains the scholastic decathlon team. And Beca only talks to Stacie to shoot her down.

"You can't refuse to join us forever," Stacie says, as Beca turns her down yet again on her way out of AP Chem.

"Yeah, I can," Beca insists firmly. "Scholastic decathlon really isn't my thing. How many times do I have to tell you that?"

Stacie shrugs, blowing a bubble with the gum she's chewing. Beca can't say she appreciates the loud pop. "I'll get you to agree eventually."

Much in the same way, Jesse can't seem to take a hint, either. He's stopped walking her to classes now that she knows where everything is, thank god, but she still eats lunch with him and a bunch of other theatre kids on most days due to her lack of options. (Stacie keeps telling her the 'nerd table' is always open to her, but Beca really doesn't want be known as the scholastic decathlon geek anymore. Plus, not being on the team has let her focus on her music, for once.) He also keeps making these stupid, movie-inspired comments, and Beca is one comment away from snapping.

So on Friday, right before he launches into another comment, Beca stops him. "Dude, you need to get that I am just not interested," she snaps.

Predictably, this just fires him up further. "You never even gave us a chance!"

"You never even had a chance," Beca tells him. "I'm gay."

This, thankfully, stops him in his tracks. "You're gay?"

Beca nods. "As a fucking rainbow."


He seems sufficiently daunted that Beca thinks he will leave it at that and this will be the last they ever talk about it. Then –

"Can I at least be your lesbro?"

Naturally, considering how trying her peers can be, Beca is filled with gratitude when she finds the rooftop.

Yeah, it's a little bit too sunny for her tastes sometimes, but the part of the roof that houses the small garden is sheltered. There's a gardening club that's supposed to tend to it, but she never sees them around and figures they must only come in the mornings, or something. It's a quiet place, completely devoid of boys who want to be her 'lesbro' and team captains trying to recruit her and redheads who make her heart pound at an abnormally fast rate. So, exactly how she likes her hideouts.

Beca ends up spending a huge amount of her time on the roof. She still eats with Jesse and the theatre kids occasionally, but most days during lunch she picks up a sandwich or a bag of crisps from the cafeteria before she heads up to work on her music. Alone on the roof, Beca is free to let the music play out loud if she wants to let it, which is sometimes useful when trying to get a feel for how to tweak a nearly-finished mix.

It's so conducive that she goes back up to the roof after classes as well. Some days, she stays just long enough to finish a mix or some small part of it. Other days, she stays well until the sun starts to set before she shuts her laptop and heads home. She'd stay even longer if she didn't worry about getting locked up here. On those days, Beca times her leave by the appearance of a certain athlete on the street.

See, the other thing about the rooftop that Beca likes is that if she stands by the side, she has a great, unobstructed view of the street. Which is probably not so important on its own, but something else she's realized is that every day, at about 6.24 p.m., Chloe's evening run takes her past the front of the school. If Beca thought Chloe looked hot, the day of that godforsaken karaoke party, she's on fire when she exercises. She's usually drenched by the time she reaches the school, which means her clothes, already tight enough when dry, practically cling onto her skin now.

And – she's always singing.

It doesn't even matter that it's always a Taylor Swift song. (Beca knows they're Taylor Swift because she googles the lyrics. She doesn't, like, like Taylor Swift or anything. No way.) On Monday, Chloe sings Welcome to New York from the top of her lungs. On Tuesday, it's Change. On Wednesday, Chloe is halfway through The Way I Loved You when she runs past.

On Thursday, Beca mixes The Way I Loved You and Blank Space together and tries not to think about why she wants to.

(Chloe runs past at 6:26, singing Style way too loudly for someone in the middle of actual exercise. Beca has to take several long drinks of cold water before her mouth regains any moisture, and afterwards, she weaves Style into the mix as well.)

Stacie is a lot shrewder than Beca gave her credit for.

It happens when Chloe is away from school with the basketball team for a game. Instead of taking her usual seat at the bench she shares with Aubrey, Chloe's blonde teammate, Stacie drops into Chloe's seat for AP Chem.

"What?" she asks, when Beca raises an eyebrow to question her presence. "Aubrey won't be coming in today, either, and I hate sitting alone."

Beca rolls her eyes. "Because that explains why you were sitting alone when they ran in on the first day after break."

Still, she doesn't make Stacie move. It's just one class. It's not a lab today, so the worst that could happen is that Stacie annoys her throughout the lesson. She's dealt with worse.

Since Stacie is watching her today, Beca makes a show out of actually listening to the lesson instead of working through practice sets at her own (faster) pace. She tries not to let it show on her face how she's suspicious of Stacie leaving her alone for the entire lesson. In fact, Stacie doesn't call much attention to herself at all, other than the one time she raises her hand to correct the teacher on something written on the board.

So when the bell rings and Beca gathers her stuff, she isn't surprised to see Stacie, already packed, waiting for her. "I'm still not joining the team."

Stacie ignores her words. "You've been doing scholastic decathlon since sophomore year," she says, reading off something on her phone. "Went as far as the national finals. And I found a whole number of smaller state competitions under your name as well. You're going to have to find a new excuse for not joining us because it's obviously been your thing for a few years."

"Are you kidding me right now?" Beca raises an eyebrow. "You looked me up?"

"It wasn't hard," Stacie says, shrugging. "I just went through several pages on google. Is there anything else you're not telling me?"

"You've evidently googled it all, anyway," Beca says pointedly. "What's there to tell?"

Stacie pretends to think for a moment. "How about… your massive crush on Chloe?"

"My what?" Beca hisses. "Dude, that's not a thing."

"Sure it is," Stacie says. "You're blushing. Plus, it's kind of obvious, with the way you stare at her."

"I don't stare at her," Beca snaps, feeling her cheeks growing warmer.

Stacie doesn't look convinced. "Mmhmm."

"I don't!" Beca insists.

"Right," Stacie says. "Then I'm sure you won't mind if I ask Chloe how she feels about you?"

Beca's eyes grow wide. "Dude, don't you dare."

Stacie's answering grin is terrifying. "You don't like her, anyway, right? So it really wouldn't matter."

"C'mon, Stacie, that's not cool," Beca says, getting dangerously close to whiny. "Just let it rest, okay? I don't have a crush on Chloe."

"Your blush suggests otherwise," Stacie says. "I think you're at least into her."

Beca shrugs. "Can you blame me? She's really hot. And those eyes are so unfair."

"They are very blue, aren't they," Stacie muses. "So, Beca, I have a deal for you."

"Oh, joy," Beca mutters.

Stacie laughs. "I won't mention any of this to Chloe… as long as you join the team."

Beca huffs. "Joy."

She eats at the nerd table sometimes, now. When Jesse asks her why she changed her mind about scholastic decathlon, she shrugs and tells him Stacie is good with blackmail.

Beca discovers the solitude of the music rooms a few days later. They're always unlocked after classes. Beca takes music as one of her electives, so she knows the teacher, and he gives her free reign to come by after school lets out. They've got pretty good recording equipment – the mic they have is somehow even better than the one she has at home, courtesy of some rich alumni – so she spends a good amount of time in there recording when she isn't down for decathlon training.

Between decathlon training, recording in the music room, and mixing on the roof, Beca has done a really good job of avoiding Chloe outside of homeroom and AP Chem. So maybe the conversation she had with Stacie is weighing on her mind more than she lets on. Sure, she can admit Chloe's hot. Who wouldn't be into that? For god's sake, Beca has eyes.

But does she like her? Beca knows her heart wouldn't pound at the sight of her if it was just that she's like, ridiculously hot and those eyes are unfairly blue. So – so maybe Beca might like her. Just a little bit.

(The folder on her desktop labelled 'no' that contains no less than fifteen Taylor Swift mixes would argue that she's past the point of liking Chloe a little bit, but she ignores it. She barely knows Chloe. This is ridiculous.)

It is also ridiculous that when Chloe grabs her hand as she walks to her locker after classes on a Tuesday, she actually squeaks.

"Did you just… squeak?" Chloe asks, looking startled.

"No," Beca denies. She'll deny it to her grave. "Did you want something?"

"I thought we could hang out," Chloe says, flashing that smile at Beca. The one that turns her knees to jelly. Oh, god, Stacie was right, she's totally crushing on the redhead.

When did this become a thing? "Like, now?" Beca looks into one of the nearby classrooms and glances at the clock. "I've got decathlon training in, like, twenty minutes."

"So we'll hang out until then," Chloe says. Beca shrugs, but doesn't protest when Chloe follows her to her locker. "What do you want to do?"

"I dunno, you're the native," Beca says. She's almost proud of how she's carrying out a conversation with the redhead without making a fool of herself. Chucking her textbooks into the locker, she grabs two granola bars from her stash. "Want one?"

Chloe accepts it. When her fingers scrape Beca's palm, the brunette's heart kicks into overdrive. Again. This has got to be unhealthy. Beca slams her locker shut and unwraps her own bar, trying not to stare as Chloe bites into hers. Seriously, it should be illegal to be that attractive. "I thought you said decathlon wasn't your thing?"

"I didn't want it to be," Beca says. She makes a face. "Stacie's persistent."

"That she is," Chloe agrees. "So what is your thing? You've been here almost a month and I still don't know much about you."

"Depending on who you ask, apparently scholastic decathlon is my thing now," Beca answers dryly, evading the question.

Chloe laughs, but shakes her head. "No, for real." She spots the theatre notice board a little ways down the corridor and moves over to it. "Is musical theatre your thing? Because they're having auditions this week."

"Ugh, god, no." Beca scrunches her nose. Finished with her bar, she chucks the wrapper in the trash. "Just, no."

"Why not?" Chloe asks, throwing her wrapper away as well. "Hey, look, auditions for the main roles are done in pairs. We could totally do it."

Beca scoffs. "They couldn't handle us singing together, anyway."

"We were really good together, weren't we?" Chloe muses. "Let's go for it."

"Wait," Beca says, finally realizing that Chloe was being serious. "You weren't kidding?"

"Not at all," Chloe says, grinning. "Auditions are in the auditorium on Thursday."

Beca shakes her head. Glancing down at her phone, she's thankful to see that there are only ten minutes left until training. "I've got to go," she says. Stacie will probably be surprised that she's early instead of late today, but whatever. She hoists her backpack higher on her shoulder and leaves Chloe in the corridor, pretending not to hear when Chloe calls for her to "Be there or be square!"

Beca sends her first text to Chloe after training that afternoon (the heart emoji Chloe sent herself so doesn't count).

Beca Mitchell: Decathlon training until 4 on thurs

Chloe Beale: Run over to the auditorium after! xxx

Decathlon training finishes early on Thursday, much to Beca's disappointment. Of course, the one day Beca wishes Stacie would keep them, she lets them go early. There goes Beca's one excuse to be a no show at auditions.

So somewhere close to four, Beca slips into the auditorium through the back door. She easily spots Chloe by her red hair in the back row, and slides into the seat next to her. "Hey."

"You came!" Chloe squeals, wrapping Beca up in an awkward hug across the seat.

Beca flounders for a moment before settling on patting Chloe's shoulder. "You told me to. What did I miss?"

"Nothing much. Auditions for the minor roles are over, but competition for the main roles looks tough."

She's not wrong. The two girls dancing around on stage right now look pretty impressive. Vocally, though, Beca thinks they could give them a run for their money. She spots Jesse playing the piano, and grimaces. If she goes up there – with Chloe – she might never hear the end of it. "Are we really doing this?" she asks, looking pleadingly at Chloe and still hoping she's been kidding all along.

"Yup." Chloe falters for a moment. "At least, I think we are."

The teacher calls for any last auditions, but Chloe seems frozen to her seat. "Uh, Chloe?" Beca nudges her with her elbow. "Dude, do you want to do this or not?"

It's when the drama teacher is thanking everyone for showing up that Chloe finally shoots out of her seat. "Wait, I'd like to audition."

The teacher raises an eyebrow, probably trying to figure out if she's ever seen Chloe in a theatre class before. "Do you have a partner?"

Beca sighs, but stands up and follows Chloe down. "I'll sing with her."

She doesn't know what she expects, but it's definitely not for the teacher to refuse. "Timeliness means something in the world of theatre, ladies. I called for last auditions, and you didn't respond. Maybe the next musical." With that, she walks up the stage and disappears into the wings.

Beca thinks she might be a little amazed at how she turned Chloe down, because she could use notes on that. She hasn't learned to refuse Chloe anything. "Well, you can't say we didn't try."

"Miss Darbus is that way," Jesse says from the piano. Beca isn't sure she likes the way he's looking from her to Chloe with that smile. Like he knows something she doesn't. "Do you two want to give it a shot? Just for fun?"

"Sure," Chloe says, answering for both of them. Beca would protest if Chloe wasn't giving him that smile. As it is, though, she just shrugs and goes along with it.

She could really use those notes from Darbus.

Apparently Darbus needs notes, too, because she gives them a callback.

Jesse gives them the sheet music and lets them fool around for a while, first, letting them find the pitch and the tune and their places in the song before taking them through it with the piano once through. Singing with Chloe is as amazing as she remembered – Beca hits all the lows to Chloe's highs and their voices still blend really well together. It's just the three of them in the auditorium now, so Beca lets loose and really goes for those notes and pushes herself to project, just to see if she can reach the whole room without a mic. Chloe matches her game, but they never try to overpower the other.

So, it's kind of great. Chloe's kind of great, and Beca might be a goner.

Doing this gives her a kind of rush she never knew she craved. She's known for years that she wants to be a music producer, but she's never felt a similar rush about performing until now. Beca isn't sure why that is. Maybe it's because there are no expectations here, or maybe it's in the excellent acoustics of the auditorium. Maybe it's Chloe.

Maybe it's all of it, but Beca has never felt so at home next to anyone else. That should probably tell her something.

When Jesse plays the last note, Beca breathes out slowly because dear god that was a rush. And then suddenly Darbus comes back on the stage and she's apparently been lurking in the wings, because she tells them that the theatre always gives new talent a fair chance and makes Jesse give them the sheet music to one of the numbers from the musical's second act, and yeah. Callbacks.

Beca feels mortified because she really threw herself into that song and she kind of hates Jesse too, because she sees the way he's fighting a grin and she knows he probably was trying for this to happen. But then Chloe is laughing, with her head thrown back and everything, and god she's so pretty that Beca can't be mad at any one of them at all.

Jesus fucking Christ on a stick, this crush will be the end of her.

Naturally, when the results of the auditions are released, no one really gives two shits other than the theatre kids they were up against and their respective teams.

The girls' basketball team and the scholastic decathlon team are both in an uproar. Chloe tells her about it as they walk over to the music rooms for the first of what Beca is sure will be many rehearsals on their own. The thought of being alone with Chloe so often scares her as much as it thrills her. "Aubrey nearly threw a fit," the redhead says. She doesn't look particularly bothered by it, especially considering that Aubrey, the team's vice-captain, is her best friend. "She was so frustrated. Said she expected a hundred percent commitment to the team and this musical is going to take away from that."

"Stacie was the same way," Beca says, grimacing as she runs over how Stacie had laid into her earlier that day. "More understanding, but more or less the same way."

Beca thinks, though, that Stacie was only more understanding because she knows of Beca's huge crush on Chloe, which, at this point, would be pointless to deny. She's fucking smitten and she knows it. While Stacie understood Beca "trying to worm your way into Chloe's pants", though, she didn't understand why it had to be through an activity that would likely cut into her time. Beca had only gotten her to lay off with the most impressive glare she could muster. "How'd you get Aubrey off your case?"

"Oh, you know, calmly reassured her I'd still give my team a hundred percent laser focus and wouldn't be ditching practice or games, and then gave her my brightest smile," Chloe chirps.

"Your brightest smile, huh?" Beca shakes her head. Going by what Chloe's just said, it's obvious she knows what her smile does to people. "You're a special kind of terrible, Chlo."

Chloe grins. "You love it."

Beca is only just gathered enough to outwardly deny that she might.

"You're really good with your hands," Chloe says one day, leaning on the top of the piano.

When the redhead winks, Beca actually chokes on her spit.

Was she just…?

No, she couldn't have been. That wasn't flirting, that was probably just Chloe being Chloe.

Beca tries to put it out of her mind for the rest of their rehearsal, but that night, in her room, she finishes mix C27 (Chloe's been humming Enchanted non-stop for the past few days but it is a total coincidence that that song features so heavily in this mix) and thinks that she kind of wishes Chloe had been flirting. Just a little.

She isn't sure how she got here.

Here being the doorstep of Chloe's house on a Saturday afternoon. Surprisingly, Chloe lives only a ten minutes' walk away from Beca, and that had been all the reason Chloe needed to invite Beca over to rehearse and hang out and "maybe do our homework, or something". (Beca doesn't think they'll actually get much homework done, but she snagged two textbooks as she left her room anyway.)

Swallowing hard, Beca tells herself not to be such a wimp before she rings the bell. She can hear it ring somewhere inside, followed by Chloe yelling that she'd get the door. She barely has time to prepare before Chloe practically throws the door open and wraps her in a hug.

"Hey!" Chloe's smile is unfairly radiant. "Come in."

Beca gives her a smile in return – smaller, but still a smile – and follows her into the house. Chloe stops in the kitchen to grab some snacks and introduce Beca to her parents, who are seated at the counter.

"Mom, Dad, this is Beca," she says. "We're auditioning for the school musical together."

Beca gives an awkward wave. "Hello."

Chloe's mom, however, has none of it, instead invading Beca's space like her daughter often does to wrap her up in a tight hug. Beca feels herself freeze, and she's pretty sure that when she looks back at Chloe she looks at least vaguely alarmed. Help me, she mouths.

Chloe, thank god, takes pity on her. Grabbing a packet of chips from a cupboard, she takes Beca by the elbow and leads her out. "We'll be in my room," she calls, as they walk up the staircase.

"Thank you," Beca breathes.

Chloe just laughs. "Alright, Drama Queen, this is my room."

The room is nothing like Beca expects it would be. For one, she'd imagined a lot more pink, but Chloe's bedroom is in fact surprisingly modern. She has a queen sized bed, with blue and white sheets, a desk by the window, and –

"A keyboard?" Beca raises an eyebrow. "Dude, you play the piano too, but you've been letting me do all the work?"

"I don't play as well as you do," Chloe says, shrugging it off. "Plus, I like watching you play. Your fingers are ridiculous."

Beca nearly chokes. Again. She moves over to look out the window, and when she turns back, she notices something on the floor by this side of the bed that she didn't notice before. "Um, Chloe? What's that?"

"What's – oh, that's Charlie," Chloe says, taking a seat on her bed. She leans over the edge so she can run her fingers over the sleeping golden retriever's fur.

"You have a dog," Beca says dumbly.

Chloe looks up at Beca and pats the space next to her. Beca kicks off her shoes and sits, but brings her feet up to get away from the dog. "He's totally harmless, don't worry."

"Harmless?" Beca repeats, incredulous. "Dude, he's like, as big as I am!"

Chloe laughs. "That's because you're tiny, Bec."

"Oh, no, that has nothing to do with this," Beca says. "You didn't tell me you had a dog."

"It never came up," Chloe says, apparently unbothered. "Are you scared?"

"Scared? Who, me?" Beca's first instinct is to deny it, but then Charlie – dear god, who names a giant beast Charlie? – stirs and she realizes that Chloe is the only thing that stands between her and the dog when it wakes up. "Try terrified. Please keep it away from me."

Chloe laughs, and the dog stirs further. Beca hisses at her to keep it down, but that just makes her laugh harder. "He's harmless!"

"To you!" The dog finally rouses from its slumber, and slowly looks around. It barks when it sees Beca, making her jump. "Oh my god it's awake up keep it away from me or I swear to god Beale I will drop you like a hot potato right now."

She considers dropping Chloe like a hot potato right there because the other girl just giggles. She fucking giggles. "You act all tough, but you're really just a giant softie, aren't you?"

"This isn't funny, Chloe," Beca hisses. Charlie hasn't looked away since first laying eyes on her. "Oh my god, can dogs smell fear?"

Chloe laughs so hard that she snorts. Evidently deciding that Beca isn't a threat, Charlie moves closer to the bed and puts its front paws on top of the mattress, getting dangerously close.

Beca scampers back. "Dude, call it off."

Through her laughter, Chloe chokes out a single "Nope". Instead, she actually beckons for Charlie to climb atop the mattress, which it does. It nuzzles Chloe before returning its attention to Beca.

"Oh." Beca scampers back more. "Oh, no you don't. Chloe, hold it back."

She knows she's coming close to actually whining, but at this point, she'll do anything to ensure her safety. Chloe, though, still hasn't stopped laughing. "Charlie's harmless, Bec, I swear – wait if you move back any further you're going to -"

Beca pushes herself back more, and this time finds herself hitting air. She drops onto the floor with a thud. "–fall," Chloe finishes. Charlie barks and jumps off the bed and onto the brunette, who lets out an oof. "Aw, I think he likes you."

"Chloe get him off oh my god he's gonna lick – oh, ew." Beca would shove Charlie off her, but she really doesn't want to somehow be responsible for killing Chloe's dog. "Please get him off me."

Chloe finally – finally! – relents, but apparently not before taking a picture. When Beca hears the iPhone's shutter sound, she glares at Chloe as best as she can from her position on the floor underneath a 70 pound mass. Chloe just laughs. "Only because you asked so nicely. C'mere, boy."

Charlie hops off Beca and back onto the bed. Warily, Beca sits up on the floor, massaging her butt, which took the brunt of her fall. "Harmless, right."

"You only got hurt because you didn't watch where you were going," Chloe points out, before returning her attention to Charlie. "Who's a good boy?"

Charlie barks again as Chloe strokes its head, and Beca sighs. It's going to be a long afternoon.

Chloe keeps Charlie away the next time Beca goes over to her place, thank god. And the time after that.

The fourth time Beca visits, though, Charlie curls up at Beca's side, which causes Beca to stiffen. Chloe ignores her discomfort and lets the golden retriever be for a good half an hour before finally taking pity on Beca and telling Charlie to snuggle up with her instead.

The fifth time Beca visits, she tries patting Charlie lightly. Charlie responds by barking, which startles Beca so much that she falls off the bed – again.

Still, she figures it's progress.

The sixth time she visits, Charlie decides to curl up into her side to take a nap. Chloe tells her that the dog is a heavy sleeper, which gives her the courage she needs to run a hand down its smooth coat. It's actually pretty nice, not that she'd admit it. Still, she continues to stroke Charlie as it sleeps, and she doesn't even remember she's doing it until Chloe points it out, at which point her hand stills.

"Don't stop," Chloe says, sounding disappointed. "You looked really cute."

Beca scowls. "I'm not cute."

Chloe laughs. It's clear and warm and fills Beca up with something she can't quite name. "Are too."

"Am not," Beca protests. "Take it back."

"Make me," Chloe says.

It takes a lot of resolve to ignore that make me is usually code for something else. Beca grabs the closest pillow and chucks it at the redhead, who ducks in time for it to sail over her harmlessly. Huffing in irritation, she leans back against the headboard. Her hand travels down Charlie's fur once more, and she grabs a pillow to cover her face when she hears the tell-tale shutter sounds of Chloe taking photos again.

She's not sure how it happens; one minute they're sitting there on the bed, Charlie resting on the ground, and then Beca makes some dry comment about the script of the musical they're auditioning for and Chloe throws her head back laughing and god, Beca thinks she looks beautiful.

And then Chloe's laughs die down and they're kind of just staring at each other, and – is Chloe staring at her lips? Beca licks them experimentally, and watches as Chloe's eyes flick downwards again, so, yeah, definitely staring at her lips. Her heart feels like it's about to beat right out of her chest, but maybe it's supposed to feel that way, because if she just tilts her head and moves that little bit closer their lips would meet, and did Chloe's lips always look that pink and soft? (Yes and yes. Beca has done enough staring of her own to know this.)

Chloe leans forward, shifting on the bed, and okay, so this is really happening.

Until it's not. Because Charlie chooses that very moment to jump at Beca and literally tackles her off the edge of the bed and onto the floor, and god damn it but Beca is pretty sure she is going to be permanently bruised if Charlie makes this a habit. "Jesus," she breathes, nudging the dog off her. "Dude, some warning would be nice."

Charlie just barks cheerfully as it rolls off her. Beca looks back up at Chloe, who meets her eyes and lets out a shaky laugh. "Sorry about that," she says. Her voice is slightly breathy; Beca swallows hard. "Charlie just seems to really like you, I guess."

Beca lets out a shaky laugh of her own. "Just Charlie?" she asks, startling even herself. "I mean, I, um." She gets to her feet and dusts herself off. "I should, um. Go. I'll see you at school."

She grabs her backpack off the floor and dashes out before Chloe can argue. Outside, she walks briskly until she turns the corner of the block, where she stops to catch her breath.

What the hell just happened?

"What's up with you?" Stacie asks, as they walk down the corridor. They'd met in the carpark and had sort of just fallen into step next to each other. "You're all tense."

Beca shrugs. "It's nothing."

In truth, it's not nothing. Today is the first day she'll be seeing Chloe after what happened at her house on Friday, and Beca is nervous as hell. They hadn't even texted over the weekend, which was unusual because it's Chloe and she texts, like, all the time, just to tell Beca about The Bachelor and America's Next Top Model and to ask about chemistry homework. Beca doesn't want to admit it, but the sudden silence had been unnerving.

She thinks the tenseness in her shoulders is totally justified, thank you very much.

Stacie gives Beca a pointed look. "It doesn't look like nothing to me. Want me to massage those knots out?"

She's barely placed a hand on top of Beca's shoulder when Beca knocks it away. "I'll pass."

Stacie huffs. "Suit yourself. Trouble in paradise?"

"No," Beca says shortly.

They're nearing the staircase now, but Beca stops and hangs back when she hears Aubrey's voice, slightly raised, from the hallway to the left. Beca realizes they're near the gym.

"You're getting way too distracted by that tiny alt girl," she's saying. "What's going on with you two?"

Beca hears Chloe groan. "I'm sorry, Bree, I know I've been distracted. I promise I'll be more focused. And Beca is… just a girl."

She doesn't stay to listen to the rest of the conversation; she's already moving, spinning on her heel to power walk back the way they came from. It's easy – it's so easy to wipe any emotion off her face, because she's never been all that open with her emotions until Chloe, anyway. Chloe, who thinks she's just a girl and evidently doesn't see Beca the way Beca sees her, and she feels so stupid because in what universe would a girl like Chloe even go for someone like her? Beca's thoughts are in a mess, because did she imagine everything that happened on Friday night? Maybe she read the signs wrong. Maybe she read Chloe wrong.

Maybe she read everything wrong. Thank god Charlie interrupted them when it did.

She hates the way Stacie looks at her, like someone just shot her puppy. Sad, with eyes full of pity. Which is a stupid comparison, because Beca didn't even remotely like dogs. Until Chloe. "Are you alright?"

"Never better," Beca says, and it's not a lie, not really.

She's just faking it until she makes it.

It's a Monday, which means they have AP Chem after lunch. To Beca's relief, Stacie sits down next to her in the lab. When Chloe runs in, barely half a minute before the bell, Stacie asks if it'd be okay if they swapped seats because she has to talk to Beca about something. "I mean, I sit with Aubrey, so it shouldn't be a problem, right?"

Beca assumes Chloe nods, or something, because there's no verbal response from the redhead. When the bell rings and the teacher walks in, Beca finally looks up from her fisted hands. "Thanks," she tells Stacie quietly.

Stacie just smiles. Beca makes it a point to avoid looking at Chloe at all.

After class, she approaches Chloe for what she intends to be the last time.

"Hey, I need to talk to you for a minute," she says.

Chloe looks up and smiles. Beca loves that smile, she really does, but right now, that smile just makes her feel numb. She looks away. "Sure."

She tells Aubrey to go on ahead, and Beca takes a deep breath, waiting for the classroom to empty out before she looks back at Chloe and speaks again. "I can't do this anymore."

A look of concern immediately appears on Chloe's face. Beca swallows hard, clenches her jaw. She hates this. She hates feeling angry at Chloe, because even if Chloe threw her through the grinder this morning, she's still Chloe, and she won't deserve anything Beca might throw back at her in anger. Desperately, she tries to contain the feeling. She doesn't dismiss it, though, because it's at least something, and she's sick of feeling numb. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," Beca says, making sure none of her inner turmoil is showing on her face, "I'm not doing the callbacks. It was a stupid idea to begin with. I'm going to focus on the decathlon, and you're going to focus on your championship, and we're both going to forget this even happened."

"Beca." Chloe's frowning now. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong." It's the hardest lie she's ever told, but Beca delivers it easily. As she should; she's gotten good at lying over the years.

She should have known, though, that Chloe wouldn't accept this without a fight. It's the kind of person she is. "Becs," she says, her voice soft and pleading. "Come on, talk to me."

It's the way Chloe says her name – like if Beca doesn't talk to her, she might actually hurt, like Beca holds any of the answers, like Beca means something, god fucking damnit – that finally makes her break. "Leave it, Chloe," she snaps, in a harsh tone that she typically reserves for her dad. She almost regrets it. "You don't have to pretend it matters. I'm just a girl, right?"

Beca leaves the room before she does something she does regret. She doesn't want to admit that it stings that Chloe just lets her go.

She regrets snapping at Chloe later, but she can't fix that, and she won't embarrass herself trying. She tells herself that she is done with this shit that is feelings and musicals and redheads that make her heart pound, because she gave them one chance, and look where that got her.

Her music doesn't mix properly anymore.

Typically when she has a bad day, she goes home and mixes basslines and drumbeats until she cools down. Some of her best work has been produced on days like those. But it's not working now, when Beca desperately need a distraction. All she has are sad, mopey things that she never intends to listen to again. They go straight into the 'no' folder.

She doesn't even want to be mixing anymore, because when she opens her music library to browse for songs she could mash together, she realizes she has an ungodly amount of Taylor Swift in it, which might have been laughable at first, but now just fucking hurts, so. It kind of kills her motivation.

On Friday, Beca comes home to a note on the dinner table from her mom telling her that she'd gotten called in for a surgery (a five car pileup, which meant that she wouldn't be back until late) and that she should order a pizza if she got hungry. So Beca picks up the phone and dials for a pizza, and she has never been so glad that she makes a habit out of checking the peephole before opening the door because when the bell rings half an hour later, it's not the pizza guy, but Chloe.

When the bell rings again ten minutes later, she pads back down the stairs and notes with relief that it's actually the pizza guy this time, and the redhead is gone.

So, it's been a whole week since she last talked to Chloe, though it's not for a lack of trying on the other girl's part. Chloe has been calling and leaving voicemails and messages since Thursday. Beca ignores them, not particularly keen on hearing the redhead's voice. Stacie sits next to her in AP Chem again, and when the bell rings, Beca makes sure she's the first one out of the classroom. She knows she can't handle another confrontation like that with Chloe without breaking, and she doesn't intend at all to let that happen.

With her music not working for her, she throws herself into decathlon training instead. She sits in the classroom with the rest of the nerds on the team and walks them through chemical equations. Just like it did during the divorce, chemistry helps, occupying her mind so thoroughly that she doesn't have the capacity to think about singing and musicals and Chloe.

Stacie seems to know how much she needs this, and accepts it without questioning. Other than a short conversation in which the taller brunette accuses her of moping and Beca denies it, they don't speak of the incident in the hallways at all. Beca doesn't express it, but she's thankful.

So when Stacie asks if she can lock up the classroom at the end of training, she doesn't think twice about it. "Yeah, sure," she says.

Stacie tosses her the keys. "Thanks. I've got a hot date waiting out front."

Beca rolls her eyes. "Is this the same hot date as last week?"

"Nope," Stacie says cheerily. "I'm off."

Beca waves her away and sets to work moving the chairs back to their original places and cleaning the whiteboard. After a bit, she starts humming under her breath, but she huffs and stops as soon as she realizes it's The Way I Loved You. "I wish you'd get out of my head," she mutters, cleaning the board with more force than is probably necessary.

She stiffens when she hears Chloe's voice from the doorway. "I'm glad I'm still in your head."

"No one said it was you," Beca says, not missing a beat. She doesn't turn away from the whiteboard. "Why are you here?"

"To talk," Chloe says simply.

Beca concentrates on wiping the whiteboard clean. "I don't want to talk."

"That's good, then I'll talk, and you can listen," Chloe says. "You really haven't made this easy for me. I had to beg Stacie to help me get you alone."

She wipes the last equation off the board, and puts the duster down. "Stacie helped you?" she asks, and she hates that this sounds more hurt than angry. She doesn't want Chloe to know she's anything but angry. Finally, she takes a deep breath and turns around to look at Chloe, who is still standing in the doorway. The other girl looks exhausted, but also determined as hell. Beca isn't sure what to make of it. All she knows is that she's missed her.

"Just hear me out." Chloe takes a deep breath before she continues. "After what happened last week, I went to Aubrey, who tried to help me make sense of things. While we were talking, Jesse approached us and demanded to know what I'd done to make you so upset. I didn't even know I'd done anything to make you upset. He told us that the only one who knew what had happened was Stacie, so we went to look for her."

"And she told you?" Beca asks, clenching one fist.

"It took a lot of convincing," Chloe says. "Stacie is a scarily protective friend. I'm glad you have her. She didn't actually tell us anything until I confessed how I felt."

"How you felt," Beca repeats, her brow furrowing.

Chloe nods, taking a deep breath as she finally walks into the room, stepping closer to Beca. "Becs," she says, slowly, "I really, really like you."

Beca freezes. Her eyes dart from Chloe to the door, and she wonders if she could make a break for it. "Don't play with me, Chloe."

"I'm not playing with you, I promise," Chloe says. "Stacie told me what you heard in the hallway, and it isn't what you thought it was. I haven't – I haven't always been out. Years ago when everyone was starting to trade gossip about the boys they liked, I never really knew what to say, because sometimes I had crushes on boys and sometimes I had crushes on girls. So Aubrey came up with a system for me. Codes and phrases we could use in public without anyone suspecting anything. 'Just a girl' was code for when I had a serious, unrequited crush on a girl."

Beca feels her eyes widening. She glances over at the doorway again, but Chloe seems to notice this and moves even closer, putting herself right between the brunette and the door.

"And maybe that's fitting," Chloe continues. "Because you're just a girl, like I'm just a girl, because we're really just two high school students trying to figure things out. But you're a girl I like spending time with and who makes me smile, and I can see myself with you. And maybe I'm not sure about love, because it's only been a few months since we met, but I really, really like you, dear god."

She must be blushing furiously, her cheeks are so warm. Forget that Chloe is standing in between her and the door. Beca is about to jump over a desk and make a break for it when Chloe closes the remaining distance between them, raising a hand to cup Beca's cheek. "Please tell me you like me too," Chloe says, her voice soft and pleading.

Beca swallows noisily. All she can focus on is how close they are and how soft Chloe's hand feels, and how shiny and pink Chloe's lips look. "God, yes," she manages to breathe out.

That's all Chloe needed, apparently, because Chloe gives her one of those giant, radiant smiles, and guides their lips together. And then they're kissing, and it's soft and sweet and hesitant, and everything Beca didn't know she wanted, and after briefly pulling away for air Chloe leans down again and reconnects their lips and this time it's hungrier. Their lips part and their tongues meet and it's messy, it's so, so messy, and this is everything that Beca knew she wanted. She grabs Chloe by the back of her neck, pulling them even closer together and kissing her like she's wanted to do for ages. They pull back when their teeth start knocking together, and Chloe is laughing, so of course then Beca is laughing, complete and utter joy bubbling up from her lungs, and neither of them makes a move to put any space between them.

Chloe speaks first. "Be my girlfriend?"

And those three words are everything Beca wanted to hear, really. She's told herself for so long, since she first realized she had a crush, that they're words she'd never get to hear, and she'd resigned herself to it last week. It feels ridiculously good to hear them now, so she's not sure why she finds herself tearing up. She tries to hold it back because she hates crying, and she hates crying in front of people even more, but she fails miserably. Chloe immediately looks worried, but Beca speaks before she can say anything. "No, sorry, I'm good, I'm just, I'm really happy," she says through the tears, and she feels really stupid because who even cries after getting asked out by their crush? God, she must look like an idiot.

Chloe, though, looks like she's just handed her the world. "Is that a yes?"

"Definitely a yes," Beca says, somehow laughing and crying at the same time. "I'm sorry, I don't know why I'm crying."

Chloe wraps her up in a tight hug, holding Beca close and resting her chin on the brunette's head. "It's okay, I've got you."

Beca sinks into the hug without really meaning to, because she loves the way it feels. Maybe also just because she can. And right there, in the front of the scholastic decathlon classroom, Chloe gently wipes Beca's tears away with her thumb and puts her back together.

So being Chloe Beale's girlfriend is kind of ridiculous.

This is Beca's first serious relationship, so she doesn't quite know what she's doing, like, half the time. Which is okay, because Chloe initiates a lot of things, anyway. Chloe's the one who asks if she's free on Friday night for a date, or if she wants to come hang out on Saturday, or if they mind stopping at the park on the way home. They go back to rehearsing for callbacks, too, which, you know. All fairly normal things.

Chloe also gives her a new flower every morning. Beca had never considered herself someone who liked flowers all that much – she'd always found it corny, actually – but coming from Chloe, she just feels it's sweet. Sometimes Beca puts the flower in her locker, coming back to retrieve it before she leaves for the day, but sometimes she carries it around with her, and other times she just tucks it behind her ear. The flowers are fine, though. Flowers are perfectly normal girlfriend stuff, right?

What Beca knows isn't normal, even with her limited relationship experience, is how Chloe serenades her, like, all the time.

"Oh my god, stop," Beca says, her cheeks burning. They're in the middle of the hallway, with a gazillion other students milling about before school starts.

Chloe ignores her in favour of continuing to serenade her with Taylor Swift. "And I don't know how it gets better than this, you take my hand and drag me headfirst, fearless."

"Are you done yet?" Beca asks.

Chloe grins. "Don't pretend you don't love it. Besides, no one even cares anymore."

It's true. Chloe's singing had turned heads when she first started doing this, but it's been a week and no one even bats an eyelid when they hear random singing in the hallways or in the toilets or in the cafeteria. "It's still embarrassing," Beca mutters.

The other girl's grin never falters. "You love it."

Beca sighs. She doesn't have to agree because Chloe reads her better than anyone and already knows that she does. "Save your voice for callbacks later, why don't you?"

Chloe slings an arm around Beca's shoulder. "Are you nervous?"

Beca shrugs. "Little bit."

Her cheek, already warm, burn even warmer when Chloe presses a kiss to her cheek. "I think we're going to be awesome."

And because it's Chloe, Beca actually believes it. "Yeah." She tosses her hair over her shoulder and smiles at her girlfriend. "We will be."

And they are.

Waiting to take the stage, Beca finds herself nervous as hell. She also feels really stressed out, because it's a busy week for her. Callbacks today, the scholastic decathlon tomorrow. She tries not to let it show, because she figures that Chloe probably feels equally stressed out since her championship game is the day after the decathlon. But then Chloe squeezes her hand and smiles softly at her, and yeah, Beca can totally do this. They can totally do this.

So when Darbus calls their names, they take the stage and do their thing, and god it is beautiful and amazing and Chloe is beautiful and amazing, and Beca thinks she isn't sure about love either, but watching Chloe fills her up with some kind of joy and she puts all of that in their duet.

Chloe grins at her from across the stage, and Beca thinks she feels it too.

They slayed.

Of course they did. They didn't practice for a little over a month for nothing. With the callbacks over and the results announced (Beca groans when she sees the rehearsal schedule, but Chloe is so excited, she can't find it in herself to complain. Much.), Beca goes into the decathlon actually able to breathe, and of course Chloe is there to watch them win. She is also there to watch when Stacie convinces the team to start throwing her up in the air, but instead of helping Beca, she laughs and eggs them on.

Beca drags Stacie to the basketball game the next day and notices, about halfway through, that Stacie keeps checking out Aubrey's ass. "Hey, I never did ask who your hot date that day was," Beca says. "Was it Aubrey? Because you've been checking her out for a while now."

Stacie shrugs. "Who are you to judge? You're just here to stare at Chloe."

Beca laughs. Whatever, she has more important things to pay attention to than who Stacie chooses to check out. Like Chloe's guns, good lord, no wonder she looks that hot. Basketball uses some serious arm muscle, a fact which Beca has gained a newfound appreciation for.

The night before the last day of school, Beca burns everything on the 'no' folder (except the sad, mopey stuff, which she's moved to another folder named 'to revisit never') onto a CD.

On the last day of school, Beca slips the CD into Chloe's backpack as they leave homeroom.

Chloe knocks on her door on the first day of summer and kisses her senseless. Afterwards, Beca brings Chloe up to her room for the first time and shows Chloe her equipment, and they tell each other about their dreams.

Beca thinks she falls a little bit in love.

Summer passes in a blur of making out and chilling with Charlie and impromptu jam sessions. Occasionally, there are sleepovers, and a couple of parties that Chloe drags her to.

Then it's senior year, and Chloe resumes her habits of serenading her in the hallways and the cafeteria and toilets, dear god (the freshmen look confused for about a week before they learn to accept this as just something that happens), and giving her flowers. Beca still mixes on the roof and sometimes Chloe comes up to watch her work. Other times, she waves at Beca as she runs by in the evening.

One day they spot a notice for the next musical on the notice board near Beca's locker. Chloe's eyes sparkle and Beca knows she's going to regret giving in – the rehearsal schedule for the winter musical is still burned into her mind – but she does, and off they go.

The next summer finds them moving into an apartment just off Barden University's campus.

Beca still can't believe she's doing college, but her dad wouldn't leave her alone about it, and she and Chloe had talked about it a lot over senior year. Since both of them had gotten into Barden together, Beca had decided she could give it a try, maybe. Chloe's going into education, but Beca is still undeclared; she thinks she might do a business major or something and a minor in musical theatre, because she possibly actually enjoyed all of that in high school.

So, here she is, hauling boxes into their new apartment. Already, Chloe is talking about adopting a puppy because she misses Charlie. "Dude, we're college students," Beca says, rolling her eyes because Chloe really needed to think these things through. "We're not gonna have the time or the money to take care of a puppy, Chlo."

Chloe pouts, like, seriously pouts, and she looks so sad that Beca sighs. She'd wanted to save this for when they were finished unpacking, but if there's one thing she can't stand, it's Chloe when she pouts like that. "There's a shelter, about ten minutes from here," she says. "I called ahead. They're open to volunteers."

She barely registers Chloe running towards her before she's tackled onto the couch. Thank god that's already set up. "You're the best," Chloe gushes.

"I know," Beca says. "Roll over, I can't breathe."

Chloe laughs and rolls off her, flashing her one of those bright smiles that Beca loves. So yeah, Beca is doing college, but at least she's doing it with her girlfriend.

"You're such a dork," Beca says. "I love you."

Being the first to say it out loud makes her nervous. She's been trying to say it for days – no, weeks, now. She means it, so she won't take it back, but they've never really said it to each other before, and there's always been this understanding between them since they got together back in junior year that they're young and don't necessarily know what love is.

But it's been over a year since that day in the scholastic decathlon classroom, when Chloe told her she wasn't sure about love yet, and they've known each other for longer than two months now. Over her last one and a half years of high school, Beca's been falling more and more in love with Chloe every day. Plus, they're moving in together, and that should count for something, right?

It's a relief when Chloe pecks her on the lips and says, with the brightest grin Beca's seen yet, "I love you too."

hit me up on tumblr at clexakomskaikru (thanks to the guest who reminded me ffn censors addresses) where you can watch me fumble around and figure out the bechloe future fic that's been bouncing around in my head in which beca tries to hide that she's really the one behind some grammy winning persona while chloe temporarily moves in with her