There is a girl who sings in the showers at midnight every Wednesday. Well, not exactly midnight. Give or take five to fifteen minutes. And Beca waits, however long it takes, in a shower stall until the girl walks in belting Adele or Kelly Clarkson or god forbid, Miley Cyrus.
But sometimes, she surprises Beca with Dr Dre or David Guetta. And Beca will find herself reaching for her robe and three seconds later, lingering outside the girl's stall.
This is why she doesn't shower during the day. The thought of her naked body being exposed just by the flip of a thin curtain. At night, that likelihood is lower with people almost falling asleep or killing themselves writing the ten page essay that is due tomorrow or losing themselves in alcohol and strangers. But at this moment, she is the exact person she fears (and sometimes checks for when her midnight shower is eerily quiet).
Upon realizing this, she quickly tiptoes back to her stall so she can finish washing off the remaining shampoo on her hair.
But of course she gets caught the first time she does something stalkery. That's how awkward she is.
Beca curses under her breath and turns around and, "Hi," but the 'i' is lost along with her ability to breathe. Her eyes immediately shift to the ceiling.
The girl has pulled the curtain all the way to the side, leaving Beca with the full view of well, everything.
"I'm out of shampoo. Do you mind if I take some of yours?" the girl says, seemingly unconcerned by her state of undress while Beca tries really hard not to look.
"Sure," Beca rushes to get her shampoo bottle but when she turns around, she finds that the girl has followed her into the stall. "Here," Beca hands her the bottle, concentrating hard on her eyes.
(Wow, she's never thought that shade of blue could exist on a real person.)
The girl doesn't take it. "You're that girl from the activities fair." She chuckles, "You made Aubrey really mad."
"I'm…sorry?" Maybe if Beca apologizes, she'll go away. Staring into that much blue makes her feel like she's drowning.
"It's okay. She'll get over it," the girl says. "Speaking of which, auditions are tomorrow."
"I really can't sing."
"Then show me."
"Dude, you're nude," Beca says, in case the girl needs reminding.
She doesn't. She shrugs and says, "I'm confident about all this."
You should, Beca thinks. But so not the point here. "And I have shampoo in my eye," she tries again.
"Both your eyes are fine," the girl says confidently.
Later, much later, Beca will curse herself for not asking to see her optometry license.
But that probably won't work either because the girl just stands there, letting out a long loud sigh as Beca tries her best to glare at her without thinking about all her private parts.
"Bulletproof…" Beca starts to sing. "Nothing to lose," she looks down and promptly remembers why she cannot. "Fire away. Fire—" she stops. She can't further embarrass herself even if it means having to endure the nakedness in front of her. "You know there's a reason why I hate my Uncle Mark."
"Why is that?" the girl asks. To her credit, she genuinely looks like she doesn't have a clue.
"He makes me sing during every family gathering just so everyone can laugh at my terrible voice."
The girl huffs. "Your voice is great," she says, her voice a little too squeaky for honesty.
Beca quirks an eyebrow.
"Well, it's not great," the girl admits, "but it's not terrible either."
"So can you take this," Beca holds out her shampoo bottle again, "and let me wash my hair?"
She almost can't believe it when the girl actually takes it. She's probably feeling guilty for having hurt Beca's pride.
But then her lips curl up and she says, "You know singing isn't for pretty voices only."
Beca stops waiting for Chloe (she got the redhead's name from Fat Amy) after that. The whole naked thing was weird but it wasn't about that. She feels mortified that the girl whose voice she's been admiring from three shower cubicles away found out how awful her voice is. According to Fat Amy, Chloe is the nicest person in the world. And Beca is pretty sure that she was just being her nice self that night.
But even so, Beca can't stay away from Chloe for too long. She finds herself wandering into the SBT house's backyard where she knows the Bellas will be performing.
And boy, Chloe wasn't kidding when she said singing can be unattractive. Beca can feel her cheeks burn from second hand embarrassment as she watches the performance.
But when the frat boy halts the Bellas and calls them a barnyard explosion, she wants to kick his ass so badly. The Bellas' voices were actually good. It was everything else that was a little messy.
She follows the embarrassed Bellas and listens to their leader (the girl who Beca remembers was a second away from choking her at the activities fair) ranting about how awful they were and it should be a lesson to each of them. Then she points out to Chloe how her voice wasn't Aguilerean. And Chloe turns to the group, looking broken, and confesses that she has nodes.
When Beca goes back to her dorm, she googles nodes to find out what they are and winces when she reads the wikipedia page. Why the hell does Chloe still sing?
She waits for Chloe in the showers at midnight to ask her. Beca expects silence when she shows up because she doesn't really need to sing here but no, she sings anyway. Only her voice is much softer and she restrains herself from belting the high notes.
Then Beca realizes how much of an idiot she has been.
So when Chloe sings, "and the Jay-Z song was on…"
She chimes in, "So I put my hands up, they're playing my song…"
It doesn't matter that she's revealing herself as someone who knows a Miley Cyrus song or that she doesn't sing with people around. Chloe has been singing for her (even if she doesn't notice it) and it's her turn to sing for Chloe.
When they're done, Beca retrieves her towel which is a smart move because five seconds later, Chloe is pulling open the shower curtain (thankfully, this time she wraps a towel around her) and squeals, "You sang!" and asks, "Did you enjoy it this time?"
"Check and check," Beca says, her lips quirking into a shy smile because even though they're both covered this time, there is still a lot to see and they're both wet.
"Why?" Chloe asks.
Beca bites her lower lip. "I was at the SBT mixer and I kinda followed you guys after."
"So you heard," Chloe mutters.
Chloe tilts her head sideways, a small smile playing at her lips. "And you came back tonight to cheer me up."
Beca blushes and starts rambling about how it's a total coincidence and how she didn't wait for Chloe or anything and how she just wanted to take a shower for god's sake until she realizes the word 'back' that Chloe not so sneakily slipped into her sentence.
"Wait. You knew?"
Chloe's lips stretch into a knowing smile. "The curtain isn't exactly opaque. I can see your shadow."
"So are you trying to out creep me?"
Chloe chuckles. "I always see you with headphones around your neck. So I figured if you like music so much that you wear it everywhere you go, you can't be that bad."
Beca raises her eyebrows. "Wow, you're a great judge character, aren't you?"
"Says the girl who is having a conversation with someone who just crept on her shower."
"But see, I never said that I am."
"Neither am I," Chloe winks.
Beca swallows. "Uh, I want to show you something." But she quickly realizes that isn't a good segue when Chloe smirks. "No, not this," her palm hovers frantically over her chest.
"Sure," Chloe agrees, her smirk still not faltering.
It takes Chloe until the semi-finals to finally defy Aubrey. Beca didn't mean for it to turn out this way. She just saw how worried Chloe was and wanted to help.
"I think if the Bellas adopt a fresher approach on things, you might have a real shot at winning."
But Chloe kept saying, "I don't think Aubrey will go for it," all the while nudging Beca to play her mixes.
It should annoy Beca how Chloe was listening to her but not really listening. And maybe a little part of her did. It's just that the rest of her was too busy enjoying Chloe's company. How she comfortably laid herself on Beca's bed and how she perked up whenever a song from her jam was in one of Beca's mixes and how she liked to play with the sleeve of Beca's sweatshirt when they're sitting next to each other.
"But what if you keep the songs from your set but you layer them with other songs?" Beca had suggested and pulled up the vocals part of Bulletproof on her laptop. "Try singing that first song."
"You mean The Sign?"
When Beca suggested that, she thought that Chloe was going to discuss it with the Bellas. But from Aubrey's death glare and the way the other Bellas are looking at Chloe with panic, she gathers that the discussion did not happen.
She heads for the backstage right after the Bellas' performance. Beca thinks Chloe's stunt actually stopped the judges from nodding to sleep. But from what she's heard of Aubrey from Chloe, she is certain that Aubrey is going to explode.
And she's right.
When she enters the backstage, Aubrey catches sight of her. "It's her, isn't it?," Aubrey points furiously.
"Aubrey, don't—" Chloe tries to intervene.
But Aubrey is already on a roll. "She's the one who filled you with these stupid ideas!"
"Whoa," Beca raises her hands. "My stupid idea made the lighting guy stop texting his wife."
"What do you know?" Aubrey cries out. "You can't even sing!"
"But at least my head isn't stuck so far up my ass that I can't hear anything except my own voice."
Aubrey purses her lips, no quick retort coming out of her mouth. Then she turns to Chloe, eyes full of hurt. "Is that what you think of me?"
"No," Chloe says softly, "No, Aubrey. I just wanted you to listen to me for once."
"Well, I heard you loud and clear," Aubrey says, hands on her hips and nodding. "You don't need me." Then she looks at all the Bellas. "You all don't need me. I get it. Here," she takes her pitch pipe out of her pocket and shoves it into Chloe's hands. "Now, you can change the set however you want."
But that isn't the most shocking thing that happened.
After Aubrey has left and Chloe's done staring at the door, her eyes shift to Beca. "Are you happy now?" she spits out angrily.
Then she storms off leaving Beca to stand awkwardly with the remaining Bellas.
The thing is Beca has no idea what she did. She thought she was encouraging Chloe to do something she knew Chloe wanted to do. She didn't even know that a person could mess up something like that.
It is seriously messing with her head because Luke has offered her the night slots during spring break after finally listening to her mixes and she should be ecstatic but all she could think of is Chloe and what she might have done wrong.
This is what happens when you let someone in, she thinks to herself as she stares at a mix she's been working on for the past three weeks.
Then Kimmy Jin surprises her by saying goodbye before she leaves for spring break. Maybe even her roommate notices her pathetic state.
She plugs in her headphones into her computer. She thinks if she can drown out the cheers of spring break, she can finally concentrate on finishing this mix. She doesn't even realize it when there is a knock on the door.
The next thing she knows, Chloe's face is right in front of hers.
"Geez, Chloe!" she exclaims, taking off her headphones.
"I knocked," Chloe explains. "You didn't hear me."
Beca stands because Chloe is standing. And they both stand silently, feet shifting and fingers twisting into a pretzel for what feels like one awkward hour.
"I—" they say at the same time.
"I'm sorry," Chloe says first after they both fall quiet again.
"It's okay," Beca shrugs. It's her automatic reaction to apologies after having received a million of them from her parents.
"No, it's not," Chloe says. Huh, she doesn't have a reaction for that. "You just wanted to help and instead of thanking you, I blamed you for Aubrey leaving the Bellas."
Beca walks to her bed and sits on it. "Well, I shouldn't have said all those things to Aubrey," she says, patting the empty spot beside her. It just feels weird when Chloe is in her room but doesn't plop herself down on Beca's bed like it's hers.
Chloe complies. "But that's only because I gave you that impression of her. Aubrey's not like that. Not all the time anyway. She's actually a good friend."
"When our old captain said my breath smells like egg, Aubrey switched her breath mints with some tablets that make your breath stink really bad. It wasn't eggs," Chloe laughs, "but her boyfriend won't kiss her for a week."
"Really?" Beca looks at her amusedly. "I didn't know Aubrey is capable of pranks."
"Uh-huh," Chloe nods. "She used to go to clown camp so she has a lot of good pranks up her sleeves."
"I'm impressed. A bit a weirded out. But impressed."
"That's Aubrey for you," Chloe mutters.
The awkward silence creeps back again. Now that Aubrey is out of the way, Chloe has to talk about what she really came here for. She's stalling and Beca doesn't want to push her.
It reminds Beca of the times when Chloe would come to her room. They would sit on her bed and do their own things in silence; Chloe with her assignments and Beca with her mixes. Beca never felt like she needed to fill the air with unnecessary noise. They were comfortable just being close to each other.
Not like how they are now.
But Beca endures it. Maybe if she does, they can go back to those times.
She places her hand on top of Chloe's. It always made Beca feel at ease when Chloe touched her and she wants Chloe to feel the same way.
Chloe lets their fingers intertwine. "I'm taking out my nodes," she says.
"That's…" Beca doesn't know whether to congratulate her or to comfort her.
"It's fine. I decided on it a few months ago," Chloe says. "I guess that's why I pulled that stunt during the semi-finals. It's the last time I was going to sing with my voice and I wanted to do everything I can to bring us to the finals before I lost some of my range but Aubrey wasn't listening to me. So I…" Chloe shakes her head. "Not that it matters now."
Beca squeezes her hand. "It matters. In almost losing your voice, you gain it." But as soon as Beca hears her own words, she covers her face with her palm (the one that isn't holding Chloe's hand). "Oh god, did I just say that?"
Chloe grins. "Don't worry," she murmurs. "I won't tell anyone Beca Mitchell gives good advice."
"That's probably a good idea," Beca says, wondering if Chloe has moved because she swears her face isn't this close to Chloe's when they sat. "Don't want people to start knocking on my door."
Chloe doesn't echo her laugh. She just stares at Beca with her smile, the one that makes Beca forget to breathe.
For a second, Beca thinks she's going to kiss her. Beca reminds herself to inhale some air because if they do, she doesn't know if she has the strength to pull away.
"I'm glad I found you," Chloe says, leaning in to…hug her.
She would be lying if she says she isn't mildly disappointed but she hugs back. "Me too," she whispers into Chloe's hair. Because that emptiness she's been feeling for the last three weeks is now gone, replaced by Chloe's smile and Chloe's touch.
That's good enough for her.
After spring break, they go back to how they were. Chloe with her books. And Beca with her mixes. Except now Chloe sits on her bed and Beca sits at her desk. Chloe doesn't pull her on the bed and insists for Beca to "Listen to this song!" and share her earphones.
Something has changed and Beca is again clueless to what it is. She's always had feelings for Chloe and she doesn't think she is treating Chloe any differently.
Maybe Chloe has noticed Beca's feelings for her. Maybe she's just waiting for the right time to tell Beca that this silly crush Beca has on her isn't going anywhere.
Maybe Beca should ask instead of driving herself crazy with all these questions.
Shit, she's been staring at Chloe for way too long.
"Nothing," Beca says, trying to come up with a legitimate excuse as fast she can. "Just realizing I have a lot of records." Smooth, Beca.
The space between Chloe's eyebrows crinkles. "You—" she starts to say but something at the door distracts her. "I think you got mail."
Beca swivels her chair around to Kimmy Jin in case the letter is for her. But Kimmy Jin keeps typing on her laptop. So she rises to pick it up. "It's a note," she says as she walks back to her desk. She opens it and on top of it is written 'Dear Chloe'. "For you."
"It's from Aubrey," Chloe says when she looks at the handwriting. She folds it again. "This is weird but could you read it for me?" she hands it back to Beca.
I figured you must be at alt girl's room since you spend all your time there. Anyway, I received a call from the ICCA director and he said the Bellas are going to the finals. Apparently, the kid from the Footnotes is really a kid.
P.S. Alt girl, if Chloe isn't around, do whatever you want with this. I don't care.
Beca rolls her eyes at the note but smiles. The Bellas made it to the finals! That's really good news.
But when she looks down to Chloe, she sees that Chloe isn't happy at all.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
"She hates me," Chloe says.
"She doesn't. I mean she went through all this trouble to tell you about it."
"She could've texted me but she didn't. So she must've deleted my number."
"You don't know that."
Beca can see that her words aren't making Chloe feel any better. She lifts her right foot but then puts it back down again. The last time she boldly held Chloe, their relationship changed.
This happened. This two feet distance between Chloe and her. What if physically closing the gap only widens it further?
So she stands right where she is like a statue while Chloe stares forlornly at the note in her hand until Kimmy Jin clears her throat.
"I have to go," Chloe says, collecting her books. "I'll see you," there is a slight pause before she mutters, "soon."
After Chloe has left her wondering what she did wrong again, Beca comes to the conclusion that Chloe has broken her.
She's never been this way before. Even when Chloe hasn't texted or called her for three days, she still tries to find songs that might be of help to the Bellas. She's never done anything like this. She's never made a mix for someone else.
And she certainly has never talked to a person for someone else. Especially a person who she might be a little scared of.
"What do you want?" Aubrey snaps after Beca has chased her around the quad for five minutes.
"I want to talk to you about Chloe."
Aubrey sighs. "What about her?"
"She wants you back."
"I thought she only wants you."
"I mean back to the Bellas," Beca says. "And isn't it kinda middle school to be jealous of your friend's friend?"
Aubrey snickers. "You really don't know, do you?"
"What don't I…" Beca shakes her head. Aubrey is probably just messing with her. "Never mind. The point is, the Bellas can't win without you."
"Oh, I thought the Bellas can't win without your brilliant ideas," Aubrey snipes.
"Well, your songs are from the 1900s," Beca says. She is losing her patience. And she probably shouldn't have added, "And I mean the early part of the century."
Aubrey huffs and for a second Beca thinks she is really going to strangle her this time. But she doesn't. She throws her head back and pushes past Beca.
"Wait!" Beca cries out even though every part of her being is screaming to let Aubrey go. "Could you just come to the pool tonight and I'll show you what I've been talking about?"
Aubrey doesn't stop.
"So you can prove me wrong!" Beca yells. "If you don't like it, I'm sure Chloe will understand."
She's got her attention now. But Aubrey is still facing away from her.
"And for Chloe," Beca adds and hopes that she doesn't say the wrong thing this time. "She really cares about you and I know you care about her. Otherwise, you wouldn't have remembered my room number. And," she really hopes this work, "you can't let some alt girl come between you and your best friend."
Aubrey finally turns around. "Fine. But if I don't like it, we sing our original set in the finals."
"Sure," Beca promises.
Beca is now realizing that promise wasn't hers to make.
Everything was fine. Aubrey turned up and Chloe was her cheery self again. Beca even remembered not to roll her eyes when Aubrey picked Just the Way You Are for this little experiment of hers.
She gave Cynthia Rose a beat to get them started. And Chloe entered into the song beautifully. Beca then tried her best to weave in Just A Dream with her voice until Aubrey took over.
The Bellas were amazing. They each came up with sounds that harmonized gracefully with Aubrey and Chloe. And Beca can see that they were enjoying the spontaneity of it all. Even Aubrey, whose smile was slow and reluctant.
And Chloe…whose eyes seemed to be fixed on her and Beca had to remind herself that of course they were, she was standing right in front of Chloe.
But her heart still fluttered with hope because maybe Chloe was singing this song for her.
When it ended, Aubrey's smile had grown to a carefree one. But when Beca asked what she thought of it, she said,
"But it was great, right?" And the other Bellas echoed their agreement.
"It was," Aubrey admitted, "but I'm not convinced that it's going to trump tradition in making us champions. So we should all go to sleep and tomorrow, we're going to practice as usual."
There was no reasoning with this girl.
But before Beca could come up something, anything to convince Aubrey, Chloe already said, "No."
Aubrey gasped. "Aca-scuse me!"
"I have the pitch pipe so I make the calls," Chloe said.
"That's mine!" Aubrey screamed.
The next thing Beca knew, Aubrey and Chloe were on the floor trying to reach for the pitch pipe that had fallen off Chloe's pocket because Fat Amy thought crushing them might get them to stop, Stacie for some reason was blowing her rape whistle while Cynthia Rose tried to calm her down, Ashley was crying and everyone else was either in a frenzy or doing a very horrible job at appeasing the situation.
No one told Beca that it would be this hard to help people. Everything she did for Chloe only ended in disasters. Staring at the chaos around her, she decides that she's had enough of it.
She places herself at the sweet spot and shouts, "Enough!" The whole pool shakes with her voice prompting everyone to stop whatever crazy thing they're doing and turn their attention to her. "I'm done."
It's really more for Chloe's benefit than the Bellas'. She thought she could do this friendship thing.
It turns out she can't.
After the pool debacle, Beca decided she needs to move on. Not just from Chloe. But from Barden as well. She doesn't belong here.
She had shown to her dad that she attempted to experience college by joining the magic club and he was satisfied with it after watching her be the lovely assistant for the Amazing Benji's performance. So he will be helping her move to LA.
But then Benji had to offer her a ticket to the ICCA finals.
"The captain of the Treblemakers left and guess who is going to replace him?" he had asked her excitedly.
"You," Beca answered halfheartedly.
"So I wanted to give you this," Benji held out the ticket to her.
She had refused.
But Benji insisted. "You were the only one who was willing to be my assistant and if it wasn't for you, I couldn't have done that disappearing act. So really, it's a thank you gift."
She'd told him that she only did it to please her father.
But he just smiled and said, "Just think about it." Then he waved a handkerchief over her arm and when it left, the ticket was wedged in her bracelet.
She had thrown it away as soon as she went back to her dorm. But when Kimmy Jin wanted to take out the trash the next morning, she frantically jumped out of her bed and fished out the ticket from the bin. She blames the daze of early morning for that.
But she didn't throw it away for the second time, afraid that she might embarrass herself again. So she placed the ticket on her desk and hoped that it would soon be forgotten underneath her CDs. But no such luck. The thing somehow managed to escape from being buried by the clutter of her desk. It was like it had a life of its own. One morning, she woke up and she swore it was staring at her. When she figured out the eyes she thought she saw were the big C's on that thing, she realized that she can't leave before seeing Chloe.
And that is why she's currently in the Lincoln Center watching a competition of organized nerd singing for her second and last time.
Benji got her a good seat. It's just behind the seats reserved for the a capella groups that are competing. And it's directly opposite to the center of the stage. He must be really grateful to her.
But when the Bellas come out to perform, she realizes that it wasn't Benji who gave her the ticket.
Chloe takes her place at the front center of the stage, her eyes instantly falling to the Beca's seat. Her body jerks upwards slightly when she sees Beca as if trying to stop herself from jumping.
Beca gives her a tiny wave, noticing how the Bellas aren't wearing their usual uniform. In fact, they're all dressed differently. The only similarity between their current outfits and their old uniform is the yellow scarves. But even those are fashioned differently on each of them.
She is even more surprised when Fat Amy is the one blowing on the pitch pipe.
But the biggest surprise is when Cynthia Rose starts singing the melody she taught her. And she thinks she must be dreaming because everyone starts to dance but Chloe stands still, looking straight at her as she sings, "She's so beautiful…"
Chloe's eyes never leave her throughout the song. And Beca can't say that it's only because she is sitting right on her line of sight. Chloe is purposely doing this. She is singing this song to her.
Benji's words echo in her ears. "I want you to witness real magic."
She didn't know he meant a magic that is performed on her heart.
When the Bellas end their performance, everyone in the audience jumps to their feet giving them a huge applause but Beca remains seated, not quite believing what just happened.
Chloe sang to her.
Then the Bellas are greeting her excitedly.
She congratulates them. "You guys were really great."
"Thanks to you," someone says. She isn't sure who. Her daze from Chloe's performance still hasn't gone away yet. And applause is still flooding the room.
"I just gave you an idea," she says. "You figured out the rest on your own. I mean Pitbull and Miley Cyrus?"
"Take a compliment, would you?" That's Aubrey. "Chloe took it from one of your mixes." She recognizes that offending tone from anywhere.
"So is my music still stupid?" she asks. She can't resist taking a jab at Aubrey.
"It never was," now that voice is not Aubrey. She turns to it.
Aubrey clears her throat and the Bellas shift to let Chloe through.
Beca immediately stands.
"Hi," she greets lamely.
"Hi," Chloe replies, smiling.
"So the last time I saw you, you were trying to kill Aubrey."
"We had a long talk," Chloe explains.
"All of us," Fat Amy adds.
Aubrey shushes her.
"Good for you," Beca says, suddenly very aware of all the eyes on Chloe and her.
"I know," Chloe mumbles instead of asking the question that Beca sees in her eyes.
Beca knows what it is.
But all these eyes staring at them are making it hard for her to concentrate on an answer.
So she takes Chloe's hand and pulls her away from the crowd.
She kept obsessing over all the things she did wrong. But that isn't the problem. The problem is the things she didn't do.
Chloe had always pulled her closer but every time she did that, she left a little bit of space between them because she knew Beca wasn't as charitable with her personal space as her. So she waited for Beca to come to her. But Beca never did.
Beca kept running away whenever they were too close because she thought it would only pull them apart.
But she knows now.
So when they're safely tucked in the quiet lobby, Beca pulls her close and kisses her.
"Finally," Chloe says when they both reluctantly pull away for air.
And Beca is certain she did it right this time.