A/N: Happy Valentine's Day, y'all.
Putting her phone on the conference table was a bad idea. Picking up the phone when she got a text was even worse. But Chloe Beale was unfazed by the sensibilities of other people when it came to receiving a text from her bestie Beca Mitchell and so everyone was looking at her as she read the text.
Happy Valentine's Day, red. You're the most aca-mazing, aca-precious, aca-hilarous person I know. Feel hugged and kissed. Miss you, BM-I-CHILL.
"Excuse me, Ms. Beale. Is it possible that you read your boyfriend's Valentine's message after the meeting?" Her boss, Mr. Murray, asked and she looked up at him, smiling.
"Oh, it's not from my boyfriend. I don't have a boyfriend. It's actually from my best friend, Beca. She's so sweet," Chloe provided too much information. While this was something that had many of her colleagues exchange glances behind her back when she first started at 'Brand NU Publishing', it didn't raise any eyebrows anymore. Most of them thought it was quite endearing, as most things about the redhead were. She was a wonderful person and everybody liked her - including her boss and that's why he said:
"That's nice," instead of telling her to put away her phone and not interrupt his presentation anymore.
"It is. She's so amazing. I wish she was here for V-day and we could do something tonight..." Chloe made a face because their original plans of meeting in Atlanta for a girl's night out had fallen through. She had been so looking foward to it. Ever since Chloe had started working in the city, they had hardly seen each other. Chloe tried to go down to Barden every other weekend but the last two months had been tough with Christmas and the new year. They had last seen each other just before Christmas and Chloe missed her friend terribly. And not just her friend, she reminded herself now. She also missed the woman she had been crushing on for the last eighteen months. Chloe suppressed a sigh and instead looked around the table smiling while Murray continued with his presentation.
After the meeting everybody filed out of the conference room, Chloe talking to another young woman who had started working with her at BNUPub - Shirley Benson. She was a cute brunette with a heart-shaped face and dimples. Chloe liked her, she was shy and it was clear to the redhead that she didn't make friends easily. Except for Chloe because Chloe was a friend that made itself. She just walked up to people she thought would be nice and she had rarely been disappointed with that philosophy in life. They walked by the front desk on their way back to their cubicles when Norma - the receptionist matron extraordinaire - said:
"Ms. Beale, I signed for these flowers for you while you were in the meeting," she pointed at a magnificent bouquet of red roses that stood on her desk.
"Oh, my god. Who... sends me flowers?" Chloe asked perplexed.
"The delivery boy didn't say but I suspect there's a card," Norma answered and Chloe looked closer at the beautiful arrangement. Sure enough, there was a small card:
Roses are red,
violets are... not blue.
I admire you secretely,
that at least is true.
"Who sent them?" Shirley asked beside her.
"It doesn't say," Chloe marvelled and pushed the card back into it's tiny envelope. She picked up her flowers and took them over to her desk. They were quite the spectacle as they took a lot of space in her tiny cubicle. Everybody who walked by for the next half hour admired the arrangement and asked Chloe about it. Everything she could say was that they were from a secret admirer. Some of the women suspected one or another male co-worker but the redhead just shrugged her shoulders at the suggestions. Red roses were certainly not out of the ordinary on Valentine's day but they were also Chloe's favorite flowers, so maybe this wasn't a coincidence and the sender was actually someone who knew her well enough to know her favorite flowers.
Shirley came over to her and looked at the bouquet for a moment.
"Could they be from your friend?" she then asked, leaning against one of the cubicle walls.
"The one who sent you the text during the meeting?" Shirley reminded her.
"Beca? No, that... no, she wouldn't," Chloe shook her head but not very vehemently. She thought whether the flowers could be from her, wished it for a longer moment still. But then shook her head again.
"Why not?" her colleague asked. "You said she was sweet that way," Shirley reminded her of a conversation they had had one time at lunch where Chloe had for once admitted that she had a huge crush on her best friend.
"She is sweet but... she's got a boyfriend. She wouldn't be sending red roses around. I doubt that she would have the money for these, either... unfortunately."
"You wish it was her, though, don't you?" Shirley asked and Chloe nodded. She looked up at the brunette with shining blue eyes that had her feelings written into them.
"But she's not MY valentine," she said and her friend nodded sadly before she went back to work.
It was about half an hour later when a delivery guy appeared at her desk.
"Chloe Beale?" he asked.
"Got a package for you. If you sign here," he handed her an electronic pad where she signed with an electronic pencil he also handed her.
"Thank you and have a nice day," he said after giving her a flat, rectangular box from her favorite chocolate manufacturer.
"What...," she wondered. When she opened the box there was another card inside - a Valentine's card this time. It read:
Sweets for my sweet... on the outside and when she opened it the oldie blared from inside. Heads appeared over the walls of the cubicles, trying to find out where the music came from. Chloe closed the card after reading the inside:
Chocolate for my honey - for that's what I wish you'd be. Your secret Valentine.
When Chloe looked up she noticed Shirley who once again stood at her cubicle wall. The brunette smiled:
"And who sent those?"
"I don't know," the redhead answered but she smiled happily. "But whoever sent them hopefully reveals himself - or herself - by the end of the day. I wanna give them a hug and a kiss because this is... it's so sweet."
"Don't you think it's a little bit creepy, not saying who you are but sending gifts... it could be anyone here, really," Shirley looked around herself suspiciously.
"I doubt that it's someone from the office. My favorite flowers, my favorite chocolate... I don't think anyone knows these things about me here," she reasoned.
"Yeah, but these are rather customary Valentine's gifts, aren't they?"
"I guess," Chloe shrugged. She wanted to think that these presents came from someone who knew her, someone she was important enough to that they would go to this length to show her how much she meant to them. And she wanted so much for that person to be Beca Mitchell, though she doubted very much that it was her. Beca was probably just now lounging on the bed in Jesse's small apartment, they would watch a movie together and Beca would annoy the heck out of her boyfriend by pointing out why the plot was predictable and why he had better read a book or listen to music instead.
Another sigh worked its way from Chloe's heart over her lips. Yes, it was hard to have a secret crush on your best friend but when your best friend was Beca Mitchell there were also a lot of rewards. Like hour-long conversations on the phone where she would make Chloe laugh about the things the Bellas said and did. Texts that simply told her that the DJ missed her. New MP3s every other day of songs Beca had mixed, or songs she liked or even - though this had only happened twice so far - a song Beca had written, sung and recorded herself. She sure was special.
"Earth to Chloe," Shirley said and waved her hand infont of her face. "You still with me?"
"Yeah, sure. I just...," Chloe shrugged her shoulder and smiled.
"I was wondering if you could help me with the portfolio I have to do for the book - I'm not sure I've got the hang of it yet," Shirley said apologetically.
"Your last portfolio was great, everybody thought so. But if you want my help, sure. Tonight?"
"No, are you crazy? It's Valentine's day, I will clear out as early as possible and meet Charlie at our favorite restaurant," she grinned and Chloe smiled at her.
"That sounds great," she said.
"Oh, it will be. They have the absolute best chocolate cake in the world. It's better than my mom's and that says a lot - just don't tell my mom." They laughed together and Shirley lay a hand on Chloe's shoulder.
"You'll be alright, right? I mean... if you want I'll stay until you leave so that you won't run into some creepy stalker guy," she said with a look at Chloe's flowers.
"I'm sure he or she is not a stalker. It's probably just someone I already know who wants to get to know me better," the redhead assuered her colleague.
"Alright, but if you should need help at some point during the night, if something is at all off, anything - call me, okay?"
"You're sweet, Shirley, thank you. And I will, I promise," Chloe said.
"Good. Going back to work now. You think there will be more presents?"
Chloe shrugged her shoulders.
There was one more present for Chloe to arrive that afternoon and again it was Norma who signed for it since Chloe was in another meeting. When she sat down at her desk, the package already lay in her inbox. It was a plain jiffy envelope and it contained a dvd - of Chloe's favorite movie, Meet John Doe with Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper.
"Damn, you really do know me, don't you?" She murmured and opened the dvd. There was a postcard attached inside that read:
Meet your secret Valentine for a movie night?
Chloe couldn't help but smile. Yes, she would. And it wouldn't even matter who it was because now she knew it was someone who knew her. There were probably very few people in the world who would pick Meet John Doe as their Valentine's day movie - Titanic, would be a more obvious choice, Valentine's Day another. A movie from the 40s? Unlikely. But who could it be - if not Beca? Who knew her favorite movie? Who knew her favorite flowers and chocolate? Marc? It was possible but not likely. They hadn't even been that close and after Beca had joined the Bellas... he kind of drifted out of her life. As had some other people she had been dating before. Who was left, who would want to hook up again, who might have fallen in love with her? For Valentine's day was too precious a date to waste on a meaningless date, a fling, a one-nighter. You didn't send roses to someone who didn't mean something ot you. Or did you?
Chloe was confused. She was also excited, and she was nervous. And for the next two hours her eyes would drift over to the dvd she had put up against the vase her roses stood in, next to the box of chocolate which emptied over the same period of time. At the end of the day, Chloe felt butterflies dancing in her stomach. She closed the file with the manuscript she had been working on and shut down her computer without the usual sense of accomplishment but she didn't particulaly mind today. She had a date with a stranger - who wasn't a stranger at all. Just someone she had to get to know anew, perhaps, or simply better.
"Damn, this is insane. I shoud just... he probably won't even show. Or she," she added with the slight glimmer of hope that her secret Valentine was not lying in the arms of another, that she was waiting downstairs in the lobby, or infront of her apartment. That she would give her that impish grin of hers, shrug her shoulders as if in apology for the months they had lost. But that was a dream, it was the same kind of insanity she had fed herself since she had first laid eyes on Beca Mitchell. That she would one day just look up at her and feel - love. That she would look through Choe's ever-present smile and see - her. But these things didn't happen in life, they didn't happen at all. Beca Mitchell was not her secret Valentine.
Chloe took the chocolate and the dvd and put them into her bag. The flowers she left, they would cheer her up in the days to come - especially if this evening turned into a disaster where she had a date with someone who liked her and she would only think of someone who didn't want her. But she wouldn't just let that happen, she was eager to have a good time and maybe - just maybe - she would find something that was not perfect but still something that was worth it. She still had that hope.
When Chloe exited the elevator on the ground floor, she looked around but saw nothing and no one out of place. Nobody paid special attention to her. She wondered if her secret admirer would even show, maybe they had lost their nerve, maybe this had all been a prologue to someone who was too shy to reveal themselves.
Chloe exited the building searching for her phone in her pocket. Maybe her secret date had texted her? But her phone had no new texts waiting for her - yet the sidewalk had someone waiting for her. Someone who held a sign infront of their face. A sign that said:
Chloe Beale, will you be my Valentine?
It didn't matter that she couldn't see the face, she knew the small curvy body, she knew those boots and the jacket. She knew those eyes that finally peeked over the sign questioningly. Chloe smiled, then she laughed and then she closed the remaining distance between them and wrapped Beca into a tight hug.
"What the hell are you doing? What have you been doing all day?" she asked.
"I thought that was pretty obvious. I've been wooing you," Beca answered. Chloe let go of her for a moment and they looked at each other earnestly.
"It's a surprise, huh?" Beca asked.
"Yeah, it is. I mean, last time I checked you were with Jesse," Chloe answered and Beca nodded.
"Well, Jesse and I are no more. We broke up, that is, I broke up with him... two weeks ago," she confessed.
"Two weeks ago? Beca... what?"
"I was moody, I was... beside myself ever since Christmas. The girls... they probably hate me... regionals have been a disaster and... I couldn't sleep and I couldn't eat and all I kept thinking was: what is Chloe doing? Does she miss me? I miss her."
"I missed you, too," the redhead said. Beca's words reminded her of her own state on many nights and days when she wouldn't be with her, when they didn't see each other.
"I... I don't even know if this is what you want. I just want a chance, Chlo, because I'm in love with you."
"You're in love with... me?" Chloe's voice cracked. Beca nodded.
"Have been for some time, I guess. But... I mean if... you don't want this... I guess, I've gone a little overboard with the flowers and the chocolate... maybe we can just watch the movie..." Beca shrugged in that way Chloe had imagined earlier, giving her a lop-sided grin. Chloe laughed and put her arms around Beca's neck.
"You're such a nerd," she told her and then kissed her smack on the lips. "You don't even like movies."
"You kissed me," Beca observed.
"You noticed," Chloe gave back and the brunette nodded. They smiled at each other.
"Would you do that again?" Beca then asked.
"I thought you were the one with the big gestures today. Why aren't you kissing me?" Chloe challenged. She didn't have to ask twice, Beca lips captured hers in a second. And they didn't let go for some time, nipping, sucking, enjoying themselves with Chloe's own. Their tongues joined in, their arms and hands pulling each other closer but never close enough it seemed. When they parted, breathless but grinning happily, Chloe linked her fingers with Beca's.
"I hope you didn't count on the chocolate as our movie snack, I ate most of it," the redhead then informed her girlfriend.
"I hope you don't expect me to sit through a whole movie - I was hoping we would be making out ten minutes in, so..."
"It's my favorite movie," Chloe pouted.
"And I'm your favorite person... to make out with, maybe?" Beca looked up at her with beseeching eyes and Chloe smiled. Her nose crinkled, her eyes shone.
"You are," and as if to prove it she pulled Beca in for another kiss. It lasted.