More Than a Memory
Disclaimer: The following is a work of fan-fiction. I claim no ownership over the characters therein. No copyright infringement intended.
A/N: Inspiration struck the other night as I was falling asleep for this fic; that always seems to be when I get all of my ideas. I thought about it for a couple of days and suddenly I had a multi-chapter fic planned. This is just the beginning, and I do hope you will enjoy it. As always your feedback in the form of reviews and messages is greatly appreciated, especially for a new story.
Beca scanned her inbox passively, spam, spam, junk, newsletter she wished she'd never signed up for, spam, email from dad, spam, email from Aubrey Posen, spam, junk…wait what? Why did she have a new email from Aubrey Posen? That had to be a mistake. Beca hadn't heard from Aubrey in eight, or was it nine years now. She scanned the subject line, Barden Bellas 2012 ICCA Champions 10 Year Reunion. That explained Aubrey's out of the blue communication with her. It's not like they had kept in touch. Aubrey had graduated and moved away and while they were no longer persona non grata to one another, they weren't exactly best friends. Beca was barely sociable in person; she really didn't have it in her to maintain a long distance friendship with the girl. She had kept in touch with some of the other Bellas, namely Cynthia-Rose, Stacie and Amy, but with Aubrey and Chloe she fell out of touch before the next school year even started.
It sucked really, she wasn't too torn up about being unable to maintain a friendship with the blonde, but she did miss Chloe. It almost seemed like the red head had stopped caring about her as soon as she moved back to Miami. Beca had even heard that she eventually moved back to Georgia, but she had never given the brunette a call. Chloe was her closest friend that entire school year, and all of the sudden it was as if she meant nothing. She told herself that it was just because she was busy with her life, but sometimes she wondered. All those hang ups Chloe had on her phone line over the years, they were from Beca. Too bad she never plucked up the courage to actually say hello, maybe she could have salvaged the relationship.
She thought for a moment before typing out her reply-a succinct I'll be there, mouse hovering over the send button. It hadn't really crossed her mind to say no really. If she did it was likely she would be the only one to decline, and deep down, she wanted to see the girls again. She hadn't seen Amy since she moved back to Tasmania after graduation, or Cynthia-Rose and Stacie since they moved to LA, Cynthia to take work behind the scenes on some television productions and Stacie, naturally to take a job at E Network, her top choice of employer.
The rest of the Bellas, who knows what's up with them and Beca, well she kind of wanted to know. They had all been a part of one of the most life changing and exciting years of her life. It was the year that had made her decide to stay at Barden and pursue her education, which then led her to her current career in public relations. Beca was surprised at what her decision to major in Sociology had led her too. In the years after that first one she stopped thinking so much about LA and her eyes started to open to all of the possibilities her Barden education had to offer. She still loved music, and made her own on a regular basis but it was a hobby now, and she was grateful not to be living on the streets of LA. As a teenager she always hated when her parents would stress the need to be practical and really think about her future, but as she got older she begun to understand. Now, Beca loved her practical job, and her future was bright…at least professionally. Beca scanned the email once more before finally pulling the trigger; it was almost as if she needed to take it in again to really believe it. In less than two weeks she would be seeing the Bellas again, all of them, even Chloe Beale.
"Hey Aubrey," Chloe chirped excitedly into her phone, "yeah, I just got it on my phone. You didn't have to send me a formal invite you know, it's not like we don't talk every day."
It was true that the two women talked every day; they had for the last 14 years. There was no way Aubrey was getting away from the red head at this point; not that she'd want to. Chloe had been her best friend since the second the exuberant girl introduced herself to her almost obscenely high strung roommate. Chloe never cared about what Aubrey felt were her own personality deficiencies, she liked her, and she saw the good in her; she saw the good in everyone really.
Chloe laughed when the blonde said something about formal invitations being necessary. It was funny when her, mostly former idiosyncrasies started to show a little in moments like this. Aubrey had mellowed out considerably in the years since college, mostly thanks to her two kids, but she still had her controlling moments. It amused Chloe that Aubrey was perhaps the only person in the history of the world who became less crazy and uptight when she had two screaming toddlers to take care of. Gwen and Garrett were Aubrey's two year old twins and Chloe had never seen her calmer than the day she brought them home. Aubrey didn't even freak out when she found out that her first child was actually going to be two children, which was so un-Aubrey like. It was good though, Aubrey was happy and Chloe was happy for her.
"So, who else is coming to the reunion?" Chloe asked excitedly.
"Everyone," was Aubrey's casual reply, as if the fact that everyone was coming wasn't huge news.
"Everyone? As in everyone everyone?"
"Yes, as in including Beca Mitchell everyone. Everyone RSVP'd almost immediately actually, I guess this was a good idea."
"Of course it was," Chloe said, but the slight hint of discontent in her voice wasn't lost on Aubrey.
"Chloe it will be fine, you'll be fine seeing her. It will be nice even, right?"
"Yeah, it will be nice."
Chloe wasn't so sure, but she let her friend go anyway. She didn't really want to talk about it right now, but even if she did she didn't have the time. Chloe had to pick up her own kids from school and she certainly didn't need the tears she was confronted with the last time she was late. Leave it to a six year old to completely flip out over his mother being ten minutes late, but Chloe supposed she would cry too if she thought her mom forgot about her. It was just so absurd because she would never forget about him, or his two sisters. They were the best things that had ever happened to her, the one constant source of joy in her increasingly complicated life.
The two weeks leading up to the reunion flew by for Beca. She was busy with work, and well, only work. All Beca ever did these days was work. It's not that she's a workaholic; she just doesn't have much of anything else going on in her life. Her stepmother has tried to set her up on a few blind dates, but for the most part they've all been fairly epic failures. She's not sure where Sheila finds these guys, or even the one girl she set her up with "just to see," but she wouldn't classify any of them as her type. Sheila claimed she was being too picky, but what's picky about wanting someone who is sweet, and funny, attractive, smart and hell, was it too much to ask for someone who actually shared some of her other interests. There was only so much Beca could talk about music, even if she did love it, especially with someone who said their favourite band was Dexys Midnight Runners. She wanted someone she could talk to about anything, someone like Chloe.
She tried to push that thought from her mind, it seemed to be something that taken over ever since she received the reunion invite. She had to stop thinking about it really, it had been ten years, Chloe had no doubt moved on with her life. She was probably perfectly happy, incredibly happy even, without Beca. Chloe had been the one after all to really cut their contact off. Maybe she wasn't even looking forward to seeing her; maybe she wasn't at all curious about her. Again the brunette tried to shake the thoughts from her already overloaded mind. She would find out either way the next evening. Please meet us Saturday June 4th at 7:00 pm at Dixie's the invite had read. Dixie's, it was the restaurant the Bellas had frequented for after practice dinners, or before practice breakfast depending on the hour Aubrey was having them meet. Beca had twenty two more hours with her thoughts; hopefully they would actually take a break and let her sleep tonight.
Every piece of clothing Chloe owned must have been on her bed at this point, at least that's how it seemed to Aubrey but seconds later yet another shirt was flying over her head.
"Too green?" Aubrey teased, picking up the discarded item.
"Its not...enough," Chloe whined, offering no further explanation.
"Enough, what? Not nice enough to see Beca in for the first time in ten years?" Chloe didn't respond to this but Aubrey knew she had hit the nail on the head.
Aubrey knew how Chloe felt about Beca when they were at Barden together. She knew how badly her heart broke when she saw the other woman kiss Jesse after their big win. She knew exactly how many tears were shed when Beca seemed happy with him. She remembered the moment that Chloe gave up on the other woman. It had been ten years but none of that was a distant memory for Chloe either, it was like it was fresh in her mind again ever since the thought of seeing Beca again had crossed it. She was a nervous wreck, thinking about the other girl, as if they were back at square one and Beca was still the mysterious alt-girl and Chloe was the outgoing a capella singer trying to find recruits. She thought about her almost as much in the last two weeks as she did over the entire course of a year at Barden, and that scared her. She took a deep breath, trying to calm her racing thoughts but it was no use. It was almost as if she had never moved on at all.
It was a deep voice calling her name that finally snapped her out of her stupor.
"Hey Chloe, where are the kid's pajamas?"
"They're folded in separate piles on top of the dryer. I washed them all last night," she yelled down the stairs.
"Okay, I'll put them away."
"Thanks. I'll be back late, but I'll try not to wake you when I come in."
"Okay, have a good time."
At least her kids were always well taken care of when she went out; one less thing for her to worry about. She would miss them, but she never had to worry about leaving them with Tom, he was a great dad. Chloe didn't believe him when he told her that he was totally on board with having a bunch of rugrats. That was her dream, but she figured she would have to fight or at least do a lot of convincing to get her partner on board. Tom had agreed though during their first conversation about their future. He told her that he wanted to play catch with his son, and teach his daughter how to ride a bicycle, hell he even admitted that he would play dress up with his kids and let them paint his toenails and stuff; and he did. Chloe laughed, she knew Tom well but this was one of their most revealing conversations. It brought them even closer, and at the time it helped to reassure Chloe about their upcoming wedding.
Beca couldn't help herself, she popped the mix CD into her car's CD player and listened as the still familiar notes of "I Saw the Sign" filled her vehicle. She had dug it out of a box in a fit of nostalgia and just had to listen to it on her way to the Bellas' reunion. It contained all of the songs the original Bellas had performed together and it sent another rush of memories to her brain. She thought about their early performances, all the head butting and her screw up but the memories with negative feelings attached were quickly swept away by thoughts of happier times. Their mashup of "Just a Dream" and "Just The Way You Are" rung through her ears, a bright smile playing at the corner of her lips. She wondered if her years with the Bellas were the last time she had smiled that big, that genuine. Sure, she wasn't unhappy now but she certainly wasn't as happy. She loved her job, and her life was interesting enough, but there was something missing. Like her missing friends, the Bellas' had left a hole in her heart that she only really felt now, on the verge of seeing them again. Maybe it was the prospect of this hole being mended that made her think about it, but whatever it was, Beca liked the feeling.
Her face fell slightly when she made her way into the restaurant and didn't yet see the expected fiery red locks. She was fifteen minutes early, but she figured that she and Aubrey would have been even earlier. Her expression brightened significantly though when she was greeted in an unmistakable Australian accent.
"Hey shorty, long time no see!"
"Amy," Beca said, leaning into the other woman's embrace.
"How's America been treating you since I left? I know it can't be nearly as fun without the Fat Amy power," the blonde joked.
"Oh good, you know, work is really busy but I really like what I'm doing."
Amy was barely listening; she was the same old Amy, tuning out at the very mention of hard work.
"So, are you still with that Treblemaker?"Amy asked, abruptly changing the subject.
Beca was about to stammer out an answer when the arrival of a number of their other former a capella ladies captured Amy's attention, saving Beca. Her relationship with Jesse wasn't really something Beca wanted to discuss, especially not as the first topic of the night. There was a lot that had changed about Beca since her first year at Barden, but wanting her privacy wasn't one of them. Beca didn't like to talk about her personal life, not with anyone, not even girls she had once considered her closest friends.
There were plenty of hugs to go around and once there were enough of them the hostess led them to the table that Aubrey had reserved. All the way in the back for maximum privacy and beautifully decorated, this was definitely Aubrey's doing. Beca took a seat next to Cynthia-Rose whose work Beca found very interesting. Cynthia was telling her all about the show she was currently working on. It wasn't a show Beca watched, she was never really one for TV but she hung on her every word anyway. People's passions, that is what Beca loved to talk about, and something sorely lacking in a lot of her setups.
Her phone had just started flashing 7:00 when Aubrey and Chloe finally walked through the door. They were the last of the Bellas to arrive, with the exception of Lilly who had texted Amy some strange excuse about why she would be late. Beca felt her breath hitch in her throat when she finally saw the red head. She was wearing a sequined black top that was just low cut enough to be ridiculously attractive yet still tasteful, it was very Chloe. Beca was almost shocked by the way the woman still commanded her attention and her emotion so easily, even after all these years. She had certainly been thinking about her these last few weeks, but she never could have predicted the wave of feeling that would hit her when she actually saw her again.
The red head smiled from across the room, a small, shy smile, very unlike Chloe. Beca wasn't sure what she expected, for her to be beaming maybe but maybe, just maybe her heart was threatening to beat out of her chest the way Beca's was. More likely though, Chloe had moved on and that meant Beca received the same friendly smile as everyone else, nothing more and nothing less.
Chloe was hesitant to move toward the end of the table where Beca sat. If she sat near her she would definitely have to talk to Beca. If she talked to Beca she would have to tell her everything, 10 years worth of everything. She didn't know if she could do that, if she could spill her guts to the brunette after all these years but if she sat with her, she knew she would. Aubrey took a seat at the head of the table, all the way across from the brunette which gave Chloe the perfect excuse not to move in her direction. It wouldn't be strange for her to sit next to Aubrey, she always had; it was natural. Just as she was about to sit down though, it was a different brunette who foiled her plans.
"Chloe!" Stacie squealed, waving her perfectly manicured nails in the red head's direction.
Beca watched as her two former friends embraced enthusiastically in front of her, or at least Stacie was enthusiastic. Chloe's bright blue eyes finally caught Beca's over the other woman's shoulder. Beca wasn't exactly sure what the look said, but there was a lot behind it, it wasn't a casual glance that much was clear. Their gaze locked for a moment, Beca staring into the other woman's beautiful eyes. It was hard almost to stop looking, but she forced herself in an effort to avoid making things even more awkward.
"Beca," the red head finally said, slipping into the open seat next to her.
There was a moment of silence before they both spoke up at once, "how have you been?"
It was a loaded question.