A/N: Oh, man, I don't even know why I've been writing friendship fics lately? And I know a lot of you aren't into them, so, sorry! Contains mentions of Chaubrey. And I completely ignore the fact that Chloe got her nodes removed without telling anyone, for no other reason than I wanted to write a scene with Beca there. Canon be damned.
The question Beca wants to ask, desperately, is did they literally cut your throat?, but Chloe looks so utterly miserable that she bites down on it. "Hey, dude," she says instead. "You'll be up and dancing in no time."
Chloe glares at her and points at the glass of water next to her bed with a bendy straw in it. Beca obediently picks it up and hands it over. "Still on the good drugs?"
Chloe nods emphatically and gives her a thumbs-up. Beca has to laugh. "I asked Aubrey how you're doing when I came in, and she just rolled her eyes and flipped me off before she left. I wasn't sure what that meant."
Chloe tugs at Beca's sleeve until she leans in, then whispers, "Means I'm a bad patient and she hates me."
"Don't talk." Beca shakes her head and touches Chloe's nose. "She doesn't hate you. But I bet you are a really fucking annoying patient."
Chloe shrugs and lets go. Her hand drops to her own throat, touching absently, and Beca winces. "Hey." Chloe ignores her and Beca reaches out, catching her hand and threading their fingers together. "Hey. It's going to be fine." Chloe shakes her head, her jaw jutting out stubbornly, and Beca squeezes her hand. "It is. I say so."
Chloe's lips move and another bare whisper of air comes out. "Bossy."
"That's right." Beca sits down next to her, shifting over so Chloe can rest her head on Beca's shoulder. "I'm the bossiest. You can go to sleep or I can tell you radio station stories. I've got a million."
Chloe looks up at her and doesn't close her eyes.
"Food poisoning," Beca echoes, leaning around Aubrey to stare into the interior of the apartment. "Food poisoning?"
"Yes," Aubrey says flatly.
"Didn't you eat the same thing?"
"She has food poisoning," Aubrey says, crossing her arms over her chest. "She can't go to practice tonight."
Beca tries to look around her. "That is a problem."
Aubrey's eyes flick to the ceiling, then back to Beca. "I know we're working on the new finals routine. She wouldn't do it to you if there was any way to avoid it."
"I know that." Beca's a little offended. She knows that. The rules of being a friend. "I'm gonna go talk to her."
Aubrey nods and steps back, letting her by. Beca can feel Aubrey staring at the back of her neck as she goes back into the bedroom. Whatever. She's not an idiot.
Chloe's lying on her side, staring at the wall. Even in the shitty dim lighting, Beca can see that her skin is grayish and the circles under her eyes are almost as dark as the eyeliner Beca wears.
"Dude," she says softly. "Chlo?"
"I'm sick," Chloe says, still staring at the wall. "Go away."
"You want some water?"
Chloe laughs and it sounds fucking horrible, like her throat is lined with... forget sandpaper. Broken glass. "Yeah. Sure."
Beca looks around and sees a bottle of water rolling around on the floor, not even opened yet. "Sit up and drink."
Chloe lies there for a minute, then finally obeys. "I'll be fine tomorrow."
"I know you will." Beca holds the bottle to Chloe's lips and waits, counting every time Chloe swallows. "I'm not worried."
"Becs. Beca, c'mon out." Chloe's voice is slurring. Even over the phone Beca can picture her weaving on her feet. "Come out with me."
"It's late, Chloe." Beca stands in the one corner of the apartment where her phone actually works, willing it not to lose signal. "I'm trying to sleep."
"That's good. Only trying means you're still awake. That means you can go out. Please."
Beca bites her lip and looks out the window. "Why do you want to go out?"
"Me? Oh." Chloe laughs. "I got dumped, babe. I got my ass just straight-up dumped. It's over."
"Aubrey dumps you all the time. It doesn't-"
"This time it does." Chloe's voice is sharp, suddenly, sharp enough that Beca blinks and her fingers tighten on the phone. "She's done with me for real. It's over over. Over."
They breathe together in silence for a minute, and Beca can't think of anything to say.
"So come out with me," Chloe says finally. "I don't want to go out by myself tonight."
Beca nods. "I'm not dressed for the good clubs."
"Then we'll go to a crappy club and you can pay for my drinks all night."
There's an edge to Chloe's voice that Beca doesn't like, but there's a shadow under it that she can't say no to. "Okay. Okay. I'll be right down."
Beca sits in the pick-up lane at LAX, staring at the rows of cars. This was probably a mistake. Her manager definitely wasn't happy about her leaving the studio on Chloe's say-so. And he maybe has a point; Chloe's say-sos haven't made sense for a while now.
But having friends means being there for them, and if Beca's going to start failing at that now, she might as well pack it in and give up on everything.
Her phone buzzes and she sits up, checking the screen. on my way out i see you don't move.
She looks up and sees Chloe walking toward her, backpack over her shoulder and rolling bag behind her. Beca's brain whites out at the sight, and the first thing she says when the door opens is probably the most stupid thing possible.
"Holy crap, Chloe. You look like shit."
Chloe laughs and swings the backpack into the passenger seat. "Wow. Hi, Beca, how are you?"
"I'm good. I'm fine. You look like shit." Chloe somehow misplaced 20 pounds she did not have to spare. Her skin is yellow-tinged and stretched tight over her bones. But her eyes are clear, bright over the rims of her stupid sunglasses. She looks directly at Beca and doesn't flinch. She's not wavering on her feet. It's like a complete mix of the best and worst things Beca can think of for her.
"I feel amazing," Chloe says firmly. "Open the back."
Beca hits the button to pop the locks. "You feel amazing? You're skin and bones. I need to take you to Taco Bell."
"I've achieved spiritual clarity." Chloe swings her suitcase into the back and slams the door. "My mind and my spirit are clear."
"And your pee?" Beca asks. "Is that, like, black with hallucinogens?"
"No, it's clear, too. I've been living on rice and water." Chloe gets settled in her seat and slips her glasses off, giving Beca a broad grin. "You'd be amazed what that does."
"I bet I wouldn't be." Beca doesn't know why her back feels so weird, then realizes it's because her shoulders have relaxed. This is the Chloe she remembers. "C'mon and hug me."
Chloe does, warm and tight. "And yeah, we definitely gotta go to Taco Bell."
"I have pneumonia."
Beca smiles a little and shakes her head. "Yeah, dude, I saw your facebook update."
"Who the hell gets pneumonia anymore? I thought that was one of the ones we wiped out."
"No. Not even close." Beca leans back in her seat. "You're thinking of, like, polio."
"No, people still get that, too."
"Well, what the hell."
"I don't know what to tell you." It's really fucking early. Beca rubs her eyes and thinks about how she's gotta stop spending the night in the studio. "Take your antibiotics."
"You wish." Chloe sighs. It rattles a little and Beca winces. Chloe's such an idiot, getting this sick. "How's the album of the century going?"
"Fuck you again." Not the century. Decade at best. "It's fine."
"Fine or good?"
"Good." Chloe coughs. "Then put it on pause and come visit me. I need a hug."
Beca smiles into the phone. "If you need a hug, I'm on the next plane, Chloe. You know that."
"Bring me tacos, too. And maybe, like, a teddy bear?"
"I love you, dude." Beca's had her ticket since she saw Chloe's post. "I'm on my way."