A/N: I hope you're all prepared for a little angst, 'cause it's happening here. It's not permanent, though, and not permanently demaging either.
„There you are," Chloe whispered into Beca's ear and the small brunette felt the hairs at her neck rise with the goosebumps on her arms. She felt long arms envelope her in a hug and smiled.
"Were you looking for me?" Beca asked, smelling this party's alcohol on the redhead's breath.
"I'm always looking for you." It was a soft caress of a confession and Beca simply led it trickle down her spine. It felt good, feeling cherished, feeling… loved? She smiled and didn't even realize how she leaned back into Chloe's embrace.
They had a sort-of agreement, unspoken, unwritten, that there was something between them neither could explain or talk about, that it was there and that they were the only ones to know about it. Flirting was okay, touching was okay, everything they could explain away with, 'we're friends,' or 'we were a little drunk that night.' And hugging each other was most definitely within this limit, even if Beca pressed her backside a little bit too vehemently into Chloe, even if Chloe led her hands wander a little too freely over Beca's body.
That was how they saw it, at least. A third interested party… well, Jesse wasn't too happy with what he saw that evening, and it wasn't the first time, either.
"You looked like you'd like to dance, maybe?" Chloe now said, again directly into the younger woman's ear, knowing full well the effect this had. Beca wasn't a very forthcoming person when it came to expressing her feelings verbally but other than that she was an open book to Chloe. Seeing emotions play on her face, her body flushing from the simplest of touches… Beca held it all in but the redhead knew if she ever exploded with it all, it would be glorious. She wished she could be there then. She wished it too much but knew that Beca had chosen Jesse over her.
"What's going on?" And there he was, the chosen one. Chloe let her arms dangle, releasing Beca from her hold without any noticeable hurry. Beca wasn't quite as quickly to react, she still leaned heavily into Chloe.
"Nothing's going on. Chloe wants to dance," Beca said turning toward her friend and taking her hand.
"And she can't dance with one of the guys who'd been drooling over her all evening?" Jesse asked testily, rotating his red cup in his hand so as not to crush the thin shell.
"Would you want to dance with someone who's drooling over you? That's disgusting, Jess," Beca gave back. Chloe didn't say anything, she simply stood by her friend, trying not to provoke Jesse but also not to give into his jealousy and leave Beca. The brunette was usually very controlled in these situations but Chloe registered an underlying hostility toward her boyfriend just now, it was like a vibration her body gave off. Maybe it was impatience, maybe it was something in his demeanor that irked her (and Chloe could think of plenty of things that she herself found irritating with Jesse when he was in this particular mood), or maybe it was something that had absolutely nothing to do with the Treble… and Chloe hoped it was the last thing, that Beca maybe felt the strain of unuttered feelings that drove herself almost mad every single day. But the small brunette was good at denying herself, she was good at talking herself into believing that it was Jesse she wanted. Chloe knew better.
"Well, maybe I want to dance with my girlfriend now," Jesse said. He didn't look to be in a dancing mood, everybody could see that but he was willing to give in if Beca was also. And normally, she would have looked at Chloe apologetically, would have waited for Jesse to turn before she rolled her eyes at him, but would then follow him to the impromptu dancefloor. Not tonight, though.
"I wanna dance with Chloe," she said, pushing the redhead to walk in the direction she usually would have followed Jesse to.
Chloe was surprised, as was Jesse and the rotating of his cup stopped and the red shell broke, splashing his drink over his hand. They all looked at his cramped hand as if transfixed. Then Beca started pushing Chloe to the dancefloor again.
"I swear if you dance with her, we're over," Jesse growled, maybe a little louder than he had even wanted to but his anger now practically radiated from him and he seemed to have a frail hold on it.
"What? Jesse, she's my friend. Get a grip on yourself," his girlfriend said but she didn't move. Chloe felt the impatient vibration leave her body and uncertainty replacing it.
"Your friend? Really? Is that what we're all supposed to believe?" Jesse's voice still had that louder than necessary quality to it but now he seemed to force it, to relish it. He wanted to be heard. And he was. The people close by all stopped and stared at the three people who seemed involved in the latest drama, and there was little that made a college party as good as that night's drama – except for booze, obviously.
"Don't even," Beca warned in a low voice. She looked around herself, reminding them all that people were watching, most of them with a fascinated look on their face. Jesse saw the gesture but he smiled lazily now, signalling Beca that he didn't care one bit.
"I don't know, I have friends, Beca, but I'm not slow-dancing with them. I'm also not pushing my hands into the pockets of their skinny jeans. And I'm certainly not rubbing my whole body all over them. What kind of friends do that?"
"Close friends, Jesse. Friends who care about each other. You obviously don't even care for your girlfriend," Chloe gave back in a level voice, one that was now as void of drink as it could get.
"Let's stop fooling ourselves, Chloe, shall we? She's never been my girlfriend. I can't make her do anything but make out in a very controlled environment. You guys get it on more when you're looking at each other. I tried to ignore that but I'm done… you can have her," Jesse said, his voice now resigned. The anger had run out of him the moment he knew he had an audience, an audience that would be on his side.
"I'm not a toy, Jesse, I'm not a fucking possession that you can just pass around. I'm your girlfriend. You can't…"
"You're not my girlfriend, Beca. WE ARE OVER," Jesse told her.
"You can't… I'm not…," Beca tried. She turned from Jesse to Chloe and back. She tried so hard to put her feelings into words that tears sprang to her eyes.
Had he just felt superior and proud of himself, Jesse now faced shame when he saw how vulnerable the girl he loved turned from one second to the next. He wanted to reach out to her but when he took a step toward her, Chloe stepped into his way, clear blue eyes as stormy as he'd never seen them.
"I think you've done enough damage," she told him. Then she turned to Beca, pulling her close. "Beca, come on. Let's get you home."
But Beca shook her head.
"No," she said in a weak voice. "I can't go home with you, Chlo." Just as clearly as she had told Jesse that she wanted to dance with Chloe, she now told Chloe that she couldn't go home with her and it cut the redhead like a knife. She let go of Beca's hands and the brunette turned and left.
And just this quickly the party was over… other things were apparently over as well. Like Beca and Jesse's relationship, their friendship probably, too. Beca's believe that good things could go on forever without her having to name them was also finished. And her self-image was in shambles on the floor of her dorm room while she lay under a blanket, barely able to breathe, but not prepared to leave this cocoon, her refuge.
Her roommate, Jennifer Doran – a business major from Boston – wasn't happy with the situation that presented itself to her the morning after the party. A roommate that hid out under a blanket, clothes strewn haphazardly onto the floor, a conglomeration of Bellas knocking at the door on intervals to be asked to leave through the muffling confines of aforementioned blanket. That was not what she'd signed up for. And she had thought that Beca Mitchell was pretty normal as far as roommates went. She had been wrong, this alt-girl was crazy – and her clothes smelled of the residues of last night's party. It was quite disgusting.
Beca was merely disgusted with herself and the spectacle of the evening before. It had been one of the biggest on-campus parties of the semester, it should have been a blast, it had been a disaster. And most of it was her fault. Not Jesse's, though his jealousy had irked her for some time. And certainly not Chloe's because she had only acted like she always did – and Beca had led her, and maybe she had also led her on. That was a problem because… she was not supposed to like Chloe. That had not been in her life plan, nor in this week's horoscope.
And yet it made perfect sense!
As Beca thought about her life, social events like prom, or simply being with people casually, she had always been drawn to women. She liked women. She also liked guys but they were there to hang out with, joke with, be goofy and nerdy with. Girls… there were moments she had actually thought to ask her best friend Darcy to prom. Of course, she had thought that it was only desperation because she really didn't want to go with any of the guys that had asked her out (Darcy finally made her go with her brother Danny) but the thought of going with the beautiful blonde had actually turned into the fantasy of a perfect date… the half dozen times she had actually let herself think about it.
But Darcy had wanted to go with Perry, the football jock and she did get him to ask her. They had looked perfect together and although they had gone as a foursome it hadn't been nearly as perfect as it had been in Beca's imagination with just her and Darcy. It had ended in tears for her friend, with crusted vomit on Danny's shoes because the punch bowl was spiked and Perry screwing his ex in the parking lot. She herself had tried to console her friend, had hugged her, soothed her, run her hands over her soft skin…
Beca groaned under her blanket.
"God, I'm so gay," she thought and realized at the same time that she'd actually said it, too. She pushed her blanket off her head and looked across the room, directly into the eyes of her roommate, Jennifer.
"Well, thanks for telling me. Should I be worried?" Jen asked. Beca slowly shook her head but didn't disappear under her blanket again.
"Sorry, about the mess," she said when she'd looked around the room.
"As long as you do something about it – soon." Beca nodded.
"I will," but it was apparent that now was not that time. She sighed.
Jennifer turned in her office chair toward her.
"Wanna talk about it?" She offered. Beca shrugged her shoulders.
"I… I messed up so bad, like everything. How is that even possible? You go to a party, you have one drink and then everything… just falls apart!"
"I went to a party like that once," Jennifer said, trying to lighten the mood.
"What did you do?"
"I got drunk, kissed several guys I shouldn't be kissing, threw a drink in my boyfriend's face and finally let some random but admittedly hot guy go down on me in… wait for it… a wardrobe just next to the front door where everyone was always walking by on their way outside. And from how my friends tell it… I'm pretty loud," she confessed, then she smiled brightly. Beca had to laugh. "What did you do?"
"I had a drink and then I was talking to someone and Chloe… she came up behind me. You know Chloe?"
"The fiery redhead? Oh, yeah. Damn, even I would go bi for that one," Jen said.
"Careful," Beca warned mockingly. "Well, she hugged me and… well, I guess there is no need to pretend that it was just a friendly hug. We… I guess, we've always used those to feel each other up. Jesse saw and he got jealous. I could have… I could have stopped it all but I didn't want to. Things got ugly, Jesse got really angry and told me plainly that he thought I should be with Chloe because I obviously liked her hands on me so much better than his… which is… not not true… it's actually VERY true… damn. I'm really, really gay for my best friend. But I couldn't tell her. I couldn't even let her take me home…" Tears fell as Beca faced the fact that she had probably not only alienated her best friend but also destroyed a chance at… being with Chloe at some point in the future. "I'm such a… failure at being a good person, a person someone would want to be with. You must hate me, too," she said with another furtive glance at the mess in their room.
"I don't hate you, Beca. I mean I'm not exactly thrilled about… all this," she motioned with her hand at Beca's discarded clothes. "But you're still way better than my last roomie. She… was downright scary, believe me. You're nice and you have a good taste in music… I like your mixes when you play them. All my friends think you're the coolest chick on campus," she smiled softly. Beca snorted.
"I'm not that cool," she said. "I'm not as cool as I thought I was when I came here. Everything just went belly-up."
"Beca?" the DJ looked up at her roommate. "It'll be okay," Jen said. Beca tried a smile but it wasn't happy and it wasn't trusting.
"It's sweet of you to say that but... Chloe's probably hating me right now and that... I'm not sure I can fix it."
"Well, the Chloe I've met so far was head-over-heals for you and I doubt that could have changed in one night. I think you should call her," Jennifer adviced and Beca looked around or her phone. She looked at her jacket on the floor, then nodded slowly.
"I'll leave you to it, and to tidying up. I have to go to the library," she added at Beca's questioning gaze. "I'll see you later," with those words the slim blonde picked up the bag that held her laptop and left their room.
"Later," Beca murmured as Jennifer closed the door behind her. 'I've got a nice roommate,' she contemplated. "That's new," she mumbled a moment later as she already bend down to pick up her jacket. She searched its pockets for her phone and finally pulled it free. There were no messages on it, stark evidence of how bad she'd screwed up because usually at this hour of day she would already have at least one from Chloe. Beca sighed again, wondering if maybe she should send a message, or go over to Chloe's apartment... or just climb back under the blanket and try to forget that she'd once had a friend named Chloe... and that she had loved her and screwed things up. Another sigh.
"Okay, enough with the pity-party. Let's face the music," Beca ordered herself and tapped the display from where Chloe's shining eyes looked at her. It rang – far too long – and was finally picked up.
"Yes?" Chloe's voice came to her but it sure wasn't the soft caress it had been the night before. It sounded hoarse and Beca knew she had cried.
"Do you hate me?" the Bellas captain asked and it seemed to her that she had to wait a heartbeat too long for the answer.
"No, I don't hate you."
"I hate myself, though," she said. "I'm sorry I hurt you, Chlo. I'm an ass... I... I will do everything and anything to make it up to you. Do you believe me?" There was a long pause from the other end then a sigh.
"Oh, Beca. I don't know. Maybe... this...," and Beca could almost see the gesture Chloe was making between them as if she was standing before her. "... is just not working."
And now it was her who didn't answer immediately. Because she couldn't. There were no words, just the feeling that her chest had been ripped open and her heart pulled out. She couldn't breathe, for a moment she couldn't think and she felt tears running down her cheeks.
"Don't do this, please," she begged and her voice broke.
"Beca," and that one word was enough to hear that Chloe was hurting just as badly as she was, that she was crying, too.
"I do everything, Chlo, I swear. I can't lose you," Beca cried and pleaded at the same time. She heard the answering sobs.
"There's something you won't do it, we both know it. But it want it, Beca. I want... you."
"You got me, babe... you got me," Beca promised into the phone. The silence coming back to her made her think that Chloe had disconnected without hearing her say it, but then there was a rattling breath.
"What did you say?"
"I'm yours... if you'll have me,"Beca said, her voice calmer, surer than it had been before.
Again there was silence.
"I'm not going back into the closet, Beca," Chloe then said.
"And I don't want you to. Listen, Chlo... I'm not saying that... I will advertise our love in the Barden Bulletin, and I don't think I'm ready to tell my parents just yet but... I wanna be with you. I wanna be your girlfriend and I want you to be mine, too. No more Jesse and no more... of that stuff I did before just to cop a feel... I'm sober and I'm telling you that... I want to be with you."
And then there was nothing coming back to her, dead silence filled the other end of the line.
"Chloe? Are you still there?" Beca asked a little ominously, like she expected an echo to be thrown back at her. There was another rattling breath but it was Chloe's.
"You have no idea how long... I have wanted to hear you say that," she said.
"Possibly as long as... I have avoided saying it," Beca answered and there was a slight laugh coming from the other end.
"I want that, too, Becs, I want it so much. I want you so much," the redhead vowed.
Beca felt a smile tug at the corners of her mouth, then it pulled and transformed her face into a happy one. She laughed.
"God, I'm such a lucky asshole." Chloe chuckled.
"You're not an asshole, though... well, yesterday was a close call."
"I know. I can't even... Jesse must hate me so much..."
"He'll get over it, and more importantly, he'll get over you," Chloe said. She had no love left for the Treble and Beca couldn't blame her. "He outed you before you were ready for it. He's lucky if I don't..."
"Chloe, it's not his fault, it's mine. I should've just been honest," Beca tried to calm her... girlfriend.
"You weren't ready. These things take time and Jesse was being a jealous ass," Chloe defended Beca and the brunette smiled. It felt good, even though she really couldn't blame Jesse for what he did. He was hurt – by her.
"We're not going to agree on this one so maybe we should stop talking about Jesse?"
"What do you want to talk about instead?" Chloe asked, she was game for a change of topic.
"Can we decide that when I'll arrive at your place? Or is it a bad time? I mean I would like to see you..." she stammered and Chloe chuckled again.
"I want to see you, too. As fast as you can make it here," she reassured Beca.
"Well, I might be a little longer. I... I'll have to clean up here a little and... well, shower... but I can hurry..."
"Please do," Chloe said and they both smiled into the phone.
"Okay, I'll see you in a bit. Should I bring something? To eat, maybe?"
"Just yourself," Chloe asked of her. "I mean, not that I... think of eating... just come... oh, man, I..." Beca laughed at a flustered Chloe.
"I'll be quick," she promised.
"You better be."
Now that she stood at Chloe's door she was suddenly nervous. Beca ran her hands down her thighs, more in an effort to calm herself than to rid them of any moisture.
'It's okay, she already told you she wanted to be with you,' she tried to reassure herself. 'She could have changed her mind,' the thought came unbidden. It made her panic for a second, but just as she had worked through it and made the decision to knock, the door swung open. Chloe stood in the doorway, smiling at her shyly.
"Sorry, I couldn't wait any longer," she said at the sight of Beca's startled face.
"It's... okay," the DJ said.
"Do you wanna come in?"
Beca nodded and then made her legs move inside. It was such an effort, every little task seemed to take so long when it was accompanied by doubts and a heavily beating heart.
Chloe closed the door behind her and they looked at each other. Chloe smiled but Beca looked positively miserable. For a second, Chloe wondered if the brunette had changed her mind but she had the suspicion that she wouldn't be here if she had.
"Are you scared?" Chloe asked. Beca looked at her for a moment but then nodded. Chloe smiled a small smile and then hugged her friend.
"You don't have to be, I love you," Chloe whispered into her ear and Beca felt the weight on her shoulders lift, and her heart got so light she thought it might just hop out of her chest and go its own merry way. She giggled at the image.
"I love you, too," she then whispered back. Chloe pulled her tighter, a friend's hug became a lover's embrace and Beca felt the deliciousness of it seep through her skin. "Kiss me," she asked of Chloe and the redhead obeyed without a second's thought.
It was the first time, they let their lips meet. With all the things that had been going on between them, they had never crossed that line. Maybe because they knew that there would be no way back from their lips capturing each other. And this kiss certainly proved them right.