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how Anna Karenina cost Chloe Beale $60,000

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The first time she fails Russian Literature, it is an honest-to-God accident.

The Bellas have just won Nationals and they’re all still high on the win and the music and the friendship, and school kind of slips her mind for a minute. So when Beca comes up to her at the joint Bellas/Trebles pool party and says “Uh, aren’t you supposed to be like… overanalyzing Anna Karenina right now?” it comes as a bit of a surprise. 

Turns out, professors don’t really like it when you forget to go to the final exam. Especially hard-ass Russian Lit professors who spent the Cold War in Mother Russia and don’t understand things like “ICCA national champions” and “pool parties” and “happiness.” 

So Chloe is 3 credits short of graduating and, for a while (like three days, tops), she is really upset about it. Her parents are disappointed and she’s losing Aubrey and she didn’t even like Anna Karenina and now it cost her another semester of tuition and the opportunity to graduate with her best friend.

Beca tells her she’s sorry and awkwardly pats her on the shoulder, like she doesn’t know if she’s supposed to hug her or what. Chloe shrugs it off because, hey, nothing anybody can do about it now. 

It doesn’t take her long to realize that failing Russian Lit means spending another semester with the Bellas and, well, it’s hard for her to be sad after that. Because it’s another semester of singing and dancing and trying to encourage Fat Amy to do vertical cardio and trying to understand what, exactly, Lily says when her mouth is moving but no sound is coming up, and it’s another semester of Beca being Beca and those are all things that are okay with Chloe.

She registers for a full semester of classes (in order to be a Bella, you have to be a full time student) (and if she has to go back anyway, she might as well pick up that theater minor she’s been thinking about), apologizes to her parents, and starts thinking about the Bellas’ set list for the fall.

---

In November, she changes her major. 

She didn’t really want a psychology major in the first place, and she knows she’s only a month away from graduating – she knows, she really does – but her mother always told her to follow her bliss and, well, this isn’t it.

(It has nothing to do with the fact that Bellas won sectionals. Nothing.)

(Okay, maybe something.)

(And maybe is also has something to do with the fact that Beca very awkwardly asked her what she’d be doing after graduation and where she’d be living because things aren’t working out so well with Kimmy Jin and she thought that maybe the Bellas should get a house together, but not a weird, cultish, sorority way, but she didn’t know if it was a lame idea or whatever so she thought she’d ask Chloe.)

(And Chloe thinks it’s a wonderful idea and she helps Beca fill out all of the paperwork for the university and they write the petition together and talk about the kind of space they’d need – bedrooms and kitchens and bathrooms, of course, but also a music room and a choreography studio and it sounds so much like home to Chloe that of course she couldn’t leave.) 

So Chloe changes her major to sociology – her counselor said that she will only need another year’s worth of credits, probably – and she drags Beca to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to pick out curtains for the living room. 

--- 

They win Nationals for the second time, Beca hugs her like she never wants to let go, and Chloe decides she’s very happy she switched majors, because this, this, is more fulfilling than being in the real world ever could be. She has her music, she has her friends, she has Beca, who is different from her other friends, the other Bellas, in ways she can’t quite pinpoint (she doesn’t want to think too hard).

(Okay, she can pinpoint all of the ways Beca is different, but it’s not a big deal. She’s got a little crush, whatever.) 

(Okay, it’s kind of a big crush.) 

(Okay, she’s kind of totally in love with her in a totally platonic, not-scissory kind of way.) 

(Okay, definitely scissory.) 

(Whatever. Beca doesn’t need to know about it.) 

(But she kind of wants to tell her because… what if?) 

(She tries not to think about what ifs.) 

She dances off the stage at Nationals, shaking what the good Lord gave her, and she laughs and laughs and laughs. 

This is what people mean when they say that college is the best four years (well, five, in her case) of your life. 

She looks at Beca who looks back at her and all she can do is smile.

--- 

The second time she fails Russian Literature is the fall of Beca’s junior year (because that’s kind of how she measures her time at Barden now, and she knows it’s totally lame, but it’s also pretty lame to say that it’s the fall of her sixth year there because she isn’t dumb – not really, she just has ambitions and goals and a mega epic crush on her friend who happens to still be in school. NBD). She’s completed enough credits for her sociology major and she’s supposed to graduate in December (who graduates in December, anyway?). 

She figures it out in September and promptly stops going to class. 

Class is overrated.

Plus, there are Bellas rehearsals (they’re trying this thing where Fat Amy and Cynthia Rose rap, and it’s not really working – Fat Amy may be the best rapper in Tasmania, but she definitely isn’t the best rapper in Georgia, and they’re having a hard time convincing her of that), her internship with the Georgia Society for Clinical Social Workers, and there’s Beca. They’re spending a lot of time together these days since Beca and Jesse are having problems. Chloe tries to be understanding and encouraging because Beca is her friend first and the object of her unrequited love second, but Beca doesn’t seem all that sad, so Chloe can’t really bring herself to be sad either. 

(She’s sad when she’s alone sometimes because Beca is so weird and perfect and Beca and sometimes, when it’s just the two of them, Chloe thinks that it could work, that Beca might feel the same fluttering in her chest that she does, but then reality comes crashing in and she remembers how straight Beca is and how good of friends they are and how she can’t, won’t, lose the best friend she ever had because she couldn’t keep her feelings to herself.) 

(Chloe has a long history of not being able to keep her feelings to herself.) 

(The heart wants what it wants, and her heart wants Beca.)

(One day, that’s going to destroy both of them.) 

Point is, Chloe has a lot of time commitments, and sitting through boring lectures about really sad Russian people just didn’t sound like a good use of her very limited time. So by the time the final rolls around (and she remembers it exists this time), she doesn’t really know what she’s talking about. There was something about Anna Karenina and something about a train, maybe, and she didn’t even answer the last essay because what the heck did she know about War and Peace? 

So she fails and the grumpy Russian Lit professor calls her to his office to ask her what was going on, and she ends up breaking down in his office and telling him she doesn’t want to leave. 

He’s the first person she tells this to, and she can see that it makes him uncomfortable. She’s kind of glad because that exam made her pretty uncomfortable too and she figures it’s karma or something. 

When she tells Beca, she gets a raised eyebrow and a slight pause before they go back to talking about Fat Amy and her rapping. It really is a problem, and they have to solve it before they get to Nationals (she gets to go to Nationals again).

--- 

Her parents are pretty fed up when she flunks Russian Lit the third time.

She had been determined to pass it this time and to graduate, she really had, but then they win Nationals again and Beca smiles and, well, she’d do anything to avoid saying goodbye to that smile. 

This time when the professor calls her to his office, she tells him that she loves a girl, and he’s still the only person she’s honest with.

--- 

The fourth time she takes Russian Lit, she actually goes to class. And she kind of gets into it. All of that sadness and angst and longing speaks to her because Beca, straight-as-nails Beca is girl crushing on that German freakshow and Chloe doesn’t know what to do with herself.

(German Bitch isn’t even that attractive.) 

(It’s not fair.)

So she reads Anna Karenina at Bellas rehearsals, and then Crime and Punishment, and them some play by Chekhov and okay, this stuff is pretty cool.

She brings Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (not even assigned, what is happening to her life) with her to the Bellas retreat and when she gets up the nerve to proposition Beca (because when is she going to have this chance again?), she thinks about Tatyana’s letter and her courage and her strength. 

When Beca turns her down, she laughs it off, but her heart is full of that Russian sadness. 

---

The fire warms her face, but Beca’s singing warms her heart and all thoughts of Russians and sadness and distance are gone. Because Beca is singing to her and she is singing to Beca and it’s like they’re back in the shower that first day, with Titanium and You should be and Fire away, fire away.

It’s like the beginning all over again, except it’s the end and Chloe doesn’t really want to think about that.

--- 

Except it isn’t really the end because they graduate and it’s crazy happy and she’s crazy happy and crazy proud of herself because she’s finally graduating. She ends up with a double major (psychology and sociology) and a double minor (theater and music) and $60,000 in student loan debt from her extra three years and she can't bring herself to care about that last part because she’s so, so happy to be wearing her green robes next to her best friends. 

It’s all pretty great and she’s almost definitely sure it was worth all of the failed exams to be able to graduate with this wonderful group of women who she’s grown to love so very much. 

And Beca, Beca is by her side all day.

After the ceremony, they walk together to meet their families.

“Hey Chloe?”

They’re walking and she sees her parents waiting for her (they’re so happy -- they were pretty sure she’d never get here).

“Yeah, Bec?”

“Can we talk later?” She shifts uncomfortably. “About that whole experimenting in college thing? German lady got me all sexually confused and now I can’t stop staring at your boobs. And you’re wearing a graduation thing that shows no cleavage and you can’t even see your boobs but I’m thinking about them anyway.”

She laughs and Beca grins because this is how Beca does things -- she is awkward and funny and doesn't talk about emotions but she trusts Chloe to understand them. And Chloe does, because this? This is Beca telling her that her feelings aren't unrequited, this is Beca telling her that maybe there's something here. Her heart soars.

"Well, you've already seen me naked, so..." She winks at Beca and they laugh.

“One more thing."

“Yeah?” 

“Thanks for sticking around, Chlo.” She says it like she knows that she’d done it just for her and it’s worth every tuition dollar she’ll have to repay later because it took her 7 years to graduate from college because she’s in love with Beca Mitchell in a super tragic, Russian way, and she can’t quite get away from it.

“You’re welcome.”

Beca is smiling at her, kind of shyly, and Chloe smiles back.

Yeah, definitely worth it.

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