Living with Fat Amy is cool, it really is. She’s not at all the sort of person Beca ever saw herself bonding with before joining the Bellas, but then again, Chloe is not remotely the sort of person Beca ever saw herself dating, either. A lot has changed in her social life since stepping reluctantly out of that cab, and she has to admit she’s pretty proud of herself for getting this far—although there’s no chance in hell she’s confessing that to her father.
Anyway, Amy is cool; a little brash and much louder than Kimmy Jin ever was, but far more personable. For example, she never refers to Beca as “that white girl” (“damn Yankee,” sure, but Beca’s pretty sure that’s Amy’s idea of an endearment). And, when Beca stumbles through the door and offers a smile, she always finds Amy wearing a grin of her own. Amy’s cool. Amy is her friend. Amy makes having a college roommate feel less like an inmate’s punishment and more like an actual good thing.
But goddamn, Beca’s going to kill her if she doesn’t cut this interrupting shit out soon.
She and Chloe have only been fooling around for a little while—just a couple of weeks of awkward flirting (Chloe’s much better at it than Beca ever has been, which can be intimidating at times) and casual brushes that make Beca feel as though her head is spinning toward a volcano—but already, she can tell this is becoming something. Which is surprisingly okay, because Chloe isn’t jetting off to another side of the country, like Aubrey did upon graduating. Chloe, in fact, is staying on in search of a graduate degree in music theory, which sounds remarkably dull to Beca—but at least it keeps her here.
It’s hideous and amazing, how badly Beca wants her here.
They haven’t even really kissed yet, and it startles her that she would even think about wanting that with someone like Chloe. Perverse little jokes and countless hugs are one thing; wanting to actually kiss her—and not a friend kiss, either, but a full-on, my-mouth-on-your-mouth, taste-your-toothpaste, memorize-your-lip-gloss kiss—is crazy talk. Chloe is too bright for her, too bubbly, too much sunshine and rainbows and everything else Beca can’t wrap her head around at all, and she shouldn’t want this. She shouldn’t.
But hot damn, she really, really does.
And Chloe seems to want it, too. Maybe she has from the very beginning, from the first time she caught Beca’s eye and waved her over to the Bellas’ booth; Beca wouldn’t put it past her. Chloe seems like one of those rare creatures who always knows what she wants, and who isn’t remotely afraid to go get whatever that might be. Beca doesn’t know how that feels. The wanting, yes, absolutely. She wants with everything she has, when something worth wanting comes along. The DJ future. A victory at the Lincoln Center. Friends she can count on.
Chloe’s smile in the morning and her kiss at night.
But things like that are hard to just pick up and go after. For her, life is about walking slowly, keeping her head down and her eyes open, and waiting for the opportune moment. Sometimes, those moments come slowly. Sometimes, they don’t come at all.
And, sometimes, for whatever maddening reason, those moments are shattered into a zillion shimmering pieces by the likes of her very careless, very Australian roommate.
They probably shouldn’t be hanging out in her room in the first place, honestly. Chloe’s apartment is bigger (by about six inches, but still), and nicer (if you ignore the peeling paint along the windowsills and the strange stain on her bathroom ceiling), and pretty free of roommates (except when the gay boy she’s staying with chooses to come home, which, though a rarity, tends to bring along about three other flaming men and a slew of Celine albums). They should totally be hanging at Chloe’s.
But Chloe has this thing about her place, about the plush dorm carpeting and the little sofa bed Beca nests on, and Beca finds she can’t deny big blue eyes like those. It’s homey, Chloe insists, tossing herself recklessly onto the bed and bouncing twice. It’s homey, and it makes her think of all sorts of lovely things.
Beca is at once charmed, and terrified, wondering what those things might be.
So they’re here, because Chloe likes it, and because choosing a place to hang out is the simplest thing about them. Maybe the only simple thing. Everything else is a barrage of overwhelming butterflies and thudding heartbeats, the brush of Chloe’s bare leg against Beca’s jeans as they shift unwittingly closer, the pleasant flush in Chloe’s cheeks as she reaches over and takes Beca’s chilly hand in her warm one. It feels like middle school, like a first love at summer camp, like being young and stupid and innocent again. Beca is amazed to find she sort of adores the feeling.
It helps that Chloe just looks so pretty, reclining in the soft light cast from her desk lamp. Her hair is loose around her shoulders, recently trimmed; her skin is a soft ivory, her eyes gleaming in that mischievous, enticing way she’s got. Beca’s never known this feeling before, that can’t-look-away thing books always talk about, but with Chloe, it seems perfectly natural.
Even if it does scare the living crap out of her.
She’s overthinking like crazy, twisting the bedspread in her free hand, jiggling her sneakered foot against the edge of the mattress, and she knows Chloe can tell. Chloe can always read her, somehow, without being told a damn thing. Chloe is handsy, and intrusive, and kind of off her rocker.
And Chloe is squeezing her hand sweetly, her lips curving at the edges, her cheeks cherry-red. Chloe is leaning forward, slowly, cautiously. Like Beca is some frightened little rabbit on the verge of scampering back into her den.
(She hates how accurate that actually feels, how her skin tingles like it might take off and leave her bones waiting wistfully behind. She wishes she were braver than this, but it turns out there’s a gaping difference between acting cool and being so. She hasn’t quite mastered the latter yet.)
Chloe’s face is nearing her own, and Beca feels at once very small and vastly expansive, like the feelings in her are so extreme, they might as well take up the whole room. She imagines she can feel the mingled hope and anxiety and desire all stretching up, banging against Chloe’s own emotions. She wonders who’s feeling more, and who will have to back down from the other.
She’s fairly certain this is the first time she’s got Chloe beat. She has never felt her heart jackhammer this way before.
Her eyes are flickering spastically from Chloe’s gaze—steady and calm, like they’ve got all the time in the world for this moment—to Chloe’s cheeks—burning with such vivid color that Beca finds herself wanting to reach for them, just to assure herself Chloe is not bursting into flames—to Chloe’s lips. Chloe’s lips are the most tempting part of this whole beautiful, terrifying picture, and Beca can’t keep looking at them for long. It feels as though any prolonged staring will unwrite this whole story before it really begins, like if she keeps her gaze on the plumpness of Chloe’s lower lip, or the wet, pink flick of her tongue, this will all come to a screeching halt. Realism will kick back in. Aubrey’s voice will chime in Chloe’s head, telling her to get away from that girl and her ear monstrosities. This will vanish forever.
Except it isn’t vanishing; Chloe is just about on top of her now, her hand sliding from the bedspread to Beca’s knee, and she can’t breathe. It’s the most wonderful panic she’s ever felt, like standing on a stage and singing until the world crescendos around her, and when Chloe’s mouth touches hers for the first time, she thinks she might well be going insane. Blissfully, beautifully, spectacularly crazy, all under the soft, tentative pressure of the first kiss a girl has ever given her.
Her shoulders are stiff, but Chloe’s lips are pulling back, and pressing in again, and slowly, Beca can feel herself relaxing. The kisses are gentle, peppered across the span of her mouth, like Chloe is intent on patiently testing each fraction of skin until she knows Beca by heart. Beca blindly thinks that Chloe has been doing this in so many ways for a year now—testing the waters, pushing the boundaries, exploring and cheerfully memorizing her—that this must be what it was leading to all along. The first careful sweep of tongue tip across the seam of her lips. The heat of a palm on the knee of her jeans. The taste of Chloe’s happy little sigh.
Something in her head is screaming with uncertainty, but her heart thuds proudly against her breastbone as her hands comb through Chloe’s fire-engine hair, hitting no snags along the way. Her own lips are just parting—accepting Chloe’s tongue as it playfully edges against her skin—when the pounding anxiety in her chest escapes loudly into the room.
That’s the door.
“What up, bitches!” Amy announces, perfectly oblivious to the panicked jolt that just about sends Beca tumbling off the bed. “I hope you’re feelin’ Asian, cuz I brought dinner!”
She throws a little melodic flourish at the end of the sentence, waving a brown paper bag from the local Chinese place. Chloe presses the back of her hand against her mouth to hide her smile, her eyes fixed solely on Beca, who is flushing so brightly, she’s pretty sure her face could stand in for a stoplight.
“Great,” she manages in a strangled voice. “Eggrolls?”
Amy is so busy huffing at her disbelievingly—Like I’d ever forget the fucking eggrolls!—she doesn’t seem to notice at all the way Chloe’s fingers curve around Beca’s kneecap again. It sends a white-hot thrill through to her stomach, and she grits her teeth.
That kiss was not the kind you want to end.
Every kiss with Chloe, it turns out, is the kind you never want to end. She’s remarkable with her mouth, which doesn’t shock Beca at all—not with singing being Chloe’s life, and all—but it does make her hands shake with anticipation whenever Chloe comes near her. Or sends her a text message. Or does anything at all.
The text messages are getting particularly stressful.
She’s getting used to the sensation of Chloe’s mouth on her own now, though Chloe is forever doing brand-new things with her tongue and teeth that make Beca’s eyes roll back in her head. She’s getting used to the sense of being off-balance all the time, to the taste of strawberry lip-gloss and peppermint and something deeper and warmer that just screams Chloe. She’s getting used to Chloe getting close.
But the text messages are very new.
They’ve been texting for over a year, of course; it’s the main mode of communication on a college campus, particularly for a group like the Bellas, and it took Chloe all of thirteen seconds after pronouncing her “one of them” to stick her hand right into Beca’s hip pocket and temporarily kidnap her phone. Which, at the time, struck Beca as the action of a crazy person, and nothing more.
No crazier than someone who stands, naked and proud, in someone else’s shower stall until they obediently give up an impromptu vocal audition, granted.
Looking back on that moment—on all of those moments, actually, from the shower, to the brush of nimble fingers against her thigh, to the intimate way Chloe’s arms wrapped around her shoulders at that first rehearsal—Beca wonders how she kept it together. It takes so much less than that now for her whole body to shudder and threaten to shut down completely; how she didn’t fall for Chloe sooner is beyond her.
(Although, this rude little voice at the back of her mind mutters, you sort of need to take your walls down before you can fall for anybody.)
So, yes, she’s had Chloe’s number since the dawn of Barden Time. Which was well and good and easy back then, when text messages ranged from “good morning, sleepyhead!” to “you want to grab a burger later?”
When her phone buzzes on a Thursday night and she reaches for it, that’s exactly the sort of message she’s expecting. Chloe is at a late class, one that won’t get out until almost ten, and Beca is taking the downtime to study for an upcoming chemistry exam. The idea of grabbing a late dinner with the girl who isn’t actually her girlfriend—but might be, if she wanted the title—is stellar.
She thumbs across the screen without looking at it, scribbling notes with her other hand on something to do with bonds and hydrogen and, god, she doesn’t care at all. Sighing, she turns her attention to the text.
I miss you.
Her lips twist in a half-smile, one that probably looks utterly dopey. If Chloe’s texting in class, she must really be bored. Or, it’s possible, though it still makes Beca’s heart pound to think of it, she really does miss her. They haven’t seen each other in two whole days.
Beca can’t remember when two days fell into way too long territory.
Miss you too, she types back, feeling like a total dork as she does. The next message comes almost instantly.
Her blood goes hot, her hands fumbling against the screen. Chloe does want her, for whatever unfathomable reason—that much is apparent in the weight of her kisses and the soft, dark noises she makes when Beca’s hands frame her waist—but to actually say so is…
Kind of ridiculously hot, in its own way.
Want you too, she types out, too fast, and winces when her thumb hits send before she can erase the extra letters that found their way into the words. Chloe replies with a winky face, then:
Tell me about it.
Her mind goes blank. If Chloe’s asking what it sounds like she’s asking, then Beca has absolutely no idea how to respond. And if Chloe’s not asking that, then—
C’mon, Chloe types, apparently deciding Beca is taking too long. Tell me.
I— She freezes, chewing her lip. Three little dots appear on the screen, signaling Chloe’s imminent response.
Fine, I’ll tell you. If you want.
Yes, Beca taps out, not even caring that she probably sounds desperate. She’s too busy feeling a well of relief at being let off the hook. This just isn’t something she’s used to.
I want you, Chloe says again, then adds, in my room.
Thought you liked my room, Beca types, pleased with the unintentional flirtation behind the words. She meant it honestly, but Chloe will read it in some off-kilter seductive way, no doubt.
I do. But my bed’s bigger.
Her mind blanks out, the tips of her fingers trembling. She sinks back against the pillows, blowing out a breath. “Shit.”
You prefer top or bottom?
She has no idea what that even means. Okay, some idea, but not from experience, and oh god, Chloe is really going there. Not that it’s bad. Not that Beca hasn’t thought about it. With someone who kisses like Chloe, it’s impossible not to think about it.
But they’ve never talked like this before, or about this, and her whole body seems to be pulsing with the urge to find Chloe right now and talk about it in a much less wordy fashion.
It’s kind of a lot to take in.
I think bottom, Chloe tells her breezily. Beca closes her eyes and pictures what she must look like right now: sitting straight and pristine in her front-row seat, too pretty and confident for even the most hardened professor to call her on her blatant texting. She wonders what Chloe is wearing today, if she’s chosen a sweater or a button-down blouse. She hopes for the sweater.
She knows Chloe is smirking.
I think you should be underneath me. I wish you were here now. You have such nice hands, and they haven’t been properly introduced to most of me yet.
It sounds so natural, though they’ve never done this, like Chloe is just talking. Talking sexily, maybe, and definitely knowing what she’s doing to Beca in the process, but it’s all so matter of fact. No dirty words. No innuendos. Just a straight, honest delivery of what she’s thinking.
I wish you could be there tonight, when I get home, Chloe informs her in the next text. I want to spend the whole night kissing you.
Beca sucks in a breath through her teeth, her head swimming. That would be perfect. She wishes she had the guts to be so brazen, to just catch a bus to Chloe’s place and hang out there—but Chloe’s roommate, Josh, has taken a distressing liking to Beca, the kind that leads him to surprise her with unprompted makeovers, and she just isn’t up for it. Not even for Chloe.
(Okay, maybe for Chloe. Just not tonight. The idea fills her with a blind sort of anxiety, even as her thighs press harder together. She just doesn’t know what she would do in this sort of situation.)
You thinking about kissing me?
God, yes, she types without thinking, and blushes. This isn’t even dirty, not really, and yet, her stomach has tied itself into the tightest of knots. Just knowing Chloe is somewhere else, somewhere not with her, and actively thinking about climbing on top of her in a bed is enough to—
Good, Chloe sends, and Beca can vividly imagine the smile on her face. She tilts her head back against the wall and exhales shakily.
Someday, Chloe says, I’m going to tell you exactly what I want to do to you. What I think about doing with you all the time. If that’s something you want.
She groans, her hips lifting slightly from the bed on impulse. She’s instantly embarrassed. This is all it takes to make her crazy? This is enough to do it? How pathetic is she, that Chloe barely has to tease, and her whole system goes on red alert?
She’s halfway through a stumbling response—I do, is all she means to type, and maybe an afterthought of please as well, but her fingers are shaking too hard to hit the right letters—when Amy comes crashing through the door. Beca jumps, flinging the phone to the floor and wincing; she’s been too lazy to snap its protective case on this week.
Amy grins at her sloppily, very evidently drunk. Not Kardashian-drunk, but at least a fraction of the way to Ke$ha-drunk, which is more drunk than Amy ever needs to be.
“Why, hellooo there, my lovely Sapphic room-friend,” she coos, and, without further ado, chucks her full weight across Beca’s legs. On the floor, her phone buzzes. Amy makes a haphazard flailing motion for it, then gives up, to Beca’s immense relief.
“You’re, uh. Crushing my kneecaps,” she says in a thick voice that must be a dead giveaway to what she was just thinking about—Chloe’s bed, Chloe’s knees on either side of my hips, Chloe’s hair bright red against Chloe’s pale shoulders, Chloe, Chloe, Chloe. Amy makes a face.
“Are you calling me fat?”
“You. I. No?” She winces again. Amy smacks at her hip, laughing uproariously.
“So easy,” she pronounces, and, rather than rolling off and going to her own bed, promptly closes her eyes and falls asleep. Beca stares at the ceiling, mouth open in displeasure.
On the floor, the phone buzzes again. She can see a smattering of words from here—want, and taste, and tongue—and it makes her hips want to jump again. She holds back, scowling, wishing desperately for a roommate who doesn’t forget which bed is her own. At least Kimmy Jin never treated her like a human futon.
God, this is so awkward.
The text messages become more and more frequent, and she gets used to it pretty fast—amazingly fast, all things considered. Chloe is slowly roping her into a comfort zone she never thought she’d find, her smiles comforting, her hands patient. It makes Beca feel like she could actually be good at this, in some universe that looks a lot like this one, with a girl who looks an awful lot like Chloe.
“I want you to be my girlfriend,” she murmurs against Chloe’s jawline one afternoon. She doesn’t mean to say it; it just sort of pours out of her in a burst of courage. She thinks it’s got something to do with her lack of attention on her own nerves. It’s hard to focus on anxiety and the weight of Chloe in her lap at the same time.
Chloe makes a pleased little sound into her skin and hikes her hips forward in agreement. “That sounds awesome,” she breathes, sending a burst of pride exploding through Beca’s heart like all the brightly-colored fireworks a summer could offer.
“Aca-awesome?” she teases, her hands skidding up the back of Chloe’s t-shirt and fisting in the flimsy material. Chloe hums.
“Aca-awesome.” She’s perched so comfortably, her knees framing Beca’s thighs, her arms wound loosely around Beca’s neck. She’s taller than Beca, and slightly heavier, and this should feel awkward, but it mostly just makes Beca feel strong. She’s not used to that. She likes it.
Her hands pull at the shirt half-heartedly, wanting one thing while her brain backtracks in the opposite direction. She cranes her neck and catches the next kiss dead-on, whimpering a little when Chloe sinks her teeth softly into her lower lip.
“I think,” Chloe whispers, and Beca wonders if she’s ever going to get used to that husky rasp, “girlfriends is a very good idea.”
Her hips press down, harder this time; her hands tug at Beca’s hair, nails scritching along the back of her neck. Her mouth slants heavily upon Beca’s, opening unexpectedly when Beca tilts her head left, and she makes this sound into Beca’s mouth that leaves her tingling all over.
“I want you,” she whispers, more an impression of words than actual speech. “I love the idea of you being mine.”
Beca groans low in her throat, hands tightening around the curve of Chloe’s hips. Her jeans are tight, and she feels almost trapped within them, straining to keep her body under control. Chloe doesn’t do this. Chloe doesn’t ever seem to worry about what she should or shouldn’t do, how she should or shouldn’t react. She only ever seems concerned with what Beca might call too much, not with her own limits.
Then again, this is Chloe. Maybe, Beca thinks with a fresh dash of nerves, she doesn’t have limits in the first place.
Chloe shifts her angle a bit, kissing her slowly, tongue raking across Beca’s teeth. She makes a growling little mm sound and grinds her pelvis down, left hand sliding painstakingly up Beca’s neck to cup her cheek.
“You can, you know,” she says quietly, the words half-moaned when Beca’s fingers clutch at her hipbones. “You can—“
Beca knows she can—and wants to, because oh god, the sensation of Chloe moving this way on top of her is too much to take with a clear head—but something stops her. Something has her feeling uneasy about giving in to this completely. Losing control.
Chloe seems to read her mind; she leans back a little, hooking her hands behind Beca’s neck and smiling down at her. “It’s not too much for me,” she assures. “I like feeling you like this. I like watching you give in.”
Beca’s eyelashes flutter instinctively. She palms at the base of Chloe’s spine—a safe zone, for all intents and purposes. Sexy enough to send a thrill through her every time, but not so sexy as to feel intrusive. Like she’s grabbing something Chloe doesn’t want her to grab.
She doesn’t, she realizes, want to be the boy. It would feel so wrong, to go grasping at whatever she wanted without thinking it through first. It would feel inappropriate, and like trodding all over Chloe’s friendship, and when it all boils down to the end, it’s that friendship she cares about most. Damaging that would be—
“I’m just being careful,” she mumbles, feeling stupid. Chloe hooks a finger beneath her chin and reaches around behind her with her free hand, taking hold of Beca’s wrist.
“Don’t,” she says softly, and eases their hands down to rest squarely against the back pocket of her jeans. Beca draws in a breath, fighting the impulse to pull away.
“I don’t know how to—,” she begins weakly. She feels so young when they do this, when Chloe reveals how much more experienced she is. She wonders if Chloe has ever done it with a girl before. She certainly hasn’t. She hasn’t even managed to keep a boyfriend for longer than a few shaky months, much less let herself open up this way to one before. Chloe is different. Chloe is utterly new.
“You’re doing fine,” Chloe assures her, and Beca believes her, because that’s how Chloe is. She doesn’t lie. She doesn’t make things up to make people feel better. Her truths just happen to be kinder and more welcoming than other people’s. Beca, against her better judgment, loves that.
They’re kissing again, slow and heated; this time, Chloe waits for her to take the lead, tipping her head to follow Beca’s halting direction. Her hips remain stationary, her breasts tilting against Beca’s chest until the breath stills in her lungs. She is letting Beca set the pace, and, for the first time, Beca is honestly trying.
It feels weird for a minute; their noses bump together all wrong, and she can feel the twist of Chloe’s smile under her kiss, and her hand squeezes awkwardly at the seat of Chloe’s jeans. She wrenches her eyes shut and tries to think sexy, tries to place herself in the mindset of someone who knows what they’re doing.
“Shorty get down,” she mumble-sings into the corner of Chloe’s mouth, her cheeks lighting up with embarrassment; Chloe makes a noise of encouragement, kissing her soundly in return.
It’s so dumb, but it feels better with the song blanketing her thoughts. Not that she would ever want to be Dr. Dre with a girl, because, gross, but something about that confidence—that swagger—that way Chloe looked at her at the riff-off, biting her lip and sweeping her gaze up and down Beca’s body—
She grasps at Chloe’s ass with both hands, lifting her up and pulling her closer; her mouth opens boldly, tongue curling around Chloe’s and sucking until she squeaks pleasantly with surprise. Chloe’s hips jolt down into hers, and she allows herself the freedom to thrust clumsily up in response. Chloe giggles into her.
“Better,” she murmurs, and reaches around to pull just a little too hard at Beca’s hair. She groans.
She’s sliding the shirt up—thoughtlessly, letting the song in her head dictate her actions—and she’s just marveling at the first brush of Chloe’s warm back against her cool fingertips when Amy’s voice comes barreling through the door.
“Not looking! Don’t worry, I am not looking!”
Indeed, her hand is locked down firmly over her eyes when she bumbles in, tossing a backpack blindly in the direction of her bed. Beca instantly lets the shirt drop, feeling guilty and dirty and kind of deeply wrong all at once. Still straddling her lap, Chloe lets her head fall against Beca’s shoulder and makes a noise that sounds half like a laugh, half exasperated.
“Carry on,” Amy says cheerfully, clambering onto her bed and pulling a book into her lap. “I am not here.”
“Yes,” Beca groans, “you are.”
“Hi, Amy,” Chloe adds, giggling. Beca slaps at her ass, because this is so not funny.
Amy waves, still propping splayed fingers across her eyes. “Hi, Chloe. Nice shirt. Abercrombie?”
Beca is never going to get through this.
She feels weird about doing this in a public location. She’s bad enough at shutting off her brain in private, with the door shut, with no one around to watch her bumble and fumble at making sense of a physical relationship. In public, where anyone could see, it just feels—
“Isn’t this illegal?” she asks nervously as Chloe tugs her along. Her girlfriend—and that still feels weird too, in a completely perfect sort of way—laughs.
“We’re not having sex, Bec.”
Which, even though physical relationships are hard and nerve-wracking and whatever, makes her want to exclaim, Well, why the hell not?
“I just think it might help,” Chloe goes on, her fingers tight and eager around Beca’s wrist, “if we go somewhere new. You know. Keep the relationship steamy.”
Her eyebrows waggle playfully, her tongue poking out between her teeth. Beca is pretty sure this is what falling in love feels like. Her heart aches.
“But why here?”
“Because,” Chloe says simply, “there are stars.”
She drops without warning into the grass with a soft little foomp noise and drags Beca down with her. The blades are dry and brittle against her arms, but Beca doesn’t complain. Not with Chloe cuddled against her side, one leg thrown casually over Beca’s.
“I like it here,” she says softly as Beca’s eyes scan the cloud-smattered sky. “Our baseball team sucks, so no one ever hangs out on this part of campus. Nobody but me.”
And now me, Beca thinks as the evening breeze whips her hair around her face. Chloe reaches up to push the flyaway strands back into place, smiling fondly.
“You’re so pretty,” she says, and, again, Beca finds herself believing the words. Or, if not the words themselves, at least that Chloe believes them with her whole soul. Which is just as good.
She can’t think of anything to say, so she kisses Chloe instead, sweet and chaste and comfortable. Kissing has gotten so much easier. Easy like the breath melting from Chloe’s lips and past her own. Easy like the sweep of Chloe’s fingers down the bridge of her nose, across the breadth of her cheeks, nails delicate and demanding against her scalp.
Chloe tilts her head down, kissing away from Beca’s mouth and down her jaw. Her tongue flicks out here and there, curling in tiny licks; her thumb props beneath Beca’s chin, urging her head up until her throat bares in the autumn wind.
It doesn’t even occur to her to worry about the mark; people expect it of her anyway, somehow, like the wristbands and the perpetual smirk make her some kind of hardass who always scores this kind of tail. It almost seems ridiculous now, thinking on how she once wanted people to believe that of her.
Chloe suckles at her skin, pulling it between her teeth and coloring it a deep purple. Beca can see it in her mind’s eye, reflected in the bathroom mirror after a shower, and shudders, relishing the goosebumps that spring up and down her arms. Chloe makes a self-satisfied noise against her, tongue stroking broadly to soothe the bruise.
“Pretty,” she says, dragging a thumbnail across the mark. Beca’s gut tightens, a hot pang striking between her legs. Chloe is just so damn beautiful sometimes, equal parts innocent and filthy, and it kills her that she doesn’t know how to respond. All she wants is to roll her into the grass and thumb open the button her jeans, but—
Chloe smiles down at her, eyes dark; her hand traces the space between Beca’s belt and her sweatshirt where pale skin is prickling in the chill. “It would be pretty funny,” she says quietly, in a voice entirely too seductive for funny, “to do it here, huh? First time on a baseball diamond. You could say you really got to third.”
“Or home,” Beca adds without thinking. Chloe raises an eyebrow.
The urge to apologize vanishes when Chloe’s hand wanders up, under the sweatshirt, under the t-shirt beneath, and cups her breast gently. Beca sucks in all the air she can find and discovers it’s not nearly enough to keep her vision from going fuzzy.
“I—“ There’s nothing to say to this, not with Chloe plucking at her nipple through the bra and smiling almost wickedly when Beca’s back arches off the grass. “You—“
“Me,” Chloe whispers throatily, palming her and squeezing lightly. “You.” She nudges a thigh between Beca’s sprawled legs and urges upward, against the pulse of her. Beca makes a noise, higher than she’s ever heard from herself, eyelids flickering.
It’s easier to be touched than to initiate, she discovers. Still scary, still overwhelming, but Chloe so obviously knows what she’s doing—and so obviously likes doing it. Her hips rut against Chloe’s thigh, slim and strong, once, twice; she bites into the sleeve of her sweatshirt and keeps her gaze on Chloe’s. She’s being watched, like Chloe is cataloguing every shift in her facial expression, every tension that slides into her mouth and every roll of her eyes. It’s like Chloe is memorizing her, careful not to repeat any action Beca seems not to like. Chloe is good at this.
The angle of her thigh changes slightly, and Beca groans, hands straining to find Chloe’s belt loops to guide her back into position. Chloe laughs once, head tipped back, ginger hair adrift around her head in an odd sort of halo, and pinches with thumb and forefinger beneath her shirt. Beca squeaks.
They’re just finding a rhythm—or, more accurately, Beca is just learning to follow the rhythm Chloe has been trying to set with her thrusts all along—when the sound carries to them for the first time. Strange sounds, a sort of scrabbling followed by a mumbled phrase they can’t make out. Beca freezes, motioning for Chloe to be still.
They wait, Chloe’s head bowed so her ears can better track whatever company they’ve got. Beca does her best to ignore the pounding between her legs, trying to forget the way Chloe’s hand is still positioned inside her shirt, cradling her gently. There’s something about those sounds that seems…familiar…but in a bad way, like the horror movie that so petrified you in childhood, you never want to see it as an adult.
“No,” she whispers, horrified. Chloe claps a hand over her own mouth, blue eyes wide.
“No,” Beca repeats, because she will never, in a million years of college life, be okay with hearing that. She can’t even find it in herself to be comfortable doing it, much less hearing—and hearing someone she—
“We have to leave,” she says abruptly. “We have to leave right now.”
She nudges Chloe off of her and stands, tripping in her haste. Chloe, hand still clamped over her lips to contain her mad giggles, follows in a rush of tangled hair and pink cheeks.
From somewhere in the direction of the dugout, Beca thinks—knows, with a fresh dose of unhappiness—she hears her roommate call out the name Kevin.
She does not want to know.
It’s December, and everything outside is frigid, coated in a thin layer of fresh snow, but her room is warm. Hot, even, though that has little to do with the waves of 70-degree air the vents insist upon expelling.
It has a lot to do with the way Chloe looks in her bed.
Chloe’s sick to death of studying, and Beca finds she can’t help but agree; she’s been stretched out on her back with a pair of headphones over her ears for hours now, staring blankly at a psychology binder that makes a lot more sense in class than at midnight. When Chloe invites herself over, sliding into the room, and the bed, without asking, Beca happily tosses the binder overboard and rolls to face her.
They lay for several long minutes, just looking at one another; Chloe, in her lightweight button-down and short skirt, is both gorgeous and utterly unprepared for winter. Beca, in flannel pajama pants and a tank top, feels like the least sexy creature on the planet. They make an odd pair, she thinks fondly, but they work somehow.
Chloe reaches lazily across the bed, grasps a handful of Beca’s shirt, and drags her forward. She tucks her head into the crook of Beca’s neck, purposely making herself seem shorter (which means her ankles hang off the bed, which Beca finds both stupid and stupidly adorable), and sighs.
“School is dumb.”
“You graduated,” Beca reminds her, running her palm soothingly along Chloe’s spine until she arches like a contented cat. “And then you came back.”
“Guess that makes me dumb, too,” Chloe yawns. “Or maybe I just wanted to spend another year with a hot sophomore and her sick beats.”
Beca laughs and kisses the top of her head. Chloe leans back to look her in the eye. Her hand tightens on Beca’s shirt.
“It’s hot,” she says, like she’s only just become aware of it. Beca shrugs.
“That’s the dorms.”
Chloe’s eyes skip from her gaze to her lips; without another word, she surges forward, claiming Beca’s mouth hard. Beca obediently sinks into it, cradling the back of Chloe’s head with one hand and responding eagerly when Chloe nips at her.
“You came,” she says breathlessly around kisses, “just—to kiss—me?”
“I didn’t come to kiss Amy,” Chloe replies, and doesn’t even give Beca a chance to laugh. She grasps the hipbone not buried in the mattress and uses it to wrench Beca’s pelvis hard against her own; Beca gasps, all amusement forgotten.
Chloe’s eyes twinkle in the dim light, hooking a leg around Beca’s hip and grinding against her. “It’s hot,” she says again, and slides the tank top up Beca’s belly. “And you’re hot.”
“Uh huh,” Beca pants, her lower half keeping time with Chloe’s without her input. She crushes their mouths together, whimpering when Chloe’s body presses just there, wondering why she’s even bothering to wear pants at all when they’re just going to do this.
Chloe’s tongue stalks past her lips, possessive and engaging; her hands push at Beca’s shoulders, rolling her until she’s stretched out flat on the bed. Her skirt bunched around her hips, Chloe straddles her and sits up, face flushed.
“Too hot,” she says, her fingers moving to the front of her shirt. Beca rises up on her elbows, mouth agape, following the motion of each button as it pops loose. One…two…there’s cleavage now, in a swell that makes her heart go stone-still in her chest. Three—she can see Chloe’s bra, red and appropriate only for something like this. Four—
She strains up, grabbing for the back of Chloe’s head, kissing her soundly even as her free hand shoves at the shirt propped loosely around her shoulders. She’s seen Chloe naked only the once, and after months of this learning curve, of getting used to everything, she finds that once—and accidentally, to boot—was not nearly enough. They’ve been building to this for so long, and now Chloe is here, and passionate, and wearing a bra so red, it makes Beca’s teeth hurt—
Her hand eases down the length of Chloe’s taut stomach, her eyes nervously following the path; she’s getting better at this, much better, and the arch of Chloe’s back suggests this is the right thing to do, but it still feels kind of terrifying. Terrifying and like everything she’s ever wanted, when her hand crosses the boundary between skin and skirt and keeps going, pushing up and under. Her palm feels unnaturally cool against the warmth of Chloe, cradled in—she’d be willing to double every bet Cynthia Rose has ever made on it—matching red underwear; she watches Chloe’s eyes go dark and close, her lips parting as her tongue dips across them, and feels a leap of desire between her own legs.
She’s never touched someone else like this before—doesn’t even feel comfortable touching herself, half the time—but Chloe’s hips are urging back and forth into her hand. Her fingers curl, stroking down the center where Chloe is wettest, and she freezes there. Just stops, and stares, because Chloe’s breasts are straining against that skimpy bra, and her skirt is lewdly out of place, and she’s breathing in shallow gulps, and this is all for her. This is all for Beca, and no one else, and it just feels—
The phone is ringing.
For a split second, Beca is sure she’s dreaming. This whole thing—Chloe, the lingerie, the heat of her rubbing against Beca’s fingertips, maybe even the relationship and Barden itself—is a dream. One big, long stream of unconsciousness, dreamed up by someone too frightened to let people in for real. And here is the alarm, jarring her back to reality at last.
Chloe is looking at her with her lip between her teeth, eyebrows draw tight over eyes so blue, Beca can’t look directly into them. “You should,” she gasps out, and Beca groans.
“I don’t want to.”
“It won’t stop,” Chloe points out. Beca groans again, withdrawing her hand and stalking from the bed to the corner where the phone rattles for attention.
Amy has forgotten her key.
Also, does Beca mind coming to pick her up? Her car died outside of the English building.
Why she’s at the English building at midnight, she doesn’t say.
Beca, it’s starting to seem, is never getting laid.
She’s showering at Chloe’s tonight. It was decided, somewhere beneath all the Bellas stress and the upcoming exams and Amy’s insistence on singing Christmas carols at every hour of the day, at the very start of the day. It is Friday. And she is showering at Chloe’s tonight.
Chloe doesn’t mind at all, because she’s Chloe; she greets Beca at the door of her apartment with a chirping, “Josh went home to Wisconsin early!”
Beca slings her overnight bag onto the floor, groans, “Thank god,” and kisses Chloe with all the pent-up frustration the last week of a semester can bring. Chloe makes a delighted sort of sound into her mouth.
She is showering at Chloe’s tonight.
That Chloe happens to stumble into the bathroom with her is just an added bonus.
She should be worried about it, she thinks tiredly as the door clicks shut and Chloe faces her. She should be worried, and anxious, and panicking about everything that is happening right now, everything that should have happened over the last few months. Worrying is her thing.
But Chloe’s hands are gentle, pushing the thick wool coat from Beca’s shoulders, guiding the long-sleeve up her torso and over her head, and she can’t find it in herself to freak out right now. Chloe is just being so perfect, with eyes that roam Beca’s body like she can’t find a single damn thing wrong with it, with her lopsided little half-smile. Chloe is perfect. This bathroom is clean. The shower promises to be scalding hot.
She is happy.
She’s pushing Chloe back against the door before she realizes it, hands cupping the backs of her thighs as her mouth opens eagerly. Chloe rocks against her, instantly interested in where this is going, hands soft and cool against the bared skin of Beca’s shoulders.
Half-naked, she thinks with a heavy dose of pride, and not overthinking it. How far she’s come.
Chloe unsnaps her bra, and Beca shimmies free, popping the button on Chloe’s jeans. The zipper growls down, the material sliding down legs Beca would be painfully jealous of, if she wasn’t so busy being turned on. She licks her lips, running the heel of her hand along the edge of one cream-colored thigh, and sighs with pleasure when Chloe’s response is to grab her ass and squeeze.
“I love you,” she says, and is stupefied by how easy that was. Chloe, who has been saying I love you in all manner of words for over a year now, stops and gazes at her with adoring eyes.
“You better,” she replies through a choked laugh, and then she’s backing Beca toward the shower, shedding the rest of their clothing along the way. Beca’s back hits black-and-gray tile, and she shivers until the water snaps on in a rush of pounding steam. Chloe grins.
It’s such a fitting round-robin, Beca thinks, to go from a shower that makes her want to run screaming away to one she never wants to leave. Chloe stalks toward her, bare and confident, and she remembers saying, dumbly, You should be. You should be confident about all of that, because, damn.
“Damn,” she repeats, testing the word on her tongue. “Damn, girl, you fine.”
Chloe slaps at her chest, giggling. “Oh God, no Diggity tonight.”
“I like the way you work it,” Beca teases, her laughter turning to a moan when Chloe bends her head and snags her nipple with blunt teeth. The water surges down, and Chloe’s hands roam where they will, exploring the space between her breast, the line of abs that could be, someday, the soft skin just beneath her belly button. She closes her eyes, head cracking faintly off the tile when Chloe’s fingers part her, sliding seamlessly against sticky skin.
There’s no more banter after that, no song lyrics in her head, and the anxiety dulls to a low throb somewhere beneath her trust in Chloe. It feels weird. It feels so weird, but Chloe is stroking her with gentle, easy motions, her eyes following every beat in Beca’s expression, every tilt and jerk of her hips, and it’s fine. She feels absolutely fine, and so wanted, so loved, that she thinks it’s worth every fumbled attempt that came before.
Chloe touches her, and she sinks into it, her brow tightening when one finger enters and then dips away again.
“We’ll work up to it,” Chloe tells her, lips hot against her ear; she sucks at the lobe, bites down gently. Beca nods, feverish.
Her legs feel weak and awkward, rubbery and inelegant as she tries to spread them properly. Chloe shakes her head, rubbing just hard enough to make Beca’s head run circles around itself, and sinks slowly down.
“This is easier,” she says, and part of Beca wants to say that this isn’t necessary, that this is weird—because fingers make sense to her, because she uses her fingers, but a tongue? A tongue is beyond the pale—but Chloe’s head is already bobbing between her legs and—
“Shit,” she hisses, and claps a hand over her mouth. Chloe hums out a giggle, licking in quick, short circles that make Beca’s legs feel altogether nonexistent.
It’s over pretty quickly from there, and she sags against the wall until Chloe rises again and passes her the melon-scented shampoo. Her fingers feel almost as good sliding through Beca’s hair as they did doing other things, and yes—it’s weird, having a girlfriend. Very, very weird. It’s weirder still, that this is Chloe, and weirdest of all that Beca is feeling lately like this is the best thing that could ever have happened to her. This is not something she ever saw coming.
But goddamn, does it feel wonderful. To be loved. To love. And, most importantly of all, to see neither hide, nor hair of her beloved, yet utterly fucking irritating roommate in the process.
Her place is clearly cursed.