I. Freshman Year
"Storm's coming," Stacie says when she checks her phone during their water break. She holds the screen up for the others to see. "Maybe we should cancel rehearsal tomorrow."
Aubrey laughs. Like, actually cackles like a honest-to-god witch. Beca thinks back to the nightmare she had a few days ago -- a giant Aubrey rising up menacingly as Beca had to run away in six-inch Bella standard heels. Kimmy Jin threw a pillow across the room because of all the screaming and flailing. Beca shudders. Her nightmare seems creepily on point.
"You seriously won't cancel rehearsal even though we have a storm?" Beca asks, folding her arms across her chest.
"I can't believe you're seriously asking her that question," Cynthia Rose mutters out of the corner of her mouth.
Aubrey glares. Beca's almost certain she has bat hearing. "Listen up, aca-bitches! A little snow isn't going to throw us off our schedule. We're going to do two extra rounds of cardio tomorrow -- " Amy groans and throws herself facedown on the floor. " -- and you better all show up at 4 PM sharp."
"I still have that evening class on Thursdays, Aubrey," Ashley starts.
"Right. That." Aubrey's lip curls. "Yes, you're excused. Everyone else -- 4 PM. Now, I want to see the set from the top. No mistakes this time."
"Icicles make the best weapons because the evidence melts away," Beca thinks she hears Lilly mutter. Jesus fucking Christ.
Aubrey only lets them go after Amy points out that they're going to miss the dining hall hours if they stay any longer. Beca manages to get her coat around herself with some effort, her ribs and lower back protesting every time she moves. She follows Chloe out of the dance studio, the only person besides Aubrey who manages to do all the steps and the cardio without looking like she wants to die. The only explanation is that she's been exposed to Aubrey for too long, Beca thinks.
Outside the air is crisp and the sky is low and overcast. Beca takes long, deep breaths. The dance studio always smells like sweaty feet. She takes a few steps forward, meaning to follow the rest of the freshmen to the dining hall, but runs into Chloe's back instead.
"Sorry," Beca says.
Chloe's answering smile is warm. "Don't worry about it. Aren't you excited about the snow?"
"I'd be more excited if we didn't have rehearsal."
"It probably won't be that bad," Chloe says. "They always overexaggerate. But." Her expression is so completely happy. "I'm excited anyway. It never snows back home."
"Where are you from?"
They stand there together on the green, shivering a bit, out of things to say. Beca's pretty sure it's the first time they've been alone since Chloe accosted her in the shower. She's been invited to do stuff, it's just. There's just not a lot of time, between Bellas rehearsals and classes and stacking CDs for Luke. College has turned out to be insanely busy, barely enough time for Beca to work on her own mixes. She once made Jesse quiz her on Spanish vocabulary words while they were sweeping the radio station.
"Hey," Chloe says. The corners of her eyes crinkle. It's -- that's nice. Beca likes that. Inexplicably. "You wanna grab some food?"
Beca gestures with her thumb towards the dining hall. "Well. I was headed that way. Tofu steaks tonight. Wouldn't want to miss that."
"No, like, do you wanna grab some food from Kinkade and, like, hang out?"
"Oh. Uh. Sure?"
"Great!" Chloe exclaims. She grabs Beca's arm and winds it through hers. She's surprisingly strong, which probably shouldn't be that surprising. All that cardio.
"Great," Beca echoes, letting herself be pulled along.
"I think they put something in these grilled cheeses," Chloe says, sprawled out with their food on the floor of Beca's room. She holds up her sandwich for examination.
"Yeah, it's called cheese."
"I was referring to the illicit substances that make these so addictive."
Beca takes a bite of her grilled-cheese-and-tomato. Chloe's probably got a point. She's always craving these things after Bellas rehearsals, when she's starving. They're just your typical grilled cheeses that they do at the student center. The bottoms are always perfectly toasted though, not soggy. Beca sometimes gets two, with a bottle of Vitamin Water.
"I maintain that it's the cheese," Beca says after a minute.
"Who's your roommate?" Chloe nods to the opposite side and Kimmy Jin's immaculately made bed. Not like Beca's, the sheets all twisted up and her duvet crumpled in a corner. "Her stuff is really...white."
"A crazy person." Beca brushes crumbs off her fingers into the paper to-go container. "But she does have these video games. If you want to play."
Chloe grins. "Yeah, totally. I'm gonna kick your ass."
Basically, Beca's never been so thoroughly humiliated in front of anyone in all her young life. Chloe is good at Kimmy Jin's stupid ping pong game (nevermind the fact that a virtual game about ping pong exists at all). She's even better at the racing ones, and the dancing one -- forget about it. Chloe's so good Beca just wants to sit on her bed and watch, laughing.
"Uh, hidden talent much?" Beca asks when Chloe collapses onto the bed, breathless.
"Two older brothers," Chloe says between gulps of water. "They taught me well." She pulls her hair back from her face, knotting it with one hand at the base of her neck. Beca gets lost in the movement for a second, idly watching Chloe's fingers twist and bend with familiar motion. Weird.
"That's so not fair -- "
The door opens, and Kimmy Jin is staring at them like she's surprised that people live here. She's got snow caking her from head to foot, falling off in wet globs, and her cheeks are bright pink from the cold. She retreats to the welcome mat, brushing powder off herself.
"It's snowing. Really hard," she says. Which is, at that point, the nicest thing she has ever said to Beca.
Beca slides off her bed to look out the window. She can hear Chloe introducing herself in the background. The sky's gone that pinkish color it gets when it snows, and she can barely see through the trees because it's coming down so hard. Blizzarding is what Beca would call it. She's suddenly ten times less motivated than usual to go to rehearsal tomorrow.
"Wow, you got past level 7?" Kimmy Jin's saying to Chloe when Beca turns around.
"Yeah, I didn't have anything to do over Christmas break last year," Chloe says breezily. "How's the snow, Bec?"
"Bad. You can check it out."
Chloe's brow furrows and she walks past Beca to look for herself. Kimmy Jin sits down in her desk chair, opens up her laptop. "Do you guys want some tea?" she asks.
For a second Beca honestly thinks she's asking someone else. "What -- us?"
"No, I was asking the ghosts," Kimmy Jin deadpans. "Yeah, obviously, you."
"I would love some tea, thanks," Chloe says, coming back to sit on the edge of Beca's bed. "It looks insane outside. It's gonna suck walking home."
Kimmy Jin busies herself with the kettle. Beca estimates that her roommate must have made tea every single night since they've been living together, which is a little under three months, so... Well, that's how many times she has never offered Beca any tea until this moment. The only obvious explanation is that Chloe has magical unicorn powers.
"Um, I guess. You could stay here?" Beca glances at Kimmy Jin for confirmation. She just shrugs and continues putting teabags in mugs. "I have a sleeping bag in the closet, and some extra blankets."
Chloe reaches over and touches Beca's hand, barely brushing her thumb over the skin. "Are you sure you don't mind?" Beca shakes her head. "Kimmy Jin?"
"It's cool," Kimmy Jin says. She hands steaming mugs of tea to both Beca and Chloe, and turns her attention to her computer. She puts her headphones in.
Beca actually has to pinch herself. No, she's not dreaming, an alien's taken over the body of her roommate, not a big deal at all.
"I think she likes you," she whispers to Chloe. "She hates me, so it must be you."
"But she's so nice," Chloe says. "Mmm, and this tea is really good."
"This is unreal," Beca says, and takes a sip of her own tea.
In the middle of the night Beca wakes up with a gasp. The room's obscenely hot, their old radiator clanking and hissing. She shoves all her blankets off to the side and lies still for a moment, staring at the ceiling, listening to her racing heartbeat and the soft, snuffly sounds of breathing. She remembers Chloe and glances down. Chloe's tangled up in the sleeping bag, her chest rising and falling, steady. Beca stares for a long time, waiting for her body to cool down.
She gets up to look out the window again, tiptoeing past Chloe's head. It's still snowing, wind blowing swirls of flakes every which way, but it's slowing now. The tree outside is crusted with white. There's a pre-dawn lightness to the sky, which makes everything feel quiet and subdued. It's almost desolate in a way, but Beca likes it. She hugs herself, cold suddenly.
Chloe's sitting up, watching her, her hair tumbling over one shoulder. The sight of her in one of Beca's old t-shirts from summer camp does weird things to the pit of Beca's stomach.
"It's still snowing," Beca says, voice hushed. She walks back to bed and crawls in.
"Good," Chloe says, all sleepy, and lies down. "I like it."
"Me too," Beca says.
"Aubrey says if the paths are clear by 4, we're still having rehearsal," Chloe reports, putting her phone down on the dining hall table. She wraps her hands around her mug of coffee.
Beca regards her half-awake from the other side of the table. Chloe's fully dressed, but Beca's got pajamas stuffed into snow boots. The whole campus seems to be under some kind of spell. Classes canceled, everybody bundled up in fat jackets. "Nothing's gonna stop her, huh?"
"It's Aubrey. It'd take an apocalypse to stop her from having rehearsal."
"Let me know if there's a way I can jumpstart one."
"Thanks for letting me stay over." Chloe carefully picks at the top of her muffin, eating it piece by piece. "It really would've sucked to walk home in that."
"Anytime," says Beca. She thinks she means it too. Surprise.
II. Sophomore Year
There is absolutely no way that's happening. Nope. Nuh-uh. Beca refuses. She's the Bellas captain, she gets to decide. She has the veto power. She controls rehearsal schedules and setlists and who gets to solo. And there is absolutely, no way --
"Snowstorm sleepover, bitches!" Amy yells, and everyone cheers.
She stays behind after everyone else has gone to wipe down the dry-erase board. There's something soothing about being the last one to leave the rehearsal space. Well, Chloe too, but that's been pretty normal this year, the two of them spending time together between Beca's lectures and Chloe's grad school duties. Beca's gotten used to her company, wants it even. That's new.
"Snowstorm sleepover! Totally overruled!" Chloe laughs, throwing an arm around Beca's shoulders. "Sorry."
Beca tries her best not to stiffen beneath Chloe's touch. It makes her feel hot and nervous all at once, like when she's waiting to go onstage. Amy once saw Beca squirming away from Chloe's grasp and laughed until she fell over. Since then Beca's tried to be a little more subtle about it. "You're the one who should be sorry. You volunteered your apartment."
"I love hosting sleepovers. They're the best. My friends and I used to do them on Friday nights in high school. We'd bake cookies and paint our nails and have makeovers -- "
"Oh my god, where did you go to school? Sweet Valley High?"
"Hey, just because I had friends -- "
Beca snorts. "Okay, yeah. So when you were painting your nails and talking about which boy you liked best in calculus, I was smoking really bad weed with Justin Lee in his step-dad's basement."
"Did Justin Lee ever throw a rager so crazy that he got grounded for all of junior year?"
Beca stares at Chloe. She's got her innocent face on, big dewy eyes and slightly upturned lips. It works on fucking everyone. Beca's pretty sure Chloe could fool FBI interrogators into letting her get away with sociopathic murder just by using that face.
"You didn't," Beca says, voice going a little high with disbelief. "I know you. You didn't."
Chloe shrugs. "Maybe you don't know me as well as you think."
"You got grounded for all of junior year."
"Yeah, it sucked. But I think it helped me get into college. I mean, there wasn't anything else I could do, you know?"
"That's all you have to say?" Chloe smirks. It's, well, it's kind of hot. It's really hot, actually, though Beca normally doesn't go for cockiness. It's a good look on Chloe.
Beca feels her cheeks pinking. "Wow. I'm impressed. And surprised. In a good way." She puts down the whiteboard eraser, fixes the order of the markers.
"So you're coming with me to Publix for supplies, right?" Chloe leans her hip against the piano, resting an arm on top of it. She's wearing this shirt today, low-cut and lacy, and it keeps distracting Beca, which is inappropriate, and stupid. Lots of that going around with her Chloe thoughts recently.
She's got homework to finish, and a big upcoming midterm to study for. There's a mix she's been working on that she wants to finish. Which makes it all entirely logical when she says, "Okay."
(There's a part of her that knows she says it to see Chloe grin. It's the part that Beca wishes would shut up.)
There's absolutely no way she would admit it, but on Beca's list of top ten favorite things, going to the grocery store with Chloe is like a high three. Going anywhere with Chloe, honestly, but for some reason Chloe loves the supermarket. Like giddy-when-she-walks-in, wants-to-walk-around-the-whole-store, loves-showing-Beca-the-produce kind of love.
"Are you getting a contact high?" Beca laughs the first time they walk into a Publix together. Chloe tells her to shut up, but it turns out to be sort of true.
They always end up going late at night, so Beca's usually starving. Her purchases run from pints of ice cream to pre-cooked chicken wings and one time, a very large block of Cabot's extra-sharp cheddar cheese. Beca likes going late. The place is usually deserted, and she and Chloe can take their time. Beca likes the look Chloe gets when she's trying to decide between items. She wrinkles her nose and her eyes get flinty, concentrating. It's kind of amazing.
Tonight, two days before the snowstorm's supposed to hit, the grocery store's busy. As busy as it can be at 10 PM on a Sunday, but still more people than Beca's expecting to see. She grabs a cart and follows Chloe through the baking aisle, doing that push-off, ride thing kids usually do.
"We're going to die from a corn syrup overdose," Beca comments as Chloe loads the cart up with soda and snacks. There's at least five kinds of chips going in there.
"This is how you do a sleepover!" Chloe says. "Besides, those are only the mixers."
They load seven bags heaped with junk food and alcohol into the back of Chloe's car. Beca opens her container of cold onion rings and eats them in the passenger seat, chewing as she buckles herself in.
"That looks disgusting," Chloe says as she pulls out of the parking space.
"You want one?"
Fuck, Beca thinks as she hands Chloe an onion ring, she's pretty sure she has a crush.
The last time Beca had a crush, it was on Jesse, and look how well that turned out. (Hint: not well. They still aren't speaking. Not that Beca cares. Okay, she cares a little.) Beca's determined not to fuck it up this time, but it's hard, with Chloe hugging her and touching her and generally being Chloe-like. Beca offers to help Chloe set up for the sleepover the afternoon of, and she counts Chloe brushing against her at least six times in an hour. It's hard to breathe whenever it happens, and once Beca drops a bottle of wine on the floor. Lucky it doesn't break.
"Oh shit, it's started snowing early," Chloe says, putting her hands on the windowsill and looking out the window. Her hair's all messy, pulled back in a ponytail, and she's in sweats and barefoot. It's doing something for Beca. Super weird, but she can't explain it. "God, it's really coming down outside. Looks like the blizzard from last year."
"When you slept over but we weren't really friends yet?" Beca walks over to join her. The snow is coming down hard, sideways. There's already at least a few inches on the ground.
"What -- we were friends!" Chloe protests. "We were totally friends."
"No, we weren't. But, it's fine. We're friends now."
Chloe's mouth softens. She reaches over and squeezes Beca's arm. Her hand feels warm through the fabric of Beca's cardigan. "Yeah, friends." She says in this funny way that makes Beca want to ask about it, but the words get strangled in the back of her throat and she has to turn her head away to cough.
Beca's setting out the last of the baking stuff when Chloe gets the first text. It's Lilly, and she has to bail. Can't get off campus in the storm. Over the next half hour everyone else texts too. Same thing. Can't get off campus. Too much snow. Chloe looks disappointed, but she gives Beca a little smile when Beca asks if she's okay.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I guess the snowstorm ruined our snowstorm sleepover."
"Well," Beca says, trying for an upbeat tone, "you still have me. I'm not going anywhere in this storm."
Chloe laughs, tilting her head back. "Okay. We'll have our own snowstorm sleepover."
"Like last year. Except drunker." Beca gestures to the row of bottles on Chloe's kitchen counter.
"Okay, but cookies first," Chloe insists.
They get through the baking before they start drinking. But just barely. Beca opens a bottle of cheap wine as soon as the first batch of snickerdoodles go into the oven. Chloe's still dusting cinnamon-sugar off her hands. She looks up as Beca gets the cork out of the bottle.
"Ladies first," Chloe says, coming up behind Beca. "Where's mine?"
Beca jumps, knocks her glass a little askew. She splashes red on the tiled floor. "Holy shit, Chloe."
"Sorry," Chloe says with absolutely no remorse.
She plucks the wine out of Beca's grasp and takes a sip. Beca watches the shape of Chloe's mouth around the lip of the glass, the way her throat moves when she swallows. It's, okay, yeah. Beca feels sweat prickling at her collarbone, and she turns away to grab another clean glass from the cupboard. She fills it halfway and takes a few quick drinks to steady herself.
Two glasses later, they're both tipsy. They leave the cookies to cool on the stove and set about painting their nails. It's going awful. Chloe spills polish over the floor, and Beca has smeared her hands a bright red (Chloe got to pick the color). Beca's not incredibly coordinated in the best of times, and she sets the bottle down, defeated.
"Let me try," Chloe says, leaning over. She takes the nail polish remover and some cotton balls and cleans Beca's fingers, wiping the extra polish away. Beca has to concentrate on her hands not shaking.
Chloe carefully paints each of Beca's nails. Her skin is soft, and she's close enough that Beca can see the fringe of her eyelashes when she blinks, flickering with movement. Shit, Beca thinks. She's noticing things like Chloe's eyelashes. She's totally lost it.
"There you go." Chloe caps the bottle. She gently blows on the nails. "You're all set."
"Salon-worthy," Beca says, waving her hands through the air to dry.
They're too drunk to set up Beca's bed on the couch. They're almost too drunk for Chloe to dig through her dresser for pajamas for Beca. She pulls on an old Bellas t-shirt and a pair of cotton shorts in the bathroom, brushing her teeth through an inebriated fog with a spare toothbrush. Her mouth, at least, tastes less like alcohol and more like mint. She crawls into bed next to Chloe, turning the light out after two tries. She's exhausted and also a little dizzy.
"Bec," Chloe says in the dark, her mouth at Beca's ear. The sound sends a warm hum through Beca's body. "Do you like anyone right now?"
"Are we twelve?" Beca laughs, eyes closed. She can smell Chloe everywhere, in the sheets, the pillowcase, in Chloe's hair and skin.
"It's the only part of the sleepover we haven't done. The cute boy in calculus part. There has to be dishing at sleepovers. It's a rule."
Beca opens her eyes. The room is shadowed, muted light coming in through the large windows. It's still snowing out, and the wind rattles the glass in their frames. "Yes," she says, quiet. She's not certain she even voices it, it feels so tiny.
"No guy," Beca says. She turns her head, finding Chloe there, closer than she would have guessed. Their noses are close enough to brush. The proximity makes Beca's pulse start going, picking up in her chest. "It's not a guy."
Chloe's eyes shine in the dark. "Who?" She inches slightly closer. Maybe that's Beca's imagination. Or her drunk vision.
"You," Beca whispers, letting the word still the air between them.
There's a breath. Chloe breathes, soft, and she closes the gap between them. Her kiss is wet and gentle and a little bit tentative, tasting of wine and toothpaste, and Beca slides her hand beneath the fall of Chloe's hair, along her neck. She's warm all over, trembling at Beca's touch. Beca pulls herself closer still, and she kisses Chloe's cheek and jaw and nose. Those fluttery eyelashes -- Beca kisses those too. They're lying down so it's easy, being the same height. Beca doesn't want to ever stop kissing Chloe.
"More kissing than my old sleepovers," Chloe murmurs, moving her lips to Beca's pulsepoint.
"Oh?" Beca gasps.
Chloe works a hand up beneath the t-shirt, palm against Beca's spine. "Definite improvement though."
"Good." Beca's way more interested in what Chloe's tongue is doing than talking, so they stop using words. Her last coherent, fleeting thought is that she hopes they're not too drunk to remember this in the morning.
In the morning Beca remembers even before she opens her eyes. Chloe's curled protectively around her, an arm circling Beca's waist.
Not a wonderful dream, Beca thinks with giddy relief, right before the hangover slams into her.
III. Junior Year
"Forecast says there's a really big storm coming on Friday," Beca says when she checks her phone in the morning, the warm sheet sliding off her bare shoulders.
Chloe's still half-asleep in the bed, and she makes a little noise as she shifts. "Mmm?"
"Snow," Beca breathes, putting the phone back down.
Beca brushes Chloe's hair back, presses a kiss to her upper arm. She likes mornings, when they both still smell like sleep and Chloe's eyes are hooded. She particularly likes weekend mornings, when they have lazy, drawn-out, sticky sex before noon, and she likes Chloe's flannel sheets, and being tucked beneath the covers. Sometimes she wakes up early, before the alarm goes off, and studies Chloe's profile in the semi-dark. She's got it memorized at this point, and she doesn't even care if it makes her seem like a creep. Dude, she's got a hot girlfriend. Beca is going to stare at her all she wants.
"No snow," Chloe whines, the words all slurred. Her eyes are still closed.
Beca snuggles down, pulling the sheet and comforter back over herself. Chloe keeps her apartment just above freezing since she lacks free heating of the Barden dorms. Beca's room, in comparison, feels like a blazing desert in midday. She nestles in close enough to kiss Chloe, who returns it, her mouth moving almost automatically against Beca's.
"Don't go to class," Chloe mumbles. Her palm slides up Beca's side, stopping to curve around her hipbone. It's damp and hot from the heat of their bodies, but it makes Beca shiver anyway.
"Yeah, I still need to graduate, okay?" Beca says, though she doesn't pull away.
Chloe's hand journeys along Beca's ribcage, the fingers tickling and gentle. "Just stay for a little while longer."
"I can't be late to World Music again. He notices, you know. There's only like ten people in the class."
"Ten minutes," Chloe murmurs, her breath against Beca's cheek.
Beca's resolve is quickly crumbling, which she knows from experience will lead to before-class sex which will lead to her being late. Again. She closes her eyes and gives herself thirty seconds of soft, morning breath kissing, pulling away just as it's getting heavy, open-mouthed and making something curl deep in Beca's stomach. She rolls herself out of bed, tossing her hair over one shoulder as she pads naked across the room to her clothes.
"No fair," Chloe complains, sitting up. She watches as Beca pulls on her underwear and jeans, locates her bra from where she threw it last night. "You can't leave me like that."
"I think you'll survive," Beca says. "Remember, snowstorm on Friday. You should stock up."
She tugs her shirt on straight, and leans over to kiss Chloe quickly.
"Have a good day," Chloe says. "Love you."
Beca gives her a big grin as she closes the bedroom door behind her.
"This is gonna suck," Amy says glumly over lunch. She's somehow managing to read a book for her philosophy class, eat a piece of apple strudel, listen to music, and have a conversation all at the same time. She deftly eats another bite of strudel. "I hate the snow."
There's a general chorus of agreement from the rest of the Bellas.
"Oh, come on, guys. It's not so bad," Beca says. She's already thinking about spending the whole day in bed with Chloe, not having class or rehearsal or her shift at the radio station.
"That's because the last time we were snowed in, you got some," Cynthia Rose says, pointing her fork at Beca. "Not all of us are so lucky."
"I got some," Stacie chimes in.
"We know," everyone says at once.
Beca knows her face is red, the blush creeping down her neck. She hides her face in her bowl of vegetable noodle soup. "Okay, look, even when I didn't get any -- it's not so bad. You have something to drink, eat a little cold cereal, read. It's relaxing, and kind of cozy."
Everyone is looking at her like, okay sure, whatever though, so Beca's pretty sure she hasn't managed to convince them. Which is fine. Snowstorms have been kind of lucky for her. She's actually excited this time.
The snow starts in the middle of Beca's English seminar on Friday, big flakes dropping heavy from the sky. She watches the progression for the next hour, staring out the window, idly doodling spirals in the corner of her notebook. It so rarely snows at Barden that everyone else is distracted too. Beca can see her classmates all craning their heads towards the window, and the professor has to give them all a break so they can check phones and forecasts and gauge how much snow is falling.
By the time she's walking outside, there's a few inches accumulated already, and the walkways are getting slippery. Beca can feel the heels of her boots packing down the thin layer of snow. She goes straight to Chloe's apartment, letting herself in with the key Chloe gave her months ago. Beca can't remember the last time she actually slept in her own bed.
She has to stop to brush herself off, her shoulders and arms covered in snow. It melts into the carpeted hallway.
"Snow, you, I'm happy now," Chloe says, looking up from her pile of papers in the living room.
Beca leans down to kiss her. "Stop working. We're getting snowed in."
"Okay." Chloe shuts her books, shoves them off to the side.
She grabs Beca's collar with two hands, dragging Beca in. Beca's grinning, dumb, but she's been looking forward to this for the last week. Uninterrupted, snowed in, total privacy. She settles herself in her girlfriend's lap, pressing their foreheads together, curving a hand around the back of Chloe's neck. Beca can't find anything to complain about this. She loves getting snowed in with Chloe.
"This is getting to be a tradition," Chloe says, slowly unbuttoning Beca's shirt.
"Snowy sex sleepovers?"
"Good alliteration, but no, I just meant getting snowed in."
"They're fun." Beca brushes a kiss against Chloe's ear. "I mean, the sex makes them more fun."
Chloe laughs. "I see you have a one-track mind."
"Yeah, I think I'm starting to associate sex with snow."
Chloe kisses her, all slow and heated, her tongue mapping the roof of Beca's mouth. It makes Beca hitch her hips forward, her sigh swallowed up.
"I'll be sure to keep that in mind," Chloe says, pushing the shirt off Beca's shoulders.
The power doesn't go out for another two hours and forty minutes, which is enough time for Chloe to heat up the leftover Chinese takeout from the previous night, and for Beca to find the episode of 30 Rock they were watching. They settle in on the couch under a pile of blankets, plates balanced on their laps, Beca leaning into Chloe's side. They're only six minutes into the second episode when the lights flicker and go out, leaving the room still and dark. Chloe makes a surprised noise, halfway between a gasp and a whimper. Beca isn't sure what's even happened for a second.
"Did...?" she says.
"Power's out," Chloe sighs. "I think I have candles somewhere."
Beca gets up to find the flashlight on her keychain, carefully picking her way through the apartment. It's a tiny light, but enough for Chloe to dig out the candles she usually uses every three months when she decides she's in the mood for a candlelit bath that's always more stressful than relaxing. They set them around the living room, regarding each other in the flickering glow.
"Fridge," Beca says.
The state of Chloe's fridge is a little sad, which bodes well for the power outage. They put the two pints of ice cream and the half-bag of frozen peas in the sink. Chloe grabs two spoons.
"We might as well eat this." She gestures back towards the couch.
The snow is falling steadily outside. They watch as they work their way through the ice cream, the effect of it weirdly hypnotic.
"Aubrey's on vacation with her family in Puerto Rico this week," Chloe says, scraping the bottom of the pint of Ben & Jerry's chocolate.
"That's not gonna make me like her more." Beca puts down her spoon.
Chloe laughs, setting her pint aside. She curls her body into Beca's, pulling Beca's face towards her. Beca can still feel that shivery anticipation before a kiss, and she settles herself into it, grinning at Chloe in the dark. Chloe's mouth is cold and sweet, tasting of ice cream.
"So there are like four things we could do with the power out," Chloe says.
"Okay, so, bed then?" Beca jokes, getting up from the couch.
Chloe tugs her back. "You and your one-track mind."
"Did you mean something else?"
"Yeah, actually. I have Bananagrams."
Beca squints at her. "Is that, like, a thing I'm supposed to know about?"
"Seriously, Mitchell, it's like you don't even live on this planet."
"...this is a game."
"With Scrabble tiles."
"That comes in a bag shaped like a banana."
"You realize that you just paid for a banana-shaped bag, right?"
"Okay, Beca, are you gonna play or not?"
"You're lucky I like you. Hit me."
The lights come back sometime during the night, though they don't realize it until Beca wakes up in the morning. Chloe's alarm clock is flashing at her from the nightstand, the red digital numbers screaming 4:26. She turns on her back, disoriented, staring at the sunlit ceiling. Everything is bright and cold. Beca buries her face in Chloe's shoulder, wedging herself closer, breathing in the smell of Chloe's skin, like sleep and lotion. Chloe absently turns and presses an aimless kiss to Beca's forehead.
"No classes today," she says.
Beca nods. "The power's back."
"Thank god." Chloe opens her eyes. "We'd have no breakfast to eat otherwise. You can make me pancakes."
"Excuse me, I think you can make yourself pancakes."
"Your pancakes are better." Chloe shifts, nips lightly at Beca's neck.
Beca yelps. "Are you too hungry? Is that why you're coming after me now?"
Chloe lies back, smiling. It makes Beca smile too, the way she's looking, like she really loves her. Beca's still not used to it, how crazy and weird it is that someone so great is so into her. Sometimes the feeling is so intense that Beca can't even breathe.
"Okay. Pancakes," Beca says, tucking a strand of Chloe's hair behind her ear. "I'll get on it."
IV. Senior Year
The rumors of a winter storm alert are buzzing around campus three days before the storm is supposed to hit. Beca catches wind of it during Bellas rehearsal, and her heart drops straight into her stomach. It's been at least four months since the last time she's seen Chloe, and her flight out is the same day as the storm's supposed to hit. They've been looking forward to it for ages. Maybe if she closes her eyes and wishes really, really hard, the storm will just miss Atlanta entirely.
"Better reschedule that trip," Beca's dad tells her when she drops by his office. "Go to LA next week."
"I can't. Bellas stuff," Beca says, dreading the conversation with Chloe already. "I won't be able to go for another month at least."
Her dad gives her a sympathetic look, but it doesn't alleviate the disappointment at all. Especially not when she gets the email that her flight's been canceled.
"Well. That's okay," Chloe says over the phone. Beca can't see her expression, but she can imagine it. Sad, but trying to look fine for Beca's sake. "We can do it another time."
"I miss you," Beca tells her. "I'm so sorry. I want to see you so badly."
"Me too. Soon though, okay? I'm not going anywhere. We can't fight weather."
Honestly, if Beca could, she would. But there's not much to say after that. She tells Chloe what they're working on in rehearsal, and Chloe tells her this story about her lab partner and her thesis advisor (people that Beca had been looking forward to meeting finally). The conversation is a little stilted though, both of them struggling with the change of plan, and soon afterwards Chloe has to go back to lab, so they say goodbye. Beca almost throws her phone at the wall in frustration. She doesn't know what she's mad at more -- Chloe's PhD program taking her to LA or the fucking storm.
"We can hang out. Watch movies," Jesse says when he sees her at dinner. "You can come over to the Treble house."
She would sooner rather die, but Beca doesn't say that. Instead she says, "Thanks, I appreciate that" and goes back to aimlessly poking at her brussel sprouts.
The night before the storm hits, the Bellas drag Beca out of her dorm room and out to the bars. It's like everyone is out getting wasted before the snow comes, and it's just packed. Beca's in a mood, so she drinks whatever Amy hands her, like three shots and some mixed drink, and she's totally gone before they get to the second bar. Lilly's got one arm around her waist, holding her upright, and Stacie keeps asking her if she feels like she's going to throw up. Beca insists no, she's not, and everything's blurry and hot.
"Time to go home, drunky," Cynthia Rose tells her when she nearly falls off a barstool.
They haul her back into her building and up two flights of stairs to her floor. Beca's dizzy, tripping over herself, and Amy's talking about how they're going to put her to bed with a liter of water and Advil. She tries to pat Beca down for her keys, but Beca tells her the door's unlocked, she never locks it, which is dumb, but there you go, and Lilly lets them in, and Chloe's sitting on the bed, a suitcase next to her, looking up from the book she's been reading.
"Chlo?" Beca slurs. She blinks rapidly, thinking maybe she's so drunk she's having hallucinations.
"Chloe!" everyone else says.
Chloe snort-laughs, clapping her hand over her mouth. "Oh my god, you're so drunk. What did you guys do?" She moves towards Beca, putting her hands to Beca's cheeks. They feel cool and soft, brushing Beca's tangled hair away.
"We went bar-hopping to cheer her up," Stacie says. "She was so bummed about not being able to see you."
Beca slides her arms around Chloe's neck, swaying unsteadily. "You're here? You're really here?"
"Hi," Chloe says softly, smiling. "You should really lock your door, you know."
There's a quiet click behind them, and when Beca turns around, the rest of the group's gone, the door shut behind them. Chloe catches her chin with one hand, and she kisses Beca. Beca grabs the front of Chloe's shirt, clutching the fabric in a fist, grappling. It's like she can't get close enough to Chloe, and she kisses back hard, trying to put everything she's feeling into it, like she doesn't have the words to express everything she wants to.
"Wow," Chloe murmurs when she pulls back. "Good kiss."
Beca's grinning. "You're here."
"So you've said." Chloe walks them both to the bed, and lies down, tugging Beca on top of her. "After you called, I got a flight out for today. I just couldn't wait another month to see you."
"You're great," Beca says, trying to focus on Chloe's face. It's harder than usual. "You're so great. I love you. I love your hair and your voice and your eyes and -- everything! I love everything!"
"Holy shit," Chloe laughs. "You are wasted. You never say you love me."
Beca protests, "I do too."
"You don't. You've said it maybe four times in the two years we've been together. It's good. I like it. When you do say it, it means you really mean it."
"Of course I mean it," Beca huffs. "I love you. I love you a lot."
"I know, babe." Chloe kisses her again. "I love you too. You're going to be so hungover tomorrow."
Despite the snowstorm, or perhaps because of the snowstorm, Jesse and the Trebles throw a party the next night. Beca's hangover is almost all gone, and Chloe wants to go, so she allows herself to get dragged out into the ice and wind and snow, across campus to the Treble house. There's a keg and too many people and Beca's appetite for beer is nonexistent, but she's just so happy to be with Chloe that none of it seems to matter at all.
"You keep smiling," Chloe teases.
Beca puts an arm around her. "My girlfriend came out in a snowstorm to see me," she says over the music and yelling and crush of people.
"She sounds really awesome. You should probably keep her."
"Because you're a totally non-biased, third party observer?"
Chloe bends her head so their foreheads touch, and her hair falls forward to hide them. "Completely objective."
Beca closes her eyes. "Four months until graduation."
"Four months until we're in the same city again."
"I'm really, really looking forward to it."
Chloe makes a little noise, humming. "Me too."
"I love you," Beca whispers after a minute.
"Twice in two days, huh? That's a record," Chloe smiles, but her hand winds its way into Beca's hair, settling against the nape of her neck.
V. One Year Out
The pancakes are almost done. Beca uses the spatula to peek under the one on the griddle, neatly flipping it over and onto a plate. She turns the stove off, walks over to the kitchen table.
Chloe glances up from her iPad. She taps the screen with one finger. "We're missing the annual Barden snowstorm."
"Oh, yeah, my dad mentioned that."
"What did you tell him?"
Beca serves the pancakes, spearing a few for Chloe's plate. "That we're having perfect, beautiful weather."
"You're awful." Chloe reaches for the syrup.
"You love it."
Chloe smiles. "I do."