Chloe’s pretty sure she’s sober.
As in, like, she hasn’t gotten to the point where she’s standing on the tiki bar in the backyard of the Treble House attempting to strip off all her clothes before Beca and Stacie team up to stop her.
(Ashley asked her how many fingers she was holding up.
Chloe correctly answered four before greedily snatching the extra cup of rum and coke Ashley had made for her.
She’s totally fine.)
Chloe should really be making sure the legacy isn’t blacking out or that Lilly isn’t scaring some poor freshman acapella kid, but her current favorite remix starts blasting through the speakers and she was just talking to Beca about how much she loves this mix - though Beca produced an even better one of the song not even five days later and sent it to Chloe - so now she’s on a mission to find her tiny best friend so they can dance to this song.
Beca doesn’t dance, but she’ll always dance with Chloe.
Chloe is quickly weaving in and out of the crowd of people gathered in the Trebles’ backyard in attempts of finding Beca, her cup of rum and coke that Ashley had handed her five minutes ago long forgotten.
She finds Beca sitting at the tiki bar, entertaining conversation with Flo and Emily. Beca’s wearing that lopsided smile she often wears when she’s drunk. Chloe finds it absolutely adorable - it’s one of many things that Chloe loves about Beca Mitchell. She’s found a lot of reasons to love Beca over the years and she knows it’s a downward spiral, but she can’t seem to stop.
Not when Beca sees and her the lopsided smile only widens.
(Chloe’s always been screwed when it comes to Beca.)
“Beca!” she calls out, practically speed-walking her last few steps over. Chloe immediately reaches out and grabs her best friend by the wrist, tugging her out of her stool.
“Woah,” Beca laughs, placing her cup down on the bar as she stumbles out of her seat. “What are we doing?”
“It’s the song!” Chloe tells her excitedly with a grin. “The song!”
It takes Beca a moment to comprehend what Chloe’s saying. She zones out momentarily, listening to the song that plays over the speakers, before she’s cracking a grin, cobalt eyes lighting up at the recognition.
Yet another thing Chloe loves about Beca Mitchell.
“Oh! Your favorite!” she says eagerly. “The one I mixed!”
Chloe nods in excitement. “That one!” she confirms before she’s tugging Beca away from the bar and towards the group of people dancing by the pool.
Beca doesn’t protest at all, just laughs as Chloe pulls her along, seemingly content in the moment.
Drunk Beca is one of Chloe’s favorite versions of Beca. She loves them all, don’t get her wrong, but drunk Beca has her guard down completely. There is no permanent scowl or badass attitude that this Beca tries to carry. There is just laughter and eyes wide with interest towards whoever she’s talking to and lots of rambling.
Chloe finds a spot big enough for the two of them and tugs Beca to stop, instead opting for throwing her hands up in the air and sway to the beat. Beca follows suit, still somewhat awkwardly because that’s just who she is. She can handle choreography just fine, but freestyling has never been her thing.
“Your mix is way better,” Chloe tells her loudly over the music, leaning closer to Beca as she does so.
Beca’s face breaks into a grin. “You think so?”
Chloe leans in even closer, forehead almost touching Beca’s. “Yours are always better.”
The brunette’s grin transforms into that half-smirk she always wears, eyebrows raised at Chloe. Chloe loves this because drunk Beca never shies away from a compliment, especially when it comes to her music. Chloe just knows how to stroke her ego, loves to see the way Beca owns the fact that she’s really fucking good at making music.
“You always say that though,” Beca points out.
“Because it’s true,” Chloe insists with a smile.
The song ends and Beca tells her, “I need to sit.”
Chloe nods knowingly, grabbing Beca’s hand with ease and weaving through the crowd again. Beca follows closely, their arms pressed together. Chloe’s thinking about how Beca is warm and familiar even if she’s sweating a little bit. She leads them around the corner of the house, not too far from the bushes they use to get to the Treble House - though they all know there’s a gate they can just as easily get through.
They sit by the campfire pit set up, and Chloe notices how no one else is out here at the moment. For right now, it’s just her and Beca.
They sit next to each other with shoulders brushing and let out quiet sighs, watching the flames without saying a word for a few moments.
Chloe thinks this is her happy place - right here, with Beca. Beca is watching the fire with mild interest, eyes lazily following the flames as they grow and then become small again, the way they move in the slight breeze the warm Georgia air provides.
Beca watches the fire while Chloe watches her.
The fire provides a light to Beca’s face, giving her a golden glow in the night. Her eyes are aflame, the deep blue color shining vibrantly. Chloe has always thought Beca is beautiful, but right now she’s damn right mesmerising.
Without looking away from the flames Beca says, “Stop staring at me, creep.”
Chloe cracks a smile, despite being a little embarrassed that she’s been caught. “You look golden with this light.”
Beca snorts, turning to look at Chloe. “You’re weird.”
Chloe can sense the fondness behind Beca’s words and the way Beca is letting a hint of her smile show on her lips. It makes Chloe only smile wider.
“Thanks. You’re drunk.”
Beca laughs, quiet and soft like it’s meant just for Chloe’s ears alone. Chloe needs to stop finding reasons to fall in love with her best friend, but she can’t help it when Beca’s eyes are shining with happiness as she looks at Chloe and that laugh makes Chloe’s heart sing.
“So are you.”
They both laugh at that, the delirium of the late night and alcohol making it all that much funnier. There’s a party going on just around the corner of the house, one with their friends and music and things that they should probably care about, but right now, all Chloe understands is the way she can feel Beca’s body shake with laughter.
Their laughter slowly subsides, both of them catching their breath after that. Beca turns her head just a little to look at Chloe.
Chloe doesn’t know why she does it.
It could be because she’s drunker than she thinks, or it could be because Beca looks so beautiful with the flames lighting one side of her face.
Or it’s because Chloe’s just plain stupid.
But she leans forward and presses her lips against Beca’s.
It lasts for hardly more than a few seconds, but it happens and Chloe knows it.
She knows it because she feels Beca’s lips against hers, the way that they’re slightly chapped because Beca always forgets to wear chapstick even when Chloe buys her a stick. She feels Beca’s soft gasp of surprise, and that’s what makes her pull away.
Chloe practically jerks back, wide eyes and just as surprised as Beca.
Beca looks at her with those cobalt blue eyes, wide and confused. Chloe’s heart starts beating erratically out of tune because holy shit she just kissed Beca.
Beca, her best friend Beca.
“Chloe,” Beca says and Chloe hasn’t heard her sound that strained or small before.
It causes Chloe to bolt out of her seat and scramble to her feet. She’s panicking, wondering what the hell she thinks she’s doing here.
“I uh - I need another drink,” she manages to say, barely sparing a glance at Beca before she’s quickly rounding the corner of the house.
Chloe thinks she hears Beca say her name again, but she doesn’t dare to look back. She keeps walking, trying to move around the people dancing by the pool and immediately grabs the first drink she sees at the tiki bar and downing it in one go.
The music is loud and they’re playing that song Chloe thinks it’s really annoying, the one that repeats the same lines for the first and second verse and doesn’t have much of a bridge besides backing vocals, and she turns to Benji behind the bar and asks him to pour her another.
He looks a little hesitant, but gives in anyway. Chloe hardly even notices that the cup is barely half full before she’s knocking it back again, trying to erase the memory of what just happened.
“Woah there Red,” she hears Stacie chuckle. “Slow down.”
Chloe slams the plastic solo cup onto the bar, meeting Stacie’s amused glance. She knows Stacie is also drunk by the way her words are slurred and how she regards Chloe with a smirk.
“Let’s dance!” she suggests, grabbing Stacie by the hand and dragging her without a choice.
Stacie goes along with it, because the two are partners in crime when it comes down to it, and Chloe forces them into the middle of the crowd, dancing like she doesn’t have a care in the world.
Chloe stays with Stacie in the middle of the crowd for another half hour - until she’s sure that Beca isn’t looking for her - and then she’s suggesting that they go home.
She doesn’t see Beca the rest of the night.
When Chloe wakes up the following morning, it doesn’t take her long to remember what she did.
The thought crosses her mind almost instantly and she’s inwardly groaning as she flops onto her back.
Chloe’s kissed two other Bellas through the years at Barden: Aubrey and Stacie.
Both times, she was drunk.
Both times, she laughed it off with the other, blaming the alcohol and moving right past it with no consequences.
It was never a big deal. It never meant anything.
But this is Beca, and even though Aubrey was her best friend first with Beca, Chloe actually has something to lose.
For them, it’s always been different.
It’s different because Chloe loves Beca more than she loves her big brother’s new puppy or the way she can watch the sunrise from her childhood bedroom window.
Beca Mitchell is everything to her.
She was so drunk and so stupid.
And Beca - her eyes were wide and confused and Chloe feels her heart ache because what an idiot she has to be to ever think that she should kiss her best friend.
Chloe lets out a sigh, thinking of just how awkward Beca will probably be about it. Or, what if she’s mad at Chloe? What if she never wants to talk to Chloe ever again because she kissed her?
She’s beginning to spiral and she knows it, squeezing her eyes shut and letting out a long and shaky breath.
It’s fine, she’s fine.
If she remembers correctly, Beca was pretty drunk anyway. Maybe she doesn’t even remember that part of the night. Chloe’s hoping she doesn’t remember that part of the night.
Because she and Beca are good, they’re great. She’s Beca’s best friend, and maybe that’s all she is, but Chloe will take it. Chloe will settle being Beca’s best friend because having Beca as a best friend is better than not having her around at all.
She’s growing anxious just sitting in bed doing nothing else but thinking about the fact she kissed Beca, so she decides to go ahead and head downstairs. It’s not like anyone else will be awake, anyway. Chloe’s usually the first to wake up, followed by Jessica and Ashley or the occasional Lilly.
When she quietly pads into the kitchen, she finds Ashley and Jessica are already at the island. They’re sitting on stools next to each other, Ashley with a coffee mug comfortably in her hands and Jessica drinking orange juice out of a glass.
Chloe gives them both a smile. She loves seeing her girls like this; it feels like home - mainly because this has been home for the past three years.
She doesn’t like to be reminded that it’s quickly coming to an end.
Jessica smiles back with a cheery “Good morning Chloe!” while Ashley raises an eyebrows in acknowledgement and murmuring, “Morning” before taking a long sip of her coffee.
Chloe thinks it’s funny how Jessica and Ashley’s initial demeanors are so different, but when you actually talk to them they couldn’t be more of a perfect match.
“Morning guys,” Chloe chirps easily, walking past them to open the cupboard and reach for her favorite mug to make her morning tea.
Having a task to focus on makes it easier for Chloe. She’s no longer thinking about the fact she kissed Beca and the way Beca’s eyes just looked so wide and full of questions. Instead she thinks about the lemon she squeezes and honey she pours, and she fills the silence by idly chatting with Jessica and Ashley.
“I bought chocolate chip pancake mix the other day,” Jessica sing songs from her seat, smiling wide at Chloe.
Chloe laughs, stirring her tea before she holds it in her hands. “Are you asking for a Bella breakfast?”
It’s what Chloe has affectionately started calling the mornings they take the time to make everyone in the house breakfast. Usually it’s weekends, more specifically on Sunday mornings when everyone is too lazy or hungover to actually make their own food. It’s the rare times that every bella - even Emily - sits at the dining table and enjoys each other’s company.
Jessica’s eyes twinkle and her smile only grows bigger as she nods. “I’ll help cook with you,” she offers.
And it’s nice, having a house full of girls who do things like cook together and watch movies together and just hang out all the time. It’s family; Chloe knows this.
Jessica is also providing Chloe with an excellent distraction, a way so she doesn’t have to think about much else than making sure they don’t burn the house down while they cook.
Chloe and Jessica move around the kitchen with ease, Ashley watching them and teasing Jessica from the island counter. Slowly, as breakfast is being made, the Bellas all begin to trail into the kitchen.
Every time she hears a pair of footsteps, Chloe holds her breath because she’s worried she’ll turn around to see Beca.
She isn’t sure how Beca will look at her this morning, isn’t sure she wants to know.
But every single time it’s a false alarm, and Chloe should know this because Beca’s usually the last one to wake up unless Chloe’s coaxing her out of bed with the promise of coffee and food right away.
Fat Amy bursts through the front door and greets everyone with “guess who had the best sex last night” to which they all groan, and Chloe finds herself a little disappointed because she wants to know if Beca’s even awake yet, with her now being the only one not downstairs.
Stacie’s pouring a glass of chocolate milk for Emily at the island counter - because the legacy is somehow still so childlike at nineteen - before she’s easing over to where Chloe and Jessica are working by the stove.
“Hey,” Stacie says softly, watching as Chloe flips another pancake.
Chloe lifts her gaze to meet Stacie’s, slight confusion on her face. “Hi Stacie, everything okay?”
“Are you good?” Stacie asks in a low murmur, Chloe guesses so she doesn’t draw the others’ attention.
And for a moment, Chloe thinks about trying to play dumb as ask Stacie what she’s talking about. The thought only lasts for about a second because she realizes it’s Stacie she’s talking to and Stacie’s one of the smartest people she knows.
Instead, she gives her a small smile and nods. “Yep, just being weird and emotional last night. You know, we’re graduating and all.”
Stacie looks at her for a long moment, and Chloe can feel herself being carefully inspected by the tall brunette’s gaze. She averts her eyes as she continues to cook, moving her pancake effortlessly from the pan to the stack on a plate next to her.
Stacie opens her mouth to say something, but Fat Amy’s voice is loud and commands attention.
“Shortstack!” Amy calls out. “You’re alive!”
Both Chloe and Stacie turn to find Beca with her eyes half-open and slowly entering the kitchen. She practically growls at Amy’s comment.
“Fuck off,” she mumbles.
Chloe feels herself grow anxious once again, now that Beca is here and they’re in the same room and the fact of last night still lingers.
“Drink too much, Beca?” Stacie asks, a teasing smirk on her face as she looks at Beca smugly.
Beca narrows her eyes at Stacie. “Don’t start with me, Conrad. I haven’t had my coffee yet.”
She then shifts her attention from Stacie to Chloe, who is still watching her carefully, waiting to see how she reacts.
“Morning,” Beca says, voice still raspy and it’s evident she quite literally rolled out of bed as soon as she woke up.
Chloe blinks, tries to play it cool. “Hey Becs,” she replies.
Stacie seems to sense the hesitation and carefulness of Chloe’s voice because she’s gently hip checking Chloe away from the stove and taking the spatula out of the redhead’s hand.
“I’ll take care of it,” Stacie murmurs, pouring the more of the pancake batch into the pan.
Chloe makes a mental note to thank Stacie later. The leggy brunette has always kind of known about Chloe’s harbored feelings for Beca, and although she never said anything, she’s always been Chloe’s support system no matter what after Aubrey left.
Being roommates for the past three years probably helps.
She leans against the edge of the counter, away from the stove and where Stacie and Jessica are still cooking. Beca is shuffling to the opposite end of the counter, grabbing her coffee mug before she’s messing with the settings on the keurig for her morning coffee.
“Too much jiggle juice last night?”
Chloe notices the way Beca’s hand overs over the buttons for a moment, but the moment hardly lasts before Beca’s letting out a soft snort as she pushes a button and replies, “I think those two tequila shots you made me take after the jiggle juice really did it for me.”
“Weak!” Stacie calls over her shoulder and it makes Chloe laugh just a little.
“Fuck off,” Beca bites, glaring at the back of Stacie’s head as her coffee pours into her mug.
“Don’t tell us you blacked out now,” Cynthia Rose pipes up from the fridge, orange juice carton in hand.
Chloe tenses just a little at the sentence. She’d been planning to ask, of course, but it seems like someone’s beat her to it and now Chloe’s left holding her breath as she waits for Beca’s reply.
Part of her hopes that Beca blacked, another part of her hopes that Beca remembers.
She isn’t sure which side she’s leaning towards more.
“You can’t be that weak after all these years being friends with Chloe and Stacie,” Cynthia Rose adds and Stacie laughs in agreement behind Chloe.
“Some parts of the night were fuzzy,” Beca admits, with a shrug.
“Some?” Chloe repeats, only realizing after that she’s said it out loud and not in her head.
Beca looks up from her mug to briefly meet Chloe’s eyes.
She nods. “Yeah.”
Beca’s eyes are looking intently at Chloe, as if she’s questioning why Chloe’s even asking.
Chloe exhales quietly when Beca looks away, instead busying herself with the task of adding two sugars to her otherwise black coffee. She finds herself a little relieved that Beca was a little blacked, sure, but her heart is heavy because she finally - albeit drunkenly - made a move on Beca and she doesn’t remember.
Jessica announces that breakfast is finally ready and the kitchen erupts in cheers (as well as “finally!” from Emily), and Chloe doesn’t have another moment to dwell on it because there are nine other girls scrambling around trying to get the table set for breakfast.
It’s the next morning when Chloe’s sitting in the living room going over class notes that she realizes Beca knows.
For all of Sunday, Beca’s oddly quiet and hardly speaks to anyone, not even Chloe. She cracks only a joke or two when they all sit together for breakfast, and as soon as she’s done with her food and her coffee, the brunette is quickly making her escape to her room where she stays holed up for the rest of the day.
Chloe tries to peak in and ask Beca if she wants to watch a movie or binge a season of Friends, but Beca’s got her headphones on at her desk and seems intensely focused on whatever mix she’s working on so Chloe quietly tip toes back down to her own room.
And Chloe blames this on the hangover Beca probably has, that Beca’s acting like this because the brunette’s hangovers usually consist of her griping for coffee instead of water and refusing to participate in anything that requires her to leave her - or Chloe’s bedroom.
But the next morning she knows it wasn’t the hangover.
Beca is flying down the stairs, dressed for her last week of class - messenger back and all - with her Residual Heat ID in hand for her internship later in the afternoon when Chloe looks up.
“Good morning sunshine,” Chloe greets with a smile, still trying to maintain normalcy.
She freezes at the base of the stairs, eyes going slightly wide as Chloe startles her. “Oh - uh, hey.”
Chloe frowns at the reaction. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to freak you out.”
Beca’s eyes look away from Chloe, her fingers fumbling with the ID still in her hand. “No - I didn’t - I’m just running a little late,” she explains hastily.
“Coffee’s waiting for you on the kitchen counter,” Chloe offers, giving her a small smile.
Beca’s eyes meet Chloe’s for a quick and fleeting moment. “Thank you,” she murmurs.
The following movement is so quick that Chloe isn’t entirely sure it happens, but she thinks she sees Beca’s eyes flicker down to her lips for two seconds before she’s looking at Chloe again.
“Feeling better from your hangover at least?” Chloe questions, clearing her throat to shake the thought.
Beca rolls her eyes. “This is why I don’t mix my drinks, Beale.”
Chloe laughs, relaxing into the couch because Beca seems like Beca again - at least in this moment - and she breathes easier. “Hey, I just drink what people make for me.”
Beca scrunches her nose. “But rum, seriously Chlo?”
At this, Chloe tilts her head, a tiny frown on her lips as her eyebrows furrow together in confusion.
“How did you know I had rum?” she asks, bright blue eyes looking at Beca curiously. “I barely had half a cup that Ashley made me.”
Chloe tries to rack her mind, tries to figure out why this fact is weird since she knows Beca wasn’t with her when she had her cup of rum and coke. Her gut twists and her chest tightens when she realizes why this seems off.
She had the rum and coke right before she found Beca.
She had it right before she dragged Beca to dance.
She had it right before they escaped to the fire pit.
She had it right before she kissed Beca.
Chloe tries to keep the same expression, to stop her eyes from widening and stop her jaw from dropping and stop the wave of understanding that wants to wash over her face.
Beca seems to realize her mistake a second later because those dark blue eyes widen in the slightest manner and she’s immediately stuttering.
“I uh-” she starts, her feet immediately beginning to shuffle towards the front door. “I need - I gotta go,” Beca finally manages, her grip tightening on her ID as she begins to turn. “Bye Chloe!”
Chloe can’t really do much else besides watch Beca leave in a panic, practically sprinting out the door with a slam behind her.
She sits on the couch, her class notes long forgotten.
That was all the confirmation she needed.
Why Beca’s been weird. Why she’s barely looked at Chloe since yesterday morning.
Beca knows Chloe kissed her.
Once Chloe lets it settle that Beca knows Chloe kissed her, everything gets ten times more tense and awkward between them.
It throws Chloe for a loop, no longer able to focus on her class notes and instead goes back to her bedroom where she paces and tries to figure out what the hell to do next.
“What’s going on with you?” Stacie asks when she comes home from her morning lecture.
Chloe’s quick to respond with, “Just a paper I really don’t want to write.”
Stacie doesn’t look like she really believes her, narrowing her eyes just slightly, but then shrugs as she drops her backpack by her bed. “Write your paper,” Stacie deadpans.
The redhead only sticks her tongue at her roommate before Stacie’s bouncing out the door to search their pantry for snacks.
Chloe’s restless unless she finally goes to class, and even then she can’t seem to sit still. She’s bouncing her leg under her desk, tapping her pencil against her notebook, or just plain zoning out during class.
She can’t focus because Beca knows and hasn’t said a word about it.
Beca’s gone for the whole day with classes and her internship at Residual Heat, and when she walks into the auditorium for rehearsals spewing out apologizes, she can hardly look at Chloe.
It goes like that the whole rehearsal, Chloe leading and Beca hardly even speaking or looking at her. When she has to be around Chloe for choreography, she’s stiff and closed off and Chloe’s a little hurt by it all but she wears a smile because the last thing she wants is the rest of the girls trying to figure out what’s wrong.
(She knows they notice, though.
She can tell by the way they hesitate before approaching Beca and Chloe and the way they look at Beca a second too long when she gives a one-word answer or hum.)
When rehearsals finally comes to an end, Chloe twist the cap of the water bottle in her hand, watching as Beca haphazardly is putting her laptop, headphones and sheet music all back into her bag.
Chloe bites her lip nervously, taking a few steps towards Beca slowly. Beca doesn’t seem to notice her approaching with the way she’s focused on organizing her belongings.
“Hey Bec,” Chloe greets in a somewhat small voice.
Beca’s head snaps up at the sound of her voice. Her eyes are wide when she looks at Chloe and her falters in her movements. “Chlo, hey,” she says.
“Is everything good?” Chloe asks.
Beca looks at her like she’s crazy for asking and replies, “What? Yeah, everything’s good. Great. It’s all coming to together great,” she rambles, putting away the rest of her belongings. Chloe’s about to respond to that when Beca slings her bag over her shoulder and says, “I’ve got to go back to the studio, like now.”
Beca looks at her a second longer, an awkward beat between them before she adds, “Not sure when I’ll be back. I’ll see you.”
She quickly side steps past Chloe and out of the building, leaving the redhead to watch her go with a disheartened expression on her face.
It goes on like that for another two days: Beca completely avoiding Chloe in every way she can, and Chloe not pushing because she doesn’t want to scare Beca away more than she already has.
Chloe is sitting on her bed doing some light online shopping on her laptop when Stacie decides she’s had enough.
“You and Beca need to talk.”
Chloe looks up from her screen to find Stacie standing by her bed, hands on both her hips as she looks at Chloe. Chloe’s speaker is still playing music in the background, a playst Chloe made a few months ago still going.
Stacie scoffs, rolling her eyes at her roommate. “You two look like you’re walking on eggshells when you’re in the same room as each other,” she states matter-of-factly. “And seriously, Chloe? Sam Smith?”
She motions to the speakers which are playing a slow and heart wrenching Sam Smith song at the moment.
Chloe frowns. “Sam Smith is acceptable at any time of day,” she tries.
Stacie isn’t buying it. “I know this playlist Chlo,” she tells her. “I know it’s the one you made after spring break.”
Chloe doesn’t say anything to that because, well, Stacie’s right.
(Beca and Jesse had gone through a really bad fight just before spring break - like, everyone thought they’d break up bad.
Instead of going to see him in Los Angeles, Beca switched her flight so she could go back to Portland with Chloe; it was the best week Chloe’s ever had.
Except when they came home to the Bella House Jesse was on the porch waiting for Beca. He stayed the whole week and Beca smiled like she hadn’t smiled around Jesse in a long time.
They didn’t break up.)
“I don’t know what happened between you two,” Stacie starts. “But you need to talk about it because you’re kind of scaring Legacy.”
Chloe sighs at that. She knows Emily adores her and Beca, and she’s seen the way Emily’s doe-eyed expression has been hesitant towards them the past couple of days.
“I don’t think Beca wants to talk,” Chloe frowns.
“You act like you guys have never fought before.”
Chloe shakes her head. “This...We didn’t fight.”
Stacie looks puzzled at that, lips quirking to the side as she tries to figure out what could possibly cause her two friends to be so weird with each other, but then she shakes her head only a moment later.
“Whatever it is, you need to talk,” Stacie repeats with a pointed look this time before she’s spinning on her heels and walking out of their bedroom.
Chloe lets out a sigh, running a hand through her messy red hair.
She knows Stacie’s right; they can’t avoid this forever.
She just hopes Beca will actually talk to her for more than two seconds.
It’s actually Beca that finds Chloe first.
The redhead is sitting on the steps of their porch later at evening, watching as the sun sets. She knows getting to watch these Barden sunsets is a gift, that her days here are numbered now. She just wants to enjoy as many as she can before then.
The front door creaks open and Chloe turns to find Beca leaning against the door to hold it open, two cups of tea in her hand.
(Beca insisted she hated tea.
Chloe decided to change that.)
“Beca,” Chloe says, the surprise evident in her voice.
“Hi,” Beca responds, pushing the door wider with her hip so she can walk onto the porch. “Stacie told me you were out here.”
The door slams shut behind her and Chloe watches as Beca drags her feet a bit as she approaches her on the steps. She can sense the hesitancy in Beca’s actions, so she shoots over on the top step to make room for Beca.
“Thank you,” she murmurs, taking the cup of tea from Beca gratefully.
Chloe busies herself by looking at the sunset again and taking a slow and careful sip as Beca settles next to her.
They sit like that for a few moments, both of them pretending the sunset and their tea are more interesting than talking to each other. It kind of pains Chloe how they can’t even break the stilted silence between them.
“You’ve been avoiding me,” Chloe finally says, the silence eating at her.
Beca looks at her then, a little stunned to hear Chloe’s voice amidst the quiet. “I-I know,” she responds, not taking her eyes off of Chloe. “I’m sorry.”
Chloe turns to meet Beca’s gaze, and it’s the longest that Beca’s looked at her in days. She can see the apology etched into her features, see the way that she didn’t mean to cause Chloe any harm.
Chloe knows the answer, knows that Beca’s been running away from it since she saw Chloe in the kitchen that morning.
She just wants to hear it.
Beca falters then, looking down at her cup of tea for a moment. There’s a blush rising from her neck up to her cheeks, and Chloe catches it even as Beca’s hair falls in her face.
“I um,” Beca clears her throat, clearly having difficulty with saying it out loud. “I remember…”
It’s not good enough for Chloe. She feels the way her stomach twists at the words, but she needs to hear Beca say it, needs the absolute, no doubt confirmation that Beca remembers because that just about changes everything.
“Remember what, Beca?”
Beca stares hard at the tea in her mug, knowing full well that Chloe’s looking at her. Chloe’s gaze never wavers. Instead she look at Beca as if she dares her to say something different; it’s a look Chloe often gets when Beca tries to avoid a topic.
“That we...you kissed me.”
It feels strange to hear it out loud.
Chloe lets it sit between them for a long moment, heaviness sinking in. She watches the way Beca grows uncomfortable in the silence, the way her grip tightens on her cup and her jaw works ever so slightly.
It’s the only response Chloe can think of at the moment. She knows she had to tread a fine line now, one where Beca won’t run away. They’ve gone days without addressing it, and now that they’re here Chloe knows that it probably won’t take much for Beca to close back up again, to run off and decide it’s better off unsaid.
“I shouldn’t have,” Chloe adds, beginning to find her voice again. She looks at Beca as she speak, trying to figure out what she’s thinking. “I’m sorry.”
It’s odd, apologizing for something she’s wanted to do for years now. Chloe isn’t an apologetic person; she’s much more passionate, standing by what she does, but she thinks she’s on the brink of losing Beca, and she’d rather pretend that it means nothing - that it was just a thing she did when she drunk - than lose Beca like this. Because Beca is her best friend, and Chloe’s spent four years falling in love with her, but she’ll keep pushing her love aside if it means Beca’s still next to her at the end of the day.
Beca shakes her head at that, now looking up to watch the remnants of the sunset as she says, “Don’t apologize.”
Confusion grows on Chloe’s face at Beca’s words. It’s not cold or unwelcoming, but she still doesn’t understand. She bites her lip, tilting her head as she eyes Beca carefully.
“Beca, why didn’t you tell me?” Chloe asks, honest and confused. “Why didn’t you tell me you remembered?”
Beca bites her lip nervously when she hears the question, fingers fumbling with the tea tag against her mug.
“I thought you didn’t remember,” Beca tells her honestly. “That if I brought it up you wouldn’t remember and then it would be a thing and I didn’t want that.”
“Well it’s a thing either way,” Chloe tells her, unable to help the irony in her voice.
“It wasn’t a thing when you kissed Stacie,” Beca says, and Chloe notices the edge in her voice.
It’s a little harsher than what she’s expecting, if Chloe’s being honest. She doesn’t understand why Beca’s eyes go a little cold while she watches the sunset or why her lips turn into the slightest of frowns.
“Well yeah,” Chloe nods, lips twisting. “Because Stacie’s Stacie. We’re friends.”
Something about the way she delivers the sentence stings Beca. Chloe knows because she notices Beca inwardly wince at the end of her statement.
“So this isn’t a thing because we’re friends then, right?” Beca confirms, her voice trying to stay steady but Chloe hears the way it wavers. “Because we’re Beca and Chloe? It’s not a big deal?”
“Beca, what is going on?” Chloe asks, not following her logic at all.
Beca looks at her then, her cobalt blue eyes blazing with emotions Chloe’s hardly seen in them before. “I didn’t want to tell you I remembered because I’m scared that it doesn’t mean anything,” she finally admits, clenching her jaw as she keeps her eyes trained on Chloe. “I didn’t...want to know it was just a drunk Chloe thing.”
Chloe’s still looking at Beca with a perplexed expression on her face. She’s trying to figure out the first part of what Beca said. If anything, she figured Beca was hoping it’d just be a stupid drunk thing, that they could laugh about it and put it behind them.
“You…” the redhead starts, trying to find the right words. “Does it mean something to you?”
Beca freezes at the question, unable to look Chloe in the eye. Chloe thinks this might be where her heart breaks, here on their porch in the house they’ve lived in for the past three years. This is where Beca tells her that she’s flattered but she’s not into Chloe like that. This is where Beca will let her down easy because they’re best friends, how she’ll claim graduation and moving on after Worlds means moving on from each other, from everything they’ve built here.
Because Beca has her sights set on working full time at Residual Heat.
Chloe thinks she’s going to move back home for a little, get her feet under her.
Beca will tell her all of those things, but Chloe will think it’s because she can’t tell Chloe she doesn’t love her like that to her face.
Beca’s gaze meets hers again and she can see the hesitation - and fear? - as she speaks. “I need to know first: Why did you kiss me, Chloe?”
Chloe’s stomach twists in a painfully anxious way. Beca is looking smaller and more vulnerable than she’s ever seen the brunette. Chloe somehow feels the weight on her, the way Beca is begging for her to tell her the truth. She knows there’s no turning back now, not when Beca looks like she could break at any moment.
“Because I’m in love with you,” she tells Beca like it’s the simplest thing in the world.
Her voice cracks as she says it, and there’s a lump in her throat she hadn’t noticed before and her vision is starting to get a bit blurry because of teras she hadn’t realized were in her eyes. She blinks them away though because if this is where Beca tells her she doesn’t love her, Chloe refuses to let Beca see the way it breaks her.
Chloe forces herself to maintain eye contact with Beca even after she speaks, trying to mentally prepare herself for the heartbreak that’s bound to come. Except Beca lets out a breath neither of them realized she was holding, her expression softens at the words and her eyes hold a reverence that Chloe hasn’t quite seen there before.
(She thinks this is the way she looks at Beca sometimes.)
“God Chloe,” Beca murmurs, a hand slowly reaching out to tuck a tendril of hair behind Chloe’s ear before her fingers slowly trail the curve of Chloe’s jaw.
And Chloe wonders if this is real life because she can’t remember a time Beca’s ever been this gentle, not with Jesse and not with anyone else she’s crossed paths with. Beca is looking at her with adoration now and Chloe doesn’t really know how to handle it.
“Bec?” she says, her voice thick.
“How long?” Beca asks almost desperately. “How long have you been in love with me?”
Chloe’s all sorts of confused now, but she answers Beca’s question anyway. “I’ve been falling in love with you since the first day, Bec.”
It almost feels relieving to finally say it, to stop hiding her love from Beca and pushing it aside. It feels even better when she sees the small smile on Beca’s face, the way her eyes light up at the answer.
“I’ve been such an idiot,” Beca says, a soft chuckle coming along with it. “Can I...Can I kiss you?”
Under any other circumstance, Chloe would’ve laughed at how adorable it is that Beca’s asking to kiss her, but she’s still two steps behind so she barely manages a nod before Beca - somewhat hesitant - leans forward, pressing a firm and lingering kiss again Chloe’s lips. Chloe sighs against Beca’s lips, but she’s pulling away a moment later, leaving Beca to chase her.
Beca’s eyes are still closed and her mouth is slightly parted.
Chloe thinks she’s the most beautiful thing.
Beca’s eyes flutter open and she’s looking at Chloe with wide eyes. “You’re in love with me.”
Chloe nods, swallowing. “Do you...are you…?”
Beca nods, a smile on her face because she understands Chloe’s question. “I’m in love with you too,” she admits, dropping her hand to take Chloe’s free hand in her own. “I’m so in love with you, Chloe.”
Chloe almost pinches herself because she’s convinced she’s dreaming. Beca just kissed her - after asking - and confessed her love and Chloe thinks she’s dreaming.
“It just took me a long time to understand that,” Beca continues, intertwining their fingers. “But I can’t remember a time I wasn’t in love with you. It’s always been you. I’m sorry I let Jesse get in the way of that. I just...I figured that was the easy option.”
“Oh,” Chloe says, kind of surprised at the confession. “I...It’s okay. I’d always wait for you.”
Beca shakes her head. “I don’t deserve that.”
“You deserve more,” Chloe corrects.
“God you’re a fucking nerd,” Beca snorts.
Chloe grins cheekily. “You’re in love with this nerd.”
Beca only smiles. “Yeah, I am.”
Chloe kisses her again. This time, she knows it’s not a dream or an accident or the alcohol. She kisses Beca because she loves her. Beca kisses her back because she loves her too.