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august slipped away into a moment in time

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Staying on campus the summer before her senior year might just be the best decision Beca’s made in a long time.

It’s quieter, which is nice. The general vibe at Barden has mellowed, as if the pace of life has slowed with the warm weather, and it has a positive impact on Beca’s state of mind. She takes her time strolling across the quad, explores tucked-away corners of the library, listens to music in her room without headphones on.

Everything just feels a little more hers.

Maybe that’s why she can finally let her guard down enough to explore this thing with Chloe.

She’d fought against it up to this point. There’s always been something between them -- she knows that -- but it was always easier to shrug it off, to roll her eyes, to deny, deny, deny. When the other Bellas made suggestive comments and innuendos about her and Chloe, it just made her dig her heels in more.

Now that most of them are home for the summer -- now that it’s just her, Chloe, and (possibly) Lilly in the Bellas house -- her mind relinquishes its stubborn death grip on the topic.

She lets herself imagine what if.

She lets Chloe hold her hand on a 2 a.m. McFlurrys run.

She lets herself get drunk on boxed wine and sag against Chloe’s shoulder, giggle into the side of her neck.

She lets Chloe kiss her, slowly and gently, in the hallway outside the bathroom door.

***

The kiss ignites something in Beca that’s been long-simmering, waiting to catch fire, and she can’t put it out.

Not that she wants to.

They take it slow, though. She’s not sure why; can’t tell if it’s on her end or Chloe’s.

But she’s not complaining. It feels young and sweet when they make out on the couch or sneak kisses in a bathroom at a party. They start spending the night in each other’s rooms, curled around one another. They explore each other’s bodies with tentative hands, taking their time because it feels like they have so much of it.

Sometimes it feels like they’re outside of time entirely. Like they’ve wandered onto another plane -- another timeline -- where it’s always summer and it’s only them.

But sometimes Beca’s all too aware of the turning pages of the calendar, of summer slipping through their fingers. She finds herself needing more from Chloe; being greedy with her hands and lips and tongue, as if time is running out.

***

Another cool thing about Barden this summer: the empty campus pool -- the one the acapella kids use for riff-offs -- gets repaired and filled with aqua-blue water.

It’s reserved for various sports teams in the mornings, but in the afternoons it’s available to all students for open swim.

Beca’s hesitant the first time Chloe asks her to go. Even with most of the student body gone she knows it’ll be a mob scene. Plus she burns easily. And, really, she’s an indoor kid.

But then Chloe shows up at her bedroom door in a tiny royal blue bikini, holding two striped towels.

“You’re playing dirty,” Beca says, eyes narrowed.

Chloe puts a hand on her hip and squares her shoulders, sticking out her chest. “How do you mean?”

And Beca knows it’s okay to look now -- she’s been doing a whole lot of looking, in fact -- but this is the most of Chloe she’s seen so far, aside from that one time in the shower, and she wants to hide just how much she’s blushing. She rolls her eyes and stalks off toward her closet.

“Fine, whatever. I’ll meet you downstairs,” she says over her shoulder. “And hey -- put on a coverup, maybe.”

***

Most days, they wind up swimming more often than not.

The pool provides welcome relief from the Georgia heat -- something the feeble air conditioners in the Bellas house can’t contend with. About a week after it opens the crowd thins out, leaving Beca and Chloe with more room in the pool to float or tread water, more space on the deck to warm up and chat.

They’re in the deep end with their arms resting on the concrete edge, elbow to elbow, when the thought occurs to Beca.

“I think it happened right below us,” she says without thinking. “When I first realized I liked you.”

And she knows Chloe would never make fun of her -- not in a moment as vulnerable as this -- but she’s still afraid to look at her.

So she’s particularly surprised when Chloe lifts Beca’s chin with two pruney fingers, leans in, and kisses her.

***

They’re still dripping wet when they stumble into Chloe’s room.

They stop kissing long enough to close the door and slip their towels from their waists before falling onto her bed, their pool-wet hair dampening the sheets. The August afternoon sun is streaming in through the window, bathing them in light, illuminating the smattering of freckles across Chloe’s cheeks.

They’ve been lying on their sides but Beca eases Chloe onto her back with a hand on her bare hip. Chloe goes willingly, eyebrows rising in question as Beca settles over her and traces along the curve of her cheekbone.

“You’re, like, stupid pretty, Chlo,” she says. “Did you know that?”

Beca knows she does -- that’s one of her favorite things about her, how she’s confident about “all this” -- but Chloe looks at her like she doesn’t; like no one’s ever told her.

Or maybe Beca’s imagining things, because the look is gone an instant later, replaced by Chloe’s usual grin.

“Charmer. You’re, like, stupid pretty yourself.” Her eyes fall to Beca’s lips as she threads her fingers into her hair. A drop of water trickles down the side of Beca’s neck. “Come back here.”

Beca fights back a shiver as she leans over Chloe’s body and covers her mouth with her own. They start off at their usual easy pace, sharing gentle kisses, noses gently nudging each other’s cheeks, exchanging quiet sighs. But then Chloe licks along the seam of Beca’s lips and Beca opens her mouth, eager to meet her tongue, and neither of them are satisfied with slow anymore.

Chloe tastes like chlorine and iced tea, and when she moans into Beca’s mouth Beca’s thighs actually tremble. Next Chloe’s hands are on the move, trailing down over Beca’s shoulders to her back. And Beca knows it’s ridiculous -- she’s not a teenager anymore; she’s had sex, goddamnit -- but Chloe’s never touched her here, not like this, and when she presses her palms to the small of Beca’s back it sends heat coursing through her.

So when Chloe applies the smallest amount of pressure -- pulling Beca toward her -- Beca goes readily, lowering herself down and pressing their bodies together. She’s still surprised by how it feels; how, aside from a few pieces of strategically placed lycra they’re basically skin-to-skin. It must take Chloe off-guard, too, because she gasps, hips lifting up off the mattress -- into Beca.

Beca rests her forehead against Chloe’s and takes a few shaky breaths. She squeezes her eyes shut, trying to remember how thinking works.

“Beca, god,” Chloe breathes, and that certainly doesn’t help.

Her hands go to Beca’s waist as she shifts beneath her. Beca’s wondering what’s happening -- if she wants her to move -- when she feels the soft pressure of Chloe’s thigh between her legs. She buries her face in the crook of Chloe’s neck as she flushes, finally realizing just how they’re positioned.

Fuck.”

“I know.” Chloe runs her hands up and down her sides, thumbs ghosting over her ribs. “Becs.” She kisses the side of her neck. “Beca.”

And Beca’s mind feels cloudy and sluggish, and she can hear her pulse roaring in her ears, but she gets that feeling again -- like time is moving too fast, like it will get away from them if she doesn’t reach out and stop it.

So she takes a deep breath, lifts her head, and kisses Chloe again.

This time she’s the first to lick across Chloe’s lips, to suck on her tongue, to moan into her mouth. Chloe moans too as she meets Beca at every turn, urging her on with roaming hands and needy little cries.

The gentle pressure at the apex of Beca’s thighs becomes more insistent and Beca knows Chloe’s bending her knee even more, foot flat against the mattress. She can see them in her mind -- how they’re positioned on the bed -- and the mental image causes her to rock forward, just to see if she’s right.

The top of her thigh meets resistance -- solid and damp and warm -- but it barely resonates, because Chloe makes this sound Beca’s never heard before -- a high-pitched cry from the back of her throat -- and now Beca’s practically aching between her legs.

So she rocks back the other way, rutting against Chloe, and she groans at the relief of it. Chloe grips Beca’s waist and guides her hips, gets her to do it again, then again, then again. All Beca can do is move like Chloe wants her, desperately grinding down on her thigh.

It distantly occurs to her how little fabric there is between them -- that the thin strip between her legs can’t be doing much to mask how wet she is right now. Beca gets her answer a few seconds later when Chloe groans and brings her leg up even higher, pressing into the slick slide of her.

Beca pants sharply against Chloe’s lips, any thought of kissing long forgotten by now. They’re both too far gone, too lost in the feel of each other.

Beca’s fairly certain she’s never been this turned on in her whole life. She wants to let Chloe know, to make her feel as good as she does in this moment. She doesn’t think she can find the words, but what she can do is hitch her knee higher, pressing her leg more firmly into Chloe.

Chloe catches on quickly, lifting her hips up to seek out more friction, moving with the rhythm she set for Beca. Soon Beca’s thigh is coated with wetness that isn’t from the pool, and she knows Chloe’s must be too. The thought alone is nearly enough to make her come undone.

“Shit, Becs,” Chloe groans. “God baby you-- you feel so good.”

Beca whimpers, pressing her mouth to the shell of Chloe’s ear. She’s hyper-aware of every part of her -- her breasts swaying against Chloe’s, Chloe’s nails digging into her waist, her own hands gripping the backs of Chloe’s shoulders.

It’s so much. It’s too much. It’s almost enough.

“Chlo, I’m-- I’m gonna--” She swallows as she rides Chloe’s thigh harder, trying to find the words. “You’re gonna make me--”

She doesn’t finish the sentence but she thinks she gets her point across, because Chloe grabs the bikini tie-string on Beca’s left hip and tugs hard, pulling the fabric taut against her in all the right places.

“Yes baby,” Chloe breathes, tugging on the string even harder. “It’s okay. Let me hear you.”

“Fuckfuckfuck Chloe.”

Beca’s mind goes blank as time truly stands still, as she teeters on the edge of promised freefall. When she tumbles into her orgasm she goes rigid before lurching forward, hips stuttering as blinding pleasure rolls through her.

The moans she’s making are borderline obscene, but she doesn’t care because Chloe’s moaning too, sobbing loudly against her cheek, and Beca lets her aftershocks rock her forward, into Chloe, drawing her orgasm out as much as she can.

When she quiets Beca collapses on top of her, completely spent and boneless. She doesn’t think her legs will ever stop tingling.

She’s on the verge of nodding off when her body shakes from Chloe’s laughter.

“You’re gonna pass out right on top of me, aren’t you?”

“Hm?”

Beca yelps as Chloe closes her arms around her and rolls them both onto their sides.

“There,” she says, still giggling. “Isn’t that better?”

“Sure. I guess.” Beca shifts on the mattress, draping an arm across Chloe’s waist. “You’re comfy too, though.”

She meets Chloe’s eyes for the first time in what feels like ages. She waits to feel embarrassed about what just happened -- about dry(ish) humping like a couple of teenagers -- but when she sees Chloe’s smile she can’t be anything but happy.

“That was amazing, Becs,” Chloe says, tucking a strand of hair behind Beca’s ear. “God, you were… Wow.”

She’s looking at Beca like she’s too good to be true, and Beca feels warm all over again.

“I know. I mean, you...” Beca lifts her chin and kisses her. “Also, what took us so long to do that? Summer’s almost over.”

“I don’t know.” Chloe mouths a line down her jaw. “But maybe we can do it again? Without swimsuits this time.”

Beca tips her chin back, giving Chloe more room to work as she sucks on her neck.

“Mmm yeah. I guess I could be down for that.”

Chloe lets out an exasperated sigh, as she eases Beca onto her back and moves lower. She kisses the tops of her breasts and Beca sucks in a sharp breath.

“Good,” Chloe says, gazing up at her with hooded eyes. “Because summer’s not over yet.”

***

Staying on campus the summer before her senior year was one of the best decisions Beca’s made.

But getting together with Chloe right before the start of fall semester…

Yeah, that decision was even better.

***

They still take their time, because it feels like they have so much of it.

And, this time, it’s true.