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i don't wanna keep secrets just to keep you

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Chloe Beale loves Taylor Swift. In all of the years that she has known her, this is one of the first things that Beca came to learn about Chloe during their blossoming friendship. She fondly recalls their car rides the summer after her first year at Barden, where Chloe played Taylor Swift in the car. That summer is where their friendship truly started. Not that they hadn't been friends during their first year—Beca would just define this as the key point in which their friendship became a permanent fixture in her life. 

Which is why this work meeting might be one of the biggest deals in her adult life. 

A week ago, Beca had been approached by her boss with news that she'd been thrown in the ring to work with a very famous pop star who could not be named at the time. Two days ago, she'd learned that that artist was Taylor Swift, and that she'd been hand-selected to be interviewed by Taylor's people.

Working with Taylor Swift also means that Beca has to keep secrets from Chloe. While she'll never admit it out loud because she wants people to think she's "too cool for pop music" (old habits die hard, even when you're actively part of the pop music industry!), Beca loves Taylor's music. Lyrically, it's unmatched. But what she most admires is the risks that are taken from album to album, and the frequent changes in genre.

Beca's in it mostly for the music aspect—she doesn't obsess over details of artists' personal lives, especially not now that she knows what they're really like. But Chloe, Chloe is a diehard Swiftie. Ever since the announcement for Red (Taylor's Version), Chloe has been obsessed with what she calls "SwiftTok". She shows Beca these videos every day of crazy theories about easter eggs that Taylor Swift is supposedly leaving her fans. Chloe is dead set, with the rest of the crazy Swifties on the internet, that somehow, they're going to be getting 1989 (Taylor's Version) before they get Red (Taylor's Version). 

Beca's not sure what she believes because honestly, she doesn’t really care that much, but she figures she's about to find out at this job interview.

"Babe, I'm leaving for work!" Beca shouts from the doorway, pulling her keys from the table by the door.

"I love you! Drive safe!" Chloe shouts back from where she's getting ready for school in their shared bedroom.

"I love you, too!" she replies before heading out the door.

She takes in a deep breath, sitting in silence for a few moments before driving away. 

“Alright, we can do this,” she mutters to herself before turning the key into the ignition and bringing the car to life.

She’s so nervous that she doesn’t even harmonize with the radio like she normally does on her commute to work. Except she’s not commuting to work right now. Instead, she’s commuting an hour outside of the city to meet up with Taylor Swift. 

The drive drags on, but before she knows it, she’s pulling into a small suburban neighborhood, and into someone’s driveway. She double checks the address in her text messages to confirm she’s in the right place before getting out of the car.

“Alright, we can do this,” she repeats to herself under her breath. “Just act cool.”

When she knocks on the door, an older man in a suit answers.

“Beca Mitchell?” he concurs.

She’s a little bit jumpy, and nods maybe a little too enthusiastically, but is still ushered into the house, stopping in the middle of the living room.

“You’ll wait here,” the man instructs before disappearing into another room.

She figures she might as well make herself comfortable, so she finds her way over to the couch, sitting along the edge, hands clasped and resting on her knees as she tries not to think too much about the anticipation of waiting and the anxiety of this whole ordeal because holy fuck, she’s been asked to work with Taylor Swift .

“You must be Beca,” a warm voice grabs her attention.

She looks up, and suddenly, is face to face with Taylor Swift herself. 

“Hi, yes, that’s me,” she says abruptly, immediately straightening her posture, hoping that she looks presentable enough.

She’s worked with all sorts of artists of varying levels of fame, including some other big names, but everyone knows that Taylor Swift is one of the names. This opportunity is a huge deal.

“Well, it’s wonderful to finally meet you,” Taylor replies with a smile. “Now, why don’t we go out back and I’ll tell you about what I have planned, yeah?”

“Yes, yes, definitely,” comes Beca’s jittery reply as she comes to standing. “Wait, tell me what you have planned...does that mean we’re going to be working together?”

Taylor laughs.

“I don’t meet with people I’m not interested in working with.” 

Holy fuck.

 

 *

 

Chloe knows that Beca's up to something. In all the years they've known each other, she's never been a good secret keeper. 

Well, except for that one time during Chloe's third senior year when she went almost the entire way through the school year not knowing about Beca's Residual Heat internship. But if she had been paying closer attention to the signs instead of having her own little quarter-life crisis, she would've definitely picked up on the fact that Beca was hiding something from her.

Beca's extra jumpy when she's hiding something, even if it's a good surprise. She'll never admit it out loud, but Chloe knows that Beca gets excited to the point of anxiousness when she's trying to surprise her with something. She knows this because she thought that Beca was going to throw up in the moments leading up to proposing to her (she did not, thankfully, but it would've been a funny story to tell their future children, so Chloe supposes she wouldn't have minded all that much if she had). 

Chloe can't quite tell if this one is a good or bad surprise though, and that's what's driving her crazy.

"How are things going at work?" Chloe asks her, setting the orange juice across the breakfast table and in front of Beca. 

Beca shrugs nonchalantly, suddenly becoming very interested in the stack of pancakes she'd been halfway through eating. 

"It's work," she replies casually. "Nothing too important. Just the same old."

Chloe frowns. Usually, Beca is eager to share about her new projects. Sometimes, when she’s feeling extra confident, she’s generous enough to let Chloe have a listen to what she’s working on. 

But it’s been three months, and Beca hasn’t said anything about work other than nonchalant phrases about nothing in particular. Chloe doesn’t even know who Beca is working with right now. 

“Speaking of which, I’m running late, so I’ll see you tonight for dinner,” Beca says with her mouth still full, quickly standing up, swallowing, and pressing a chaste kiss to the top of Chloe’s head.

She can’t get out the door fast enough, leaving Chloe to ponder.

They’re already engaged, so Chloe knows that she’s not planning to propose any time soon. Their wedding will be coming up at the end of December, so she knows it’s not a surprise wedding either (not that she thinks Beca would attempt that at all—it was like pulling teeth to get Beca to agree to a public wedding with people other than immediate family and the Bellas around.)

She sighs, gathering her things to head out to the grocery store, trying to shake the feeling of unease.

How are they supposed to get married in a few months if they can’t even communicate anymore?

She knew what she was signing up for when she and Beca first started dating, and she’d never once had an issue with their time apart due to work. Sure, she missed Beca while she was working, but it was what made Beca happy, and she was good at making music, so why wouldn’t Chloe want that for her? 

She just wished that they had more time together, the lonely reality of their situation setting in. 

She has half a mind to shoot Aubrey and Emily a text to hangout sometime during the weekend, since Beca will surely be working.

 

*

 

“Do you think Beca’s cheating on me?”

When she says the words out loud, Chloe thinks that she sounds insane. They’re Beca and Chloe. They’ve been inseparable for years. They’ve been madly in love for longer than Chloe can remember. 

But she can’t help but wonder if that’s why Beca’s acting so strange, and it’s all she’s been able to think about over the last twenty-four hours. 

Aubrey and Emily both look at her like she’s insane, too. 

“I can’t believe you’d even think that,” Emily says with a laugh. “It’s Beca . She’s literally obsessed with you, Chlo. No way.”

Aubrey nods in agreement.

“As much as she pisses me off sometimes, I have to agree with Em on this one,” she hums. “Beca would never cheat on you, Chloe.”

Chloe nods.

“I know, I know,” she relents with a tired sigh. “I just—something’s up, and it’s bothering me that she’s keeping secrets from me. I hardly ever see her because she’s always at work, but I have no idea what she’s even doing at work because we don’t ever talk .”

Aubrey reaches across the table to grasp Chloe’s arm, a look of sympathy crossing her face.

“Have you said anything about this to her?” she asks, tone laced with concern. 

“Well, no,” Chloe winces. “But I don’t want her feelings to be hurt. I don’t even know if she realizes she’s doing it. I keep trying to prompt her with questions, but she won’t say anything beyond, ‘Oh, the usual’ or ‘Just work’.”

Aubrey looks skeptical still.

“I rescind my previous statement, maybe she is cheating on you.”

“Aubrey!” Emily scolds, smacking her friend’s arm. “I still don’t think Beca’s cheating. I mean, I don’t work with the same label as her, but in my experience, she might be working on a really high-security project with someone that she legally can’t talk about.”

“That is true,” Aubrey concedes with a sigh. “And as lazy as Beca can be with other things, she’s definitely a by-the-book person when it comes to work. You know how anal she is.”

Emily nods.

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” Emily assures her. “Though I would maybe say something to her about how you’re feeling.”

Chloe nods.

“You guys are right,” she says with a long sigh. 

She supposes she’ll just have to have a conversation with Beca and settle her mind. So instead, she turns to Aubrey and Emily, plasters and smile on her face, and says, “So, do we have any new theories on when 1989 (Taylor’s Version) is going to be released? She just released Wildest Dreams before we got any singles from Red. There has to be something coming now!”

 

*

 

She feels really bad about keeping it a secret from Chloe. 

Even though she knows that she is legally bound to her secrecy, every time she leaves the house, Beca feels dirty for keeping it a secret from Chloe. They never have any secrets between them, and Chloe is her person that she shares everything with. 

She’s working with Taylor Swift and Jack Antonoff, two very respected people in the music industry, and she’s learning and experiencing so much in their time together that she wishes she could talk about it at the end of each day with Chloe.

Especially because they’re working on Beca’s favorite Taylor Swift album. Especially because it’s Taylor fucking Swift and Chloe loves her. Chloe, who is obsessed with these stupid easter egg theories that drive her insane, that Beca could easily give her all of the answers to. Chloe, who has a whole spare room in their house filled to the brim with music memorabilia, most of which is Taylor Swift merch she’s collected over the years. 

“Something on your mind?” one of the assistants asks her.

Beca shakes her head, eyes brightening at the coffee being placed in front of her.

“Just tired,” she lies, forcing a smile and thanking the assistant.  

Thankfully, things with the pandemic have gotten better. She can’t imagine having been asked to work on Folklore or Evermore—it would’ve been nearly impossible to hide that from Chloe.

Even better, their time together was almost over, though Taylor had hinted a few times about bringing Beca on for future projects, so she’s sure that this is just something they’ll have to get used to.

She considers asking Taylor to just involve Chloe in the projects for the sake of her marriage, but scratches the idea when she remembers that Chloe can’t keep a secret to save her life. 

Mostly, she just thinks about how much better she’ll feel when the project is released and she can finally tell Chloe about it after keeping it a secret for almost five months. 

 

 

Beca gets home from work late on Wednesday night, but not too late for dinner. She and Chloe have always been late eaters, and she’d texted to warn Chloe they were a little behind schedule.

She’s looking forward to dinner, having existed mostly off of coffee and the bagel breakfast sandwich that she’d had earlier in the morning. She doesn’t realize how hungry she is until the hour-long commute home, when her stomach starts rumbling. 

What she doesn’t anticipate is coming home to a very concerned looking Chloe sitting on the couch in the dark.

“Hey, babe,” she says cautiously, setting her keys and bag down by the door. “Everything good?”

“You’re not cheating on me, are you?” Chloe blurts out, though Beca can see through her thinly-veiled confidence and accusatory tone.

She’s instantly taken aback by the question, softening as she rushes over to Chloe, unable to hide her own hurt.

“No, baby, of course I’m not cheating on you,” she insists in a voice that she hopes doesn’t make her sound too desperate.

“Then why don’t you ever talk to me about work anymore?” Chloe says, voice breaking. 

She sits down on the couch beside Chloe, turning so that she’s looking directly at her.

“I just, I can’t, Chlo,” Beca says, biting her lower lip. “I’m really sorry I didn’t say anything earlier, I just assumed that you wouldn’t mind, and that’s on me for not communicating that.”

“I’m just really sad and I just really miss us and having time for each other, and Taylor Swift didn’t surprise release 1989 last week like everyone on TikTok said she was going to,” Chloe says through sniffles. 

Beca can’t help but stifle a laugh at this, though she stops dead in her tracks when Chloe’s eyes widen.

“It’s not funny, Beca, I’m serious!” Chloe insists, ever dramatic (one of the many things that Beca loves about her). 

“I know, I’m sorry I know how serious you are about your Taylor Swift stuff,” Beca brushes it off, trying not to laugh. 

Because she definitely knows something that Chloe doesn’t. 

“So tell me more about the latest theories,” Beca says with a sigh, knowing she’s about to be pushing her luck because they really shouldn’t be talking about this but Chloe’s sad and she knows that talking about something that Chloe loves will take her mind off of it for the time being. “We haven’t talked about that in awhile.”

And the distraction works. Before she knows it, Chloe’s pulling out her phone and showing her video after video that she’s saved for future reference, going on and on about Taylor Swift.

“I just can’t believe that she didn’t release it last week, we were all so sure something was coming. It was perfectly between the release date for Fearless and the release date for Red,” Chloe says with a frown.

Her face slips, and she knows it as soon as she does it, because Chloe’s eyes widen to the size of the moon, and she knows that she’s done for.

“You know something!” Chloe exclaims, immediately throwing down her phone and all but crawling into Beca’s lap. “Oh my god, you fucking know something and that’s why you’ve been so sneaky!” 

Beca shakes her head, crossing her arms in front of her chest, trying to ignore the heat of Chloe’s stare.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she insists dumbly, but she knows that Chloe’s not falling for it. 

They’ve known each other for too long, and Chloe knows all of her tells.

“Becaaaaa,” Chloe whines, pouting. “I’m about to be married to you in a few months and you’re really not going to tell me. It could be your wedding gift to me. Please, I’m begging you!”

“Chloe, I really don’t know what you’re talking about,” she continues through laughter.

“Please!!” Chloe begs. “Tell me what you know.”

Beca lets out a long sigh, hoping to god that what she’s about to do won’t get her killed by Taylor Swift (or Chloe from excitement). 

“Fine,” she concedes, watching as Chloe’s eyes brighten victoriously. “But, you’re sworn to secrecy. You can tell absolutely no one.”

“Okay, okay, I promise!” Chloe insists impatiently. 

“I mean it, I’m about to violate so many things in my contract right now,” Beca says, trying to convey how serious this is with her tone.

“Beca Ann Mitchell, I promise on my dead grandmother’s grave I will not tell anyone what you’re about to tell me,” Chloe replies with faux seriousness. “Now tell me!”

She takes in a deep breath before letting the words leave her lips. 

“I’ve been collaborating with Taylor Swift on a new project for the last five months.”

*

 

Later that night...

Chloe: [10:51 pm] Guysssssddds!!!!!!!!

Chloe: [10:52 pm] Yoy guyssdsdsdsss ghvfjdkl

Chloe: [10:53 pm] BECA IS WORKING WITH TAYLOR SWIFT!!!!!!!!

Aubrey: [10:53 pm] OMG WHAT?!

Emily: [10:53 pm] BECA HOW COULD YOU KEEP THIS FROM US?!?!?!?

Beca: [10:55 pm] chloeeeee you promised you wouldn't tell :(((

Beca: [10:55 pm] FUCK! my confidentiality agreement!!! you're ALL sworn to secrecy!!!

Chloe: [10:57 pm] I think you should give us a preview 😏 👀

Emily: [10:58 pm] What album is coming up next on the re-recordings!?!?!?

Aubrey: [10:59 pm] Yeah, Beca. You're morally obligated to tell us as your best friends.

Beca: [11:00 pm] my lips are sealed. not even chloe knows that one ;)

 

*

 

The next morning, Beca is promptly pulled from her sleep at 8:01 am. 

"YOU LITTLE SNEAK! YOU KNEW SHE WAS SURPRISE DROPPING 1989 TONIGHT AND YOU KEPT IT FROM ME!" Chloe screams from across the room.

"Good morning to you, too, babe," she says with a tired laugh, voice still raspy from sleep. "Yes, I've been working on 1989 (Taylor's Version)."

"I can't believe you!"

“I can’t believe you didn’t see my name on the production credits for the Wildest Dreams single!”

“I hate you!” Chloe scoffs in disbelief at everything that’s unfolded during the morning.

“No you don’t, you love me,” Beca insists playfully, pressing a quick kiss to Chloe’s cheek.

“And if you love me, you’ll introduce me to Taylor Swift!”