It starts with a game.
That’s all they insist it is – just a game. It means nothing; it’s just seeing who the best at suggestive banter is, and they can go about their business as if it never happened.
Suggestive, flirtatious banter, yes, but harmless still.
It’s not. It’s really not harmless. Chloe has a certain way with words that distracts Beca for the rest of the day. And – well, that’s just inconvenient.
Except it’s been like this for two years now, so it’s a little more than inconvenient and a little more than difficult to get rid of.
When Chloe failed Russian Lit to stay on as a Bella (which, as Beca keeps reminding her, is madness, but there’s not much conviction behind her words), she joined the rest of the a cappella group and moved into the Bella house. And that was great – wonderful, actually – because it meant Chloe would be around Beca more than ever. But then it wasn’t as great, because it meant Chloe would be around Beca more than ever to tease the tiny DJ.
(But who is she kidding? Beca will take that any day over not seeing Chloe at all.)
And she can deal with the usual teasing. Height jokes, grumpy jokes, musician-too-addicted-to-coffee jokes; she’s got an arsenal of snarky replies hidden under her belt to whip out at any time and shoot down the offender with. (It doesn’t feel much like an offence when her favorite ginger teases her, but that doesn’t mean she won’t act like it does.) Innuendos and flirting, though? Definitely not her thing.
Sophomore Beca was not prepared. Not in any respect. So when Chloe bounded down the stairs one afternoon, like the carpet was made of clouds – and completely nonchalantly told the younger woman that the shower acoustics were so much better in Beca’s en suite’s, and that they could “totes test it out together sometime”, she almost choked on her coffee.
In hindsight, it wasn’t the most suggestive thing the co-captain could have said – or, actually, would say in the future – but the glint in her best friend’s eye (when Beca actually processed the words being said) felt downright dirty. She could feel the heat crawling up her neck just by glancing at that gaze.
So that was a shock to her senses. Meanwhile, Chloe just plopped down on the sofa and opened her next ridiculously huge volume of Russian tales, and sighed contentedly as if her previous words had all been from Beca’s imagination.
But she knew. It wasn’t as innocent a picture as it seemed. The smug little smile that tugged at the corners of the ginger’s mouth meant that Chloe thought she had the drop on her. And Beca just couldn’t let it lie, not when Chloe would tease her about it in the future.
So she started playing that game, too. Little hints, phrases slipped in at opportune moments. The first time it caught her best friend off guard, Beca felt like cracking open the champagne. (She’d worked hard on those.) That feeling, of course, was quickly replaced by shock when the ginger girl shot back something more outrageous.
Seriously? How did she do that? And how did it get to Beca so much?
Now in her fourth year, Beca likes to think that she’s got better at this. The words come more easily; sometimes she even puts a little wink in there if she’s feeling particularly drunk. It’s just a part of life for the two of them, now.
The Bellas love it, of course. They find it endlessly amusing. They make it even more competitive – they cheer the two girls on to see if things really hot up. (Cynthia-Rose stares at Beca and arches one eyebrow. She knows how much this affects the captain and how much she loves Chloe. Actually, it’s a little scary how accurate her intuition is when it comes to relationships.) Sweet, awkward Emily is convinced that Chloe and Beca are dating, even if they tell her they’re not, it’s just a silly game they can’t be bothered to stop playing.
Every time they say it doesn’t mean anything, Beca feels the familiar sting right in her chest. She keeps her voice level, though; she’s had years of lying to her parents about how she’s feeling, so it isn’t too hard.
And yet, Cynthia-Rose still pats her sympathetically on her back as she passes by. Again, how does she know?
Actually, she kind of missed it when she refused to tell the Bellas about the internship. That was a stupid move on her part; she’d been so excited to get the job – and then she just… didn’t tell anyone. (Except Jesse, but he isn’t connected to the Bellas. She didn’t feel guilty if he knew.) So things like the easy atmosphere of the house and the flirtatious banter steadily faded away.
Chloe, being so tuned to the Bellas as she is, noticed that something was different with Beca. But where Chloe is persistent, Beca is resolutely stubborn; she didn’t tell her best friend until it slipped out on the first night out they’d had in a while. The ginger, understandably, was put out that Beca hadn’t told her (or, indeed, told her first), but that was the end of it. Slowly, things returned to normality. It was only when Chloe put her head on Beca’s lap when the Bellas were having a movie night, and started talking about this new shining opportunity to beat Das Sound Machine at their own game, that Beca realized that things really were back to normal.
(As normal as she can call her life, anyway. Because, if there’s one thing Beca knows, it’s that she didn’t come to Barden University to join an a cappella group full of the weirdest – but best – misfits she’s ever known.)
So it’s just a game. A game that’s not meant to affect them, really. It’s just playful. Yeah, she really needs to work on that.
She doesn’t know how it happened. She doesn’t know when it happened, either. One moment she was happily unattached from everything and everyone, minding her own business and trying to get through piles of college work and mixes she needed to make for the Bellas – and now she can’t even go an hour without thinking about her best friend.
Or, according to Jesse, talking about her. The fact that he’s right makes it an even more bitter defeat.
She’s not like this. She doesn’t – she doesn’t do the “pining over her best friend” thing. It’s messy and painful and it only ends in awkwardness. (Not that she’s had any experience of it prior to college.)
Chloe can just look at her and she’ll feel like liquid inside. Sometimes, she’ll catch herself sinking into the ginger’s touch; she’ll rub slow circles on Chloe’s hands (she seems to do that a lot). She doesn’t even complain that much when they watch something together. Considering she would shudder at the thought of being so intimate with someone just three years ago, it’s clear to see that Chloe has changed her beyond reconciliation.
(“She’s made you –” Jesse gasped dramatically “– feel things!”
“And yet you ask why I regularly reconsider our friendship.”)
And, really, that’s bad enough without all of the flirting they do. But – again – where Chloe is persistent, Beca is stupidly stubborn – and she’s determined not to let the older woman win this if she can help it.
Verbal teasing is clearly not enough. Chloe probably mastered the innuendo-and-wink combination when she was in high school; she’s definitely ahead in this little war. (And she’ll be damned if the wink doesn’t set Beca off tumbling past giddy and stumbling towards being totally whipped. Which is the last thing she wants to describe herself as, but it’s just disgustingly true.) So Beca has to up her game somehow. She needs this if she’s to gain some semblance of sanity again.
Luckily, she gets it.
It happens one evening. It’s just the two of them – everyone else has classes (or is suspiciously AWOL in Fat Amy’s case) – so they take the time to kick back and relax. Beca is exhausted from work at Residual Heat, so Chloe tells her to relax while the super senior gets Red Bull and Cheetos. Beca takes this chance to decide what TV show they’re going to watch tonight – something she can stomach, this time. It’s not long before Chloe joins her in the living room and snuggles up next to her, a beautiful smile already on her face.
(See? Definitely whipped. Or doomed – either one will do.)
As Beca points the remote at the screen and scrolls lazily through the options, she sings quietly. It’s something she’s taken to doing only when Chloe’s around; it’s too embarrassing otherwise. She feels safe in the knowledge that the ginger – with her truly eclectic taste in music – won’t judge her for a song choice she generally doesn’t think about when it tumbles out of her mouth.
I’m your dream girl
This is real love
But you know what they say about me…
That girl is a problem
Girl is a problem
Girl is a problem problem
And yet. Things have gone oddly quiet from where Chloe is. She’s sort of… stiff. And Chloe Beale is 5 feet 4 inches of flexibility and bubbliness – she’s never been stiff in Beca’s four years of knowing her.
Beca furrows her brow. This is weird. Very weird.
But the super senior refuses to look at her; she gazes at the screen and shifts her legs subtly in her position on the sofa, before picking up a bag of Cheetos and asking way too evenly, “What do you want to watch then, Becs?”
Then the ginger looks at her. It’s a completely false smile, because Beca knows Chloe well enough to track the minute details in her expression – and, paired with an uneven rising and falling of the ginger’s chest, she suddenly gets it.
Oh. Oh. This song is—
This is perfect.
Chloe makes her choose the program, but Beca hardly pays attention to it at all. She operates with a once-track mind; she runs through countless tracks in her head trying to select one that goes with this song, considering which Bella would be best for what part, and cherry-picking the best parts of each song to put into the virtual mix she’s created in her head. She hardly even acknowledges the other girls when they come back from their various outings. By the time the show ends, Beca has a rough version of what she wants to create, mentally scrutinizing each bit in detail. It’s rough around the edges, but it’s all she can do for now.
Her best friend decides to call it a night; she gives Beca a squeeze and pecks her on the cheeks before calling her goodbyes in her siren voice and skipping up the stairs.
Not long after, Beca trudges up to her own room. She, however, is not going to sleep. She has work to do.
Seeing Chloe’s face drop when she plays the mix at the next official practice is honestly the best reaction Beca could have hoped for. Beca has floored her; she’s totally exposed, having to listen to what is most definitely one of her lady jams and discuss the parts each person is going to sing. All the while pretending it doesn’t have an effect on her at all.
Beca leans back in her chair, satisfied. This is enormous fun, watching the older woman squirm uncomfortably. She definitely has the upper hand now. Besides, she can easily pass off her smirk as her just being proud of her mix—
Or, she would do, if Chloe – directly opposite the DJ – wasn’t currently giving her subtle evil eyes right now as she shifts her position again.
“So, no objections to this?” Beca asks, giving Chloe the illusion of a way out.
But the Bellas would get suspicious if Chloe did object – especially as they know of the game between the two of them – so the ginger keeps her lips closed, clutching the edges of her chair while the track reaches its climax.
This is totally worth staying up for most of the night.
The rest of practice is uneventful, by comparison. Chloe has them all working on their prop skills while Beca messes around some more with the stems in her mix. She doesn’t bother to put her headphones in – because, honestly, it’s just hilarious to see the co-captain calm herself when she hears the Nero vocals filter through the speakers, only to jump in reaction to little bursts of Natalia Kills.
But then Chloe snaps her head up as an idea comes to her. Beca quickly looks away – she wasn’t staring at her best friend, absolutely not – but when she “casually” gazes in the ginger’s direction, Chloe’s looking at her with some sort of vengeful expression. Smug, vengeful, whilst still staying sweet – something only she can pull off.
Beca gulps. She knows what that look means.
She knows what that look means – but, dear God, she had no idea as to how far the super senior would take this.
Okay, so she had a small clue before – because Beca was only able to takes so many practices of singing the song coherently as a group before Chloe singing, “Sweat, dripping down your chest” got into her system and shook her up (and, damn, did the girl do it brilliantly) – but that was nothing compared to this. This was a subtle invitation to the sweetest type of torture.
It completely backfires. Her plan completely backfires, because the co-captain has come up with a dance routine to Promises/Problem that makes Beca impressed by the professionalism – and simultaneously makes her blush just by thinking about it.
And, goddammit, Chloe is demonstrating everything perfectly.
This should be illegal. It’s kind of the perfect combination of her personal heaven and hell, because she feels hot all over and Jesus, this should not be allowed.
The yoga pants really do not help the situation, either.
Much like Chloe in their last practice, Beca has no option but to be subjected to this while the ginger takes control. There’s an even bigger bounce in her step as she prowls around the room, getting the girls to do a little warm up before going through each move she’s set them individually, singing along in her wispy vibrato. Often, she looks to Beca for a confirmation, trying to smooth out the edges of the routine like always – and Beca has to snap herself out of her trance and get down to business.
Other times, she just stays there while the older woman does things with her body Beca can’t deal with seeing right now.
She’s dumbstruck. Gob smacked. Totally screwed.
That only makes Chloe’s grin wider.
Stacie, during her little break from singing and dancing, slides up to Beca and smirks, “It’s hot stuff, huh?” thus wrenching Beca out of her (stupid, stupid) stupor.
“Uh-um,” she manages. Wow, totally keeping her cool there.
Stacie’s grin widens, “Don’t pretend you weren’t looking at Beale now you can see her doing things you dream about.”
Beca almost chokes on air (because if anyone’s going to achieve that, it’s her). She wants to bury her head in the ground. Or run. Or ask Stacie if she’s seen Aubrey as of late – just to turn the attention on their love lives onto someone else, for once.
Instead, she moves away from the leggy biochemist and instructs, “Stace, I don’t think your vocals were as good as they could be. Don’t you think you should practice?”
“You just want to keep watching in peace,” she laughs, but stalks over to Cynthia-Rose anyway. She tells the fellow Bella something and they laugh.
Beca’s certain they’re laughing at her. Which sounds paranoid, but she knows her Bellas well and she knows they’re hot on her and Chloe’s heels about the game they’re playing. With the way the two of them are looking at her, too, it just makes sense.
Not for the first time today, she feels warmth spreading to her cheeks. She rolls her eyes at herself and gets herself into the flurry of activity, pointedly ignoring Stacie and CR.
And it really is a flurry of activity, because the choreography the co-captain has got them doing is almost as active as Aubrey’s cardio workouts. And a whole lot more suggestive, too, which is probably why she’s feeling weaker at the knees more than usual; Chloe is wiggling her behind not five feet from her and Beca has to pretend that she isn’t internally predicting her death over it.
But the truth is, all of the Bellas are lapping it up, and Beca has to play her part. They are so eager for this opportunity to prove themselves to DSM – and really, that’s what’s important here. Not Beca’s startling inability to keep a straight face around Chloe Beale.
(If Chloe could hear her thoughts right now, she’d probably pop up and make some terrible joke about it never would’ve been a straight face anyway, not if she’s thinking about her best friend in that way. At that mental image in her head, the DJ has to physically stop herself from burying her face in her hands, because Goddammit, Chloe Beale, get out of my head!)
However, Beca’s determination to not seem as if she’s being affected by this game just falls through; adamantly thinking about really boring things makes her forget about the moves she’s being taught, and she keeps tripping up over her feet. She feels like she’s reverted to being a first year again, but with added sexual tension and pressure to be excellent. The super senior’s even directing her through the motions, her front pressed up against Beca’s back and her hands on Beca’s arms.
“You cold there, Becs?” Chloe smirks when she notices the goosebumps on the younger girl’s bare arms. Chloe trails a finger across them and Beca shivers.
“I’m fine,” comes her reply, through gritted teeth and red cheeks. “Totally. Just – just help me through this, Beale.”
“Maybe we should just combine our singing parts with the moves you’ve got nailed already? We need our harmonies to be perfect.”
“I’m sure they are already,” Beca tries. She really can’t deal with the older woman singing those lyrics to her right now.
But the ginger insists. And Beca really has this thing about saying “no” to her – she just can’t. (It’s probably a condition or something.) So she has to attempt to dance, focusing on something simple like Chloe’s laughter lines whilst the older Bella croons her way through “Sweat, dripping down your chest” (as she drags her hands down her chest, Jesus Christ) and singing other seductive lines as if she’s been doing this all her life.
She accidentally looks into Chloe’s eyes a few times, purely out of instinct more than anything else – and every time it happens, she sincerely regrets it. There’s just something about the other girl’s gaze that sends her mind hurtling along at 3000 kilometers an hour – and Chloe can tell. Chloe can see the effect she has on the tiny DJ. And Chloe loves it.
God help her!
When the Bellas finish practicing for the day, the co-captain still seems to be completely unaffected. She claps her hands giddily and beams at Beca. “Until next time!” she sings, before going off to congratulate the other Bellas on their exemplary work today.
On her way out, Beca smacks her head against a wall and groans. This is going to kill her.
It’s killing her.
It’s killing her, and everyone around her knows it is, because she’s forever on the receiving end of sly, knowing glances from the people she talks to the most, and Jessica and Ashley have taken to harmoniously humming The L Word theme tune whenever they’re around her.
(Side note: how do they know that?)
Which is fine, it’s fine. She’s totally cool with being teased by her fellow Bellas – and not the “I’m teasing you flirtatiously because it’s fun to see you squirm” type of teasing. She can deal with it, it’s okay. It just gives her a lot to think about, that’s all. It’s a lot to take on.
It’s a lot to take on when thinking about it, so it’s not hard to imagine how Beca fares when the ginger continues her shameless flirting outside of the Bella practice room. It seems that they’ve gone from intermittently passing comments back and forth every two or three times a week to a new suggestive comment every day (on top of the excruciating Bella practices). The tiny DJ barely has time to recover from Chloe’s last comment before she shoots off another one with a smug beam on her face.
Beca can’t decide whether she wants to wipe that smug grin off the super senior’s face, or kiss it off.
She thinks she needs help.
Asking for help worked last time by going to her dad – but God knows she’d never be caught dead asking him for relationship advice. It’s not like a middle-aged divorced man could be of any use, either. So she’s kind of stuck. Which sucks.
Really, there’s nothing left to do except complain. At least she’s good at that.
“Ugh, God, Bella practices are getting unbearable,” she moans to Jesse one sunny afternoon. Most of the other Treblemakers are out – at class or otherwise – so it’s largely quiet, except for the tinny cheering coming from the soccer game Jesse’s British cousin brought over for him recently. Jesse had tried to persuade Beca to join in and play this shitty game with him, but he gave up and just got on with it. Beca’s used this little bit of silence to finally broach the subject.
“What’s happened? One of the Bellas hurt your mixing equipment?” Beca can barely see him in the murky darkness of the room (Jesse still hasn’t got his blinds open), but his face is illuminated by the screen and at the moment, he’s completely immersed in his game.
“No, they wouldn’t dare,” she dismisses. “It’s, uh –” she feels a little bit stupid now, actually. “– You know how Chlo and I have this little game?”
Jesse starts grinning at her and pauses his game, before twisting his body to face her. “The one where you pretend not to be turned on by each other’s flirting?”
“Gross, dude, shut up,” Beca winces.
He laughs. “Sorry, it’s obvious! If you hadn’t said you loved her before, this would prove it.” At her glare, he waves her on. “You were saying?”
She sighs. “Well, I had this idea of putting one of her lady jams -” she makes quotation marks with her fingers “– into our set, just to get in the lead, but it turned out to be a stupid idea because… she kind of got me back?”
The Treblemaker’s eyebrows raise an incredible amount, and Beca would worry that they’re going to fall off if she isn’t still fixated on her problem. “Got you back… how?”
“The dancing,” Beca answers, burying her face in her hands. “It’s really provocative! How the hell am I supposed to beat that?”
Jesse starts chuckling from beside her, shaking his head incredulously. “So you’re saying you need to beat Chloe because Bella practice is getting too hot for you?”
“Shut up with that, Jesse!” she reprimands him through the hands splayed across her face. She knows she never should have told him, she thinks, as her reaction just makes him chuckle again.
And he just keeps laughing. “This is brilliant,” he sighs happily, when he’s finished. “Beca, I feel honored I’m the one you came to with this.”
“Don’t feel so important; you’re my last resort.”
“Wounded.” He drags a hand through his hair. “You actually put one of Chloe’s lady jams into a set? That’s impressive. Not too smart, but ballsy.”
“I originally thought it was a great idea, if I do say so myself,” she sniffs. Out of the corner of her vision, she sees Jesse’s eyes light up; just as he’s about to channel his inner Jay-Z, Beca elicits a sound of protestation. “No, Jess, I swear to God, don’t. I’m sick to death of Drunk in Love.”
The Treblemaker looks positively offended. “It’s Beyoncé! How can you be sick of it?”
“Stacie and Chloe were obsessed with it when it came out,” she explains, sighing. “I can only take hearing that type of song before I go crazy.” Her eyes glaze over as she recalls the super senior’s insistences on listening to the new song. (“It’s important we listen to musical influences other than our favorite interests, Beca! If Beyoncé can use the harmonic minor scale then so can you!”)
It takes her some time before she realizes that Jesse has been watching her with a smug expression, so she snaps back to reality and grumbles, “Anyway.”
“You’re whipped, Becaw.”
“Shut up, puppy boy.”
After ten more minutes of playful insulting between the two of them (honestly, her friendship with Jesse now is much less awkward than the relationship they’d had in their first two years of college), they search for a strategy on how to get revenge on Chloe. At first, Jesse’s suggestions include, but are not limited to: watching movies as guidance on how to get the girl, performing “that Titanium song you two seem to like underneath her window for her”, having a Treblemaker/Bella collaboration to help woo her over, telling Chloe through snippets taken from Russian literature, and downright admitting her feelings for the redhead. Beca rejects them all – they just scream romantic movie lover Jesse, not her. But then, eventually, they find it. It’s so simple that Beca doesn’t understand why she didn’t think of it earlier. It’s much more achievable in theory than in practice - but she hasn’t got an alternative. This is her last resort.
She just prays it works.
The tiny DJ returns home to a completely innocent, domestic scene; the girls have congregated in the living room, watching some terrible reality TV show and critiquing the singing of every contestant, and Chloe characteristically beams at her and asks if she enjoyed her time with Jesse. Beca shrugs and flops down next to the super senior (conveniently ignoring the stack of Music Technology papers waiting for her upstairs), passing her time off as “the usual”.
The ginger doesn’t even question it. She just beams at Beca and wraps her arms around the younger woman, sighing in contentment when Beca settles into it. At this point, Beca herself would switch off – or start complaining about the show in front of her, usually a combination of the two – but she can’t. No, she’s just looking forward to Bella practice tomorrow, where she can try and give the ginger a taste of her own medicine.
If – by some miracle – Chloe is actually as affected by Beca as Jesse says she is, then tomorrow’s going to be an interesting practice session indeed.
Beca has to admit, she’s surprised at how well it’s gone. Confidence in the face of total humiliation is definitely not something that comes easily to her – so somehow, Fate must have looked down kindly on her for once, allowing her to keep an assured smile on her face as she struts her way through all of the dance moves.
That’s her plan, see. Her frustratingly flirtatious co-captain took her idea and used it to her advantage, knowing that Beca would be made speechless by the moves she concocted. So why can’t Beca do the same for her? Why can’t Beca build on what they’ve already made?
Again, it’s significantly easier when you’re someone that exudes sex appeal like Chloe Beale, but once Beca accepts an idea, her one-track mind clutches onto it for dear life. And, she’s told herself over and over again, it’ll help the Bellas run more smoothly as a team if she’s throwing herself into practicing. No disadvantages in sight.
(Except the mortification that could come with being anything but what she wants to achieve, but she figures she’s fairly used to that feeling by now.)
So, surprisingly, it works. She walks in there, coffee cup in hand, only three minutes later than the last Bella, and rouses the Bellas to work. Chloe seems to finally relax again (this whole DSM business can really take its toll on that poor girl), and joins Beca in typical captain activities. Her smile isn’t strained, and her step has an extra little bounce in them.
She stops still when Beca starts dancing. Which, the DJ has to admit, is quite an ego boost. There’s something a lot more fluid in her dance moves than last time – they’re not so disjointed now she’s just concentrating on getting Chloe back and not on her notes from her freshman Philosophy class. And, paired with glossy vocals, it’s obvious to see that it’s done its job; it’s slowly but surely breaking through the super senior’s composure. Those big blue eyes that have kept their smug glint recently have gone wider than usual, and Chloe looks like she’s going to do some damage to her lip in a minute.
(That in itself would usually set off explosions in Beca’s whole body, but she’s determined to put that aside in order to deliver the best performance she can.)
Chloe is surveying the Bellas at the moment, but she’s quite clearly distracted, because Emily has asked the co-captain for her attention twice and Chloe hasn’t responded. Her eyes keep flitting nervously back to the tiny DJ – and Beca, just for good measure, winks at her.
(Chloe’s putty in her hands. It’s fucking awesome.)
“Chloe!” Stacie shouts, and that finally manages to bring the ginger around.
She snaps her head up and fixes the leggy biochemist with a dazzling, if not a little crazed, smile, before chirping, “Sorry, I just got a bit distracted. What did you want?”
“Yeah, we all know who by,” Fat Amy murmurs, to the assenting nods and chuckles of the other girls – and Beca’s cheeks start to warm immediately.
She feels pretty proud of herself, though. The ball is in her court, and the ginger knows it. One more point to Mitchell.
Cynthia-Rose catches her attention with a very pointed stare, and the approving smile she shoots Beca’s way does nothing to subdue her blushing. But, hey, she’s not complaining. She just distracted Chloe Beale. She thinks a trophy wouldn’t be asking for too much at this rate.
When the super senior sets her heart on practicing the dance routine with the singing for the first part of the set (i.e. before all of the props come out), the DJ revises her imaginary reward as a trophy and a medal, because this is possibly the hardest thing she’s ever had to face, not to mention one of the most exhausting. Dancing provocatively to topple the ginger off the flirting game podium? Accomplishable. Giving her full attention to continuing that while Chloe is trying her hardest to accentuate every move she makes – and staring at Beca for longer than usual? Much, much more difficult. The competitive atmosphere between them has intensified, and it’s doing all sorts of weird things to Beca’s state of mind. She needs to, like, force Chloe to stop or stop herself, before she spontaneously combusts or something.
Seriously, there are only so many glances, suggestive prolonged stares and winks tossed back and forth that a girl like her can take in one session. Beca’s not an inherently sexual person, and she certainly can’t keep this up for much longer. Maybe it was better for her to admit defeat.
She’s got too far now, she knows. She can never admit defeat until Chloe submits first.
(Not for the first time, she wonders how she let her sense of self-preservation wane this much.)
After a sweaty, tiring practice, the Bellas are getting ready to go. The super senior is taking a moment to regain her breath over at the piano, while Beca helps the newest addition to the team pack away some of the chairs still out. (She swears Emily actually vibrates when she unhelpfully reminds Beca of the set for Worlds that she still hasn’t even started.) Most of the girls are just collecting their stuff and staring at Chloe and Beca, though, which does absolutely nothing to relieve any of the tension between them.
They know what’s just gone on. No need to be reminded.
The tall drink of water that is Emily leaves the practice room, and it’s just the two captains alone. Chloe is shouldering her bright pink gym bag, and she bounds up to the DJ as if she’s just seen something adorable like a puppy or something.
“Good practice today, right?” she beams, her bottom lip redder than usual from all the lip biting she’s done. “You did great, Beca, I’m really proud!”
Normal, pleasant conversation isn’t a rarity in their friendship, but Beca’s still surprised by it nonetheless. “Thanks, Chlo,” she smiles, and it’s all genuine.
The super senior nods to herself, before bumping her elbow into Beca’s shoulder. “You were really tender on the Promises part and passionate in the Problem part. I liked it. I think you should keep it that way for next time.”
Beca can’t do much more than respond, “You got it, Chlo.”
But then the ginger leans in conspiratorially – of course, the younger girl should’ve expected this – and lowers her voice as she continues, “Next time, can we make it a private show?”
Chloe winks at her best friend as she straightens up, and flits off without another word, leaving Beca wide-eyed and wholly unable to move.
Beca sees that practice as a success, all in all. There are loads of major points to it (most of them seem to be the way Chloe looked, and, okay, she doesn’t need to list them all to herself again) – but also a few minor points, too. One is how she just crumbled after Chloe’s line after practice.
(Private show! She can feel a blush coming on just by remembering it!)
The other one is a direct result of that practice – and she shouldn’t really class it as a minor point, really. She just quite hasn’t got the hang of preparing herself for it. Because, really, she sort of needs to breathe once in a while.
But that’s Chloe in a nutshell. She holds on tight to something and doesn’t let it go. What Beca feels about music, Chloe feels about people – and if that means continuing a flirting game in every situation possible to truly familiarize herself with someone, then so be it.
Beca’s not kidding, though. It’s every situation possible now. It doesn’t have to be explicit; just an exaggerated stare in the kitchen, or a wink as she brushes by the younger woman. But it usually is explicit, and certainly not restricted to conversation between the two of them only. (Cynthia-Rose clearly gets a kick out of joining Chloe’s side of this game. Part of Beca feels betrayed.)
In short, the heat hasn’t been left in the Bella practice room. There is truly no respite.
Actually, the tiny DJ has almost forgotten what it’s like to not constantly feel on fire. Chloe doesn’t even have to be in the same room anymore; one of the other girls can shoot a specific question her way and her face will feel as hot as the Sun.
Fun. Fun fun fun.
Beca concedes, she doesn’t help things. She could just admit defeat – but, like she’s said, she’s way too stubborn to consider that as a viable option. In fact, she’s done the exact opposite – if admitting to Chloe that she has superior flirting skills is like putting out the fire, then Beca is currently is dancing around the flames and pouring more gasoline onto it.
What she’s saying is, she flirts back. Of course she does.
She used to be the sort of flirter that would mention something in passing, almost like a second thought; or she was, before Chloe’s reveal of the convention performance dance routine practically immobilized her. But the ginger has never been subtle, so Beca’s now adopted her techniques, instead. No subtlety, all smoothness. Well, she tries.
An obligatory pick-up line in the morning.
(“You’re the only one worth waking up this early for. Though… I can think of a better reason than pancakes to wake up for.”
The senior stills for a solid five seconds and Beca feels like a winner half an hour into her morning.)
A few sly touches through the day, staying clutched onto the co-captain’s side for a few beats longer.
(“Just ignoring the ‘Look but don’t touch’ warning sign for art, is that a crime?” She has to admit, that one was cheesier than usual.)
Not immediately looking away when the ginger catches her staring.
(Beca finds that one quite difficult; her instinct when that happens is to look down at her feet and feel her cheeks almost burn through her skin in her embarrassment – or, to get out of there and consider moving to Canada.)
Sometimes she blatantly stares at Chloe’s lips, without much consequence (except for the ghost of surprise that splashes across the older woman’s face).
Playful comments on most things the super senior does, despite how damn hard it can be to make those sort of comments sometimes. She doesn’t know how Chloe does it.
(“Seriously? You’re like, the master of this. It’s too much!”)
But, at least she makes the effort. She knows she has to now; she has to make an effort to get on Chloe’s level. If she’s honest, she’s never had to do that before, because she never expected for this to become one of the key components of their relationship. When she befriended the giggly ginger – or, rather, when Chloe befriended her – she didn’t realize she’d befriended the clingy, if slightly off-kilter human epitome of affection with a small side order of intentional accidental lesbian flirting. Now, it’s less small and more… glaringly present and extremely difficult to forget about.
If Beca didn’t enjoy it so much, she’d be more worried that it’s taking up the majority of her thought processes. Even at Residual Heat, she finds herself slipping into non-PG13 daydreams when doing something as mindless as making coffee. (Literally all of what she does is mindless; then again, she’s only an intern, so it’s kind of expected.) Trying to banish that very particular type of thought from her mind doesn’t work, either, because something will trigger them again – maybe a song will come on the radio that Chloe’s professed her love for, or maybe one of the employees says something Chloe-esque – and she’s right back to where she started. It’s definitely becoming a problem, especially since she spilled a guy’s coffee on his lap because of it one morning.
(Yikes. She’s not in a rush to repeat that again. That guy has a glare that – and Beca thought she’d never say this – could match Aubrey Posen’s.)
Apparently, she has a distinct face that she makes when she’s thinking about… that; Stacie’s noted it a few times. She’s not surprised that Stace, of all people, has pointed it out – but, God, is there anything more embarrassing? If the scientist points it out again, Beca may have to murder her. She just hopes that it isn’t as obvious to Chloe as it is to Stacie. The older woman doesn’t need any more reason to permanently unsettle the tiny DJ’s stomach in the most pleasing way. (Ugh, that sounded cheesy too. What’s it up with her?) And besides, Chloe is Beca’s best friend. Chlo is just playing with her; the DJ doesn’t need to make this anymore awkward.
Beca doesn’t just think about that one thing and that thing only, obviously. This is making her go crazy in more ways than one; it even makes her think she has a chance with the ginger. (Which is laughable, at best. Chlo’s way too good for her, even if the super senior would absolutely refuse to agree with her on that.) It hints at false possibilities in small moments, and Beca can’t help but be snapped up by them.
Like that time with the Bellas’ Movie Night. Beca only agrees with minimal complaints because it means she can procrastinate on her work – and, hey, it’s extra spent being super close to her favorite ginger – but still disapproves of the movie choice. After a few mutters of, “Typical,” by some of the Bellas, the movie is downloaded and the other Bellas watch with rapt attention to the screen in front of them.
Beca sighs, settling in for a few hours’ of mental music practicing. She’s got Chloe’s arms wrapped around her middle, and her best friend’s head rests on her shoulder. She counts the waves of red hair tumbling down her front, likening each one to a note so she can make a melody in her head – like she often does. This is normal. This is wonderful.
Except Chloe’s flighty. Beca quickly reaches that conclusion when one of the hands around her waist moves to her knee to tap out a twitchy beat, and the waves of melody move together so the song crashes together.
The tiny DJ adjusts her position, so Chloe sits up. The redhead faces her, a perplexed expression failing to mask the worry on her porcelain face.
“You okay?” Beca whispers, lowering the volume of her voice and leaning closer so Chloe can hear her. It’s the best she can do, currently. She’s never been too great at comforting people.
Chloe nods, unconvincingly. “Sure, Becs. Why wouldn’t I be?”
Beca crooks an eyebrow (and thanks the illumination of the screen for allowing Chloe to see her face, because otherwise that would be embarrassing). “Maybe because you’ve been freaking out over Worlds ever since those weird a cappella commentators told us about it?”
A heavy sigh comes from Chloe’s direction, and it honest-to-God breaks Beca’s heart. She hates it, hates it, when Chloe’s upset; it’s like ignoring your own puppy. Chloe is, like, the epitome of sunshine and if Beca were pompous enough to call herself poetical, she thinks, she’d probably describe Chloe’s sadness as embracing the darkness after being told light is what’s needed to survive – or anything else equally as superficial. But there’s truth in that phrase, and Beca can’t help but want to do a thousand things and more in the hope that it’ll cheer her best friend up.
And although she’s been getting better at this whole feelings ordeal, she’s not at the point where she knows how to respond to stressed, sad gingers with scarily high energy levels, so she pokes Chloe’s hand and asks, “What can I do to help? You know, besides winning the Worlds with you all?”
Chlo’s eyes are so large, so impossibly large, and there’s an edge to them that makes Beca think the older woman is reaching out to her. “Just – just be here, with me. Please.”
The raw honesty makes Beca’s inside fold in on themselves, and she takes the ginger’s hand, because that’s the only thing that comes to mind. “I can do that.”
They start a hushed commentary on the movie (Chloe critiques the characters and the plot, like a normal person; Beca complains about literally everything, especially the music), and the shine that Beca finds has returned to Chloe’s eyes makes her think that maybe, maybe, something can be achieved.
And it’s stupid, she knows, because this is only a game, it’s only ever a game – but Beca’s heart hasn’t caught up on that fact yet, and she doesn’t know if it ever will.
So, she’ll just keep treasuring these little moments. It’s cool. She can keep control of these feelings while this goes on, she’s sure of it. If she can control her frustration at this flirting game, then stupid things like love won’t get in between them.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t always have her feelings about the flirting in control, either (which, being the captain of an a cappella group for three years now, is more than irritating). Even more unfortunately for her, her friends just know; they sniffed out the situation like a pack of over-excited guard dogs. Because that’s another thing – if Chloe is obvious, then Beca’s friends show their enthusiasm for the so-called ‘Bhloe’ with all the subtlety of a car crash.
The Bellas are the worst. Cynthia-Rose keeps eyeing the two of them and handing Beca hints full of words that Beca does not want to think about. Jessica and Ashley are still singing The L Word theme tune, but now have added Hold On, We’re Going Home and Thong Song (ugh) to their ever-growing collection. They’re not the main perpetrators, because of Amy. Beca loves her wacky Tasmanian counterpart, she does – but she’d be more amiable towards her if she didn’t honest-to-God sing the convention performance medley in her damn sleep. (It’s fine; it’s not like Beca needs to sleep to get through maybe an internship or something.) Or, come to think of it, sing the medley all of the time, either.
Emily’s got the least annoying reaction out of the Bellas; pretty much everything that girl does is either “awkward, or adorable, or adorably awkward” (in Stacie’s words), so she’s not surprised. She literally buzzes with excitement when Chloe and Beca so much as establish eye contact… though that’s lost its innocence, too. Still, it’s intense, if not sweet.
Chloe, who is tasked with taking down the generous lavishing of toilet roll in the Bella house’s grounds – on the one day the world decides to unload 3 months’ worth of rain in one day onto Atlanta – has to wear a waterproof jacket underneath this unbelievably puffy coat they’ve found from the closet. Just as Beca plans to escape into her room with a coffee and her mixing equipment, Chloe appears out of nowhere and throws her arms out from her sides, giggling.
“I look like an abominable snowman. Snow woman, whatever. Beca, look!” the redhead demands of Beca.
Actually, it is pretty damn adorable.
The DJ takes a sip of her coffee and nods. “If you’re a snowwoman, then you’ll melt before you know it. You’re way too hot for that.”
Chloe rolls her eyes – and yeah, it wasn’t her best, but that’s because there’s coffee – but it throws the brunette a bit because when did Chloe Beale start rolling her eyes? That thought quickly vanishes when the co-captain responds, “Oh, please, we both know I’m not the one who melts that easily. You should’ve seen your face in Bella practice.”
“Shut up, Chlo,” she grumbles, because they both know it’s true.
Chloe giggles again – contentedly, this time. She’s won this round. “Can you make me a drink for when I get back? And no cookie, please.”
Beca’s already planned ahead. She left a mug out for Chloe and didn’t put the pan for the water away. But – “No treat?” That’s unusual.
The super senior waves it off. “Why do I need that when I’ll be having you?” She goes from 100-0 again, as she walks out the front door to face the rain, in the way only Chloe can. “See ya!”
When the door closes shut, Emily comes out of the shadows, her smile wider than Beca’s ever smiled (probably in her whole life). Beca turns to meet the youngest Bella’s gaze, and the words spill out of the ridiculously tall girl’s mouth.
“You two – you’re just, so cute! You and Chloe make such a good pair, and – oh, God, I’m sorry if I’m making you feel uncomfortable with this, but Stace and I were talking about it, and—”
“Chill, Em.” The captain sends her a crooked smile, despite herself, as Emily stops talking and remembers she needs oxygen to survive. “It’s okay. Seriously. Just, breathe sometimes, ‘kay?”
Emily nods sheepishly, but the smile isn’t gone for long.
Emily’s the sweetest of the Bellas when it comes to this, but Jesse’s pretty annoying in comparison. Sometimes Beca walks to class with him – not by choice, he just appears – and he’ll question her about “Mission Impossible: Operation Bed the Beale”. (Seriously. Such an idiot.) Usually, she’ll pretend she didn’t hear him, or fix him with a glare that actually once worked on Aubrey – but sometimes she just can’t escape it. It doesn’t help when Chloe pops up, too, like Beca’s a magnet for people currently frustrating her (though in different ways).
It only happens once, but the memory is enough to make her blush again. It’s not long after the “private show” incident, and Beca is pointedly ignoring Jesse’s insistence on updates for that when Chloe finds them on their walk to a class and, suddenly, plants a hand on the brunette’s back as a way of greeting the younger Bella. Beca feels that as strongly as she would feel an electric shock; it takes all of her strength to not jump three feet into the air and emit an embarrassing sound. As it happens, Beca lets a smirk slip through her current ‘annoyed’ expression, and she notes, “You know, Chlo, you could be a pretty good assassin if you weren’t so obsessed with being nice.”
“Oh, I can be quiet if it’s needed… but there are only certain situations for it,” the ginger grins wickedly, falling into step with the two a cappella singers and hooking an arm around Beca.
Beca replies with an assenting, “Hmm, you’ll have to show me some time,” before the real meaning behind the co-captain’s words clicks for her – and Beca (automatically) blushes. Because of course Chloe is flirting with her now, in public and in the close proximity of Jesse. Of course she is.
Jesse, coincidentally, is acting like Christmas has come early.
“Maybe I will,” Chloe brings her mouth closer to Beca’s ear – and wow, okay, not helping. If Chloe continues like this, she’s not sure she’ll be able to keep standing. “I mean, if that’s what you prefer. We’ll have to be very thorough in exploring that.”
God dammit. Beca swallows hard and concentrates on not letting her legs fail her – which, really, is the only safe reaction possible right now.
“Oh, wow, you two are really dedicated to this, aren’t you?” Jesse laughs. If she’s honest, the tiny DJ temporarily forgot the Treblemaker was even there. But now he’s seen her reaction, she’s made a note to give Chloe a warning about this. She’s never, ever going to hear the end of this.
The super senior acts as if it’s a compliment. “Oh, of course!” she beams, her eyes bright and sparkling. As she does so, Chloe’s arm leaves its place on the smaller woman’s shoulder, and she feels feather-soft fingers entangle gently with her own. “She’s cute when she’s flustered.”
“I’m not cute,” is Beca’s immediate disgruntled reaction, which only makes Chloe suddenly pull Beca’s body closer to the co-captain as a sign of affection. Beca oversteps and nearly trips up. “Dude,” she complains. “Warn a girl next time.”
“That’s not my style, Becs, you know that,” Chloe counters cheerfully. She passes by the building she’s supposed to be in by now and utters, “Oops, forgot I had class. I’ll see you around!” She plants a kiss on the DJ’s cheek, and disappears behind them without another word.
“So,” Jesse grins, and she just knows the wrong word from her will tip him into the realms of smug laughter. “You’ll definitely show her some time?”
“Jesse, I swear to God—”
“Oh, no, no, don’t mind me, just trying to get to the bottom of this,” he interrupts, his self-satisfied smile somehow even wider. “Oh – hey, is that another thing you’d want to explore too?”
She whacks him over the head, aghast, as his chuckles turn into full-blown laughter, and eventually he recovers.
“In all seriousness, I’m happy for you, man. It’s good to see you finally getting your girl.”
“Jess, I hate you,” she informs him, but there’s a grin on her face when she says it. There’s no bitterness in his voice, or hers, and she’s super grateful for that. Jesse is trying his best – in his own, convoluted way – to make her happy, and it’s actually pretty sweet of him. She’s kind of really glad he stuck around to become one of her closest friends.
Though she’s still not letting him go near the redhead again.
And, okay, yes, she and Chloe don’t exactly help the situation. They’re stubborn, and painfully good at avoiding the inevitable conversation about it. Chloe, the brunette figures, is doing it out of consideration of Beca more than anything – but she maneuvers the topic so expertly, it could easily be passed off as her own discomfort. And Beca will never, ever talk about it anymore than the absolute minimum. So, they’re pretty skillful at it, all in all, even if Beca’s less than subtle when it comes to avoiding the subject.
Especially when they’re confronted with it up front. Stacie is good at that; she’s always really, really blunt – especially about her favorite hobby. She’s also the most receptive when it comes to the little flirting game – so, actually, Beca’s not shocked when Stace just bursts, “Oh my God, just sleep together already! This is actually painful.”
They aren’t doing much that time – just reading textbooks on their subjects from the opposite ends of the sofa. Wait, no, Beca lies; Chloe might have said something about wanting to spend her Sunday night in a more exciting way (and waggling her eyebrows at the DJ) just before the scientist’s outburst. But that isn’t much, compared to what the co-captain’s said to Beca before.
She lets it go, all the same. She slowly conceals her reddening face behind her textbook and prays it’s forgotten about.
Except, of course, it’s not. These are the Bellas she’s talking about.
“Sexual tension messing up your mojo?” Cynthia-Rose questions sympathetically, from her seat next to Chloe.
Stacie’s heavy sigh indicates an affirmation. Beca has to stop herself from scoffing; Stace should try being her during this. She turns the page and nearly gives her nose a papercut in the process. “They clearly know something’s between them, and it’s – it’s not being resolved. If there’s anything The Hunter needs, it’s balance in his life. This is too much.”
“But you gotta let them do their thing, Stace; love can’t be rushed,” Cynthia-Rose argues quietly. “It’s like in card games – you gotta wait for the right time to strike so you can bring all the dollars home.”
“But there’s ignoring it! I didn’t do that with Aubs! They should take a page out of our book.”
“Okay, no,” Beca interrupts, taking her feet off Chloe’s legs, whilst the other Bellas watch her bemusedly. Rolling off the sofa to head to the kitchen, she adds, “I need at least two cans of beer in me before I can listen to you comparing this flirting – thing – to a card game – or to your relationship with Aubrey Posen.”
“You know, when I was younger, my father lost my older sister to a dealer in a card game,” Flo pipes up from her place in the back of the room, just as Beca’s about to leave the room. “It took 4 men, 3 bribes and a goat to get her back again.”
It makes Beca stop. Because, although she mostly prides herself on not being like her dad, she is, ultimately, his daughter. She must have inherited some of his English skills, because she sees what Flo’s trying to say (even if it’s not that explicit). It makes her clutch at the doorframe because of this sudden revelation – because she just gets it.
And with the look Chloe has in her eyes – there’s a new way the light reflects off her irises – the brunette thinks Chloe’s understood too.
The trading of the daughter must be a metaphor for foolishly letting go something that’s cherished.
“So hold on to what you love,” the super senior announces, her voice only just loud enough for Beca to hear.
“Oh, I was just saying I don’t like card games,” Flo dismisses cheerily, with a chuckle. “But yeah, that works also.”
Stacie and Cynthia-Rose share an impressed look, before burying themselves in their studying again.
Beca still has to leave for the kitchen – she does need those beers she mentioned – but now her head is spinning with the memory of what’s just happened. Something’s changed, there’s been an acknowledgement of something or other between the two of them; it’s thrown her off-balance. And, with the convention performance and Worlds fast approaching, they need their Bellas to be focused and on top form – themselves included. Which she doesn’t think is going to happen right now.
God, she’s so glad the final practice for the convention performance is tomorrow. If she has to keep watching her co-captain dance provocatively, she might have to scream.
They arrive early to the Bellas’ rehearsal space – Chloe’s earlier than Beca – so they can pack up. Chloe flits around, in her gym outfit as usual (again, not helpful), buzzing with nervous energy that Beca can feel herself – if her edginess all morning can be put down to that. The silence between them is thick with… something, which makes the scraping of the chairs and the banging of the props extra noisy in the space between them.
It’s not a bad silence, not really. Chloe catches the younger woman watching her, and vice versa, and they exchange a few eyebrow raises and smirks as they haul stuff around the room. Multiple times, the brunette is blown back by how much she wants to kiss her best friend – but then again, that’s getting to be normal now. Chloe has a tendency to burst through Beca’s barriers with a simple beam directed her way.
When the two are finished setting up and the others still haven’t arrived, the super senior wanders over to the piano while Beca plays the CD she brought in the college speakers. It starts playing her latest mix, softer to louder, and the DJ almost loses herself in it before Chloe speaks.
“How did you know that was my lady jam?” her best friend asks, no hint of innocence on her whatsoever. She’s leaning forward on the piano and Beca is, understandably, a little speechless before she finally finds the right answer. (Sort of.)
“Um, your face does a thing, when you try too hard to conceal something,” she blurts out eventually, her hands flapping everywhere. “You did it when… we were watching that program.” (She cringes at how nondescript that was. Why does she never remember?) “We had Cheetos and beer, I think. And I was singing Problem.”
Beca sees the spark of recognition flare in those blue, blue eyes – and the ginger ponders this, licking her lips in the process. (And dammit, why does she have to do that? Beca’s barely holding it together as it is.) “Well, I like it. You should put them into your mixes more often.”
With that, Beca knows she’s lost the flirting battle. Chloe wasn’t supposed to enjoy being confronted with her lady jam, not like she is. Still, the brunette figures she could’ve lost at much worse things. It’s been fun, if she doesn’t count the incredible frustration she’s had to deal with over these past couple of weeks.
“Just give me a reason to, Chlo,” she responds, pretending to focus her attention back to her music. When she looks back up again, the co-captain is smirking and suddenly a whole lot closer to her.
The DJ’s mouth runs dry.
A pleasant hum escapes the redhead’s mouth, and if Beca’s going to die, she thinks this is probably the best way to go. “Maybe I should,” Chloe replies leisurely. “Maybe very s—”
And Fat Amy bursts through the door with a declaration of how she’s going to tear into this routine like a three-course meal. Beca’s surprised that Amy is actually early to practice (and obviously the one time she’s early, it’s when the DJ doesn’t want her to be) – and it’s enough to break the spell Chloe had her under.
“Ooh, sorry, did I interrupt a Bhloe moment?” the blonde winces, after she sees how close the two co-captains are.
Chloe and Beca lock eyes for a moment – because, yes, that’s exactly what’s happened, and now the brunette’s going to kill the Australian – but move away.
“It’s fine,” Chloe tries to reassure the blonde, but her voice is tight. “When are the others coming?
The other Bellas arrive soon after, all as determined as Amy to crush this routine. It’s admirable; it’s not really who they are, but they all do really want to beat DSM and so far this seems the only option (or, the only way to placate Chloe). They’re putting everything into practice and it shows – because their moves are tight and the special tricks (like Flo’s cartwheel) are almost exactly right. It’s only that and the transition from singing and dancing to using the props that they’re so close to perfecting.
They do one round of cardio before practicing, with Chloe urging them on like an army officer. Her slightly terrifying "we need to beat DSM!” side is back, probably not helped by the interrupted moment she and Beca have just had. The DJ, like the rest of the group, just takes it and really tries to knuckle down for the cardio – but, unlike the other girls, she has a whole load of questions going around her head and not a lot of answers.
“Come on, Becs, you’re slacking!” Chloe notes, easily sliding to Beca’s side and matching her pace.
Beca wants to tell her exactly why, but she does need to get through this rehearsal in one piece. And running and making excuses isn’t a good combination, either. She emits a grunt and keeps going.
The craziness subsides for a second and the super senior grins, “I can see your stamina’s getting better.”
Beca’s legs nearly give out, but she manages to respond with, “I’d prefer other ways to keep it up,” through labored breathing.
It makes the ginger stall and fall behind, before she recovers herself. Which is awesome; it’s good to know she still has that effect on the co-captain. Beca smirks to herself and kicks her running into another gear.
The cardio doesn’t last for long (thank God), so the Bellas are pumped and raring to go. During vocal warm ups, Beca hears Emily humming Where Have You Been, and Cynthia-Rose and Stacie enact a rendition with a duet of Can You Feel The Love Tonight? (Disney and Rihanna. Of course.) Beca glares at the pair of older Bellas before the real practice starts.
She thinks back to a few weeks ago, when she fatefully mashed those two songs together for a little bit of revenge. God, it was so simple then – just a little bit of revenge, and nothing would come of it. She was an idiot for thinking it would be harmless, and not turn into this bundle of… emotions and tension and love songs being belted out in the rooms of the Bella house. She wonders if she’d mix it, still, if she knew what she’s facing now.
What she’s facing now being a very beautiful, very provocatively dancing Bella in tight clothes.
Yeah, she thinks she probably would.
She may be focused on getting this right for the Bellas, but it doesn’t mean she can’t be affected by the sight of Chloe singing the lyrics to a very raunchy song. It’ll be something that will always grab her attention in every situation, ever. And she can’t stop looking, because Chloe manages to pair herself with Beca even throughout the section with the props. Chloe’s just always… there, brushing her hand against Beca’s side as they flow to their positions, or fixing her stare on Beca, or winking at her – and so on. The Bellas are going wild with the routine, making it brilliant, and Beca is too preoccupied with giving her best friend a run for her money.
Whipped. Totally whipped. And also, she should be dead by now.
As it happens, her efforts only contribute to the success of the performance; everything the Bellas do in it is perfect. Flo’s cartwheel goes really well, no one hits anyone else with the props, and everything flows into the next thing with easy precision. Beca’s pretty proud that it’s gone so well.
Except she can’t really think about that much, because the performance has ended with Chloe’s nose only a few inches from Beca’s (and if she just leaned forward, if she just—) and they’re breathing quite heavily from it all.
The DJ thinks she should screw her eyes shut or something. Then she won’t be a victim of that ginger’s stare. But that thought doesn’t work for her, because she’s still staring and Chloe’s still staring right back and she sort of feels dizzy with what it means and what it could mean.
And then, still just inches away from touching – Chloe giggles (as if Beca’s heart wasn’t already bursting open anyway), and whispers, “You know your pupils are dilated, right?”
(Jessica gasps. Cynthia-Rose whispers, “It’s beautiful.” Emily emits a tiny little squeal. Beca ignores all of them.)
“Erm,” she coughs. “Do you want to do something – go somewhere?” She hopes to God that Chloe gets what she means right now, because she’s going to explode otherwise – literally explode, and she doesn’t want think the Bellas would be very happy about cleaning that up.
With a gentle hand being placed on her wrist, Chloe answers, “Well, I do need to go over some of my work with someone. I’ve got a little… problem I need help with figuring out.”
Beca snorts, because, of course, what a cheeseball. “Nerd.”
“Dork,” Chloe counters, laughing lightly. She says it in a really low voice, and her hand starts stroking up Beca’s arm – and, okay, this is early for Bellas practices, but they need to wrap this up now because she actually can’t take this anymore.
She shoots the ginger a smirk and turns her head to the other people in the room. “Okay, so, Bellas practice is now over. You can just… do what you want, I don’t care. Be free, whatever.”
Immediately, the girls erupt into knowing giggles and side glances, but they dutifully start packing away all the same. Beca’s mind races; they’ve ended rehearsal early, so she has time before she needs to go to Residual Heat. More time than she expected to have.
She goes to collect her bag, and Chloe does the same. At the last minute, Beca remembers the CD still left in the speakers, but Chloe yanks on their newly entwined hands – and, nope, they’re heading for the door now. Chloe is more eager than Beca thought. The tiny DJ protests, but her best friend cuts her off with, “Stace can collect it for you. She’ll understand.”
And there’s that winning smile again. Beca can’t help but comply.
As they reach the door and open it, Fat Amy starts to shout after them, “Hey! You can’t just leave us here! We don’t know where these props go!” but Stacie places a restraining hand on the Australian.
Beca winces and shouts back, “We’ll be back soon, we’ll just be… we’re just, um—”
Chloe pulls her through the doorway and it slams behind them before she can complete her sentence.
They don’t make it five seconds out of the rehearsal room before Chloe lunges at her.
Which Beca would actually be totally okay with, if it weren’t for the paranoia that people are watching them. She lets that slip for the moment as Chloe kisses for the first time; all that this has been building up sets itself off in her and she just melts into it, literally melts (and secretly thanks the wall for being so close because it’s likely she would’ve fallen on the floor). Chloe seems to be enjoying it as much as she is (which is a better outcome than Beca expected when she woke up this morning), and the DJ can tell through what she does.
The redhead’s pinned her up against a wall, for crying out loud. It’s not hard to guess there’s mutual elation being felt here. Beca’s still bowled over by the fact that this is even happening, though, that Chloe wants Beca as much as she does.
(This is more than elation for Beca, because she’s never felt this stunned from a kiss. Then again, she’s never had a kiss like this.)
Chloe breaks off the kiss to start on Beca’s throat, and it physically pains the brunette to gasp, “Chloe, that’s – fuck – really good but… maybe where the Bellas can’t see us?”
The co-captain stands up straight again, and pouts, but only jokily. Beca kisses her again for good measure.
(She’s so in love.)
The ginger knows their intentions, but that doesn’t stop her from grabbing the younger woman at every opportune moment. And despite the fact that they’re in public, Beca smiles into the kisses every time – because it’s so Chloe that she’d pounce on her significant other like this, and because Chloe giggles after the kisses every time, and because this is something that has danced around the edges of her desires for a while now.
(And, Jesus, now she’s getting all soppy. Trust Chloe Beale to change the awkward alt girl into someone who smiles when she kisses someone.)
She’s never been more thankful that the journey home is short. Beca fumbles for the keys inside her bag as Chloe hops around excitedly next to her, and they tumble inside as they laugh at a joke Chloe quips. The keys are dropped where they’re supposed to (Beca hardly registers it), then it’s upstairs for the both of them.
Chloe’s room or Beca’s? Chloe’s. Beca won’t take any more chances with Fat Amy.
The super senior’s room is really – well, clean, and typically quaint (unlike the DJ’s own room) but the thought leaves Beca’s head as quickly as it enters it, as she shrugs off her bag. Chloe shuts the door behind her and fixes her with something close to a predatory stare that Beca isn’t scared by. Oh, she’s daunted by it, sure, but it’s different. It’s only because they’re balancing right on the edge of what Beca’s wanted for what seems like forever. Then Chloe throws her bag off and makes her way over to the younger Bella, silently, and grazes her hands by Beca’s biceps.
“You didn’t have to show your appreciation for me through a mix, by the way,” the redhead grins wickedly. “It was a nice touch, though.”
“Glad you thought so, I stayed up all night to make that,” Beca confesses lightly, and the older Bella’s grin becomes even wider (if that’s possible).
“You were that dedicated to our little game?” There’s no trace of judgement to Chloe’s words, and the DJ has to look down to laugh.
“And you weren’t?” she counters when she looks up again. Chloe’s face is so close again and she’s not all that great at forming coherent thoughts when that happens.
“Yes, and I won the game in the end,” Chloe responds, bringing her hands to the younger woman’s neck to cup her face. “I won you.”
“You make me sound like a prize at one of those carnival fairs.”
“Oh, no, you’re worth more than that, Becs,” the ginger responds, bringing her head in so they’re almost touching, almost kissing. The senior’s breathing in Chloe’s air now. “You always have been to me, way before I started this game with you.”
And that – that is the thing that makes DJ kiss Chloe again. It’s slow, passionate, perfect, and she pulls Chloe flush against her before falling onto the bed, and pulling Chloe down with her. Beca may have been the one to put those songs into that mix, but the co-captain has always been one step ahead of her. She’s always known, always gently pushed, always edged closer to the real Beca no matter what happened. And she’s getting all poetical again – but the song is nothing without the dance, Beca thinks, and that’s why the two of them fit.