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Chloe remembers the day she met Beca Mitchell very clearly. 

The standoffish attitude, dark makeup, tattoos, piercings and blue-grey eyes that remind Chloe of a stormy sea, fierce and untamable and which traps anyone who dares going in. 

She calls a capella lame, claims she doesn't sing. 

In spite of her words, Chloe feels disappointed when the brunette walks away, but she can't exactly pinpoint why. She has interacted with the girl no longer than two minutes, yet she feels drawn to her for some reason. The same way she's drawn to a stranger's shower stall, only to realize it's the same girl from the activity's fair. 

They sing together, naked, harmonizing in a way that leaves Chloe shaken, her mind still floating on a euphoric cloud hours later because they sounded that good. 

She’s concerned the morning after, when she realizes she’s broken into a stranger’s shower stall and refused to leave -- not for that reason, but still -- that the girl might go to the dean.

Instead, she comes to auditions. 

And proceeds to blow Chloe’s mind. 

Beca. Beca Mitchell. 

Her name falls naturally from Chloe’s tongue when she reads it off the list to Aubrey at the end of the day as they go over who could potentially become a Bella. 

She insists they need her in the group when Aubrey seems reluctant, and it’s the first time they argue in three years of friendship. 

Beca hasn’t done anything, yet she spells nothing but trouble.

/

They kiss for the first time after the riff-off. 

Chloe isn’t sure who leans in first, or if they kind of meet in the middle. Alcohol has considerably numbed her brain by the time it happens, but it sparks back to awareness when Beca’s lips first brush against hers. 

Full and soft and sweet like wine. 

(Chloe pegged Beca more as a beer girl.)

They move in harmony against her own in a kiss that draws a delighted sound from Chloe’s throat. Her fingers tangle in Beca’s hair as she sinks into the lip-lock, teasing Beca’s tongue with a touch of her own. A barely there whimper, what sounds like a mixture of surprise and pleasure leaves Beca’s mouth, encouraging Chloe to deepen the kiss. 

It washes over her in ripples, goosebumps breaking out onto her skin in its wake.  

They break apart when people’s voices grow closer and Chloe’s gaze dances from Beca’s kiss swollen lips, slightly parted to accommodate her panting breaths, to the redness of her cheeks and the blaze in her eye. 

She exhales with a shiver. “You’re really good at that.” Chloe backs away, teeth raking over her bottom lip. 

Beca clears her throat. “Um, thanks?” She ducks her head, her blush intensifying. 

“Red! We’re doing shots!” Stacie calls out the following second. 

Chloe steps away, squeezing Beca’s waist as she shoots her a wink. She kinda hopes they do that again sometime. 

/

Sometime happens to be a week later at another party. Chloe is tipsy. She and Beca dance close together, so close that it could be considered indecent, but there’s so many people around them that their grinding goes unnoticed. 

Beca’s lips are more rushed and imprecise as they kiss, stumbling through Chloe’s bedroom doorway. Chloe’s booze-addled brain struggles to cooperate with Beca’s plaid shirt buttons. 

“I’m just looking for a casual thing,” she says breathlessly, pushing the flannel past Beca’s shoulders. 

She wants things to be clear before they go too far. 

“Fine by me,” Beca replies, just as short of breath, in turn tugging Chloe’s sweater up and over her head. 

“No jealousy.” Off comes Chloe’s top. “No staying over.” Followed by Beca’s camisole. “No pet names.” Fingers claw at Beca’s belt. Chloe’s eyes slide up to meet Beca’s for the next rule. The Golden One to all friends with benefits arrangements. “And no fucking feelings .” 

Beca smirks, eyes almost predatory as she pushes on Chloe’s shoulder to back her up towards the bed. 

“Right up my alley.” 

Chloe loses any kind of coherent thoughts when Beca’s lips find her pulse point minutes later and just about forgets her own name when Beca’s fingers sink into her tight heat, thrusting and twisting and curling. 

Chloe’s last resort to muffle her cries of bliss is to nearly smother herself with a pillow as her body twitches with each wave of pleasure crashing into her. 

A few weeks of this somehow turn into months. 

Aubrey is clueless, which is a good thing, because she would probably have a coronary if she learned her best friend was fucking the troublemaker of the group. 

Sex with Beca is passionate, freeing and downright the best Chloe’s ever had. Beca quickly finds out what Chloe likes and plays her body like an instrument she’s mastered, seemingly finding extreme satisfaction in drawing mewls of pleasure out of Chloe’s mouth.   

It’s funny to Chloe how awkward Beca is most of the time, yet that fades away whenever it’s just the two of them, like she’s so comfortable around Chloe that she lets her inhibitions fall away. 

“Hold on,” Chloe breathes out, mind still trapped in a dizzy spell from the earth-shattering orgasm that occurred less than a minute ago. Beca lifts her head from its spot between Chloe’s jelly legs, the sight of her mouth and chin glistening with Chloe’s essence nearly enough to make Chloe come again. 

That would make it a third time in a row. 

“What?” Beca asks innocently, squeezing Chloe’s thighs as they rest over her shoulders. She quirks an eyebrow, that damn smirk Chloe both loves and hates tugging at the corners of her lips. “You need a break?” 

“Stop being so smug,” Chloe growls playfully, yelping when Beca bites the inside of her thigh in retaliation. She sucks in a shallow breath, a wave of renewed desire sweeping over her. She wiggles her toes next to see if she’s gained back some sort of sensation in her limbs. “Okay, I’m good.” 

“Yeah you are,” Beca drawls out, grey-blue eyes positively brimming with lust, and Chloe wants to roll hers because that’s clearly not what she meant, but then Beca flicks her tongue over her sensitive clit and Chloe’s eyes disappear to the back of her head instead. 

Music has always been Chloe’s weakness. She soon finds out that Beca Mitchell is also one of her weaknesses. 

Combine the two together -- which is like, most of the time since they’re part of a freaking singing group -- and Chloe just about loses her mind. 

When Chloe walks into the auditorium to Beca playing the piano -- she didn’t know Beca was skilled with her fingers in another department than giving Chloe back-to-back orgasms, Chloe drags her into the utility closet. 

“Damn, what’s gotten into you?” Beca husks out as her back is slammed into the door. She gives Chloe that trademark smirk, one that Chloe wipes off with a hard kiss. Beca moans in surprise, hands flexing at Chloe’s waist. “Not that I’m complaining.” 

“I want to fuck you,” Chloe rasps, making quick work of popping Beca’s jeans button. 

“Rehearsals start in twenty,” Beca hisses as Chloe slips her hand inside, but doesn’t make any move to stop her. “Aubrey is going to be here any minute.” 

“Then I guess you’ll have to be quiet.” It’s Chloe’s turn to smirk mischievously. A moan fills the tight space around them when she feels how aroused Beca is. “And you’re telling me you haven’t been thinking about this?” 

“Chlo,” Beca whines, impatiently rocking her hips into her hand. She surges forward to capture Chloe’s mouth in a bruising kiss, her own hand following the same path as Chloe’s, impatiently pressing Chloe’s fingers harder against her. Chloe pulls her hand away a few seconds later when an idea sparks, breaking the kiss and taking a step back. A whine flits through Beca’s lips. “What are you -- “

“Keep going,” Chloe rasps, teeth raking over her bottom lip. “I wanna watch you fuck yourself.” 

Beca’s eyes considerably darken over the request. Chloe tugs her jeans and underwear lower on her hips so Beca has better access and simply watches as Beca’s deft fingers move in circles over her clit, then disappear inside her wet heat. 

Watching Beca pleasure herself is hands down the hottest thing Chloe has ever witnessed. The throb between her own legs intensifies at the sight of Beca’s eyes slipping shut, her head thumping back against the door as her fingers thrust in and out in a steady rhythm. 

Chloe muffles Beca’s broken cry of bliss with a searing kiss, taking Beca’s hand once she has stopped twitching to pop her glistening fingers into her own mouth. She sucks them clean, bold blue eyes locked on Beca’s wide ones. 

“Fuck,” Beca croaks out, blinking twice in slow succession. “How am I going to be able to focus on anything Aubrey’s spitting out with that image stuck in my head?” 

Chloe releases her fingers, a wicked grin spreading on her face as she taps Beca’s cheek lightly. “I’m sure you’ll manage, babe.” 

Beca gets her revenge (read: fucks Chloe into oblivion) as soon as they’re done with rehearsals. 

/

“I’ll be outta here in a minute,” Beca pants as she slumps against the mattress after riding Chloe’s fingers to her climax. “Can’t walk just yet.” 

You could stay. Those were the words threatening to spill out of Chloe’s mouth had she not been paying attention, but they are definitely off-limits. She’s been craving more lately, like after-sex snuggles and kisses right in the middle of it. 

She shakes those thoughts away because what the hell, and simply hums, telling Beca to shut the door when she leaves as post-sex sleepiness creeps into her limbs.

/

Over the course of the next few months, Chloe starts noticing stuff here and there: how her eyes linger over Beca more than they should, or how she finds herself smiling whenever Beca is in her orbit, or how her heart thrums harder in her chest whenever Beca touches her, even something as light as Beca bracing her hand over the small of her back to reach for something across Chloe.

By March, she’s still feigning ignorance to those feelings developing, knowing damn well it will bite her in the ass at some point. 

Beca starts coming over less to hang out with Jesse. 

Chloe shouldn’t mind that she sees other people. It’s not like they’re exclusive. But… Jesse clearly has been hung up on Beca since the start of the year and Chloe is afraid this might mean the end of her thing with Beca. 

Which is something she shouldn’t be feeling at all, if she respected every rule in her arrangement. 

Too bad her heart swerved the wrong way. 

/

Shit hits the fan after Regionals. 

Beca swoops into the middle of the song. It’s a good idea, but a warning would have been nice. 

Aubrey is fuming. They don’t qualify for the ICCA’s. 

Everything falls apart. 

Chloe goes through her nodes surgery and Beca comes to the hospital to check on her despite them not having really spoken in the last ten days. 

Somehow the Bellas are back in. Aubrey blows a fuse, then surrenders the pitch pipe over to Beca. They sing in the empty pool and find a new sound. 

Chloe sings that song for Beca, hoping that somehow, Beca will get it. 

She doesn’t. 

Chloe’s heart clenches in her chest when Beca includes a song meant for Jesse in their set for the ICCA’s, then proceeds to fall to the bottom of her stomach when Beca goes out into the crowd after their performance and tugs Jesse into a kiss. 

/

It’s fine, Chloe reasons with herself, a few hours hours into the afterparty. She has better things to focus on than stupid feelings anyway, like — like graduating

She doesn’t graduate. 

/

When she comes back to Barden after the break, Beca asks her if she wants to co-captain with her and Chloe says yes without a second thought. 

It’s now September, and Chloe was really hoping whatever it was she felt for Beca last year would have gone away over the summer.  

Tough luck. 

“So, you and Jesse, huh?” Chloe’s tone thankfully doesn’t carry that sting. She and Beca have been brainstorming song ideas for the better part of the day. The house is empty save for the both of them, the other Bellas only getting here tomorrow. “How’s that going?” 

Beca eyes her for a few seconds, then shrugs, lifting her beer bottle to her lips. “It’s casual. It’s not like… exclusive or anything.” Hope blooms in Chloe’s chest, but it’s short-lived. “He knows I don’t want to commit to a relationship and he’s fine with it.” 

Chloe doesn’t know if she should feel relieved that they’re not exclusive, or disappointed that Beca doesn’t see herself be in a relationship. 

One too many beers later, when Beca’s lips find hers in a heated kiss, Chloe kisses her back with equal fervor, ignoring the little voice inside her head telling her that this is anything but a good idea.

She’s missed everything about Beca; the warmth of her body on top of hers, the way Beca’s fingers tug on her copper curls, the way she makes Chloe feel beautiful and worthy as she worships her body, probably without even realizing it. 

“You’re so fucking sexy,” Beca mumbles as she trails hot, open-mouthed kisses down Chloe’s stomach. 

Chloe whimpers, hips canting off the couch. It feels like her arousal might kill her after those three months without sex. “Bec.” 

Beca drags Chloe’s shorts and underwear down her legs, sitting back on her heels for a moment and just staring at Chloe with darkened eyes. Chloe whimpers, feeling like she might combust if Beca doesn’t touch her soon. 

“Beca, seriously.” 

Beca smirks and lowers herself on her stomach, licking her lips before she dives in. 

/

They don’t sleep together for a long while after that. Beca is somehow distant, hangs out with Jesse a lot and Chloe can’t help but feel like she’s just a second choice. 

“So, you wanna get out of here?” Beca asks during some acapella party taking place at the Trebles’ house.

She’s been hanging out with Jesse for the past hour, so her request carries more bitterness than anything else. 

“Why? Jesse isn’t available?” Comes out of Chloe’s mouth before she can stop it. 

Beca recoils slightly, surprise flashing in her features. “What is that supposed to mean?” 

“He’s in love with you, Beca.” 

Beca rolls her eyes and snickers. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” 

Chloe wants to scoff. She knows exactly what she’s talking about. That it be her or Jesse, it doesn’t seem to matter. Beca doesn’t recognize love, even when it’s blatantly staring her in the face.  

“How can you be so fucking blind, Beca?” 

Beca frowns heavily. “What’s with you?” 

She wants to tell Beca she’s like -- like the ocean; sometimes so close, sometimes incredibly distant, but somehow all around Chloe all the freaking time and it almost feels like she’s drowning. 

“Nothing, just tired,” She mumbles instead, swirling the liquid around in her red solo cup before knocking it back. She spares Beca a look that doesn’t really stand for anything and strides out of the house. 

As she walks home in the biting cold, Chloe wonders how in the hell she let herself fall in love with Beca Mitchell in the first place. 

/

She somehow manages to stay away from Beca for the rest of the year. 

The Bellas get another national title under their belt. Chloe fails. Intentional fail, this time around. 

She doesn’t see herself leaving the Bellas, but most importantly, doesn’t know what to do with her life outside acapella. 

She decides to stay.

/

They win regionals easily, and get drunk (or high, or both) at the afterparty. Chloe somehow ends up with her back pressed against the wall, Beca’s body flush and hot against hers. 

Chloe wants to push her away because she feels pathetic and weak, but Beca’s lips feel like a siren’s song; Chloe can’t resist it, despite knowing it will most likely lead her to wreck. 

She knows Beca doesn’t do relationships and will never fall in love with her. 

Yet, her fingers curl into the lapels of Beca’s shirt the next second and Chloe fuses their lips together, muffling Beca’s whimper. 

It feels like coming up for air and drowning at the same time. 

/

Chloe gets herself trapped in that self-sabotaging loop once more. Ever since regionals and their hot bathroom quickie, she and Beca sneak around, Beca slipping into her room when everybody else is minding their own business in their own room. 

Or so Chloe thinks. 

“Alright, spill,” Stacie says one Saturday morning a minute after Chloe stumbles in the kitchen. It’s Saturday, she believes, and she’s just getting a piece of toast to quench her hunger before heading back to bed. 

She and Beca were at it until three am this morning and she definitely didn’t get enough sleep.

“What?” Chloe asks as she put two slices of bread in the toaster. 

“Who are you banging? ‘Cause from the sounds you were making last night, he seems really skilled.” 

Chloe’s face heats up so much she’s pretty sure it’s turning the same color as her hair. “You-- you heard me?” 

Various versions of affirmations - and a grunt from Cynthia-Rose - emit throughout the kitchen, Chloe’s blush turning crimson. She notices Beca wincing from her spot at the kitchen island, but thankfully that goes unnoticed from the rest of the girls. 

“You’re loud,” Stacie confirms, barely hiding her shit-eating grin behind the rim of her cup of coffee. “So, do we get any deets?” 

“No,” Chloe states firmly, turning back around to attend to her toast. 

“C’mon, Ginger! At least give us something. Do we know him?” Amy asks. 

Chloe clears her throat. They don’t deserve any details, but she just wants to set one thing straight. “It’s a she, actually.” 

“Dayum,” Cynthia drawls out following a few seconds of collective silence, the corners of her lips curling into a smirk. “Get it girl.” 

“Ha!” Stacie exclaims, clearly drawing a lot of fun from this. “I knew my gaydar wasn’t so straight about you.” 

“Great to learn you like scissoring, but you didn’t answer our question.” Amy rolls her eyes. “Do we know her?” 

Chloe looks away for a fraction of a second and that’s seemingly enough to give herself away. 

Jessica gasps. “Who is she!” 

“I’m not gonna tell you guys anything else. Drop it.” Chloe glares at them all, resisting a glance towards Beca before she finishes up buttering her toast and leaves the room. 

“Yikes,” she hears Amy say as she strides back to her bedroom. “Hopefully her girlfriend will untwist those panties otherwise something tells me we’re getting extra cardio this week.” 

Much later, at some point during the night, Chloe is woken up by Beca stumbling into her room. She’s clearly drunk, judging from her giggle and exaggerated tip-toeing.

“Chlo,” she whispers loudly, crawling under the covers once she’s taken off her pants and shoes. “You awake?” 

“Mm. I am now,” Chloe grumbles, shifting on her side to face Beca. The streetlight pouring through the gap in the curtains bounces off Beca's features. “You’re drunk.” 

“Stacie made me. Kept giving me shots.” 

It looks like Beca is settling in for the night. Chloe heaves out a sigh. She’s isn’t irritated with Beca herself, but with the feelings she has for the brunette that just won’t go away like she’d like them to. “Are you actually going to sleep here?” 

“Mm. The attic’s too far. Amy snores. And I like your bed.” She falls silent, eyeing Chloe curiously with a fond smile.

“What?” Chloe murmurs, feeling her face heat up under Beca’s scrutinizing gaze and the clear affection swirling in them.

“You’re pretty.” 

Chloe rolls her eyes, shoving Beca lightly. That traitor of a heart flutters. “Shut your face.”

Beca giggles. The sound is so not Beca, but it’s adorable. “So I’m skilled, huh?”

Chloe narrows her eyes. “I did not say that.”

“No, but Stacie did and you didn’t correct her.” 

“Stop being so smug.” 

Beca snickers. “You’re so easy.” 

Chloe rolls on top of Beca in one swift move, pinning her to the mattress just for the satisfaction of throwing her off and wiping that smirk off her face. It also turns out she’s not so sleepy anymore, not with Beca laying underneath her, their bodies pressed flush together. 

“What are you doing, Beale?” Beca questions when Chloe disappears under the blanket little by little, slithering down her body. 

“I wanna spend some time with my head between your legs,” Chloe lets her know, settling down on her stomach between said legs, which seem to spread on their own command upon registering her words. “Think you can be quiet? The girls are already onto us.” 

Beca’s nod is frantic, teeth already sunk into her bottom lip. 

It’s slower than usual. Chloe wants to draw out Beca’s pleasure for as long as she can without it becoming torture. Her senses are acute to Beca body’s movement and pleas, though the heat rising under the blanket soon creates a fog around her brain and she might pass out from lack of oxygen soon.

(she can think of worst ways to die.)

“Chloe.” Her name tumbles out like a broken prayer and Chloe knows she’s on the brink of her climax. Beca’s fingers tangle in her hair and pull lightly and then she’s coming, her back arching off the bed and freezing mid-air before her body convulses in soft jerks. Chloe emerges from underneath the blanket and stares, unable to blink away from the ethereal scene unfolding in front of her eyes. Beca’s body eventually stops twitching with aftershocks and relaxes, her eyes sweeping downwards to find Chloe’s. “Thanks for that.” 

Chloe hums, biting playfully at Beca’s hip. “Anytime.” 

/

Chloe (5:34p)

Hey. You ok with handling rehearsals on your own? I don’t feel too good. 

Beca doesn’t text her back, but there’s a knock at her door twenty minutes later. Chloe shifts in bed to look over her shoulder just as she murmurs a soft come in. Beca pops her head in, her features softening as she takes in Chloe’s state. 

“I’m sick,” Chloe states needlessly, rolling away from Beca and pulling the comforter over her head. She feels the bed dip beside her and a hand rest over her upper arm. “Why aren’t you at rehearsals?” Chloe’s voice is muffled by the blanket. 

“I canceled it. Needed to check on you and make sure you weren’t dying.” 

Chloe huffs. “Not dying.” 

“Okay, good.” The bed moves again and Chloe hears the click of the door. The room is silent for the next few minutes, then Chloe hears soft padding on the floor and something being set on her bedside table. She peeks over the comforter to find a mug of steaming something and Beca hovering by the side of the bed. The back of Beca’s hand gently comes to rest over her forehead. “You’ve got fever.” 

Chloe groans, throwing an arm over her eyes. “I feel awful.” She musters enough strength to sit up, cradling the mug Beca gave her between her hands to take a sip. Honey, lemon and a touch of thyme. “Thanks.” 

She realizes Beca has her computer tucked under her arm and is toeing off her shoes. Beca climbs onto the bed then, over the covers, and settles against the headboard. Chloe looks on, confused. “What are you doing?” 

“Taking care of you because you’re sick,” Beca explains simply. “Don’t wanna leave you alone in case you need something y’know? So I’ll get some work done here, if that’s cool?” 

Chloe puffs out a breath. It’s hopeless. She’s hopeless. “Yeah.” 

Over the next few hours, Chloe weaves in and out of consciousness. She wakes up around nine and realizes she’s been slumped against Beca and drooling over her sweater. “Sorry.” 

Beca shrugs. “It’s okay. How you feelin’?” 

“Better, thanks.” She swipes the back of her sleeve over her chin and mouth, shuffling up so her back rests against the pillow.

Beca reaches out to check her forehead. “Your fever broke.” 

“Mmm.” Chloe gets up to use the bathroom and get herself a glass of water from the kitchen. Beca is still in the same spot when she comes back, laptop set on the bedside table as she scrolls through her phone. Chloe slips back under the covers, stifling a yawn. 

She watches as Beca sets her phone down and shifts towards her. “Turn over.” 

Chloe raises an amused eyebrow. “Are you trying to spoon me?” 

Beca rolls her eyes, a quiet huff flitting past her lips. “Yeah, don’t make me regret being nice.” 

Chloe smiles and rolls onto her side, emitting a soft sigh as Beca’s arm slides around her middle, her front pressed against Chloe’s back. 

She feels a surge of love and affection course through her, weighing down her soul and dragging her underwater. She doesn’t fight it, knowing perfectly well by now the tide is stronger than her. 

/

The first time Chloe brought up the subject of toys, Beca flushed as red as Chloe’s hair and failed to scrabble together enough words to form a sentence.

“Okay, I take it back, thanks fuck you bought one of those,” Beca pants as she flops down on the bed, a stunned chuckle flitting through her lips. Chloe takes off the harness and settles down on her stomach next to her. “That was fucking amazing. You’re fucking amazing.” 

Chloe hums. “It was pretty hot, yeah.” 

Beca’s head twists towards her. “Did you get to?” 

“Nah. It’s okay.” 

Beca shakes her head, sitting up towards the headboard. “Come up here, Beale. Ride my tongue.” 

Chloe blinks. They’ve never done that before. Well, they had never used a strap-on until half-hour ago either so she guesses today is about firsts. “Seriously?” 

“Yeah. Come on.” Beca curls a beckoning finger at her, Chloe swallowing her shock as she shuffles up until she’s straddling Beca’s face. 

“Oh,” Chloe lets out, gripping the headboard with both hands as the first lick of Beca’s tongue triggers a zap of pleasure that rockets through her entire body, echoing in her toes. “Holy fuck. ” 

She nearly passes out from blinding bliss and falls asleep content, Beca’s naked body snug and warm against her own. 

/

Summer comes and goes, and a new year begins. Chloe’s feelings for Beca haven’t budged during the last two months apart. Not that she was too gullible to think they would; they’re deep-rooted now and unable to shake off, at least as long as she and Beca keep doing what they’re doing. 

“Dude, this is ridiculous! She gets accidentally inseminated? ” Chloe giggles and throws a popcorn at Beca’s face. It bounces off her cheek and onto her lap. Beca casts her a heatless glare. “Hey. ” 

“It’s a telenovela, Becs. T’supposed to be dramatic and ridiculous.” 

She’s met with more scepticism. “Mmm.”

Chloe falls asleep somewhere into the third episode and wakes up in the middle of the night with Beca’s back pressed into her front, one arm slung over her waist. It’s the first time they’ve fallen asleep together without fucking beforehand (the time she was sick doesn’t count) and the thought makes something weird go off in Chloe’s chest. 

“You snore,” Chloe grumbles when she feels Beca stir a minute later.

“You hog the blankets,” Beca mumbles back as Chloe burrows deeper in her arms. 

She’s gone by the time Chloe wakes up in the morning, the sheets long cold when Chloe runs her fingers over the spot Beca occupied just a few hours ago. 

The tide withdraws, leaving her beached. 

/

“I need a break.” 

Chloe looks up from her computer, glancing over to Beca. They’ve been studying for midterms in Chloe’s room for about three hours, Chloe lying lengthwise on her bed with her back resting against the headboard, her feet resting across Beca’s shins as Beca sits perpendicular to her. 

“Mmm?” 

“I can’t study anymore.” She feels Beca move and tries to focus on the pages in front of her but it proves impossible when Beca slowly crawls on top of her. 

“Bec,” Chloe whispers, any objection dying on her tongue when Beca starts pressing soft kisses up the side of her neck. Her arms and legs are trapping Chloe in her orbit, like the foam of the tide threatening to hold her under. She pushes at Beca’s shoulder, Beca thankfully not insisting but staring at Chloe with a mix of concern and confusion. “I can’t do this.” 

Beca frowns and sits back on her heels. “What do you mean?” 

Chloe closes her eyes briefly. “I need a break, too, but from our arrangement.”  

Beca’s eyebrows lift, realization dawning in her expression. “Oh.”

Chloe doesn’t offer anything more, afraid that everything might spill out of her heart if she so much as opens her mouth to breathe. 

Beca rakes a hand through her hair, gaze fleeting. “Um, okay. Yeah, I mean, if - if that’s what you need.” 

Chloe swallows, eyes flickering to her hands. “Thanks.” 

Beca crawls back to her initial spot and Chloe attempts to ignore the glances shot her way every other minute. Beca remains another fifteen minutes or so, before claiming something about going to the radio station. Chloe suspects it’s just an excuse to flee from the unbearable tension and she can’t blame her. 

Chloe still can’t breathe. 

/

They don’t really talk for the next few weeks, except when it comes to acapella and their captain duties. Christmas break proves to be a nice reprieve from the tension. 

As much as they try to tiptoe around the awkwardness which settled between them and pretend everything is fine when school starts again, the Bellas somehow notice that something isn’t quite right between their two captains. 

They decide to “go on strike” and refuse to rehearse until Beca and Chloe talk their issues out. She and Beca take it as a joke at first, but their friends stand their ground and following a second week without rehearsing and the Worlds in a few months, Chloe starts to freak out. 

Beca is the first to reach out, late one evening. 

“Hey.” Chloe looks up from her notes to find Beca lingering in the hallway, rocking on her heels as though she isn’t sure she should be here. Chloe ordered take-out for both lunch and dinner and stayed locked up in her room to study. She is graduating this year. “You okay?” 

“I’m fine,” Chloe mumbles, going back to doodling nonsensical figures on the corner of her page. The same one she’s been staring at for the past half-hour, probably. 

“Chlo...” The nickname -- only Beca calls her that -- added to the softness of Beca’s tone makes Chloe’s insides clench. “Can you tell me what’s going on? You’ve been weird since the other day. And I feel like it’s my fault.” 

Chloe closes her eyes briefly. She pinches her nose with her thumb and forefinger. “I’m sorry. It’s -- it’s stupid.” 

Beca shakes her head, stepping into the room and closing the door behind her. She comes to sit on the edge of Chloe’s desk, eyes swirling with concern. “Did I… do something to hurt your feelings?” 

“No,” Chloe says quietly, so softly that it’s just the word shaping her lips. “It’s not you, it’s me.” 

Beca scoffs. “You’re really going to give me that bullshit and expect me to roll with that? Look.” She sets her hand over Chloe’s, squeezing slightly. “You’re important to me, Chlo.You’re — you’re my best friend and I want to fix whatever I did.” Chloe closes her eyes and bows her head, remaining silent. She knows perfectly well their friendship will be ruined the moment her feelings leap past the seam of her lips. A sigh puffs out in the air between them as Beca pushes to her feet. “Whenever you’re ready to talk, if ever, you know where to find me.” 

“I’m in love with you,” Chloe rushes out before she chickens out. There. It’s out, she can’t backtrack now. The silence that follows, save for her heartbeat thudding in her ears, is insufferable. Beca’s jaw drops open slowly, and Chloe doesn’t understand how she didn’t know , how she didn’t see

Chloe wears her heart on her fucking sleeve for crying out loud. 

Beca inhales sharply. She’s silent for a stretch, and Chloe can nearly see the cogs churning in her brain and the panic grip her insides. “You -- what? ” 

Chloe’s eyes are pleading as they meet Beca’s. “Please don’t make me say it again.” 

“I…” Beca blinks twice in slow succession. “But we -- we agreed on no feelings. You said that. That — that first night.” 

Beca’s tone is more confused than biting, yet her words claw at Chloe’s heart. “Don’t you think I know that?” Uncharacteristic coldness encases Chloe’s voice. She laughs humorlessly, eyes rolling towards the ceiling to keep the tears at bay. “They’re feelings , Beca, I can’t exactly control them,” she bites out, teeth rubbing together as she tries to keep her inevitable breakdown at bay. “But I tried , I did. I tried so hard not to feel that way because - because what we had -- have -- is amazing.” Her tone shakes with repressed emotions, tears filling her eyes to the brim. “I didn’t want to ruin that.” 

“Chlo.” Beca’s shoulders slump. Another long pause follows as her mouth gapes wordlessly. “I’m not -- I don’t do relationships. I’m not looking to commit to anything.” 

Those tears spill down Chloe’s cheeks and hastily reaches up to wipe them away. She hates being so weak. “I know. I shouldn’t -- ” She clears her throat, but her voice breaks anyway. “I shouldn’t have said anything.” 

“Chlo…” 

Chloe shakes her head faintly, eyes fastened on the doodle at the corner of her notebook. “Can you please go?” 

To her relief, Beca doesn’t push things further. “Y-yeah. Um… I’ll -- I’ll see ya.” 

As the door clicks shut behind Beca, Chloe feels as though she just lost something she’s never had, yet it hurts just as bad. 

The Bellas somehow drop it, probably figuring on their own something big went down and neither Beca or Chloe wants to be prodded at the moment. Even Amy who never hesitated to tease them tiptoes around the tension. 

Beca doesn’t reach out, but Chloe can tell she wants to say something.She stares at Chloe when she thinks Chloe isn’t looking and seems to change her mind last second, coming up with an excuse to leave the room. 

Chloe gets hammered at a frat party a week later. She kisses the first guy that shows interest because she’s pathetic and all she wants is to move on, even though there’s only a few weeks left before she leaves Barden and Beca Mitchell anyway. 

The guy is not bad, per se. He’s a decent fuck, but Chloe is in her own head the whole time, spending the entirety of it thinking of her; the person she was hoping to forget. 

The rest of the year zips by and suddenly they’re graduating. 

Chloe doesn’t know what to feel. She’s equally happy and sad, equally at peace and terrified about leaving this place.  

“Hey.” Chloe looks up from her seated spot on the top step of the stairs leading to the house. She needed a break from the party inside. Beca joins her, drink in hand. “You okay?” 

Her voice is softer than Chloe remembers ever hearing it. One shoulder lifts then slumps in a half-shrug. “Feels weird.” She glances at Beca’s profile. “Graduating. Moving on from Barden. Having to get a job.” 

A puff of breath flits through the part in Beca’s lips. “Yeah. This is gonna suck big time at first, but we’ll make it.” 

Chloe knows it’s not meant that way, but the we in that sentence cracks her heart a little bit. It feels like there’s no more we when it comes to she and Beca. 

There’s a lull during which Chloe cranes her head to look at the stars. She doesn’t know if Beca wishes to keep up with the small talk or if she’ll decide to leave Chloe on her own once she realizes Chloe has no desire to strike up conversation. 

“So I got a job offer in New York,” Beca blurts. “Assistant producer.” 

Chloe gasps softly, tearing her eyes from Sirius to glance at Beca. “Really!? That’s amazing, Becs. I’m happy for you.” 

She means it, of course she does. Chloe is always genuine about her words and she knows Beca knows, which is why she hopes Beca believes her, despite the fact that Chloe doesn’t hug her like she would whenever she learns exciting news for someone she cares about. Her whole body wars against her rational brain to reach out, to sink into Beca’s arms and be engulfed by that warmth she has been craving for the last week. She just… she can’t. 

“Thanks Chlo,” Beca murmurs, her gaze sweeping over Chloe’s features. “What’s your plan?” 

“I don’t know. I might go back to Oregon for a little bit until I figure it out.” 

Beca purses her lips and nods. Another beat passes. “You could... come to New York with Amy and I?” 

Chloe’s spine snaps straighter. She shakes her head. “I don’t -- I don’t think that’s a good idea, Beca.” 

Beca hangs her head. “Shit -- I’m sorry. I shouldn’t -- I shouldn’t have suggested that. I’m just…” she slams her eyes shut, shaking her head. “I have no idea what I’m doing.” 

Chloe smiles softly. “You’re going to go to New York and become a badass producer and have the time of your life.” 

“Get inside you guys, we’re doing shots!” Stacie’s voice carries through the open front door and Chloe casts Beca a nod, pushing to her feet to retreat inside. 

Chloe packs up her stuff before they fly to Copenhagen. 

They win the Worlds, and it’s the perfect closing line to this chapter of her life. 

Chloe returns to Oregon for the summer and works in a café while applying for jobs in her field of studies. She’s hired by a media company, whose headquarters happen to be in NYC, and after six months working for the Portland branch and proving herself to the company, she’s offered a higher position in New York. 

She accepts, excited to discover the Big Apple and everything it has to offer. She thinks about Beca and how they’ll be in the same place, but doesn’t reach out right away. 

She doesn’t know if she ever will, terrified that her feelings might resurface and drown her. 

/

A year after graduation, Cynthia-Rose and her fiancée get married a year after graduation in a beautiful ceremony by the ocean in Maine. All the Bellas are there except Lily, who, last Chloe’s heard, joined the army. 

Beca looks beautiful in her navy jumpsuit and Chloe’s heart hurts upon seeing her. They’re sitting at the same table with the rest of the Bellas, who all get up to go dance between the main course and dessert. 

Except Beca. She pivots in her seat to face Chloe, features soft and apologetic. 

“Can we talk?” 

Chloe nods, setting her napkin on the table. The music is a bit too loud for them to speak without having to nearly shout. “Outside?” 

Chloe’s feet carry her to the beach and she sits down on the edge of the boardwalk, facing the sea. It’s chillier than she expected and she draws her knees to her chest, wrapping her arms around her legs. Beca lowers herself next to her, and Chloe is brought back to their moment outside the Bellas house just over a year ago. 

She expects Beca to lead with some small talk, a good old, how have you been?

“I don’t let anyone in,” Beca blurts out instead. Chloe’s gaze flickers towards her. “I’m terrified of screwing it up and being left behind so it’s easier to keep people out in the first place. It’s my default setting, it’s what I do. And I tried doing that with you because I’m a fucking idiot and I don’t know a good thing when I see it.” 

Beca shakes her head and rolls her eyes, as though berating herself for her own actions. 

“Except that by the time I realized I should take a step back, it was already too late. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t stay away from you, Chlo.” Her tongue flicks out to wet her lips. “So I kept going, pretending it was still just sex in my head and that my heart wasn’t involved in some way.” 

Beca puffs out a chuckle as her eyes move towards the ocean, and Chloe doesn’t quite understand how she can act so collected. She’s been tripping over her own breathing for the last thirty seconds, her heart dangerously derailing out of control. 

She realizes just now that maybe, all this time, Beca felt trapped in Chloe’s tide like Chloe did in Beca’s. 

“I freaked out when you told me you loved me because it all felt too tangible, knowing that I wasn’t the only one with feelings, knowing that this --” she motioned between the two of them with her pointer finger. “Could actually become something real if I wanted to.” 

Chloe doesn’t dare interrupt, her heart stuttering as she waits for the rest. Her fingers curl around the edge of the boardwalk as she watches Beca try to find her words. 

“Look Chlo… I know I acted like a dick back then, especially with the Jesse stuff, but that’s mostly because I was confused by my own feelings. I would really...” Beca purses her lips, inhaling sharply through her nose. “I miss you. This year without you-- it’s been awful. I got everything I wanted professionally but… I realized there was something missing. Someone missing.”

Her eyes find Chloe’s, and there’s something swirling in them that she’d never seen before and while she can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, it makes her warm all over and her heart hammer harder against her ribs.

“Will you give me a chance? I’m scared as fuck I’m gonna screw up at this relationship thing because I don’t know the first thing about them but I’m going to try my hardest to be the kind of person you deserve, Chlo. I mean that.” 

Chloe knows. She knows Beca and trusts her words and the honesty in her eyes as she says them. Her hand shuffles to the left, pinkie and ring finger resting over Beca’s. Beca’s eyes flicker down, a soft, hopeful smile gracing her features as she slides them back up. 

Beca flips her palm up to loosely lace her fingers with Chloe’s. “Could I take you on a date when we’re back in New York?” 

Chloe can only nod because she’s speechless, her voice having disappeared somewhere she can’t reach. 

Beca’s smile hitches wider. “Cool."

Chloe lets go of Beca’s hand and shuffles closer until her head finds Beca’s shoulder.

"You wanna go back inside?"

The ocean is calm ahead of them, the sounds of its waves a soothing whisper as they lap onto the shore in a rhythmic manner. The marine breeze intertwining with Beca’s scent floods Chloe with comfort.

"Not yet," Chloe murmurs. "I like it here."

She closes her eyes, letting out a soft, content sigh when she feels Beca’s arm wrap around her back and Beca’s lips brush a kiss at her hairline. 

"Okay."