DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I don't know exactly what this is. I just know that these girls are my new favorite OTP, and I hope you guys like them.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To kaoine.to.fly[at]gmail.com
Just A Beca Thing
It wasn't that Chloe was naïve. She'd made it through nearly four years of a liberal arts education, and as if that wasn't enough, she was in an acapella group that had toured nationally. She certainly knew what a lesbian was. She'd even made out with a couple of them, at parties when she'd had a few drinks. Chloe got friendly when she was drunk. She was super aca-friendly when she wasn't drunk, so no one ever really thought anything about how much friendlier she was around pretty girls when she'd had a few, not even Chloe herself.
But this thing, this 'Beca Thing,' as Chloe had begun to think of it, was something altogether different. Because when she'd met Beca, she hadn't had a lick to drink, and while she could see in a straight-girl, academic way that Beca was very pretty, the visceral way her bemused smile hit the pit of Chloe's stomach was very... well, in hindsight, it was very gay. Chloe just didn't know that at the time, because she was standing in the bright sunlight of the quad, next to her super-goody-two-shoes best friend Aubrey, and she just didn't associate being gay with any of that stuff.
She put her brightest smile on her face and did her best to talk over Aubrey's incomprehensibly bad salesmanship. She had to get Beca to join; she just had to. She studiously ignored that little flag her brain was waving that was reminding her that she didn't even know if Beca could sing, like, at all. The girl could be tone deaf. These things happened to people.
When the girl shrugged and walked away, not a singer, Chloe was left with a disappointment so deep that she was still thinking about it hours later, when she was at the gym with Tom. When Tom suggested showering together, as they often did after cardio Tom was good-looking and Chloe liked running with him and having sex with him well enough, even if she didn't much like anything else about him she almost welcomed the invitation as a distraction.
The thing was, she had no idea how she'd known it was Beca singing in the other stall. She heard the voice and pulled away from Tom to listen, and just knew. He knew her well enough, knew how devoted she was to the Bellas, that he didn't say anything when she pushed him back and left the stall. She hadn't said anything for a few seconds, just stood there staring happily at Beca's shower-slicked, tattooed back, listening to the smooth, languid alto effortlessly filling the locker room. And then, because she knew she couldn't stand there forever, not if she was going to convince Beca to audition, she finally spoke: "You can sing."
It really, honestly didn't occur to her how awkward the situation was until Beca jerked around and Chloe saw a lot more than just her back. That was the first moment when Chloe had the faintest notion that there was something maybe a little bit gay about the whole thing, because she really didn't need to care at all about how good Beca looked naked, but she pushed that aside and focused on the mission. Because Beca really seemed to care that Chloe was naked, she decided to use that to her advantage. She had nothing to be ashamed of (neither did Beca, really-really, but if she needed to clutch a shower curtain or something to her chest in order to be able to sing, Chloe wasn't going to stop her) and she needed to sing with Beca. It was important.
And it was amazing. Harmonizing with the other girl was effortless and Chloe could hear how good they sounded in the shower room's acoustics. Beca heard it too. Chloe could tell from how she shifted forward, how her voice changed ever so slightly to accommodate the harmony. You couldn't train vocal chemistry like this.
Even Tom could hear how good it was, and Tom wasn't particularly musical. He certainly appreciated the duet's effect on Chloe's libido, and said some things which Chloe brushed off as disgusting boy comments. She loved music, was all; there was nothing gay about being turned on by a kick-ass duet, even if it was with a girl.
So then, at auditions, when everything was wrapping up and Beca hadn't shown, Chloe chalked her disappointment up to her love of the Bellas, and how much she'd wanted to have a full team.
But Beca had shown, and Chloe felt like jumping up and down with glee. She channeled all of that excitement into convincing everyone that Beca was still going to be allowed to audition, including Beca herself because the way she shuffled across the stage, the way she tried to escape by saying she didn't know the song as if there was anyone who didn't know Since U Been Gone - Chloe wasn't going to let any of that matter. She knew that Beca was perfect. That was what the butterflies in her stomach were all about. Chloe was just, you know, sensing the talent.
She locked eyes with Beca and poured all of her emotion into silent encouragement; it seemed to work because Beca held the eye contact and seemed to relax into a kind of cocky self-assurance that made Chloe want to bite her lip and cut her eyes down and away, to look at Beca through her eyelashes. And she knew that would have been called flirting, but when Beca folded herself down in front of her on the stage and began to perform, Chloe forgot all about that.
She really hadn't expected Beca to be able to do anything but sing, but the trick of making the beat with a cup and well, Chloe was going to make Aubrey take the girl even if it meant bringing up the incident at Nationals. It wasn't like they were flush with options and Beca was far and away the best girl there. Chloe even planned out the sentence in her head, which was what she had to do when she was going to be snippy to Aubrey. She was going to say, "Even the most Bella-looking girl can mess everything up." If Aubrey persisted, she was going to get a whole giant speech about not judging a book by its cover.
Chloe hated being mean. She was very glad when Aubrey decided to be over herself and admit that Beca was super aca-talented. Honestly, it seemed like Beca was just as reluctant as Aubrey, but she seemed to like it when Chloe smiled at her, so Chloe concentrated on doing more of that.
Then at the party, Chloe had already had a beer when she saw the new Treble talking to Beca, and she didn't even notice when the second one disappeared down her throat because she was so busy watching him flirt with her. It was against the rules and that was why it bothered her so much, and why she was so happy when Beca pushed him away, twice, even if she was wearing that same bemused smile on her face the whole time. The sick feeling in her throat was just the fear about Beca getting kicked out mixing with cheap beer, not jealousy.
He went away, and two-beer-Chloe understood that she needed to keep him from coming back. She wasn't sure exactly what she said to Beca, but somehow in the middle of the whole conversation she managed to get her face very close to Beca's, close enough to push their foreheads together, and then... Chloe was just sober enough to recognize that she should definitely not kiss Beca. She backpedaled and instead muttered something about becoming really good friends, but Beca messed that up by bringing up the naked thing. So then Chloe was thinking about Beca naked again. She went to go get another drink. She kinda accidentally shook her ass at Beca on purpose before she left.
Honestly, Chloe didn't really clue herself in to the exact nature of her feelings for Beca until the Riff Off, when Beca jumped forward and shut that flirty Treble up with, no-but-seriously, Chloe's secret favorite guilty-pleasure song. Chloe stared at her, heart struggling to keep up with her body's sudden demand for blood to rush to places blood should completely not have been rushing in response to adorable, awkward rapping. Beca spun around, eyes clearly begging for her team to join in, but Chloe's throat had closed up and she couldn't breathe and when Beca slid her voice into the first bit of actual melody, Chloe suddenly got it.
Stone cold sober and drunk, Chloe had a serious, serious crush on all dimensions of Beca Mitchell, who was a girl, and this made Chloe at least bisexual, and she'd crossed her arms and tried to make herself smaller, like people were going to see it, like suddenly there was some kind of neon sign flashing over her head. But she couldn't help it, when finally all the other Bellas got with the program and started acing Yo Diggity, and Chloe felt her smile spreading all the way through her body, because this was perfect. This was probably what was meant by the phrase, "Having your cake and eating it too," because this way Chloe could have Beca in the Bellas and... okay, so taking the metaphor literally made her eyes glaze over and her voice warble towards pitchy.
Feeling slightly inebriated whenever Beca was around was just something that Chloe realized she would have to get used to. She... well, it helped that she was just normally nice to everybody, and it also helped that Aubrey was so mean, even if it was also super-duper annoying, because every time Chloe's voice accidentally went gooey or she stood a little too close, it was just her compensating for Aubrey being a fantastic jerkface. And then little things like helping Beca with the choreography well, it had to be perfect, and Aubrey was way not patient enough to help, and the fact that it meant that she could press herself right up against Beca's back and hold her hands through the movements was incidental.
There was only one brief moment where she thought she'd been caught Fat Amy was muttering about how, statistically, at least one of them had to be gay, but she was stirring up rumors about Cynthia Rose, like she had earlier with Aubrey (Aubrey had laughed to her about it on the way to econ) and Chloe was mega-relieved because if they all thought all lesbians looked Cynthia Rose then she was totally safe.
And, really, she kept telling herself, she wasn't actually gay at all, she just had a Beca Thing, because all that happened all season every time anyone at all attractive tried to chat her up, all she could think about was how they weren't Beca and if they sang together there was no way it would sound anywhere as good. Chloe just resigned herself to the situation and tried to focus on the Bellas, and winning Nationals her senior year, because what you were supposed to do your senior year of college was to collect accolades and make memories, not bog yourself down in a mess of a sexual awakening. That was something you did freshman year.
She just got used to the fact that Beca was going to keep doing these totally badass things like turn out to be a super talented DJ who worked at a radio station (not that Chloe had followed her or spent twenty minutes glaring through the windows watching the flirty Treble stacking cds with her) and honestly by middle of the season, Chloe was almost happy.
It all went to hell in an aca-handbasket at the semifinals, because the thing about it was that Beca had done something really cool, but it had thrown everyone off and, goddammit, how was Chloe supposed to be mad and proud at the same time? It confused her and by the time she got her speech planned in her head about how to fix it, it was all over and the season was done and she was never going to see Beca again.
Bereft, Chloe picked the one tangible thing she could definitely fix, and she listened to the gentle tone the doctors used when telling her what her new, nodeless vocal range would be, she only pulled herself up out of her depression-fog to nod and ask how much it was going to hurt.
And then in recovery, she watched soap operas and ran her fingers along the edges of her phone, trying to come up with a legit reason to text Beca. Beca would come and visit her at the hospital; Chloe knew that because of the way Beca's eyes had gone soft when Chloe had revealed the truth about her nodes to the group. Aubrey had clutched at her hand cause she was thinking, 'Oh, god, how can we win Nationals without Chloe's Aguilera?' Beca had been worried about her, about how much it hurt, and if she should perform, and also she was pretty sure that Beca would be okay with just sitting there and not talking because Chloe couldn't. Aubrey would have paced the room and repeatedly assured her that she would definitely be able to sing again, what did the doctors know, and Chloe wasn't even allowed to talk to tell her to shut up.
But Chloe had been so careful about keeping it all a secret all year that she had kept Beca from ever becoming her friend if Beca had ever even wanted to be her friend, Chloe wasn't so saccharine as to think everyone automatically wanted to be her friend so Chloe couldn't text her even to say hello. When the phone buzzed, for a second she'd thought it was Beca, because she was on painkillers and she was thinking about Beca and that was the way romance worked, right?
Anyway, it was almost as good because it was the Bellas, back, and frosting on the cake, it meant that she could get Beca back in the same room, too. She sent Beca the text because she knew Aubrey wouldn't, and she talked the doctors into giving her some chord-rehab tricks and by the time they were rehearsing again, she was only about half as bad as when she first started talking. Aubrey still called her on it, and Chloe felt trapped, backed this corner of, 'Your best friend is being a total bitchface and the girl you maybe-love is not coming back and everything is falling apart and you can't even sing.'
Just when it couldn't get any worse, Aubrey started throwing up again, just like at Nationals, and holy mother of acapella, Chloe had no idea how she'd forgotten how disgusting it was, because seriously, Aubrey didn't even eat that much so where the hell did it all come from? And then some more yelling happened and then Chloe was actually physically fighting with her best friend without being entirely sure how it had gone so far, because Chloe had never been in a fight ever, when Beca finally got there. Auditions all over again; Chloe felt her frustration and her nausea and her worry all evaporate. She was so boneless with relief it took her two tries to get off the floor. Everything was going to be okay.
Except for her goddamned best friend forever, who still didn't get it. Chloe wondered how she could even stand to be talking, the way her mouth had to taste. Chloe didn't know how to fix it, this time, she felt wrung out and sore and she really wanted to throw herself into Beca's body and demand super-tight hugs and maybe that she take off all her clothes to give them to her, but all she could do was stand there and glare at Aubrey because Aubrey was the one who had to fix it.
Chloe was realizing that she might have to punch Aubrey directly in the face when she finally did speak. Then Beca stepped up and suggested they all get to know each other better, and Chloe didn't have to say anything because they were fixing it themselves, the two most important people to her and they didn't need her to tell them how to make her life better.
She told them about the surgery and it was like... like she had her best friend back, for starters, because Aubrey's face showed her concern, and it was concern for her, and not just concern for the Bellas, and she snuck a glance over at Beca when she was telling them her range and Beca's face said that she understood. Chloe admitted, out loud, to her friends and to herself, that she might not ever be able to do the thing she loved most, and they got it. All the mess was back, all the butterflies and heart pounding and she clenched her hands under her arms and tried to breathe.
On the walk out to the pool, Beca fell into step next to her and cut her a sidelong look and Chloe felt her lips lift in a smile. "Thanks," Beca muttered, bumping her shoulder, and Chloe pressed her lips together, shaking her head, trying not to giggle like a besotted moron. Beca got this look on her face, somewhere between, 'You guys waited up for me?' and 'I can't concentrate on anything you're saying until you cover your junk,' and Chloe's insides were crashing together and her footsteps wobbled and made her bump shoulders with Beca again.
When Beca gently asked if she could sing the lead on Just The Way You Are, Chloe could only nod, and when she started singing, it was all Beca, her voice flowing out of her to envelope them like that first time they had ever sung together, the acoustics of the pool amplifying everything; Chloe glanced around at the other Bellas, thinking that they could probably hear her feelings for Beca, hear how she meant every word of the song.
Beca could hear it, and when she started mixing in her counter melody, she came down hard on the pronoun, "I was thinkin' bout her," and Chloe smiled for real and Beca smiled right back, the same smile, and everyone was singing and they all sounded so aca-fucking good. They were going to win Nationals.
They were going to win Nationals, and then Chloe was going to kiss Beca, and maybe do more than just kiss Beca, and it was going to be okay that she wouldn't be able to sing above a G-sharp ever again. She still sounded good, she sounded good with Beca, and there wasn't anything confusing about it at all.
Chloe got it.
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