Disclaimer: Pitch Perfect does not belong to me. Neither do any of the characters you're going to read about.
A/N: Of course this is what I spent the last half of the movie thinking about. =P Multi-part fic, though nothing outrageous. A little touch here, some friendly collegiate petting there. Let's just see where this goes. ;) Spoilers for Pitch Perfect 2 are present.
The retreat had been an experience, to say the least. The kind of experience that Beca was almost positive she didn't want to relive any time soon. Maybe ever. It's been three days since the Bellas had bid goodbye to their former captain – and their more recent drill sergeant, which really, there was no better job for Aubrey except maybe that of an actual drill sergeant – and she is still cleaning mud out of areas where she would really prefer there be no mud at all. Jesse had laughed until she'd hung up on him when she had called to tell him how the weekend had gone, then he'd texted to ask her if he could come over and help her 'clean up'. She had, predictably, called him an asshole and refused to comment further when he started in on the soap and loofahs.
The weird thing about their breakup was that it wasn't actually weird. At all. They still behaved the same way around each other, he still called her his girl, and sometimes Beca would forget and give him a quick kiss, and it was weird. Because Beca wasn't the type of person to give quick kisses to someone she wasn't dating, but something about Jesse just kind of put her at ease. She felt comfortable with him and it was nice, that things didn't have to drastically change just because they weren't in a relationship anymore. She loved him, just wasn't in love with him, and wow didn't she just hate herself the first time she accidentally thought up that corny piece of crap. They could still be 'them' and Jesse definitely didn't have a problem being himself. He was still the one she called when famous music producer dudes told her she sucked and he still texted her filthy emoticons to cheer her up.
Honestly, it was kind of awesome. Weirdly awesome. Sure, she was left with awkward sex flashes that hit her at the most inopportune moments – the signs of which Jesse had started to pick up on and tease her mercilessly over – but the PTSD aside, it was great. Plus, it gave her more time to freak out about internships and their set for Worlds.
"Awesome." She mutters, clicking down furiously on the mouse pad in the hopes that doing so will magically make her laptop thaw its way back from freezing glitchiness. Maybe her dad would buy her a new one if she told him she needed it for school.
"If this is some new way you have of announcing my presence to the room," red hair and a sly smile greet her as she looks up and finds Chloe lingering at the top of the staircase, "I like it." Her nose crinkles as she says it, one hand pushing off of the banister to send her across the room, and Beca feels her lips starting to curve.
"Did you know that some people can become so deluded in regard to their appearance and how they believe others perceive them, that they literally can't hear anything bad being said about them?" Beca says, as though informing her of the weather, and Chloe feigns a frown.
"Oh yeah?" She plops down onto the bed in front of Beca. The laptop bounces where it sits.
"Like even if they were this close," she gestures between them, smile rapidly shifting into a grin, "nothing."
"Nothing at all?"
"Nope, not even a whisper." Chloe's eyes narrow and she cocks her head to the side. Beca's eyes absently follow the wave of red hair as it tumbles over a shoulder before returning to Chloe's face, which is struggling to retain its serious expression.
"What are you saying?" Beca lets out a breathy chuckle and shakes her head, teeth shining from between her lips.
"Nothing. Nothing at all." Chloe hums in a way that is both reproving and amused, and then reaches for the laptop sitting between them. A few years ago, back when the Bellas were nothing but a speck of dirt caught in the corner of her eye, Beca would have snatched her computer away. She would have shoved it into her bag and barked some snide remark, then stormed out of there with all the bluster of a miniature cyclone. As it is, Chloe hooks a finger around one corner and turns it so the screen is towards her.
"What are you working on?" Beca watches from over top of the lid as baby-blue eyes scan across the windows she has open. "Is this a Worlds thing or a top secret internship thing?" She's teasing. Beca shoots her a withering glare.
"Well, right now it's crap, so... neither?" Chloe rolls her eyes and holds her hand out in what has become her universal way of saying "Beca, give me your headphones". For some reason it works every time and Beca lifts them from around her neck, then presses them into Chloe's waiting hand. She beams like the sun, every single time, and slips them on. There's the click of a button and then silence for a while, and Beca just watches and waits.
She can always tell how Chloe feels about a song, be it one she's mixed or something on the radio. Her whole face transforms whenever she hears music. Most of the time her expression is fit to burst with excitement and joy as she belts out the words to some pop song that is so nineties it makes Beca's teeth ache. If it's something she doesn't like though, her face will twist into a look that Beca likes to call her "disgruntled diva face". Or "double d face", if she's lazy. Amy almost always refers to it as "boob face". Chloe does not approve of any of them.
"What does that even mean?"
"Dude, you're pissed at a radio DJ because he played a song you don't like! Even though he has no way of knowing that, you're personally offended by his taste in music."
"This isn't music, Bec!"
Right now, Chloe looks happy. Content. Which is sort of her default face really.
"I like it." She says once the track, presumably, has ended and she's handing the headphones back. Beca settles them around her neck again, feeling distantly comforted by the weight, like a kid whose been sleeping with a blankie so long that they don't realize they still need it until they don't have it.
"You always like it." Beca points out, turning the laptop around and clicking a few buttons before lowering the lid. Chloe regards her with eyebrows that are somewhat regally raised.
"That's because I know good music when I hear it." She gives a single, haughty sniff. "And I'm never wrong." Beca scoffs, loud and obnoxious, and throws a pillow at the redhead. Chloe catches it with ease, letting herself fall back against the mattress, then indicates the empty bed across the room. "No Amy?" Beca offers a shrug, bringing a hand up to rub at her nose.
"I think she's out celebrating with Bumper."
"Without us?" For an instant, Chloe looks utterly crestfallen. Like someone just told her that her puppy died. Beca feels it like a miniature-sized punch to the gut and stumbles over her words in her rush to rectify the situation.
"Uh, I think it's more of a…" she lets her head loll to the side and makes a vague sort of wiggling motion with the fingers of one hand, "sexy celebration." After a heartbeat or two, once the clarity has really settled, Chloe nods a silent "oh" and idly muses about how strange it'll be, Fat Amy being a one man woman. Beca agrees and then the room falls quiet.
Strangely quiet, because silence is something that doesn't usually come between them. Right from the beginning Beca had found the other woman easy to talk to – okay so maybe not the very beginning – and Chloe could strike up a conversation with literally anyone. Beca had seen her laughing with one of the campus security guards once, which doesn't sound like a big deal except that this particular guard, Beca was certain, was actually Satan incarnate. Or a chick on a really heady power trip. Either way, she'd watched the woman bodily take down students for no apparent reason. She had never seen her smile, let alone laugh, and she is still fairly certain that she hates college students. As a species. Which Beca had honestly felt a kind of kinship with her over, but then they'd made eye contact one day across the quad and Beca had felt her blood run cold. The kinship dissipated after that. But the woman had been laughing with Chloe, and it had blown Beca's mind.
So yeah, Chloe was easy to talk to in general so they never had a problem, and even when there was quiet, it was comfortable. But right now Chloe's fingers keep clenching at the edges of the pillow and she keeps chewing on her lip like something is on her mind. It's a look Beca rarely sees, because Chloe likes to speak her mind, except for when it might hurt someone's feelings. Cautiously, Beca stretches her leg out around the side of her laptop and jabs her toe into the redhead's shoulder. Baby-blues slide to their corners and Beca feels her skin prickle.
"What's up?" Chloe blinks, once, and then shrugs. Immediately, Beca frowns. Chloe doesn't shrug in response to anything. She has passionate outbursts that leave you winded for days or she talks quietly so as not to startle someone into a puking fit. "Dude, you're weirding me out." She sees guilt flash across her face and something tugs at a low spot in Beca's stomach. Like it's trying to pull it out through her feet. "Is something wrong? It's not the nodes, is it?" Chloe launches herself into a sitting position.
"No!" She leans over and reaches out to rest her hand on Beca's knee. It's clear from her expression that she regrets the turn this has taken. "No, nothing's wrong. My voice is fine. Everything is good." Beca smiles a little, relieved, and tries not to shift under Chloe's touch. She doesn't find it comfortable, not exactly. She's never been a big fan of people touching her for any reason – getting her to go to a doctor was a three person process when she was little – but Chloe had barrelled through a bunch of those walls without even stopping to take a breath. Just like everything else, it was somehow easier with Chloe. It didn't feel intrusive, hadn't even felt like that in the beginning, but it felt something that was different to how it felt with anyone else. The Bellas were a touchy-feely bunch, so Beca had somewhat learned to adapt just like they had learned that she had boundaries when it came to that stuff. Well, except when it came to Chloe. Chloe's touches kind of feel like pins and needles, but not in a bad way.
"Then why are you acting like you've forgotten how to be you?" Chloe sighs, long and deep, and sits up.
"I've been thinking-"
"Uh oh." She glares at the interruption. Beca only smirks.
"-about the retreat."
"If you're seriously about to tell me that you want this to be an annual thing, then I'm sorry Chlo, but I would rather have Lilly practise her knife throwing skills on me."
"Oh my god, will you stop talking for a second?" She does as she's told, mimicking locking her lips with an invisible key. Chloe presses the pillow into her lap and looks down at it, running her fingers over the ruffled edges. "I've been thinking about what I said at the retreat." Beca mutters something about Chloe talking "like, a lot," and needing to be more specific. She throws the pillow back, aiming at the captain's head. "That first night." She hedges after a second and it's so weird to Beca, seeing the usually bubbly, vibrant Bella acting almost shy. "About the thing I regretted?" Beca's eyes flit around inside her head as if their movement is an essential part of how she accesses her memory banks. She reaches that particular memory pretty quick but it takes a little longer to process, and the second it does Chloe sees the recognition slap itself across Beca's face.
"About experimenting?" It comes out blunter than she'd like, though she's never claimed finesse as one of her strong suits. Wouldn't dream of it.
"Yeah." Chloe lets the word out alongside a breathless exhale and even though Beca now gets where the nervousness is coming from, she doesn't really understand it. Chloe's confided in her before, granted not about this exact thing, but she's never struggled over being open with Beca prior to this. She runs her fingers through her hair, pulling it free from her headphones as she thinks. She can feel Chloe's eyes on her, even if her own are elsewhere. They're watching her every movement, drinking in her reaction, judging it like –
Beca's hand falls away. Her eyes drop back to Chloe's like lead weights.
"Oh." She says, dumbly. "Oh, like, you mean with me?" There's that weird shrug again, only this time it's accompanied by a half-smile that parts Chloe's lips. She looks almost impish. Like a child that's been caught concocting some sort of devious plot that they're secretly proud of and are about to invite the person that discovered them to join in. "What…" Beca has suddenly forgotten how to blink. She stares at Chloe like a confused owl until her brain kicks her tongue into moving. "I don't, um, I don't…" she swallows, then leans her upper body forward as she goes in for clarification, "what? Me? Why?" Chloe chuckles at the way the questions rush from her.
"Well…" she brings her hands together, lacing and unlacing her fingers just to give herself something to do now that she doesn't have a cushion to fiddle with, "we're friends, right?" It isn't as though Beca can argue that. The Bellas are the best friends Beca has ever had and Chloe pretty much takes the whole top tier of that cake. "Good friends. And I feel like that's really super important with something like this. That it be with someone I'm already comfortable around, to begin with, it would make it easier, you know?" She does know and she indicates that by nodding, but she still isn't ready for words yet.
Beca doesn't know that her mind has ever really 'raced' before. She's been overwhelmed, sure, unable to pin down a single thought and focus on it, yeah. But she's being bombarded right now with a million different things and words, and thoughts and feelings, and it seems a little bit like her brain is about to shut down.
"And I'm comfortable with you." A highly too-inappropriate-to-be-having-right-now thought flickers to life behind Beca's eyes; a shower stall, killer acoustics, junk that refuses to be covered. She swallows again. "I mean, I'd never want you to do something you're not comfortable with." Chloe rushes to add a moment later, looking suddenly panic stricken by the idea that Beca might possibly think that she's being pressured. "I've just… been thinking. And I thought I should tell you. You know, on the off chance that you might... want to, too." And she smiles so sweetly at Beca then that the brunette thinks she actually feels her heart grow three sizes, which has to bring it close to almost normal human size by now. Maybe that's why she's finding it difficult to breathe. Or maybe it's the worry she can see hovering around Chloe like a shadow.
"I mean, I'm flattered, Chloe." She knows it's the wrong thing to say the second the words leave her mouth, because even though the redhead tries to fight it, Beca sees the way her smile dims. Feels the shift in temperature like the sun just went out.
"It's fine." She's quick to say and now her smile is too wide, the wrong kind of bright. "It's totally fine. It never hurts to ask though, right?" Then she presses her hands into the mattress as if she's about to get up and Beca is reaching out before she even thinks about it. Her fingers encircle a wrist and hold Chloe in place.
"I didn't say no." Which, you know, is a very good point. She didn't. Hasn't. Might not? What is happening?
"Oh." She feels like that's been said a lot in the last ten minutes. She retracts her hand slowly, making sure the redhead doesn't bolt like a startled cat at the last second, then sits back. She brings her hands up and pushes her hair back behind her ears, licking her lips before parting them.
"I just…" she ducks her head and glances up at Chloe, forehead creased, "why me?" Her smile is bemused and unsure. "There are probably like, a thousand other chicks on campus that would give their left boob to make out with you." Chloe pulls a face.
"Maybe, but then that's one less for me to grope." She argues and Beca rolls her eyes. "I'd rather an altogether, apathetic someone, so I can really get to grips with everything." Purposeful innuendo, a borderline lascivious grin; by now Beca knows how to tell when Chloe is trying to rile her up. And while she's happy to see the change, she's too distracted to call her on it. Her thoughts keep skipping back a few beats to focus on 'apathetic' and for a moment she's left wondering why she wants to protest the redhead's choice of words so vehemently. "Plus, I think you're hot and I've seen you naked. Both of which help."
"Chloe." Beca flushes scarlet and drops her face, wide eyes and all, into her hands. She can hear Chloe laughing close by.
"Totes boneable? Lady jam material?" She wants the bed to swallow her. She blindly lashes out with her foot and feels a toe connect with something before fingers grip it and her kneejerk reaction forces her to pull her leg back in. "What? Don't you find me attractive?"
"Oh my god, if I agree will you please stop talking?" She mutters into her hands. When no answer is forthcoming, she lifts her head and finds Chloe looking at her intently.
"You know you don't have to do this, right? I didn't expect you to say-"
"No, it's cool." Beca cuts her off, feeling the heat starting to recede from her cheeks. Her stomach is tying itself in knots and her heart is beating out what feels like the tune to Savage Garden's 'I Want You' against her ribs. She tries for a reassuring smile, but feels her lips quiver. "What are friends for, right?"
And Chloe's lights up the room.