It feels like a lifetime before Chloe and Aubrey return, especially since her conversation with Jesse had dead-ended with her miserable declaration that Chloe loves everyone. It has left the air awkwardly heavy with something that neither she nor Jesse can dispel and so they stand in silence, drinking and watching the festivities carry on around them, until Beca hears the sound of Chloe's footsteps approaching.
Her stomach drops to hang somewhere around her feet before shooting back up and knocking her heart into her throat, but she fights against every instinct that's telling her to turn and look, to watch Chloe make her way over. To try and gauge how her conversation with Aubrey had gone so that Beca knows whether or not she should start running. She grits her teeth and stands her ground, and waits until she can feel the familiar warmth of Chloe's body heat beside her before glancing at her friend.
"So, what did we miss?" Chloe's question is cheerful and she smiles at Beca, but there's a shadow looming behind the brightness that such a smile usually brings. It unnerves Beca a little. Enough that she doesn't answer right away and Jesse is forced to speak up so that dead silence doesn't swallow them whole.
"Stacie almost initiated a wet t-shirt contest," he supplies, raising his eyebrows. "She wanted to use the champagne."
Aubrey rolls her eyes and Chloe lets out a chuckle, and Beca tries to shake off the awkwardness she's feeling.
"What stopped her?" Chloe asks, curious, and Beca finds herself watching Chloe's lips as she speaks. The way they curve around the words. It makes her own tingle with the memory of their earlier kisses.
"Ashley reminded her that she'd end up sticky and gross and a win wasn't worth feeling that uncomfortable." Jesse pauses to take a sip of his beer. "Stacie seemed pleased enough by the assumption that she'd win."
"Well, duh," Chloe scoffs, grabbing the bottle out of a surprised Beca's hand and taking a swig before handing it back. Beca watches Chloe grimace and feels a smile start to creep across her face. "I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to enjoy the party before we have to leave."
Beca's eyes follow Chloe as she makes her way towards the crowd of Bellas and merges in seamlessly with them. She turns to look at Jesse then and, seeing Aubrey's attention drawn away by the process of ordering a drink, she motions for him to take Aubrey somewhere away from the noise of the celebrations. So they can talk, or whatever.
The smile he levels at her is one of only a few that can really make Beca Mitchell feel something.
Once they're out of earshot and Beca is alone, she lets out a sigh so heavy it blows her hair away from her face. Annoyed, she tucks the strands behind her ear and closes her eyes for a moment.
She suddenly feels the need to ground herself. There are too many crazy, improbable, amazing things happening in her life right now that it abruptly becomes a little too much in that small, seemingly insignificant moment. Standing there alone at a bar as life goes on around her.
Winning the World Championship.
This being the Bellas' last hurrah.
Jesse being here.
Jesse and Aubrey being a thing.
The lingering feeling of Chloe's mouth on hers. A now aching familiarity that Beca could never have predicted.
She takes a few deep breaths and looks around, then keeps one eye on Chloe, one on Jesse and Aubrey, and glances at the rest of the Bellas in between. She feels amazing after the win, but the niggling feeling that something is wrong with Chloe is overshadowing it a little. Even though Chloe is laughing with the other girls and seems fine, Beca can just tell that something isn't right.
It makes her feel a little frantic, knowing something is wrong with Chloe - something that she is obviously a part of - and being unable to even attempt to fix it. There are too many people around and so now isn't a good time to talk about anything, so she'll have to bite her tongue and swallow the bile rising up from her stomach until they're back at the hotel and away from the hyper-sensitive ears of the other Bellas.
Beca hates waiting.
She's pulled out of her reverie by the sound of Stacie yelling Beca's name at the top of her lungs and Beca looks over to find she's being beckoned. Towards the group of women who have become so much more than teammates.
They've become her family.
And it's with slightly misty eyes that Beca joins them. She's immediately pulled into a hug by Stacie and then promptly found by Chloe, who dances alongside her and throws her a handful of knowing, smirking looks that make Beca's stomach feel funny.
Yes, they're her family, she thinks.
But Chloe is something else entirely.
The next time she sees Jesse it's about an hour later and he's standing off to one side talking to Jessica while Aubrey catches up with Ashley.
"-are your plans now?" Beca hears Jessica ask him as she nears them, catching Jesse's eye and flashing him an inquisitively raised eyebrow to let him know his answer is something she's also interested in hearing. She sidles up next to Jessica and easily accepts the playful hip-check that's delivered when Jessica notices her.
"Well, there are a few people I'm going to owe pretty big favours once I get back," he stops to glance between the two of them, smiling, "totally worth it, though." Beca rolls her eyes but returns his smile and Jessica looks at him like he's a puppy dog that just did something cute. "But that means I don't really have much time. I have to catch a flight back to New York tomorrow afternoon."
"Hey, what time? We're flying out at like, twelve-thirty or something." Automatically, she looks around to find Chloe for confirmation, but Beca doesn't see her anywhere in the immediate vicinity.
"Closer to two I think." He lifts a hand to scratch at the back of his neck. "Benji's dad is coming to get him."
"Well if you're cool with getting there earlier, we could share a cab? That way you could maximize what little time you have left with…." Beca trails off but makes a show of pointing over at where Aubrey is standing.
"Yeah, that sounds good." Jesse laughs, a little embarrassed, a little amused, and nods his head as he lets his hand fall back down to his side.
They spend a few more minutes talking; Jessica asks Jesse how his internship is going and, although Beca has already spoken to him about that, she stands and listens as though she's hearing it all for the first time.
He seems so genuinely excited to be doing what he's doing and it makes Beca happy in a way she could never have imagined at the beginning of her Barden adventure. She's happy for it, though. That feeling. It reminds her of how far she's come and everything she's gained over the last four years.
Glancing over to where Chloe is laughing with Flo, Beca can't help but wonder if her time at Barden isn't quite done giving her things.
Beca blinks, startled, when she realises Chloe is looking back at her and the redhead smiles fondly as she waves Beca over. Beca excuses herself and tries not to think about ninety percent of the things going on inside her head as she approaches.
"Hey," she says, a bit more breathlessly than she'd expected.
"Hi." Chloe's smile widens. "Think we should call a cab yet?"
Beca pulls out her phone to look at the time and, yeah, they probably should. She promptly hands the phone to Chloe who takes it but raises her eyebrow at Beca.
"What? You're better at phones than me." If it isn't Jesse, her parents, or one of the Bellas, Beca really isn't a fan of talking on the phone. Chloe knows this. Which is why, Beca presumes, Chloe just shakes her head with a smile and starts tapping at the screen.
While she waits, Beca glances around the space and idly, awkwardly, taps her hands against her thighs. They still when she makes eye contact with Jesse and he surreptitiously gives her a thumbs up. She replies by mouthing an obscenity and turns her attention back to Chloe, who's talking into the phone much louder than she needs to.
And it's such a small, silly thing, but it catches Beca off guard and sends her tumbling. It's one of those things that's hilarious and ridiculous to witness and Beca should probably put a stop to it because Chloe is likely deafening the person on the other end, but she's frozen.
Or as frozen as a person can be when a fuzzy warmth is trickling to all ends of their body.
It's always the little things with Chloe. The way she gets so excited for Bella movie nights or how she automatically avoids stepping on cracks in the sidewalk without even thinking. The way she taps the end of her pen against her lips when she's trying to figure out what word to use next in an essay or how she's such a morning person, it drives Beca crazy.
How she talks too loudly to compensate for her lack of knowledge of the Danish language, when ninety-nine percent of Copenhagen's population speak English really well.
It's all those little things that make Chloe who she is.
It's all those little things that make Beca love who Chloe is.
"They'll be here in fifteen," Chloe says, holding out Beca's phone for her to take back.
Beca stares at it for about three seconds longer than she should, then swallows thickly and hopes Chloe doesn't notice. She pockets her phone and forces a smile, then gestures towards the main grouping of Bellas.
"You go left, I'll go right?" Beca says, eyebrows raised. Chloe regards her for a moment, making Beca sweat, before she nods.
"Meet you at the front for a headcount?"
It takes the both of them, along with a little help from Jesse, to drag Amy away from the party and out into the fresh air she keeps swearing she doesn't want. She's going to be hungover in the morning, Beca knows it, and thus an absolute delight on their flight back. She makes a mental note to pack earplugs in her carry-on.
They get Amy into the cab and Beca climbs in after her once she's said goodbye to Jesse and told Chloe she'll see her back at the room. Jesse closes the door behind her and Beca looks out of the window as the cab driver pulls away from the curb. Jesse's waving like an idiot, but Chloe's smile has fallen away as she turns to get into the second cab. There's something about the look on her face that makes Beca's stomach churn and even though she hopes nothing is wrong, deep down she knows that something is.
Beside her, Amy is snoring. The Bellas are all leaning sleepily on one another around her.
And inside, Beca feels sick and confused.
By the time Beca gets Amy into bed and manages to escape, Chloe is already back in their room. She's taking off her makeup in the bathroom mirror and flashes Beca a smile as she walks by the door.
"You made it," she says, not a hint of despondency in her voice, and okay, Beca thinks. Maybe everything is alright.
"Barely," she bemoans, groaning dramatically and flopping face-first down onto the bed. "I thought Amy was going to make me stay with her. She kept talking about rabbits having shadows that were too big for their bodies. It was weird."
"Kinda freaked you out?" Chloe asks knowingly, poking her head out and around the side of the door to look at Beca.
Beca feigns innocence, glancing off and away like she has no idea what Chloe is talking about. It makes Chloe laugh as she ducks back inside the bathroom.
Sighing heavily at the thought of moving, Beca forces herself to roll over and get up so she can grab her pyjamas and change. Facing away from the bathroom, just in case, Beca starts removing her pants while thinking about the events of the day.
Getting to this point feels like it had taken a small eternity and now that thing they'd all been working towards has come and gone in the blink of an eye. It feels almost anticlimactic in a way. Not in the sense that winning had failed to live up to expectations but more because it's just over now.
World's is done and that marks the beginning of their next phase in life. They're all moving on after this.
Maybe anticlimactic is the wrong word, Beca thinks. Maybe she means bittersweet.
"A half-naked girl in my room," Chloe's voice, sly and amused, is suddenly right behind her, "what did I do to deserve this?"
And if Beca had been waiting for Chloe, if a topless Beca is something that would count as a reward to Chloe, there are multiple things Chloe has done over the course of the day to deserve such a thing.
"I was-" Fingers brush across the pink lotuses on the back of her shoulder and Beca's words are cut off as she inhales sharply, sleep shirt clenched tightly in both hands in front of her.
"I know I've already said this," Chloe says, as if Beca hadn't spoken at all, "but you were really amazing tonight." Her fingers trace the lines of Beca's tattoo and scatter goosebumps across Beca's skin.
"Couldn't have done it without you," Beca manages, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath as Chloe's hand continues to move.
"We make a pretty good team." Chloe shifts behind her, hand still moving, and Beca's about to agree with her when a second hand comes up to join the first. Beca almost rips her shirt in two and it's still not enough to stop a small whine of a whimper from escaping. The hairs on the back of her neck, on her arms, they all stand at attention, feeding shockwaves directly into Beca's skin.
Chloe's hands curve over Beca's shoulders before she trails her fingers along the length of Beca's back. They stop to wander across bars of black and then Chloe is running her fingertips down Beca's sides. Down, up, and down again, until Beca's body feels like it's vibrating.
Chloe's hands stall momentarily at Beca's hips and then Beca's heart leaps inside her chest when those hands slide around to rest against her stomach. Just above the waistband of her pants, one above the other, and that's where they stay, pressing lightly into Beca's skin. Chloe's bare arms brush against her sides and Beca burns at the contact.
Then Chloe is moving closer, until her front is flush against Beca's back and she can rest her chin on Beca's shoulder, their heads touching. Chloe's hands move but it's only to make way for her arms and they twine themselves around Beca's middle like they're retracing an old, familiar trail.
All movement stops after that and Beca doesn't realise she's holding her breath until her lungs start to protest. There's a buzzing inside her head that grows so loud, it fills up all the space in there. Smothering her thoughts and leaving her alone in the moment. Unconsciously allowing her arms to rest over Chloe's, like she's holding Chloe's there against her.
She listens to Chloe's breathing and tries to match her own to it, but every time she takes a breath Chloe's arms move with her and she's reminded of why she's having trouble breathing in the first place, resetting the whole process.
"I don't want this to end." Chloe's voice is a whisper, sad and small, but she's close enough for Beca to hear and Beca's stomach flips and drops. Because she isn't sure what Chloe is talking about. Copenhagen? The Bellas? Barden? This thing between them?
Beca doesn't know which one she wants Chloe to be talking about.
She wants to ask, though. Wants to find out what Chloe means. But she can't make the words come out of her mouth. It's like fear has shoved a cork down her throat and Beca doesn't even know what she's afraid of, but it's too late.
Chloe's hold on her slackens and she starts to pull her arms out from under Beca's. And Beca wants to grab them, wants to yank them back into place and feel Chloe against her again.
But she doesn't know what will happen if she does that.
And maybe that's why she's afraid.
Then Chloe is gone, leaving Beca a kind of cold she's never felt before. It digs deep into her bones and settles there like cement, somehow managing to feel heavy and empty at the same time.
She can't help but feel like she's missed something here and that knowledge gnaws at her.
It's a few moments before she turns around; she takes the time to put on her shirt and take a few breaths before schooling her expression. When she does finally turn, she's met with the sight of Chloe in front of the closet, pulling out her own pyjamas while shrugging her shirt off. Beca watches until Chloe's lifting the tank top over her head and then she looks away, making a beeline for the bathroom to run through the same regime Chloe had been working through when she first arrived at the room.
She tries to zone out as she takes her makeup off. Focuses on making sure every last speck is removed before standing in front of the sink, fresh-faced. She stares at her reflection, thinking nothing, until her feet decide it's time to go.
Chloe is packing things into her suitcase when Beca comes out and she lifts her head to smile at Beca before placing another intricately folded shirt into the Tetris puzzle that is her luggage.
"I don't know how you fit everything in there," Beca remarks, tugging back the covers of her bed and slipping under them to lie on her side. Chloe lifts her head again and she's grinning now, like she has a secret.
"It's a skill." Chloe stands to retrieve one final sweater out of the closet. "One you might be able to learn if you didn't leave packing until the last minute." She stares pointedly at Beca's suitcase. It kind of looks like a mini tornado has swept through it.
"I'll do it in the morning." Beca dismisses the thought of doing anything else with a wave of her hand and Chloe rolls her eyes, kneeling back down to continue packing. Beca watches her for a few moments longer, until the elephant in the hallway makes its way into the room and forces Beca to ask the question that needs asking.
"So, um," she clears her throat, "how did the, uh, talk with Aubrey go?" The second Beca's inquiry is done, Chloe's posture stiffens and her movements freeze, like someone has pressed pause on that area of the hotel room. It only lasts a few seconds, though.
"Fine," is what Chloe says. It's unconvincing and Beca frowns at the little lie now sitting between them. It's out of place, shouldn't be there, and she wants to shoo it away like one might a mischievous animal intruder.
"Fine?" she echoes, sounding purposefully sceptical. "She caught us making out backstage. I don't think 'fine' would really cover her initial feelings on that-"
"It doesn't matter," Chloe cuts her off and the sharpness in her tone takes Beca aback, but it's gone a second later, replaced with something more subdued. "It's okay. I explained everything." Chloe pauses as she packs the last of what she can until tomorrow morning and closes the lid of her case. "It's fine."
"She doesn't, like, totally hate me again?" Beca asks, only half joking.
"No," and Chloe laughs, but it sounds wet, "she doesn't hate you."
Dread and confusion clawing its way up her throat, Beca sits up abruptly, sheets falling to her lap, and frowns at Chloe's back.
"Chlo… are you crying?" Beca tries to keep the panic out of her voice. Tries to remain in her position and not stand or approach Chloe. Because Beca feels like she just side-stepped into a parallel dimension and doesn't know what's going on or why Chloe is upset.
"I don't…." Still facing away from Beca, Chloe sniffs and then sighs. "Can we not talk about it right now? I'm just… I'm really tired and tomorrow's going to be a long day."
"Uh, yeah." And Beca nods, even though Chloe can't see her. "Sure." Heart thumping rapidly behind her ribs, Beca lies back down against the mattress and tries not to watch Chloe as she finally turns and climbs into her own bed.
Tries not to wonder why hers suddenly feels a lot bigger.
Chloe turns off her bedside light and settles down on her side with her back to Beca. That's when Beca fully allows herself to look over at the other woman and sees the blankets pulled up around her shoulders, notes the way she's curled up.
The frantic uneasiness that had clung to her at the party returns tenfold now, impossible shadows closing in on her from all sides of the room, and all at once Beca feels suffocated by the idea that this is her fault. That she'd done something over the course of the evening to make Chloe pull away from her.
The distance between them, though in reality only a few feet, feels cavernous as Beca lies there in the dark, her mind racing through every interaction she'd had with Chloe that day. She searches through them with a fine tooth comb and still ends up empty handed, which leads her to the assumption that something must have happened during Chloe's talk with Aubrey. Everything had been okay up until then.
Maybe it was them getting caught. Maybe Chloe had felt embarrassed or ashamed once their secret encounters were no longer secret. That didn't seem right, though. Beca hadn't known Chloe to be ashamed of anything in the four years that she'd known her.
No, something else was wrong, something Beca wasn't privy to, and being locked out of any aspect of Chloe's life felt alien to her at this point. They'd shared too much, they'd promised to talk about things, and if Beca had done something then she wishes Chloe would just tell her.
But Chloe isn't talking and Beca isn't about to push, and so it's with a heavy sense of heartache that Beca rolls over and closes her eyes. She tucks her arms protectively against her chest and exhales slowly, trying to relax.
Sleep does not come easily.
Beca is woken by the mattress moving underneath her. It dips beside her and, in her sleepy state, she almost rolls into the movement, but then a warm body is filling the space and the mattress evens back out. The room is still pitch black and she wonders what time it is, but isn't about to roll over to check the clock.
Her breathing stalls and she holds the air in her lungs for a few seconds longer than she should, waiting for the body beside her to settle.
"Beca?" Chloe's voice is barely a whisper and although Beca hears it, she finds herself unable to reply. Instead she concentrates on carefully releasing her held breath and keeps her eyes closed.
It's almost thirty seconds later, an amount of time that seems endless to Beca, when Chloe lets out a small sigh and scoots closer. She drapes her arm across Beca's middle and curls her fingers tightly into the material of Beca's pyjama top.
Abruptly overcome by an immense sense of relief, all Beca can do is try and keep her breathing even.
Beca's sleep is sound enough that it's the alarm she'd set that wakes her. She grumbles unhappily and rolls over, begrudgingly reaches an arm outside of her cocoon and fumbles for her phone. She jabs at the screen until the noise stops and then pulls her arm back under the blankets. She sighs with her eyes still closed and lets herself sink further into the pillow with a deep breath.
It's only when she breathes in Chloe that she remembers.
Her eyes snap open and she presses her hands flat against the mattress, lifting her upper body to look around the room. Filled with the early morning light, it's otherwise empty and Beca's heart sinks before she registers the sound of the shower running. Relief trickles through her and she's reminded of how comforting the weight of Chloe's arm around her had been.
It had felt too real to be a dream, but Beca still wonders if she'd imagined it. If the scent of Chloe is lingering only in her mind now, a desperate sensory hallucination that's sole purpose is to fill her with false hope so that she doesn't crumble to pieces right then and there.
Slowly, she lies back down and spends the next few moments worrying her bottom lip as she thinks and hopes, and wonders. Staring up at the ceiling, Beca drifts back to the night before. She asks herself why Chloe had been upset, but any answer to that question is no more forthcoming now than it had been last night. She wants to know but at the same time she's scared. Because what if she did do something and she's messed everything up? What if last night had been one of many potential finishing lines for this thing between her and Chloe and Beca had crossed it unknowingly?
"I don't want this to end."
Beca doesn't want this to end either.
The shower is shut off and Beca releases her lip, straining her hearing like she's expecting Chloe to say something. She can hear the other woman moving about in the bathroom and an image of Chloe in nothing but a towel flashes through Beca's mind. She swallows thickly and closes her eyes, twisting her head to the side to alleviate the crick in her neck and, hopefully somehow, banish the visual.
She only really manages to do one of those things but getting rid of the image would have proved fruitless anyway, because less than a minute later the bathroom door opens and Chloe, wearing the same towel Beca had envisioned her in, is creeping through the room, gaze fixed on her suitcase. It's only once Chloe has grabbed what she came out for and is turning to head back the way she came that she catches sight of Beca, awake and watching her.
Something close to chagrin plummets through Beca like a cartoon anvil. She feels like she's just been caught staring and should most definitely look away. But she's been finding it harder to convince herself to look elsewhere, lately. If Chloe's around, Beca's eyes are usually on her.
"Oh," Chloe lets out a small gasp of surprise. "You're awake." She straightens, having hunched her posture for, Beca assumes, more effective creeping, and smiles. "Forgot underwear." Chloe holds up the aforementioned garment and Beca nods, wordlessly, as she tries to keep her mind focused. Having it wander right now could be disastrous. "I'll be done in a minute and then you can jump in."
Beads of water glisten across Chloe's skin as she moves, shining like diamonds and drawing Beca's attention.
"Are you okay?" Chloe questions, pausing just in front of the bathroom. Bright blue eyes seem to bore into Beca, drilling a hole right through her that threatens to let out everything she's holding inside.
"Are you?" Beca wants to ask, but she doesn't. Instead, she nods and mutters something about mornings sucking, and Chloe takes the answer with a smile and disappears from view.
Heart racing a little, Beca closes her eyes and takes a few deep breaths. She imagines that cartoon anvil from earlier pressing down on all her worries and concerns, pushing everything further and further away from the surface, until it's lying somewhere below the pit of Beca's stomach. Far enough away that the anxious butterflies are kept at bay and she thinks she might just be able to make it through the day.
Because as upset as Chloe had appeared last night, she seems fine this morning. There's no trace of the tears Beca had heard in her voice, no red-rimmed eyes or furtive glances. So, Beca reasons that since Chloe had slipped into bed with her, she probably isn't upset anymore. Not with Beca, at least.
The thought acts as a soothing balm. Cool and calming, and between it and the anvil, Beca feels a measure of relief. Still, part of her feels like she should ask Chloe about it, but there's a larger part that doesn't want to risk making Chloe cry again.
The majority rules.
By the time Chloe comes out of the bathroom again, Beca has risen from bed, tried to smooth down her hair, and started packing. If you can call it that.
It's packing in the sense that her clothes are thrown into the space on the left side of her suitcase and anything that falls under the heading of 'other' is thrown into the space on the right. Chloe stops beside her and stares down at the mess with a forlorn expression, worrying aloud that everything is going to be wrinkled.
"I'll just wash and iron everything when we get back," Beca shrugs, tossing the last of her clothes into the case.
"Beca, the last time you used an iron we almost had to call the fire department." Chloe stares at her, eyebrows raised in challenge.
"Okay, that was mostly Amy's fault," Beca argues, even though she knows Amy wasn't to blame. She argues simply to continue the bickering. It's playful and familiar and, most importantly, it isn't making Chloe sad.
And honestly, that's Beca's goal for the day.
Beca's starting to realise that maybe she should have set a few additional goals for the day. Like, 'ensure all the Bellas have their passports and tickets before leaving the hotel.' That one would have been particularly useful about an hour ago, because when Lilly had gone to look for her ticket in order to present it to the check-in assistant, she couldn't find either.
It had, of course, been left on the nightstand in the hotel room, and even though Lilly had assured them that she could find a way onto the plane regardless, Jessica and Ashley volunteered to get a cab back to the hotel to retrieve it.
Flo was the only other one of the group that hadn't checked in yet and so she decided to keep Lilly company while she waited. Beca pointed them towards a coffee shop and the two waved at the group as they headed for the security check.
Jesse had arrived with them as planned and he was currently two places ahead of Beca, talking to Aubrey and wearing a smile that had been directed at her once upon a time.
She feels a very distinct lack of jealousy. It isn't hollow, like something is missing, it's more a feeling of completion, though that seems like too strong a word. It's just that pieces keep slotting into place for Beca lately and most of them aren't fitting where she thought they would.
Jesse had fit for a while before she figured out he wasn't quite the right shape.
She thinks of Chloe's shape then, a piece that Beca initially thought had gotten mixed in with the wrong puzzle. But no, it was in the right place, and as it becomes ever more clear where Chloe's piece fits, Beca has come to realise that it's place is far closer to the centre of the puzzle than she could have imagined.
And it's surprising, but it's not exactly a shock.
Chloe's shape shifts from puzzle piece to person in her mind and Beca finds herself thinking of the night before Worlds. Lines and curves, arches and circles.
Chloe's shape had fit her then, too.
She's ripped away from her thoughts by someone jabbing a finger against her spine and she turns her head, momentarily bewildered, to find Chloe looking at her expectantly.
"Totes no rush, but it's been seven seconds and Cynthia Rose keeps pushing me." Chloe gestures ahead of Beca, who turns her head back and sees that a large gap has formed between her and Emily.
Cursing under her breath, Beca grabs the handle of her suitcase and tugs it along behind her as she hurries to catch up.
"You were sure lost in thought back there," Chloe says once they've stopped again. This time, Beca doesn't turn. "Anything fun?" Her voice is closer the second time and Beca purses her lips to stop herself from saying something before she's had time to think it through.
"Yes," is what she settles on, surprising herself a little and, if the beat of silence that follows is anything to go by, surprising Chloe, too. Chloe chuckles, low and far too sultry for their current position.
"You'll have to tell me about it when we get back."
And there's a distinction there that Beca does not miss. Because Chloe could have asked Beca to tell her on the plane ride home, they'd have plenty of time. Chloe could have said 'sometime.' She didn't, though.
Those last four words Chloe had spoken conjure up a vivid image in Beca's mind. One that sees the two of them sequestered away in Chloe's dimly lit room, missing various articles of clothing and talking in hushed whispers. One that sees Beca straddling Chloe's thighs and running her hands across each line and curve that she'd been thinking about, while telling Chloe exactly what she'd been thinking.
And she knows by Chloe's wording, she knows, that Chloe has a similar vision in mind. An idea. A desire.
Something hot coils itself low in Beca's stomach and just lies there. Waiting.
It's touch and go for, well, apparently far too long for Aubrey's liking, but the four wayward Bellas manage to make it to their gate before boarding time and thankfully prevent Aubrey from going into cardiac arrest.
After being dragged through most of the gift shops, Beca was allowed to retire to the uncomfortable seating area at the gate and Chloe plopped down next to her with a bag full of goodies and a happy sigh. That's where they sit now, having only moved to make sure the other Bellas were okay, Beca with her laptop resting on her knees and Chloe with her book in hand.
When their boarding call airs over the loudspeaker, Beca immediately lifts her gaze to look for Jesse. He's smiling half-heartedly at Aubrey, a silent, "well, I guess this is it." It plucks at Beca's heartstrings in a way she doesn't really expect but that makes sense. She wants them both to be happy and this parting will leave them sad.
Jesse shuffles awkwardly, one hand at the back of his neck, as other passengers move around him in an effort to be as close to first in line as possible. Beca, Chloe, and the rest of the Bellas gather up their belongings and join the gaggle of travellers. Before they do though, they each stop to say goodbye to Jesse, and Beca squeezes him tightly.
"Thanks for coming," she says, letting him go. "Even if it wasn't totally for me." He laughs at her and kisses her cheek, and Beca slips in behind Chloe as the line starts to move. The rest of the gate has more or less emptied out but Aubrey and Jesse hang back, exchanging words that Beca is grateful she can't hear. She watches, trying not to be obvious, as Jesse falters and flounders for a split second, but Aubrey's there to toss him a life ring. She leans forward, wraps her arms around his neck and kisses him.
The Bellas whistle and catcall, Emily claps like she's never been this excited about something, and Beca's lips curve into a grin.
"Finally," Chloe scoffs and Beca turns her head to where Chloe is standing ahead of her in line. "I thought she was going to miss the plane."
"I'm not totally sure he isn't just going to come with us," Beca says with a playful roll of her eyes.
"They're pretty cute together." Chloe's eyes dart to Beca's and Beca makes a face.
"I really don't want to think about it." And it really doesn't bother her as much as she makes it out to, but she knows that Chloe finds it funny when she's grossed out by something, when she makes a fuss, so Beca just goes with it.
"Do you think they're excited? Nervous?" Chloe is looking at her again, Beca can feel the heat of her gaze on her skin. "You know, all those new love feelings?"
Butterflies, inexplicable spikes in heart rate, the constant longing for the simplest of touches and then the breathlessness that follows contact.
Beca clears her throat.
"Probably. Jesse's all mush." She shifts her bag higher on her shoulder to give herself something to do and takes two steps forward as the line moves. She notices the book in Chloe's hand again and gestures to it. "You're not finished yet?"
"It's not like I've had much downtime, Becs," Chloe chuckles. "There was always something going on."
Beca hums noncommittally and then, after a moment of thoughtful contemplation, she says, "Do you think they'll get together in the end?"
Chloe pauses, her thumb idly stroking over the remaining pages like a flipbook.
"I'm not sure," Chloe muses, quietly, her brow furrowing as Beca becomes acutely aware of the beating of her heart. "I think so." Chloe's frown disappears and she bites her lip. "I hope so." She looks to Beca then and Beca's certain something happens inside her chest. Be it a skip of the heart or the stalling of one. "I want them to."
There's a tightness that wraps itself around Beca's whole body and squeezes until she thinks she might pass out. It only abates when Cynthia Rose elbows her to keep the line moving and somewhere in that time, Chloe has turned away from her and walked on ahead.
Leaving Beca to trail a little bit behind while still giving her time to catch up.