"Are you hungry?"

Beca doesn't ignore Chloe's question, but she waits to respond until she's sat herself down at the kitchen table and draped her arms and upper body across it dramatically before saying, "I'm too sad to eat." She hears Chloe's sympathetic coo and then curls her arms around her head, blocking out the overhead light, and closes her eyes.

It's not entirely untrue, though she does think she might be hungry. It's hard to tell with the gnawing dread eating away at her insides.

She hears the sound of the refrigerator door being pulled open and then Chloe's hum of consideration. Beca rolls her forehead across her arms until her chin is touching the table and then lifts her head enough to glance at Chloe. She's still standing in front of the fridge, one hand holding the door open, lips pursed and brow pinched as she surveys the contents.

"I can make us sandwiches," she pauses, bending at the waist and reaching in to pull out two tomatoes from somewhere near the back. She turns them over in her hands, inspecting. "I think."

Beca doesn't say anything at first, just spends a long moment looking at Chloe, and when Chloe turns her head to meet her gaze, Beca doesn't look away. The smile Chloe gives her isn't one of gloating knowing, it's softer than that, though knowing all the same. There's something there, passing between them in the brief silence, floating, floating, and then slipping away.

"Sounds good." Beca flattens her palms against the tabletop and pushes herself upright. "I'll get the wine." Chloe raises an eyebrow at her in question and Beca snorts a laugh as she stands. "Oh, right, like you're going to miss an opportunity to toast to your last night here."

It takes Beca far less time to procure a bottle of wine from the fridge than it does for Chloe to make the sandwiches, and so after setting it and two glasses that almost match down within grabbing distance, Beca asks if she can help.

"You can cut that." Chloe pushes one of the sandwiches towards Beca, who picks up the discarded butter knife and is about to slice into the bread when she finds her wrist in a vice grip. "What are you doing?" It's very close to a shriek, far more shrill than Beca thinks is warranted, and she stares at Chloe wide-eyed.

"I'm- you told me to cut it so I'm-"

"Diagonally, Beca!" Chloe says, like this should be obvious to Beca. Like she should know this already.

"It's- why does it- what is happening right now?" Beca glances around, flummoxed. Then, slowly, Chloe guides Beca's hand back down and settles it into place with the end of the knife in line with one of the corners of the sandwich.

"They taste better when they're triangles." Chloe releases her wrist and goes back to finishing up the second sandwich, either oblivious to the way Beca is gaping at her or electing to ignore her completely.

"Are you stoned right now?" Beca asks after a minute and she watches Chloe's profile as her mouth curls into a small smile.

"No," she drawls, playfully exasperated as she glances sidelong at Beca. "It's just something my dad used to say."

Beca's stomach is immediately transported to the elevator at the top of Tower of Terror just in time for it to plummet.

"Oh." She feels like an asshole, but before Chloe can get upset over making Beca feel bad, Beca's pressing the knife down into the bread and saying, "Well, it sounds like he was a pretty smart dude, so triangles it is."

Chloe grins at her and Beca's stomach drops for a different reason.


They'd been halfway to the couch when Beca had stopped dead in her tracks and stared at the thing long and hard before pivoting on a heel and heading for the stairs. Ignoring the blush heating her face as well as the sound of Chloe's laughter as she turned to follow Beca.

The couch, evidently, was now considered a danger zone.

As if Chloe's room is any different.

It shouldn't be, really. Should be worse, in fact, but that's where they end up anyway. Sat next to each other with their backs to Chloe's headboard and a YouTube playlist filled with music videos that are at least ten years old, most older, playing on Beca's laptop in front of them. Beca knows the songs, doesn't care for a lot of them, but she knows Chloe does and that's why she'd picked this particular list.

With plates that have been empty for well over an hour balanced on their legs and wine glasses that keep refilling in hand, they make fun of clothing choices while wondering aloud what fashion faux pas they'll be judged on in twenty years time.

It's nice. It's comfortable, familiar.

It's kind of perfect for their last night.

They're sitting close enough for their shoulders to brush every time they breathe, close enough that their legs are pressed together from hip to ankle, and though that could be blamed on the size of Chloe's bed, Beca knows their positioning would be the same if they were lounging on a California king.

They both know that this is the prelude to the final chapter, lurking in wait for them on the horizon alongside a sun that's standing by ready to rise, and Beca isn't sure how to handle this. Any of it. Not the idea of saying goodbye or that of moving through a life where Chloe isn't living in the same space as her.

She doesn't know how to handle the fact that she already misses Chloe, even while she's still sitting beside her. While whatever is going on between them is still brewing, bubbling, not quite done. Is she supposed to pack all that away regardless? How can she possibly fit everything that's been unearthed back into a box that is now visibly too small to hold it all?

How do they go back to the way things were?

The thought makes a dull ache bloom in Beca's chest like a sad flower, limp and lusterless.

Jesse texts. He claims no real reason, simply that he wants to say hi, but Beca knows him too well and it's obvious that he's checking up on her. He doesn't talk about what happened at Worlds or ask if anything with her and Chloe has changed, but it's all sitting there unspoken in the short lulls between messages.

"Oh my god," Chloe bolts upright from where she's been idly reclining against her pillows. "I didn't make a toast!"

Beca groans, loud and exaggerated, and swipes Chloe's empty plate from her lap, stacking it on top of her own before crawling off the bed. She walks over to the dresser and sets the plates down, turning back to Chloe with wine glass in hand.

"You really don't-"

"Beca," Chloe warns, stern, eyes narrowed. "Of course I do." She sighs then, loud and showy, and, with a flourish of her hands, untucks her hair from the back of her shirt. "It's like you don't even know me."

Beca does know her, though. Knows Chloe well enough to detect the underlying note of sadness she's trying to bury by overcompensating with dramatics. And because she knows that, she'll let Chloe continue without any further objections, playful though they may be.

The edge of the dresser digs into Beca's back as she leans against it. She wraps one arm around her middle, lifting the glass in her hand and tipping it towards Chloe, signalling for her to go ahead.

"These last four years have been the best of my life." Chloe releases a deep sigh. "It's been real." And she drains the last of her wine. Beca stares at her for a handful of seconds before she barks a laugh.

"That's it?" she asks and Chloe shrugs, smiling. Beca shakes her head and finishes off her drink in one gulp, then deposits it next to the plates. "You're still bad at math." Beca flicks her gaze to Chloe, fingers lightly gripping the mouth of her glass for another heartbeat before she brings that arm around to mirror her other, hugging herself loosely. At Chloe's questioning head tilt, Beca elaborates, mouth sliding towards a warm smile. "You've been here seven years."

"Yeah, but you haven't."

There's no hesitation to precede Chloe's explanation, it's as though it had just been sitting at the forefront of her mind, waiting to jump out and smack Beca with the emotional silly-stick when she least expected it.

Which, okay, mission accomplished.

Beca finds herself needing to swallow against a lump trying to rise in her throat and she glances down at her feet. She digs the toes of one foot into the carpet, bending them so they curl towards her sole, and she doesn't know what to say to that. Can't fathom a suitable response. Thankfully, and as always, Chloe saves her.

"What do you think you'll remember most?" Chloe asks, the question coming out of nowhere to slice through the brief silence that had settled. "About the last four years?"

Beca blinks, frowns, takes the corner of her lip between her teeth, and considers.

How does a person choose only one of the many, many insane, wonderful, and often ridiculous moments they've found themselves in with the people they now call family? They've done and seen so many amazing things over the years, things a freshman Beca Mitchell would never have even dreamed of - or wanted to dream of - and Beca feels herself smiling unconsciously as she flicks through the memories like index cards. Pulling out a favourite to read over the bullet points before replacing it and looking for another that proves noteworthy.

In the end, there's really only one thing that stands out among the rest. One thing that she keeps coming back to. She unfolds her arms and grips the lip of the dresser and decides that if there's a time to be honest about things, a time where she wants to be honest about things, it should be now.

Last chance before Chloe leaves.

And so, blowing out a long breath, Beca lifts her eyes to find Chloe's and says, "You."

A caravan of emotions tracks across Chloe's features, melting from one expression to another so quick and smooth, it's like watching a timelapse video of the weather in slow motion. Beaming sunshine to a thunderous lightning storm, to a calm, cloudless day.

Beca feels the changes, feels them morph around her, work through her, and she wants to let the gravity created by this whirlwind pull her over. Until she's standing in front of Chloe. Close enough to touch, to kiss. To hold.

Her nails bite into the wood beneath them, knuckles flashing white.

Because she can't.

It's too late, she thinks. There's no time to start anything here, no time to ask questions that are going to take far longer than the few hours they have left together to answer and Beca should just accept that. Should be okay with it. Should be able to look back over the last few weeks and see them for the eye-opening gift that they are.

Is she glad they did this, even carrying the pain she is now? Yes.

Does she wish she'd realised certain things sooner? Absolutely.

Is she dreading tomorrow with every cell in her body? Completely.

But not looking forward to something has never stopped that thing from eventually arriving and though Beca would happily live inside a bubble decorated by that very specific denial, something would inevitably come along to burst it. Such is the way of these types of things.

And so it's with an unpleasantly churning stomach that she pushes herself away from Chloe's dresser, quickly glancing over her shoulder to make sure she hasn't disturbed George the bear, horse trainer extraordinaire, and wipes cold, clammy hands across the front of her jeans. Glances pointedly at the alarm clock on Chloe's nightstand, its numbers mocking her with their late hour.

"I guess this is it then?" Beca means for it to be a statement, but it doesn't quite come out that way, and Chloe offers her a small smile along with a nod from her position on the bed, having shuffled to the edge.

"Seems like." Her hands are curled loosely around the side of the mattress and Beca's eyes flick to them as they squeeze and release the material beneath them. "Thank you," Chloe's words of appreciation swing Beca's gaze back up to her face and she finds the redhead looking at her with such a sense of solemn gratitude that it upends any potential response. Thankfully, Chloe continues. "For everything. Not just," she gestures between them, "this but…." Chloe trails off, running the fingers of one hand through her hair as she tries to collect herself. "For joining the Bellas. For coming back even though Aubrey was awful to you. For making us important to you."

You are important to me, Beca wants to say. The most important.

"I don't think I would have..." Chloe pauses, pursing her lips and then quickly changing course. "I'm glad it was you."

"For which bit?" Beca thinks, wryly, then panics a little when she realises she's said that out loud. But Chloe is ducking her head and chuckling, looking up through her lashes at Beca in a way that makes Beca's stomach roll and tumble.

"All of it." Chloe, with a final squeeze of the mattress, stands and slowly crosses the space to where Beca has been hovering in the middle of the room. She leans forward to press a soft kiss to the corner of Beca's mouth, before stepping back and leaving Beca feeling as though all the oxygen has been taken out of the room. Beca makes to leave but pauses in the doorway, turning back, starting slightly when she sees that Chloe has followed her. Stayed close.

"Are you ever going to give me that grade?" Beca asks, only sounding a little winded and proudly managing to arch an eyebrow as she's halfway out the door. "Marks out of ten at least?" But Chloe just bites the edge of her lip and shakes her head.

"It's been a pleasure." Ridiculously, and with a smile that's so unique to her, Chloe holds out her hand for Beca to shake, like they're finishing up a business transaction. Beca stares at it for a few seconds and then laughs softly as she takes it.

They shake, twice, the action comically firm and authoritative, and Beca watches Chloe's face throughout the strange moment. Watches her expression and the way it twists away from something and then back again, swaying between those two things almost in sync with the bobbing of their hands.

And just like that, it's done.

Over.

Every rock they'd overturned together rolling back into the spot it had been in before any of this started. Every door they'd opened closing again with the click of a latch that is deafening in its finality. The two of them going back to how things had been before Chloe walked into Beca's room that night and asked something of her that Beca had so readily agreed to.

Something she hopes has helped Chloe even half as much as it's changed Beca.

Chloe smiles, but it's the kind that doesn't quite meet her eyes, but then Beca's looking down, distracted by the way Chloe's hand feels as it slips from hers, fingers dragging across Beca's palm like she's trying to unconsciously prolong the contact. Their fingertips catch, graze, and Beca glances back up in time to see that smile of Chloe's begin to falter as she turns away from her.

The single second - because it can't be any longer - that follows feels like an eternity and Beca thinks that, in some side dimension, it must be. Because the moments she's spent with Chloe over the last few weeks somehow find the time to replay themselves in slow motion behind Beca's eyes in that instant and there's barely an inch of space separating their hands when Beca shoots hers forward, closing her fingers around Chloe's wrist.

Chloe whirls around to face her again, looks down to where Beca is holding onto her, then into Beca's eyes, searching. They stare at one another and Beca can feel her own heart jumping, thumping, thundering, and wonders if Chloe's is doing the same.

Later, Beca will think about how cliched it is, but the truth of the matter is she has no idea which one of them moves first. Only knows that Chloe's lips are on hers and her fingers are burying themselves in Chloe's hair, hands pulling, body pushing. Chloe grips Beca's hips hard enough to bruise and their feet knock together clumsily as Beca finds herself being walked backward. Her shoulders hit the wall next to the stairs and she groans into the kiss, desire sparking like ball lightning inside her, and Chloe uses the opening to sweep her tongue into Beca's mouth.

Her brain absently recalls the last time she'd been pressed against this wall, clothes soaked through, Chloe's hands on her just like this but also different, elsewhere, roaming and squeezing. Remembers, too, where that night had taken them; to the brink of no return. Possibly a toe or two over it as she explored new territory, putting every one of her senses to work. The smell of chlorine, the taste of it on Chloe, and the uneven way her fingers skipped across wet skin as Beca touched her. How beautifully dishevelled Chloe had looked and, god, the sounds she'd made.

And it's as easy as that; the urgent need to hear Chloe make those sounds again consumes Beca like wildfire. Like lava, spreading over her and burning everything else away.

Her tongue meets Chloe's stroke for stroke as she slides a hand up the back of Chloe's t-shirt and then drags the one lost in red curls down, along the side of her chest and torso, until it can join the other where it's pressed flat against warm skin. Chloe sighs, moving her own hands down and around to grasp Beca's backside. The noise that pulls from Beca is one of pleasant surprise, which in turn causes Chloe to release a similar sound as she momentarily works her hands into the rear pockets of Beca's jeans, squeezing again.

They don't stay there, though, instead moving with purpose to the front of Beca's thighs where Chloe digs her fingertips in and guides them across tight denim. Beca's hips twitch at the touch and Chloe greedily presses closer. She nudges her leg between Beca's and brings her hands back to Beca's hips, tugging at them roughly to force a friction that has Beca breaking the kiss with a gasp. She tips her head back against the wall behind her and screws her eyes closed as Chloe's kisses continue. She latches onto Beca's leaping pulse point and scratches her teeth across it, sucking hard.

This time the rock of Beca's hips is involuntary but entirely her own and it's accompanied by a half-sworn moan that is overwhelming in how it comes from Chloe, not her, and would be too loud if anyone else were home.

But no one is.

For better or worse, every other person who had until recently occupied the house along with them is gone now. Leaving behind sad, empty rooms and the two of them, alone.

Pulling her hands out from under Chloe's shirt, Beca lifts them to the redhead's face and guides it up as she tilts her own back down. Urging her into another kiss that is fast and messy, and so good it sets Beca's nerves alight.

The hallway sways around her, even though Beca can't see it, and she slides the fingers of one hand from Chloe's cheek to sink them into red hair. Winds and tangles like she wants them to get lost and uses her grasp to keep Chloe close. Keep Chloe's mouth on hers, because Beca thinks she might stop breathing if she doesn't. Thinks this might be the only way she ever feels alive for the rest of her life. Her body buzzing, thrumming with desire and anticipation. The desperate need that had started as innocently glowing embers, then grown hot enough to spit sparks out onto the scattered piles of kindling that Beca hadn't noticed until they were on fire.

Until she was in Chloe's room, on Chloe's bed, hovering over her with a knee between Chloe's legs and was letting, urging her, to rock against Beca's thigh. Until Chloe was coming apart in front of her for the first time. And the distance that starts at the foot of that moment and stretches to the head of the one they'd shared in Copenhagen seems like it should be so vast, but it isn't.

Never in her life had she been so turned on - by a woman, by her best friend, by anyone - that she'd found herself unable to resist slipping a hand beneath the band of her underwear. Never in a million years would she have thought she'd be doing that with another person in the room. Another person that was doing the same to themselves.

Beca remembers the feeling of Chloe's hand under hers, separated only by the thin material of Chloe's underwear, and how every twitch, every turn, every languid stroke had burned through Beca. Eating away at her like fire through a hay bale. Ravaging, raging, and unlike anything Beca had ever experienced.

She feels that way now, feels drunk with it as teeth drag across her lower lip and pull an undignified grunt from Beca that's quickly swallowed by another hungry kiss as Chloe presses into her. She makes Beca feel like she's in pieces. Pieces only Chloe can put back together. And that terrifies her.

Beca's hands wander, clutch, grasp, and pull at everything she can reach like she doesn't have enough hands to be able to touch Chloe as much as she wants to. Still, she tries.

There's a franticness to her movements now, to the kisses, acutely aware of how fast time is moving by around them. She can hear it ticking rhythmically away over their heads, chanting an unwelcome reminder of 'Chloe's gone tomorrow, gone tomorrow, gone tomorrow.' But even with how quickly it's slipping through Beca's fingers, she tries valiantly to hold on to the fact that she does still have time. Maybe not a lot, but enough.

Enough to make it count.

And she isn't going to waste it.

Beca fights against Chloe's weight, shoving at the hands holding her hips to the wall and pushing them back in the general direction of Chloe's room. They catch the door, already ajar, in their haste and send it flying open, smacking into the wall with a sound that would make Beca wince if she could hear it.

But all she hears is Chloe. Her ragged breathing and airy whimpers. The way she tries to speak in between their kisses but isn't quite able to manage, releasing nothing but shaky exhales that say more to Beca than words possibly could.

She pushes her hands back under Chloe's shirt as they stumble, fingers digging in where they land, dragging, unearthing moans that rattle along Beca's spine, trying to find a seam so they can start undoing her.

She doesn't think the search will last very long.

With one hand buried in Beca's hair, Chloe mimics Beca's actions with her other, moving it roughly along Beca's side, pawing at the swell of her breast through the thin material of her tank. The contact makes Beca inhale sharply on the coattails of another whimper and Chloe's fingers tighten in her hair even as she's pulling back from the kiss to look at Beca with dark, hungry eyes. It's only for a second or two, but it's long enough for something to pass silently between them, though they've never needed much time for mute conversations. A look, a gesture, the rise of an eyebrow; they can say a thousand things in a single moment, without ever having to open their mouths.

And so Beca knows exactly what Chloe is saying, asking. Can feel every question mark and every hesitant, needy ellipse stamped behind blue eyes.

It seems important, Beca realises with the sudden clarity of being given glasses after needing them for so long, that she be the one to eradicate the distance this time. That Chloe is waiting, always, wanting to be sure.

And finally, Beca feels it. A certainty so fierce it rips through her with enough force, she worries she might shake apart. Be left in pieces on the bedroom floor. So, she reaches out for something stable to hold onto, to hold herself together, and just like so many times before, for Beca, that something is Chloe.

She tilts her head and surges forward, muffling the quiet noise Chloe makes as she brings their lips together again in an open-mouthed kiss. She guides Chloe with the insistent press of her hips, their feet almost tripping one another up as Beca walks her backwards towards the bed. Her hands free themselves from the confines of Chloe's shirt but only so that nimble fingers can grasp at the hem of it and pull upward. They separate only long enough for the garment to be yanked over Chloe's head and quickly discarded.

And there's a voice, lurking within the shadows at the back of Beca's mind, snappishly whispering, "You're moving too fast!" and, "Stop, you're going to mess everything up!" But it doesn't feel too fast, feels a bit like they've been travelling towards this for years now and that the last few weeks have simply been the final leg of their journey.

As for messing things up, Beca doesn't feel like she's about to do that either. Doesn't feel much beyond the burn of Chloe's hands and the curl of her tongue as it stokes the fire building low in Beca's gut. Draws her closer like a crooked finger beckoning. Like they didn't just call an end to this experiment with the unspoken decision to go back to how things were before.

Beca realises, with a flash of pain, that they can't ever go back. That she won't ever be able to return to a place where looking at Chloe doesn't make her skin feel like it's coming alive.

Which makes this moment, this pocket of time they've carved out for themselves, all the more precious.

This had started out as a request from Chloe, a burgeoning mission to help her discover if there were parts of herself she didn't know yet. A notion that would have left her feeling uneasy and uncomfortable in a body she thought she'd known so well.

It had been important to Beca, to help, and then to keep helping, and somewhere along the way she found that it became something else. Nothing that took away from helping Chloe, but it was as though all those helping hands that had been offered were circling back around on Beca, closing in and urging her forward. Coaxing her towards something she might never have realised was there otherwise. The thought sends a pang of despair through her. The idea that she could have missed out on these last few weeks with Chloe, this newfound closeness and terrifying desire, almost makes her sick, but she pushes that aside.

Because she hasn't missed out, is currently twirling in the very epicentre of a tornado made up of that terrifying desire, letting it lift her higher and stealing the breath from her lungs.

Beca isn't sure if Chloe's skin is hot or if it's her own body that's on fire. Either way, when her hands settle at Chloe's waist, there is a warmth wanting to draw her in closer, but there's nowhere for her to go. The space between them is scant, necessary for the continuation of kisses that Beca isn't yet ready to sacrifice.

Still, that wanting warmth persists. And Beca does the only thing that makes sense to her in the moment. She guides hands made clumsy by the stroke of Chloe's tongue around to the middle of the redhead's back and sets fumbling fingers to work on the clasp of her bra. Because more skin equals a deeper level of closeness, surely. Something to appease the flames.

"Beca, wait." Chloe's voice hits her like a sprinkler system and reaches for her through the cooling mist.

Beca stills her hands and forces herself not to chase Chloe's lips. Instead, she tries to focus on her breathing and waits, as instructed.

But impatience vibrates through every bone, every muscle, running a circuit around her body. The speed bumps of desire it encounters threaten to disconnect her from the track completely and she can't help but curl the ends of her fingers into the muscles of Chloe's back to hold herself in place.

With their foreheads touching, Beca can feel every strained breath as it leaves Chloe. Can hear the broken quality creating fissures in her every word as she speaks.

"What are we-" Chloe's own high whine cuts her off and, insanely, Beca doesn't understand why she's stopped. Until she realises her lips have moved to pepper hot, open-mouthed kisses along the underside of Chloe's jaw, quite of their own volition, it would seem. She bites the inside of her cheek, hard, and stands rigid in front of Chloe, seizing up purposefully in a second attempt to just hold still. Which should be a simple enough instruction to follow and yet. "Don't you think-"

"No," Beca exhales in a rush, unable to stop herself from leaning back in to trail breathless kisses along the column of Chloe's throat. Beca doesn't want to say it's like a drug. That, after a few potent hits, she'd hooked. Lassoed in such a way that it could very well result in her strangling herself. She doesn't want to say any of that because it's cliche and terrible, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. Isn't what she feels. "No more thinking."

All Beca's done is think. She's tired of thinking, of overthinking.

"I-" Chloe starts again, but Beca's kiss is biting and borders on frantic, and it breaks up the rest of the sentence, scattering the remnants to the winds.

Their feet bump together again and then Chloe's legs must hit the side of the bed because she stops short, breaks the kiss, and Beca blinks from under hooded lids to see Chloe sitting down on the edge of the mattress. Lips swollen and pink, the same colour as her flushed cheeks, eyes dark as they look up at Beca, pupils blown.

"Do you want this?" Beca hears herself say, as though she's someone in complete control of her faculties, the only giveaway that she isn't being the rapid rise and fall of her chest and the rough, scratchy quality to her voice.

And if she only ever gets a single moment of true braveness, Beca thinks she'll be glad it's this one.

Chloe spends a painfully long few seconds worrying her lower lip and looking at Beca like the answer she wants to give is tearing her to pieces. Which is fitting, since that's exactly how looking at Chloe is making Beca feel right now. Like she's being picked apart, stitch by stitch.

"Yes." The whispered admission, uttered with a silent, "of course I do," that Beca feels in her bones, cracks the air and it's all Beca needs to hear.

The rope she'd tethered around her middle and attached to an invisible point somewhere behind her, the one she's been straining against ever since Chloe told her to wait, snaps like brittle elastic. There's a moment of frantic fumbling that sees their limbs tangle and mouths meet, sees teeth flash across reddening skin, and Beca is distantly aware that they're moving but doesn't realise why or to where until Chloe's body collapses fully underneath her.

Beca manages to avoid a painful collision involving her forehead and Chloe's nose by using her forearms to brace herself against the softness of Chloe's bedsheets. And that's when Beca registers their positioning, stretched out across Chloe's bed, lower bodies flush and legs intertwined. Chloe missing her shirt and red hair fanned out like a halo against her pillow.

And then they're staring, faces inches apart, breathing heavily, and Beca can feel the way her heart is threatening to stop, to burst. Every thump is a warning and every breath Chloe takes is a challenge, a dare, and Beca wants to push and pull at the same time.

She'd thought the hallway had been The Decision. That everything after it would flow along easily and uninterrupted, but Beca is finding that everything has become a decision now. Where to lie, how to move, what to say, do, what to think.

No, that's right, no thinking. Not now. Maybe not ever again.

And that's another decision.

Chloe's hands skim along her sides and Beca jerks as if the touch is unexpected, too lost in thought and caught up in Chloe's gaze to register the other woman moving at all. Chloe's mouth twitches towards a smile, her eyes never leaving Beca's as she pushes her thumbs under the hem of Beca's tank until the material catches against the webbing there and Chloe hikes the shirt ever so slightly upward. She stops before it goes too far - before she goes too far, Beca knows - and waits, snaring her bottom lip for a second or two, then parts her lips just so and simply breathes in a way that makes Beca feel too tight, too hot in her own skin.

Makes her ache.

She pushes herself back and sits up, and tries not to gasp when Chloe follows. Sitting along with her and sliding her legs between Beca's, effectively setting Beca astride her lap. Her hands have slid higher, taking the tank top with it, and Beca rests her palms on Chloe's shoulders to steady herself.

It doesn't really help.

She hangs her head, takes in the pretty blush spreading across Chloe's chest, and swallows thickly before reaching back to ghost her hands around Chloe's wrists, urging them up.

Chloe peels the shirt from her body with the kind of agonising slowness that leaves Beca shivering once the garment has been removed and Chloe presses forward, wrapping her arms around her and pressing her hands flat against Beca's back. Trying to warm her up. And Beca almost laughs because she doesn't think she could possibly get any further away from being cold right now, but then Chloe is leaving tentative kisses against Beca's neck, her collarbone, across her shoulder, and laughing is the very last thing on her mind.

Her own hands have wandered in the interim. She finds one resting at the base of Chloe's neck and catches the other just as it makes contact with the side of Chloe's face. Thumb stroking the curve of a cheekbone before she's tilting Chloe's head up to lead her into another kiss.

Fingernails pinch into the smoothness of her back and she arches forward into Chloe, mouth opening to release a sound that's stolen away by Chloe's tongue as it curls in past Beca's teeth, reaching, searching. Chloe hums contentedly when she finds what she's looking for, hands sliding down warm skin as this deeper version of their kiss is accepted - reciprocated, wanted - and when they land at Beca's hips, Beca feels strong fingers curve and grip, and pull, hard. Dragging Beca's lower body as close as is physically possible without the removal of clothes and, oh.

Thoughts, fantasies maybe, flash through Beca's mind and she isn't consciously aware of the rock and roll of her hips until she's made so by way of Chloe's hands clutching at her thighs so hard it hurts. Chloe's hands grab at her, trying to force Beca flush against her and letting out an impatient whine when she realises she can't. Not like this, not in this position. So, she relents in that pursuit but wastes no time in fixing her sights on another.

And it's hard to focus on kissing when Chloe's fingers are tracing the lines of her stomach, trailing paths along her sides, and brushing the swell of her breasts where they spill over the edge of her bra. A bra that Chloe is abruptly intent on getting rid of and, as her fingers fiddle with the clasp between Beca's shoulder blades, Beca can't find it in her to be self-conscious. Not when Chloe's hands are moving with such obvious desire.

A desire for more skin, maybe for more of those sounds she's found she can so easily tease past Beca's lips. More Beca.

The clasp gives after two failed attempts and Beca feels Chloe's hands skitter towards her lower back, pressing firmly, holding them still so that Beca can take the lead here. So that she's comfortable with how this transpires and Beca can hear her heartbeat thumping against her eardrums as she rolls her shoulders. The straps fall away and she reaches between them, disengaging from Chloe only long enough to pull the bra from her body and blindly toss it aside. Then she's leaning back in, dropping her forehead to Chloe's and flexing her hands where they lie atop Chloe's shoulders.

There are things that Beca wants to say. Words that she wishes she could string together in the correct order to be coherent, but she's becoming increasingly doubtful in her ability to do such a thing. To do anything other than touch and taste, to move against Chloe like they should have been doing this the whole time. Like she's been wanting to do this the whole time.

Maybe she has.

That doesn't matter though, because they're doing this now and the reigns of control are thrown aside with a level of determination she hasn't let herself feel until this very second.

She wants this, wants Chloe, and it's okay.

It's okay.

The soft pads of cautiously moving fingers are drawn lightly over Beca's chest, the sides of her breasts, and then she's whimpering into Chloe's mouth in an attempt to muffle the sound, but she knows Chloe hears it, feels it. Can tell by the way her hands immediately become bolder, cupping, stroking.

It's a playful pinch that makes Beca's hips jerk roughly into Chloe and it's that raw, quick motion that pulls a needy groan from the redhead. Then they're moving and before Beca knows what's happening, Chloe has switched their positions and is pressing a firm hand to Beca's shoulder, pushing her down against the mattress.

Doesn't take that hand away once Beca has settled back, just lets it linger as her eyes do the same, roaming leisurely over Beca's bare torso as she sits, knees bracketing Beca's thighs. With her free hand, Chloe reaches up to tuck red hair behind her ear and Beca watches, following the articulation of each finger as her stomach flips on a continuous loop.

The air around them is charged in a way that Beca has only been fleetingly familiar with up until now. Like static before a storm, it crackles between them and eats away at the oxygen like fire, making it hard to breathe, threatening to suffocate. And so she finds herself struggling for every breath as her gaze remains fixed on Chloe's face, watching as she worries her bottom lip and stares down at Beca, seemingly contemplating. Beca wants to ask what she's thinking, the words are right there within reach, but it's like she's forgotten how to grab things that aren't attached to Chloe in one way or another. And so the words slip away, and Beca pays them no mind as they fall.

Because Chloe is adjusting her position, shuffling backward a few inches and then pitching forward, planting her hands against the mattress and hovering over Beca's body without making direct contact.

It freezes the air in Beca's lungs, turning her into a living statue beneath Chloe even as fire licks its way through her. The only thing betraying that she's still capable of any movement at all lying in the trembling of the hands she has balled into fists next to Chloe's knees.

Beca doesn't know how long they spend floating there in suspended time, is only aware of the moment the spell breaks and things come crashing back down around them as Chloe dips her head to kiss Beca with a sense of urgency that makes their chests heave in sync between kisses.

"Beca," Chloe sighs against her lips, eyes closed as she bumps their noses together, "put your hands on me."

The sound that leaves Beca at the request is small and strangled, and might be embarrassing if she were any less aroused. As it is, Beca doesn't give it a second thought, only forces her fingers to uncurl and slowly does as she's told. First pressing her palms against the slope of Chloe's thighs, then jerking up to squeeze at hips that cant forward and down at the touch, before coming to rest at a slim waist. Warm skin pressed to warm skin and Chloe sighs again as she sinks into another kiss, this one longer and less forgiving than the ones that came before it. Scorches Beca from the inside out and makes her world spin behind closed eyes.

Then Chloe's kiss is gone from her lips and Beca almost has her eyes open, almost has words formed, ready to leave her mouth when she feels Chloe's mouth at her neck. Laying gentle, careful kisses against sensitive skin for what might be minutes before Beca feels the firm, wet warmth of Chloe's tongue pressing at her pulse point and then dragging slowly up towards Beca's ear. Teeth snare the lobe between them in a bite that is perhaps a tad firmer than intended, as though the person behind it lost control for a second, but Beca arches up into the body above her and the high whimper she releases serves as a good indicator that she doesn't mind the mistake.

Chloe's tongue flashes against her again, licking a line along the shell of Beca's ear and brushing the metal rings decorating it. Then Chloe's moving lower, nuzzling into the crook of Beca's neck before turning her head and scraping her teeth across Beca's throat without warning. Sucking the skin into her mouth a moment later and pulling a gasp from Beca that falls silently from parted lips. Chloe nips, soothes, bites, soothes, and Beca doesn't even notice that her hands have moved. Not until Chloe lets out a moan that's caught somewhere between pained and unbearably pleased and she realises that she has every one of her fingers wound into soft curls. Her grip is tight, like she's about to roughly pull Chloe away, but the pressure is heavy, holding Chloe to her.

With all notions of maintaining an even breathing pattern forgotten, Beca finds herself unable to relax her grip. Her fingers will not release and her elbows remain locked, and so, with nowhere else to go, Chloe stakes her claim on what is within her reach and Beca knows, without a shadow of a doubt, that her neck, throat, part of her shoulder; they'll all be covered in Chloe's marks and she whines at the thought, dizzy with desire as Chloe finally eases up and, panting, presses her forehead to Beca's collarbone.

Again, Beca thinks. Do it again.

But Chloe doesn't. Not yet. Simply remains where she is while she catches her breath and Beca can almost hear her thinking. Wants to ask, again, but can't.

Not with Chloe's fingertips tickling back and forth along her side. Over the dip of her hip and the rise of each rib, thumb grazing the slope of her breast with enough frequency and gentle force to screw Beca's eyes closed. On their last pass, Chloe's thumb jumps towards the centre of Beca's chest, allowing her palm to rest over full flesh, and Beca makes a sound she doesn't know how to categorize. Has never made it before, but finds herself making it again, and again, as Chloe lets her hand explore. Testing various grip pressures and calculating just how firm the pull of her thumb across Beca's nipple needs to be in order to elicit a gasp, a groan, a twitch of Beca's hips.

The distraction caused by these things has slackened Beca's grasp enough that when Chloe sits up again, her hands fall from red hair without pause, landing boneless and palm up on either side of her head. She watches Chloe sit back on her haunches. Watches Chloe, face and chest flushed, the soft pink a pleasing contrast to the black lace of the bra she's wearing. A bra that Beca is belatedly realising, is practically see-through.

The sight knots her stomach and makes her bare feet scramble, restless, useless, against the bedspread. And she's so entranced that she almost misses the trek of Chloe's hand as it rises up and around her back, plucking the clasp of the bra free of its trappings. Beca watches the garment sag against Chloe's skin and she's reaching out before she can even think to do anything else.

There's a roughness to the material that Beca thinks is specific to lace and lace alone. It isn't scratchy, but it's not soft like silk either. Not soft like the skin of Chloe's stomach, muscles rippling beneath Beca's fingers as she walks them up to the underside of the sheer black fabric. She twists her wrist so that her first two fingers can slide under the front of the bra and curl back towards her, knuckles brushing the side of Chloe's breast in a way that makes her mouth go dry.

Then, at a pace that is leisurely by virtue of nervousness, Beca bends her arm at the elbow and lets her loose grip pull the bra away from Chloe's body. Her hand falls leaden and useless between them as Beca takes in the sight with a muted exhale.

And she's seen Chloe in a similar state of undress before, but she'd been muddled by alcohol then. Now, everything is clear and hyper-real. Now, there's nothing but Beca's unfettered desire to blame for this and there's something to that knowledge, the fact that they both want the same thing here, whatever the reason, that makes it all feel so dizzily solid. Emboldens her further.

When she covers Chloe's breast with her palm, the hands lying lightly on Beca's stomach curl into claws, scraping red lines into the skin beneath them before balling into fists and pressing into Beca's hip bones. Chloe's eyes close as Beca pulls the pad of her thumb down over a stiffened peak, cupping full flesh before sweeping the same thumb sideways across the same spot.

"Beca…." Chloe whimpers her name without reason and the sound fills Beca's mind until she's drowning in it, and even then she finds herself not wanting to come up for air. So, she doesn't. She slides her hand up to settle over the rise of Chloe's shoulder and brings the other to rest in the curve below Chloe's ribcage. She pulls with gentle insistence as she guides Chloe into stretching over her but settling higher so that Beca can dot a handful of kisses across her sternum before dipping lower and taking a nipple into her mouth.

Chloe gasps, hips jerking inelegantly as Beca flattens her tongue and strokes it across the tip. She scrapes her teeth bluntly over the same spot and it pulls a choked moan from the back of Chloe's throat, the sound of which sends Beca half-mad, and soon she's moving to the opposite side, repeating the motion with an enthusiastic fervour that has Chloe pressing her lips to the side of Beca's head as she continues to make these high, nasally noises that Beca knows - can feel it - are ruining her underwear.

She moves her hand to the small of Chloe's back and flattens it against warm skin, wanting her closer, and the metal button of the redhead's jeans is digging uncomfortably into her stomach, but she hardly notices. No, it's Chloe who reluctantly pulls away, rearranging herself until she's once again sitting back on her haunches, and she rubs a thumb over the indent the button has left, prompting Beca to glance down at the spot.

"Sorry," Chloe offers, breathless and genuine, and Beca wants to shake her head, tell her it's fine.

"Take them off," is what she says.

To her credit, Chloe looks legitimately surprised by the request. Surprised, but excited, and that's the only reason Beca doesn't take the words back.

Well, that and she doesn't actually want to.

Chloe regards her quietly, as though considering the request, and Beca feels her heart rate spike when Chloe begins slithering backwards. Feels heat bloom across her chest when Chloe stands at the end of the bed, half-naked, and there's something in her eyes - eyes that never once stray from Beca - that urge Beca not to look away. Urge her to watch as Chloe thumbs open the button of her jeans and works the zipper down with a tick-tick-tick sound that might be audible to Beca if she wasn't breathing so heavily.

Lifting herself up to brace her weight on her forearms, Beca tracks the movements of Chloe's hands as they push taut denim down over her thighs, her knees, her calves. As she steps out of the jeans and offhandedly kicks them aside. And then it's just Chloe, nothing but black lace panties that match the previously discarded bra to break up an expanse of smooth, pale skin.

Beca's hands clench at the comforter, squeezing and releasing as she lets herself look, really look. As Chloe stands and allows Beca to look, absently biting her lower lip like she's nervous.

"I'm pretty confident about all this."

"You should be."

Beca hasn't felt like this before. She's sure she would remember this desperate, pinching need. The way her muscles are screaming at her to move, begging, while her brain feels like it's shuddering towards a major malfunction.

She's never felt so close to the brink of losing all semblance of self-control. Can't remember ever needing such a thing before Chloe.

She's never wanted like this before.

It's scary and feels dangerously consuming, but it doesn't feel bad. Just new.

Chloe runs her fingers through her curls, shaking them out until they bounce in waves around her face, and Beca notices that she seems hesitant to go further now. Beca doesn't think it's because she's having second thoughts - Chloe, she's sure, would just tell her if she was - but there's definitely something standing in her way.

Maybe Beca just needs to help her walk around it.

Scooting towards the edge of the bed, Beca swings her feet around to rest them on the carpet and sits up.

She reaches out, extending her arm and offering Chloe her open palm, and experiences a thrill of both relief and excitement when Chloe's cautiousness drops away and she takes hold of Beca's hand without hesitation. Steps back into her space, only stopping when Beca's forehead is pressed to her bare stomach.

Closing her eyes, Beca inhales deeply. Tries to steady herself as she wraps shaking arms around Chloe's hips, holding her loosely but as close as she can. She feels fingers carding through her hair, nails scratching lightly at her scalp, the rise and fall of Chloe's upper body as she breathes.

And it's almost like tunnel vision, the way everything narrows down around Beca until the only thing in focus is this: the two of them, balanced on a knife-edge, knowing which way they're going to fall but holding their breath all the same.

It isn't a decision, not really. Not like in the hallway or the mental scrapbook of moments that have come after it. No, when Beca lifts her head, nose bumping across the plains of Chloe's stomach, and presses a kiss to the first patch of skin her lips can reach, it just is.

She hears Chloe's quick inhale, too sharp, perhaps, for the gentleness of the act, and flattens her hands so that they're lying across Chloe's lower back. Another kiss, a few millimeters higher, and the fingers in her hair have stilled now, but remain where they are, cradling almost.

The press of her mouth becomes mindless and Beca can't be sure how long she spends wilfully caught in that tunnel, but she's eventually guided out into the stinging light of Chloe's kiss and the burning heat of insistent hands.

She's reminded of a vacation she took with her parents as a teenager. Mexico in the middle of summer. The heat had been near-suffocating in that way humid warmth tends to be. Heavy and thick, difficult to breathe through.

She feels that now, as she's urged to lie back and is left looking down the length of her own body, experiencing the strange sensation of tipping forward into bright blue eyes that seem to simmer and swirl as they gaze back at her. Unblinking, even when Chloe fumbles with the button of Beca's jeans for a few seconds longer than should be needed. Remaining fixed, even when the corner of Chloe's mouth turns ever so slightly upward, fleetingly triumphant following the silent give and release of the metal fastener.

The zipper is contended with next, a feat accomplished more quickly than the last, and the blunt edges of Chloe's nails scrape the insides of Beca's hip bones as she tucks her fingers into the stiff waistband. She parts the material as much as the stitching will allow and finally looks away, down, as she ghosts her thumbs over newly revealed skin. They graze the top of Beca's underwear, causing her breath to hitch, and then Chloe's eyes are back.

"Can I-" Followed by a questioning tug to the material still encasing Beca's legs, the query falls away forgotten at the answering rise of Beca's hips. Then Chloe's grip is tightening and pulling the jeans down. Beca shuffles further towards the centre of the bed in an attempt to shuck them off more quickly and after a final jerk, the material having bunched up and gotten caught around her ankle, she and Chloe are in matching states of undress.

Jeans dropped somewhere unseen, Chloe brings her hands up to curve them around Beca's calves, and she gazes down at Beca with hungry eyes. Eyes that blink, twice, and then flit to Beca's to look at her from beneath raised eyebrows.

"What?" Beca asks, surprised by the rough quality that's latched itself onto her voice. She looks down as Chloe starts to slide her hands higher, over Beca's knees, her thighs, and plucks at the elastic of her underwear. Beca jumps, startled, and furrows her brow, defenses puffing up. "Okay, so I didn't dress for the occasion." With a petulant wave of her hand, she bats Chloe's away from where they're still toying with the band of her usually-reserved-for-Saint-Patrick's-Day panties. Bright green and covered in white shamrocks, there's a cartoon image of a leprechaun on the rear, winking suggestively. "I didn't, like, know- I wasn't expecting-"

"They're cute," Chloe cuts in, unapologetic in her interruption as she brings her hand back to outline one of the small shamrocks sitting above the dip of her hip with her pointer finger. "Are they as lucky as they look?" She's smiling and Beca wants to roll her eyes at the question, brush it off like the joke that it is.

She can't quite bring herself to, though. Can't say what she's thinking either, so she settles for catching Chloe's hand in one of her own and pulls her back onto the bed.

Chloe covers Beca's body with her own and melds into her with familiar ease, groaning lightly into the kiss she sweeps Beca up in as they come together without the barrier of clothing separating them for the first time. The smooth slide of Chloe's legs against hers leaves Beca winded, but unwilling to break the kiss in order to breathe. In lieu of that, she skims her palm up Chloe's arm and winds her fingers into red tresses, licking into Chloe's mouth with a firm certainty that she's sure could probably sustain her in place of oxygen.

Propped up on her forearms, Chloe's left hand lies close to Beca's face, fingertips idly stroking over her cheekbone and jawline as she kisses Beca, slow at first, and then with a more needy, ardent appetency that Beca feels not only in the way Chloe kisses and moves against her but in herself too. In the way her fingers fist in Chloe's hair, those of her other hand digging into and gripping her hip hard, the texture of the lace scraping across her palm sending an unexpected jolt of arousal through her.

She whines a little and Chloe echoes it back when her lower half rolls involuntarily at the sound. The movement brings her knee higher, slotting between Beca's legs for a moment that can't last longer than a second or two, but is enough to ignite the desire pooling there, sending sparks crackling across its surface.

Another noise from Beca, another from Chloe to match, and then Chloe's repositioning, pressing her thigh firmly against Beca, who can't hold back the need to grind down.

The hand she's left at Chloe's hip jerks across to her lower back and then up, fingertips digging into a stop just beneath Chloe's rib cage before her fingers stretch out, flex, bowing back as her hand arches forward and lands against Chloe's skin with a slight slap. Like the feeling is too much, but she doesn't want it to end. She gasps, removing her mouth from the path of temptation as she tilts her head to the side to finally pull in some much needed deep breaths.

But Chloe doesn't stop.

Chloe's lips land against her cheek, her ear, the hinge of her jaw. Beca's head lolls back into place as her back arches and she rocks down in a messy, uninhibited rhythm that isn't going to get her anywhere but feels good enough that she doesn't care.

Chloe mouths her neck, nipping and sucking before soothing the spot with a wet kiss.

"Beca…." The sound of her name, spoken with such a heady thickness, tethers Beca a little closer to Earth. Brings her down just enough that she's touching reality again and is reminded, not unpleasantly, that it's Chloe hovering above her. That it's Chloe she's grinding into - not for the first time - and who's saying her name, and Chloe who she wants touching her everywhere, all at once.

Chloe, who is the best friend Beca has ever had. Probably the best person she's ever met.

Chloe, who asked Beca to come along with her on this journey of self discovery and has ended up opening doors for Beca that she didn't even realise were entryways.

Chloe, who at the beginning of this already meant so much to Beca and who has, somehow, managed to become more.

Everything.

There's a hand at Beca's thigh, moving up with firm determination before winding down and around to slot snugly into the ditch of her knee. Chloe hikes Beca's leg higher against her side and drives her own forward in the same moment, the hot breath whispering heavily against the side of Beca's neck turning suddenly cold at Chloe's sharp inhale.

"Jesus," Beca manages to gasp, back arching a little ways off the bed as Chloe's teeth nip at her pulse point. The hand that had previously been hoisting Beca's leg now lingers at her waist, thumb rubbing the bright green band of her underwear as her chest heaves heavily in time with Beca's.

"Beca," Chloe says again, voice low and unsteady. "I want…." Her fingers pluck at the elastic again.

"Yeah?" It isn't supposed to be a question but that's how it sounds, the intended inflection skidding sideways and shooting too high at the end. "Yeah," she tries again, making a conscious effort to keep her tone even throughout. "Okay, I- yeah." She licks her lips and closes her eyes, blowing out a steadying breath. "Yes."

Chloe shifts a little to the side, her thigh retreating to be replaced by a hand that glides slowly across the front of thin cotton, each millimeter traversed tugging at a different muscle in Beca's stomach like the keys on a piano, flipping it, and all she can do is dig into Chloe and try to hold on. Try to hold still beneath that tentative first graze of uncertain fingertips and she finds herself holding her breath in kind.

Chloe's touch becomes firmer, teasing Beca's hips from the mattress, and Beca's chest starts to burn but she can't make herself exhale. Her underwear slides slickly against her under Chloe's ministrations, but the contact barely lasts a handful of seconds before Chloe is taking her hand back and kissing Beca again. Sliding her tongue past her lips and showering her in a series of languid strokes that have Beca feeling dizzy, even though she's lying down. She finally breathes out through her nose, throwing herself into a kiss that only ends once it's devolved into little more than them breathing hotly into one another's mouths with only a thin slip of space between them.

That's when Beca flutters her eyelids until they're open wide enough to make out Chloe's features: eyes closed, brow pinched in something resembling concentration, mouth baring all the marks of having been kissed by someone who wants to be ruined by her.

That's when Chloe's fingertips dip beneath the waistband of her underwear, every incremental downward migration turning Beca's stomach over and over again, until she's sure it's spinning like a coin on its side.

Chloe pauses, takes a breath, and then she's touching Beca.

The pressure is light, but unmistakably there, and Beca's breath hitches at the same moment that Chloe releases a noise that is both a whimper and a gasp, and something entirely new and different. It pulls at Beca, but she remains still, a stone effigy made from taut muscles and trapped air.

She can't quite comprehend that this is happening, that it's happening with Chloe, and so she stops trying. Switches off and gives herself over to the thing that's been growing and expanding in and around them over the last few weeks. And Beca is so sure that Chloe is going to take her time, really take her time, that she's thrown completely off guard when that light pressure continuing to linger against her turns into pressing, and then the tips of Chloe's fingers are hooking forward and gliding through the wetness that's been building between Beca's thighs.

"Fuck." The curse rattles its way out through clenched teeth as every nerve ending in Beca's body fires simultaneously and sends things into overdrive. She doesn't know what her hands are grabbing, only that they're grasping with blind desperation, yearning for Chloe to be closer.

"Beca..." Chloe speaks her name as a benediction, choked by desire and echoing through her like praise off a cathedral wall. Beca can hear the wonderment in her voice, can feel the delirious reverence with which Chloe guides her fingers in a first tentative exploration.

Her heart is in her throat, her ears, in the palms of Chloe's hands. It's everywhere but the place it should be; sitting static like a rock behind her ribs, hoping no one looks too closely at its pitted, cracked surface and discovers it isn't a rock at all. That it never has been.

The separate sounds of their heavy breathing mingle amid the otherwise relative silence of the room and Beca is sure she can hear the blood rushing through her veins. Is certain that the fire she feels in her chest is real and scorching, the bits of herself it burns away turning molten and falling to rest low in her gut.

Chloe's lips brush hers, a vague impression of a kiss more than anything else, as she drags her fingers against Beca. Clumsy at first, but quickly growing bold, and Beca wonders if some part of her is going to combust when they graze that bundle of nerves she knows will make her see stars.

"I-" Chloe cuts herself off with a clipped groan as she slips her fingers back down and repeats the previous motion. "Is this…?"

And Beca wants to laugh at the unfinished question, because if Chloe can't tell that what she's doing is more than okay, she's not sure how else to convey that to her. Certainly not with words; coherently explaining anything is entirely off the table right now. She decides on nodding, albeit jerkily, and cranes her neck up off the bedspread to capture Chloe's lips with her own.

There's nothing graceful about the way Beca pushes her tongue into Chloe's mouth. Nothing suave in how she lets out a quiet, pitchy moan when Chloe kisses back, hot and wet against her lips. Nothing gentle in the way her fingernails dig into Chloe's shoulders when the easy exploration of her fingers against Beca turns into something more determined. The tips of them graze the sensitive bundle of nerves near the apex of Beca's thighs and her lower half jolts so hard at the touch that Chloe pulls her hand back.

"Don't," Beca pants, breaking the kiss by turning her head to the side so that Chloe's nose is pressed to her cheek. Chloe's breath warms the side of Beca's face, heavy and thick like the air around them. "Don't stop."

The air in Chloe's lungs leaves her in a rush at that and then she's all but growling as she brings her hand back, nosing Beca's cheekbone before dragging sloppy kisses along as much of her neck as she can reach, fingers returning to their previous spot but pressing harder than before.

Beca's hips jerk again, enough to once more dislodge Chloe's hand, but it remains fixed, fingertips turning lazy circles against her. Winding her up like a tinker toy.

For a long few moments, there's nothing to disturb the silence but the sound of their uneven breathing and the strained noises of desperation coming from one of them. Maybe both of them. Beca can't be sure. She also can't find it in herself to care.

Along with those come intermittent half-statements and unfinished questions from Chloe, thoughts she wants to voice aloud but never manages to finish. And Beca's glad Chloe isn't actually expecting a response to any of them because her mind is spinning fast enough to have sent everything inside it flying in all directions.

She is filled with wanting, so much so that there's hardly any room for anything else. Breathing, thinking, remaining grounded; all of these things cease to be of any importance to her as a crazed and manic yearning envelops her. Wraps around her, squeezing her ribs and leaving her aching, gasping.

Wanting more.

"In-inside," Beca stammers, hands squeezing at Chloe's shoulders as the fire sizzling through her begins burning hotter, higher. Chloe stills, leaves her mouth where it is - open against the side of Beca's throat, mid-kiss - and for a handful of seconds, Beca is terrified she's somehow gone too far. Ice water slips beneath her skin and into her veins, trickling through to the rest of her body and threatening to turn her into a sculpture that could be broken with a well-placed swing.

She opens her mouth to apologise, to tell Chloe she doesn't have to do anything she doesn't want, but Beca forgets, however momentarily, that Chloe is more than capable of making her own decisions. Of going after what she wants with an almost dogged determination. It's one of the things Beca admires most about her, she just, for some reason, hadn't factored that element of her personality into this situation.

It's only when a slender finger begins tentatively pressing against her that she remembers and even then, it's only for a second or two at most. Because Chloe is sliding inside her at an agonisingly slow pace and every last molecule of air inside Beca hitches into a ball in the center of her chest, bringing about a sharp shooting pain whenever she tries to breathe around it.

Chloe is saying something, Beca thinks. Or maybe she's babbling nonsense in between groans, Beca can't tell. Can't quite hear anything over the nuclear bombs going off inside her head.

She can still feel, though, and she rakes her fingers down Chloe's back, her breathing clipped and ragged, like the sail of a ship flapping in the breeze despite the holes that have been slashed into it.

She clings to Chloe, hands now secured around her biceps as though Beca will drown if she doesn't hold on. She slowly registers a dull, pinching sensation at the junction of her neck and shoulder, but isn't able to focus on it until it becomes sharper, more defined.

Chloe's teeth graze her skin and sink deeper, toeing the line separating pain and pleasure in a way that Beca has only been fleetingly intimate with before. She shudders, lifting her right hand until she loses most of it in red waves, tangling and tugging in a way that makes Chloe whine, while her left drifts from Chloe's bicep to her elbow.

And it's not that Beca wants to rush this. She's not blindly chasing an orgasm with some dude she met at a bar, who she's only taken home because she has an itch that she can't quite scratch herself. No, this is the furthest thing from that.

This is Chloe.

And so, while Beca doesn't want to rush this, she does want it. Wants it so badly, she can't remember a time when she didn't feel this burning, aching need. When she didn't want Chloe's fire to consume her.

Curling her palm around Chloe's elbow, Beca doesn't hesitate before she tugs it forward, urging Chloe deeper until there's nowhere else left to go.

"Beca." It sounds like Chloe is saying her name just to hear herself say it, make it real. Chloe's teeth - having likely already left purpling marks upon Beca's skin, marks that Beca will wear like trophies until they fade - are gone from her neck then, traded out for soft lips that pepper kisses along the line of Beca's jaw.

Chloe holds still inside her, maybe to make sure Beca's okay, maybe to make sure she herself is, and Beca's about to open her mouth again, about to instruct Chloe further when Chloe goes right ahead and reads her mind.

She withdraws the single digit, then pushes back inside with two, and Beca's hips press down hard into the contact, her inner walls clenching greedily at the new sensation.

"Fuck," Beca chokes out, back arching and knees bending, bringing her thighs up to bracket Chloe's waist. "Fuck." Chloe's cheek is pressed to hers now, her mouth close enough to Beca's ear to catch the pleased hum that leaves it. Beca shudders, squeezes already closed eyes more tightly shut.

She hears Chloe's shaky exhale, feels it prickle cooly across her slightly sweaty skin as the fingers inside her still again, but only for a second.

And then Chloe's moving. A slow, rhythmic drag and push that has Beca's heart squeezing up into her throat and almost cutting off her air supply. She finds herself wishing she'd taken her underwear off, given Chloe extra room to… Beca doesn't even know, but she wants more.

She can't ask for it, though. Isn't sure she quite remembers how to arrange words in a way that would allow a question to form and make sense. Language escapes her, replaced by breathy moans that evolve out of curse words largely forgotten by the time they leave her tongue. Every few seconds, she feels Chloe press a firm, chaste kiss to her cheek, and a distant tingling brought on by fingertips barely brushing the hair framing one side of her face.

Beca tries to lick her dry lips, tries to swallow, and a helpless whimpering sound is dragged out through that opening when Chloe changes pace without warning, still slow but thrusting deeper, some unseen part of her hand grazing high between Beca's legs and pulling the noise from her.

Chloe doesn't miss it.

She huffs out a chuckle and does it again, resulting in more than a graze this time, and more than a whimper from Beca.

"Oh my-" Beca squeezes the back of Chloe's neck with the hand that has managed to find its way there over the course of the last few minutes, hips rocking of their own volition, "-god. Oh my god." Another kiss to her cheek, another moan passes Beca's lips. Something in her chest is tightening and expanding at the same time, and it's too much, she thinks. It's too much and it's not enough, and she's going to go crazy with want even in the middle of all this. "Chloe, fuck."

Chloe's movements falter and then cease altogether. She's still as a statue over Beca, who opens her eyes with no small amount of effort and tries to turn her head to see what's wrong. She can't, however, and all she can make out is a mess of red hair blurred in her periphery until Chloe, after what feels like an hour, tilts her own head so that she can murmur her next words against the bobbing of Beca's throat.

"Say it again," Chloe says, her voice a low, scratchy whisper.

And Beca's brow furrows as she, gasping a little from exertion, asks, "What?"

There's silence again. It quickly fills the space around them, hanging there as Chloe shifts until she can press her forehead to Beca's. Her eyes are still closed and Beca's follow suit at the contact. It's quiet for another few thumping heartbeats and then, with a sigh, "My name," Chloe says, like this is the thing that will break her. "Say it again." Like this is the thing that will be her real undoing.

Every string attached to Beca's heart is tugged, then cut, allowing the thing to freefall towards eternity. But it's caught by red hair and sky-blue eyes that sparkle even in the dark, and Beca cups Chloe's cheek in her palm with a soft, awed, "Chloe…."

Chloe's inhale sounds more like a hiccup, a prelude to a small sob, but her nose is brushing Beca's and she's tilting her head just enough to roll her tongue into Beca's mouth and sink into another blistering kiss before Beca can draw attention to it.

It's slow and searching, like so many of their kisses have been, only there's something else there now. Beca isn't sure what it is but it's there, potent enough that she can taste it, and she's so focused on trying to define it that she doesn't realise Chloe is drawing her fingers out until Beca is hit with a jarring feeling of emptiness that snaps her eyes open.

Chloe has pulled away to look down at her and Beca doesn't think she's ever seen a more beautiful sight. Reddened lips, mussed hair, eyes clouded dark with a hunger that makes Beca ache to be filled again.

"I want," Chloe pauses to leave a quick peck against Beca's lips, "these off." She tucks her thumb under the elastic lining at the crotch of Beca's panties and leaves it there, resting at the crease of her thigh. Beca swallows and nods simultaneously, not wanting to waste any time spacing the actions out, and Chloe moves with a swiftness that suggests she doesn't want to waste any waiting either.

She backs off to give Beca room and is watching her intently when Beca looks over, finding the sight of an almost entirely naked Chloe Beale on her bed, looking at her like that, somewhat surreal. The few seconds it takes her to digest that - the vision before her - are apparently a few too long and Chloe is reaching for her again.

They're a mess of hands, both of Beca's, one of Chloe's, and it's with a good deal of fumbling that Beca's final stitch of clothing is removed, kicked carelessly across the room. She doesn't have time to draw in a breath before Chloe is on her again, all hard kisses and a biting need that would have left Beca breathless regardless. A warm palm covers her breast, squeezing gently at first, then more firmly at Beca's resulting groan. Chloe spends an indulgent amount of time driving Beca mad with her fingertips, pinching and stroking, clipped nails leaving behind a roadmap of fading rouge lines that lead to passion across her stomach and thigh.

Then they're gliding through Beca's folds once more and Beca pulls her head away to gasp, to push her hips towards Chloe's hand with an impatience that might embarrass her were she not quite as far gone. But Chloe doesn't give her what she wants. Instead, Chloe presses a kiss and then a smile to Beca's chin before paving a path of kisses along her neck, over her shoulder, down to her breast where she takes a nipple into her mouth and laves at it in a manner that feels both obscene and electric.

Her hands have found their way to Chloe's hair again, tangling and grasping as the redhead drags her mouth over to Beca's other breast to shower it with the same level of attention, scraping her teeth over its peak. She nips at the soft swell of its underside and drifts further down, kissing along the ladder of Beca's ribs as they expand and withdraw at a rapid pace.

Beca, lying blissed out with her head pressed back into the pillows, mouth parted slightly, only opens her eyes when her hand falls to the bed, Chloe having moved out of its reach. And when she does, she's rewarded with a kiss to the inside of her bent knee and a gaze so smouldering, Beca isn't sure how the house hasn't burnt to ash around them. Every second of eye contact pricks at her heart, leaving behind minuscule holes that she is certain will eventually coalesce into one and let her soul slip from her body, because that's what it feels like.

Chloe doesn't look away when she kisses the highest point of Beca's inner thigh, just below her knee. Another, a little lower, their eyes are still locked when Chloe makes it just shy of the halfway mark and Beca lets out a squeak, the meaning of which she herself doesn't know.

But Chloe doesn't miss a beat before she's changing her trajectory and kissing the soft skin of Beca's abdomen instead. It's obvious, to Beca, that Chloe is giving her whatever time she needs here to respond in whatever way she wants. That she's keeping herself in tenuous check, only looking away when she drops her forehead to Beca's stomach and sighs a wave of warmth over her skin.

"God, I just want to…." Chloe's voice is strained and the sound of it coupled with the way her hands grab at Beca's waist has her mind made up before she can really process the fact that she's speaking again.

"Please, Chloe."

And so it still manages to come as a surprise when Chloe, with no further preamble, slinks off of the bed and grabs at Beca, pulling her back to the edge before she drops to her knees. Beca opens her mouth, maybe to say something, maybe to take a final breath before she dies, but then Chloe is pressing the flat of her tongue to the wet heat between Beca's legs and nothing else exists.

Nothing but the sparks and the fire, and the swell of pleasure that doesn't just hit Beca, but smashes into her with an unbridled intensity. Her mouth falls open in a silent scream, back arching almost painfully. She lifts a hand only to slam it back down against the bed, any noise it might have made drowned in the comforter that she takes between her fingers and squeezes.

Almost rips when she feels Chloe's moans vibrate against her, into her, lewd and greedy, like she's getting as much out of this as Beca is.

Which, Beca thinks, has to be impossible.

She's dimly aware of Chloe's arms looping under her legs, of her hands curving around the tops of her thighs and her nails digging reflexively into the flesh and muscle she finds there, holding on or trying to anchor herself closer.

Chloe strokes her tongue in firm lines, slow and long, and Beca's arm gives out quickly, sending her careening down until she's flat on her back again, hips chasing Chloe's mouth even though she isn't moving away.

It feels almost too good, the urge to squirm away battling the naked desire to grind down, their respective swords clashing with equal fervour until the latter ultimately wins out, cutting the remaining ropes restraining Beca.

She rocks her hips in small, jerking motions, just barely conscious of how any erratic movement might interact with Chloe's close proximity, and licks dry lips which then part to allow a litany of jumbled words and noises to spill from them.

Chloe's name is among the few consistently repeated, but Beca's awareness of that is only brought about by the way Chloe doubles her efforts whenever she hears it, broad strokes becoming shorter and quicker. And when Beca's fingers find their way back to Chloe's hair, when they card their way from forehead to crown and fist at the back of her head - hard enough, she's sure, to make Chloe's scalp sting - Chloe dips her tongue inside.

Beca's lower half lifts clean off the bed as bright white flashes behind her eyelids, Chloe's name ripped from her bookended by twin curse words, and she's sure this is it. That this is the moment she floats away forever. But then Chloe is throwing a strong arm across the plain of Beca's abdomen, pulling her down again and holding her hips to the bed. It's forceful without being demanding and her arousal spikes at the suggestion of roughness, adding to the wetness that Chloe is enthusiastically attending to.

She tries to open her eyes, wants to watch, but she gets one good look at Chloe on her knees beside the bed, head bobbing without rhythm but in time with the brush of her tongue, and slams them shut again. Gets the distinct impression that she'll go insane if she looks too long, already half out of her mind as it is.

Her free hand grasps at everything within reach, the bedsheets, pillow, her own hair, and is eventually caught by Chloe's, scrambling near Beca's hip bone because Chloe refuses to move her arm from where it's holding Beca down. Fingers lace together unevenly but it's enough for Beca to hold on, grip tightening as Chloe drives her closer to the edge. An edge that Beca is both clinging to, wanting so badly to make this last, and ready to throw herself off of.

Because this is Chloe. Her best friend, her most important person, and as much as she wants to hold on - because this might be the only time she gets to live this - she wants Chloe to push her into letting go. Wants to know what it feels like to come undone under Chloe's touch. To have the exquisitely slick drag and short thrusts of her tongue drive her higher and higher, until there's nowhere else left to go.

Beca isn't sure when exactly her legs had become draped over Chloe's shoulders, but she digs the heels of her feet into Chloe's back and doesn't think about it any further when she's rewarded with a more focused kind of attention from Chloe, the tip of her tongue flickering over her clit before eager lips close around it. A steady suction has Beca choking out her next series of sounds and it's been minutes at most since Chloe first put her mouth on her, but she's hurtling towards orgasm unconcerned by how quickly it's happening, only that it is.

She squeezes the hand in hers, fingers flexing and clenching reflexively in red hair, and tries to tell Chloe that she's close. Makes it a single vowel in before her voice is pitching higher, warning forgotten as a curling, electric warmth starts to coil inside her. Vibrating outward, expanding and throwing shockwaves through her, slow at first, then quicker, their pleasant, thumping thrum making Beca's legs shake.

She pulls her hand away from Chloe's head and covers her mouth with the back of it, biting the skin hard enough to bruise before releasing it to pant four-letter words against her knuckles. Repeating them without order until she's morphed them into something else and every muscle in her body starts to tighten in sync.

When she comes, it's with Chloe's name on her lips and an echo of her smile behind Beca's eyelids. Beyond her cries, she can hear Chloe's roughly broken sounds of encouragement and grinds harder against her mouth. Something in her chest is ready to implode and there's nothing, she's sure, that's going to be able to reshape her into the person she'd been that morning.

She shatters like glass and sees so much more than stars when it happens.

It's one long, endless moment before the raw ecstasy eases and her hips jerk a few more times as Chloe continues to coax out any last, lingering shudders. When it becomes too much, Beca gives Chloe's hand a squeeze and, as always, Chloe reads her correctly and then her mouth is gone.

She spends a few seconds just lying there, drawing in one ragged breath after another, trying to slow the rapid rise and fall of her chest.

Beca's whole body twitches when Chloe returns to press a kiss to the inside of her knee and she struggles to swallow when she realises that the wetness left behind is her own.

She's not sure when it happens, but when she does finally open her eyes, Chloe has crawled back up beside her and is looking down the length of Beca, swiping the back of her hand across her mouth. There's a light sheen of sweat covering her face and her cheeks are flushed, and the sight pulls at something within Beca that can't possibly be ready to go again, so she shoves it aside for now.

When Chloe notices Beca's gaze, she curves her lips into a small, curiously sheepish smile, but she doesn't say anything. Just lets the moment be while Beca comes down from her high.

It takes a while.