"Are you sure you want to do this?"
Chloe's questions serves as a punctuation mark to their journey, coming as soon as Beca pulls into an empty space and puts the car in park. She glances at Chloe, her eyes obscured by the dark sunglasses she's wearing in order to battle the bright light shining in the cloudless sky outside of the vehicle.
"You're asking me that after we drove an hour and a half to get here?" Beca raises an eyebrow above the frame of her sunglasses but Chloe just rolls her eyes at the playful annoyance in her girlfriend's voice.
"I also asked before we left," Chloe reminds her and Beca presses her lips together, rolling them in slightly on one another, before taking her sunglasses off and looking at Chloe in a way that sends a shiver down the redhead's spine.
"Right. And what did I say then?"
"That you wanted to."
"Do you think that changed in the last hour or something?" Beca asks, folding down one arm of the glasses and hooking the other over the neckline of her tank top, allowing them to dangle there.
"No," Chloe huffs, looking down at the skinny jeans she's wearing and picking at one of the rainbow patches she'd ironed on the day before. "I just… I don't want you to do something you're uncomfortable with just because I want to do it." She looks back up at Beca, who's sitting in the driver's seat dressed in black pants, purple tank top, an open blue flannel button-down and her worn leather jacket. "You know?"
"Yeah." Beca shrugs as she turns to stare out of the windshield, watching people in all kinds of brightly coloured outfits safely using the crosswalk up ahead. "But if I want to do it because you want to do it, then screw the discomfort." She turns back to Chloe, her nose crinkled and head cocked to one side as she says, "You know?"
And Chloe laughs. She laughs and takes Beca's hand, the one covered in gnarled, twisting tree roots, and lifts it to her lips so she can kiss the top of it.
"You're such a sap," Chloe says, beaming, and it's Beca's turn to roll her eyes.
"Yeah, whatever. Just don't tell anyone."
The event grounds are about a five minute walk from where they parked and they take the stroll at a leisurely pace, taking note of the more impatient people that go around them. There are a lot of older people, older couples, and a fantastic number of drag queens that pass them, all looking happy and chatting animatedly as they head for the same destination.
They get caught between two tall, exquisite-looking Queens and a gaggle of girls and two guys that can't be much older than they are, and they spend the rest of the walk nestled between the two groups.
Chloe talks to everyone, asking all kinds of questions and explaining that this is their first time at a Pride event. This seems to delight the Queens, who go on to explain that this is their twelfth or thirteenth year attending and tell Chloe, and Beca by association, what are the best things to do and the things best to avoid.
They also tell Chloe that they'll be performing later in the evening and she whips her head around to look at Beca, all smiles and hopeful sunshine.
Beca nods with a small smile of her own and Chloe squeals in excitement.
When they get to the entrance - a tented area with a security checkpoint and a number of people wearing shirts that say, "Volunqueering" - the Queens flash passes hanging from sparkly lanyards around their necks and are ushered through.
Chloe greets the elderly man she ends up in front of with a grin and an exuberant, "Hi! How are you?" He, as is everyone Beca has ever seen Chloe interact with, is immediately charmed by the redhead and they talk animatedly for a few moments as he checks her ID and picks out a pink band that he secures around her left wrist.
Beca goes through on the opposite side, a pretty twenty-something woman going over the same process with her, and they both emerge on the other side wearing matching bracelets that, upon closer inspection, proclaim them to be minors and clearly state no alcohol.
"You think anyone around here will be cool enough to buy us beer?" Beca asks, surveying their surroundings.
"What, you need alcohol to have fun with me now?" Chloe's question is teasing and she bumps Beca's shoulder with her own before lacing their fingers together as they walk.
"No, but I might need it to get me through the day," Beca jokes and Chloe stops short, their connected hands forcing Beca to do the same. She looks at Chloe and sees that her joke has landed leagues away from funny. "Kidding. Sorry." She squeezes Chloe's hand and, even though sky blue eyes narrow suspiciously at her, their walk resumes.
The street they're on is lined with stalls on either side, the shopping experience broken up only by bars whose clientele is made up of the very people populating the space outside of them. Beca feels slightly underdressed amidst the sea of colour, but no one is staring or giving any other kind of indication that they care, so she tries to shrug the feeling off.
She lets Chloe drag her to the first stall - the table is covered in all kinds of informative flyers and leaflets, each one discussing one of the many hues that make up the queer spectrum - and the people behind the table hand them each a bag containing a small booklet outlining all the events, their start times and a map of the parade route, a badge with the pride flag printed on it, and a flyer for the drag show that the Queen they met were talking about. A section of the table is littered with stickers of the different flags and they're told they can take one if they want.
Chloe grabs a pansexual one, while Beca declines, stating that she isn't really a sticker person. Chloe chuckles and drops her sticker into her bag.
After that, they go from stall to stall. They encounter a face painting stand and Chloe almost squeals with glee. She gladly makes a donation and takes a seat in front of a young man wearing a shirt made up of the colours of the A-sexual flag. Beca stands off to the side and watches as he paints a cloud with a rainbow coming out of it on Chloe's cheek. When he's done, Chloe asks if she can hug him and, though he's visibly surprised by the request, he opens his arms.
Chloe talks to everyone, so they spend a few minutes at each stall, but she never lets go of Beca's hand. Several people comment on how cute they are together; something that makes Chloe giggle and Beca smile uncomfortably.
"People think we're cute," Chloe grins, stopping Beca at the end of the street and turning to face her.
"We are cute." Beca points out, reaching up to wrap her arms loosely around Chloe's neck. Chloe makes a pleased sound of surprise and rests her hands on Beca's hips.
"Yeah," Chloe muses aloud, leaning forward to press a quick kiss to Beca's lips, "we are."
They stop at a food truck to get something to eat and Chloe peruses the booklet they were given at the front as they finish their meals, reading out a few of the events she's interested in. Beca tells her that they can go wherever she wants.
And they do. They do almost all of the things on Chloe's mental list, but Beca pays more attention to the expressions on Chloe's face as she watches the various performances.
The sun has started to set by the time they decide to make their way towards the large main stage where the drag show is being held. There are a few rows of chairs set out at the front of the stage, but Chloe tugs Beca away from them, choosing instead to sit down on the grass further back. It's a good spot, they can see the whole stage, and Beca surmises that the ground is probably more comfortable than the metal chairs anyway.
As they sit and wait, Beca notes the way Chloe's shivers against the slight breeze and tugs her jacket off. Twisting around, she leans to drape it across Chloe's shoulders and is met with a soft kiss that freezes her in place despite the strain the position puts on her lower back. Chloe smiles her thanks when she pulls back and scoots closer.
Looking around at the people scattered across the space, Beca's eye is caught by a couple sitting to their right and her lips quirk up into a small smile before she schools her expression and tells Chloe that she'll be right back.
"You okay?" Chloe asks, concerned, and Beca nods, telling her she'll only be a few minutes.
When Beca returns, it's with two bottles of water and a huge pride flag wrapped around her shoulders. She grins at Chloe as she plops back down beside her, handing her a bottle and setting her own on the grass beside her. Untying the flag from around her neck, Beca turns it so it's horizontal and settles it around both their shoulders.
Chloe lets out a delighted laugh and holds on to her side of the flag to stop it from falling.
The show starts and it's only a matter of seconds before the crowd is laughing. It's funny, clever, and highly entertaining, but once again Beca finds herself watching Chloe instead. She smiles to herself and thinks about how beautiful Chloe is, then she leans forward to tell her.
"You're so beautiful," she whispers into Chloe's ear and is close enough to hear the quiet gasp her comment causes. Chloe's head turns so sharply that Beca has to jerk hers back a little to avoid a collision and she laughs until she feels Chloe's hand on her cheek.
When Chloe kisses her this time, Beca grabs the front of her dress and holds her in place.
She doesn't want this to be another chaste kiss.
When they part, they're both a little breathless. Chloe's a little dazed and Beca's just the tiniest bit smug. Seeing this, Chloe shoves her gently, but she's grinning, and then rests her head on Beca's shoulder with a happy sigh.
Chloe tangles their fingers together and Beca glances down. In the dim light, it almost looks like Chloe's fingers are part of the tattoo covering the top of her hand. Like the inky tree roots and Chloe's fingers are connected. Locked together.
And Beca smiles.
She likes the way it looks.