Think of this like a deleted scene, though it was written in part for the Bechloe Week 2019 prompt "Why are you here?"
This takes place between chapter 24 and the epilogue.
Beta'd once again by the wonderful Amlev/acabellas.
Chloe hates lying to Beca. She hates it more than anything in the entire world.
She's only lied to Beca a handful of times: when she'd said she was happy for Beca when she and Jesse had started dating; when she had to pretend to be okay with Beca being with anyone other than her; when Beca had bought her a particularly ugly blouse for her birthday that Chloe pretended to like.
She'd told Beca that she was flying to Georgia to visit Aubrey. And technically, that's partially true. She is visiting Aubrey while she's here. And Aubrey is with her, now.
But waiting in the car.
While Chloe walks toward the front door of a house she'd hoped to never see again. The entire reason for her visit is inside that house. She pauses at the bottom of the front steps, composing herself, trying to calm her racing heart.
It takes a minute.
She climbs the stairs and raises a fist, then pauses. Counts to three. Then five. And finally forces herself to knock. She blots her sweating palms on her jeans as she waits, struggling to breathe around the dread lodged in her throat.
She'd been hoping Mr. Mitchell would be the one to answer the door rather than his wife, Sheila.
She's never had much in terms of good luck.
So Sheila answers the door, her expression changing from curiosity to blatant hostility in a heartbeat when she recognizes Chloe.
There's a beat of silence while they each observe the other, a beat during which Chloe has time to take in Sheila's tightening lips, flaring nostrils, and narrowed eyes, and she realizes too late she'd made a mistake.
"Why are you here?" Sheila asks so bitingly Chloe's surprised it doesn't take a chunk from her arm.
She takes a deep breath that rattles the unease in her lungs. "I'm here to talk to you both."
Sheila's eyes flick around Chloe, occasionally looking past her and toward the car she pulled up in, and Chloe knows she's looking for her stepdaughter. Chloe has never been more thankful that Beca isn't with her; the shouting would have started already.
"Can I speak to Professor Mitchell as well?" Chloe asks in the politest tone she can manage.
Sheila studies her for a moment. "No."
A muscle in Chloe's cheek twitches. "It is quite important."
"Don't care," Sheila dismisses with a frown. She starts to close the door and Chloe pushes forward, suddenly panicked, until—
"Sheila? Who's at the door?" Beca's dad calls from somewhere deeper in the house.
"Hi Professor Mitchell, it's Chloe!" Chloe says loudly, nearly shouting as she makes eye contact with Sheila, who looks as though she'd love nothing more than to strangle her into silence.
Footsteps sound, drawing closer, and Warren appears in the doorway. Sheila reluctantly steps aside to make room, and he opens the door all the way, looking surprised.
"Chloe?" he repeats, then his eyes flick past her, looking for his daughter. "Is Beca with you?"
"No, I'm here by myself."
Warren frowns, concern filling his eyes. "Is everything okay?" he asks. "Is Beca okay? Did something happen? Are you—"
"Everything's fine," Chloe says quickly. "I guess I should have—I meant to call ahead, but I guess I forgo—"
Sheila clicks her tongue loudly. "Are you going to ramble on all day?"
"Sheila..." Warren says, glancing over at her. "Be polite."
"What? She shows up unannounced and starts babbling on—"
"Chloe, why don't you come in?" Beca's dad cuts her off. "And, really, call me Warren. Only my students call me 'professor.' You're family."
Sheila gapes, her mouth falling open in disbelief.
Chloe forces a probably painful-looking smile and steps over the threshold, Warren and Sheila moving to give her room to enter. She pauses in the entryway when Sheila closes the door, uncomfortable at moving farther into the house; the last time she'd been there, Sheila had called her a whore and implied she was taking advantage of Beca.
It hadn't been the most fun experience of her life.
"Um, do you want to sit down or anything?" Warren asks, rubbing the back of his neck. The gesture helps to ease some of Chloe's anxiety; Beca does the same thing when she's feeling awkward.
She shakes her head. "No, thank you, I'll just… I won't be long."
Sheila scoffs openly. Chloe's shoulders tense; she can already tell she'll need a backrub after this.
"Um, okay," Warren says, still looking confused.
"Right," Chloe exhales. "So, uh, I'm just gonna jump in."
Sheila crosses her arms. "Please do. We've got errands to run."
Chloe's jaw clenches, and she has to remind herself why she's there in order to speak. "As you know," she says, her voice coming out terse and business-like and this isn't how she'd imagined this happening at all. "Beca and I have been together for more than a year now and have known each other for a lot longer."
Warren shifts his weight, putting his hands into the front pockets of his jeans and looking down; she thinks he might (maybe, possibly, hopefully) be hiding a smile. He and Beca had been talking on the phone and texting a lot more now, and the thought that he might know why she's there—might even support her—gives her hope.
Chloe continues, "She is… this amazing, funny, talented, wonderful person that I am lucky to have met."
Sheila wrinkles her nose and looks away, but that's a better reaction than Chloe had expected.
"Her mother did an outstanding job," Warren says quietly, still looking at the floor.
A muscle pops out in Sheila's cheek, but she doesn't comment.
Chloe takes a deep breath, steeling herself for what she knows is coming next. "I'm so in love with her."
Sheila's eyes snap to hers. "So you say," she snarls, looking at Chloe like she's something disgusting on the bottom of a shoe.
"Damn it—" Warren starts, but Chloe cuts him off.
"Yes, I do say," she says directly to Sheila, her hands curling into fists at her sides. She came here for a reason, and she'll be damned if she wasn't going to get her point across. "And don't you dare question that. I know you don't like me, and I know you don't like who I am. You can stand there all day, spewing misery and hate and—and just pure bullshit because you don't understand what Beca and I have."
Sheila's mouth has fallen open. Warren looks again as though he's struggling to contain a smile.
Chloe knows she probably should stop, but she's rehearsed her speech so many times that it flows out of her, washing away any judgment Sheila could throw at her. "You don't know what we've been through—what you put us through. So you can question my manners and my sexuality and everything else about me. But don't you dare—don't you ever—question how I feel about Beca Mitchell."
By the time Chloe finishes, her chest heaves with anger. Her nails are digging into her palms painfully, but she can't unclench her hands; the sensation helps to ground her. The sound of her own voice rings in her ears, but she doesn't regret the outburst. She'd meant every word.
Sheila blinks, her mouth still hanging open foolishly.
The tense silence is broken by a soft chuckle; Chloe's attention switches to Warren and he raises his hands defensively. "No, no, sorry," he apologizes immediately. "You just sound like Beca. I see why… go on, please."
Chloe's anger ebbs at the mention of Beca. She swallows, anxiety churning her stomach even though she knows, deep down, that the outcome of this meeting won't change anything. Not really.
"I love Beca," Chloe states simply. "I know you may not completely understand it, but it's true. Beca is… she's everything. I want to spend the rest of my life with her, and I hope to God she feels the same."
Sheila regains her voice and reaches out to grab Warren's arm. "Warren, what is she—"
"I'm here because…" Chloe swallows again. "I'm going to ask Beca to marry me, and I wanted you to know. Both of you. I'm not asking for your permission. I'm telling you what I'm going to do." She looks at both of them, staring them down, making her point. "But it would be really awesome if you approved, so. Please."
A deafening silence follows her words.
Then Warren's face slowly transforms into a wide grin, one that reassures Chloe more than anything he could say.
Sheila looks as though she's been clubbed over the head and stares at Chloe with unfocused eyes.
Chloe waits. It's absolutely agonizing, but she waits.
Then Sheila turns to Warren sharply and the spell is broken. "You can't possibly—"
"Yes," Warren speaks over her, looking only at Chloe.
Chloe's heart stops.
"What?" Sheila gasps, sounding utterly aghast. Chloe almost feels sorry for her. Almost.
"Yes, I approve," Warren continues, completely ignoring his wife. "I think you two… I think you will be much better at being married than I am. And you'll probably enjoy it more than I do."
Sheila inhales so sharply that Chloe is amazed there's any oxygen left in the room. Her face turns blotchy and she looks between Warren and Chloe, neither of whom give her the honor of making eye contact. After a moment, she says shakily, "I see." She pivots on the spot and storms away, marching from the entryway and stomping up the stairs. A minute later, a door slams with enough force to startle Chloe and shake the entire house, dishes rattling in the kitchen.
Warren sighs and rubs a hand over his face, looking older and more tired than Chloe has ever seen him.
Chloe draws her lower lip between her teeth. "I… I'm sorry, I didn't mean to—"
"It's okay, Chloe," Warren says, looking at her blearily. "I'm sorry. I've tried telling her this would happen. Whenever I talk with Beca on the phone… you make her so, so happy, Chloe. Did you know that?"
Warmth floods Chloe's chest; she feels exactly the same about Beca.
"And I have to say," Warren continues, "I've enjoyed having my daughter again. I think I owe you that. Otherwise, I think she'd rather not talk to me."
"I… that's—I'm glad," Chloe manages. She rolls out her shoulders, trying to make the motion seem casual.
Warren smiles at her, and she knows he sees right through her. He probably knows exactly how hard it had been for her to visit his house alone. "I promise, Chloe, I approve. I—I also very much understand if my wife and I are not on the guest list."
Chloe's jaw goes slack and her stomach drops. "Uh—Beca will want you there," she says quickly, the horrible realization that that might not be the case hitting her half a second after the words leave her lips.
"Maybe," Warren shrugs. He looks to the floor, then back up, his lips tight around the edges. "I never expected to be the one to walk her down the aisle."
From upstairs comes the sound of more stomping, along with slamming drawers. Something glass shatters against wood or tile.
Chloe grimaces, discomfort rising in her chest. Her eyes flick to the door, but Warren isn't done talking.
"Beca was never going to be Sheila's daughter," he says quietly, linking his hands together and studying them. "I won't try to tell you what I see when I look at my wife, because I think I know what you see. But just like Beca is my daughter, Sheila is my wife."
Warren finally looks up to meet her eyes, so intensely that Chloe almost has to look away.
"And this is one of those moments, Chloe—and I hope you'll never experience this—where I'm reminded that it is entirely possible to love someone, but not always like them very much."
Something else fragile shatters upstairs. Warren releases a breath and closes his eyes, seeming to sag in on himself.
Chloe's mouth tastes like cotton. "I... I don't really—"
"It's okay, Chloe," Warren tries for a smile, his chin quivering dangerously. "All that really matters is that I'm very happy for you and Beca. Thank you for bothering to stop by."
"You're her dad," Chloe whispers, simultaneously wanting to reach out and run away.
Warren flinches. "I could have been better at it."
Chloe wonders if she's about to be sick; her stomach flips and rolls. "I should probably—I should go."
Warren nods and takes a deep breath, his hand rising to rub at his neck. "Would you like anything to drink for the road? Um, water, Coke?"
"No, thank you, I'm okay."
Warren opens the door and stands aside, allowing Chloe to pass by and start down the steps. The fresh air on her face helps, making her chest feel lighter.
She turns, having made it only a few paces beyond the stairs.
Warren hesitates in the doorway, then asks, "Are your parents…?"
Chloe forces the muscles in her cheeks to form a smile. "They adore Beca. She's actually getting together with them next weekend, um, during a business trip."
Warren nods. "Do they know about the wedding?"
"I haven't told them yet. I wanted to talk to you first."
"Will they be happy?" Warren looks like a child, as if Chloe's answer might break him.
Chloe is positive her mouth has never been this dry. "They'll be over the moon," she breathes.
Warren's hand twitches on the door. "Tell them to take pictures," he requests, voice raw and eyes shining. "I would love pictures, if..."
"I will," Chloe promises. "Bye, Warren."
"Bye," Warren says gruffly, not quite looking at her. "Drive safely."
"Thanks," Chloe says, and then turns and walks away. She hears the door close behind her and thinks maybe there's some muffled shouting from within the house, but she doesn't allow herself to look back. She only walks stiffly to Aubrey's car, fumbling with the handle, flinging open the passenger door, and sliding into the seat.
"Let's go," she says tersely as she buckles the belt.
Aubrey doesn't need to be told twice. As soon as Chloe's situated, she starts the car and puts it in reverse, backing down the driveway.
Chloe doesn't look at the front window of the house, doesn't want to know if Warren is watching.
"Did they say yes?" Aubrey asks, glancing over when Chloe doesn't immediately reply.
Chloe stares straight ahead without seeing the road in front of them. She nods jerkily, not trusting her own voice.
Aubrey makes a sound of understanding; she takes one hand off the wheel and puts it on Chloe's knee.
Chloe's face twists and she has to look out the passenger window, biting her lip as the tears finally start to fall.
Warren closes the door behind Chloe just as a wordless shriek sounds from upstairs. Another trinket—probably a picture frame or something—shatters and he winces.
He has to take a moment, hand resting on the doorknob and chin tilted down. Memories of the last time Chloe and Beca had been to their house wash over him, the regret making his eyes sting even more. He takes several deep breaths, counts the seconds that go by until his hands stop shaking.
Once they do, he lifts his head up and drops his hand from the door. Robotically, he makes his way to the sitting room, where he plops himself in his armchair. A glance out the window reveals that the car is already gone from their driveway. With a tired sigh, he reaches for the TV remote, turning it on and staring at it mindlessly.
He shifts in his chair, trying to sink back into it, but he can't get comfortable.
His unsettled feeling only increases until he hauls himself up from the chair and walks into the kitchen, where his phone charges on the countertop. He knows he maybe shouldn't. It might not be welcome. Still, though, he pulls up his text string with Beca and starts to type.
Good luck talking to Chloe's parents, he sends. I'm sure they'll be excited.
Her reply comes less than a minute later. How did you know?
He smiles at the screen, still surprised when she doesn't yell at him for use of the term "dad." She'd have every right.
His phone chimes again and he looks at it, surprised to see a message from Chloe, who has never texted him before. There's no text, only a picture attachment. When he opens it, he has to put a hand on the counter for support.
It's a selfie, clearly taken by Chloe, that shows her and Beca sitting outside somewhere, maybe Central Park. The focus is on them, and all Warren can see of Chloe is the side of her face as she kisses Beca on the cheek. Beca's looking at the camera, smile bigger than Warren has ever seen it. Her eyes are crinkled with happiness and her expression is wide open, unguarded as she leans into Chloe. Warren hasn't seen Beca that happy since she was a kid.
A sound drags its way from Warren's chest, a mix between a laugh and a sob. He saves the picture immediately; it's the only one he has of Beca and Chloe together. He stares at it, memorizing everything about it, until his vision blurs and he has to wipe his eyes. He takes a jagged breath and sends Chloe a message in thanks.
The shattering, slamming, and stomping from upstairs has quieted; he imagines Sheila has either started crying or cleaning up after herself.
Warren's mind races and he rotates his phone in his hands several times.
Decision made, he opens a new tab in the search bar, typing and hitting enter. He scrolls, almost overwhelmed by the sheer number of results before he finally finds one result that's close to their house. He writes down the marriage counselor's number on a post-it, sticks it to their fridge for later, and grabs his keys.
He needs to get out of the house for a while.