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Stained Glass

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They spend the next week working extra hours. Beca actually goes into the office for a lot of it, coming home at night with the smell of coffee and a beat humming from her lips. Stacie reports that all the producers under Beca’s command have been shaking in their boots. She guesses the boss being out often and then suddenly being there around the clock would make people a little jumpy. Chloe especially enjoys Stacie’s retelling of Beca walking in on two junior producers fiddling with a soundboard and the one of them jumping to attention like his drill sergeant just showed up. He’d knocked over his coffee, barely missing spilling it on the equipment. He and the other producer had spent the rest of the day covered in coffee, and ducking Beca like she was going to murder them.

According to Beca, if they had spilled on the board, she would have.

The artist her company is working with, Marc something, is supposedly very good but very distractible. His first single is “nearly done” Beca keeps saying as she rants about work over whatever Chloe or Stacie’s cooked for dinner. She spends every evening destressing on the couch with her headphones and her biggest hoodies on.

Chloe works opening to closing at the shelter every day, making it home long before Beca and usually having Stacie over to Skype Aubrey with her while they hash out wedding details. As the maid of honor, Chloe is happily preparing to take control of this wedding. And since Beca is going to be her date, she doesn’t feel any rush to get to know her better or to solidify their story, because she knows Beca. She has no problem holding her hand or telling her she loves her or even--though new territory--kissing her.

They haven’t brought it up again since Stacie did, but she’s sure it’s fine. Her stomach flutters when she thinks about it, but it’s definitely fine.

She posts maybe one more Instagram picture of Beca than she normally would, making sure to just caption it with a ton of heart emojis. While talking to her mother on the phone one night, she stage whispers, “Babe, can you grab me a drink?” without clarifying who she’s talking to when her mother asks. She decides not to mention that Beca, lost in her phone, doesn’t question the pet name at all and does indeed get her a drink. She steals Beca’s phone one night to change her lock screen to a picture of herself, but finds she’s already there. It’s a picture of Chloe and Stacie at the bar after Chloe had aced one of her exams and they’re dancing and reaching for the camera. At the very bottom of the screen is just the top of Beca’s head. She remembers arguing with her for an hour about whether or not it counts as a selfie. It’s all so simple that Chloe really barely thinks about it. She and Beca are going to sell this like nobody’s business.

The night before they’re all supposed to fly out, Chloe’s in the kitchen with Stacie, who’s sleeping over so they can all ride to the airport together in the morning.

Stacie’s cooking and they’re debating color themes for Aubrey’s bachelorette party when Beca comes home. Chloe puts down the color samples, smiling. She loves watching Beca’s just-got-home routine. The way she walks through the door and looks around the apartment until she meets Chloe’s eyes, every time. Then she makes a face. It differs day to day, depending on how the day went, but there’s always a face. Tonight it’s a crooked grin and a slight eye roll before she bends down and tugs at the laces of her boots until they come loose. She kicks them off, stacks them neatly beside the door, and starts shrugging out of her favorite leather jacket.

It had honestly been one of the more surprising things Chloe had learned when they’d become roommates--Beca is tidy. Not in an Aubrey-esque, “everything must be in place” kind of way, but in an “any area I share with anyone will be kept organized” way. Her room is a completely different story, but Beca never leaves her shoes lying around the living room or hair in the shower drain or junk cluttering the kitchen counters. With a grin, Chloe thinks she really is the best roommate this side of the Atlantic.

Beca hangs her jacket up and unbuttons her flannel, her black undershirt peeking through. “Ugh, I am done. No Marc for a month.” She complains about every artist she works with, but Chloe knows she loves it and--usually--them. “What’s cookin’, good lookin’?” She jabs Stacie lightly in the hip as she passes the stove to open the fridge.

“Chicken and veggies,” Stacie says. She pulls the lid off the pan and it steams up into her face. “Nearly done.”

“Good. I’m starving.” And Beca, bottle of water in hand, comes over behind Chloe and drops her chin onto her shoulder, looking down at the colors. It’s barely a touch at all, but Chloe’s stomach flips with excitement like it does every time Beca initiates contact and tips her head against Beca’s. “What’s all this?”

“Bachelorette party plans. We’re debating between green and gold, a call back to the Bellas--our old a capella group--or blue and silver, which Aubrey looks best in.”

Beca hums, the notes vibrating through Chloe’s shoulder. “Sounds like an easy decision. It’s her wedding, ain’t it?”

“She has a point,” Stacie says from the stove. " My point. That I’ve been making for hours. Just sayin’.”

“Oh, but Aubrey loves the Bellas so much. And they’re all going to be there!” Chloe gathers up the green and gold, holding them lightly in her palms. “Isn’t one last Bella hurrah what she would want?”

Something on the stove hisses as Stacie switches burners. “I think she’ll love either one. And we’ll all be Bellas whether we’re in school colors or not.”

“You can get ‘Bellas’ embroidered on the back of your dress,” Beca says, pulling away to go and collapse in her armchair. She gives what sounds like a strangled moan. “Oh, I’ve missed you.”

“You’re such an old man, Beca,” Stacie laughs.

Gathering the color samples, Chloe follows her and perches on the edge of the coffee table, facing her. “Beca. Close your eyes.”

“Gladly.” She immediately obeys, spreading out across her armchair happily.

“Keep them closed.” Chloe shuffles the colors around a few times, then places them in Beca’s lap. “Pick one.”

“What? Dude, no, I told you I’m not doing wedding stuff--”

“You’re not! You’re just helping me come to a decision about something I’m torn on. It’s for me, not the wedding.”

With her eyes closed, Beca scrunches up her nose and sighs. “Jeez.” She blindly pats the colors in her lap, finally grabbing one sitting on her left thigh. “This one.”

Chloe grabs the blue card and smiles when Beca peeks one eye open. “Blue and silver it is then. Thanks, Becs!” She shoots forward and presses a quick kiss into Beca’s temple, ignoring Beca’s hunched shoulders and “Ah, no!”. She gathers the colors and heads back into the kitchen.

A plate of food is waiting for her. Stacie is making another and shaking her head. “Two hours of debating and mocking up decoration ideas, and this is how we end it.”

“Gotta listen to my girlfriend , Stace.” Chloe winks, grabbing both plates Stacie’s prepared and moving back to the couch. Beca sits up straight to grab hers.

When they’d decided not to get a dining room table, Chloe had been a little put out. She’d pictured them having lots of friends over and playing cards and having big dinners on it. But she’d quickly realized she preferred the quiet mornings sitting at the kitchen island with Beca and the card nights spent huddled close around the coffee table, so that she always had to keep her cards held close to her chest so Stacie or one of their other friends wouldn’t look at them. There wasn’t really room for a dining table anyways.

She props her feet on the coffee table and balances her plate on her knees, grinning.

“You look happy,” Beca says around a bite of chicken.

“I am happy.” She practically wiggles in her seat. “I get to see Bree tomorrow and you get to meet my family and I love planes and--”

“Chloe, save the enthusiasm for the trip.” Stacie folds into the other corner of the couch, long bare legs and tiny sleep shorts. “I love you, but if you describe how cool flight attendants are one more time, I’m gonna throw you out the plane tomorrow.”

“...You know, I always wanted to go skydiving--”

“Chloe!”


It’s later, when she’s laying in the tub, relaxing after finishing all of her (and Beca’s, really) packing, that Chloe thinks about it.

Would kissing Beca be weird? They were both bi, so she didn’t think that would be a problem, but what if Beca found Chloe physically repulsive?

Okay, maybe that’s too far. She knows Beca doesn’t. Beca talks about how pretty she thinks Chloe is all the time. A lot more than she realized, she thinks, sinking lower into the water.

Oh, no. No, quit batting your eyelashes at me. I’m not going to paint your toenails. I won’t fall for your gorgeous, womanly charms like everyone else, dude.

Can you walk me to work, like, every day? Traffic just stops for you, ‘cause you’re beautiful. I have to play Frogger to get anywhere on my own. It’s not fair.

Get your stupid perfect face outta my face. I still have an hour to sleep.

Ugh, you’re lucky you’re that pretty.

And Beca is, if she honestly thinks about it, probably top of her list of people she’d like to try kissing. If someone asked her to put money on it, she’d bet Beca is a great kisser.

She’s startled out of thinking of Beca’s lips by knuckles rapping on the door.

“Chlo?”

“Hang on!” She sits up, grabbing the pliers on the side of the tub--a.k.a their cold water handle, since Beca broke off the old one. She shuts off the water so she can hear Beca more clearly. “It’s open.”

The door cracks open just an inch. “Of course it is,” Beca drawls. “Look, I just. When you’re done, could you come to my room?”

“Sure.” Her brow furrows and she wraps her arms around her knees. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, yeah. No worries. Just, uh, enjoy your bath, dude, or, whatever. It’s good. Uh, nevermind, actually. Night.” The door clicks shut.

But after that rambling mess, Chloe’s bath can’t be over quick enough. It’s always been a thing for her--if you have something to say, say it now. Waiting is the worst . She finishes up and wraps a towel around herself, hurrying down the hall. She pushes open Beca’s door. “Bec?”

“Dude!” Beca jumps, quickly tugging her shirt back down. “I’m changing!”

“You wanted to see me?”

“I--ah!” Beca’s eyes flick down to Chloe’s toes and back up. “I--you’re--you’re naked. We--dude!”

Chloe laughs, stepping into the room and shutting the door. Water drips over her collarbone and she wipes it away with her hand. “Not like you haven’t seen it before.”

“Well, yes.” Beca’s flustered face is one of Chloe’s favorites. Her ears get red and her eyes lock on the ceiling or the wall, whatever’s farthest from the thing flustering her--usually Chloe herself. Chloe remembers that exact expression from the first time she’d left her room naked to get a drink from the kitchen after they’d moved in. She had thought Beca was at work, but when she rounded the corner, there had been a choked sound from the couch and she’d turned to find Beca doing exactly what she’s doing now. “But I was--I don’t think this is a, uh, conversation I can have with you...nude.”

“Oh. Okay.” Chloe spins and slips into Beca’s closet, grabbing her favorite of Beca’s sweaters. It’s one that she’d accidentally bought the wrong size of online, but then was too lazy to return. Chloe drops her towel, tossing it out onto the floor outside the closet. She hears Beca make what sounds like the love child of a squeak and a cough.

The sweater is soft and just long enough to cover her to mid-thigh. She pulls the dark blue sleeves down around her hands, happily rubbing her bundled fists together as she steps back out.

If she wasn’t looking at Beca, she thinks she would have missed it.

The second Beca’s eyes land on her, they drop for just a second before Beca’s ears turn even redder and she looks away and up at the ceiling again. “Jesus. Okay. Um. So, like. We leave tomorrow.”

“We do.” Chloe reaches up to let her hair out of the bun she’d had it in while in the tub. She catches Beca’s gaze flickering to the hem of the sweater. Oh. She grins. Beca’s always been so uncomfortable with anything sexual. It’s why she was so surprised to find out Beca and Stacie were friends.

“And, like. We’ve gotta be...couple-y, I guess. And Stacie mentioned that if we hadn’t talked about...physical stuff yet, then we, uh. Should. We should.” Her hands flap about helplessly for a moment and then she shrugs. “Or something. Feel free to jump in any time here.”

Chloe smiles, running her fingers through her curls a few times. “Okay. Let’s talk. What are you okay with?”

“Uh, I don’t know?” It’s definitely more of a question.

“Hmm.” Chloe crosses her arms, thinking of the list Aubrey had sent her. “Would you be okay with hand-holding?”

“Like you ever give me a choice anyways.” Beca shrugs. “I’m used to that stuff. That’s the daily for anyone with you.”

Chloe bites her lip, thrilled when Beca’s eyes drop to the movement. It’s so fun to make Beca squirm. “Flirting?”

“You flirt constantly. How could I not be prepared for that?”

She laughs. Good point. “Dancing?”

Beca grimaces, but nods.

Chloe rocks up onto her toes. “Kissing?”

Already red, Beca’s ears turn nearly crimson. It’s the only way Beca ever blushes and Chloe thinks it’s adorable. But nothing else gives Beca away. “Sure, yeah,” she says, lips pressing into a thin line as she gives what is neither a full nod or a full shrug.

When Chloe steps closer, she leans away--not backs away, just sort of leans her upper half back a little. “So, if I were to kiss you right now?”

“Totally, uh, cool. All part of the job, right?” Beca’s nodding, as if answering herself.

Chloe narrows her eyes, lifting one eyebrow. “It wouldn’t be weird?”

“Wha--Why would--No, dude. It’s just kissing. My friend. Who is my, uh. Friend. And roommate. Like, we’ve used the same toothbrush before, you know. Whatever.” Beca’s nose wrinkles up and she shakes her head, as if clearing it. Chloe decides not to remind her that she’d been very upset about having to use Chloe’s toothbrush right before a big meeting at work because hers had fallen into the trash and been taken out. She can still hear Beca’s breathless voice over the phone. “It’s gross, man. I feel bad, ‘cause I’ve got coffee breath and I just ate a burrito. Like, I’ll buy you another one as soon as I get out of this thing today, I promise!”

“Would it make our friendship weird?” Chloe says it quietly, biting the inside of her cheek. It’s the one thing she’s really been worrying about since the idea came up, though she’s been shoving it down fairly well. “I could tell them you’re not a fan of PDA. I was joking before.”

If she were asked, she’d admit that Beca is extremely attractive. She’d even admit that, in the early days of their friendship, she might have thought Beca was dateable. But now? After two years of being best friends--because she had very quickly snatched that title and held onto it tightly, despite Beca’s constant grumblings. Now? Now, it could be weird. It could ruin everything.

Suddenly, she isn’t sure she’s ready. All the confidence from a moment before is gone, replaced with “what if”s and “but then”s. And she takes a deep breath, wondering if she should just call the whole thing off. They could probably still return Beca’s ticket. Because Beca really is her best friend in the whole world, even if she’d never tell Aubrey or Stacie that.

“Dude,” Beca says, voice softer than she expected. “I don’t think I could ditch you as a friend if I tried. You’re like velcro.”

And just like that, every worry is swept away. She puts a hand to her chest, faking offense. “ Velcro ?”

“Yeah. You stick to something until you’re pried off with brute force...kinda loud--”

She cuts off when Chloe slips into her space, making sure their chests are just brushing. “You haven’t seen me loud yet, Mitchell.”

If Beca’s ears had been red before, they’re neon now. The muscle in the side of her neck flexes and Chloe guesses her fight or flight response is kicking in. To her delight, fight seems to win this time. Beca leans in. “That an offer, Beale?”

“Mmm, I don’t know…” She can feel Beca’s breath on her chin and she dips her head until she feels it stop. Beca’s eyes are wide, dark blue irises nearly black in the dim light from her desk lamp. Chloe hovers a few inches away, watching Beca’s tongue dart out to wet her lips, her jaw shifting side to side once. Then she lurches forward and presses a wet, smacking kiss to Beca’s cheek before she can dodge.

“Ah! Dude, gross!” Beca stumbles back, swiping at her cheek with her sleeve.

Chloe giggles, backing toward the door. “I don’t think you could handle an offer, Becs. Mind if I borrow this?” She tugs at the sweater, not really waiting for an answer as she slips out.

“I hate you!” she calls just before the door closes.

Chloe expects Beca to pout or maybe overthink Chloe not kissing her. Honestly, she’d just thought teasing Beca was too fun to pass up. And maybe she wasn’t ready. Maybe she’d been a little scared. She doesn’t dwell on that though.

But Beca still comes out right before they all head to bed and she still allows Chloe to wrap her in a quick hug goodnight. She still swats Stacie’s hands away playfully as she comes around the couch to grab her headphones. So it’s all fine.

Which means it’s also fine that Chloe thinks about the almost kiss more than a few times. Beca had--not in so many words--asked her to kiss her. And everything was fine. They were still Beca and Chloe--roommates extraordinaire. Best friends. A small part of her wonders if that would be different if she had actually kissed Beca. But the majority of her is no longer worrying. In fact, she’s thinking this whole thing is just going to be a lot of fun--hanging with Aubrey and all the Bellas, wedding planning, and flustering Beca. Oh, she’s gonna have a great time.

It takes a long while to fall asleep, wrapped in just Beca’s hoodie and the memory of how Beca’s breath had stopped once there was little more than teasing words between them. She allows herself to wonder, just once before her eyes slip closed, if Beca had maybe been curious too.