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Stained Glass

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Beca's in Hell. Her flight must have connected in the wrong place or something, because Hell is the place where Chloes and women who look like photocopies of Chloes laugh and make jokes about her sex life, (which doesn't exist, by the way) while Beca buttons up her shirt and shakes her hair over her ears to hide them.

Also, she's still trying to recover from Chloe ripping her shirt from her shoulders moments before. Beca's never considered herself a very sexual person, but there are certain things that get even her heart pumping. A beautiful woman ripping her shirt off is pretty high on that list. That the beautiful woman in question is her best friend is something she'll need to think about later. Because right now, she's being stared down by Chloe's aunt. And her gaze is an entirely different kind of piercing from the kind she's gotten used to with Chloe. This kind makes her feel like she's being evaluated head to toe in an instant.

Dana, an almost exact replica of Chloe but with more years lining her eyes and a more athletic swagger to her walk, crosses the room and slaps her hand into Beca's. It kinda hurts. "Beca Mitchell. I just got a whole rant about you from Cory."


"Mamma," Chloe supplies, smiling. Her hands are tucked neatly behind her and she's rocking back and forth on her toes.


"And Mamma," Dana says, yanking her into her side and wrapping a (very strong) arm around her shoulders. "Mamma likes you. A lot."

Beca laughs, hoping it sounds less uncomfortable to the other women. "I think Mamma Beale likes everyone."

Dana shrugs. "Fair enough." She pushes back her red curls, slightly shorter than Chloe's. "Come on. Let's go listen to her talk you up together."

That sounds not fun at all. Beca was kind of hoping to just fade into the background, but Dana-much like her niece-is deceptively strong. Before Beca can even think to protest, Dana is almost literally carrying her down the steps and out of the garage. Chloe follows behind them, her giggles making Beca feel even dumber than the frog march Dana is forcing her into does.

Dana kicks open the back door and leads them straight to the voices in the house-the kitchen.

Mamma Beale is standing at the stove, three pots going as she doles out orders like a staff sergeant to the other redheads in the room: Lew, a skinny teenage boy with the only brown eyes she's seen so far, and an elderly woman wielding a ladle like a sword from her spot sitting at the kitchen bar. The last's hair is streaked with white, but still beacon red for the most part. She spots them first.



The two snatch each other up in a hug that rocks them around half the kitchen. Dana ducks Gran's swinging ladle by barely an inch and Beca tries to shrink into the corner. No luck. Dana's grip on her tightens.

"Seth!" the teenager yells, throwing himself into the hug.

Chloe laughs, bending her arm back to pat his head. "Hi, Seth."

"Sup, Cuz? Missed you!"

"And your driver's license, I hear."

Seth spins away from the hug, all elbows and freckles. "Dad!" He smacks Lew's back. "You told her?"

Lew just laughs. He's bent over the sink, peeling potatoes and he kicks his foot up, pushing Seth back. "She asked. Probably for her safety."

Seth leaps onto his back and the kitchen dissolves into chaos. Gran starts wacking Seth with the ladle, cackling louder than everyone else. Mamma Beale shields the stove as Lew tries to pull his son off. Dana and Chloe try to restrain Gran half-heartedly.

Beca is pretty sure she's been dumped right into an episode of the Twilight Zone. For her, family time was quiet dinners with her mother in a hospital room and even quieter dinners with her father at home. And when they were together it was like sitting around a time bomb with the timer covered.

Honestly, she didn't think families like this were real. And if they were, she would have wanted no part of them growing up. Back when she'd wanted nothing more than her music and a quiet place to nap. But as she ducks Gran's ladle and Chloe leaps on her, yelling, "Get down!" between her laughs, she thinks maybe this could have been a good childhood too.

"Beca!" Mamma Beale yells, shoving Lew and Seth aside to grab for her. "Cease fire! Cease fire! We've got a guest!"

"Two guests," Stacie says, sweeping into the room.

Seth scrambles off his father's back and smacks his hands against his hair, straightening it. "Hey, Stacie." His voice sounds lower suddenly, but Beca can't be sure because everyone else is greeting Stacie too.

In the commotion, Beca doesn't notice Chloe slipping behind her until her arms wrap around Beca's waist and she pulls her in.

"Hey," she whispers. "You unharmed?"

"Your grandma almost took my head off with a ladle, but yes." She chuckles, turning her head to catch blue eyes. "You saved me, I think."

Chloe wrinkles her nose, shrugging. "I got you, baby."

Well, shit. Adding that to the list.

After a bit of arguing, Gran wins and claims Beca as her helper.

Which is fine by Beca, because Gran is a tiny woman with a huge grin and her official title is "taster". So while everyone else chops vegetables and gets to work on dishes, Gran puts Beca to work snatching spoonfuls of everything cooking. Nobody actually puts up a fight, but they pretend to. Mamma Beale smacks her with an apron, Lew tries to catch her in a headlock, Chloe seizes her belt loop as she dashes by with a chunk of boiled potato and very nearly topples them both. She's actually pretty good at her assigned duties. And all the while, Gran is laughing and calling out more orders.

It's actually pretty fun, Beca thinks, ducking Seth's bony elbow to slip Gran a couple pieces of cheese. Gran rewards her with a scoop of whatever sauce Mamma Beale has simmering on the back burner.

"You're turning my girlfriend into a thief, Gran." Chloe washes her hands and joins them on the far side of the bar. She wipes her wet hands down Beca's sleeve, ignoring her protests.

"I'm feeding her." Gran reaches out and pats Beca's stomach. She doesn't think she's ever been touched so much in her life. "You're obviously not!"

"She is well fed. She just has the metabolism of a hummingbird."

Maybe it's the presence of her touchy-feely family. Or maybe Chloe's just in an excellent mood, being back home. But she can't seem to keep her hands off Beca. It's nothing big-a hand on her lower back as she leans around her, a hip bump, a brush of fingers along her shoulder to get her attention. It's more than Beca's used to and all these Chloe clones are doing the same thing. Small touches, just keeping contact for no reason other than to do so. It's a little overwhelming.

Chloe's finger slips into her pocket, tugging gently. "Hey, you guys have got this. We're gonna go finish unpacking before everybody else gets home."

"Unpacking," Dana says, dragging the word out. "Sure looked like unpacking to me."

There's a collective "oooh" from the gathered family members (and Stacie, who is louder than everyone else and also looks offended somehow). Beca's ears burn, but she can't help the smile that pulls at her lips.

Chloe sticks her tongue out, biting down on it as she grabs Beca's other pocket and backs her out of the kitchen, away from the wolf whistles and cheers.

In the hallway, she lets go, still laughing.

"Your family is insane," Beca says, taking a deeper breath than she's felt like she could for the last hour.

"They'd thank you for that." Chloe leads the way out the back door and to the garage. She hops the stairs two at a time and Beca definitely doesn't watch her calves flex with each leap. "But you looked like you could use a break. Especially since everyone else will be here soon." She rounds the top of the stairs, turning to glance back over the railing at her. "Why don't you do some mixing while I finish unpacking?"

Years ago, Beca would have sworn she hated all people. She just wanted to make music and avoid speaking to anyone. When Stacie had all but manhandled her into having coffee with her and revealed she was actually really smart and pretty funny, Beca had decided maybe one person was okay. And then Stacie had brought her to Chloe.

And Chloe was so...real. When she said things, you could take them at face value. She loved as hard as she said she did and she was thoughtful. Like, the kind of thoughtful you only see on TV. It freaked Beca out at first. Honestly, she still wasn't quite used to it.

"No, dude. I'll help you unpack."

"Beca." Chloe seizes her elbows, stopping her at the top of the stairs. "You're about to spend the night surrounded by all my family members you just met plus some. You need to relax a bit first. I know dealing with a lot of people can tire you out."

She opens her mouth to protest again, but Chloe leans in close-so close Beca can see the lines in her eyes. Her thumbs rub circles into the soft bend of Beca's elbows.

"Bec. You're being very sweet even coming here for me. Take some time for you. It's fine." She tugs and Beca lurches forward, their bodies bumping together. She can feel Chloe's belt buckle pressed into her stomach, just below her bellybutton. "Besides. You're tiny. So your clothes are tiny. Putting them away won't take much effort."

Beca shoves her back, snorting. "I take back every nice thing I've ever said about you." The floorboards creak as she stomps over to the desk and grabs her headphones. Before she can put them on though, Chloe's hands slip over her shoulders and across the flat part of her chest. Slow fingertips gliding along the bottoms of her collarbones, barely a touch. Beca freezes as Chloe tugs gently at the top button of her shirt.

"You love me," she practically purrs, her voice far too close to Beca's ear.

Oh, shit, she's going to hyperventilate. Of all the things Chloe could have done, running her hands over her shoulders from behind is really the absolute worst. Her eyes flutter closed of their own accord and she feels herself lean back into the touch despite her entire brain screaming not to. Her headphones slip from her curling fingers, clattering back onto the desk, and everything in her stomach feels like it's caught fire.

Chloe gives a surprised but appreciative hum, her fingers pressing more surely into Beca. "Oooh, Be-ca?" she croons, breaking Beca's name in two, a teasing lilt in her voice. "Did I just find a hot spot?" She sounds victorious.

That's all it takes to pull Beca back to herself. She sits forward, shaking her shoulders and growling until Chloe releases her with a laugh. "No, shut up. You just surprised me."

"Surprised your hot spot," Chloe says, her voice moving away.

Beca slaps her headphones on, pretending not to hear her. She also pretends the base of her spine isn't still tingling. Chloe Beale is going to be the death of her.

She doesn't hear the voices coming up the stairs, but she does see Chloe pop out of the bathroom with the biggest grin on her face that Beca's seen since the stained glass window was installed in their kitchen. She slips off her headphones as Chloe races for the stairs and collides with a tall blonde woman wearing a deep blue sundress and an equally huge smile.

"Bree!" Chloe screeches, making Beca wish she'd waited a second before removing her headphones. Quickly, she saves her work and turns off her computer as the girls squeal and bounce in place, speaking too rapidly for Beca to really understand.

"Oh my god, Chlo-"

"You look so good! I-"

"All the Bellas-"

Chloe breaks away from the hug, grabbing the woman's hand instead. Aubrey, Beca realizes a moment before Chloe says it. There's a framed picture of her on the wall back home. "Beca!" Chloe says, bouncing on her toes. "This is Aubrey! Aubrey, Beca!"

"Ah, yes. The girlfriend." Aubrey gives what Beca assumes she thinks is a polite smile. "I've heard so much about you." She crosses the room and extends a hand. Beca suddenly feels like she's meeting a politician. She's heard about Aubrey plenty of times. Even through a Chloe-filter, Aubrey has always sounded like a control freak.

She takes the hand, giving it a quick two-pump shake. Her father had grilled her on those back when he thought she was going to college. Surprise, Dad.

Aubrey's eyebrow tips up in slight approval. "I look forward to getting to know you. I've been meaning to get up to New York again, since I missed you last time." She had come up for a week in January, but Beca had been back in Louisiana at that time. She won't say she purposely made sure that happened, but the way Chloe talked about Aubrey sort of made her nervous so she won't say she didn't purposely make that happen.

"Chloe!" A man leaps up the stairs and snatches Chloe up in a hug, spinning her around. He's tall, like Aubrey, with dark hair and eyes and a huge smile. Really, why does everyone Chloe knows smile so widely? It's freaky.

"Jesse!" Chloe calls back with the same energy, kicking her feet in the air.

He puts her down after they almost spin right into the dresser, laughing. Aubrey's hands twitch up, like she's going to grab them but changes her mind. Instead, she just smiles-more softly than she had at Beca. Jesse turns from Chloe, boyish grin in place.

But when he makes eye contact with Beca, she feels like she's just been slapped in the face. Because she knows his face. "Wait."

His jaw drops and his fists jump into the air like he's at a concert and she jerks back. That seems to thrill him more than anything. "Beca Mitchell!"

"Swanson?" she says, but before she can get out any more, she's being swept up into his arms and swung around just like Chloe had been. Her hands are caught between their chests so she can't shove him off. "No! Put me down!"

"Becaw!" His voice rings in her ears and she kicks at his shins. "Oh my god, I thought 'Beca' was like, 'Rebecca' or something! But it's you!"

"Let me go, Swanson! I'm going to bite you!"


Her foot connects with his knee and he grunts, dropping her. She staggers back into the computer chair, sending it rolling against the wall. Jesse grabs her elbow, keeping her standing. He just laughs as she growls at him.

"You know each other, I take it?" Aubrey cuts in, her voice a little higher than before.

Jesse spins toward her, happily wrapping an arm around her waist. "Yeah! You're not gonna believe this, but Beca here-" He jabs a thumb at her, gleeful. "Beca was my first girlfriend ever!"

She might murder him. If Aubrey doesn't kill her first, which her flaring nostrils say she might. Chloe just looks shocked. "It was in first grade, everyone. Calm down." She glares at him. "And I don't believe I ever actually said yes. He just followed me around calling me his girlfriend."

"We shared a juice box. It was love, Becaw."

"It was gross, is what it was."

"Awww," Jesse coos, tugging Aubrey closer. "If I remember correctly, that's the closest you get to compliments."

Chloe's laugh rings around the room. "Oh, you really do know each other."

"Shut up, Beale."

Aubrey's polite smile is back in place, though perhaps a little more real this time. "So, Chloe, you brought my fiance's ex-girlfriend to my wedding?"

Beca snorts. "Trust me, lady, you can have him. He's a snitch."

"Oh, come on-"

"Nope. We're not talking about it." Beca lifts a hand to shut him up. Thankfully, he complies. "How did you end up in Georgia?"

He shrugs, big smile widening. "I met Aubrey." It's gross, really, the way he smiles at her like she put all the stars in his sky or some other romantic shit Chloe would say.

Speaking of gross, Chloe is staring at them with glimmering eyes and her hands clasped beneath her chin. Chloe crying is one of the only things Beca can't handle, so she figures it's time to cut the reunion short. "Okay, okay. You're adorable and sappy. Save it for the chapel, please." She points at Chloe. "No waterworks, Beale."

"I'll try," she says, her voice wobbly.

Aubrey swoops in and wraps Chloe in a tight hug again. "I've missed you so much." That doesn't help the way Chloe's started blinking faster than normal.

Probably sensing the same thing as Beca-that they were intruding-Jesse swings a long arm around her shoulders and says, "Come on, Becaw. Let's go catch up."

She sort of hates leaving Chloe when she's crying, despite the fact that she hasn't a clue how to handle it, but she lets him steer her to the stairs and down them. Just before the garage door shuts, she hears a loud sniffle. God, she hates it when Chloe cries.