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Stained Glass

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It’s wedding day and Chloe is so grateful for Mamma, because she takes over everything with just a clap of her hands and an, “Okay, kiddos!”

Which leaves Chloe free to take care of Aubrey and all the Bellas. Which is a full-time job on a normal day, much less one where she has to worry about Amy sneaking off to “have a naughty” with Bumper or Lilly getting loose among the crowd of guests that have started gathering on the front lawn. She recognizes the faces--the people who showed up to help search for Aubrey.

And Aubrey is in fine form, the Bellas fluttering around her, all with their own opinions of what she should do with her hair or makeup or suggesting last minute changes to her dress. Aubrey deflects each suggestion easily and sits still as Jessica does her makeup, hiding her bruised cheek fairly easily. It’s already starting to fade anyways.

Beca, Cynthia Rose, and Ashley had disappeared into the house after the girls were done taking up all the bathrooms and half the kitchen and Chloe had barely had time to sneak a quick kiss as Beca was dragged out the door.

She pulls up her dress, hurrying back down the stairs with her car keys in hand, ready to make space for the wedding party to emerge from the garage once the music starts. The 1966 Shelby Cobra smells like it’s been recently cleaned as she slides into the driver’s seat and she’s not surprised. Mamma takes good care of all of her dad’s old things. She cranks it up and the engine turns over easy. Flo hits the button on the wall and the rolling door groans to life, sliding up. She cruises out and parks the car a little ways away, behind the red maple. A couple leaves flutter down and land on the hood as she climbs out. She sweeps them away carefully and takes a moment to remember her dad bent under the hood, laughing at whatever Aunt Dana had said or at Chloe’s grease-covered face. Carefully keeping his dirty hands to himself when Mamma came in to get a kiss. Tossing Mickey a wrench. Strapping baby Eli’s seat into the back to drive him around when he had trouble sleeping.

“You okay?”

Chloe looks up and all of that slips away as she takes in Beca in a suit for the first time.

The suit and vest are a simple dark blue, with a white shirt underneath, black Oxfords on her feet, and silver cufflinks and embroidering on the tie. And Beca wears it like she was born to--the tie just a little loose so she doesn’t have to do up the last button on the collar, the jacket closed and perfectly fitted to her slim waist. Her hair is down, the few strands that usually frame her face pulled back into a small bun. Her makeup is minimal, just dark eyeliner that makes her blue eyes--the same shade as her suit--pop. She shifts under Chloe’s gaze and lifts a hand to smooth it down her tie. Her sleeve pulls back and Chloe sees she hasn’t removed the three leather bands she usually wears around her wrist. It’s extremely attractive for some reason and she tries to catch Beca’s eye to tell her so.

But Beca’s gaze is roaming up and down Chloe’s dress, like she’s taking in every stitch and the way it sits on her body. The look is nearly tangible and Chloe suddenly feels a hundred times more beautiful than she already had in the dress, with her hair loose around her shoulders. She grins and Beca blinks rapidly, coming back to herself.

“Uh, you look.” She pauses, teeth catching the tip of her tongue for a second. “You look amazing. Like, really amazing.”

“So do you.” She feels lighter, like she could lift off from the ground if she just tried a little, and she lets that buoyancy carry her over to Beca so she can stroke her palms down the lapels of her jacket. “We match.” Maybe it’s the eyeliner, but Beca’s eyes look a little darker than normal when Chloe softly tugs at her tie.

“I think that was the idea.” Beca reaches out, fingers tickling up her sides in a pattern that reminds Chloe of Beca at the piano. “Please tell me this is coming home with us.”

Something that feels like the misty spray of a waterfall fills Chloe’s chest and she hooks her arms over Beca’s shoulders, pulling her closer. With her silver heels, Chloe’s got a good few inches on her and she’s thrilled when Beca tilts her head back just enough that Chloe can easily brush their lips together. “The dress? Of course.”

“Good,” Beca says vehemently, crooked grin growing as Chloe laughs.

“I like this side of you, Becs. It’s sexy.” She leans in to scrape her teeth over Beca’s bottom lip and Beca groans softly.

“Cool it, Beale. We’ve got hours until we can be alone.”

Chloe pulls back and cocks an eyebrow. Beca’s ears immediately go red. “You got plans for us tonight, Mitchell?”

Despite her red ears, Beca keeps calm, giving a casual shrug. “You don’t?”

Something in the rasp of her voice sinks hot claws into Chloe’s stomach and drags her forward for another, deeper kiss. Beca tastes like caramel and it reminds her of another kiss they’d shared, right here in this same spot. She breaks the kiss with a final flick of her tongue over Beca’s lip. “You know, we had our first kiss right here.”

Beca just stares at her mouth for a few seconds, as if in a trance, then glances up at the red leaves above them. “Yeah. Feels like years ago, doesn’t it?”

It kind of does. Chloe takes the opportunity to place a kiss to the underside of Beca’s jaw. “I don’t remember if I thanked you for that.” Beca’s eyes drop back to hers. “For getting me away from Tom.”

Beca’s fingers tighten slightly on her hips and the muscle in her jaw ticks once. “You never told me what happened there.”

Chloe shrugs, threading her fingers into the waves of Beca’s hair. “We were sort of busy.”

“We aren’t now.” Beca shrugs back, lifting an eyebrow. “You don’t, like, have to tell me though, dude.” Awkward Beca makes a sudden appearance and Chloe smiles.

Because here, under the red maple, with Beca’s hands flapping about like she doesn’t know what to do with them, it feels easy. So she steps back until she can lean against the bumper of the Cobra and pulls until Beca’s standing between her feet. Beca’s hands slip into her pockets in a move that shouldn’t be as attractive as it is, but Chloe leaves her hands on Beca’s jacket, fiddling with the buttons. “Tom and I dated for a few years. And for the first year or so, it was perfect. He was sweet and thoughtful. Had a good job, good grades.” She traces the seam of the jacket down to its bottom hem, catching the material between her thumb and forefinger. “But then Aubrey started voicing concerns about him. Little things he did, like calling me a bunch when I was hanging out with her or getting sort of upset if I didn’t text him when I made it back to my dorm at night. I kept brushing her off, saying he was just worried about me or missed me. And I did that for a ridiculously long time. I even believed it for a while.”

Beca shifts a little as Chloe’s fingers trails along toward her side and she pulls her hand from her pocket to let Chloe trace the lines of her palm. As if she’d known Chloe needed to feel her skin. Maybe she did.

“Then we started fighting. A lot. And he would say things like, ‘Well, if you really cared, you’d tell me where you’re going when you go out’ and ‘I’m just trying to make sure you’re okay, so you should always answer your phone’.” Beca’s middle fingers twitches and Chloe drags her finger down it until the tips touch. “I don’t know when exactly it changed, but suddenly I felt guilty if I didn’t answer him, even if I’d literally just gotten off the phone with him. I didn’t feel comfortable going to study groups or hanging out with the Trebles sometimes, because he didn’t like me around other guys. And then he started using this tone when he said certain things--like, ‘Oh, so you were at practice, okay’.” It’s a little chilling, how well she remembers the way his voice would dip in all the wrong places, but Beca’s palm is warm and Chloe focuses on that. She can feel Beca’s eyes on her, but she keeps her gaze on the silver rings around Beca’s middle finger and thumb. “I felt like I had to defend everything I did or said. Like it was my fault we weren’t what we used to be. And it just got worse and worse until he was accusing me of cheating pretty much every time I left his apartment. When I told him about class that day, he’d turn it around and make it out to be me flirting with a classmate or something. He never believed I was where I said I was. Never believed me when I said anything. Never let me do the things I wanted to do. When I told him about vet school, he laughed. Then got angry, because it wasn’t here in Georgia. He tried to talk me out of it for ages, telling me it was too far away and I wouldn’t be able to do it. That I’d quit and end up right back home. That I wasn’t smart enough for it.” Beca’s fingers twitch again. “By the time I broke up with him, I was constantly questioning myself. He never hit me, but...it was abusive. The relationship. And I just wanted to move on and forget it. Never make that mistake again. And then I found out he’d been cheating on me for nearly a year.” She scoffs lightly, twisting Beca’s thumb ring. “I felt so stupid, like I should have known. And then I felt dumb going for the things I wanted. I felt guilty moving to New York. And when school started, and it was so hard right off the bat… It felt like he’d been right when he said those things about school. And then I started thinking of other things he’d said and it, just… It was just too much.” It’s blurry now, the memory of his furrowed brow and pursed lips.

Gently, Beca’s fingers wrap around her wrist and tap twice. Just a simple touch, but it reminds Chloe of where she is. Who she’s with. She looks up and Beca tilts her head to the side, earrings swinging lightly.

And Chloe smiles, because the memory of Beca in that coffee shop when they first met comes to her easily--vibrant and vivid and beautiful. “Then I met you. And sometime between you begrudgingly taking my phone number and you mentioning that apartment for sale, I stopped feeling guilty. Stopped worrying. And when we moved in together, you let me play my music at three a.m. and cook whatever wild dishes I found online. You let me paint our bathroom a color you hate, because it makes me happy.” She rests her thumb on the pulse in Beca’s left wrist. “You let me put stained glass in that tiny kitchen window for absolutely no reason.”

“I didn’t let you do anything, Chlo.” Beca’s voice is soft and it mingles with the rustling leaves overhead as a breeze pushes through, tugging at Chloe’s curls.

“I know,” Chloe says, smiling. “I mean...thanks for not making me feel like I need to be someone else for you to love me, I guess.”

Beca’s ears go red and her eye roll is small, but she makes sure Chloe sees it. “Well, duh, dude. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t actually like anyone else, so.” She shrugs, hissing through her bared teeth as her nose scrunches up and Chloe drags her down for another kiss, laughing.

“Shut up, Mitchell. I have a list of people you like.”

Beca doesn’t argue with that, simply closing her eyes and lifting her eyebrows. Then, face going completely straight, she says, “I broke his jaw.”

Chloe snorts, reaching to hold her other hand too, which Beca easily offers. “Stacie told me. I kicked him in the crotch. Hard.”

Beca grins, thumbs swiping across Chloe’s open palms. “That’s my girl.”

The phrase lights up every nerve ending in her body and she tries not to vibrate right out of her heels. Because, god, she loves Beca. “Thanks for coming here with me.” Beca blinks, eyebrows tilting up. “It was sweet of you. Agreeing to be my fake girlfriend just because I asked.”

Beca laughs. “You mean agreeing to be your real girlfriend just because you asked.”

All the heaviness that had come with thinking of Tom slips off Chloe’s shoulders and she almost forgets it was ever there. “Just because I asked?”

“Well,” Beca squints into the distance over Chloe’s head. “There might be other reasons.”

A thrill shoots through Chloe as Beca dips down to kiss her, just like it does every time Beca initiates contact. But she can hear loud voices echoing from the back door now and she figures it’s about time to start gathering the wedding party. “We should go finish getting ready. Save me a dance later?”

“You can have all my dances, Beale.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Bec. You’ve met the Bellas.”

“Shit, you’re right. Ugh. Is it too late to get kidnapped by diamond smugglers?”

“Beca!”

“What? Too soon?”


Most of the wedding party is gathered in the garage already when they arrive through the roll-up door. Beca glances around at the packed space and her eyes narrow as she takes a step back. “Yeah, I’m gonna go find Stacie.”

Chloe smiles and lets go of her hand so Beca can retreat quickly. The second they’d stepped in, she’d known Beca would be ready to run. So she watches Beca scurry back out, then goes to find Aubrey. She’s upstairs still, with Emily, and Chloe stops beside the taller girl, tucking her arm around her waist. “Hey, guys. We almost ready?”

“Almost.” Aubrey glances at herself once more in the mirror over the dresser and smiles. “But first, Emily was about to tell me why she didn’t tell us all about her and Stacie.”

Emily groans, blushing, and Chloe laughs, giving her hip a squeeze. “Come on, Em. You knew we were going to ask.”

“I know, but I get, like, weird? I don’t know.” She shrugs. “Like, I feel like I shouldn’t be the one to say.”

That sits strangely in Chloe’s gut and she glances at Aubrey to find her frowning too. “You mean Stacie didn’t want to tell us?” Stacie, who constantly overshares everything about her life without even blinking?

Emily smiles brightly. “She didn’t want any of you to judge me. For dating her. Because of her reputation, she said.” Before either of them can respond, Emily’s eyes widen and she quickly continues on. “Not that, like, thought you would! She didn’t either, you know! It’s just… She said it’s like when I came out to my mom. I knew my mom would be fine. I mean, her best friend in the world is gay.” She stops, mouthing wordlessly for a moment. “But there’s always that little ‘what if’ in your head, you know? So I was terrified. And Stacie said it’s like that. She knows you guys wouldn’t actually judge me, but she was still worried about it. So we agreed to not say anything until we finished moving in together.”

Aubrey, latching onto the exact wrong part of that spiel, gasps. “You’re moving in together?”

The panic that flits across Emily’s face almost makes Chloe laugh. “I-We-We’re, uh, thinking about it. Um--”

“It’s okay, Em.” Chloe squeezes her again, smiling. “And we’d never judge anyone for loving Stacie. We’d have to judge ourselves.” She reaches out and Aubrey takes her hand happily, pressing it between her palms. There’s still a little crease between Emily’s eyebrows, so Chloe gives her the brightest smile she can. Like that’s all the permission she needed, Emily lights up too, bouncing a little. “I think you guys are adorable together.”

“Yeah?” Emily asks, a little breathless. “Me too!”

“You too, what?” Stacie asks, hopping up the last stairs with Beca on her heels.

“She also thinks you two are adorable together,” Aubrey says.

“Adorable?” Stacie scoffs, taking Emily’s hand and tugging her into her arms. “We’re fucking hot, right, babe?” Emily just giggles, hiding her face in Stacie’s shoulder. And, for the first time, Chloe sees the difference in Stacie as she drops her chin against Emily’s head and smiles. Because she expects Stacie to keep going, to try and fluster Emily until the poor girl is hiding under the bed or running for the door. It’s what Stacie does. But not this time. This time, Stacie simply hums a few bars of a song that Chloe doesn’t recognize and closes her eyes when Emily hums back. And Chloe loves love, so the sight fills her to the brim with warmth. She squeezes Aubrey’s hands tighter and Aubrey blinks suspiciously quickly.

Beca pretends to gag. “Oh, god. Can we be done?” She moves forward and tucks herself under Chloe’s arm so easily that it makes Chloe’s stomach flip.

“Truly, though,” Aubrey rises to her feet, patting Chloe’s hand once before releasing it. “If you guys are all going to be wrapped up in your loved ones, then I want mine. I haven’t seen Jesse since yesterday!”

“Lucky you,” Beca huffs. “He’s out there shaking like a kid on a sugar high and talking way too loudly for normal human conversation.”

Chloe can easily picture it. He used to do that before big competitions. She grins at Aubrey and knows she’s thinking the same thing, because her eyes are focused beyond Beca now and her smile is so soft. “Come on, Bree. Let’s get you married.”

Aubrey nods and pulls herself up to her full height. The General’s daughter, Chloe thinks.


They line up in the garage and Chloe takes her place at the back beside Benji. Beca and Uni are in front of her and Uni is swaying side to side, singing along to whatever song is blaring from Beca’s setup outside. Beca stays limp, letting him pull her back and forth. Chloe giggles, reaching out to smooth a hand down Beca’s back. Just because she can.

“Alright!” Mamma says, appearing in the doorway. “Are we ready?” She catches Chloe’s eye at the end of the line and Chloe nods.

“Beca?” she says.

Beca nods and extricates herself from Uni to move to the side door and stick her head out. She gives a short whistle and the music slowly fades out. She moves back into her place and Mamma passes them all by, holding the hem of her dress carefully off the ground. She pauses beside Chloe and rests a hand on her cheek. Chloe leans into the warmth, smiling. “My Chloe,” Mamma whispers, patting once. Then she moves aside and reaches for Aubrey, who’s standing at the base of the stairs, taking her hand.

And Aubrey looks so happy, so content. Unlike the tightly-wound girl Chloe had met freshman year or the stressed captain of the Bellas that first year they took over. It makes Chloe want to hug her, but the wedding march begins and she saves the impulse for later.

Lilly, with her little basket of rose petals, goes first. Just as she steps out of the shadow of the roll-up door, Chloe catches her sticking one of the petals in her mouth.

It flows easily from there. Cynthia Rose and Jessica, bearing the rings. Mr. Swanson and Emily, towering over the rest of the group together. Bumper and Amy. Kolio and Flo. Donald and Stacie.

As Uni and Beca step out, she glances back and catches Chloe’s eye, smiling. Chloe feels a little bad rushing Benji forward after that, but she wants to watch Beca walk down the aisle. Aunt Dana and Mel, of all people, are standing at the corner of the garage, directing the wedding party on when to walk. As they pass, Mel smiles an honest-to-god smile and Chloe returns it, surprised. Eli, wearing his nicest Easter suit, is standing behind a table filled with Beca’s equipment, a pair of her headphones around his neck. They look even bigger on him than they do on her. His hands are resting on the dials in front of him and he smiles, all teeth, when she looks at him.

Ashley and Jesse are standing under the white and blue-flowered archway up ahead, both with their hands folded neatly in front of them. Jessica stands behind Ashley, holding a tiny blue pillow with the rings resting on it. And Jesse is indeed bouncing in place, smiling the way he always does when Aubrey’s involved, like no moment can be better than the one he’s in.

But it’s Beca that Chloe’s eyes go to. Standing off to the side, hands tucked in her pockets, slight smirk on her lips. And her gaze set steadily on Chloe. For a brief moment, Chloe lets herself imagine what it would be like, making this walk to meet Beca under the archway. The image swells in her chest and she takes a deep breath around it, smiling. As if she knows exactly what Chloe’s thinking, Beca lifts one eyebrow and her lips twitch up in the corner.

Seth appears behind Beca, camera raised to his face as he snaps pictures of the crowd, the wedding party, Chloe and Benji. In his pressed button-up and slacks, he looks so much like the old photos Mamma has of Uncle Lew. He hops down off the platform as she passes, winking and snapping more pictures.

Benji lets go of her arm and she takes her place beside Beca, just off the side of the platform. Shifting the tiny bouquet into her right hand, she reaches for Beca’s hand with her other and finds it waiting. She laces their fingers and squeezes, trying to convey the incredible happiness bubbling in her chest. Beca squeezes back and Chloe thinks she gets it.

Aunt Dana and Mel appear at the end of the aisle, signalling everyone to stand and Chloe catches Beca gesturing to Eli. He nods and the music fades out, then begins again, but it’s subtly different this time. Then soft bass and the tinkling of a kalimba joins the beat of the traditional wedding march for a few seconds, then slows down, and Chloe rounds on Beca as she realizes the whole thing has been mixed to sound like “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.

Beca just shrugs. “Aubrey mentioned she kinda thought the original wedding march was cliche.”

Mamma pats Aubrey’s hand as they make their way down the aisle, smiling and nodding at those they pass, tears running down her cheeks that she does nothing to stop. But Aubrey, like Chloe, keeps her eyes set on the archway up ahead. She looks radiant and Chloe’s eyes fill with tears. She blinks through them, not wanting to miss a moment of Aubrey’s walk. But then there’s a sniff to her right and she glances over to find Jesse’s cheeks wet as tears run into his smile.

Mamma stops just before the platform and hugs Aubrey tight, stroking her back. “My Aubrey,” she says, just loud enough for Chloe to hear, before releasing her, moving to place a kiss on Chloe’s cheek, and taking her seat at the front. Everyone else sits too and Aubrey takes a deep breath, her eyes shimmering as she steps up. Everything inside Chloe feels so warm as Aubrey turns and hands her the bouquet. Her fingers brush Chloe’s and she holds on for just a moment. Just long enough for Chloe to smile and nod.

Aubrey lets her go and turns to take Jesse’s hands. He sniffs again and she laughs, pulling him a step closer.

Beca’s hand twitches in Chloe’s and the music fades to silence.

Ashley takes a deep breath. “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join these two in aca-matrimony!” There’s a burst of laughter from both sides and Ashley grins, a sparkle in her eye as she glances behind her at Jessica. “Jesse and Aubrey would like to thank you all for coming. Now, before we begin, if anyone has any reason these two should not be wed, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

Chloe jumps as all of the Bellas behind her and the Trebles across from them all start calling out, perfectly in sync. Of course they’d planned something like this. She knew better than to leave them alone earlier.

“She should be marrying me!” Donald calls, grinning.

“HE should be marrying me!” Uni winks with a shimmy.

“Run while you can, Captain!” Amy bellows.

“Jesse screech sings, dude, don’t do it!” Beca adds and Jesse playfully glares at her as Aubrey laughs and waves them all to be quiet. Chloe turns and tugs Beca’s hand, trying to keep her face straight. But Beca’s grinning and it’s always impossible not to grin back.

Ashley raises her hands and the hubbub dies down. “You’re all overruled.” Aubrey’s laugh carries over the crowd. Ashley draws herself up taller and Chloe feels suddenly so proud of her. “I once heard someone say that marriage is like a song.”

Something thrums in Chloe’s chest and Beca takes her hand back, only to drop her chin lightly onto Chloe’s shoulder instead. Chloe tips her head against Beca’s.

“It only works if those involved know how to harmonize. And these two seem to have an advantage when it comes to that.” There’s a chuckle from the crowd and Amy whoops. Ashley grins. “These two came with their own, separate beats and rhythms and found a whole new sound together. They learned to adapt, to work as a team, to match pitch so seamlessly that none of us even remember a time when they weren’t a single song.”

Chloe tries very hard to keep her tears quiet, letting out a slow, rattling breath. Beca’s chin presses a little harder into her shoulder and her chest is warm against Chloe’s back.

“It’s a song we’ve all listened to for years.” She spreads her arms to indicate the Bellas, Trebles, and guests. “They say you are what you listen to. And, if that’s true, then all of us gathered here are sweet, resounding, pitch perfect love.”

Jesse reaches up and wipes the tears from Aubrey’s cheeks with gentle thumbs, laughing. She wraps her fingers into the front of his jacket.

“For that,” Ashley continues, smiling. “We’d all like to thank you, Jesse and Aubrey.” She turns and motions Jessica forward. “Please join hands.”

Beca’s palm suddenly presses warm against Chloe’s stomach and she drops her own hand to cover it, twisting Beca’s thumb ring once.

“Jesse, repeat after me.”

As he does, Beca turns her head just enough that her lips brush Chloe’s ear. “I love you.”

Chloe squeezes her hand, watching Jesse recite his vows as Aubrey grins wider than Chloe’s ever seen her do. Ashley turns to Aubrey and Chloe leans farther back into Beca and lets the gentle cadence of Aubrey’s vows sink into the glowing warmth that sits just beneath their joined hands on her stomach.

Once the rings are exchanged, Ashley and Jessica step back. Ashley lifts her hands. “And so, by the power vested in me by Getordained.org--” Chloe’s snorts, lifting the bouquets in her hand to hide her face. Beca chuckles in her ear. “I now pronounce you married! You may kiss the groom!”

Jesse laughs as Aubrey does just that, launching herself into his arms to press her lips to his.

Beca releases her to clap along with the crowd, letting out a high-pitched whistle. Chloe glances back and finds practically all of the Bellas wiping tears from their eyes between applause and cheering. A mouthful of flower petals puffs from Lilly’s lips and Chloe laughs, lifting her voice to join in with the screaming as Aubrey and Jesse finally break apart.

Aubrey releases him to throw her arms around Chloe instead and Chloe hugs her tight, pressing her smile into her best friend’s shoulder.


The reception has been going for hours now and Chloe’s feet are killing her. She’s danced with nearly everyone in attendance, including Agent Hollis, who she’s exchanged numbers with and is pretty sure they’re going to be good friends now. Chloe likes her energy.

She does not like her heels anymore, so she kicks them off under one of the picnic tables and curls her toes into the grass as she watches Cynthia Rose and Mel dance close together in the corner.

Stacie drops down to sit next to her, kicking off her own heels and sprawling out her long legs. “I am exhausted. Physically and emotionally. I think I’ve cried more today than I have in over a year.”

“Tell me about it. Waterproof mascara was invented by a goddess.” Chloe twists one leg up onto the picnic bench to look out over the rest of the party. She stops when she sees Beca behind the DJ table with Eli and a pretty girl his age, who must be Sarah, his crush. Beca and the girl are speaking in rapid sign language and Eli is looking back and forth between them with a wild grin. She taps Eli’s shoulder with her fist and motions him toward one of the speakers set up beside the table. Eli leads Sarah over to it and both of them place their hands on the speaker front as Beca flawlessly fades the song playing into one with a harder bassline. Eli and Sarah nod along to the beat, laughing together. That warm feeling that’s been dancing between Chloe’s ribs all day long suddenly feels like it’s pulsing to the beat and she finds herself standing before she really registers moving. “Hey, Stacie, can you look after Beca’s equipment tonight?”

And Stacie, being who she is, immediately lights up. “Oh, I absolutely can, Red. Go get you some, girl.” She winks and smacks Chloe’s butt as she passes.

Chloe laughs in response, but doesn’t take her eyes off Beca until she’s standing right beside her and Beca is blinking up at her, lifting an eyebrow. “Can I help you, Beale?”

“Yeah, I think you can,” Chloe practically purrs and Beca’s jaw drops. Chloe takes advantage of her moment of shock and slips her hand inside Beca’s unbuttoned jacket, gliding her fingers along her side. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Dude,” Beca says weakly. But then Stacie comes around the other side of the table and hip checks Beca aside, into Chloe’s arms.

“Move it, tiny. I’m gonna DJ this bitch!”

Beca looks like she wants to sass Stacie back, but Chloe dips down and catches Beca’s earlobe between her teeth and Beca just ends up letting out an embarrassingly loud gasp. Well, embarrassing for her. Chloe is pretty proud of it.

It’s easy then to pull Beca over to the garage door and inside. She shuts and locks it and presses the button on the wall to shut the roll-up door. The garage is dark, just the lights from the torches and fairy lights outside coming through the porthole window up in the loft, and Chloe leads Beca upstairs.

Suddenly, alone and unable to really see Beca’s face well enough to read it, Chloe feels a flutter of nerves. But Beca, like she knows, brushes them away with a simple, “Is this you coming to claim your dance?”

Just as she finishes speaking, the music thrumming through the walls changes into the first few beats of “Singularity” by BTS. Beca closes her eyes and Chloe can practically hear her making a mental note to kill Stacie later.

Chloe makes one to thank her as she starts to dance, just far enough to not touch Beca. Letting Beca come to her.

She’s always suspected Beca was secretly a great dancer when she wasn’t being forced to. It’s confirmed the second Beca’s hips hit the beat and her arms come up into the air between them. And they sway, perfectly in sync. And even in the dark, Chloe can see Beca watching her.

But somewhere between the bass and the reverb of one verse and the piano and breathy lyrics of another, that space disappears and Beca settles against her.

Chloe doesn’t understand the words or how easy it is to drop her head into the dip of Beca’s shoulder as they move together. Beca’s hair tickles her face where it’s fallen from her small bun and her skin burns against Chloe’s, fingerprints of fire trailing from her wrist to her elbow, then up to her throat. She presses so close that Chloe can only feel her--a warm palm on the back of her neck, breath against her cheek, fingers wrapped around her hip. She smells like caramel and strawberries.

Chloe presses her fingers into the small of Beca’s back, pulling her closer. Their cheeks slide along each other in the dark, Beca’s breath hot in her ear and Chloe closes her eyes, following Beca’s body as it curves and dips and winds to the beat. Her touch is soft as she pulls her hand from Chloe’s hip to wrap it around her wrist and trace the vein down into her palm with her thumb.

It’s hard to tell which of them shivers and Chloe tucks her nose under Beca’s ear, breathing deep.

Her fingers leave Chloe’s arm and slide up her side, tinkling over the lines of her ribs. It feels too hot, suddenly, like they’re packed between other rolling bodies on a dance floor somewhere, but Chloe can’t bring herself to pull away. She buries her hands in Beca’s hair, pulling even more from her bun, and pulls her forward until their noses brush.

But she stops there and Beca doesn’t push. So they just keep dancing, lips almost touching, Beca’s hand warm on her ribs and her body hot in the bridesmaid dress. Beca burns where she touches, trailing fire down her spine and into the dips of her hips. It's hard to breathe when all Chloe gets are the quick puffs of air Beca gives her, but Chloe just drops them a little lower into the beat. Beca’s hips grind into hers and she feels the little sound she makes more than she hears it. It rumbles in her chest and up past her lips, onto Chloe’s. Soft, slow, heated.

Chloe leans back a little, gasping in a breath, and a thrill shoots down her spine as Beca sways into her, off balance for a moment. She's not the only one. It takes a few stumbling steps to remember how to plant her feet to keep dancing, but the song has ended and a slower one is starting.

Beca doesn’t give her time to catch her breath. She kisses her and Chloe forgets dancing in favor of following those lips back toward the bed. She seizes the lapels of Beca’s jacket and shoves it off her shoulders, letting it go the second she feels it go loose and it flutters to the floor as they step over it. Her vest joins it quickly. Beca’s fingers tug lightly at the zipper of her dress. A request. Chloe answers with a desperate nod and grasping fingers yanking Beca’s shirt free of her pants. She reaches up with shaking hands and pulls Beca's tie apart, whipping it out to the side. She's pretty sure it goes over the railing, but she doesn't look--distracted as Beca draws the zipper down and Chloe shrugs out of the dress, pushing back until Beca’s knees hit the edge of the bed. She drops and Chloe follows her down, landing on her elbows and Beca’s heaving chest. But before her weight’s even fully settled, Beca’s twisting and pulling Chloe so softly it almost feels like her own idea to roll them over. And then Beca’s on her, straddling her hips.

She sits up, slow, but pulls her shirt off fast, not bothering with the buttons--one hand fisted at the back of her collar and a tug and Beca’s shirtless above her, just a simple black bra and the few inked vines that sneak over her shoulder. The light is brighter here on the bed and Chloe takes a moment to stare as Beca throws the shirt aside. But then Beca comes back to her, lips first, her body settling against Chloe like coals settling in a fire. It’s slow, the burning of her lips down Chloe’s neck and chest. And, god, Chloe wants her. Wants her hands and the soft sounds she makes when Chloe pulls at her and her kiss. Just wants something, anything. But the more she squirms, the slower Beca drags kisses across her skin. And when she makes her way back up to Chloe’s lips, she presses a single word against them. “Chloe.”

Her stomach flutters like she’s just hit the drop of a roller coaster and then Beca says it again and it’s nothing but her name but it somehow sounds like pulsing red and purple lights and strumming guitars. And Chloe wants to kiss her, but she wants to hear her say it more, so instead she kisses Beca’s shoulder, following it down to her bra strap. She hooks her fingers in it, pulling it down, and Beca breathes into her ear. Not quite a sigh, not quite a moan. But not yet her name again either. So Chloe lifts her hips into her, dipping her tongue along her collarbone.

Beca’s hair tangles around her fingers and she moves back against Chloe, bare skin sparking along bare skin. Her hands dance up Chloe’s ribs and Chloe drags her teeth across the spot where Beca’s shoulder and neck meet, finally getting what she wants.

Chloe.”

Chloe twists her arm between them, pushing her nails down Beca’s stomach, feeling the muscle ripple until she hits the cold, metal belt buckle. She barely gets one finger behind it before Beca presses down into her, splaying her hand against her own stomach.

“Chloe,” she says again, but this time it rumbles in her chest and Chloe feels it in every inch of Beca pressed against her. Beca’s hands slip from her ribs and she moves just enough to grab Chloe’s, pulling it up and away, pressing it lightly into the sheets. Just her thumb stays hooked over Chloe’s wrist, not really holding her in place. She pulls the other hand up to join it, holding it just as loosely.

Then she shifts, her knee sliding along Chloe’s just hard enough to move it aside. And it’s been a long time since Chloe’s been this close to anyone, since she’s wanted to be. She remembers those times rarely--the push and pull of rough, desperate hands. The touching for the sake of getting it over with. And it’s almost the same--the steps, the dance--but this, Beca, is so new. It’s strange, the way every kiss feels like a different one, every panted breath doesn’t feel like a ticking clock, rushing them toward the end.

And when Beca finally touches her, it’s with the soft skin of her stomach, dragging up between Chloe’s legs. The trembling air in her lungs goes still and that smoldering ember beneath her ribs leaps to fire in an instant.

Beca pulls back and the cold air pushes against Chloe’s thighs and she whines, actually whines. A sound she doesn’t think she’s ever made before and probably never will again, because Beca comes right back and when she rocks against her the next time, their bodies stay touching. Like she knows.

It’s almost too much and suddenly Chloe needs to touch as much as she needs to be touched, so she hooks her fingers into the base of Beca’s shoulder blade and pulls, tumbling her over. And Chloe moves over her, slotting into the bends of her body the way she thinks she might have always wanted to, and presses their lips together. Beca groans, nipping at her lip as Chloe retreats to trail kisses down her chest instead. She reaches the front clasp of Beca’s bra and turns her head to sink her teeth into fabric and soft flesh, tugging lightly. Beca groans again, arching up beneath her.

The sound sears itself into Chloe’s memory as she twists her head, feeling the tiny metal hooks give way under her teeth. She lifts her head and the bra falls open. For a moment, the burning haze lifts from her brain just enough for her to track her eyes across Beca’s bared chest and up to her wide eyes. Because her face and chest are tinted red and she looks utterly shocked. It’s adorable and sexy as hell at the same time.

“Did you just fucking do that with your teeth?” she rasps, voice almost hoarse.

Chloe grins, shrugging. “I just wanted to see if I could.”

“Oh my god, I’m all hot and bothered here and you’re just testing out moves on me? Wow, dude, I just remembered I hate you and I need to g--”

Chloe dips down quickly, before she can finish her thought, and drags her tongue over straining flesh. Beca gasps--a loud and so completely un-Beca-like sound. And Chloe’s not sure when Beca removed her shoes and socks, but she feels Beca’s toes curl against the backs of her calves and grins, lifting her head just enough that she knows Beca can still feel the words against her wet skin. “You hate me, Mitchell?”

“Shut up,” Beca says and Chloe laughs.

It happens so fast, she misses most of how she ends up on her back, her bra loose and slipping down her arms, then off. And now it’s Beca’s mouth on her chest as her entire body rolls down into Chloe’s and she moans. Beca’s tongue swirls across her skin, burning a path from one breast to the other. Her hand slides down Chloe’s arm, thumb slipping through and off the crease of her elbow--a place that Chloe did not know was a hot spot until tonight. Then the touch is back, tracking down her side and slipping between them.

If she’d been asked before this, she may have guessed that Beca would be adorably awkward in bed, just like she is in every other aspect of her life. Everyday Beca. But it’s not everyday Beca above her. It’s Beca at a mixing board, agile fingers moving exactly where she wants them, past pushed aside lace, and pulling sounds from Chloe that she had forgotten she could make. The sheets twist as Chloe grips them. And as much as she’d wanted Beca to speed up before, she suddenly wants her to slow down, to not stop. Chloe lifts her head and her knees, pressing kisses to Beca’s ear, temple, neck--whatever she can reach.

“Bec, don’t stop. Please.”

It seems she’s found another way to make Beca make noise, because she immediately groans into Chloe’s collarbone, her shoulders pulling up as she rocks against her, and her breath picks up. Her other hand drops to the bed and she pushes herself up, still rolling against Chloe with every movement of her fingers. Her eyes drag down Chloe’s body, almost as tangible as her tongue had been.

Chloe’s never been shy about her body. So she lets Beca look and finds it’s nearly as much of a turn on as Beca’s teeth and tongue on her skin. Those dark blue eyes trailing lazily over her heaving chest, down her stomach, to the sheets fisted in her hands. Chloe grips them tighter, shaking a little. If this were anyone else, she might be a little embarrassed by how quickly her body is giving in to such a simple touch and gaze, but it’s Beca. Beca, who used to shy from all contact. Now above her in nothing but a pair of slacks and a crooked grin.

“Chloe,” Beca says and she sucks in a sharp breath, hips twisting a little. Because Beca’s voice might just be the sexiest part of her. Beca opens her mouth, like she wants to say more, but then shakes her head once and bends to press her lips to Chloe’s, their skin burning where it meets.

When her hand slips away, Chloe kisses her harder, moaning into her mouth to draw her back. But wet fingers hook into her underwear and pull them down. Beca sits back, lifting Chloe’s legs so she can pull them off. And then her hands start at Chloe’s ankles, moving agonizingly slow, dipping around her calves, up over her knees, along the tops of her thighs, then the insides.

It’s so easy to let Beca touch her. To let Beca guide her legs apart, let her soft fingers hook beneath one of Chloe’s knees as she slides down onto her stomach. Blood pounds in her ears, keeping rhythm with their panting breaths, and god, she just wants.

Beca’s mouth presses warm against her and Chloe finally moves her hands, reaching down to tangle them in dark hair and pull her closer. Beca moans, like she’s the one being touched, like she’s enjoying this as much as Chloe’s trembling legs and heaving lungs are. She wraps her arms around Chloe’s thighs and one palm runs up her stomach, leaving a flare of heat so intense that Chloe instinctively snatches her hand, intertwining their fingers and hanging on.

And when the burning beat between her legs becomes a rapid pulsing and Beca’s name slips from her lips, high and keening, and her body tightens to its breaking point, it’s their hands that Chloe notices. Their linked fingers and the way Beca’s thumb swipes soft across her palm as Chloe comes apart under her.