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Stained Glass

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Being a part of a family is strangely easy to get used to.

She supposes she’s been practicing for a while. With Chloe and Stacie and Emily. But now she seems to be more popular than she’s ever been in her life and she doesn’t really mind either. They’re all dorks, but she guesses they’re her dorks now.

Uni and Jessie call sometimes, rambling or singing to her until she hangs up on them. It never discourages them though. She spends lunch breaks on the phone with Jessica, talking about her students and how they were singing Marc’s new single--Beca’s latest release--in the hallways. She Skypes with Flo and learns new things every time, like how to say, “Help, I’ve been kidnapped” in Spanish and how to quickly put out grease fires. Amy calls nearly every day, usually with some completely wild stories that Beca can barely keep up with. She only believes, like, ten percent of them, but she enjoys it anyways. Ashley sends her pictures of the dog her firehouse just got as their mascot. Cynthia Rose sends her music she’s never heard before and it’s become something of a competition--who can introduce who to the best new music. Lilly sends her Snapchats sporadically and she’s never quite sure what they are. She thinks one is from the inside of a storm drain, but she’s too scared to ask.

Emily, it turns out, is who she spends a good deal of her time with most days, now that she’s stolen her from whatever other producer Residual Heat had put her with originally. They’d spent the flight home from Georgia chatting about music and she had convinced Emily to let her read some of her songs. She’d been on the phone with her boss the second the plane touched down. Emily’s first single is nearly done now and both of them are pretty psyched, although Beca pretends to be totally chill about it. But Stacie does catch her indulging in a spontaneous dance break to it one night in the studio and she knows the exact instant Stacie tells Emily, because Emily sends her a string of emojis that include three crying faces and no less than seventy-two hearts.

Stacie passes her finals with flying colors and they still meet once a week for coffee. And she drops wedding ideas at least seven times a week, making Beca regret keeping her promise to tell her everything. But that changes pretty quickly, because she finds an engagement ring in one of Emily’s boxes while they’re moving her into Stacie’s apartment. So Beca takes it upon herself to start writing down the wedding ideas that Stacie pitches to her that she says she would love for her own wedding. She finds it’s a little thrilling to know something that genius Stacie Conrad doesn’t.

The first time Aubrey calls her, she thinks maybe she couldn't get hold of Chloe and is reaching out to Beca to find her. But, instead, they spend a good hour before Chloe gets home from work just talking about the honeymoon Aubrey’s just returned from and about Jesse nearly getting eaten by a shark.

Eli and Mamma call her sometimes too. Just to say hi or check up on her. They send a video for her birthday of them, Gran, Dana, Lew, and Seth. All singing over a small cake that Gran assures her she’s going to eat all by herself, in Beca’s honor.

It’s all so different from the life Beca’s come to know. But she’s happy to note that the more things change, the more they stay the same too.


“Becaaaaaaa!”

The front door slams and Beca smiles, tapping the phone on her chest. “Hey, Jess, I gotta go. Chloe’s home.”

“Oooh, the girlfriend returns,” Jessie’s voice coos. “You guys are totally gross.”

Beca can hear Chloe speaking quietly as she passes Beca’s old room. “You’re gross. Talk to you later.”

“Bye, Becaw!” He hangs up and Beca tucks her hands back behind her head, fluffing Chloe’s favorite yellow pillow up a little so she can see their bedroom door.

It opens and Chloe bounces through, happily swinging off her jacket and dropping it over the desk chair. It should be illegal how good she makes those ugly green scrubs look. She grins when she spots Beca and switches her phone to her other ear so she can take Beca’s hand. “Hey, Bree, I’m home. I gotta go.”

“Tell her I said hi,” Beca says.

“Becs says hi. Yep. Bree said hi,” Chloe tells her, knocking their joined hands against her thigh. Beca untangles their fingers to hook a thumb in the waistband of Chloe’s pants and tug gently. Chloe swats playfully at her. “Okay! Yeah, I’ll call you in the morning.” Beca tugs harder and Chloe giggles. “Okay, I really have to go. Beca’s being cute and needy.”

“Shut the hell up, I am not.”

“You are too.” Chloe hangs up and launches herself into the bed to press kisses up Beca’s neck and across her face.

“Oh, Jesus,” Beca protests, just because it’s what she does, squeezing her eyes shut and hunching her shoulders. “What did I do?”

“Nothing. I just missed you.” Chloe pecks her lips. She picks up Beca’s phone and her own, moving them to the nightstand. “Were you talking to someone when I came in?”

Beca tucks a curl behind Chloe’s ear, smiling when she leans into the touch. “Yeah, Jessie.” Chloe nuzzles her palm. “He said he’s sending up all those souvenirs he got us on the honeymoon with Amy next week.”

“I’m glad she’s coming visit. Cynthia Rose too. I miss them. And all my girls.”

She sucks in a breath through her teeth. “Well, I hate to tell you this, Chlo, but I don’t think CR’s coming to visit us so much as to visit Mel.” She’d been a little surprised to learn that Cynthia Rose and Mel were trying to make it work and even more surprised when she heard Mel had gotten a job teaching FBI crash courses in New York for a few months. They’d hung out a few times and Beca still had the distinct impression that Mel thought they were all morons, but maybe that was just her way of showing affection. Beca could relate to that.

Chloe hums against her collarbone, shrugging.

Beca tilts her head back to give her better access. “We got a package this morning from Flo that just says, ‘If I get deported’ on the box, and Lilly sent me a picture of her nostrils this morning. That’s it. Just her nostrils. I had no idea what I was looking at for a while.”

“Awww, she likes you so much.”

Beca rolls her eyes. “You guys are so weird.”

“Thanks!” Chloe grins, like it’s the best compliment she’s ever received and Beca snorts.

“How was school, nerd?”

“Ugh,” Chloe huffs. “I have an exam the day after tomorrow that I forgot about. So I should really start studying.” She gazes across their room at the stack of textbooks beside Beca’s laptop. “Or... I could cuddle and make out with my girlfriend… Whoop, decision made.” She rolls fully against Beca then, giggling as Beca gives an exaggerated grunt of pain.

“I feel like a bad influence, but…” Beca doesn’t resist the kiss Chloe presses to her lips.

“Wait!” Chloe stops and Beca groans. She loves her, but sometimes Chloe has the attention span of a goldfish. Chloe laughs. “I meant to tell you. Mamma called earlier.” She flicks her head to toss her hair over her shoulder and props her chin up on Beca’s chest. “She said Mickey’s doing great and he’s completely clean.”

She can tell Chloe’s trying not to be too excited about that yet, but she glows with pride every time she mentions Mickey these days and even more so when he calls. So she smiles and nods. “Good. He’s got this.”

Chloe smiles back. “Mamma was taking Eli and Sarah to the movies, but she wanted to say hi and update me.”

“Whoa, sounds like they’re getting serious,” Beca jokes, focusing more on Chloe’s fingertips as they dance across her stomach, following a beat that Beca’s starting to know well.

With a distracted hum, Chloe says. “I should start learning sign language. For the next time we visit.” She leans back to watch her own fingers as they push up under Beca’s shirt, warm palm sliding over her stomach.

Beca tilts her head to catch Chloe’s eye, cocking one eyebrow. “I could teach you.”

“Oh, really?” She nods and Chloe smiles that smile that Beca’s coming to know just as well as her stained glass smile. The one that means Beca’s absolutely not getting any work done tonight. “Well then.” Chloe sits up fully and throws a leg over Beca’s hips, settling comfortably. Beca’s hands fall to her thighs. “How do you say ‘I’ve been thinking about you naked all day’?”

Beca hums as Chloe lowers herself until they’re flush against each other and she can taste her own caramel candies on Chloe’s lips. “Would you like me to show you with my hands or--” She glides her fingers up Chloe’s thighs. “Show you with my hands?”

Chloe giggles, catching Beca’s lip between her teeth. Familiar flames flicker to life under Beca’s skin and she strains up for another kiss.

But then Chloe pops up with a gasp and a whirl of red curls. “Oh my god, I totes forgot! Where’s your Letterman, Mitchell?”

Beca drops back into the pillows with a heavy sigh. “Why are you like this?”

“Beca! Where is it?” Chloe’s blue eyes are gleaming and she wiggles in place, rocking Beca back and forth.

“I don’t know. I probably didn’t bring it when I left home.” It’s a lie and Chloe spots it immediately, eyes narrowing.

“That means it’s definitely here.” Chloe hops off of her and rolls to her feet. She’s out of the room before Beca can do more than sit up. “Hall closet?”

“No.”

She hears the door open and rustling, the sound of boxes being shifted around. “That’s a yes!”

“Come on, Chlo. I hate that thing.” She sighs as she hears Chloe continue digging. “I got the smallest size they had and it’s still too big on me. Just leave it.”

“I want to see it on you, Becs!”

“Never again,” Beca says vehemently. She hears the tell-tale pop of a plastic bin being opened and Chloe gives a little victory shout. “I should have thrown it away.” There’s more rustling and she can hear humming. “Chloe? You’re not looking for more embarrassing shit, are you?” She didn’t bring her softball trophies with her, did she? No, those are definitely still in her dad’s spare room. Right? Oh shit. “Chloe?”

“Hm?” Chloe says a few seconds later, stepping through the door. “Sorry, I was just wondering why you hate this jacket.”

And, suddenly, Beca doesn’t.

Because that blue and gray jacket and that stained glass smile is all Chloe’s wearing. She drags her gaze up bare legs, to the not-fully zipped jacket front, to the smile she’s been weak for since the first time she saw it. Chloe tucks a curl behind her ear--a simple move that sends a shock straight to the tips of Beca’s fingers. 

She clears her throat and tries to keep her face carefully neutral as she shrugs. “You know. I think I can be convinced to change my mind.”