.o0o. Chapter One - The Miserable Start .o0o.
Beca Mitchell painted a lonely, sad and thoroughly miserable picture as she sat, with her back firmly pressed up against the motel room door, in the rundown, slightly seedy but cheap one star, at best, hotel, just on the outskirts of Las Vegas. The room she was in was plain, the cheapest she could find with musty, threadbare carpets, a thick layer of grime on the overhead light fittings and more dead flies and moths collected in between the two window panes than she'd ever seen before.
But it was cheap. Like, really cheap.
She hadn't moved an inch for the last couple of hours, feeling the warmth of the day through the closed, triple locked door. An almost empty, crinkled water bottle rested quietly in the crook of her bent knee. She'd walked from her bed to the window to take a look outside and found she had no motivation to walk back again. She'd slid down the door and ended up staying exactly where she was.
She didn't have the energy to blink any more, let alone cry the tears that had been filling her eyes for the last few days. She didn't even bother trying to sigh; there was no one there to hear her silent pleas. She had let the tears dry by themselves and her face, once shiny and full of life, now just felt cracked and sore.
As the day gave way to the night and the darkness enveloped the space around her, Beca heard the familiar sounds of people returning to their rooms. She didn't move to switch on the overhead light, despite the shadows creeping over her like dirty fingers. Hearing the car doors slamming out in the parking lot, the happy chatter as people returned to their rooms in the nearby hotels and the faint hum of the old tube televisions; it all just added to her misery. The faint glow of the Strip, the hues dancing, almost twinkling in the mirror on the opposite side of the room reminding her of the life still going on outside of the room.
She heard a woman's laughter next door and for just a moment, it dragged her from her reverie, prompting a memory of a happier time, not so long ago. A time when she had laughed, socialised with friends, she'd had a family that loved her, she had her adored music, there was food in her cupboard, there was always something to do and she had her life. Now she was left with nothing but resentful memories and a dull pain in her heart that ached and the sting in her stomach of knowing that this was all her fault.
The laughing continued and it irked her. Really irked her. With a bitter taste in her mouth, she turned her head towards the sound and glared at the happiness oozing through the drywall.
"Shut up!" She slurred angrily, her voice uneven from weariness and lack of talking.
She knew they couldn't hear her. No one could hear her anymore; her voice was now silent in the world. She knew that was her fault. She didn't open up to people, she shut people out. She didn't know how to connect on a level like her other friends. She tried. She really did but then, she had kept silent when she should have spoken. She should have been honest. People got hurt. People had suffered. People had died. All because she couldn't find the words to voice what was in her heart and in her head.
She should have reached out to her friends, if not her boyfriend. Chloe would have been there like a shot. She was always by her side. Aubrey as well, in a weird kind of way and Amy would have trampled a door down if Beca had needed her too. She could have talked to them if she was afraid to talk to Jesse.
It was just easier to sit in the dark where no one bothered her. Save for the occasional beam of light outside from a car's headlamp shining on the motel room ceiling or the glow from a mobile phone as the owner walked past the window, she sat in the dark, alone, until the world stilled around her and the moon was high in the night sky.
She finally moved, stiffly at first, knocking the water bottle to the floor. She peered down at the sound, almost surprised to see it roll across the dirty carpet as she had forgotten it was there. Slowly unscrewing the lid, she drained the dregs of the warm liquid before tossing the bottle onto the unmade bed in the middle of the room.
Raising her knees to her chest, she sluggishly wrapped her arms around her legs, pulling her feet as close to her as possible. She laid her heavy head on her knee and finally let the tears that had been threatening to fall, softly, noiselessly run down her chin onto her ripped jeans. She didn't bother to wipe them away.
As the day's toll finally began to take effect, and she submitted to its pull, she saw the faces of her friends. She saw his face, full of regret and unspent love in his eyes, yearning to be close to her again. She had pushed him away, not even explaining her reasons why. He held out his hand to her and in her exhausted state, she reached out her fingers to take it in the dark room. She grasped at air.
Now, it was too late.
She summoned up the courage to think about him for a moment. Reminding herself of her best friend, boyfriend and the very real love that she did have for him.
"Oh Jesse, I am sorry. I am so fucking sorry." She whispered into the dark, stale room.
Jesse had plagued Beca for a year for acceptance of his love and while she had succumbed to the pressure and agreed to be his best friend for life, he had kept pushing her for more. Beca didn't want to be pushed. She liked to be in control of her own emotions. Of her own destiny. But she could be honest with herself and say that she never felt so loved and safe as she did in his arms; so wanted, so needed by someone but she just didn't return the love he showed her. She couldn't. She didn't know how. So, instead she kept pushing him away until they fought and he gave her a taste of her own medicine. Realising what she'd lost, she made it up to him with the Bella's finale piece.
After the ICCA finals and the kiss that they shared, she agreed to date him and laughed at how happy he seemed as he spun her around; warm, secure hands encircling her waist. She pushed all the nagging doubts to the back of her mind as he reached his hand round the back of her head, collecting her hair in his fingers as he tilted her head back for a kiss.
"I told you it was inevitable." He whispered into her ear and she had rolled her eyes at him, a look that he had missed as he wrapped his arms around her.
The ICCA after show party was incredible and even Aubrey had let her hair down and Beca could have sworn she saw her with a beer in her hand at one point before leaving with Uni to 'get some fresh air'. The drive home was electric. Fat Amy had taken the scenic drive home, unable to admit she was lost but it gave the Bella's the time to breathe, have a drink from Chloe's secret stash and just enjoy their celebratory moment. Amy had offered her three month old burrito around but nobody else had wanted to partake of that delight.
They had pulled into the parking lot back at Barden and the Treblemakers had already started celebrating on their behalf, organising pizza and beer back at the Trebles House. Jesse had practically yanked Beca from the bus when the girls arrived, wrapping his arms around her again and dragging her towards the party. They all danced and sang until the early hours of the morning, just enjoying themselves. Aubrey, very drunk at this point, had practically given Fat Amy a lap dance and Chloe and Stacie had led the dancing, some of Beca's mixes filling the room. Lilly sat quietly in the corner, hugging a voodoo doll while Cynthia Rose showed everyone just how good her pipes were.
Later that night, after they had stumbled to Beca's room and with Kimmy Jin having left campus to take part in an all-night Wii party with her friends, Jesse and Beca shared their first night together as a couple.
It was a drunken, sloppy fumble that saw them both collapsing on the bed in a fit of giggles until Beca took her bra off. Jesse sobered up pretty sharpish and began to concentrate on the task at hand or rather under his hands. He took his time, enjoyed the contours of her body as she writhed under his fingers. She trailed kisses over his chest, sank her hands through his soft curls and opened herself up to him. There was a keenness to him that Beca, despite her best interests, couldn't match. She needed time to think, to make completely sure she wanted him but she knew she'd gotten carried away with the evening's events; her belly was too full of tequila for her brain to function properly. She had needed Jesse to take her to Heaven so she could fall in love with him properly but as he collapsed on top of her with a loud grunt, her heart had sunk. He had laid nuzzled into her neck for a moment before his drunken stupor had made way for heavy snoring and Beca had pushed him off her so she could breathe. She was under no illusions that her first time was also going to be her worst time but she still cried into her pillow.
The next morning was slightly embarrassing. Beca just wanted Jesse out of her bed, her room and her morning. She wanted to think about everything and didn't want to have that conversation with him. The previous night had been a disappointment. Not just the bad sex and the wet, sloppy kisses, but that Beca had felt absolutely nothing special for the handsome guy, currently hogging her blankets and showing his bare ass to the world.
She had rolled over and sat on the edge of her bed, reaching over to retrieve her underwear and clothes from the floor. Slipping the tee shirt over her head and threading her arms through the holes, she walked to her closet and pulled out a pair of jeans. Stepping into them quickly, she pushed her feet into shoes, ignoring the dull, thumping headache looming at the back of her skull.
With a tired sigh, the one that only comes from a night of no sleep, Beca quickly ripped a piece of paper from her notepad and scribbled a note to Jesse, explaining or rather lying about an unexpected Bella's meet for breakfast and that she would see him later. She felt tears prick her eyes as she left him in her bed and walked out of the dorm, heading to the showers to get cleaned up.
She could hear a police siren in the distance snapping her out of her daydream and she wondered if they had finally found out where she had been hiding for twelve weeks, laying low in the worst place she'd ever been to. Deeming they had come to arrest her for getting Jesse killed, she ran her fingers through her hair before shaking out her limbs, ready to try to make a run for it.
She had left everything behind, her phone, her purse, her music, her friends, her family, her life and had just run with the shirt on her back and her birthday dollars in her pocket. Dollars that were severely depleted now after weeks of living in the motel. She had rationed food, eating only the bare minimum and that was only because she had to. She drank water from the tap to save money but she'd have given her right arm for a chilled Dr Pepper from the vending machine. She checked the machine regularly to see if one had fallen by accident but her luck was never in. She had taken to bin diving on one occasion; the smell of someone's discarded pizza was just too much. The humiliation kept her awake all night and early in the morning, around four, she had thrown it up anyway. Pizza had been the last thing she'd eaten before she ran away.
The flashback of her birthday party caused her stomach to swell and bile began to rise in her throat as she choked down a sob.
Chloe, Aubrey and Amy had worked so hard on arranging her party and everyone she cared about was there. She was sure her 19th birthday wasn't all that special really, coming four weeks after the ICCA finals in May but secretly she loved the hard work and care that her best friends had put into decorating the community hall on campus and sorting out the food. Her Dad showed up, had hugged and kissed his daughter and pressed $500 into her hand, praising her and saying how insanely proud of her he was. That had meant the world to Beca.
They had all danced and sang together for hours, Jesse leading the Trebles in a birthday dance for his girlfriend like no other. Akin to Magic Mike, the Trebles stripped to their boxers and Jesse was about to go Full Monty when Beca, laughing, pleaded with him to keep his pants on. Beca has actually felt happy, like really happy, the feeling returning from a long time ago.
She had been spoiled rotten with gifts of money. Everyone knew Beca had had her eye on a new laptop, far superior to the one she used for her mixes now and she had been given just enough money to buy it. She had become overwhelmed with the generosity, as she had slipped the cash into her back pocket. As she hugged Chloe tightly to her, knowing full well it was her redheaded friend who had organised the gift as she had spoken to Chloe with great excitement about the latest technology; she had started to choke down her tears. She had done that a few times in the past couple of days and seemed to be crying at almost anything but Chloe just hugged her tighter, only pulling apart so that Aubrey could join in. Beca was grateful in that moment that Amy was chugging down on a piece of cheesecake in the corner of the room.
However, it all became too much for Beca when the music had paused, the lights had been turned up for arrival of the cake, a lovingly decorated Barden Bella's pitch pipe, and Jesse had taken a knee, holding out a small black velvet box towards her ...
Thinking of the cake now, Beca placed her hands over her grumbling stomach, lacing her fingers tightly, protectively over her belly. She loving stroked her little paunch, just visible under the waistband of her jeans and whispered softly.
"Okay little one ... I'll eat tomorrow. Just for you."
If only she had been honest sooner.