Senior year of college is supposed to be the best, right? At least that's what you remind yourself whilst thinking about how strange it feels coming back to campus after an excruciatingly long summer break. You spent most of the summer lying in the sun, as well as bulking up your iTunes library, something that you can be a little anal about sometimes. But now here you are, back at Barden like nothing's changed. Sure, your schedule is different and you have a new dorm room, but you're still rooming with your best friend and focusing on winning the a capella competition.
When you move your stuff into the dorm room, you sigh as you try to figure out how you're going to tell Aubrey the news. This is your last year to win the competition, and over the summer you found out that you have vocal nodes. How will she react? You know she'll freak out, get stressed and do that weird breathing thing she does when she's obsessing about something, and you can't bear to start off your last year on the wrong foot. You promise yourself you'll tell her, just not right now. And so you begin shoving your textbooks onto the vacant space at the top of your desk, wondering when Aubrey's going to arrive.
You don't have to wonder long, though, because soon she's stalking into the room with all her worldly possessions, looking as frazzled as always. You wonder if you've ever seen Aubrey really let her hair down and relax since freshman year. Maybe that's why you get along so well. You're both passionate about singing, but she's so frigid and hyper-focused, while you're warm and much calmer. You balance each other out.
After you're finished stacking your textbooks, you make your way over to your friend. She's on a long spiel about her father and you nod, trying to be comforting because you know she has serious emotional issues regarding her dad. You and your parents are on pretty good terms and so it's not quite something you understand, but she's your best friend and you just want her to take a breath and maybe have a semblance of a smile on her face.
"Hey, Bree. It's great to see you," you begin as you hold out your arms for her.
She offers a tight lipped mouth twitch that almost registers as a smile and steps forward. Your arms close around her and you hug her too tightly, like you always do. But she doesn't complain. Instead she leans into you and sighs, echoing your sentiments.
"How was your summer?" You ask as you finally pull away, pushing a stray strand of hair behind your ear.
"Forgettable. That's not important though, we really need to focus this year, Chloe."
Oh great, she's starting already. She's been on campus for, what, five minutes and she's already worrying about the Bellas?
"After what happened last year, it's imperative we make it back to Lincoln Center. There's tons of freshman just milling around everywhere, undiscovered talent. We might find the next Lea Michele. That's why we need to work on our sales pitch. Oh and I made some flyers, we can pass them out at the student activities fair this afternoon."
She pulls a flyer out of her bag and thrusts it forward at you. You take it slowly and your eyes scan the words on the page. Nothing too exciting but you give her an encouraging smile anyway. It's not your place to make suggestions.
"Yeah, of course…maybe we could at least put some of our stuff away and grab something to eat before we get started with all that? If that's okay, I mean."
You don't know why you're so afraid of her. It's not like she's as mean as the bitches that ran the Bellas last year. Aubrey's your best friend, she has been since the two of you met freshman year at auditions. But something about her just brings out the meek side of you. You find yourself agreeing with everything she says and apologizing all the time, which is weird, but whatever. It doesn't really matter.
Aubrey shrugs. "Well obviously. So I had a few vocal lessons this summer. I think I was pretty productive over break." She tells you as she begins to unpack some of her clothes.
The first thing she pulls out is her Bellas outfit and you cringe as it comes into view. You actually hate the design, it looks like a tacky flight attendant outfit, but you never had any say in it when it was designed a few years ago.
"What about you? Did you keep up on your singing? Make any big improvements in your voice?"
You chuckle awkwardly because you didn't have voice lessons this summer or spend the entire time working on your notes. You might have done a few karaoke songs here and there, but that was about it. Finding out about your nodes really put a damper on your summer spirit. Upon hearing you, Aubrey makes a disapproving clicking sound with her tongue.
"Sorry." You murmur, crossing your arms and looking away from her penetrating gaze.
"Whatever." She responds, rolling her eyes as she shoves her clothes into the dresser, slamming the doors. "Not everyone has the dedication I do. I get it."
You want to laugh at her ludicrous statement, because it IS ludicrous, she's giving herself way too much credit and you not enough, but you don't dare make a sound. Instead you focus on putting your own things away and hope she doesn't yell at you for being a slacker.
As both of you finish your preliminary round of unpacking, you feel your stomach growl and you suggest the cafe for lunch. The lines are generally much shorter there and that way you'll have time to talk about the activities fair before it actually starts. Aubrey agrees and the two of you make your way to the cafe on the other side of campus. You enter a discussion about the current reigning pop queens, both weighing in on your opinions about each.
You prefer Gaga while Aubrey insists that everything she's done, Madonna's already done first. You bite your tongue and agree to disagree, instead turning the conversation around to Adele as you approach the cafe. Discussing Adele's pregnancy and how it will affect the content of her next record, you allow Aubrey in front of you in line. She orders a salad and you opt for soup and a sandwich, reasoning that maybe soup will help your nodes somehow. When you get your food, Aubrey leads you to a table and you both sit down and begin to eat.
She recounts the disaster from last semester—resulting in her projectile vomiting in front of everyone—and assures you that this year will be different, better. As you swallow a spoonful of soup, you suggest that maybe you choose a different song this year. You're honestly pretty sick of singing Ace of Base. But she disagrees, arguing that the song is a classic and pointing out how you were unable to finish last year's set.
"That just gives us an advantage—they haven't seen our entire set yet. Of course we'll have to teach the songs and the choreography to a whole new group of girls, but it can be done with you and me as leaders." She actually smiles and takes a sip of her bottled water. "I anticipate an aca-mazing year!"
You admire her positivity despite all that went wrong last year. It's not that you're not positive, actually you're too positive and often irritate people because of it, but you don't get how she can feel so secure about the same tired routine you'd been doing forever. You offer her a smile that feels more like a grimace and hurriedly finish your lunch. Together you run off more copies of your fliers and discuss the game plan as you make your way to the activities' fair. It's already beginning and so you have to scramble to set up your booth, because god forbid all the good talent gets taken by the second rate coed a capella groups.
Ten minutes into trying to find recruits, Aubrey's already flipping out. She sounds so exasperated and she's shaking so much it's actually making YOU nervous. She has such high standards for the group that she wants all their members to be both hot and good singers. But you think that's ridiculous. Who cares about "bikini ready bodies" in a singing competition? You mention that maybe you should try to seek good singers and not worry about looks, but Aubrey gives you a withering glare. However, it doesn't take too long for her to come to your way of thinking, because none of the attractive girls seem to be listening to either of you despite how hard you're trying.
When the largely sized woman approaches the booth, you can hear Aubrey scoffing. But this girl says she can sing and match pitch, so the two of you test her out. She's a little odd, what with the whole mermaid dancing bit and the Australian accent, but her voice is solid for the most part. So you tell her about auditions and hand out a flyer. The woman, who has dubbed herself Fat Amy ("so twig bitches like you don't do it behind my back") thanks you and heads off in the opposite direction. That's when you see her.
Her blue eyes are trained forward, lined with thick black eyeliner, her ears covered in piercings, her nails painted black. Something about the way she walks catches your attention and so you call her over. As you try to convince her to come to auditions, you can feel her gaze on you along with her obvious judgment. She seems to think the whole idea of a capella competition is stupid and of course Aubrey immediately hates her, based on her snide remarks and her appearance, which she's already deemed to be "too alternative."
But as the girl turns you down and admits that she doesn't sing, you see the tattoo on her wrist. It's of a grasshopper. Upon seeing it, you feel a strange sensation in your body. It's like a sign (oh, great, now you have that song stuck in your head and it's never going to leave.)
"I have a bug tattoo!" And you show her your tattoo, which is of a ladybug.
She seems to think you're strange for pointing it out, but you're excited at this connection between you and the girl you've already decided is the cutest girl you've ever seen before. You don't really understand why, it's almost like your heart is fluttering, from the shared tattoo to the way she stands up to Aubrey and shoots her comments right back, you are in awe. Your grin only widens as you continue to talk with her and you find that you're disappointed when she shuffles away.
Part of you wants to follow her and talk to her about something, anything at all. Being away from Aubrey for a minute would probably ease your headache at least, and you could do with a new friend, but you have to stay and man the booth. You pass out tons of fliers and hope for the best; although hardly any of the girls you speak to match the physical requirements Aubrey is so keen on keeping. She doesn't have much choice though, because as you see it, the girls who have the voices this year may not all be tiny beach babes, and you don't think that's such a bad thing anyway.
The rest of the day passes like a blur and as do the first few weeks of the semester. Classes are going well and fliers are continuing to be passed out, as audition time approaches. It's the night before auditions when you see her again—the alternative girl from activities fair day. Well, to be fair, you hear her before you see her.
To take your mind off of how intense Aubrey's been lately, you find yourself a guy. His name is Henry and he isn't your boyfriend, but you spend a lot of time making out and having sex with him just for something to do to relieve the tension. He's nice enough and pretty cute, and during the night in question, you and he are having a post-sex shower session. You're rinsing your hair when you hear her voice, angelic yet with a low gravelly quality. It's a girl a few showers down, singing the words to one of your very favorite songs. Without any reservation you hunt her down and push your way through the shower curtain.
"Aha!" It's like you've discovered a new atomic element upon having heard her amazing voice. It's just what the Bellas need.
"OH MY GOD!" She screams, obviously startled by your sudden appearance as she grabs the shower curtain and tries to cover up her body.
"You CAN sing." You grin at her despite her reaction to your arrival in her shower.
You're just so thrilled to have found that the girl you remember from that day actually can sing, and very well, in fact. You knew it. You had a feeling in the pit of your stomach and now you know this was it. You were sensing her raw talent. She shuts off the shower, still looking at you like you're crazy. You don't mind, you're used to people looking at you that way.
"You were singing Titanium, right?"
She raises her eyebrows and looks surprised that you know what she was singing.
"You know David Guetta?"
"What, have I been living under a rock? Of course I do." She seems like the type of girl who doesn't listen to mainstream radio, though, so maybe she doesn't know that Titanium has reached serious top 40 status. "That's my jam. My…lady jam. I love how that song just builds, you know?" She gives you a look that indicates your statement did seem oddly sexual and you laugh.
"Not like that. Sing with me." You prompt and she just stares. "Not for that purpose."
It sounds like you're about to get off to her voice, which is so not your point. But she doesn't say anything and so you fill the void with more words, hoping eventually she'll give in and sing.
"You HAVE to join the Bellas." You urge her as your grin widens. Your eyes trail over her body, which she's doing a pretty bad job at hiding with the shower curtain.
"I..can't concentrate on anything until you cover your junk!" She yells back, and you hold back a laugh. She's staring at your body and it makes you proud somehow.
"I'm pretty confident. About all…this." You gesture to your body.
It doesn't bother you being naked in front of her. Not at all. And her nudity doesn't really bother you either. Far from it, actually. She has a very nice body and under different circumstances you might comment on it, but since she already thinks you're a weirdo, you don't wanna push it.
"As you should be." Her compliment catches you off guard but you enjoy it all the same.
Instead of covering yourself like she's requested, you tell her that you're not leaving until she sings. She gazes at you for a moment, trying to gauge whether you're serious or not. Her eyes widen when she realizes that you are. Hesitantly she begins to sing.
Bulletproof… her voice echoes in the shower stall.
You join in, your voices mingling to perfection.
Nothing to lose, fire away, fire away
You can't believe how amazing your voices sound together. Her voice paired with yours sounds like something out of a Disney movie.
Ricochet, you take your aim, fire away, fire away
God, she's even better at singing that Aubrey is, not that you would ever dare speak that in Aubrey's presence. Her eyes burn into yours as you both continue to sing. Your heart is racing.
You shoot me down, but I won't fall, I am titanium
You can't help but smile when you both finish and she returns it, causing a strange fluttering sensation in your stomach that you don't have much time to think about, because Henry has wandered over and sticks his head into the shower you and her are occupying.
"You have a lovely voice." He tells her and you look over at him; nodding in agreement even though you're pretty irritated he interrupted what you thought had been a moment between you and her.
Awkwardly she thanks him. As he walks off, you manage to say goodbye. You realize you still haven't caught her name and you spin around to ask it. She grips the towel close to her body even though you've just spent almost ten minutes in full view of her nude body.
"Sorry about all this, I know I probably seem weird. You're just a really great singer." You tell her cautiously, offering her a smile. "Anyway, I never caught your name. I told you mine was Chloe, right? When we met at the activities fair and you told me you couldn't sing?"
She chuckles, narrowing her blue eyes, which are darker than your own.
"Thanks. Um, I'm Beca. I'm really not a singer, but—"
"Yes, you are." You giggle lightly.
She's proven she's a singer, you and she just performed an amazing duet, and you're not going to let her argue otherwise.
"Just consider it, okay? It's just an audition, it's not a contract."
With a flounce of your hair, you leave her alone to finish showering. You keep replaying the scene in your head as you make your way back to your dorm room, telling Henry goodbye. You don't want his company right now because you're way too excited about auditions and what has just happened. You hope you did enough convincing to make Beca show up.
When you get back to your room, you decide it's best not to tell Aubrey about your encounter in the shower. It would only bore her and she's already got it out for Beca for some stupid reason. You figure the outstanding audition she's bound to give will convince her.