Author's Note: Written for catteo for Yuletide 2012. Thank you to muuchan for the brainstorming help. Video referenced is on YouTube, /watch?v=z5NRWM3FgqA
"What are the Bellas doing for the upcoming a cappella exhibition?" Jesse asked, crumpling a straw wrapper in his hands. "We're thinking about doing some Bruno Mars. Or maybe Maroon 5. Depends on what the other guys say - but I'm thinking Maroon 5 would work better."
"What?" Beca looked up from her notebook. "Oh. Uh. We haven't really talked about it yet - I think we're still reeling from Ace of Base overload. We're remembering that yes, Barden Bellas, there is a Kelly Clarkson."
"Welcome to the twenty-first century. We have high-speed internet. And Facebook, for all of your farming needs without getting your hands dirty." He paused, and threw the wrapper onto the table. "And there's YouTube. You can learn all about the twelve years or so of music that you're completely missing out on - if you ask me, you can skip right over the Justin Timberlake solo era, without missing out on anything."
"My childhood self is so upset with you right now."
"He can cry me a river all he wants, I'm not changing my mind on his music."
She snorted and closed her notebook, turning to face Jesse and smiling at him, "So you're a music snob as well as a movie one?"
"If you try to defend Godfather 3 as a worthy piece of cinema, you need to have your taste seriously examined. And your eyes, because it's clearly a festering piece of shit disguised as a movie - so, anyway, you need to come up with your set list, and soon, or you're going to be stuck in a nineties flashback all over again."
"Wow, talk about changing the subject on me, there. So fast I almost got whiplash. Ease up."
Jesse kissed her on the cheek. "There are very few things in this world that make me angry like that. One of them is unnecessary movie sequels. Godfather 3, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream Too, those direct-to-DVD Disney movies -"
"Mean Girls 2?"
"My high school friends had really questionable taste in movies to watch, okay?"
"I'll say! You'd never seen The Breakfast Club before meeting me and enduring my list of top twenty-five musical movie moments, but you'd seen the Mean Girls sequel? Shame on you, Beca."
"It was about the one thing that could make me miss Lindsay Lohan's acting, though."
As the two went their separate ways - Jesse back to his dorm, and Beca off to her British literature class - she began to contemplate what the Bellas could do. With Barden being such a powerhouse in a cappella competitions, regardless of gender, she had to show that the Bellas were not going to be an one-hit wonder, now that Aubrey and Chloe had graduated and she was in charge. She couldn't fail.
"Bellas!" Beca called out, as they filed into the auditorium to practice. "We have the Barden exhibition in three weeks, and we need to find a song to perform." She looked the girls up and down as she spoke. "And I mean - let's choose something that doesn't completely suck, okay?"
"Call Me Maybe!" one of the new girls - Beca thought she remembered that her name was Maureen - called out. "It's so catchy and fun and we'd get everyone all excited about the Bellas."
"We don't need people to -" Beca started to protest, but the deafening chorus of "oh my gosh, yes, Call Me Maybe!" from the rest of the girls pulled her out of it. "Okay. Fine. Does anyone know all the words?"
A few of the girls began to hum the opening bars of the melody under their breath, but no words came out of their mouths.
"I sometimes watch the Abercrombie version on mute," Fat Amy said, pulling out her laptop and opening a window, which seemed to be pre-loaded with the video in question. "When I'm alone at night, it's like having an orgy on my computer that I get to watch."
"There's an Abercrombie version?" Beca asked. As the video played, the peppy, upbeat song backed the dancing, shirtless men. "Oh. Well. Then."
"I know, right? That one on the left is my pool boy that I'll fuck ten ways to Sunday. He just doesn't know it yet."
"You don't have a pool, either."
"You just don't know it yet." She flipped her ponytail and smirked. "So, I say this counts as inspiration. If these hot pieces of man-ass can do it, so can we."
Beca looked flustered as she looked out at the crowd of smiling girls. One or two of them were even clapping their fingers together and giving her a particularly focused look. "Okay, fine. We can do Call Me Maybe, and we can use the Abercrombie guys as inspiration. Whatever works."
Two girls leaped into the air, and Cynthia Rose crossed her arms over her chest and nodded.
And Beca wondered what she had just gotten herself into.
"It's hard to look right at you baby, so here's my number, so call me maybe," Beca sang under her breath, as she looked for the right record to play at the radio station. The song really was catchy and fun. Damn it.
"Hey, there, Beca," Jesse said, wrapping his arms around her waist and smiling. "Whatcha singing? Is it a spoiler for the Bellas grand rehearsal plans?"
She turned around and arched an eyebrow in reply. "Are you serious? You want to know what we're doing? Isn't that like aca-espionage?"
"Yeah, probably legally, but who really cares about stuff like aca-espionage these days?"
"I could probably still be tried for aca-treason under Bella bylaws if I told you."
"Fine. But it sounded like that Call Me Maybe song."
"And so what if it was?" She stood up a little straighter, chose her words evenly and slowly, "Because I see no reason why I cannot choose to have my Bellas sing whatever songs they want to sing."
"Because - you remember how I told you that very few things make me mad? And I said movie sequels."
"That goddamn song is one of the few other things. It's annoying, grating, cheesy, and everything that is wrong with popular music today."
"I thought that was Justin Bieber."
"Bieber is the annoyance of the past. Carly Rae Jepsen is the present. And some as-of-yet unknown force of pure bubblegum evil is the future."
"You've been listening to Benji way too long, haven't you?"
"He's been watching Star Wars on loop the past week. The prequels, even. Prequels, Beca! Almost as bad as sequels, I tell you. But, yes, that song is awful dreck and the worst thing to hit music this decade."
"Worse than Gangnam Style?"
"At least that has a dance to it. That means that it can be epic on more than one level."
Beca watched as Jesse walked away, his arms folded across his chest, and she felt herself deflate a bit. She couldn't help but feel bad for making him upset like that. That had never been her intention - but how could she have known?
It wasn't like Carly Rae was the daughter of the Antichrist or anything, so far as she knew.
"And spin, and final chorus, and done!" Beca called out, high-fiving Cynthia Rose as she did so. "The choreography's looking great, everyone."
"It damn well better be," Fat Amy muttered, pawing at her shirt. "I'm wet and I haven't had sex yet today." At everyone's expressions, she shook her head. "What? I mean, I'm wet from the sweat - oh, nevermind. Gutters. All of you. Gutters!" She walked back over to her laptop and hit play again on the video. "I need my pool boy."
Jesse walked in. "Beca, I need to talk to you about -"
Fat Amy looked up and looked between him and the guys in the video - back and forth, back and forth, her eyes tracking his every movement - "yep," she said under her breath finally, "he's worthy of being in this video. Especially if he takes his shirt off."
Beca held up her hand. "I'll be right back everyone." Her and Jesse walked out of the room, and she turned to face him. "So, what was that all about at the radio station? You walking out on me?"
"I reacted really badly. You can sing whatever you want to sing, and it's not going to bother me - and uh, the Trebles want to know if the Bellas would be willing to do a mash-up duet of Call Me Maybe and Payphone. As a special treat."
"That sounds like a really good idea," Beca said, smiling for what felt like the first time in forever - probably ever since their little radio station squabble. "They're up for it?"
"They're the ones who want to do something with all of you. Something about all the hot babes over in the Bellas, and why should Jesse be the only one who gets to have a piece of the action? Don't ask me. They're clearly jealous."
"As they have a right to be."
"I'm sorry for all of that," he said, hugging her close to him and kissing the top of her head. "I promise I won't let it happen again. Unless you happen to hit one of my other anger buttons."
"What's one of them?" She snuggled into his embrace and rested her head on his shoulder. It felt good not to be upset with him anymore.
"Well, for one, never chew bubble gum around me..."
"I don't even want to know," she said with a laugh.