Starting a new story should not be what I'm doing right now, but it is so... Yeah, welcome all!
I can't promise this will updated with any form of regularity, but I'm pretty inspired by this idea so you never know. I still have my other main story to write as well as my oneshots, so yes, lots going on, but I'm going to do my best.
There are some references in here to Rocket Science (an AK movie, which is pretty damn awesome so check it out) so disclaimer for that as well as the usual PP disclaimer.
I hope you all enjoy this; let me know what you think if you have any opinions on it!
1 – THE PARK MEETING
They met on the day she was at her worst.
At fifteen years old, Beca was supposed to doing a number of things. Crushing on guys, having sleepovers with her best friends, sneaking alcohol out of her parents' liquor cabinet, staying up late and just being a general teenager. That was normal, right?
Beca had never really been normal, though.
Sure, she was a good person. She just didn't fit into the stereotype. She was more reserved than most of the girls in her school, and she didn't like to play up to the drama they were so addicted to. Beca had no desire to be a bitch surrounded by bitches. And because she wasn't, a lot of guys didn't look at her. She didn't really care, honestly. They were all immature and too vain to ever actually care. She did the rest of it, though. She just did it alone.
Okay, not always alone. Her neighbour Kimmy Jin would sometimes join her, and they would sit in a comfortable silence on either side of a large hole in the fence that separated their houses. The chosen bottle would be passed between them and together, they would get drunk alone.
She was happy. She didn't need anything else. Her love for music was the only best friend she needed; it was her crutch. It was her heart and soul. She was content.
But sometimes, even her music couldn't drown out the fighting.
Her parents had never gotten along. Beca couldn't remember a time when they had ever been happy; even at the holidays; they couldn't pull it together to give her one good day. Beca didn't know any different, but it was actually possible to miss what you never had. Sometimes, when she was at her drunkest, she would wish on the invisible stars above that her parents would just… Stop.
Her wish came true three months before her sixteenth birthday.
She sensed it before she walked around the bend in the road that bought her house into view. There was something different, like when someone changes the colour settings on the TV but you can't quite figure out why it's different. She stepped cautiously, like trying to get through a minefield, and when she slid her key into the lock, it wouldn't open the door. She looked around to check she had gotten the right house, because every house on her road was a perfect duplicate of the others, but she knew she had.
She peered through the window and it was then she noticed what was wrong. She pulled the earphones out and there it was; silence. No shouting, no yelling, no smashing. Her house was perfectly still.
And then she saw other things that were missing. Her dad's collectible book collection, his ugly vintage train on the mantel, any picture he was in – all gone. It was like he had been deleted from the universe and not a single trace was left. Not even his coffee mug from that morning, the one he always leaves on the arm of the sofa, much to her mother's great annoyance.
Unable to process what was so perfectly obvious, she did an abrupt turn and began to run.
Beca had no idea how long or how far she ran. All she knew was that she found herself in a park, and it was dark, and she was very, very alone. She wished she was at the hole in the fence with Kimmy Jin, sharing a bottle of tequila. At least then she could be drunk and alone.
But no. In that park, she was alone and stone cold sober.
Music did little to comfort her as she wandered aimlessly across the large grass area. For the first time in her life, it wasn't enough, because it didn't stop her mind from buzzing with everything that had happened, how suddenly her life had changed. Yes, she hated her parents. She hated how they fought, how they had so little time for her, how they wouldn't just give up.
But now they had, and she already missed the noise of it all.
At midnight she found herself at the children's play area. Linkin Park blared through her earphones and she circled around the entire area, following the iron fencing, taking in the area so many children had so many good memories. She had never had many of those. Her parents were too busy fighting to ever take her to the park.
Beca found herself drawn to the monkey bars, to how freeing they seemed to be, and she dumped her backpack at the bottom of it, wiggling her fingers slightly before jumping to the first one and bending her legs towards her chest so she could just hang, swinging lazily to her own beat. The movement pulled her earphones out but she couldn't bring herself to care; she found the perfect silence comforting, like she was the only person left in the world and in that moment, she could just… Be.
She swung herself harder and managed to loop her leg around the top bar, and she pulled herself up so she was sitting on top of the structure. It wasn't high, only five feet she guessed, but it still made her feel strangely uplifted. Powerful. Capable. It was nice, and she felt her face morphing into a small smile.
"You know you're not supposed to be up – Woah!"
The deep voice caught her so off guard, wrapped up as she was in her self-comforting little bubble, that she jumped enough to lose her balance, and she slipped from her precarious position, her fall cushioned by – well, another person, apparently.
Quickly jumping to her feet, she brushed herself off and looked down at the boy that had both risked and saved her life (not that the fall would have killed her, but still) as he just lay there in surprise, looking up at her with dark eyes. He was tall, enough to be easily around her age, but she didn't recognise him. His hair was curly, long enough to cover most of his forehead, and when he realised she wasn't going to help him up, he grinned at her like an eight year old.
Great. He was one of those.
"Sorry I scared you," he said in a tone that suggested he was anything but. He jumped up to his feet and his eyes flickered across her body, but it didn't seem like he was ogling her. She wondered if he was, in fact, checking for injuries.
"Should be," she muttered, crossing her arms in a huff.
"Fine." She pursed her lips and she turned her gaze to a barely discernible tree behind him. "You?"
"Great." She could hear the amusement in his voice and she fought hard against the need to roll her eyes.
He was taking her in, looking at her posture and her blatant avoidance to register him at all. She could feel his eyes on her and she shifted her weight to her other foot, trying to figure out a way to leave before this whole thing got more awkward.
"You want to share the bottle?"
Turning to him in surprise, she saw he was standing there with his messenger bag open, the neck of a bottle in his grip as he showed it to her. Damnit. The one thing that could make her consider staying and he had it.
"Wow. This feels like a safe situation," she deadpanned.
"I promise it's not drugged." He offered out his little finger and she raised a judging eyebrow at him. "It's not even been opened yet. See for yourself." He retracted his hand only to present it again a few seconds later, the bottle held towards her. She bit her lip, her mind divided between what she should do, and she stepped hesitantly closer, just enough so she could stretch out her arm to take the offering.
Indeed it was unopened, and she glanced up at him, standing innocently in front of her, trying to figure out whether to trust this strange boy that had scared her half to death. Something about the way he looked at her, about the way he seemed so harmless, made her break the seal and take a swig from the vodka bottle, her eyes never leaving his challenging stare.
She hated how he looked so victorious.
"So what brings you to this side of town?" he asked as she scuffed her toe in the soft bark ground.
"I don't see how that's any of your business," she shot back, swigging from his bottle again before holding it out to him to take back. He was smiling again, and she found it irritating.
"Considering you're drinking my alcohol, I'd say the least I deserve is a somewhat decent conversation." He sipped from the bottle and winced as the alcohol hit his throat. She rolled her eyes. First timer.
"How do you know I'm not from this side of town?" She couldn't resist, and his eyes flashed at her in amusement.
"I've seen you around before. You go to Plainsboro High right?"
She narrowed her eyes. "Oh so you are a stalker."
He laughed openly, leaning back as he did. "I've been there before, for competitions. I've seen you around." When she just raised an eyebrow in response, he shrugged. "I'm good with faces."
"So you go to Townsend Prep." She made a show of taking him in, with his dress pants and deep blue shirt. "That doesn't surprise me at all."
He smirked at her. "You jealous?"
She scoffed. "Hardly."
"You wanna sit?" He gestured to the large strange structure, made up of tunnels and nets and slides, the kind Beca had always wanted to explore as a kid, and without waiting for an answer he walked towards it, ducking into a small cave looking hole. She hesitated, wondering if she should take the opportunity to leave, but then she remembered.
There was nothing much to go back to.
So she grabbed her backpack and followed him, squinting as she let her eyes adjust to the limited light. There was a small bench on either side with a walk way in the middle, and she took the seat opposite him, eyeing him suspiciously. She didn't know why he was being so… Nice. It was strange; she didn't know if she liked it all that much.
"So what's your deal?" he asked once she had settled, and he waited patiently for her to absorb his question as he swigged from the bottle, wincing again.
"You're in a park, at midnight, talking to a guy you don't even know the name of, with muddy shoes and angry music leaking out of your earphones." He gestured to said earphones, which she realised were still playing music as they hung out of her jumper neck. "Obviously you got a lot on your mind, so I'm just, you know, offering to listen. If you want to talk."
"This isn't helping the stalker thing you know," she said dismissively. He handed her the bottle and she took a large gulp so she had something to do other than avoid his intense gaze.
"And now you're deflecting." He smiled, and she realised he was being genuine. "It's cool, I can roll with this."
She lowered the bottle from her lips slowly, wondering what to say, before blurting, "You're here too."
She rolled her eyes. "I mean, you're in a park, at midnight, talking to a girl you don't know the name of…" She rolled a wrist as an unspoken etcetera rather than repeating it all, and he nodded, the smile falling from his face for the first time since he scared her off the monkey bars. He looked out of the entrance for a moment, and then turned back to her, the smile returning.
"Jesse." When she looked at him in confusion, he elaborated. "My name. It's Jesse."
She couldn't help smirking at him. "That's a girl's name."
He eyed her, unamused. "You sound like my sister."
She wondered if she could give a fake name, but then realised it was pointless. It wasn't like she'd see him again. "I'm Beca."
He smiled. "Beca the angry vodka drinker from Plainsboro High."
She already regretted giving him the right name. "I prefer whisky." She bit her tongue, trying to figure out why she was being so honest with him.
"Beca the angry alcoholic from Plainsboro High," he amended. He watched her huff and shift so her feet rested on the bench, her knees bent towards her. "You avoided my question."
"What's your deal?"
"You avoided it too."
"I asked first."
"You really gonna go there?" she said in amused disbelief. "What are you, twelve?"
"I'd rather be twelve and awesome than whatever old age you're trying to be."
"What?" She gaped at him.
"You're all grumpy and dismissive of people. Like an old lady."
"You're a terrible drinking partner."
"You're a terrible conversationalist."
She looked at him, exaggerating how impressed she was. "Wow, big word! The education at Townsend must be really something."
"See? There's the dismissiveness."
She went to make another joke, to brush him off, but there was something in his eyes that made her stop and take a deep breath. "My dad left."
He nodded, and she waited for him to make a big deal, to offer her advice or attempt a hug or anything other than what he actually said. "That sucks."
Too stunned to do much else, she shrugged. "What about you?"
"It was my grandma's funeral today."
Beca was not good in emotional situations, and she wondered why she had even put herself in the position to even have to deal with this, so she just repeated his words. "That sucks."
He kept his eyes trained to the ground, shrugging as she had done. "Not really, she was sick for a long time."
"Oh." Beca had no idea what to say.
She raised the bottle to her lips, swung it back, and then handed it to him. "To your grandma."
He smiled in appreciation and took the vodka, copying her movements and then flashing her a lopsided smile. "You're strange, you know that? It's pretty cute."
She scrunched up her nose. "Don't call me cute."
"Don't call me adorable."
"You're really hard to please, aren't you?" He grinned again and she contemplated him, wondering if he ever stopped smiling. It was annoying but a little endearing.
"So what is Townsend like? Is it as stuck up as it seems?"
He chuckled. "It's actually pretty awesome. You should see it; we're all amazing there."
She rolled her eyes. "So it creates generations of stuck up idiots."
"We're not idiots, we're very intelligent."
"You could have fooled me."
A ringing interrupted them, and he sighed loudly before pulling his phone out of his pocket. There was a hesitance but he answered it, and Beca looked away into the darkness between the trees. It was a little scary, looking around and realising how very alone she was. Yes, this kid was with her, but judging by the anxious words he was trying to convey to who she presumed was his mother, he was about to leave. Then she would be alone, trapped on the wrong side of town with no way of getting home and maybe no home to even go back to.
"I have to go," Jesse said once he'd hung up, and was it just her or did he sound disappointed? "My mum is freaking out that I disappeared, and my sister is apparently a mess so uh, I should…" He hitched his thumb over his shoulder and she just nodded, still looking away. "Do you have a way home?"
She grimaced. "Not really," she answered truthfully, finally letting her eyes settle back on him. He was putting the bottle back in his bag, but looked up when she spoke. "No, no," she said quickly at the look on his face, "It's fine, I can make it back, it's not that far."
"Don't be ridiculous, you can't walk back across town in the middle of the night." He stood up, crouching a little in the small space. "I can drive you, it won't take long."
Her eye brow raised in doubt. "You sure you can? You did drink."
He shrugged. "I had like two sips of the stuff. It's fine, seriously, we just have to avoid the cops."
She stared at him, dubious, but did she really have another choice? Sighing and rolling her eyes for what felt the billionth time since she fell on him, she stood up. "Fine. But if we get arrested, I'm throwing you to the sharks."
Once they left the play area, Beca felt a strange stirring in her gut. It was like, for the past hour that she had been sitting with him, they had been sitting in their own little bubble, completely separate from the world. But once they walked out of the small gate and began to cross the grass, suddenly they had rejoined the world and it was… Odd.
They walked to what she presumed was his parents car in silence, which continued through most of the drive apart from her occasional directions. The radio played classic rock in the background, and she kept her eyes on the street lamps as they whizzed by. It was peaceful and she enjoyed having the time to think, to mull over what she would inevitably be facing when she got home.
Pulling her phone out of her pocket for the first time since her lunch break at school, Beca scrolled through the 46 missed calls and 29 text messages. Yikes. She was in big trouble. Many of the calls were from her mother, but the last dozen were from her father. A few dotted here and there were from Kimmy Jin's house. Some of the text messages were from a few high school friends, and all of them pleaded her to come back home.
They must have thought she had run away. Seen what awaited her and made a dash for it. Maybe they thought she was seeking attention; trying to get her parents to back together through the worry of a missing daughter. That seemed a better excuse than the truth; that she felt horrifically guilty that her one wish had finally come true.
She turned to Jesse, jumping out of her thoughts she hadn't realised she was so wrapped up in. He glanced at her for half a second, making sure she was okay she supposed, before returning his eyes to the road.
"You got pretty lost there; you okay?"
She shrugged. "I guess. Just not sure what I'm going home to."
He nodded slightly, his focus momentarily distracted by a roundabout. "I guess you didn't tell your parents about your little trip across town."
"Not exactly," she hedged.
"You should at least text them, let them know you're on your way."
She sighed loudly, leaning her temple against the cold glass of the window. "I think I'd rather cherish the peace for a little longer."
He smirked. "Wow, I didn't realise you enjoyed my company that much."
She scoffed, "Hardly. I didn't exactly choose to talk to you."
"You could have left right after you fell on me," he pointed out, and she pressed her lips tightly together. He was right, but she didn't know why she had so willingly stayed with him – because alcohol was not the only reason, she knew – so instead, she threw back a retort to dodge the point.
"Obviously you slipped something in that vodka."
"If I did that, surely I wouldn't be driving you home right now?"
"It's all part of your dastardly plan to find out where I live so you can camp out in the bushes and take pictures of me through my window when I change."
"That would be your own fault for undressing in front of a window with the curtains open."
She pressed her lips together again, this time to try and keep the smile away at how easily he managed to dodge her quips and instead fire them right back. Not many people could keep up with her; it was weirdly refreshing. "So you admit to planning on stalking me?"
"That depends." His eyes flicked over to her for just a second, but she could see the amusement there, sparkling in the dim light from the street lamps. "Do you want me to stalk you?"
"I don't think that's how stalking works."
"Fine then, I shall rephrase: do you want me to see you again?"
It was bold, and it caught her a little off guard, but there was something about him that intrigued her; this teenage boy who had found a lonely (and a little vulnerable, even she would admit) girl in the middle of a dark park, who had basically tried to get her drunk, but instead of being like pretty much every guy at her school who would more than likely try and get in her pants, he had instead just enjoyed engaging her in conversation; and it was actually good conversation, it was actually kind of fun and interesting. He was fun and interesting.
"Maybe," she answered vaguely, and when a grin took over his face she added, "In your dreams."
But he seemed to have seen right through her answer, because he stopped at a stop sign and turned to look at her, a sly smirk there that made his cheek bones all the more prominent. "Well, that's a shame really, because I have every intention of seeing you again, Beca the angry alcoholic from Plainsboro High."
She raised an eyebrow, not backing down from his intense gaze. "Those are the words of a stalker."
"It would be my pleasure to stalk you."
"If that's supposed to be some kind of line to get somewhere with me then you really need some lessons in what a girl actually wants to hear."
"I'd love for you to teach me some time."
His entire expression told her that he was deliberately trying to wind her up, but she wasn't about to back down from this any more than he was. "That's not going to happen."
"I beg to differ. I think we're going to end up being best friends." When her eyes narrowed, he tagged on, "Maybe even lovers."
"Please don't say lovers." It was taking everything within her to not look away, but she wasn't used to that much attention or intensity, especially from some guy she had only just met.
Thankfully, a car horn blaring behind them disrupted them, and Jesse just laughed to himself as he carried on driving. The break away from him – she hadn't realised how close their faces had gotten, his breath hot on her cheek in a way she didn't find all that unpleasant – gave her a chance to collect herself, to shake off the effect of it – most definitely the alcohol, she reasoned.
After pointing him down the final road before her street, Beca settled back into the fancy leather seats, her fingers digging nervously into the car door. She wasn't prepared for the shitstorm she was about to face, and she didn't know how she was going to cope. She wondered if her dad would be there. Would they shout at her? Would they throw her out? Would they sit her down and give her that lame speech parents seemed to favour when explaining divorce, the one about how they 'still love you very much, and please don't think it's your fault'?
"Oh I love this song!" Jesse exclaimed into the growing silence, and he turned up the radio so that Kansas echoed through the speakers. He tapped the steering wheel to the beat, singing along eagerly with this strange boyish energy. She twisted in her seat to better watch him, trying not to laugh out loud as he slowed the car down to air guitar awkwardly, trying to keep control of the wheel at the same time.
"You're a weirdo, you know that?" she said in a mocking tone when he dissolved into laughter at his own antics. She pointed him down her street quickly, the anxiety knotting in her stomach.
"Yeah, well at least I don't think I'm too cool to have fun," he retorted, but a glance over at her seemed to tell him that the time for joking was over. "Which one?"
But the answer was obvious, because only one house on the street was still light up brightly, the shades still opened. So she kept quiet, her hands beginning to shake a little in her lap, as Jesse slowed a few houses up to a stop. He looked over at her in concern, but she kept her gaze trained on the house. Two cars sat in the driveway.
"I'll come with you, if you want," he said quietly, "I could try and take some of the heat off."
But she was already shaking her head. "Don't be stupid. You've already had enough stress today. The last thing you need is a stranger's parents threatening to have you arrested or something."
He shrugged, and his hand hovered awkwardly over the gear stick before lowering to her own, giving it a gentle squeeze for just a moment. She was surprised to find that it actually helped, calming her down the tiniest bit. She shot him a grateful smile.
"Thank you for driving me," she said sincerely. "You didn't have to be so helpful."
His mouth quirked up in a bashful half smile. "I wasn't going to leave you alone now, was I?"
She unclipped her seatbelt and grabbed her bag from between her legs, hesitating again. "I really am sorry about your grandma." Beca watched his face cloud over slightly. "And I hope you don't get in too much trouble."
He smiled again as she opened the car door. "I'll see you again, you know," he promised, and she bent down to see him leaning towards her with a cocky grin.
Beca walked away from her strange guardian angel with a heavy step, clutching her bag tightly. Something moved in her house, and she didn't need to guess over why because seconds later the door was flung open, her mother running down the garden path to gather her in what was a painfully tight hug. And as her mother sobbed into her shoulder – something about 'never worry me like that again' – Beca instead turned her attention to the car that passed by quietly, her eyes lingering on the silhouette of the driver.