A/N: So this little guy was going to be a one shot, but I think it might be better to break it up. Here's part one, not sure when part two will be out. Overall, don't expect anything too long winded. Maybe a couple of chapters, I haven't given it much thought. These stories always tend to write themselves longer than I intend anyways.
Thank you to everybody that keeps reviewing and favorite-ing my writing, I greatly, greatly, greatly appreciate. There are no words to describe how awesome you all are. Except maybe the ones I just used to say how awesome you all are.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything pertaining to Pitch Perfect. No but really, not a thing.
I swirled my drink around in its glass, enjoying the way the amber liquid slowly slid back down the walls of its glass prison. Setting it down, I rolled my shoulders back forward and back trying to ebb some of the tension I held there. I moved to pick my glass back up.
"You planning on drinking that or are you going to keep playing with it?" A decidedly British voice pulled my vision up to where a tall, lean man was gesturing to my glass.
"You're the one who poured me a glass of whiskey at two in the afternoon on a Tuesday," I retorted.
"I'm not the one who came into a bar at two in the afternoon on a Tuesday," he replied smartly, grabbing a towel that was resting on his shoulder to run along the bar's surface.
I looked around the bar to notice I was one of three patrons. Apparently Tuesday afternoons weren't a high point at PJ's. And really that wasn't that shocking. It was a bar and it wasn't exactly normal to be drinking at this time on a weekday.
"Sure, but you are the one who poured me a glass of hard liquor before I even sat down," I said with a nod towards the healthy amount of Jameson in the low ball glass in my hand.
He chuckled. "My fault," he bit out sarcastically, "I'll do my best to stop being such a perfect bartender and promptly forget your drink order."
"'Wrong," I blurted out.
"What's wrong? I'm not wrong. You love Jameson. You drink it by the bottle on the weekends," he said before adding on, "Which is something you should probably stop doing. I mean that's expensive and you have the tolerance of a four hundred pound man."
"Exaggeration," I cut him off. "I'm also not sure if I should take that as a compliment or an insult."
"I was probably going to take it that way anyway," I admitted. "For the record, that wasn't what was wrong."
"And what was wrong then, Becky?" He asked with a superior smirk.
He knew I hated that stupid name. I had corrected him not five minutes after he mistakenly heard me the first night I had come to the bar, yet here we were four years later and he was still calling me by it.
"You are not that great of a bartender, Lukey," I spoke, an amused look drawing to my face as he winced visibly.
He didn't seem too pleased with my emphasis of the pet name a psycho one-night stand turned pseudo stalker had coined after their first meeting. While she was definitely lacking in originality, she certainly made up for it in crazy. I've heard those two balance each other out quite well actually.
"That's where you're wrong. I'm an amazing bartender, fan-fucking-tastic actually," he stated confidently, his chest puffing out the smallest bit.
I gave a dismissive wave of my hand while taking a swig of the amber liquid. It burned a familiar path down my throat, spreading its warmth through my chest. I released the glass from my lips with a pop.
"Why exactly are you here at two in the afternoon?" Luke finally asked.
"To bask in the light of your amazing, fan-fucking-tastic presence of course," I muttered sardonically into my glass.
"Nice try mate, but really?" My eyes met his and the genuine concern there was evident.
"Oh don't give me the caring bartender routine, I'm not here to drink my sorrows away if that's what you're worried about. I'm meeting Chloe, she said she had news or something," I swirled my glass before letting it rest on the counter. I looked up to see Luke leaning back against the bar with a smirk on his face. "What?"
"Nothing," he said, slapping the towel back onto his shoulder. "I was just going to ask where your better half was but you already answered it for me right there."
I rolled my eyes at him, not in the mood for this familiar line of questioning. "She's not my better half."
"Well you're certainly not the better of the two halves if that's where you were going with this," he remarked. I scowled at him.
"She's my best friend," I told him as I had told him repeatedly. "Hey pretty boy, she is," I added when he rolled his eyes at me. "Besides that, she's taken."
"Yeah for like a week. And that prick treats her like shit and you know it," he spoke pointedly.
I couldn't deny that. He was a prick and he did treat her like shit. She deserved better. Looking back at each of her exes from the past I could conclude that she always deserved better.
"Bec, how long have you known Chloe?"
I gave him a puzzled look. We'd had this conversation before. He knew the answer to his own question. I reasoned he was trying to make some sort of point when he simply gestured for me to answer. "About seven years. Since my mom took a job out of state and I had to transfer schools."
I was the new and awkward girl in town, ripped from her friends and home and everything I knew. I had never been very good at making new friends or at being thrust into unfamiliar environments so I didn't have high hopes for my first day. I was going to lie low and five periods into the day I was doing a great job at just that.
Everything had been going to plan. I was slipping stealthily beneath the radar, until a bubbly redhead took the desk next to mine during English class. We were forced into partner work and after just five minutes of conversation, the other girl had informed me that we were going to be best friends. She was right. She was always right.
"You've known her seven years. You've been best friends with her for seven years and this Drew prick has known her for four months. Four months," he emphasized the words.
I scoffed, "Yeah and he's gotten a whole lot farther in four months than I have in seven years."
Luke was familiar with my situation. My freshman year he was simply a kind bartender who let a drunk girl stutter out her life story, but over the years we had cultivated a rather unique friendship. I came to his bar and tipped well and we spent our time ridiculing each other and calling each other out on our bullshit.
"That's because you probably friend-zoned yourself too early," he commented as though it were the clear and apparent reason.
"Friend-zoned?" I asked, pulling a face. "What is that, a euphemism?"
"Oh come off it, you know what I mean. You probably stuck yourself in that tidy little friendship circle before you even gave yourself a chance at anything outside of it," Luke proclaimed.
"What? What's to say that she's not the one who did the friend-zoning?" I asked. Luke leveled me with a knowing stare.
I shook my head at him, "She's my best friend and-"
"And you love her," Luke interjected.
I glared at him before finishing my sentence, "And I'm not going to lose my best friend because I've got a stupid little crush."
"Except it's not a stupid little crush," Luke argued. I scoffed again. "Well it's not, is it? I mean stupid little crushes don't last seven years."
When I didn't say anything he continued, "Look, you two stumbled into this bar four years ago, a fact that I'm going to ignore since I know the IDs that say you're twenty-two now are more correct than the ones you used then. You're two of our best patrons. I mean you two have pretty much singlehandedly kept this bar afloat over the years and I've been able to get to know you both over the years. I've seen the two of you interact, which means that I've seen the way you look at her and I've been around long enough to know that you don't look at her like she's some stupid little crush. You look at her like you're in love with her."
Silence fell between us. "What are you, Oprah? Did your bartender certificate come with a counseling license?"
"Stop deflecting, smartarse," Luke said, his voice taking on a solemn tone. "You need to talk to her and figure out your own shit first. It's not nearly as complicated as you're making it. You either love her or you don't. There's no in between."
I opened my mouth for another snarky retort, but closed it instead.
"What's in between?" A soft voice behind me asked, saving me from replying to Luke's statement. I turned in my seat to see my best friend happily approaching.
"Chloe," Luke greeted, a wide and mischievous smile on his face. "We were just talking about you."
I narrowed my eyes at the smirk on his pretty little face. Damn cocky Brit.
"You were, were you?" Chloe smiled, tilting her head to the side in confusion as she took a seat on the stool next to me. "You were talking about my… in between, then?" Her face scrunched adorably as she said the words.
"Erm yeah…" I replied.
"What is that, a euphemism?" She asked. I heard Luke laugh gruffly from behind the bar.
"Actually you could call it-" I watched a wolfish grin flash across his features. That couldn't be good.
"NO!" I nearly yelled before Luke could open his big fat mouth again. Chloe turned to me with a bemused look on her face. "We were just talking about your, erm, your…" My eyes searched frantically for a good explanation. "Your class schedule," I exclaimed, my eyes falling on her book bag. "Yeah, your class schedule and how you fit lunch in between. The classes, how you fit lunch in between your classes," I trailed off, fighting the urge to bury my face in my hands from embarrassment.
Chloe fixed me with a stare before turning her attention to Luke. He shrugged his shoulders.
"Something to drink, Red?"
"Oh, yeah. Luke can we get two glasses of your finest champagne," She trilled.
"If by finest champagne you mean the bottom shelf sludge I was supposed to pour out today, then it's yours for free," Luke said, pulling two stemmed glasses from underneath the bar.
"We'll take it," Chloe replied as though she was the highest bidder in an elitist auction.
Luke gave a nod and walked over to the liquor wall behind him.
"We're having champagne?" I asked.
"We're having champagne," she stated concisely, a sophisticated flick of her wrist.
"Is there a reason we're having champagne or are we just having a classy Tipsy Tuesday for once?" I queried referencing our many not so classy Tipsy Tuesdays we had over our collegiate career. We'd never started this early on a Tuesday though.
"We're celebrating." She thanked Luke as he handed over the glasses.
"What exactly are we celebrating?" I asked, confused about what we had to celebrate. It was a Tuesday. What's there to celebrate about Tuesdays? "The week not even being half over?" I offered. "Me failing that Philosophy test earlier today?"
She quirked a brow at me. "No. We're celebrating what I found out today." She was practically bouncing out of her seat.
"Chlo, are you going to tell me or we going to keep going back and forth with these questions?"
"Way to take the fun out of the game, Bec," she said in mock disdain. But even that couldn't bring her down. She was downright giddy.
"Chloe," I said, trying to draw her attention back in.
"Oh right, well I was sitting in class just playing around on my phone because my professor is the driest lecturer in the history of lecturers. He couldn't be more boring if he tried. Anyways, I got this call. It was from an unknown number. I didn't recognize the area code, so I figured maybe it was a wrong number. But then they called back right after so I ran to the hall to answer it and… I got in," she finished, a ridiculously large smile on her face.
"You got in…?"
"I got in. I got into Johns Hopkins Medical School, Beca. I got in, I don't know how they let me in, but I got in," she exclaimed all in one breath, sipping happily at her champagne.
I felt the air whoosh out of my lungs in one solid exhale. Johns Hopkins. She had gotten into Johns Hopkins. The Johns Hopkins that was in Baltimore. The Baltimore that was in Maryland. The Maryland that would be across the country from where I would be living the next year.
"What about the med school at UCLA?" I asked. It was the school she had gotten the call from months prior. One she had been ecstatic about getting into.
"What do you mean what about UCLA, this is Johns Hopkins, Beca. Johns Hopkins," she reiterated, nearly spilling her champagne on the counter in a wide gesture. "I mean UCLA is in the top fifteen in the country but Johns Hopkins is the second best medical school in the country. You don't get into Johns Hopkins and not go," she said pointedly. "You just don't."
We were supposed to go to LA together. We had already put down a deposit on an apartment near campus for her and close enough to the city for me.
She told me she was going to UCLA. She told me she had only applied to Johns Hopkins on whim. It was one of her reach schools like the Harvard app she had never heard any reply from. She told me that she didn't need to even get in because the interview was enough for her. An interview with the second best medical school in the country was enough for her. She had never expected to get in.
"You've got that far off look on your face. Why have you got that far off look on your face? Are you not happy about this?" I watched as she set her glass down on the counter.
"No, I'm… I'm just a little overwhelmed right now," I replied truthfully. What was I supposed to say? I felt myself growing more and more irrationally angry as time passed on. I knew what she wanted me to say.
I knew she wanted me to say that I was happy for her, that this was amazing, that it was an opportunity only a fool would pass over. But I couldn't be that person right now. I couldn't be the person that was happy for her because I felt like someone had just drop kicked me in the stomach. I felt my lips turn downward as my thoughts rushed by only one standing out.
This wasn't supposed to be happening.
"Oh and Drew got a job in Essex which is like eight miles from Baltimore and campus," she added excitedly causing my frown to deepen. "It's like everything is coming together in my life Bec, everything is finally coming together," she said while I was thinking the exact opposite.
Everything was coming together for her while to me it seemed like everything was falling apart. Baltimore and LA. That was no laughable distance. She had been my best friend for the last seven years and we had never had a distance like that between us. Baltimore.
When were in high school I had assumed that college would be our breaking point. Chloe had always been a bit of a perfectionist. Her perfect GPA in high school coupled with her title of class president and valedictorian only breached the surface of her tendency to over achieve. I had reasoned during the college application process that she would leave for some elite college that only accepted a handful of applicants. She was intelligent like that, always had her head in a book while I had mine glued to my laptop.
Before Chloe, it was music that was the glue in my life. It kept me together through my parent's separation and subsequent divorce. While Chloe loved music, it was knowledge that she was most passionate about. She was constantly learning and enjoying every moment of the learning process. It was clear to see that knowledge was her music.
I was going to Barden. That had been set in stone the minute my father had reached tenure at the college. He was not going to allow me to move to LA before I attended college. Barden had a decent variety of musical majors where I wasn't too concerned that spending four years there would be a complete waste of my time. Of course, I never informed my father of that. It was best he thought I was opposed to the whole plan than accepting of various elements.
I would be attending Barden the fall after my senior year. That was already settled. What I also thought had been settled was that Chloe would be going somewhere out of state. I knew that she belonged in the halls of Yale or studying at a quaint café along the streets of Harvard Square.
I was shocked when she invited herself over one day during our senior year to talk about Barden's housing options.
Barden? I wanted to ask. Not Brown or Stanford or Yale?
But I didn't because my best friend wanted to go to Barden, a school I was attending and who was I to argue against that decision.
Just because I didn't argue against it, didn't mean I wasn't wondering what her motives were. First, I concluded that she didn't want to go far from home. She loved her family and I kind of loved them as well. Her parents were warm and welcoming. Her brothers were loud and obnoxious, but in an endearing way. Family was important to her, that could have been the reason.
But one day in March, her parents told us that they were moving to Arizona having finally reached a safe retirement point. She was the youngest and her older brothers were scattered throughout the country. Her family wasn't even going to be in the same state so that couldn't have been the reason.
Perhaps she was nervous about leaving the state she had called home her entire life. Maybe she was too worried to leave its borders for that long a period of time. But that didn't make any sense. This was Chloe Beale we were talking about. She never backed down from a challenge. This hypothesis was shot down as soon as she began telling me about her dream to live in California.
The only other reason I could think of was one I didn't want to be true. I was over at her house one night for an obligatory movie night. It was a tradition I celebrated only because she forced me to. It was normally just the two of us and I couldn't deny that I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible even if that did mean I had to suffer through some shitty movie.
This night was different. Her boyfriend of just under nine months was on the couch when I arrived. I did my best not to roll my eyes. Zak and I were amicable at best. We had never seen eye to eye and tolerated each other's presence solely for Chloe's sake. I was her best friend, he was her boyfriend. There was no getting around us interacting on occasion.
I did roll my eyes as I sat on the couch next to the two and saw Zak, not so stealthily, trying to sneak his hand higher and higher up her thigh repeatedly throughout the crappy horror movie Chloe had rented. She would smile politely and redirect his hand elsewhere each time. I wanted to gag. It was the words he said next that made my jaw drop.
"Next year's going to be so great, don't you think babe?" He spoke to Chloe before turning to me. "The three of us at Barden, it's going to be the tits."
The tits? It was going to be… the tits? People used that expression? Were men allowed to use that expression? Was it one of those phrases you could only say if you had them?
"Not as good as yours though babe," he loudly whispered slimily in Chloe's ear.
I couldn't stop the disgust from washing over my face. And then his hand returned to her thigh, much too high and much too quick causing her to squeak in surprise before pulling his hand away and flashing me an apologetic look. He was such a tool. So much of a tool that I almost didn't process what he had said.
He was going to Barden, probably on some half-ass football scholarship. He was the second string quarterback and Barden wasn't exactly known for its football team. But he was going to Barden.
I didn't want to think of Chloe Beale as the girl that would turn down elite schools to follow her high school boyfriend to college, but there didn't seem to be any other logical reason she would choose Barden over the stacks of acceptance letters in her room.
And when they broke up unceremoniously a couple of months into our freshman year, a part of me wanted to thank him. He was after all the reason she was at my school. He was the reason my best friend and I were at the same school.
It was that odd flare of emotion resonating from the pit of my stomach that told me maybe there was another reason I couldn't thank him. I had felt this way before, of course. And it wasn't just when she was around Zak. It had appeared before. Like when one of her boyfriends had thought PDA at a party was expected and when she went to homecoming with some jerk.
It was odd considering I had never had any problem with the guys before she dated them. In fact, I would go as far to consider a couple of them my friends prior.
It was all so much easier to compartmentalize when I thought she was straight. If she was straight then this was fine. I could have a straight girl crush on my best friend. That was fine.
And it was fine until she stormed into my dorm room freshman year to tell me about a date she had been on. It wasn't until halfway through the story that I recognized the pronouns to be definitively feminine. It wasn't until then that I realized she had been on a date with a girl, that she was shockingly nonplussed about being on a date with a girl. It wasn't until then that I realized I may have been grossly downplaying what I had only considered to be a straight girl crush until that point.
It was a harsh realization that I came to. I couldn't pinpoint the exact origin of these feelings, nor the exact moment that any of it had happened. Yet somewhere among the seven years that we had been friends, I had fallen in love with Chloe Beale.
One day I was superior and completely above all clichés, the next day I realized I was living the biggest one possible. I had fallen in love with my best friend, my not as straight as I originally thought best friend but my best friend nonetheless.
I had no idea how I had let it happen. I wasn't even sure it was part of my conscious control. It didn't help matters that every time I thought about it I could practically see a ten year old version of myself rolling her eyes at the mess I had gotten myself into. I wasn't supposed to be this girl. The girl who was in some situation only experienced in a crappy rom-com.
It made me wonder how long the glaringly obvious had been staring me straight in the face before I acknowledged it. I thought that maybe if I had noticed just a couple of months earlier, then maybe it wouldn't be quite as bad. But I knew that wasn't true. It didn't matter when I finally let myself accept the truth, it didn't change any part of the situation at all.
I knew I couldn't act on it. No, I couldn't tell her now for many of the same reasons I couldn't tell her then.
She was in a relationship. And I wasn't one to meddle in relationships. My father's cheating had destructed my family from the wobbly base it once stood on. I wasn't a cheater and I certainly wouldn't be the other woman, not that that was even a blip on the radar considering I never stood a chance.
She was much too good for me. While I preferred to spend my evenings locked in my room with my laptop and a good pair of headphones, she was involved in practically every possible group on campus while somehow maintaining a near perfect GPA. She had gotten into Johns Hopkins for crying out loud.
She was completely out of my league on the intellectual as well as physical level. It wasn't that I had some overwhelmingly teenager complex about my body but I was more than aware that everything I lacked she had in tenfold.
She had legs that made gay men wish they were straight and made straight girls wish they were gay. She had a smile that had been the downfall of so many over the years. She was witty, intelligent and had curves in each and every place that women were meant to. Perhaps her most attractive quality was that she was completely oblivious to the effect she had on people.
She presented me with an unfair standard for comparison, one of the many reasons I had barely even tried to date in my life. Nothing would come close to Chloe Beale and I wasn't sure that I even wanted it to.
So I accepted it as it was. She was my best friend and I loved her. She was my constant and I was hers. I wasn't going to lose my constant because I couldn't keep my mouth shut.
Maybe that's why this hurt so much. I had never truly faced the possibility of her living anywhere but near where I was. And now she was going to Baltimore and her asshat boyfriend of three months was going to be there as well.
"Are you at least going to pretend to be happy for me?" Her voice shook me from my thoughts.
I didn't know what to say. I could lie to her, but she would see right through that.
"It's a little hard to be happy for someone when you realize you've got to cover both parts of a rent you were barely going to be able to pay half of," I mumbled, the filter between my brain and my mouth apparently on permanent hiatus.
"Well, I'll help you find a roommate. Or if that doesn't work, I'll still pay my half. It will be fine," she said logically but I wasn't ready for any logic. My best friend was going to be living on the other side of the country.
"No it won't be, Chloe," I said, watching the smile melt off her face. "Have you even thought about this? Have you even tried to think it through? You're turning down UCLA to what? Follow your boyfriend of three months to Baltimore? Because that worked out so great for college didn't it?" I spat out acerbically.
She recoiled as though I had physically rather than verbally assaulted her.
"What's going on with you?" She asked in a voice that did nothing to hide her shock.
"Nothing," I laughed bitterly. "Nothing's going on with me Chloe, my best friend just has her head so far up her ass that she can't realize that her decisions affect more people than herself. If you took half a step back you'd realize exactly how completely selfish you're being-"
"Selfish? I'm being selfish?" She turned to me, her shock now replaced with anger. I had struck a chord and I knew it. I had struck a chord with a statement that wasn't even slightly true. Chloe Beale had never been selfish a day in her life.
When her family was having financial problems, she quietly quit her expensive piano lessons telling her mom that she wasn't interested in playing anymore even though it couldn't have been farther from the truth. She was more selfless than she had ever been selfish.
"I think if there is one time in my life that I'm allowed to be selfish it's when I'm making a decision that's about where I go to med school. You're the one that's prepared to leave everybody behind for LA."
I blanched. Everybody but you, I wanted to tell her, I wasn't going to be leaving you. You were supposed to be coming with me, I wanted to say.
Instead I reared back saying, "That's not even remotely the same thing!"
"Really, how is it different?" Her eyebrow quirked up as she crossed her arms in front of her chest.
"It just… " I struggled for words, "It is. It's completely different. Your decision is completely out of your own self-interest-"
"And yours is to what, cure world hunger? You're moving to LA to DJ, not exactly saving the world there," she spat back at me. My eyes widened at the venom in her tone or perhaps because I knew that this was the first time she had ever made a negative comment about my aspirations. "If anybody here is selfish, it's you. I can't believe you right now."
I shook my head at her. Seven years of friendship and we had never had an argument quite like this one. I could feel it slowly spinning out of my control but did nothing to reel it back in. "I think I'm entitled to be a little selfish."
"Oh you are, are you?" She asked, appraising me judgmentally. "And why's that?"
"Someone's got to look out for me, god knows no one else will."
"I don't know what you want from me. If you want to be some apathetic, woe-is-me, half-ass DJ then so be it. And I'm sorry this isn't working perfectly into Beca Mitchell's world but you should know this is big for me. You should know that this is a big deal for me and you're supposed to be happy for me."
She gave me a disbelieving look before continuing, "You're supposed to be excited for me because that's what best friends do. They don't take your past relationship mistakes and shove them down your throat when they're supposed to be supportive. Come find me when you can do that for me. Until then," she paused, looking me over again. "Just leave me the hell alone."
She stood abruptly, knocking her stool back during the process. She didn't give it a second look as she glared at me. She opened her mouth to say something, but closed it, shaking her head. I watched as she walked away, wanting to stop her and still not entirely positive why I said what I had said.
The door slammed shut signifying her departure. I slammed the whiskey in front of me in one shaky gulp before dropping my face to the bar's surface.
"Well that went well," Luke commented dryly above me. I grunted into the smooth wood surface pressed against my face. "Your people skills are rubbish. I told you to talk to her, not insult her."
She was my best friend. I was in love with her and she was moving to Baltimore. I knew that another drink wasn't going to change any of that but maybe it could help me forget for a while. If Luke made it strong enough maybe it could make me forget I was drinking alone at two on a Tuesday afternoon, the only other men in the bar oddly resembling Santa Claus.
I didn't bother lifting my face from the counter, telling Luke to, "Shut it and pour me another drink."
A/N: There you have it, part one of some indefinably long story. Probably sticking this one out with Beca POV unless a particularly good plot shift takes me down the path of alternating POVs. Let me know what you think (or didn't think) as you read the chapter. Thoughts on Luke, favorite quotes, bad puns (no seriously I'm still waiting for a corny joke here), and any other thoughts are appreciated and welcome!
Until next time…