Summary: Beca Mitchell thinks she's had everything figured out. But then, on the day of her wedding, she spots a flash of red hair and dark blue green eyes, and suddenly she isn't sure about anything anymore. One-shot story. Drama, angst. Beca/Chloe. Title inspired by Marcel Proust.
Reviews welcome and much appreciated.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the prose. :)
Beca Mitchell stands at the entrance to the church, with her father, Dr. Mitchell, in a handsome dark tuxedo, by her side. Anyone looking at her now, in her simple yet elegant ivory white wedding dress with the knotted design on the waist, light make-up, eyeshadow and dark eyeliner accentuating her eyes, hair done up in an equally simple twist, would not notice that she is actually nervous, that her hands are clammy, that there are dark circles under her eyes expertly concealed by make-up and eyeliner, that she is exhausted, that her eyes are faintly bloodshot from the many sleepless nights leading up to today, that her legs are jelly, that the butterflies in her stomach haven't stopped fluttering since she saw the church spires loom in sight. With one hand, she nervously twirls a strand of loose dark brown hair hanging by the side of her face - the one that Fat Amy would probably call an Orthodox Jew hairstyle - as she scans the crowd of wedding guests, none of whom are aware that on her way here, with her father on one side, and the now affectionately called stepmonster on the other, she had actually, more than once, contemplated screaming at the driver, "Stop the car! This is all a huge mistake!" before stepping out of the car and running away from the handsome groom she had known since college who was waiting for her by the altar in his tux and that goofy grin on his face. But this isn't a movie or a television show, where the bride can just change her mind right before the actual wedding, and run off into the sunset never to be heard from ever again. This is real life, and there had been months of planning, and money spent, and all the wedding guests confirming and dropping everything and sometimes flying all the way from another state, or even from another country, just to see Beca and Jesse's wedding and there is Jesse himself, taking time off from his busy schedule for a wedding and a honeymoon that he would have likely had been planning since grade school at least. So running away now, Beca knows, would just be downright inconsiderate and selfish and very immature and she had been trying this new thing where she actually wants to rise above the angry, brooding, angsty pubescent volatility that so defined her high school and college years. And of course, the last thing she wants to do is hurt Jesse, after all that they have been through. Beca wonders when that happened - when she stopped thinking only about herself and started thinking about other people and their stupid feelings. Except last night, which was the last time she had seen Jesse - Jesse is also big on tradition and had refused to see her in her wedding dress the night before the wedding - Jesse had started excitedly talking about moving in together, and buying a house with her, and having "aca-children" and having an "aca-awesome" married life and he takes her face in his hands and gently says, with a wide smile on his face and a soft look in his eye, "I love you so much. I'm going to make you so happy" and Beca just stares at him, not knowing what to say, as she feels this cold smidgen of fear settle down her gut, and without warning, it dawns on her that she is really going to get married, that she will be, as Fat Amy had made her realize, spending the rest of her life with just one person, and nobody else, forever and she starts to panic, feels the anxiety and fear build and she suddenly feels trapped, like a caged animal and there is nowhere to escape, to run to. She takes a deep breath, closes her eyes, because she wants this same nervousness, anxiety, terror and panic to dissipate, because she is actually going to do this - she is actually going to take the plunge. Briefly, she goes over the many idiomatic expressions associated with getting married, but feels that "ball and chain" and "taking the plunge" just about covers it, and that feeling of being a trapped animal has not gone away and feels more palpable now, like she's so in-too-deep she doesn't even know how she can dig her way out of this one.
She had never, not in a million years, imagined she would ever actually take the plunge, or even take the plunge with the dorky boy from Barden University who had a thing for movies and soundtracks and singing a bunch of cover songs a capella style to choreographed dancing for an all-male a capella group that actually competed on purpose. She hadn't even known how she, with her endless emotional baggage, would get over her fear of ending up like her parents, divorced, bitter and unhappy, and agree not only to the long-term relationship, get engaged and get married, but here she is now, about to get married in front of a roomful of people, family and friends. But then, Jesse Swanson is the kind of guy who had a way of inviting himself into her personal space, who pretty much gets his own way whether she liked it or not, and that is probably why she ended up being in a relationship in the first place. The stepmonster had commented how much Jesse sometimes tried too hard, the first time he met her father, her and the rest of the family, and at that time, Beca, having never been in speaking terms with her stepmother in the first place, had taken the comment as offensive and insulting, but deep inside she knew that he did, he does, try too hard, sometimes for his own good. She is surprised by this thought that comes to her now, but they have been together long enough that such thoughts are alright, can be entertained, knowing that it does not, in no way, affect their relationship.
Her eyes remain closed. She doesn't even have to look now to see where the people are placed - she and Jesse had planned the sitting arrangements themselves, so she knows where the old members of the Barden Bellas and the Treblemakers will be sitting, knowing that Fat Amy, Stacie, Lilly, a few others, and even Aubrey Posen, former Barden Bellas captain and resident, uptight bitch, had even come. Bumper, Benji, Donald, and strangely enough, even Unicycle, had come, too.
Her eyes fly open now when there is a hush that falls and the first strains of the wedding march come on and reality seems to intrude so rudely in her consciousness, with the noise, the laughter, the squeaking of shoes against marble tiles, echoing all along the church. For a brief second she can already hear, in her head, how she could make this particular tired, old music seem new and exciting if it were interspersed with other beats, except Jesse had drawn the line there - Jesse, who liked old-fashioned, traditional things, had proposed on one knee, had insisted on the traditional invites, the whole church wedding, the music, the reception, and over, at the altar, with his best man, Benji, standing beside him, Beca already knows Jesse is beyond happy, he's in heaven, after all, this is one of his dreams come true - a happy ending, a movie ending worthy of their relationship and what it has been through.
Beca sighs as her father takes his position beside her and offers up his arm to her. He whispers how beautiful she is and she smiles, fighting down the nervousness, as she accepts the arm, and they start to march down the aisle.
The walk down the aisle takes forever, and she trains her eyes in front, to the minister, the altar, at a point behind the minister. She refuses to make eye contact with everyone, knows there is a nervous, forced smile on her face. The time seems to stretch forever, the walk seems to go on longer than is necessary, and all she wants now is for all of this to end, for her to be in her apartment, her laptop in front of her, as she figures out songs and mixes and beats. She feels self-conscious about all the eyes trained on her, feels herself flush as they do so. But then, she catches a flash of red in the sea of faces, and she thinks her eyes are deceiving her and she blinks once, twice, and sees the face that belongs to the long, wavy, red hair, and the gentle smile, and bluest, greenest, most intense eyes that she has ever seen and she gazes at the woman and the woman gazes back and Beca feels time slow down, stop and a rush of memories, a remembrance of things past, come rushing to her like a wave. Beca almost stops, her breath catching in her throat, and she is not entirely sure anymore if the butterflies in her stomach have something to do with her wedding day jitters or the nervous excitement one feels when they see someone they haven't seen in years. It is Chloe. Chloe Beale, former co-captain of the Barden Bellas, former roommate and friend. She hadn't expected Chloe to come, hadn't heard from her in ages, had heard from Aubrey that she was actually out of the country, possibly Latin America, or Asia or Africa, she wasn't sure which, and so to see her now, here, millions of miles from where she is supposed to be, makes Beca's heart feel like it's plunging down her gut. Their eyes meet, for the briefest moment, the briefest moment that seems to stretch on into forever, and it all comes back to her, in a rush, Barden University, freshmen year, the activity fair, the Bellas, the deal she made with her father, the audition, initiation night, the endless hours of practice, and competitions and singing and dancing and laughter and friendship but most of all, red hair and intensely blue green eyes and the gentlest smile and the sweetest voice singing "Titanium" and "Just the Way You Are" to her and Beca is no longer aware of anything, not the people staring at her, not Jesse waiting for her at the altar, not her own wedding. Later, when Chloe finds her at the reception, to congratulate her, and apologize for barely making it and how she wasn't even sure she was even going to make it to the wedding, because flights from Africa were notoriously unpredictable and there had been traffic on the freeway and she had the worst jetlag ever and Beca stares at her, unable to say anything at first, but when she does finally find her voice and ask her, softly, "You came all the way from Africa for me?" Chloe gives her this same, soft look she gave her once, years ago, when Beca had been arrested and had spent a few hours in jail and Chloe and the others waited for her in her dorm and she goes home to her dorm surprised at first to see the Bellas waiting up for her and can only ask, "You guys waited up for me?" and Chloe says, gently and matter-of-factly, "Of course we waited up for you". It is the self-same look Chloe gives Beca now, as she says, "Of course I'd fly all the way from Africa to see your wedding." And Beca smiles and finds herself blushing, unable to say anything to that, as Chloe stands there and smiles at her and time again stops, like it seems to always do when Chloe is around and Beca can only mutter a "thank-you" and she wants to say more, wants to make Chloe feel as special as she has made Beca by dropping everything just to attend her wedding, but Chloe is whisked away by Aubrey and the other Bellas who haven't seen her in ages, and the spell is broken.
And Beca can only stand there, not knowing what to do, watching Chloe and the others laugh as Fat Amy does a bit of mermaid dancing, Stacie does a bit of lewd dancing, Cynthia Rose does a bit of subtle staring at hot-looking wedding guests and Lilly does a bit of her weird. There is much dancing and singing for the remainder of the night and long after the other guests have gone, Chloe and the others dance and sing to their hearts' content, singing songs that won them regionals and nationals and they even do an old-fashioned "riff-off" just like they used to do in college, and there is Bumper and Donald and Jesse and Aubrey and Fat Amy and Lilly and Cynthia Rose and Stacie and all the others, just like old times, and right in the middle of it all, as drunk as she used to be when they were at Barden, is Chloe Beale, making music with her mouth and Beca can't help but look at her all through the night, wishing she could spend a few more hours with her and her other college friends, but especially Chloe. And all of a sudden, Beca feels a pang of regret, an overwhelming sadness, suddenly and inexplicably finds herself briefly wishing she hadn't gotten married at all, that she hadn't gone along with the wedding, and a part of her feels this is pathetic, whatever she is thinking and feeling but most of all, what she realizes, looking at Chloe and the other Bellas, is the fact that this will never happen again, she will never see any of these people again, that that part of her life has ended, and that in a few months, this will all be as a distant memory, a dream, even, and it will eventually fade, and all she will remember will be melodies and rhythms and a flash of red hair and the deepest, bluest greenest, gentlest eyes and the sweetest smile she has ever seen. And briefly, she wonders whether things would have been different if…
But then, her father tugs at her ever so gently now, and the moment is broken and time restarts and she remembers, she remembers that she is supposed to get married today and thoughts of Chloe Beale are pushed away as Jesse's grinning face looms in front of her. And as her father hands Beca over to Jesse and she takes Jesse's arm instead, she almost forgets all the anxiety and nervousness she was feeling before now. Because there is a groom waiting for her, and a new life waiting for her and an old life ending and right in the middle of it all, is Beca Mitchell, caught in the middle and she takes her place beside Jesse, smiles the smile she thinks Jesse expects of her, goes through the motions of exchanging vows, of reaffirming her love and commitment to Jesse, and pushes down those things that were never meant to be said out loud, because saying these truths out loud, is much harder than hiding behind rhythms and bass beats and melodies and mash-ups…because sometimes, sometimes, there are things that are always, always better left unsaid…
Author's end notes: Took a break from writing in the Glee LSLO 'verse because I suddenly realized I'm a bit burned out. The beta suggested I write in another verse instead, and this one-shot story was born, because I really love "Pitch Perfect" and like some (if not most) of its fans, I kind of wished Beca ended up with Chloe instead. So, thanks to my beta, DragonsWillFly, for going over this. :) Fancy a sequel? Let me know. Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading and reviewing.