A/N: Hello! So some of you may find this chapter extremely familiar. It started as a one-shot in my Sad, Sassy, and Otherwise series. It got such an overwhelmingly positive response, paired with the fact that almost everyone requested a continuation, that I decided to turn it into it's own spin-off series. As the summary said, it is AU.
Big announcement! I now have a twitter devoted to my FF world! Check out my page to find my handle! I will be posting exclusive updates, info about my stories, and polls there.
I do not own Pitch Perfect or the characters you recognize. I do own all new characters, the plot and story line, and the words. Of course, I also am responsible for any and all mistakes. I always try to reread my chapters before I post them, but sometimes mistakes sneak through, so I'm sorry for that!
Without further ado...
They'd been best friends since before either of them could remember. Actually, their parents had started out as best friends, when both sets of parents moved into a brand new neighborhood. Their houses were side by side and the Swansons and Mitchells instantly became inseparable. Both women conceived around the same time, with Mrs. Swanson being due in June and Mrs. Mitchell in August. They attended birthing classes together, shopped for baby gear together, and held each other's hands during the ups and downs of pregnancy. They were slightly disappointed to learn that their babies were different genders, but decided they could be best friends anyway. They even mused that maybe their babies would get married someday.
Jesse and Beca had literally grown up together. They were in the same class every year and although they both had other friends, greatly preferred to play with each other. They fought like brother and sister, but were the best of friends in the next instant. They were fiercely protective of each other, and in 1st grade, when Mrs. Swanson told Jesse he was going to have a baby brother or sister, Beca let him stay in her tree house for the entire day. His baby sister was born some months later, and he was none too happy. Beca thought April was cute, but always laughed when Jesse called her "Ape" behind their parents' backs.
Their 5th grade year was when Beca's parents started having problems, at least that was when Beca first became aware. Her dad was always angry and seemed worried. And her mom acted crazy and began yelling at her out of nowhere. She and Jesse were playing video games in her room one night when she heard them yelling. She muted the TV and shushed Jesse as she went to her bedroom door. She pressed her ear against the door to try to hear better. Her parents voices were muffled, but she could tell they were both really angry. She knelt down on the floor and put her face as close to the crack under the door as she could. She could hear their voices better, but didn't understand what she was hearing. All she knew was that her father was threatening to send her mom away, and that he would leave if things didn't get better. She stood up and looked at Jesse with fear in her eyes. She was strong and usually didn't cry about anything, but the look on Jesse's face told her it was safe to let it go. She ran into his awaiting arms and sobbed her heart out. Jesse had been bewildered at first, but quickly learned that rubbing her hair and whispering sweet things into her ear helped. He calmed her down in only a few minutes, and the two of them fell asleep curled into each other's arms.
It was the beginning of summer, later that year when Beca's parents told her they were getting divorced. She had stared blankly at them, not believing what they were saying to her. They explained that Mrs. Mitchell was sick, and needed to get better. She was confused. Her mom didn't seem sick. And even if she was, shouldn't they stay together until her mom was better? When they tried to reach out to her, to explain, she got up and ran next door to Jesse. That rest of that day and into the night, they watched movies together, snuggled in Jesse's oversized beanbag. The Mitchells let Beca stay the night because they knew she needed time to process. Beca later came to know that the divorce was already final, and that custody of her had already been decided, without her knowledge or say-so.
Three weeks later, Beca was forced to move across the country with her father. Her mother was left with the house that Beca had grown up in, and as far as Beca was concerned, left with the life that Beca didn't want to leave behind. She would be leaving her room, her school, her tree house, her friends from school, the Swansons, who were like her second set of parents. And Jesse.
She cried a lot that last week in her childhood home. Middle school would be hard enough, but now she was being asked to do it all by herself, without Jesse. They were attached at the hip, even more than usual those last few days, and when Mr. Mitchell told her that it was time to go, she sobbed and clung to Jesse's side.
Her dad pulled her away from Jesse, kicking and screaming. Hot tears streamed down her face. They were a product of her anger at the situation –the fact that she had not been given any choice in the matter, and the heartbreak she felt from being pulled away from Jesse. Her cheeks turned red and her voice was hoarse from shouting. It took Mr. Mitchell all of his strength to pull her away from Jesse, who did nothing but squeeze Beca more tightly. It was as if his hand was super glued to Beca's. He held onto her until Mr. Mitchel stuck her in the backseat of his car, shutting the door between them. Beca instantly rolled down the window and stuck her hand out to Jesse, who took it, gripping it with all his might. Mr. Mitchell started the car and pulled away from the house. Jesse ran along with the car for as long as he could, his hand still connected to Beca's. When the car's speed surpassed what Jesse could keep up with, he had to let go. Beca wailed through the window, reaching uselessly through it. She kept her head out the window, looking back for as long as she could. She yelled his name, reaching for him even as her father drove faster. Jesse was stuck to the spot where he stood, silent tears running down his cheeks.
She cried harder as she watched her home, her mother, Mr. and Mrs. Swanson, April and Jesse grow smaller and smaller, until they disappeared altogether. When Mr. Mitchell turned onto the highway, Beca pulled her head back through the window and rolled it up. Her tears still had not stopped as she flopped over and curled into the fetal position on the seat. Mr. Mitchell glanced back, his worry for his daughter growing with every sniffle.
What Beca didn't know at the time, was that her mother was addicted to prescription drugs. Her father had put up with it for as long as he could, but when Mrs. Mitchell's behavior started to affect Beca, he had to draw the line. Mr. Mitchell hated that the situation had come to that; that he had to take Beca away from her mother, her home and school, her friends, and most especially Jesse. He glanced in his mirror at Beca often during the drive from New Hampshire to Georgia. Beca stopped crying eventually, and a blank, emotionless mask replaced the emotion that had once poured out of her face.
She didn't speak at all during the trip, even between driving, when they'd stop to eat or at a hotel for the night. Mr. Mitchell rented movies for her, bought her ice cream and cheesy souvenirs, let her eat unhealthy road snacks, and even bought CDs that he knew she liked to play on the car's stereo. Nothing helped and nothing brought her out of her depression.
When they arrived at their new house in Atlanta, Mr. Mitchell showed Beca her room. She looked around and spotted the window seat immediately. She said nothing, but walked to the window and sat down, her gaze trained on the view of the backyard. Mr. Mitchell left without saying anything, and went out to the moving truck to unload Beca's belongings first. He set up her room all by himself that night, as Beca stayed curled up in the window seat. After she refused to eat dinner, and halfheartedly brushed her teeth, Mr. Mitchell tucked her into bed and kissed her forehead. He told her he was sorry and that he would find a way to make it better. Beca stunned him into silence when she spoke for the first time since leaving New Hampshire. Only Jesse can make it better.
Mr. Mitchell's already breaking heart broke fully into hundreds of pieces that night. He vowed to himself that he would find a way to bring Jesse back to his baby girl. He didn't care how much it cost him, or how much trouble it required; he would make a way for them to see each other.
Mr. Mitchell held to his promise; Jesse visited that Christmas. Mr. Mitchell saw Beca light up and interact in a way he hadn't seen since before Beca learned of the divorce and the move. She laughed and played, and acted her age. He felt the place where his heart used to be seize with the knowledge that the divorce, Mrs. Mitchell's drug problem, and the move had devastated Beca's tender heart beyond repair. He inwardly wished that Jesse didn't have to leave; wished that the boy could stay and continue to bring sunshine to his little girl's face.
When Jesse left, Beca returned to her sad, silent self. Mr. Mitchell hated that he had to send her back to a school he knew she hated, back to kids who didn't understand her or what she'd been through, to teachers who knew she was smart, but didn't reach out to help the struggling girl. Beca was a very smart girl and excelled academically, despite the turmoil in her young life. But she didn't participate in class discussions, or extracurricular activities, and didn't have any friends to speak of. Her teachers expressed concern for her, but did nothing to help make her time at the junior high school easier for her.
Jesse did not visit again until the summer between their 10th and 11th grade years. When Jesse arrived, he found Beca to be a changed girl. She was no longer the adorable, sweet, wears-pink-and-braids girl he had once known. This Beca wore dark colors and tied her hair back away from her face. She wore heavy eye makeup and constantly had her headphones on her ears, blasting bass-heavy, angry music for all to hear. She avoided eye contact, crossed her arms frequently, and rolled her eyes as much as she could. She was sarcastic and Jesse mused that her face must be stuck in a smirk, with her eyebrow cemented in its raised position. There was no longer anything soft about her, but Jesse still loved her, and he knew that Beca was glad he was visiting. It pained him how different she was. She was harder, angrier, sadder. Mr. Mitchell noticed the difference too, even though he'd been witness to the incremental changes to her appearance and personality. Even though her eyes lit up when Jesse stepped into the airport terminal, she didn't run to hug him. She didn't engage him in endless chatter as she used to, didn't curl into his warm body, and didn't hang on his every word. She was guarded and almost cold. She shrugged away from his touch and rolled her eyes when he offered to watch what used to be their favorite movie.
She showed him around town like it was an obligation, and although she said nothing aloud, Jesse began to feel like she didn't want him there. Jesse knew his Beca was still somewhere inside this girl with the hard exterior. He was shocked and sad at the girl before him. She was a girl who had been hurt and who hadn't had anyone to help her through it. Jesse felt gnawing guilt in his stomach when he realized he could have made a difference; he could have been the one to help her through the tough transition. He could have been the one to fight for her. He mentally kicked himself for being so busy with choir and baseball and friends, that he had chosen not to visit Beca the last few times Mr. Mitchell had offered. He kicked himself for not calling more, or sending emails, or even texts.
Beca had just finished showing Jesse her favorite music store. They had just stepped out of the store when she showed a rare display of amiability and smiled at him, bumping into him with her shoulder. He took it for an opportunity and pulled her into him, pressing her small frame into his chest. He heard her gasp and watched intently as her face jerked up and her eyelashes swept her cheeks so that her eyes were trained on his. He stared at her for a long moment and then leaned in, so that their cheeks were pressed together and his mouth was by her ear. His soft breaths made her shiver and Jesse couldn't help but notice how warm she was and how nice she smelled. He spoke in a whisper and promised he'd never let her go again. He promised to work on healing her heart, and showing her how sorry he was for neglecting her. He vowed to spend every moment of every day of the rest of his life helping her feel okay again.
He felt her shoulders shudder and her forehead drop to his chest. He held her as she cried, knowing that his words had made their way into her icy heart. Her arms gripped him fiercely and she burrowed her face into his neck, breathing him in. He held her and let her cry, smoothing his hand over her hair and whispering sweet nothings into her ear, just as he had all those years before. It was right then that Jesse realized his love for her was more than nostalgia for a childhood best friend. He loved Beca in a way that was real, consuming, challenging, and scary.
Jesse left when the summer ended. He and Beca had made some forward progress, but when it was time for him to leave, the fierceness in the way that Beca clung to him reminded him of the way she had that day so long ago, when she left his life the first time. Although she didn't break down the way she had that day, she cried and begged him not to leave. His heart wrenched when he heard his flight back to New Hampshire called overhead. He had to physically force himself to step out of her arms and walk away from her. As he reached his gate, he looked back. The hundred feet that separated them seemed like miles. He saw the shimmer of tears in her eyes and the way she bravely tried to hide her emotions for him and he felt his heart break. She had her arms crossed around her body, and her whole body looked defensive –except her eyes. Her eyes were sad and hopeful at the same time. It was in that moment that Jesse knew he had won her back.
Jesse stayed true to his promise and called Beca at least once a week. They were constantly texting and sending emails and tweets to each other. They shared their Instagram pictures, and tagged each other in silly Facebook posts. Though 1,132 miles (he'd looked it up online) separated them physically, they were closer emotionally than they'd been since they were 11 years old. And even though they were best friends and Jesse was crazy in love with Beca, they both dated other people.
Beca was deeply in denial about her feelings for Jesse, and she missed him so much, that she threw herself into meaningless flings. They couldn't exactly be considered relationships because Beca did not contribute anything but a warm body and occasionally, sex to them. She allowed boys to "woo" her, buy things for her, take her on dates, and generally adore her. Then, she would decide if they were worth her time. If they were (most of them weren't), she would sleep with them for a while, and then send them out the door before they could fully fall in love with her. She had a two month turnover rate, and even though all of the boys at her high school knew that, they tripped over each other for the chance to date her. Beca wasn't aware, but she was by far the most attractive girl in her school. It wasn't necessarily that she was the prettiest (though there was only one or two other girls that had her beat in the looks department), but she was the smartest, funniest, and had the most knowledge about music, politics, pop-culture, and a myriad of other things. She was something of an enigma, and they boys in her school loved that she oozed indifference and carried a no-shit-badass attitude. Though many boys wanted to date her (or just get in her pants) Beca had only slept with a select few. She liked the adoration phase, but definitely was not easy, or a slut. Beca had values, and although she got a thrill from pushing them, she subconsciously held back for Jesse.
Jesse's experience was not unlike Beca's, in that all the girls in his school adored him. Jesse was the best-looking boy in his school and he knew it. He loved that the girls fell all over him. He dated lots of girls, but never for longer than a few weeks. He'd slept with a few girls, when he grew bored of his life. But every time he was intimate with a girl, all he could think about was Beca. He didn't mean to, really, but he'd look down at the girl and see Beca's eyes. He'd run his hand down the girl's hair and feel Beca's instead. He'd hug a girl close to his body, and think of Beca's small neck, shoulders, waist. Even when he kissed girls, he always imagined Beca's soft, perfect, pink lips. He had never kissed Beca, but all those years of loving her had given him ample fodder for his imagination. He also incurred a tremendous sense of guilt every time he slept with a girl. He knew he was in love with Beca, yet he subjected unsuspecting girls to his charm with no intention to follow through or continue into a relationship.
Jesse wasn't able to visit Beca the next summer. His mom had been laid off from her job and Jesse was asked to get a job to pay for his expenses, including gas for his car, a portion of the grocery bill, his cell phone bill, and a few other things. Beca hadn't been able to visit either, because she too had gotten a job, though hers was out of boredom and not necessity. Mr. Mitchell made more than enough money at the university to pay over and beyond for anything that Beca wanted or needed. Because of their forced separation, the summer was excruciatingly long. But when fall came, both Beca and Jesse were excited beyond telling. It was their senior year and they would soon be free of the agony that was high school.
After graduation, Beca would be attending Barden University, the school that her father worked at. She would of course attend for free because of her father's status. Mr. Mitchell had also been able to swing a deal for Jesse at half-price tuition, who jumped at the chance to go to the same school as his girl. Jesse had begged Mr. Mitchell not to tell Beca that he was going to attend Barden, because he wanted it to be a surprise. Mr. Mitchell reluctantly agreed to keep quiet, and Jesse told Beca that he would be attending a school in North Carolina, which was only a few hours away.
The first semester flew by, and Beca surprised Jesse at Christmas by showing up on his front step. Beca's mom was finally clean and free of drugs, after years in and out of rehab and Mr. Mitchell had arranged for Beca to spend her winter break in New Hampshire. Beca didn't want to stay with her mother, to whom she'd barely spoken since she was 11 years old, but didn't put up a fight about going. She would be spending nearly a month with Jesse, so she didn't let it bother her that she'd have to put up with her mother. Beca reasoned that if she wouldn't get to spend her college years with Jesse, she could be polite to her mother so that she could spend some much needed time with her best friend. Jesse had been so surprised to see Beca at his front door that it took him nearly five minutes to regain his ability to speak.
They were inseparable for those few weeks, and even though Beca was supposed to be staying with her mother in her childhood home, she refused and stayed with Jesse instead. Beca and Jesse spent every night curled into each other in Jesse's bed. Beca was supposed to be staying in April's room, who was now 10 years old), but Jesse reasoned that what his parents didn't know, wouldn't hurt them. Their friendship had never been closer or stronger. It was during that visit that Jesse kissed Beca for the first time. It happened the second to last morning of her stay, while they were sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast. She had just cracked a joke, and her eyes sparkled in mirth. She was still in her pajamas and hadn't put on her dark mask of makeup yet. Jesse was struck by how exceptionally beautiful she was and he hadn't been able to stop himself from leaning into her. He watched her face, and her eyes swept closed when he was close enough to share her breath. He felt her intake of air when he pressed his lips softly to hers. His hand slowly rose to thread into her hair and he stood up from his bar stool positioning himself directly next to her. She sighed into his mouth and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. They both saw stars and felt like the gravity in the room had been turned off. Jesse heard her moan softly and pulled away, not wanting the kiss to grow too heated. She blinked slowly, her mouth slightly open. Her eyes were unreadable and Jesse was nervous. He broke eye contact and stepped away from her to clear their breakfast dishes.
They never talked about it and Beca left the next afternoon. The rest of the year passed in a blur and before they knew it, Jesse and Beca were gearing up for college. Jesse had packed up his stuff early and drove down to Georgia to spend the summer with Beca. They didn't talk about the kiss they shared over Christmas, and instead continued their friendship as if it had never happened. Jesse still put on the charade that he'd be driving back up to North Carolina for school in the fall, and even left a week before classes started to move into his dorm early. Beca was sad to see him go, but knew that she would be visiting him in North Carolina soon.
On the official move in day at Barden, Beca had taken a cab to campus, since she didn't have a car and Mr. Mitchell was already there, attending meetings. She was listening to a blonde girl ramble on about school rules and rape whistles when she heard one of Jesse's favorite songs blasting out of a passing car. She turned involuntarily to glance at the passerby and was shocked to see Jesse's car, complete with his smiling face in the backseat. His parents and sister had flown down to make sure he was settled, and he sat in the back of the car serenading Beca, air guitar and all, as they pulled the car up next to her. She smiled her sarcastic half-smile and contemplated all the ways she could kill him for tricking her.
She brushed the blonde away and walked to Jesse's car, pulling the door open and collapsing onto him. She hugged him tightly and whispered curses into his ear. They both got out of the car and she could not contain her excitement and surprise. She kept giggling and asking How? Why? When? and Jesse could only smile broadly.
He pushed her back from him and noticed that she had pulled her arsenal of back-the-fuck-off out of the deepest recesses of her being. Her hair was pulled away from her face and twisted into some spiral on the back of her head, her eyes were darkly smoked, her nails were painted black, and she wore dark jewelry and clothing. Jesse smiled when he noticed the cracks in her façade; soft curls that hung around her shoulders, pink lips, the light scent of her perfume, the cross bracelet on her wrist, her sweet smile, and the sparkle in her eyes. He was getting through to her and he couldn't be more pleased. He smiled smugly and she punched him in the stomach. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and motioned for his parents to park the car. He helped Beca bring her bags to her room and helped her settle in. Beca's roommate hadn't arrived yet, so they, along with the Swansons, enjoyed the quiet of the otherwise busy dorm. They spread out on the two twin sized beds and ate dinner while watching a movie. They shared animated conversation, along with laughs so hard their sides ached.
Later that night, Beca rode with Jesse to drop his family off at the airport. Hugs and tears were had, and then Beca and Jesse were on their own for the first time in their lives. They rolled down the windows and turned the music up loud. Beca laughed and smiled freely as the wind blew through her hair, and Jesse marveled when he realized he was falling even more deeply in love with her.
That was the moment when Jesse realized falling in love was a constant thing. He fell in love with her in little ways, every day. There would never be a day when he was just done falling in love with her. He knew he would continue falling in love with her little by little, for the rest of their lives. And there was no other way he would rather it be.