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life is not a love song (we can try to fix our broken pieces one at a time)

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Beca opens her eyes as she feels the cab come to a stop. She lifts her head from its slumped position and looks out the window of the vehicle, squinting in distaste at what she sees.

It wasn’t Beca’s plan to go to college. She wasn’t one of those teenagers that fantasized about living in a dorm, earning their degree, and meeting some cute boy to have babies with. That just wasn’t Beca.

Her father, however, had different plans for her. As soon as Dr. Mitchell learned that his only child had no plans of pursuing higher education, he’d thrown a fit. Well, it was a very grown-up, professional fit, Beca would give him that, but a fit nonetheless.

At least, that’s what Beca told herself to make herself feel better about this whole situation.

So as Beca looked out the cab window at all the bright-eyed freshman running around Barden University’s campus, it was safe to say that she was less than thrilled to be there.

The cab driver unbuckles his seatbelt and starts to get out of the car, so Beca hurries to do the same. She makes her way to the trunk of the car, which the driver pops with a press of a button on his keys. A nearby housing attendant immediately rushes over to help unload her stuff. He reaches for the skateboard resting on top of all Beca’s luggage, but Beca holds out a hand to stop him.

“I got it,” she says, then pulls the board out of the trunk.

The dude just shrugs before beginning to unload the rest of her stuff.

Beca holds her board loosely by the truck and takes a moment to look around the campus before a perky blonde girl comes rushing over to her.

“Hi there! Welcome to Barden University,” she greets chirpily. “What dorm?”

Beca fights to urge to snicker at the excitement in her voice. “Uh, Baker Hall, I think,” she answers.

“Okay,” blondie says, turning around to point in the opposite direction. “So what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna go down this way, then you’re gonna take a right…”

The girl continues on with her directions and Beca quickly loses interest, glancing off to the side. A car pulls up beside her with the back windows rolled down. The guy singing along to the radio in the back seat notices Beca looking and props himself up to see her better. “Don’t you cry no more, no!” He points at Beca and starts air guitaring along with the music.

Beca watches him, unimpressed. He raises his eyebrows and grins at her, clearly impressed with his own skills. Beca humors him with an amused look before his car drives away.

Blondie is still talking, and Beca focuses on her again when she holds out a map towards Beca. “Your campus map,” she’s saying, “and your official BU rape whistle. Don’t blow it unless it’s actually happening,” Blondie advises seriously.

Beca ignores the map but takes the whistle from her hands and places it between her teeth without breaking eye contact. The girl lets out a small “hm” as Beca side-eyes her and walks away.

* * *

After Beca’s met her psychotic roommate, she decides to procrastinate the unpacking process and flops down on her unmade bed to scroll aimlessly through social media.

A few of her friends from high school had made posts about her leaving, most of them teasing her in some way. The majority of her friends were still all together in Seattle, opting not to go to college, so she was really one of the only ones that had had to say goodbye to everyone. Beca was envious of them.

Soft music starts playing from the other side of the room, some generic pop ballad that she’s vaguely heard playing on the radio before. She ignores it for the time being, focusing instead on commenting on her friend Derek’s photo of her on Instagram.

A few more minutes pass by with the songs changing every so often before Beca feels a headache coming on. She turns her head to glare at her roommate.

“If you’re going to play music, can you at least use headphones?” she asks irritably.

The other girl turns towards her and the two of them engage in a brief glaring war before Kimmy Jin reaches behind her and presses the space bar on her laptop. The room fills with silence once more.

Beca flashes a sarcastic smile in fake gratitude and turns her attention back on her phone. She’s watching a silent video of one of her friends doing a kickflip off a rail when there’s a knock on the door.

“Campus police, hide your wine coolers,” a muffled voice says from the other side. Beca glances up from her phone as the door opens and her dad’s head pokes in. He laughs and Beca rolls her eyes. “Just your old man, making a funny,” he says, stepping fully into the room.

Beca looks back down at her phone. “Chris Rock, everybody,” she mutters sarcastically.

Her dad ignores her, focusing instead on Kimmy Jin. “Hey, uh, you must be Beca’s roommate,” he starts awkwardly. “I’m Dr. Mitchell, Beca’s dad. I teach comparative literature here.”

Beca watches the exchange from her bed with slight amusement. When all he gets is an icy stare in return, her dad turns back to Beca. The humor immediately drops from her face.

“So, when did you get here? How did you get here?” he questions.

Beca stands up from the bed and busies herself with taking random things out of her bags, placing them on the desk. “Took a cab. Didn’t want to inconvenience you and Sheila,” she replies breezily. “How is the Step-Monster?” Beca adds as an afterthought.

Her dad scoffs. “She’s fine, actually. She’s actually in Vegas at a conference for-”

“Oh, I don’t actually care,” Beca interrupts, turning towards him. “I just wanted to say Step-Monster.

He sighs. “So have you been down to the quad yet?” he asks, trying desperately to salvage this interaction. “In the summer the students like to lay around in the grass and-”

“I don’t want to lay around in the grass, Dad,” Beca cuts him off again. “I want go back to Seattle and start looking for a job, not take classes and waste my time here.”

Her dad rolls her eyes. “Oh, so you mean you want to goof around with those druggie skateboarders you spend all your time with and work at a McDonald’s for the rest of your life?” Beca scoffs and turns away to pull things out of her bag again. “Face it, Beca. You don’t know what you want to do with your life.”

“I know what I don’t want to do,” Beca mumbles under breath.

“We’ve been over this before. College is the best way to find some direction in your life, Beca,” her dad lectures. “So before you go try to ruin your life, you’re going to get a college education. For free, I might add.”

Before Beca can come up with a sarcastic reply, Kimmy Jin turns in her chair. “I’m going to the activities fair,” she deadpans and stands up to leave.

Beca seizes the chance to escape. “Me too,” she quickly says, following Kimmy Jin to the door. “I’m going to the activities fair with my super good friend Kimmy Jin.”

She thinks that her dad might protest, but by the time he starts she’s already half way down the hallway.

* * *

Beca knows Kimmy Jin was just at her side. They walked down to the quad together, albeit in silence, but they were definitely together. The only problem now is that Beca can’t find the damn girl.

She takes some time searching the crowd for her frightening roommate, and spots her over by the Asian Student Union booth. Kimmy Jin is smiling, and seems to have completely forgotten about Beca.

Huffing out a breath, Beca rolls her eyes and begins to wander aimlessly among the booths. She lazily looks to read signs and posters advertising various on-campus groups, but doesn’t take time to consider anything. Nothing here was of interest to her, and she was planning on getting away from Barden University as soon as possible, so there was no point in actually paying attention to anything going on around her.

She was away from her dad, and that was the important thing.

Still, there were a few eye-catching booths here and there. Beca spotted a DJ stand, and upon further observation discovered it was actually for Deaf Jews. There were a bunch of people running around in circles, though Beca didn’t know if that was an organization or just people doing it for fun. All around, Beca was pretty unimpressed.

Then, out of the corner of her eye, Beca finally sees something worthwhile. There was a simple booth near the end of the line with the words “Barden Skate Shop” at display. Beca saw a bored looking blonde dude sitting behind the table handing out fliers and immediately begins to make her way over.

Before she can get very far, a white piece of paper appears under her nose and a voice cuts through the noise around her.

“Hi! Any interest in joining our a cappella group?”

Beca stops short and looks down at the paper before hesitantly taking it and turning to face the girl who stopped her. The girl has wavy ginger hair and the bluest eyes Beca has ever seen. There’s a tall blonde standing next to her who seems like she’s trying to force a smile onto her face.

Turning her eyes back towards the paper in her hands, Beca takes a moment to actually see what’s on it. It’s very amateur-looking, with cut out pictures of girls singing glued over blue shapes and hand drawn music notes decorating the page. The name Barden Bellas is written elegantly at the top.

“Oh, right,” Beca says, holding back a laugh as she looks back at the two girls. “This is like, a thing now.”

“Oh, totes,” the ginger says seriously, nodding her head. “We sing covers of songs but we do it without any instruments,” she goes on to explain. “It’s all from our mouths.”

Beca can’t help the small “yikes” that slips out of her own mouth at the words. She sees the blonde girl’s smile become a little more strained.

Seemingly undeterred, the redhead continues on. “There are four groups on campus. The Bellas,” she says, gesturing between herself and her companion. “That’s us; we’re the tits.”

She goes on to name all the other groups and Beca zones out, chancing a glance over at the Skate Shop booth. The one guy sitting at it doesn’t seem like he’s going anywhere anytime soon, but Beca still wished that she could get out of this conversation to go check it out.

Two hums from in front of her bring her attention back on the a cappella girls. “So, are you interested?” ginger asks.

Beca fights the instinct to roll her eyes and tries for a smile instead. She’ll let them down fast and easy so that she can get the hell out of there.

“Sorry, it’s just… it’s pretty lame.”

Or she’ll go with that. That’s cool, too.

Ginger’s bright smile slides off her face and she looks downward. The blonde, who’s been silent so far, looks like she’s been struck. “Aca-scuse me?” she says indignantly, anger flashing in her eyes. “Synchronized lady dancing to a Mariah Carey chart-topper is not lame.”

Beca stares at the girl in confusion, wondering how she didn’t think the words coming out of her mouth were, in fact, lame.

“We sing all over the world and compete in national competitions,” the redhead tries again. Beca’s eyes flicker to hers.

“On purpose?” Beca asks before she can stop herself.

“We played the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, you bitch,” the blonde says sweetly, an over polite smile on her face and murder in her eyes.

Beca raises her eyebrows and fights off a grin, suddenly very impressed with the tall blonde. Her eyes switch back over to ginger as she speaks again.

“What Aubrey means to say,” the ginger cuts in, glancing at her friend, “is that we are a close-knit, talented group of ladies who’s dream is to return to the national finals at Lincoln Center this year.” Beca glances to the side exasperatedly, suddenly very tired of this interaction. When she looks back, sincere blue eyes are locked onto her own. “Help us turn our dreams into a reality?” the girl asks, hesitance in her voice and a small smile playing at the edge of her lips.

Beca looks at her for a moment before deciding to show them some mercy and not reply with any more biting comments. “Sorry, I don’t even sing, and I’m not really that big into music in general, but it was really nice to meet you guys.”

She begins to walk away and spares one last glance at the ginger’s crestfallen expression before heading in the direction of the skating booth, determined to not let the interaction get in the way of what she wants to do.

It was just a cappella. It was just music.

And Beca had promised herself that she would never let herself get sucked into music again.