The tensions from the previous night had not gone down at all, simmering dangerously through lunch until another argument broke out between Stacie and Uni. Zeke and Tom separated the pair, the group deciding it was best for everyone to take a little time to cool off before meeting up to discuss their new strategy for the week. Beca ended up outside in the backyard with Jesse, Stacie, and Tom. She could see Chloe with Theo not far away near the pool, sitting with her back to them to keep from wondering what they could possibly have to talk about.
Stacie was clearly frustrated, Tom rubbing her back beside her seemingly only mildly helping. "I'm so sick of these idiots. They can't handle the possibility that they are wrong, even after they were clearly wrong!"
Tom nodded, "I know, babe. But now we're up against it and they'll have to listen. We only have one more matchup left."
"Yeah, plus no one else in the house is gonna give Bumper and Uni another shot at it," Jesse reasoned. "I mean, they've been pretty bad so far."
Stacie rolled her eyes, "We'll see. They've had support so far. It hasn't mattered that I've been telling them they're wrong for weeks. Chloe and Chicago were NEVER a match."
Beca muttered, "A lot of people seemed to think so a few weeks ago…"
Jesse glanced at her, his eyes full of warning.
"A few weeks ago we didn't have half of the information we have now," Stacie countered. "Plus they were all over each other."
Beca winced at that, biting her lip to stay silent.
Jesse intervened, asking, "So what do we do now?"
Stacie replied confidently, "We need to get the entire group together and go through the previous nine matchups. I'm pretty sure that we can figure it out. After last night there are only a few possibilities left."
Tom nodded in agreement, "We should do that today. It could help us determine who should pair up at the challenge tomorrow."
"Do you really think that will work?" Beca asked, still unsure that the group would listen.
"Do you have a better idea of how to convince those Neanderthals to listen to anyone but themselves?"
Beca smirked at the term, glancing around as Tom and Jesse remained silent.
Stacie didn't say anything, waiting patiently through the quiet.
Tom finally spoke up, "Right. Let's do this."
Beca watched him get to his feet and send a sharp whistle across the backyard, yelling to the people hanging by the pool.
"HEY! GROUP MEETING ON THE COUCH RIGHT NOW!"
Jesse climbed to his feet and extended his hand, Beca reaching up and letting him pull her to her feet. They walked inside together, Beca only slightly surprised that the group by the pool had actually listened to Tom's shout. There was more yelling once they got inside the house, taking about five minutes to assemble the group in the main room. Most were sprawled out on the couches or the floor, with a few having dragged high-top stools in from the kitchen bar.
"Alright Tom, we're all here," Bumper said, looking at the man. "What's so damn important?"
Tom made no move to speak, instead turning his attention to Stacie. The tall brunette nodded and stood up, moving to the front of the room holding a small notebook in her hand.
"Okay, we've only got one more Truth Booth and one more shot to get all the matches correctly. We cannot screw this up," Stacie started, looking around the room.
Uni interrupted her, "But after the last matchup we already know who belongs with who. I don't see the need for this."
Stacie stared at him. "What makes you so confident? In case you've forgotten, you have completely fucked up our matchups at least twice now. Why is it so hard to listen to someone else?"
"I think going through the matchups is a good idea," Zeke offered. "Maybe through process of elimination based on our two matches we can actually figure out who is and isn't a match."
Stacie spread her arms out wide exclaiming, "Yes! Exactly… thank you!"
Aubrey spoke up, "I agree with Stacie and Zeke. Why haven't we done this already?"
"Because you need to have enough information to make it worthwhile," Bumper shrugged. "Otherwise it's like narrowing down the possibilities from a million down to a few hundred thousand."
Stacie nodded, "He's right. But we should have enough information now to at least figure out who should pair up together at the challenge tomorrow and who we should try to send to the Truth Booth."
Beca glanced around the room as a few more people chimed in their opinions about taking the time to go through each of the previous matchup ceremonies, pausing for a second at the way Chloe and Theo were sitting next to each other. Neither were speaking, but Beca was still confused as to when this random friendship blossomed when the pair had barely exchanged five words for most of their time in the house. She didn't have much time to dwell on it though, as Stacie had begun corralling everyone into the pairs from the first matchup ceremony.
"No, Flo you go over and sit by Luke… and Zeke you were with Fat Amy," Stacie was pointing at people to switch seats. "Beca, you need to switch with Chloe. You were with Theo and she was with Tom."
Beca nodded, silently getting up from her seat on the couch to move across the room to sit with Theo. Chloe had a cheerful smile on her face as she went to sit with Tom, never meeting Beca's eyes as they passed momentarily.
"Okay, that's it," Stacie confirmed, adding, "So me and Uni were paired up with Donald and Lily, so obviously those were not matches."
Chicago spoke for the first time, asking, "Can someone please explain to me how this helps us figure out who the matches are?"
Stacie shot him a look that Beca assumed most parents sent their children after one too many 'are we there yet's' on a long road trip. "Sure, here is why it matters. We only got two correct matches at our first matchup ceremony. Emily and Benji was one, which means out of all the couples in the room right now, only one is a perfect match."
Beca glanced around the room at the pairings, easily picking out several that were not matches.
Bumper was doing the same, offering up, "Well, we know Chicago and Calamity aren't a match. Neither are Theo and Beca, so that eliminates two couples from Truth Booths."
"Right, that's good," Zeke nodded, looking around the room. "I think the most likely couples are Bumper and Kommissar or Jesse and Aubrey."
Fat Amy commented from beside him, "Not Bumper and Kommissar. I'm positive Bumper and I are a match. We sat together at the matchup where we had seven right."
"Yeah, let's see who we sat with at the one we got seven right," Uni said, looking around as heads nodded in agreement.
Stacie argued, "No, we shouldn't skip that far ahead. We could potentially eliminate a lot of possibilities in these early matchups where we barely got any right."
Aubrey looked convinced, asking, "Well, we could do the one where we got seven matches, and then come back to the beginning ones… right?"
More heads started nodding and Stacie gave in, shrugging, "Sure… whatever." She glanced down at her notebook and flipped pages until she found the right one. "Okay, Fat Amy you're with Bumper…"
Beca already stood up from the couch and made her way over to where Jesse was sitting on one of the high-top stools. "Back together again," she joked, turning to stand between his legs with her back to him to lean against while Stacie ordered the rest of the group around.
"No, Flo you're with Tom and Aubrey… you're with Theo," Stacie directed, eyes trained on her notebook.
Jesse's voice sounded from behind her, "So looking around at these couples, the one that sticks out to me is Theo and Aubrey. No way in hell that one is right."
Beca nodded, "And we know Chloe and Chicago aren't a match. The problem is that Flo and Tom could be… and so could Calamity and Uni… and Luke and Kommissar. And technically I think Aubrey and Theo could be a couple."
"That'd be a fucked up match," Jesse mumbled. "She would murder him."
"He might murder her first," Beca countered, smirking at the thought of Aubrey and Theo trying to be a couple. "Talk about personalities that don't mesh at all."
Jesse chuckled, "You're not wrong."
Zeke spoke up first when everyone was standing with their correct partner. "Okay, so the first thing we need to know is if anyone is standing next to the same person as round one?"
No one spoke up, bringing more than a few groans.
"How is this even possible? Not a single pairing is the same?"
"We really suck at this, huh?"
Stacie tried to bring the mood back, saying, "Guys! That isn't that surprising. We only got two perfect matches the first week, and one of them was Benji and Emily."
Bumper sighed, "Yeah, but if we even had one couple that was the same that would basically be guaranteed to be the other perfect match from week one… and would eliminate every other week one pair."
"I'm aware, but unfortunately none of the week eight pairs are the same as week one," Stacie's tone was growing impatient. "So instead, we have to work backwards." After a moment, she continued, "Okay, so we know right now five of these couples are right. Who thinks they are standing with their match?"
The group looked around and there was a general consensus that Bumper and Fat Amy, Beca and Jesse, and Zeke and Stacie were probably matches. That left Uni and Calamity, Tom and Flo, Theo and Aubrey, Luke and Kommissar, and Chicago and Chloe.
Tom spoke first once everyone settled down. "We know Chloe and Chicago are not a match, so that leaves a fifty percent chance with the other four. After the last matchup ceremony, we went from seven matches down to six… which means the switch we made was wrong. Babe, what switches did we make last night?"
Stacie flipped a page in her notebook and studied it closely. "Kommissar was with Chicago, Aubrey was with Luke, and Chloe was with Theo.
Aubrey pointed out, "Wait a second. If we went from seven to six, that means the one that didn't change wasn't a match. Right?"
"No, not necessarily," Stacie countered immediately. "We could have changed two wrong matches and one right one and ended up with three wrong."
"But what are the odds of that?" Jesse asked curiously. "I mean, I know that's possible, but the odds have to be low. And the couple that didn't change was Flo and Tom, and I don't think they are a perfect match."
Stacie nodded along with Jesse's point. "That's also true. And honestly, no offense Flo, but if anyone here besides me would work for Tommy… it'd be Chloe."
Flo shrugged, not seemingly too bothered by that statement.
Bumper cut in, thinking aloud, "So, if we're going on the assumption that Tom and Flo are not a match, and Theo and Aubrey aren't a match… and we already know that Chloe and Chicago aren't a match, that means the two other couples were correct. Luke and Kommissar and Uni and Calamity."
"Yeah, well, you know what happens when you assume things," Fat Amy, giving Bumper a poke in the side. "Is there any way to be sure?"
Chloe spoke for the first time, offering, "Let's play out that scenario. If Luke and Kommissar are a match and Uni and Calamity are a match, that leaves me, Aubrey, and Flo. What guys are left?"
Stacie checked her notebook, answering, "Chicago, Theo, and Tom."
"Alright well for me it has to either be Theo or Tom. Chicago and I were not a match in the Truth Booth," Chloe finished, looking over to Aubrey.
Aubrey shrugged, "It could be any of them for me. I sat with Theo for the matchup where we got seven, and Tom the one before that where we got five. Does that make it more or less likely one of those two is my match as well?"
Stacie shook her head, "It doesn't really tell us much, unfortunately. That would leave Flo with Chicago. Have the two of you even spoken?"
Chicago glanced at the shorter woman, answering, "I mean, we've talked but I don't think anything really clicked for either of us."
Flo shook her head, "We have nothing in common. There's no way we are a match."
Bumper rubbed his face, his expression frustrated. "Okay, we're just going in circles and not actually figuring anything out. Let's take a break."
"We're actually making some decent progress for once, dude," Stacie snapped, her irritation with the man finally boiling over.
Tom stepped in, rubbing a comforting hand over her back.
Beca decided to speak up, saying, "I agree with Stacie. We've narrowed it down to three couples we aren't sure about. That's pretty good. We still have another Truth Booth, guys."
"Shocker you side with Stacie," Uni rolled his eyes. "How quickly you all forgot that all of that was based off an assumption that Aubrey and Theo aren't a match. I do think we're on the right track with going through the matchups and using logic to figure this out."
"Maybe we just need a break to grab a drink and stop thinking so hard," Bumper suggested, looking around to many nodding heads. "Okay, awesome. I know I could use a drink."
The group reached a consensus and a majority of them split off towards the kitchen in search of alcohol. Beca moved away from Jesse and shuffled over to where Stacie was standing next to Tom.
"I think that went well," she smirked.
Stacie sighed, "Yeah, except after this everyone will be too drunk to be productive."
Chloe joined them as well, Theo not far behind her. "I thought that was great, Stacie. I think we're right there… one more confirmed match will crack this puzzle. Do you think you know the matches?"
Stacie nodded, "I'm pretty sure Luke and Kommissar and Uni and Calamity are right, and that leaves you and Tommy, Flo and Theo, and Aubrey and Chicago."
Jesse shook his head, muttering, "Aubrey won't like that one bit."
"It doesn't really matter if she does though," Stacie sighed. "They make a weirdly good match, even if neither of them have taken the time to see it. Aubrey's father is some crazy high ranking general in the military and Chicago is in the Army, so she understands his lifestyle and isn't afraid of him. As a military guy he possesses a lot of the same qualities she respects and appreciates… it's not as crazy a match as you might think. He just got here and immediately decided to start fucking Calamity and that messed everything up for them."
Beca hated to admit it, but Stacie's logic made a lot of sense.
Theo shrugged, "I can see it. I mean, I definitely don't think she's my match. If it's between Chloe and Flo, it could be either one." He glanced at Chloe, "I mean, Chloe is awesome. I wouldn't have pictured us together but I get the feeling Chloe could get along with almost any guy in this house."
Chloe rolled her eyes, "Not Bumper. Hard pass."
Beca raised an eyebrow. "Bumper? Bumper is where you draw the line? Not Chicago?"
"Bumper is a special kind of obnoxious that only Fat Amy can handle," Chloe replied easily, thinking for a moment before adding, "Or maybe Kommissar. I still think that could be a funny pairing that just works."
Stacie shook her head, "Bumper and Fat Amy are the match. I'll have to look back over my notes but I'm pretty sure he and Kommissar got eliminated as a possibility by like week five."
The group fell silent for a minute until Luke appeared with his hands full of small glasses and a bottle of something tucked under his arm. "Okay, enough thinking for a while. Everyone take a shot and loosen the fuck up."
Beca smirked at that, definitely ready to let her mind stop working so hard. She took a shot and clinked it with Luke's, throwing it back and extending her glass for a refill.
"Keep 'em coming."
It wasn't often that she could say this, but Beca was definitely drunk. Too many shots to count later, here she was facing off opposite Chicago with Bumper passed out on the couch a few feet away. Most of the house was watching on in disbelief at the amount of alcohol consumed between the pair, but Beca never backed away from a drinking challenge. Bumper started it by boasting he could drink Chicago under the table, and Beca's reaction had earned her a seat at the proverbial table.
Jesse's voice floated somewhere over her head, saying, "Bec… maybe you should stop."
Thankfully she sounded a lot more confident than she felt, and Beca wasn't going to give in now with victory so close. Chicago looked slightly green, eyeing the next shot in front of him with a lot less enthusiasm than the ones before it.
Aubrey's voice pulled her attention away, looking towards the blonde. "This is ridiculous. At this rate you're both going to end up in the hospital… is that something to be proud of?"
Chicago shook his head, "I said I have the most olerance in the house and… I'm gonna fucking prove it!"
Beca laughed, "Keep dreaming! I… I drink professionally!"
"I've got a hunned pounds on you easistly," Chicago countered, slurring his words a bit. "Fuckin' tiny ass…"
"Shuttup." Beca narrowed her eyes to cover the fact that her brain was processing everything twice as slow as usual. "Talkin' a lotta fuckin' shit for someone getting' hiss ass handed to him," she taunted, grabbing the shot and throwing it back easily.
Chicago only hesitated a second before doing the same with his shot.
Stacie's voice rang out from her right, "That, ladies and gentlemen, was shot number twenty!"
Beca barely processed the murmurs and headshakes of disbelief, suddenly cocking her head to the side as a familiar song started playing through the speakers.
"Hey!" Beca exclaimed, looking around. "Someone turn that up!"
After a few seconds the song started blasting through the room, a few grins appearing as people recognized the iconic melody. Much to Beca's surprise, across from her Chicago jumped up to his feet and began using his shot glass as a microphone.
"IT'S FOREVERRRR! THIS TIME I KNOW AND THERE'S NO DOUBT IN MY MIIINNNNDDDD!"
Beca blinked a few times as he finished the chorus and sloppily transitioned into the second verse. "You know this song?"
It was Chicago's turn to blink at her for a few seconds, eventually nodding. "It's a classic."
Beca grinned, "Fuck yeah!" she shouted, joining in when it hit the chorus again.
Chicago stumbled forward and grabbed her shot glass, handing it to her. "Micropone."
Beca nodded, feeling completely loose and at ease as they shouted the lyrics at the top of their lungs in perfect unison. Chicago wobbled a bit on his feet, his arm ending up around Beca's shoulders as they sang.
"What is happening right now?"
"Why do they sound so good?"
"Definitely cut them off. This is too weird."
Beca vaguely heard the voices as the song wound down, dumbly exchanging grins with Chicago. "You like Kiss?"
He nodded, "Fuckin' love Kiss."
"Nice. Music is the best."
Chicago leveled his stare at her, finally saying, "You can fuckin' sing. Did you know that?"
Beca nodded. "Yep. So can you… did you know that?"
"Yep," Chicago agreed, his nod turning into more of a bobblehead motion.
"Cool," Beca grinned, shifting her weight and stumbling a few steps before regaining her balance. Gentle hands grabbed her arms, helping her straighten back up. She met Jesse's concerned gaze, taking a few seconds for his face to come into focus. "Thanks, Jesse."
Beca realized the room had gone relatively quiet compared to when she and Chicago were belting out one of Kiss' greatest hits, glancing around to see most of the group wearing stunned expressions. "What?"
Jesse cleared his throat, answering, "Uh, I mean… you two hate each other and just went from trying to drink each other into a coma to singing a pretty incredible impromptu duet to an epic love song. That's what."
Beca frowned as her brain wasn't able follow along with Jesse's complicated thought. "It's a great song," she finally voiced, her eyes locking into Chloe and the way the redhead's gaze was laser-focused in her direction. Beca took a step in Chloe's direction, wanting nothing more in that moment to be closer to her, but Jesse's hands were still helping her stay upright which only caused her to lose her balance again.
"Woah, okay… that's enough alcohol for one night," Jesse confirmed, directing Stacie to put the bottle away. "Bec, let's go get some fresh air for a few minutes?"
Beca shook her head, "I wanna talk…"
"I would LOVE to talk with you," Jesse interrupted, "Outside, and preferably with several bottles of water. Excuse us," he finished, ushering her through the backdoor as quickly as possible.
Jesse handed her a bottle of water once they were safely seated in chairs by the pool. "Drink that."
Beca rolled her eyes, "Okay, mom. You know I'm barely drunk, right?"
"Duet with Chicago drunk is way more than barely drunk," Jesse countered with a smile. "Or are you so drunk you've already forgotten that detail."
"It's a great song!" Beca defended, confused as to why it was such a big deal. "And he has a great voice!"
Jesse nodded, "Sure. Speaking of great voices… were you ever going to come clean about yours?"
Beca laughed, "Fuck no! Why would I do that? How do you even know?"
Jesse's eyebrows rose. "Seriously?"
"Whatever, it's not that big a deal anyways," Beca brushed it off, taking a sip of water. "I never sing in front of people. It doesn't come up."
"It might come up after the show airs," Jesse commented. "There is no way that doesn't make an episode."
Beca ignored that comment, looking around at the pool. "We should go swimming."
Jesse shook his head. "Maybe later. How about you drink some water first?"
"Where's Chloe? I want to talk to her. Why'd you bring me out here?"
Jesse quickly glanced around, thankful that no one else had followed them outside. "I brought you out here away from the group in case you said something you'd regret in the morning. You can't talk to Chloe right now."
Beca glared at him. "Why the fuck not?"
"Well, you didn't tell me exactly what was said, but you weren't feeling great after the last time you two talked. Do you remember how that went down?" Jesse asked, his voice gentle.
Beca wracked her brain trying to remember the conversation. Bits and pieces came back, but nothing she was going to share with Jesse. "Not really," she said, finally giving up. "I like her a lot, Jess."
Jesse chuckled, "Yeah, I know. I'm sure you guys will work it out."
"I just have to figure my shit out," Beca mumbled, staring intently at the bottle of water in her hands.
"What do you mean?"
Beca hesitated, her brain still not functioning properly. "I… I think I screwed it up."
Jesse's brow furrowed in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"You already said that." Beca let her frustration creep into her tone.
"Well I still don't understand." Jesse sat up a little straighter in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest. "You have someone who you like who actually likes you back. It might not be exactly what the show had planned, but that's what every single person in this house is looking for."
Beca sighs, "I know, but I'm not exactly out of the closet. My family doesn't even know."
Jesse nodded, his tone softening a bit. "Well, are you worried they won't be supportive? Are they homophobic or something?"
"No, nothing like that. I just want to tell them first, you know?"
"Not really," Jesse hummed. "I mean, it's not like the show is live. And you and Chloe aren't immediately shacking up after we leave the house, right? So you'll have plenty of time to tell them after we wrap filming."
Beca pondered that for a minute, taking slow sips from the water bottle.
Jesse changed the subject after a minute or two of silence. "Are you worried that Chloe isn't the right person?"
Beca's head snapped up to look at him, but there was no judgement in his gaze.
"Have you ever been in love?" Jesse wasn't pulling any punches now, not waiting for an answer to his previous question.
"No." Beca's stomach twisted slightly at that admission, looking away back at the pool. "I haven't had the best role models for the whole happily ever after."
Jesse didn't stay silent though, replying, "You told me you feel like you never pick the right person, but if you're waiting to be one hundred percent sure… you might be waiting forever."
"I'm aware," Beca shot back, suddenly irritated. "I've let more than one potential relationship end because I let my fear and uncertainty get in the way."
"I'm not trying to attack you, Bec," Jesse said, lowering his voice.
Beca sighed, "I know that. I know you're just trying to help, but I just don't want to make the wrong decision."
Jesse scratched his head. "I don't think you can make the wrong decision. Even if those relationships from the past didn't work out, they still are experiences that are part of who you are today. Didn't someone say there are no mistakes… or something like that?"
Beca didn't answer, the two of them sitting in silence for a few minutes with that thought hanging over them until Jesse finally spoke.
"Chloe really cares about you, Bec… and she's one of the best people I've ever met. Don't just give up on something that could be incredible. Whatever happened between you two… I'm sure you can fix it."
Beca thought about that for a long minute. "What if I can't?"
"Well, if you never try… you'll never know." Jesse eyed her for a long second. "Just think about it."
Jesse's elbow nudged into her side, the man leaning in to whisper in her ear, "Wipe that smirk off your face. It's not nice to enjoy the misery of others."
Beca turned her gaze away from where Chicago was clutching a cup of coffee, clearly struggling through a massive hangover from their drinking competition the night before.
"How are you not suffering even a little bit after the amount of alcohol we witnessed you consume last night?" Jesse's voice held his disbelief, a slight shake of his head accompanying the statement.
"How are none of you understanding that my tolerance for alcohol rivals every single person in this house, including Bumper and Fat Amy," Beca retorted, keeping her voice low. "Not that I want either of them to be the next challenger. Just because I could drink anyone here under the table doesn't mean I should… or want to."
Jesse hummed, "Well, if it's going to end up in a duet or karaoke… it might not be so bad."
Tom and Stacie joined them on the couch, overhearing Jesse's words. Tom leaned forward to see around Stacie, offering, "You have a lovely voice."
Beca glared at him. "Thanks."
Stacie laughed, "What? You do, Bec. I can't believe you waited until the last week to start revealing hidden talents."
"That was one I would have rather kept to myself," Beca muttered, throwing a quick apology to Tom for snapping at him. Thankfully, he seemed unfazed and the easy smile never left his face.
Jesse changed the subject, offering her a lifeline. "Any guesses on what the final challenge will be?"
Stacie shook her head, "No idea. Probably something where we get mostly naked again."
Tom disagreed, "No, they don't tend to do similar things back to back like that. Last week was a lot of skin and a lot of physical activity. Maybe today will be more mental?"
"Then I think we can safely rule out Chicago winning," Beca grinned, her gaze flickering over to him again in time to see him flinch as Bumper sat down beside him with a large breakfast sandwich. "Ten bucks says he pukes before Bumper finishes his breakfast."
Stacie followed her eyeline, chuckling at the sight. "He does look pretty terrible. Maybe someone should put a little something in his next cup of coffee. Hair of the dog never hurt anyone."
Tom offered, "Maybe if you want CR to be pissed as hell all day. She's already seen him and the look on her face was… well… not good."
Beca groaned, knowing exactly how short CR's temper was on the best of days. "Does she know it's my fault?"
"Bec, she's the lead producer on the show. I'm pretty she knows exactly what happened last night," Jesse mused.
"True, but on the other hand," Stacie countered, "She didn't put a stop to it either. And she definitely knew at least one of you was going to be a shit show this morning because of it."
Beca sighed, "Yeah, well last night was probably some quality content. I remember it… it's a little hazy at times… but I think we put on a performance at one point."
Stacie grinned, "And it only took you 20 shots to do it! Speaking of… how are you not dying right now? Is it really just the whole… boss bitch who owns a bar thing?"
"I have always had a high tolerance, even being so small," Beca shrugged. "The owning a bar and constantly drinking doesn't hurt."
"FIVE MINUTE WARNING!"
Beca glanced around at the junior producer shouting up the stairs before heading out to the backyard. There wasn't any sign of CR or Gail yet, but the countdown clock was now in motion. It didn't take long for the rest of the group to trickle in from wherever they'd been hiding, flopping onto couches or chairs or the floor in preparation for CR's challenge briefing.
CR strode into the room almost exactly five minutes later, her eyes sharply looking over them to make sure no one is missing. Without hesitating, her gaze froze on Chicago.
"Are you going to live?"
He nodded, mumbling something weakly.
"Well you fucking better," she rolled her eyes, glancing at an assistant or intern a short distance away. "Go get him another coffee and put some brandy or whiskey in it. I don't have time for this."
Beca raised her eyebrows slightly at that instruction, noticing Stacie giving Tom the biggest 'I Told You So' look out of the corner of her eye. None to quickly, the producer's glare switched to her.
"Do I need to be worried about you, too?"
Beca shook her head, quickly answering, "Nope, I'm good. Perfect. Perfectly good."
CR continued to stare at her, finally rubbing her eyes and turning away to have a word with one of the other producers.
Jesse snorted beside her, whispering, "Nailed it."
CR clapped her hands, her voice loudly filling the room, "Okay! Let's get down to business." She paused as the intern returned with Chicago's coffee, handing it to him before scrambling out of the way. "You… I want that coffee gone by the time I finish speaking."
Chicago nodded bleakly, obediently taking a small sip.
"Today is the final challenge," CR began, a rare smile appearing on her face. "You can celebrate, I know you all want to."
Whoops and cheers filled the room, accompanied by clapping and a few sporadic high-fives. Beca knew that while the getaway dates were fun, the challenges were almost always a pain in the ass.
"Trust me, the crew feels the same way. We've decided to keep things simple for this last challenge, partly because we're lazy and partly because this final challenge is designed to help you find your perfect matches as much as possible," CR continued, looking down at her clipboard. "How it will work is you will split up into two groups, girls and guys, and each group will nominate one person to enter a 'Truth Booth.' Now, before you all panic, I'm not talking about THE Truth Booth. We've constructed a simple version that you'll see when you get to the challenge area."
Beca glanced around, seeing the confusion on everyone's faces. A second Truth Booth? As if they weren't having enough problems with the first one already.
"Here is how the challenge will work," CR explained. "Each group will nominate one person to enter the booth, where they will answer questions. The guys will try to predict how the girl will answer, and vice-versa for the ladies. The final person standing will go on a date with the person in the booth, and only the two final couples will be eligible to enter the real Truth Booth. Got it?"
Beca nodded, now mostly understanding what was about to happen. She was beyond thankful that there was no physical activity involved, but also realized there was about to be a massive issue of picking who went into the two Truth Booths.
Stacie asked, "So the two people we nominate are guaranteed to go on the date?"
CR nodded, "That's correct. They will go into the booth, and the rest of you will stand to the side and won't be able to see their answers. We have little boards and markers and shit for you to use to answer the questions. Gail will go over everything again as usual."
Beca muttered to Jesse, "It's about to go down when we have to decide who goes into the Truth Booths."
"I don't want to think about it."
"Well you better," Beca replied. "This could win us a million bucks or send us home with nothing."
Jesse hummed thoughtfully, "Even if we put the right people in… the other right person still has to match their answers and be paired up with them at the end."
Beca looked up as CR began talking again, not liking the irritated look on the woman's face.
"I can already hear you strategizing and just know that we expect every single one of you to answer the questions to the best of your knowledge. We can shoot this challenge as many times as it takes," she warned, her tone threatening and ominous.
Stacie murmured beside her, "Guess we won't be allowed to throw it to get the matchup we want."
"Okay, get up off your asses and get outside! If we get moving this should be a relatively short shoot!" CR shouted, striding across the room and out into the yard without a backward glance.
The room burst into chatter as Beca stood up from the couch, hearing vague snippets of people talking about who should go into the Truth Booth and who they should try to get matched up at the end. After hearing about ten different names, she shook her head and looped her arm through Jesse's.
"This is about to be a shit show and I'm just thankful that neither one of us is going to be nominated for the challenge today."
Jesse agreed, "Yeah, but it is a bummer that we also won't get to go on the date. I would have liked to go on one of these dates with you. I think we would have had fun."
"We definitely would have had fun," Beca answered. "I feel like all of mine were completely wasted… well, the one with Luke was fun but it was also the one where the whole Chicago and Chloe drama happened and that was a shitshow."
"It's okay, Becs, we'll have to have our own adventures after the show is over," Jesse offered, reclaiming his arm only to wrap it around her shoulders.
Beca grinned, "Deal."
The group had made their way outside into the backyard where they met the crew waiting to direct them where to stand. After receiving their instructions, they waited for everyone to get in place to begin filming. CR appeared after about twenty minutes, calling for final checks and places.
"Alright guys, let's get this challenge done. It's a nice, simple one, and shouldn't have too many complications. You'll be leaving here and jogging around that corner where you will see Gail standing next to the set. You all know what to do by now, so let's get it done," CR finished, moving out of their way to stand beside her assistant.
Beca waited patiently for the signal, letting a few members of the group start jogging ahead of her before finding an easy stride. She definitely was not a natural runner and this was part of the show that she was not going to miss in the slightest. Rounding the corner, Beca saw Gail standing beside a crudely constructed wooden frame. It looked simply like a couple of large boards connected to a sturdy base, easily tall enough for someone to stand inside and be obscured to those standing on the other side.
Gail smiled at them as they approached, gesturing for the boys to group on one side of the frame and the girls on the other.
"Hey guys! How are you feeling today?" Gail's excited voice got Beca's heartrate up a little. After the chorus of replied, the host continued, "It's time for our final challenge!"
They cheered and clapped again, Gail waiting until things quieted down before explaining how the challenge was going to work.
"Guys, you are going to vote one of the guys that you want to see go into the Truth booth," Gail began, looking at them seriously. "Ladies, same with you. You're gonna vote one of the girls that you want to see go into the Truth Booth, but those two people will not be going into the Truth Booth together. I'll give you a minute to decide."
Beca glanced over as the guys huddled up, Aubrey and Stacie quickly encouraging the girls to do the same.
"Okay, we need to be really smart about this," Stacie said, looking around the circle seriously. "I'm pretty sure the guys are gonna do something stupid, so we need to make our person count."
Aubrey nodded in agreement. "Flo, I think you should go in."
Flo looked around the group. "Why me?"
Aubrey answered, "Because if we can figure out who your perfect match is, we can solve the puzzle."
Stacie added, "And because I think it's Theo and the guys will never put him in. The worst thing that could happen right now is for us to put two people in that we think are a match."
Fat Amy asked, "Does anyone have an issue with sending Flo into the Truth Booth?"
The question was met with silence and all the girls broke into smiles. Beca felt encouraged by their teamwork even if she wasn't sure that Flo was the right person to put in. The two groups returned to their places and waiting for Gail to resume filming.
CR was standing beside the host, quietly discussing something with her before moving out of view of the cameras. "Alright, so far so good! Let's keep it rolling!"
Gail waited for another minute before turning her attention back to the group. "Okay ladies, who's the lucky one?"
Stacie called out, "Flo!" as the rest of the group clapped and cheered.
Flo stepped forward but CR interrupted proceedings. "Cut! Hey, let's have all the ladies say Flo's name at the same time please! I need this to look like a group decision. Take it back!"
Beca sucked in a deep breath as things reset, listening intently as Gail asked the question again.
"Okay ladies, who's the lucky one?"
Beca chimed in with everyone else this time, calling out, "Flo!"
CR remained quiet as Flo stepped forward and Gail gestured for her to stand on the other side of the wooden panel.
Once Flo was in place, Gail turned to the guys. "Alright gentlemen, who are you going to send into the Truth Booth to represent you?"
The guys caught onto the previous instruction, calling out "Chicago!" in unison. Beca clapped along with the girls, glancing over to see Stacie's impressed expression.
"Not expecting that?" Beca asked quietly.
Stacie whispered back, "No, but it's a great pick. He's causing all sorts of problems with our matchups."
Once Chicago was standing beside Flo and out of view of the rest of the group, Gail continued her explanation of the challenge.
"Okay, I'm going to ask a series of questions that deal with relationship dealbreakers," Gail's voice hinted at the drama to come, making Beca fight to keep from rolling her eyes. "Guys, you need to predict how Flo will answer, and girls, you need to predict how Chicago will answer. One wrong answer and you're out! Last guy standing joins Flo on the getaway date and last girl standing joins Chicago on the getaway date."
Gail paused for a moment to let that sink in. "Okay, we're gonna get things started with Flo and the guys… everyone ready to do this?"
Beca felt her stomach turn nervously, unable to help feeling the anticipation of the challenge. She wasn't sure which guy she wanted to end up with Flo, but sincerely hoped that Aubrey would end up with Chicago. A few crew members walked up to the set holding paddles, one side sporting a large letter A and the other side a large letter B. Once everyone had a paddle, Gail readied herself to begin the questions.
"Okay, we're getting things started with Flo and the guys. Flo, would you rather date someone that is A. Dumb and Good Looking, or B. Smart and Ugly?"
Beca grinned, knowing that the end of this challenge could be ugly if this was where the questions were starting.
Gail waited a few seconds for everyone to get their paddles up with their answers. "Okay, Flo, your answer is locked in? Alright, Flo's answer is A, she wants a guy who's dumb and good looking! That means that Jesse, Luke, and Tom are out."
"The next question is for Chicago and the ladies! Chicago, would you rather date someone who is A. Aggressive, or B. Passive-Aggressive?" After a moment, Gail asked, "Okay, ladies what are your answers?"
Beca thought for a moment before putting her paddle up. She was pretty confident that Chicago would rather have someone aggressive, and briefly thought of throwing the question before CR's prior warning scared her into answering honestly.
"Okay, Chicago answered A, aggressive," Gail announced, her eyes moving back to the group of ladies. "That means that Stacie and Chloe are out."
Gail waited as the pair dropped their paddles onto the grass before shifting back over to Flo and the boys. "Alright, Flo… would you rather date someone A. Unemployed and Always Home, or B. Workaholic and Never Home? What do you think guys?"
Beca hummed at the question, wondering if any of the guys had gotten to know Flo well enough to answer this question correctly. If she had to guess it would probably be B, but it was a total guess.
"Flo answered B," Gail said, "She wants a workaholic who is never home. That means Theo is out."
Beca heard Stacie sigh beside her, knowing that the brunette thought Flo and Theo were a perfect match. One down, but they still had a shot with Aubrey and Chicago.
Gail looked around at the group, recognizing some of the reactions. "What's going on, guys?"
Stacie hesitated a moment, finally answering, "We really thought Flo and Theo were a perfect match. It would have been awesome to get them into the Truth Booth."
Gail nodded, her voice turning sympathetic, "It's okay guys, obviously things on Flo's side didn't work out, but the ladies still have a shot. You can still do this!"
The group cheered and tried to resurrect the positive vibes as Gail moved on to the next question.
"Next question for Chicago and the ladies," Gail's voice was upbeat. "Would you rather live, A. Far away from the in-laws or B. Down the street from the in-laws?"
Beca decided this was a question she could bow out gracefully on, praying that she knew enough about Chicago to know that he wouldn't want to live anywhere near his in-laws. She held up her sign with the B facing Gail and waited.
"Everyone has their answer locked in? Alright, Chicago answered A. He doesn't want anything to do with his in-laws," Gail looked over at the group. "Beca and Fat Amy, you two are out."
Beca tried to look disappointed as she dropped her paddle into the grass, glancing around at the few still in the competition.
"Flo, would you rather date someone who is A. Well Read, or B. Well Dressed?"
Beca wondered what the guys answers were, not able to see them from the other side of the makeshift Truth Booth.
"We've got Uni and Bumper who are going with Well Dressed and Zeke is going with Well Read. Flo, is your answer locked in? Alright, congratulations Zeke! Flo's answer is Well Read!" Gail yelled excitedly.
Everyone clapped, though the enthusiasm simply wasn't there. They all knew that Flo and Zeke were not a perfect match, and sending them to the Truth Booth wasn't going to get them any closer to the million bucks.
"Zeke, you just won a getaway date with Flo!"
Zeke grinned, stepping forward to look at Flo inside the booth, "Let's do it! It's gonna be fun."
Gail got them back on track with the next question, asking, "Chicago, would you rather date someone who is A. Immature as a five-year-old or B. Serious as a forty-year-old."
Beca sent a quick prayer up to the heavens that Aubrey would get this question correct. She took a quick look at Calamity, wondering why the woman hadn't already answered a question wrong yet. They would be even more fucked than they already are if she ended up winning the date just because she knew Chicago better than anyone else in the house.
"Alright everyone lock in your answers! Chicago's answer is locked in with B, serious as a forty-year-old!"
Beca quickly looked at the boards up around her, sighing in relief when she saw that only Aubrey was holding up the letter B. Thank fucking God.
"Only Aubrey has the correct answer for this question! Congratulations Aubrey, you've won a getaway date with Chicago!" Gail's cheery voice. "Would the two winners please join your dates!"
Beca bit her bottom lip at the look of confusion and displeasure on Aubrey's face, almost as if she didn't understand how she had ended up in this situation. It had her wondering if Stacie wasn't really onto something with Aubrey and Chicago being a perfect match for each other without either of them taking the time to realize it.
Zeke and Aubrey joined Flo and Chicago in the makeshift booth and waited for Gail to wrap up the challenge.
"You four are going on the final getaway date and the rest of you will vote one of these two couples into the Truth Booth," Gail explained, adding, "The very last Truth Booth, so choose wisely. I'll see you guys back at the house tomorrow for the results."
The group merged back together as they walked back to the house, Beca gravitating toward Jesse until they were close enough for him to put his arm around her.
"How do you think we did?" Jesse asked curiously.
Beca shrugged, "Aubrey and Chicago are one of Stacie's perfect matches, so let's pray she's right."
Jesse hummed, "Stacie's pretty fucking smart. I think if anyone in this house knows who the perfect matches are… it's her."
Beca paused a step after entering the kitchen in search of a snack, her eyes tracking between Bumper and Stacie before deciding she wasn't actually that hungry. The tension in the house hadn't dissipated in the slightest, plenty of glares being exchanged between those that were happy enough with the results of the challenge and those who weren't. She wandered outside into the backyard instead, spotting Chloe and Theo sitting together near the pool. Their conversation died off as she approached, Chloe immediately mumbling something about needing to film some reaction shots and vanishing so quickly Beca briefly wondered if she'd imagined the redhead's presence entirely.
"You okay, Bec?"
Theo's voice drew her attention back to the man in front of her, still seated comfortably in a chair by the pool.
"Yeah," she answered, claiming Chloe's now empty chair. "Yeah, I'm fine."
Theo studied her for a moment, his eyes flickering to the backdoor Chloe used to disappear into the house. "She really cares about you… you know that right?"
Beca nodded. "I don't know what I'm doing anymore. This all got so complicated…" she trailed off, running her fingers through her hair. "You two have been spending a lot of time together lately."
Theo left the statement hanging between them, not at all rushing to respond. Eventually he replied, "Not really. It's easy to be seen together since a lot of the group thinks we might be a match, but we both know we aren't. Sometimes it's easier to go with the flow than fight the current."
"Who do you think is your match?" Beca asked, needing to change the subject.
"Flo." The response was immediate this time, a small smile crossing his lips.
Beca couldn't help but return the smile. "I didn't realize you'd spent a lot of time with her."
He shook his head, "I haven't. Kinda sucks looking back, but that seems to be the story for almost everyone in the house." After more long minutes of silence, Theo comments, "Don't keep her guessing, Bec. She deserves better than that."
Well that answered the question of whether Chloe had talked to Theo about her. The thought made her slightly uncomfortable, wondering exactly had been exchanged between the unlikely pair.
"I'm not sure it's any of your business," Beca's retort was sharp, immediately regretting it at the look on his face. "I'm sorry…"
"I didn't pry it out of her, if that's what you want to know," he said, his voice clipped. "I'm not going to pretend to know what you're dealing with, Beca, but just be honest with her if this isn't something you're ready for. I can guarantee that she will understand."
Beca looked down at her hands, thinking carefully over her response. "I'm terrified."
Theo broke into that soft smile again. "Yeah, I'd be surprised if you weren't. Just tell her that. She mentioned she's trying to give you the space you asked for, but you should know that it hasn't been easy for her."
"Me either," Beca sighed, "But I need to make sure I can give her what she's asked of me."
"Yeah, you do," Theo nodded, leaning back in his chair and turning his gaze over toward the house as sounds of shouting grew from within.
Beca groaned, "That sounds suspiciously like Stacie and Bumper. The producers are going to kill us for making the final episodes full of fighting and bitching. We're supposed to be working together to figure out the last piece of the puzzle and instead we'll be lucky if we all get out alive."
Theo laughed at that, standing and offering her his hand. "It's just a dating show… not a murder mystery. It'll be fine."
Beca allowed him to pull her to her feet and joined him in walking back to the house. They walked in to find about six people, Bumper and Stacie included, yelling at each other surrounded by empty solo cups seemingly strategically placed around the main room. Producers allowed it to go on for a few more minutes as Beca watched on before intervening and forcing the entire cast to scatter.
"CR's orders!" One man yelled, pointing fiercely at Stacie. "Outside to the pool or hot tub for the next hour!"
Stacie rolled her eyes at him, striding out into the backyard without another word.
A different producer was escorting Bumper upstairs somewhere, the rest of the cast dispersing on their own without assistance. Beca shook her head, looking briefly around for Chloe before heading upstairs herself, deciding that the sooner she went to bed the sooner this day would end.
"I can't believe you dropped out of Harvard," Beca said in disbelief, gaze trained on Stacie sunbathing beside her with her eyes closed.
Stacie seemed unfazed, replying, "It was seriously boring and complicated and I hated it. What's the point of anything in life if you're miserable. I chose to pursue something that makes me happy instead."
Beca shook her head, "What did your parents say?"
"They weren't happy about it, but they also don't get to have a say in my life so…" Stacie trailed off, stretching her arms over her head for a few seconds. "A lot of people wouldn't understand why I chose to live simply and teach yoga, but they don't matter. My family understands now that this is what makes me happy. That's what matters."
"What were you studying at school?" Jesse asked curiously, sitting behind Beca on a lounge chair.
Stacie answered, "Psychology. I was going to go the whole way and get my doctorate, but then it sucked."
Beca leaned back against Jesse, forcing down the awkwardness of how intimate the arrangement was.
Stacie cracked an eye open to look at them, "You two seem awfully cozy for a couple who insists on only being friends."
"Are you going to psychoanalyze us now?" Beca joked, feeling Jesse chuckle behind her.
"Maybe," Stacie hinted, her eyes holding a hint of mischief. "I feel like I've got a pretty good read on most of the people here by now."
Beca raised an eyebrow, offering up the challenge. "Oh yeah? What about me then?"
Stacie shook her head, "I don't think it's a good idea. Maybe if Jesse weren't here…"
"Aw, come on," Jesse whined, leaning forward to look at Beca for support. "Don't be a tease."
"I'm a lot of things, but a tease isn't one of them," Stacie winked. At Beca's nod, she only hesitated for another second before saying, "Okay then. I could be off, but I believe you two when you say there isn't anything romantic between you two. I just don't get the vibe. This is a crazy situation that is removed from reality, and if you guys were really all head over heels for each other… I don't know, there's just something missing for me. And Beca, I think you do have feelings for someone in this house… and they feel the same way. And I think it's cool." After a second she added, "And you can close your mouth now."
Beca snapped her jaw shut, shooting a quick look at Jesse who raised his hands up in self-defense.
"I never said anything."
Beca looked back at Stacie, who winked again. "You two weren't exactly subtle, you know. Or maybe you were since I don't think anyone else picked up on it, but you guys went from being super close to having one of the most drama-filled days in the house to barely speaking to each other…. But you also still look at each other when the other isn't looking. It's cute."
"We don't do that," Beca muttered, looking down at her hands.
"She's literally glancing over here every minute or so," Stacie responded breezily.
Beca rolled her eyes, "How would you even know? You haven't opened your eyes once in the past ten minutes."
"Is she looking at you now?"
Beca glanced over into the yard where Chloe was sitting with Aubrey and Kommissar, meeting the redhead's eyes briefly before Chloe looked away.
Jesse looked impressed, saying, "Okay, I'm a believer. No need to do me."
Stacie laughed, opening her eyes and sitting up on the lounge chair. "Bec, don't sweat it too much. Plus, I think you two would be fucking amazing together. Fuck the show… be happy."
Beca didn't answer, simply nodding once as Stacie stood up and walked toward the house.
"Well that was unexpected," Jesse commented, leaning forward and resting his chin over Beca's shoulder. "When can we stop acting like we're this super happy, perfect match couple again?"
Beca sighed, "The producers asked for a few hours of footage, so we're stuck for a while. And Stacie's right, she has been looking at us a lot."
"Hard to blame her when this is what she's looking at," Jesse responded. "Have you gotten a chance to talk to her so that she knows where this bullshit is coming from?"
"No, of course not. Reality television at it's finest," Beca's tone was sarcastic and frustrated.
Jesse offered, "Why don't you follow Stacie's advice and fuck the show and just go spend time with her? I think it would do you both some good."
"I can't," Beca answered, refusing to expand upon that statement.
"Well that's some bullshit, too," Jesse shot back. "You two hung out a lot earlier in the show and the producers didn't care. Why should now be any different? Chloe hangs out with Aubrey all the time and they don't make a big deal about that."
"Maybe because Chloe and Aubrey weren't caught making out on camera in the STD Den," Beca snapped, her frustration getting the better of her.
Jesse agreed, "Yeah, true. That was really stupid of you guys."
Beca rolled her eyes. "Thanks."
"I just think Stacie is onto something here… you gotta put yourself and your own happiness first. This whole thing is bullshit anyways, so take whatever good out of it you can," Jesse reasoned. "You're allowed to talk to her."
"She's giving me space, just like I asked her to the last time we talked," Beca countered, her voice sounding weary with none of its earlier fire.
Jesse pulled back, his expression confused. "I thought you guys figured all that out? I mean I know your last talk didn't go amazing or anything, but I thought you told her you wanted to be with her and it was just the show causing problems."
Beca shook her head. "She wants to be together after the show… like out and proud and everything. I'm not sure I'm ready for that. I asked her to give me space to decide."
"Well if she's doing what you asked… why are you so sour about it?"
"Because I still want to spend time with her!"
Jesse's expression turned even more confused. "That makes no sense."
Beca sighed, hiding her face in her hands. "I know. I'm the fucking worst."
"Let's take a break and go vote for Aubrey and Chicago to go into the Truth Booth," Jesse suggested. "We can talk more about this later when we aren't all coupled up by the pool and your future girlfriend isn't looking over here like a kicked puppy every couple of minutes."
Beca looked over and met Chloe's eyes again, cursing under her breath. "Fuck… okay, let's do that."
She clumsily got to her feet and stretched her arms over her head, feeling momentary panic as Jesse quickly hopped up and grabbed her around the waist as if he was about to throw her into the pool. A very high-pitched shriek left her lips, before swearing to Jesse he'd regret it for the rest of his life as the man simply burst into laughter clutching his side.
"I hate you."
"You love me."
"Whatever. Let's go do this stupid vote."
"Bring it in guys, Truth Booth time!" Gail's voice rang out over the light chatter in the living room, the group going through their assigned motions and getting settled into place.
Beca sat down on the couch next to Jesse and Luke as instructed, clutching a plastic cup full of something alcoholic. She had bit back her annoyance when CR briefed them on how the final Truth Booth night would go, not seeing the point for staging different introductions to the segment so late in the season. Gail waited patiently for everyone to get situated before speaking again.
"Hey guys, how's it going tonight?"
Beca obediently joined in with the chorus of "Good!" that rang out around the room in response.
"Well as you know, this is your final chance to send a couple to the Truth Booth," Gail reminded them, adding, "The only way to officially validate if they are a perfect match or not. Now, since this is the last Truth Booth, it's a little bit different than usual. Normally this would be that couple's final night in the house before they move to the honeymoon suite after the matchup tomorrow. Seeing as tomorrow is the final matchup, there is no honeymoon suite."
Gail paused for a moment before continuing, "Tonight, you had two couples to choose from to vote into the Truth Booth from yesterday's challenge." Gail turned to the photos on the screen beside her, announcing, "Zeke and Flo, or Chicago and Aubrey."
Turning back to the room to address the couples, Gail asked, "How was the date today?"
Flo answered first, "It was great. It was fun to spend time with Zeke even though we aren't each others perfect match."
Gail raised her eyebrows asking, "What makes you so sure of that?"
Zeke answered, "Well, I've been matching up with Stacie for a while now and we've done well at the matchups. I'm pretty sure Stacie is my match."
Gail nodded her understanding, directing her next question to Chicago and Aubrey. "Do you both feel like that puts extra pressure on you tonight? Do you think you two will go into the Truth Booth?"
Aubrey nodded, "Yes, I think we will. We all know that Flo and Zeke are not a match, so that only leaves us. But, I don't think we are a match either. The challenge didn't work out how we wanted."
"Or did it?" Jesse murmured from beside her, his arm wrapped comfortably around Beca's shoulders.
Beca whispered back, "We'll know soon enough."
"Well guys, it may not be the couple you would have hand-picked for the Truth Booth, but tonight could still be key result that helps you solve the rest of the puzzle," Gail said encouragingly, looking all around the room. "Let's find out what you decided."
The room fell silent as they waited for confirmation of what they all already knew.
"The couple going to the Truth Booth is…"
Beca watched the screen flicker and the four photos disappear to be replaced with two larger ones of Chicago and Aubrey.
"Chicago and Aubrey!" Gail's voice rose in volume but didn't hold any of the usual surprise or excitement. "You two were pretty confident it was going to be you tonight. How are you feeling now that you know for sure you'll be heading to the Truth Booth?"
Chicago shrugged, "Aubrey and I were prepared for this. Neither of us think we're a match, but you never know."
Gail looked around the room for some support. "This vote was unanimous," she informed them. "Is this a case of not really having a choice, or do some of you believe that Chicago and Aubrey could be a perfect match?"
Stacie didn't hesitate to speak up, calling out, "They're a match Gail! I know it!"
Beca bit back a chuckle at the look on Aubrey's face after hearing those words, not that she could really blame her. No one in the house save for maybe Calamity actually wanted to be Chicago's match. Chloe caught her eye after seeing Aubrey's reaction, and Beca could tell the redhead wasn't finding the moment funny at all. Beca knew how stressed Chloe had been about having to enter the Truth Booth with Chicago, and suddenly felt a rush of sympathy for what Aubrey was going through.
"Alright, well… it's time to find out. Chicago, Aubrey, head to the Truth Booth. Good luck!" Gail waved them goodbye out into the backyard before continuing on with her usual speech. "Okay, guys, when Chicago and Aubrey see the result in the Truth Booth… you will also see it on the screen here. Good luck, and I'll see everyone tomorrow for the final matchup."
They all waved goodbye to Gail as she exited the room, leaving them to their own thoughts and company to wait for the results.
Beca sat nervously on the couch waiting for the results of the Truth Booth. Aubrey and Chicago had been gone for almost an hour and they knew the screen was going to flash any second now. Several loud arguments had broken out during the wait, but now the entire room was silent in anticipation, knowing that this was potentially a million dollar moment. The screen flashed and a black box appeared across the screen, fluttering until the words finally came into focus.
The room exploded in cheers and clapping, Beca particularly enjoying the look of sheer disbelief on Bumper's face.
"That's three bitches!"
"We've got it now. That's a million dollar Truth Booth right there!"
Beca grinned, turning to give Jesse a hug. "I think we just did it, Jess."
His smile was just as wide, agreeing, "I think so. That should clear the rest up."
Stacie was lining up shots, spouting off to Bumper and Uni about collecting on a bet. Beca watched on as each of the guys downed five shots in rapid succession as payment for losing. After about ten minutes the room settled down a bit, Chloe being the one to voice the most important question.
"How are we going to react when they come back in? Neither of them expected this outcome."
Beca felt the mood sober just a bit, glancing around as everyone processed.
"Look, it's not like they have to go to the honeymoon suite," Uni finally said, looking around. "The show is over after the matchup tomorrow, so if they never want to see each other again they don't have to. This is about all of us and winning a million bucks… all they have to do is sit next to each other for a few hours tomorrow night."
Stacie nodded in agreement, "This was huge… literally a million dollar Truth Booth. They don't have to like each other, they just have to sit together at the matchup tomorrow night."
Chloe didn't let it go so easily, "I understand that, I'm just saying we should be encouraging and supportive and not have them return to a big party because we just won a million dollars."
"Most of us have been through disappointing Truth Booths," Luke offered, standing up. "Just channel that feeling for a few minutes until we switch the focus off of them.
As if on cue, the back door opened and Aubrey stepped through with Chicago behind her. Beca studied the blonde closely, seemingly still in a bit of disbelief at the results.
"How are you guys after that?" Tom asked, audible concern in his voice.
Aubrey opened her mouth to answer, then closed it with a small shake of her head.
Chicago answered, "It was definitely unexpected. Um… I think we're still processing that we're a match. It's a lot to take in."
Beca watched as Chloe moved to wrap Aubrey in a hug, immediately feeling jealous of the blonde as her arms snuck around Chloe's back. Chicago moved around the pair towards the kitchen, followed by a small group of guys. Beca assumed he was on the hunt for a large amount of alcohol, deciding that the best course of action was to make herself scarce before any drama could break out.
Jesse followed her outside to the pool, a place she was definitely going to miss when she returned home to San Francisco.
"How are you feeling tonight?" Jesse asked, dropping into a chair beside her.
"Lost." Beca sighed, looking away from him at the pool. "How am I supposed to know if I'm ready to come out and be in a full on relationship with a woman in only a couple of months?"
Jesse hummed thoughtfully, "Well, you know you care about Chloe. If you want to be with her, that's what it's gonna take."
Beca ran her fingers through her hair, her voice turning slightly desperate, "I just don't know, Jess. I don't know if I can do it."
"Okay, well don't think about it like that then," Jesse suggested.
"How exactly am I supposed to think about it?" Beca tried and failed to keep the sarcasm from her voice.
Jesse didn't let it go, replying pointedly, "Sarcasm… not helpful or appreciated." He didn't wait for an apology, immediately moving on. "Look, Bec, I'm not sure it's something you can ever confidently be one hundred percent ready for. Instead, think about it like this… take a minute to think about your life after this show. After you go home back to the bar and your friends and family… picture what that looks like. Think about your life after all of this… how would you feel if Chloe isn't a part of it."
Beca felt her stomach drop at the thought of not getting to talk to Chloe anymore… not getting to see her or touch her or kiss her again. She had never felt something like this before for another person. It was unsettling and terrifying and uncomfortable, and provided her some much needed clarity.
Beca glanced at him, confessing, "I think I'm in love with Chloe."
Jesse chuckled, teasing, "You think?"
"The thought of not getting to see her ever again after we leave here… it's like that feeling you get on a big drop on a roller coaster," Beca admitted. "Like my stomach just dropped out. It's a terrible, empty feeling and not one I want. I want her in my life."
"Then you know what you have to do."
Beca bit her lower lip, worrying, "What if it's too late? What if I took too long to realize it and now she doesn't trust me anymore? What if it's broken and I can't fix it?"
Jesse gave her an encouraging smile. "It's not too late. Honestly I'm not even sure anything is broken. Chloe is pretty great, you know. She's very patient and understanding, and I think she's pretty crazy about you."
"I just want to make sure she knows I'm serious about her," Beca stared out at the water. "That even though I can't pick her at the matchup tomorrow, I want to end up with her."
Beca glanced over at Jesse, becoming slightly unnerved at his excited expression.
"Maybe you can," Jesse hinted, his eyes bright. "And as a super wise person once said… endings are the best part."
Beca raised her shot glass in the air with the rest of the group, toasting to the final matchup ceremony and hopefully the million dollars they were about to win.
"Cheers to all you bitches for the good times in this house, the crazy fights, the crazier challenges, and all of us leaving here with money in our pockets!" Tom yelled, clinking his shot glass into the pile.
Beca downed the tequila quickly, feeling it burn down her throat and quickly chased it with the gin and tonic she'd been sipping on. An arm came down around her shoulders attached to a body too tall to be Jesse, turning to see Luke beside her.
"Well, we did it," Luke said, a happy grin on his face. "We survived this insanity and figured out the matches."
"Barely," Beca laughed, leaning into him a bit. "But it's been good for me. My tolerance of people invading my personal space has grown exponentially in the past two months."
Luke smirked. "You mean like this?" he said as he wrapped his other arm around her, slightly smothering her in a hug.
Beca let out a muffled sound of annoyance into his chest, shoving her fists into his stomach doing absolutely nothing to deter him. He finally pulled back, laughing at her irritated expression.
"Yes, exactly like that," Beca shook her head, downing the rest of her drink and setting the glass down on the counter. "Do you really think we got all the matches right?"
Luke nodded, "Yep. We're pretty damn stupid, but I think we got it. Whatcha gonna do with the money?"
Beca hummed, "I kinda didn't think we'd get it, so I didn't let myself dream too much. I'd really like to expand the bar… maybe add a kitchen and serve food."
"Well that's awesome. Speaking of the bar, I can't wait to come out and visit," Luke said, his voice rising with excitement. "Jesse would go, and so would Stacie and Tom… we could do a little reunion."
"Did someone say reunion?!" Stacie popped up between them, arms slipping around both their waists. "Because I think we all want to go get super drunk at Beca's bar in a month or two."
Beca shook her head, "Only if you guys are paying. I'll lose the bar if I have to cover the tab for this group of drunks."
"Who are you calling a drunk?" Chloe popped up on Beca's other side, eyes shining brightly giving away the fact she was definitely a few drinks in already.
Stacie answered, "Beca won't let us drink at her bar for free when we all meet up there after the show ends. Imagine… some friend."
"I'll buy the first round," Beca countered. "And the last. I'm not a total cheapass… but I have a business to run," she added at the end, her voice turning slightly sarcastic as she lifted her nose a little higher.
Stacie laughed as Luke nodded in support. "There's the badass boss we knew lived inside your tiny body."
Beca smirked at him, turning to catch Chloe's gaze and sucking in a quick breath at the heat behind it. It vanished after a second, turning light again as the redhead laughed and agreed with Luke.
"Damn right! Beca's one of the only one of us here who actually as her shit together."
Beca rolled her eyes, "Professionally. My love life is a whole other matter."
Chloe set her glass on the counter and wrapped her arms around Beca's waist, causing the brunette's heart to race at the proximity. "I think you're doing just fine."
Stacie winked at Beca, agreeing with Chloe, "I second that, Bec. You're doing just fine."
A loud voice interrupted the group, shouting, "IT'S TIME FOR THE MATCHUP. GET YOUR ASSES OUT OF THIS HOUSE NOW!"
Beca flinched at CR's no-nonsense tone, looking quickly around trying to gauge if she had enough time to make one more gin and tonic. Instead, Jesse appeared beside her holding what was left of the bottle of tequila triumphantly.
"One more for the road, guys?"
They all cheered and located their shot glasses, Jesse handing the bottle over to Beca claiming they should let the professional handle the final round. Beca decided it was faster to just pour the shots than argue with him, quickly filling the glasses. They all raised them until the glasses clinked.
"To this fucking insane show and the lifetime friendships that come from it," Stacie toasted, all of them throwing back the shots with various stages of wincing afterwards. "Alright, now let's go win a million bucks."
Beca cheered along with the rest of their little group, catching Chloe's eye once more as they fell a few steps behind the rest on their way outside.
"I'm glad I got to meet you, Bec," Chloe whispered as they walked along the path toward the set for the final matchup. "A lot of this experience has sucked, but you were a bright spot."
Beca swallowed hard at Chloe's tone, unsure if the redhead meant it to sound like they were going their separate ways after the show or not.
"Chlo…" Beca started, pausing as Aubrey appeared on Chloe's other side, hooking her arm through the redhead's.
"I can't believe this is the final matchup," Aubrey said, leaning forward slightly to include Beca. "And that I matched with Chicago. I mean, I kinda see it, but he's also a total dingaling."
Beca's eyes widened as Chloe snickered into her hand.
"Bree, did you just say dingaling?" Chloe managed, carefully wiping at her eyes.
Aubrey nodded, not seeming affected at all. "There are other things I could say, but that seems appropriate enough."
Beca grinned, offering her support. "I couldn't have said it better myself. But you do still have to pick him tonight."
Aubrey rolled her eyes, "Yes, I know. I may not want anything to do with him romantically, but I'm not going to sabotage everyone's shot at the money. I want to take something positive home from this experience."
Chloe glanced at the blonde, asking quietly, "And what would you call Jesse? I know you two haven't talked much the past few weeks, but he's into you."
"I don't know, Chlo," Aubrey sighed. "We'd be long distance and it all just seems so complicated. I think it might just be best to let it go. Did any of us really think this would result in a happily ever after?"
Beca bit her lip as Chloe answered after a moment, "No, you're right. I guess we all have to come back to reality at some point."
"Exactly," Aubrey said, gesturing her hand out at the house and grounds as they approached the set. "These types of shows and grand gestures and romance aren't realistic. It's been like a dream at times, but now it's time to wake up."
Chloe hummed in agreement. "Yeah, true. It has been fun though."
Beca slowed her pace, letting the other two walk ahead and instead fell into step with Jesse who'd been trailing along bringing up the rear. He immediately noticed something was off, his arm slipping around her shoulders.
"What's wrong? We were all good like five minutes ago?"
Beca shook her head, "I waited too long. It's too late."
Jesse scoffed, "Please. It's never too late. Well, maybe sometimes it is, but now is not that time. Just wait until after the matchup and we're a million bucks richer and tell her you want to be with her. It'll be epic and romantic and she'll say yes."
Beca wasn't convinced, remaining quiet in thought.
They walked onto the set, suddenly surrounded by movement and chaos as the crew rushed to finalize everything for the shoot. Jesse stopped and turned to face her, looking into her eyes seriously.
"If you don't at least try, you'll always be wondering what if," he advised. "It's up to you, but at least you'd know for sure… one way or the other."
Beca stared up at him for a few long seconds, finally nodding. "You're right. I have to put myself out there at some point. Someone as amazing as she is deserves at least that much."
Jesse grinned, "Damn right! Now let me go sit down and wait for you to call my name."
Beca nodded and returned his quick hug, watching him stroll towards the small platform and take a seat in one of the chairs beside Benji and Emily.
CR appeared beside the girls, calling for quiet and getting it almost immediately. "Okay ladies, one last time of getting you walking into the matchup ceremony. You'll enter from over there and gather together on that platform over there," she said, pointing to make sure there was no confusion.
The initial filming of their entrance went smoothly, Beca managing to not trip over her long, flowy dress and successfully reach her spot on the platform.
"Hi ladies!" Gail greeted them as they walked in and got into position. "Welcome, everyone, to your tenth and final matchup ceremony!"
Beca clapped along with the rest of the group as several other members cheered or greeted Gail by name, feeling the anticipation hit her despite feeling very confident about how the night would end.
"Let's first say hello to our two confirmed matches, Benji and Emily… and Donald and Lily!" Gail's voice remained excited as the group clapped for their perfect matches, while the couples smiled and waved from their chairs. "And we get to share with our two couples…" Gail paused theatrically before continuing, "That a third couple was confirmed in the Truth Booth last night!"
Donald whooped as Benji and Emily cheered together, Lily remaining quiet as was her usual.
"Who is it, Gail?" Donald asked curiously.
Gail beamed as she answered him, "Aubrey, go join your match."
Beca bit on her lip to keep from laughing at the stunned expression on all four faces when Aubrey joined Chicago in his chair.
Donald shook his head, "No fucking way."
Emily looked stunned and Benji only offered a mild congratulations to the couple.
"I have to ask," Donald looked around at the group. "How did they end up in the Truth Booth together in the first place?"
Bumper answered, "Sheer luck, bro. Sheer luck… but we'll take it."
Beca felt Stacie prickle a little beside her as the two couples laughed at Bumper's reply. After a moment allowing everyone to settle back down, Gail continued with the matchup ceremony.
"Well, you all know that this is the final matchup ceremony. It is your absolute last chance to find your perfect match and go ten for ten," Gail spoke slowly, letting the weight of her words sink in. "If you do, you will leave here richer in both your hearts… and your wallets. And by that… I'm talking about a million bucks!"
The group clapped and cheered at those words, surrounding the stage with positivity.
"Feeling confident?" Gail asked, looking around.
"Hell yeah, Gail!"
"Gail, we got this."
Beca looked around at the sure smiles on most faces, feeling very good about their chances. Stacie had walked most of the group through the final matches and why they were right, the whole process going a lot more smoothly after Chicago and Aubrey were confirmed in the Truth Booth.
"But remember, if just one of you gets it wrong and you're not ten for ten… you all get nothing."
"No sweat, Gail!"
"We got it this time!"
Gail smiled brightly at them. "I love it! The positivity is contagious!" She looked around at them for another moment, before gesturing towards the ladies standing on the platform. "Well, the ladies have the honor of choosing for the final matchup ceremony. Ladies, when I call your name, strut on up here and choose your perfect match. The two of you will then place your palms on the handprint touchpad, locking you in as a couple."
Gail paused again for effect, turning fully to address the ladies. "First up tonight for the ladies is… Stacie!"
Stacie grinned, strutting confidently up to the podium. "Hey Gail!"
"Stacie! You seem happier than usual this evening," Gail replied, her perfect smile in place. "Any reason for that?"
"Hopefully a million reasons for that," Stacie quipped, cheers sounding off behind her at the words.
Gail laughed, "Well, we're going to find out soon! Stacie, who is your perfect match?"
Stacie turned to face the guys, answering, "My perfect match is Zeke."
Zeke hopped up from his chair and joined Stacie at the podium.
"Zeke, how do you feel about Stacie as your perfect match when she's been open about her feelings for Tom?" Gail asked.
"Stacie is great," Zeke answered. "I definitely see why we were matched up together. I'm a little bummed that she hooked up with Tom on day one and never looked back, but they're a great couple and I'm happy for them. Our perfect match is a perfect friendship."
Stacie smiled at him, wrapping her arms around his waist in a hug. "Zeke is an incredible guy. I'm happy he's my perfect match and know that we'll be great friends."
Beca glanced over at Tom, not surprised at all to see the man smiling at the pair, perfectly at ease in his chair. She felt a pang of jealousy hit her, wishing for some of that security in her relationship with Chloe.
"I love that," Gail said cheerfully. "Alright, Stacie, Zeke, it's time to lock in as a couple."
The pair placed their hands on the touchpad and locked in, casually strolling back to sit down.
"Next up is… Amy!"
Beca grinned as Fat Amy walked up to the podium as if she was on the catwalk, turning to face everyone at the end with a hand on her hip. The guys cheered and Beca bit back a laugh as Bumper let out a loud whistle.
"What an entrance!" Gail chuckled, though she clearly approved. "How are you feeling about tonight, Amy?"
"I'm feeling like a million bucks, Gail," Fat Amy answered with a wink.
Gail replied, "I'm sensing a theme tonight from you guys. Love the confidence. Amy, who is your perfect match?"
"My perfect match is Bumper."
Bumper stood up and took a bow before joining Amy at the podium. "That's right ladies, sorry to disappoint but I've found my perfect match."
Beca rolled her eyes at his drama, knowing the producers were eating it up. That would definitely be making the cut for television. She tuned out the quick conversation Gail had with the couple, watching as they locked in and returned to the seats. Two down and five to go, making Beca wonder exactly where in the lineup tonight her name would be called.
CR called out from behind the scenes, "Okay, let's take a break! I need Stacie, Zeke, Amy, and Bumper for reaction shots! Also, Chloe and Luke by the pool! Move people, I don't want to be here all night!"
Beca shifted a few steps off the platform, stretching her arms. She couldn't help but watch as Chloe walked away with Luke towards the pool, feeling the time ticking away faster than ever. She had to find a way to talk to Chloe sooner rather than later, before it really was too late.
"Okay guys, settle down! Let's get back to it," CR shouted over the chatter on set. "Where are Chloe and Luke? They should have been done fifteen minutes ago!"
Beca looked around, not seeing either of her friends. After a long couple of minutes they appeared from the direction of the pool accompanied by a junior producer, all three looking frustrated. Chloe and Luke split apart and went to their respective positions while the producer went to CR and offered up a clearly unsatisfactory explanation. Beca caught a few choice words from CR she was glad to not be on the receiving end of.
"Alright, good. Are we all set in the right places? Did someone check the ladies for continuity?" CR called out, glancing around in search of someone else.
A disembodied voice from somewhere offset called out, "Chloe goes beside Calamity and then we're good!"
CR watched Chloe take her place before nodding and striding out of sight. "When you're ready, Gail!"
Gail nodded herself, taking another few seconds to get herself into host mode once more.
"Next up for the ladies is… Flo!"
Beca clapped along with the rest of the group as Flo walked up to the podium and greeted Gail. They exchanged small talk for a minute before Gail asked the all important question.
"Flo, who is your perfect match?"
Flo hesitated, finally answering, "My perfect match is Theo."
Theo smiled and got to his feet, walking up to join her at the podium.
"Hi Theo! How are you feeling tonight?" Gail asked him warmly.
"I'm doing well, Gail," Theo responded, standing comfortably beside Flo. "Ready to win some money."
Gail nodded, asking, "Have you sat with Flo before? I'm not sure I remember this pairing from any previous matchup?"
"Yes, once before," Theo answered, adding, "It was actually one of the key things that helped us determine that Flo and I were a perfect match."
"That sounds interesting," Gail said, pressing further, "How did that work?"
Flo took over at a look from Theo, saying, "We were able to go through the matchups and eliminate certain couples based on the confirmed perfect matches we had and incorrect matches from the Truth Booths. It took us a while to go through it, but it helped solve the puzzle."
"All it took was some teamwork," Theo added, smiling back at Flo again.
Gail beamed at them before directing her approval around to the rest of the group. "That's great, guys. Okay, Flo, Theo, please lock in as a couple."
Beca watched them press their hands to the touchpad and lock in, Theo gesturing for Flo to walk ahead of him back to the chairs. Once they were seated, Gail resumed the matchup ceremony.
"Next up is… Beca!"
Beca felt her heartrate rise, feeling the heat of everyone's gaze on her as she walked to the podium. It felt like an eternity before she finally arrived, even knowing she wasn't walking any slower than her normal pace.
"Hi Beca… you're the first one to look nervous up here tonight," Gail observed. "How are you doing?"
Beca steadied her breathing, trying to control all the thoughts of Chloe running wild in her brain and focus on the task at hand. "I'm good, Gail. Just a lot riding on tonight," she added, trying to insert some humor to settle her nerves down.
Gail laughed, playing along, "Yeah, only a million dollars. Do you know who you're picking tonight?"
"Well, I know who my perfect match is… so I'm gonna pick him."
Gail studied her for a moment, asking, "It seems like that's not the person you want to pick?"
Beca hesitated and glanced quickly to the side to look at Chloe, instantly making up her mind to do something either incredibly romantic or incredibly stupid. Fuck it.
"No, but if I pick Chloe then not only do we not win the million bucks, but two of the guys would have to match up and that'd be super weird," Beca said, heart pounding in her chest at the gasps and sounds of surprise echoing around the set.
Gail's stunned expression would have been hilarious if the moment wasn't so serious, Beca half horrified and half proud at being responsible for the host's first full break from character.
Beca turned away from the blonde host to look fully at Chloe, finding her with eyes wide in disbelief and both hands covering her mouth. Having already dove into the deep end, Beca decided to just roll with it since CR apparently wasn't going to stop things immediately.
"I just thought you should know that you're my first choice," Beca said, her eyes not leaving Chloe's beautiful blue ones.
Those words seemed to break Chloe out of her trance, the redhead shifting past Kommissar to step off the platform and walk up to her at the podium.
"Are you sure?" Chloe whispered, still looking a little stunned.
Beca nodded. "Positive. If you still want to give us a shot… I'm all in."
Beca could see tears forming behind Chloe's eyes, but didn't have time to process what they meant as Chloe leaned in and connected their lips. Her arms wrapped around Chloe's waist, the kiss only lasting a few seconds before Chloe pulled away and pressed against Beca's neck, hugging her tightly.
"I'd love that," Chloe whispered into her skin, pulling back with a happy smile and wiping carefully at her eyes.
Voices started murmuring around the set, some of it vaguely reaching Beca's ears.
"What is happening right now?"
"Did you know about this? Did anyone know about this?"
"GET IT BECS!" Stacie's loud cheer of support rang out above the others, making Beca grin.
Beca felt her smile stretch from ear to ear, unable to do anything about it as her eyes stayed locked on Chloe. "Cool."
Chloe rolled her eyes, seemingly finally coming back to reality as she glanced around the set. "We might be in trouble right now."
Beca looked over at Gail who was now composed and beaming a smile at the pair of them.
"Well, I must say I was not expecting this tonight," Gail quipped, looking around at the various expressions ranging from stunned to thrilled on the rest of the group's faces.
It was at that moment that CR yelled out "CUT!" from behind the camera somewhere, striding out to stand beside them at the podium.
"Everyone take five minutes!" CR shouted, focusing her attention on the three of them. "So much for keeping it quiet, Beca."
The tone was only mildly accusatory, making Beca realize that the producer wasn't all that upset with her. "So… you're only a little bit mad at me?"
CR sighed, "Why you all insist on making my job so much harder, I'll never know. Look, we can cut all this out in post…"
"No." Beca surprised herself with the interruption, wondering if she did, in fact, have a death sentence tonight "I mean…" she hesitated with a look at Chloe, continuing, "I'd be okay if you wanted to air it. I'm done hiding who I am. I'll still pick Jesse for the matchup of course, but I'm cool if you want to air it."
CR turned to Chloe. "And you?"
Chloe still seemed to be processing Beca's openness, taking a moment to realize CR had asked her a question. "Oh, um… yeah, I'm fine with it, too."
CR cracked a smile, genuine and a little frightening. "I won't lie… those answers make me very, very happy. That's gonna be some good fucking television."
Beca grinned, feeling warmth spread through her. "I'm pretty happy, myself."
"Okay, so give me a few minutes and we'll script a way to resume the show from Gail's last line that hopefully doesn't make it seem too disjointed," CR said, suddenly all business. "That work for you, Gail?"
The blonde nodded, "Sure, that works."
CR walked away barking more orders, Beca taking a moment to watch people scramble into action.
"You certainly know how to go out with a bang, Beca," Gail commented, making her turn back to face the host.
Beca shrugged, "I'm not really the impulsive type, but I felt the moment and took a chance. Thankfully, it worked out."
Chloe smirked at her, "It definitely worked."
Gail laughed, "Okay, okay ladies, break it up. You will have plenty of time to celebrate after the matchup."
Beca was well on her way to ignoring Gail's words when CR's loud voice broke the spell.
"PLACES EVERYONE! BREAK IS OVER!"
Chloe sighed, "Saved by the producer."
CR joined them a minute later, explaining the plan for resuming the matchup ceremony. Once everyone was on board, she moved away to make sure everyone was in their proper place. Chloe remained next to Beca, with Gail in her place behind the podium.
"Okay, good. Obviously we're off script here, so let's show a little flexibility," CR said, taking a final look around before exiting the set. "When you're ready Gail!"
"Got it, CR," Gail replied, looking to Beca and Chloe. "All good?"
They nodded, and Gail glanced quickly around making sure everyone else was ready to go.
"Well, I must say I was not expecting this tonight," Gail repeated, continuing, "But it's clear from Chloe's reaction that she feels the same way."
Beca smiled at the redhead standing beside her, agreeing, "Yeah, I think so. I just wish I could pick her for real."
Chloe beamed at her and pressed a kiss to Beca's cheek. "It's okay, Becs. I'll be waiting for you after the matchup.
Beca blushed as a few of the girls let out a loud "Awww" behind them, making her turn around and flip them off, aiming for Stacie.
"That's adorable," Gail grinned, waiting for Beca to turn back round to face her. "Well, Beca, unfortunately you'll have to say goodbye to Chloe for now since I've just been informed you must select one of these fine gentlemen as your perfect match. Don't worry, it's only temporary."
Beca grinned as Chloe placed a quick kiss to her lips, shooting her a wink before returning to her place on the platform. Gail cleared her throat lightly, forcing Beca's eyes back to the host and reminding her to once again focus on the task at hand.
"Beca, who is your perfect match?"
"Right," Beca said, looking at Gail, "My perfect match is honestly one of the best guys in this house. He's been a true friend to me, and I know we'll stay friends after this because he'll force me to. I'm a better person because of his friendship and support. My perfect match is Jesse."
Jesse's smile was ear to ear as he got up from his chair and joined her at the podium, wrapping her in a tight hug. "I fucking love you… that was the most amazing thing I've ever seen in my life"
Beca hugged him back, whispering, "Thanks for helping me figure out what I needed to do."
"What are perfect matches for if not to help you get someone else?" Jesse joked, pulling back from the hug and turning to face Gail with his arm still around Beca's waist. "Hey Gail."
"Jesse, you couldn't look happier that your perfect match just confessed she'd rather have picked someone else," Gail commented. "I also can't help but notice you don't look surprised?"
"Gail, Beca is my perfect match. She told me weeks ago about her feelings for Chloe, and I'm thrilled for the two of them," Jesse answered smoothly. "They are both amazing women who deserve happiness."
Gail smiled at that, pressing just a little further, "Not even a hint of bitterness that you won't get a happily ever after of your own with your perfect match?"
Jesse shook his head, "I think we can all see by now that just because it says perfect match on paper… it doesn't actually end up working out. Look at Stacie and Tom. They are clearly a perfect match, yet the show has them paired with other people. My happily ever after is still out there waiting for me."
Beca chimed in helpfully, "Jesse is a great guy. Like I said, we will definitely stay friends and I'll be just as thrilled for him when he finds his true perfect match."
"The love and support in this room right now is so overwhelming!" Gail exclaimed, smiling at the group. "That is all we can ask for. Beca, Jesse, it's time to lock in as a couple."
Beca placed her palm on the touchpad beside Jesse's, waiting for the green bar to scan over and lock them in. Once it was finished, the words "LOCKED!" appeared across both screens and they turned and walked back to sit together in Jesse's chair.
"How do you feel?" Jesse asked once they were seated with his arm resting across the back of the chair and Gail had called Kommissar up to the podium.
"I can't even describe it," Beca answered softly, her eyes once again seeking out Chloe to discover the redhead already looking in her direction.
Jesse leaned back a little in the chair, whispering, "You know I really am happy for you, Becs. You put yourself out there and faced your fears and got the girl."
Beca grinned as Kommissar selected Luke as her perfect match, watching her friend walk up to the podium. "Thanks, Jess. It wasn't easy, but I did it."
Jesse paused for a moment before changing the subject. "They make an incredibly tall, attractive, blonde couple… don't they?
"Definitely. Almost like a pair of gorgeous blonde robots," Beca mused, watching them lock in as a couple and walk towards them to the only empty chair.
CR broke up the shoot again, calling out for reaction shots. "I want Beca, Chloe, and Jesse by the pool! Luke and Kommissar over there near the trees! Stacie, Aubrey, Theo, and Tom over near the house. Half hour, people… get it done!"
Beca hopped up from her chair, the relief at not having to hide her feelings for Chloe anymore giving her a level of comfort she'd been sorely lacking. Jesse followed her and Chloe over to the pool, the producers immediately telling them they wanted to get Beca and Chloe's reaction shot together first, then Jesse's separately.
Beca grinned as Chloe locked their fingers together, stepping into their places under the bright lights.
"I still can't believe you did that," Chloe shook her head, though her smile showed the happiness behind the words.
"Me either," Beca agreed, chuckling at the memory. "I think I blacked out."
A producer snapped at them, "Can you just wait two minutes for us to get rolling?"
Beca rolled her eyes at the man, "Fuck off, dude. We're just talking."
"Yeah, well, that's footage I want to get on camera… so just wait two minutes for me."
Beca opened her mouth to say something much ruder when Chloe's lips covered her own, rendering her immediately silent. They kissed for a moment, Beca finally pulling away mumbling, "Yeah, that's a much better use of my mouth."
"I completely agree," Chloe replied, kissing her again.
After a moment, the producer called out again, "We're rolling… just so you know."
Beca pulled back from Chloe, peeking around her to look for him. "What?"
Chloe shifted beside her to face the camera as well, asking, "Okay, what do you want us to say?"
"Just whatever you're feeling right now is fine," the producer answered, his face hidden behind a camera.
Beca grinned as Chloe kissed her cheek again. "I wasn't sure that was gonna work… but I'm really glad it did."
Chloe beamed and wrapped her arms around Beca's waist. "I couldn't be happier right now. I knew we'd been dancing around something special, but I wasn't sure it was gonna happen before the end of the show."
"Are you two planning to stay together after the show?"
Beca met Chloe's eyes, answering, "We've got a lot to figure out in terms of what being together after this looks like. I think right now I'm just happy I don't have to hide how I feel about her. I'm kinda really fucking into this chick."
Chloe's smile got impossibly wider, leaning in and kissing Beca soundly. "Ditto."
The producer called out, "That's a wrap. Thanks ladies, that's good enough. You can hang out or head back while we get Jesse's footage."
Beca wandered a little ways away still holding Chloe's hand, savoring the few moments of semi-privacy they had before Jesse finished filming and the three headed back towards the set.
"Next up for the ladies is… Chloe!"
Chloe smiled when Gail called her name, stepping down off the small platform and walked up to the podium.
"Chloe, it's been a whirlwind of a matchup ceremony for you tonight," Gail started off, addressing the evening's events head on.
"Can't argue with you there, Gail," Chloe replied brightly. "But I wouldn't have it any other way."
Gail smiled, "That's amazing. Chloe, who is your perfect match?"
Chloe turned to look at the chairs, gaze connecting with Beca's before moving on to someone else. "My perfect match is an incredible guy who has found an equally incredible girl. We may not be a romantic match, but somehow both of us have found romance along the way. My perfect match is Tom."
Tom rose from his chair and joined Chloe at the podium, giving her a quick hug upon arrival.
"Tom, it seems that both you and Chloe have found love on this journey… just with other people," Gail commented, her smile genuine.
"It's pretty crazy, Gail," Tom answered, "Chloe and I check all each other's boxes. It's easy to see why the show paired us together, but I think that's what is so special about love. Sometimes you can't explain it and it doesn't make sense… it just is."
"Beautifully said," Gail replied, looking between the pair of them. "Chloe, Tom, it's time to lock in as a couple."
Beca watched as the pair locked in and returned to the chairs, shooting Chloe a wink as she walked by. This was it, one more couple and then all would be revealed.
"Well, last but certainly not least, come on up Calamity and Uni!" Gail announced, watching as the pair approached the podium together.
Beca allowed herself to tune out the small talk Gail reserved for the final couple, leaning a little closer into Jesse.
"I can't believe we're about to win a million bucks."
Jesse hummed, "Right? Unless we got something horribly wrong. That would suck."
Beca shrugged, "I don't even care. Like yeah, it'd be cool to get the money and use it to expand and grow the bar, but I'll survive."
"You just want to get Chloe into the STD Den and bang out all that tension," Jesse smirked.
"Dude… gross," Beca jabbed him in the side. "The STD Den is literally the last place I want to be alone with Chloe."
Jesse grinned, "So you do want to fu….mmppphh."
Beca's hand came up to cover his mouth, refusing to let him finish that thought. "Not another word."
"Okay, Calamity, Uni, it's time to lock in as a couple."
Gail's words had them both falling silent, knowing that the moment of truth was finally here. They were about to find out if all the careful planning and strategizing and going over old matchup ceremonies was about to pay off. Uni and Calamity filled the final chair and the room was suddenly very silent.
"Alright everyone, you have paired off into ten couples. This is your tenth, and final shot at uncovering everyone's perfect match," Gail began, already building the suspense. "The matchup will reveal how many of you are matched correctly, but not who those matches are… that's up to you to figure out. Behind me, are ten beams of light."
Beca briefly closed her eyes as the beams flashed on, brightly shining right at them before shifting to shoot high into the night sky. The group clapped and cheered at the physical representation that would hopefully be showing them winning a million dollars in the next few minutes.
"Each beam represents a perfect match," Gail continued. "One beam is one perfect match. Ten beams… is ten perfect matches and one million dollars."
"CUT!" CR yelled from behind a camera when the group allowed Gail to finish the line in silence. "Guys, I want you to join in with Gail when she says 'one million dollars' and then start cheering, alright? Let's run it back."
Gail nodded, waiting for her cue.
"Each beam represents a perfect match. One beam is one perfect match. Ten beams, is ten perfect matches and one million dollars!"
Beca joined in with the rest of the group as requested, calling out the money and immediately breaking out into clapping and cheers at the thought of winning the money. This time there were no interruptions as Gail continued.
"That's right! You guys know the drill," Gail grinned, hands on her hips. "Now tonight, you start with three beams already lit. These three beams represent your three confirmed perfect matches… Benji and Emily, Donald and Lily, and Chicago and Aubrey. Add seven more beams you guys, and you'll walk away with a million bucks."
"Let's go, Gail!"
Gail grinned and stepped around to stand in front of the podium with her back to the group, placing both palms on the touchpad. "Here we go!"
"Put your hands on that screen Gail!"
"Rub those magic hands together Gail and show us a million bucks!"
Gail announced loudly, "And the number of perfect matches is…"
The group started calling out the number four around her, Beca shifting anxiously in her seat waiting for the next beam to light up. After a moment it did, shooting high into the sky.
"There's four!" Gail said, her voice rising over the cheers and calls.
"Let's see five, Gail!"
"We're not done… we need five!"
A fifth beam lit up the sky. "There's five!" Gail called, the cheers growing louder.
"That's five, baby! Let's fucking go!"
Not long after the fifth a sixth beam lit up, causing the energy on set to increase even more.
"Six!" Gail announced excitedly.
Beca grinned, clapping her hands together loudly. Let's go!"
"Gimme that money, baby!"
"We're not done! We want ten!"
Beca glanced at Jesse as the wait continued, wondering if someone they'd fucked up. "What's taking so long?"
Jesse shook his head, "No idea."
It was an agonizing wait until suddenly the seventh beam flashed up into the sky.
"That's seven!" Gail cried out, encouraging them to continue the reactions.
"We're so close!"
"Come on eight!"
Just as people began calling for eight, the eighth beam flashed on and lit up the sky.
"Eight perfect matches!" Gail yelled, her excitement level rising along with the groups.
The yelling grew louder and less distinguishable as the cheers and clapping momentarily drowned out individuals.
Beca pressed her face into Jesse's shoulder. "Holy shit, did we actually do it?"
"I think so," Jesse answered, his voice full of hope.
"If we got nine, we got ten!"
"Bring 'em both up at the same time!"
"We want ten!"
"WE GOT TEN! COME ON!"
In a whirlwind of action, the ninth beam flashed on causing the group to erupt on set knowing that meant they got all ten correct.
"THAT'S NINE!" Gail yelled, only having to wait another few seconds for the tenth beam to light up. "THAT'S TEN PERFECT MATCHES! YOU JUST WON A MILLION DOLLARS!"
Beca jumped up and hugged Jesse as the beams went crazy, moving and flashing all over the set. Confetti dropped from above them as everyone celebrated together, hugging and high fiving in sheer joy. Jesse lifted her off her feet momentarily, setting her back down to say into her ear, "Go find Chloe."
Beca grinned at him, turning and weaving through the mass of people and confetti until she found her person. Chloe beamed at her, moving in and wrapping her in a tight hug.
"I can't believe we did it."
"Me either," Beca said, raising her voice slightly to be heard over the noise. "I can't believe we got through all the bullshit and actually found something real."
Chloe laughed at that, asking, "It is real, isn't it? I'm not sure if I'm dreaming right now."
Beca shifted and pressed her lips to Chloe's. "It's not a dream."
The moment was broken as Luke wrapped his arms around both of them, shouting, "I love you guys so much!"
They laughed and hugged him back, the celebrations taking a while to slow down. CR eventually using an air horn to get them all to shut up for a minute.
"We need to film a celebratory shot with the entire group, and then do reaction shots to cut into the episode. Group up!"
Beca smiled as Chloe slipped an arm around her waist while they waited for production assistants to pass out victory shots in bright pink glasses, taking it when offered.
Gail stood at the front of the group and yelled "Cheers!" as the cue to drink, everyone yelling and celebrating as they downed the alcohol.
CR returned, yelling out names for reaction shots. "I need Benji and Emily, Donald and Lily, and Tom and Stacie over by the house! I need Chicago and Aubrey, Beca and Chloe, and Luke and Kommissar over by the pool! Let's go, you can get shitfaced in the house after you film!"
Beca glanced at Chloe as the celebrations broke up and the group slowly dispersed. "Shall we?"
Chloe nodded and reached out to take her hand. "Let's get this over with so we can get a little drunk and steal the STD Den from Tom and Stacie."
"You are actually insane if you think I'm doing anything in that room."
"We'll see about that."
Beca pressed a hand against her head as she waited for the driver to load her suitcase into the trunk of the car, far too bright outside even with her sunglasses on. It had been one tearful goodbye after another throughout the entire morning, filled with promises to keep in touch and plans to meet up sooner rather than later. About half of the group had already made their exit and it was finally Beca's turn.
Beca looked up to see Chloe exiting the front door and walking over to her. "Hey."
"I can't believe we're actually leaving this place," Chloe hummed, looking back at the house. "At times it seemed like we would never leave."
Beca laughed, "At times I really fucking wanted to… and now I'm kinda sad. We had some really good times."
Chloe nodded in agreement, "Plenty of memories to take home with us."
"And maybe something a little better than memories," Beca said, stepping closer to hug the redhead. "The real question is how I'm going to wait a whole month to see you again. Are you sure you don't want to come out sooner?"
Chloe sighed, "I wish, but I have things I need to take care of in Texas before I move out to California. Don't worry, babe, it'll go by fast."
Beca's heart fluttered a little at the pet name, pressing a kiss to Chloe's neck. "If you say so."
"Beca, it's time." Her driver called from where he was holding the back door open for her.
"One minute," Beca called, keeping her lips pressed against Chloe's neck. "Ugh, this sucks."
Chloe chuckled, "Yeah, but it's not goodbye. I'll see you in a month."
"You better get your ass in that car before you miss your flight."
Beca grumbled, "Yeah, yeah okay."
Chloe pressed a quick kiss to her lips. "Text me when you land… even if I won't get it until I land."
"I will," Beca replied, kissing her again. "Okay, I'm leaving."
She turned and reluctantly left Chloe standing in front of the house, sliding into the backseat of the car. The driver closed the door and returned to his seat, starting the car. Beca waved to Chloe as they pulled way, already missing the way they'd been able to freely be together even if it was only for a few hours.
"Seems like you had a good trip?"
Beca nodded, her smile taking over her face. "Yeah, I wasn't sure it was going to be… but it turned out pretty amazing. Kinda sucks that I probably won't ever see a lot of those people again though. Most of them were really cool."
"Well that's not entirely true. You'll see them in about three to four months."
Beca raised an eyebrow at him, asking, "What are you talking about?"
He glanced into the rearview mirror, meeting her eyes. "Well you'll see them in about four months… at the live reunion show."
Beca stared at him, not moving even when he looked away back at the road. She eventually turned her gaze out the car window to get her final glimpses of the gorgeous Hawaiian scenery.
"Well that should be interesting," she murmured, wondering how she'd forgotten about something that would have obviously been in her contract.
Putting it out of her mind for the moment, she pulled out her phone and tapped on her dad's name. He picked up after a few rings, sounding overjoyed to finally get to speak to her after the long silence dictated by the show.
"Yeah dad… dinner with everyone sounds great when I get back to town," Beca said, thoughts of Chloe filling her mind bringing a smile to her face. "There's something I need to tell you."