Beca’s mid-laugh when the door opens, the blinds over the top window rattling against the door frame. Cynthia Rose had just told her something ridiculous, but the thought flees Beca’s mind at the speed of light as the newcomer walks into the conference room.
She’s in a pair of ripped jeans and a white t-shirt that says NOT YOUR BABE in red print over the heart. It’s a Look™, for sure, but nothing Beca hasn’t seen before on every other girl in LA. So why is her throat closing up, the laugh that had been ringing through the room suddenly cutting off as the girl steps in with a hesitant wave.
“Oh, Em, hey. What’s up, girl?” CR spins in her chair to greet the newcomer. Beca snaps her mouth shut.
“Hey. Just wanted to let you know I finished that demo and had it sent on over to the label like you wanted.”
“Right on.” CR jabs her thumb in Beca’s direction. “This is Beca, Em. I’ve hired her on to direct the tour. Bec, this is Emily. She’s in the band and honestly, the only reason the lyrics to any of my songs are any good.”
Beca nods her head. “Hey, ‘sup.”
“Hi,” Emily says, giving Beca a contagious smile. “Nice to meet you. That’s awesome. I’m so excited for the tour, it’s gonna be amazing.” She narrows her eyes in CR’s direction, playful and exasperated. “And for the last time, we are a creative team , Cynthia Rose. You contribute to your own songs just as much as, if not more than I do.”
“She’s modest,” CR murmurs to Beca. “We’re lucky if two lines I write in my songs make it to the final draft.”
Beca laughs. “Well, either way, the fans are going to be singing them right back to you on this tour. Once we get the setlist down, we’ll be able to start formulating the direction we go in for every other aspect.”
“Ah!” Emily visibly bounces, her cheeks stretching with an excited smile. “We’re gonna have the best time!”
“That reminds me, Em,” CR says. “I need to set up a meeting with the rest of the band about going over the staging and what kind of choreo we all wanna work with. I know the boys will probably be good with whatever, but I’m sure Stacie is gonna have her share of opinions.”
Emily chuckles. “Probably.”
“Will you set something up with them and let me know?”
“Yep,” Emily nods. “Was just about to meet Stace for dinner anyway. I’ll let everyone know and check back in.”
Emily turns her smile in Beca’s direction. Beca feels herself staring, but she can’t stop. Girl is gorgeous. “It was nice to meet you, Beca. Can’t wait to work with you.”
“Yeah,” Beca numbly agrees. “You too.”
Then she’s offering them a wave and heading out of the room, the door closing behind her with another rattle of the blinds.
“You saw the shirt, Mitchell.”
CR raises an eyebrow in Beca’s direction. “Don’t drool. She’s not your babe .”
“Oh shut up.”
But she blushes a fierce shade of red that has CR laughing so hard she almost falls out of her seat.
The Crazy Youngsters Tour isn’t technically her big break, but it is her biggest break, so Beca’s committed her entire waking life to making sure she gets it right.
Cynthia Rose is the world’s quickest rising popstar right now and Beca knows her opportunity to have full creative control of the project comes down to sheer luck. Sure, Beca’s done some small time stuff, but not any kind of large scale tour like this, and it’s only her connections that got her into this position. She knows CR wouldn’t have thought of her if not for Chloe, a dancer Beca met when she first moved to LA. Their close friendship had worked out for both of them, each helping the other climb another rung on the ladder to success step by step.
Beca’s grateful for it all and she takes her role on this tour very seriously. She knows CR lives under a planet of pressure. She gets hate and praise alike as the biggest out and proud lesbian to explode her way into stardom. The way to this spot had been paved by many brave people before her, but that doesn’t mean the critics go easy on what they call their resident Lesbian Beyonce and Black Taylor Swift.
Beca resents all of that on behalf of her new friend, knows that shit can’t be easy to hear or live up to, so if that means she has to work her fingers to the bone to help Cynthia Rose have the most kickass world tour in the history of world tours, then so be it.
Every time she’s afraid to fuck it up, she reminds herself that CR is the bravest person she’s ever met, and she tells herself to suck it up . This is the opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to really do something that matters.
She thinks back to her tiny bi self back in high school, messing around with the music programs on her laptop on Friday nights instead of hanging out. She thinks of all the dreams she’s had in her head since forever, the pushback from her parents and what she’s had to do to get here.
If someone were to tell that kid with the head full of dreams that one day she’d direct and engineer the tour for the biggest popstar of the time, an out lesbian no less, young Beca would have rolled her eyes.
She’s here, though. It’s happening.
Beca’s not gonna let any kind of fear or pressure take that from her, and she’s certainly not gonna let those take anything from Cynthia Rose.
So she does what needs to be done. She finalizes the setlist, she hires a kickass SFX engineer, she meets with CR’s asshole of a manager.
All that’s left is to see it to the end.
The final rehearsals are held in this massive warehouse in Tampa over the course of two weeks. The dancers and CR have all been doing their rehearsals and Beca’s been working closely with special effects and lighting to create a spectacular show. Everyone’s outdone themselves as far as Beca can tell.
Now they just have to put it all together.
Beca watches from the light booth as they run through the opening number on stage. CR and her dancers are perfectly in sync on the frontmost part of the three-level stage. On the highest level, the band plays along. The middle level exists mostly for special effects, but there is a part in the middle of the show where Cynthia Rose will climb the wall and sit on top, a feat made possible by nearly-invisible steps and a bungee inconspicuously attached to CR’s hips.
“Fire. Cannons 1 and 3,” comes a small voice from next to her just as a plume of fire shoots up behind the band. Beca nods in approval at her head effects girl, Lilly. Beca’s toured with her before and they’d always worked well together, even if Lilly could get a little strange. It’s nice to have a few friends on the road.
The song comes to an upbeat end, another dramatic flare of fire punctuating the last beat. The crew that’s working around them stops to clap a few times before resuming their work. CR and the dancers take a playful bow.
“Good work, everybody,” Beca says into her headset, watching as the stage manager relays it to the people on stage. “Take five and then run it again but through the transition to “Love Your Body”. If anyone has questions, now’s the time to ask.”
Everyone on the stage makes for their waters and neck towels. A voice in Beca’s headset tinnies through.
“As a matter of fact, I do have a question. Why hasn’t the band signed their waiver forms about not being tied in to the stage?”
Beca rolls her eyes, switching to the personal channel of CR’s manager. “Feel like that’s literally in your job description, Aubrey.”
“I manage Cynthia Rose and I don’t have time to chase down every member of her posse to sign a form. Liability is your domain, Beca. I emailed you the forms. Make it happen.”
“You bore me, Posen.”
Beca switches back to the general line over the comms. “I lied, take an extended break. Thirty minutes. Band, hold your places, please.” She turns to Lilly. “Hold down the fort, I’ll be back.”
Then she hops out of the booth, starting the trek toward backstage and pulling up Aubrey’s newest email that she never actually read on her phone as she goes.
People yell questions to her as she passes and she has to stop a few times to talk to some of the crew, but finally she reaches backstage. She stomps her way up the hidden stairs to the third level, the sound of laughter reaching her ears as she enters onto the platform.
“No, that’s absolutely ridiculous,” Stacie’s saying, her drumsticks twirling around her fingers so quickly Beca only sees blurred motion. “Anyone in the HPCU would kick anyone in Star Wars’ ass, no question.”
“Darth Vader is literally the most formidable villain of all time,” Jesse argues. “It’s not even an opinion, that’s just common knowledge.”
“He would shit himself under one look from Bellatrix, don’t at me, Jess.” Stacie rolls her eyes as Beca steps onto the scene. “Don’t mind their stupidity, Beca. I know you didn’t come all the way over here to hear some kind of ludicrous appeal toward nerdboy logic.”
Beca raises her eyebrows. “I have no idea what half of the things you just said mean, so. I won’t.”
“Never heard it referred to as the Harry Potter Cinematic Universe, but you know, I like it.” Benji says from behind his keyboards. He smiles around the lip of his water bottle before he takes a drink.
“It deserves its own category separate from the books just like the MCU. The movies are barely in line with the source material.” Stacie scowls at this like it’s a personal offense.
“Anyway.” Emily interjects, eyes meeting Beca’s with an apologetic smile. “Beca’s busy, I’m sure. Maybe we can save this discussion for later.”
Beca shrugs good-naturedly. She’s only met the band a few times in passing, but they’re always having some kind of strange argument whenever she’s interacted with them. One time she walked in on them when they were discussing the validity of classifying cereal as a soup. Beca gave her two cents on the matter, only to be called a lunatic by Stacie. Since then, Beca’s tried to stay out of it.
“Right,” she says. “I’ve been sent to make sure you guys sign that liability waiver.”
Benji stares at her. “The what?”
“That form Aubrey sent over last week. You guys didn’t want to be tied in to the stage up here, so you have to sign the form or whatever.”
“We usually make it a general rule to ignore anything Aubrey sends us,” Jesse laughs.
Beca snorts. “I mean, same. But you have to sign this or we legally can’t have you on the tour.”
“Would the tour really go on without us?” Stacie muses. “I doubt it.”
“Wait, Beca, if I’m tied in, could I go on a bungie like Cynthia Rose and like, do flips off the platform with my guitar?” Jesse grasps the safety rail and looks down.
Benji laughs, tossing his empty water bottle at Jesse’s back. “What if it was like, synchronized band flipping? Like Cirque du Soleil?”
“We’ll sign them,” Emily says to her quietly while Jesse and Benji exchange outrageous ideas back and forth. “They’re just being goofy.”
“I know,” Beca grins over at her. “I’m getting used to it.”
“That’s good,” Emily chuckles. “Because the tour technically hasn’t even started yet. So there’s a long time left to deal with us.”
Beca shrugs. “Well if they annoy me too much, I’ll push them over the rail myself. Once they sign the form, there won’t be any consequences.”
“Oh stop.” They both laugh. Emily squeezes her shoulder earnestly. “It’s turned out really great by the way. You did an awesome job. The set and the lighting and just… the songs. Everything. It’s gonna be perfect.”
“Thanks,” Beca says seriously. “It’s a team effort, though. And I just did everything Cynthia Rose told me to do. They’re your guys’ songs. I just… put them into the show.”
“It’s hard to make someone’s vision come to life, but I can’t imagine it any other way now.” Emily gives her a sincere smile. “And CR’s really happy with it.”
Beca nods, shoving her hands into her jean pockets. Her face feels hot from Emily’s praise. “I mean, this tour is like, important, right? In more senses than just one, you know?”
“I know.” Emily’s expression turns wistful. “Wish I had a role model like her when I was in high school.”
“Yeah,” Beca says, wondering if Emily means what she thinks she means. “Me too. Might have made being brave a little easier.”
“Mhmm.” Emily stares at Beca for a long moment. “Well, we’re here now. Who would’ve thought.”
Beca exhales out a quiet “yeah” and tries not to get lost in the brown of Emily’s eyes. She clears her throat. “Um, anyway, guys. I’ll uh, re-forward you those forms. Please e-sign them and send them back to Aubrey.”
“You got it, Becaw!” Jesse salutes.
“I will push you. Over. The. Railing.” Emily laughs next to her and it makes Beca grin. “Back to work, nerds.”
She offers them a last wave and thumps back down the stairs to the warehouse floor. “Places,” she says into her headset. “Start again from first cue in five.” Then she switches back to Aubrey’s line. “Your message has been relayed, Your Highness.”
“Your condescension is noted and unnecessary.”
There’s a pause. “I just received Emily’s form. Maybe you’re not so useless after all.”
“You’re welcome.” Beca smirks when she hears Aubrey snort. “Can you get CR back on stage now? We’ve got a show to finalize.”
She climbs back into the lighting booth and slumps down into her chair next to Lilly with a yawn.
It’s a good thing she’s having a blast because directing this will be the end of her.
“Alright, places.” Beca commands into her headset. “Give me the go. Dancers.”
“BTS and costumes.”
Aubrey’s voice fizzles through. “We’re a go with CR.”
Beca grins and nods at Lilly to kill the stadium light. Cheering erupts from around them. “We’re a go then, people. Have a good show. On my count. Three. Two. One. First cue.”
The stadium shakes with the roar of stomping feet and applause as the opening beats of the first song vibrate through the giant speakers all around them. Beca has to stop herself from cheering alongside them.
Even though she’s seen the show a hundred times, it’s different with a crowd. There’s a rush of adrenaline pumping through her that she can’t push down.
With a blast of light and fire, Cynthia Rose appears on stage, belting out the first lyrics to a song Beca knows by heart. She can’t help it, she mutes her mic and lets out a whistle. Then she turns her mic back on.
The crew around her are all dancing and Beca doesn’t blame them. The band has pulled out all the stops.
When the song ends, Beca gives CR an unplanned second just to take it all in. She’s breathing heavily up on the stage, arms spread wide, smile visible from anywhere in that stadium.
Beca grins to herself. “Transition one,” she says into the headset.
“TAMPA!” CR screams to the crowd.
“Cue for ‘Love Your Body’,” Beca orders. There’s a pulse of light as CR spins around. The applause is ear-splitting.
“I’m Cynthia Rose Adams. And welcome… to the Crazy Youngsters World Tour!”