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Idol

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You're gonna miss me by my walk

You're gonna miss me by my talk, oh,

You're gonna miss me when I'm gone.

The cup landed with a resounding thwack, and Beca finally chanced a look up. From her spot on the floor, all three judges were peering over the table at her, literally looking down their noses at her. Looking down on her.

Breathe, Beca. Anything for LA, remember?

"That was awesome!" the chipper host shouted from the corner. Jesse, that was his name. He fist-pumped the air, and Beca rolled her eyes. The producers made her do her dumb cup song thing for the real judges after she'd showed them in her first call-back, something about "wow-factor" and "marketability." Now she felt stupid sitting on the floor in front of the celebrity judges: Katy Perry, Aubrey Plaza, and a third woman that Beca didn't recognize.

"It sure was something," Aubrey deadpanned sarcastically, and Beca felt her cheeks heat up.

"Plaza, shut up," Katy shot back. She looked at Beca. "I loved that. So much. You have a great voice."

"Thanks," Beca replied, only now realizing that she was still sitting on the floor. She awkwardly rolled out from underneath herself and stood, brushing nonexistent dirt from her skinny jeans and straightening her flannel.

The last judge - a severe-looking blonde - regarded her coldly.

Well, at least Beca knew who the resident Simon-Cowell type was. Beca huffed and crossed her arms, meeting the blonde's glare.

This was so stupid. American Idol, really? Had she really sunk so low that a crappy reality TV show was the only way to get out to LA? Beca had sent out demo after demo to radio stations, producers, even some random Soundcloud rapper who had a decent following, but nobody would bite. She tried putting her original songs online, but the only views came from her looping the video.

It was pathetic.

And she knew her voice was good– pretty darn good, if she was being honest. Not that she wanted to use it; she just wanted to make music. But she needed to get her foot in the door. And a recording contract could do that, right? Or maybe she would get kicked off the reality show early, get discovered by a producer.

Either way, she had to do something.

Which got her here, on round three of American Idol auditions, praying for the embarrassment to end. The host Jesse seemed to be the only one who read her awkwardness. He cleared his throat and leaned forward.

"Posen?"

Posen, whoever she was, celebrity-wise, let out a disappointed hum. Her harsh ponytail was accentuated by ramrod posture that Beca subconsciously mimicked as the blonde regarded her. The judge sucked in a short breath and plastered on a fake smile.

"I'm not sure we want anybody that needs a cute little gimmick, do we?"

Beca's face was on fire now, temper flaring.

"I know I'm talented enough for this garbage show," she barked. Jesse squeaked in his corner, throwing an anxious look to the cameras behind the judges. Two of the producers were there, but they only nodded and motioned to keep it going.

"Aca-scuse me? 'Garbage show?" Posen shot back. "We are one of the highest grossing TV shows of all time, you bitch."

"Ohhhh kay," Katy jumped in suddenly. "Well I'm voting yes."

"No," Posen said to Katy, then turned to Beca. She was wearing that same saccharine smile that didn't quite reach the eyes. "No offense, but I'm not sure you'd fit in on the show."

"Yeah, screw you too," Beca mumbled. It was up to Aubrey Plaza then, and the dark haired celebrity knew it. She grinned devilishly.

"Now I don't want to stir the pot or anything," she said slowly. She schooled her smirk into a doe-eyed gaze, setting it on the Posen woman. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but she's a good singer, right?"

Posen began to protest, but Katy was louder.

"Absolutely!"

"And this is a singing show, right?" Aubrey went on. She caught Beca's eye and gave an exaggerated wink, earning a laugh from the small woman. Posen glared at Beca, and Beca bit her lip.

"It is," the blonde seethed. Beca bit down hard – hard enough to draw blood. She couldn't laugh at this woman. Not right now.

"Well then I'm in," Aubrey Plaza concluded. Posen gasped, turning to the cameras and the producers behind them, but before she could finish her protest, Katy Perry had leapt from behind the table.

"You're going to Hollywood!"

Beca pushed past Jesse, and past the cameras, bursting into the hallway.

"Wait!" he called after her. Beca gritted her teeth as she spun around to face him.

"Aren't you excited?"

She took him in – tall, dark hair, shiny teeth that sat in an honest smile. Kind eyes. He held his mic at an off angle, like he forgot that he was holding it, and the cameras had to swing ten feet around him to get both him and Beca in the shot. But he didn't look like he cared about the shot, the mic, or anything at all really. And the way he was looking at Beca made her think that he really wanted to know how she was feeling.

This business would eat him up, if it hadn't already.

"I guess I'm excited," she mumbled. Jesse stepped forward. Seemingly reluctant, he handed her the mic and gestured to the cameras.

"Tell me," he pushed, and Beca sighed as she took the mic from him.

"I love music," she said. "I love writing and playing music. I like singing. But when people like that act like they're better than everyone else, I get pis- uh. Ticked. I get ticked off."

Jesse nodded. The cameras were on them now, but Jesse never let his attention slide from Beca.

"Aubrey Posen," he supplied. "She's a new judge, but she's been involved with the show for years."

"Okay, and?" Beca replied. Jesse went to respond, but before he could, the producers barreled out of the audition room.

"Amazing, just amazing!" the woman said. She thrust her hand towards Beca, who shook it cautiously.

"I'm Gail Abernathy-McKadden, pleasure to meet you."

"Uh, likewise," Beca replied. Scanning for Jesse, she found him pulling the camera crew off to the side. Her only ally, out of reach. The male producer clapped his hand on her shoulder.

"And I'm John Smith," he bellowed, then laughed. "And you, little miss, you are going to be one fire-cracker of a contestant!"

Beca bobbed her head forcibly and swallowed.

"Uh-huh."

"Ah, what a sight to see Aubrey Posen challenged, and by someone so very small and unimportant!" Gail went on. "You're just what we needed!"

"Especially for an all-women season," John said. "Talk about a snooze-fest!"

"All women?"

Beca glanced around and saw that, yes, in fact, everyone in line waiting to go in was more-or-less female. She saw a few that might make the producers do a double take, including a short black woman with bright red hair, but otherwise there was an unmistakable scent of perfume and estrogen wafting around.

Great, leave it to her to not read up on something before joining. Beca was suddenly nervous. She'd known she was gay for a while now, but that didn't necessarily mean she was comfortable around so many TV-ready women.

"John, your misogyny knows no limits," Gail replied. "Becky, we'll touch base in a few weeks."

"It's actually Beca-"

But they were gone, already halfway down the hall, voices and laughter booming even in the midst of all the singing going on around them. Beca was about to walk that way herself when Jesse reappeared.

"I'll need that mic back," he said. Duh, of course he did. Embarrassed, Beca handed it over and did a little wave, signaling her leave.

"We, uh- we probably won't use all of that."

Beca raised her eyebrows but didn't reply.

"Yeah, I just… I guess I just wanted to know," he sighed. "You looked so miserable in there, and everyone's usually so happy when they make it. I wondered why you were even here."

"Yeah, you and me both." Beca shrugged, then gave a sigh of her own. "I knew I could do it. And it seemed like my only way out."

That seemed to resonate, and Jesse nodded again. He opened his mouth once, shut it, and then opened it again. Beca saw that he couldn't hold back the smile that was fighting its way onto his face.

"It is pretty cool though, isn't it?"

And as she stood across from him, with hundreds of women surrounding them, singing their hearts out to get ready, the reality of the whole situation hit her. She was going to LA. She was going to work in music. She was just like them, even if it was for different reasons.

She felt herself smiling back at Jesse.

"Yeah, it'll be pretty cool to go to Hollywood," she said.

"You're going to Hollywood?!"

Jesse and Beca were interrupted by a voice behind them, and when Beca found the source, her breath caught in her throat.

A staggeringly beautiful redhead with the purest cerulean eyes was positively beaming at her. The excitement on her face was innocent and great, and she heard Jesse give a little laugh to her right.

"If she can sing at all, she'll be on the show," he said under his breath. "She's gorgeous."

"No kidding," Beca replied. "Let's hope she can carry a tune."

Jesse snorted, and Beca smiled.

"That's so cool!" the redhead gushed. "We haven't seen anyone make it all day, congratulations!"

She rushed forward from her spot in line and pulled Beca into a tight hug. Over the redhead's shoulder, Beca saw Jesse's perplexed expression. He mouthed, "Do you know her?" to which Beca only shook her head. She guessed she had a similarly confused expression on her own face.

Cameras were back, suddenly, and Jesse seemed to remember himself.

"Yep, we got one through. Beca is going to Hollywood! And you are?"

"Oh, I'm nobody. Nobody at all. Well, Chloe," she replied, wrapping an arm around Beca to keep her close but reaching for Jesse.

"And how do you know Beca?" Jesse smiled charmingly. Beca felt her eyes rolling.

"Oh I don't," Chloe said. She pulled her head away to regard Beca a little more closely.

If the redhead was stunning at a distance, she was intoxicating up close. Her eyes were deep pools of bright light, and Beca wanted nothing more than to count every freckle that dotted the woman's complexion.

Not that she was into that cheesy stuff or anything.

"I just get excited!" Chloe went on, turning back to Jesse and then the cameras. "And Beca deserves to be excited! I hope I make it too, so we can make our dreams into a reality together!"

"Uh-huh," Beca offered, trying not to laugh. She attempted to extract herself from the one-armed hug she found herself still stuck in, but Chloe only grabbed her tighter.

"Two girls coming from Atlanta, Georgia!" Chloe whooped at the camera, and even Jesse couldn't keep his composure. Chloe was a natural in front of the cameras. Laughing, Jesse chimed in too.

"Watch out Hollywood! Beca is coming for ya! And hopefully Chloe too!"

Beca gave a tight grin, still not entirely comfortable with the idea of being on the show at all, much less all the feelings that seemed to go along with it. But Chloe pulled back and met her eye again, and Beca felt her forced smile fall into a real one.

What had she gotten into.