“Thanks for coming to dinner,” said Dr. Mitchell as his car came to a full stop.
“We do this every month,” Beca said, unfastening her seatbelt. “It’s not a big deal.”
“I know, but thanks anyway.”
“Right, yeah, sure thing.”
Beca stepped outside then closed the door to her father’s car and gave him a half wave goodbye as he drove off. She turned towards the Bella house but paused a couple steps down the path. Light was emitting from the basement window and into the growing darkness of the setting sun. However, the moment she looked closer, the basement was its usual dark again.
Shaking her head, she took the final steps before entering the house. The sight she walked into was a normal one for a Friday night. Flo rushed past her and out of sight. Jessica was helping Ashley with her hair in the living room. Stacie was at the bottom of the stairs in only underwear asking Cynthia Rose which outfit she should wear while CR sputtered.
“Let’s get this pre-game going,” Fat Amy’s voice carried from the kitchen. “Shots!”
Chloe came bounding down, slipping by Stacie before stopping short, “oh, hey Becs!”
“Hey,” she said, finally taking a few more steps inside. “Was someone just in the basement?”
“I don’t think so?”
“Thought I saw a light down there.”
“That might’ve been Lilly,” said Stacie as she slipped one of her dress options on.
“Last call on shots,” called Amy.
“Come on,” Chloe said, grabbing Beca’s hand and leading them both to the kitchen.
“Oh no no no,” said Beca, not really fighting being led despite her words. “I just got back, I am not mentally prepared for alcohol.”
“Sure ya are, shortstack,” said Amy, sliding a shot glass across the counter to her. “You just came from your dad’s.”
“Fair point,” Beca said, taking the glass.
Almost all the Bella’s filed in, only Lilly and their newest recruit Emily were absent.
“To finding me some man candy tonight,” said Amy, holding up her glass.
“Yeah,” said Beca. “We are not toasting to that.”
“You make a toast then,” said Amy. “Won’t be better than mine.”
Beca smirked then called, “Bellas for life,” and everyone cheered.
They took their shot, Jessica coughing a second after the liquid hit her throat. Beca grimaced, watching as Flo pulled Stacie out of the kitchen, stating she needed help picking a lipstick color. Ashley handed Jessica a coke to chase the shot before they too filed out.
“Alright,” Amy said, pausing in the doorway. “You got me this time, shawshank.”
“Let’s go, Amy,” said CR, waiting for Amy to move so she could leave the kitchen too.
When everyone was gone save her and Chloe, Beca said, “literally any toast would’ve been better than hers.”
“I don’t know, man candy isn’t the worst wish for the night,” Chloe said, laughing at the disgusted look Beca gave. “Are you coming to the Treble’s party tonight?”
“I wanna say no.”
“But, you’re going to say yes!” Chloe said, eyes brightening.
“Pretty sure you’d drag me there anyway.”
“Oh, don’t be grumpy, it’ll be fun!”
They looked at eachother a moment, enjoying the warmth of alcohol sinking in. Chloe was wearing a blue dress that matched her eyes, make up done and hair down in soft curls.
“Head out without me,” said Beca.
“But, you said - “
“I’ll show up, promise. It’s just going to take a while for me to get ready and I don’t want everyone waiting for me.”
“We don’t mind,” said Chloe, but she must’ve read the need to be alone for a moment on Beca’s face because she was nodding a second later. “Sure, we’ll see you there then.”
“Thanks,” Beca said, giving Chloe a sincere smile of gratitude before heading up to her room.
As she ascended the steps, she heard the tell tale rustlings of Fat Amy. Sure enough, her roommate was there and slipping into a silver shirt.
Tossing her purse and phone on the bed, it took a lot of effort for Beca not to throw herself on there too. But, somehow - *cough* Chloe’s puppy dog eyes - she’d been roped into a night out.
“Something feels off about you,” said Fat Amy, turning from her closet. “Did you forget coffee this morning?”
“What? No nothing’s off with me,” said Beca.
“Did you skip dinner again? You twig bitches - "
“I ate!” Beca interrupted, fingers rubbing her temple.
“Flunk a test?”
“Need to drop the kids off at the pool?”
Beca let out a sigh and started sorting through her closet for something to wear. She opted for dark jeans and a flannel, setting both on her bed.
Beca looked where Amy pointed. On her left wrist was a leather cuff she’d worn through high school.
“I always wear this.”
“Yes… how much alcohol have you had?”
“Not enough,” Amy said, standing from her bed. “You’re coming, yeah?”
“Yep, I’ll be a bit late though.”
“Good, later shortstack,” Amy said before bounding down the steps of their attic bedroom.
After three years of knowing Amy, and two years of being roommates, Beca thought she would be used to the weird conversations they shared. Turned out she wasn’t, but she didn’t question it further and started getting ready.
By the time Beca got changed, did her hair, and applied her makeup, the house was quiet. For a moment she desperately wanted to use the time to mix, at least for an hour and then go to the party. Time alone was rare in the house. That moment was fleeting though, knowing an hour behind her laptop was never really an hour. She’d probably get caught up in down beats until Chloe pulled her away, or until everyone returned in unintended drunken loudness.
The buzz of her phone drew Beca out of her mind, and she grabbed it to see 12 missed texts from Jesse. Without so much as skimming the older ones, Beca looked at the latest one:
Jesse: the Bella’s are here, but I don’t see you xoxo
Beca: still getting ready.
Jesse: hurryyyy I wanna hang with my favorite soulmate ;)
She rolled her eyes and slipped her phone into the back pocket of her jeans, choosing not to respond with the customary “I’m your only soulmate.” Her right hand adjusted her wristband to cover the tattoo beneath it, a habit she couldn’t break despite there being no point now. She’d accepted fate already, accepted that Jesse had that same tattoo on his wrist. An unquestionable sign from the universe of who her person was.
With a deep breath in and out, Beca headed out the door and made the short walk over to the Treble house. The notes of a Top 100 song filtered into her ears the closer she got, followed by voices and other sounds of a college party. Somehow Jesse found her within a moment of her stepping through the door, a red solo cup of cheap beer in hand and a goofy smile that let Beca know he was well past tipsy already.
“Becawwwww,” he called.
“I still hate that you call me that,” Beca grumbled, but accepted the quick kiss he gave her as greeting.
“You love it,” he said. “Come on, let’s play beer pong.”
“You go ahead, I’m going to say hi to the Bella’s first.”
“You see them all the time.”
“I see you all the time too.”
“No you don’t,” he said, smile slipping.
“Jesse…” Beca said, letting the unformed sentence hang in the air as warning. “I’ll meet up with you in a second.”
Benji appeared, all bright eyed and rosy cheeked.
“Hi, Benji,” said Beca.
“Hey - hi, Beca,” he said glancing at Jesse for a moment. “Is Emily coming?”
“I’m sure the Bella’s invited her,” said Beca. “She might be with them, I was about to find them if you wanna join.”
“Sure!” he said, taking a step to follow Beca before turning back. “You coming, Jesse?”
“Did I say something wrong?” said Benji as the distance from Jesse grew.
“No, I did,” said Beca. “So you and Emily, huh?”
“Oh yeah,” he said, smile returning. “We’re soulmates.”
“No way!” Beca said, stopping to face him.
“She doesn’t know y-yet, but I saw her tattoo and it matches mine and I’m going to tell her tonight. Probably.”
“That’s great, I’m happy for you,” Beca said, meaning every word. “Also, if you hurt her I will hunt you down.”
Benji gulped loud enough for Beca to hear over the music playing, “B-Beca you know.. I would never..”
“I know, just had to say it,” said Beca. “I’ll probably tell her the same thing if that makes you feel better.”
“Not at all.”
“Actually I probably won’t, she’s way too innocent for threats,” Beca said before she caught a glimpse of red hair and started walking again, tugging Benji along behind her.
“You made it!” said Chloe, pulling Beca into a hug.
“Promised, didn’t I?”
“Hi, Chloe,” said Benji.
“Hi,” Chloe said. “Emily is over by Flo.”
“H-how did you know?” Benji said.
Chloe just smiled until Benji walked towards the other Bella’s. He shot Beca a nervous glance over his shoulder, and she gave him two thumbs up.
“How did you know?” Beca asked.
“Oh, I didn’t,” said Chloe. “But, Emily’s been talking about him non-stop since we got here. Not hard to put together that they like each other, you know?”
“I bet they’re soulmates.”
“They are,” Beca said, looking on as Fat Amy started trying to light a stick on fire. “Benji just told me.”
Cynthia Rose took the lighter away from Amy - “hey! I wanna juggle fire!”
“I knew it!” said Chloe as Beca’s eyes drifted back now that CR was handling Amy. “You can always tell. It’s like gravity or something but between two people.”
“Right,” Beca said, a slight frown appearing on her lips. “Well, you are clearly under the influence and I am not, so I’m going to grab a drink.”
Beca turned away and made a beeline for the kitchen. She didn’t open the fridge though, instead she opened a cupboard where the Treble’s kept their good stuff away from party-goers. Grabbing a cup, she poured rum in and hid the bottle again before finding a coke in the fridge to mix it with.
A couple hours into the party, Beca was feeling buzzed and finally alone again. Well, as alone as she could be in a room full of drunk college students. But, the Bella’s were dancing in another room, and after spending a while with Jesse, he’d run off for some drinking game with the Trebles. He’d asked her to come, but she was happy to lean against the wall and sip her third drink of the night.
Only, people watching turned into Lilly standing right in front of her and encroaching on her bubble. The woman’s eyes were wide and despite the close distance no sound came as she spoke.
“Sorry, I don’t...” Beca said, trying her hand at lip reading. “Yeah, I have no idea what you’re saying.”
Lips kept moving but Beca was helpless to form them into a comprehensive sentence. Lilly threw her head back in what Beca assumed was annoyance. Taking a step to the side, Beca tried to get around. A content Lilly was scary enough, but whatever this was had Beca’s inner alarms screaming for her to scram. She was halfway through the room before Lilly appeared standing in front of her again.
“How did you move that fast?” said Beca. “You’re not a vampire are you? I know Chloe thinks I look like that actor from Twilight or whatever, but I don’t do vampires, so like please don’t be?”
Lilly grabbed Beca’s wrist and pulled the leather cuff from its spot, revealing the silhouette of what Beca now knew was Bender from The Breakfast Club holding up his fist. The second her tattoo was in sight, Lilly was gone again.
“Hate to say it, but Chloe’s right. You do look like Jessica,” said Jesse, slipping beside her once more. “Although, she never found out there were vampires so...”
“You’ve seen Twilight?” said Beca and Jesse shrugged. “Mr. Movie Buff himself watched Twilight?”
He looked over, “what? It’s not weird, and it was for research purposes.”
“What’re the odds of Lilly really being a vampire,” he said, sipping from his cup.
“Slim, I’d say secret agent or spy.”
“If that’s the case, why would she be stationed at Barden?”
“There’s something shady going on within collegiate acapella, it’s obviously a front.”
“Obvious is it?”
Beca liked this, the banter she could have with Jesse. It reminded her of freshman year when they were just friends and could stick to surface level things. She finished off her drink with the intention of continuing their far-fetched speculation of Lilly. However, her words were lost on her tongue as Jesse spoke up once more, “why do you still wear that?”
Beca looked down at her wrist, Jesse had intertwined their fingers and was holding it up so they could both easily see the bracelet. It was half covering the soulmate tattoo now, still displaced after Lilly moved it earlier. The fingers on her other hand twitched to fix it in place again but she stamped out the urge.
“You know why.”
“I know why you did...I just thought you’d stop by now,” he said before stepping in front of her, and holding both her hands in his own. “Are you... Are you embarrassed by me?”
“No, that’s not it. Jesse, you know I never wanted to believe in soulmates, I hate the idea of the universe dictating life.”
“But, we are soulmates. We’re together, hasn’t that proved to you that the universe gets it right?”
“Hiding that tattoo makes me believe I’m choosing you and not the universe choosing us.”
“Well, that’s not the way I see it,” Jesse said, taking a step back and hands falling to his side.
“I thought you understood,” she let out a frustrated huff, annoyed this fight seemed to repeat itself almost monthly now like it was set on a timer.
“Well, maybe I don’t,” he hissed, ensuring no one overheard despite the loud music and uncaring partiers around them. “Why are you hiding us?”
“I am not hiding us.”
“You are. God, Beca. We’re soulmates, why haven’t you accepted that yet? It’s supposed to be easier with you.”
“This is life, Jesse,” Beca said, hands flailing. “Just because we’re ‘meant to be’ or whatever, doesn’t mean it’s easy.”
“Maybe it’d be easier if you’d stop shutting me out.”
“How am I shutting you out?”
“You ignored all my texts today.”
“I was at work!” she said, looking into her empty cup and wishing it’d fill back up. “Ugh, maybe some soulmates need space from each other.”
“What?” he said.
“Look,” Beca said. “You’re drunk, and maybe I am too. Let’s both cool off, enjoy the rest of this party, and talk again when we’re sober.”
“No, I think we should talk now,” said Jesse.
Beca looked around for the first time since they started arguing. Their whispers must’ve turned loud enough to draw attention because a handful of people were watching them. Not the entire party, but the ones closest were all glancing warily between them.
“Hey, Jesse,” said Benji, nervously pulling Jesse away. “There’s a mini riff-off going on in the backyard, let’s go join it.”
Jesse shook Benji off, but followed him nonetheless. As people returned to their own conversations, Beca looked around again, happy to note she didn’t see any of the Bella’s around. Happy because that meant they wouldn’t try to ask her if she was alright.