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It surprises him, how slowly he makes the trek back to his own room. There's just something about being basically dismissed by the girl you've been obsessed with since the first day of the semester that really pulls your center of gravity just down. The fact that the reason for the dismissal was also the reason for his very obvious erection...well.

Jesse let's his head hit the door when he finally fumbles his way into his room. Fuck, he thinks, banging his forehead against the wood. "Fuck," he sighs aloud, and presses harder against the door so that his nose flattens and there's a punishing twinge of pain behind his eyes.

What the fuck had he been thinking? Well, (his laughter is hoarse and he glares accusingly at the tent in his pants) it was very obvious what he had been thinking. Now he had probably destroyed his relationship with Beca because his dick couldn't be cool for just 10 seconds.

He can feel her still, feel the line of her lips when she pressed them eagerly against his own. He swallows hard at the phantom memory, eyes sliding shut as he heaves a breath. It's the weight though, the pressure of her thighs on both sides of his hips as she had brought his pelvis closer to his own, her mouth falling open as he'd pressed his fingers against the underside of her breast. Fuck, he thinks again, rubbing at his eyes as he drops down onto his bed.

Yes, his mind responds, you almost did.

"Everyone's a comedian," he groans, and crosses his arms over his eyes so that he can't even see the light of the moon through the open window.

Panic has made the lining of his stomach feel absolutely raw. It's a very real fear, he thinks, that for how long it's taken for Beca to even let him in a little bit, it's all been discarded with one press of her lips to his. He doesn't regret it, can't regret it when it's something he's thought about nearly every day since she'd flashed that unimpressed glare his way. He could have survived with never knowing the sound she made when his teeth scraped against the underside of her jaw, but he's not sure that he handle her not speaking to him anymore.

He's fucked up, but you know what? So has she.

Jesse's mouth tightens as the memory of his exit flashes in his mind. She could barely even look at him, and why? Maybe she regretted it (she obviously did), but as far as he could remember she had been the one that had swung her leg over his and kissed him first. Was it a game? Had she been playing with him?

He groans again, this time in frustration, and ignores the shaky feeling that's still ripping at his insides. Fuck.

He falls asleep in his jeans with the taste of her still on his mouth.

 


 

He doesn't bother texting her the next day, he knows she won't answer. He can't; however, exactly avoid seeing her at the radio station.

She hasn't looked at him once since he'd slammed his knee into the sorting cart on his way into the room and her head had snapped up at the sound. Of course, he heard Luke's condescending snort all the way from the radio booth. Prick.

"Beca," he tries, "Beca we need to—"

"Late again," the accented voice carries, and Jesse huffs a long exasperated sigh at Luke's interruption. "I thought I warned you the first 5 times."

"You did, I just thought I'd go for lucky number 6. Even number."

Luke stares back at him blankly, unamused.

"Take the crates over there," Luke gestures, pointing to about 7 or 8 boxes of unsorted heaven. "And I want a cheeseburger this time."

"Got it," Jesse thins his lip, and Luke brushes past him to disappear through the door of the radio station. With the echo of the door ringing in the cavernous room, Jesse turns to look at Beca who is studiously avoiding his gaze.

She's alphabetizing the records in her crate, hardly a task that involves such single-minded focus, but she leaves Jesse to simply watch her. By the overdone air of indifference, Jesse knows that any further attempt to get her attention will be met with more silence. His mood darkens.

"Beca," he makes the attempt anyways, feeling his throat tighten as he does. "We need to talk."

"No," she sighs, twisting her face up into that mocking smile he sometimes sees her flash Aubrey's way, and yet she still won't make eye contact with him. "We don't."

And there it is.

He likes her, there's no more obvious truth in Jesse's life than that one; which is why it feels a little like a punch in the gut realizing that she's probably never going to accept the fact that he cares about her. Returning feelings is one thing, but straight up pushing him away is another. He wonders if she even knows how to accept the kind of friendship that sticks around for more than just a few sarcastic quips and the occasional vapid chat. If what happened was a mistake, or a game, or—he's not hers to jerk around.

"Fine," his humourless laugh comes out achy and hollow, and he backs away from her. He starts for the door.

"Wait," he likes to think that he can hear the furrow of her brow in her voice. "Where do you think you're going?"

"To eat Luke's cheeseburger," doesn't come out quite as flat as he'd wanted, but it's flat enough for her to suddenly abandon her records.

"You're not still hung up on that ab thing," she snorts quietly and he turns around just in time to catch her roll her eyes skyward. "Mature."

He stares at her in disbelief.

"So empty jokes make your list of okay talking points huh?" he scoffs.

"Jesse."

"No," he shakes his head, "what was it? Was it the whole dry hump on your Ikea bed spread that makes this conversation so taboo? Or was being caught with me just too embarrassing for you to handle."

He watches her colour, a fierce red along the smooth column of her neck. She's angry.

"Real nice," she snaps. "Did you want to bring up you groping my tits too?"

"Are you kidding me," he splutters, eyebrows drawn dangerously low. "I'll tell you what was really nice, making out with the girl you've been crushing on and then watching her ignore you afterwards. Like you were a mistake. A real nice fuck you."

Her eyes narrow and she crosses her arm over her chest. "7 minutes in heaven and you have some claim on me? I don't owe you anything Jesse," she says, quietly threatening.

Holy shit, she isn't hearing any of this.

"Shut up Beca," he runs a hand through his hair. "Just shut up. How do you do this—" he stops and heaves a large breath like he's trying to regain control of this situation. She dumbfounds him. "You kissed me. You do whatever you like without any regard for anyone else's feelings. Like you always do."

Beca is glaring at him now, suddenly in his face. "What the fuck, you think you know me? What the hell right do you have to say any of this shit. Get over yourself Jesse."

"Over myself?" he bites down so hard on his back teeth he thinks he feels a crack. "I like you Beca. You know that I like you," he challenges, and her eyes flicker away from his, suddenly uncomfortable. Of course she knew. "And if you don't like me too that's fine. I'm a big boy. I can handle it. But don't," and he swallows here, unable to keep looking at her without feeling that vulnerability in the pit of his stomach threatening to leave him raw. "Don't kiss me if you don't mean it, don't punish me when I didn't do anything wrong. Don't ignore me. It's not fair Beca. "

There's a pause, and Beca's mouth has parted, simply watching him with widened eyes.

The silence remains though, and when Beca's mouth snaps closed with a stubborn press of her lips, he makes his decision.

"I'll see you later," he says tiredly, turning away from her and making his way to the exit. She doesn't say anything, and she doesn't come after him either.

 


 

They don't speak for a while, nothing outside of perfunctory addresses when they're stuck working together at the radio station, and even then he starts to take less hours until he's there for two hours a week and the exact hours that she isn't.

He struggles not to share in her triumph when the Bellas do particularly well at one of the school's small performing arts nights, but claps anyway because no matter what the status of their relationship at the moment, he will always want her happy. He just chooses to turn and start a conversation with Donald when she walks by the Trebles, her eyes clearly seeking his out.

It sucks. It all feels so high school and juvenile, but he's hurt and feels like he has every right to be. She obviously feels her own sense of entitlement in this fun situation they've got themselves in because she makes no attempt to seek him out. Not even to tell him off one more time.

It sucks because he misses his friend. A lot.

It sucks because he can still feel the phantom press of her hand against his skin when she brushes past.

 


 

Two weeks later, he comes into his room to find a very awkward looking Benji just standing at the foot of his bed.

"Hi," Jesse draws out, confused as to why Benji looks like he's been waiting for him. "Honey I'm home?"

Benji let's out an uncomfortable laugh. "That's funny."

Jesse shrugs, and slings his backpack off his shoulder and onto his bed. "Wasn't that funny."

"I-let-Beca-into-the-room-and-she's-been-here-for-about-2-hours," leaves Benji all in one big exhale and it has Jesse freezing mid grab to shut the door behind him.

"Come again?" he asks, honestly getting none of that but Beca.

"Hi," comes her voice from somewhere to his left, and Jesse actually stumbles back into the door in utter surprise.

"How the—" he points at her, looks to Benji, and then looks back to her. "Where were you hiding?"

She just smiles at him, tight and slightly wavering, and it's the expression alone that reminds him that they haven't done this in a while; the whole friendship thing. He can admit that it aches a little to see her in his room.

"Benji can you give us a minute?" she says, but keeps her eyes on Jesse's wary brown ones. Benji fumbles with his cape and speeds towards the door.

"At your behest, my lady. My dude," he salutes Jesse, pausing only to leave Jesse with an encouraging smile, before he's out the door and shutting it behind him.

"Well, you have him wrapped around your little finger," Jesse jokes after a momentary silence, avoiding eye contact with her as he shucks his jacket off of his shoulders. He goes on like she isn't even there.

"Jesse," she says softly, "we need to talk."

"Ha," he barks involuntarily, "where have I heard that before."

Her mouth thins, and he can see her straighten her posture a bit from the corner of his eye. He takes a seat on his bed.

"Okay. I deserve that," she admits, and his brow furrows at her tone. He looks up slightly and watches her wring her hands in the way she does when she's uncomfortable or unsure, a weird little dance that she's never conscious of performing. All he can think of is how pretty her hair looks when it's braided like that. Fuuucccckkkkk.

"What do we need to talk about?" he decides to offer her a bone.

She scoffs, and his mouth quirks up a bit at the corners. Only a little bit. It's habit. Shut up.

"I want to apologize," she starts and swallows hard like it's difficult for her to admit. "The way I treated you...I was wrong. I'm sorry." When she finishes, she manages to drag her eyes up to his, meeting them like she needs to brace herself for whatever was coming next. It bothers him that she even thinks that way.

He's silent for a moment.

"That's it?" he says after a while, leaning down to untie his sneakers with a frustrated line to his brow. "Do you actually mean that, because it sounds like you're not sure why I'm pissed, and you just want this all to be over."

"Hence the apology," she bites back, an angry flush to her cheeks. "Jesse, I know I hurt you with the way that I treated you—"

"How," he interrupts, brown eyes pining her to the spot. "How exactly did you treat me Beca?"

It obviously takes her by surprise because he can see the strain on her face as her throat works furiously to swallow. "I took advantage of you," she says quietly, unable to look him in the eye. "I took advantage of your feelings for me."

It's weird to hear your crush admit, out loud, that you have feelings for them. I mean, of course Jesse knows this, but hearing it out in the open and from someone else's lips makes it all a lot more real than it's supposed to be. It's bizarre, and feels a lot like someone tore you out of your own body and hung you out in the open to dry. Vulnerability is not a good feeling.

Jesse sighs, rubbing at his eyes because that tension headache is making a spectacular return. "I was really hoping I was wrong about that one."

This makes Beca slightly angry.

"I'm trying to apologize here you jackass," she snaps, arms crossing over her chest in a defensive posture. "I was a bitch, I hurt you, I'm sorry. I want us to be friends again, I need us to just go back to being friends."

Jesse actually laughs at that one. "And why's that?"

"Because I miss you," she basically explodes, and Jesse's sarcastic smile falls right off of his face. "You're the closest thing to a real friend that I have in this shit hole. You're stupid, and annoying, and never shut up but when you aren't doing those things I just—" she stops, making frustrated gestures with her hands like she's not sure what to do with herself or how to express anything she's feeling right now. "I miss it. I miss you," she finishes, glaring at him with all the venom in the world. "You dick."

Jesse's mouth has fallen open, and he's not really sure what to say.

"I hated this place when I came here," she continues like a freight train, unconcerned by his lack of response. "I mean, I still hate it. But with the whole dumb Bellas thing, and you," she bites down really hard on her lips until they go bloodless from the pressure. "It makes me hate it a little bit less."

Well, holy shit.

"And I kissed you," she continues, but her words trail off and she goes completely pale under the crappy fluorescent lighting. She tears her gaze from his, and he hears her curse under her breath.

"You kissed me," he encourages, stunned and still sitting on his bed like a total dope. He knows not to push her, hell, in his wildest dreams he never would have gotten any of this coming out of that sarcastic little mouth of hers.

She's waging an inner war with herself, he can tell by the way her grip on her forearms tightens until he can see her finger marks on the white skin there.

"I kissed you because I wanted to get those feelings out of the way, so that we could just continue being friends."

There is absolute silence in the room. And then-

"That makes no sense," he says.

Beca shoots him an irritated look, before looking away again.

"You thought that you would kiss me, "he points to himself, "to get my feelings for you," points to her," out of my system. Question, were you particularly good at math as a kid? I'm thinking the answer is no."

Beca rolls her eyes skyward, but in a move he couldn't predict, bends down to take a seat next to him on his bed.

"Well obviously it backfired spectacularly in my face," she quips, heaving a sigh as she makes herself more comfortable on his bedspread. "It was a really stupid idea."

"It really was," he answers solemnly, and he chuckles a bit when she reaches over to pinch him in the side. They're silent for a moment, just sitting there on his bed, neither really looking at the other.

"I'm really sorry Jesse," she says firmly, and when he glances over to see her looking up at him, he can't help but feel the tension slip from his shoulders. He can't forget, won't forget what had happened, and he's not sure that things can go back to the way they were. She knows this, he thinks, he can tell by the almost desperate quality in her expression as she looks at him. Desperate is not a state of Beca Mitchell's being, and that sinks him a little bit. However, it was hard to stay mad at this girl, especially when the reason for his anger was all due to the fact that he cared so much about her that it physically hurt to look at her sometimes.

"I know," he answers, smile a bit sad. "I'm sorry too. I said some things that I shouldn't have."

"No," she objects, turning away as she shakes her head. A few strands of her hair fall out of her braid, and he finds himself tracing their downward trajectory against the soft planes of her cheeks. "You were right, I-" she stops and chews distractedly on her lip. "I have problems letting people in. It's easier to just...push them away."

His brow puckers at her admission, but she clears her throat, pointedly keeping her eyes away from him. He gets the message that there will be no follow-up questions to such an admission.

He shifts, and his pant leg brushes against the fabric of her jeans.

"So," she says again, slightly wry, but tentative when she swings her gaze back up to him. "We good?"

"Goodfellas," Jesse assures her, and grins when her nose wrinkles adorably in confusion. "Minus the whole murdering and drug dealing. Although, I have a suspicion that I would make an excellent Italian gangster."

"What," she says dryly, "because you're so Italian and all."

"I like pizza okay," Jesse objects defensively, relishing in the ease in which they slide back into their most comfortable status quo: banter. "What more do you want, a dead horse head in the bed?"

She snickers, the corner of her lip tilting up. "Another movie reference?"

This time he really gapes at her in horror. "What no, come on. The Godfather? You don't even know The Godfather. You know what Beca," he slaps his hands on his knees and gets up from the bed, totally offended. "This whole friendship thing really isn't going to work out. I think you should leave and ponder your shortcomings."

He expects her to roll her eyes, maybe smile a bit secretively, but all he gets is a pensive look on her face. There's a weird silence for a few moments where she just watches him, and the longer she does it, the more he can feel his smile slip.

"I'll do that," she says finally, getting up off the bed with a familiar smirk. His relaxes as he watches her retrieve her bag, those tendrils of escaped hair still brushing against her cheek. "I should probably go before you start doing your De Niro impression anyways. It's painful to watch."

"Hey," Jesse protests, hands extended and shoulders hunched up. "You talkin' to me?"

"Ah," Beca sighs, shouldering her bag, "and there it is."

"You talkin' to me? " Jesse continues, breaking when she reaches up to slap him lightly on the face. He's laughing when she clutches his jaw in her fingers and brings his face down to her level.

"I am talking to you, and I'm telling you not to quit your day job."

Jesse's not really sure what to say to that, not when his face is so close to her own. Her eyes are weird, mocking like they usually are with him, but there's something light there, something that he can't quite name.

"Can I keep it as a part-time job?" he questions, words slurring because she's got such a tight grip on his chin and it's mushing his lips together like a fish.

"I have to get to Bellas practice," she rolls her eyes, releasing him without so much of an apology for leaving finger indents on his jaw. "I'll see you later?" she asks, her voice slightly higher, maybe a bit hesitant as she pins him with those eyes.

"Yeah," he assures her, rubbing the back of his neck. "Later."

She smiles brilliantly at him for a moment, and it makes his breath catch a little in his chest. Oh right, those feelings that were causing so big of a problem between them. How silly of him to forget that they were still there. He sighs a little when the door shuts behind her, and she's gone from his room.

They had made huge progress today, and it felt really fucking good to be able to call her a friend again. Of course, there was that whole fact that his feelings were out in the open and totally acknowledged, and a bit dismissed but hey...you can only ask for so much right?

"My De Niro impression is amazing," he mutters defensively as he lets his body fall onto his bed. It would be cliché to think that the raw feeling that is so nervously clutching at his insides feels lighter somehow, hopeful, but Jesse thinks it anyway. "What would she know," he continues, words slightly muffled by the fact that his face is essentially smothered by his comforter. "She's never seen a whole movie in her life."