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to going against the grain (going insane)

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The best way to kill a person’s will to live almost completely and leave her a shell of her former self? Put her in charge of so many groups of Barden freshmen that she loses count around noon, when there are still three hours left before she finishes for the day. Being an orientation leader takes more stamina, a thicker skin, a je ne sais quoi (French 101 being put to good use right there) with which Beca is clearly not equipped.

Next time Amy asks for a favor, even if she sounds as horrible as she sounded over the phone last night, Beca’s refusing on principle. On what principle, she’s not exactly sure at the moment, but she’ll come up with a convincing argument when the situation arises. She’s always worked well under pressure. At the very least, she’s forcing Amy to provide details about what she’s volunteering for prior to the actual agreement.

“Excuse me.” It’s more of a statement than a question and it appears as if the person speaking has decided that a finger-snap is a socially acceptable way to get a person’s attention. Punching one of her charges in the face is sure to be frowned upon by the university; she resists the urge to do so and turns toward the girl with a glare and a yes? that’s just this side of a snarl.

“Is there really only one bathroom for the floor?” the girl asks, her nose wrinkling in displeasure. Beca’s nod sparks a list of reasons why this is unsanitary and the problem needs to be rectified immediately – a list which goes on for half an hour and is interspersed with several applications of a copious amount of Purell. The monologue only ends when Beca drops the group in front of the student union armed with rape whistles, campus maps, and a firm directive to make good choices.

Within five minutes of picking up a fresh set of Barden newcomers, it’s obvious that this bunch is going to put the others to shame in the annoyance department. Two hours, she thinks, the words becoming a continuous loop that coincides with the pulses of the headache building behind her eyes.


“What up, CapriSun?” Beca greets with a halfhearted smile when Jesse swings open his door and ushers her inside.

“Don’t call me…” He stops mid-admonishment, concern replacing his irritation at the nickname. “Are you alright? You look…”

“Ravishing?” she supplies, sprawling across his bed with her boots hanging over the edge, fingers laced together behind her head.

“I was going to say like hell. But, sure, let’s go with ravishing.”

“Covered for Amy at that Welcome Week thing,” she offers by way of explanation. “Thank God we only have to fill two slots in the Bellas. Being in charge of more than two freshmen at a time is not something I will be doing ever again if I can help it.”

“That bad, huh?” he asks, sliding her over so there’s room for both of them.

“The worst!” She sits up, slides her legs underneath her, and faces him before she continues. “The ones that weren’t on the verge of a breakdown were spoiled brats. Violence was contemplated, let me tell you.” She scoffs when he gives her an oh, really? look. “I have rage, okay? I’m working on it.”

“A fact which will make the general population very happy, I’m sure,” he laughs, neatly deflecting the pillow she throws at his head. “So. What are we watching?”

“I have a better idea.” She pulls her keys out of her pocket as she stands, tosses them from palm to palm until he does the same.


“Looking to start a speakeasy?” Jesse can only gape at the small collection of alcohol Beca has just unearthed from underneath a loose floorboard in the sound booth.

“These are to be used only in times of extreme stress.” She pauses, swallows a mouthful of Marshmallow Smirnoff. “Or, you know, when my day has been total crap. Care to join?”

After perusing her stash, he opens the lone bottle of non-girly liquor, clinks it against the one she’s holding. “Let’s do this.”


“Here’s what I want to know.” Jesse leans over, rests his hands on the arms of her swivel chair, his face alarmingly close to hers. “Are your beats still as sick when you’re under the influence?”

“You doubt my skills, sir?” Beca smirks, pushes him back so she can roll to get her laptop out of her bag. (Standing would not be the brightest move at this point; marshmallow vodka is quite a delicious beverage.)

Making the necessary connections between the station equipment and her Mac isn’t difficult despite her current state – the process is so familiar most of it is memory anyway.

“Pick a song,” she says over her shoulder.

I hear your hearrrt beat to the beat of the drums…” She starts shaking her head halfway through his riff, is ready with an exaggerated round of applause at the finish.

“Not usually a Ke$ha person, but I think I can work with that.” She holds one earphone to her head as she gets to work.


“Done!” She saves the track under Jesse’s Random Taste in Music 8-27-13 with a celebratory fistpump and a sip of vodka. “A masterpiece, if I do say so myself.” She looks at him expectantly; he mouths hitting play always helps. “Shit, sorry.”

(She’s pretty proud of herself for combining The Lumineers with Ke$ha and having the result be enjoyable. It’s definitely going on the Bellas setlist for the semester.)

“What’s the verdict?” she asks, spinning around on the final note.

He steps forward until they’re an inch apart, presses his lips against hers and breathes excellent into her mouth in a way that makes her forget her name for a few seconds. When he starts to pull away, she stands, hands on his shoulders, keeping him where he is.

She feels his smile more than sees it, matching the tone shift it indicates easily. His hands are warm on her waist as the kisses deepen; hers fist in the cotton of his shirt.


They move at some point during the proceedings – there’s no other way to explain Beca taking a step backward and having her head smash into the hanging mic.

There’s this weird holding pattern where she’s not sure whether to laugh at her lack of coordination or cry from the pain, but then Jesse’s saying I guess ‘no sex on the desk’ extends to ‘no canoodling in the booth’ and she’s laughing because only her 85 year old grandfather uses the word canoodling.

“Did you break anything?” he asks, looking somewhat stricken.

“Just my skull,” she says. “What do you say we continue this elsewhere so I don’t lose my life?"

“Good plan.”

(His fingers draw patterns on the small of her back as they walk across campus; it's all she is aware of.)