The One With The Truth Booth
A/N: Long Time No See! It's been a minute or two since we posted that last chapter... wouldn't blame it if you guys gave up on us! More on that later... Those of you who are still checking back with this story - ENJOY!
The sunset provided a beautiful backdrop as Beca sat perched on the edge of the pool, bare feet casually swinging in the water. Jesse was seated beside her, while Tom and Stacie were actually in the pool playing a game of chicken against Luke and Aubrey. Chloe was safely located on Jesse's other side cheering on Luke as Aubrey manage to topple Stacie off of Tom's shoulders. Beca grinned at Luke's triumphant yell, setting her drink down to clap for his victory.
"You see that, Bec?!" Luke shouted, a mischievous look appearing on his face as he suddenly dropped down into the pool, pulling a shrieking Aubrey under with him.
Beca couldn't help but burst out laughing at that sight, Aubrey coming up to the surface moments later to splash Luke in the face indignantly.
"Love you too, Aubs," Luke retorted with a laugh, blowing her a kiss.
Stacie and Tom made their way over to the pools edge to join them, the other pair following after a moment.
"Almost to the end of this… whatever this is," Stacie commented, easily leaning back into Tom's arms in the water. "What's next for you guys?"
When no one spoke up immediately, Beca shrugged, "I mean… back to the bar for me."
Stacie nodded, asking, "Not that there's anything wrong with that, but have you wanted to do something else?"
Beca shook her head, "No, I mean… I guess it won't stay a secret forever but I don't just work at the bar. I own it."
Stacie's eyes widened in surprise, "No shit! That's amazing, Bec! We'll have to all come out sometime after the show airs and celebrate."
"That'd be awesome," Beca grinned, noticing the shock on most of the group's faces at that news.
"Beca's a boss," Tom added, shooting her wink. "No surprise there."
Beca shook her head, deflecting, "Yeah, yeah, enough about me." She turned to Jesse, asking, "What are you gonna do after this?"
Jesse answered, "Back to real life. I didn't come on this show to get famous or anything." He turned his gaze to Tom and Stacie. "What about you two? Don't you live on opposite sides of the country?"
Tom glanced at Stacie and received some sort of approval because he looked up and said, "I can't do it immediately… but I'm gonna move to L.A."
"Wow, that's a big deal," Aubrey commented, looking impressed.
Tom didn't seem bothered at all, replying, "I'll give my clients a few months notice and offer them an option to continue training with me virtually after I move. I can work anywhere."
"Well I cannot, unfortunately," Luke chimed in. "I'll be going to back to Chicago and I expect you all to listen in to my show daily."
Beca grinned, "Wouldn't miss it… wait, it's not a morning show, right?"
Luke rolled his eyes, "You know it is, dick. I'll give you an hour or two break but you better turn it on when you wake up."
"You know you start at like three in the morning my time, right? I close the bar at two," Beca shook her head. "I need to sleep sometime."
"Sure," Luke nodded, "Close the bar, get some breakfast, listen to my show, then sleep."
Jesse chuckled, "Sounds like those priorities are in order." He glanced at Aubrey, asking, "What about you, Bree?"
Aubrey answered, "I'll be returning to work in Phoenix. I love my firm and colleagues there."
"Not even if you found love and they lived across the country?" Jesse asked curiously.
"I wouldn't uproot my life for someone I have only known for a few weeks," Aubrey answered simply. "At least not right away," she added. "I would be open to long distance options at first and just see where it goes from there."
Jesse nodded at her answer, glancing around before rising to his feet. "I'm gonna grab a drink and something to eat. Anyone want anything?"
Aubrey climbed out of the pool, replying, "I'm hungry, too. I'll go with you."
Beca watched them walk away, aware of a noticeable gap between the pair that hadn't been there a week ago. Stacie and Tom had floated a short distance away, Tom whispering something into her ear that had Stacie breaking out in laughter.
Luke glanced between Beca and Chloe before moving to the edge of the pool to climb out. "I'm gonna go… be somewhere other than here right now," he said with a wink, leaving the pair of them sitting on the pool's edge.
"Subtle," Beca mumbled while he was still within earshot, earning herself a smirk before Luke turned his back on them and walked into the house. She turned to look at Chloe, finding the redhead's eyes already on her. "So Chlo… what does life look like for you after this shit show?" she asked, teasing lightly to ease some of the tension.
Chloe's smile was genuinely happy as she answered, "Med school, but you know that. I'm excited to start the next part of my life, even if it's probably gonna kick my ass."
"I don't believe that," Beca shook her head. "I think you're gonna crush it and be an amazing doctor."
Chloe blushed slightly, looking away across the pool. "We'll see… I hope so." After a few seconds she added quietly, "I'm kinda hoping I'll have this super awesome, boss bitch girlfriend supporting me."
Beca's eyebrows rose slightly, waiting for Chloe to look back at her. "Really? I mean, yeah… like I want that too but, I mean… aren't you from Texas? Not exactly close to California, is it?"
"Well, no, Austin isn't very close to San Francisco," Chloe agreed, "But I hear Stanford isn't so far away."
"Seriously? You're going to Stanford?! Chloe, that's amazing."
Chloe shrugged as if it wasn't a big deal. "I wanted a change, you know? Austin is very progressive, but it's still Texas."
Beca nodded, understanding exactly what the redhead was referring to.
"Beca… I really like you. I want us to be together when all this is over." Chloe's voice dropped and took on a slightly more serious edge, her eyes meeting Beca's intimately.
Beca's stomach looped uncomfortably, suddenly thinking about how much her life would change if she suddenly returned from being away for a few months with a girlfriend. No one in her life knew she liked women, and while she lived in a very open and loving community the thought of coming out to everyone was still very daunting. The conflict must have shown on her face, as Chloe's smile fell.
"I mean… if you want that, too," Chloe said, suddenly withdrawing a bit.
Beca knew she needed to make this decision. If she really wasn't ready to come out and give Chloe an equal partner in the relationship then she needed to tell her sooner rather than later. Deep down, though, Beca knew she wanted this. She just needed to find the courage to overpower the fear.
"No… I mean, yes, I want that too, I just don't want to move too fast," Beca said, almost face-palming at her awkwardness. "It's just… you know that no one in my life knows I'm bi. I just need a little time to tell the people in my life that mean the most to me… my family at the very least, you know?"
Chloe nodded, seemingly supportive despite a slight hesitation in her words. "No, of course. I get it."
Beca still sensed a bit of awkwardness lingering between the pair of them, but Jesse reappeared before she could say anything else.
"What happened to Bree?" Beca asked, suddenly glad for a change of subject.
Jesse shook his head, "She started talking with Luke about some legal story he'd covered on his radio show and I bailed."
Beca nodded, realizing that Jesse had real feelings for Aubrey and that the blonde was definitely starting to pull away. Trying to cheer him up, she suggested, "Hey! You should come visit once the show ends. I've been thinking about starting up a karaoke night…" she hinted, knowing that would be enough to take his mind off Aubrey for a little while.
Jesse brightened just like she knew he would. "You totally should do that. Everyone loves karaoke."
Beca grinned in agreement as he immediately launched into his all-time favorite performances, falling a little as Chloe's smile didn't quite reach her eyes.
"Alright guys, everyone grab a seat now!" CR's voice echoed loudly through the house, immediately sending everyone scrambling for the couch in the living room to hear what their challenge would be.
"Good, thank you," CR nodded in approval at their fast response time, swiftly launching into her explanation of the day's challenge. "Today the boys will be attempting to scale a rock wall we have brought in and set up on the back lawn. The three fastest to the top win the dates. There shouldn't be, but any questions?"
Beca glanced around, surprised to see everyone staying patiently quiet.
"Excellent, that's a first," CR quipped. "Let's go. I want everyone grouped out in the backyard so we can get this filmed nice and quick."
Beca sighed, knowing that a fast shoot was highly unlikely. Most of the challenge shoots took hours, and this one would be no exception. Chloe fell into step beside her, a thrill rushing through her as their shoulders brushed together.
"Okay, here's good. You all know the drill by now," CR began, glancing around at the group. "You'll jog slowly around that corner to where Gail is waiting for you with the rock wall. She will explain the challenge and the getaway date. We're nearing the end guys, so don't start fucking around now." With that, she left them at the anxious call of one of the production assistants.
Jesse sighed as she walked away, muttering, "Yeah, you guys have been less shitty than my usual cast but that doesn't mean you won't fuck it up in the last few weeks."
Beca chuckled, turning toward him in time to see a very exaggerated eye roll. "Her faith in us is truly awe-inspiring."
"Really she should have more faith in us since it's so fucking early no one has had time to get drunk," Jesse commented, looking around at the very sober group.
Beca privately agreed with him on that note. They were starting this challenge as early in the day as possible, meaning they'd already been awake for hours. The filming was definitely getting to her, starting to long for the boring normalcy of the bar and her family back home. Being scrutinized all day every day was exhausting, and Beca was over it. The only thing keeping her cooperating in the least bit was Chloe and the few good friendships she'd developed along the way.
"Were you serious about me coming to visit you after all this is over?" Jesse asked quietly, "Or were you just saying that for the cameras?"
Beca met his eyes, a little surprised at the question but also understanding that she and Jesse had been through ups and downs in the house. "Of course I was serious," she answered honestly. "Jesse, I might not want to date you after this, but I think we could be really good friends."
Jesse broke into a relieved smile. "Okay cool, yeah… me too, Becs. I'd love to come visit you and see your bar and hang out."
Beca smiled back at him, waiting a moment before turning back to Chloe only to find the redhead no longer on her other side, instead finding Stacie winking down at her.
"You and Jesse, huh? I get it, you two are good for each other," Stacie said confidently, flipping her hair.
Beca bit her lip, CR's warning echoing around her brain that no one else in the house can know the truth. "Yeah, I think he might be my match," she replied, though her heart wasn't in the words.
"I think so," Stacie agreed. "You guys are adorable."
CR's loud voice boomed over their light chatter, everyone falling silent immediately. "Alright let's go!"
Beca looked around waiting for the cue, breaking into a light jog upon hearing it. The group naturally spread out, knowing that CR didn't like it when they got too clumped up together. Apparently it ruined the shot. Gail came into view when they turned the corner, beckoning them over with a friendly smile.
"Hey guys! How are we doing today?"
They piled around where Gail gestured for them to stand, Beca thanking every God above that CR didn't interrupt Gail's opening lines to make them shoot it again. Looking at the setup for the day, Beca noticed that alongside the new rock wall was a row of lounge chairs with pitchers of drinks on tables between each set of two.
Gail smiled at their cheerful replies before getting down to business. "You guys know you only got five out of ten perfect matches at the last matchup, which is an improvement… but you only have three more shots to go ten for ten," she reminded them, turning slightly serious before resuming her playful demeanor. "If you do," she said, shooting them a grin with her arms outstretched, "You win a million bucks."
Beca took a deep breath and plastered a smile on her face as the group whooped and cheered when Gail mentioned the money, joining in by clapping her hands.
"You guys have two confirmed perfect matches in Benji and Emily, and Donald and Lilly… let's try and add some more to that!"
Beca nodded as she spoke, definitely able to get on board with adding another perfect match or two to their numbers as long as she and Chloe weren't a part of it.
Gail smiled as the group cheered again, waiting for them to settle down before continuing. "In this challenge, the ladies are going to sit back, relax, and sip on cocktails while you gentlemen compete for the right to take one of them on a date!"
Beca broke into her first truly happy grin of the day, relieved that her only job in this challenge was to get a mild buzz going.
"The three fastest guys to scale the rock wall and ring the bell at the top get to pick a lovely lady to join them on the date tomorrow, in a challenge I'm calling… Hard as a Rock," Gail quipped, grinning at the slight groans from the pun.
Beca shook her head, unable to keep the smile off her face at the slight innuendo. She definitely wouldn't miss the corny scripted lines of the show, wondering how Gail was able to deliver them so consistently without breaking character.
Clapping her hands together, Gail called out, "Alright! Let's get started!"
After a moment, crew members swarmed in to get the guys harnessed up to climb while Beca strolled over to the row of chairs, glancing around to see where Chloe was. Unfortunately the redhead was being motioned toward the other end of the row with Aubrey, Kommissar, and Calamity. Beca held back the disappointment, knowing that having to sit next to Calamity was not going to be fun for Chloe. Instead she grabbed a seat between Stacie and Fat Amy, thoroughly looking forward to the commentary from both women during the challenge.
Never one to disappoint, Fat Amy shouted, "Let's go, Luke! I want to watch that sexy ass fly up the wall and win us another date!"
Luke winked and blew the blonde a kiss, eyes going slightly wide as a crew member tightened his harness and diverted his attention a little farther south.
Beca chuckled as Fat Amy commented, "I hope they didn't do any damage… I have plans for him."
Stacie leaned over to look at the blonde, "I thought you already sampled that?"
"And I would go back for the main course," Fat Amy replied without hesitating, Beca's eyes now going wide.
"Wait a second," Beca looked over at Amy. "When did that happen?"
Fat Amy shrugged, pulling a giant pair of sunglasses out of nowhere and placing them on. "First week or so? I think? It's hard to keep track of all these boy toys walking around."
Beca turned to look at Stacie in surprise, but the brunette simply had an amused look on her face.
"Get it, girl."
Beca didn't have time to wrap her head around wondering just how many women in the house Luke had fooled around with as CR was now shouting for everyone to get to their places. Instead she poured herself a drink and got ready to watch the show.
Once all the guys were harnessed up and ready to go, the crew got into position and CR gave Gail the signal to begin.
"Okay, let's get this challenge started! We won't be revealing any of the times until the very end, so make sure you get up that wall as fast as you can, gentlemen!" Gail winked. "First up for the guys is Unicycle!"
Beca eyed the lanky man, unsure if he would be good at scaling the climbing wall or not. To her surprise, he scampered fairly quickly up the wall and dinged the bell at the top to the cheers and whistles from the ladies watching.
Stacie muttered, "Damn, that was faster than I thought."
Fat Amy agreed, "Yeah, he could climb me like that any day."
"Dude… gross," Beca shook her head, not needing that visual in her head at all.
Gail called out, "Nicely done, Uni! Next up is Bumper!"
Bumper lifted his chin up as he strode to the bottom of the wall. "Watch and learn, boys."
Beca snorted at his words, and then bit her lip to keep from full on laughing at the awkward and slow way he ascended the wall.
"That guy has never climbed anything in his life," Stacie laughed, draining her first drink and reached for the pitcher instead of watching him finish.
Beca chuckled along with her, noticing that Fat Amy decided to keep her thoughts to herself. She made a mental note to bring that up with Chloe or Luke or Jesse later.
Tom went next, with Stacie cheering him on with one innuendo after another, though Beca thought they had the opposite effect of speeding him up.
"I think you might have hurt more than helped there, tall and busty," Fat Amy concluded, nodding towards Tom's distracted gaze in their direction.
"Then we need to work on his multi-tasking," Stacie replied, "Something I'm more than qualified to assist him with."
Beca shook her head, "We don't need the details. We believe you."
Fat Amy rolled her eyes, "Shut up, Jane the Virgin. We want to hear all the details."
"I need at least five more drinks before I'm ready to hear any of your details," Beca quipped back, holding her glass out for Stacie to refill.
"That's the spirit, Becs!" Stacie cheered. "Besides, your tolerance is insanely high from drinking for a living."
"I don't drink for…" she trailed off at Stacie's raised eyebrows, admitting with a smirk, "Okay I kinda drink for a living."
Fat Amy patted her shoulder with a supportive expression on her face. "They have groups for people like you, Beca. You don't have to be ashamed… or do it alone. I'm always available to drink with you."
Beca laughed, nodding, "Thanks Amy."
Fat Amy raised her glass and clinked it with Beca's before draining it in her show of support.
Zeke made fairly easy work of scaling the wall, followed by Jesse who looked far more athletic climbing to the top than Beca thought he would. She chastised herself a bit for the thoughts, especially after reminding herself of Jesse's strict workout routine that he put on display every day in the backyard.
Luke went next and absolutely flew to the top, ringing the bell so fast it left the ladies on the ground speechless for a moment before bursting into loud cheers. Luke blew them all kisses from the top of the wall before getting lowered down, raising his fists in victory as if he knew he was getting that date.
"Looks like you might get that date, Amy," Stacie winked across Beca at the blonde.
Beca busied herself with her drink, not needing that visual image in her head either. She loved her friendship with Luke but picturing him and Amy together was definitely something she could live without.
Theo went next, looking more confident than Beca thought he had any right to. Her jaw dropped again watching the man smoothly ascend to the top of the wall, not quite as fast as Luke had but still clearly moving faster than most of the other guys.
Fat Amy snickered beside her, commenting, "Beca you've got a bit of drool… just there."
Beca snapped her mouth shut, feeling her face flush at the thought that her surprise had been mistaken for some sort of lust. That was exactly the type of rumor she did not want circulating around the house, especially since something felt a little off with Chloe and they hadn't gotten to talk about it. Beca couldn't place it, but there was at tension between them since the poolside chat yesterday that did not feel good at all.
Stacie chimed in from Fat Amy's other side, "Yeah, Bec… what will Jesse think if you're still hung up on Theo?"
"She's with Jesse now? I thought he was with Aubrey?" Fat Amy looked interested in this piece of gossip, making Beca wonder if she was actually out of the loop or exaggerating for the cameras or something.
Stacie shrugged, deciding to sip on her drink instead of stoking the fire anymore, which Beca wasn't sure if she was happy or sad about.
"Theo and I are over," Beca said, hoping this would be the end of it.
"Until he wins this date and we put you in the Truth Booth and it says perfect match," Fat Amy grinned. "Then what happens in the honeymoon suite… hmmm, Beca?"
Beca shook her head, "Nothing because the Truth Booth will say no match and there won't be a honeymoon suite."
"Whatever you say, short stack."
Gail called out the final name, getting everyone's attention. "Last, but certainly not least, is Chicago!"
The ladies clapped and cheered appropriately as Chicago stepped up to the base of the wall looking confident. Beca sighed, knowing that he was probably going to be one of the fastest and that meant having to deal with staying at the house knowing Chloe was on a date with him.
Chicago didn't start as fast as Beca thought he would, but she knew he was still making very good time moving up the wall. He seemed to be trying to move fast while being sure of his hand and foot placement until about halfway up, when suddenly he picked up the pace as if a timer in his head dinged. Just as he neared the top of the wall his foot slipped right off the hold, forcing him to scramble for a few seconds to regain his momentum before hitting the bell long seconds later. The ladies all let out an "ooooh" when it happened, as if he was about to come crashing back to the ground instead of finishing the climb.
Beca felt hope bloom in her chest that maybe his little slip was just enough to keep him from the top three, and by extension Chloe from having to go on a date with him.
The crew got the guys out of their harnesses and everyone gathered around Gail to hear the results of the challenge.
"Great job, guys! You were all fantastic climbing up that wall, but only three of you have won the opportunity to go on tomorrow's getaway date," Gail began, beaming at the entire group. "In first place with a breakneck speed of forty-seven seconds, and winning first choice of his date, is Luke!"
Luke whooped and raised his first into the air again, stepping forward at Gail's gesture to stand beside her.
"Yes, congratulations Luke! Outstanding performance," Gail congratulated him.
Luke beamed, "Thank you, thank you, I'd like to thank the Academy…"
He trailed off as the group laughed at his antics, Gail shaking her head with a mock frustrated expression as she waited for the group to quiet down again.
"In second place, with another very respectable time of fifty-six seconds was… Unicycle!"
The cheers were noticeably less for Uni, and CR strode onto the set demanding the same level of enthusiasm for all challenge winners. Beca felt a little bit bad at the annoyed expression on Uni's face, but he was such a dick most of the time it was hard to feel too sorry for him.
After a satisfactory cheering performance for Uni's second place finish, Gail moved on to the last winner.
"The race for third place was incredibly close," Gail began, definitely building up the drama and tension of the moment. "Just two seconds separated third and fourth place, but winning the final spot on the date tomorrow with a time of one minute and eight seconds was… Theo!"
Beca's eyebrows rose in shock, teeth clenching together to keep her jaw from hitting the floor. Shit. She quickly schooled her expression with a grin and a few claps and a loud cheer for Theo, suddenly desperate for Luke to pick her for the date so she didn't end up with Theo on the date and in the Truth Booth.
Once all three men were standing beside Gail, she turned her attention to Luke. "Alright guys, Luke finished the fastest so he gets to pick his lucky lady first! Luke, who would you like to take on the date tomorrow?"
Beca desperately tried to meet his eyes, but as Luke's gaze flashed over her before quickly moving on she knew she was screwed.
"Kommissar? Would you like to go on a date with me?" Luke asked, sounding slightly hopeful.
The blonde smiled back at him, answering, "Yes, of course!"
Beca clapped for the pair of them as Kommissar moved to stand in front of Luke.
Gail nodded her approval, moving on to Unicycle. "Uni, who would you like to take on the date tomorrow?"
Uni didn't hesitate, responding, "Well, I blew this person's shot at a date last week, so maybe this could be my apology. Calamity, wanna go on the date with me tomorrow?"
To her credit, Calamity only hesitated for a second before smiling and nodding her acceptance, walking over to stand in front of Uni. Beca noticed he looked visibly relieved that she seemed to accept his apology for throwing the shave ice challenge.
"Wonderful! Now for our third place finisher, Theo, who would you like to take on the date tomorrow?" Gail asked brightly.
Beca briefly wondered if Theo wouldn't pick her as he glanced over at them without meeting her eyes, but after a moment his gazed locked onto hers.
Theo looked back at Gail, replying, "Well, this girl and I have been through a few ups and downs, but I think this could be a perfect opportunity to mend some fences and maybe start fresh."
His tone was genuine and Beca knew he was going to pick her before he said the words.
"Bec?" Theo asked, turning towards her with a questioning look. "Will you please go on this date with me?"
Beca felt her chest tighten with the knowledge that every camera and face was staring at her right now. Despite not really wanting to go on the date with Theo, she knew she had an obligation to finish out the show and keep up the charade for the rest of the house.
Praying that her smile didn't look as forced as it felt, she agreed, "Yeah, I'd like that."
Beca walked up and stood beside Calamity in front of Theo, trying to ignore Gail's beaming smile in their direction.
"I hope you two are able to talk and move forward on your date tomorrow," Gail said genuinely. "Congratulations again to all three of our winners. Would you guys like to know what you're doing tomorrow?"
Beca joined in the loud chorus of "Yes!"
"You six will be going cliff diving at gorgeous Shipwreck Beach!" Gail announced excitedly, adding, "Followed by dinner at one of the best seafood restaurants around. Congrats, guys!"
Gail continued on with her usual speech, "And as the rest of you guys know, while they're out on their dates the rest of you are deciding which couple you're sending to the Truth Booth… the only way to validate if they are a perfect match or not," Gail said, clearly wrapping up her portion of the challenge. "I'll see you guys tomorrow evening for the results. Bye guys!"
The group cheered and said goodbye to Gail while Beca turned around to see how Theo felt about that date.
"Sounds fun, right?"
Theo's expression tightened a bit, "I'm not a fan of heights."
Beca immediately backed down, realizing Theo was not happy about what they were doing on the date. "Hey… I'm sure it won't be that high. It'll be fine." Hesitating for a second, she decided to really try to make amends. "We'll do it together, okay?"
He studied her for a moment, finally relaxing his shoulders and nodded. "Yeah… sure, I mean what could possibly go wrong?"
The sarcasm put her back at ease, rolling her eyes and smiling as they began walking back towards the house. Instinctively Beca looked around for Chloe, barely catching a glimpse of her red hair before she'd turned the corner leading back to the house.
Theo offered her his arm as she looked back at him, shaking her head at the corniness of his gesture.
"Come on, Bec, you said we could be friends," Theo said, raising his arm slightly higher. "It's not a marriage proposal."
"Thank God… it'd be a fucking terrible one if it was," Beca replied, eventually looping her arm through his as they walked back to the house. "So… is there a story behind this fear of heights?"
Theo shook his head, "What? No… of course not. Not at all…."
The date was not off to a great start. It was clear from the minute the three couples got in the van to drive to the beach that Calamity had not forgiven Uni at all, and the tension was palpable to everyone. To make matters worse, the pair were seated in the middle seat, separating Beca and Theo in the last row from Luke and Kommissar in the first row, preventing the four of them from making conversation.
Theo didn't seem quite as nervous during the ride, but began pacing nervously upon arrival at the beach with the cliff in view that they would be jumping off of. Beca tried to reassure him it would be fine, but he remained doubtful as the group began the hike. The crew informed them that the couples would be jumping together in pairs, but everyone would make the trek to the top of the cliff together.
As much as she tried to distract him with small talk, Theo's nerves only increased as he watched first Luke and Kommissar go flying off the cliff edge whooping happily, then Calamity and Unicycle following almost deadly silent. Beca even glanced over the edge to make sure neither had died, sure that even the most stoic person would let out some sort of sound jumping from such a height.
"Hey, look… all four of them did it and they're perfectly fine," Beca reasoned gently, noting that Theo looked close to throwing up. "You don't have to do it if you don't want to."
Theo took a deep breath, glancing at the cliff edge. "I'll regret it if I don't… but the thought is terrifying."
"Kinda like being on this show? Or falling in love?" Beca asked, trying once again to take his mind off what they were definitely about to do.
"That's not even close to the same thing," Theo shook his head.
Beca chuckled, "I'd argue that falling in love is way more terrifying than jumping off that cliff."
Theo thought for a moment, finally replying, "I wasn't scared of falling in love with you."
Beca's chest tightened, not anticipating that response. "Are we doing this now?"
He sighed, "We don't have to… I was just saying."
"You're not a bad guy, Theo," Beca said gently, "We just aren't gonna happen as a couple. I think I knew that even when we were spending time together… something just… something was missing."
That got his attention, his eyes meeting hers. "Wait, really? Why didn't you tell me?"
Beca shrugged, "I thought I just needed more time. We definitely clicked and I liked hanging out with you… and I mean it had only been like two weeks." He nodded at that, before gesturing for her to continue. "I guess that night it just felt like that conversation or fight or whatever was just the coming to light of that feeling for me. Like oh, okay, that's why I've been a little hesitant… because he's not really the right guy for me romantically."
Theo shuffled some sand around with his foot, staying quiet for a minute. "And you're sure of that, now? You think Jesse is the one or something?"
A crew member interrupted them before she could answer, calling out, "Okay which one of you is first?"
Beca answered, "I am! Be there in one second!"
She turned back to Theo and said, "Jesse isn't the one either. I just think he's my match."
Beca leaned in and pulled him into a hug, whispering in his ear, "I'll tell you who the one is at the bottom of the cliff." She pulled back with a wink at the confused look on his face, but didn't give him time to answer before turning and walking over to the crew at the edge.
After listening carefully to all the instructions, she nodded she was ready and glanced back at Theo. "You got this! I'll see you at the bottom!"
Without letting herself think or second guess what she was about to do, Beca ran and took a flying leap off the edge of the cliff, screaming happily at the dropping feeling in her stomach until she plunged into the cool water below. Popping back up to the surface, she swam a little bit away into the ocean to give Theo space to land.
After about five minutes she saw his body go flying of the cliff's edge, screaming bloody murder the entire way down until he crashed into the water a little ways away. She swam over to him as he resurfaced, treading water while he got his bearings.
"Well?" Beca asked, grinning at him. "Not so bad, was it?"
Theo rolled his eyes, "Never. Doing. That. Again." After a second, he asked curiously, "Who's the one?"
Beca realized it was the perfect time since they weren't wearing their mics.
"Chloe. Chloe's the one."
Beca leaned against the railing on the deck of the restaurant they'd just had dinner at, Theo beside her looking out over the water. A couple of beers rested between them, but neither made a move to drink.
"You've got some explaining to do," Theo said, not looking away from the horizon.
"I know," Beca replied, finally grabbing her beer to take a long sip. "The crew is gonna be so pissed at me."
Theo chuckled, "Could care less about that. Want to explain how you two… figured it all out?"
Beca sighed, thinking back over the past few weeks. "It's hard to explain, but I think she was the person I wanted to be around the most out of everyone. I like talking to her, I like how I feel when I'm with her…"
Theo interrupted her, "Bec… you mean him," he corrected, looking hesitantly at the crew nearby filming them.
"It's okay... they know," Beca said simply. "We weren't exactly subtle at first... or at least as subtle as we thought." At Theo's curious look, Beca admitted, "We kinda kissed in the STD Den after one of the getaway dates... for a while."
Theo's jaw dropped at that news, eventually closing it with a shake of his head. "Yeah, I suppose not very subtle at all, then. So are you just telling people or..."
Beca shook her head, "No, and you can't tell anyone either. No one knows except me, Chloe, Luke, and the crew. CR is probably gonna kill me for telling you, but I wanted you to know. I wanted you to know that I was feeling this way about her when we were spending time together even if I didn't fully realize it at the time. I didn't want you to think that we didn't work because of you, when really it was me."
"How very cliché of you," Theo quipped, but he looked more at ease than he had all day. "Honestly, it does make me feel better about what happened between us. You know I'm sorry for what I said and that I never meant to make you feel that way."
Theo took a deep breath, asking, "So, I guess we're better off as friends then? I really thought we hit it off, and maybe that could translate into a good friendship?"
Beca nodded, "Yeah, I think so, too. I meant it when I said I liked spending time with you... just not romantically. You're still a sarcastic little shit like me," she finished playfully.
He laughed at that, nodding in agreement. "Yeah, yeah I am."
An assistant producer approached them, saying, "Come on, guys. Time to head back to the house. Beca, a word alone?"
Beca shrugged and agreed, "Okay. See you at the van. Save me a seat away from Uni and Calamity, would you?"
Theo rolled his eyes, "Yeah, you and me both."
After he walked away, Beca turned back to the producer to receive her slap on the wrist.
"CR is going to have my ass for this footage, you know," he said, shaking his head. "You couldn't talk about anything else?"
It was her turn for an exaggerated eye roll. "We talked about plenty of shit that didn't involve my feelings for Chloe. Why don't you use some of that about how we're gonna be friends and get off my ass. This is my life... it's more than your fucking television show."
Beca didn't wait for an answer, moving past him towards the van leaving him staring after her.
Theo grabbed Beca's hand and pulled her off to the side of the entryway, making her shoot him a curious look.
"I just…" he hesitated, finally saying, "I wanted a second for us before we go in there because I think there's a good chance we got voted into the Truth Booth."
Beca felt her stomach drop a little bit at the thought, suddenly very thankful for his foresight.
"Right… right, yeah we probably did."
Theo studied her for a moment, asking, "Are you gonna be okay with that? I mean it depends on how they edit the show, but it might be okay if you look disappointed."
Beca shook her head, "No, I won't do that to you. I told you I like you Theo, I just don't want to date you."
"I got it," he smirked, "You can stop saying it."
"Yeah," Beca bit her lip sheepishly. "Sorry."
"Nah, it's okay," Theo shrugged. "Don't apologize for how you feel… or who you love."
Beca breathed at that word, "I think love is a bit strong…"
Theo quipped back, "Semantics."
Theo gave her another minute before finally saying, "Okay, based on the angry stare from multiple crew members, it's time to go."
Beca took a slow, deep breath. "Okay, I'm ready."
She turned around and they walked together towards the main room, not sure of what to expect when they arrived. Theo reached down and slipped his hand into hers, giving it a squeeze.
"It'll be fine. We'll do it together," he whispered, clearly trying to be supportive.
Beca took another deep breath trying to calm her nerves, shooting him a small smile. "Yeah, okay. I mean, it might not be us, right?"
He nodded encouragingly, "Totally. It could definitely not be us. This house is full of morons."
Beca laughed at that comment, silently agreeing with him as they entered the living room.
"Thank you for joining us," CR's clipped, sarcastic tone did not sound pleased at the delay. "Now we can get started."
Beca was sure she looked appropriately chastised as Theo led her around the room into position beside the other two couples.
Luke grinned as she got closer, teasing, "You'll have to go to the timeout corner later for that."
"Shut up, ass," Beca retorted, her words lacking any real menace as Luke only chuckled.
Beca got into position in front of Theo and beside Kommissar and glanced around the room for Chloe, finding her on the couch between Aubrey and Chicago. She hoped to catch her eye, but Chloe was listening to something Aubrey was whispering in her ear and not paying attention to anything else.
Gail strolled casually into the room, her beaming smile in place as she looked around at everyone. "Hey guys, how're we doing tonight?"
The group replied with a mixture of waves and verbal responses, everyone seeming to be in a good mood. Beca hoped that meant good things to come and a nice easy shoot without complications.
"Wonderful," Gail nodded, "Glad to hear it."
CR moved next to her and spoke rapidly for about thirty seconds before leaving the room without another word to the group. Gail waited for her cue before addressing the group.
"Hey guys! Are you ready for another Truth Booth?" Gail's voice held a note of teasing in it, as if reminding them of how horrible they were at finding perfect matches.
"Alright, here we go," she continued, turning slightly more serious. "You guys know how crucial this is. You've already found two perfect matches, Beni and Emily, and Donald and Lilly." Gail counted the pairs off on her fingers as she said the names. "Let's see if you can add a third one to that tonight."
A few people cheered and there were some sporadic claps that sounded more nervous than anything else. Beca glanced around the room trying to see if anyone was giving away their vote by looking at the couples, but everyone was focused on Gail.
"Alright, let's find out the results," Gail said dramatically, building the suspense. "The couple that you've chosen to enter the Truth Booth is…"
Beca held her breath as the screen flashed and the pictures of all three couples were replaced with larger images of her and Theo side by side. Fuck. Her heart was definitely, one hundred percent in her stomach right now at the thought of being Theo's perfect match.
For their part, the group's reaction was loudly exaggerated shock, the sarcasm evident from all around the room.
Gail grinned, announcing, "Theo and Beca. Do you guys think they are a perfect match?"
Luke shouted out a quick, "Nooooo!"
Beca shot him a quick, appreciative smile, but it didn't do anything for the gigantic butterflies settling in her stomach.
Bumper chimed in, "I think it could go either way, but either way it gives us a lot of information since they've sat together at a lot of matchups."
Gail nodded, turning to face them. "Theo? What do you think?"
Beca felt Theo shift his weight behind her, not daring to look anywhere except back at Gail.
"I think we could be, Gail," he finally answered. "It will be good to know the truth."
"Alright," Gail wrapped up, eyes locked on them. "Theo, Beca, it's time to find out. Head to the Truth Booth."
Beca let her eyes sweep across the room as she turned around, desperately hoping to at least see Chloe looking at her, but the redhead was physically turned the other way now. Fuck.
Theo opened the back door and gestured for her to walk through first. Beca gave him a tight smile as she walked outside, her stomach twisting into tighter and tighter knots.
Once they were outside, Theo stopped her. "Hey, no matter what happens it's gonna be okay."
"What if we are a match? What if I have to go to the honeymoon suite with you and I don't even get to talk to her for the rest of the show?" Beca ran her fingers through her hair, feeling worse by the second.
"Okay, woah," Theo grabbed her gently by the shoulders. "One step at a time, okay? The crew is right there though, so…" he trailed off, inclining his head at the several men standing five feet away from them.
Beca realized what he was saying, and even though the crew already knew she decided it was best to not completely broadcast it more than necessary.
CR suddenly appeared behind them, having quickly exited through the back door and clearly not expected them to still be standing so close.
"Okay, first Truth Booth for you two so here's how it goes. We have to film separate interviews before and after. We have to get footage of you walking away from the house, across the yard, into the booth. There are cameras in the booth that will film the results, then we get more footage of you inside the booth, exiting, and also separate interviews after the results. If you are a perfect match, we will get some interview footage together as well. Any questions?"
Beca was far too overwhelmed by all the thoughts and emotions running through her to process much of that, let alone ask any questions.
"Perfect. First let's do the shots walking from the house."
Theo nodded, slipping his hand into Beca's to help her follow the instructions of where they should stand and where to walk. Thankfully this part was fairly simple and it took about ten minutes for them to walk from the backdoor across the patio into the yard twice, before CR calling out they had the shots.
"Okay separate interviews!" CR shouted. "Beca, over by the pool please. Theo, over on the other side of the yard towards the matchup ceremony staging."
Beca nodded at his question look, before turning and walking over to do her interview. The crew got her into position with thankfully not many lights shining into her eyes, and she nodded when she was ready to go.
"How are you feeling about going to the Truth Booth with Theo?"
Beca took a deep breath, answering, "I'm scared to go into the Truth Booth tonight. I thought Theo and I were a match at first, but now I don't. I don't want us to be a match."
"What if you two are a perfect match?"
"Then we'll leave the house tomorrow and go to the honeymoon suite," Beca answered almost robotically, earning a particularly frustrated eye roll from the producer questioning her.
"As a couple?"
Beca narrowed her eyes at him, relaxing her expression before answering, "No matter what the Truth Booth says, Theo and I will not be a couple."
He sighed, nodding at the camera guys. "Alright, go on."
Beca didn't hesitate to walk away from the set, having to wait about ten minutes for Theo to be finished so they could continue walking to the booth. They walked up the stone pathway and reached the hut, Theo pulling the door open to reveal a pristine, blindingly white interior. Beca fought to hold her hand up to her eyes at how bright it was compared to the dark evening outside, stepping inside first. Theo followed in behind her and closed the door, both moving to stand in front of their pictures on a big screen on the far wall.
A thought popped into her mind of Chloe describing the booth to her all the way back after the first Truth Booth, now fully understanding why she'd found it a little creepy. Suddenly, horizontal green lasers started moving up and down their bodies as if scanning them, and if Beca wasn't so nervous she'd give a good eye roll at the theatrics of it all. Theo reached down and took her hand, giving it a squeeze while they waited for the results.
The screen started flashing and Beca wondered if Theo could hear how loudly her heart was beating inside her chest. Just when she wondered how long they would draw this out for, a black box appeared across both of their pictures with large white text in the center of it.
Beca let out a breath she didn't even know she was holding, dropping Theo's hand to lean down on her knees.
"Holy shit… I didn't think that would be so intense," she admitted, finally straightening up to look at him.
He gave her a wry smile, "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. I know you didn't want to be my match, but I still wanted to be yours."
Beca raised an eyebrow at him until he quickly added, "Not because I thought it'd change your mind… you're just… you're really special."
"Thanks," Beca replied, feeling slightly awkward at that.
"Just take the compliment… don't make it weird," Theo shook his head, moving to open the door.
Beca rolled her eyes, muttering so he could hear, "Yeah because that wasn't weird or awkward at all. At. All."
Theo laughed, "Yeah, that was something. I know we're all here to find our perfect match, but I'd rather do it without going in there again."
They exited the booth to find camera crews immediately waiting for them, CR gesturing that they should continue to walk back down the path. When they reached the bottom she called out for them to stop.
"Okay, back to your interview spots for reaction footage."
Beca nodded, walking across the backyard towards her setup by the pool and took up the same position in front of the camera.
The producer eyed her, asking, "Going to play nice this time?"
"Do I ever?" Beca shot back at him with a wide fake smile.
"Wonderful," he grumbled, glancing at the camera guy. "Okay, how do you feel about the results?"
"I didn't think Theo was my match, and now the Truth Booth has confirmed it." Beca got straight to the point and didn't offer any filler.
"How do you feel about another failed Truth Booth?"
Beca pondered that one for a few seconds, answering, "I'm not sure it's a total fail. No, Theo and I were not a perfect match, but it does give us some valuable information towards finding who our match is. We have to look at the positives and not focus on the negatives if we all want to find our matches."
"Do you have any idea who your match is?"
Beca hesitated again, wondering if he wanted an actual answer or just to build up some drama. Deciding it was the latter, she answered, "Well, now I have no idea who my match is."
His smile proved she chose correctly. "That's all we need."
Beca shook her head and walked back over to the end of the stone path where Theo was waiting for her. Somehow she knew that most of the footage they would use would come from his interviews and not hers.
"Alright, let's get you guys walking back towards the house and then there's already a crew set up inside for when you enter through the backdoor," CR informed them, barely looking at them and instead reading something off a clipboard that an assistant thrust into her hands. After a minute she handed it back and looked at them. "Alright, let's get it done."
Beca nodded at Theo and they started slowly walking back across the yard to the outdoor patio, eventually reaching the back door. He opened it and stepped back, letting her walk through first.
"Hey guys…" she trailed off with an awkward wave, eyes flashing around the room in search of Chloe.
This time the redhead was staring straight at her with a look that said she was desperate to get Beca away from the crowd for a minute, something Beca knew wasn't happening anytime soon. Theo followed her inside to the sound of disappointed groans and random statements of how awful they were at this game.
"We're not going to get it," Uni shook his head, a defeated expression covering his face.
Kommissar looked like she agreed with him, saying, "We only have two more of these to figure it out and we're only halfway there."
Beca had assumed that the negative result in the Truth Booth would have made Chloe stop avoiding her, but she was sadly mistaken. The evening had devolved into people splitting off into random groups to drink and talk and in Stacie and Tom's case, make out in the hot tub. While the fear and anxiety from the Truth Booth had subsided, Beca was starting to wonder if the past few days had made Chloe change her mind. Their conversation by the pool loomed large in her mind, wondering if she'd screwed things up before they even got started.
Beca glanced at Luke beside her on the swing on the back porch and drained the last of her drink. "It's been a long day. I'm going to bed."
Luke watched her stand up. "You okay? Was it just the Truth Booth tonight?"
"Yeah, I guess," Beca shrugged. "I mean, you know how weird it is in there. All of a sudden you realize you might be standing beside your supposed perfect match. It feels stupid to say out loud but I felt like… stressed and pressured and overwhelmed like… like to be together if he was my perfect match."
"That makes sense," Luke agreed. "It's definitely not normal."
Beca glanced around, replying, "But I didn't want him to be my match. The relief was overwhelming to not have to leave the house and spend the rest of the time in the honeymoon suite just the two of us."
Luke rocked the swing back and forth a little. "Yeah, but you aren't a match. You're still here and so are… other people. So get some sleep and tomorrow will be better."
"Yeah, okay. I'll see you in the morning," Beca said, turning and making her way back inside the house.
She deposited her cup in the dishwasher and slowly climbed the stairs to the bedroom, selfishly hoping that no one was there. Alone time in the house was rare, and while the bar was usually busy Beca was always able to escape to the solitude of her apartment at the end of the night.
To her disbelief the bedroom was actually empty, and Beca felt the relief wash over her. It was short-lived, however, as footsteps coming down the hallway made her bite down on her lower lip to keep the string of curses confined to her head. Of course five minutes alone was far too much to ask for in this house full of insane, drunk people.
Beca turned to see who had come to disturb her, barely holding back her surprise to see Chloe slowly enter the room.
Beca wished she could have sounded less awkward and more confident, but she honestly hadn't expected Chloe to be the one after the past couple days they'd had in the house. The fact that the redhead wasn't sporting her usual smile didn't help the sinking feeling in her stomach that Chloe wasn't happy with her. Beca waited as Chloe swung the door shut behind them without saying a word, wondering exactly what was going to happen.
"Hey." Chloe's voice was soft as she took a step closer, meeting Beca's eyes for a minute.
Beca tilted her head a little as she looked into Chloe's eyes, realizing exactly what the redhead had in mind. Chloe didn't make her wait, pressing closer and connecting their lips.
The kiss started hot and grew hotter, Chloe's hands gripping Beca's hips before sliding around into the back pockets of her denim shorts to pull her closer. Arousal spread through Beca like fire as she wrapped her arms around Chloe's neck, the feeling of being with the redhead like coming home after a long trip away.
Reality forced its way into her head and she quickly pulled back, breathing heavily. "Chlo… wait… anyone could walk in…"
Chloe kissed her again, parting only to say, "Luke's giving us five minutes."
That was all the reassurance Beca needed to kiss Chloe again, the redhead spinning them around to press her against the bedroom door. Beca thought she heard a muffled curse from the hallway but it was hard to pay attention to anything except the way Chloe's lips were now trailing a path along her jaw.
Beca's hand tugged at Chloe's shirt until it slipped beneath the fabric and found the bare skin of her back, the other a steadying grip on the back of her neck as their lips reconnected. The feeling of Chloe's hips gently grinding against her thigh had Beca's hand retreating down her back at the same time Chloe's hands moved up from her hips over her sides.
The sound of Luke's exaggeratedly loud voice forced them back into reality, Beca's eyes flying open wide at the same time Chloe's hands reached her bra.
"Hey Bumper! Going to bed already?!"
"Fuck," Chloe muttered, immediately pulling Beca away from the bedroom door, putting plenty of space between them.
Beca didn't take her eyes off the redhead, her only thoughts centering around how they could get away with finishing what Chloe just started. Unfortunately, she didn't have time to say anything before Chloe spun and walked into the en-suite bathroom, closing the door behind her just as Luke entered the bedroom with Bumper right behind him.
"Oh hey, Bec," Luke greeted. "You going to bed too?"
Beca looked at him, taking a minute before nodding dumbly. "Yeah, I was… I was just taking a minute to myself after everything today."
Bumper nodded at her, "That was a tough Truth Booth. But it had to be done." He walked over to his suitcase and began unbuttoning his shirt, only getting about halfway before Fat Amy appeared in the doorway.
"Bumper, come here for a minute," she commanded. "I gotta show you something."
Bumper turned around, eyeing her for a minute before shrugging. "Okay."
Beca raised an eyebrow at Luke as the pair left the room without a backward glance. "That was weird, right?"
Luke shook his head, walking to the door to glance down the hallway and make sure they were all clear. "I don't know about that… but you two sounded like you got a lot of talking done in here," he said with a smirk. "Where is Chloe, by the way?"
Beca flushed red, glancing back toward the bathroom door. "I uh… yeah."
Luke went to the door, knocking gently. "Chlo… you can come out."
The door opened and Chloe glanced hesitantly into the room.
"Don't worry," Beca sighed, running her fingers through her hair. "Coast is clear."
Chloe nodded, looking between them. "Uh, Luke can you give us one more minute, please?"
He nodded, moving to the door. "Make it quick," he said, before closing it behind him.
"I'm sorry about that," Chloe began, but Beca couldn't let her start this conversation that way.
"Do not apologize for that."
Chloe gave her a small smile at that, continuing, "Today was just… hard. And I know you are worried about moving too fast and I was really trying to give you space, but today scared me. I had every intention of just talking to you when I came up here, but…"
Beca shook her head, "Seriously, that was a great conversation. We should have those talks more often. Like all the time." She earned a small laugh from Chloe at that, adding, "I was scared today, too. But Theo isn't my match, and I'm still here."
Again, noise in the hallway forced them to stop. This time it was clearly more than just one person, and no words were needed for them to immediately abandon the conversation and turn away from each other. Beca began digging through her suitcase for something to sleep in as Aubrey, Calamity, Uni, Zeke, and Jesse all piled into the room arguing about something.
Beca barely shot them a glance as the noise overtook the room, hoping that she and Chloe would get a chance to finish that conversation sooner than later. Chloe had said something about giving her space and not moving too fast, but if Beca had learned anything from that evening it was the less space between the two of them the better.
The day leading up to the matchup ceremony was completely uneventful. Bumper tried to get everyone together to strategize, however Beca wasn't surprised that the rest of the ladies wanted no part of it. She knew they were fairly confident in who they were picking that evening and didn't want the guys fucking everything up.
Chloe had frustratingly avoided her again, making Beca grumpier than usual as she wandered downstairs in search of a shot before the group shot. Jesse found her as she was pouring it, quickly producing a second glass and sliding it over next to hers. Beca raised an eyebrow at him as she poured some tequila into his glass before setting the bottle on the counter.
"Tequila isn't really your thing," she commented as he picked up the glass.
"Yeah but I can't let you drink alone," he answered, raising it up to clink with her own. "To perfect matches."
Beca rolled her eyes and downed the shot, smirking as he did the same with a heavy wince. "You okay there?"
Jesse nodded. "Yep. I love shots. Let's do ten more."
"Not unless you want CR to castrate you," Beca shook her head, taking the glass from him.
He shuddered at the thought. "No more shots then. Hey, you are picking me tonight, right?"
"Yeah, I can't think of who else my perfect match could be," Beca replied, setting both glasses down on the counter.
"A ringing endorsement," Jesse quipped. "Don't sound so excited, Bec."
Beca rolled her eyes, pouring herself one more shot and downing it before Jesse could complain. "Yeah, well I've had a shitty week. I'll be more excited about it tomorrow."
Jesse sighed, taking the glass from her. "No more for you either. We still have the group shot and I don't want you all wobbly when you walk to the podium."
Beca chuckled at that thought as the rest of their housemates found their way to the kitchen in small groups. Jesse helped her pour shots for everyone and pass them out.
Stacie held hers up, saying loudly, "To the matchup tonight. Thank God the ladies are choosing!"
There was an appropriately mixed reaction to that toast, the women much more enthusiastic in their support than the guys as everyone downed the alcohol.
They knew the drill by now, shuffling across the yard toward the staged area for the matchup ceremony. CR met them near the entrance, directing the guys to enter first. Beca waited outside as Gail greeted them.
"Gentlemen, it's great to see you all looking so nice! Have a seat!"
There were a few low replies, none of which Beca could make out as they waited for their turn.
CR returned, saying, "Okay, ladies! You know what to do. Hopefully we won't have to shoot this more than once."
Beca bit back a sarcastic comment about having confidence in them and focused on the task at hand. The three shots definitely took the edge off, making her feel warm and relaxed in the moment. They walked into the matchup area to see Gail standing in her usual spot by the podium, turning to smile at them as they entered.
"Ladies! Don't you all look gorgeous tonight," Gail welcomed them, gesturing to where they should stand as if they hadn't done this many, many times already.
"Hey Gail," Beca joined in the chorus of greetings as she found a place to stand.
CR appeared from somewhere behind the scenes, calling out, "Sorry ladies. Let's do that one more time!"
Without anymore explanation they were herded back out of the area to repeat the entrance one more time. And then a third time when CR was informed one of the cameras malfunctioned halfway through. It was safe to say that the shoot was not off to a good start based on how aggravated the head producer's tone was just thirty minutes in.
Gail finally received her cue to begin the ceremony. "Hey guys! Welcome to your eighth matchup! How are we doing tonight?"
The question was met with a mostly positive response, definitely dulled a bit more than it would have been without the beginning difficulties. Unfortunately for them, CR noticed and stopped the shoot again to demand better.
Beca glanced at Stacie beside her, murmuring, "This might be a long night."
"You're not kidding," Stacie whispered back, her expression darkening slightly.
They got the greeting right the second time and Gail was able to move forward with the ceremony.
"Three more chances to beat the odds and walk outta here with a million bucks," Gail said, turning to the two couples already seated in the chairs. "And a big welcome back to our two confirmed perfect matches here, Benji, Emily, Donald, and Lilly! Welcome back, guys!"
Beca clapped along with everyone else, hearing a few greetings tossed out to the two couples.
"How are you guys doing in your honeymoon suites? Still enjoying the alone time?" Gail asked, looking at both pairs.
Benji answered, "Love it, Gail. We're having a great time."
Donald agreed, "Oh yeah. The honeymoon suite is awesome."
Emily was as diplomatic and sweet as ever, adding, "But we miss being in the house with you guys, too!"
Beca fought back a laugh at the few "awwws" that went up at her comment, Gail pouncing on the opportunity.
"Oh, that's so sweet! I love that you guys are developing these bonds of friendship along with trying to find your perfect matches!" Gail said, shooting Emily a wide smile. "Unfortunately, we have no perfect matches to add tonight."
The two pairs already seated shrugged, their expressions turning slightly disappointed as Gail resumed her host role.
"But, it's time to focus on tonight's matchup," Gail reminded them, bringing everyone back into the drama of the moment. "Okay, here we go. If you all choose your match correctly, then you're heading home rich in money and in love. But, if you don't go ten for ten, then you're back to your lives of couch surfing and top ramen."
Beca chuckled at that, glad she wasn't the only one to give Gail a little response for that joke. She wondered briefly if that was true for any of them, and privately hoped they all had something at least a little better than that to look forward to after the show.
"Tonight… it's the ladies turn to choose," Gail announced, gesturing her hand towards the women standing on the small platform. "Ladies, when I call your name step up here and select your perfect match. The two of you will then place your palms on the handprint touchpads locking you in as a couple. But remember if you fail to add any new matches to the two you already have, that's a blackout and your prize immediately drops by two hundred and fifty thousand dollars."
Gail paused for a minute to let that reminder sink in before saying, "First up for the ladies tonight is… Kommissar!"
Beca watched the tall blonde stride confidently to the podium.
"Hi Kommissar," Gail smiled warmly at her. "How are you doing this evening?"
"I'm well," Kommissar responded, not giving the host much to go on.
Undeterred, Gail pressed on, "How was your date with Luke this week? Think you two might be a match?"
"Yes, I think we could be," Kommissar answered. "Luke and I hadn't had much time together in the house, but we had a lot of fun on our date."
Beca turned to look at the guys sitting in the chairs wondering who'd called that out. Based on Luke's flushed face, whoever it was knew something she didn't.
Gail ginned widely at the interruption, "Well, it certainly seems like you two hit it off. Kommissar, who is your perfect match?"
"My perfect match is Luke."
Luke regained his composure as he stood up and strolled to stand beside Kommissar at the podium.
"Luke, how do you feel about being first out of the chairs tonight?" Gail asked him.
"I feel great," Luke responded, turning his head to smile at the blonde beside him. "We had a great time on our date and I definitely think we could be a match."
Gail nodded encouragingly, "That's great! Alright, it's time to lock in as a couple."
The pair placed their hands on the touchpad and locked in, turning and making their way back to the chairs.
"Okay, next up is… Stacie!"
Beca winked at the brunette as she walked up to the podium and greeted Gail.
"Stacie, how has it been for you this week? Still going strong with Tom?" Gail asked curiously.
Stacie beamed, "Things with Tommy are great. We're confident where we are as a couple. The hard part is figuring out who our matches are."
"And how are you doing with that? Any ideas?" Gail pressed.
"Yes, I'm pretty sure I found mine," Stacie answered. "Unfortunately Tom isn't having as much luck."
Gail looked over at him sympathetically. "I'm sure you'll figure it out! Well, Stacie, since you have it all figured out… who is your perfect match?"
Stacie turned towards the guys, saying, "My perfect match is Zeke."
Beca watched the tall man join her at the podium, admitting the pair made a striking couple.
"Hello, Zeke! Do you think Stacie is your match?" Gail asked.
Zeke smiled, "I do. We have a lot in common, and it's pretty easy for me to understand why we were matched together. I'm a little disappointed she and Tom locked on so early, but I'm happy for them. We can all see they found something real."
Stacie smiled happily at that, wrapping her arms around his waist in a hug. "Aw, thanks babe," she said, straightening back up beside him. "He's the best, really. Tom and I just have a connection. I almost didn't believe it when we weren't a match in the Truth Booth."
Gail nodded understandingly, "Well, it didn't stop you! Zeke, Stacie, it's time to lock in."
Beca glanced over at Tom to find him seated comfortably in his chair watching this conversation with an easy smile on his face. She wondered what that must feel like… being so secure in your relationship. It was definitely something she wouldn't feel with Chloe until they left this place and tried to make things work in the real world, and even then it seemed unlikely to her.
CR marched onto the set after Zeke and Stacie were seated in the empty chair, calling for a break. Beca sighed in relief, walking over and immediately demanding Jesse move over to make room for her.
"Yes, ma'am," he joked, shifting to the edge of the chair. "Tired of standing up already?"
"Just tired of this in general," Beca answered. "I'm ready to go home."
He nodded, "Yeah, me too. Only a couple more weeks and you'll get your wish… hopefully fifty grand richer."
"I wouldn't turn it down, that's for damn sure."
They were all gathered back in place after the quick break to film reaction footage, quietly talking amongst themselves as CR directed her crew into the correct positions. After a few long minutes she shouted for everyone to get ready to roll.
Gail waited until she received the signal to continue, nodding upon hearing it come from somewhere behind the scenes.
"Next up for the ladies is… Beca!"
Beca broke into a surprised smile at hearing her name, for some reason not expecting to go until later on in the evening. She stepped forward and slowly walked up to the podium.
"Hi Beca," Gail greeted her with a friendly smile.
"Hey Gail," Beca answered, coming to a stop at the podium.
"That was a tough week, huh? How was your experience with the Truth Booth?"
Beca replied, "Yeah… it was tough. I wasn't sure if Theo was my match, but everything feels different when you go into the Truth Booth. It was a crazy experience, but I'm glad we know the truth."
"I know things have been a little rocky with Theo, but now that you know for sure he isn't your match… do you have an idea of who is?" Gail asked curiously.
"Yeah, I think so," Beca nodded.
"Alright then, Beca who is your perfect match?" Gail prompted her, sticking to the script.
"My perfect match is Jesse."
Beca turned to watch as Jesse grinned broadly and walked up to stand beside her, slipping his arm easily around her waist.
"Jesse, you look thrilled to be standing up here next to Beca," Gail observed, matching his wide smile.
Jesse laughed, "Who wouldn't be, Gail! Have you seen her?"
Beca blushed at the unexpected compliment, not sure why Jesse was laying it on so thick. She assumed it was for the cameras since they were pretty sure they were a match.
"I have," Gail nodded, playing right along. "You're a lucky man if Beca's your match."
"I am," Jesse promised, "Both lucky and her match."
Gail gestured between the two of them, "So is something going on here then? You two look awfully comfortable up here together."
Beca hesitated to answer that question, and Jesse quickly supplied, "We're still getting to know each other better. Bec spent a lot of time with Theo and I spent time with Bree, so I'd say we have a good friendship going right now."
Beca smiled in agreement, adding, "Jesse and I are taking things slowly. After seeing all these couples dive in and then get negative results from the Truth Booth, we're focusing on getting to know each other to see if we really are a perfect match."
Gail nodded, "Smart, but I think it looks good from here! Beca, Jesse, please lock in as a couple."
Beca placed her palm on the touchpad beside Jesse's, watching the green line scan up and down before the pair of black bars flashed across the middle of the screens declaring them "LOCKED!"
Jesse gestured for her to lead the way back to his empty chair, Beca moving in front of him and got settled into the chair beside him. His arm came up around to rest along the back of the chair as Gail called the next name.
"Next we have Flo!"
Jesse leaned in, whispering, "That was okay, right? I figured we might as well play it up for the cameras. All they want is a good show."
Beca glanced at him, replying, "Yeah, it's totally fine. We know we're good."
They watched Flo make small talk with Gail for a few minutes before the host asked the all-important question.
"Flo, who is your perfect match?"
The woman turned to face them and announced, "My perfect match is Tom."
Beca raised her eyebrows slightly as Tom rose from his chair to join her at the podium. She whispered to Jesse, "You see that one coming?"
He subtly shook his head, "Nope. Not at all. But I suppose it's possible."
Beca hummed thoughtfully. True it was possible, but she found it unlikely the pair were a match. Flo and Tom locked in as a couple and returned to the chairs. A few seconds later CR strode out and called a halt to the shoot.
"Alright, you guys know the drill! Reaction shoots over there for the couples, and I need a few volunteers to go film reactions over by the pool. Let's move guys!"
Beca stood up and waited for Jesse to stand and stretch. "Guess we have to, huh?"
Jesse nodded, "Yep, duty calls. Come on, it won't be that bad. Just pretend you're in love with me."
Beca chuckled, "No way… not gonna happen."
"You wound me."
"I meant to."
Beca walked alongside Jesse back to the matchup area, trying to subtly look around for Chloe. She spotted the redhead talking to Luke, feeling immediately relieved that Chloe wasn't near Chicago. They hadn't gotten a chance to finish their conversation from the previous night, and Chloe's words about giving Beca space loomed large in her mind. She wanted to tell Chloe she didn't need space, but it was next to impossible to get time alone without anyone nearby who could overhear them.
"Hey, you okay? CR is trying to get everyone into position so we can continue the shoot…" Jesse trailed off looking curiously at her.
Beca nodded, "Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry… spaced out for a minute there."
Jesse shrugged, "Hopefully someplace a hell of a lot nicer than this."
"If only," Beca joked, sitting back down in the chair with him, giving in and leaning in a bit. The chairs were really too small for two people, and she certainly wasn't upset about Jesse being her match in that regard. He was comfortable and polite and… at least tonight smelled really nice.
"You smell good," Beca said out loud before she realized it.
Jesse chuckled, "Glad you think so. You do too, by the way."
Beca shook her head, "I didn't mean to say that out loud. Sorry…"
"Are you apologizing for saying it or because I don't actually smell good and you're a dirty liar?"
Beca laughed, "The latter… obviously."
Jesse smirked at her sarcasm, leaning closer and wrapping both arms around her. "Are you sure? Maybe you need a closer whiff."
If she was honest, Beca was grateful for the distraction even as she pushed him away. Jesse was fun and relaxed, and she understood why he was her perfect match. Their humor matched up well, and Beca knew well enough by now that Jesse was a good guy.
"Better press pause on this before we really get in trouble," Jesse whispered, straightening up in his chair a little.
Beca did the same, not wanting to attract CR's attention and get scolded. The producer was double checking the remaining women to be sure they were all standing in the correct position, moving over to the rest of them when she was satisfied. After critically looking over all of them, she only made Emily and Benji switch positions before exiting the area.
After a minute, Gail resumed the matchup ceremony.
"Next is Calamity!"
Beca watched as Calamity walked up to the podium and answered Gail's questions about her week before the host posed the final inquiry.
"Calamity, who is your perfect match?"
Calamity answered calmly, "Well… this person and I are completely opposites. He's not someone I would usually go for, and that makes me think he's my match. Tonight my perfect match is Unicycle."
Beca knew her jaw dropped a little with that announcement, glancing around to see similarly shocked looks around the room as Unicycle joined Calamity at the podium.
"Uni, what do you think of this match?" Gail asked.
Uni scratched his head, replying, "It's so crazy it just might be right."
Gail laughed, "So you don't think you and Calamity are a match, then?"
"I mean, I think we're the opposite of what we each usually go for, so maybe you guys are trying to tell us something," Uni answered diplomatically. "Maybe we need someone more like each other instead of the type of person we usually choose for ourselves. Who knows?"
Gail nodded, "I think that makes a lot of sense. Calamity, Uni, it's time to lock in as a couple."
Jesse murmured, "That's a hard one to believe, though."
"I'm with you," Beca agreed as the couple returned to the chairs and sat down together.
Fat Amy was next, and Beca's suspicion was correct when the woman chose Bumper as her match. She was starting to believe more and more that those two crazies belonged together. Jesse agreed with her, stating that only Bumper was the right combination of crazy and sane to handle Fat Amy.
They had the long break after that round, and an hour later saw them back in their chairs on set ready to finish the shoot.
"Okay guys, let's get this wrapped up. Gail, you're on!" CR announced, marching off set somewhere.
Gail took up residence at the podium, looking over at Chloe and Aubrey waiting for their turn.
"Next up for the ladies is… Chloe!"
Beca felt her breath catch as she was finally allowed to look at Chloe for longer than a few seconds without feeling guilty or paranoid. Memories of the night before when Chloe pressed her up against the door flooded unbidden into her mind, and Beca worked hard to push them down and stay focused in the moment.
Chloe chatted easily with Gail, until the host asked her the final question.
"Chloe, who is your perfect match."
Chloe hesitated, finally saying, "My perfect match is Chicago."
Beca watched him stroll confidently up to the podium, though thankfully he didn't try to put his arm around the redhead.
"Chicago, do you think you and Chloe are a match after this past week?" Gail asked when he arrived.
Chicago looked at Chloe, admitting, "We didn't spend a lot of time together this week, but I still think Chloe could be my match."
Gail nodded, "Well, I hope you guys are right! Chloe, Chicago, it's time to lock in."
Beca focused in on the fact that they were almost done with the matchup ceremony as Chloe and Chicago returned to the chairs and sat down together, his arm finally coming up around her shoulders. It burned her a little bit to see them sitting so close, despite knowing there was really no other option and that she'd been cuddled up with Jesse for most of the evening.
It almost distracted her from the fact that the only two left were Aubrey and Theo, potentially one of the worse matchups they'd had during the entire time on the show. There was absolutely zero chance that Aubrey and Theo were a match, making Beca realized they'd definitely screwed something up.
Jesse was on the same page, muttering, "How'd you guys let that happen?"
Beca sighed, "No idea. That shouldn't have happened."
Gail sped through the final couple quickly, locking them in and waiting patiently until all ten chairs were filled with a matched-up couple.
"Alright, that's it! Do we have ten perfect matches sitting out there?" Gail asked, looking around the room.
The mixed response didn't show a lot of confidence, but Beca was at least certain that they didn't blackout. The rest they could recover from.
"As you all know, the matchup will reveal how many couples are correct, but not who those matches are," Gail began, falling into a comfortable groove. "That's up to you to figure out. Behind me… are ten beams of light."
The beams flashed to life, moving from shining straight at them to shoot straight up into the night sky.
"Each beam represents a perfect match," Gail continued. "One beam is one perfect match. Ten beams are ten perfect matches and one million dollars!"
"One million dollars!"
Beca grinned as several people quoted the words along with Gail, followed by applause and cheers for the prize money.
"Tonight you start with two beams already lit representing Benji and Emily, and DJ and Lilly," Gail stated, two beams lighting up behind her as she listed off the names. "Remember, if you fail to add another beam to these two, that's a blackout and your prize instantly drops by two hundred and fifty thousand dollars."
Gail let that sink in for a moment to a few jeers and boos before announcing, "Okay, let's go!"
Beca felt her heart start to race as Gail moved around the podium and placed both hands on the touchpad.
"The number of perfect matches is…"
They only had to wait about two seconds for a third beam to shine brightly up into the night sky, cheering loudly at the knowledge they weren't blacking out.
Gail announced, "That's three."
"Let's fucking go!"
"Here we go, keep it going!"
Beca released the breath she was holding, clapping along with the rest of the group.
The pause this time was longer before a fourth beam lit up the sky.
"That's four! Gail said, her voice rising with excitement.
Louder cheers accompanied the fourth beam, everyone feeling a bit better after the longer wait.
"We want five!"
"Come on… we at least have to get five again."
"Please…" Jesse muttered beside her, making Beca glance away from the beams at him to see his palms pressed together in a praying motion. "At least give us five."
After what seemed like hours a fifth beam shot to life, making everyone cheer even louder.
"That's five!" Gail called out, adding, "Halfway there!"
"We got this guys!" Bumper's voice yelled out. "Give us six!"
It was another excruciating thirty seconds before another beam flashed up into the sky.
Gail's voice was heard above the yells and cheers, "There's six you guys! Six perfect matches!"
Someone in the back row started a chant until the entire cast was yelling "Seven! Seven!" in unison.
As if spoken into existence, a seventh beam shot into the sky to louder cheers and clapping.
Gail didn't disappoint, her voice rising louder, "Seven perfect matches!"
"Holy shit," Beca looked at Jesse. "Did we do it?"
He shook his head, not willing to say the words.
Already more people were calling for eight, and Beca realized she had inched forward onto the edge of her seat in anticipation of possibly getting all ten matches.
Ultimately it was not to be, as moments later the lights came back on and the sound signaling the end of the round blared around the room. The group let out a chorus of disappointed "awwws" but Beca still felt really good about their progress.
Gail turned to face them, recapping what just happened. "That's seven perfect matches you guys!
The words sunk in, realizing they actually had a shot at going ten for ten. It was hard to believe with how poorly they'd done with the Truth Booths, but somehow victory was still within reach.
"That's the most you've ever had by a long shot!" Gail said, clapping her hands. "Seven perfect matches in eight weeks… not bad! You have two more shots to figure out the final three, and I have complete faith you can do it!"
They cheered again, the group's confidence rising as they cheered and started to really believe they could do it.
"Okay guys, say goodbye to your perfect matches, get back inside and figure it out, and I'll see you at the next challenge," Gail wrapped up, beaming at them. "Congratulations!"
Beca stood up as the group exchanged high fives and hugs, crowding around the two perfect matches to speak with them for a few minutes before they had to return to the honeymoon suite.
"You got this, you guys can do it," DJ said, giving Beca a hug. "And when it's all over and we're all fifty grand richer, we're gonna party it up together."
Beca nodded, "Deal. We'll figure it out."
Luke gave him a high five and joined in the hug. "Got room for one more?"
Beca shouted, "No!" but it was too late, ending up squished between the two men. Finally able to wriggle free, she glared at both of them. "You guys suck."
They stood side by side grinning and she decided to leave them there to continue the bromance without her. Joining back up with Jesse as they made their way back to the house, Beca grinned and slipped her arm through his.
"You know... I think we might actually pull this off," Beca commented, leaning into his side as the exhaustion set in.
Jesse nodded in agreement, "I think you might be right."
A/N: Cheers to Arsto who helped me realize enough was enough, and it was time to get back to writing! Best Beta Ever!
Quarantine Update: Thank you to those of you who sent concerned messages! I am fine, my family is fine, and as far as I know Arsto's situation is the same. We are very fortunate to not have COVID-19, and our silence has been 100% due to me adjusting to life at home. My usual writing time has vanished and I haven't done a good job of motivating myself to carve out time to write.
We are still 100% committed to finishing this story... and lemme tell ya... it's fucking GOOD! ;-)
I hope you all are staying safe and washing your hands all the time and wearing your masks and learning to live with rationed TP and Clorox Wipes ;-). But seriously, you guys are the best and I hope you're safe and healthy during this time!
Finally, a massive thank you for your continued love and support for all our stories! We appreciate it more than you can possibly imagine!