a/n: I couldn't resist. Title and lyrics are from Katie Herzig's "Way to the Future."

She could be easy to find, you see.

She writes her songs only for you to sing.

She digs the words out of the sky,

She leaves them there for you to find.

She never would've thought to sing to a stranger through a car simply for a smile.

It's strange to her, the openness the rolls off him in waves. He is strange, and she doesn't trust it.

But she likes him; she can't help liking him, and she doesn't try to analyze it. He makes her laugh with his juice pouches and his cheesy lines and his dorkiness, and she finds his smile irritatingly infectious. Jesse is earnest, and he is honest, and she likes that he doesn't care what people think.

She doesn't go for the nice guys, because there isn't such a thing, or there isn't until Jesse.

(And she isn't sure how, but he made her care when she wasn't counting on it.)

She hasn't cared before. She isn't sure what she's supposed to do when he slams the door on her, but she knows that she messed up. She needs to fix things with the Bellas, and she needs to fix things with him. She cares, and her dad is right. The loneliness isn't worth pretending she doesn't.

The Bellas forgive her in a heartbeat. But it's different with Jesse. She was a bitch to him for no reason, and he isn't interested in her apology. She knows what to do, though. She is an a cappella girl trying to get her a cappella boy. She knows what he would do. It's corny, and it's stupid, and she's terrified, but the Bellas have her back, and she does it. She sings her heart out on that stage.

And she grins before she kisses him.

Afterward, in the hotel suit where Fat Amy is belting out We are the Champions, Aubrey is making out with Unicycle, and Benji is doing magic tricks for everyone, they have a chance to talk.

She feels drunk, and she doubts it's on the Natty Lite from the keg that some idiot dragged in.

It's the dizziness from dancing to Lady GaGa, she thinks, from the high that seeing a trophy balanced on a pillow tower brings, from the laugher that comes when she sees Chloe hopping around the room, squealing and hugging and grinning, from the silliness that swells like a balloon beneath her ribcage when she sees the boy making funny faces at her as he does the Macarana.

She rolls her eyes at him, and he exaggerates his hop to the left.

He hooks his hand around her elbow when the song finishes, murmuring something to her. But she can't hear him over the pounding music; the room is too crowded with sweaty, happy drunk people, and she grabs his arm, tugging him across the suite to the balcony. He stands right behind her as she fiddles with the sliding glass door handle, his chest to her back, his hands on her hips.

Finally, the door unlatches, and they escape onto the quiet balcony.

"Okay, gross," she says, spying the vomit that someone spewed on the balcony railing.

Jesse nods. "Imagine how the guy standing under the balcony felt when he got a chunk to the eye."

She shakes her head as she stands to face him. "Yeah, no," she says. She bites her lip. "So, um."

He grins, his eyes staying trained on hers as he sips his beer. "So, um." He nudges her ankle with his foot. But his hands have returned to her hips, his fingers threaded through the loops on her pants, and he is right there, dangerously close to crowding her. It's distracting. "What's going on?"

"I watched your movies," she tells him. She planned this out, or thought a little about it, about what she would say to him, because she has to say something. She twists her lip, only to find a smile starting to pull on her cheeks, because he looks earnestly at her, encouragement shining in his eyes.

"Okay," he says, bobbing his head, teasing her. "Which ones?"

She shrugs. "I don't know. I watched everything."

"She watched everything, ladies and gentlemen," he says, a drunken, lopsided smile tugging on his mouth. "She watched every movie in the world. Congratulations, Beca. Seriously, hats off to you."

She does a dopey curtsey, and, wow, she is drunk.

"Well, the good ones," she amends. "I mean, I could've done without watching Rocky."

"No!" he gasps. "Who doesn't like Rocky? No, I don't believe it — you're only saying that because you didn't watch the movie properly." He tuts his tongue, and she sips her beer, smirking at him. "It's okay," he tells her. "Don't panic. I'll watch it with you, and I'll help you see the awesomeness."

"The awesomeness," she repeats. "Seriously? That's the word you're gonna go with?"

"Yeah, it's a great word," he says, and he manages to lean closer to her, close enough that she doesn't really want to talk. "It's in the Bible," he tells her. "Look it up. Jesus was filled with —"

She grabs his collar, kissing him.

"Hey," she mumbles against his lips. "I'm — I'm working on it, okay?" There. It's said. Because she knows he isn't like the losers she dated in high school, and she knows he isn't a douche, looking to get into her pants, and she knows he didn't leave her. It was the other way around, her pushing him away. But she's working on it. And, God, this stupid, cheesy boy knows how to kiss.

He wraps his arm around her waist, deepening the kiss, and she hears his party cup hit the ground a moment before his hands start kneading her back. She walks him backwards, pinning him against the wall, dropping her Natty Lite over the railing along the way, and that's how Chloe finds them.

"Oh!" she exclaims. "Oh, God! I'm sorry — don't stop! I was never here!"

Her eyes are bright, her smile a little insane, and Beca knows she is gonna get grilled about this, about Jesse. From within the suite, Stacie shouts at Beca to "get it, girl!" and Jesse looks far too smug about that comment, opening his mouth to say something smarmy. His lips are swollen, his hair sticking up from her hands, and Beca covers his mouth with her before he can say a word.

She isn't the best at dealing with people; she understands music, and that's it.

When she was fifteen, her dad told her that she used music to keep people out, and she couldn't deny that she used music to drown them out; she drowned out the screaming matches between her parents before he left, and she drowned out teachers in classes that year when she hid her ear buds with the hoot on her jacket. It was easy, drowning out everybody she didn't want to deal with.

But that isn't easy to deal when music is what drags her into caring about something other than music for the first time since she was thirteen years old. She puts ear buds on during her intro to psych class, and Jesse snakes a hand into her hood, steals an ear bud for himself, and grins at her.

"I've decided that we should date," he tells her. "I'll bring a candle, a few juice pouches, and a superb movie, you bring your sour disposition and your hatred for fun things. It'll be totally great."

"I won't put out unless you bring pretzels," she replies.

He takes her out to Cheeseburger in Paradise for dinner on Tuesday, and his surprise for the night is the bowling alley. She actually kicks his butt with her granny roles, and he starts to call her the dude on the walk back to campus. She puts a stop to that with a kiss, which is turning out to be a great way to get Jesse to stop talking. They're fumbling with their clothes as soon as the dorm room door shuts behind them. "Kimmy Jin is out," Jesse says, hands tracing slowly up her sides.

She holds up her arms, letting him pull her shirt off.

"Yeah, I paid Fat Amy in french fries to keep her busy," she says, stumbling backwards towards her bed, tugging on his belt buckle. His tongue pushes into her mouth, sliding over her tongue. Her ass hits the mattress a moment after he pulls her jeans over her hips, and she yanks his jeans down, too, letting him steady himself with his hands on her shoulders as he kicks his pants away, but his mouth finds hers, and he presses her into the mattress. She shifts, pushing him onto his back, settling over him, his hips snug between her knees. But as she rises up, she grins breathlessly down at him, lips swollen. "Nice," she says, palming his erection through his Mario Kart boxers.

"I wore them especially for you," he says, panting. "I know how you enjoy whimsical things."

"I was talking about your dick," she replies, bending down to kiss him.

His hands tangle in her hair, and he holds her mouth to his, slowing her down as he kisses and kisses her, taking his time, coxing her tongue into his mouth, sucking lightly on the tip, only for his lips to trail down her throat. She can feel his grin when he finds the spot that makes her gasp.

She unhooks her bra, sitting up to toss the thing, and he flips them, rolling her underneath him as his mouth descends to her breast. He shifts his weight to his left hand to palm her breast with his right hand, making her shudder, and she rakes her nails over his scalp, arching up, her hips pressing into his when he swirls his tongue around her breast, his teeth scraping over her nipple.

He doesn't let up, his mouth traveling between her breasts, until she rocks against him. He groans, his breath fanning hotly over her. He nuzzles the valley between her breasts, kissing his way down her stomach, his fingers curling at her hips as his tongue runs a stripe along the skin above her underwear. "Hey, hey," she says, pulling on his hair, drawing his gaze. "Get a condom." He nods, eyes a little glassy, and she finds herself laughing when he stumbles from the bed, tripping in his haste to strip off his boxers, and, naked except for white socks, he starts to root through his jeans.

"Ha!" he exclaims, hopping to his feet with a condom in hand, and he doesn't waste any time. She starts to pull off her underwear as he tears open the condom wrapper, but suddenly he is moving over her, helping drag her underwear down her legs. She pushes his chest, swinging her leg over his hip to straddle him. "Wait, hey, Bec, wait," he says softly, grasping her wrists to stop her from rolling the condom on. "Are you sure about this?" His eyes search her face.

She thinks about teasing him for asking, but she doesn't. "I'm sure," she promises.

His hands tremble as she rolls the condom on, and he looks straight at her when she sinks onto him, her hips settling against his. "Fuck," he breathes, and she digs her fingers into his shoulders.

It's fast the first time, hurried and excited, with fumbling hands and messy kisses, but afterward he starts singing, "my eyes adored you," and she shuts him up with a kiss. The second time is slower, his arms framing her head on the pillow, her heels digging into his ass; they finish together when she twists her hips, and she rests boneless against his chest, laughing when she realizes he hasn't taken off his socks yet. His hands skate lightly over her, tracing her tattoos, a laziness in his touch.

"What?" she says, feeling shy when she sees the look on his face.

He shrugs. "Nothing," he says, pausing before he adds lowly, "lover."

The smiles slips off her face. "No." He grins, and she shoves his stomach. "Dude, no!"

He shakes with laughter, and she drags the sheet off him to wrap around her shoulders, climbing from bed and tossing a pillow over his junk as she goes. She grabs a water from the fridge. He puts his hands behind his head, smug. She goes to her laptop to put on music, and the door opens.

Fat Amy says something loudly from the hall about "sneaky Asian arts," and Kimmy Jin stands in the doorway, stunned, before abruptly her glare cuts to Beca, who struggles to keep a straight face.

"Hey, Kimmy Jin," she greets, "you remember Jesse, my, um, my boyfriend."

Jesse nods at her. "Kimmy Jin. What's up?" But he looks a little goofy as he says it, and the moment Kimmy Jin slams the door shut, he glances at Beca like the cat that caught the canary.

"What?" she says, crossing her arms over chest.

"I told you," he says, smug.

She sighs. "What's that?"

He shifts, propping himself up on his elbow. "How many aca-children do you think we'll have?"

They have five weeks together before the semester ends.

As far as Beca is concerned, those weeks shouldn't go to waste, but they have exams, and Chloe wants to hang out as much as possible, "because I'm graduating, Beca," and five weeks pass before she realizes. Jesse takes the bus with her to the airport to see her off, kissing her at security.

"Do you think you can survive three months without me?" he asks.

(And it is three months, because L.A. will keep; she isn't going to walk out on her friends.)

"I'll manage," she says, smirking.

She starts to go through security, but she glances over her shoulder to see him, waiting, watching her, and she smiles as she slips off her shoes. As she finishes with security, retrieving her laptop from the belt, she turns around, and there he stands, waiting, and he catches her eye, waving at her.

And she can't help thinking that he would do that, wave from security with a stupid smile on his face. She raises a hand, waving back at him, and she hates how long three months suddenly seems.

They Skype a week into the summer, and Jesse is a weirdo about it.

He told her to order pizza, and he ordered pizza, too. As soon as she answers his Skype call, he sits his laptop on the couch beside him, turning to the side to look at her, as though she were sitting on the couch beside him. He lights a candle on the coffee table, and he opens his pizza with a grin.

"So," he says, "how's life in the big city?"

They've texted a few times, but it's not the same as seeing him, and this isn't, either, really, but it's better than anything else. She tells him about her job at the record store; she worked there in high school, and her boss offered her twenty hours a week as soon as she got back into town. "Mom's fine," she says, and she mentions having lunch with Aubrey, who is at graduate school at NYU.

They spend five hours on Skype that night, watching The Office together, listening to her new mixes, and chatting about stupid stuff. She says hello to his dad, too, who pops his head into the screen to wave cheerfully at Beca. As soon as the call ends, Beca slumps back onto her pillows.

(She hasn't missed anybody like this before, in this warm, wistful way that sucks but doesn't.)

She takes a Greyhound to visit him in Virginia.

It was his idea. Or, well, his idea was that he would come visit her in Boston, but she nipped that in the bud, because, yeah, she wants to see him, but it's weird to think about him in Boston, seeing her house, meeting her mom, going to the restaurant. She doesn't tell him that, of course, but she tells him that she should visit Virginia. "And you can plan super lame July 4th stuff for us to do."

"Super lame," he says, "or super fun?"

He meets her at the bus station, standing on a bench and waving his arms.

His mom pulls her into a hug the moment Beca walks though the door. She pulls back, looks at Beca, and exclaims, "you're beautiful. Jesse, she is beautiful!" and she grabs Beca in another hug.

"Let her breathe, Mom," Jesse says, eyes apologetic.

Mrs. Swanson ignores him. "Harold! Beca is beautiful! And those are lovely earrings, Beca. I've never seen earrings like that before. I like them! Harold, you need to see this girl! Come in, Beca!"

His mom makes lasagna for dinner, and his dad wants them to watch baseball with him afterward.

("I'm cool with that," Beca says, surprising Jesse, but it's not a crime to want to make a good impression. Jesse shouts at the television with his dad, rooting for the Cleveland Indians, because, Mrs. Swanson explains, the Swanson family is from Cleveland, and their hearts are in Cleveland.)

His family is normal, and she feels awkward with them, but they're nice, too, and, well, it's a good week, staying with them. She meets the guys Jesse went to high school with when they watch fireworks on July 4th, eating a jello American flag that Mrs. Swanson made, cut up into pieces shaped like stares, and wrapped in foil for a snack. His friends are cool, exchanging stories about school and sneaking sips from a flask. She hopes she passes whatever girlfriend test they give her.

"They like you," he says, "you're hip and artsy — what's not to like?"

"Actually," she tells him, "we prefer the term alternative. It provides an intimidating edge."

They sleep together when his dad is at work and his mom is at the grocery store. She's shy at first, because, yeah, they've done this before a dozen times, but it's been a while, and she is in his childhood bedroom, looking at this lame music posters and his Matchbox race car collection and the picture he drew in finger paint that his mom put in a frame and hung over his bed. It's weird.

But it's Jesse, and she missed him, and, God, he does this thing with his tongue when his head is between her legs that makes her claw at his shoulders, turning him smug as he crawls up her body to kiss her. "Somebody's pleased with himself," she mumbles, biting his lip when he tries to smile.

As they're getting dressed, sitting side by side on the bed, he nudges her with his elbow.

"Hey, I missed you," he says.

She runs a hand through her messy hair. She'll need to get herself together before his mom comes back. She smiles, pulls on her sock, and kisses him. "What's the fun activity for tonight?" she asks.

They go to a skating rink. It's ridiculous, but the place has cheesy seventies music and a disco ball, and Jesse manages to be a good dancer on skates, belting out along with every song that comes on.

Jesse is a strange bird, filled with confidence from a goofy charm, a pretty face, and an amazing voice, but he isn't any type she knew in high school; he isn't an athlete with the hots for himself, a prep with pretentious shoes and gelled hair, or an artsy guy who hung around the record store, a cigarette in his mouth and a chip on his shoulder. No, he is something onto himself, a weirdo who is sweet and earnest and confident, singing "swe-ee-et, sweet city woman," as he skates backwards.

And it's infectious, his confidence; she skates towards him like a dork, singing, "oh, what a night."

She leaves the next morning, and she blows him a kiss through the window on the bus.

He makes a scene pretending to catch it.

Sophomore year starts with a familiarity that feels foreign to her; she has never slipped into something as easily as she slips into life at Barden, a life with her loud, larger than life friends and a radio show at a shitty time slot and the boy who shouts "Adrian!" at her dorm room window until she comes down. He couldn't have texted her like everybody else, and she shakes her head at him as she crosses the grass to where he stands with open arms, a cheeky, cheesy grin on his face.

"I hope you know that you're ridiculous," she tells him, and he nods wordlessly as he pulls her to his chest and kisses her, smiling against her mouth when she rises up onto her tiptoes to kiss him properly, nosing her cheek like a pleased puppy as she admits softly that, "I missed you, weirdo."

And he makes her watch Rocky that night.

Her favorite part is when he feigns a few punches at nothing, his eyes trained on the screen.

He puts the movie on pause halfway through in order to make more popcorn, and he starts in on how the movie was filmed in less than a month, and nobody expected how successful the film —

She slumps against the pillows, nodding mockingly at him, amused at how animated he is as he talks, and she is glad to be back at this stupid school. She is glad to be rooming with Fat Amy, glad to have her shitty radio show time slot, glad that a stranger sang to her from his car a year ago.

Beca isn't much for physical affection in general.

But Jesse slips in sweet, affectionate touches when she isn't paying any attention; they're easy, comfortable touches, and she enjoys them without thinking about it. She comes to assume that he'll sit close enough for their sides to touch, or that he'll brush his thumb absently against her arm as they're waiting in line at the dining hall. She isn't surprised when he fiddles with hair as they're watching a movie, or when he taps his fingers lightly against her hand on the console in the car.

She's dated guys, but it's never been like this, and she finds herself returning his attention.

She drops onto the ground beside him in the grass, brushing her hand through his hair as she looks over his shoulder to see what he's up to on his laptop. As she stands beside him at a party, she leans her chin against his shoulder, smiling at whatever Benji says. She moves in a circle around him, singing lead in an unplanned competition between their a cappella groups, and her hand runs along his shoulders as she smirks at him. It's easy, being physically affectionate with Jesse.

It's easy, really, being in a relationship with him.

She keeps busy with classes and the Bellas and the radio station, and she eats dinner with her dad every once in a while, but mostly her time is spent sitting around with Jesse; that's how she likes it.

He picks up dinner for them every week on Wednesday, because that is movication night, pizza or Chinese or fast food crap, sharing his fun facts and mouthing along to the words and elbowing her when she sips noisily through her straw at the exact same moment that E.T. wants to phone home.

She avoids talking about her parents with Jesse, because she really doesn't want to go there, but she doesn't keep him at a distance. She tells stupid stories about her childhood, admits that she hates roller coasters, complains about the people she doesn't like. She doesn't think anybody knows her as well as Jesse quickly comes to, and the thought freaks her out. She tries not to think about it.

But she knows him, too. She knows that the first girl he kissed when he was six slapped him for giving her cooties. She knows how he likes blueberry slushies more than any other flavor, knows his dad was in a nasty car accident when Jesse was eleven, knows that he loves Roald Dahl books.

It's weird how easily you can get to know a person.

She learns that he hasn't had a blow job, "wait, like, ever?" she asks, and he shrugs, adorably bashful, quoting some stupid movie, but she pushes aside her English textbook, and slides onto his lap. She kisses him to shut him up before she shoves him onto his back and tugs at his belt buckle.

And when the Bellas crush everybody during the riff-off, he admits that he was a goner as soon as she started rapping last year. She kisses him, because she doesn't know what she is supposed to say, and she can't not kiss him. And Stacie sees them leaving the party early, calling them out on it.

Beca flips her off.

Her radio show is from three to six on weekdays, and it's a shitty time slot, but she's a sophomore, and the guy who took over after Luke says she needs to pay her dues. Jesse hangs out in the booth with her most days, doing work; he likes throwing song suggestions at her, trying to challenge her.

It's ridiculous, but she likes trying to mix whatever song he says, and he has yet to trip her up.

The a cappella groups hold a fairy tale party for Halloween.

It is stupid, and she tells Stacie under no uncertain terms that she doesn't need help finding a costume. She goes to the Party Palace with Fat Amy, Denise, and Cynthia Rose, and she isn't sure how they talk her into it, but she shows up at the party in green tights, green shorts, and a green tank top, ballet slippers on her feet and wings on her back. Jessica styled her hair in ringlets, and Stacie put on her make-up, and Beca feels ridiculous. "Beca, you look super cool," Benji says.

"Thanks, Benji," she says, accepting the drink Jesse hands her. "I like your, um —" And Jesse saves her, mouthing the words behind Benji. "— Pied Piper costume. The feather is a nice touch."

Benji smiles, nodding, thanking her, and she smiles to herself as he sweeps off, playing his flute.

Jesse throws an arms around her shoulder. "What's up, Tinker Bell?"

"Nice pants," she replies. "Did you have to buy those, or did you already own leather pants?"

Across the living room, Fat Amy starts belting out I'll Make a Man Out of You, an appropriate choice considering her Mulan costume. The couch topples over when she uses the arm for a jumping board to kick her legs wildly as she leaps through the air. She sticks the landing, but she manages to take out a lamp, the side table under it, and a BU Harmonic with her swinging arm.

"I guess Disney didn't tell the full story," Jesse says.

"What?" she asks, glancing up at him.

"I mean, nobody knows that Tinker Bell had the hots for Robin Hood." He tips his hat at her, waggling his eyebrows, and she shoves his chest. A moment later, Stacie grabs her arm to drag her over to help the Bellas sing I Can't Wait To Be King to the Treble Makers, because, Cynthia Rose explains, "we're gonna whoop their asses at Lincoln Center again." Beca loves her friends.

It's a good night, and the proof is in the pictures that Jessica pins on her dorm room door.

Her favorite features Robin Hood, on his knees, his feathered cap askew, his hands on her hips as Tinker Bell gives him a peppermint pattie shot. But she likes the photo with everybody, too, with Benji throwing an arm around Lilly in her Little Mermaid costume and an arm around Jessica dressed as Cinderella, with Fat Amy showing off her guns as Cynthia Rose, dressed as Aladdin, pops her head in the background beside Denise, dressed as Jasmine, chocolate smeared on her lips.

There is Stacie to the left, winking at the camera in her Pocahontas costume, and there's Ashley, dressed as Snow White, at the front with the three new Bellas, who wore matching fairy costumes.

And, of course, at the center is Tinker Bell, getting a piggyback ride from Robin Hood, having stolen his hat to wear for herself as he kisses her cheek. Beca can't believe how dorky they look.

"I think the word you're look for is dashing," Jesse corrects, "Robin Hood looks dashing."

The a cappella groups help out at the local elementary school that fall as their volunteer activity, because school sponsored groups have to do something that looks good on a resume. Denise organizes everything with the school, and the music teacher is thrilled to have college kids helping out with the school Thanksgiving production. "Which grade do you want to help, Beca?" she asks.

Beca asks for the kindergarten kids, because she figures they'll be the easiest.

And when she sees fourth grades running circles around Jesse, she decides she was right.

They're cute, too, her kids, and they're pretty tone deaf, but she figures they aren't supposed to be good; it's not like their parents care. She gets them to learn the song, mostly, and she gets them to remember where they're supposed to stand. She isn't bad with kids, actually, and she likes them.

As far as she concerned, kids are cute, tiny people before they grow up into assholes.

She wants to bang her head against the wall during the rehearsal, though, because Rosie needs to use the bathroom for the third time, and Patrick won't put away his ninja turtle action figure, and Juanita needs a band-aid because she scrapped her knee when she fell off the bleachers, and Jackson put his booger on Cassie, "I saw him, Ms. Beca, I saw him!" Cassie cries, hugging Beca.

Jesse comes to her rescue, because he's good at that.

He claps his hands, asking whether they can show him their song because Ms. Beca bragged about them, and he really wants to hear. They're suddenly perfect little angels, and they perform for Jesse.

Seriously, they're adorable.

"Ms. Beca," Abby asks, raising her hand as soon as they're finished with the song, "are you married to Mr. Jesse?" Beca gapes at the girl, and Jesse swoops in, saying that, sadly, Ms. Beca isn't married to him, but she is sweet on him, which means she wants to be married to him. "Do you want to marry her?" Abby asks, and Jesse doesn't have time to come up with a witty response.

"No!" Alex says. "I'm going to marry Ms. Beca!" He leaps forward, grabbing her hand.

Jesse clutches a hand to his heart. "Betrayed."

"Okay, okay," Beca says, "it's snack time. Come on."

Alex doesn't release her hand, and Jesse doesn't let her forget that fact, teasing her endlessly about her true love. On Friday night, the performance goes off without a hitch, or mostly without a hitch.

"I can't wait to do that again!" Jessica gushes, walking through the parking lot.

"It was fantastic," Benji agrees.

Beca glances between them. "I can wait," she says. "I can definitely wait."

They spend the night swapping stories about their kids, and Fat Amy takes the cake when climbs up on her chair at Outback to demonstrate the chicken dance that her fifth graders tried to teach her.

Chloe is in law school in North Carolina, and Beca visits her as soon as she finishes her finals.

After that, she spends break holed up in her room in Boston, texting Fat Amy, mixing songs, and Skyping with Jesse. He sends her a stocking in the mail, stuffed with candy, toe socks that have musical notes on them, a dozen new USB flash drives, and a picture Ashley took in September that features Jesse, grinning, his arm around Beca, who scrunches her nose up stupidly at the camera.

It's stupid and cheesy and him.

They watch It's a Wonderful Life over Skype together, and she likes it, seriously, but she can't stop looking at his face in the tiny square on her laptop, and she is ready for winter break to be finished.

Jesse starts sleeping over a lot, mainly because she doesn't want to sleep with him at the Treble Makers house, and, well, he doesn't want to walk back to the house every night. "I could be attacked," he says. "I could be murdered, and you would have to attend extensive therapy over it."

(It's weird, sharing a bed with somebody; he likes to sleep on his belly, but she doesn't like having him pressed up against her, almost covering her, his arm around her. She whines, pushing his side, telling him he'll flatten her, and he scoots over, letting her have as much space as possible on the tiny bed. But she finds herself chasing him in their sleep. She likes the soft, worn cotton shirts he wears to bed, and she likes his warmth, and she starts to sleep curled up against his side, her cheek resting on his back.)

She manages to bring the subject up with Fat Amy, because she feels bad.

"I mean, I know Jesse is over here a lot —" she starts.

"Nah, don't worry," Fat Amy says, "I don't mind a little man candy in my life."

And, really, Beca rationalizes, Fat Amy is out every other night. She isn't around when Jesse comes over to study, and Beca straddles his hips, kissing his neck as he tries to read his flashcards.

She bites his lip when he sighs dramatically, tosses the notecards aside, and flips her under him.

"I try to study," he says, "I try to be a good student, but hot girls throw themselves at me —"

His hand slides between them to her jeans. But she wants to be on top, and she forces him onto his back when they've discarded their clothes. He runs his hands slowly up her thighs as she rolls on the condom, and his fingers dig into her hips when she slides onto him, his eyes on her breasts when she starts to move. He arches up to meet her thrusts, his fingers spanning her stomach, sliding up to cup her breasts, his thumbs pressing into her nipples as she bends down to kiss him.

When his hands slide around, cupping her ass, she knows what he is about to do, but her breath catches anyway when he sits up, squeezing her ass and thrusting hard into her. She cards her fingers through his hair, letting her nails scrape against his scalp, because she knows he likes that.

She pulls on his hair, and she feels his fingers leave marks on her ass.

She comes when his hand slips between them to rub her breast, tweaking her nipple. He reverses their positions, and she lets him, kissing him lazily as he continues to thrust into her, and she runs her nails across his back, palming his ass. He grunts against her shoulder, wrapping his arm around her waist to turn her and press into her from behind, his face in her hair, nosing her neck.

She twists to kiss him when his thrusts start to become more frantic, and his hand squeezes her breast as he comes, groaning into her shoulder and bringing her with him. Afterward, she eyes him, panting, motionless and heavy against her, his eyes closed. She wipes a bead of swear that trickles from his temple, and she nips his lip lightly, smiling when his eyes open to show pupils blown with pleasure. "I really wish condoms would magically dispose of themselves," he tells her.

She nods, smirking. "I know your life is very hard."

He kisses her cheek chastely before he rolls away to clean up. She touches her hand to his back, feeling doughy inside, and he glances over his shoulder to smile at her. She pulls on her underwear as he pulls on his boxers, but he is back the instant she reaches for her tank top, slapping her hand away and sliding into bed beside her. She laughs. "Fat Amy will be back any second," she says.

"That's what blankets are for," he replies, yanking up her sheets and sliding his arm under her head to serve as a substitute for the flat pillows. She turns to face him, nose to nose, but he taps the spot on her back where her tattoo is. "How come you've never told me about your tattoos?" he asks her.

It's random, but most conversations they have are random.

"I got that when I graduated high school," she says. "It was my present to myself."

"Which was your first?"

"The flowers on my shoulder," she says, and his hand skates across her skin to brush over that tattoo. "I was sixteen, but I found somebody who pretended to be convinced that I was eighteen. It was a super shady place, actually, but I haven't died yet." She pauses, watching him as his eyes trace over the tat. "It was the summer I stayed with my dad," she adds. "I wanted to piss him off."

He looks at her. "How'd that work out?"

"I didn't know people could actually turn purple when they're mad," she replies.

He chuckles. "What'd your mom think?"

"I don't think she really cared," she says. "She would've had to notice for that." She can see his curiosity, but he doesn't ask. He treats her like a skittish animal where this stuff is concerned, and she knows that he will let her change the subject, that she can insist she needs to get dressed, or tease him about when he plans to get a tattoo, but, "my mom works a lot. There are worse things."

(She doesn't know when she started to feel okay with this, sharing herself with him in stupid, sudden moments, but she told him she was working on it, and she is. She doesn't know what to think about how easy this is, how opening up to him is becoming as simple as he finds opening up to everyone. But it is, and she knows that's his influence on her, that's Jesse, through and through.)

"What does she do?" he asks

"She, um, she owns a restaurant, actually, a fancy Italian place that she bought with my aunt."

"Whoa, seriously?" He grins at her. "How come you've never told me that?"

She shrugs, chewing on her lip. "It hasn't come up. It's not really a big deal. I worked there some, but apparently my surly attitude isn't really good for keeping costumers happy." She smirks, and he shakes his head. "No, my mom's cool, though. I'm pretty sure she'd let me get away with murder."

He looks ready to make a quip about that, his eyes bright, but they hear Fat Amy singing loudly in the hallway, and he heaves another sighs as he turns, searching the ground to find her tank top for her. She pulls the tank on, he kisses her ear as she runs a hand through her messy hair, and Fat Amy strolls into the room a moment later, finishing the Christina Aguilera song with an arm pump.

She gets a new slot for her radio show, or for a radio show with Jesse.

Apparently, he talked enough on air during her show that everybody else at the radio station thinks they should combine shows. Travis offers them the eight to ten on weekdays slot, and Beca is on a high for a week afterward. This is what she wanted when she came to Barden; it was the single thing she thought might be cool at this stupid school, and she can't believe everything worked out.

"Take that, Luke," Jesse says, spinning around in his chair in the booth.

Nobody is surprised when the Treble Makers and the Bellas take the trophies at Regionals, advancing to the Semi-Finals. To be honest, Beca isn't as good a coach as Aubrey, and she knows it, but she can't muster the energy to enforce cardio routines or to keep the girls at practice for six hours. She prefers a three hour practice where most time is spent singing random bars from different songs, joking around, and going out for something to eat. But that doesn't really matter.

The Bellas can sing, and they get their act together in time to come up with a good choreography.

The solo is passed from Denise to Fat Amy to Cynthia Rose, and the Bellas kill it.

Cynthia Rose makes-out with Denise during the party afterward, and Stacie wolf-whistles at them. Cynthia Rose flips her off, and Beca texts Chloe, because she knows her friend will freak at the news. She glances around for Jesse, and she spies him with Benji, talking with girls Beca doesn't know. They're groupies, or that's what Chloe used to call them, girls who loved a cappella boys.

"Of course, we've got boys lining up for us," Chloe added, winking.

Beca sips her party punch, laughing when she sees Fat Amy dancing up against Unicycle. A moment later, Jesse comes up behind her, wrapping his arms around her waist as he rests his head on her shoulder. His mouth is warm against her cheek, and she can smell the alcohol on his breath.

"Why are you hanging out in a corner?" he asks.

She tilts her head up, and his noses her cheek. "This corner?" she says. "I like this corner."

"Hey," he cries, turning her, looking at her with big, drunk eyes. "Nobody puts baby in a corner!"

"What?" she says, laughing, but he clasps her hands and starts to walk backwards, leading her towards their friends, dancing along to a Kelly Clarkson. He tries to sway his hips, stumbling, and she stumbles, too, bumping into him, but he catches her around the waist, and she kisses him.

They break apart when Fat Amy yells, "dance floor make out!"

But Beca indulges her boyfriend, unable to help herself as she dances with him like a dork.

She starts to put on her make-up, but she sees his eyes on her in the mirror, and she glances over shoulder. He is on her bed, notes from his physics class circling him. "What?" she asks, amused.

He shrugs. "Nothing," he says. "Seriously, don't make that face. I like to look at you. That's it."

She shakes her head, turning back to finish, but Jesse starts to sing "yes, you look wonderful tonight," under his breath, and Beca throws her eyeliner at him, because his cheesiness deserves it.

"Come on," Jesse wheedles, "it's tradition. And, you know, tradition isn't always fun, which means this might not be fun, which means you might really enjoy it." He blinks innocently at her.

A week later, Fat Amy comes into the room and sets a vodka handle on her desk. "Let's do this."

In the end, Beca spends the entire night declaring that she is not going to streak across the football field with them, and, no, she does not care that this is a tradition beloved among Barden students for generations. But after more shots than she can recall, with Jesse pulling off his shirt, raising his eyebrows at her, a challenge gleaming in his eyes, she finds herself stripping alongside everyone.

Fat Amy clutches her breasts and coaches herself loudly as she runs, while Benji trips in his efforts to cover his eyes in order not to see anyone else naked. Jessica giggles madly and sprints like a fucking Olympic athlete, and Lilly isn't lagging, either, whispering madly as she disappears down the field. Jesse runs backward, egging Beca on as she struggles to finish undressing, to catch up.

Beca reaches the end zone, breathless from laughter and alcohol and exercise, and Jesse shouts at her to move her ass, his breath billowing up into the cold air in white puffs. She sprints towards him, shaking with the cold when she reaches her clothes and scrambles to get dressed. She forgets her bra, puts on her underwear inside out, and can't stop laughing as Jesse pulls her to him and kisses her thoroughly, his lips chapped on hers, his cold, sweaty nose affectionately brushing hers.

Fat Amy keels over, her shirt on backwards. "I'm dead!" she cries. "I'M DEAD!"

Afterward, they get food at Waffle House, toasting to tradition remaining intact.

Sheila comes to her room on a Tuesday.

Jesse is watching The Godfather with commentary on his laptop while Beca works on her mixes, and Beca hollers at whoever knocks on the door to come on in; she is surprised someone bothered to knock, because the Bellas aren't really into privacy. But it turns out to be Sheila, rocking timidly on her heels, and Beca is stunned. "What do you want?" she asks, making Sheila laugh nervously.

Jesse moves to his feet, offering his hand. "I'm Jesse."

"Sheila Mitchell," she says, smiling. She looks at Beca. "I'm sorry to come over unannounced, but I was on campus, and I thought — I'm giving a lecture at a conference in San Francisco the week you're on spring break, and I — your dad and I — we thought that you might want to come along."

Beca stares at her for a minute. "Do you mean like a family vacation thing?" she asks.

"I guess, yeah," Sheila says, nodding. "Well, um, why don't you figure out what you're up to for break and let us know, okay? It was nice to meet you, Jesse." He nods, and her stepmother flees.

It's quiet.

"Okay, that was super awkward," Jesse says.

Beca nods. "Yeah, that was weird. I can't believe she wants me to go on vacation with them. Whatever." She pulls on her headphones, turning back to her mix, but Jesse kicks her foot lightly.

"Hey, wait, tell me about your stepmom," he says. "You never talk about her."

She doesn't take her eyes off her computer. "I don't really know anything about her," she says, hoping he'll take the hint. "I'm mean, we're not really friends." She opens a new mash-up template.

"Well, how did she meet your dad?" he asks.

Beca sighs, glancing at him. "She was a graduate student at Barden when my dad moved here to teach, and I guess they started sleeping together. I don't know. They got married three years ago."

"When did your parents divorce?"

"Look, Jesse, I don't really want to rehash the past," she snaps. "Can you drop it?"

He nods, and she feels guilty as soon as her eyes are back on her computer, but she doesn't want to talk about this. She glances at him after a minute to find his gaze glued to The Godfather. She turns up the volume on her music. She needs to focus. Jesse knows not to push her about stuff like this.

But she barges into his dorm room the next morning, shaking him awake.

"Okay, here's the story," she says, and he rubs his eyes, trying to sit up in his bed. "My mom cheated on my dad when I was thirteen, and it sucked, but she apologized, and she wanted to work things out. I remember hearing her cry through the air vents. She was sorry, but my dad —"

Jesse nods wordlessly, awake, listening to her, and her initial burst fades. She plows on, though.

"Well, he wasn't interest in working things out," she says. "He got this job at Barden, and he left. He says he tried to work things out with her, and I guess he did, but I — I begged him not to go, because, okay, I mean, it's one thing to want to leave my mom, or to want a new job, but — but to leave the state? To leave me? I was thirteen years old, and he moved away like it was nothing." She stops.

"And you stayed in Boston with your mom," Jesse says.

She nods, slumping against the wall.

"He called a lot, but I didn't want to talk. I spent a summer with him when my mom forced me, but for the most part she let me ignore him. I didn't go to his wedding." She stares at the ceiling. "It isn't something I like to think about. He's been trying to be better, but — that's it. That's the story."

"That sucks, Beca," he says.

She sighs. "Yeah, it sucks," she murmurs. "It sucks that good guys are assholes, too, and good guys walk out on you." He doesn't respond at first, and she realizes he might've taken that badly. But she rolls over, and something loosens in her chest when she sees his sad, sympathetic smile.

"Do you want a Snickers?" he offers.

She makes a face. "What?"

He reaches over to his desk and snatches up a Snickers, holding the candy out to her. "Snickers. It's the only food I've got." He smiles sheepishly at her, scratching his neck. "I'm sorry that you had to go through that crap, Beca. I wish I'd gone to high school with you. I wish I'd been around."

She shakes her head. "I would've driven you away. I'm good at that."

"Nah, I'm a persistent guy," he says, shrugging. "I mean, you might've worn me down. I might've slunk off to weep in a corner somewhere for a while, but I would've stuck around in the end. I'm like lint. Once I'm on you, that's it; you're stuck with me." He tears open the Snickers, taking a bite.

"I thought that was for me," she says, amused. "Also, lint? What about a lint brush?"

He throws his hand up, mockingly exasperated. "Well, you weren't showing any interest! What was I supposed to do? And, yes, lint. Have you ever used a lint brush? They're totally ineffective."

She bites her lip, unable to help the things this boy makes her feel, and he grins at her, Snickers in his teeth, until she can't help propping herself up on her elbow, grasping his shirt, and kissing him.

The BU Harmonics throw a huge birthday party for the guy in their group who wears the purple plaid sweaters every other day; everyone in the a cappella circle is invited to a house off campus.

It's bring your own booze, and Beca plans to meet Jesse at the party after stopping off at the ABC store with Fat Amy to pick up a drink. The house is crowded when they arrive, and she can't find him for a few minutes; she sticks with Fat Amy, talking with a few guys who hang out in the a cappella crowd, including Jake, who listens to her radio show and offers to make her a Jagerbomb.

Jesse comes up beside her as she downs the drink. "Hey," he greets, smiling.

Fat Amy introduces the boys to him, and Jake nods. "What's up, man?"

Jesse offers a small smile, but he doesn't say anything before Jake turns to say something to Fat Amy, and Beca smirks up at Jesse. "What?" he says, tapping his finger against his Bacardi bottle.

She shakes her head. "Nothing." But she steps closer to him, running her hand along his arm, and she slips his hand into her back pocket for him, because she knows he wouldn't do that himself. She steals a sip from his drink, and she can feel him smile when he presses his lips to her temple.

The Treble Makers take first at the Semi-Finals, and the Bellas come in second.

A few days later, Beca returns from class to find Jessica crying on her bed.

"Um, did I miss something?"

"I'm going to dent his face in," Fat Amy says, her desk chair turned to face Jessica. "I'm going to tie his scrawny neck in a knot!" she threatens. Beca starts to understand, dropping her backpack on the floor as Jess sobs that Derek dumped her. Beca isn't sure why Jessica would've chosen Fat Amy and Beca to comfort her, but she guesses that hearing Fat Amy threaten bodily harm against the guy is helpful. "I'm going to beat him with this big book," Fat Amy says, grabbing a textbook.

"I'm sorry, Jess," Beca says, moving to sit at her own desk.

Jessica breaks into fresh tears, and Beca wishes she had gone to the radio station for a few hours.

She doesn't know how to deal with this stuff.

"He — he — he said — said that I was too — too — happy!" Jessica cries.

"That's bullshit," Beca says. "He's a douche, and he's jealous that guys fawn over how awesome you are." Jessica nods, but her face contorts, leaving Beca at a loss. What is she supposed to do?

This is why she used to avoid having friends who were girls.

She glances at Fat Amy.

"Do you want to watch Magic Mike?" Fat Amy asks. "The hot, naked men will soothe your soul."

In the end, as Fat Amy pets Jess on the head, telling a long, thrilling tale about the time her pool boy fell in love with her, Beca texts Jesse. It takes the boys about half an hour to get over to her room, and the Treble Makers sing a Train song to Jessica, because she loves Train. Benji takes lead, presenting Jess with a tulip that someone must've yanked from the ground outside the dorm.

When the boys are finished telling Jessica, "the way you move ain't fair, you know," she giggles at the tulip, before turning around to hug Beca, startling her. But Beca smiles, returning the hug awkwardly. "You're the best," Jess says, stepping back to wipe her smeared mascara with a smile.

Jesse glances at her as Bobby says something to him, and he smiles softly, returning his attention to Bobby a moment later, nodding a little, and Beca feels happy for reasons she can't really explain.

It's not like they don't fight. They do.

She decides to go to Boston for Spring Break, because she is trying with her dad, seriously, she is, but she isn't interested in a relationship with Sheila. And Jesse surprises her with his plane ticket.

He wants to fly up to Boston, to spend Spring Break with her. It's something he would do, but, when he tells her, she flips out. "That's not okay, Jesse," she says, staring at him in disbelief, and everything escalates suddenly until she is chewing him out. "I didn't invite you to stay with me. It's my house, it's my mother, it's my life, and you can't buy a ticket and act like that's a cool surprise!"

He gapes at her. "I've never been to Boston. I thought it'd be fun. Sorry."

"Whatever," she says, because she can't think straight. She presses her face into her hands. "I have to study for a midterm. I'll, um, I'll talk to you later." He nods, shoving his hands in his pockets before he leaves without a word. The door shuts quietly, and Beca realizes Fat Amy is in the room.

"Whoa," Fat Amy says, "remind me never to surprise you."

Beca sighs. "I'm sorry," she says. "I forgot that you were — I'm sorry you had to hear that." She slumps onto her desk chair, running her hand through her hair. "And it's not that I'm mad that he surprised me, but he can't — it's not fair for him to spring stuff on like that. He can't just do that."

Fat Amy nods. "Sure, sure. But, on the other hand, why not?"

"Because," Beca says, fumbling to explains herself.

"I mean, you've really painted a vivid picture for me," Fat Amy says, "and I feel like I totally understand your seemingly irrational hatred for your boyfriend spending money to spend time with you, but, um, you might want to clarify a little further for, like, posterity, and for the children and, for, you know, Chris." She nods at the cardboard Chris Hemsworth cutout leaning against he wall.

Beca sighs.

"It's not that I'm mad because he bought a ticket, or because he wants to spend break in Boston with me. It's just that it's weird for him to — to spring that on me. I could've had plans, and I haven't talked to my mom about whether she'd be okay with it. It's just really weird. You get it."

Fat Amy starts to nod, but, "no, I really don't," she says. "Beca, you said you didn't have plans. We were at dinner, and, as I recall, Jesse was with us. And, um, unless your mum, like, beats you with a stick when you invite guests over, I don't really get why you're mad. I love you, bitch, but —"

"But I'm a bitch," Beca says. She doesn't have a reason to be mad at Jesse. She doesn't.

"Yeah, pretty much," Fat Amy says.

Beca groans, closing her eyes and tipping her head back. Why is this stuff hard for her?

"I need to talk to Jesse," she says.

Fat Amy nods. "Yeah, you do."

Beca finds him in his room, and Benji looks between them before saying that he feels like taking a walk. "I don't have to come to Boston, Beca," Jesse says. "I thought we'd have fun, but I didn't —"

"No," she says, "come to Boston. I want you to come."

He raises his eyebrows at her.

"I'm serious," she says. "I do want you to come. I freaked out, because it's weird for me to think about you in Boston. It's like you would be taking a plane to my life before I came to Barden, and that freaks me out. I can't explain it, but I'll get over it." She smiles. "I shouldn't have flipped out on you. I know that you put up with a lot from me, and I'm sorry. I want you to come to Boston."

"I do put up with a lot from you," he says, and he sighs. "I wish I knew how to quit you."

She kisses him to shut him up.

Her mother lives in the apartment over the restaurant.

"She sold the house after my dad left," Beca explains. "She lived with her boyfriend for a while when I was a senior, and this place was pretty quiet, but they broke up a few months ago. She moved back here." It's small, but it's the closest thing she has to a home, and she likes it. Mostly.

She shows him her bedroom, but she knows his smarmy comments about her posters will keep, and she pushes him back out the door. She hadn't thought she would be, but she is excited to show him around the city, to take him to the diner where she used to study, to Mike's Pastry, to the record store where she worked, to the club she used to sneak into to hear this really awesome DJ.

"Okay, number one on my list," Jesse announces, following her into the T station stop, eagerly looking around at everything as they go. "I need to see the Make Way for Ducklings statues stat."

He doesn't meet her mother until the next day, when the restaurant is closed in the morning.

"She seems cool," he says. "She looks freakishly like you." He isn't the first to say that. Her mother is small like Beca, and has the same hair, the same eyes, the same smile in the same face.

(She wonders every once in a while whether that bothers her father, looking at her and seeing her mother, whether he wishes his daughter didn't look exactly like the woman who cheated on him.)

He stays in her bedroom with her, because her mother couldn't possibly care less, and they spend most days wandering around the city. Her dad surprised her with tickets to a Fun. concert in Boston on Thursday night, and the show is amazing. Beca can't stop belting out their songs on the T afterward. And, of course, her mother pays for them to have a fancy dinner at the German restaurant that Beca loves on Friday night, because, "I'm glad you came home for break," she says.

Her parents might've teamed up to send her to Barden, but they aren't exactly friends.

"Admit it," Jesse says at the airport, handing her a soggy sandwich from an airport cart, "this was a fun week. Beca Mitchell had fun showing her boyfriend around Boston. Come on," he says, "I want to hear you say it." She eats her soggy sandwich, smiling sweetly at him, and says nothing.

But it definitely wasn't a bad week.

Benji comes to Beca about a girl. "I need advice, and you're my closest friend who is a girl." She tries to protest, saying that relationship advice isn't her forte, but he pleads with her, "please, Beca."

"Um, okay, what's the situation?" she asks, turning in the desk chair to face him. Jesse is sprawled across his bed, because she booted him from his desk. She decides to ignore the smirk on his face.

"She is in my Early Eastern Europe class, and her name is Jasmine, and she is beautiful."

Beca nods. "That's cool. But what do you — what do you need advice about?"

"How do I approach her?" he asks, and he starts to ramble. "I mean, we talk in class, and she says she likes magic, and she enjoyed the tricks I showed her, but I'm not sure how I am supposed to say that I would like our friendship to become something more. How should I approach the topic?"

Beca sighs. "Dude, I think you should just tell her that you like her," she says. "Just go for it."

"I want to do something bigger than that," Benji says, looking eagerly at her.

"I'm not sure what to tell you," Beca replies. "I guess, um, girls like flowers, and chocolate, and teddy bears. Cute stuff like that. I mean, you could get her something to give her when you tell her. Or you could sing to her." She smiles, nodding. "I mean, that's how I got my girlfriend over there."

She juts her thumb at Jesse.

"It's true," Jesse says, "she melted my cold, cold heart with her grand romantic gesture."

Benji starts to pace the room in his excitement, and they plan out a song for him. Jesse says the Treble Makers will probably help him if he wants, and Beca hopes this works. Benji deserves a beautiful girl named Jasmine who likes his magic tricks. She hopes Jasmine likes Star Wars, too.

Jesse texts her two days later to tell her that Jasmine swooned at the performance.

She smiles, walking from class, and there Jesse is, attracting attention with the flowers and the chocolate and the teddy bear. "Okay, no," she says, stopping in her tracts, glaring pointedly at him.

"I heard from a relationship expert that this is how you woo your special someone," he says.

"I hate you," she says, shoving his chest when he tries to have the teddy bear kiss her cheek, but she tears into the chocolate as they head to the radio station, and she texts congratulations to Benji.

A few nights before their flight to New York, the Bellas have a Disney movie marathon.

Jessica suggests the marathon, saying they could have a blast singing along to the Disney animated classics. Beca isn't exactly thrilled at the idea, but she doesn't mind a night hanging out with her a cappella girls, eating pizza, drinking wine, and singing stupid Disney songs. The tall, gangly Treble Maker named Matt finds out, and the Treble Makers crash their event, and it's the dorkiest thing.

Beca is sitting on the ground, leaning against a pillow propped up on the sofa where Ashley sits with her legs folded under her, and Jesse joins her on the floor when the Treble Makers crowd into the lounge in the dorm where Jessica lives. He ends up between her legs, his head on her chest, his hands on her knees like she were a throne, and she toys with his hair as she sings along to Never Had a Friend Like Me. She doesn't really notice how cheesy they are until Stacie catches her eye.

And Stacie smirks, waggling her eyebrows.

("He's hot," Stacie told her after the riff-off, "I'd have sex with him."

"And she's very selective," Fat Amy added. "It's not like she'd have sex with anyone.")

Beca smiles, shrugs her shoulders at Stacie, and leans down, kissing Jesse on his head. He takes that as a request for popcorn and holds the bowl up to her without looking away from the screen.

They lose at Lincoln Center.

The Bellas come in third, and the Treble Makers are fourth, and everybody from Barden is stunned when some co-ed group from Boston takes second and a guys group from Nebraska claims first. But, somehow, as disappointed as she is, in the end Beca doesn't really care. It's not that important.

They have next year, and her friends are her friends, and they were awesome on that stage.

Jesse tells her that he loves her that night. She thinks he must've waited for a while to say it.

"I'm not expecting you to say anything," he tells her. "But I wanted you to know. I love you."

She kisses him softly, her hand on his cheek.

"Do you want a drink?" he asks. They celebrated with drinks last year, and they're commiserating with them this year. It isn't midnight yet, Denise is wasted, and Lilly is making out with Donald, who came to New York to cheer on the Treble Makers. Jesse is smiling at Beca, and he loves her.

She nods. "Sure."

A minute later, he stands across the room, waiting at the keg, and he catches her eyes. He sticks out his tongue, making a stupid face, and she laughs, and that's it. He returns, but she doesn't take the drink that he tries to hand her. She wraps her arms around his neck, kissing him. "What?" he asks.

"I love you, too," she says. He grins his goofy grin, and she loves him.

He wins her over when she isn't paying any attention.

He tugs smiles from her when she doesn't think he can see, and he makes himself her friend as though she doesn't have any say in the matter, and it isn't like in his movies. He doesn't offer up a grand, romantic gesture to make her fall in love with him. He tells her that he can't be her friend, or her anything, when she doesn't want him to be. She does, as it turns out, have a say in the matter.

She makes the romantic gesture, and he takes the challenge that she gives him, ready to mix them like she mixes her songs, tongue between her teeth, absolutely positive that these songs fit, and combined they'll sound amazing, and, somehow, he proves that that he was right, that they do fit.

Music is the chord progression, and everything else shouldn't work together. She is introverted, happy to hang out with herself, and he likes having people around. He is playful, and she is sarcastic. He makes conversation easily with strangers; she manages a small smile for her friends.

But, somehow, they fit.

Her dad picks her up to have her stay with him for a few weeks as the summer starts. Jesse catches her eye from where he stands with Benji, loading up his car, and Beca rolls down the window on impulse, leaning out, her headphones knocking the frame, to play air guitar to a song he can't hear.

She sings a few lines to him before the car jerks forward, and he smiles.


The way that you love, dear,

The fate of the world you leave behind,

A way to the future, making a moment built to last.

You want to love, well, now's your chance.