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Teach Me Something

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Beca avoids hospitals as a rule. She spent way too much time in one as a kid and the sterile smell of a hospital hallway brings all those memories of her mother’s last couple of years back. So, despite the fact that they’re here so Aubrey and Jesse can have their first child, she’s in a pretty dark mood.

It doesn’t help that it’s four in the morning and she only got a few hours of sleep before Chloe was shaking her awake and saying they needed to get to the hospital. And Chloe wouldn’t let them stop for good coffee on the way.

“I don’t want to miss it!” she’d said as they raced down the road in Dana’s van with Cynthia Rose snoring on Beca’s shoulder and Lilly making weird noises in the trunk area. 

She’d tried (and failed) to explain to Chloe that being scared she would miss it was dumb, because having babies takes, like, forever. Though if anyone were going to have their kid exactly on time, it would be Aubrey. Why on time had to be so damn early is beyond Beca though.

The only upside to all this is that they aren’t actually in the hospital. The nurse had taken one look at the massive herd of Bellas, Trebles, Beales, and Swansons trying to crowd into the waiting room and sent them all back out. So instead, they’re parked in the field across the street, cars and trucks in a rough circle. It’s probably not a legal place to park, but nobody has run them off yet so, oh well.

The Trebles somehow magically produced a ridiculous amount of lawn chairs, a couple coolers of sodas, and spotlights that look like they were stolen straight off a theater stage. Blankets were conjured up too and spread about the group. Gran had claimed three of them just for herself and she’s swaddled up in the back of Dana’s van, fast asleep. Beca is very jealous.

Instead of blissfully sleeping, Beca is sitting on the chilly toolbox of Lew’s truck, hands wrapped around a cup of room temp coffee. The night is cool and she’s wearing the jacket Jesse had stripped off before he rushed away to be a father. The worn leather smells like old popcorn, but it’s warm enough. Better than the purple, plaid sleep pants and loose Residual Heat t-shirt Chloe hadn’t given her time to change out of.

The rest of the Bellas are all piled into the bed of the truck too. Lilly, Jessica, and Ashley are on one side, playing some game that seems to involve a lot of hand movements and whispers of “No, Lilly, you can’t do that”. Flo and Cynthia Rose are on the other side, leaned against each other and both scrolling through their phones with half-open eyes. Amy is spread eagle against the tailgate with her arms thrown back over it, like she’s lounging in a hot tub instead of sitting in the bed of a truck in a random field. Stacie and Emily are sitting on the toolbox beside Beca, quietly whispering to each other.

On Beca’s other side is an empty spot that Chloe had been sitting in, but now she’s too busy pacing nervously up and down beside the truck. She’s wearing Beca’s letterman (officially Chloe’s at this point) and fiddling idly with the zipper, running it up and down the teeth. She only stops periodically to reach up and clasp Beca’s hand as she passes, but then she’s off again. Beca swears the grass is starting to turn colors beneath her feet.

The passenger door of the truck opens and a moment later, Mamma Beale is there, blocking Chloe’s pacing. “Any word?” she asks. It’s unfair, really, how the Beale women both look so awake right now while everyone else is barely clinging to consciousness. It’s just not right. They’re like aliens, she swears.

“Nothing,” Chloe says, turning to start another circuit.

“Well, that’s all right.” She flaps her hands at Chloe. “Sit down. Pacing won’t make anything happen faster.”

Chloe huffs, but obediently climbs back into the bed of the truck to take her spot on the toolbox. Beca automatically moves one hand from her coffee cup to link her fingers with Chloe’s. Even after nine months of being (official) girlfriends, Beca still feels a thrill when she holds Chloe’s hand.

Which is helpful right now because it distracts her from all the dark, twisty feelings creeping in the back of her mind. God, she hates hospitals.

“I’m bored,” Amy declares, throwing her head back and thunking it against the tailgate. The bang doesn’t seem to affect her, but it makes half of them jump and Beca hears Cynthia Rose muttering something about “loud ass white bitches”. “And Bumper’s not even here to sneak off and bump beautifuls with.”

Mamma Beale tuts reprovingly as she heads back to her spot inside the truck, but she’s smiling, so that kind of ruins it.

“Someone do something interesting,” Amy continues, undeterred. “Entertain me.” She sweeps her arm out, a queen commanding her subjects.

“What are we supposed to do?” Beca drawls. “Charades? Heads Up, Seven Up?” She gasps as if she’s just had a brilliant idea and puts on her best valley girl voice. It might sound a lot like Chloe, but she always pretends not to notice when Chloe points it out. “Do you wanna have, like, a riff-off?” Amy’s eyebrows twitch up, as if she might actually be into that idea, but Jessica speaks up before she can say anything.

“Yeah, I don’t think the hospital will like that. The nurse that kicked us out keeps walking past the doors and glaring at us.” She pauses. “We could tell stories?”

“Okay, okay,” Amy says. She shifts forward, hands patting the air as if she’s calming a rabid crowd. “No arm twisting, yeah? I’ll tell you guys a story.” She purses her lips, squinting up into the night sky. “How about the time I did the horizontal hokey pokey with Jon Hamm at a Kansas concert?”

“I would very much not like that,” Flo says, face twisted in disgust. “Please, someone else tell a story. Anyone else.”

Beca glances around their group and finds the others all doing the same, none of them willing (or awake enough) to volunteer. She catches Stacie’s hand drifting idly down Emily’s forearm and a thought springs to mind. “Hey,” she says and feels everyone’s eyes swivel to her. Stacie and Emily blink when they realize Beca’s talking to them. “Tell us how this happened.” She lifts one finger from her coffee cup to point between them.

“Yeah,” Ashley says, sitting up straight. “I think we’ve all been wondering.”

“I mean,” Amy hums the last word. “I think a story about Jon Hamm’s perfect backside would be better, but I could go for a lezzy love story.”

Whereas Beca would have been frazzled and annoyed at being put on the spot, Stacie simply breaks into an almost feral grin. “Are you sure? It’s pretty gross and romantic, Bec. I didn’t think that was your genre.”

She shrugs. “I’m coming around to it.” The fingers around her own tighten and she turns her head to find Chloe smiling at her. She ignores Amy pretending to gag.

“Mm.” Stacie hesitates another moment. “It’s a long story.”

Beca gestures around them. Uni is literally snoring in a lawn chair, Benji and Uncle Lew are playing cards for candy. Dana and Donald are both bent under the hood of his truck, messing with his transmission. The rest of the Trebles are all hovering somewhere between dead asleep and grudgingly awake. “Aubrey’s pushing a watermelon out of her crotch.” Chloe’s other hand comes up to swat at her and she doesn’t bother dodging it. “We have time.”

“Well, if you insist,” Stacie says with the air of someone who really isn’t as put upon as they’re acting. “But don’t blame me when you’re all queasy about how adorbs we are.” Stacie shifts on the hard diamond-plating, crossing her legs and leaning more into Emily’s side. She gives the younger girl a bright smile. “Will you tell it with me?”

“You even have to ask?” Emily grins. She’s practically bouncing in her seat. “We can take turns!”

Stacie wrinkles her nose at her, the way people do when they’re looking at a way too adorable puppy. Then she tosses her hair and clears her throat. “Okay, well. If I had to pick where it started for me… I think we’d have to go all the way back to when Emily joined the Bellas. Her first aca-party.”

“Seriously?” Ashley says, shifting to throw her legs across Jessica’s lap. “That long?”

The dopey smile Stacie gives Emily is one that Beca suddenly realizes she’s always seen on her face when Emily’s around. How in the world did she miss that?

Stacie reaches out and Emily’s hand meets her halfway, fingers threading together easily. “Yeah. That long. Though I didn’t realize it for a while.”

“For me,” Emily jumps in, excitement at being able to tell the story evident in every crease of her smile, “it was that first card night. Oh, and then Thanksgiving! And–”

Stacie squeezes her hand. “One thing at a time. Since I started falling first, I guess I’ll start…”