Title: Always Bet on Red
Fandom: Pitch Perfect
Characters: Beca/Chloe, passing mention of Cynthia Rose/Stacie
Summary: per dealanexmachina's prompt: Cynthia Rose has a problem with gambling. She’s working on it, she swears. But damnit if she can help running a a secret betting pool on when Chloe’s going to admit her crush on Beca, when Beca is going to figure it out, and what Aubrey’s going to do when she finally puts all of it together.
Author’s Note: Kay is smart. Kay is evil. Kay has powers she disguises as being used for good, but are really used for evil. The title and the prompt and the fic are her fault.
Cynthia Rose has a gambling problem.
It started early. Betting bubblegum on how long it would take for the gym teacher to realize his shoes were tied together. Then quarters, on whether or not she could touch the front door of the local ‘haunted house’ on her block. It progressed steadily, but stayed small. A few dollars here, a homework assignment there.
When she bets her heart, all in, and loses the hand against a girl with a Royal Flush and another girl up her sleeve, she’s deep in and the debts start to pile up.
After that, she’s spending money on things that don’t last and she’s keeping her heart close to her vest, afraid to gamble away the one chip she can’t ever get back – not again, not after…
She tells the Bellas about her problem. They’re all surprised that “gambling” is what she came out with (instead of the other coming out. She figured that was kind of unnecessary, really) but they take it in stride. Stacie pats her awkwardly on the arm and Fat Amy rolls her eyes, but smiles sincerely. She tells them she’s going to give up gambling. For good. It only ever hurts people.
Except there’s a few more bets she’s running before she officially retires.
And they all hinge on Chloe.
“You think what?” Stacie looks at Cynthia in the mirror, pulling her boobs up in her shirt.
She’s not sure why Stacie is working on her outfit. They’re going to a recording studio where the only thing they’re going to be doing is singing, not striking a pose. But Aubrey did mention something about looking their best. They’re National Champions now, and CDs could turn into music videos and that could go anywhere. So she puts a glob on gel on the tips of her fingers and works it through her hair.
“You’re nuts,” Stacie continues.
Cynthia clucks her tongue. “No way. I know what I’m talking about. Chloe looks at Beca the same way-”
“I look at boys?” Stacie finishes.
“No. The same way Jesse looks at Beca.”
Stacie whistles lowly. “That’s pretty intense.”
Cynthia nods. “That’s what I mean. Chloe has it bad. She smiles all gooey-eyed and gets all pink in the face whenever Beca comes around.”
Stacie makes a face as she puts it all together and Cynthia can practically see the pieces falling into place in her head. “Oh. Wow,” she breathes out.
“You got it, girl. So, I’m taking bets-”
Cynthia waves Stacie’s concern away. “It’s a harmless bet. And I’m just playing bookie here.” Stacie’s frown fades a little, but she doesn’t look convinced. “I swear, after this, no more betting. But until then, I’ve got a few pools going.”
Stacie shakes her head. “I’m not going to be a part of this.”
After a few more minutes primping in the mirror, though, Stacie whips around with mischief in her eyes and asks what Cynthia is going to be betting on.
01. When Chloe is going to admit she has a crush on Beca.
Stacie puts herself down for two weeks. She thinks it’ll happen somewhere between Finals week and Chloe’s graduation.
Jessica says it’ll take Chloe a whole summer of being away before she gets her head on straight (metaphorically speaking).
Lilly closes her eyes and picks a date: September 2013. Cynthia offers to let her pick again but Lilly shrugs and says that’s a good a date as anyone else is picking.
“When’s the next party?” Fat Amy asks. “Chloe is a handsy, flirty, dirty little drunk.”
Denise rolls her eyes but throws down a twenty on the 20th. She says it sounds good.
No one can find Ashley after the Championship, so Cynthia puts a bet down for her and lies when Stacie asks.
Cynthia ends up splitting the pot between Fat Amy and Denise, because it wasn’t the next party, and it wasn’t the 20th, but it was party on the 19th, and like Stacie said, she shouldn’t be holding onto that kind of money for too long.
Chloe is a few cups of Jungle Juice in, looking around wildly until her eyes settle on Cynthia, standing by the speakers. Cynthia wants to back up as quick as she can, but she’s kind of in a corner already, watching Stacie from a distance and damn, Chloe is quick for a girl in heels.
“Hi, Cynthia Rose!” Chloe shouts in her ear. Cynthia winces a bit but when Chloe stumbles a bit, she reaches out to steady her. “Having a fun time?”
Cynthia wants to roll her eyes, because it’s a freaking a capella party, so everyone is either singing at the top of their lungs or making music babies on the dance floor. And she can’t really lie, she loves these parties. She loves watching people and, every once in a while, getting on the floor and doing her thing. The alcohol doesn’t hurt either.
“Are you?” Chloe’s bottom lip is starting to quiver and her eyes look wetter in the strobe light that hits them every so often.
Cynthia realizes she hasn’t answered and she nods furiously, breathing a sigh of relief as Chloe’s blue eyes dry again.
They stand awkwardly next to each other for a few minutes, nodding along to a song that sounds like one of Beca’s mixes and Cynthia is just about to ask when Chloe turns way too fast and blurts it out:
“I’m kind of really into Beca.”
Cynthia feigns surprise. “No way, girl. Really?”
She’s lucky that Chloe is drunk because her own drink can’t cut the sarcasm from her voice. Chloe’s eyes start to shine again with tears and Cynthia starts to panic a little, because yeah, she wanted to know, for sure, but she didn’t want the drama of it. Chloe’s hands grip her forearm uncomfortably tight and she realizes that the redhead is looking for an answer of some sort. Some type of reassurance, maybe. Something like “it’s okay” or “she likes you too.”
“Do you think she knows?” Chloe asks, before Cynthia can say anything. “No, she doesn’t know. Or maybe she does and she doesn’t feel the same way.” Chloe looks at her with those bright, wide eyes. “Do you think she knows and doesn’t feel the same?”
Cynthia pats Chloe on the shoulder gently as the other girl gives a heavy, distraught sigh into her red plastic cup and shoots Stacie a “come help me” look that is ignored.
“Girl, you’ve got to say something to her.”
Chloe shakes her head and Cynthia’s eyes focus on Beca at the other end of the lawn they’re partying on, tucked under Jesse’s arm. Beca looks up and her eyes furrow as she catches sight of them and she jerks out of Jesse’s hold, taking a step towards them before the crowd cuts her off and she is swallowed up again. She can tell, even from across a crowded party, that things are weird between them. She doesn’t know the details, hell, she doesn’t want to know the details, because their thing is their thing, but they’re off. And she knows she’s not the only one who noticed.
Cynthia smiles to herself and pats Chloe on the back gently. “You’ll never know unless you say something.”
Chloe nods and makes a noise that sounds like she agrees.
And that noise launches the next bet.
02. When Beca is going to figure it out.
Stacie still isn’t completely on board, but she still blocks out the next weekend and drops five dollars more than the minimum buy-in.
Jessica taps her fingers against her chin and points to the Monday after Stacie’s weekend. She thinks she’s got a lucky streak going.
Lilly is sticking with September 2013 and sometimes, she scares Cynthia enough that Cynthia isn’t going to question her.
Fat Amy picks the same day as Jessica and gives Cynthia a look when she tries to make her change it.
Denise picks her parent’s wedding anniversary and is short three dollars, but Cynthia lets it slide this once.
Kimmy Jin just stares at her when Cynthia asks, so she tells herself never to ask that crazy chick again.
Bella gatherings somehow just end up happening in Beca’s room. Cynthia doesn’t know why. That roommate of Beca’s, Kimmy Jin, just stares at all of them with easily-seen hatred, but Cynthia thinks that’s part of the fun. For Beca, at least. Cynthia just gets creeped out.
They watch a movie one night and Cynthia is the last to leave. She lingers for a purpose, she has been since Chloe admitted the truth to her, to see if she can get anything out of Beca in return. And she noticed some things. Like how Jesse never seems to be around anymore. And how Beca isn’t falling over herself to explain the reason why. If the brunette finds it strange, or something, she doesn’t say, but Cynthia is about to give up anyway. This game is starting to lose it’s edge.
“Hey, Cynthia,” Beca calls, just as she’s sliding her shoes back on. “Got a sec?”
Cynthia nods, though she had plans with Stacie after the movie to grab a burger.
“I just was wondering, I mean, have you noticed anything strange about Chloe lately?” Beca asks in a rush.
“You mean, more than usual?”
The gets a little bit of smile from Beca, but not much. “Yeah, besides the usual.”
Cynthia plays dumb again. Yeah, she has noticed. Chloe doesn’t sit right next to Beca anymore. She only talks to Beca when Beca talks to her. She isn’t always reaching to touch Beca on the shoulder or knock her in the arm when Beca says something that isn’t really funny. Hell, everyone but Aubrey has noticed and they’re not helping. Fat Amy always sits down last and forces Beca and Chloe to sit with each other. Lilly whispers so that Beca comes closer and then abruptly disappears just as Chloe shows up at the same time. Stacie rolls her eyes but conveniently moves away whenever Beca and Chloe are close to occupying the same space.
But Cynthia plays dumb again.
“Not really, no. Why? What’s up?”
Beca sighs in frustration. “She’s just… Nothing. Nevermind.”
Cynthia waits because it looks like Beca wants to say something more, and the girl doesn’t disappoint. “She just… she keeps avoiding me. And before, it was like, she wouldn’t leave me alone. It was annoying, actually.” The way that Beca says that, though, with that look in her eyes, doesn’t really seem like she means it. “But now she’s all gone. Like, she says hi and stuff, but I think I did something?”
“I’m not the one you should be asking…”
Beca waves a hand dismissively. “No, I know. She just hasn’t been the same towards me since…” Beca frowns and sits up, like something just occurred to her. “Since the party last weekend. Since you talked to her.”
Cynthia shakes her head. “Nu uh, girl. You two figure this out on your own.” She opens the door and starts to back out of it.
Beca chases her out into the hallway. “Figure what out?”
It takes Beca the five seconds Cynthia needs to get to the end of the hallway, but even from there, Cynthia can see the whole thing come together in Beca’s eyes.
“Hey, wait! Are you telling me that…”
“See you tomorrow, Beca!” Cynthia yells down the hall as she rounds the corner.
She checks the notebook when she gets back to her room. Looks like Denise is right again.
03. What Aubrey’s going to do when she finds out.
Everyone puts their money on “puking” except for Fat Amy.
Fat Amy thinks there’ll be a cat fight and Aubrey will try to rip out Beca’s vocal chords.
Cynthia has to hand it to all of them.
To Chloe and Beca for keeping it a secret for so long.
To the rest of the girls for not saying anything.
To Fat Amy for narrating the aftermath.
And to Aubrey, who didn’t puke or scream or yell or try to rip out Beca’s vocal chords.
They’re done with their jam session and damn, did they make Rihanna’s “S&M” sound even better than the radio version. They still have the rehearsal space and time and it’s a shame to waste it, so they just meet up, as many of them as they can, and pitch ideas for next year. Aubrey wasn’t to into that at the start, but now she’s talking about coming back for all the big competitions and lecturing them on stage presence, so nothing has really changed.
Aubrey leaves early for some last-week-of-school date thing with a Sigma guy, Cynthia couldn’t care less, and Chloe and Beca just sort of fall into each other while she’s gone. Cynthia would call it ugly out loud if they wouldn’t accuse her of being jealous and make eyes between her and Stacie, so she keeps her mouth shut. But it is sort of ugly, how mushy they get around each other when they can be. Chloe and her big, wide eyes curls herself around Beca’s side and Beca just acts like she’s not even there. Chloe whispers in Beca’s ear and Beca smirks every other minute like there’s a big joke no one else gets.
No one even blinks at it anymore. The first time, it was super weird, but Fat Amy made a dumb comment about burritos and Lilly whispered a little more, and then it wasn’t anymore. They got used to seeing Beca smile and hearing Chloe giggle.
What they’ll never get used to, at least Cynthia, is the sharpness of Aubrey’s heels against the concrete floor.
They don’t hear it quick enough, though. The clack-clack rounds the corner before Chloe can untangle herself from Beca and Cynthia thinks that the headphones they’re sharing has something to do with it. The only thing that saves Chloe from falling on her ass is Stacie sitting in the chair next to her.
“Aubrey,” Chloe says shakily, standing up. She sits back down instantly and lands on Beca before awkwardly sliding off into her own seat.
Aubrey blinks rapidly. “What were you just doing?”
Cynthia gives Aubrey a look. If she couldn’t tell, maybe Aubrey is as blonde as her hair color suggests.
“I can explain,” Chloe starts.
“No, let me,” Beca says, standing up.
Cynthia sits back and looks at Stacie who mouths, “showdown” at her. Cynthia has to agree. She’s mentally tallying how much Fat Amy just made off this bet, because Aubrey is clenching her fists like the last time she went after Chloe.
But just as she’s about to declare Amy the winner, just as Aubrey’s eyes narrow and her thigh muscles tense like she’s about to lunge…
Aubrey passes out.
Hits the ground. Thud. Drops like a ton of bricks. Like if Bumper fell down and shook the whole stage in his wake.
Chloe gasps a whole octave higher than she’s allowed to. Beca makes a sound almost like a laugh. Lilly puts her hands to her mouth. Stacie jumps up and moves like she’s going to lift Aubrey back up. Fat Amy falls back she’s laughing so hard.
They eventually get Aubrey into a chair and Chloe starts barking orders like, “get her some smelling salts” and “someone go get water” while she fans her hands in front of Aubrey’s face. Fat Amy is still rolling around on the ground laughing. Chloe looks torn between shaking Aubrey awake and telling Amy to shut up, so Beca kicks Amy in the shin and lets’ Chloe focus on Aubrey.
And since Aubrey didn’t throw up or commit aca-homicide, Cynthia declares the dealer the winner and figures she’ll do something nice with the money.
Maybe she’ll finally work up the nerve to take Stacie on a date.
Maybe she’ll find someone to take a bet on whether or not Stacie will say yes.