Flying back home to Florida was both surreal and terrifying. Not that Chloe was scared of seeing her family again, but that she wasn’t ready to have to say goodbye all over again. Los Angeles was beautiful and amazing and she loved her kids and the club she’d finally been allowed to head but home was just different and it had taken her a whole year to adjust to LA after she moved out five years ago. She could already feel the sting of the future tears she was going to shed.
Thankfully, her seatmates were plenty distracting. Not in the oh-great-I’m-sitting-next-to-an-annoying-ass-for-four-hours way but in the oh-shit-this-woman’s-really-fucking-pretty-and-her-child-is-adorable kind of way. They were already seated when she made her way over to her seat. A cute brunette was strapping an even cuter little brunette into the window seat, the little girl giggling as the older one tickled her every time she tried to dodge the straps.
She had finally arrived at the aisle seat of their row, shooting them both a bright smile before collapsing her luggage handle and mentally preparing herself to throw it into the overhead compartment. The bag was a little heavier than she was used to as she’d tried to stuff all her necessities and gifts into one carry-on (she loved her job, but the wages left one a little bit wanting) and her friends had been the ones to carry it for her throughout the trip from her apartment to the airport. She struggled a bit with the carry-on until the older brunette—long, wavy brown hair, cold blue eyes lined with dark eyeliner, a knowing smirk—stood from her seat.
“Need some help?” she asked, smirk small but noticeable and Chloe couldn’t stop the sheepish laugh from leaving lips.
She nodded, smile bright. “That would be wonderful, thank you.”
With the brunette’s help she’d managed to toss her luggage into the compartment and secure it before they settled into their seats.
Chloe turned to the woman with a bright smile, the sincerity pouring from her heart and past her lips. “Thank you so much, I might’ve delayed the plane without your help.”
The woman chuckled, shaking her head. “It was nothing. Although if the plane tips, I’m blaming you.”
Chloe faked a scoff, lips twitching into a smile involuntarily. The girl was cute and had a sense of humor. She thanked the aca-gods for small graces. “Thanks anyways. I’m Chloe.”
The brunette took the offered hand, slender fingers cold and callous. “Beca, and this is my daughter, Erin.”
The smaller brunette waved shyly from her seat, a sheepish smile showing off her missing front tooth. The inner teacher in the redhead lit up. “Hi Erin, it’s nice to meet you. I love your shoes.”
Little Erin beamed at the mention of her PJ Masks crocs, her feet straightening to show both footwear. “Who’s your favorite? Mine’s Owlette!”
Chloe grinned as the fasten belt light glowed and the flight preparations started. She leaned forward slightly to look at the little girl to reply, “Catboy’s my favorite, but Owlette’s really cool, too.”
The redhead didn’t miss the way the older brunette grinned at her reply, all three women settling into their seats as the flight attendants checked on the passengers’ belts. The takeoff was filled with Erin’s excited chatter of her favorite show, Chloe adding to the conversation until the seat belt light turned off.
The redhead watched as Beca got her daughter settled with an activity book, an iPad, and some earphones before setting up her own laptop and headphones. Chloe figured the conversation was over and pulled her own light reading out of her bag before her seatmate turned to her with a slight smirk, icy blue eyes swimming in amusement.
“So, PJ Masks?” the older brunette chuckled, shaking her head lightly as she let her headphones hang around her neck.
The redhead shrugged, grin still bright as she wrinkled her nose. “I’m a second grade teacher. You need to be in the loop if you ever expect your kids to listen to you.”
Beca’s eyes softened as her smirk melted into a gentle smile. “None of Erin’s teachers watch kids’ shows. You’re pretty dedicated. Your kids must love you.”
“I may or may not be their favorite teacher,” Chloe faked an innocent shrug, her smug smirk belying her supposed humility (the redhead didn’t bother mentioning that she was the godmother to twin five-year-olds).
The brunette chuckled, “The humblest one, too, I’m sure.”
The teacher’s smirk widened into a blinding grin in reply, shooting the brunette an exaggerated wink that made the woman blush. The brunette’s eyes skirted to her closed laptop, opening it and starting it up as she settled further into her seat. Figuring the conversation was over, Chloe turned her attention to her book and started reading.
The following two hours were spent working on their own things, the redhead getting so engrossed in her book that she hadn’t noticed the shift in company until she’d shifted in her seat and realized that her shoulder suddenly felt much heavier than normal. She looked to her left to find a head of brown hair and sleek black headphones resting on her shoulder.
The redhead strained her head to see a peaceful smile curling thin, pink lips as the brunette seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Chloe didn’t have the heart to disturb the woman (and, she had to admit, it was a damn cute sight), so she adjusted herself to make the angle less awkward and settled back into her seat. She could feel the slight vibrations from the woman’s headphones buzzing on her shoulder and her eyes strayed from long brown lashes dusting pale, smooth skin to the laptop sitting in front of the brunette.
The screen was dimmed but the teacher could make out the jumping waves and turning knobs as a program to make music and the redhead was silently intrigued and impressed. Before she could figure out what exactly the brunette was doing, a small, squeaky voice piped up past the brunette resting on her shoulder.
“Mommy makes music,” the little girl informed her, noting the way warm blue eyes scanned her mother’s screen.
Chloe smiled softly at the little brunette—Erin, her memory kicked in as she turned slightly towards her. “That’s really cool. And what about you, Erin? What do you do?”
“I’m in first grade! I’m turning six next year!” the little girl declared before the redhead softly shushed her, pointing to her sleeping mother. Erin repeated the gesture, shushing herself as she leaned back into her seat.
The redhead chuckled, smile soft as she whispered, “That’s awesome, I’m a second grade teacher—”
“So you’ll be my teacher next year?” Erin asked, voice hopeful and big brown eyes wide and pleading.
“I don’t know, sweetie, I’m pretty sure I teach in a different school from yours.”
“But you’re my favorite teacher. You’re really pretty and you like Catboy and I like Owlette!”
“Aw, thank you, Erin. I’d love to be your teacher someday.”
“And then we could play my favorite games in class! Like, Faces!”
Chloe gently shushed the excitable brunette again, grimacing slightly as she checked on Beca. At the sight of steady breathing, Chloe let our her own relieved sigh before she turned back to Erin and asked, smile returning, “What’s Faces?”
Erin tried her best to keep her tone quiet, but the excitement was evident in the bouncing girl’s glowing brown eyes. “It’s a game we play in class. Whoever makes the funniest faces gets to be the new leader at game time. I’ve won three times!”
“Wow! So I’m dealing with a champ here, huh?” the redhead teased, Erin grinning proudly in response. “But I know how to make some really silly faces, too.”
“We should play!” Erin nearly shrieked, but Chloe was quick to place her finger over her lips, quieting the first grader immediately. Instead of replying with an affirmative, the thirty-year-old scrunched her face up and crossed her eyes, earning a little giggle from the girl a seat away. The pair played Faces to pass the time, interspersing the strange looks they gave each other with little stories and jokes.
The next face Erin shot the older woman was a wrinkled pout as the little girl’s hands flew to her stomach. Red brows furrowed in concern as Chloe asked, “Are you okay?”
Erin turned to her with big brown eyes and frowned. “I’m hungry.”
“Oh, okay.” Thankfully, the redhead could spot the food cart rolling down the aisle and she turned to Erin with a small smile. “Want me to buy you something?”
“Mommy says not to let strangers buy me food,” Erin pouted and Chloe’s heart melted just a little bit more.
“Well, we’ll tell your mommy that I bought you food right when she wakes up and you’ll be the one to choose it, is that okay?”
The little brunette’s face lit up at the proposition and the little girl nearly jumped over her own mother to look at the offered snacks. As the attendant passed Erin her sandwich, she beamed at the teacher and chirped, “Your family’s lovely. I just got engaged to my girlfriend last month and we’re still talking about kids. I’d love to have what you two have someday. Would you want a blanket for your wife?”
Chloe sputtered at the assumption, trying to find a way to explain the strange situation. Warm blue eyes looked up at expectant brown before the redhead reluctantly settled with, “Yes, that would be great, thank you.”
Did they really look like a couple—or a family? Ocean blues turned to watch glowing brown eyes and small pale fingers excitedly pulling at the container. A small smile curled at the corner of the Chloe’s lips, her chuckle fond as she wondered about the family of two seated next to her—the family she’d been accidentally included in by assumption.
“Erin?” Chloe called, handing the little girl a wet wipe with her free arm, moving slowly and gently to keep the older brunette from waking. The little brunette took the wet wipe and cleaned her hands before handing the dirty cloth back to the redhead’s expecting hand and digging into her sandwich.
The little brunette replied with doe-like eyes. “Yeah?”
“Where are you and your mommy flying off to?”
The little girl’s eyes lit up as she practically bounced in her seat. “To Disney World! And to daddy’s office place, but mommy said we’re going to Disney World!”
Chloe wondered why her heart clenched at the little girl’s reply, a tentative smile flitting on to her lips. “That’s sounds great! So you’re going back home to your daddy, huh?”
“No, we’re just visiting,” the little brunette informed her as she started turning her attention back to her food. “Daddy goed to us last time, so now we go to him!”
“I see,” the redhead hummed, trying to piece together what she now knew. Deciding she didn’t need to (or want to, for now) know much more, she changed the topic smoothly. “That sounds like lots of fun. What are you looking forward to in Disney World?”
Erin declared, “Meeting Olaf. He’s my favorite ever.”
“I love Olaf, too! But my favorite is Sven.”
“Sven is silly.”
“So is Olaf!”
The girls giggled until the attendant returned with the blanket and provided it with a beaming smile. Chloe listened as attentively as she could to the little six year old who prattled on about the wonders of Disney and how she was going to own her own island one day like Moana (although if Chloe remembered that movie correctly, that wasn’t quite how the film went) while slowly and gently draping the blanket over the girl’s mother. The conversation lasted for another good thirty minutes before Erin finally finished her sandwich, face covered with crumbs and sauce as the little girl played with her sticky fingers.
“Erin, sweetie, could you please clean yourself up?” Chloe sighed fondly, managing to dig out another handful of wet wipes (single-handedly, as she’s been doing for a majority of the flight) and slowly hand it over to the five-year-old.
The redhead watched the little brunette make horrible attempts at wiping herself clean, the teacher’s affection for the child growing with every savage attempt to scrub away a stray spot. With a fond chuckle and soft shake of her head, Chloe slowly reached out to wipe off the crumbs and cheese on chubby pale cheeks (still all too aware of the head on her shoulder) before the plane jolted everyone forward.
A small squeal slipped past Erin’s lips as Chloe gripped her armrest for support.
“Wha-What’s…?” Beca straightened, cold blue orbs foggy as she tried to piece together what was happening.
The seatbelt sign lit up as the captain announced some turbulence and Chloe moved to quickly secure Erin’s belt before urging Beca to wear hers and pack her things away. As the turbulence continued, a soft little whimper left Erin’s lips as the little girl held her hand out for support. Beca reached out instinctively, pale slender fingers curling around chubby white ones—only to be pushed aside as Erin started to shake.
“Chloe,” big brown eyes started to water as the five-year-old held out her shaking hand. The redhead turned to Beca uncertainly, silently asking for permission with a slight tilt of her head. Beca held her hands up in defeat, cold blue shining in quiet amusement as the teacher quickly reached over to grab hold of the little girl’s chubby hand.
Chloe rubbed soothing circles to the back of Erin’s hand and hummed and sang softly in hopes of getting the little girl to stop shaking. It took some more gentle coaxing from both women to get the smaller brunette to lean back, chubby little hand still clutching Chloe’s, as the turbulence slowly passed. Eventually, Erin fell asleep gripping Chloe’s hand and it took another few minutes for the older women to gently pry Chloe’s hand out of Erin’s iron grip.
Beca chuckled at how lost the teacher seemed.
“It’s fine, Chloe,” the mother shrugged. “Thanks for being so great with her.” Beca paused, head ducking as a blush spread up her neck. “And for, uh, letting me sleep on you.”
Chloe ignored the flutter in her stomach. “Erin’s amazing and it looked like you needed the rest.”
“Still, thanks, I know how weird it can get having to sit with a bunch of strangers on a long ass plane ride.”
“It’s a pleasure, really. Erin’s very charming.” Chloe paused before giving in to the curious voice in her head. “You and your husband have raised her very well.”
“Oh, no, I’m single. Never married or anything.”
“Oh, sorry! I didn’t mean to assume, and Erin said you two were going to visit her father.”
“Ah yeah, well, it’s—it’s kind of a weird story. Not that I regret it, or anything, or that it’s a bad memory. Erin’s the best thing to ever happen to me, but it’s still kind of weird.”
“Well, I’d love to hear it. That is, if I’m not prying too much.”
“Nah, it’s fine. Um, well, uh, I met Erin’s dad in college. He was this weird, overenthusiastic nerd that worked with me at the campus radio station. I found him really annoying at first, still do sometimes, but he got to me eventually and we started dating a little before the end of our freshman year. He’s an amazing guy, and one of my best friends, but just before our senior year, we both realized we were gay—so we broke up. Again, kinda funny and kinda weird.
“A couple weeks after we broke up I found out I was pregnant with Erin and, well, Jesse—that’s my best friend, ex-boyfriend, and second favorite gay—wanted to keep her. We had a huge argument about it. Didn’t talk to each other for nearly a month unless it was to shout at each other. Eventually, I got… attached—and decided to keep her… And I’m really glad I did.”
“Erin’s lucky to have such amazing parents.”
Beca could feel the heat crawling up her neck as steel blue strayed from the redhead back to her sleeping little monster. “Well, she makes it easy.”
A soft smile curled full pink lips as the redhead watched Beca wrap her little girl in the blanket she’d been using. The warmth spreading in her chest wasn’t completely unfamiliar, but the redhead couldn’t quite place what—exactly—it was. All she understood was that Beca and Erin were going to be two very unforgettable women.
Clearing her throat (and her thoughts), Chloe tried to keep the conversation going. “So Erin tells me you make music? Is it, like, a hobby or…?”
Beca leaned back in her seat, the usually shy smiles Chloe had gotten used to shifting into a confident smirk—clearly this topic was Beca’s expertise. “Yeah, I do both, actually. I’m a music producer by profession and mix tracks for fun.”
“That’s so cool! Do you get to play your original mixes at events and stuff or are they just for you?”
“Uh, well, I haven’t dj-ed at an event since Erin was born. I just make them for my friends and Erin nowadays.”
“So what you were working on earlier on the flight, was that for work or for fun?”
“It can’t be both?” Beca chuckled at the redhead’s pointed brow quirk, shrugging as a teasing smirk curled her lips. “Fine, okay, that was for fun. I was making Erin a mix that she could listen to once we got to our hotel. I was kinda hoping it’d keep her usual restlessness at bay while I unpacked and stuff.”
Chloe softened at her admission, ocean blues melting just the slightest as the brunette tried to play off her words. “Has anyone ever told you that you’re an amazing mom, Beca?”
Thin pink lips pursed at the compliment, Beca’s blush crawling slowly and steadily up her neck as she ducked to try and hide it.
Chloe found it cute how Beca would be so confident one second and fall into a blushing mess at even the smallest compliment. She’d only known Beca for a handful of hours and the teacher already felt such a strong fondness for the woman. Chloe never believed much in fate or destiny, but she had a gut feeling that there was something different about the Mitchell girls.
Leaning back in her seat, Chloe’s sly grin turned soft. “You know, Beca, I feel like we’re going to be really fast friends.”